A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a virtual masterclass with Frederic Malle and perfumer Anne Flipo all about the brand’s latest launch Synthetic Jungle. I was intrigued by the fragrance, of course (we will get on to that soon – patience please) but I was also curious about the name. Given all of the scaremongering around materials in perfumery – you know what I mean, the false narratives around chemicals being bad (literally everything is a chemical, oy), that natural is better (simply not true) and that clean beauty is a thing (I don’t even know where to start with this one) it seems somewhat brave to release a fragrance with “synthetic” in the name. I asked M. Malle whether the name was a statement and he, without hesitation said yes, it is.
In response, he told me that there is a misconception that synthetic materials are bad and naturals are good, adding that people don’t understand that interesting perfume started because of synthetics (it’s true, we wouldn’t have modern perfumery as it is today without aroma chemicals). As he explains, Synthetic Jungle’s name seeks to remind people that perfume is a paradox, and that synthetic materials are required to recreate the smells of nature. This is exactly what Synthetic Jungle achieves – a beautifully natural smelling perfume, evocative of a lush jungle, and made with a mixture of both natural and synthetic materials.
Now, moving past the name, what about Synthetic Jungle the perfume? This is the result of a long creative flirtation between Frederic Malle and Anne Flipo, where the former spent quite some in the corridors of IFF convincing the latter to work with him. The starting point for their fragrant collaboration was the green fragrances of the 1970s, specifically Estée Lauder’s Private Collection, which served as inspiration. Synthetic Jungle is Frederic Malle and Anne Flipo’s rendition of the green chypre accord – a simplified, modernised version that isolates the green accord and amplifies it with intense floralcy. The result? An accessible take on green that feels operatic in its execution.
Candy Crush is where I write about scent-related things that I’m currently obsessed with.
If you’ve not been living under a rock, you will know that Nº5, the world’s most famous perfume, and bedtime ritual for Miss Marilyn Monroe, celebrated its centenary this year. CHANEL marked the occasion in an unexpected way, with CHANEL FACTORY 5 – a series of pop ups and a limited editions that celebrated the innovative packaging of the fragrance. Now they’re rounding of the centenary year with a limited edition bottle with a twist. We’ve seen Nº5 in red (who could forget that iconic red bottle?!) but for 2021, the icon is clad in white paper.
I had the pleasure of hosting industry legends Chris Yu and Laurent Delafon on my latest episode of Live @ Five (my instagram live series). Chris and Laurent are the founders of Ostens, a British niche brand created for curious noses that celebrates the beautiful raw materials perfumers use every day. Working with IFF (and IFF-LMR), Ostens work with legendary perfumers (Dominique Ropion, Sophie Labbe, and Bruno Jovanovic, just to name a few), giving them carte blanche to create a fragrance inspired by a specific raw material (either a natural or an aroma chemical) which is sold alongside the isolated material. It’s a fascinating and unique brand.
In this episode of Live @ Five, we chat about Chris and Laurent’s love of perfume, how they got into the fragrance biz, what inspired them to create their own brand, and what the future holds for Ostens. We also talk about the creative process and Cedarwood Heart Impression, which is Ostens’ scent of the season. It’s a really fascinating chat and you can check it out by clicking here or by heading below the jump for the embedded video.
I’ve been waiting for a fragrance from French brand BDK Parfums to click with me for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, everything they do is very well crafted and pleasant, and the packaging is exquisitely luxurious and well considered. It’s just that nothing has moved me yet. Perfume is so personal, right? So, sometimes a brand just doesn’t gel with your tastes or style, no matter how good they are, and that’s how I feel about BDK, well, I should say “that’s how I’ve felt”, because since their latest launch ‘Velvet Tonka‘ came along, everything has changed.
Velvet Tonka is described as being a tribute to the Morrocan origins of BDK founder, David Benedek, capturing the flavours and landscapes of the country “like a sweet, indulgent breeze coming straight from the Atlas Mountains”. As part of BDK’s Collection Matières the fragrance focuses on the rich and complex note of tonka bean with its supple facets of coumarin, marzipan and vanilla, blending it with key materials of orange blossom and almond. The result? A decadent gourmand that surprises with its lightness of touch.
Well, here’s some good news! Last night The Fragrance Foundation UK held the annual Fragrance Foundation Awards and they announced the winners of the Jasmine Awards (the Oscars of fragrance writing). I was nominated in three categories and was thrilled to be awarded the Jasmine for Best Practical Guide for my article Material Focus: Cashmeran. This is my sixth (!!!) Jasmine Award and it’s still a complete surprise that anything I write is worthy. Thanks to all that continue to read this blog and for those who have supported me along the way.
