Do you ever have those fragrances that you want to love, but just don’t? They often appear entirely suited to your desires and tastes, and often come lauded with high praise, but for some reason they just don’t click with you. For me, Dior’s Diorissimo was one such scent. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve picked up a tester, spritzed some on and waited for sparks to fly. They never did and I couldn’t understand it. I love white florals. I love Dior. Why didn’t Diorissimo and I run off into the sunset together to a symphonic burst of Hollywood music? Sigh.
Don’t lose hope, Dear Reader because, as with all true love stories in movies, the boy gets the girl, or alternatively the boy gets the boy (and the girl gets the girl), OR in my case, the boy (of the Candy Perfume variety) ‘gets’ the perfume. So what finally ignited the spark between that elusive Diorissimo and me? I have one word for you: vintage. It is widely known that the current version of Diorissimo is a pale interpretation of its former self, due mainly to restrictions of key ingredients used to create that unmistakeable lily of the valley effect. With this in mind I headed straight to eBay to seek out some vintage Dior to see what all of the fuss is about.
I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw it: 50ml of 1980’s Diorissimo Eau de Toilette, almost full for £25 with no bids. I didn’t bid on it at first, thinking that it would go and I stupidly allowed this gem to go unsold. Never mind, fate was on my side and I managed to win the bottle on its second listing. I honestly have never been so excited to receive a perfume package in my life. Could this vintage be the Diorissimo for me? Would it finally click into place, and would Diorissimo and I have that Hollywood ending I was looking for? Seeing as we’re talking in movie analogies, let me drop a spoiler: the boy gets the perfume.
It’s time to put on the Marigolds and start scrubbing because the new fragrance from MOSCHINO is here, and it’s very much channelling spring clean couture. The concept of this eye-catching new scent, the superbly named ‘Fresh Couture‘, is an interesting one. Packaged within the familiar form of an everyday household item, namely a bottle of spray cleaner, Fresh Couture has been created to “juxtapose the most mundane and commonplace of all products, the household cleaner, with something so precious – the juice of a luxury brand’s fragrance”. It is this “dichotomy of high and low”, i.e. the luxury of a fragrance and the value-lacking vessel of a functional cleaner, that is Fresh Couture’s inspiration, and it’s served with Creative Director, Jeremy Scott’s playful signature.
Unlike MOSCHINO’s other kitsch fragrance, the cute teddy bear that is ‘TOY‘ (all style and no substance, as much as I hate to admit it), Fresh Couture is delivered with a definite concept behind the juice. The whole thing plays, unsurprisingly on the idea of freshness in a feminine way boasting notes of citrus, flowers and woods. What could be more MOSCHINO than a “surprising and ironic perfume”, says the brand, and whilst I may not be on board with the idea of this being surprising or ironic, I’m perfectly happy to concede that Fresh Couture says ‘MOSCHINO’ right from head to toe. I should mention that it’s also quite a bit of fun, too.
It was reported last week that NASA had found evidence of liquid water flowing on Mars. The red planet is no longer a dry, and arid collection of rock and dust, it seems. In other surprising and space-related news, Thierry Mugler has made the decision to launch a limited edition version of Alien called ‘Alien Oud Majestueux’, an oriental fragrance that sees the hyper-jasmine of the original accompanied by oud, the ever popular heartwood extracted from the Aquilaria tree, and seen so often in modern fragrances over the last few years. Composed by the masterful Dominique Ropion, who co-signed the original with Laurent Bruyere, this new version of Alien promises to tantalise with its opulent spices and sweet flower nectar. Colour me intrigued.
Now, I must confess that the news of an oud-injected version of Mugler’s successful Alien did arouse some titters on Twitter in addition to the usual moans about the over-exposure of everyone’s favourite noble tree rot. Of course, Mugler has all but resisted the oud trend for quite some time (although, they have flirted with the note in their Miroir Miroir! series) and the fact that the last non-oud converted bastion of the industry had finally given in did elicit a sigh or two, from yours truly included. As time progressed however, the idea of an Alien oud grew to be an interesting one. I mean, Alien is a pretty fierce woody jasmine fragrance that lends itself well to remixes (see Alien Essence Absolue & Alien Le Goût du Parfum), and a middle-eastern take on an intense, space-age floral actually seemed like something worth sniffing. At risk of spoiling the rest of this review, I can confirm that it is.
“Cocoon your mind, body and soul in Alien Oud Majestueux, the new oriental fragrance. This scent will transport you to the spice markets of the Middle East where your senses will be tantalised with the fragrant notes of opulent spices and sweet flower nectar.”
The perfume and fashion loving public have been longing for a fragrance from clothing and accessories brand, Miu Miu for quite some time. Known largely for their handbags and shoes, the Prada-helmed fashion house knows youthful style quite unlike anyone else, and their aesthetic is undeniably feminine and fun. It’s no surprise that Miu Miu lovers would be keen for a fragrance to represent the aesthetic of such a key fashion brand. On the perfume front, Miu Miu’s parent company Prada has released a decent crop of exceptional perfumes in conjunction with the talents of perfumer Daniela Andrier. It stands to reason then, that a decent scent from Miu Miu would be a no-brainer, and despite some dissenting voices on the blogs, I really think it is just that.
