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Christine Nagel has fully taken the reigns of perfumery at Hermès and she is seeing in a new dawn that is at once, respectful of the house signature that Jean-Claude Ellena spent years forging, but also entirely her own. Nagel brings a bit more body to Hermès’ once pastel and watercolored approach to perfumery, evoking luxury with more vivid colours and richer textures. She has brought a playfulness (see Twilly d’Hermès) and has even subverted the very essence of Hermès’ Hermessence collection by giving it an oriental twist – all to make her own stamp. Now it’s time for Nagel to bring us a new twist on the brand’s signature masculine: Terre d’Hermès.

Terre d’Hermès is perhaps Ellena’s most iconic creation for Hermès – it’s also a big seller and easily one of the greatest modern masculines on the market. With that in mind it’s easy to see it as hollowed ground in a way – something not to be touched and tinkered with. But touching and tinkering is what the perfume industry does best and Terre d’Hermès has been reinterpreted by Ellena on two occasions (the Parfum and Eau Très Fraîche) and now it’s Nagel’s turn with Terre d’Hermès Eau Intense Vétiver. In her version, Nagel presents a rebalanced interpretation where “the initial woody and mineral balance of Terre becomes woody and vegetal.”

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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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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.”

Structural Integrity - Nº5 L'Eau by CHANEL
Structural Integrity – Nº5 L’Eau by CHANEL

There’s always a sense of unease amongst the perfume-appreciating public when a brand announces that they are tinkering with a classic and presenting it in a new guise. Teeth are clenched, short breaths are inhaled and noses are on guard, all held in hope that whatever this new fragrance child turns out to be, it lives up to the high standards set by its forbearer. Personally, I’m not so precious about the classics and I view these remixes as being similar to the remake of an iconic film. Just because something is being remade, doesn’t mean that every single copy of the original will be deleted. The classic will still be there so if the new version doesn’t resonate, that’s fine, one still has their classic to enjoy. So yes, brands can remix and remake as much as they like because you know what? The results can often be quite interesting indeed (case in point: Shalimar Parfum Initial).

I say all of this because CHANEL are just about to launch Nº5 L’EAU, an entirely new interpretation of none other than Nº5, arguably the most famous perfume in the world. L’EAU comes as the first rehash of Nº5 under the penmanship of Olivier Polge, CHANEL’s latest in-house perfumer, who took the reigns in 2015. This however, is not the first rebirth of Nº5, which has seen a number of incarnations in its time, starting as an Extrait composed in 1921 by Ernest Beaux before the perfumer revisited the composition to create an Eau de Toilette just two years late in 1924. Under perfumer Jacques Polge’s tenure, we saw an Eau de Parfum concentration composed in 1986 in addition to an ‘Eau Première’ version which followed in 2007 as an introductory scent for a younger audience. Now we have L’EAU, a fragrance that is being billed by CHANEL as the Nº5 of today.

“A fragrance for here, now and always” – that’s how CHANEL describe Nº5 L’EAU. The fragrance is a “complete reinvention” of the original but at the same time, the brand is quick to point out that Olivier Polge has been respectful of Nº5’s history whilst he has dissected the formula to see just how it ticks, and rightly so. Nº5 L’EAU looks to the future to create a new Nº5 – a Nº5 for the modern generation. The trick here is to create something new from something so instantly recognisable, to make the known surprising and to not lose the spirit of the composition along the way. So how successful has the exercise in modernising and lightening an olfactory icon been? Well, you’ll just have to read on to find out!

Orchid Soleil by TOM FORD
Orchid Soleil by TOM FORD

TOM FORD is a bit of a legend in the fragrance world. Well, that’s more than just a touch of an understatement, if I’m honest, and it would be fair to say that he is one of the few modern fashion designers that has successful built a fragrance empire that works in complete symbiosis with their clothing lines. TOM FORD perfumes ooze with style and finesse, but they often also boast bold signatures that set them apart from the crowd. Sniffing them, one gets the impression that Mr. Ford is genuinely a fragrance aficionado and his collection offers up its fair share of cool classics and olfactory oddities. In short, the TOM FORD fragrance line is one of the best out there.

