New Escentual Post: A Guide to Chypre

Chypres have always struck me as one of the most interesting perfume genres. They manage to capture a strange idea of beauty, where the sharper and more angular aspects of perfumery are celebrated. I suppose that you could say that they aren’t classically beautiful and its the asymmetry in their composition that ultimately makes them so beguiling.

For this week’s Escentual post I’m taking a look at the chypre, mapping its evolution through three ‘reference’ perfumes; the classic, the modern and the contemporary. This is a first in a small ‘guide to’ series for Escentual, where I’ll be casting a fragrant spotlight on a number of perfume genres.

To read the piece, please click on the image above to head on over to the Escentual blog. Whilst you’re there, do make sure to tell me what your favourite chypre is, and what fragrances you would pick to represent the classic, modern and contemporary interpretations of the genre.

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A Classic Signature – Carven Ma Griffe (2013) Perfume Review

Ma Griffe

Ma Griffe by Carven

When Carven released their first perfume – the aptly named ‘Ma Griffe‘ (‘My Signature’) – in 1946 the brand dropped hundreds of parachutes over the skies of Paris, each of which carried a special piece of cargo – a sample of Madame Carven’s signature perfume. In a genius stroke of early PR, this stunt ensured that the scent of Ma Griffe was simply unavoidable:

“The lingering scent of Ma Griffe floated everywhere: at the Opera, at charity balls, at the most fashionable sports events from Deauville to  Monte Carlo…”

Flash forward to 2013, following the resurrection of the fashion arm of Carven and the launch of the brand’s modern signature fragrance ‘Le Parfum‘, it is time for the relaunch of Ma Griffe. This time Carven has opted for a much more muted launch, almost silently slipping the classic fragrance back on the market in the hope that it will once again float weightlessly around city streets.

Following the earlier review of Le Parfum one was intrigued to discover the world of Ma Griffe, purely as an exercise to see how the house has changed from 1946 to 2013. The truth is that the differences between the Carven perfume of days gone by and the Carven perfume of today serve as a microcosm for how the world of perfumery has evolved over the last 70 years.

Not having spent time with Ma Griffe before its 2013 re-release has allowed one to approach it from an entirely objective point of view, reviewing it not as a long gone piece of the past but as an old school signature presented amongst the modern trends of perfumery as they are today. To say the process was an eyeopener would be an understatement…

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Fashion, Fumes & Furs – Animal Print Perfume

Fashion, Fumes & Furs

Fashion, Fumes & Furs

It came down to yours truly to pick the theme for this edition of the group blog post between myself, Olfactoria’s Travels, Persolaise, Fragrant Moments and Eyeliner on a Cat. For me this task was simple, I knew straight away that I wanted to talk about the relationship between fragrance and fashion, and more importantly I wanted to see just what my fragrant brothers and sisters would make of the correlation.

For years the worlds of perfume and couture have collided to create a wealth of classics and a whole heap of dreck. Houses like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford and Dior are as famous for their perfumes as they are for their fashions, with the former serving as an accessible way for one to own just a small piece of one’s favourite luxury brand.

One’s favourite fashion trend is most definitely animal print. There is just something so wonderfully wild about such bold, beastly prints and furs (all faux of course) in fashion and when one wishes to make a statement there is no greater choice than a measured dose of shocking animal print.

This post takes a look at one’s pick of the best ‘Animal Print Perfumes’ – those fragrances that perfectly capture the spirit of the boldest of prints. Whether it be the spots of the royal leopard, the stripes of the elegant zebra or the scales of the deadly black mamba, this post celebrates the collision of fashion and fragrance in the most utterly outrageous of styles.

[Please head on over to Persolaise, Olfactoria's Travels, Fragrant Moments and Eyeliner on a Cat to read their takes on fashion and fragrance]

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Do You Believe in Fate? – Amouage Fate Woman and Fate Man Perfume Reviews

Do You Believe in Fate?

Do You Believe in Fate?

