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Heliotropia – Inspired by London’s Quirkiest Department Store

Whenever I go to London I inevitably end up paying a visit to Liberty. The place is like a fairytale, I tell you. Housed within a mock-Tudor building built using the timber from two ships (HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan), Liberty stocks a wonderful array of treats, ranging from silk scarves in beautiful Liberty Art Fabric to exotic nicknacks, not to mention their impressive perfumery which houses classic and contemporary brands aplenty. It’s London’s most unique retail destination and it epitomises everything that is great about Britain: quirkiness and higgledy-piggledy-ness.

Swedish fragrance house, BYREDO, who have a space within the store, have just launched a fragrance exclusive to and inspired by Liberty. It’s called ‘Heliotropia‘ and it’s described as a “heady infusion, in turns virginal and narcotic” that “carries the mind to a dream like place, a higher state of illusion.” Much like Liberty the store, Heliotropia the fragrance is a fantastical experience that beguiles, fascinates and amuses. One may not enter it expecting to make a purchase, but they will leave with something that money can’t buy: a sense of bewilderment. How’s that for a headline?

Mon Paris
Mon Paris

Riding high on the success of Black Opium, their modern interpretation of the iconic Opium, YSL have extended the same treatment to another of their legends – the pastel, yet atomic floral ‘Paris‘. This new flanker is called Mon Paris and to call it a flanker is perhaps misleading. Much like Black Opium this is an entirely new fragrance that takes the spirit of the original and approaches it from a modern point of view. The Paris of 1983 and the Mon Paris 2016 are entirely different animals, with the latter being an on trend fruity floral with sparkling transparency. Click here to check out my full review over at Escentual.

Floral Architecture
Floral Architecture

What is there to say about the career of Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena at the house of Hèrmes as it draws to an end? His work speaks for itself and through the perfumes that constitute Ellena’s body of work at Hèrmes one can detect a distinct DNA that has been carefully crafted and woven through the olfactory outputs by the man, who is arguably one of the greatest perfumers of all time. Jean-Claude Ellena has created a signature that is now undeniably ‘Hermès’. It is a complexly pieced together as a Kelly bag but as ethereal and light as a silk scarf. To put is simply, Ellena really has taken the spirit of the house of Hèrmes and bottled it.

Ellena’s work is so often referred to as fragrant watercolours and his lightness of touch has proven that perfumes need not be loud, confrontational and weird to be beautiful, they can portray light and shade in utter simplicity. This style in itself is divisive because the fragrances can so often seem imperceptibly simple or transparent, but they are, in fact, incredibly complex. It’s a testament to Ellena’s talent that he can say so much with such reserved abstraction. His work is cerebral and intelligent in a way that modern perfumery isn’t nowadays, and he has always been a refreshing voice amongst the cacophony. The man is nothing short of a genius and one of the handful of true master perfumers who have earned the title through a life’s work.

For his final piece at Hèrmes, Jean-Claude Ellena has attempted to capture the elusive lily of the valley, a flower that smells so intense, yet yields no fragrant oil usable within perfumery. The work is a construction of the flower, of course and as Ellena puts it, he wanted to “snatch the fragrance of these flowers from the dawn sky, together with that of the foliage that envelops them”, thus crafting an homage not only to white blooms but also to its accompanying greenery. The result? Well, Hermès describe it perfectly as “a shower of delicate bell-shaped flowers evoking the opalescent white of porcelain – radiant, playful, diaphanous”. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Beasts and Belles of the Night
Beasts and Belles of the Night

If you paid a visit to the blog yesterday you would have caught our latest episode of Desert Island Sniffs with Barbara Herman, the author and scent historian who has recently launched a brand new line of fragrances called Eris Parfums. Named after the Greek goddess of chaos, strife and discord the Eris perfumes tap into Herman’s love and passion for vintage fragrances, you know the kind with proper animalics and heady florals, and brings them bang up to date. The result is a thrilling clash of the vintage and the modern.

For Eris Parfums, Barbara Herman teamed up with renegade perfumer, Antoine Lie, the man behind Etat Libre d’Orange’s Sécrétions Magnifiques, Tom of Finland and Rossy de Palma, amongst others. The fragrances are inspired by the “bold eroticism of vintage animalic florals perfumes” and they certainly don’t hold back, my friends. If you’re a lover of the bold, beastly fragrances of yesteryear, then you need look no further than Belle de Jour, Ma Bête and Night Flower, because these modern twists on classic florals aren’t afraid to cause quite the scandal.

