Harmony is balance, and balance is something we often look for in perfumery. After all, perfumery is the harmony of individual ingredients – separate elements made into a harmonious whole. It is through the idea of harmony and balance, through proportion and nuance that the art of perfumery presents odours that smell beautiful, interesting and new.
Niche brand The Harmonist is all about harmony. Following ancient Asian philosophies they present fragrances based on the elements (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, Water and Metal) in two versions: a Yin and a Yang. The idea is that an individual can be guided to their fragrance using the date, time and place of their birth – through this the dominant element is defined. It’s certainly an interesting way on taking a person on an olfactory journey – one that no other brand is doing.
My fragrance of destiny was Guiding Water – a fragrance defined as “a peaceful and natural source of vitality”.
The Luxury Collection is where rebellious niche house Juliette Has a Gun stretches its olfactory legs. Their other offerings sit comfortably between mainstream and niche – they’re made with good quality materials and bring unique twists to very accessible, affable fragrances. The Luxury Collection however, is a bit more serious and has a touch more of an abstract feel to it, bringing a strong sense of niche-ness. It’s where Juliette Has a Gun ditches the cool air and the fun names in exchange for some serious perfumery.
Liquid Illusion (good name – after all, perfume is just a liquid illusion) is the latest addition to the Luxury Collection. It takes its inspiration from heliotropin – a fragrant material that is also found in the drug ecstasy. The idea here, is to present a stimulating fragrance that pairs heliotropin with the luxurious note of iris – something as intense and electrifying as the inky-blue bottle it comes in. The result is something quite intriguing indeed.
Miller Harris has had a very busy year – they’ve launched two capsule collections of fragrances: Scherzo x Tender and Forage (Lost, Wander & Hidden), and to complete the hat trick, they now presents their third collection of fragrances this year: Peau Santal and Powdered Veil. Housed in bottles coated in intriguing shades of pink (baby pink for Powdered Veil and a more ‘nude’ (not a word I like to use because it only represents one type of skin colour, but other descriptors escape me, ‘blush’ maybe?) shade for Peau Santal), these two fragrances celebrate the intimacy and the ritual of glamming up – the lace of dresses, the powder of make-up, and the wood of dressing tables, and wardrobes. They are fragrances with distinct textures, of powder and skin, that arrive perfectly in time for winter. Let’s check them out.
Speed Sniffs are a way to bring you ‘to-the-point’ fragrance reviews that are quick and easy to digest. They are perfume reviews without the faff.
*Unpopular Opinion Klaxon* I like Mon Guerlain and I think a lot of you are being unnecessarily grumpy about it. Yup. I’m not sorry. The way I see it, GUERLAIN has to make fragrances that appeal to the mass market as much as they need to keep the likes of Jicky and L’Heure Bleue on the shelves. They have always taken styles populised by others and given them a Guerlain twist (see Mitsouko, a twist on Coty’s Chypre, for example) and that’s exactly what Mon Guerlain is – a Guerlain take on the caramel, ethyl-maltol intensity of the likes of La Vie est Belle. The difference with the Guerlain? It smells good.
Mon Guerlain is candy floss by way of a Jicky-esque lavender and it is eminently wearable. I find it cosy, delicious and easy to wear in winter. I was not however, so keen on the Florale version that launched earlier this year which, for some reason seemed off somehow. Now we have Mon Guerlain Eau de Toilette, the third instalment in the Mon Guerlain series and the second to launch this year – we can’t accuse GUERLAIN of being lazy, that’s for sure!
Mon Guerlain Eau de Toilette is presented by GUERLAIN as a “citrus oriental” with notes of mandarin, carla lavender, sambac jasmine and vanilla tahitensis. They see it as a scent that presents a freer expression of the GUERLAIN woman – one that is seen through a lens of transparency and freshness. Let’s speed sniff.
It’s not unusual for a fragrance house to redress a classic fragrance for modern times but it’s difficult for them to get the balance right – the balance between maintaining all that makes the fragrance do distinct and special, and providing a fresh twist that makes it attractive to new, younger consumers. CHANEL did it with Nº5, using modern florals to make an entry level interoperation in the form of Nº5 EAU PREMIERE, and switching aldehydes for citrus and musk in Nº5 L’EAU. GUERLAIN did it beautifully with the ill-fated but stunning Shalimar Parfum Initial (amping up the iris, dialling back the leather smoke), but nobody has really done it with a masculine classic, well, until Habit Rouge Dress Code, that is.
Habit Rouge Dress Code is not a new fragrance. It actually launched a few years back (2015 if we are being specific) as a limited edition – a reworked version of Jean-Paul Guerlain’s 1965 original created by Guerlain Perfumer Thierry Wasser. Playing on the dandy character or Habit Rouge, Wasser gives us what Guerlain calls “the neo-dandy’s dress code” in a fragrance more suited to a fashionable lad about town on his vespa than an artistocrat in his sporting reds on a country lane. It’s a fragrance that takes the key elements of Habit Rouge to more vibrant extremes – it’s iconic citrus is fizzier, more electric, whilst its gourmand facets are richer, more textured. Dress Code is cooler, more modern and more audacious.
Dress Code was never previously available in the UK, but this autumn it is making its way across the channel, dressed in handsome camo livery, to take residence exclusively in Harrods, and I for one, am very glad to welcome it to Blighty!
Leather is just not my vibe. I can just about rock a leather jacket (I have a very casual John Varvatos one that I feel comfortable in) but anything else feels like a stretch outside of my personality. So you’ll never catch me at the Folsom Street Fair rocking a harness, as cool as that would be. My discomfort with leather also covers fragrances and I’m about as likely to wear Cuir de Russie as I am leather chaps – it’s just not gonna happen. For me, leather in fragrance is often too overwhelming – too dry, too meaty, too smoky. But every now and then I find a palatable leather that I can get on with – OMBRÉ LEATHER, the latest from TOM FORD, is one such fragrance.
The Scent of You on My Skin
The scent of you on my skin, is salty.
It attracts me – magnetises me to you.
A whisper, a trail.
The scent of you on my skin, marks me.
It colours me with invisible ink – a tattoo in vibrant colours.
A pattern of you, an imprint.
The scent of you on my skin, is violets in warm earth.
They bloom in shades of purple – statues rising from the ground.
A flower, a totem.