Please indulge me whilst I tell you a little tale that informs you all you need to know about Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdjian. I was sit in the lobby of the Soho Hotel the other day, having just attended an evening with Perfumer Christine Nagel hosted by the Fragrance Foundation. It had been a long day and I desperately needed to charge my phone (for instagram purpose, obviously). As I sat there, minding by own little fragrant business, I watched industry bods trickle past me on their way out. After about ten minutes, two journalists walked past and their conversation went something along the lines of:
“You’re wearing Baccarat Rouge by Kurkdjian, aren’t you?” “No I’m not.” “Yes, you are. I can smell it.” “I’m not. I think I’d know.” “I can smell it!”
Guess who was rocking the Baccarat Rouge? Oh yeah, that’s right, this bad candy boy right here, that’s who! I fessed up, don’t you worry. But this little tale just goes to show how distinct and unique a signature the fragrance has. In fact, I don’t think I said this when I reviewed Baccarat Rouge 540 last year, but I think it is easily the cleverest perfume composition of the last five years. For a short formula it does a lot, evoking white and red hot crystal with novel accords that feel entirely new. It’s a technical marvel but it’s also a rather unrestrained essay in excess, from a perfumer who usually brings us spacious, chic beauty with a steady hand. I’ll stop beating around the bush and just come out and say that Baccarat Rouge 540 is a god damn masterpiece, and now it comes in an even more lush and luxurious Extrait de Parfum. Colour me excited!
I’ve learned to expect nothing but boldness from Beaufort London. As perfume brands go, they’re up there with the best of them when it comes to distinctiveness. In the politest possible terms, Beaufort fragrances are stinky – they have very distinct signatures and all fit the aesthetic of the brand, which is darkly historical with a modern twist. Imagine if Guy Ritchie did perfume, then that’s Beaufort London. Where so many niche brands get the look and concept right, but fall down at the juice, Beaufort London have never failed to make intriguing perfume (just see last year’s fascinating Fathom V for proof) and they’re not scared of the less than pleasant aspects of history, and olfaction either. Beaufort London fragrances may not be for everyone, but tell me, Dear Reader, what great things in life are?
Beaufort London launched with the ‘Come Hell or High Water’ collection, which took inspiration from Britain’s nautical heritage. This year the brand is adding a brand new collection called ‘Revenants’ which remembers historical figures through the art of olfaction. The first launch within the Revenants collection is Iron Duke and it is inspired by Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), who is described as a “celebrated horseman, warrior politician and sartorial pioneer”. It’s a fully-worked out concept with a beautiful promo shot by Matthew Seed and a bottle inscribed with a horse motif designed by tattoo artist Robert Gisbourne-Ashby. Iron Duke the fragrance is billed as a “strikingly powerful fragrance with animalic depths”, which certainly piqued my interest. Shall we dive in and see if it really is as filthy as it sounds?
What happens when you give two perfumers the same passage of text and ask them to make a fragrance with no olfactive brief? The answer is two fragrances that are as different as day and night and it’s an experiment undertaken by a surprising house: Miller Harris. Now, if you’ve not been sniffing the recent launches from Miller Harris you have been missing out. They’ve been very quietly doing some phenomenal work (I point your noses in the direction of Rose Silence and Le Cèdre,to name just two, but trust me when I say that there are many more exciting things to sniff) and it really seems that they are forging an identity for themselves, after years of muddled direction. Miller Harris now has a personality and a character, and I’m here for it.
For their latest project (launching in January 2018), Miller Harris is releasing two fragrances inspired by a passage of text from F.Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. The idea is that the brand handed this passage to two perfumers, Mathieu Nardin (the creator of lots of their recent works such as the aforementioned Rose Silence and Le Cèdre – check him out, you must) and Bertrand Duchaufour (y’all know who he is) and asked them to make a fragrance each inspired by the text. That’s it. No olfactive direction, no concept, just simple literary inspiration. The result is Scherzo (Mathieu) and Tender (Bertrand) and they really are quite surprising.
