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.
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.
In the Welsh language “hwyl” is a “stirring feeling of emotional motivation and energy” but it is the solace of Japanese forests that Aēsop cite as inspiration for their latest fragrance that carries this Welsh name. Now, if you don’t know Aēsop you are missing out. They make the most beautiful skincare and body products, fusing together nature and science for a range of treats for the face, body, hands and more! What’s more, all of the Aēsop products smell heavenly, not to mention their actual fragrances which are much better than the offerings from most brands of a similar ilk. In fact, they’re really rather good!
I must admit that the inspirations for Hwyl are somewhat confusing. When I smell the fragrance I can see the Japanese hinoki woods but I can’t reconcile that with the Welsh name, especially when the brand appears to think of isolation and solace, whilst the name suggests enthusiasm and energy. It all seems a little bit muddled, almost as if Aēsop just liked the sound of the name, rather than any of its deeper meanings. That said, Hwyl the fragrance is anything but muddled and it is made entirely in the manner of the brand, which is to say that it is a thoroughly exacting piece of work presented with little fuss.
There’s a simplicity and cleanliness to the Tom Daxon brand that really appeals to me. It feels unfussy and uncomplicated in presentation, with clean, structural lines favoured over anything remotely eye-catching or gimmicky. It’s a brand where the fragrances are allowed to speak for themselves and whilst the presentation may be simple (and elegantly so) the composition of each of the fragrances is anything but. Tom Daxon presents a collection with remarkable range, offering beautiful twists on familiar themes, creating fragrances that really don’t smell like anything else. If you haven’t sniffed anything from Tom Daxon then you absolutely must rectify that fact immediately.
The latest addition to the Tom Daxon collection is Riven Oak, and if you’re in to woods in a big way, then your interest should most definitely be piqued right now. Tom Daxon describes this oak-centric fragrance as “layers of smooth woods” and without giving away too much in advance of this review (because I’d quite like you to read on!), I’d say that’s a pretty spot on description. Riven Oak is no ordinary wood fragrance (see more on wood fragrances here) – it’s a multifaceted essay on the complexity of wood, with an entirely unique signature. Interest still piqued? Good, because it should be.
I have a lot of time for Atelier Cologne. They’re a brand with a very clear direction and whilst they have an absolutely massive range (over 30 fragrances!!), which includes an impressive number of fragrances across many sub-collections, they don’t feel as if they are overdoing it. Whether it’s the glorious never-ending citrus tones of their neo-colognes or the unconventional exoticism of their oriental collection, Atelier Cologne are making beautiful, well-composed fragrances high on the wearability factory. Absolutely nobody can fault them for that!
So we’ve established that Atelier Cologne know how to make perfumes that smell good, but are they actually adding anything new to the world of perfumery? There is so much scent out there and the big question is whether Atelier Cologne are making anything particularly unique. The short answer is ‘yes’ and the perfect example of this is their latest offering, the intriguing, nay, surprising ‘Café Tuberosa‘ – a fragrance that pairs two completely polar opposite materials together: coffee and tuberose. How’s that for new and unique?
Please indulge me whilst I tell you a little tale that informs you all you need to know about Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdjian. I was sit in the lobby of the Soho Hotel the other day, having just attended an evening with Perfumer Christine Nagel hosted by the Fragrance Foundation. It had been a long day and I desperately needed to charge my phone (for instagram purpose, obviously). As I sat there, minding by own little fragrant business, I watched industry bods trickle past me on their way out. After about ten minutes, two journalists walked past and their conversation went something along the lines of:
“You’re wearing Baccarat Rouge by Kurkdjian, aren’t you?”
“No I’m not.”
“Yes, you are. I can smell it.”
“I’m not. I think I’d know.”
“I can smell it!”
Guess who was rocking the Baccarat Rouge? Oh yeah, that’s right, this bad candy boy right here, that’s who! I fessed up, don’t you worry. But this little tale just goes to show how distinct and unique a signature the fragrance has. In fact, I don’t think I said this when I reviewed Baccarat Rouge 540 last year, but I think it is easily the cleverest perfume composition of the last five years. For a short formula it does a lot, evoking white and red hot crystal with novel accords that feel entirely new. It’s a technical marvel but it’s also a rather unrestrained essay in excess, from a perfumer who usually brings us spacious, chic beauty with a steady hand. I’ll stop beating around the bush and just come out and say that Baccarat Rouge 540 is a god damn masterpiece, and now it comes in an even more lush and luxurious Extrait de Parfum. Colour me excited!
“It’s the scent of your lover on your skin after sex.”
That’s how Roland Mouret described his debut fragrance to me at the launch this week, and when that is the first thing one hears about a perfume, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the scent is going to be good. Roland Mouret is known for his use of draping and asymmetrical folds in his designs, but he’s also known for form-fitting sensuality. So with sensuality and sexuality in mind, it’s no surprise that he turned to Etat Libre d’Orange, the most x-rated (and cheeky) of perfume houses, to create his debut fragrance.
That fragrance is the unisex ‘Une Amourette‘ (‘A Fling’) and it is created by Perfumer Daniela Andrier, who has been responsible for all of the mostly iris-centric Prada perfumes. I’ll say now that Une Amourette smells nothing like any other Andrier perfume – so much so, in fact, that if you’re familiar with her style, you will second guess whether this is one of hers. A bubbling, suede-like iris this is not, no. Une Amourette is described as “seductive” and “powerful”. It’s a scent that “leaves it mark as you move” – a statement piece carefully crafted to accentuate your body and draw attention to it as you strut through your everyday life. Everywhere is a catwalk, never forget that, Dear Reader.