It’s a strange paradox that the king of non-mainstream perfumery’s most divisive fragrances are those that are the least unusual – the L’Eau series. This is evidenced by the fact that There was practically a public outcry when Lutens launched his first ‘eau’. Die hard perfume nuts were found weeping in the street, bell jars were burned and bottles upon bottles of Ambre Sultan were smashed in moments of despair.
OK, I accept that I may have dramatised the situation a bit there but the truth is that many were disheartened that Serge Lutens, the man behind so many of perfumery’s modern greats, was going against his own grain by releasing anti-perfumes that were evocative of cold water and clean linen as opposed to life’s darker and more dangerous aspects. But people need worry not, both perfumes in the collection so far (L’Eau and L’Eau Froide) have turned out to be pretty decent, acting as a welcome change from Lutens’ usual oeuvre and showing how clean fragrances really should be done.
The latest perfume to be added to the L’Eau collection is ‘Laine de Verre‘. Taking its name from everyone’s favourite mode of loft installation – fibreglass – this new L’Eau penned by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake is as unusual as it is fresh and relaxed. Serge Lutens, in his usually riddle-filled way, states that the perfume is inspire by “complementary opposites” , elaborating further that the conflict is himself and the masculine and feminine. With that in mind, it’ll be no surprise that Lain de Verre is a genderless, inhuman fragrance that piques interest.
“With Laine de Verre, it is the metal which, physically, takes shape within its fragrance…” 
When I first started exploring the world of perfume I only really had time for scents that were loud, proud and downright fabulous. But now, as I get older and my approach to perfume is increasingly more seasoned, I find myself appreciating the art of subtlety and the application of a ‘dab hand’. Now that’s not to say that I no longer enjoy scents that are loud, attention-grabbing, weird and even confrontational, but it does mean that a perfume doesn’t have to possess these characteristics for me to sit up and pay attention. In short: as long as it smells good it’s on my radar!
One particular genre this shift in focus has allowed me to appreciate is cologne. When done right, colognes and citrus scents can be infinitely beautifully as well as having the added benefits of being refreshing, undemanding and thirst quenching. French perfume house Atelier Cologne is one brand that gets the idea of colognes spot on, having created the ‘Cologne Absolue’ – concentrated colognes that “celebrates the elegance of citruses” and possess the perfect trifecta of; longevity, freshness and intensity.
The latest addition to Atelier Cologne’s ‘Collection Originale’ is Cédrat Envirant (‘Intoxicating Citrus’) – a cologne that takes inspiration from the French 75 cocktail and merges the world of perfume and mixology in a haze of mouthwatering citrus. Created by perfumer Ralf Schweiger (Frederic Malle’s Lipstick Rose and Etat Libre d’Orange’s Fils de Dieu and The Afternoon of a Faun) in a Cologne Absolue concentration of 15%, Cédrant Envirant is described by the brand as being for lovers of “lemon and gin notes”. Count me in as one of those!
“As the sun set on the beach, they were all together again. Full of emotions, they could not stop talking. Had it really been so long? They shared many memories and another round of French 75s with laugher and tears in their eyes. No one wanted the night to end. As the sun rose, it was a sparkling moment of absolue friendship.”
Tis the last day of Movember and so ends a month of mighty moustache cultivation and manly celebrations. More importantly than the mo-growing and showcasing of masculine fragrances however, is the money raised for an important cause that supports the research and awareness of men’s health issues. This month I have raised £207 for Movember and my team – #TeamPenhaligons – have raised a staggering £2,000, with the total continuing to rise. [On that note, should you wish to make a donation, please do so here]
In tribute to my awesome Mo Bros and Mo Sisters in #TeamPenhaligons and as a final nod to the masculine fragrances of Movember, today I’m reviewing one of my favourite masculine scents from Penhaligon’s, the most quintessentially British of perfume brands. That scent is Extract of Limes, andwhilst it technically counts as a unisex scent (I’m allowed to cheat a little) I definitely feel that it is one of Penhaligon’s most enjoyable fragrances and is a great scent for dapper and fashionable gents to wear.
Originally launched in 1963 and currently residing within Penhaligon’s Anthology Collection, Extract of Limes is a fusion of mouthwatering citrus and clean floral notes that is both bracing and surprisingly contemporary. Having been resurrected in 2009 by perfumer Mike Parrott, this lime-centric scent is one of the more overlooked scents in the brand’s stable, but it’s also one of the most delectable and is very much worth a sniff for anyone who wants a unique citrus fragrance.
