Cast your mind back to 2012 when Italian fashion label Marni launched their first and eponymous fragrance, ‘Marni‘. Created by perfumer Daniela Andrier, the nose behind many of Prada’s most recent offerings, this debut fragrance opted to be a little bit subversive and create something that was both playful and practical, capturing the spirit of the brand whilst remaining relatively commercial. The result is a vibrant, spicy rose scent that stands out amongst the many others of its kind, due to its quality and effervescence.
Now, bring yourself back to the present day and let’s discuss ‘Marni Spice‘ the latest addition to the Marni fragrance collection, which includes the original scent and one other flanker called ‘Marni Rose‘. Much like the Marni Rose that precedes it, this latest edition has been created as a “new interpretation of the original bouquet”, this time showcasing the spicier facets of the Marni signature. The brand describe the fragrance as a “lively and spontaneous dialogue between strength and delicacy”, and that seems fitting to me. Marni Spice displays a different kind of vibrancy to the original, hinting at an exciting kind of androgyny.
“Just like Consuelo Castiglioni, as a designer, plays with classical elements, producing unexpected results through an unprecedented balance of proportions, colours, prints and materials, perfumes play with classic elements in unexpected ways. The starting point is the ingredients: sophisticated and precious. Consuelo Castiglioni follows every aspect of the process, editing each fragrance as she would do with the collection for a fashion show”
Here’s a bit of a quickie review to end the week. Over the years I’ve dipped in and out of Jo Malone’s catalogue of fragrances. For the most part I find them to be well-executed scents that range from clean easy-pleasers like Lime, Basil & Mandarin and Earl Grey & Cucumber etc. to more intriguing oddities such as Rain & Angelica and Wood Sage & Sea Salt(there’s also that upcoming Incense & Cedrat that I keep saying I’m obsessed – more of that soon). They may not necessarily be the first brand that I’d go to if I was looking for a wild and wacky fragrant adventure, but I’m always keen to see what the world of Jo Malone has to offer.
As they often do, Jo Malone have launched a collection of limited edition fragrances. This year, the theme is British history and the name of the game is “Rock the Ages”. Charting British tradition from the Tudor era to the present day the five fragrances (four new ones plus a limited edition bottle of popular fragrance, Pomegranate Noir) map the many facets of our vibrant history. Birch & Black Pepper (perfumer: Christine Nagel), the subject of today’s review is the one assigned to modern Britain, to 2015 specifically, and it’s described by the brand as being “individual, audacious and stylish”.
It’s a simple fact that the late perfumer, Mona di Orio made beautiful perfumes. Having studied under the great Edmond Roudnitska (Dior’s Eau Sauvage & Diorissimo, and Rochas’ Femme), di Orio had a knack for creating romantic and surprising compositions that often turned a familiar signature on its head. Since her death, Mona’s co-founder, Jeroen Oude Sogtoen has remained faithful to her legacy and has released a number of fragrances from the archives – fragrances created by Mona di Orio before her untimely death. These have included the stunning Eau Absolue and the masterpiece that is Violette Fumée.
It seems that the brand is now turning a corner. There was always going to come a point where di Orio’s back catalogue of unreleased material would run out and an external perfumer would need to be invited in to compose something new. Now is that time and the brand is launching their first fragrance under their new Monogram collection, as well as re-releasing older perfumes (e.g. Nuit Noire and Lux) into the Signature collection. They’re also slowly re-packing the Les Nombres d’Or collection, starting with Oud, which is now called Oudh Osmanthus.
Myrrh Casati is Mona di Orio’s first fragrance composed by an external perfumer. Penned by Melanie Leroux, Myrrh Casati makes a statement as something quite different from the other perfumes within Mona di Orio’s extensive collection. The brand describe this ode to myrrh as being “extravagant, dark, [and] mysterious”, and I’d definitely agree with the latter two descriptors in that sentence – I’m just not entirely convinced that it is extravagant in the same way many of the Mona di Orio fragrances are. Myrrh Casati serves as an interesting diversification for the brand, for sure.
“Inspired by Marchesa Casati, the legendary patron of the arts and muse of eccentricity, known for her extravagant dark fashion and lavish fetes replete with exotic animals, gilded servants, and an infectious waft of incense and mystery that surrounded her.”
