Neela Vermeire’s Fourth Fragrance – Ashoka (Photo: Mike Tassy for Neroli)
It must have been a rather daunting and unenviable task for both Neela Vermeire and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour when creating their fourth perfume together and the first to be launched since the initial trio of India-inspired fragrances in the Neela Vermeire Collection. These three perfumes – Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling! – were so well received and critically acclaimed that the pressure really must have been on when the time came to add a brand new fragrance to the series – a fragrance named Ashoka. Luckily for us, this pressure does not seem to have phased this dynamic duo one bit…
“Inspired by a legendary ruler, Neela Vermeire Creations’ new release Ashoka, is a tribute to an emperor who was conquered by his own compassion at the moment his victory was assured. He converted to Buddhism and devoted the rest of his life to spreading the Buddha’s teachings, to truth, to justice and to compassion for all living creatures beneath the sun. His own evolution from ruthless conquerer to benevolent emperor is reflected in Ashoka’s journey from the fierce opening to a softly floral heart & the gentle embrace of its richly complex drydown.”
Ashoka is Neela’s fourth perfume and first to be released outside of her initial trio of perfumes inspired by different eras of Indian culture. It would make sense then, that Ashoka strikes a slightly different chord from the others in the collection whilst managing not to stick out like a sore thumb. The fragrance is a continuation of the historical Indian narrative but in an olfactory sense, Ashoka leads Neela Vermeire Creations in an entirely new and exciting direction.
By Kilian – the brainchild of cognac heir Kilian Hennessy – launched as a brand in 2007. Hennessy’s first collection, wonderfully entitled ‘L’Oeuvre Noire’, was an impressive outfit, consisting of rich, decadent and expertly created fragrances. Since then, By Kilian has been relatively prolific with its output, releasing a number of fragrances under its ‘Arabian Nights’, ‘Asian Tales and ‘In the Garden of Good and Evil’ collections.
Comparing the fragrance within these latter collection to those found in L’Oeuvre Noire leads one to question what happened to the brand. The more recent offerings have failed to capture the hedonistic magic of those initial fragrances, with none of the newer offerings being even remotely comparable to the photorealistic tuberose of Beyond Love, the film noir honey of Back to Black or rich, pink delicacy of Love.
This year By Kilian has added two new fragrances to its collection; Musk Oud and Playing with the Devil. Both are polar opposites in style, proving that as far as creative direction goes, Hennessy definitely understands and enjoys variety. On the downside however, they also show a continuing ‘watering down’ of ideas within the brand and when looking back at what By Kilian has brought to the table before, this feels very sad indeed.
I make no bones about the fact that Thierry Mugler is one of my all-time favourite perfume brands. Their signature perfumes – Angel, Alien, Womanity, Cologne and A*Men – all have a very special place in my collection and are so befitting of the style of perfume I love, they almost feel as if they were created for me – although I am entirely aware that they were not.
Once a year Mugler treats us all to a special collection of fragrances – four unique takes on their existing signature fragrances. The familiar accords of these perfumes are twisted and remixed to include an ‘enhancer’ that presents them in an entirely new light. Over the last few years the likes of Angel et al have been reshaped by leather and gourmet ingredients to name just a few.
This year’s collection – ‘Les Liqueurs de Parfums‘ – sees the famous Mugler fragrances imbued with equally well-known liqueurs and is a sidestep for the brand, having already released alcohol-inspired versions of Angel, Alien and A*Men in 2009. The difference with this collection, however is that the wooden casks each fragrance has been aged in were warmed up and toasted to add a brand new facet to these boozy ‘fumes.
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 is a song on Jay-Z’s latest album entitled ‘Tom Ford’, and in said song Mr Z raps the line; “I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford.” Well much like our good friend Jay-Z, I too am not one for recreational drug use and also have somewhat of a penchant for the offerings of American fashion designer Tom Ford – who knew we’d have so much in common?
Unfortunately that is where the common ground ends and unlike Jay-Z I do not have the adequate finances to rock any Tom Ford clothing (oh but how I wish I did), however my budget can certainly stretch to the designer’s olfactory offerings and like many others I have found there to be a number of sniff-worthy perfumes residing within the Tom Ford corner of the department store.
Mr Ford is relatively active on the olfactory front with two lines of perfume to choose from – the widely available and reasonably priced ‘Signature Collection’, which contains the likes of Black Orchid, Violet Blonde, Sahara Noir, Grey Vetiver and Noir; and the more exclusive and definitely pricier ‘Private Blends.’ Personally, I have found more love for the perfumes in the Signature Collection (much to the relief of my partner and bank balance), however the Private Blend certainly has more than its fair share of gems, which leads me nicely onto Tom Ford’s latest collection – ‘Atelier d’Orient.’
The Atelier d’Orient Collection is inspired by; “the sublime beauty, enigmatic sensuality and exquisite luxury of Asia” and each of the four fragrances within the collection are reported to contain; “ingredients that have treasured prestige in the Orient.” Speaking of the collection, Tom Ford states that each fragrance captures a distinct mood – “captivating romance, colonial elegance, luxurious exoticism and rich mysterious sensuality” – with each serving as a perfect representation of the bold Tom Ford aesthetic.
