Escentual Post Round-Up: Calvin Klein Reveal and YSL Opium Perfume Reviews

Reveal - The Latest from Calvin Klein

Reveal – The Latest from Calvin Klein

My last two Escentual posts have been a contrasting look at the old and the new, in the world of perfume. Firstly, I took a look at Calvin Klein’s Reveal a few weeks back. This is the most surprising and unexpected feminine from CK, that channels Thierry Mugler’s wonderful Womanity, of all things. Just when you think there are no surprises left to be had in the perfume industry, one jumps up and taps you on the nose! Click here to read my review.

Now we move on to the ‘old’. Following the disaster that is Black Opium, I wanted to revisit the flanker’s mother fragrance, Opium. Granted, the new formulation of Opium is reportedly a pale shadow of its former self, but the fragrance should still be celebrated for being a trailblazer that created the trend for big and bold oriental-themed fragrances that permeated the ’80s. Check out my thoughts on Opium here.

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Monochromatic – Mona di Orio Myrrh Casati Perfume Review

Photo: Herb Ritts

Photo: Herb Ritts

It’s a simple fact that the late perfumer, Mona di Orio made beautiful perfumes. Having studied under the great Edmond Roudnitska (Dior’s Eau Sauvage & Diorissimo, and Rochas’ Femme), di Orio had a knack for creating romantic and surprising compositions that often turned a familiar signature on its head. Since her death, Mona’s co-founder, Jeroen Oude Sogtoen has remained faithful to her legacy and has released a number of fragrances from the archives – fragrances created by Mona di Orio before her untimely death. These have included the stunning Eau Absolue and the masterpiece that is Violette Fumée.

It seems that the brand is now turning a corner. There was always going to come a point where di Orio’s back catalogue of unreleased material would run out and an external perfumer would need to be invited in to compose something new. Now is that time and the brand is launching their first fragrance under their new Monogram collection, as well as re-releasing older perfumes (e.g. Nuit Noire and Lux) into the Signature collection. They’re also slowly re-packing the Les Nombres d’Or collection, starting with Oud, which is now called Oudh Osmanthus.

Myrrh Casati is Mona di Orio’s first fragrance composed by an external perfumer. Penned by Melanie Leroux, Myrrh Casati makes a statement as something quite different from the other perfumes within Mona di Orio’s extensive collection. The brand describe this ode to myrrh as being “extravagant, dark, [and] mysterious”, and I’d definitely agree with the latter two descriptors in that sentence – I’m just not entirely convinced that it is extravagant in the same way many of the Mona di Orio fragrances are. Myrrh Casati serves as an interesting diversification for the brand, for sure.

“Inspired by Marchesa Casati, the legendary patron of the arts and muse of eccentricity, known for her extravagant dark fashion and lavish fetes replete with exotic animals, gilded servants, and an infectious waft of incense and mystery that surrounded her.”

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Butchouli – Tom Ford Private Blend Patchouli Absolu Perfume Review

Tom Ford's Patchouli Absolu - Serving up 'Tom of Finland' Realness

Tom Ford’s Patchouli Absolu – Serving up ‘Tom of Finland’ Realness

The trajectory of the use of patchouli in perfume is a sad one. Most associate the earthy, oily and sour smell of the note with the hippy head shops in the 1970s however, one would find it almost impossible to come across such an impression in a modern fragrance, as it seems that all of the mirk and filth has been extracted from today’s perfumery landscape, leaving behind a sea of sanitised patchouli notes that are nice, but certainly not a patch on the real thing.

Tom Ford is a man that likes patchouli. Since he launched Tom Ford Beauty with Black Orchid in 2006 he has treated us to not one, not two, but three patchouli-based fragrances. His patchoulis, Purple Patchouli (2007), White Patchouli (2008) and the latest, Patchouli Absolu, present a diverse array of blends that showcase the marvelous versatility of an age-old note. Whether he be showcasing the sweet and fruity tones of Purple Patchouli or the high-class floral tones of White Patchouli, Tom Ford refuses to offer up a clean or unrealistic take on the note, and for that he must be applauded.

Patchouli Absolu takes patchouli back to its roots and displays a multi-faceted take on the note that it is extremely complex and thoroughly modern. At the core sits a trio of patchouli ingredients – Patchouli Oil, which gives a “raw and primal texture”, Patchouli Coeur, the “absolute extract of the plant” that provides a “refined earthiness”, and a “breakthrough iteration of patchouli” called Clearwood, that offers a pure rendition of patchouli. Patchouli Absolu is a true patchouli delivered in the signature opulence and luxury of Tom Ford’s Private Collection.

“Patchouli Absolu is Tom Ford’s personal ode to an ingredient that is intertwined with his own story. The iconic olfactive note of the 1970s, it evokes louche sensuality and after-dark glamour, as well as the heady blending of masculine and feminine that defined the era. This Eastern oil perfumed the skin of late seventies’ glitterati and bohemians alike, pervading the air of jet-set parties with a provocative, dark glamour. Patchouli fragranced the world that was to shape Tom Ford’s singular vision of style.”

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The Prettiness of Rose – Acqua di Parma Rosa Nobile Perfume Review

The Prettiness of Rose - Acqua di Parma Rosa Nobile

The Prettiness of Rose – Acqua di Parma Rosa Nobile

A few weeks back I reviewed Essence Nº1: Rose, one of the latest fragrances from Elie Saab and by all accounts a beautifully gourmand take on the humble rose. I love rose, in perfume and in pretty much everything else, and I admire the fact that one flower can be used so diversely, due mainly to the man wonderful nuances it displays as a material. It’s a true fact that not all roses are the same, and for every gourmand rose there’s an oriental rose or a photorealistic one, or even a ton of oud-soaked roses, creating a wide range of olfactory signatures that stem from one flower. The humble rose is anything if not impressive in this respect.

