Do you ever get the impression that you’re going to love a perfume before you’ve even tried it? It’s an odd feeling. You read all of the reviews online, study the marketing bumf and ogle pictures of the bottle, whilst all the time feeding your inner perfume demon who is quietly whispering how “they wants it, they needs it”. Only when one actually gets their hands on the precious is the demon satisfied. Lalique’s latest feminine fragrance, ‘Living Lalique‘ was one such case of demonic perfume lust. All it took was one scan of the press release and I was hooked – I knew I needed it in my life.
Living Lalique, like all-things Lalique, looks to the past for its inspirations (see the Noir Premier Collection for further evidence). The fragrance takes cues from the flight of the swallow, Lalique’s house emblem, whilst the bottle is inspired by the ‘Carnette Fleur’, a bottle designed by founder, René Lalique in 1911, not to mention the fact that the ad campaign focuses on an art deco window inspired by the brands aesthetics. It’s definitely a Lalique affair and one has to feel positive about the brand’s love and respect for their heritage.
The fragrance itself is penned by Richard Ibanez of Robertet (Andrea Maack Coal & Divine L’Inspiratrice) and is described as being a “soaring fragrance” that “follows the Lalique woman from metropolis to metropolis and from emotion to emotion”. To evoke the spirit of the Lalique lifestyle, the brand and Ibanez have chosen to focus on perfumery’s richest and most divine ingredient – orris butter (iris). The result is a sumptuous, pillowy fragrance that, through subtlety and a paired-back warmth, evokes beauty with every fibre of its orris-soaked being.
“A moment of emotion. A flight of swallows. A window opening into a world of timeless luxury. The quintessence of the Lalique lifestyle is expressed in a new perfume, Living Lalique. A bold fragrance, reflecting the urban, contemporary, active life of the Lalique woman. A dream-like fragrance, sculpted from materials as luminous as crystal. A soaring fragrance, inspired by the elegant swallow, Lalique has chosen as its emblem.”
There are few brands whose launches I look forward to more than those from Maison Francis Kurkdjian. I’ll just come out and say it – I’m a Francis Kurkdjian fanboy. If you’ve been following my Instagram over the last week, you will have seen proof of this in the form of me spending much of my time enjoying Kurkdjian’s creations for rebellious fashion designer, Jean Paul Gaultier (specifically; Le Mâle, Fragile and Fleur du Mâle). Maison Francis Kurkdjian, the perfumer’s very own brand is one of my favourites and with MFK, Kurkdjian manages to weave simplicity and complexity effortlessly together, creating approachable but high quality, and more importantly, high class perfumes.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s latest fragrance is À la Rose, and unsurprisingly, it’s all about the humble rose – 250 of them, in fact. You can never get enough rose in my opinion, and seeing as the flower can be interpreted in so many different ways, ranging from delicious rosewater treats (see Essence Nº1: Rose by Elie Saab) to heady examples of rosy exoticism (see Guerlain’s Nahéma), there’s always a surprise, or two, to be had. In short: the world of rose is never boring.
Kurkdjian already has two roses within his collection (Lumière Noire pour Femme & pour Homme –two heavy and oriental roses), so exactly what does À la Rose bring to the table that we’ve not seen from the perfumer before? Well, the focus is definitely quite different and this new rose feels very much in keeping with Kurkdjian’s penchant for clear and radiant signatures that present familiar themes in their purest form. It does exactly what one expects it to and for once, lives up to the marketing spiel, which is somewhat of a rarity in the industry today. À la Rose is described as follows:
“A la Rose is an ode to femininity, a declaration of love captured in a fragrance. Two hundred and fifty precious roses from Grasse offer their radiance and their unmatched richness in every flacon”
“Dare the French Kiss! But watch out, this glossy floral fragrance is highly addictive”
One could never accuse Guerlain of being inconsistent in terms of their olfactory output. For nearly 200 years the Parisian Patisserie has crafted some of the greatest olfactory delicacies in the world, and they show no signs of stopping. With La Petite Robe Noire (a cherry liqourice folly) and L’Homme Ideal (a robust masculine with an almond twist), i.e., their recent gourmand output, Guerlain have shown, not only their uniquely French sense of humour, frivolity and style, but also their penchant for all that is edible. They’ve taken it to the mainstream and shown the lesser mortals in the industry just how a gourmand is done, and by all accounts it has been a very successful move for them.
It is no surprise, then, that the latest addition to their Les Élixirs Charnels collection, ‘French Kiss’, displays the exact same sense of fun, foody humour and style as their mainstream launches however, this one is entirely more decadent and over the top in comparison. Created by in-house perfumer, Thierry Wasser, Guerlain’s French Kiss, which has been launched to celebrate 20 years of Guerlain KissKiss lipsticks, is described as a “glossy floral that celebrates the French art of kissing” and an “elixir as spellbinding as a sensuous kiss.” Ooh err, Mrs.
