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.
I can’t believe it but it’s the end of 2012 already, which means that it’s time for us perfume bloggers to put together our lists of the very best and very worst perfumes of the year, honestly, where did the time go?! This year I’m affectionately entitling my awards ‘The Candies’ as a short, punchy alternative to The Candy Perfume Boy Awards. Neat huh?
Across all genres there have been many interesting, exciting and unique perfumes unleashed on to the market along with the usual amount of celebrity dreck, dud flankers and down-right-bizarre niche offerings. All-in-all it’s been a busy year with over 1,300 launches. Impressive but exhausting!
Below you will find my awards for Best Masculine, Best Feminine and Best Unisex Fragrances for both niche and mainstream houses. In addition to this I’ve also included awards for Best Flanker, Best Celebrity Fragrance and Best Ad Campaign. But we’re not just celebrating the very best of perfumery in 2012 here, no sir, we’re also highlighting the very worst with the Sour Candy Award, reserved solely for the naffest perfume of the year.
So I hope you’re wearing your very best frock (or tux for the boys, or frock if you prefer, it’s up to you really) and sipping on some fine Champagne as The Candies 2012 are underway…
The sheer thought of a Fracas flanker is enough to send most fumenerds in to fits of fear-induced hysterics. Such is always the case when a classic is reinterpreted for the modern generation, just take Shalimar Parfum Initial for example, the blogosphere practically imploded upon hearing the news of a pink-ified Shalimar (more on that one later), so it would not be un-wise to expect the same reaction for the arrival of Petit Fracas.
Yes that’s right, I said “Petit Fracas” as in “Little Fracas”. But fear ye not, the people over at Fashion Fragrances and Cosmetics Ltd (who own the licence for Piguet Parfums) have taken great care in the re-launch of Piguet’s classics and they have applied the very same amount of care to this reinterpretation of the original.
“Play the game of love with Petit Fracas de Robert Piguet. The scent has an audacious air, inspired by our iconic Fracas. Petit is fresh, youthful and feminine, with a playful innocence. Flirtatious and charming [...] elegant and enchanting, but not too serious, Petit Fracas is a chic floral bouquet, perfect for flirty fashionistas or fashionistas at heart.”
Aiming for a younger woman who is not quite ready to step into the 9 inch stilettos of the original, Petit Fracas (created by Aurelien Guichard who has been responsible for all of the Piguet relaunches and new scents) mashes modern tastes with the haute couture style of one of perfumery’s most infamous characters. She’s the wild child of an even wilder parent; living, loving and vying for attention.
Madonna; no other name is more instantly recognisable, no person is more likley to divide opinion. Arguably the most famous woman on the planet, Madonna is a force that is hard to define; singer, dancer, performer, entertainer, provocateur, feminist, business woman, calculating she-devil, love her or hate her, whatever moniker you throw at her will most likely apply.
The fascinating thing about Madonna is that her ratio of talent to fame is perhaps slightly off balance. She’s not the greatest singer or dancer in the world, or even the best looking, but she has that je ne sais quoi that makes a person a star. Some say that she’s just a good business woman and I’m sure she is but that does not make for such longevity. By pushing people’s buttons and having something to say (and saying it rather noisily) Madonna has ensured that she is more than a just a star, she’s that rare commodity: an icon.
Madonna is well-known to be a lover of perfume and is reported to be a loyal wearer of Fracas and practically anything containing tuberose, including her very own (and rather good) fragrance ‘Truth or Dare’ which was released earlier this year. A diva needs her diva-fumes y’all and in honour of the Queen of Pop and her love for perfume I present to you some of my favourite Madonna albums, each with their very own olfactory accompaniment that captures the spirit of the music and all that is ‘Madonna’.
Oh Steampunk Girl, How I Love You With Your Cogs and Your Curls…
Andy Tauer is one amazing dude. Not only is he an incredibly talented self-taught perfumer he’s also a fascinating blogger as well as being a very nice chap indeed. What I love most about Andy Tauer is the fact that he constantly pushes the boundaries with beautiful, innovative compositions whilst staying true to his signature style.
Whether you click with this signature style or not Tauer’s collection, which contains his Classics, Homages, Pentachords and Collectibles, is so diverse that you’d be pretty darn unlucky not to find something to fall in love with. Whether you are attracted to the throwback rose of Une Rose Chyprée or the orange/vanilla supernova of Orange Star you are bound to find something to adore.
Perhaps the most interesting of Tauer’s projects is his collaboration with filmmaker Brian Pera for Tableau de Parfums, a line of perfumes inspired by the heroines of the Woman’s Picture Series. First came Miriam, an impeccable vintage floral and now we have Loretta, Tauer’s ode to tuberose. Andy Tauer AND tuberose?! Surely this could go either way! It could be the amazing tauerade soaked floral I hope it to be or it could be a hot mess.
Described as referencing “the rich spicy orientals and elegant floral classic of the seventies and eighties, with a modern twist” Loretta is unmistakably Tauer but at the same time it feels new, not just as a Tauer fragrance but as a tuberose. It has the striking ability to smell simultaneously familiar yet alien and it is so bold in character that it will easily be one of those perfumes that divide opinion, and as we all know those perfumes are the best kind.
On the last Saturday Poll, which was a whole two weeks ago if you can cast your mind back that far, we discussed the subject of perfume gender bending. This is a subject that I am quite passionate, and almost militant about so it was great to see so many people weighing in with their thoughts. A stonking 83% of you voted in favour for gender bending and generally wearing whatever you like and all I can say to that is “hear, hear!”
