Perfume as Art – Maison Francis Kurkdjian féminin & masculin Pluriel Perfume Review

Pluriel

“Mirror Image” – féminin Pluriel & masculin Pluriel by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

“Perfume is not art.”

- Francis Kurkdjian

At the recent launch event for Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s latest duo of fragrances there was a lot of discussion around art and its relation to the world of perfume. Kurkdjian, who is ever a frank and fascinating speaker, asserted that perfume is not art because it is created to please consumers and where art is given a value by the market, perfume prices are set by their creators. This isn’t to say that Kurkdjian is belittling perfume by any means, in fact it seems that he takes a purely practical view of the subject, comparing his collection to an olfactory wardrobe, containing a plethora of pieces ranging from the everyday staple of the white T-Shirt (Aqua Universalis) to the more occasionally worn leather trousers (Absolue Pour le Soir).

Also at the event, Art Curator, Karine Giannamore spoke at length about what constitutes a masterpiece, piecing together simplicity, hard work, innovation and emotion, as the key ingredients that create a timeless work of art. Giannamore states that a masterpiece “has to be new [and] has to be original” but also must be “cemented in tradition”. This collision of the innovative and the traditional is exactly what Francis Kurkdjian has played with for his two new fragrances – féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel.

“What makes a work of art? A masterpiece? A Timeless work of art? Something so good or beautiful that it cannot be affected by changes in society or fashion.”

- Karine Giannamore

The Pluriel (Plural) duo has been created as a mirror image – two fragrances that perfectly capture the essence of femininity and masculinity, or as the brand puts it; “the eternal feminine and masculine.” With each fragrance, Kurkdjian takes a traditional theme and adds a contemporary twist to create a pair of perfumes that feel thoroughly modern and very much in keeping with his clear and radiant style. For féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel, Kurkdjian has crafted two new pieces for his olfactory wardrobe – two fragrant garments that are as modern, chic, timeless and elegant as anything a couturier could construct.

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The Big Smoke – Tom Ford Private Blend London Perfume Review

House of Parliament, Effect of Sunlight, 1903

Houses of Parliament, Effect of Sunlight, Claude Monet, 1903

London is an awesome city. I say this not just because I am British and therefore undeniably biased in the matter, but also because it is a simple truth. London has a charisma that many cities do not, stemming from the many contrasts that besiege its winding streets. These disorganised clashes of new and old, rough and smooth, and clean and dirty, make for a cultural mish-mash that is at times, utterly bonkers and entirely unique but ultimately very charming.

One man that loves London as much as I do is Tom Ford and to celebrate the opening of his Sloane Square boutique in 2013, the incredibly prolific fashion and perfume purveyor that is Mr. Ford created his very own olfactory tribute to this finest and fairest of cities. Taking its name from the city of the same name and launching last year, ‘London‘ is the newest addition to the Private Blend collection, available only in a select number of stores within the nation’s capital.

The brand describes London as being “rich, elegant and urbane” – three words that could certainly be attributed to the city after which it is named, if only just the glamorous bits in which one would find a Tom Ford boutique. But this perfume is more than just a tribute to a city, it is in fact a celebration of Mr. Ford’s favourite ingredient – oud. Now before you all start rolling your eyes at the sheer mention of the ‘o’ word (I see you), heed this notice: this perfume is a damn good example of how to do an inconspicuous oud – an oud that doesn’t take centre stage and plays a supporting role, or as they used to call them back in the day – an oriental.

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Dita to the Rescue – Dita Von Teese Erotique and FleurTeese Perfume Reviews

Erotique and FleurTeese by Dita Von Tees

Erotique and FleurTeese by Dita Von Tees

Celebrity fragrances (or ‘celebuscents’ as I like to call them) are so often the scorn of the perfume industry. Mainly because most are simply extra vehicles for our dear ‘celebrities’, a term which must be used loosely for a lot of the stars releasing perfumes these days, to make extra cash. After all, what’s easier than putting your name on a bottle of something you’ve had little involvement in creating?

But not all celebrities are in it for a quick buck and over the years we’ve seen a number of good celebuscents join the foray. Etat Libre d’Orange’s collaborations with the weird and wonderful Tilda Swinton and Rossy de Palma are notable examples, Madonna’s Truth or Dare was nicely done and even Britney Spears’ Fantasy has a degree of merit to it (I dare you to disagree that it is the perfect fruity floral cupcake scent). And then of course there is Dita Von Teese – the antidote to the world of naff celebrity scents and Dr. C. Perfume Boy is prescribing two big doses today.

