“Perfume, like fashion, is about attitude, seasons, colour, mood and context. There is a time and place for everything.”
My experience of the Heeley line (brainchild of designer James Heeley) has been generally positive, and my impression so far is that it is a line full of interesting, innovative creations which simply must be tried. What I really like about Heeley Parfums though, is that they present themselves with no pretence, no gimmicks, they just say “here we are, come smells us, don’t we smell good?”. But don’t be fooled by this simple approach, the Heeley line actually consists of a range of unique and complex perfumes with highlights such as the beautiful iris ‘Iris de Nuit’, ode to the sea ‘Sel Marin’ and almost comic ‘Esprit du Tigre’.
Late last year James Heeley decided to expand the line with a trio of Extrait de Parfums that take the Heeley aesthetic to a new level of luxury without compromising the overall ethos of unique creations presented in a simple and clear manner. Each Extrait, like the entire Heeley line come to think of it, doesn’t feel the need to shout its message, instead it confidently speaks in a ‘take me or leave me’ manner.
The Heeley Extrait de Parfums are a “collection of quite different scents made from exceptional ingredients, each with an intensity and depth that create a luxurious, ‘haute couture’ feel” and were created because James Heeley wanted to work with his favourite materials in higher concentrations. Heeley succeeds in creating a collection of three perfumes – Agarwoud, Bubblegum Chic & L’Amandière – that are not only high quality but are also high-concept interesting interpretations of familiar themes.
‘Extrait de Devotion’
Benzoin, Rose, Oud, Cedarwood and Amber
Extrait de Devotion, Serenity, Eagle, Prayer, Space, Meditation, Temple, Prince, Siddhartha, Gold, Dark, Wood, Forest, Power, Mind, Fertility, Mist, Rising, Control, Wealth, Poverty, Spirit and Forever
How Does it Smell?
Anyone else feel out-ouded at the moment? I know that I may have just about hit my oud-ceiling, and if it weren’t for recent innovations such as Francis Kurkdjian’s OUD and Mona di Orio’s Oud I would probably be entirely fed up with the note all together. Luckily for me, and for you, Agarwoud falls into the category of ‘very well-done ouds’ that does bring something new to the party (for others in this category please see The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Oud).
Agarwoud starts with a marvellously sour oud note that is intensified by a strong and blood-red rose. Other ouds often attempt to pair rose and oud, however the affect is usually dissonant and uncomfortable but in Agarwoud it is as smooth as silk and as plush as fur. It strikes the right balance between warm floral, spice and animalic notes too, with the dirty, funkier stuff kept in check by the sour, more medicinal facets of the oud.
The rest of Agarwoud’s development is left to an unsweetened and fuzzy benzoin which is given a bit of a kick thanks to the rooty earthiness of vetiver and a relatively dry & ever-so-slightly spicy cedar note. I have to admit that I REALLY like Agarwoud after about an hour when the sourness of the oud has subsided and it becomes just the softest, cuddliest little oud scent around, I could just pinch its gorgeous little cheeks!
‘Extrait de Glamour’
Jasmine Sambac, Tuberose and White Musk
Extrait de Glamour, Pink, Passion, Lips, Mouth, Soft, Warmth, Omnivorous, Sparkle, Appetite, Forbidden, Fun, Fatale, Fruit, Desire, Smile, Sweet, Skin, Shining, Intoxicate, Insatiable and Girls
How Does it Smell?
Now I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that Bubblegum Chic, the tuberose and Extrait de Glamour of the trio, was the one that I was really excited to try. Any fragrance that claims to contain ‘Pink’ and ‘Sparkle’ is certainly worth trying in my book, and although Bubblegum Chic doesn’t quite deliver the mega-glam tuberose that I expected (it is billed as a jasmine rather than a tube’ after all) it is ridiculously glitzy and over the top.
Bubblegum Chic opens white a huge burst of white flowers, but these particular white flowers have been spray painted a vivid shocking pink. Both the jasmine and tuberose have been pushed to extremes and display a high-pitched sweet tone of menthol but they never feel overpowering, OTT yes, but never over-powering.
Underneath all of the couture and sparkle is a surprisingly soft blend of jammy rose and red berries laid over white musk that together give the impression of bubblegum. This impression isn’t perhaps as strong as the bubblegum-tuberose of Vamp À N.Y. by Honoré des Prés but the softness is a nice contrast to the diva-esque opening and reassures you that Bubblegum Chic isn’t just some ditzy floral, she’s a bad-ass bitch.
It’s impossible not to smell Bubblegum Chic and draw parallels with the classic tuberoses and if I were to compare it to any I would say that it sits somewhere between Fracas and Roja Dove’s Scandal, with perhaps little nods to Tubéreuse Criminelle and Vamp À N.Y. along the way. I really like it, but I was always going to wasn’t I?
‘Extrait de Spring’
Green Almond, Hyacinth, Rose and Jasmine
Extrait de Spring, Clear, Joy, Air, Blossom, Growth, Orchard, Almonds, Pretty, Morning, Green, Grass, Silver, Dew, Mayflowers, Bluebells, Trees, Wild Violets, Hyacinths, Night, Jasmine, Faith, Light, Night, Day and Love
How Does it Smell?
L’Amandière is the star of the trio, an understated spring-time fragrance that evokes nature at its most creative and beautiful. Trying to describe it without using clichés is quite difficult, it actually smells like a spring time walk; the freshly mown dew-soaked grass, green stems and cool crisp air, all of it is there, but it in itself doesn’t smell clichéd, in fact it is nothing short of a masterpiece.
This masterpiece is a more fluffed-out version of Guerlain’s Après L’Ondée with dewy floral notes and sweet almond, with nutty heliotrope facets. I’m not usually a fan of anything green, excluding Kermit the Frog of course, but L’Amandière is more than just something green, it is everything that is wonderful about the colour green, there is nothing astringent or discordant about it at all, just simple green pleasure.
Underneath all of that green is a flash of violet that compliments the almond/heliotrope and conjures up the memory of sweet blooms warming in the spring sun. I do also detect the slightest hint of something figgy, as if there is the smallest suggestion of fresh, fleshy fruit lurking underneath the flowers.
The base very much follows the green vs sweet theme and pairs a light moss with an even lighter, sweet musk. L’Amandière is a truly affecting perfume that is better than any other in the genre, well better than any I have tried anyway, it really is breathtaking and I would sincerely recommend it as the most interesting and unique of the trio.
Agarwoud, Bubblegum Chic and L’Amandière are available in 50ml Extrait de Parfum for £147 and can be purchased from Les Senteurs in the UK. In the USA they will soon be available from MiN New York.
This review is based on samples provided by Les Senteurs.
All images via jamesheeley.com
Notes via Basenotes.net
Quotes via jamesheeley.com