I have a turbulent relationship with the house of CREED. They are definitely on the pricey side for what they are and their quality can be a bit hit or miss, but it would be unfair to say that none of their scents are worth seeking out. In fact, I can name at least four that are sniff worthy (Virgin Island Water, Silver Mountain Water, Millesime Imperial and Green Irish Tweed) so, as much as they may not be my favourite of brands, I’m still very much willing to give them the time of day, but have always approached them with a wary step.
One particular CREED perfume that sticks out for me is Love in Black – a scent that I like to call ‘Dark Lady’ as it presents an intriguing, feminine and unexpected representation of the colour black. It’s also a perfume that really does take awhile to ‘get’ due to its striking take on violet and iris – two ingredients often used to represent beauty, but in this perfume are added to give the impression of something beautifully unconventional.
Love in Black was launched in 2008 and was inspired by former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (or Jackie O as she was more commonly known) and is a far cry from the clean blooms of its sister scent Love in White. CREED describe the fragrance as a “lush floral oriental”, but in my mind it is more of a black swan of a scent (funnily enough the brand uses this imagery) that plays on the contrasting facets of a modern and powerful woman.
When it comes to decent fragrance at an equally decent price, one really cannot go wrong with The Body Shop. Admittedly their perfume output isn’t anywhere near as artistic or exciting as that found within the stores of their rival Lush (Gorilla Perfume really is very good), but it cannot be denied that, for the most part, The Body Shop creates things that smell nice and won’t require anybody to sell any kidneys on eBay to fund – and in this world of hyper-luxe niche brands, that’s pretty refreshing.
Perhaps the most enjoyable and iconic perfume The Body Shop has to offer is White Musk. Originally launched in 1981, White Musk has been a cheap staple for those who want a good everyday scent without breaking the bank or demanding too much attention. I’m a big fan of the White Musk Oil, which is great for those days where one just wants something lovely and incognito, but the scent in all of its many incarnations is a worthy take on ephemeral musk.
In continuation of the White Musk narrative, The Body Shop has launched White Musk Smoky Rose – a perfume that is meant to be a more sultry and seductive take on the 1981 classic suitable for evening wear. The perfume was created by Sophie Labbé of IFF and is billed as “a darkly seductive, floriental evening scent”. So is this TBS’s ‘Noir Musk’ (a truly dark perfume) or is it just another White Musk flanker? The answer is neither.
It must have been a rather daunting and unenviable task for both Neela Vermeire and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour when creating their fourth perfume together and the first to be launched since the initial trio of India-inspired fragrances in the Neela Vermeire Collection. These three perfumes – Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling! – were so well received and critically acclaimed that the pressure really must have been on when the time came to add a brand new fragrance to the series – a fragrance named Ashoka. Luckily for us, this pressure does not seem to have phased this dynamic duo one bit…
“Inspired by a legendary ruler, Neela Vermeire Creations’ new release Ashoka, is a tribute to an emperor who was conquered by his own compassion at the moment his victory was assured. He converted to Buddhism and devoted the rest of his life to spreading the Buddha’s teachings, to truth, to justice and to compassion for all living creatures beneath the sun. His own evolution from ruthless conquerer to benevolent emperor is reflected in Ashoka’s journey from the fierce opening to a softly floral heart & the gentle embrace of its richly complex drydown.”
Ashoka is Neela’s fourth perfume and first to be released outside of her initial trio of perfumes inspired by different eras of Indian culture. It would make sense then, that Ashoka strikes a slightly different chord from the others in the collection whilst managing not to stick out like a sore thumb. The fragrance is a continuation of the historical Indian narrative but in an olfactory sense, Ashoka leads Neela Vermeire Creations in an entirely new and exciting direction.
By Kilian – the brainchild of cognac heir Kilian Hennessy – launched as a brand in 2007. Hennessy’s first collection, wonderfully entitled ‘L’Oeuvre Noire’, was an impressive outfit, consisting of rich, decadent and expertly created fragrances. Since then, By Kilian has been relatively prolific with its output, releasing a number of fragrances under its ‘Arabian Nights’, ‘Asian Tales and ‘In the Garden of Good and Evil’ collections.
