The Ruby Oud – Maison Francis Kurkdjian OUD Satin Mood Perfume Review

New from Francis Kurkdjian's Maison: OUD Satin Mood

New from Francis Kurkdjian’s Maison: OUD Satin Mood

Oud fragrances come in all shapes and sizes.  There are the straightforward ouds presented in a vaguely middle-eastern style, uniformed with rose and amber.  There are also the hidden ouds – ouds that are anything but the funky barnyard of the real thing.  Finally, we mustn’t forget the unusual ouds – the ouds that do something a bit different, and a bit daring, with this now plentifully utilised note, and take it to dizzying new heights of olfaction.  One of my favourite ouds that sits firmly in the unique camp is Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s OUD – a scent that colours the usually smoky and animalic odour of the noble tree rot into shades of cerulean blue, with flecks of gold shimmer.  In OUD, Kurkdjian pairs oud from Laos with a metric-f-ton of musk and fresh citrus to create an ethereal, and not to mention, thoroughly modern oud, that is a world away from the oppressive, and dense ouds that attempt to conjure images of a middle eastern bazaar, but ultimately come across as a caricature.

Kurkdjian followed his tremendous OUD with his OUD Mood collection, which consisted of three oud-based fragrances inspired by silk, cashmere and velvet.  My favourite from this particular collection was OUD Velvet Mood, an odd and industrial sort-of-oud that perfectly captures the smell of hot metal skyscrapers  formed from steel and blazing sheets of glass, rising from the sands in Dubai.  To put it simply, when it comes to oud, or the art of perfumery in general, Kurkdjian follows his own set of rules and he always offers up something new, and exciting.  So, if you’re bored with oud (at this point, I’m bored with being bored with oud) Kurkdjian is the man to get you out of that funk.

This spring, Kurkdjian is treating us to yet another oud, and this time he’s ready to paint the town red – ruby red, to be precise.  Joining the OUD Mood collection, this new scent, which is entitled OUD Satin Mood, is a delicious, decadent and daring take on the oud theme that plays with familiar themes, but twists them excitedly on their heads.  It’s a fragrance that one wants to wrap around themselves in a veil of protection – an amulet and a talisman to ward of the greyness of everyday life – a banner that says, back of bitches, I’m fabulous.

“With your eyes closed, you can imagine flowing fabrics delicately draped over bare skin, caressed by intense and dazzling sunlight. You will want to wrap it around you, lose yourself in the depth of the moment and suspend time.”

– Maison Francis Kurkdjian

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Smelly News: Byredo Launch Inez & Vinoodh 1996 Candle

The 1996 Candle from Byredo

The 1996 Candle from Byredo

Swedish perfume house, Byredo have launched their popular and Fragrance Foundation Award winning fragrance, 1996 as a limited edition candle. The fragrance, which was created in collaboration with fashion photographers Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, was inspired by a photograph taken by the duo in 1996, and is described as a scent that “combines polar opposites” and boasts a distinct accord of “viscous black amber”.

1996 was one of my favourite launches of 2013 and in my review I described it as being “sepia toned”. It’s an unfamiliar take on amber that sees sharpness, sweetness and unique textures pieced together to create a truly exceptional blend that is really unlike anything else out there. It is easily the brand’s most exciting fragrance and now, for those that love it, there is a candle too!

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Smelly News: The Library of Fragrance to Launch in the UK

The Library of Fragrance

The Library of Fragrance

“Rather than trying to capture the ‘essence’ of an aspirational ideal or glossy advertising image, The Library of Fragrance presents scents that are ‘real’ and ‘familiar’ and can be chosen to reflect the preferences of the wearer, instead of those dictated by a perfumer or designer. Selecting a scent to wear becomes as easy as asking yourself, ‘what sort of things do I like?’.”

New York based perfumery, The Library of Fragrance (also known as Demeter Fragrance Library in the US) is due to launch in the UK next week. This encyclopaedic series of perfumes captures the smells that surround us on a day to day basis, ranging from marshmallows to dirt. They are straightforward and novel fragrances that always smell wonderfully accurate, whether they’re trying to recreate the odour of rain or play doh. I like to think of them as fun and fragrant pick me ups that do exactly what they say on the tin.

