Raw. Elemental. Encre Noire À L'Extrême.
Raw. Elemental. Encre Noire À L’Extrême.

I like vetiver but I don’t own many vetiver fragrances.  A brief sweep of my collection highlights the truth that I only own four vetiver-centric scents; Grey Vetiver by Tom Ford in Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette concentrations, Carven’s reissued Vetiver and a bottle of Guerlain’s Vetiver (a must for any card carrying perfume nut).  In fact, that’s not the truth at all because all four of these technically belong to my husband who, for the record, does enjoy a good vetiver.  So why the vetiver snubbing at Candy Perfume Towers?  In all honesty, I do not know.  Perhaps I’m too busy focusing on my florals and macerating over my Muglers to really allowed vetiver to show me its veritas. Who knows?!

There is a new vetiver in town though, that may just sway my opinion.  Well, I say new, but once again I am being creative with the truth.  This vetiver is a flanker to a cult vetiver and I have to admit that it’s rather blinking good.  Most of you will be familiar with Lalique’s famous Encre Noire (Nathalie Lorson; 2006), a dark and brooding vetiver that is often regarded as one of the very best the genre has to offer.  Well now, Encre Noire has spawned a child – an intense and more raw version of itself that has one mission, and one mission only: to smell damn good.

The scent is called Encre Noire À L’Extrême and it is pretty much what you would expect from a fragrance boasting that sort of name: a richer, more intense and more extreme version of the original. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Encre Noire, perfumer Nathalie Lorson has reinterpreted the iconic vetiver fragrance, or as Lalique put it Lorson pens “a new chapter in the saga”. Pushing the signature of the original “to its limits”Encre Noire À L’Extrême is a fragrance that “plays on contrasts to express every facet of masculinity through powerful, seductive accords.” I’d say that it does a pretty good job of it too!

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Living the Lalique Life
Living the Lalique Life

Do you ever get the impression that you’re going to love a perfume before you’ve even tried it? It’s an odd feeling. You read all of the reviews online, study the marketing bumf and ogle pictures of the bottle, whilst all the time feeding your inner perfume demon who is   quietly whispering how “they wants it, they needs it”. Only when one actually gets their hands on the precious is the demon satisfied. Lalique’s latest feminine fragrance, ‘Living Lalique‘ was one such case of demonic perfume lust. All it took was one scan of the press release and I was hooked – I knew I needed it in my life.

Living Lalique, like all-things Lalique, looks to the past for its inspirations (see the Noir Premier Collection for further evidence). The fragrance takes cues from the flight of the swallow, Lalique’s house emblem, whilst the bottle is inspired by the ‘Carnette Fleur’, a bottle designed by founder, René Lalique in 1911, not to mention the fact that the ad campaign focuses on an art deco window inspired by the brands aesthetics. It’s definitely a Lalique affair and one has to feel positive about the brand’s love and respect for their heritage.

The fragrance itself is penned by Richard Ibanez of Robertet (Andrea Maack Coal & Divine L’Inspiratrice) and is described as being a “soaring fragrance” that “follows the Lalique woman from metropolis to metropolis and from emotion to emotion”. To evoke the spirit of the Lalique lifestyle, the brand and Ibanez have chosen to focus on perfumery’s richest and most divine ingredient – orris butter (iris). The result is a sumptuous, pillowy fragrance that, through subtlety and a paired-back warmth, evokes beauty with every fibre of its orris-soaked being.

“A moment of emotion. A flight of swallows. A window opening into a world of timeless luxury. The quintessence of the Lalique lifestyle is expressed in a new perfume, Living Lalique. A bold fragrance, reflecting the urban, contemporary, active life of the Lalique woman. A dream-like fragrance, sculpted from materials as luminous as crystal. A soaring fragrance, inspired by the elegant swallow, Lalique has chosen as its emblem.”

– Lalique

Limited Edition - L'Amour Lalique Crystal Flacon
Limited Edition – L’Amour Lalique Crystal Flacon

In time for Valentine’s Day 2015, venerable glassware house Lalique will launch an exclusive collector’s edition of their popular L’Amour Lalique fragrance (composed by Nathalie Lorson) in Extrait de Parfum. This limited edition is housed within a beautiful Lalique crystal flacon, inspired by the stained glass windows designed by René Lalique for Japanese emperor, Asaka Yasuhiko. The four windows were created especially for the drawing room in the emperor’s Tokyo palace, and were displayed at the Salon d’Automne in Paris in 1932.