Anyway, enough of that! Let’s move on to this week’s poll…
As you may have noticed, I am somewhat of a lover of tuberose. OK, that’s an understatement, I’m a tuberose freak. No wait, I’m a tuberose addict – I can’t get enough. Whilst I adore the note I’m fully aware that others aren’t so keen, in fact it would be fair to say that tuberose is a polarising note – some love it and others hate it. What do you think? I want to know! Register your vote and let me know your thoughts in the comments box below!
This post should come with a disclaimer – I am a Madonna fan, or as I put it ‘a royal subject of her Madgesty’. I just can’t help myself – I love her music, I admire her immensely for doing everything a man can do but better (and for getting away with it), for doing a lot with average talent, heck even this blog is named after one of her songs, so yes it is fair to say that I kinda like the Queen of Pop. I am also a HUGE fan of white florals, which may lead you to think that I was destined to adore Madonna’s first perfume ‘Truth or Dare’, I mean after all how could I not be biased when one of my favourite icons releases a perfume that fits very nicely into one of my favourite genres?
The truth is that the release of Truth or Dare was quite nerve-wracking for me. First things first, there have been many rumours about a Madonna perfume over the years and it would be fair to say that she should have done it a long time ago, back when she was more of a leader and less of a follower. Secondly, aside from a few glorious exceptions (Rossy de Palma, Tilda Swinton and Sarah Jessica Parker etc.) celebrity perfumes tend to be naff, thoughtless concoctions created as a quick cash cow for whoever feels the need to put their name to one. But as news of Truth or Dare startled to trickle into the blogosphere my fears were put to rest and I was particularly encouraged by the fact that her perfume would be a Fracas inspired white floral – a genre that she is known to love.
Truth or Dare, Madonna’s first and long-awaited foray into the perfume market is created in conduction with Coty, it is also part of her new lifestyle/fashion brand of the same name and was developed by perfumer Stephen Nilsen (Donna Karan Gold, Hillary Duff With Love). With Truth or Dare Madonna was looking to create something personal that was an expression of herself and her love for perfume, but could also be accessible to others, she wanted “something classical and timeless and yet modern” . It is aimed at women between the ages 25-45, with the main focus being on the 35-45 bracket, a fact that I find baffling seeing as Madonna is currently 53 (at the time of writing). Anyhoo, on to the fragrance…
“Ladies with an attitude, fellas that were in the mood…”
This review has been a long time coming. I have mentioned Fracas on this blog many a time, even going as far as to include it as one of my ‘reference tuberoses’ in The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Tuberose, and seeing as I’m a major tuberose fanatic it is almost criminal not to have written a full review.
What’s worse is that I have a confession to make, one that I am deeply ashamed of. Up until a week ago I didn’t actually own a bottle of Fracas. I know, it’s disgusting isn’t it? A tuberose nut like me not owning a bottle of THE most classic tuberose fragrance of all time. I hope that you will able to forgive me.
In my defence, I have owned a small bottle of the Parfum but it got on my nerves because I am not a huge fan of the dabbing…. But you’ll be glad to know that I have seen the error of my ways and there is now a brand new bottle of Fracas taking pride of place on the perfume shelf at The Candy Perfume Towers.
Fracas, released in 1948, was the third perfume to be released by French Couturier Robert Piguet. Like the two fragrances to proceed it, Bandit and Visa, it was created by Germaine Cellier and is considered by many to be the reference tuberose fragrance, the one that all others attempt to be in someway or another. But none, I repeat none can ever live up to Fracas – the diva of the tuberose world.
“Perfume is the first garment we wear on our skin.”
Jean Paul Gaultier
Fragile, the Eau de Parfum, was Jean Paul Gaultier’s second feminine fragrance, it was released in 1999 and followed the phenomenally successful Classique. Created by Francis Kurkdjian, Fragile couldn’t be more of a stark contrast to the warm, powdery oriental tones of Classique.
Where Classique is evocative of Gaultier’s loud, abrasive style of couture, Fragile plays on classic French perfumery. There is nothing ‘boudoir’ about it, it is incredibly enigmatic and feels almost unsuitable for everyday wear. Fragile is a perfume of the night.
Like a lot of the other fragrances in the Gone, But Not Forgotten Series, Fragile was a big love for me early on in my perfume journey. It was also my first tuberose, and whilst it may not be the best example of nature’s rawest and most carnal of flowers, it is lovely and it did kick-start my love for the flower.
Tuberose, tuberose, tuberose, the narcotic Queen of the Night. The erotic, sensationalist flower with a reputation for stealing many a heart and corrupting many a virgin. My love of tuberose is pretty well documented (please see The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Tuberose) and I’m pretty much happy to try any fragrance that lists it as a note. I was however, slightly sceptical of Vamp À N.Y., but lots of positive reviews and a sample that was very kindly donated by Ines of All I Am – A Redhead led me to try it.
“This is extreme, never lived before, French couture… addictive, sophisticated and futuristic” 
Vamp À N.Y. is part of Honoré des Prés’ ‘We love NY’ collection created by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti. The Honoré des Prés line prides itself on having perfumes that are “100% natural origin – 100% botanical ingredients – 100% engaged.” I don’t know about you but I’m not entirely fussed about whether a perfume is all natural or not, the art of perfumery, in my eyes, requires a large palette of natural and ‘synthetic’ ingredients. But that’s beside the point, Vamp À N.Y., whether it is natural, synthetic or otherwise, is a very interesting take on my favourite flower.