The Library of Fragrance has appeared in UK niche stores in limited distribution in the past, but this September sees a nationwide launch at pharmacy chain Boots, in store and online. A capsule collection of 28 fragrances (which can be layered to suit the wearer’s tastes) will be available at launch, ranging from the coziness of Amber to the delicious calories of Vanilla Ice Cream. Each fragrance will be available in 30ml Cologne sprays for £15, with a special 2 for £25 promotion featuring exclusively at Boots.

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Sharp Suits & Relaxed Denim – Alford & Hoff Eau de Toilette Perfume Review

Jon Kortajarena in Colin Firth & Tom Ford's A Single Man

Sharp Suits & Relaxed Denim – Jon Kortajarena & Colin Firth in Tom Ford’s A Single Man

The debut fragrance from new perfume and skincare brand, Alford & Hoff would have escaped my notice completely if it weren’t for the presence of venerable perfumer, Rodrigo Flores-Roux’s name on the ticket. Flores-Roux is responsible for some exceptional work on behalf of the likes of Tom Ford (Fleur de Chine, for example) and Arquiste (Boutonierre no.7 and Flor y Canto etc.), amongst many others. So it was with a keen sense of interest that I approached this oh-so-masculine-sounding fragrance penned by Flores-Roux, for an entirely new brand.

Alford & Hoff is the brainchild of athletes, Barry Alford and Jefferson Hoff. They aim to create luxurious fragrances and skincare products for “a new generation of men”, positioning their wares at the higher end of the designer market and at the lower end of niche. Their first fragrance, Alford & Hoff Eau de Toilette is described as being “confident, passionate, stylish, successful, [and] masculine in a modern way”, and reportedly contains “95 of the finest ingredients.”

That’s all well and good, but how does this modern ode to masculinity, created by one of the industry’s most exciting perfumers, smell? Well, it’s described as being a “fresh, woody” fragrance, and it most certainly lives up to the standards expected by the genre. Will it be a defining scent for the modern generation of men, or does it ultimately fail to break through the cliches of its style? You’ll have to read on to find out….

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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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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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“I Rock Tom Ford” – Tom Ford Private Blend Atelier d’Orient Collection Review

Atelier d'Orient

The Atelier d’Orient Collection

There is a song on Jay-Z’s latest album entitled ‘Tom Ford’, and in said song Mr Z raps the line; “I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford.” Well much like our good friend Jay-Z, I too am not one for recreational drug use and also have somewhat of a penchant for the offerings of American fashion designer Tom Ford – who knew we’d have so much in common?

Unfortunately that is where the common ground ends and unlike Jay-Z I do not have the adequate finances to rock any Tom Ford clothing (oh but how I wish I did), however my budget can certainly stretch to the designer’s olfactory offerings and like many others I have found there to be a number of sniff-worthy perfumes residing within the Tom Ford corner of the department store.

Mr Ford is relatively active on the olfactory front with two lines of perfume to choose from – the widely available and reasonably priced ‘Signature Collection’, which contains the likes of Black Orchid, Violet Blonde, Sahara Noir, Grey Vetiver and Noir; and the more exclusive and definitely pricier ‘Private Blends.’ Personally, I have found more love for the perfumes in the Signature Collection (much to the relief of my partner and bank balance), however the Private Blend certainly has more than its fair share of gems, which leads me nicely onto Tom Ford’s latest collection – ‘Atelier d’Orient.’

The Atelier d’Orient Collection is inspired by; “the sublime beauty, enigmatic sensuality and exquisite luxury of Asia” and each of the four fragrances within the collection are reported to contain; “ingredients that have treasured prestige in the Orient.” Speaking of the collection, Tom Ford states that each fragrance captures a distinct mood – “captivating romance, colonial elegance, luxurious exoticism and rich mysterious sensuality” – with each serving as a perfect representation of the bold Tom Ford aesthetic.

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