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“I am an endangered species”

– Christopher Chong

If you read yesterday’s post you will know that luxury house Amouage have just launched a brand new duo of fragrances – Imitation Man and Imitation Woman. Inspired by the glamour of 1970s New York City, these hazy, hedonistic fragrances speak of Amouage Creative Director, Christopher Chong’s personal journey to the city in this most iconic of decades. Moving to Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1975 as a young immigrant, NYC presented an entirely new set of experiences for Chong, who was fascinated by the fashion, art and subcultures that quickly surrounded him. In Imitation he celebrates these elements but also the freedom of growing up in such a fascinating metropolis at an audacious time.

I was lucky enough to be invited to join Amouage in the Big Apple for the launch of Imitation* and during my stay I got some time to sit down with Chong to quiz him about all things Imitation, Amouage and perfume. This was my first time actually meeting Christopher Chong, but after several years of social media interaction it feels like we have known each other for quite some time and he had always struck me as an olfactory visionary with a strong character. So when it came to meeting face-to-face I was not disappointed! Below you can find our chat, which covers the inspiration for Imitation but also details how Chong works with perfumers to translate elements from real life into olfactive form. Enjoy!

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– Glamour and Grit –

The exciting thing about Amouage is that one never knows where Creative Director Christopher Chong is going to take the brand next. His artistic vision is like no other’s and with his creations for Amouage he brings in concepts abstract to olfaction – notions such as death and gender identity – and crafts them into fragrant forms. The results are fascinating and it would be safe to say that nobody makes perfume quite like Amouage and Christopher Chong. These are rich, complex and sometimes challenging compositions that not everyone will love, and therein lies their strength. So yes, I’m always fascinated to see where Amouage goes next.

Well that ‘next’ turns out to be a time-travelling epic to 1970s New York City, the city and time in which Christopher Chong grew up. Arriving in the Lower East Side in the mid 1970s, the sights, sounds and scents of New York have clearly had a formative impact on the Creative Director, who this year brings us Imitation, a new duo of fragrances that represent the “subcultures of an iconic era”. With Imitation Man and Imitation Woman, whose names are inspired by Andy Warhol and his imitative art, Chong takes us on an olfactory odyssey of glamour and grit, evoking “audacious freedom” through the smooth velvet of the masculine and infamous nights out at Studio 54 in the women’s. They make for quite the pair, I tell you.

I was lucky enough to be invited to New York City to join Amouage for the launch of Imitation Man and Woman, with a wonderful opportunity to explore Christopher Chong’s neighbourhood on the Lower East Side (it’s THE place to stay in NY if you’re going, trust me). I was also lucky enough to spend some time with Christopher for an interview, which I will publish tomorrow. But for now, let’s get our heads and noses around the latest olfactory coupling from Amouage – Imitation.

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“I am free” says Perfumer Christine Nagel as she sits comfortably in the handsomely furnished apartment above Hermès’ New Bond Street store in London. Nagel is here to talk us through the five new fragrances she has created as in-house Perfumer at Hermès. The five are her first additions to the Hermessence collection, a series of olfactory haikus created by her predecessor Jean-Claude Ellena. Nagel’s style is somewhat different from Ellena’s – his domain was of watercolours and minerals, wrapped in cerebral, thought-provoking compositions that birthed the Hermès olfactory signature. If Ellena created this signature, then Nagel’s has opened it up to a new-found richness with her more immediate, grander and more voluptuous style. Despite their stylistic differences, the creations by both Ellena and Nagel are undeniably ‘Hermès’ in every way.

Anyway, back to freedom. Christine Nagel has full creative freedom at Hermès and with it she has chosen to create a collection of five oriental fragrances to add to Hermès iconic Hermessence collection. Nagel wanted to return to “the origins of perfumery” to create three Eau de Toilettes and two oil-based Perfume Essences. According to Nagel, when she proposed this to the CEO his answer was simply ‘yes’. So off to the origins of perfumery Nagel travelled, focusing on the noble and historic notes of myrrh, musk, agar wood and cedar, with which she has created five distinct fragrances that celebrate the styles of the orient in a way that is truly and faithfully ‘Hermès’.

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I’ve always been a firm believer that first and foremost, a perfume must smell good. It can come in whatever bottle it wants with any back story it fancies, but if it’s not enjoyable to wear then what’s the point? So often us consumers are courted with gimmicks – perfumes that promise us all sorts of weird and wonderful things, and whilst this allows for the art of olfaction to be pushed forward, it doesn’t necessarily result in fragrances that translate for everyday wear. It’s a balance between making artistic statements and making wearable accessories and when done right, the results are utterly magical.

One brand that perfectly fulfils the ethos of smelling good is Jo Malone London and since the brand’s inception in 1983, they have brought us a wealth of accessible colognes that above all else, smell good. Jo Malone London is a brand that celebrates the luxury of simplicity with fragrances that usually focus on the contrast and harmony of two notes but are always served with a touch of British eccentricity. The idea is that the fragrances themselves are complex enough to excite the nose when worn alone but also have enough of a paired-back simplicity to allow them to be combined with other scents in the collection (following the brand’s Fragrance Combining suggestions). With Jo Malone London one builds a wardrobe of fragrances for each occasion, layering them to unlock new and exciting facets. To put it simply: they do what they do very well.

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I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.

Every year Jo Malone London treats us to a quirky limited edition collection that explores an intriguing aspect of perfumery. To date we’ve enjoyed an entire tea party, taken a stroll through a herb garden and rocked the ages, amongst many other things. These collections are always really fun and they’re where Jo Malone London really stretches its olfactory legs, almost as if they get to test out their crazier ideas in these low-risk limited editions.

