A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a virtual masterclass with Frederic Malle and perfumer Anne Flipo all about the brand’s latest launch Synthetic Jungle. I was intrigued by the fragrance, of course (we will get on to that soon – patience please) but I was also curious about the name. Given all of the scaremongering around materials in perfumery – you know what I mean, the false narratives around chemicals being bad (literally everything is a chemical, oy), that natural is better (simply not true) and that clean beauty is a thing (I don’t even know where to start with this one) it seems somewhat brave to release a fragrance with “synthetic” in the name. I asked M. Malle whether the name was a statement and he, without hesitation said yes, it is.
In response, he told me that there is a misconception that synthetic materials are bad and naturals are good, adding that people don’t understand that interesting perfume started because of synthetics (it’s true, we wouldn’t have modern perfumery as it is today without aroma chemicals). As he explains, Synthetic Jungle’s name seeks to remind people that perfume is a paradox, and that synthetic materials are required to recreate the smells of nature. This is exactly what Synthetic Jungle achieves – a beautifully natural smelling perfume, evocative of a lush jungle, and made with a mixture of both natural and synthetic materials.
Now, moving past the name, what about Synthetic Jungle the perfume? This is the result of a long creative flirtation between Frederic Malle and Anne Flipo, where the former spent quite some in the corridors of IFF convincing the latter to work with him. The starting point for their fragrant collaboration was the green fragrances of the 1970s, specifically Estée Lauder’s Private Collection, which served as inspiration. Synthetic Jungle is Frederic Malle and Anne Flipo’s rendition of the green chypre accord – a simplified, modernised version that isolates the green accord and amplifies it with intense floralcy. The result? An accessible take on green that feels operatic in its execution.
Much like fashion, the trends of perfumery are cicular and what is in favour now, is likely to be garbage tomorrow. This is the nature of trends – we overdose on the good stuff for a period of time until we get sick of it and something else comes along, and perfume is no different. Just look at the 1980s, when syrupy atom bomb florals existed to; a) be so distinct that one knew what they were smelling a mile away; and b) to terrify the masses. Of course, those scents are as on trend today as leg warmers and zoot suits are, which is to say that they’re not. Heck, one can even look at the ’90s, with its sterile repentance of calone and white musk and see how those things too, are no longer ‘in’. It all comes in to fashion, goes out and then comes back in again in a never ending cycle.
Of course, some trends stick about and the lucky ones take their place in the hall of fame as an entirely brand new genre that constantly develops without falling out of favour. Oud is one such trend – a style that has stuck around for so long now, and in so many guises, that it’s arguably the newest olfactory family. A perfumery trend that has not stood the test of time however, is green. Green was massive in the ’70s and ’80s but fell quickly out of favour. Why? Well, these perfumes have a tendency to be harsh and bossy, rubbing people up the wrong way with sharp edges. Also, as lovely as plants and grasses are, who really wants to smell like them? Exactly. But, as we’ve established, all trends make a comeback and right now we’re seeing a verdant renaissance of green scents both in mainstream and niche perfumery: the new green.
Personally, green has always been the toughest of fragrance families to get on with. There’s just something so standoffish about green scents – something so impersonal and too redolent of nature that puts me off. I admire abstraction in my scents and too often, green fragrances are either too rooted in nature or are simply too harsh. But I’m an evolved perfume sniffer, I can appreciate beauty even in those places where I feel as if I’m likely not to find it. So I’ve put together a list of six green fragrances that actually tickle my fancy. These scents also represent the modern revival of green, which all kicked off with Maison Martin Margiela’s Untitled in 2010. So, Dear Reader, you won’t find your CHANEL Nº19 here nor your Vent Vert, but you will discover six modern green fragrances that will completely destroy that old idiom that says it’s not that easy being green. In fact, for these six scents, to be such a thing is really rather marvellous.
Here we are, in the last few weeks of 2016 – I cannot believe that this year has gone so quickly! This will be my last post before I take my Christmas break (don’t worry, I’ll be back soon enough with The Candies 2016 – my best-of-the-best round-up of the year), during which I will gorge on just about anything edible I can get my hands on. But before the festivities kick off, I wanted to share my final review of 2016 with you and I’ve deliberately left this fragrance to last for the very simple reason that it’s really bloody good, which makes it the perfect perfume to end a year of fragrant discover on. So let’s do exactly that.
