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ALIEN FLORA FUTURA has landed! After an exhausting intergalactic trip from its home planet – a lush world filled with pink flora and fauna, this latest extraterrestrial in the ALIEN collection has arrived, and it comes in peace. Now, if you’ve read this blog before you will know that I am a MUGLER fanboy and that ALIEN is one of my all-time favourite scents, so this flanker is very likely to be something I am very interested in. Anyway, let’s face it, when it comes to fragrance flankers, nobody does ’em better than MUGLER. No Sir, so I think it’s fair to say that there are high expectations all round. High. Expectations.

FLORA FUTURA is described by MUGLER as a “new, fresh and sparkling fragrance with an enveloping floral scent”. As the blush pink quartz bottle may suggest, this is an entirely new type of ALIEN – one that is divergent from the original, taking its spirit but interpreting it in an entirely new olfactory guise. This is not the ALIEN you are expecting but with MUGLER one is to expect the unexpected and with this latest instalment, MUGLER promises a counterbalance to their solar goddess – a fragrance that is more of a lunar nymph. This is ALIEN FLORA FUTURA.

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The great thing about luxury brands such as BVLGARI is that, regardless of what they make, whether it be clothing, leather goods, jewellery or fragrance, they truly care about the end product. They want to create a luxury item – a thing of beauty that demonstrates the quality of materials and craftsmanship that makes these brands so luxurious. It’s brands like these that make truly beautiful, accessible fragrances, because they care enough to get it right. They mark art with everything else they do, so their thinking is why not apply that to fragrance as well? BVLGARI is perhaps one of the best examples of this and they dedicate time, care, attention, quality and artistry to all of their fragrances, making for some absolutely beautiful perfumes.

In the Splendida collection, BVLGARI celebrates “the most iconic flowers in the history of perfumery”, namely the iris, the rose and the jasmine. For 2018, BVLGARI is adding to the collection and this time it is the magnolia that gets to take centre stage in the guise of Magnolia Sensuel. Created by perfumer Jacques Cavallier (who has made too many good perfumes to list) who calls the magnolia “an unforgettable note”, Magnolia Sensuel aims to showcase the “supreme beauty” of the flower and by extension, the BVLGARI woman who wears it. Having been a big fan of the Splendida collection (Iris d’Or is heaven, y’all) and a life-time addict of white florals, Magnolia Sensuel definitely caught my attention. But does it live up to my high, BVLGARI-loving expectations? Well, read on and you shall find out!

The Long-Awaited Gabrielle
The Long-Awaited Gabrielle

Here she is, finally!

Gabrielle is the first feminine pillar fragrance from CHANEL since Chance in 2002. That’s a 15 year gap, which is somewhat unprecedented in an industry that is all about churn, churn, and more churn. But thankfully, CHANEL is a house that takes their time when it comes to fragrance. Of course, since 2002 CHANEL has launched fragrances, releasing a number of flankers of their existing perfumes, not to mention the launch of their Les Exclusifs collection as well. So Gabrielle isn’t the first new fragrance from CHANEL in 15 years, but it is the first entirely new pillar for women.

You may have guessed from the name, that Gabrielle takes inspiration from the brand’s founder Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. At CHANEL all roads lead back to Coco and a number of their fragrances have historically born the name of the founder (Coco, Coco Mademoiselle and Coco Noir), whilst others are named for dates that were important to her (Nº19 and Nº22), so Gabrielle is very much in this same vein. But for Gabrielle it is the rebellious and passionate spirit of Gabrielle Chanel that is celebrated, not just her name.

“I have chosen the person I want to be and am” said Gabrielle Chanel and Gabrielle the perfume, which has been composed by the brand’s in-house perfumer Olivier Polge, is described as being as “majestic, courageous, valiant, bold and passionately feminine” as Chanel herself. The fragrance is a floral, a “dream flower, an explosive corolla, a whirlwind of petals”, created to encapsulate the spirit of the founder. So how does this new addition to the CHANEL collection measure up to the brand’s other classics and was it worth the 15 year wait? There’s only one way to find out – let’s sniff!

AURA by MUGLER
AURA by MUGLER

To say that the launch of a new pillar fragrance from MUGLER is an event is quite the understatement. Since 1992 the brand has only launched a handful of fragrances (excluding their fabulous flankers, of course) and unlike many other fragrance houses, MUGLER takes their time to develop and nurture their pillars. So with so few big launches a new one from MUGLER is hotly anticipated and easily makes for the perfume event of the year! MUGLER’S last pillar fragrance was Womanity, which launched way back in 2010 and whilst it wasn’t a commercial success, it was a daring fragrance who’s sweet/savoury-marine/biscuity signature trickled down through mainstream perfumery into the likes of Calvin Klein’s Reveal and Paco Rabanne’s Olympēa.