“The sickness of making flankers every five minutes is very upsetting, but if I don’t want to get kicked out for not doing my job, I have to do it”
– Thierry Wasser ¹
Thierry Wasser, in-house perfumer at Guerlain, recently likened the penchant brands have for creating numerous flankers to a “sickness” and when looking at the numerous incarnatons of the house’s flagship fragrance, Shalimar, it’s easy to see why. In the last five years we’ve seen seven, that’s right, seven new Shalimar flankers ranging from the sublime Parfum Initial and Ode à la Vanille to the less interesting Parfum Initial L’Eau, and on occasions the brand has stretched the Shalimar association pretty thin.
With their latest flanker, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, the link has become so emaciated it may have finally snapped. Sniffing the flanker, it’s pretty difficult to pick out exactly how the two fragrances are alike. Shalimar is a grand dame of the oriental world, showcasing bubbling bergamot, smoky-sweet vanilla powder and tons of heavy resins. Souffle de Parfum on the other hand is, well, the complete opposite of that. It may not be worthy of the Shalimar name, but does that mean that it’s a bad fragrance?
Guerlain describe Souffle de Parfum as a “gently perfumed caress” ² and a “breath of extreme sensuality” ², with the ‘Souffle’ here referring to the French word for breath, as opposed to anything culinary-related. It has been designed to celebrate the lighter facets of Shalimar, specifically focus on the shining citrus that famously graces the Oriental Queen’s top notes, and the plush vanilla that sits at her core. In that respect, Souffle de Parfum succeeds, merging these two themes together to create something that may, or may not be Shalimar, depending on how one looks at it.
“A night in Paris. Sparkling lights and music. A crowd. And her.”
– Chloe Love Story
Here we are with the first review of a 2015 fragrance launch. That didn’t take long, now did it? Well technically, this one was available in some countries at the back end of last year, but it is only reaching the UK this month, but let’s not split hairs, shall we. The perfume we will be looking at today is Love Story by Chloé, the latest offering from a brand that I haven’t featured on the blog before (much to my surprise, actually). Let’s rectify that right now.
In perfumista terms, Chloé is best known for their eponymous signature scent launched in 1975 under the direction of Karl Lagerfeld. Chloé was, and is, a gigantic white floral chocked to the brim with syrup and powder – fearful (but beautiful) stuff for sure. It would be fair to say that the house’s output since hasn’t been as bold, but is still very pretty however, more so in the modern style of perfumery. I remember being particularly impressed with Love, Chloe (a very subtle powder scent) and I’d definitely put this new one, Love Story on that list as well.
For Love Story, Chloé has envisaged a feminine fairytale starring actress, Clémence Posey (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), directed by Mélanie Laurent (as seen in Inglourious Basterds), snapped by Inez Van Lamsweerde and scented by perfumer, Anne Flipo (MyQueen, Chloé Fleur de Narcisse and Manifesto). Housed within a padlock shaped bottle, a sign of love seen on the bridges of the city of lights, Chloé’s Love Story is a contemporary spring floral full of life and romance – an Eau de Parfum dripping with dazzling prettiness.
“Love Story is a modern story of seduction. Her. And him. Their paths cross, a few mumbled words, a beautiful moment.”
Well, if last week was an unofficial ‘collections’ week, this week is most definitely ‘celebuscent’ week. So far we’ve gagged for Gaga and been perfumed by Pharrell, and now it’s time for another star to treat us to their fragrant wares. This time it’s Barbadian songstress and provocateur, Rihanna. Now, Ri-Ri is no stranger to the world of celebrity fragrance and has, at this present moment in time, a grand total of 6 fragrances under her belt. She has clearly been very busy.
I’ll be honest and say that, whilst I’m quite familiar with Rihanna’s musical outings, I’m less au fait with her olfactory output. That said, I have heard a lot of good things about Rogue, her feminine fragrance launch from 2013 and seeing as our girl Ri has just launched the masculine counterpart to Rogue, aptly entitled Rogue Man, I thought it would be a good opportunity to give both fragrances a test drive.
Rogue was developed by perfumer Marypierre Julien (Rihanna Rebelle) and is described as being a “flirtatious and sensual oriental”. Rogue Man was penned by perfumer Frank Voekl (Le Labo Ylang 49, Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream and Oscar de la Renta Esprit d’Oscar) and reportedly “intoxicates men with a choreographed clash of fragrance notes that are both masculine and ultra-sexy”. So how do these two rebellious perfumes fair as celebuscents? Well, let’s put them to the test!
My last two Escentual posts have been a contrasting look at the old and the new, in the world of perfume. Firstly, I took a look at Calvin Klein’s Reveal a few weeks back. This is the most surprising and unexpected feminine from CK, that channels Thierry Mugler’s wonderful Womanity, of all things. Just when you think there are no surprises left to be had in the perfume industry, one jumps up and taps you on the nose! Click here to read my review.
Now we move on to the ‘old’. Following the disaster that is Black Opium, I wanted to revisit the flanker’s mother fragrance, Opium. Granted, the new formulation of Opium is reportedly a pale shadow of its former self, but the fragrance should still be celebrated for being a trailblazer that created the trend for big and bold oriental-themed fragrances that permeated the ’80s. Check out my thoughts on Opiumhere.
