Marni Eau de Parfum
Marni Eau de Parfum

Too often us perfume lovers (and bloggers) can don our snobby caps and declare that all designer fragrance output is trash. This is more than just simple misconception, it is in fact a big fat lie, after all most of the perfumes that one would laud as a ‘classic’ are from designer outfits such as Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior – the most ‘designery’ of brands.

That said, there is still a lot of dreck out there and the general modus operandi appears to be to create inoffensive fragrances that cater to the tastes of the mass market. But it seems that there is a small revolution taking place, where some designer brands are changing the game by creating enjoyable and easy to wear creations with more than just a little hint of ingenuity. We’ve seen it from Bottega Veneta, we’ve seen it from Prada and we’ve seen it from Maison Martin Margiela. Now we’re seeing it from Italian fashion brand Marni.

Marni Eau de Parfum is the brand’s first fragrance outing and they are in safe hands, having picked esteemed perfumer Daniela Andrier (Prada Infusion d’Iris & Candy and Maison Martin Margiela Untitiled) to pen the project. The fragrance intends to capture the playful spirit of Marni’s fashion and is described as “the opposite of the standard concept of femininity”, a description that fills this fragrance gender-bending nerd’s heart with nothing but joy.

La Fille de Berlin by Serge Lutens

It’s that time of the week again – Monday means another Escentual post and this week’s article takes a break from the usual A-Z and focuses on a review of the latest fragrance from the venerable perfume world of Serge Lutens. ‘La Fille de Berlin’ (The Girl from Berlin) is a rose of many textures inspired by the androgyny of German-American actress Marlene Dietrich.

To read my review please click on the above image to head over to the Escentual Blog.

Oud Mood
Francis Kurkdjian’s Trio of Oud Moods

If I were to pose most perfume-addicts the question; “are you in the mood for oud?” the response would likely be a resounding ‘no’, with a good few exasperated sighs and possibly one or two slaps to the face for good measure. The simple fact is that oud, the noble rot from the Aquilaria tree, is over exposed in the world of perfume and one cannot step into their local fragrance hall without being bombarded by “THE LATEST OUD FRAGRANCE FROM XXX” or “LOOK, WE’VE MADE A PERFUME AND IT HAS OUD IN IT, ACTUAL OUD (KINDA, NOT REALLY)!”.

But I refuse to be disheartened by the oud trend, because that’s exactly what it is – a trend, and we all know that trends are transient in nature, meaning that it’ll all be over before we know it. In reality this trend is far from being all bad, after all there are some great oud-based scents out there (check out my Guide to Oud), with perhaps the best in most recent years being Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s incandescent OUD.

“The creation of the OUD mood collection is a tribute to the type of perfume that makes you feel as if you are wrapped in a rare, delicate material, one that is in perfect harmony with a warm, gentle, refined state of mind.”

Following on from the success of last year’s incandescent OUD, Francis Kurkdjian has added not one, but three new oud fragrances to his Maison. Named ‘OUD Mood’ this collection takes inspiration from the soft feel of fabric, namely; Silk, Velvet and Cashmere. Each one offering a brand new and interesting texture of oud and serving as a wave of refreshment for tired, bored and frankly cranky perfume lovers.

"OMG! Who is she?"
“OMG! Who is she?”

Juliette Has a Gun is a curious little outfit. They seem to happily fill the space that separates niche and designer perfumes and does so in a young and fancy free way. The thing is, as much as I like the brand and one or two of the scents they’ve yet to have a hit as far as I’m concerned. Calamity J and Romantina came close but neither had the wow factor needed to convince me to part with any of my hard-earned dosh.

That said, the spunky, take-no-prisoners attitude of Romano Ricci’s heroines is definitely appealing to me and I’m always more than happy to dive into their new releases to see what they are up to. So far we’ve had charming girls, vengeful ladies, queens and delightfully calamities but with their latest release Juliette Has a Gun is unleashing the Mad Madame.

“For this new episode I wanted to pay tribute to a woman who dares. A woman slightly more mature than the previous episodes, but by no means better behaved! Mad Madame has this touch of craziness, which she is happily displaying. Endowed with a sense of provocation, she enjoys being looked at and igniting conversations. As Oscar Wilde once said, The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Romano Ricci

Mad Madame is described as a green chypre “revolving around the metallic Rose Oxyde” and as you would expect from Juliette Has a Gun it is a fragrance with a strong character, as Mr. Ricci puts it; “Mad Madame has the knack of getting herself talked about. And she likes it.” What are they saying about this Madame? Well, I can tell you that it may not all be good.

Oud Ispahan
The Romantic Oud

I think the only thing more frustrating than the constant slew of oud-based fragrances is the fact that each time one is released I have to mention that we’re all a bit fed up with this oud avalanche that we’ve all been facing over the last few years. So, for this review I refuse to mention the frustration (I am aware that I haven’t succeeded in doing so) and instead say that at least Christian Dior appear to have got this whole oud malarky spot on.

In 2010 Dior, following on from the trend started by Chanel with their Les Exclusifs line, created La Collection Privée, a series of exclusive boutique scents. Part of this private collection was Leather Oud, a fantastically pornographic take on oud. Following Leather Oud’s success Dior, who know a good thing when they see it, have decide to launch a second, Oud Ispahan.

Oud Ispahan, which is named after the Iranian city, follows a more traditional route by pairing oud with its beloved partner rose. If the oud trend is considered boring, then the fact that most of its offerings are blends of oud and rose is even more boring, but fear not, Dior has done a good job with Oud Ispahan. Taking its inspiration from Christian Dior’s “fascination with a fantastical orient” along with the “intoxicating scents” and colours of such a place, Oud Ispahan is a very beautiful perfume indeed.

Dior Amber Showdown
The battle of the Dior Ambers

I haven’t entirely worked my way through the entirety of Dior’s La Collection Privée (their ultra-exclusive line limited only to high-end department stores and Dior boutiques) but I know that I’m already in love with it. Out of the five that I have tried so far I would be happy with bottles of three. Not a bad success rate huh?

Two of my latest La Collection Lemmings are courtesy of Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels, who introduced them to myself, and a number of others at her Evening of Amber back in April. I don’t know whether to curse Birgit or kiss her, the kisses would be for allowing me to explore two wonderful fragrances and the curses would be coming straight from my wallet…

The two Dior Ambers that I am falling for are an interesting pair; one doesn’t have amber in the name but definitely is an amber and the other does have amber in the name but isn’t technically an amber. Trust Dior to throw an olfactory curveball (or two) at me. Whether they are true ambers or not, both Mitzah and Ambre Nuit are truly enjoyable fragrances that will make the most die-hard amber-cynic rethink their stance.