Comparing the fragrance within these latter collection to those found in L’Oeuvre Noire leads one to question what happened to the brand. The more recent offerings have failed to capture the hedonistic magic of those initial fragrances, with none of the newer offerings being even remotely comparable to the photorealistic tuberose of Beyond Love, the film noir honey of Back to Black or rich, pink delicacy of Love.
This year By Kilian has added two new fragrances to its collection; Musk Oud and Playing with the Devil. Both are polar opposites in style, proving that as far as creative direction goes, Hennessy definitely understands and enjoys variety. On the downside however, they also show a continuing ‘watering down’ of ideas within the brand and when looking back at what By Kilian has brought to the table before, this feels very sad indeed.
I make no bones about the fact that Thierry Mugler is one of my all-time favourite perfume brands. Their signature perfumes – Angel, Alien, Womanity, Cologne and A*Men – all have a very special place in my collection and are so befitting of the style of perfume I love, they almost feel as if they were created for me – although I am entirely aware that they were not.
Once a year Mugler treats us all to a special collection of fragrances – four unique takes on their existing signature fragrances. The familiar accords of these perfumes are twisted and remixed to include an ‘enhancer’ that presents them in an entirely new light. Over the last few years the likes of Angel et al have been reshaped by leather and gourmet ingredients to name just a few.
This year’s collection – ‘Les Liqueurs de Parfums‘ – sees the famous Mugler fragrances imbued with equally well-known liqueurs and is a sidestep for the brand, having already released alcohol-inspired versions of Angel, Alien and A*Men in 2009. The difference with this collection, however is that the wooden casks each fragrance has been aged in were warmed up and toasted to add a brand new facet to these boozy ‘fumes.
Eau d’Italie really have it made as a brand. I mean, creating fragrances inspired by their native Italy, specifically the phenomenally gorgeous coastal town of Positano (where they own and run the famous Le Sirenuse hotel), really gives them a lot of beauty to work with. Besides, the Italian way of life is incredibly attractive, one can’t help but want to own a part of that, even if it just an olfactory representation.
For their tenth perfume – ‘Acqua Decima’ (Tenth Water), Eau d’Italie have roped in the talents of perfumer Alberto Morillas (Mugler Cologne, Penhaligon’s Iris Prima and Salvador Dalí Parfum de Toilette) to create a perfume that celebrates “the spirit of Italy itself”. The result is a perfume that, as Eau d’Italie puts it; “reflects the sunniest feelings we have inside” but also perfectly captures a way of life in a bottle.
There is a song on Jay-Z’s latest album entitled ‘Tom Ford’, and in said song Mr Z raps the line; “I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford.” Well much like our good friend Jay-Z, I too am not one for recreational drug use and also have somewhat of a penchant for the offerings of American fashion designer Tom Ford – who knew we’d have so much in common?
Unfortunately that is where the common ground ends and unlike Jay-Z I do not have the adequate finances to rock any Tom Ford clothing (oh but how I wish I did), however my budget can certainly stretch to the designer’s olfactory offerings and like many others I have found there to be a number of sniff-worthy perfumes residing within the Tom Ford corner of the department store.
Mr Ford is relatively active on the olfactory front with two lines of perfume to choose from – the widely available and reasonably priced ‘Signature Collection’, which contains the likes of Black Orchid, Violet Blonde, Sahara Noir, Grey Vetiver and Noir; and the more exclusive and definitely pricier ‘Private Blends.’ Personally, I have found more love for the perfumes in the Signature Collection (much to the relief of my partner and bank balance), however the Private Blend certainly has more than its fair share of gems, which leads me nicely onto Tom Ford’s latest collection – ‘Atelier d’Orient.’
The Atelier d’Orient Collection is inspired by; “the sublime beauty, enigmatic sensuality and exquisite luxury of Asia” and each of the four fragrances within the collection are reported to contain; “ingredients that have treasured prestige in the Orient.” Speaking of the collection, Tom Ford states that each fragrance captures a distinct mood – “captivating romance, colonial elegance, luxurious exoticism and rich mysterious sensuality” – with each serving as a perfect representation of the bold Tom Ford aesthetic.
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.