“Antoine Lie and I have reimagined the intensity and eros of perfumes of the past for a contemporary audience. We wanted to bring back the emotion of animalic perfumes.”

– Barbara Herman

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NARCISO Eau de Parfum Poudrée

I was a massive, MASSIVE fan of Narciso Rodriguez’s NARCISO, which launched way back in 2014. NARCISO was an expansive and abstract gardenia carried on a hurricane of musk, and it was beautiful, speaking in flesh tones of white, pink and grey. For 2016, NARCISO has been reimagined with a very on-trend injection of powder, mixing things up completely to create NARCISO Eau de Parfum Poudrée. What do I think of this new powdery wonder? Well, click here to head on over to Escentual to find out!

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Innocent

The legendary house of Mugler does not create fragrances, they birth legends and raise celestial beings. As a couturier, Thierry Mugler crafted clothing that released the inner goddess or demon of the Mugler woman, turning them into vast Glamazons and Dominatrixes. His fragrances are no different: they are the strength, the passion, the beauty and the force of women, with each one, Angel, Alien and Womanity, possessing a bold character that celebrates the unending beauty of fascinating and strong women.

These three idiosyncratic icons, Angel, Alien and Womanity, cast large, Amazonian shadows that dim the lights of most things around them, so I’d like to shed a little light on a Mugler that doesn’t always get the attention that it deserves. I’m referring to Innocent, which is currently exclusive to Mugler online and some travel retail locations (let’s say thanks to the brand for still making it rather than discontinuing it, as many would). Innocent shines brightly in its own way and it deserves a little attention every now and then because it celebrates all that is Mugler but approaches this spirit from an entirely more dressed down place.

Innocent was launched in 1998 as ‘Angel Innocent‘ and was created by perfumers Laurent Bruyère and Dominique Ropion. As Luca Turin says in Perfumes : The A-Z Guide, it was the first “authorised clone” of Angel, working as a less confrontational and challenging version of Mugler’s flagship fragrance for those people that couldn’t quite handle all of Angel’s angular volumes. Essentially, the fragrance takes the DNA of Angel, retaining its fruity and gourmand facets in a lighter way, but dialling right down on the butch patchouli that makes Angel so, well, Angel! The result is a delightfully bright and cheerful version of Angel that definitely feels like her spawn, but is different enough to craft its own niche. Just as Mugler describes, Innocent is a mischievous and flirtatious take on a legend.

Gruhme No.14: Sporty, Smart and Effortlessly Versatile
Gruhme No.14: Sporty, Smart and Effortlessly Versatile

I have a test for masculine fragrances to identify whether they meet the mark or not. I call it ‘The Nigel Test’. Nigel, as you may be aware is my husband and he, in his very discerning way only wears masculine scents, and only ones that he deems to smell rather luxurious. The test always starts the same way. I spray on a scent to test it. The other Mr. Dunckley quickly appears to enquire as to what I am wearing. “It’s so and so”, I say “do you like it”. “It’s ok”, he says. Cut to a few days later and the bottle is missing. Some scented sleuthing will unearth the fact that the crime was committed by Mr. Dunckley in the living room, with 10 sprays to the chest.

I give you this back story because this was exactly the case with Gruhme No.14, which landed on my doorstep recently and was quickly snapped away by Nigel, who wore the heck out of it for a good week. I let him get away with his crimes for two reasons; 1) he puts up with me, so a degree of leniency with light fingered endeavours is only fair; and 2) it gives me the chance to smell a scent on someone else, which usually gives me a good idea of the sillage and signature. So, in short, in the case of Gruhme No.14 (or The People vs Nigel Dunckley), the fragrance receives approval from Messrs Dunckley in unison.

The Gruhme brand is the passion project of corporate lawyer, Rob Hallmark who, after spending a number of years working in law, decided to build his own business of men’s products having not been able to find a “strong male brand” to identify with. Gruhme is the result and they now have two fragrances, the second of which, the aforementioned (and Beauty Shortlist Award Winner for ‘Best Masculine Fragrance’) No.14 is a more highly concentrated version (14% as opposed to 10%) of their debut scent. Gruhme describes No.14 as an “evening variant” of their “sensual and aromatic” flagship fragrance. It’s passed the ‘Nigel Test’, but let’s see how it fairs in the ‘Smell Test’.