Well Groomed – Penhaligon’s Bayolea Perfume Review

Bayolea by Penhaligon's

Bayolea by Penhaligon’s

Penhaligon’s, the eccentrically British perfume house, is a curious outfit. Their historic back catalogue of perfumes is full of straight-laced florals, robustly masculine eau de toilettes and even some exotic follies. Over the last few years however, the brand has made a definite move away from the stiff upper lift of the past and have released a bunch of quirky fragrances that range from filthy florals that can only be worn after the watershed (Amaranthine) to contemporary takes on traditional themes (Sartorial). They’ve even flirted with the British’ love of gin cocktails (Juniper Sling) and have pushed the olfactory envelope to dizzying heights with the bizarre and whimsical (Tralala).

So yes, Penhaligon’s have modernised and funked-up their image of late, but they’re not afraid to return to their traditional roots – and that’s exactly what they’ve done with their latest masculine fragrance ‘Bayolea‘. Created as a reformulation of a bay rhum fragrance from the Penhaligon’s archives, Bayolea has been chosen to scent the brand’s new, and rather extensive grooming range, as well as front the collection in its Eau de Toilette form. Without giving too much away at this stage, it would be safe for me to say that Bayolea is an impeccably well-groomed fragrance that feels perfectly suited to any gent – modern, traditional or otherwise.

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New Escentual Post: Serge Lutens L’Orpheline Perfume Review

New Escentual Post - L'Orpheline by Serge Lutens

New Escentual Post – L’Orpheline by Serge Lutens

One can always trust Serge Lutens, or ‘Uncle Serge’ as he is often reffered to in affection, to do something a little bit different. Over his career, Lutens and his perfumer and right hand man, Christopher Sheldrake have created a wealth of opulent, angular and fatal perfumes that smell beautiful, challenging and often entirely unique. To put it simply, to enter the world of Lutens is to take a step into the unfamiliar.

For my Escentual column this week, I’ve reviewed the latest addition to the house of Serge Lutens – the strangely named ‘L’Orpheline‘ (The Orphan). Without giving too much away, it’s a difficult perfume to pin down and right from the outset it feels awash with contradictions and an overall fuziness that blurs the lines between strong juxtapositions. If that has you suitably intrigued, simply click here to head on over to read my review. As always, don’t forget to leave a comment with your thoughts if you’ve given L’Orpheline a sniff.

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Desired Constellation – Hermès Eau des Merveilles Perfume Review

Desired Constellation - Eau de Merveilles by Hermès

Desired Constellation – Eau des Merveilles by Hermès

“For women who dream with their eyes wide open and see stars in daylight.”

- Hermès

Yesterday I shared the news that Hermès are launching a limited collector’s edition bottle for Eau des Merveilles to celebrate its 10th anniversary. This got me thinking about the scent itself and the fact that I had never taken the time to sit down and review it in full – a truth that is absolutely criminal seeing as it is one of my all-time favourites. So today, rather than focusing on something ‘brand new’, I’d like to give a brief nod to a beautiful fragrance on its 10th birthday.

Eau des Merveilles was created for Hermès by perfumers Nathalie Feisthauer (Gardénia Pétale and Putain des Palaces) and Ralf Schweiger (Fils de Dieu, The Afternoon of a Faun and Cédrat Enivrant) in 2004 as a topsy-turvy perfume that displays no top, middle and base notes, instead opting for an “unusual revolving structure” consisting of three accords; “The Spirit of Wood”, “The Memory of the Ocean” and “The Sparkle of a Constellation”. The result is something entirely unconventional, yet incredibly familiar, evoking the feel of a well-know melody caught on the breeze – recognisable, yes, but difficult to identify.

Since its launch, Eau des Merveilles has been through the Hermès flanker-mill a number of times. To date, the family consists of; an Extrait version (Parfum des Merveilles), a richer and more gourmand interpretation (Elixir des Merveilles), a version that displays more transparency (Eau Claire des Merveilles) and even one flanker that is full of edible amber (L’Ambre des Merveilles). As with all things Hermès, these familial fragrances are all brilliantly executed, but it is the original that remains the most striking and even ten years down the line, Eau des Merveilles is still the star of the collection.

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Pretty in Purple – Lalique Amethyst Éclat Perfume Review

Dita Von Teese in Christian Lacroix

Dita Von Teese in Christian Lacroix Bridal

No perfume genre is more scorned than the humble fruity floral. Well, actually the world of oud raises a few eyebrows too, but that’s another matter. Fruity florals however, thanks to a billion and one dreadful celebrity fragrant messes, have received a lot of bad press and tend to present themselves as ditzy-sweet hazes (Miss Dior) or sticky-syrup disasters (Lady Gaga’s Fame) rather than anything interesting or well-constructed. But the truth is that, with a degree of intelligence and the application of a sense of humour (see Insolence), a fruity floral can be a very good thing indeed.

