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!
By now we all know my thoughts on the House of MUGLER. I am and always will be, a lifelong MUGLER fanboy. I am indoctrinated in their ideology. I am a card-carrying member of the Muglerati. If you ask me where I’m from, I will tell you that I was born from a star in the far reaches of the Muglerverse. The brand is my favourite and their fragrances are some of my most-beloved. I am MUGLER, smell me roar.
So it’s always exciting for me when MUGLER launch a new fragrance and this year hasn’t been short in terms of output from my favourite brand. So far we’ve had two Alien flankers (Musc Mysterieux and Eau Sublime), some delicious Angel-flavoured chocolates, oh we can’t forget the entirely brand new feminine pillar fragrance in the form of Aura. It’s been a busy year on Planet Mugler, for sure, and there’s no let up yet, because the brand has just added the ninth fragrance to their exclusive Les Exceptions range: the intriguingly named Wonder Bouquet.
I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I’ve found the fragrances from the house of Thameen to be a bit hit or miss. I fell head over heels for the dry dusty rose of Noorolain Taif, but others in the collection left me cold. I think that the concept of fragrances inspired by famous jewels is really evocative and the presentation has this cool clash where royal blue bottles in a classic shape clash against the modernism of their black, spiked caps. What’s more, the bottles really glow when they hit the light. I just felt that some of the fragrances weren’t as dynamic as perhaps the presentation suggested they might be.
Fast forward to Thameen’s latest launch and a pleasant surprise. This launch takes its inspiration (and its name) from the Cora sun-drop diamond – the largest, yellow, pear-shaped diamond in the world (racking up an impressive 110.3 carats and forming between 1 and 3 billion years ago – no biggie), so it’s no surprise that the fragrance itself is a rather large and showy scent. Described by Thameen as a fragrance “suffused with phosphorescence”, The Cora takes the traditional white floral and injects it with an entire sun’s worth of light.
If you read my Iris Deconstruction recently, you will already know that I have a ‘thing’ for Les Infusions de Prada. What’s more, if you’ve heard me waxing lyrical about one of my all time favourite scents over the last 18 months, the wonderful Mimosa & Cardamom by Jo Malone London, you’ll also be aware that mimosa is very much my jam right now. And if you didn’t know either of these things well, I’ve just told you so now consider yourself informed! With all of this in mind, it’s no surprise that it took little coercing for me to fall head over heels for Prada’s Infusion de Mimosa. In fact, all it took was one sniff…
If you’re not familiar with Les Infusions de Prada, then you’re in for treat. In essence, the collection explores the fantasy of single notes dissolved as infusions to create fragrances that fuse the modern with the classic and explore the diverse facets of their titular ingredient. Like all scented things ‘Prada’ the fragrances are composed by Perfumer Daniela Andrier and Mimosa is the latest note to get the ‘infusion’ treatment. Prada describe the scent as follows:
“It is the smell of the tree in full bloom, late in summer perhaps in the South of France. Powdery, floral, with a yellow-velvet softness that is almost tactile.”
A few years back, Frederic Malle announced a capsule collection of fragrances that would sit just outside his main line, taking inspiration from a different source: those people that M. Malle admires deeply. Unlike most capsule collections, ‘par Frederic Malle’ launched only with one scent and it has taken a good few years for another fragrance to follow in the series. It seems that Frederic Malle’s painstakingly focused approach applies not only to his scents but to those he chooses to collaborate with. His first collaboration was with the Belgian designer, Dries Van Noten, a man known for his cerebral couture, and now Malle follows Dries with yet another designer, one who is on the other end of the fashion spectrum – this time Frederic Malle has collaborated with the incomparable designer Alber Elbaz (formerly of Lanvin).
It was admiration that led Frederic Malle to Alber Elbaz and through Malle’s wife’s love of his clothes these two wonderful minds were brought together. The collaboration is one of mutual respect and feels very organically grown yet and it pairs three creatives with who respect, above all, quality, artistry and beauty. Those creative men are Frederic Malle, Alber Elbaz and Dominique Ropion and the result of their trio of awesomeness is Superstitious (yes, I also think of the Stevie Wonder song whenever I hear the name, don’t worry) – a fragrance that feels entirely new yet wholeheartedly classic at the same time.
