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The colour white is achromatic – it has no hue. But white is not the absence of colour, it is the abundance of it. White is what the eye sees when the three primary colours are viewed simultaneously. So despite our connotations of purity, of perfect white snow and  blankness, the colour white is actually representative of something multifaceted, chaotic and brilliant. For Map of the Heart, the subversive Australian niche brand, the colour white represents love.

White Heart v.7 is Map of the Heart’s latest fragrance. It follow’s  last year’s Pink Heart v.6 and is billed as ‘The Heart of Love’. It’s actually a very tricky perfume to define one that seems to enjoy jumping across many fragrance families and presenting florals, woods, spices, and aldehydes in a jumbled composition that holds interest due to its contrasting and confusing nature. I bet that description has caught your interest…

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Parle Moi de Parfum translates as ‘speak to me about perfume’ and it’s a name that I, as a writer of perfumer, can certainly get on board with. The brand is a family affair – created by Benjamin Almairac who, with his mother and brother, created a retail space in Paris that is also a functioning perfume lab, making perfumes created by his famous perfumer father, Michel Almairac (Gucci Rush, L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses and Dior Fahrenheit, to name but a few). Perfumery is in the DNA of the brand it seems!

There are currently ten fragrances in the line, each of which is presented without gimmick. The idea of talking about perfume extends past the lab into the fragrance names, each of which contains a number that represents the number of modifications each formula went through before the final composition was agreed upon. One of the brand’s newest fragrances is Orris Tattoo / 29 – a perfume that centres on an icon of perfumery: the iris root. Parle Moi de Parfum describe the scent as being a “permanent scented reminder, a universal symbol, a unique self-expression like an invisible tattoo that withstands the test of time”, utilising a legendary material as olfactory ink. Colour me intrigued.

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Fragrances tend to fall into two categories for me; those that make an immediate impact (either positively or negative), and those that take a while for me to get. Laconia, the latest scent from super-swish British brand Tom Daxon, fell smack bang into the immediate category. I knew from the first sniff that I liked it and that this wasn’t going to change. Yes, that’s a massive spoiler for this review, but I haven’t told you what it smells like so you will have to read on…

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Speed Sniffs is a way to bring you ‘to-the-point’ fragrance reviews that are quick and easy to digest. They are perfume reviews without the faff.

Sana Jardin is a new eco and ethically conscious fragrance house that aims to create luxurious niche fragrance that brings real change for the growers of the materials, specifically women. This is done through their Beyond Sustainability movement which, as Sana Jardin puts it, “is a movement to create tangible and measurable social change through commerce, not charity. It’s a movement to create female entrepreneurs who are agents of change in their community. It is built on traditional, sustainable practices and fair trade. Beyond Sustainability™ is preserving heritage skills while inspiring the next generation of artisans.”

It’s always good for fragrances houses to take a socially-conscious approach to their manufacturing and for this to be at the heart of a luxury niche brand is really encouraging. There are currently seven fragrances in the collection, one of which is the focus of today’s speed sniff! That scent is Nubian Musk and it’s described by Sana Jardin as follows; “A seductive scent recollection…a physical encounter, a chemical attraction, limbs entwined, souls lost to pure, carnal desire. Fragranced with the intoxicating, raw scent of skin, amplified in the heat of passion.” Sounds like it’s quite something, doesn’t it?!

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“I am free” says Perfumer Christine Nagel as she sits comfortably in the handsomely furnished apartment above Hermès’ New Bond Street store in London. Nagel is here to talk us through the five new fragrances she has created as in-house Perfumer at Hermès. The five are her first additions to the Hermessence collection, a series of olfactory haikus created by her predecessor Jean-Claude Ellena. Nagel’s style is somewhat different from Ellena’s – his domain was of watercolours and minerals, wrapped in cerebral, thought-provoking compositions that birthed the Hermès olfactory signature. If Ellena created this signature, then Nagel’s has opened it up to a new-found richness with her more immediate, grander and more voluptuous style. Despite their stylistic differences, the creations by both Ellena and Nagel are undeniably ‘Hermès’ in every way.

Anyway, back to freedom. Christine Nagel has full creative freedom at Hermès and with it she has chosen to create a collection of five oriental fragrances to add to Hermès iconic Hermessence collection. Nagel wanted to return to “the origins of perfumery” to create three Eau de Toilettes and two oil-based Perfume Essences. According to Nagel, when she proposed this to the CEO his answer was simply ‘yes’. So off to the origins of perfumery Nagel travelled, focusing on the noble and historic notes of myrrh, musk, agar wood and cedar, with which she has created five distinct fragrances that celebrate the styles of the orient in a way that is truly and faithfully ‘Hermès’.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! What better way to celebrate than with a review of a perfume housed within a bottle shaped like a pink heart, eh?

I’ll be perfectly honest and say that when I first became aware of the Australian niche brand Map of the Heart a few years back, I didn’t feel particularly enthused. Here’s just another gimmicky niche brand, I thought – all bottle and no substance. But as we all know, one should not be so judgemental when it comes to perfume because there is always the potential to be surprised! Anyway, Map of the Heart is based on the premise that our hearts are the centre of all we are – as the brand says “our heart is everything pure, good and evil. It aches, it desires, it is who we are.” Map of the Heart is a journey exploration of humankind through the medium olfaction, with six fragrances to date, each one representing a different aspect of humanity (freedom, valour, passion, peace, darkness etc.). Each fragrance is housed within a bottle that takes the anatomical form of the human heart – a flacon designed by the legendary bottle designer Pierre Dinard, no less – the man behind the vessels for Opium, Obsession, Cheap & Chic, and Rive Gauche!

Map of the Heart’s latest fragrances is Pink Heart v.6 and it represents the heart of ecstasy. The brand describes it as “a scent of the imagination and is at once hallucinogenic and hypnotic”. Pink Heart centres on the note of narcissus, presenting an experience that is “narcotic” and “hyper-real”. Having sniffed all of the scents in the collection, Pink Heart strikes me as the boldest and most vivid, but also the most fun. It’s an opulent, excessive fragrance that takes a note so usually associated with glamour and darkness, and spray paints it in the cutest shade of baby pink. So without further ado, lets get to the heart of the matter (bad pun – sorry) and give Pink Heart a big old sniff.

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In the somewhat limited lexicon of perfume description, one relies quite heavily on the concept of character when attempting to translate odour into words. I’ll often find myself personifying a fragrance, bringing in characters from popular culture to best describe the spirit of a scent. Heck, I’ve even done it the other way round and have paired scents with famous characters. Perfume can convey the attitude, emotion and style of a character – characters that resonate with us and allow us to identify with a perfume. These character-filled scents are the ones that lead us to spritz something on and declare it “just so me”.

St Giles is an exciting new brand that understands the character of perfume. So much so, in fact, that their debut collection consists of five personalities in olfactory form. From the mind of Michael Donovan, a luxury PR legend, St Giles brings us The Tycoon, The Actress, The Mechanic, The Stylist, and the subject of today’s review: The Writer. These five fragrances were created to “stimulate and amplify the many different aspects of our character” celebrating “the parts that make us who we are, fusing the reality and the fantasy”. They are five characters one wants to get to know – each translated into perfume form by the incomparable Bertrand Duchaufour – and whilst they are all beautiful, The Writer is the standout. So let’s sniff.