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L’Interdit was originally a fragrance comissioned by legendary couturier Hubert de Givenchy for iconic Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn. Launched in the 1950s and created by perfume Francois Fabron, L’Interdit was an aldehydic floral bouquet of the kind that is seldom found in this day and age. Its name, ‘The Forbidden’, is a reference to its initial exclusivity – it was Audrey’s perfume and for anyone else to wear it was, well, just not allowed.

Of course, L’Interdit did not remain forbidden for very long and soon became one of Givenchy’s most famous fragrances. Over the years it has seen a number of incarnations, most notably last year when Givenchy worked with perfumers Dominique Ropion, Anne Flipo, and Fanny Bal to create an entirely new fragrance composition bearing the L’Interdit name.

The new L’Interdit is described by Givenchy as a “tribute to bold femininity” and an “invitation to defy convention and embrace your singularity” showcased by the collision of white florals and dark notes. This leads one to expect a brassy and excessive fragrance – a perfume that speaks with a confident tone and evokes a free spirited character. Let’s see whether it delivers…

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I have a soft spot for CHANEL fragrances – I always have and it’s likely that I always will. They are made with excellent technical expertise and from high quality materials, with each one perfume something specific about the brand they originate from. They are commercial, yes, but that doesn’t mean they are without interest and being honest, I’ll reach more for the likes of Nº5 L’EAU, Nº19 POUDRE, BEIGE, and my favourite, BOY, than I will some of the weirder things in my collection. CHANEL is wearable, beautiful, and consistent – that’s what makes the brand so great.

The one CHANEL I haven’t spent that much time with is CHANCE and it’s three flankers (EAU TENDRE, EAU VIVE, and EAU FRAICHE). CHANCE has always been CHANEL’s fragrant entry point – the CHANEL that is likely to be a woman’s first, and whilst I don’t want to assign ages to particular fragrances, CHANCE’s modern fruity-floral-chypre has always been bang on trend for a younger perfume-wearing crowd. So CHANCE is pretty fun and chic in a modern way, but its flanker CHANCE EAU TENDRE is even more so, and now, CHANEL have launched a new Eau de Parfum interpretation of EAU TENDRE – a scent they describe as an “intensified whirlwind of femininity”. I don’t know about you, but I always appreciate my femininity served in an intensified whirlwind!

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One can accuse the perfume industry of many things, but one cannot call it unproductive. There are now over 2,000 launches per year and it feels almost as if a new brand comes into being every single day.  Now, I’m not sure how I feel about all this olfactory noise – part of me thinks the more the merrier, after all, it’s exciting to smell new things all of the time.  But the other half – the grumpy cynical half (sometimes he’s not a half and verges on a whole, I’ll be honest) – thinks that all this noise makes it difficult to discern what is good or not. How can one find the magic needle in all that hay? Sometimes it’s hard.

Perfume brands come from all sorts of places; from perfumers who want to go it alone and perfume fanatics who stumble into the industry wide-eyed and ambitious. My cynical side tells me to include the fact that brands can also come from entrepreneurs who have no passion for the subject but an eye for making money too, so let’s indulge him for a moment.  In my experience though, the brands that work most successfully are those that come from people who are passionate about perfume (whoever they may be, perfumers, industry insiders or outsiders) but also understand the realities of the industry and retail. Ostens is one such brand – it comes from two industry veterans, two people that not only love perfume, but understand it too – two people who understand the challenges consumers have relating to perfume and have crafted a brand that makes it both accessible and experimental.

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So here we are, on the very last day of 2018! This year has been an odd one – the world feels as if it is collapsing in on itself and for that reason, it has been quite stressful. Personally and professionally it has been turbulent – lots of great ups and some downs too. So it’s nice to do something as frivolous as focus on the best and worst perfume of the year.

That’s right, it’s time for my annual Candies – my virtual award show for the greatest and the, err, not so greatest perfumes of the year. Here you will find my ten favourite perfumes, with other awards such as Best Flanker and the much-coveted Sour Candy, which is awarded to the worst perfume of the year. So pour yourself a drink, it’s gonna be a long night – JK, you’ll breeze through it in ten minutes, promise.

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There are a few perfume ‘genres’ that I have never really ‘got’: green, woody and amber. Well, with time (and through this blog) I’ve learned to appreciate green and to love woods, but for the most part amber still eludes me. Amber, for those of you not familiar with it, is a blend of benzoin (a balsamic resin obtained from the bark of a number of trees within the Styrax genus), labdanum (a sticky brown resin sourced from shrubs) and vanilla that creates a warm, glowing sweetness that is soft, fluffy and gauzy in texture. It is the backbone of big oriental fragrances such as Shalimar, but it’s also used as a standalone theme in many modern perfumes.

More than being an iconic perfume genre, the amber is also the perfect scent for this cold weather. I like to think of ambers as winter warmers – those gloriously toasty and enveloping scents that get stuck in one’s winter scarf, wafting a hedonistic aura around the wearer. So as the winter draws in, it makes sense for everyone to have an amber in their wardrobe. But what happens when you don’t really like amber? Or, you think that you don’t like amber?