“A radiant, emotional celebration of femininity, L’Amour is now showcased in the most sumptuous gift a perfume can be offered : a softly curved crystal bottle whose precious stopper is also inspired by René Lalique’s 1932 masterwork for the Japanese Prince Asaka Yasuhiko. Its feathers form the rose window motif decorating the top of the stopper, and its rim is festooned with flower garlands, delicately trimmed with hand-painted gold. The fragrance poured into this exceptional bottle reinvents L’Amour as an Extrait de Parfum. A rarer, more intense, more passionate, but also more sensual interpretation.”

– Lalique

Dita Von Teese in Vivienne Westwood
Dita Von Teese in Christian Lacroix Bridal

No perfume genre is more scorned than the humble fruity floral. Well, actually the world of oud raises a few eyebrows too, but that’s another matter. Fruity florals however, thanks to a billion and one dreadful celebrity fragrant messes, have received a lot of bad press and tend to present themselves as ditzy-sweet hazes (Miss Dior) or sticky-syrup disasters (Lady Gaga’s Fame) rather than anything interesting or well-constructed. But the truth is that, with a degree of intelligence and the application of a sense of humour (see Insolence), a fruity floral can be a very good thing indeed.

Without giving too much away in advance of this review, Lalique’s new flanker to 2007’s Amethyst, ‘Amethyst Éclat‘, is a good fruity floral that feels intelligently composed, and perhaps more importantly, is just so effortlessly pretty in its execution that one cannot help but fall for its delicate charm. And charm is something that this fragrance certainly has by the bucket load.

Created by perfumer Nathalie Lorson (also responsible for the original Amethyst), Amethyst Éclat, is different from the original in the sense that it reportedly “sparkles with the pure, bright exhilarating scent of peony”, taking on a much more radiant and refined character. I’ve only tried the original Amethyst in passing, so what follows is not a comparison of the two scents, but rather a look at Amethyst Éclat in isolation and entirely on its own merits. The result is rather surprising!

“Between Amethyst and Amethyst Éclat, the raspberry, blackcurrant and blackberry accord runs like a red thread… Or rather, like the succulent trickle of juice that seeps between your fingers when you pick sun-gorged berries between the brambles. It is from this luscious garden that Nathalie Lorson, who authored both fragrances, plucked the radiant peony which lights up the heart of her new offering.”

Amethyst Eclat Range
New From Lalique: Amethyst Éclat

This year, the French makers of fine crystal ware and jewellery, Lalique will launch a flanker to their 2007 fragrance ‘Amethyst’. This latest entry into the Lalique fragrance collection is a fruity floral developed by perfumer Nathalie Lorson (also responsible for Amethyst) that comes seven years after the original and intends to capture the bold berries and flowers of Amethyst in a more radiant light. The brand describe the perfume, as follows:

“This new offering draws its inspiration from the bountiful oeuvre of René Lalique by revisiting the peony, often stylised by the artist in elegant Art Deco motifs. It was just beginning to bloom in Amethyst’s berry garden. In Amethyst Éclat, it is in full blossom, radiant and majestic. […] Amethyst Éclat is a fragrant translation of the boundless creativity of the artist known as the Sculptor of Light.”

Two New, Blue Masculines from Lalique and Bentley
Two New, Blue Masculines from Lalique and Bentley

Blue is the colour that is most likely to send perfume lovers into a fit of fragrant fear. It is, after all, the hue that is ultimately associated with thousands of dodgy aquatic and oceanic fragrances that populate the plentiful shelves of one’s local department stores. These scents sell by the bucket load and more often than not they play to the lowest common denominator, evoking a sense of cleanliness and not much else.

But that isn’t always the case and there are a number of notable occasions where a perfumer or brand has taken the idea of ‘blue’ and done something intriguing with it. One particular standout is Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s superlative OUD (a perfume that I officially refuse to stop banging on about because it is just so mighty good), an oud that is unlike no other and cast in a wonderful shade of cerulean. So yes, blue isn’t necessarily all bad.

For 2014 the houses of Lalique and Bentley are launching blue-themed flankers for two of their masculine fragrances. Lalique are presenting Hommage à l’Homme Voyageur, a follow-up to 2011’s Hommage à l’Homme and an ode to “the art of travel” inspired by the “sumptuous decor” designed by René Lalique for the luxurious liner – the Normandie. British car manufacturer, Bentley, on the other hand, are launching Bentley For Men Azure, a flanker to last year’s Bentley For Men that “appeals to sporty, smart and style conscious men.” 

One of these blue masculines is a wonderfully crafted take on ashen spices, that feels utterly smart and luxurious (and has this blogger completely and utterly hooked, FYI) whereas the other isn’t much more than a typically cobalt execution of a fresh aquatic masculine with a hint of something salty-fresh for added measure. Have you guessed which is which yet?