There are so many fragrance launches each year it’s difficult to write about them all. Speed Sniffs is a way to bring you to the point reviews fragrances that are quick and easy to digest. After all, sometimes all one needs is a few lines to capture the essence of a scent. Speed Sniffs are perfume reviews without all of the faff.
Oud Wood by TOM FORD is a fragrant tour de force. A cult classic that is one of the brand’s most popular fragrances, Oud Wood may not have started the oud trend, but it certainly cemented it as a prominent part of the olfactory zeitgeist. I find it to be a soft, comforting take on oud with an unusually rubbery texture that makes it stand out from the crowd – and even now I’d say that it’s an absolute must-sniff for anyone exploring the world of oud. Oud Wood is sexy and alluring, smart but casual – a complex perfume with a bold signature. Well, fans of Oud Wood can now rejoice because TOM FORD has just launched Oud Wood Intense, which promises Oud Wood but more!
When I heard that historic candlemaker Cire Trudon was to launch its very own line of perfumes I actually let out a small squeal of excitement. I’ve been obsessed with their scented candles for ages, mainly because they not only smell tremendously beautiful, but also because they take inspiration from unusual and historic places. A Cire Trudon candle is no ordinary candle and if the brand’s approach to home fragrance is anything to go by, one knows that their perfumes are going to be something really extraordinary.
Trudon (the perfume line drops the ‘Cire’ from the name) launched their perfume collection this autumn with five fragrances that reference “religion, royalty and revolution”. The brand worked with perfumers Antoine Lie (Etat Libre d’Orange Sécrétions Magnifiques & Comme des Garçons Wonderwood), Lyn Harris (of Perfumer H and formerly Miller Harris) and Yann Vasnier (Jo Malone The English Oak & Marc Jacobs Bang) to create their debut collection and the whole thing feels finely curated, from the clarity of the scents to their flacons, which boast simplicity in shape but also luxury with their stunning, ribbed glass caps.
By now we all know my thoughts on the House of MUGLER. I am and always will be, a lifelong MUGLER fanboy. I am indoctrinated in their ideology. I am a card-carrying member of the Muglerati. If you ask me where I’m from, I will tell you that I was born from a star in the far reaches of the Muglerverse. The brand is my favourite and their fragrances are some of my most-beloved. I am MUGLER, smell me roar.
So it’s always exciting for me when MUGLER launch a new fragrance and this year hasn’t been short in terms of output from my favourite brand. So far we’ve had two Alien flankers (Musc Mysterieux and Eau Sublime), some delicious Angel-flavoured chocolates, oh we can’t forget the entirely brand new feminine pillar fragrance in the form of Aura. It’s been a busy year on Planet Mugler, for sure, and there’s no let up yet, because the brand has just added the ninth fragrance to their exclusive Les Exceptions range: the intriguingly named Wonder Bouquet.
I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I’ve found the fragrances from the house of Thameen to be a bit hit or miss. I fell head over heels for the dry dusty rose of Noorolain Taif, but others in the collection left me cold. I think that the concept of fragrances inspired by famous jewels is really evocative and the presentation has this cool clash where royal blue bottles in a classic shape clash against the modernism of their black, spiked caps. What’s more, the bottles really glow when they hit the light. I just felt that some of the fragrances weren’t as dynamic as perhaps the presentation suggested they might be.
Fast forward to Thameen’s latest launch and a pleasant surprise. This launch takes its inspiration (and its name) from the Cora sun-drop diamond – the largest, yellow, pear-shaped diamond in the world (racking up an impressive 110.3 carats and forming between 1 and 3 billion years ago – no biggie), so it’s no surprise that the fragrance itself is a rather large and showy scent. Described by Thameen as a fragrance “suffused with phosphorescence”, The Cora takes the traditional white floral and injects it with an entire sun’s worth of light.