Eau d’Italie really have it made as a brand. I mean, creating fragrances inspired by their native Italy, specifically the phenomenally gorgeous coastal town of Positano (where they own and run the famous Le Sirenuse hotel), really gives them a lot of beauty to work with. Besides, the Italian way of life is incredibly attractive, one can’t help but want to own a part of that, even if it just an olfactory representation.
For their tenth perfume – ‘Acqua Decima’ (Tenth Water), Eau d’Italie have roped in the talents of perfumer Alberto Morillas (Mugler Cologne, Penhaligon’s Iris Prima and Salvador Dalí Parfum de Toilette) to create a perfume that celebrates “the spirit of Italy itself”. The result is a perfume that, as Eau d’Italie puts it; “reflects the sunniest feelings we have inside” but also perfectly captures a way of life in a bottle.
There are some niche brands out there that just get it – they know how to offer interesting, well-crafted perfumes that are both easily wearable and suitably intellectually stimulating. Maison Francis Kurkdjian is one of such brand, and having thoroughly explored each and every corner of this ‘maison’ I can honestly say that I’m yet to come across a single dud.
This, of course, is no surprise seeing as the patriarch of the Maison is none other than venerable perfume Francis Kurkdjian. At a recent Perfume Lovers London event Kurkdjian said that it’s the stories behind the scents that make them what they are, musing that Shalimar wouldn’t be Shalimar without its name and that scents cannot me detached from the names they are bestowed. Perhaps this is why his brand is so enjoyable – each scent tells a story.
“It was one afternoon on Formentera, in the Balearic Islands, that the idea of Aqua Vitae came to Francis Kurkdjian. Riding an old motorbike, taking it slowly in view of the extreme heat, the air on his face was deliciously cool. The sun intensified the fragrances of nature around him. Aqua Vitae, the water of life, when life is quite simply beautiful, an extremely sensitive sensuality enveloped with an uncontained freshness.”
His latest perfume – Aqua Vitae – tells the story of “the space between us” and takes its name from the water of vitality. Created to evoke “a magic breath” and “the shiver of pleasure on the back of the neck before something wonderful occurs” Aqua Vitae is a fragrance that casts a beautiful golden light, exuding serenity and peace.
As a fashion brand I have the greatest respect for Versace (admittedly less-so with Donatella at the helm) – they know how to make gaudy look glamorous and are at their very best when they are being as showy as possible. As a perfume brand Versace is less attractive, again their older stuff is good (I’ll always have a soft spot for Blue Jeans and Versace Woman, and Blonde is pretty awesome) but their newer stuff is very much lacklustre at best.
So it was with mixed expectations that I approached the brand’s latest masculine offering ‘Eros’. On the surface Eros appears to have everything you would want in a Versace fragrance – tacky bottle (it’s positively wonderful in its tackiness), ridiculous, over-the-top advertising (see here) and a Tanorexic muscly adonis fronting the whole thing – but as we all know in the world of fragrance, appearances can be deceiving.
Eros takes its name from Greek mythology, specifically the Greek God of Love. Created by perfumer Aurélien Guichard (Bond No 9 Chinatown and all of the new Robert Piguet fragrances and re-issues) Eros is described by Donatella Versace as being for “a man who is own master and who defends his own ideas and goals. He is a hero.” We know exactly what Donatella’s idea of a hero looks like but what does he smell like?
“I dress men and women with my perfume, wrap them with my art and my love.” – Francis Kurkdjian 
Despite coming to the Maison Francis Kurkdjian party a little later than mostI can safely say that I am pretty much hooked. Like many I have admired perfumer Francis Kurkdjian from afar, appreciating and enjoying his mainstream creations for designer brands such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Dior and Elie Saab, but it is his Maison with its ‘scented lifestyle’ approach that truly cements M. Kurkdjian as a true talent.
Kurkdjian says of his line: “The range is like creating a wardrobe. You go from casual to evening to couture. And in my vision, what’s missing is a daily ready-to-wear perfume”  and with his latest feminine and masculine duo ‘Amyris’ Kurkdjian has filled this void with two suitably pret-a-porter perfumes for the everyday guy and gal on the go.
