Casting Shadows – Etat Libre d’Orange Hermann à Mes Côtés Me Paraissait Une Ombre Perfume Review

Casting Shadows

Casting Shadows

“By my side, Hermann seemed to me like a shadow” – that’s the name of the latest fragrance from rebellious niche brand, Etat Libre d’Orange. A long, pretentious name in French is no real surprise from a brand that shot to fame by marketing a fragrance using the icon of a spewing dick, but much like all things Etat Libre d’Orange, this particular scent, with its particularly long name is absolutely fascinating, albeit without any erotic influences. Not that sexual innuendo, naughty hijinks and a healthy sense of humour are bad things, mind you!

Etat Libre d’Orange have moved into a new phase. Gone are the hilarious, shocking and hyper-sexualised names, and cartoons, all in favour of concepts inspired by Nijinsky’s ballets and poems by Victor Hugo. They seem to be treading a more serious path and elevating their olfactory art to a higher level. I think it’s a good move, one that will prevent them from being pigeonholed as the antisocial abuser of good taste. That rebellious and crass streak still exists – the spirit is very much alive in the brand’s back catalogue, but for now, Etat Libre d’Orange want to stand out for being innovative, not for being innovative and rude. I say power to them.

Hermann à Mes Côtés Me Paraissait Une Ombre, or ‘Hermann‘ for short, is inspired by Victor Hugo’s poem ‘What Two Horseman Were Thinking in the Forest’ and was created by Givaudan perfumer Quentin Bisch (La Fin du Monde & Ambre Imperial). The perfume plays with the idea of shadows, with shade serving as our companion or even our fragrance. They call it your alternate self – that side of you that is always there, whether it can be seen or not. Perfume too, can be a second self – a character we wear to send a message about who we are and who we want to be. But what happens when that second skin talks back? Etat Libre d’Orange seems to want to find out.

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Edible Oud – Robert Piguet Oud Divin & Oud Délice Perfume Reviews

Lip-Smacking Ouds

Lip-Smacking Ouds

During this review I am going to attempt not to; a) mention; or b) moan about, the perfume industry’s boring obsession with oud. Oh, well that didn’t last very long, did it? In all seriousness, you don’t need to hear me bang on about oud and why we’re all fed up with it, because frankly, I’m fed up with saying it. So onwards and upwards. Oud is popular and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, despite our collective ennui regarding the subject. Which leads me nicely onto two brand new oud fragrances from luxury brand Robert Piguet…

The Piguet brand has exploded considerably over the last three years and their small capsule collection of a handful, or so of scents has increased significantly with 19 new fragrances created since 2012 (that’s quite the growth, people). In truth, they’ve been a bit of a mixed bag, and whilst I thought that scents such as Petit Fracas were great fun (and really worth sniffing), many haven’t lived up to the greatness of the brand’s classics such as Fracas, Bandit and Visa. Which, let’s face it, must be quite difficult, i mean, not every fragrance are ever going to be as great as Fracas!

This summer, Piguet have launched Oud Divin and Oud Délice, two follow-ups to their Oud, which was launched in 2012, and was a pretty big and funky take on the note. These two ouds take the signature of the original and turn it into something a little bit more palatable. They flirt with the gourmand and present the signature Oud Piguet, the “proprietary blend of resins and woods” that was the core of 2012’s stinky (in a good way) Oud, in two strikingly different ways – one is robust, shocking and intriguing, whilst the other pleases with softness and familiarity.

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New Escentual Post: U is for Unisex…

U is for Unisex

U is for Unisex

“Perfumes don’t have a gender” – I cannot tell you how many times I have said this, whether on this blog, or in casual conversation, and I stand by it. It is my firm belief that, seeing as a fragrance neither has balls or boobs, it cannot be assigned a particular gender. That said, perfumes do possess characteristics that can be perceived as either more masculine or feminine, depending on whose nose is doing the sniffing. To combat all of this brands try to dispel the gender myth (or do they reinforce it?) with unisex or genderless fragrances.

