I don’t understand Juliette Has a Gun. They started out as a rebellious niche brand boasting a number of intriguing fragrances evoking the spirit of fierce women with daring characters (scents such as Calamity J and Lady Vengeance) – all at designer prices. But with the brand’s most recent launches it seems that Juliette has lost her nerve and decided to throw away the pistol that made her so spunky and dangerous.
This decline in boldness can be seen in the increasing lack of ingenuity in scents such as Mad Madame (a collage of just about every scent in the line) and Not a Perfume (at least they got the name right with this one), both of which felt very safe and not in keeping with the punky spirit of the brand. An over reliance on ambroxan has also ensured that these new offerings are all very similar in both odour and style.
The brand’s latest fragrance ‘Anyway‘ runs very much along the same lines as its recent stable mates and presents an airy, relaxed style of perfume that tries its absolute best not to offend or make an impression. The brand proclaim it to be a “simple and original formula” boasting “only fifteen ingredients” – a fragrance that has been designed to be a signature scent and anything but “anonymous”.
It’s that time of year where we all start to put together our Christmas wish lists for Santa, or as I like to call him – ‘Nigel’. Being the perfume nuts that we are means that beloved family and friends can sometimes struggle to pick fragrances out as gifts for us, after all we’re a selective (read: ‘picky’) bunch by nature and nobody would want us to open up a gift that we would deem as unsuitable on the big day.
To mitigate the chances of a botched perfume purchase at Christmas I supply a perfume wish list to my partner and my father every year. The other members of my family family flatly refuses to buy me any perfume, stating that I have “too much” and it’s “bordering on an obsession”. Who knows what they’re smoking, but I can always rely on my dad and Nigel (if he’s in a good mood) to pick something from my carefully selected list.
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.
It was only a few weeks ago that I was moaning on Twitter about the lack of decent niche masculines this year, remarking that there has been fluffing tons of beautiful, wonderful and masterful feminine and unisex fragrances in 2013 but very few impressive things on the male side of the fence. Perhaps creating decent perfumes for men is less of a priority for perfume companies nowadays. Who knows?
So yes, I was having a moan when the ever-knowledgeable Nick Gilbert said that I absolutely had to try (I’m paraphrasing, of course) the latest fragrance from Huitième Art – ‘Monsieur‘. Knowing that any recommendation from M. Gilbert is worth listening to I trotted off to Les Senteurs, one of my favourite perfume boutiques, to procure a sample of the latest scent from perfumer Pierre Guillaume.
Monsieur is billed as a “harmonious blend of eight woody notes” and is inspired by the Massif de Bois Noirs, where “torrents and waterfalls from Auvergne’s mountains carry along scents of moss, bark, wood, earth, humus and stone”. What one finds with Monsieur, is that it is a fragrance that is not afraid to be bold and whilst it may not be the most unique interpretation of woods, it does showcase an interesting sense of balance that is something entirely new.
Seeing as it the very last week of Movember, a month in which we celebrate all aspects of masculinity, it’s only fair that we also take time to look at some pretty epic masculine fragrances. Over the course of the month I’ve been featuring classic masculine scents on Escentual, but this week I’d like to focus on two new and very well executed fragrances for 2013 – one designer and one ‘niche’ – starting with the newly launched Bottega Veneta Pour Homme.
The astute amongst you will know that Bottega Veneta have already proved that they take the world of perfume seriously with their debut feminine fragrance launch of the same name. The feminine was a masterfully composed (if perhaps a little too whispery) ode to the leather goods for which the brand is famous for and it appears that its masculine counterpart has been subject to the same degree of thought and quality control.
Created by perfumers Daniela Andrier (Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, Candy and basically everything else good they’ve done) and Antoine Maisondieu (Etat Libre d’Orange’s Fat Electrician and Comme des Garçons Stephen Jones), Bottega Veneta Pour Homme feels very much like an extension of the luxury leather feel of the feminine Eau de Parfum but in a more outdoorsy, nature-filled and relaxed manner.
Ladurée’s Ispahan – The best damn thing I’ve ever eaten!