If Elie’s Saab new creation celebrates the gourmand facets of the rose, Rosa Nobile, the latest launch from Acqua di Parma, honours the beauty of rose in a simple, yet utterly satisfying manner. Rosa Nobile is an olfactory performance that celebrates the prettiness of rose in a dance of purity and simplicity. It speaks in pastel shades of pink and with a lightness of touch that is almost coy, but most of all, serves as an incredibly beautiful take on the queen of flowers.

“Strolling in the shade of centuries-old trees, among lodges and staircases, a sensuous fragrance drifts – the strong notes of the rose. Its scent forms part of Italy’s noble gardens which, like a queen, it pervades with natural elegance. Acqua di Parma takes their unequalled charm to give life to an Eau de Parfum introducing new touches into the universe of Le Nobili, a collection of women’s fragrances inspired by the most beautiful flowers of exclusive and private Italian gardens, where art and beauty blend in perfect balance. Each one a unique fragrance, selected for its noble femininity, for its fine perfumed essence, and for its quality. Compositions designed by Acqua di Parma using precious ingredients. Each one is unforgettable. Iris, Magnolia, Gelsomino and the new Rosa Nobile.”

- Acqua di Parma

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The Deliciousness of Rose – Elie Saab Essence Nº1: Rose Perfume Review

The Deliciousness of Rose - La Saint Honoré by Ladurée

The Deliciousness of Rose (La Saint Honoré by Ladurée)

Elie Saab burst onto the fragrance scene in a blaze of golden glory. His debut perfume ‘Le Parfum‘ was penned by none other than industry veteran, Francis Kurkdjian and it presented a radiant woody floral that utilised a solar orange blossom note to capture the unending beauty of Saab’s couture. This perfume kick-started a genre of radiant, glowing fragrances such as Carven’s Le Parfum (also by Kurkdjian) that now permeate the department store shelves, and it has deservedly found quite a following and spawned a number of flankers.

This year, Elie Saab and Francis Kurkdjian have teamed up once again to do something new – specifically to release a more exclusive collection of unisex fragrances entitled ‘La Collection des Essences’. Consisting of four perfumes, Essence Nº1: Rose, Essence Nº2: Gardenia, Essence Nº3: Ambre and Essence Nº4: Oud, the collection has been created to showcase “perfumed expressions of haute couture”, and unlike many exclusive collections (most of which are yawn-worthy and blatant money spinners), this one does exactly what it sets out to do with four fragrances that certainly capture the spirit of ‘Eau de Couture’.

“La Collection des Essences expresses a supreme elegance, a concise refinement that melds light and colour, depth and subtlety, volume and transparency. Four bold and exclusive statements with precise, dense and dazzling formulas.”

- Elie Saab

I have managed to try the whole collection and I must say that I am impressed, as I expected to be – I am, after all, a bit of Kurkdjian fan-boy. The Gardenia is a sharp, green and fuzzy take on the flower that sits somewhere between photorealism and abstraction, whereas the Ambre is a spicy, cosy and piquant amber, in a similar vein to Byredo’s 1996, and the Oud avoids the typical rose/super-spicy cliches as a woody and animalic oud that wouldn’t feel entirely out of place within Kurkdjian’s own collection. It is the Rose however, that has me hooked with its beautiful gourmand tones, that really are quite striking, despite their simplicity.

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New Escentual Post: Narciso Rodriguez NARCISO Competition

More Thoughts on Narciso Rodriguez's NARCISO and a Giveaway!

More Thoughts on Narciso Rodriguez’s NARCISO and a Giveaway!

A few weeks back I reviewed NARCISO, the latest fragrance from American fashion house, Narciso Rodriguez. It would be safe to say that I was pretty impressed with the abstract musky floral and it has quickly shown itself as a perfect representation of the Narciso Rodriguez brand and the muted colour palette favoured by the designer. In summation: it’s pretty good.

For this week’s Escentual column, I’ve shared a few more thoughts on NARCISO, which you can read by clicking here. More importantly however, Escentual are hosting a giveaway for three 50ml bottles of NARCISO. If you want to enter, all you need to do is leave a comment stating your favourite fragrance note on my Escentual review here. The competition closes on Wednesday 16 September 2014. I wish you all good luck.

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A Drip of Caramel on the Lips/A Walk Along the Icy Shore – Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Perfume Review

Wood Sage & Sea Salt

Wood Sage & Sea Salt

Jo Malone always strikes me as more of a lifestyle brand than a fragrance house. They produce an array of lovely scented goodies for the house and body that are housed within beautiful packaging. They look, feel and smell luxurious in a straight forward kind-of-way and have an unfussy approach in all that they do – an approach that does not seek to challenge. Their fragrances aren’t the most groundbreaking in the world, but they always come across as pleasant in a pure sort-of-way.

The brand’s latest fragrance, ‘Wood Sage & Sea Salt’ almost feels like a departure from the clean and pure simplicity that is inextricably linked with the name Jo Malone. Created by perfumer Christine Nagel, this new instalment from the British brand intends to celebrate the “treasure of the English coast” and be evocative of the “windswept shore” in a fresh, salty and mineral scent that really is unlike anything else one can find in the collection. Sure, it’s still a ‘clean’ cologne in the Jo Malone style, but it’s also a fascinatingly abstract piece of work that comes as a complete surprise.

“Escape the everyday along the windswept shore. Waves breaking white, the air fresh with seal salt and spray. Alive with the mineral scent of the rugged cliffs. Mingling with the woody earthiness of sage. Lively, spirited and totally joyful.”

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