I love the rain. There’s something about gloomy black skies and relentless downpours that appeal to my melancholic side. It’s fun too and as kids, my sister and I would often play outside in the rain until we were soaked through to the bone. We revelled in the burning cold of the open heavens and gorged on the smell of petrichor like greedy gremlins, fuelled by the most ancient and fundamental of elements. We also had fun splashing and throwing mud at each other, of course.
British perfume house Jo Malone appears to love the rain too, so much so in fact that they have launched a selection of four colognes (three new and one old) as part of their limited edition London Rain collection. Their take on rain is altogether more sanitised than my sister and I making mud pies though, focusing instead on the purifying and almost cinematic elements of rain within an urban landscape, celebrating it as a key part of London life. As the brand says; “what could be more British than London rain?”
“This collection is intensely urban whilst harnessing the power of nature in the city; drenched blooms, savage rainstorms battering the parks, the torrential drumbeat pelting the pavements. And the scents that rise from nature’s outburst, refreshing city life, making everything seem brand new.”
Created by perfumer Christine Nagel (Etat Libre d’Orange’s Archives 69, Versace Woman and Giorgio Armani’s Si) the London Rain collection consists of; Rain & Angelica, Wisteria & Violet, Black Cedarwood & Juniper and White Jasmine & Mint (originally launched in 2007). Each cologne captures “the different moods of a downpour”, ranging from the aquatic to the spicy and casting the idea of urban rain in a variety of watery shades.
In this review I’ll be taking a look at two perfumes in the collection – Rain & Angelica and Black Cedarwood & Juniper. The former represents morning rain over London’s green spaces, whilst the latter is a moodier affair that captures evening rain dashing against the city’s jungle of buildings and pavements. Together they demonstrate how a single idea can be presented in a number of guises, displaying familiar aquatic notes in new and intriguing ways.
London is an awesome city. I say this not just because I am British and therefore undeniably biased in the matter, but also because it is a simple truth. London has a charisma that many cities do not, stemming from the many contrasts that besiege its winding streets. These disorganised clashes of new and old, rough and smooth, and clean and dirty, make for a cultural mish-mash that is at times, utterly bonkers and entirely unique but ultimately very charming.
One man that loves London as much as I do is Tom Ford and to celebrate the opening of his Sloane Square boutique in 2013, the incredibly prolific fashion and perfume purveyor that is Mr. Ford created his very own olfactory tribute to this finest and fairest of cities. Taking its name from the city of the same name and launching last year, ‘London‘ is the newest addition to the Private Blend collection, available only in a select number of stores within the nation’s capital.
The brand describes London as being “rich, elegant and urbane” – three words that could certainly be attributed to the city after which it is named, if only just the glamorous bits in which one would find a Tom Ford boutique. But this perfume is more than just a tribute to a city, it is in fact a celebration of Mr. Ford’s favourite ingredient – oud. Now before you all start rolling your eyes at the sheer mention of the ‘o’ word (I see you), heed this notice: this perfume is a damn good example of how to do an inconspicuous oud – an oud that doesn’t take centre stage and plays a supporting role, or as they used to call them back in the day – an oriental.
Anyone who has been within an inch of this blog or my Twitter feed will know that my latest obsession is Byredo’s 1996. Never before has a perfume so quickly made its merry little way up to the very top of my wish list, leaving me drooling and lusting after it so badly that my long-suffering partner had no choice but to gift me a bottle for Christmas. For his sanity you understand?
So yes, I was very pleased with my bottle of 1996 and even more so when I found a little sample of a Byredo scent I’ve not smelled accompanying it – Black Saffron. Launched in 2012, this supposedly dark take on saffron, where the golden spice is merged with violet and leather to create something entirely unexpected, is a rather interesting scent indeed. Byredo describe the inspirations behind it as follows:
“Saffron is holy to all Hindus, is the colour of Buddhist robes and has become a symbol for India. It has always been a part of Byredo’s founders upbringing in both smell, taste and colour. Black Saffron is a fragrance inspired by this very idea of sublime unity.”
Celebrity fragrances (or ‘celebuscents’ as I like to call them) are so often the scorn of the perfume industry. Mainly because most are simply extra vehicles for our dear ‘celebrities’, a term which must be used loosely for a lot of the stars releasing perfumes these days, to make extra cash. After all, what’s easier than putting your name on a bottle of something you’ve had little involvement in creating?
