Sun Through the Trees

Oud is a note that seems to have had a great deal of popularity over the last few years. Most perfume houses have an ‘oud’ in their line-up, in fact many have several – anybody who’s anyone has got one. Despite it’s prolific presence in today’s perfume landscape, it cannot be denied that oud is a wonderfully powerful material, that when used properly can be one of the most beautiful smells known to man.

Oud is the jigsaw piece that helps fuse European and Eastern styles of perfumery together, and whilst the oud that is used in western perfumery is much cleaner (and largely synthetic) than that used in the east, it has coloured the face of perfumery in bright arabian hues and taken us on exotic voyages to faraway lands.

Oud

Oud/Oudh/Aoud/Agarwood is a “dark, resinous heartwood” [1] that forms in infected Aquilaria trees. The infection is due to a specific type of mould, that changes the colour and density of the wood, leaving a strong, dark resin (the oud) in the core.

Due to its rarity and variation in quality and scent profile, oud is a very difficult and expensive ingredient to work with, hence why the majority of oud fragrances use a synthetic substitute.

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McQueen

“Puredistance M is a masculine that straddles the gender line”

After trying and loving the ethereal Puredistance I and the warm-bosomed Antonia, I thought that the dreaded rule of three’s (as in that a collection of three perfume’s cannot contain three good fragrances) would kick in and I would end up hating Puredistance M, but as usual when it comes to drawing quick conclusions, I was wrong.

I was wrong because Puredistance M is a pretty damn good fragrance and whilst it may not be in the style of perfumes that I would wear, I cannot deny that it is impeccably well made and puts the majority of masculine fragrances on the market to shame. In terms of quality, artistry and just how damn good it smells, Puredistance M is in a class of its own. Oh, and it’s an Extrait too, with a rather decent 25% concentration, which is somewhat of a rarity within the masculine genre.

Puredistance M is currently the only masculine in the line and it takes its inspiration from the classiest and most debonaire of motor vehicles – the Aston Martin, namely the Aston Martin that belongs to a certain James Bond. M was created by Professor of Perfume Roja Dove and is described as “a leather chypre of classic proportions…with an unexpected oriental twist. Sumptuous and complex, noble and sophisticated” [1] Puredistance M is a fragrance that is neither shaken, nor stirred, and just like 007 it is as smooth as can be.

Bad Smell

“Exactly HOW MANY sprays of Poison are you wearing?!”

The European attitude to perfume is very different to that of our American counterparts. Some parts of Europe in particular have a, let me be diplomatic here, shall we say ‘relaxed’ attitude to bathing and perfume can be used to cover up the husky odours of the body that might be missed during said relaxed bathing rituals – think ‘Italian shower’ and you’re on the right track.

Whilst this may be a little of an over exaggeration, because in these modern times generally everybody bathes quite regularly, including myself I hasten to add. Where we definitely are relaxed is in the perfume department. We don’t mind what perfume you wear, when or where you wear it. We also tend to favour the larger, richer perfumes to the fresh, clean one and as long as you’re not deliberately trying to send someone into an Angel-induced coma then you’re fine. Across the pond things seem to be quite different.

This week I was reading an article, about the banning of perfume in the workplace, something that seems to be happening more and more in the US. Now this interested me for two reasons; firstly because I am a perfume-nut and I love my big perfumes, and secondly because I am a Human Resources professional by trade and this sort of thing is a big conundrum and an absolute minefield for us HR people.

So it got me to thinking – should perfume be banned in the workplace? Or is this a case of the PC Police taking things one step too far? Can I see my workplace implementing a ‘No-perfume policy’ or designating itself a ‘Perfume Free Zone’ anytime in the near future? The more I started to think, the more I realised that it is in fact, quite a complex issue.

Pierre Guillaume

Pierre Guillaume – Not just a pretty face!

What a busy boy Pierre Guillame is. Not only is he the man and the exceptionally talented nose behind the über exciting brand Parfumerie Générale, he is also responsible for brands such as Phaedon and Hutième Art. He creates for all three brands whilst managing to look effortlessly handsome. It makes you hate him just a little bit, doesn’t it?

Ok, I’m just being silly, I don’t really hate Pierre Guillaume, in fact it’s quite the opposite, I have great respect for him and his fragrant vision. He has managed to craft himself a distinct style and has very much found his own little niche in the market. With Parfumerie Générale and Huitième Art, Guillaume tinkers with the most ancient and noble of ingredients, interpreting each one in new and surprising ways.

