This review has to start with a big fat disclaimer. I am good friends with Liz Moores, the founder and perfumer behind Papillon Artisan Perfumes and I was involved in creating the promotional shots for the fragrance we are talking about today. For that reason one could say that this is not an entirely unbiased review and it probably isn’t. But please note that if Dryad wasn’t my cup of tea, or of interest, I would simply have not written about it. Luckily for all of us scent lovers, it’s quite lovely.
So please approach this as a quick review of a perfume I’ve become very familiar over the last few months and one that I could never approach from an objective standpoint because I have spent so much time with it, trying to understand and visualise its character.
If you’ve been following Liz on social media you’ll know that she’s based in the New Forest, literally right in the forest itself. She is surrounded by nature and the perfumes she creates absorb her environment, providing inspiration. For Dryad, her latest fragrance, the forest is Liz’s muse. Liz’s daughter, Jasmine has written a beautiful poem inspired by Dryad, and it’s the following few lines that sum the perfume up for me and led to the inspiration for Dryad’s visual adventure:
“My body is swelling with the oak’s root and seed
Our veins and our vines weave together with ease,
And as your chatter dispels at the shake of our leaves,
You set your ear to our chest, to hear the whisper of trees.
We rise not in your throat, nor your mouth, nor your teeth.
But we streak coloured streams set to dazzle.”
L’Artisan Parfumeur has been making niche fragrance since the 1970s. They were the first niche brand, in fact and ever since their inception way back when, L’Artisan Parfumeur has continued to create fascinating fragrances that are often quirky and always beautiful. They are a cult brand who have always managed to inspire passion on perfume lovers across the globe, working at the cutting edge to create perfumes that always bring something new to the table, whether that be an entirely new style or a new perspective on something familiar. In short: L’Artisan Parfumeur rocks and I for one am always interested to see what they’re up to. Which leads me nicely on to some lovely L’Artisan newness!
Histoire d’Orangers is the brand’s latest offering and it has come just in time for summer. Created by Perfumer Marie Salamagne (Jo Malone London Mimosa & Cardamom) and is inspired by her memory of travelling through the Moroccan region of Souss, which sits in the foot hills of the Anti-Atlas. Of her trip, Salamagne says “‘my memory of the sunset on Taroudant walls remains untouched. Suddenly, the valley takes on exceptional shades, a warm light intensifies the colours of the raw land and the atmosphere gets fresher. Each time I think of this majestic landscape, I think of orange tree flower water. A delicate and delicious water, ultra-refreshing and incredibly luminous.” A rather evocative description, no? The scent plays with the contrast between the heat of the sun and the cool of the shade, creating a vibrant and incredibly sunny orange blossom that L’Artisan describes as “exquisite”. My nose is ready for it.
Etat Libre d’Orange is one of my all-time favourite perfume brands. They burst onto the scent with a collection of fragrances that stuck two big fingers up at the industry, acting in a manner that was disruptive, innovative and horrifyingly beautiful. Ever since their launch, Etat Libre d’Orange has proved that they have just as much substance as they have style and they’ve continued to innovate, creating some of the most fascinating scents of the last decade. So yes, I’m a fan, but because of this my expectations are very high.
For their latest fragrance, Etat Libre d’Orange have teamed up with journalist and author Chandler Burr to create a scent inspired by his novel ‘You or Someone Like You’, or more specifically, the novel’s lead character, Laura. The scent, which shares the novel’s name, has been created by perfumer Caroline Sabas and is her first outing for the brand. The notes have been left to the imagination of the wearer because, as Burr puts it “the scent is the scent, if you need to know what’s in it, “You” is probably not for you” (insert eye roll). That said, there are notes of rose and mint mentioned in the press release, and it’s clear from sniffing it that these two elements play a large role in this olfactory tale. Speaking of sniffing, let’s stick our noses into this latest chapter in Etat Libre d’Orange’s Odyssey of the Obscure.
Seeing as we spent yesterday talking about perfume and photography, it makes sense that our first fragrance review of the week is one inspired by that very art form. Now, if you’re not familiar with Olfactive Studio you really should familiarise yourself. I think it’s one of the most exciting and well thought-out niche brands out there and where so many try to do something different but do so in a muddled way, Olfactive Studio avoids gimmicks and succeeds in creating a strong narrative in each of their perfumes. So yes, they’re an exciting niche brand that you should really explore!