Without giving too much away in advance of this review, Lalique’s new flanker to 2007’s Amethyst, ‘Amethyst Éclat‘, is a good fruity floral that feels intelligently composed, and perhaps more importantly, is just so effortlessly pretty in its execution that one cannot help but fall for its delicate charm. And charm is something that this fragrance certainly has by the bucket load.

Created by perfumer Nathalie Lorson (also responsible for the original Amethyst), Amethyst Éclat, is different from the original in the sense that it reportedly “sparkles with the pure, bright exhilarating scent of peony”, taking on a much more radiant and refined character. I’ve only tried the original Amethyst in passing, so what follows is not a comparison of the two scents, but rather a look at Amethyst Éclat in isolation and entirely on its own merits. The result is rather surprising!

“Between Amethyst and Amethyst Éclat, the raspberry, blackcurrant and blackberry accord runs like a red thread… Or rather, like the succulent trickle of juice that seeps between your fingers when you pick sun-gorged berries between the brambles. It is from this luscious garden that Nathalie Lorson, who authored both fragrances, plucked the radiant peony which lights up the heart of her new offering.”

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The Big Splash – Tom Ford Private Blend Costa Azzurra & Mandarino di Amalfi Perfume Reviews

Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino Collection

Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino Collection

If there ever was a time for Tom Ford to launch two new colognes, now was it. The relentless heat of summer appears to be continuing, well, relentlessly, and light, citrus-centric and floral colognes really are the genre du jour at this time of year. When the sun beats down indiscriminately in the sky and the muggy air really starts to the take the biscuit, the humble eau de cologne really is the only way forward.

Of course, Tom Ford’s fragrances are generally contemporary and high-fashion twists on traditional themes, therefore any eau de cologne launched by the brand isn’t likely to be conventional. Just take Ford’s Neroli Portofino, for example – a vibrant and clean neroli-based cologne that does the unthinkable – it lasts, and lasts. Tom Ford’s colognes may tip their cap to history, but as with all things he touches, they are exceptionally modern.

Much like last year’s Oud Wood Collection, Tom Ford is capitalising on the phenomenal success of Neroli Portofino to create the Neroli Portofino Collection. This capsule collection within Ford’s series of Private Blend consists of the aforementioned Neroli Portofino and two new colognes as stable mates – Costa Azzurra and Mandarino di Amalfi. One represents the early morning sun over a glimmering ocean, whilst the other is that same ocean scene as the sun dips below the horizon.

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New Escentual Post: Comme des Garçons Wonderoud Perfume Review

New Escentual Post: Wonderoud by Comme des Garçons

New Escentual Post: Wonderoud by Comme des Garçons

I know what you’re thinking: “not another blooming oud”, and if we were talking about any other fragrance brand rather than the esteemed Comme des Garçons, I’d be right there with you having a moan. But we are in fact talking about a brand that takes their perfumes very seriously and their latest, the rather showily named ‘Wonderoud‘, is a rather nicely-executed oud that will make even the most grumpy perfumista sit up and take an intrigued sniff.

For my Escentual column this week, I’ve taken a closer look at Wonderoud and given it the once over for your pleasure . My findings, as you can guess, are mostly positive, but to read the whole review, please click here. Don’t forget to let me know what you think of Wonderoud, if you’ve tried it, and if not, what your very favourite oud fragrance is (mine is Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s incomparable OUD, FYI).

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Moving Forward – Amouage Journey Woman & Journey Man Perfume Reviews

Amouage's Journey Man & Journey Woman

Amouage’s Journey Man & Journey Woman

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.

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Blue Skies – Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Perfume Review

Daisy Dream

Daisy Dream

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 VII and 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.

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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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New Escentual Post: Agent Provocateur Fatale Review

“Flirt With Danger” – ‘Fatale’ the Latest Fragrance from Agent Provocateur

Lots of perfumes are sold on the basis that they are ‘sexy’. All one needs to do to see proof of this is simply peruse an assortment of perfume ads, which will inevitably show attractive men and lady folk in varying states of undress post and pre-coitus. Sex sells, of course, and the perfume world is not immune to this, meaning that where fragrance goes, ‘sexy’ is never far behind.

One brand that is not averse to racy perfumes is Agent Provocateur. Their wardrobe of fragrances (or should that be ‘knicker draw of fragrances’?) is full of retro, glamour puss perfumes that are instantly evocative of silk stockings, garter belts and frilly brassieres. ‘Fatale’, their latest perfume, feels very much like a step into the mainstream and plays with the idea of a powdery ‘fruitchouli’ in an enjoyable, but not particularly erotic manner.

For my Escentual column this week, I have taken a close look at this new fragrance and whether it feels more fun than foxy (spoiler: it does). So, if you’re in the mood to read about a femme without the fatale then please click here to head on over to Escentual. As always, don’t forget to let me know what you think of Fatale, if you’ve given it a try, or even what your favourite sexy fragrance is.

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