When Chypre Meets Cologne – Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Eau de Magnolia Perfume Review

Eau de Magnolia by Carlos Benaim for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Eau de Magnolia by Carlos Benaïm for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

It seems that the world’s greatest, and possibly only perfume curator is spoiling us. Last year, after four years of long, painful silence, Frédéric Malle launched the extraordinary Dries van Noten - a perfume that genuinely is like no other, and this summer he is generously treating the world to yet another, brand new fragrance. It seem that, much like buses, Monsieur Malle’s perfumes come in multiples and after a lengthy wait. But who are we to complain?

The new edition to the extensive and wonderful Editions de Parfums library is entitled ‘Eau de Magnolia‘ and is penned by venerable perfumer Carlos Benaïm, the man behind scents such as Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb and Dior’s Pure Poison. The fragrance is billed as both an entirely new take on the classic ‘Eau de Cologne’ as well as a beautiful presentation of the magnolia flower, and one should see it as a perfume that sits somewhere smack bang in the middle of these two things.

“This time the conversation between Frédéric Malle and Carlos Benaïm was on the headspace analysis of the magnolia and the fact that the flower is closer to an Eau de Cologne than to a classic flower. Carlos then suggested to magnify the hesperidic equilibrium of the Magnolia to enhance the Eau effect and to add a woody vibration to give it depth and sensuality. The result is a fresh chypre, an extraordinarily transparent and very natural, smelling note, animated by a somber base (vetiver, patchouli) that gives it a touch of mystery. A timeless summer perfume.”

Magnolia blooms sing with a complex profile of odours that range from the zesty smell of lemons to the waxy and almost cheesy scent of gardenia flowers. It’s a truly versatile bouquet that can radiate with freshness or revel in plush creaminess, depending entirely on how it it used. Frédéric Malle and Carlos Benaïm’s take on magnolia errs on the fresher side of things, creating a perfume that veers from eau de cologne to floral chypre in an incredibly enjoyable manner.

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Eau de Honeymoon – Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Perfume Review

The Neroli Portofino Collection

The Neroli Portofino Collection

Well the wedding has happened and it’s a great big smack bang of a return to normality for my new husband (I just love saying that word) and I. We had a truly wonderful time, the best time in fact, and once we get all of the photos back I will be sharing with you some of the fragrant treats we had during the day, which as you would expect were plentiful, so stay tuned for that!

Now the wedding is over, it’s time to think about the honeymoon and it’s a venture that requires a huge amount of thought. Does one opt for an active city break (I’m thinking Florence or even San Francisco) or a more relaxing trip to a Greek Island (Crete looks fab)? The choices are plentiful and I have to admit that the idea of blue skies, Greek food, sumptuous views and a private pool are most definitely calling my name.

One perfume that seems incredibly befitting of such a honeymoon getaway is Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino. Launched as part of the original crop of Private Blends in 2007, this ode to azure seas and skies has proved so popular that it has been repackaged, redistributed to a wider audience and evolved into an expansive range of bath and body products. Smelling the fragrance it is easy to understand it’s popularity, after all what is there not to like about a crisp, modern and intense take on the traditional ‘Eau de Cologne’?

[Slightly NSFW image after the jump...]

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The Hot Breath of Jasmine – Amouage Opus VIII Perfume Review

Expect the Unexpected: Opus VIII by Amouage

Expect the Unexpected: Opus VIII by Amouage

I never know what to expect when a new Amouage lands on my doorstep. The entire output from the industry’s most luxurious of houses is complex, intricate and grand beyond much else found in perfume stores. This complexity means that they’re not always the easiest perfumes to pin down and I personally find that one has to spend a fair bit of time with an Amouage before they can truly say they know it.

Amouage’s latest edition to their experimental Library Collection, ‘Opus VIII‘, is no exception and much like the wickedly dangerous, galbanum-soaked leather jacket of Opus VII and the delectably intense, salty amber of Opus VI that have preceded it, this beguiling perfume created by perfumers Pierre Negrin and Richard Herpin in conjunction with Creative Director Christopher Chong, is perhaps the most labyrinthine composition to have ever exited Amouage’s doors.

