It’s a strange paradox that the king of non-mainstream perfumery’s most divisive fragrances are those that are the least unusual – the L’Eau series. This is evidenced by the fact that there was practically a public outcry when Lutens launched his first ‘eau’. Die hard perfume nuts were found weeping in the street, bell jars were burned and bottles upon bottles of Ambre Sultan were smashed in moments of despair.
OK, I accept that I may have dramatised the situation a bit there but the truth is that many were disheartened that Serge Lutens, the man behind so many of perfumery’s modern greats, was going against his own grain by releasing anti-perfumes that were evocative of cold water and clean linen as opposed to life’s darker and more dangerous aspects. But people need worry not, both perfumes in the collection so far (L’Eau and L’Eau Froide) have turned out to be pretty decent, acting as a welcome change from Lutens’ usual oeuvre and showing how clean fragrances really should be done.
The latest perfume to be added to the L’Eau collection is ‘Laine de Verre‘. Taking its name from everyone’s favourite mode of loft installation – fibreglass – this new L’Eau penned by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake is as unusual as it is fresh and relaxed. Serge Lutens, in his usually riddle-filled way, states that the perfume is inspired by “complementary opposites” , elaborating further that the conflict is himself and the masculine and feminine. With that in mind, it’ll be no surprise that Lain de Verre is a genderless, inhuman fragrance that piques interest.
“With Laine de Verre, it is the metal which, physically, takes shape within its fragrance…” 
The Little Black Dress Edit – Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Extrait and Couture Perfume Review
Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire is easily the best mainstream feminine to have been released over the last couple of years and it has deservedly been a runaway success for the house. This ode to the little black dress is just so much darn fun that one can’t help but fall for it’s delicious, whimsical charm and it properly schools the competition on how a decent fruity floral should be done.
In celebration of the launch of Guerlain’s new chypre-esque La Petite Robe Noire Couture I have dedicated this week’s Escentual column to a review of each the LBDs in Guerlain’s wardrobe, including; La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Extrait and the brand new Couture perfume. Each of the fragrances in the collection are glamorous, fun and blooming delicious. Click here to read my review of the La Petite Robe Noire Collection. Oh and there’s an amazing competition too…
My love of Thierry Mugler’s Alien, and all things Mugler in fact, is widely known. I just cannot help myself when it comes to the weird, wacky and über glamorous creations that come straight from Muglerville – they resonate deep within my soul, awaking the hidden Glamazon inside of me. So I do feel very excited when I hear that the brand is launching a brand new fragrance, especially if aforementioned scent it is to be a close cousin of my most beloved Alien.
Mugler’s latest launch is exactly that - Alien Eau Extraordinaire – a lighter take on the the brashness of Alien, that reportedly “accentuates incandescent freshness” and amps up the scent’s brighter citrus notes. Alien, whilst being a foghorn of a scent (a beautiful foghorn, of course), did display an impressively fresh citrus facet worthy of further exploration, so it is with great interest that I approached this entirely more luminous creation.
Created by perfumer Dominique Ropion who, along with Laurent Bruyere, was responsible for the original, Alien Eau Extraordinaire is a stand alone fragrance described by Mugler as being “charged with a positive energy” and “combining a blend of notes known for their uplifting, energising powers with the unique signature of Alien to convey a feeling of happiness and serenity for all women”. That all sounds rather promising, if you ask me!
When I first started exploring the world of perfume I only really had time for scents that were loud, proud and downright fabulous. But now, as I get older and my approach to perfume is increasingly more seasoned, I find myself appreciating the art of subtlety and the application of a ‘dab hand’. Now that’s not to say that I no longer enjoy scents that are loud, attention-grabbing, weird and even confrontational, but it does mean that a perfume doesn’t have to possess these characteristics for me to sit up and pay attention. In short: as long as it smells good it’s on my radar!
One particular genre this shift in focus has allowed me to appreciate is cologne. When done right, colognes and citrus scents can be infinitely beautifully as well as having the added benefits of being refreshing, undemanding and thirst quenching. French perfume house Atelier Cologne is one brand that gets the idea of colognes spot on, having created the ‘Cologne Absolue’ – concentrated colognes that “celebrates the elegance of citruses” and possess the perfect trifecta of; longevity, freshness and intensity.