This year Jo Malone London brings us English Fields, a collection of five fragrances inspired by, and evocative of, cereals and grains. Created by perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui, who says that “to have cereals and grains as the main focus is a first” for her and that this is “somewhere in perfumery [she] has never been before“, English Fields is a celebration of a savoury style of gourmand that is not usually explored within perfumery. Across these five fragrances, Jo Malone London gets bready, grainy and a little bit yeasty, presenting new and intriguing facets, all housed within the most handsome pastel shaded bottles dipped in matt, concrete-esque paint.

Let’s sniff through this quirky little collection…

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Instead of a Christmas gift guide this year, I’m switching out my regular Candy Crush posts for just as regular Christmas Crushes instead. In these posts over the coming weeks you’ll find some wonderfully scented gifts just in time for the holiday season, with products that I am crushing on. So get ready for some marvellous Christmas gift inspiration!

The theme at Penhaligon’s this season is ‘Christmas is in the Air’ and with this Christmassy concept they are mixing the two things that make their identity so unique: tradition and eccentricity. Their golden packaging is accented by beautiful red ribbons, with what appears to be a rather traditional, Victorian scene as the illustration. Look closer though, and the signature quirk of Penhaligon’s is revealed! Carriages driven by birds and flying clocks lead one to remember that the world of Penhaligon’s is a topsy turvy one, and that’s what makes it so wonderful to explore!

This Christmas, Penhaligon’s have curated a fine selection of gifts for any of those eccentric beauties in your life. There’s perfume aplenty, with gorgeous sets and mini-collections amongst their expansive collection of scent. There’s even a special home fragrance for this year, not to mention many other quirky things to love. So in this extravaganza of a Christmas Crush post I’m brining you a veritable feast of Penhaligon’s gifts to hopefully inspire your present-buying this holiday season. With any luck we’ll have ticked some people off your gift list by the end of the post no problem.

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The Candy Perfume Boy has afforded me with a huge number of wonderful opportunities and amazing moments over the years, but to date, none have been more awe inspiring than a trip that happened earlier this year. I was invited to attend the launch of an entirely new brand called Anima Vinci in none other than Grasse: the home of perfumery in the South of France. Who could say no to a morning spent picking rosa centifolia in a small field in the centre of Grasse, followed by a trip to Art et Parfum, the home of legendary perfumery Edmond Roudnitska? Not this blogger, that’s for sure!

Anima Vinci was founded by Nathalie Vinciguerra, a Corsican native who has dedicated her career to perfumery, working at Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur as Creative Fragrance Director. During her time with these brands she developed over 40 fragrances, so Nathalie knows perfumery, that much is evident and her fragrance brand celebrates both passion and energy (two things Nathalie has in abundance) through five fragrances that pay homage to key olfactory families. In Latin, Anima means ‘soul’ and Vinci means ‘to conquer’ and if these five fragrances do anything it’s conquer the senses and energise the soul. Anima Vinci is a brand you’re going to want to know about and in this piece I hope to introduce you to the five wonderful fragrances in the collection.

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When I heard that historic candlemaker Cire Trudon was to launch its very own line of perfumes I actually let out a small squeal of excitement. I’ve been obsessed with their scented candles for ages, mainly because they not only smell tremendously beautiful, but also because they take inspiration from unusual and historic places. A Cire Trudon candle is no ordinary candle and if the brand’s approach to home fragrance is anything to go by, one knows that their perfumes are going to be something really extraordinary.

Trudon (the perfume line drops the ‘Cire’ from the name) launched their perfume collection this autumn with five fragrances that reference “religion, royalty and revolution”. The brand worked with perfumers Antoine Lie (Etat Libre d’Orange Sécrétions Magnifiques & Comme des Garçons Wonderwood), Lyn Harris (of Perfumer H and formerly Miller Harris) and Yann Vasnier (Jo Malone The English Oak & Marc Jacobs Bang) to create their debut collection and the whole thing feels finely curated, from the clarity of the scents to their flacons, which boast simplicity in shape but also luxury with their stunning, ribbed glass caps.

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We’re officially in quarter four of 2017 and what a year it has been. By my count there has been at least 20 million fragrance launches this year, but I do have a tendency to exaggerate. In truth it has felt like a particularly busy year, with lots of behemoth launches from equally gigantic brands. I also think it has been a phenomenally good year for perfume and I’ve fallen in love with more than a handful of wonderful fragrances already. But this post is not a retrospective of the year – you can have that at the annual Candies (my fragrance awards) in December, no this is something a little bit different.

As we’re heading towards the end of this year I thought it would be a good idea to do a quick recap of the big perfume trends we’ve seen this year. I’ve certainly noticed a handful of key themes over the last 12 months and it’s kind of fascinating to look back at them at this point in the year. So in this post you will find four trends that have populated the perfume landscape in 2017. These are just my thoughts however, and I’d be more than happy to hear about any trends you’ve identified too!

L'Envol de Cartier Eau de Toilette
L’Envol de Cartier Eau de Toilette

There are so many fragrance launches each year it’s difficult to write about them all. Speed Sniffs is a way to bring you to the point reviews fragrances that are quick and easy to digest. After all, sometimes all one needs is a few lines to capture the essence of a scent. Speed Sniffs are perfume reviews without all of the faff and tell you whether the subject is something you want to sniff or not. So hurry up and read, because we don’t have much time…

I reviewed L’Envol de Cartier in its original Eau de Parfum concentration last year so I am designating this Eau de Toilette as a speed sniff, mainly because the differences between the concentrations are not huge – but they are notable, which is why L’Envol Eau de Toilette is worthy of a review. The first flanker to L’Envol presents a fresher signature, taking the honey, mead and iris notes of the original and making them weightless with citrus and gaiac wood. The result is a fresh oriental that gives wings to the complex richness of the original.