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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The Evolution of Tom Ford’s Signature – Tom Ford Velvet Orchid Perfume Review

Gigi Hadid for Tom Ford Velvet Orchid

Gigi Hadid for Tom Ford Velvet Orchid [Photographed by Mario Sorrenti]

Tom Ford’s Signature Collection houses a vast array of bold, wearable fragrances that are of exceptional high quality, but are also entirely more accessible than those within his Private Blend collection. They are statement pieces, right from the oriental opulence of Sahara Noir to the casual elegance of Violet Blonde, and as with all things ‘Tom Ford’ they exude a richness that is very much in keeping with the brand’s luxurious and contemporary-classic aesthetic.

Perhaps the most iconic fragrance within M. Ford’s oeuvre is the dramatic Black Orchid (released in 2006) – the brand’s first and most daring outing. With this perfume, Tom Ford sent a strong message, shouting that he wasn’t going to approach the world of fragrance in a typical or boring way, he was going to create divisive perfumes that make their presence know and celebrate all that is fashionable and glamorous. And that, my friends, is what the man has done ever since.

For 2014, Tom Ford has worked with perfumers Yann Vasnier, Antoine Maisondieu, Calice Asancheyev-Becker and Shyamala Maisondieu (a practical dream team of noses, if you ask me), to create a new riff on his incredibly successful debut perfume. Housed within a royal purple flacon and bestowed with the name ‘Velvet Orchid‘, this perfume is seen as an evolution of the legendary Black Orchid and is promoted by the brand as a new signature fragrance within Ford’s wonderful Signature Collection.

“Velvet Orchid lives in a glamorous world of mystique, evolving the carnal grandeur and seductive power of Tom Ford’s original Black Orchid into a harmonious an uber-feminine fragrance. Lavished with cool freshness, dramatic petals, honey and rum, Tom Ford Velvet Orchid is an oriental floral fragrance that teases and caresses with enveloping and brilliant warmth.”

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New Escentual Post: Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire

Up until very recently, Van Cleef & Arpels was not a brand whose fragrant offerings I was particularly familiar with. They are well known for the older scents, especially the Jean-Claude Ellena-penned ‘First’, which was created way back in 1976. It seems that in my ignorance, I have been missing out on some intriguing perfume blends, especially with the brand’s exclusive line – ‘Collection Extraordinaire’.

For last week’s Escentual column I have reviewed all of the fragrances within the Collection Extraordinaire, including the latest addition – ‘California Rêverie’ (a more in-depth review of which, can be found here). This is, for the most part, a thoroughly well-executed collection that covers a wide range of familiar styles and serves as a rather understated approach to ‘niche’ perfumery. To read my review, simply click here. Don’t forget to let me know which of the collection is your favourite in the comments box.

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New Escentual Post: P is for Poison…

P is for Poison...

P is for Poison…

The ‘P’ in my ‘Escentual A-Z’ could have stood for many things. After all, itt was quite tempting to tackle the olfactory offerings of Italian fashion house, Prada or it would have even been quite interesting to take a look at Patchouli, one of the more prevalent (and wonderful) ingredients within the perfumer’s palette. But as great as both of these subjects are, there was one that simply would not have allowed me to talk about anything else but it – or should I say ‘her’.

That’s right, for this week’s Escentual column and the latest instalment in my fragrant A-Z, I have penned an ode to the biggest diva and the fiercest bitch in all of perfumedom – Poison by Christian Dior. No fragrance has been louder, prouder and more iconic, and whether one loves her or her hates, it cannot be denied that Poison has personality by the bucket loads. The question is whether you’re her friend or her enemy? I know which I would rather be…

So, if you’re in the mood for a small dose of Poison (I think we all agree that this one is always better in a measured dose), please apply your ruffles, back comb that huge hair and insert those shoulder pads – oh and click here to head on over to Escentual to read the piece. Just be careful not to end up in a cat fight whilst your there – Poison fights dirty and I cannot guarantee your safety. Enjoy!

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Smooth Operator – 4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent on the Planet. Ever. (IMHO) Perfume Review

Jamie Dornan

Jamie Dornan - The Sexiest Man on the Planet. Ever (IMHO)

Sex sells, as they say, and the world of perfume is certainly no exception. We are constantly bombarded with hyper-sexualised images of men and women, gently caressing perfume bottles and writhing around in faux wind-machine-assisted ecstasy, all just to spur us to part with cash at our local branch of Debenhams. Some brands go even further and play with the naked form in a deliberately shocking way, like Tom Ford with his verging-on-the-obscene Terry Richardson ad campaign for Tom Ford for Men, for example, or even Yves Saint Laurent and their slightly more tasteful, but still completely full frontal print ad for M7 (both NSFW links courtesy of Mr. Ford’s artistic direction, FYI).

But what makes a perfume sexy? Well, one would think that the answer to this question is entirely subjective, and in reality I think that is most likely to be the case. I imagine our idea of ‘sexiness’ in scent to be similar to the appearance of love potions in the world of Harry Potter (bear with me here), where the smell that each potion exudes is unique to the individual that sniffs it, depending on what they find attractive in a person. To put it another way – one man’s sexy fragrance is another’s olfactory cold shower, and it would be true to say that many supposedly ‘sexy’ scents fail to deliver, whereas the most seductive scents seem to be those that aren’t necessarily billed as such – sexy surprises, if you will.

