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.
If there is one fragrance I’m asked for my opinion of more than any other it’s Aventus by CREED. Seriously, I regularly get emails from readers or DMs on social media from followers asking me what I think about this super popular masculine fragrance. Aventus has achieved cult status amongst fragrance obsessives and casual observers alike. It’s a perfume I find myself talking about a lot – I so often have conversations with men about Aventus, whether they are into perfume or not, because it’s often the first fragrance they mention. But why? What makes Aventus special? Why has it resonated so well? I’m genuinely curious.
Aventus launched in 2010 – the year that the house of CREED celebrated its 250th anniversary. According to the brand, CREED perfumer Olivier Creed was inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte, choosing to use a host of ingredients that had a link to the French military leader. Structurally it is not an unusual fragrance – the top notes are fresh and citrussy (bergamot, blackcurrant, apple and pineapple), whilst the rest is floral, aromatic and warm (jasmine, rose, patchouli, amber etc.)
So, what is all the fuss about?
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.
The MUGLER Eau de Toilettes for ANGEL, ALIEN, and now AURA are almost like diet versions of the originals. The structure is still there but they have been lightened in a sense, making them zero-calorie, palatable options that are a little bit easier to get on with. Now I’m here for the full fat, calorie-laden versions at all times, but sometimes one wants a little bit of lightness and clarity. Every now and then, maybe? OK, OK, once in a blue moon then!
Following the success of AURA, MUGLER’S first feminine pillar since 2010’s WOMANITY (poor, doomed WOMANITY), MUGLER have launched an Eau de Toilette version – a yin to the Eau de Parfums yang. They describe it as “a new aromatic interpretation of colourful, glowing freshness”. Or as I’d put it, if AURA EDP is a lush rainforest filled with stifling, scented air, AURA EDT is a fine mist of rain that breezes through said forest. They are of the same place but they are not of the same weight.
I think it’s been a long time since I’ve fallen for a new Serge Lutens fragrance. Perhaps it was La Religieuse in 2015 or La Fille de Berlin in 2013, I can’t remember, but I know it has been a while! I adore many of his back catalogue greats (especially L’Eau Froide, Tubereuse Criminelle, Sarrasins, Iris Silver Mist, Feminite du Bois, and Fleurs d’Oranger) but many of the new ones have failed to resonate. There have been interesting elements to his fragrances of late, but it seems that he has moved away from the dense orientalism and fleur fatale inspirations of his past, opting for yet more abstraction in fragrances that don’t really make as much of a mark.
Well, I am pleased to say that Lutens’ ‘meh’ streak has come to an end with the latest addition to Collection Noire (the most widely available Lutens collection): Le Participe Passè (The Past Participle). In the usual Lutens way, the perfume is presented with little information other than a riddle that is difficult to decode, with Lutens only telling us this: “past moments that surge into the present have many scents. I have interpreted that which most evokes the past.” Thanks for that, Serge – real helpful! Anyway, this new scent is more than a riddle or a description, it’s something much more than that – Le Participe Passè is quite the spectacle.
The simple elegance of a decent eau de cologne is one of the greatest things in the whole of perfumery. That tension between citrus, flowers and herbs (and now in modern times, musks) is a sparkling tonic when the mercury rises. In fact, the purity of a good eau de cologne transcends seasons and can be the perfect thing to wear at any time and on any occasion. To put it simply, when eau de colognes are good, they’re very good, and even when they’re bad they’re still pretty good!
One cologne that really struck a chord with me recently was the latest launch from Givenchy: ‘Eau de Givenchy’. Inspired by Hubert de Givenchy’s gardens in the South of France, Eau de Givenchy is a modern reinterpretation of a Givenchy fragrance of the same name that launched in 1980. François Demachy is the man behind this new scent and he has penned a contemporary eau de cologne that presents, as Givenchy puts it, “a moment of freshness suspended in time that feels like it could last forever.” Well, that’s quite the promise – let’s see if Eau de Givenchy delivers…
Can we get real for a second? Most modern mainstream masculine fragrances are pretty terrible. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Yes, of course there exceptions and some mainstream masculines are absolute masterpieces, but the truth is that most of the time, gents are simply offered more of the same. Things are always fresh and sporty, citrussy and woody. If that’s not the case then we’re talking “noir” and amber. It’s all very uninspired, very safe, and not very exciting.
“But not always” I hear you cry and you’re right. There are one or two mainstream brands out there who do actually give a hoot about what they’re making, balancing innovation with accessibility. Surprisingly, one of these brands is dunhill London, who are quietly making incredibly affable masculine fragrances that are a few steps above the hoi polloi. They’re not weird or challenging – they’re easy to get on with, made with good materials and with unique, intriguing facets. I’m a fan.
dunhill London’s latest is Century. They describe it as “a fresh new signature”, saying that it is “embracing the future” with “a new clarity”. Created by legendary perfumer Carlos Benaïm (Eau de Magnolia and Music for a While), who was also responsible for dunhill London’s remarkable ICON, Century is a transparent masculine fragrance that, like the concave, clear shapes found within its striking flacon, reflects a multi-faceted core – a heart of sandalwood. “Make your mark on the future” says dunhill London, and if they have anything to do with it, the future of mainstream masculine perfumery looks very promising.
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…
It was in a field of centifolia roses in the heart of Grasse that I fell in love with Anima Vinci. I hadn’t even smelled the fragrances at this point, but standing amongst the heavily scented roses whilst house founder Nathalie Vinciguerra passionately talked about her debut collection of fragrances I knew that what I was about to experience was very special indeed. You see, Nathalie knows fragrance and she is also incredibly passionate about it. Having worked at Penhaligon’s & L’Artisan Parfumeur as Head of Fragrance Development, Nathalie oversaw a slew of excellent scents (the likes of Juniper Sling and Sartorial) and now her expertise and olfactory vision are being wonderfully applied at her own brand, resulting in the brilliant Anima Vinci debut collection.
The brilliance continued with the latest addition to the Anima Vinci lineup – Tudo Azul – an energising fragrance inspired by the Brazilian caipirinha cocktail (yes please). “Tudo azul” is a phrase that roughly translates as “it’s all great” and it sums up a fragrance that is all about the carefree vibes – about laying on the beach soaking in the sun and sea breeze whilst sipping on exotic cocktails (once again, yes please). That’s where Tudo Azul takes you and I for one am here for the journey! I just need to pack my Speedos…