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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The Big Smoke – Tom Ford Private Blend London Perfume Review

House of Parliament, Effect of Sunlight, 1903

Houses of Parliament, Effect of Sunlight, Claude Monet, 1903

London is an awesome city. I say this not just because I am British and therefore undeniably biased in the matter, but also because it is a simple truth. London has a charisma that many cities do not, stemming from the many contrasts that besiege its winding streets. These disorganised clashes of new and old, rough and smooth, and clean and dirty, make for a cultural mish-mash that is at times, utterly bonkers and entirely unique but ultimately very charming.

One man that loves London as much as I do is Tom Ford and to celebrate the opening of his Sloane Square boutique in 2013, the incredibly prolific fashion and perfume purveyor that is Mr. Ford created his very own olfactory tribute to this finest and fairest of cities. Taking its name from the city of the same name and launching last year, ‘London‘ is the newest addition to the Private Blend collection, available only in a select number of stores within the nation’s capital.

The brand describes London as being “rich, elegant and urbane” – three words that could certainly be attributed to the city after which it is named, if only just the glamorous bits in which one would find a Tom Ford boutique. But this perfume is more than just a tribute to a city, it is in fact a celebration of Mr. Ford’s favourite ingredient – oud. Now before you all start rolling your eyes at the sheer mention of the ‘o’ word (I see you), heed this notice: this perfume is a damn good example of how to do an inconspicuous oud – an oud that doesn’t take centre stage and plays a supporting role, or as they used to call them back in the day – an oriental.

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No Gimmicks – Papillon Perfumery; Angelique, Anubis & Tobacco Rose Perfume Reviews

Papillon Perfumery: Beautiful Perfumes Presented Without Gimmicks

Papillon Perfumery: Beautiful Perfumes Presented Without Gimmicks

There is so much ‘noise’ in the perfume industry in this day and age that it gets increasingly more difficult to pay attention to the cacophonous din of new launches and brand new niche brands. In order to rise above the noise many niche brands are resorting to ‘clever’ (read: annoying) gimmicks to make their wares stand out from the crowd, ranging from perfumes inspired by blood types (see Blood Concept) to scents that aren’t supposed to be perfumes (see Juliette Has a Gun). Rarely is the product allowed to speak for itself.

Still, for each naff niche brand there is a decent one with high quality products (brands like Arquiste, 4160 Tuesday’s and Maison Francis Kurkdjian to name just a very small few) that allows for the beauty of their scents to be the element that sets them apart from the many other bottles they share their shelf space with. These refreshing outfits remind one that within the crowds and crowds of scent on the market, there are individuals with a passion for perfume and a unique voice waiting to be heard.

One such brand is Papillon Perfumery. Created by New Forest perfumer Liz Moores and launching this year, Papillon has three perfumes devoid of any bells, whistles and gimmicks – they are simply expertly crafted and beautiful perfumes that truly speak for themselves. The perfumes (Angélique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose) prove that familiar themes can still be presented in unique ways if one just approaches them in an entirely different manner.

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Dita to the Rescue – Dita Von Teese Erotique and FleurTeese Perfume Reviews

Erotique and FleurTeese by Dita Von Tees

Erotique and FleurTeese by Dita Von Tees

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

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A Cut Above the Rest – Tom Ford Tobacco Oud and Oud Fleur Perfume Review

The Oud Wood Collection

The Private Blend Oud Collection

Tom Ford has a thing for oud. He is reputed to have been the first person to popularise and bring the ingredient (albeit a decent synthetic rather than real thing) to mainstream perfumery with Yves Saint Laurent’s impressive M7 in 2002. Since then he has remained relatively active on the oud front, releasing the equally impressive Oud Wood (a robustly woody oud for western tastes) as part of his initial onslaught of Private Blends way back in 2007.

Cut to 2013 and Mr Ford is once again throwing his hat into the somewhat overcrowded oud ring with The Private Blend Oud Collection. The collection sees the repackaging of Tom Ford’s immensely popular Oud Wood in addition to the release of two brand new fragrances, each displaying a unique and entirely TomFordian take on the most intensely addictive (and definitely over exposed) of aromas.