Fathom V is the latest scent from Beaufort London, a daring niche brand created by musician and writer Leo Crabtree who offers a collection of fragrances inspired by the sea. I’ve not written about Beaufort London yet because I’ve found their fragrances quite challenging, if I’m being entirely honest. There’s a darkness to this collection, yes, but also an incredibly unique take on familiar themes that really does push the limits as to what is acceptable and palatable in modern perfumery. But when a brand names their first collection of fragrances ‘Come Hell or High Water’ one knows that they mean business and Beaufort London certainly takes the art of perfumery seriously. These scents aren’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, in fact they can be downright difficult, but that’s exactly what makes them thoroughly intriguing sniffs.
This newest addition to Come Hell or High Water is inspired by the imagery of “violent weather, shipwrecks and magical islands” within Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, taking its name from the nautical measure that represents six feet of depth, essentially referring to a body of water that is five fathoms deep. The fragrance is an olfactory clash between the green and the aquatic, creating something that is as contrasting, ever-changing and as powerful as the ocean. Fathom V is not your typical green fragrance nor is it your typical aquatic, in fact there is nothing ‘typical’ about this scent at all – it is wholly and entirely unexpected at every level, depth and fathom.
Green fragrances are my least favourite, I’m just going to come right out and say it. They so often feel harsh and demanding, not to mention the fact that many of the greats now feel very dated, relying on aldehydes and galbanum (notes du jour of the ’80s) to create a style that is distinct, yes, but definitely out of line with current trends. So yes, green fragrances, bar a few notable exceptions (see Amazingreen & Panorama) are not for me and judging by their absence from the department store shelves, I’m not the only one to feel this way.
But green is making a comeback at the hands of one of perfumery’s titans. That’s right, TOM FORD is bringing back ‘green’. The leading man of fashion and fragrance is reviving one of perfumery’s most out of favour genres – one that permeated the designer arena throughout the ’70s and ’80s, but now seems decidedly absent. But of course, Mr Ford’s idea of green is inspired by the classics, but does not replicate them. Instead, with Les Extraits Vert, the newly-launched sub-section of green fragrances within his Private Blend Collection, Ford adds his contemporary twist, making this tired genre something exciting and new.
Les Extraits Vert consists of four fragrances; Vert Boheme, Vert d’Encens, Vert de Fleur and Vert des Bois, each of which subverts the green genre rather successfully. Vert des Bois, the subject of this review feels like the most ‘TOM FORD’ of the bunch, offering up smoke, leather and greenery in an aesthetic that is masculine and classy. The brand uses words such as ‘expressive’ and ‘provocative’ to describe Vert des Bois and to an extent, I can see why. Vert des Bois is provocative because it challenges one’s notions of what a green fragrance can be and it certainly makes for a verdant experience unlike any other.
I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again: I’m a big fan of Jo Malone London. To me, they do what they do very well and what they do is create easy wearing fragrances that feel comfortable both on the skin and in the home. Sure, they’re not pushing the known boundaries of olfaction, but they often add a contemporary and eccentric twist to their fragrances, taking the familiar and making it novel. Most importantly though, Jo Malone London fragrances tick the box that should be first and foremost on every perfume lover’s priority list: they smell good.
Seeing as I enjoy the brand so much, it’s understandable that it was with both excitement and trepidation that I uncorked my sample of JML’s latest scent ‘Basil & Neroli‘. Why? Well, they’ve been on a bit of winning streak lately. Last year’s Mimosa & Cardamom was a triumph – one that has crept its way into my top ten fragrances of all time (quite an accolade, if I do say so myself), not to mention the fact their recent additions to the Cologne Intense series, specifically Incense & Cedrat and Orris & Sandalwood, have also been exceptionally good, and quite unique. So yes, I wondered whether Basil & Neroli would be the one to break this streak or whether it would be yet another success. You’ll have to read on to find out the answer…
Basil & Neroli was created by perfumer Anne Flipo, the nose behind L’Artisan Parfumeur’s La Chasse Aux Papillons and Jo Malone London’s Herb Garden Collection. She describes the fragrance as “a fresh, sophisticated, sensual floral with green facets” adding that it is “stunning in its simplicity”. The brand however, calls it a “London lark”, positioning Basil & Neroli as something much more fun, playful and quintessentially British. Whether it be refined or rowdy, what’s for sure is that Basil & Neroli is a fragrance created in the Jo Malone London school of thinking, meaning that it serves up an unusual twist on two familiar ingredients, juxtaposing the savoury & the sweet, and the green & the white.
It surprises me that this is my first review of a Byredo perfume. I haven’t tried everything they have to offer but most of what I have sampled has been well made, if not rather interesting (it’s hard to ignore the genius of the tinsel-esque M/Mink and Solero-esque Pulp). Still, my laziness as a blogger has resulted in the brand not being featured and for that I shall have to give myself a large slap on the wrist.
