I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – The Body Shop create decent and easy to wear perfumes at a phenomenally good price. They don’t perhaps approach the art of olfaction with as much gusto as their high street competitors Lush do, but they do know how to put together an enjoyable fragrance that doesn’t blow your socks off or your wallet up. In a world where many expensive perfumes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, this is a refreshing quality to have.
That said, The Body Shop doesn’t always get it right and their latest launch ‘English Dawn White Gardenia‘ is one such occasion (I’ve given the game away here, haven’t I?). Created to capture “the bouquet of hundreds of White Gardenia petals blowing gently in the first light of dawn”, this limited edition spring fragrance joins The Body Shop’s Voyage Fragrance Collection – a series of perfumes that take one on a whistle stop tour of the world via the medium of scent.
Capturing the hedonistic scent of the gardenia is a pretty tricky feat, especially seeing as the flower itself is incredibly elusive when it comes to giving up its scent. Most fragrances that boast ‘gardenia’ as a note are reconstructions – olfactory jigsaw puzzles that piece together the flower’s most distinctive scent with a number of floral notes and crafty raw materials. Very few perfumes actually achieve the full gardenia effect (so far I’ve only come across Estée Lauder’s Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia and Arquiste’s Boutonnière No. 7 that manage it), so the big question is - does The Body Shop succeed in achieving gardenia photorealism?
Spring is here and that means it’s time to break out those springtime floral fragrances. OK, I know that I need no excuse to rock a floral fragrance and will do so all year round (why the heck not, right?) but for those of you who like to stick to a more seasonal fragrance wardrobe then now is the time for flowers. And what a wonderful time it is – the sun is shining (most of the time), the flowers are growing and the bees are buzzing – all of which can be accented by the expert application of a spring floral.
For this spring, venerable fashion house Christian Dior is launching a more floral version of their popular flagship fragrance Miss Dior (formerly known as Miss Dior Chérie and a completely separate fragrance from 1947′s Miss Dior which is now known as ‘Miss Dior Originale‘ – got that?). The perfume is called Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet, a spring floral that is billed by Dior as being more “delicate and light” than the original.
Dior’s in-house perfumer François Demachy describes Blooming Bouquet as being “like a springtime bouquet with a hint of elegant and light woody notes” making for a composition that ensures that “Miss Dior keeps her promise of love”. That’s a pretty apt description as far as I am concerned, however I would concede that Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet is much more of a floral musk than it is a woody floral. But in terms of being perfect for the spring season, this bouquet is absolutely spot on.
The Little Black Dress Edit – Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Extrait and Couture Perfume Review
Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire is easily the best mainstream feminine to have been released over the last couple of years and it has deservedly been a runaway success for the house. This ode to the little black dress is just so much darn fun that one can’t help but fall for it’s delicious, whimsical charm and it properly schools the competition on how a decent fruity floral should be done.
In celebration of the launch of Guerlain’s new chypre-esque La Petite Robe Noire Couture I have dedicated this week’s Escentual column to a review of each the LBDs in Guerlain’s wardrobe, including; La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Extrait and the brand new Couture perfume. Each of the fragrances in the collection are glamorous, fun and blooming delicious. Click here to read my review of the La Petite Robe Noire Collection. Oh and there’s an amazing competition too…
My love of Thierry Mugler’s Alien, and all things Mugler in fact, is widely known. I just cannot help myself when it comes to the weird, wacky and über glamorous creations that come straight from Muglerville – they resonate deep within my soul, awaking the hidden Glamazon inside of me. So I do feel very excited when I hear that the brand is launching a brand new fragrance, especially if aforementioned scent it is to be a close cousin of my most beloved Alien.
Mugler’s latest launch is exactly that - Alien Eau Extraordinaire – a lighter take on the the brashness of Alien, that reportedly “accentuates incandescent freshness” and amps up the scent’s brighter citrus notes. Alien, whilst being a foghorn of a scent (a beautiful foghorn, of course), did display an impressively fresh citrus facet worthy of further exploration, so it is with great interest that I approached this entirely more luminous creation.
