Criticise Paco Rabanne all you want, but you can never say that they don’t have a knack for tapping into the zeitgeist. Their fragrance launches are a perfect example of how marketing drives the success of a modern perfume, with irresistible packaging and expensive advertising campaigns drawing the consumer in. Take 1 Million for instance – a perfectly decent woody amber fragrance that most likely wouldn’t have had the phenomenal success it has if it weren’t packaged inside a faux piece of gold bullion and marketed with a club-culture inspired ad that tapped into the image and money-obsessed nature of modern youth. They are anything, if not clever.
Their latest launch for women, ‘Olympēa‘, which arrives as the feminine counterpart to 2013’s Invictus, comes with all of the trappings of a typical Paco Rabanne launch right from the show-stopping bottle shaped like a laurel crown to the high-budget visuals, but the scent itself appears to have a bit more depth than one would usually expect. Created by perfumers Anne Flipo, Dominique Ropion and Loc Dong, Olympēa is described as the “fragrance of a modern day goddess” and a “statuesque idol of conquest and victory”. That is quite the description, I must say, and in truth, the fragrance is more intimate and cuddly than the concept would lead one to expect, but that’s not to say that Olympēa is without interest, in fact, it’s really quite intriguing.
“The fragrance of a modern day goddess, Paco Rabanne Olympea Eau de Parfum makes a statement of strength, power and seduction. Between myth and reality is where you’ll find Olympēa, a statuesque idol of conquest and victory. Her fragrance is just as commanding as she is, featuring a legend-inspiring salted vanilla accord that elevates her above the clouds.”
Perfume lovers across the world have been watching the New Forest studio of Papillon Artisan Perfumes with bated breath. Last year, Papillon launched with three fragrances; Angelique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose – three perfumes that boldly said that a scent should be beautiful and unique, rather than awash with gimmickry. Papillon Artisan Perfumes have been a refreshing addition to the world of perfume that, along with Sarah McCartney’s hugely important 4160 Tuesdays, has put independent British perfumery on the map – a fact reflected by the nomination of all three Papillon scents for Best New Independent Fragrance at this year’s Fragrance Foundation Awards. It stands to reason then, that Papillon’s latest scent ‘Salome‘, launches in a veritable cloud of fragrant excitement.
You will hear a lot of talk about Salome and her erotic, and animalistic tendencies over the coming months. “Pure filth” is what they’ll call her and perfume lovers here, there and everywhere will revel in her raunchy and primal ways. But there’s more to Salome than meets the eye, and there’s another facet that deserves praise – her golden sheen and glittering sense of movement, to be specific. Salome is a dancing diva moving methodically and mesmerisingly through the many hypnotic motions of the dance of the seven veils.
Salome takes its name from the biblical character – the daughter of Herod and the dancing woman from the New Testament. In a recent interview on The Candy Perfume Boy, Papillon Perfumer Liz Moores explained how a vintage photograph of a 1920s flapper girl was the inspiration for Salome; “I have an original vintage photograph of a 1920’s flapper girl in a state of undress; she’s positioned side on to the camera with her breasts bared and the lower half of her body only slightly covered with ostrich feathers. The woman in this photograph fascinates me; I have often wondered who she was, where she lived in the world and what her name might have been. In my head I called her Salome, a name befitting such a beautiful and daring woman of her time.” This photo, which potrays the seductive dancer partly nude informs Salome’s vintage tones and erotic escapades. This is a fragrance made in a style seldom seen in this modern, post-IFRA age, and it acts as a startling reminder that perfumes can still be richly textured, gloriously complex and absolutely, downright filthy.
I must admit that I have a little bit of a soft spot for Jo Malone London. In my opinion they do what they do and they do it very well, specifically, they create pleasing, low-key fragrances for scenting both people and their homes, and package them all beautifully. Jo Malone London sell a lifestyle, one that is housed within the simplicity of their structured bottles, placed carefully in gorgeous boxes and tied with beautiful bows. It’s a life that looks and smells good.
Over the last year or so, the brand has started to become a little bit bolder with their offerings. Rain & Angelica, a limited edition from their London Rain collection was weird and glassy, like crystallised drops of summer rain. There was also last year’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt, another unusual blend that was somewhere between salted caramel and sea spray. Oh and we mustn’t forget Incense & Cedrat, the latest addition to the Cologne Intense collection and an absolutely gorgeous benzoin-heavy incense that begs to be snuggled. They’ve been very busy making some intriguing scents, it must be said.
