A Safe Haven – Hermès Le Jardin de Monsieur Li Perfume Review

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li - The Final Instalment in Hermès' 'Un Jardin' Series

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li – The Final Instalment in Hermès’ ‘Un Jardin’ Series

Hermès have to be admired for their consistency. Since installing the inimitable Jean-Claude Ellena as their in-house perfumer (he is soon set to retire and step down from his post), the house has regularly turned out fascinating, beautiful and nature-inspired fragrances in a cohesive style. Ellena’s perfumes for Hermès are not grand dames or challenging experiments, they are landscape paintings in pastel-coloured chalks or water colours. Their transparency and weightlessness are what sets them apart from the crowd, and whilst they follow a distinct style, they never fall into the trap of being too similar. There is variety in this extensive oeuvre as well as beauty.

One of Hermès more popular collection of fragrances is the ‘Les Jardin’ series. The five fragrances from this series are designed as fragrant tales of lengthy strolls through glorious gardens in various locations around the globe. Whether they be set on a roof top in Paris or along the Nile in Egypt, these are transportive scents that fit somewhere between abstraction and reality. Their delicate and translucent style gives the impression that air from each location has simply been bottled, and as one sprays this scented oxygen, the garden comes to life right in front of their eyes (or should I say, ‘nose’).

For 2015, Hermès has launched ‘Le Jardin de Monsieur Li’. Following a visit it to China, Jean-Claude Ellena pieced together this imaginary idea of a Chinese garden, that is designed as a retreat – a contemplative place for the visitor to take solace in and seek tranquility, and peace. “We all have something in us of Mr Li” says Hermès, and we all need a safe haven to run off to when the stresses of life take hold – Le Jardin Monsieur Li is that very place, and in it one can seek both happiness and a true sense of calm.

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The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Jasmine

The Candy Perfume Boy's Guide to Jasmine

The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Jasmine

The Candy Perfume Boy’s ‘Guide to…‘ series is a Jasmine award winning fragrant exploration of the individual notes that make up the vast and multi-dimensional spectrum that is the world of perfume. In each episode, we take a detailed look at a particular ingredient, analysing its odour profile and the ‘must sniff’ perfumes that serve as reference examples within the genre.

The many fragrant trips in the series have seen us make stops at Planet Tuberose, Chocolate World and Lavender Moon. We’ve also taken journeys to discover the notes of Oud, Orange Blossom, Violet and Lily. Oh, and we mustn’t forget Vanilla – we’ve been there too (and it was particularly delicious, I must say). All-in-all, we’ve traversed some delectably smelly places, learning more and more about the world of perfume on the way. I for one have found it to be great fun, and I hope you, dear reader, have too.

In this instalment we take a look at one of perfumery’s most important, prominent and prolific ingredients – jasmine. This stuff is a vital building block in our perfumes and iconic fragrances such as Chanel’s Nº5 (a true legend) simply would be the same without it. So, without further ado, I have put together my selection of ‘reference’ jasmine fragrances – seven of the very best, to be precise – to help you guide yourself through the must sniffs of the jasmine world. Let’s go scent-trekking.

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A Golden Opportunity, Missed – Versace Eros Pour Femme Perfume Review

Eros Pour Femme - Versace's Goddess

Eros Pour Femme – Versace’s Goddess

When Versace launched their most recent masculine fragrance, Eros, in 2013 I really wanted to like it. Every fibre of my fragrant being hoped for it to be good and before casting my inquisitive nose over the scent, I was encouraged by the terrifically gaudy bottle and over the top, muscle-filled advert, both of which were done in that ridiculous way that only Versace knows how to do. Alas, it was not meant to be and Eros turned out to be a synthetic clash of chemically grown lemon and day old vanilla pudding. It’s pretty terrible to be honest with you and feels genetically modified in a way that is more evocative of Godzilla’s ball sack than the glistening pectorals of an Ancient God.  To cut a long story short, I wasn’t a fan.

So when Versace announced the launch of Eros Pour Femme, one would have thought that I’d have learned my lesson and steered well clear. `One would think that I wouldn’t be enticed by the simply fabulous bottle with its gold medusa head, and one would hope that I wasn’t silly enough to think that perhaps, it could be a big old stinky white floral in the manner of Versace’s incredible Blonde.  You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?  That’s right, I fell hook, line and sinker for the aesthetics of Eros Pour Femme and raised my hopes to an incredibly high level, only rivalled by the time that the time that Madonna performed her new single at the Brits, and we all know how that turned out (disclaimer: I love you, Madonna and bravo for carrying on).  I had high hopes for Eros Pour Femme, people, apple pie in the sky hopes and as you’ve probably guessed by now, I was sorely disappointed.

Eros Pour Femme was created by perfumers Alberto Morillas (CK One, Dalí, Iris Prima Mugler Cologne & Opus VII), Olivier Cresp (D&G Light Blue, Juniper Sling and Angel) and Nathalie Lorson (Dita Von Teese & Black Opium) – three incredible perfumers, no less. The striking ad campaign (which does have a degree of the glistening pecs of the original in it, I checked) was shot by fashion photographers Mert & Marcus. Donatalla Versace helmed the project.  It would be fair to say that there are some talented people on board the Eros Pour Femme ship, but there’s also a striking lack of ingenuity or anything that remotely resembles innovation, in fact. Eros Pour Femme turns out to be nothing more than an allegory for what the brand now is – not as good as it used to be.