Seven years later and MUGLER are just about to launch their fourth pillar: AURA. Like ANGEL and ALIEN, and A*MEN before it, AURA plays on Mr Mugler’s supersition, bearing the letter ‘A’ to carry the brand’s theme of addiction into the next phase. AURA was created by a dream team of perfumers; Daphné Bugey, Marie Salamagne, Amandine Marie and Jean-Christophe Hérault, and it presents an oriental twist on the green genre, reinventing it and creating an olfactory shock.

The concept behind AURA is “botanical meets animal”. It celebrates the intuitive instinct that MUGLER describes as being innately feminine in nature. The composition consists of three hearts which showcase overdoses of rhubarb leaf and a new Firmenich material called ‘Tiger Liana’. With AURA, MUGLER has sought to innovate, working closely with Firmenich to exclusively use Tiger Liana along with another material called Wolfwood – all of which comes together to create a magic aura and the next chapter in MUGLER’S extra-terrestrial odyssey.

Baiser Fou by Cartier
Baiser Fou by Cartier

Cartier’s in-house perfumer, Mathilde Laurent is one of the greatest olfactory artists living today. She has an innate ability to subvert familiar fragrant themes, twisting them with a dash of something unusual or humorous. At Cartier she has consistently created surprising and fascinating scent pieces, elevating the Parisian jeweller to it’s current position as a go-to fragrance house for those looking for luxury, quality and artistry all wrapped up in a beautiful package. Mathilde Laurent is a living legend (and if you need further proof you can read my interview with Mathilde here).

Cartier has recently launched another Laurent composition entitled ‘Baiser Fou‘ (‘Crazy Kiss’) – a scent inspired by lipstick kisses. Baiser Fou follows Baiser Vole in Cartier’s series of floral-focused fragrances and where the Stolen Kiss was an ode to lilies, it’s bonkers counterpart is a celebration of the orchid, with Laurent inspired to recreate the elusive smell of lipstick using the “intense powderiness and sweetness” of the orchid. Now, orchids aren’t exactly known for being particularly fragrant or you know, having the actual ability to yield a fragrance oil, so all orchid fragrances are very much a construction and Baiser Fou is exactly that – a fantasy flower.

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Alien Eau Sublime

At this point, MUGLER have provided more than enough evidence for us to declare that there is life on another planet. Having discovered the existence of extra terrestrials in 2005, the brand has paraded a variety of alien species under our noses, wafting solar vixens and Venus sirens that range from the luminescent and light to the indulgent and gourmand, not to mention the oud-filled! The great thing about MUGLER is that they’re rather good at these flankers, always paying respect to the olfactory signatures that make their pillar fragrances do bold and beautiful. So whilst we’ve seen an Alien invasion since 2005, it’s fair to say that these ETs have certainly come in peace.

For 2017, MUGLER are revisiting Alien once again with Alien Eau Sublime. MUGLER describe it as being “a new solar adventure” with a “fresh, energising and luminous new juice”. Teaming up once again with legendary perfume Dominique Ropion (Carnal Flower, Portrait of a Lady and a billion other classics), MUGLER have pieced together a fragrance that takes inspiration from white amethyst, evoking an experience that is incandescent and white in comparison to Alien’s glowing purple tones. As MULGER say: “Alien Eau Sublime takes to you to a universe bathed in light.”

MMMM.... - The Name Says it All
MMMM…. – The Name Says it All

As you can probably tell by looking at the photographs in this post, I had quite a bit of fun putting this review together, and fun certainly seems to be a central theme at the heart of the fragrance in question. To me, perfume is not something to be taken too seriously it is, after all, a frivolity – a consumer product to be enjoyed. Some brands get this and Juliette Has a Gun is definitely one fragrance house that certainly knows how to have fun with fragrance. Their collection is served with tongue firmly pressed in cheek and they set out to make fabulous fragrance, yes, but also scents that are for vibrant and complex characters. You’ll either get them or you won’t.

MMMM… is the latest launch from Juliette Has a Gun and, as the name suggests, it’s a delectable gourmand of scent, or as the brand calls it “a zero calorie treat”! This is Juliette Has a Gun and brand creator Romano Ricci really having fun. With MMMM… they have brought us a fragrance that is to be enjoyed guilt-free and in excess, for yourself and for those around you. MMMM… is a gourmand that is vivid and a little bit ridiculous but also hugely luxurious. To me, it feels like the kind of thing you could pick up in Ladurée or Pierre Hermé – a couture treat to be enjoyed with an Ispahan and a steaming hot cup of Marie Antoinette tea. MMMM…