For my Escentual column this week, and the latest instalment in my ‘Escentual A-Z of Fragrance’ (only V, W, X, Y and Z to go, y’all) I’ve pondered the origin of the modern unisex perfume, and have also included some of my favourites for your reading pleasure. So if you’re wanting to dip your toes into a world where the gender lines don’t matter much at all, then simply click here and head on over to the Escentual blog to read my post. Don’t forget to tell me what your favourite unisex scents are.

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Somewhere in Paradise – Tom Ford Private Blend Fleur de Portofino Perfume Review

Somewhere in Paradise Lies Tom Ford's Fleur de Portofino

Somewhere in Paradise Lies Tom Ford’s Fleur de Portofino

Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino series is a collection within a collection. Housed like a fragrant Matryoshka inside the Private Blend collection, the four colognes that currently comprise the series (Neroli Portofino, Mandarino di Amalfi, Costa Azzura, and now, Fleur de Portofino) tick all of the required boxes; 1) they smell great; 2) they are so much more than straight-up Eau de Colognes; 3) they’re unique; and 4) they have decent longevity and sillage. Don’t be fooled by the (rather beautiful) transparent bottles cast in varying hues of blue and green, because there are some intriguing, and complex juices within.

Fleur de Portofino is the latest addition to the Neroli Portofino collection and it marks a bit of a shift from the world of contemporary Eau de Cologne, to the domain of the floral, where the wistful reigns supreme. The spirit of the collection is well and truly alive here, with lots of aquatic vibrancy and freshness however, flowers take centre stage and the beauty of citrus has been instructed to wait in the wings. The result is a floral that presents a new olfactory take on the mediterranean – one that is teeming with life.

“Vibrant. Carefree. Captivating. Private Blend Fleur de Portofino is inspired by the cascades of white flowers that spill off the the branches of the white acacia beloved shade tree that dots the mediterranean’s gardens and lines its tranquil avenues. Fleur de Portofino creates a crisp and bright floral accord from this bloom, then surrounds it with effervescent citruses and acacia honey. The fragrance creates an effect of sheer floral possession that is incomparably hypnotic and extremely bold.”

– Tom Ford

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As Good as it Gets – Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Cologne Indélébile Perfume Review

Cologne Indélébile - As Good as Cologne Gets

Cologne Indélébile – As Good as Cologne Gets

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle is a unique brand.  Positioning himself somewhere between Creative Directory and Fragrance Curator, Malle is responsible for putting the perfumer centre stage, famously slapping their names on the bottles of the fragrances they create, and allowing them artistic carte blanche to create perfumes that are works of art.  It’s quite staggering to think just how many modern classics come from this line – Carnal Flower, Portrait of a Lady, Le Parfum de Therese, Une Fleur de Cassie and Vetiver Extraordinaire – I really could go on, there really isn’t a single ‘dud’ in the collection, and when viewed against the plethora of niche brands on the market, Editions de Parfums de Frederic Malle puts many to shame.

The most iconic, and in my personal opinion, the most beautiful fragrances within the collection are penned by legendary perfumer, Dominique Ropion – a man that conducts fragrant symphonies, rather than simply creates perfumes. He is the nose behind some of the greatest fragrances from the last thirty years. In short, the man is a genius and he seems to be the go-to guy for Malle when the brand wishes to ‘perfect’ a genre, whether that be the greatest tuberose scent (Carnal Flower) or the ideal rose fragrance (Portrait of a Lady), or even the coolest modern fougére (Geranium Pour Monsieur).

With that it mind, it seems appropriate for Ropion to be the nose to take on the humble Eau de Cologne with a view of creating the cologne – a cologne to serve as a reference point for the genre, and blow all others out of the water. The result is ‘Cologne Indélébile’ (‘Permanent Cologne’), a fragrance that is described by the brand as being a “modern yet traditional Eau de Cologne that lasts forever”, which is quite a statement to be making, if you ask me. With this permanent cologne, Malle and Ropion are attempting to redefine an age-old genre and drag it firmly into the 21st century by embracing modern technology (specifically through the use of ‘technical musks’). If that’s not an exciting prospect for a fragrance, then I don’t know what is!

“A clean scent, yet surprisingly magnetic. A modern yet traditional Eau de Cologne that lasts forever. Dominique Ropion embraces musk’s nature as both a quasi-aphrodisiac and a scent of purity to create a very personal interpretation of Eau de Cologne. A splash of the best neroli intertwined with orange blossom, bergamote, and the most technical musks for a scent that endures, and endures, and endures… Cologne Indélébile.”

– Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

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Perfume with Wings – adidas ORIGINALS by Jeremy Scott Perfume review

adidas ORGINALS x Jeremy Scott

adidas ORGINALS x Jeremy Scott

I do like a nice surprise, especially when perfume is concerned, and definitely when my cynical perfume blogger hat is firmly atop my head. adidas ORIGINALS by Jeremy Scott, the first fragrant collaboration between the legendary sportswear brand and the pop-culture dabbling designer, is one such surprise and I have no shame in admitting that I really do like it much more than I thought I would. As will be a shock to nobody, I’m not a hugely sporty person, and my personal style certainly couldn’t be described as ‘pop-fashion’ (as Scott’s designs are). Further to this, Scott’s first olfactory creation for MOSCHINO (the disappointingly ‘style over substance’ scent that is TOY) didn’t fill me with too much hope for a masterpiece. All-in-all, I didn’t expect to think much of this new collaboration. I was wrong, of course.

adidas ORIGINALS by Jeremy Scott makes a statement right from the moment one removes it from the “thermoformed velvet” placement inside it’s shoe box-like outer packaging. The bottle, which is shaped like one of Scott’s ‘winged’ adidas high-tops will divide opinion but personally, I think it’s really cool and it’s as much a decorative object as it is a vessel for the fragrance. Speaking of the perfume, adidas and Jeremy Scott have worked with perfumers Maurice Roucel (Musc Ravageur, Gucci Envy & Iris Silver Mist) and Philippe Roques to create a blend that reportedly “defies expectations with a unisex formula that contrasts masculine and feminine” – and you know what? They’ve done exactly that!

“Fashion designer, Jeremy Scott defines pop fashion. His brand of rebellion-humurous, optimistic-polished is irresistible to international pop stars and style-makers alike. His vision for remixing and elevating popular culture – with spectacular results – tells the story of the possible made real. There are no limits. There is no questioning. Reality will bend. His first fragrance, Jeremy Scott for adidas ORIGINALS, embodies the high-contrast world of pop fashion where imagination is everything.”

– adidas ORIGINALS

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A Trip to Oman – Jo Malone Incense & Cedrat Cologne Intense Perfume Review

A Trip to Oman - Incense & Cedrat Cologne Intense

A Trip to Oman – Incense & Cedrat Cologne Intense

I know it’s only March, but I’m going to go ahead and say that 2015 is turning out to be a very good year for perfume. There have been some strong launches, scent such as Annick Goutal’s  L’Ile au Thé and Jo Malone’s Birch & Black Pepper, but there’s also been some outstandingly beautiful new things, things like Lalique’s unexpectedly striking Living Lalique, and of course, Jean-Claude Ellena’s latest offering for Hermes – Le Jardin de Monsieur Li.  In a world where flankers run riot and ideas, and artistry for that matter, can seem to be in short supply at times, it is perfumes such as these that restore faith and act as reassurance that the perfume industry still has tricks up its sleeve.

One fragrance that really struck me as quite wonderful and innovative is Jo Malone’s Incense & Cedrat.  Launching in June as part of the brand’s Cologne Intense collection, this Marie Salamagne-penned fragrance centers on Omani frankincense – an ancient ingredient that filters through every aspect of life within Oman. Frankincense is burned in the country for a whole heap of reasons, whether it be to simply scent a house, ward off mosquitoes, or even as an expression of sadness. It is as vital to the Omani way of life as it is wonderful to smell, and Incense & Cedrat presents an incredibly pleasing take on the note that is entirely respectful of its importance and natural beauty.

To launch the fragrance, Jo Malone  transformed their (rather swanky) London town house into Oman for the day. Stepping over the threshold was a real experience. The air was thick with frankincense, the smoke of which permeated the plaster and thick carpet pile of this very British building, transporting one to a foreign land. Once inside, one could be forgiven for thinking they had just hot footed it off the plane straight on to the Arabian Peninsula. It was a door to another world. Thus is the theme for Incense & Cedrat – realism through a dash of perfumery magic.

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