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A Quiet Cacophony of Rose – Maison Francis Kurkdjian À la Rose Perfume Review

A Quiet Cacophony of Rose

A Quiet Cacophony of Rose

There are few brands whose launches I look forward to more than those from Maison Francis Kurkdjian.  I’ll just come out and say it – I’m a Francis Kurkdjian fanboy. If you’ve been following my Instagram over the last week, you will have seen proof of this in the form of me spending much of my time enjoying Kurkdjian’s creations for rebellious fashion designer, Jean Paul Gaultier (specifically; Le Mâle, Fragile and Fleur du Mâle). Maison Francis Kurkdjian, the perfumer’s very own brand is one of my favourites and with MFK, Kurkdjian manages to weave simplicity and complexity effortlessly together, creating approachable but high quality, and more importantly, high class perfumes.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s latest fragrance is À la Rose, and unsurprisingly, it’s all about the humble rose – 250 of them, in fact. You can never get enough rose in my opinion, and seeing as the flower can be interpreted in so many different ways, ranging from delicious rosewater treats (see Essence Nº1: Rose by Elie Saab) to heady examples of rosy exoticism (see Guerlain’s Nahéma), there’s always a surprise, or two, to be had. In short: the world of rose is never boring.

Kurkdjian already has two roses within his collection (Lumière Noire pour Femme & pour Homme  two heavy and oriental roses), so exactly what does À la Rose bring to the table that we’ve not seen from the perfumer before? Well, the focus is definitely quite different and this new rose feels very much in keeping with Kurkdjian’s penchant for clear and radiant signatures that present familiar themes in their purest form. It does exactly what one expects it to and for once, lives up to the marketing spiel, which is somewhat of a rarity in the industry today. À la Rose is described as follows:

“A la Rose is an ode to femininity, a declaration of love captured in a fragrance.  Two hundred and fifty precious roses from Grasse offer their radiance and their unmatched richness in every flacon”

– Maison Francis Kurkdjian

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New Escentual Post: A Hidden Gem – Guerlain My Insolence Perfume Review

A Hidden Gem from the Guerlain Archive

A Hidden Gem from the Guerlain Archive

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m throwing an informal Guerlain party this week. So far we’ve taken a gander at the perplexing Shalimar Souffle de Parfum (which really should have been an Aqua Allegoria and not a flanker to their flagship fragrance) and the deliciously dizzy and decadent French Kiss, which puts me in a much better mood than the Souffle de Parfum does.

With Guerlain in mind, I thought I’d dedicate my Escentual column this week to a fragrance that doesn’t get the attention it deserves; My Insolence. A flanker the seriously over-the-top Insolence (Maurice Roucel; 2006), this softer interpretation is a gorgeous little vanilla and almond cuddle that shows the industry how a decent fruity floral should be done. Click here to read my review.

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Smelly News: Jean Paul Gaultier to Launch Le Mâle & Classique Pirate Editions

Shiver Me Timbers!

Shiver Me Timbers!

Two of my favourite things in the world have finally joined forces – perfume and pirates. Can you tell that this makes me happy?! The man to link these two excellent forces is none other than the cheekiest chap in fashion, Jean Paul Gaultier, who is just about to launch limited pirate editions of his flagship feminine and masculine fragrances, Classique (Jacques Cavallier; 1993) and Le Mâle (Francis Kurkdjian; 1995).

These two rum-swigging classics certainly know how to dress, rocking tattered striped garb marked with the must have centrepiece for any self-respecting pirate – the skull and cross bones. The scents remain the same masterpieces as ever, a glamorous and sensual floral oriental for Classique and a steroid-fuelled fougére for Le Mâle, with the swashbuckling bottles making for a must-have collector’s item.

So, if you’re looking for a little bit of an adventure on the high seas, then look no further than the fashionable shores of Island Gaultier.

“The intrepid couple. The legendary couple sets out on an exciting treasure hunt, which will take them to the far reaches of the open seas. Determined to face any sort of danger, the pirates raise the black glad and set sail.”

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Shalimar at a Stretch – Shalimar Souffle de Parfum Perfume Review

Shalimar Souffle de Parfum - The Latest Incarnation of Guerlain's 1925 Classic

Shalimar Souffle de Parfum – The Latest Incarnation of Guerlain’s 1925 Classic

“The sickness of making flankers every five minutes is very upsetting, but if I don’t want to get kicked out for not doing my job, I have to do it”

– Thierry Wasser ¹

Thierry Wasser, in-house perfumer at Guerlain, recently likened the penchant brands have for creating numerous flankers to a “sickness” and when looking at the numerous incarnatons of the house’s flagship fragrance, Shalimar, it’s easy to see why.  In the last five years we’ve seen seven, that’s right, seven new Shalimar flankers ranging from the sublime Parfum Initial and Ode à la Vanille to the less interesting Parfum Initial L’Eau, and on occasions the brand has stretched the Shalimar association pretty thin.

With their latest flanker, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, the link has become so emaciated it may have finally snapped. Sniffing the flanker, it’s pretty difficult to pick out exactly how the two fragrances are alike. Shalimar is a grand dame of the oriental world, showcasing bubbling bergamot, smoky-sweet vanilla powder and tons of heavy resins. Souffle de Parfum on the other hand is, well, the complete opposite of that. It may not be worthy of the Shalimar name, but does that mean that it’s a bad fragrance?

Guerlain describe Souffle de Parfum as a “gently perfumed caress” ² and a “breath of extreme sensuality” ², with the ‘Souffle’ here referring to the French word for breath, as opposed to anything culinary-related. It has been designed to celebrate the lighter facets of Shalimar, specifically focus on the shining citrus that famously graces the Oriental Queen’s top notes, and the plush vanilla that sits at her core. In that respect, Souffle de Parfum succeeds, merging these two themes together to create something that may, or may not be Shalimar, depending on how one looks at it.

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