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The new Angel Muse Eau de Toilette. Reviewed on Escentual this week. Click here to read.

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Speed Sniffs is a way to bring you ‘to-the-point’ fragrance reviews that are quick and easy to digest. They are perfume reviews without the faff.

I am not a massive fan of amber fragrances. There’s something pleasing about the classic blend of benzoin, labdanum and vanilla, absolutely, but I often find that, because it’s such a distinct accord, amber fragrances seem to cover very similar ground. So you own one and there’s little need to own more – you just need to pick out the one for you. I’m also not too keen on leather either, because it tends to dominate a perfume. Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all of this so I shall enlighten you: today I am writing about a amber/leather fragrance that I really love.

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There’s an ongoing debate as to whether perfume is an art. I for one, know which side of the debate I come down on and I very much believe that yes, perfume is an art form – after all, it can evoke emotion, illicit memories and tell stories in the exact same way sculpture, photography, film and many other types of art can. But does that mean that every perfume is art? Hell no! Perfume is first and foremost a commercial enterprise, in which many brands create things that are new, exciting and beautiful, but also where many others create replicants that are simply made to sell, so it’s a mixed bag and a more in-depth conversation than this one paragraph allows for.

Anyway, I talk about perfume and art because the fragrance I’m reviewing today is created by an artist named Paul Schütze, whose work spans photography, sound and now, perfume. Schütze’s latest duo of fragrances (Cuadra and Villa M – his fourth and fifth fragrances) take inspiration from two famous buildings, weaving architecture and olfaction together in a bold way. Today’s subject, the bright-pink-bottled Cuadra, is inspired by Mexican architect Luis Barragan’s “brilliantly hued modern masterpiece” Cuadra San Cristobal – a ranch situated amongst reflective pools and fountains. I tell you now, it makes for one heck of a fragrance!

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I do love a bit of nasal excitement here at The Candy Perfume Boy, so for my first post of 2018, I’m reviewing two fragrances that certainly have caused quite of a bit of intrigue for my nose. They come from The Zoo an NYC-based company created by Perfumer Christophe Laudamiel. Now, you will know Laudamiel as the creator of the Thierry Mugler ‘Le Parfum’ coffer inspired by the movie ‘Perfume – The Story of a Murderer’, as well as being the man behind Abercrombie & Fitch’s Fierce, and Amber Absolute by TOM FORD. Truth be told, Laudamiel is somewhat of a renegade and if you don’t follow his Instagram account, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so, because you’ll find lots of content that aims to demystify the world perfumery and unfurl its reality – a rarity in this day and age.

The Zoo create fragrances that sit within four categories (or ‘territories’ as The Zoo call them); fresh, sexy, raw and forbidden. Laudamiel compares them to animals that with distinct and lovable personalities that are either “expected, reassuring or totally surprising”. I was sent two to try: LOUIS, “a pleasant watery masculine”, and SPACEWOOD, a piece of “fresh icy dewy paradise” that encourages one to “trampoline into the future”. They are housed within simple bottles, protected by handsome wool pouches. The presentation may be subtle, but don’t let that fool you, because the descriptions of the scents are off the charts. Let’s take a sniff and see if The Zoo’s fragrant animals are as much fun as they sound.

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Well that was the year that was! 2017 is finally drawing to a close and I think it would be fair to say that it has been a year unlike any other. Perfume-wise, it has been once again, an incredibly busy year, more so than any other in fact, with a big cohort of mainstream brands launching new pillar fragrances this year – the likes of MUGLER, GUERLAIN, CHANEL (all capitalised for some reason) and Hermès, just to name a few. There have been flankers, celebrity scents, and ridiculous bottles aplenty, making for an interesting and fragrant year.

Seeing as the blog had a total makeover in 2017, this year I’ve decided to rejig The Candies a little bit too. Normally I would pick my best feminine, masculine and unisex fragrances from the mainstream and niche arms of the industry however, year-on-year I have found it harder to fit my favourites into these categories. The problem being that nowadays, the gender lines have blurred considerably within the realms of perfume, especially in niche. Also, I’ve said many times that a fragrance has no gender so it seems silly to categorise my awards as such . So this year I’ve simply picked ten fragrances – five mainstream and five niche, that each take the title of the best perfumes of the year, presented in no particular order.

In terms of other changes, there’s now a ‘Top Candy’ which goes to my favourite perfume of the year (it will be a most coveted award, I am sure), and ‘Best Body Product’ has been replaced with ‘Candy Crush of the Year’ to reflect my Candy Crush posts that celebrate my fragrant obsessions throughout the year. Oh and there’s now a ‘House of the Year’ award which goes to my favourite perfume house of the year. That about covers it, so shall we get started then? Yes, let’s! A drumroll please…