Navigations Through Scent

“A brief history of perfume, told through five distinct fragrances. From lost worlds, along ancient silk and spice routes to a brave new world.” [1]

We’ve seen it many times before, a mainstream house releasing a series of fragrances based around a single concept. Sometimes it works really well (see Guerlain’s L’Art et la Matiére line or Chanel’s Les Exclusifs) and sometimes it fails epically (see Dolce & Gabanna’s Anthology line).

Usually lines launched with multiple fragrances are a bit hit and miss, they tend to have one or two ‘greats’, more than a couple of average ones and a their fair share of clangers. So it is with trepidation that I approach any new ‘collection’.

I am very familiar with Molton Brown’s line of shower gels, hand creams, hand washes and body products (which I think are generally very good btw) but I have to admit that I’m not overly familiar with their stand-alone fragrances, so this collection could go either way for me.

Hurricane Grace

To me, Grace Jones is the Queen/King of androgyny, she tiptoes the line between masculine and feminine so perfectly and either way she is absolutely striking to look at. Like Ms Jones, Nu is androgynous, it is neither wholly masculine, feminine or unisex, it creates its own rules about gender and takes facets from both sexes.

I have no idea which fragrance(s) Ms Jones wears but if I were to pick a perfume just for her, I would pick Nu.

Nu (this review refers to the Eau de Parfum) was released in 2001 and was created by Jacques Cavallier under the art direction of Tom Ford. I mentioned in my review of Gucci Rush that everything Tom Ford did whilst at Gucci, YSL and Lauder was pretty much epic, and I stand by that. With Nu, he and Jacques Cavallier created something unique and way ahead of its time.

Potion

DSquared2 is a brand that is well known for their fashion NOT for their perfumes. I don’t have much experience with the line (I have only tried He Wood and the less said about that the better) but what I do know is that each of their perfumes has an awful clanger of a name, they include; He Wood, She Wood and He Wood Rocky Mountain Wood….

Yes, those truly awful names, and a bad experience with He Wood led me to believe that I wouldn’t like Potion, in fact I was prepared to actively dislike it. So imagine my surprise when a chance encounter with a sample would reveal that this Potion, isn’t half bad at all.

Gold

“Two of the most rich and lavish perfumes of all time.”

Gold Woman and Gold Man were the first fragrances to be released by Omani fragrance house Amouage. The house was founded by His Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said and in 1983 Amouage hired famous french perfumer Guy Robert to create two of the most rich and lavish perfumes of all time. His brief? “Put whatever you like in it, no matter how much it costs.” [1]

Both fragrances showcase silver frankincense, an ingredient the country is famed for, and whilst they have a distinct middle eastern feel they are also undeniably french in their style. Unlike almost everything from the 1980’s, Gold Woman and Gold Man do not feel dated in the slightest, they are both timeless classics that mark an important beginning from a venerable house. They have stood the test of time.

Angel

“Angel Eau de Toilette is still a diva but she is Angel before she puts on her drag queen make up and high heels, she is the daytime Angel, just as fabulous and dramatic but less likely to throw a tantrum.”

When I first read the news that the Thierry Mugler brand was releasing an Eau de Toilette version of their infamous flagship fragrance Angel, my first thought was ‘I’m surprised they haven’t done one already.’ Well it’s taken nearly 20 years, but Mugler has finally decided to launch a lighter version of the heavy oriental gourmand.

Along with the launch of the new Eau de Toilette, and it’s fabulous new ‘comet bottle’ Mugler has created a brand new television and print campaign for both versions, starring Eva Mendes. I’m probably not supposed to say this, because I like Naomi Watts as an actress, but she just didn’t suit being the face of Angel, so I’m very glad that the sultry Eva Mendes is now fronting the campaign for my favourite Diva.

Now, Angel fans, I can sense that you are perhaps feeling a little uneasy and even slightly sceptical about this new release, after all why would you want a lighter version of Angel? She’s perfect just as she is. Well if you’re anything like me, you love Angel but on some days she’s just a little bit too much, and you can’t be doing with all of her diva antics all day long, every single day. You’ll be relieved to know that Angel Eau de Toilette is faithful to the original and what Mugler has done is create a more ‘everyday’ version of Angel that can be worn to the office/school/park/(insert everyday place here) without terrifying people

Dita Von Teese

I have started a love affair with By Killian, the line of perfumes that is, not the man himself (although he is rather dashing). Having been introduced to the line only a few weeks ago, I have found myself spending lots of time pouring over my samples, oohing and ahhing each time I spray one on my skin.

So far I’ve only had very limited exposure to the line (a total of five) and out of the ones I have tried, Back to Black is by far my favourite. Back to Black is everything a perfume should be; complex, high quality, long lasting and most of all – dramatic.

Carnations

I’ve had a vase of purple carnations sat in my hallway for about two weeks now, they are suitably cheerful and they smell spicy and gorgeous. The problem with carnations is that they tend to hang around. Yes, they’re very beautiful but I’m at the point where I want them to move along so that I can refresh the vase with something else.

This is also how I feel about Vitriol d’Oeillet.

Serge Lutens has described Vitriol d’Oeillet as an ‘angry carnation’ and on the Serge Lutens website the description simply says “What is it, Doctor Jekyll?” [1] These descriptions lead me to believe that my tiny spray vial was going to unleash a huge, evil carnation monster that was going to eat me and ransack my house. A little farfetched I know, but I do have an active imagination.

What did come flying out of my little spray vial was something completely unexpected; A pretty and realistic spicy bunch of carnations. Just like the ones currently lurking in my hallway.

AngelWhat can I say about Angel that hasn’t already been said? Angel isn’t just your typical perfume, she is a legend, a legend in exactly the same way that N°5 and Shalimar are legends. She’s also not just a legend, she is a fierce vixen and a complete diva.

Created in 1992 by Olivier Crisp and Yves de Chiris for avant-garde fashion designer Thierry Mugler, Angel is inspired by Mugler’s childhood memories, he wanted “to make a perfume that could have a common resonance for everyone, something close to tenderness, to childhood.” [1] The childhood memories that Mugler chose to recreate in Angel were those of the fairground.

The very first time I smelled Angel, right at the beginning of my perfumista journey, I was shocked, appalled and disgusted all at once. Who would want to wear this? I thought. But I kept finding myself coming back to Angel, there was something about her, she lured me in and wouldn’t let me go, I was helpless. I became obsessed and after many sniffs I finally bought a bottle, wore it with pride and didn’t look back.

Medicine

If like me, you’re fed up with the constant wave of flankers (please see my review of the two new CK One flankers) then I hope you will take this post as some kind of remedy, a tonic if you will. I could spend hours and hours moaning about how I hate flankers and name and shame some of the worst, that would be very easy, and not entirely true. What I would like to do instead is just make a few personal recommendations of what I think are some of the best.

What is a Flanker?

Most of you reading this blog will be familiar with flankers but for those who aren’t; a flanker is essentially a fragrance released using the same (or similar) name as another fragrance by the same house, think of it as a sort of sequel, so for example; Live Jazz is a flanker to the original Jazz by Yves Saint Laurent. The actual juice can be very similar, slightly similar or completely unrelated to the original fragrance.

Flankers are a cheap way of marketing a new fragrance without having to spend a huge amount of money on new concepts, bottle moulds and advertising. They are also a great way of marketing a ‘new’ product to consumers who are already fans of the original fragrance.

Not all flankers are bad, some brands use the opportunity to create a new interpretation of an established fragrance and these tend to be the flankers that work best, they bring something new and interesting to the table.