I may be a bit behind on the Amouage-front, but I still cannot believe that the time has come (and now passed) for the house to launch their annual pair of fragrances. Last year’s duo, Fate Woman and Fate Man, were definitely a divisive pair, with some perfume lovers falling madly in love with the scents and others finding themselves not too impressed. My feelings were somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, seeing them as high quality outings, but perhaps not the most stimulating offerings from such a dynamic brand.
This year Amouage is launching Journey Woman and Journey Man, two perfumes inspired by “Shanghai deco, Chinese cinema and film noir” and for the first time, housed in striking two-tone bottles of rich red and gold. These new fragrances mark the end of the first cycle of the Amouage narrative and as much as they smell like Amouage fragrances, they don’t appear to be as noticeably bold as the perfumes that have proceeded them.
Journey Woman and Journey Man mark a change in the Amouage aesthetic, not only with the two-toned bottles, but also with their fragrant signatures, both of which are unusual takes on the house’s staple oriental opulence. With this new duo, Amouage moves forward into unchartered territory, speaking in the language of subtlety and scenting the air with an understated sense of panache.
It’s hard to deny the power of Marc Jacobs’ popular fragrance, Daisy. Since its launch in 2007, the wispy floral has become a best seller and has found many fans, thanks in part to the super-cute vinyl flowers that adorn its bottle. It has spawned a family of spin offs and most of Jacobs’ fragrances since have tried to recapture the magic of the original, resulting in a family of vinyl clad bottles and airy juices.
For 2014, Marc Jacobs is launching the latest instalment in the Daisy narrative, the languid-sounding ‘Daisy Dream‘. Created by venerable perfumers, Alberto Morillas (the gent behind the original Daisy, Amouge’s Opus VIIand Salvador Dali) and Ann Gottlieb (responsible for Marc Jacobs’ Lola and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Covet), Daisy Dream is a wistful and pastel-shaded perfume that seems to be made for long summer days under blue skies.
Created to present “an airy and ethereal new chapter in the story of Marc Jacob’s free-spirited Daisy”, Daisy Dream is a fruity floral fragrance with a subtle touch of gourmand. It’s accompanying film, directed by Jacobs’ friend, Sofia Coppola, is an otherworldy affair inspired by Coppola’s cult indie film ‘The Virgin Suicides’ and presents this fragrance as something surprisingly light and ghostly.
Pretty in Pink – Silk Blossom Cologne by Jo Malone
It has been a busy year for British perfume brand, Jo Malone. So far in 2014 they have launched four deluge-inspired colognes as part of their London Rain Collection, a new addition to their Cologne Intense series ‘Tuberose Angelica‘ and they’re set to launch the very intriguing ‘Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne’ in September. So yes, the perfumers over at one of Britain’s most popular fragrance brands have been working very hard indeed.
In amongst these new launches is a limited edition fragrance, and the subject of today’s review, entitled ‘Silk Blossom Cologne‘. Created by perfumer Marie Salamagne (Vivienne Westwood’s Let it Rock and Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic) and inspired by the “pink-fringed pompoms” of the flower, from which it takes its name, Silk Blossom is an airy, roseate fragrance that celebrates pale, powdery and blush tones of pink.
“Nature’s blooms at their most tempting.
The pink-fringed pompoms of Silk Blossom.
Irresistible to hummingbirds and butterflies.
Apricot-fresh with a touch of spice.
Airy with clouds of powder-soft heliotrope,
nestling on a bed of moss.
Fruity and enticing.”
Every summer, the fiercely innovative fashion and fragrance house of Thierry Mugler launches lighter, more ‘heat-friendly’ versions of their popular Angel and Alien fragrances. Usually, these limited editions see Mugler’s celestial beings draped in fruits, flowers or a delightful combination of both. This year however, is a bit different and instead of creating a limited edition summer flanker for Alien, the brand has decided to launch a permanent edition to the collection in the form of Alien Eau Extraordinaire.
This year’s Angel flanker is also a break from tradition and instead of showcasing the brand’s flagship fragrance drenched in floral or fruit waters, Mugler has opted for a summer fragrance that celebrates our dear Angel’s gourmand signature, albeit in a lighter, more dreamy and delicate way. This perfume is called Angel Eau Sucrée and believe me when I say that it is utterly delicious.
Angel Eau Sucrée is described by Thierry Mugler as being “a new ode to indulgence”, and whilst is is instantly recognisable as ‘Angel‘ it most definitely approaches the world’s first oriental gourmand from a different angle – one where the shimmering particles of sugar are evocative of twinkling starlight and the fluffy clouds of whipped meringue are the plushest, most luxurious fabric known to man. If the sweet shops on Planet Mugler all smell this good, then send me into space with a one-way ticket.
I have a turbulent relationship with the house of CREED. They are definitely on the pricey side for what they are and their quality can be a bit hit or miss, but it would be unfair to say that none of their scents are worth seeking out. In fact, I can name at least four that are sniff worthy (Virgin Island Water, Silver Mountain Water, Millesime Imperial and Green Irish Tweed) so, as much as they may not be my favourite of brands, I’m still very much willing to give them the time of day, but have always approached them with a wary step.
One particular CREED perfume that sticks out for me is Love in Black – a scent that I like to call ‘Dark Lady’ as it presents an intriguing, feminine and unexpected representation of the colour black. It’s also a perfume that really does take awhile to ‘get’ due to its striking take on violet and iris – two ingredients often used to represent beauty, but in this perfume are added to give the impression of something beautifully unconventional.
Love in Black was launched in 2008 and was inspired by former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (or Jackie O as she was more commonly known) and is a far cry from the clean blooms of its sister scent Love in White. CREED describe the fragrance as a “lush floral oriental”, but in my mind it is more of a black swan of a scent (funnily enough the brand uses this imagery) that plays on the contrasting facets of a modern and powerful woman.
When it comes to decent fragrance at an equally decent price, one really cannot go wrong with The Body Shop. Admittedly their perfume output isn’t anywhere near as artistic or exciting as that found within the stores of their rival Lush (Gorilla Perfume really is very good), but it cannot be denied that, for the most part, The Body Shop creates things that smell nice and won’t require anybody to sell any kidneys on eBay to fund – and in this world of hyper-luxe niche brands, that’s pretty refreshing.
Perhaps the most enjoyable and iconic perfume The Body Shop has to offer is White Musk. Originally launched in 1981, White Musk has been a cheap staple for those who want a good everyday scent without breaking the bank or demanding too much attention. I’m a big fan of the White Musk Oil, which is great for those days where one just wants something lovely and incognito, but the scent in all of its many incarnations is a worthy take on ephemeral musk.
In continuation of the White Musk narrative, The Body Shop has launched White Musk Smoky Rose – a perfume that is meant to be a more sultry and seductive take on the 1981 classic suitable for evening wear. The perfume was created by Sophie Labbé of IFF and is billed as “a darkly seductive, floriental evening scent”. So is this TBS’s ‘Noir Musk’ (a truly dark perfume) or is it just another White Musk flanker? The answer is neither.
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.