I have a confession to make: I’ve always found leather perfumes difficult. They’re just so damn demanding most of the time and one has to commit to wearing them for the whole day, which can be a chore if they start to get annoying, which I find they often do. Don’t get me wrong, the smell of leather in fragrance is often beautiful, but with time it can become dry, harsh and tar-like, suffocating a guy and sending himm reaching for a mouthwatering cologne to quench the nose-thirst. So yes, I like leather, but it’s not often that I find myself loving a leather fragrance, and whilst there are exceptions (Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leatherbeing the most notable), leather just isn’t my thing as a rule.
With that in mind, I’m always very happy when a scent comes along to convince me that I do, in fact, like a style I’m slightly averse to. In terms of leather, that very scent is the new Étui Noir by Miller Harris. Described, rather fantastically, as being “like a well-worn leather jacket shared by lovers with comforting flashbacks of each other” and “as deep as the night”, Étui Noir is a leather with a difference. This is a leather fragrance crafted with an emotional point of view, speaking in nuanced and eclectic tones. It’s representative of the new style of Miller Harris, which is much more focused than it has been in recent years and to put it simply, Étui Noir just is an interesting fragrance to unravel.
Heliotropia – Inspired by London’s Quirkiest Department Store
Whenever I go to London I inevitably end up paying a visit to Liberty. The place is like a fairytale, I tell you. Housed within a mock-Tudor building built using the timber from two ships (HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan), Liberty stocks a wonderful array of treats, ranging from silk scarves in beautiful Liberty Art Fabric to exotic nicknacks, not to mention their impressive perfumery which houses classic and contemporary brands aplenty. It’s London’s most unique retail destination and it epitomises everything that is great about Britain: quirkiness and higgledy-piggledy-ness.
Swedish fragrance house, BYREDO, who have a space within the store, have just launched a fragrance exclusive to and inspired by Liberty. It’s called ‘Heliotropia‘ and it’s described as a “heady infusion, in turns virginal and narcotic” that “carries the mind to a dream like place, a higher state of illusion.” Much like Liberty the store, Heliotropia the fragrance is a fantastical experience that beguiles, fascinates and amuses. One may not enter it expecting to make a purchase, but they will leave with something that money can’t buy: a sense of bewilderment. How’s that for a headline?
One could quite easily look at Amouroud, a new niche brand that celebrates oud, perfumery’s note du jour, and feel a little bit skeptical. One might even be inspired to exclaim “oh for the love of oud” in a loud, exasperated tone. But that would be a bit OTT, admittedly. Just ask yourself this question, how many niche houuses out there are offering exclusive oud fragrances, not to mention exclusive oud fragrances in black and gold bottles? Well the answer is many, but Amouroud isn’t just another cynical brand trying to make a quick buck, they are in fact, passionate about perfume.
Amouroud comes from The Perfumer’s Workshop, who have been creating perfume since the 1970s and are most famous for their Tea Rose fragrance. They launch this month in Harrods with an initial collection of six fragrances, each of which showcases or contains oud. Speaking of oud, my good friends Nick and Pia made a valid point in a recent episode of their Vlog Love to Smell (subscribe, goddamit), when they said that oud is now its very own olfactive family, in the way that orientals and chypres are, rather than just an ongoing trend. Anyway, I digress. Amouroud are not the brand that one may think they are and what they have done is really quite intriguing.
I’ll do a bit of a topsy-turvy review here and provide my overall verdict of the collection before I do a scent-by-scent rundown. Amouroud is a very nicely pieced together brand. One can see that years of experience have been poured into each and every single detail. The bottles are heavy and luxurious, the box has a metal plaque appliquéd onto it and the fragrances themselves are well thought out, and exciting. But the best thing about Amouroud is the price. Where other brands think that £300+ is acceptable for any old scent in a blingy bottle, this one is content with marketing 100ml of interesting and enjoyable Eau de Parfum for £145. That’s practically free in this post-niche day and age! One other nice touch is the fact that the brand will give you a generous spray sample of your second favourite scent in the collection, alongside your purchase. How nice is that?
If last year’s Misia was anything to go by, perfumer Olivier Polge is definitely finding his feet at CHANEL, having taken over the position of perfumer-in-residence from his father, Jacques Polge, the man behind the likes of Antaeus, Coco, Coco Mademoiselle, Égoïste – need I go on? Big boots to fill, most certainly, but M. Polge Jnr certainly has a fair few hits under his own belt, scents such as Dior Homme, which, lets face it is already a modern classic, so perhaps those shoes aren’t quite so big after all?