Dita came to the rescue with her first perfume ‘Dita Von Teese‘ (sometimes referred to as ‘Femme Totale’) in 2012, a perfectly decent floral-patchouli affair that puts most of its contemporaries to shame. We shouldn’t be surprised though, as Dita is known for exuding glamour and style, and her perfumes certainly follow suit. This year sees the launch of Dita’s third and fourth perfumes – FleurTeese and Erotique, both of which show the Queen of Burlesque’s passion for fragrance

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Jagged Lines – Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Perfume Review

An Outdoorsy Kind of Guy

An Outdoorsy Kind of Guy

Seeing as it the very last week of Movember, a month in which we celebrate all aspects of masculinity, it’s only fair that we also take time to look at some pretty epic masculine fragrances. Over the course of the month I’ve been featuring classic masculine scents on Escentual, but this week I’d like to focus on two new and very well executed fragrances for 2013 – one designer and one ‘niche’ – starting with the newly launched Bottega Veneta Pour Homme.

The astute amongst you will know that Bottega Veneta have already proved that they take the world of perfume seriously with their debut feminine fragrance launch of the same name. The feminine was a masterfully composed (if perhaps a little too whispery) ode to the leather goods for which the brand is famous for and it appears that its masculine counterpart has been subject to the same degree of thought and quality control.

Created by perfumers Daniela Andrier (Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, Candy and basically everything else good they’ve done) and Antoine Maisondieu (Etat Libre d’Orange’s Fat Electrician and Comme des Garçons Stephen Jones), Bottega Veneta Pour Homme feels very much like an extension of the luxury leather feel of the feminine Eau de Parfum but in a more outdoorsy, nature-filled and relaxed manner.

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Kirsten 1996 – Byredo 1996 Perfume Review

Kirsten 1996

Kirsten 1996 by Inez van Lamsweerde an Vinoodh Matadin

Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin – more widely known simply as ‘Inez and Vinoodh’ – are world-famous fashion and art photographer, renowned for snapping pictures for the likes of Björk, Lady Gaga, Vivienne Westwood and Vogue, just to name a very small few. They are highly respected for their versatile approach to photography and are, in their own way, quasi-celebrities within the art world.

Not content simply as a twosome, Inez and Vinoodh collaborated with popular niche brand Byredo to create a “private edition” fragrance to serve as a Christmas gift for beloved friends and clients. Rumour has it that the fragrance was so well received that they simply had no choice to release it for the hoi polloi to enjoy – thus the wide release of Byredo’s latest fragrance, ‘1996’.

Inspired by the photo ‘Kirsten 1996′ (see above), 1996 is described by Byredo founder Ben Gorham as “an olfactory snapshot not only of the image but of our emotional response to it” and it stands as a unique offering where an image is used to be evocative of a perfume rather than the other way round. The scent intends to create “a visual language, for perfume and, like all great collaborations, shared sentience” (make of that what you will).

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Fashion, Fumes & Furs – Animal Print Perfume

Fashion, Fumes & Furs

Fashion, Fumes & Furs

It came down to yours truly to pick the theme for this edition of the group blog post between myself, Olfactoria’s Travels, Persolaise, Fragrant Moments and Eyeliner on a Cat. For me this task was simple, I knew straight away that I wanted to talk about the relationship between fragrance and fashion, and more importantly I wanted to see just what my fragrant brothers and sisters would make of the correlation.

For years the worlds of perfume and couture have collided to create a wealth of classics and a whole heap of dreck. Houses like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford and Dior are as famous for their perfumes as they are for their fashions, with the former serving as an accessible way for one to own just a small piece of one’s favourite luxury brand.

One’s favourite fashion trend is most definitely animal print. There is just something so wonderfully wild about such bold, beastly prints and furs (all faux of course) in fashion and when one wishes to make a statement there is no greater choice than a measured dose of shocking animal print.

This post takes a look at one’s pick of the best ‘Animal Print Perfumes’ – those fragrances that perfectly capture the spirit of the boldest of prints. Whether it be the spots of the royal leopard, the stripes of the elegant zebra or the scales of the deadly black mamba, this post celebrates the collision of fashion and fragrance in the most utterly outrageous of styles.