The hard work of Jo Malone London continues this autumn as September sees the launch of a brand new pillar fragrance for the brand. Focusing on the rich notes of Mimosa & Cardamom, this new launch (unsurprisingly called ‘Mimosa & Cardamom‘) created by perfume Marie Salamagne is an ode to word travel, eclectic fabrics and a mixture of cultures seen through the lens of a bohemian blend of flowers and spice. Without offering too many spoilers for the rest of the review, I will say that Mimosa & Cardamom really lives up to its inspiration and I for one think that it’s great to see such an underused yet fascinating note as mimosa being used front and centre in a mainstream fragrance. Good work, JML.
I would never claim to possess any from of synesthesia, but I do often think of colours when I smell a fragrance. Sometimes these ideas are led by the presentation of the fragrance, for example, despite how its ingredients are more brown and amber-coloured, it’s difficult to think of Mugler’s Alien as any colour other than purple. The scents themselves possess colourful characters too. Take Malle’s Portrait of a Lady as another example – has any fragrance ever been so ruby red? I think not!
So yes, perfumes have colours, whether they be pre-determined by the shade of the bottle or the juice, or even the fashions rocked by the ‘face’ in the advert, they are cast in one hue or another. Pichola, the latest fragrance from Neela Vermeire Creations is blue. Well, to be precise, its a deep, expansive body of sapphire-coloured water. It’s big, blue and beautiful, with great depth and complexity. Subtitled ‘majestic reflections’, Pichola takes inspiration from the lake of the same name in Rajasthan, India and attempts to capture its “timeless beauty” whilst adding a “new twist” to Neela’s incomparable range of India-inspired fragrances.
“A myriad of colourful historic, architectural and spiritual reflections fall on this splendid body of water – the sunlight and moonlight of each season bringing out the eternal and timeless beauty of Lake Pichola. Our latest fragrance captures such countless reflections on the lake from the past to the present – showcasing the splendour of opulent and vibrant flowers, princely spices and precious woods taking us on an unforgettable and hypnotic fragrant journey. Once you have experienced the diverse and stunning beauty of these indescribable reflections you will understand the true meaning of timeless luxury and effortless beauty….”
Somewhere in Paradise Lies Tom Ford’s Fleur de Portofino
Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino series is a collection within a collection. Housed like a fragrant Matryoshka inside the Private Blend collection, the four colognes that currently comprise the series (Neroli Portofino, Mandarino di Amalfi, Costa Azzura, and now, Fleur de Portofino) tick all of the required boxes; 1) they smell great; 2) they are so much more than straight-up Eau de Colognes; 3) they’re unique; and 4) they have decent longevity and sillage. Don’t be fooled by the (rather beautiful) transparent bottles cast in varying hues of blue and green, because there are some intriguing, and complex juices within.
Fleur de Portofino is the latest addition to the Neroli Portofino collection and it marks a bit of a shift from the world of contemporary Eau de Cologne, to the domain of the floral, where the wistful reigns supreme. The spirit of the collection is well and truly alive here, with lots of aquatic vibrancy and freshness however, flowers take centre stage and the beauty of citrus has been instructed to wait in the wings. The result is a floral that presents a new olfactory take on the mediterranean – one that is teeming with life.
“Vibrant. Carefree. Captivating. Private Blend Fleur de Portofino is inspired by the cascades of white flowers that spill off the the branches of the white acacia beloved shade tree that dots the mediterranean’s gardens and lines its tranquil avenues. Fleur de Portofino creates a crisp and bright floral accord from this bloom, then surrounds it with effervescent citruses and acacia honey. The fragrance creates an effect of sheer floral possession that is incomparably hypnotic and extremely bold.”
Nuns, Jasmine and Sweet Treats – Serge Lutens La Religieuse
A new fragrance from Serge Lutens is always news worthy, especially when that brand spanking new perfume is a floral, my most favourite of all genres. Lutens’ latest fragrance, a jasmine-based scent (Uncle Serge’s third jasmine-centric outing) named ‘La Refligieuse’ is certainly very good news. This is an unusual and low-key jasmine with a few gourmand facets thrown in for good measure. Click here to head on over to Escentual to read my review.
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.