A few weeks back I reviewed Essence Nº1: Rose, one of the latest fragrances from Elie Saab and by all accounts a beautifully gourmand take on the humble rose. I love rose, in perfume and in pretty much everything else, and I admire the fact that one flower can be used so diversely, due mainly to the man wonderful nuances it displays as a material. It’s a true fact that not all roses are the same, and for every gourmand rose there’s an oriental rose or a photorealistic one, or even a ton of oud-soaked roses, creating a wide range of olfactory signatures that stem from one flower. The humble rose is anything if not impressive in this respect.
If Elie’s Saab new creation celebrates the gourmand facets of the rose, Rosa Nobile, the latest launch from Acqua di Parma, honours the beauty of rose in a simple, yet utterly satisfying manner. Rosa Nobile is an olfactory performance that celebrates the prettiness of rose in a dance of purity and simplicity. It speaks in pastel shades of pink and with a lightness of touch that is almost coy, but most of all, serves as an incredibly beautiful take on the queen of flowers.
“Strolling in the shade of centuries-old trees, among lodges and staircases, a sensuous fragrance drifts – the strong notes of the rose. Its scent forms part of Italy’s noble gardens which, like a queen, it pervades with natural elegance. Acqua di Parma takes their unequalled charm to give life to an Eau de Parfum introducing new touches into the universe of Le Nobili, a collection of women’s fragrances inspired by the most beautiful flowers of exclusive and private Italian gardens, where art and beauty blend in perfect balance. Each one a unique fragrance, selected for its noble femininity, for its fine perfumed essence, and for its quality. Compositions designed by Acqua di Parma using precious ingredients. Each one is unforgettable. Iris, Magnolia, Gelsomino and the new Rosa Nobile.”
“Black, white and nude are my essential colors. Each time I start a collection, I start with these colors; they are the elemental colors we refer to from the beginning.”
– Narciso Rodriguez
Scent often presents itself to me in colours. I am not for one second claiming that I am a possessor of any form of Synesthesia, but like most people I’m sure, I often assign a shade or hue to a particular perfume or ingredient. For example, Frederic Malle’s Portrait of a Lady is the most shocking, ruby-like red, whereas 4160 Tuesdays’ Urara’s Tokyo Cafe comes out of the bottle in strands of fuchsia pink and dark green. Of course, a perfume’s packaging has an impact, leading one to think of a specific colour, and despite the way one’s mind may think they smell, it’s impossible to see a fragrance such as Mugler’s Angelas any other colour other than blue.
On some occasions the colour of a perfume’s packaging perfectly matches the shade of the smell it contains. This aesthetic and olfactory synchronicity can add to the overall experience of a fragrance, joining together the tactile and the ephemeral to make something that is ultimately more enjoyable. NARCISO, the latest fragrance from American fashion designer, Narciso Rodriguez is one such fragrance and it marries a bottle and a fragrance of white, nude and black to create an immersive olfactory experience that, even in its flesh tones, is distinctly colourful.
NARCISO, which takes its name from the designer and the Greek myth of Narcissus, was created by perfumer, Aurelien Guichard (Chinatown, Eros & Petit Fracas) and intends to celebrate “a woman’s powers of seduction with the utmost luxury”. It follows Narciso Rogriguez for Her as the brand’s second pillar fragrance for women and seeing as for Her is already considered as a modern classic, NARCISO has some big shoes to fill. NARCISO may be pale in colour, but does it pale in comparison to Rodriguez’s popular flagship fragrance? Only time will tell.
No perfume genre is more scorned than the humble fruity floral. Well, actually the world of oud raises a few eyebrows too, but that’s another matter. Fruity florals however, thanks to a billion and one dreadful celebrity fragrant messes, have received a lot of bad press and tend to present themselves as ditzy-sweet hazes (Miss Dior) or sticky-syrup disasters (Lady Gaga’s Fame) rather than anything interesting or well-constructed. But the truth is that, with a degree of intelligence and the application of a sense of humour (see Insolence), a fruity floral can be a very good thing indeed.
Without giving too much away in advance of this review, Lalique’s new flanker to 2007’s Amethyst, ‘Amethyst Éclat‘, is a good fruity floral that feels intelligently composed, and perhaps more importantly, is just so effortlessly pretty in its execution that one cannot help but fall for its delicate charm. And charm is something that this fragrance certainly has by the bucket load.
Created by perfumer Nathalie Lorson (also responsible for the original Amethyst), Amethyst Éclat, is different from the original in the sense that it reportedly “sparkles with the pure, bright exhilarating scent of peony”, taking on a much more radiant and refined character. I’ve only tried the original Amethyst in passing, so what follows is not a comparison of the two scents, but rather a look at Amethyst Éclat in isolation and entirely on its own merits. The result is rather surprising!
“Between Amethyst and Amethyst Éclat, the raspberry, blackcurrant and blackberry accord runs like a red thread… Or rather, like the succulent trickle of juice that seeps between your fingers when you pick sun-gorged berries between the brambles. It is from this luscious garden that Nathalie Lorson, who authored both fragrances, plucked the radiant peony which lights up the heart of her new offering.”