[Please head on over to Persolaise, Olfactoria's Travels, Fragrant Moments and Eyeliner on a Cat to read their takes on fashion and fragrance]

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Fatal Attraction – Amouage Opus VII Perfume Review

Amouage Opus VII

Amouage Opus VII

There should be a club for those that consider themselves as ‘Amouage Addicts’. We could all sit around discussing our adoration for the Omani house, pouring over our favourites and consoling each other over the fact that we’ll never be able to own them all. One matter that definitely would not be up for discussion however, is the idea of giving the house up any time soon. It’s simply not on the table.

We are truly helpless really, what with the annual masculine and feminine pairings. Not to mention special editions such as Beloved and the highly artistic and fascinating Library Collection. The truth is that we are mere lemmings for Amouage and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

This year’s addition to the Library Collection is Opus VII. Created by perfumers Pierre Negrin and Alberto Morillas it “arouses the juxtaposition of harmon with the intensity of reasoning between conflicting ideas and beliefs” [1]. Much like the chaos of the Interlude duo from last year, Opus VII appears to take a slightly more abstract approach with its dark black flacon serving as a small hint for the wild ride that’s unleashed upon the very first spritz.

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Gotta Love That Gorilla – Gorilla Perfume Furze & The Voice of Reason Perfume Reviews

Ooh Gorilla!

Ooh Gorilla!

As a die-hard fragrance nerd it’s difficult not to love Gorilla Perfume, the fragrant arm of those smelly bath purveyors Lush. For one, they march to the beat of their own drum, drawing inspiration from subjects as varied as Thai Ladyboys and Italian showers. But perhaps most importantly they are an outfit that champions that old idiom “It’s all about the juice”, caring first and foremost for the perfume above bottles and marketing.

This passion for perfume has allowed Lush to birth a line of beautiful, surprising and sometimes downright-wacky fragrances that challenge one’s notion of what constitutes a scent as much as they serve to inspire and foster a life-long love for all that is perfume. It sounds corny but it is brands like Gorilla Perfume that are the reason why I love perfume, when there is so much to be cranky about they have the ability to restore one’s faith in perfume and make one smile with a single spritz. You gotta love that Gorilla!

Late last year Gorilla Perfume launched 12 new fragrances (that’s right -12) under a new collection entitled ‘Volume 2′. The overall look of this new collection feels like a shift in direction for Gorilla Perfume and I’d say the scents themselves follow suit. There seems to be less focus on the cartoonish hijinks of the past and greater emphasis on a more mature approach – dare I say that our Gorilla may have grown up?!

I was sent a few of these new scents to try and today I’d like to share with you my thoughts on two of the most intriguing; Furze and The Voice of Reason.

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Smell Bent Speedy Sniffs, Part 1: Little Miss Panda Gets Lei’d, Violet Tendencies & Chile Vanilli

Mad Scientist

The Crazy Cartoon World of Smell Bent

Smell Bent is the slightly warped brainchild of LA based perfume-lover (and very handsome perfumer) Brent Leonesio. Offering fragrances that “delight your nose and your funny bone” Smell Bent lets you into a cartoon world of chaos, naughty frolics and damn good smells, all for a more-than-reasonable price. As they put it on the Smell Bent Website:

“We think that perfume should be fun and shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. We know life can be hard, but it shouldn’t have to smell bad.”

Brent Leonesio

I reckon that I have perused the Smell Bent website, chuckling away at the names, cartoons and descriptions of each scent, about a million times, yet it was only recently that I decided to put in a sample order. Perhaps there was a bit too much choice for my little brain to handle and if I’m being honest I think that might be the case, I wanted to order just about everything but I couldn’t (apparently we’re supposed to be buying a house or something, I don’t know, ask Nigel) and that made me sad.

It was actually Freddie of Smellythoughts fame that convinced me to bite the bullet and I’m ever so glad he did because the six Smell Bents I ordered, each of which is like a fun little ditty, have surpassed my expectations considerably. So without further ado I present to you Part 1 of my Smell Bent Speedy Sniffs (with Part 2 to follow next week), I hope that you enjoy reading about these characters as much as I did smelling them. They may be low in price but they certainly aren’t short on quality or fun!

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Mugler’s Fetish Material – Thierry Mugler Angel, Alien & Womanity Les Parfums de Cuir and A*Men Pure Cuir Perfume Reviews

Haute Perfumery

Haute Perfumery

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.

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