Francis Kurkdijan

Francis Kurkdjian with his travelling box of tricks

The upcoming release of Denyse Beaulieu’s book ‘The Perfume Lover’, in which she documents the complete creation of her very own bespoke perfume, created by the super-talented Bertrand Duchaufour no less, got me thinking about the whole idea of bespoke perfumes.

A bespoke perfume is the holy grail for most perfumistas, it is the haute couture of perfumery. To have a perfume designed exclusively for you, with your tastes and scent preferences in mind, must be one of the greatest perfume experiences on this green Earth. I’ve often wondered what my bespoke perfume would be like, what it would be called, and most importantly would I be faithful to it?

The obvious downside of a bespoke perfume is the price, Roja Dove’s bespoke service costs a minimum of £20,000 [1], Floris offers the service for £2,750 [2] and other houses, such as Miller Harris, offer the service but don’t list a price, and we all know what that means. I’d hate to think how much a bespoke Guerlain costs! For most, the bespoke perfume is an unobtainable dream.

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Fragile

“Perfume is the first garment we wear on our skin.”
Jean Paul Gaultier

Fragile, the Eau de Parfum, was Jean Paul Gaultier’s second feminine fragrance, it was released in 1999 and followed the phenomenally successful Classique. Created by Francis Kurkdjian, Fragile couldn’t be more of a stark contrast to the warm, powdery oriental tones of Classique.

Where Classique is evocative of Gaultier’s loud, abrasive style of couture, Fragile plays on classic French perfumery. There is nothing ‘boudoir’ about it, it is incredibly enigmatic and feels almost unsuitable for everyday wear. Fragile is a perfume of the night.

Like a lot of the other fragrances in the Gone, But Not Forgotten Series, Fragile was a big love for me early on in my perfume journey. It was also my first tuberose, and whilst it may not be the best example of nature’s rawest and most carnal of flowers, it is lovely and it did kick-start my love for the flower.

Thierry Wasser

Guerlain is one of my favourite perfume houses, heck it may be most people’s favourite perfume house, and they’ve certainly had their up’s and down’s over the years. But despite many blips, discontinuations and the odd controversy, things definitely seem to be looking up over at Maison Guerlain. One of the smartest moves they have made in recent times is snatch-up the very talented Thierry Wasser for their in-house perfumer.

Since joining Guerlain, M. Wasser has created; two new major feminines, one major masculine, a new cologne and several flankers, limited editions and exclusives. He has tinkered with Guerlain’s heritage whilst adding his own contemporary stamp for the future.

February sees the release of two new flankers signed by M. Wasser; Shalimar Parfum Initial L’Eau and Homme L’Eau Boisée, and as with everything he has done since he started with Guerlain (OK maybe not everything) they are top notch. ‘L’Eau’ very much seems to be the fashion at Guerlain at the moment, but to write these two new editions of as simply lighter, watered down versions of the originals would be a grave mistake.

Firework

First things first, I must say a massive thank you to all of you who entered the competition. I really enjoyed reading about everybody’s favourite posts and your comments just go to show how great all of my readers are!

Onto the more exciting stuff, starting with a reminder of the prize:

The Prize

A 10ml bottle of Caldey Island Lavender
A 5ml Vintage Asja by Fendi
A big sample of Tocade by Rochas
A big sample of Santal Massoïa by Hermès
A big sample of L’eau D’Issey Florale by Issey Miyake*
Two samples of Angel EDT by Thierry Mugler*
A sample of Sweet Redemption By Killian
A sample of Mon Parfum Chérie Par Camille by Annick Goutal*
A sample of Havana Vanille (now named Vanille Absolument) by L’Artisan Parfumeur
A sample of Tea for Two by L’Artisan Parfumeur
A sample of Vitriol d’Oeillet by Serge Lutens
A sample of Theseus by Lorenzo Villoresi
A sample of Bang Bang by Marc Jacobs*
A sample of Yuzu Man by Caron*

Savage Beauty

To put it simply; Antonia is liquid emotion.

Have you ever known that you would love a fragrance before you even tried it? I have on quite a few occasions, the most recent of which was with the second feminine fragrance from ultra-luxe niche line Puredistance. A perfume wonderfully named ‘Antonia’. I had already fallen head-over-heels for the beautifully arresting Puredistance I, and everything about Antonia; the reviews, the description and the very brief sniff I’d had in Harrods, led me to believe that Antonia was a perfume that I would love.

I’ve also been really impressed with the Puredistance line and their ethos. I find it refreshing that they seem to focus all of their attention on the perfumes, there are no gimmicks and they manage to offer exclusivity without snobbery. It’s also very clear that they have a passion for quality, which really translates into their three offerings, all of which are incredibly different, but share an impeccable attention to detail and fit together like three contrasting compositions.

Antonia, or ‘La Dame Verte’ as I call her, is the second feminine in the line and is a Parfum Extrait with a not-to-be-scoffed-at 25% concentration. Antonia is described by Puredistance as “a green floral with a great lushness and warmth of heart, but at the same time pillowy and as gentle as can be” [1]. Like the first feminine in the line ‘Puredistance I’, Antonia was created by Annie Buzantian in New York and shares her name with the mother of Puredistance founder Jan Ewoud Vos.

Mad Scientist

The Mad Perfume Scientist

‘Layering’ – the practice of layering two fragrance compositions to create weird and wonderful combinations, has always seemed completely alien to me. I have always enjoyed the fragrances in my collection exactly the way they were created (I wouldn’t have bought them otherwise) and have never felt the need to try and improve or change them by adding something new.

Despite my skepticism, layering seems to be something that a lot of perfume-lovers do and enjoy. Some brands, such as Jo Malone, even actively encourage the practice of layering with their fragrances. These ‘layering’ combinations are designed to enhance the perfume experience, but I can’t help but feel that they are just a cheap ploy with the sole intent of convincing consumers to buy extra bottles.

Despite my skepticism, this layering malarky got me thinking (a dangerous habit, I know); is there any real merit to mixing perfumes? and; Can you actually enhance a perfume by layering it with another? So, in the interest of science I thought that I would conduct a few layering experiments to see whether there is any merit to it, or whether it’s just a bunch of phooey.

Rio Carnival

“Refreshing as a cocktail, sexy as a Brazilian dance.” [1]

I was quite late to the L’Artisan Parfumeur party. I remember trying three of their most popular scents (Tea For Two, Patchouli Patch and Voleur de Roses) way back when I first started getting into the world of perfume. I didn’t enjoy them at all and the line wasn’t too easy to find in the UK, so in my ignorance I ignored the line for quite a while. What a mistake that was.

Since the opening of their Covent Garden store I have had the opportunity to revisit the L’Artisan Parfumeur line and this time with much more encouraging results. I now own and love two (Traversée du Bosphore and Vanille Absolument) and I could quite happily add a few more (Al Oudh, Dzing! and L’Eau d’Ambree Extreme) to my collection. Now that I have made friends with the line, a new release is always exciting news and I very much looked forward to trying Batucada.

Batucada is the latest addition to L’Artisan Parfumeur’s ‘Les Voyages Exotiques’ line and “is a celebration of contemporary Brazil in a vibrant, joyful and sensual perfume, inspired by the effervescence and rhythm of Rio – Batucada is the name of a percussive style of samba music” [2]. Created by two perfumers; Karine Vinchon in Grasse and Elisabeth Maier in São Paolo, Batacuda is designed to be a vivacious, sparkling cocktail evocative of the spirit of the streets of Latin America.