For his second outing in CHANEL’s niche line, ‘Les Exclusifs’, Olivier Polge pays homage to Arthur Capel, Gabrielle Chanel’s patron and lover. ‘Boy’, as he was called, lends his name to the fragrance, which is a feminine take on the typically masculine fougère inspired by Chanel’s clothing, couture that borrowed heavily from the codes of menswear and tailoring. BOY the fragrance has been created to capture Capel’s “irresistible elegance” and “virile strength” and is a gender-bending scent that borrows from the olfactory codes of men and women. As CHANEL describe it, BOY is the “mark of a man on the skin of a woman”.
What is there to say about the career of Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena at the house of Hèrmes as it draws to an end? His work speaks for itself and through the perfumes that constitute Ellena’s body of work at Hèrmes one can detect a distinct DNA that has been carefully crafted and woven through the olfactory outputs by the man, who is arguably one of the greatest perfumers of all time. Jean-Claude Ellena has created a signature that is now undeniably ‘Hermès’. It is a complexly pieced together as a Kelly bag but as ethereal and light as a silk scarf. To put is simply, Ellena really has taken the spirit of the house of Hèrmes and bottled it.
Ellena’s work is so often referred to as fragrant watercolours and his lightness of touch has proven that perfumes need not be loud, confrontational and weird to be beautiful, they can portray light and shade in utter simplicity. This style in itself is divisive because the fragrances can so often seem imperceptibly simple or transparent, but they are, in fact, incredibly complex. It’s a testament to Ellena’s talent that he can say so much with such reserved abstraction. His work is cerebral and intelligent in a way that modern perfumery isn’t nowadays, and he has always been a refreshing voice amongst the cacophony. The man is nothing short of a genius and one of the handful of true master perfumers who have earned the title through a life’s work.
For his final piece at Hèrmes, Jean-Claude Ellena has attempted to capture the elusive lily of the valley, a flower that smells so intense, yet yields no fragrant oil usable within perfumery. The work is a construction of the flower, of course and as Ellena puts it, he wanted to “snatch the fragrance of these flowers from the dawn sky, together with that of the foliage that envelops them”, thus crafting an homage not only to white blooms but also to its accompanying greenery. The result? Well, Hermès describe it perfectly as “a shower of delicate bell-shaped flowers evoking the opalescent white of porcelain – radiant, playful, diaphanous”. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
If you paid a visit to the blog yesterday you would have caught our latest episode of Desert Island Sniffs with Barbara Herman, the author and scent historian who has recently launched a brand new line of fragrances called Eris Parfums. Named after the Greek goddess of chaos, strife and discord the Eris perfumes tap into Herman’s love and passion for vintage fragrances, you know the kind with proper animalics and heady florals, and brings them bang up to date. The result is a thrilling clash of the vintage and the modern.
For Eris Parfums, Barbara Herman teamed up with renegade perfumer, Antoine Lie, the man behind Etat Libre d’Orange’s Sécrétions Magnifiques, Tom of Finland and Rossy de Palma, amongst others. The fragrances are inspired by the “bold eroticism of vintage animalic florals perfumes” and they certainly don’t hold back, my friends. If you’re a lover of the bold, beastly fragrances of yesteryear, then you need look no further than Belle de Jour, Ma Bête and Night Flower, because these modern twists on classic florals aren’t afraid to cause quite the scandal.
“Antoine Lie and I have reimagined the intensity and eros of perfumes of the past for a contemporary audience. We wanted to bring back the emotion of animalic perfumes.”
The Super-Smart, Super-Suave and Sartorially Elegant Neroli Portofino Forte
TOM FORD has certainly explored the world of his bestselling cologne, Neroli Portofino with undeniable fervour. The range consists of a dazzling array of interpretations, ranging from the original Eau de Parfum to last year’s honeyed Fleur de Portofino, and all that’s in between. This year, TOM FORD is sandwiching the original between two exciting new concentrations, with the lighter Neroli Portofino Acqua to its left and the intense Neroli Portofino Forte on its right. Both take the bold neroli-musk accord of the original and present it as something either more accessible or luxurious, but always interesting.
A week or so ago we took a look at the Acqua, the lighter, less spendy and more accessible take on NP and this week we are throwing caution completely to the wind with Neroli Portofino Forte, which is pretty much the opposite of Acqua in every respect, being stronger, more expensive and less widely distributed. So, how does a more intense take on TOM FORD’s neo-classic cologne fair in the sniff test? Well, there’s only one way to find out: read on.
Neroli Portofino Forte is a bold, exhilarating intensification of the Neroli Portofino Experience. The classic scent is rarified with rich, sublime depth as the amplified concentration of its floral core is lavishly heightened to utmost opulence. With the bold and impassioned introduction of coastal Italian woods and smooth leather in its composition, Neroli Portofino Forte marks an exquisite monument in the Neroli Portofino collection.