“The sickness of making flankers every five minutes is very upsetting, but if I don’t want to get kicked out for not doing my job, I have to do it”
– Thierry Wasser ¹
Thierry Wasser, in-house perfumer at Guerlain, recently likened the penchant brands have for creating numerous flankers to a “sickness” and when looking at the numerous incarnatons of the house’s flagship fragrance, Shalimar, it’s easy to see why. In the last five years we’ve seen seven, that’s right, seven new Shalimar flankers ranging from the sublime Parfum Initial and Ode à la Vanille to the less interesting Parfum Initial L’Eau, and on occasions the brand has stretched the Shalimar association pretty thin.
With their latest flanker, Shalimar Souffle de Parfum, the link has become so emaciated it may have finally snapped. Sniffing the flanker, it’s pretty difficult to pick out exactly how the two fragrances are alike. Shalimar is a grand dame of the oriental world, showcasing bubbling bergamot, smoky-sweet vanilla powder and tons of heavy resins. Souffle de Parfum on the other hand is, well, the complete opposite of that. It may not be worthy of the Shalimar name, but does that mean that it’s a bad fragrance?
Guerlain describe Souffle de Parfum as a “gently perfumed caress” ² and a “breath of extreme sensuality” ², with the ‘Souffle’ here referring to the French word for breath, as opposed to anything culinary-related. It has been designed to celebrate the lighter facets of Shalimar, specifically focus on the shining citrus that famously graces the Oriental Queen’s top notes, and the plush vanilla that sits at her core. In that respect, Souffle de Parfum succeeds, merging these two themes together to create something that may, or may not be Shalimar, depending on how one looks at it.
The Candy Perfume Boy’s ‘Guide to…‘ series is an award winning fragrant exploration of the individual notes that make up the vast and multi-dimensional spectrum that is the world of perfume. In each episode, we take a detailed look at a particular ingredient, analysing its odour profile and the ‘must sniff’ perfumes that serve as reference examples within the genre.
So far in the series, we’ve taken a gander at the lusciousness of lily, variety of violet and the tenacity of tuberose. We’ve also ogled at oud, chomped on chocolate and orbited the world of orange blossom. All-in-all, it’s been a fun and fragrant exploration of some of perfumery’s most beloved ingredients, but our journey is far from over and we have many more smells to sniff. So buckle up as we take off for our next fragrant expedition – a mission to Planet Vanilla.
In this latest instalment of The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to, we’re going to explore all that is vanilla – a note that is as well-known as it is delicious. The use of vanilla in perfume is most certainly plentiful and to serve you, dear reader, I have separated the wheat from the chaff to present you with eight vanilla perfumes that are absolute must sniffs on your fragrant journey. I promise you that they all smell absolutely fabulous!
Sex sells, as they say, and the world of perfume is certainly no exception. We are constantly bombarded with hyper-sexualised images of men and women, gently caressing perfume bottles and writhing around in faux wind-machine-assisted ecstasy, all just to spur us to part with cash at our local branch of Debenhams. Some brands go even further and play with the naked form in a deliberately shocking way, like Tom Ford with his verging-on-the-obscene Terry Richardson ad campaign for Tom Ford for Men, for example, or even Yves Saint Laurent and their slightly more tasteful, but still completely full frontal print ad for M7 (both NSFW links courtesy of Mr. Ford’s artistic direction, FYI).
But what makes a perfume sexy? Well, one would think that the answer to this question is entirely subjective, and in reality I think that is most likely to be the case. I imagine our idea of ‘sexiness’ in scent to be similar to the appearance of love potions in the world of Harry Potter (bear with me here), where the smell that each potion exudes is unique to the individual that sniffs it, depending on what they find attractive in a person. To put it another way – one man’s sexy fragrance is another’s olfactory cold shower, and it would be true to say that many supposedly ‘sexy’ scents fail to deliver, whereas the most seductive scents seem to be those that aren’t necessarily billed as such – sexy surprises, if you will.
One fragrance that makes rather bold claims about being ‘hot’ is 4160 Tuesdays’ ‘The Sexiest Scent on the Planet. Ever. (IMHO)‘. Well, that’s what one would think from the name, but in reality this perfume, which was originally created by perfumer Sarah McCartney as a base for her Gin Garden scent and inadvertently named by a Tatler journalist, has a moniker that is served with tongue pressed firmly in cheek. The truth however, is that this fragrance is wonderfully executed, delicious and one of the easiest scents to wear on the planet. Ever.
As a fashion brand I have the greatest respect for Versace (admittedly less-so with Donatella at the helm) – they know how to make gaudy look glamorous and are at their very best when they are being as showy as possible. As a perfume brand Versace is less attractive, again their older stuff is good (I’ll always have a soft spot for Blue Jeans and Versace Woman, and Blonde is pretty awesome) but their newer stuff is very much lacklustre at best.