For their latest scent, Close Up, Olfactive Studio has taken inspiration from a photograph taken by Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan. The shot is a close up of an eye that questions one’s perceptions. As Olfactive Studio ask, “is it an eye wide open or a miniature world replete with lands and oceans?”. Close Up is inspired by these contrasts and presents in stunning detail, the opposition of warm, fuzzy notes against vibrant fruits. Is it a soft blanket of amber, or is it a bowl of alcohol-soaked cherries? The question persists.
Project Renegades is definitely a brand that packs a punch. I mean, let’s talk about the avatar in the room here and just acknowledge the fact that the bottles are presented with detachable magnets fashioned into caricatures of three iconic perfumers. The visual impact is cacophonous and bold, with shiny kaleidoscope-printed boxes, bullet holes and of course, those detachable magnetic caricatures of the perfumers… All of this comes right out to say that this brand and its perfumers are gonna do whatever the heck they like. In an industry that often relies on the same old formulaic way of making and launching perfume, we can only give Project Renegades kudos for bucking the trend.
With Project Renegades, three of the industry’s most iconic cult perfumers have teamed up to create a trio of olfactory cowboys who are going to swagger into town to teach them there locals about how perfume should be done proper, you hear. They are Mark Buxton, the man behind so many of Comme des Garçons’ cult fragrances, Bertrand Duchaufour, the world’s most prolific and varied perfumer, and Geza Schoen, the nose responsible for Escentric Molecules (I like to call him ‘Molecule Man’). The idea is to do something exciting with perfume and allow the perfumers to just make whatever the heck they want to without the constraints of marketing briefs, focus groups or trends. The results are unexpected.
I have a very high level of respect for the Elie Saab fragrances. Unlike lots of fashion brands that head into the market at this late stage in the game, Elie Saab has a very clear olfactory vision that feels inextricably linked to their design aesthetic. What’s more, the brand has worked solely with one perfumer (the incomparable Francis Kurkdjian) to ensure that their scents all carry the same threads, resulting in a beautiful, luminous style that is undeniably Elie Saab.
In Elie Saab’s Essence Collection, Francis Kurkdjian really gets to stretch his legs and create scents that don’t share the style of Le Parfum, Saab’s signature scent. So far they’ve done wonderful things with oud, rose, gardenia, musk and now, for the latest addition to the collection, two materials get to take centre stage: almond and tonka bean. Essence Nº10: Amande Tonka is a delicious oud to two of perfumery’s most delectable notes and guess what? It’s really tasty….
“Almond essence blends with tonka bean to weave a voluptuous and subtle palette of almond nuances.”
I’m new to the world of Escentric Molecules. With so much noise in the world of perfumery, it’s understandable that many scents and in some cases, entire brands, will pass me by. Escentric Molecules is one such brand and whilst I’d always been aware of its existence I’d never spent much time exploring what it had to offer. Luckily for me, I now get to discover what all of the fuss is about for the first time as I sniff the latest pair of scents from Escentric Molecules: Molecule 04 & Escentric 04.
Escentric Molecules is the brainchild of German perfumer Geza Schoen. Now, you’ll know Geza from his work with Ormonde Jayne, Clive Christian and 4711, just to name a few of the illustrious houses he has lent his nose to. The idea behind his Escentric Molecules is simple (and really cool if you ask me). Fragrances are launched in pairs, with one Molecule scent and one Escentric. The Molecule is simply an aroma-chemical diluted in alcohol, whilst the Escentric boasts the material in a high concentration amongst other notes to create a more traditional composition. The idea is to pair chemistry with and personally, I think it goes a long way to demystify how fragrances are actually made as well as to showcase the beauty of the perfumer’s materials in isolation.
Following the brand’s famed use of molecules such as Iso E Super, Ambroxan and Vetiveryl Acetate, the latest duo to launch is an essay in Javanol, a sheer sandalwood molecule that is known for its intense freshness. “Imagine a sandalwood stripped of its heaviness to reveal a soft and sheer wood radiating silvery freshness” says Escentric Molecules “that’s Javanol”. In their latest binary pair, Escentric Molecules explore this unusual freshness by presenting Javanol in isolation as well as at the heart of a composition. The results are fascinating.
