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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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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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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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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The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Lily

The Candy Perfume Boy's Guide to Lily

The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Lily

The Candy Perfume Boy’s ‘Guide to…‘ series is an 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.

Last time we took a look at the humble Violet, and other excursions in the series have seen us delve into the worlds of; the vampish Tuberose, the dreamy Lavender, the prolific Oud, the delicious Chocolate and the incandescent Orange Blossom. If you have any suggestions of what notes or genres you would like to see next then please let me know in the comments box below.

For this latest instalment in the ‘Guide to…’ series, we will be exploring the universe of the lily. I have always felt a great sense of warmth towards lilies – they’re a flamboyant flower, decked out in unmissable colours and usually exuding a ‘knock you off your feet’ volume, and range of smell. These are flowers that demand to be noticed and thrive off attention. They share with you their beauty and all they ask in return is that you sit up and take notice.

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The Hot Breath of Jasmine – Amouage Opus VIII Perfume Review

Expect the Unexpected: Opus VIII by Amouage

Expect the Unexpected: Opus VIII by Amouage

I never know what to expect when a new Amouage lands on my doorstep. The entire output from the industry’s most luxurious of houses is complex, intricate and grand beyond much else found in perfume stores. This complexity means that they’re not always the easiest perfumes to pin down and I personally find that one has to spend a fair bit of time with an Amouage before they can truly say they know it.

Amouage’s latest edition to their experimental Library Collection, ‘Opus VIII‘, is no exception and much like the wickedly dangerous, galbanum-soaked leather jacket of Opus VII and the delectably intense, salty amber of Opus VI that have preceded it, this beguiling perfume created by perfumers Pierre Negrin and Richard Herpin in conjunction with Creative Director Christopher Chong, is perhaps the most labyrinthine composition to have ever exited Amouage’s doors.

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New Escentual Post: Lanvin Arpège Perfume Review

Arpège by Lanvin

This Week’s Escentual Post is a Review of Lanvin’s Arpège (André Fraysse; 1927)

When one amasses a decent collection of perfumes it is inevitable that hidden gems will get forgotten amongst the plentiful array of bottles. This is most certainly the case with me and my incredibly disorganised system of filing perfumes (in two boxes and numerous drawers around the house) means that I will often find myself discovering long-lost loves whilst in the midst of a decent rummaging session. Lanvin’s wonderful Arpège was one of these unfairly neglected perfumes.

I rediscovered my bottle of Arpège this week and couldn’t get it off my brain. Out of all of the aldehydic florals (Nº5 and Nº22 etc) it is easily my favourite but it simply doesn’t get talked about enough, despite the fact that it radiates with cuddly, maternal warmth. Inspired by my rediscovery, this week’s Escentual column focuses on this most timeless of perfumes that seems to have aged rather well. If you’d like to read my review please click here to head on over to the Escentual Blog. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts about the perfume, whilst you’re there!

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A Modern Type of Joy – Jean Patou Joy Forever Perfume Review

Joy Forever

JOY FOREVER - A Modern Type of Joy

French couturier Jean Patou launched his iconic flagship fragrance ‘JOY‘ in 1930, almost immediately after the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Patou created his signature fragrance with a view of making it an affordable luxury for those that were no longer able to shroud themselves in the couture of the day. Quite ironically however, the fragrance was known as the ‘most expensive perfume in the world’ for quite some time, due in part to its prominent use of natural jasmine which, as you will all know, doesn’t come cheap.

It seems poignant almost that the house of Patou should launch a new interpretation of JOY in 2014, whilst the world is in the midst (and hopefully at the back end of) a global financial crisis. This new version of Patou’s classic is entitled ‘JOY FOREVER‘ and is described by the house as being a “stunning floral perfume that unveils a new chapter in continuing story of JOY“. Created by perfumer Thomas Fontaine for “today’s discerning woman”, JOY FOREVER is a more translucent, radiant and vibrant take on one of perfumery’s most iconic and timeless perfumes.

“Her mother may have worn JOY for its sheer luxury but she will choose JOY FOREVER for its natural quality and scent. She lives for the moment….she lives for today!”

JOY FOREVER joins the likes of Chanel’s Nº5 Eau Première and Guerlain’s Shalimar Parfum Initial as entry level fragrances for those that aren’t quite ready to commit to the classics. Perhaps the most surprising thing about it is the fact that, whilst it doesn’t smell anywhere near as heady, intense or timeless as the original JOY, it does look back to the past, not quite as far back as 1930 mind you, but instead it looks to the aldehydic florals of the 1980s, from which it takes more than a few olfactory cues.

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Old School Whimsy – Penhaligon’s & Meadham Kirchhoff Tralala Perfume Review

Old School Whimsy - Tralala by Penhaligon's, Meadham Kirchhoff & Bertrand Duchaufour

Old School Whimsy – Tralala by Penhaligon’s, Meadham Kirchhoff & Bertrand Duchaufour

Old-school British brand Penhaligon’s has seen a positive renaissance over the last few years. In 2009 they appeared to make a conscious decision to move away from their more staid roots and played to their more risqué side with Bertrand Duchaufour’s masterful Amaranthine – a perfume that was created to smell like the inside of a woman’s thigh (oh my, I’m blushing), and have since set themselves a trend of creating old school perfumes with modern and quirky twists.

Thankfully this is a trend that they seem to be continuing and for 2014, Britain’s most idiosyncratic perfume house is teaming up with the equally unconventional fashion brand, Meadham Kirchhoff, to create perhaps their most whimsical fragrance to date. The result of this collaboration is a fragrance penned by super-perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour (the man also responsible for AmaranthineVaaraSartorial and Orange Blossom) and bestowed with the infectious name ‘Tralala‘.

Launching next week, Tralala is described by Penhaligon’s as being a “beguiling and addictive piece of counter culture couture” and all one needs for proof of this claim is a quick look at the wonderful bottle with it’s clown head and ridiculously huge signature Penhaligon’s bow. The scent itself, is billed as “an opulent, hedonistic blend” that “evokes the interplay of glamour and retrospection favoured by Meadham Kirchhoff”. Having spent quite some time sniffing this new creation, I can wholeheartedly confirm that it does do exactly what it ‘says on the tin’.

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New Escentual Post: Cartier La Panthère Perfume Review

New from Cartier - 'La Panthère'

New from Cartier – ‘La Panthère’

It would be fair to say that I’m not a massive fan of Cartier’s perfumes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike them by any means but none of the ones that I have tried have blown me away or sent me reaching for my wallet. Enter Cartier’s latest feminine fragrance ‘La Panthère‘ – a perfume that has been created as a feline and feral take on gardenia that pays homage to the brand’s mascot.

Whilst La Panthère is a bit too modern and clean to be classified as an animalic in a way that would be pleasing to perfume lovers, I must admit that I really enjoy its more abstract take on the gardenia flower and it calls to mind the bright sunlight of fragrances such as Elie Saab Le Parfum and Amyris Femme. To read my full review of Cartier’s latest scent, please click here to head on over to Escentual.com.

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