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Urban Downpours – Jo Malone Rain & Angelica and Black Cedarwood & Juniper Perfume Reviews

London Rain

London Rain

I love the rain. There’s something about gloomy black skies and relentless downpours that appeal to my melancholic side. It’s fun too and as kids, my sister and I would often play outside in the rain until we were soaked through to the bone. We revelled in the burning cold of the open heavens and gorged on the smell of petrichor like greedy gremlins, fuelled by the most ancient and fundamental of elements. We also had fun splashing and throwing mud at each other, of course.

British perfume house Jo Malone appears to love the rain too, so much so in fact that they have launched a selection of four colognes (three new and one old) as part of their limited edition London Rain collection. Their take on rain is altogether more sanitised that my sister and I making mud pies though, focusing instead on the purifying and almost cinematic elements of rain within an urban landscape, celebrating it as a key part of London life. As the brand says; “what could be more British than London rain?”

“This collection is intensely urban whilst harnessing the power of nature in the city; drenched blooms, savage rainstorms battering the parks, the torrential drumbeat pelting the pavements. And the scents that rise from nature’s outburst, refreshing city life, making everything seem brand new.”

Created by perfumer Christine Nagel (Etat Libre d’Orange’s Archives 69, Versace Woman and Giorgio Armani’s Si) the London Rain collection consists of; Rain & Angelica, Wisteria & Violet, Black Cedarwood & Juniper and White Jasmine & Mint (originally launched in 2007). Each cologne captures “the different moods of a downpour”, ranging from the aquatic to the spicy and casting the idea of urban rain in a variety of watery shades.

In this review I’ll be taking a look at two perfumes in the collection – Rain & Angelica and Black Cedarwood & Juniper. The former represents morning rain over London’s green spaces, whilst the latter is a moodier affair that captures evening rain dashing against the city’s jungle of buildings and pavements. Together they demonstrate how a single idea can be presented in a number of guises, displaying familiar aquatic notes in new and intriguing ways.

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Waterlogged Cotton – Serge Lutens Laine de Verre Perfume Review

Laine de Verre

Laine de Verre – Image via grey-magazine.com

It’s a strange paradox that the king of non-mainstream perfumery’s most divisive fragrances are those that are the least unusual – the L’Eau series. This is evidenced by the fact that there was practically a public outcry when Lutens launched his first ‘eau’. Die hard perfume nuts were found weeping in the street, bell jars were burned and bottles upon bottles of Ambre Sultan were smashed in moments of despair.

OK, I accept that I may have dramatised the situation a bit there but the truth is that many were disheartened that Serge Lutens, the man behind so many of perfumery’s modern greats, was going against his own grain by releasing anti-perfumes that were evocative of cold water and clean linen as opposed to life’s darker and more dangerous aspects. But people need worry not, both perfumes in the collection so far (L’Eau and L’Eau Froide) have turned out to be pretty decent, acting as a welcome change from Lutens’ usual oeuvre and showing how clean fragrances really should be done.

The latest perfume to be added to the L’Eau collection is ‘Laine de Verre‘. Taking its name from everyone’s favourite mode of loft installation – fibreglass – this new L’Eau penned by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake is as unusual as it is fresh and relaxed. Serge Lutens, in his usually riddle-filled way, states that the perfume is inspired by “complementary opposites” [1], elaborating further that the conflict is himself and the masculine and feminine. With that in mind, it’ll be no surprise that Lain de Verre is a genderless, inhuman fragrance that piques interest.

“With Laine de Verre, it is the metal which, physically, takes shape within its fragrance…” [2]

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A Hybrid Rose – Parfumerie Générale Isparta PG26 Perfume Review

Parfumerie Generale Isparta 26

Parfumerie Generale Isparta 26

2014 is quickly become the year of the rose for me. It all started with the fabulous (and addictive) Tobacco Rose by soon-to-be-launched perfume house Papillon Perfumery and quickly spiralled into many days absorbed in clouds of Montale’s Black Aoud and a thirsty hunt for more roses. Nothing can satiate my appetite when I’m on a mission, so it was with much interest that I approached Isparta PG26 (hereafter referred to simply as ‘Isparta’) - the new rose fragrance from Parfumerie Générale.