The scent itself started its life as a work in progress – a grand aldehydic floral with a “classic architecture” worked on by Malle and Ropion for more than a year. Alber Elbaz was introduced to the fragrance (after Malle reportedly had to convince Ropion to “give up his fragrance”), fell in love and then worked with the perfumer to bring it to completion. The rest, as they say, is history. The parallels between couture and fragrance are drawn quite strongly with Superstitious and Malle says that the scent was created in the manner that old fragrances were, with the perfumer working in isolation before presenting it to the client, who then requests it to be tailored to their needs, just like a piece of couture. The result? The most special of collaborations.
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.
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.”
When I think of neroli I don’t necessarily think of the colour black, in fact, my mind wanders to shades of white, orange, gold and yellow – hues that are as far from ‘noir’ as they possibly can be. But it is the ingredient neroli and the idea of ‘outrenoir’ or beyond black (a concept created by artist Pierre Soulages) that serves as inspiration for the very latest addition to Guerlain’s L’Art et la Matiére (‘The Art and the Material’) collection: Néroli Outrenoir – neroli beyond black.
“I wanted all of its facets to be expressed: zesty, orangey neroli essence; woody, aromatic petitgrain essence; and orange blossom absolute.”
– Thierry Wasser
Created by Guerlain’s in-house Perfumer, Thierry Wasser, Néroli Outrenoir is described by Guerlain as being a fragrance that “draws on the contrast between the luminescence of neroli and the obscurity of much darker and more mysterious notes”. Coming from a collection that boasts bold compositions such as Spiritueuse Double Vanille (the booziest, biggest and baddest vanilla around) and Rose Barbare (the rose chypre to end all rose chypres), to name just two, it’s fair to say that Néroli Outrenoir has stiff composition, but it has many a trick and a surprise up its pretty little sleeves to allow it to earn its place in the collection.
Before we take a dive into the petitgrain pools of Néroli Outrenoir, it’s important to take a few moments to discuss packaging because the entire L’Art et la Matiére collection has been beautifully repackaged. The fragrances now come in a beautiful leatherette box shaded in a deep purple, but most importantly the bulb atomisers which have always been known to aid evaporation have been niftily remade (again in a beautiful purple shade) with an on-and-off mechanism to prevent fragrance-loss. The packaging is sublime, but how does the scent match-up? All shall be revealed…
I get bored of new niche brands, I really do. Yes, there are a lot of wonderful new things popping up on a daily basis but my problem is that so many of them are nothing more than familiar fragrances housed within pretty bottles, with some gimmick or other to set them apart from everything else on the shelves. They often try and offer something new, something exciting, but in more cases than not it’s just the emperor’s new clothes – pretty packaging, yes, but what’s within is nothing more than derivative juices, or in some cases, pretty dreadful smells! So yes, I’m a bit cynical of new niche brands, but not all of them are bad – in fact, some of them are bloody brilliant!
Jusbox Perfumes could fall into the trap of being yet another niche brand with a gimmick if it weren’t for two important factors; 1) the scents are incredibly well made, and are not secondary to their packaging; and 2) the attention to detail the brand has factored in to every element of the product is remarkable, not to mention perfectly in keeping with their overarching concept. It’s the little things that matter here – the weight of the vinyl-capped bottle, the fact that each is sold in a 78ml size, the boxes which contain beautiful CD cased-sized cover art for each scent, the individual print designed for each fragrance, and need I mention the fact that the four scents in the collection have been composed by two industry greats – Dominique Ropion and Antoine Lie? I could go on.
The concept behind Jusbox is the link between music and scent. Their four fragrances are inspired by a particular decade of music, as opposed to a specific genre. For the 1960s we have Beat Café (Dominique Ropion), a tobacco, leather and booze fragrance inspired by Bob Dylan, for the 1970s there is 24 Hour Dream (Antoine Lie), a hazy vanilla and patchouli scent that feels like a hippy encounter with a mind-altering substance at Woodstock and for the grungey 1990s we’re treated to Micro Love (Dominique Ropion), an aquatic with the feel of hot circuit boards. You may have noticed that I’ve omitted one fragrance from these descriptions and you would be right and that’s because today’s review focuses on my favourite from the collection: Use Abuse.
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…