Maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe it’s just my unending greed when it comes to all that is sweet and delicious, but I am most definitely in the mood for chocolate. To be fair, there aren’t many days where I wouldn’t fancy even a small square of the velvety, dark stuff and where some people have vices in alcohol or less savoury substances, my personal crack would be a Twix bar or two.
Those of you who have read this blog for a while will know that I’m absolutely desperate to love a perfume from niche house Parfumerie Générale. Why? Well, on paper the brand’s penchant for thick gourmand tones paired with exotic woods is exceedingly attractive, yet in practice I have found it difficult to really fall for any of perfumer Pierre Guillaume’s creations, instead finding them to be often thick and unwieldy.
2014 is quickly become the year of the rose for me. It all started with the fabulous (and addictive) Tobacco Rose by soon-to-be-launched perfume house Papillon Perfumery and quickly spiralled into many days absorbed in clouds of Montale’s Black Aoud and a thirsty hunt for more roses. Nothing can satiate my appetite when I’m on a mission, so it was with much interest that I approached Isparta PG26 (hereafter referred to simply as ‘Isparta’) – the new rose fragrance from Parfumerie Générale.
Now Parfumerie Générale and I have a complex relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for the brand and Pierre Guillaume as a perfumer, but nothing from the line has bowled me over yet (Djhénne has come VERY close – I really should invest in a bottle but something holds me back) and I want so desperately to love something with PG’s intriguing gourmand signature.
Isparta is very much in the Pierre Guillaume style (read: woody/gourmand-ish) but displays more clarity than a lot of his perfumes. His other rose, Brulure de Rose for example, is a much thicker and ‘delicious’ take on the note, but Isparta thankfully errs more on the transparent side of things. This is perhaps due to the perfume’s inspiration, which is a woody rose based entirely in nature:
“The province of Isparta in Turkey is famed for its rose oil, obtained from a variety called ‘Isparta Summer Roses’, which grows profusely in gardens and terraced fields on the soft mountain slopes. The roses are picked early in the morning when they are half-open and their fragrance is the strongest… intense, rich and slightly spicy.”
Parfumerie Générale is a curious outfit. Perfumer Pierre Guillaume has a penchant for heavy, gourmand orientals that very often sit precariously on the divide between the delicious and the indigestible. Personally, whilst I respect the quality and artistry of the PG fragrances I must admit that I find this style somewhat difficult to stomach and as yet haven’t found any of M. Guillaume’s offerings tasty, loveable or bottle worthy.
Despite the fact that the brand is classified in my brain as ‘interesting but not for me’ I am always keen to see what PG is up to. Quality is quality right? And in this world where quality and innovation is often a second thought to the quick-buck marketing campaigns, true artistry is not to be scoffed at. Luckily for me my perseverance has paid off, as it is with his latest release Djhenné that Pierre Guillaume has won me over.
Djhenné was launched in 2012 to celebrate the brand’s 10th birthday. Taking its name from the North African oasis city, Djhenné is a warm, aromatic fragrance that strikes the right balance between dry woods and herbs and the delicious gourmand note of cocoa. I warn you dear reader, this is one is far too easy to digest…
I have to admit that I’m not the hugest fan of leather in fragrance, mainly because I really haven’t a great deal of exposure to the note, which is why I was particularly interested in attending last week’s ‘Evening of Leather’ organised by Lila Das Gupta of Perfume Lovers London/Olfactory Events. I wanted to explore leather, deconstruct and understand it, but most of all I wanted to find a leather that I loved.
Perfume Lovers London is a Meetup Group run by Olfactory Events in conjunction with Basenotes. They have so far held two events, with many more exciting meet ups in the pipeline. An Evening of Leather was hosted by Lila Das Gupta who has a penchant for leather fragrances, was the perfect captain for our voyage of discovery of a note that is steeped in history and comes in many guises.
An Evening of Leather promised to “map out the geography of leather fragrances from the meaty to the haughty” and I’m please to say that it was an event that delivered on all counts. I may have walked into the event being clueless about, and not really loving leather but I left with a new found appreciation for the genre and a head full of leather fragrances that demanded to be explored further.
What a busy boy Pierre Guillame is. Not only is he the man and the exceptionally talented nose behind the über exciting brand Parfumerie Générale, he is also responsible for brands such as Phaedon and Hutième Art. He creates for all three brands whilst managing to look effortlessly handsome. It makes you hate him just a little bit, doesn’t it?
Ok, I’m just being silly, I don’t really hate Pierre Guillaume, in fact it’s quite the opposite, I have great respect for him and his fragrant vision. He has managed to craft himself a distinct style and has very much found his own little niche in the market. With Parfumerie Générale and Huitième Art, Guillaume tinkers with the most ancient and noble of ingredients, interpreting each one in new and surprising ways.
Huitième Art is one Pierre Guillaume’s many projects and is a collection of 9 perfumes “showcasing an all-new ‘plant capture’, an original plant-inspired accord or natural organic ingredient” and with “an emphasis on originality and sophistication”. Each perfume is housed in one of the most fascinating flacons I have ever come across, a part-modern, part-natural ceramic cyclops intended to represent the eye looking to the future, which just so happens to be the exact same direction that M. Guillaume’s nose is pointed.
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My tastes tend to lean towards those perfumes that are either floral, oriental or gourmand, and woody fragrances, whilst not being my favourite type, belong to a genre that I have learned to love as my tastes have developed and improved along my perfume-sniffing journey. For this reason O Tannenbaum! has been an intriguing post to write and I have tried to choose three scents that represent completely different aspects of the woody genre.
My introduction to Parfumerie Générale has been somewhat of a baptism of fire. Up until very recently I had ignored the line completely, not because I didn’t like the sound of the fragrances, in fact I have read lots of positive reviews, there are just so many lines to keep up with and sometimes my brain has to skim over some just to keep up with the rest.
Anyway, as I was saying, I had an interesting introduction to the brand. Firstly, I received some samples from the lovely Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels which I have been slowly exploring over the last couple of weeks. I also had the pleasure of being talked through the line by my good friend Nick who works in the specialist perfumery – Les Senteurs. Having smelled most of the scents from the line (albeit briefly), I have to say that I am really pleasantly surprised and I owe Pierre Guillaume a massive apology for ignoring the line for so long.
I hope to review a few of the Parfumerie Générale scents over the next couple of weeks, but I thought I would start with one of the most interesting fragrances in the collection, PG04 Musc Maori.