Now Parfumerie Générale and I have a complex relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for the brand and Pierre Guillaume as a perfumer, but nothing from the line has bowled me over yet (Djhénne has come VERY close – I really should invest in a bottle but something holds me back) and I want so desperately to love something with PG’s intriguing gourmand signature.

Isparta is very much in the Pierre Guillaume style (read: woody/gourmand-ish) but displays more clarity than a lot of his perfumes. His other rose, Brulure de Rose for example, is a much thicker and ‘delicious’ take on the note, but Isparta thankfully errs more on the transparent side of things. This is perhaps due to the perfume’s inspiration, which is a woody rose based entirely in nature:

“The province of Isparta in Turkey is famed for its rose oil, obtained from a variety called ‘Isparta Summer Roses’, which grows profusely in gardens and terraced fields on the soft mountain slopes. The roses are picked early in the morning when they are half-open and their fragrance is the strongest… intense, rich and slightly spicy.”

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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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Violet Tobacco – Byredo Black Saffron Perfume Review

Byredo Black Saffron

Black Saffron by Byredo

Anyone who has been within an inch of this blog or my Twitter feed will know that my latest obsession is Byredo’s 1996. Never before has a perfume so quickly made its merry little way up to the very top of my wish list, leaving me drooling and lusting after it so badly that my long-suffering partner had no choice but to gift me a bottle for Christmas. For his sanity you understand?

So yes, I was very pleased with my bottle of 1996 and even more so when I found a little sample of a Byredo scent I’ve not smelled accompanying it – Black Saffron. Launched in 2012, this supposedly dark take on saffron, where the golden spice is merged with violet and leather to create something entirely unexpected, is a rather interesting scent indeed. Byredo describe the inspirations behind it as follows:

“Saffron is holy to all Hindus, is the colour of Buddhist robes and has become a symbol for India. It has always been a part of Byredo’s founders upbringing in both smell, taste and colour. Black Saffron is a fragrance inspired by this very idea of sublime unity.”

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New Escentual Post: Winter Fragrance Guide for Him

Winter Warmers 'Pour Homme'

Winter Warmers ‘Pour Homme’

For my Escentual column this week I was tasked with selecting some of my favourite ‘winter warmers’ for men and with the weather being as turbulent and dreadful as it is, I was definitely up for the challenge! My picks include; a new classic from Amouage, a wild card from Dior and a severely underrated scent from Jean Paul Gaultier – to name just a few.

So boys and girls (because, unsurprisingly, the list is pretty unisex), if you’re in the mood for some olfactory comfort blankets, head on over to Escentual by clicking the image above to read all about my favourite manly fragrances for winter. Don’t forget to tell me what winter warmers you’ll be rocking this season, too!

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The Final Perfume Review of the Year ft. Tauer Perfumes, Vero Profumo, Puredistance & Hiram Green

The Final Review of 2013

The Final Review of 2013: Tauer Phi Une Rose de Kandahar, Vero Profumo Voile d’Extraits, Hiram Green Moon Bloom and Puredistance BLACK

I am plagued by a constant lack of organisation in my life and it’s always at this time of year that I cannot help but feel I am running out of time. In a little over a week, 2013 will be a distant memory on the horizon and everyone and everything will be fully focused on what 2014 will bring.

But it isn’t time to give up on 2013 just yet, after all It has been a busy year for perfume tmwith way over 1,000 new launches to sniff and throughout the year I’ve been seeking out the good, the bad and the downright ugly to help you know what to bother with and what to ignore. On the 27th December I’ll be holding my annual perfume awards (‘The Candies’) but before we start the celebrations I wanted to share with you four reviews of perfumes that (for the most part) deserve not to be ignored this year.

Here you’ll find new scents from the likes of Tauer Perfumes, Vero Profumo and Puredistance – venerable houses that constantly push the boundaries of the perfume industry, as well as Hiram Green, a newcomer. So for the very final review of the year let’s take one last look at some new fragrances that have helped make 2013 one heck of an interesting year for perfumery.

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