Created by perfumer Dominique Ropion who, along with Laurent Bruyere, was responsible for the original, Alien Eau Extraordinaire is a stand alone fragrance described by Mugler as being “charged with a positive energy” and “combining a blend of notes known for their uplifting, energising powers with the unique signature of Alien to convey a feeling of happiness and serenity for all women”. That all sounds rather promising, if you ask me!
Kristen Stewart Looking Like She’s Having a Wonderful Time, As Always…
I have definitely tried Balenciaga’s Florabotanica but for the life of me I cannot remember how I felt about it. The bottle is gorgeous so I’m pretty sure that I recall being impressed to some degree, but that’s about as far as my recollection goes. Perhaps I was put off by spokesfaceperson Kristen Stewart (there really is only so much of her looking bored that I can take) or maybe the scent was nice but nothing noteworthy (that sounds more like it). Whatever the reasons, Florabotanica failed to make an impression.
Florabotanica’s first flanker ‘Rosabotanica‘ however (we’re going to get a whole slew of these aren’t we? I reckon it’ll be ‘Jasmabotanica’ next), is definitely more memorable and noteworthy and comes as a complete surprise for a brand that always makes high quality stuff but doesn’t always push the boat out artistically speaking. Rosabotanica certainly changes the game in that respect.
Launched in late 2013, Rosabotanica was created by perfumers Olivier Polge (Florabotanica, Dior Homme and Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb) and Jean-Christophe Hérault (Florabotanica and Comme des Garçons’ Amazingreen) as “the second flower in Balenciaga’s magical garden”. ‘Magical’ is indeed the right word for it as this second botanical scent takes the idea of flowers into unique, unusual and positively futuristic territory.
One of the perfumes I have been very much looking forward to (read: lusting after like a geeky fan boy) since I heard about its impending launch towards the end of 2013 is ‘La Tentation de Nina‘ by Nina Ricci. “Why?” I hear you ask, well the answer is simple: this is a perfume inspired by a special macaron made by Ladurée. I love macarons (although I’d take an Ispahan over these little treats any day), I love Ladurée and I love perfume – a match made in heaven, I feel.
Created by Olivier Cresp (Nina Ricci’s Nina with Jacques Cavallier and Mugler’s Angel with Yves de Chiris) in partnership with Ladurée’s Head Pastry Chef Vincent Lemains – La Tentation de Nina is a perfume evocative of the most trendy meringue-based confection in the world. The brand bill this partnership and creation as a “playful mirroring of the sense” where a perfume and macaron take inspiration from each other, coming together to create “the ultimate temptation.” But does it live up to expectations? Well the short answer to that question is ‘sort of’…
I have a turbulent relationship with the house of CREED. They are definitely on the pricey side for what they are and their quality can be a bit hit or miss, but it would be unfair to say that none of their scents are worth seeking out. In fact, I can name at least four that are sniff worthy (Virgin Island Water, Silver Mountain Water, Millesime Imperial and Green Irish Tweed) so, as much as they may not be my favourite of brands, I’m still very much willing to give them the time of day, but have always approached them with a wary step.
One particular CREED perfume that sticks out for me is Love in Black – a scent that I like to call ‘Dark Lady’ as it presents an intriguing, feminine and unexpected representation of the colour black. It’s also a perfume that really does take awhile to ‘get’ due to its striking take on violet and iris – two ingredients often used to represent beauty, but in this perfume are added to give the impression of something beautifully unconventional.
Love in Black was launched in 2008 and was inspired by former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (or Jackie O as she was more commonly known) and is a far cry from the clean blooms of its sister scent Love in White. CREED describe the fragrance as a “lush floral oriental”, but in my mind it is more of a black swan of a scent (funnily enough the brand uses this imagery) that plays on the contrasting facets of a modern and powerful woman.