The latest addition to Atelier Cologne’s ‘Collection Originale’ is Cédrat Envirant (‘Intoxicating Citrus’) – a cologne that takes inspiration from the French 75 cocktail and merges the world of perfume and mixology in a haze of mouthwatering citrus. Created by perfumer Ralf Schweiger (Frederic Malle’s Lipstick Rose and Etat Libre d’Orange’s Fils de Dieu and The Afternoon of a Faun) in a Cologne Absolue concentration of 15%, Cédrant Envirant is described by the brand as being for lovers of “lemon and gin notes”. Count me in as one of those!
“As the sun set on the beach, they were all together again. Full of emotions, they could not stop talking. Had it really been so long? They shared many memories and another round of French 75s with laugher and tears in their eyes. No one wanted the night to end. As the sun rose, it was a sparkling moment of absolue friendship.”
2014 is quickly become the year of the rose for me. It all started with the fabulous (and addictive) Tobacco Rose by soon-to-be-launched perfume house Papillon Perfumery and quickly spiralled into many days absorbed in clouds of Montale’s Black Aoud and a thirsty hunt for more roses. Nothing can satiate my appetite when I’m on a mission, so it was with much interest that I approached Isparta PG26 (hereafter referred to simply as ‘Isparta’) - the new rose fragrance from Parfumerie Générale.
Now Parfumerie Générale and I have a complex relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for the brand and Pierre Guillaume as a perfumer, but nothing from the line has bowled me over yet (Djhénne has come VERY close – I really should invest in a bottle but something holds me back) and I want so desperately to love something with PG’s intriguing gourmand signature.
Isparta is very much in the Pierre Guillaume style (read: woody/gourmand-ish) but displays more clarity than a lot of his perfumes. His other rose, Brulure de Rose for example, is a much thicker and ‘delicious’ take on the note, but Isparta thankfully errs more on the transparent side of things. This is perhaps due to the perfume’s inspiration, which is a woody rose based entirely in nature:
“The province of Isparta in Turkey is famed for its rose oil, obtained from a variety called ‘Isparta Summer Roses’, which grows profusely in gardens and terraced fields on the soft mountain slopes. The roses are picked early in the morning when they are half-open and their fragrance is the strongest… intense, rich and slightly spicy.”
DIOR seem to be in a phase of reinvention at the moment, having revamped a significant number of their classics. Over the last few years they have introduced a fair degree of flankers (reinterpretations) of some of their most iconic scents and for 2014 they have launched both Hypnotic Poison (see my review here) and Fahrenheit in richer and more intense concentrations.
Few masculine fragrances are more iconic than DIOR’s 1988 scent Fahrenheit and this new concentration – Fahrenheit Le Parfum - is a worthy purveyor of the name. For Le Parfum, the original’s blend of fresh greens and off-kilter tar has been expertly tinkered with by DIOR’s in-house perfumer Francois Demachy to create a more up-to-date and warmer version of Fahrenheit. Click here to head on over to Escentual and read my review.
Papillon Perfumery: Beautiful Perfumes Presented Without Gimmicks
There is so much ‘noise’ in the perfume industry in this day and age that it gets increasingly more difficult to pay attention to the cacophonous din of new launches and brand new niche brands. In order to rise above the noise many niche brands are resorting to ‘clever’ (read: annoying) gimmicks to make their wares stand out from the crowd, ranging from perfumes inspired by blood types (see Blood Concept) to scents that aren’t supposed to be perfumes (see Juliette Has a Gun). Rarely is the product allowed to speak for itself.
Still, for each naff niche brand there is a decent one with high quality products (brands like Arquiste, 4160 Tuesday’s and Maison Francis Kurkdjian to name just a very small few) that allows for the beauty of their scents to be the element that sets them apart from the many other bottles they share their shelf space with. These refreshing outfits remind one that within the crowds and crowds of scent on the market, there are individuals with a passion for perfume and a unique voice waiting to be heard.