“Its head is in Jamaica, and its heart in Florence. The Amyris duo evolves somewhere between the flamboyance of the sun and the vibration of the earth.” 
Both Amyris scents are centred around notes of Jamaican Amyris (the Jamaican tree which exudes elemi) and Iris from Florence. Each feels like an extension of Kurkdjian’s designer work taken to a niche level of quality where “instant hit” style of mainstream fragrances is traded for the slow burning love of niche perfumery.
From Latin America to China via Russia and India and the Gulf
If I could change one thing about my life it would be to ensure that I was better travelled than I am. In my head I long to be a great explorer scouring every corner of the earth. I want to walk the Great Wall of China, taste the street food in Mexico, eat lobsters in Maine (it all comes back to food with me), play with the cats at the cat cafe in Tokyo and float around the streets of Florence , but the problem is, I’m a bit of a wimp.
So, as much as I wish I’d visited all of these places, and I do truly hope to one day, I haven’t, in fact up until a few years ago I hadn’t made it further than France. It’s appalling, I know. Luckily for us armchair explorers, with Ormonde Jayne’s latest collection ‘The Four Corners of the Earth’ one can visit the most exotic destinations without even removing one’s pyjamas. So over the last couple of weeks I’ve been to the Gulf, Russia, Latin America and China…
For the Four Corners of the Earth collection Linda Pilkington and perfumer Geza Schoen have taken Ormonde Jayne on a trip round the globe, soaking up the sights, smells and colours of four distinct cultures without diluting the brand one bit, and this is what makes the collection so excellent; the fact that despite the strong influences of their respective homelands, each fragrance still very much follows the Ormonde Jayne signature of refined, elegant fragrances. After all, it’s not just where we go that shapes who we are, it’s where we come from too.
Mr. Butterworth, my rather lovely partner-in-crime and Mr. Ford, the dashing designer behind Tom Ford go hand-in-hand. Well, not literally of course. I know that you know that I’d never allow that kind of shenanigans! What I mean is that, whilst not being a fumenerd like you are I, Mr. Butterworth does have a certain penchant for fragrances bearing Mr. Ford’s name.
If you were to take a peek into mine and Mr. Butterworth’s bathroom you would find a big collection of perfumes and although we share a lot of scents there is most definitely a ‘his ‘n’ hers’ thing going on. So if you look hard enough you will see a small contingent of masculine fragrances that belong solely to the Butterworth (although I do occasionally raid his stash), and three of his favourites are by Tom Ford.
Tom Ford currently has four masculine fragrances and about a million unisex private blends to choose from. Mr. Butterworth, with his ever-discerning taste, has found love for Tom Ford for Men, Oud Wood and Grey Vetiver, you could say that he’s a little bit obsessed. Should I be worried? Let’s just say that I will be keeping a close eye on him next time we’re near the Tom Ford counter
Last week, after six weeks of painful but also enjoyable unemployment, I started a brand new, and very exciting job (hence the lack of posts). Now like any sane fume-nerd my initial though on gaining new employment was “what perfume am I going to wear on my first day?!” That’s right, not “will I like the job?” or even “what shall I wear”, it was, as it always is, all about the perfume.
So why not just where whatever I fancy on day one? Well the thing is, when entering a new environment it is important for one to ease people in gently, it does not pay to projectile vomit ones personality in people’s general direction. I have found that it’s always best to go for something relatively low key that is still perfume-y enough to let people know that you mean business, and what do you know a few days before my first day just the thing landed on my doorstep – Aqua Universalis by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
If you’re not familiar with the idea behind über talented perfumer Francis Kurkdjian’s solo project then you should get to familiarising yourself pretty quick because you’re missing out. The house provides an ‘all for one’ fragrant shopping experience with fragrances for the morning and evening, and wonderful scented things for the body (leather bracelets et al) and the home (candles, incense papers, laundry detergents and scented bubbles). With his ‘Maison’ Kurkdjian is selling a completely scented lifestyle like no other.
Aqua Universalis is Kurkdjian’s take on the much maligned genre of laundry clean fragrances. Made to fulfil the average consumer’s desire to feel clean and shower fresh, a style of fragrance that very often ends up producing cocktails of vile, strong musks and calone that sends fumenerds heading for the hills. Aqua Universalis is not one of these fragrances, it is an intelligent and natural take on ‘clean’ that most importantly still smells like a perfume.