That was until a sample of the latest Byredo fragrance – ‘Infloresence’ – arrived on my door step. They pretty much had me at the name, but it was the brand’s description of the scent that got me;
“to celebrate the beginning of spring, nature’s perennial and powerful rebirth, Ben Gorham (Founder and Creative Director of Byredo) envisaged a wild garden and a floral scent that would capture the strength and beauty of its blossoms, just as they reach their dramatic peak.”
It didn’t take much more than that to get me salivating! According to my good friend Wikipedia, inflorescence means; “a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches” , and this is entirely in keeping with the fragrance’s theme of a bouquet of intensely aromatic flowers.
There should be a club for those that consider themselves as ‘Amouage Addicts’. We could all sit around discussing our adoration for the Omani house, pouring over our favourites and consoling each other over the fact that we’ll never be able to own them all. One matter that definitely would not be up for discussion however, is the idea of giving the house up any time soon. It’s simply not on the table.
We are truly helpless really, what with the annual masculine and feminine pairings. Not to mention special editions such as Beloved and the highly artistic and fascinating Library Collection. The truth is that we are mere lemmings for Amouage and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
This year’s addition to the Library Collection is Opus VII. Created by perfumers Pierre Negrin and Alberto Morillas it “arouses the juxtaposition of harmon with the intensity of reasoning between conflicting ideas and beliefs” . Much like the chaos of the Interlude duo from last year, Opus VII appears to take a slightly more abstract approach with its dark black flacon serving as a small hint for the wild ride that’s unleashed upon the very first spritz.
This week’s Escentual post is a review of a fragrance that took me wholely by surprise – Dahlia Noir L’Eau by Givenchy. The original Dahlia Noir made next to no impression on me whatsover (very much in line with most Givenchy offerings) and I am, as you know, not a massive fan of anything remotely green – so it is with great surprise that I give a big thumbs up to Dahlia Noir L’Eau!
Please click on the image above to head over to Escentual.com and read the full review. Don’t forget to leave a comment!
L’Artisan Parfumeur is one of those brands that took a long while to click with me. I started off exploring two of their cult classics – Tea for Two and Patchouli Patch – both of which left me cold. I then left the brand alone for a few years whilst I sailed off around the perfume world trying anything and everything that wasn’t ‘L’Artisan’.
Fate brought me back to L’Artisan Parfumeur many years later when a friend dragged me into the Covent Garden boutique. It was there that I tried and loved Bertrand Duchaufour’s ode to the clash of East and West that is Traversée du Bosphore for the very first time and after that, well after that I fell down the rabbit hole grabbing and adoring everything that L’Artisan and Duchaufour had done together.
The latest perfume launch from L’Artisan is not a Bertrand Duchaufour creation but that’s not a bad thing in the slightest. Created by perfumer Dora Baghriche-Arnaud this latest perfume joins the brand’s Grasse collection of candles and scented gloves that takes inspiration from “the spiritual home of fragrance, in Provence”.
Named Caligna (meaning to ‘court’ or ‘flirt’ in the Provençal tongue) – the first perfume in this collection is an ode to the Grasse countryside and according to L’Artisan Parfumeur it “evokes a warm breeze blowing over the land, a sense of freedom in the wild open spaces, a lightness of being with laughter echoing into the distance.”
As a die-hard fragrance nerd it’s difficult not to love Gorilla Perfume, the fragrant arm of those smelly bath purveyors Lush. For one, they march to the beat of their own drum, drawing inspiration from subjects as varied as Thai Ladyboys and Italian showers. But perhaps most importantly they are an outfit that champions that old idiom “It’s all about the juice”, caring first and foremost for the perfume above bottles and marketing.
This passion for perfume has allowed Lush to birth a line of beautiful, surprising and sometimes downright-wacky fragrances that challenge one’s notion of what constitutes a scent as much as they serve to inspire and foster a life-long love for all that is perfume. It sounds corny but it is brands like Gorilla Perfume that are the reason why I love perfume, when there is so much to be cranky about they have the ability to restore one’s faith in perfume and make one smile with a single spritz. You gotta love that Gorilla!
Late last year Gorilla Perfume launched 12 new fragrances (that’s right -12) under a new collection entitled ‘Volume 2’. The overall look of this new collection feels like a shift in direction for Gorilla Perfume and I’d say the scents themselves follow suit. There seems to be less focus on the cartoonish hijinks of the past and greater emphasis on a more mature approach – dare I say that our Gorilla may have grown up?!
I was sent a few of these new scents to try and today I’d like to share with you my thoughts on two of the most intriguing; Furze and The Voice of Reason.