One such brand is Papillon Perfumery. Created by New Forest perfumer Liz Moores and launching this year, Papillon has three perfumes devoid of any bells, whistles and gimmicks – they are simply expertly crafted and beautiful perfumes that truly speak for themselves. The perfumes (Angélique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose) prove that familiar themes can still be presented in unique ways if one just approaches them in an entirely different manner.
Kristen Stewart Looking Like She’s Having a Wonderful Time, As Always…
I have definitely tried Balenciaga’s Florabotanica but for the life of me I cannot remember how I felt about it. The bottle is gorgeous so I’m pretty sure that I recall being impressed to some degree, but that’s about as far as my recollection goes. Perhaps I was put off by spokesfaceperson Kristen Stewart (there really is only so much of her looking bored that I can take) or maybe the scent was nice but nothing noteworthy (that sounds more like it). Whatever the reasons, Florabotanica failed to make an impression.
Florabotanica’s first flanker ‘Rosabotanica‘ however (we’re going to get a whole slew of these aren’t we? I reckon it’ll be ‘Jasmabotanica’ next), is definitely more memorable and noteworthy and comes as a complete surprise for a brand that always makes high quality stuff but doesn’t always push the boat out artistically speaking. Rosabotanica certainly changes the game in that respect.
Launched in late 2013, Rosabotanica was created by perfumers Olivier Polge (Florabotanica, Dior Homme and Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb) and Jean-Christophe Hérault (Florabotanica and Comme des Garçons’ Amazingreen) as “the second flower in Balenciaga’s magical garden”. ‘Magical’ is indeed the right word for it as this second botanical scent takes the idea of flowers into unique, unusual and positively futuristic territory.
One of the perfumes I have been very much looking forward to (read: lusting after like a geeky fan boy) since I heard about its impending launch towards the end of 2013 is ‘La Tentation de Nina‘ by Nina Ricci. “Why?” I hear you ask, well the answer is simple: this is a perfume inspired by a special macaron made by Ladurée. I love macarons (although I’d take an Ispahan over these little treats any day), I love Ladurée and I love perfume – a match made in heaven, I feel.
Created by Olivier Cresp (Nina Ricci’s Nina with Jacques Cavallier and Mugler’s Angel with Yves de Chiris) in partnership with Ladurée’s Head Pastry Chef Vincent Lemains – La Tentation de Nina is a perfume evocative of the most trendy meringue-based confection in the world. The brand bill this partnership and creation as a “playful mirroring of the sense” where a perfume and macaron take inspiration from each other, coming together to create “the ultimate temptation.” But does it live up to expectations? Well the short answer to that question is ‘sort of’…
CK x 3: CK One for Her, for Him and Endless Euphoria
No perfume brand is quite as prolific as Calvin Klein. Since their first perfume in 1978 they have launched an impressive 89 fragrances (according to the Basenotes directory) and I’m pretty sure that there are a number of stealthy flankers that make that number possibly even higher. The truth is that, due to being the purveyor of a number of iconic scents, CK do love a good flanker to capitalise on their already existing brands, and who can blame them? Surely it’s easier to make a billion and one versions of CK One than it is to think of a decent name for a new scent (*cough*Downtown*cough*)…
So this year sees the launch of more flankers from Calvin Klein. The first is a duo of scents bestowing the CK One name – CK One Red for Her and Red for Him. These rouge editions of the iconic unisex fragrance are “inspired by the atmosphere of a party, which pulsates with super-charged, untameable energy”  which all sounds like good fun but at this present moment in time I’m still unsure where the ‘red’ element comes into it, especially as the fragrances are as devoid of the colour as the marketing spiel.
The third new scent is Endless Euphoria, the latest flanker to Calvin Klein’s Cloverfield monster of fragrance – Euphoria (2005). Following Euphoria Blossom (2006) and Forbidden Euphoria (2011), Endless is billed as a fragrance that translates the provocative fantasy of the iconic Euphoria into sheer uplifting sensuality”  and it certainly follows suit as a much lighter (so much lighter), more transparent and pastel coloured version of the original.