“What I love about Javanol is its almost psychedelic freshness. It smells as if liquid metal grapefruit peel were poured over a bed of velvety cream-coloured roses.”
There are many things I appreciate about the By Killian brand but above all I very much enjoy their sense of humour. In a world where fragrance is taken so seriously, to the point of it being almost painful, Killian Hennessy comes along with his cheeky smile to save the day. Kilian’s opulent fragrances are housed within dramatic packaging that verges on over the top (NEVER a bad thing in my book), often boast cheeky names such as Voulez-vous coucher avec Moi, and have also been known to smell like forbidden/addictive substances such as marijuana. Kilian’s world is one of fun where decadence and debauchery are embraced wholeheartedly. So yes, I’m here for By Kilian and their domain is my kind of place to be.
The latest scent to be added to the By Kilian lineup is Black Phantom (created by Perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur) and as far as cheekiness goes, well, Mr Hennessy has gone all out. Where to start? Well, the slogan for the scent is ‘a little party never killed nobody’ and the box, well, the box is quite something! Atop Kilian’s signature black lacquered box sits a skull, rising out of the the lid with a somewhat sarcastic smile. Not to mention the fact that Mr Hennessy has forgone the standard Perfumer/Creative Director mugshot of posing pensively with a series of smelling strips and has instead donned some rather impressive shirt sleeves and has posed rather foppishly with a jet black skull as if it were a crystal ball. It’s a bit Mystic Meg and it’s wonderful.
But what about the fragrance? Well Black Phantom the fragrance has some rather intriguing inspirations, taking its name from “the dusky shade of a pirate galleon” whilst speaking of scent-soaked sails, ghostly spectres, rum-spiked Irish coffee, cyanide and “the eerie clash of spectral cutlasses”. It’s all so ridiculous, entirely fun and really effing cool. As Kilian says “if it’s dirty, kinky, naughty, messy, or just plain wrong, I want it” and we want it too, so bring it on Mr Hennessy!
If you read my Iris Deconstruction recently, you will already know that I have a ‘thing’ for Les Infusions de Prada. What’s more, if you’ve heard me waxing lyrical about one of my all time favourite scents over the last 18 months, the wonderful Mimosa & Cardamom by Jo Malone London, you’ll also be aware that mimosa is very much my jam right now. And if you didn’t know either of these things well, I’ve just told you so now consider yourself informed! With all of this in mind, it’s no surprise that it took little coercing for me to fall head over heels for Prada’s Infusion de Mimosa. In fact, all it took was one sniff…
If you’re not familiar with Les Infusions de Prada, then you’re in for treat. In essence, the collection explores the fantasy of single notes dissolved as infusions to create fragrances that fuse the modern with the classic and explore the diverse facets of their titular ingredient. Like all scented things ‘Prada’ the fragrances are composed by Perfumer Daniela Andrier and Mimosa is the latest note to get the ‘infusion’ treatment. Prada describe the scent as follows:
“It is the smell of the tree in full bloom, late in summer perhaps in the South of France. Powdery, floral, with a yellow-velvet softness that is almost tactile.”
Hermès’ topsy-turvy Eau des Merveilles is one of my favourite fragrances from the brand. Heck, Eau des Merveilles is one of my favourite fragrances full stop and it was the scent that got me into all things Hermès – it was my Hermès gateway drug, if you will. So you will understand that I’m a little bit protective when it comes to my Merveilles, but so is Hermès and whilst they have produced a number of flankers for this fragrance, each one has brought something new to the franchise and as with all things ‘Hermès’, each Merveilles flanker has been expertly crafted.
Eau des Merveilles exists on the horizon, where constellations meet the deep blue sea. It’s a scent of adventure and navigation, both nautical and extra-terrestrial, which as you can imagine makes for an incredibly exciting olfactory experience. For Eau des Merveilles Bleue the latest take on the Merveilles signature, Hermès’ in-house perfumer Christine Nagel has removed the scent’s head out of the stars and plunged it firmly into the shallows of the sea at dawn. Eau des Merveilles Bleue encapsulates in scent, the freshness and crispness of a new day, through the translucence of the colour blue. I’m relaxed just thinking about it.
“The wonder of Hermès is rooted in childhood, when our eyes are open to the world, and marvel at everything.
I marvelled at the pebbles, wet from the ocean; they had such a particular colour and luminosity, and I discovered on them a salty, mineral taste …”