Celebrity fragrances (or ‘celebuscents’ as I like to call them) are so often the scorn of the perfume industry. Mainly because most are simply extra vehicles for our dear ‘celebrities’, a term which must be used loosely for a lot of the stars releasing perfumes these days, to make extra cash. After all, what’s easier than putting your name on a bottle of something you’ve had little involvement in creating?
But not all celebrities are in it for a quick buck and over the years we’ve seen a number of good celebuscents join the foray. Etat Libre d’Orange’s collaborations with the weird and wonderful Tilda Swinton and Rossy de Palma are notable examples, Madonna’s Truth or Dare was nicely done and even Britney Spears’ Fantasy has a degree of merit to it (I dare you to disagree that it is the perfect fruity floral cupcake scent). And then of course there is Dita Von Teese – the antidote to the world of naff celebrity scents and Dr. C. Perfume Boy is prescribing two big doses today.
Dita came to the rescue with her first perfume ‘Dita Von Teese‘ (sometimes referred to as ‘Femme Totale’) in 2012, a perfectly decent floral-patchouli affair that puts most of its contemporaries to shame. We shouldn’t be surprised though, as Dita is known for exuding glamour and style, and her perfumes certainly follow suit. This year sees the launch of Dita’s third and fourth perfumes – FleurTeese and Erotique, both of which show the Queen of Burlesque’s passion for fragrance
I’m on a Serge Lutens kick at the moment, which is funny considering that I was considerably late to the Lutens party and it took me quite some time to ‘get’ the brand’s aesthetic. This is due in part to the fact that much of what Uncle Serge puts out is truly hedonistic and oriental, and can often feel thick and oppressive. This style is attractive to many but for years I failed to see the beauty amongst the spices, resins and balsams.
Unsurprisingly, it was the florals (specifically the incandescent Fleurs d’Oranger) within Lutens’ stable that served as a gateway to understanding perfume’s most highly respected, reclusive and artistic individual. But why the florals? What does Lutens do to nature’s blooms that others don’t? What does he see amongst the petals, the stems and the pollen that many perfumers and creative directors cannot?
The answer is simple – Serge Lutens sees the darker side of flowers and he’s not afraid to present the beautiful amongst the downright terrifying. Within his exclusive collection of fragrances housed inside his Palais Royal shop in Paris (a purple-tinted perfume Mecca), Lutens has three of the most deadly, carnivorous and fatal florals ever to have graced the noses of the human species, they are; the maniacal tuberose - Tubéreuse Criminelle, the viper jasmine - Sarrasins and the ghostly iris - Iris Silver Mist.
Neela Vermeire’s Fourth Fragrance – Ashoka (Photo: Mike Tassy for Neroli)
It must have been a rather daunting and unenviable task for both Neela Vermeire and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour when creating their fourth perfume together and the first to be launched since the initial trio of India-inspired fragrances in the Neela Vermeire Collection. These three perfumes – Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling! – were so well received and critically acclaimed that the pressure really must have been on when the time came to add a brand new fragrance to the series – a fragrance named Ashoka. Luckily for us, this pressure does not seem to have phased this dynamic duo one bit…
“Inspired by a legendary ruler, Neela Vermeire Creations’ new release Ashoka, is a tribute to an emperor who was conquered by his own compassion at the moment his victory was assured. He converted to Buddhism and devoted the rest of his life to spreading the Buddha’s teachings, to truth, to justice and to compassion for all living creatures beneath the sun. His own evolution from ruthless conquerer to benevolent emperor is reflected in Ashoka’s journey from the fierce opening to a softly floral heart & the gentle embrace of its richly complex drydown.”
Ashoka is Neela’s fourth perfume and first to be released outside of her initial trio of perfumes inspired by different eras of Indian culture. It would make sense then, that Ashoka strikes a slightly different chord from the others in the collection whilst managing not to stick out like a sore thumb. The fragrance is a continuation of the historical Indian narrative but in an olfactory sense, Ashoka leads Neela Vermeire Creations in an entirely new and exciting direction.