Inspiration can come along at the oddest of moments and often in the most surprising of guises. This is why I currently sit on a train whizzing home from London and feel the need to whip out my iPad and start writing a post about my day. A little self-indulgent? Perhaps but in the spirit of ‘sharing the joy’ I’ve had the urge to write about the sensory pleasures of the day.
Today, having finished work early, I took myself off to The Big Smoke on a ‘treat yo’ self day’, during which I pottered around the Isabella Blow exhibition at Somerset House, visited one or two of my usual fragrant haunts and took myself for some much earned sugar at Ladurée, before attending a Perfume Lovers London talk in the evening. And why not? I’ve been working very hard over the last couple of weeks so a little sensory R&R is surely deserved.
The main event was of course the food and it will come as no surprise to those who know me that I have spent the last few weeks ogling images of Ladurée treats on the internet. There is just something about the pastel shades of smooth macaron shells and the vivid sight of pastries overdosed with fruit that sends my mouth, stomach and brain whirling towards sensory overdose.
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.
Extra! Extra! Read All About It! The Apopcornalypse is Nigh!
Extra! Extra! Read All About It! The Apopcornalypse is Nigh! That’s right, you heard me – ‘The Apopcornalypse’. The human race has long fantasised and obsessed over the end of days, having written, sung and even created movies about it. Now it’s time for the perfume world to join in and represent their version of the apocalypse through the medium of olfaction.
The punky pop art perfumer lovers over at Etat Libre d’Orange (in collaboration with perfume Quentin Bisch) have created their perfumed version of doomsday – the aptly named ‘La Fin du Monde’ (The End of the World) – centered around the slightly baffling note of popcorn, and for Escentual this week I have put together my thoughts on this judgment day scent.
If that doesn’t convince you to head on over to Escentual (by clicking the image above) then perhaps I should say that they are also giving away 5 x 50ml bottles of La Fin du Monde in a special competition. So hurry up, you’ve got a review to read, a competition to enter and a comment to leave! Let me know your thoughts.
Last year Tom Ford released his third signature masculine fragrance under the very Tom Ford-esque moniker ‘Noir‘. This Eau de Parfum was one of 2012′s more impressive launches, so splendid it was in fact that it won a Candy (my annual awards) for Best Mainstream Masculine, beating out the likes of Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb and Guerlain’s Homme L’Eau Boisée.
New for 2013 is the Noir Eau de Toilette, a lighter and fresher version of the Noir signature. Tom Ford describes it as being ”inspired by a mysterious duality of elegance and sensuality” and as far as masculine fragrances go it definitely feels elegant enough to fulfill the smart, suit-clad aesthetic of the brand, albeit in a much more ‘dressed-down’ manner.
“An oriental, sensual fragrance that captures the twin facets of the Tom Ford man; the refined, urbane sophisticate who the world gets to see and the intriguingly sensuous, private man they don’t.”
Where Noir Eau de Parfum is a contemporary and masculine take on Guerlain’s flagship fragrance Shalimar, the Eau de Toilette is more akin to a ‘légère’ or ‘light’ version. To put it another way, the EDP is best worn with a super-smart suit (or trench coat and massive scarf) and the EDT is more suited for a clean white shirt and chinos – its the difference between day and night.
Chypres have always struck me as one of the most interesting perfume genres. They manage to capture a strange idea of beauty, where the sharper and more angular aspects of perfumery are celebrated. I suppose that you could say that they aren’t classically beautiful and its the asymmetry in their composition that ultimately makes them so beguiling.
For this week’s Escentual post I’m taking a look at the chypre, mapping its evolution through three ‘reference’ perfumes; the classic, the modern and the contemporary. This is a first in a small ‘guide to’ series for Escentual, where I’ll be casting a fragrant spotlight on a number of perfume genres.
To read the piece, please click on the image above to head on over to the Escentual blog. Whilst you’re there, do make sure to tell me what your favourite chypre is, and what fragrances you would pick to represent the classic, modern and contemporary interpretations of the genre.