Throughout July, I promised to do 10 things to celebrate 10 years of The Candy Perfume Boy. I’ve held four instagram live events, speaking to beauty journalist Alice du Parcq, Escentual founder Rakesh Aggarwal, PR legend Nicola de Burlet, and Olfiction founders Nick Gilbert and Pia Long. I’ve talked about 10 perfumes of significance from the last ten years over two IGTV videos (P1, P2), I’ve given away a £100 Escentual voucher and 5 Boujee Bougies, and I’m finishing off with this blog post and a celebration of my favourite photos over on instagram. It’s been a busy month.
For this blog post, I wanted to share just a small selection of the things I have learned since I started writing 10 years ago. From being someone who had never written anything longer than a tweet to a five-time award winning fragrance writer, it has been quite the journey and I have learned so, so many things. Here is a small selection, in no particular order:
As part of my 10 things for 10 years of The Candy Perfume Boy, I’m taking a look back at 10 perfumes from the last decade that are important to me. They might be perfumes of olfactory importance (the modern classics), or perfumes with sentimental value, or even just perfumes that I love to wear because they smell damn good. I’m doing this over two IGTV videos. Part One went live last week and you can check out Part Two over on my instagram or embedded below the jump.
Out of the many things perfumer Christine Nagel has created for Hermés since joining the brand as in-house Perfumer, I think the Twilly franchise is my favourite. Created as an accessible entry point for younger consumers and inspired by the Hermès scarves of the same name, Twilly is a subversive tuberose zhuzzed up by a zing of ginger. Twilly has obviously been a popular addition for Hermès, because it was quickly followed by the sequel Twilly Eau Poivrée, a red rose electrified by the most photorealistic pink pepper accord known to man, which brought a sense of vibrancy and energy to the franchise. And now we have the third Twilly – Twilly d’Hermès Eau Ginger, which plays on the unusual ginger note of the original and is described by Hermès as “joyful, bright and sparkling”. Are you ready for Twilly 3: The Gingering? OK, fine, that was a bad pun. Moving on…
Maison Crivelli is fast becoming one of the most intriguing niche perfume houses out there. I’ve said before in reviews that they seem to have the visual aesthetic down, with a simple, luxuriously-executed presentation that is rich in texture and elegant design, but most importantly, they also have novel, high-quality perfumes to match. So I guess I don’t need to say that again but I’ve already typed the words out so….. Anyway, in summary, Maison Crivelli make beautiful smelling things that look equally as gorgeous, and I am always curious to see what they are up to. So yes, big fan.
Lys Solaberg is Maison Crivelli’s tenth addition to their (rapidly expanding) collection. As with all of their perfumes, its inspired by an encounter with materials, specifically a hidden field of lilies during a night hike through a Norwegian fjord. Maison Crivelli collaborated with independent perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer (who also created Absinthe Boreale for the brand) to create Lys Solaberg, and the result is an intriguing, yet understated fragrance that brings an unexpected, woody touch (and dare I say a little bit of gourmand) to a fjord of fresh, blooming lilies.
There are some brands that have a cohesive olfactory aesthetic – we call this a “house style”. Prada has it, with its sparkling, fizzy iris theme at the core of most of what it does. Hermès used to have it when Jean-Claude Ellena was at the helm, when everything he created felt like a mineral watercolour, painted with delicate strokes (Nagel’s style feels more diverse). Heck, CHANEL has it too, with their flowers, aldehydes and clarity of execution. Narciso Rodriguez is another however, their house style is somewhat more subtle and is reliant on one key theme, which finds itself blurred into the genres of chypre, woody, floral and more: the theme of musks.
We’ve seen many musk-powered fragrances from Narciso, each utilising the materials to create a distinct sense of colour – usually a block, neutral colour. Their latest, Musc Noir, is no exception. It’s technically a flanker to their flagship fragrance For Her (a musky, rosy chypre) however, it feels several flankers removed from the original at this point. Musc Noir was created by Givaudan perfumer Sonia Constant and is seen as a more sensual essay on the darker side of For Her’s musks, whereas Pure Musc, which launched in 2019 (I never got around to reviewing it, but I enjoyed it) celebrates the lighter side. Comparing the two, they really are light and dark, and Musc Noir stands out as a unique entry into the Narciso Rodriguez collection. Let’s sniff!