I didn’t envy Amouage the task of topping their masculine & feminine duo from last year. Both Interlude Woman and Man were triumphs of perfumery, taking chaotic notes and throwing them together to create two challenging, yet wearable (and not to forget bloody gorgeous) fragrances.

This year’s duo – Fate Woman and Fate Man – certainly have big shoes to fill and it appears that Creative Director Christopher Chong has pulled out all of the stops to create two fragrances that are bold enough to mark the “end of the first cycle of the Amouage narrative” and leave one excited for exactly what wonders the beginning of the next cycle may entail.

Fate Woman (created by perfumer Dorothée Piot) and Fate Man (created by Karine Vinchon) “explores the uncertainty of the future and the universal principal by which the order of things is inescapably prescribed” and in their own, very distinct ways illicit polarising responses. They, as with many Amouage perfumes, are for those that adore excess and do not shy away from bold statements.

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Floral Arithmetic – Le Labo Lys 41 and Ylang 49 Perfume Reviews

Ylang 49 and Lys 41

“The Imperfect Twins” – Ylang 49 and Lys 41

Le Labo is one of those brands that I’ve only really had a passing interest in. On the one hand they appear to create, for the most part, good quality scents with more than your usual level of artistry (let’s face it, there are so many niche houses that don’t), whilst on the other they’ve always seemed a tad gimmicky for my tastes.

Maybe I’m just being a grump, but there’s something about their industrial aesthetic, the odd naming system (the name of the most prominent ingredient followed by the number of ingredients) and the ‘blended on the spot’ approach that narks me, almost as if they are trying just a little bit too hard to be ‘hip’. Still, none of that should get in the way of the fact that the majority of their output is solid, wearable and interesting.

This summer the brand has launched two florals – Lys 41 and Ylang 49 – a duo that they are calling “the imperfect twins”. Working with perfumers Frank Voekly (Ylang 49) and Daphné Bugey over the last three years, Le Labo have created “two new floral statements” that are likely to surprise, ensnare and entertain many a perfume-lover.

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New Escentual Post: Givenchy Dahlia Noir L’Eau Perfume Review

Givenchy Dahlia Noir L’Eau

This week’s Escentual post is a review of a fragrance that took me wholely by surprise – Dahlia Noir L’Eau by Givenchy. The original Dahlia Noir made next to no impression on me whatsover (very much in line with most Givenchy offerings) and I am, as you know, not a massive fan of anything remotely green – so it is with great surprise that I give a big thumbs up to Dahlia Noir L’Eau!

Please click on the image above to head over to Escentual.com and read the full review. Don’t forget to leave a comment!

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A Walk in the Forest – Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun Perfume Review

The Afternoon of a Faun

Nijinksy’s The Afternoon of the Faun

The best perfumes are those that have a transportive quality. They take you to another place in space or time, linking back to often forgotten memories or cementing themselves as catalysts for new memories. Perfume is often referred to as “liquid emotion” because of this ability to conjure up the past and one often finds that a single spritz is all that is needed to play out forgotten moments right in front of your nose.

I grew up in a small village surrounded by fields, farmland and woods so much of my formative years was spent exploring the countryside, climbing trees and getting as muddy as possible with my siblings. To this day I don’t think there is anything quite like the smell of an English wood; the cool, damp of earth, the fusty wetness of moss and sweet, mineralic quality of tree bark. It is the smell of childhood.

Those punky rebels at Etat Libre d’Orange in collaboration with performance artist Mx Justin Vivian Bond and perfumer Ralf Schwieger have created a perfume that captures the spirit of a forest walk. Named The Afternoon of a Faun after Nijinksy’s controversial ballet, the theme of the fragrance is the “relationship between the suggestive fantasy and seductive reality” [1] and what better genre of fragrance to explore suggestion, fantasy, seduction and reality than the classic chypre?

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Who’s That Girl? – Juliette Has a Gun Mad Madame Perfume Review

"OMG! Who is she?"

“OMG! Who is she?”