Have you ever been convinced that you would love a perfume before even trying it? The scenario is quite straightforward and goes something like this; you notice a particular review or mention of a perfume on a forum and your interest is piqued, you then scour the blogs for reviews, draining the internet of all information on the particular subject. After you have soaked up as much info as possible you eventually track down and try the perfume for the first time and you fall in love. Or do you?
Like many fellow perfume nerds Luca Turin and Sanchez’s ‘Perfumes The Guide’ is a perfume bible that has created many a lemming (i.e. a fragrance love or lust) for equally a many perfume lover (as well as causing them to shout in frustration at their trashing of some of their favourites) and perhaps the biggest of these olfactory crushes for me was Badgley Mischka Eau de Parfum.
Reading Tania Sanchez’s 5 star review of Badgley Mischka (see below) it’s not hard to see why I was desperate to get my hands on, what promised to be, a beautiful fruit bomb. Everything about it sounded perfect; huge fruit? Check!; Lactonic notes? Check!; Similarities to Angel and Gucci Rush? Double check! I just knew that I had to have a perfume that ticks all these boxes in my life.
In life there are only two things that are certain; death and change. Both of these certainties are also rife within the perfume industry, with ever-tightening restrictions on ingredients and brand cost-cutting leading either to the demise or the change of some of the world’s most beloved perfumes.
Most of the time perfume reformulations are cloak and dagger affairs, with brands swearing that “absolutely nothing has happened to your beloved Mitsouko, so please stop with your questions, or else…” But this isn’t the case with the new Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme, which the brand are fully admitting has been subjected to some “fine tuning”. Well, one can’t help but admire their honesty!
“Warm and voluptuous and a touch of creamy sweetness, this fragrance is for a woman who is compelling and sensual. It is made up of contrasts, an exuberance of sinuous details that strike the balance between strength and gentleness. Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme for women is not afraid to face any challenge, and does so with a strong sense of self and a fierce determination.”
The re-orchestrated Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme is described as having an “innately soft yet seductive character” and I would say that it definitely leans more to the soft side of things rather than the seductive. This may lead to some disappointment for long-term lovers of the original, which I’m led to believe was a bit of a floral-bomb. My advice? Stock up while you can…
Guerlain’s ode to the Little Black Dress, ‘La Petite Robe Noire’, has a confusing history. First it was released as a pricey boutique exclusive, then there was the sequel ‘La Petite Robe Noire 2′ (and yes it was about as good as you would expect a sequel to be), the first of five planned additions to Guerlain’s wardrobe. Following all of that Guerlain has now decided to relaunch a new version of La Petite Robe Noire as part of its main collection, and in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser has gone in and tweaked things a little bit.
Now, I don’t mean to be smug (OK maybe just a little) but I have always said that La Petite Robe Noire was wasted as a boutique exclusive, strongly believing that it would be a massive hit if it were unleashed into the world of mainstream perfumery, and from the response it’s getting on the counters I think it may just be as popular as I expected.
Taking inspiration from the most classic and versatile pieces of clothing – the little black dress, La Petite Robe Noire is the perhaps the most fun, free-spirited of Guerlain’s many offerings. It comes billed as “the epitome of couture for the skin”  and if you’re wondering what “couture” smells like, the answer is, in true Guerlain style, a big fruity floral gourmand.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, or Lady Gaga as she is more commonly known, is undeniably one of the more interesting pop stars around today. Forget Britney, Christina, Miley and all those other pretenders, Gaga is a true visionary and a real star. Oozing with talent and more than her fair share of batshit-craziness, Gaga is like the rebellious love child spawned from the spliced DNA of David Bowie and Madonna.
OK you get it, I’m a fan and whilst I refuse to class myself as a ‘little monster’ I must admit that I was genuinely excited about Fame, I mean if anyone was going to do an interesting fragrance then it would be Gaga.
Apparently cooked up in a laboratory deep within the bowels of the Haus of Gaga (Lady Gaga’s fashion collective) Fame is described as an “opulent, crushed floral”  that, with it’s black coloured juice that is invisible once air born, represents the black soul of fame. Crazy huh? – Not really because Fame is all style and no substance…
Fame had the makings of a truly great celebrity fragrance; great bottle? Yep! massive gimick (the black liquid)? Yep again! and amazing ad campaign? Hell to the yep! But the one area that Fame disappoints is most definitely the most crucial, that’s right folks I’m talking about the smell and as much as it pains me to say it one cannot hide the fact that in terms of scent, Fame is a complete dud.
To celebrate 20 years of haute perfumery, Thierry Mugler parfums is launching a collection of limited edition fragrances with a leather twist in October. Harking back to the origins of traditional perfumery and the link between perfumers and glove makers, Mugler sets to unleash four luxurious limited editions of its four famous fragrances.
Angel, A*Men, Alien and Womanity have all been given the leather treatment, having been infused with tailor made leather pieces in metal caskets for a period of four weeks. These brand new leather interpretations aim to enhance the original compositions with “intense, innovative carnal notes” and showcase Mugler’s four iconic fragrances through “the prisms of leather.”
“(Les Parfums de Cuir) The Fragrances of Leather is a journey to the heart of Mugler fragrances, with a noble material, for a collection of 4 exceptional creations”
As with all things Mugler, Les Parfums de Cuir promises to be an innovative collection of olfactory twists on four fragrances that have each created the mould for their respective genres. So throw on your leather corsets, suits and boots we’re off on a tour of Planet Mugler, and this time we’re doing it in style.