So it was with mixed expectations that I approached the brand’s latest masculine offering ‘Eros’. On the surface Eros appears to have everything you would want in a Versace fragrance – tacky bottle (it’s positively wonderful in its tackiness), ridiculous, over-the-top advertising (see here) and a Tanorexic muscly adonis fronting the whole thing – but as we all know in the world of fragrance, appearances can be deceiving.
Eros takes its name from Greek mythology, specifically the Greek God of Love. Created by perfumer Aurélien Guichard (Bond No 9 Chinatown and all of the new Robert Piguet fragrances and re-issues) Eros is described by Donatella Versace as being for “a man who is own master and who defends his own ideas and goals. He is a hero.” We know exactly what Donatella’s idea of a hero looks like but what does he smell like?
As a die-hard fragrance nerd it’s difficult not to love Gorilla Perfume, the fragrant arm of those smelly bath purveyors Lush. For one, they march to the beat of their own drum, drawing inspiration from subjects as varied as Thai Ladyboys and Italian showers. But perhaps most importantly they are an outfit that champions that old idiom “It’s all about the juice”, caring first and foremost for the perfume above bottles and marketing.
This passion for perfume has allowed Lush to birth a line of beautiful, surprising and sometimes downright-wacky fragrances that challenge one’s notion of what constitutes a scent as much as they serve to inspire and foster a life-long love for all that is perfume. It sounds corny but it is brands like Gorilla Perfume that are the reason why I love perfume, when there is so much to be cranky about they have the ability to restore one’s faith in perfume and make one smile with a single spritz. You gotta love that Gorilla!
Late last year Gorilla Perfume launched 12 new fragrances (that’s right -12) under a new collection entitled ‘Volume 2’. The overall look of this new collection feels like a shift in direction for Gorilla Perfume and I’d say the scents themselves follow suit. There seems to be less focus on the cartoonish hijinks of the past and greater emphasis on a more mature approach – dare I say that our Gorilla may have grown up?!
I was sent a few of these new scents to try and today I’d like to share with you my thoughts on two of the most intriguing; Furze and The Voice of Reason.
When I think of Jean Paul Gaultier I think of effeminate, yet muscly sailors, cone-bras, corsets and spanking. His fashions, fragrances and even he himself embodies all that is naughty about the french. There is a reason why he has been dubbed the ‘L’Enfant Terrible’ of Parisian fashion
What I don’t imagine when I think of Jean Paul Gaultier is softness, subtlety and warmth, but that’s exactly what I find in GAULTIER². Each of JPG’s fragrances are so bold and popular that it’s a hard job to escape them out there in the real world, but not GAULTIER² – the stealth Gaultier and black sheep of the family. Classique and Le Mâle may get all the attention, but GAULTIER² is the quietly clever one, severely underrated yes, even misunderstood, but it cannot be denied that it is a stroke of genius.
“Him and Her. Her and Him. Mixing the genres is Jean Paul Gaultier’s favourite game. With GAULTIER², he breaks through traditional fragrance barriers with his unisex fragrance. A true olfactory statement.” 
GAULTIER² was created by Francis Kurkdjian (we’re all in agreement that the man’s a genius, right?) in 2005 and is a scent for both the boys and the girls. It is described as “the essence of two skins in love. A warm, sensual fragrance that blends the masculine and feminine in a trio of musk, amber and vanilla”  and is housed in a bottle of two halves, one for him and one for her, held together by a magnetic force.
I find it interesting that JPG, the king of excess, would go for three simple notes in this fragrance and I’m sure that if we were to look at the formula we would discover that there are more ingredients, but I can’t help be attracted to the idea of three aromas blended together to find the perfect equilibrium. There’s something really quite romantic about that simplicity and the harmony it brings.
Thierry Mugler’s second major feminine Alien has managed to become almost as popular and iconic as its sister fragrance Angel, which is no mean feat when you consider exactly how popular the latter is. Since its release in 2005 Mugler has released a plethora of Alien Editions, each of which has seemed better than the last, and it would be fair to say that the very latest edition ‘Alien Essence Absolue’ is the best yet, and they know it too hailing Essence Absolue as “The Supreme Perfume”.
What I love about the Thierry Mugler brand is that they are not afraid to experiment, not only with their flagship launches but also with their flankers. They may not always work (see Ice*Men) but they are always interesting and it’s great to see a brand really give a damn about the quality and artistry of all their fragrances. Personally, I didn’t think that Mugler could top the salted-caramel-goodness of Alien Le Goût de Parfum (released last year), but by jove they’ve gone and proved me wrong.
Alien Essence Absolue is the latest interpretation of Alien and serves as an oriental twist on the original. Created by Dominique Ropion (one of favourite perfumers FYI), who worked on the original as well as creating the Eau de Toilette, Eau Luminescente and Sunessence versions, Essence Absolue is a more intense interpretation that focuses on warm, resinous notes and intense flowers. Mugler describes it as “an intense amber, floral, vanilla perfume […] a magnetic fragrance that illuminates the skin in a halo of light” – well if “magnetic” partly explains why my nose is currently stuck to my wrist then I’m all for it.