But not all celebrities are in it for a quick buck and over the years we’ve seen a number of good celebuscents join the foray. Etat Libre d’Orange’s collaborations with the weird and wonderful Tilda Swinton and Rossy de Palma are notable examples, Madonna’s Truth or Dare was nicely done and even Britney Spears’ Fantasy has a degree of merit to it (I dare you to disagree that it is the perfect fruity floral cupcake scent). And then of course there is Dita Von Teese – the antidote to the world of naff celebrity scents and Dr. C. Perfume Boy is prescribing two big doses today.
Dita came to the rescue with her first perfume ‘Dita Von Teese‘ (sometimes referred to as ‘Femme Totale’) in 2012, a perfectly decent floral-patchouli affair that puts most of its contemporaries to shame. We shouldn’t be surprised though, as Dita is known for exuding glamour and style, and her perfumes certainly follow suit. This year sees the launch of Dita’s third and fourth perfumes – FleurTeese and Erotique, both of which show the Queen of Burlesque’s passion for fragrance
I didn’t envy Amouage the task of topping their masculine & feminine duo from last year. Both Interlude Woman and Man were triumphs of perfumery, taking chaotic notes and throwing them together to create two challenging, yet wearable (and not to forget bloody gorgeous) fragrances.
This year’s duo – Fate Woman and Fate Man – certainly have big shoes to fill and it appears that Creative Director Christopher Chong has pulled out all of the stops to create two fragrances that are bold enough to mark the “end of the first cycle of the Amouage narrative” and leave one excited for exactly what wonders the beginning of the next cycle may entail.
Fate Woman (created by perfumer Dorothée Piot) and Fate Man (created by Karine Vinchon) “explores the uncertainty of the future and the universal principal by which the order of things is inescapably prescribed” and in their own, very distinct ways illicit polarising responses. They, as with many Amouage perfumes, are for those that adore excess and do not shy away from bold statements.
Since being bitten by the Amouage bug last year thanks to Honour Woman (there is no cure BTW) the wait for the next annual Woman/Man duo has almost been a bit too much. Luckily since then we have had the wonderful Opus VI and Beloved to keep us busy, but still the anticipation has been growing. The problem with such a strong hunger for a new fragrance launch and the high expectations that inevitably accompany such an appetite is the fact that so often the final result is disappointing. This is not something that can be said of the this year’s fragrance duo from Amouage.
For 2012 Amouage is releasing Interlude Woman and Interlude Man, both inspired by the “interlude moment […] a reflection of all the trials and tribulations one overcomes to attain personal satisfaction and achievement”  Encased in Amouage’s signature bottles, hued in pure midnight blue, the Interlude duo has been created to “evoke an air of disorder while maintaining a sense of balance and tranquility”  Both encompass the chaos of life and offer moments of desperately needed escapism in the form of unique, contemporary fragrances.
I’m at a point now where I have tried the majority of the fragrances in the Amouage stable (although not all have been reviewed, yet) and Interlude Woman & Man are easily the most unique, and perhaps the most daring to date. The multi-coloured graffiti of the packaging gives a mere hint of the high-scale chaos that each fragrance adds to the Amouage line. Where they don’t differ however is in quality and sheer artistry, they are 100% Amouage in those respects.
Well, it looks like Nigel really came through on the old birthday front (thank you all for your kind wishes btw) deciding much against his better judgement to generously give me a big ole bottle of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Al Oudh as his gift. Al Oudh has been sat on my wish list for quite some time now (which makes me wonder why I haven’t reviewed it already) and out of the slew of ouds available I believe that it is one of the few thatt brings something new to the party.
Al Oudh now joins my three other L’Artisans (Vanille Absolument/Havana Vanille, Traversée du Bosphore and Nuit de Tuberéuse) all of which, Al Oudh included, just so happen to be Bertrand Duchafour creations, thus proving that I really do have a “thing” for le Duchafour, and who can blame me? The dude is clearly a genius and with Al Oudh his skill of turning common accords entirely on their head is in full swing.
Bertrand Duchaufour created Al Oudh for L’Artisan Parfumeur in 2009. It’s billed as an exotic, spicy and woody oud with accents of rose and dried fruits. L’Artisan describe it as “the elixir of sensuality itself”, which is a very fluffy way of saying that it is in fact sex on a stick, or sex in a bottle to be more accurate. Al Oudh may not be what you’re expecting from an oud but that is exactly what makes it so captivating.