Huitième Art is one Pierre Guillaume’s many projects and is a collection of 9 perfumes “showcasing an all-new ‘plant capture’, an original plant-inspired accord or natural organic ingredient” and with “an emphasis on originality and sophistication”. Each perfume is housed in one of the most fascinating flacons I have ever come across, a part-modern, part-natural ceramic cyclops intended to represent the eye looking to the future, which just so happens to be the exact same direction that M. Guillaume’s nose is pointed.

Lily of the Valley

“The smell of the English countryside in spring time”

L.I.L.Y is the latest fragrance from British fashion designer Stella McCartney. It very much marks a break from tradition for McCartney, whose other fragrances have all be a variation on a theme, namely that of her eponymous debut fragrance ‘Stella’. I love Stella, as far as designer fragrances go it is pretty well done and my sister wears it religiously so I have a strong connection to it, but I am very glad that McCartney is branching out into new fragrant territory with L.I.L.Y.

Where Stella was an ode to rose, L.I.L.Y is, as the name suggests, an ode to the lily of the valley. Lily of the valley is a flower which yields no scented oil yet so evocatively represents the smell of the English countryside in spring time. It’s both beautiful to look at, and to smell, and it represents all that is innocent and virtuous about the world. Lily of the valley is simply one of the world’s most precious of joys.

L.I.L.Y is described as an “evocative scent made up of Stella’s most treasured moments” [1]. Its name stems from her father’s nickname for her mother; ‘Linda I Love You’, and the Lily of the Valley used in the fragrance is reminiscent of her wedding bouquet. For L.I.L.Y, McCartney has aimed to create a perfume that is personal to her, rather than Stella McCartney ‘the brand’. In this world of hyper-focus-grouped perfumes, I can’t help but find the personal touch applied to L.I.L.Y utterly refreshing.

Scented Lives

Scented lives is a series of perfume profiles that explores the perfumes and scents that have been a part of people’s lives. I believe that the perfumes we wear are the individual threads that help build the tapestry of our lives. They speak huge volumes about our character and help us form memories of times, people and places.

The series starts with the profiles of my family, friends and those that are special to me. Ir will then branch out to others with interesting scented lives. As I said in the last profile, if you are interested in taking part in the series, you can get in touch via the Contact Form or you can send me an e-mail on thecandyperfumeboy@gmail.com.

How it Works

Each subject is asked to pick five perfumes (ones that they have worn) that have played a significant part in their lives. They will then be asked to give reasons their choices and explain what their associations with those scents may be. The series aims to use perfume as markers for significant points in the subject’s life, whether happy or sad, and to help them unleash their olfactory memories.

Previous Scented Lives

Part 1: Jane Bryant (My Mother)

A*Men Pure Shot Ad

The appointment of Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius as the new face of Mugler’s flagship masculine fragrance A*Men last year marked a new chapter in the brand’s superhero saga. Pistorious plays the part of the ‘Bionic Fawn’ and he perfectly embodies the Muglerian style of high-energy futurism taken to the limit.

Thierry Mugler is known for bold statements and the use of a Paralympian, who just happens to be the hottest name in sport right now, is an encouraging display of diversity from a major brand. If only others would follow suit! Pistorius is an inspiring person and an inspired choice for the brand. He very much deserves his place alongside the likes of Jerry Hall, Eva Mendes and Naomi Watts as a citizen of Planet Mugler.

For 2012, the year of the London Olympic Games, Pistorius reprises his role of the Mugler man for the brand’s latest fragrance ‘A*Men Pure Shot’. A*Men Pure Shot, created by Jacques Huclier, is the latest limited edition flanker of the original A*Men which was released in 1996. It follows Pure Coffee, Pure Malt, Pure Havane and A*Men Le Goût de Parfum in the A*Men series, and it’s fair to say that it is the most unique and surprising incarnation of A*Men so far.

Inspired by Oscar Pistorious, Mugler’s “modern day hero”, Pure Shot is Mugler’s entry into the plethora of Olympic-themed sport fragrances that we’re going to see this year. But as we know, Mugler does things a little bit differently and has to be given Kudos for not including ‘sport’ in the name, and for actually creating a sport-themed fragrance that doesn’t smell bland or cheap. Mugler describes Pure Shot as “a performance booster for seekers of strong, inspiring scents”.