The first fragrance to be launched under the TOM FORD name was Black Orchid (side note: we mustn’t forget that Mr. Ford launched a number of amazing scents at Gucci and YSL, namely Envy & Rush for Gucci and Rive Gauche Pour Homme, M7 and Nu for YSL) – a scent that quickly established the brand as a serious contender within the industry. Since then, Black Orchid has been remixed and revisited a number of times, the latest version of which is Orchid Soleil, a fantastically radiant blend of florals and warm, skin-like notes. Without giving too much away, I’d say it’s one of TOM FORD’s best offerings to date. Yup, that sounds about right!

INTRODUCING THE SOLAR SIDE OF THE ELUSIVE TOM FORD ORCHID. A RADIANT AND SENSUAL FORCE OF NATURE, THE NEW SCENT CAPTURES THE SEDUCTIVE WARMTH AND REFLECTIVE BARE SKIN OF THE TOM FORD WOMAN.

– TOM FORD

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A*Men Pure Tonka

MUGLER may only have one masculine fragrance on the market, the astronomically excessive A*Men (or Angel Men as it’s also known), but they’ve certainly made up for a lack of diversity in their male lineup with a prolific number of flankers. Since its launch in 1996, A*Men has been boozed up, sexed up and made to sit down with a hot cup of coffee to recover. It’s a fragrance that lends itself very well to enhancements and MUGLER have been incredibly savvy with their many interpretations of the scent’s chocolate cacophony, always taking its signature and teasing out an entirely new and exciting facet in the way that a good flanker should.

20 years on and the latest olfactory twist in the A*Men lineup is Pure Tonka an “exhilarating fragrance for a man no one can resist” that sees a “searing fusion between the sensuality of tonka beans and the purity of lavender”. The tonka bean is a staple of masculine perfumery due to its high content of coumarin, which is a key part of the fougére accord. It has a vast and complex odour profile that ranges from hay, vanilla and marzipan to sour cherry, liquorice and clove. In the original A*Men, the tonka bean was merely a small cog within a much larger wheel, which also consisted of other moving parts such as; lavender, mint, coffee, patchouli, tar, vanilla and caramel. In A*Men Pure Tonka, the tonka bean is pulled right into the forefront and centre, and the volume is dialled way up to extreme levels to create a MUGLER fragrance that is really quite something to behold, even by their standards.

La Petite Robe Noire Intense - The Latest Addition for Your Wardrobe
La Petite Robe Noire Intense – The Latest Addition for Your Wardrobe

GUERLAIN’S La Petite Robe Noire has quickly become a part of the fabric of the brand, taking its place next to the likes of icons such as Shalimar, Mitsouko and Samsara, and deservedly so. With LPRN, GUERLAIN took the fruity floral genre and showed everybody else just how it should be done, specifically with fizz, flair and a shedload of fun. The fragrance has been a huge hit, and whilst marketing may have played a big part in this, one cannot deny that La Petite Robe Noire is; a) an excellent fragrance (that fizzy cherry juxtaposed against that smoky black tea is just gorgeous); and b) a GUERLAIN fragrance through and through.

So with success come flankers and GUERLAIN have served us a number of delectable noire treats since LPRN’s launch in 2012 (well it’s mainstream launch, that is, the scent was a boutique exclusive launched in 2009 that was subsequently remixed for the wider market). The latest of which is La Petite Robe Noire Intense, a fragrance that evokes the idea of a breeze billowing though the pleats of a dress as it is transported around the world. That’s right, Miss La Petite Robe Noire is globetrotting and she has packed a brand new dress for her journey. But what does this particular garment smell like? Well, the answer is simple: it smells like fun!