One fragrance that makes rather bold claims about being ‘hot’ is 4160 Tuesdays’ ‘The Sexiest Scent on the Planet. Ever. (IMHO)‘. Well, that’s what one would think from the name, but in reality this perfume, which was originally created by perfumer Sarah McCartney as a base for her Gin Garden scent and inadvertently named by a Tatler journalist, has a moniker that is served with tongue pressed firmly in cheek. The truth however, is that this fragrance is wonderfully executed, delicious and one of the easiest scents to wear on the planet. Ever.

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Cali-Floral Dreamin’ – Van Cleef & Arpels California Rêverie

Paysage d'Opale - A Shining Piece from the Van Cleef & Arpels California Rêverie Collection

Paysage d’Opale – A Shining Piece from the Van Cleef & Arpels California Rêverie Collection

If I was forced to pick my favourite fragrance genre, I would be able to answer with “floral” without a moment’s hesitation. My love for all things fragrant and flowery knows no end and I find myself drawn to a wide range of flower based fancies, ranging from supreme aldehydic floral bouquets to soliflores, and all that is in between. So yes, I love it when flowers and perfume come together, but I especially adore the heady tones of white floral perfumes based on the notes of; jasmine, tuberose or orange blossom.

Not all florals are symphonic beauties however, and it is often tricky to strike the right balance between something that is evocative of nature and something that is more abstract. Many attempts at capturing the hypnotic melody of flowers end up being too thin, due in part to the perfumers not being given enough money to work with, or in many cases they can fall into the trap of simply being ‘too much’ – one wants to revel in these flowers, not be devoured by them. Some however, get this balance absolutely right and this leads me quite nicely on to today’s subject: California Rêverie by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Created by perfumer Antoine Maisondieu (the man responsible for Etat Libre d’Orange’s Jasmin et Cigarette and Comme des Garçons Stephen Jones etc.), California Rêverie is the latest addition to Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection Extraordinaire – a collection that follows one rule, and one rule only – the rule of “excellence”. Taking inspiration from the brand’s jewellery collection of the same name (a sample of which can be seen above), this fragrance picks the note of jasmine to evoke Californian landscapes. California Rêverie is described by Van Cleef & Arpels as a “dizzying state of sensuality” that allows one to “drift off on a dreamlike voyage to the heart of Californian nature”. That all sounds rather good, doesn’t it?

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New Escentual Post: Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Collection Review

Fragrant Ditties: Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria Collection

Fragrant Ditties: Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Collection

Everyone loves Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria collection, right? I mean, what’s not to adore about easy-breezy fragrances inspired by nature? Nothing – that’s what. This diffusion line presents fragrant ditties that sing with floral and citrus notes very much in line with the ‘Guerlain DNA’. All-in-all, it’s a very good line, and whilst I’m still lamenting the grossly unfair discontinuation of my beloved Lys Soleia (yes I’m giving you the evil eye, Guerlain), it’s hard to deny that the Aqua Allegorias, for the most part, are great perfumes.

Since the line’s launch in 1999, Guerlain have launched a whopping 31 Aqua Allegoria fragrances (according to Basenotes). Of course, many of these editions have not stood the test of time and despite annual launches, the collection currently stands at a neat total of 5 fragrances; Pamplelune (Holy Grapefruit), Herba Fresca (Magic Mint), Mandarine Basilic (Mediterranean Showdown), Nerolia Bianca (Orange is the New Blossom) and Limon Verde (Mojito Madness).

For my Escentual column this week I have sniffed and reviewed the entire Aqua Allegoria collection, including Limon Verde, the latest addition to the collection. So, if you’re in a summer mood and you’re wanting to hear some pretty little tunes played by the world’s greatest perfume house (an undeniable fact, I think you’ll find), simply click here to head on over to Escentual. As always, please feel free to leave a comment (either here or there) to let me know what your favourite Aqua Allegoria is.

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Magical Botanical – Liz Earle Botanical Essence Nº1 and Nº15 Perfume Reviews

Magical Botanical

Magical Botanical

In the world of perfumery there is an age-old conflict the natural vs the synthetic. It’s a complicated argument with many different view points, with some asserting that ‘natural’ is better, whereas others believe that a mixture of both the natural stuff and the ‘synthetic’ materials is required to make truly complete compositions. I personally am firmly in the mixed camp and have found many predominately, or all-natural fragrances to feel quite flat and unfinished.

That said, I’m always open to persuasion and it seems that I may have found just the thing to convince me, courtesy of “naturally active skincare” brand, Liz Earle. Up until now, my exposure to this particular brand has been what I’ve seen on QVC and the many bottles of Cleanse & Polish that my mother worked her way through when I was a kid. I therefore know that Liz Earle stands for quality without compromise, and it would be safe to say that her fragrances follow suit.

Liz Earle currently has two perfumes in her lineup; Botanical Essence Nº1 and Botanical Essence Nº15. The former is a 98% natural composition penned by perfumer Jean Charles Niel and is described as being“vibrant and sparkling”, whilst the latter is a 90% natural fragrance composed by perfume Alienor Massenet and billed as “an olfactory jewel, evoking the feeling of elegance and seduction“. Both are surprisingly three-dimensional perfumes that could be enough to convince even the most sceptical of fragrance nerds (i.e. me).

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Roseate – Jo Malone Silk Blossom Cologne Perfume Review

Pretty in Pink - Silk Blossom Cologne by Jo Malone

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.”

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