“Natural and timeless in a contemporary way”¹ is the manner in which Miu Miu are describing their eponymous fragrance, which is penned by none other than Prada-favourite, Daniela Andrier, of course. Housed within the most gorgeous bottle to have graced the shelves of department stores in quite some time, Miu Miu the fragrance feels like a baby blue throwback to the pastel-shaded ’60s and ’70s, whilst keeping very much in line with the modern tastes of today. It also centres on lily of the valley, which means it’s a white floral, which therefore means that I was destined to fall for it hook, line and sinker. Just as expected, I did.
Criticise Paco Rabanne all you want, but you can never say that they don’t have a knack for tapping into the zeitgeist. Their fragrance launches are a perfect example of how marketing drives the success of a modern perfume, with irresistible packaging and expensive advertising campaigns drawing the consumer in. Take 1 Million for instance – a perfectly decent woody amber fragrance that most likely wouldn’t have had the phenomenal success it has if it weren’t packaged inside a faux piece of gold bullion and marketed with a club-culture inspired ad that tapped into the image and money-obsessed nature of modern youth. They are anything, if not clever.
Their latest launch for women, ‘Olympēa‘, which arrives as the feminine counterpart to 2013’s Invictus, comes with all of the trappings of a typical Paco Rabanne launch right from the show-stopping bottle shaped like a laurel crown to the high-budget visuals, but the scent itself appears to have a bit more depth than one would usually expect. Created by perfumers Anne Flipo, Dominique Ropion and Loc Dong, Olympēa is described as the “fragrance of a modern day goddess” and a “statuesque idol of conquest and victory”. That is quite the description, I must say, and in truth, the fragrance is more intimate and cuddly than the concept would lead one to expect, but that’s not to say that Olympēa is without interest, in fact, it’s really quite intriguing.
“The fragrance of a modern day goddess, Paco Rabanne Olympea Eau de Parfum makes a statement of strength, power and seduction. Between myth and reality is where you’ll find Olympēa, a statuesque idol of conquest and victory. Her fragrance is just as commanding as she is, featuring a legend-inspiring salted vanilla accord that elevates her above the clouds.”
Few artists are as iconic and confrontational as Frida Kahlo. From her dominant monobrow to her flirtation with androgynous clothing, Frida was never afraid to challenge preconceptions. Her work, which comprises of many self-portraits, is often brutal, displaying herself or her subjects in pain, or with their organs exposed, representing in some ways, her own damaged body that was catastrophically injured in a bus accident early on in her life. She challenged the world’s idea of what it means to be a woman, and defined her own idea of feminine beauty. Frida was a renegade and a free spirit, but she was also a prisoner of her own physical presence. Most of all, she was an artist with a fearless form of expression
The other Frida, the fragrance created by Shelley Waddington for En Voyage Perfumes, that is, also questions our preconceived notions. It takes the familiar note of tuberose and presents it as something otherworldly. It’s still recognisably ‘tuberose’ (which is music to the ears of this particular tuberose fiend), but it is so much more than just another take on a popular note, in fact, I would call it a detailed essay into the psyche and inspirations of one of the most unique artists ever to have lived. Frida was a rare bird and a unique voice from a richly cultured nation. Frida, the perfume is as complex and fascinating as its muse, and for that reason, it’s most definitely a worthy sniff.
“Viva la Frida Vida! This perfume celebrates the life of Frida Kahlo; the woman and artist, her suffering, her Mexican heritage and her love of nature. Frida was feminine, fearless and a revolutionary; she cross dressed, smoked cigars, and has been a part of pop culture for over 50 years. A world-travelled sophisticate who had love affairs with both men and women, Frida remained happiest at Casa Azul, her traditional family home. Tuberose, a flower that the Aztecs called the Boneflower, is an important note in this perfume as an homage to Frida’s brutal calamities and artistic transformation.”
I interrupt our usual programming of new perfume reviews for something that isn’t entirely brand new – MAAI by Bogue Profumo. I actually received my sample of MAAI quite a while ago. It was generously sent to me by a very lovely perfumista (she knows who she is) and with so many things, it got caught up in my sample pile and didn’t receive too much attention. You know how it is, fellow fragrance nerds, there’s simply so much out there to smell that not everything can receive the attention it deserves. Anyhoo, a few weeks back I was prepping my review for Papillon Artisan Perfumes’ marvellous Salome, and very much felt in the mood for modern fragrances with a classic or vintage feel. MAAI immediately sprung to mind and here we are…
MAAI comes from the Italian niche house, Bogue Profumo, ‘bogue’ being French slang for ‘bug’, as in a computer virus. Founded by perfumer Antonio Gardoni, Bogue offers “neo-classic perfumery through experiments: through infusing resins, woods, roots and metals in alcohol” and MAAI (which is named after the Japanese martial arts term that describes the distance between two opponents, translating as ‘interval’)is his boldest work. In a fortuitous coincidence of events that aligned rather nicely with my rediscovery of my sample of MAAI, I recently found myself at Bloom Perfumery, Covent Garden experiencing Gardoni unveil the hidden secrets of fragrance. The experience was rather enlightening.
Believe me when I say that Gardoni is an incredibly affable and creative individual who approaches perfumery from a completely different angle to most. His approach seems entirely experimental, right from the way that he infused the alcohol used in MAAI with resins, incense and juniper, to the intense multi-aldehyde accord he created for the fragrance, the results seem to come together in a completely organic manner. I admire his spirit and enthusiasm, and the fruits of his olfactory projects, as evidenced in MAAI and his other fragrance ‘O/E’, are really quite something!