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At the back of my childhood home we had a sprawling piece of land that my parents never really did anything with. At time it was vastly overgrown and my siblings and I would have to beat our way through the undergrowth with big sticks to get to the wooden fort my father made for us – our base where all mischievous schemes were planned. As you can imagine, all of this was tremendous fun and I have vivid memories of us playing in the tall grass and weaving in and out of the rows of cow parsley that stood tall along the borders – long stems exploding like floral fireworks out of the ground.

Cow parsley, or “Queen Anne’s Lace” as it is also know, is the inspiration for Miller Harris’ latest fragrance ‘DANCE Amongst the Lace’, which joins WANDER, LOST and HIDDEN in the brand’s Forage Collection. The idea of the collection is to celebrate the idea of nature existing in urban spaces – the interplay between the natural and the man-made. DANCE aims to capture the “surprising freshness and unique scent of cow parsley” – a plant that is found in many of London’s urban spaces. What they’ve created is an incredibly modern and easy-to-wear fougère that is perfect for summer.

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The fact that luxury car manufacturer Bentley are making excellent fragrances is a surprise to pretty much everyone. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not surprised that a brand who is responsible for some of the highest quality motor vehicles in the world gives a damn about quality when it comes to their diffusion products – that actually makes a lot of sense. But, this is not just acceptable perfumery from a brand using good quality materials – this is really well thought out and executed perfumery that fits the spirit of the brand and the man who one would expectg to wear such fragrances. In short: Bentley is doing some great stuff so don’t sleep on them just because they also make cars…

Bentley’s latest launch is the Bentley Beyond collection, which consists of three fragrances: Exotic Musk (Mathilde Bijaoui) Majestic Cashmere (Julie Massé) and Wild Vetiver (Sidonie Lancesseur). The collection is an exploration of exotic places – Acapulco, Goa, Java – through singular materials, a story that is not new, but is really well executed here. Both Exotic Musk and Majestic Cashmere are delightful olfactory experiences, but it is Wild Vetiver that is the gem of the collection. It’s a vetiver that, even after all of the other vetiver fragrances in the world, feels new. That, my friends, is something worth turning your attention to.

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Jo Malone London fragrances are offered as colognes and as such, boast a weightless, transparent signature. They are not rich, heavy and opulent scents with an endless reach – they are easy, breezy and transparent. But they are not without character – far from it, in fact, and many have become regular staples of mine (see Mimosa & Cardamom, Tuberose & Angelica, and Basil & Neroli) because they do have a distinct personality that I find really easy to wear and even easier to enjoy.

Because of their lightness and apparent simplicity, the Jo Malone London fragrances lend themselves well to layering (or ‘Fragrance Combining’ as the brand calls it) allowing one to mix and match their scent to create their own semi-bespoke signatures. With their Cologne Intense collection, Jo Malone London offers the same style of fragrance as their main range, but these fragrances have a bit more heft to them, allowing the band to explore the worlds of ouds, orientals, opulent roses, and heady florals, creating stark contrasts for their Fragrance Combining blends.

The latest fragrance to join the Cologne Intense collection is Bronze Wood & Leather. Daring to be a little bit sexier than other fragrances from Jo Malone London, Bronze Wood & Leather evokes wood warmed by the rays of the sun. It’s a smoky-delicious blend that has a darker, deeper and more daring edge. Remember what I was saying about Jo Malone London fragrances having character? Well this one is a perfect example and it shows how the brand offers lighter (the Cologne Intense fragrances are richer yes but they are hardly powerhouses) fragrances that don’t skimp on character.

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Anima Vinci offers a very solid collection of fragrances. They riff off classic styles – the hesperidic, the rose, the white floral etc. – but bring something entirely new to their respective genres. Most are beautiful (find me a prettier rose than Rose Prana, I challenge you) and some, like Wood of Life, are new and challenging. All are fascinating, fully fleshed out fragrances created with a vibrant spirit and a sense of passion.

Sesame Chān is the latest launch from Anima Vinci. It’s an ode to vetiver via an unusual combination of nutty notes and sesame seeds:

Sesame Chān exudes tranquillity, Japanese gardens, a touch of almond pink flowers, light meditation stones, deep and rich grounded emotions, the cosiness and warmth of a winter season.

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The great thing about packaging your flagship fragrance in the shape of a couture-clad torso is that you can redress it again, again, and again, leaving lots of room for many exciting limited editions. The possibilities are endless and it’s true, Jean Paul Gaultier’s Classique has a vast wardrobe (one that many a supermodel would envy) packed to the brim with corsets and gowns, each of which has been fashioned from the imagination of a game-changing, rockstar of a fashion designer: the cheeky yet supremely talented Jean Paul Gaultier.

For 2019, Classique once again has a new outfit and this time, a new scent to match too. Classique Cabaret is the latest limited edition to launch in the Classique canon and aside from the original, which I love, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is the best version yet. Inspired by the cabarets of the 1940s, Classique Cabaret is a light-hearted and liberated fragrance that just wants to have fun. The glitzy-red dress wearing Classique Cabaret blends the signature orange flower of Classique with electric ginger and sensual amber, putting together quite the olfactory show. So roll-up, roll-up, take your seats and get ready for the smelliest show in town: the Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Cabaret!

 

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Sometimes I smell a perfume and I just don’t know what to make of it. Whilst many fragrances I smell can provoke an immediate reaction – filing themselves neatly in to piles of ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘ew’, and ‘oooooh’, some take time, and some forever remain in a purgatory land where an opinion is the absolution never to arrive. OK, so I’m being a bit dramatic (just a tad, mind) and this is all a very longwinded way of saying that sometimes, it takes me a while to make up my mind about a fragrance.

Aaaaaand you can probably guess where this is going, right? Yes, when it came to Opus XI from Amouage, the 11th instalment in the brand’s Library Collection (where Amouage does its most unusual and often challenging work), I found myself unsure what I thought, even after spending a considerable amount of time with it. Opus XI was created by perfumer Pierre Negrin – it takes inspiration from the Orient and presents oud, one of perfumery’s most popular materials, in an entirely new guise. It’s a singular perfume that brings nuances to a material that could easily be described as tired, forging something that really is fascinating.