Juliette Has a Gun is a curious little outfit. They seem to happily fill the space that separates niche and designer perfumes and does so in a young and fancy free way. The thing is, as much as I like the brand and one or two of the scents they’ve yet to have a hit as far as I’m concerned. Calamity J and Romantina came close but neither had the wow factor needed to convince me to part with any of my hard-earned dosh.

That said, the spunky, take-no-prisoners attitude of Romano Ricci’s heroines is definitely appealing to me and I’m always more than happy to dive into their new releases to see what they are up to. So far we’ve had charming girls, vengeful ladies, queens and delightfully calamities but with their latest release Juliette Has a Gun is unleashing the Mad Madame.

“For this new episode I wanted to pay tribute to a woman who dares. A woman slightly more mature than the previous episodes, but by no means better behaved! Mad Madame has this touch of craziness, which she is happily displaying. Endowed with a sense of provocation, she enjoys being looked at and igniting conversations. As Oscar Wilde once said, The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Romano Ricci

Mad Madame is described as a green chypre “revolving around the metallic Rose Oxyde” and as you would expect from Juliette Has a Gun it is a fragrance with a strong character, as Mr. Ricci puts it; “Mad Madame has the knack of getting herself talked about. And she likes it.” What are they saying about this Madame? Well, I can tell you that it may not all be good.

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The Flora and Fauna of the British Isles – Union Holy Thistle, Quince, Mint & Moss, Celtic Fire and Gothic Bluebell Perfume Reviews

Union Fragrance Collection presents the best of British

The Union Fragrance Collection presents the best of British ingredients

I have never felt more proud to be British in my life than I have over the last two weeks. Team GB and everything Olympics related (did you see the opening ceremony? Wasn’t it fabulous?) have gone a long way into strengthening the nation’s sense of pride, making everyone realise that for a small little island we aren’t half bad at all!

Along with the explosion of national pride this year, due mainly to the Olympics and the Queen’s diamond jubilee, is the overwhelming number of British-themed product releases. Of course the world of perfume is no exception and there is a new fragrance brand on the block celebrating the very best of what Britain has to offer in terms of perfume ingredients.

“From the moorlands of Yorkshire to the mountains of Snowdonia, the windswept fens of County Derry and craggy Highland heaths, Union’s creative perfumer, Anastasia Brozler, has scoured the countryside for the most beautiful ingredients, gaining access to some of the country’s oldest private estates in her relentless search for the finest single notes that Britain has to offer”

The name of the brand is Union and rather than just cashing-in on the current high in national spirit they have spent a significant amount of time sourcing ingredients from the four corners of the British Isles to successfully showcase the flora and fauna that makes the country so beautiful (not that I’m biased or anything). The result is four unique compositions that feature such incredibly British ingredients as thistle, quince bluebell and Marmite…

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25 Years of Sparkling Citrus Goodness – Clarins Eau Dynamisante Perfume Review

Eau Dynamisante

Clarins’ classic citrus chypre is 25 this year

What do The Candy Perfume Boy and Clarins’ Eau Dynamisante have in common? They were both born in 1987 and turned 25 this year, that’s what! Such longevity in the perfume industry sure is something to celebrate and Clarins are doing so by releasing a limited edition bottle which sees Eau Dynamisante encased in a veil of red glitter.

Eau Dynamisante was first released by Clarins in 1987 and is innovative because it is not just a fragrance, it’s a skin treatment too. Clarins describe Eau Dynamisante as “an innovative feel-good fragrance created from an inspired blend of 14 aromatic essential oils and therapeutic plant extracts with the power to scent skin, invigorate the sense and moisturise and soften from top-to-toe.” It’s not just innovative though, it’s also very popular and every three minutes a bottle is purchased in the UK. Now that’s impressive!

Before spritzing on some Eau Dynamisante in preparation for this review I was absolutely sure that it would not be ‘my thing’. This pre conceived notion was based on the fact that citrus fragrances don’t really move me and I was convinced that I had tried it before and wasn’t wowed. I am actually quite surprised to say that I really like it and I think it is the perfect scent to combat the muggy, sweaty days of summer.

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