Nowadays every perfume release comes with a story, normally one that involves a good degree of creative license courtesy of the brand’s PR department. This is no bad thing really, a good story can add to the experience of a scent, after all no art is quite as transportive as the art of olfaction, but at times it’s best to approach a perfume without any pre-conceived notions and just allow the scent itself to tell the story.
Some stories in particular are important and the tale behind Mona di Orio’s latest release – ‘Violette Fumée‘ – is both worth telling and incredibly touching. Created privately by Mona di Orio before her death for the private use of her business partner and co-founder Jeroen Oude Sogtoen, Violette Fumée captures “the melody of Jeroen’s favourite passions, memories and materials.” It’s a perfume made out of love, admiration and respect.
On an olfactory level, Violette Fumée is described by the brand as an “oriental balsamic floral” and in the same vein as many other perfumes from the house it feels incredibly unusual when compared to its peers. It stands as a true testament to Mona’s talent as a perfumer and is a fitting legacy for someone who brought so much intrigue to the world of fragrance.
Chanel and I have fallen out recently. “Why?” I hear you ask. Well it’s simple, the venerable house has failed to live up to expectations of late with recent releases such as last year’s Coco Noir (a perfume so yawn-worthy I couldn’t even be bothered to review it) being well-made but painfully safe, proving that this once innovative house prefers to go for the big bucks rather than the big wow.
Still, we have the wonderful boutique-exclusive ‘Les Exclusifs de Chanel’ line to rely on for our wows, right? Not always, 2011’s Jersey was a serious lavender miss-step that proved that there is such a thing as a granny perfume, and an angry one at that.
You may be thinking – “So what, Chanel always produces quality” – and you’d be right but lest we not forget that this is the house that broke ground with N°5 in 1921 with a perfume deliberately designed to smell manufactured and put-together like a piece of couture – with Chanel one not only expects quality but also innovation.
I am, of course a blip that probably isn’t on Chanel’s radar and it will surprise no-one that my dissatisfaction hasn’t stopped them with their schedule of releases (or releasing dreadful adverts staring Brad Pitt). Their first release for 2012 is part of Les Exclusifs de Chanel and has been named after and created to honour the year the brand’s high jewellery line debuted – 1932.
From the Chanel website:
“A constellation of diamonds – In 1932, Mademoiselle Chanel showered Paris with diamond stars and a high jewellery line was born. Jacques Polge chose to evoke this constellation-collection with a precious, white and oh-so feminine flower; jasmine. Worked petal by petal to make every facet shine, it gradually spirals into place, waits to reveal itself on the skin and finishes by divulging its sophisticated and voluptuous side.”
Have you ever been convinced that you would love a perfume before even trying it? The scenario is quite straightforward and goes something like this; you notice a particular review or mention of a perfume on a forum and your interest is piqued, you then scour the blogs for reviews, draining the internet of all information on the particular subject. After you have soaked up as much info as possible you eventually track down and try the perfume for the first time and you fall in love. Or do you?
Like many fellow perfume nerds Luca Turin and Sanchez’s ‘Perfumes The Guide’ is a perfume bible that has created many a lemming (i.e. a fragrance love or lust) for equally a many perfume lover (as well as causing them to shout in frustration at their trashing of some of their favourites) and perhaps the biggest of these olfactory crushes for me was Badgley Mischka Eau de Parfum.
Reading Tania Sanchez’s 5 star review of Badgley Mischka (see below) it’s not hard to see why I was desperate to get my hands on, what promised to be, a beautiful fruit bomb. Everything about it sounded perfect; huge fruit? Check!; Lactonic notes? Check!; Similarities to Angel and Gucci Rush? Double check! I just knew that I had to have a perfume that ticks all these boxes in my life.
In life there are only two things that are certain; death and change. Both of these certainties are also rife within the perfume industry, with ever-tightening restrictions on ingredients and brand cost-cutting leading either to the demise or the change of some of the world’s most beloved perfumes.
Most of the time perfume reformulations are cloak and dagger affairs, with brands swearing that “absolutely nothing has happened to your beloved Mitsouko, so please stop with your questions, or else…” But this isn’t the case with the new Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme, which the brand are fully admitting has been subjected to some “fine tuning”. Well, one can’t help but admire their honesty!
“Warm and voluptuous and a touch of creamy sweetness, this fragrance is for a woman who is compelling and sensual. It is made up of contrasts, an exuberance of sinuous details that strike the balance between strength and gentleness. Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme for women is not afraid to face any challenge, and does so with a strong sense of self and a fierce determination.”
The re-orchestrated Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme is described as having an “innately soft yet seductive character” and I would say that it definitely leans more to the soft side of things rather than the seductive. This may lead to some disappointment for long-term lovers of the original, which I’m led to believe was a bit of a floral-bomb. My advice? Stock up while you can…
Guerlain’s ode to the Little Black Dress, ‘La Petite Robe Noire’, has a confusing history. First it was released as a pricey boutique exclusive, then there was the sequel ‘La Petite Robe Noire 2’ (and yes it was about as good as you would expect a sequel to be), the first of five planned additions to Guerlain’s wardrobe. Following all of that Guerlain has now decided to relaunch a new version of La Petite Robe Noire as part of its main collection, and in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser has gone in and tweaked things a little bit.
Now, I don’t mean to be smug (OK maybe just a little) but I have always said that La Petite Robe Noire was wasted as a boutique exclusive, strongly believing that it would be a massive hit if it were unleashed into the world of mainstream perfumery, and from the response it’s getting on the counters I think it may just be as popular as I expected.
Taking inspiration from the most classic and versatile pieces of clothing – the little black dress, La Petite Robe Noire is the perhaps the most fun, free-spirited of Guerlain’s many offerings. It comes billed as “the epitome of couture for the skin”  and if you’re wondering what “couture” smells like, the answer is, in true Guerlain style, a big fruity floral gourmand.
I have to admit that I’m not the hugest fan of leather in fragrance, mainly because I really haven’t a great deal of exposure to the note, which is why I was particularly interested in attending last week’s ‘Evening of Leather’ organised by Lila Das Gupta of Perfume Lovers London/Olfactory Events. I wanted to explore leather, deconstruct and understand it, but most of all I wanted to find a leather that I loved.
Perfume Lovers London is a Meetup Group run by Olfactory Events in conjunction with Basenotes. They have so far held two events, with many more exciting meet ups in the pipeline. An Evening of Leather was hosted by Lila Das Gupta who has a penchant for leather fragrances, was the perfect captain for our voyage of discovery of a note that is steeped in history and comes in many guises.
An Evening of Leather promised to “map out the geography of leather fragrances from the meaty to the haughty” and I’m please to say that it was an event that delivered on all counts. I may have walked into the event being clueless about, and not really loving leather but I left with a new found appreciation for the genre and a head full of leather fragrances that demanded to be explored further.