Neon Iris – Jo Malone London Orris & Sandalwood Cologne Intense Perfume Review

Iris in Neon

Iris in Neon

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I’m rather fond of Jo Malone London. There is nothing more fun to me than untying the handsome black ribbon off the top of those beautiful yellow-cream boxes and pulling apart waves of tissue paper to reveal a gorgeously-scented treat for me or my home.  There’s joy in those boxes, whether it be a bottle of Cologne or Cologne Intense, a scented candle or a bath oil, or all of the above (if the box is big enough, of course). They do what they do very well and their fragrances, which are odes to perfumery’s most famous and beautiful ingredients, present traditional themes with an eccentrically British twist. They’re often fun, sometimes striking and always eminently wearable. That’s Jo Malone London.

In their Cologne Intense Collection, the brand steps away from their lighter and more ephemeral sensibilities to explore richer notes in higher concentrations. These are often more opulent and exotic fragrances that have a bit more heft to them (but not too much, mind you). This is the collection where you will find ingredients such as oud, tuberose, incense and rose, all in their full, fragrant glory, and presented in Jo Malone London’s unfussy and relatable style. In January, the brand added the next chapter to the Cologne Intense Collection and two more ingredients to their ever-expanding list of notes explored: Orris & Sandalwood.

“This scent was about framing the orris to bring out its unique duality; it is both woody and powdery, floral and deep. We did this by using other woods as well as waiting a picture of the iris flower itself.”

– Pierre Negrin

Orris & Sandalwood, the latest instalment in Jo Malone London’s exploration of intensity was created by Pierre Negrin, the perfumer behind such masterpieces as Amouage’s Interlude Man and Tom Ford’s Black Orchid Voile de Fleur. Working with one of his favourite materials within the perfumer’s palette, Negrin states that he loves the complexity of orris, describing the note as a “perfume in itself” due to its varied odour profile which is “warm, sensual, feminine, masculine, violety, woody, powdery”. It’s no surprise then, that Negrin was excited to “create something new with such a classic ingredient”, and that is exactly what he managed to do. Orris & Sandalwood is billed as the next journey within the Cologne Intense Collection, one set in Tuscany during the iris harvest. It’s an exploration of perfumery’s most beautiful and expensive ingredient, all served in the contemporary manner that Jo Malone London is famous for, all with a touch of Pierre Negrin’s signature flair. It’s sounding good already, isn’t it?

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Fighting Floral – Frapin The Orchid Man Perfume Review

Fighting Floral with The Orchid Man

Fighting Floral with The Orchid Man

It honestly does not take much convincing to get me on board with a fragrance called ‘The Orchid Man’. I am, after all, a well-documented lover of all things floral and I always feel encouraged by a modern launch that gears a floral towards men. As a man, or a boy (The Candy Perfume Man just sounds a bit creepy, doesn’t it?), whichever fits, I get tired of the industry’s attempts to encourage me to wear brutish things with burly ingredients, solid things like cedarwood, amber and oud. I like all of these things, but sometimes a guy wants to sissy things up with a great big whack of indolic jasmine, do you feel me? I am confident enough in my sexuality to not care about labels so a masculine floral, or a floral of any kind for that matter, is a no-brainer.

So yes, I was very intrigued when a bottle of Frapin’s latest fragrance, ‘The Orchid Man’, arrived on my doorstep, partly due to the fact that I’ve never really tried anything from the brand before. Without giving too much away, I must say that after spending some time with The Orchid Man, I certainly feel motivated to spend more the with the brand. Inspired by the life and fashions of French boxer, Georges Carpentier, The Orchid Man takes its name from his nickname, which is a reference to the orchid corsage he often wore with his suits. As a man of many talents, Carpentier was than just a boxer, he also was a star of stage and in film, a dabbler with the sport of Rugby and even the proprietor of the first cocktail bar in Paris. It’s no wonder then, that Frapin’s The Orchid Man is a complex and nuanced perfume.

Created by perfumer Jérôme Epinette (Byredo M/Mink & Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme etc.), The Orchid Man strives to capture both the “elegance” and “violence” found within the spirit of such a contrasting man. Jérôme Epinette took inspiration from a boxing gym, centring the fragrance around “an animal leather accord that gives the scent its signature, power, elegance and the iconic aspects of boxing gloves” adding patchouli, which “brings the hot and humid tones that conjure up the atmosphere in a boxing gym”. The result is a kinetic spritz of energy full of juxtapositions that speaks of contact sport as much as it does gentlemanly elegance.

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Flower of the Mountain – Christian Dior Diorissimo (Vintage) Perfume Review

Diorissimo: A Flower Encased in Steel

Diorissimo: A Flower Encased in Steel

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.

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Domestic Chic – MOSCHINO Fresh Couture Perfume Review

Couture, yes, but fresh!

Couture, yes, but fresh!

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.

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The Red Deserts of Mars – Thierry Mugler Alien Oud Majestueux Perfume Review

Alien in Red

Alien in Red

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.”

– Thierry Mugler

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My Baby Blue Bakelite Girl – Miu Miu by Miu Miu Perfume Review

My Baby Blue Bakelite Girl

My Baby Blue Bakelite Girl

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.

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Salt and Steel – Paco Rabanne Olympēa Perfume Review

Olympēa - Paco Rabanne's new Goddess

Olympēa – Paco Rabanne’s new Goddess

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.”

– Paco Rabanne

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