“I have wanted to revisit oud for years; it is one of the most endlessly fascinating ingredients in a perfumer’s palette. For this collection, I explored how oud could intertwine with other precious ingredients from the rich and storied culture and artisanal traditions of the Middle East”

- Tom Ford

The two new perfumes are Tobacco Oud and Oud Fleur. The former is inspired by Dokha, “a blend of herbs, flowers and spice-laden tobacco that was smoked in secret five centuries ago during a ban on smoking” and is suitably tobacco-filled. Oud Fleur is somewhat more difficult to pin down, and presents a slightly more individual take on the note. Between the two of them however, these two new fragrances show that when it comes to oud, Tom Ford is a significant cut above the rest. Continue reading

New Escentual Post: A Guide to Orientals

As you may be aware, I do like a good ‘guide to‘, and one of the luxuries bestowed to me by the wonderful people at Escentual, is that I get to not only write my guide to notes series here on the TCPB, but I also get to create a number of guides for a range of perfume genres too. So far we’ve taken a look at the humble Chypre, a genre of perfume that is aloof and mysterious and this week’s post takes a look at another famed style of perfumery.

This week the focus is on the mysterious and exotic world of the Oriental. Much like last time, I have picked three fragrances to represent the evolution of the genre – from the classic to the modern and the contemporary. So, if you are looking for a bite-size guide to the Oriental then all you need to do is simply click on the image above to head on over to Escentual!

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Telling Stories – Mona di Orio Violette Fumée Perfume Review

Les Nombres d'Or by Mona di Orio

Les Nombres d’Or by Mona di Orio

Nowadays every perfume release comes with a story, normally one that involves a good degree of creative license courtesy of the brand’s PR department. This is no bad thing really, a good story can add to the experience of a scent, after all no art is quite as transportive as the art of olfaction, but at times it’s best to approach a perfume without any pre-conceived notions and just allow the scent itself to tell the story.

Some stories in particular are important and the tale behind Mona di Orio’s latest release – ‘Violette Fumée‘ – is both worth telling and incredibly touching. Created privately by Mona di Orio before her death for the private use of her business partner and co-founder Jeroen Oude Sogtoen, Violette Fumée captures “the melody of Jeroen’s favourite passions, memories and materials.” It’s a perfume made out of love, admiration and respect.

On an olfactory level, Violette Fumée is described by the brand as an “oriental balsamic floral” and in the same vein as many other perfumes from the house it feels incredibly unusual when compared to its peers. It stands as a true testament to Mona’s talent as a perfumer and is a fitting legacy for someone who brought so much intrigue to the world of fragrance.

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When Vanilla Glows – Elie Saab Le Parfum Intense Perfume Review

Elie Saab Le Parfum Intense

Elie Saab Le Parfum Intense

When Elie Saab released his Francis-Kurkdjian-penned debut fragrance – ‘Le Parfum‘ – in 2011, it quickly garnered praise as one of the most impressive feminine designer launches of the year. Since then it has maintained its popularity, spurring the release of an Eau de Toilette version in 2012 and a brand new intense edition for 2013.

“Inspired by the magical moment of dusk, mysterious and captivating, the floral oriental Elie Saab Le Parfum Intense tells the story of a woman who comes alive as the sun goes down. She is confidence incarnate, and wears her Elie Saab couture like a second skin.”

For Le Parfum Intense, Saab has opted for a perfume that is richer and less diffusive than the original. This particular presentation of Le Parfum serves as a headier and more intoxicating version where the intensity of white flowers is amplified, along with vanilla to create a truly couture experience.

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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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Do You Dare Enter the Funhouse? – L’Artisan Parfumeur Déliria, Amour Nocturne and Skin on Skin Perfume Reviews

Do You Dare Enter the Fun House?

Do You Dare Enter the Funhouse?

L’Artisan Parfumeur has an excellent track record for creating interesting and wearable fragrances of exceptionally high quality at a (relatively) affordable price. They are arguably one of the first ‘niche’ houses and whilst they may have had more than the occasional creative lull over the years they now very much seem to be on track, partly thanks to venerable perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour.

Duchaufour has created a number of the brand’s most recent and intriguing scents, including; Al Oudh, Nuit de Tubéreuse, Traversée du Bosphore, Séville à L’Aube and Vanille Absolument (quite an impressive list, huh?). It stands to reason then that L’Artisan would wheel Duchaufour out for their latest trio of fragrances – an imprint line they are dubbing ‘Explosions d’Èmotions’.

‘Explosions d’Èmotions’ has been created to translate “the extraordinary emotional power of fragrance” and as a series it contains three perfumes that cover a range of emotions from the intimate and sexual to the giddying and frankly downright maniacal. This olfactory funhouse is an odd mix with all three fragrances – Déliria, Amour Nocturne and Skin on Skin – taking one on a journey of wild experiences from pleasure to fear and sex to err, bread making…

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