Ylang 49 and Lys 41
“The Imperfect Twins” – Ylang 49 and Lys 41

Le Labo is one of those brands that I’ve only really had a passing interest in. On the one hand they appear to create, for the most part, good quality scents with more than your usual level of artistry (let’s face it, there are so many niche houses that don’t), whilst on the other they’ve always seemed a tad gimmicky for my tastes.

Maybe I’m just being a grump, but there’s something about their industrial aesthetic, the odd naming system (the name of the most prominent ingredient followed by the number of ingredients) and the ‘blended on the spot’ approach that narks me, almost as if they are trying just a little bit too hard to be ‘hip’. Still, none of that should get in the way of the fact that the majority of their output is solid, wearable and interesting.

This summer the brand has launched two florals – Lys 41 and Ylang 49 – a duo that they are calling “the imperfect twins”. Working with perfumers Frank Voekly (Ylang 49) and Daphné Bugey over the last three years, Le Labo have created “two new floral statements” that are likely to surprise, ensnare and entertain many a perfume-lover.

Givenchy Dahlia Noir L’Eau

This week’s Escentual post is a review of a fragrance that took me wholely by surprise – Dahlia Noir L’Eau by Givenchy. The original Dahlia Noir made next to no impression on me whatsover (very much in line with most Givenchy offerings) and I am, as you know, not a massive fan of anything remotely green – so it is with great surprise that I give a big thumbs up to Dahlia Noir L’Eau!

Please click on the image above to head over to Escentual.com and read the full review. Don’t forget to leave a comment!

The Afternoon of a Faun
Nijinksy’s The Afternoon of the Faun

The best perfumes are those that have a transportive quality. They take you to another place in space or time, linking back to often forgotten memories or cementing themselves as catalysts for new memories. Perfume is often referred to as “liquid emotion” because of this ability to conjure up the past and one often finds that a single spritz is all that is needed to play out forgotten moments right in front of your nose.

I grew up in a small village surrounded by fields, farmland and woods so much of my formative years was spent exploring the countryside, climbing trees and getting as muddy as possible with my siblings. To this day I don’t think there is anything quite like the smell of an English wood; the cool, damp of earth, the fusty wetness of moss and sweet, mineralic quality of tree bark. It is the smell of childhood.

Those punky rebels at Etat Libre d’Orange in collaboration with performance artist Mx Justin Vivian Bond and perfumer Ralf Schwieger have created a perfume that captures the spirit of a forest walk. Named The Afternoon of a Faun after Nijinksy’s controversial ballet, the theme of the fragrance is the “relationship between the suggestive fantasy and seductive reality” [1] and what better genre of fragrance to explore suggestion, fantasy, seduction and reality than the classic chypre?

"OMG! Who is she?"
“OMG! Who is she?”

Juliette Has a Gun is a curious little outfit. They seem to happily fill the space that separates niche and designer perfumes and does so in a young and fancy free way. The thing is, as much as I like the brand and one or two of the scents they’ve yet to have a hit as far as I’m concerned. Calamity J and Romantina came close but neither had the wow factor needed to convince me to part with any of my hard-earned dosh.

That said, the spunky, take-no-prisoners attitude of Romano Ricci’s heroines is definitely appealing to me and I’m always more than happy to dive into their new releases to see what they are up to. So far we’ve had charming girls, vengeful ladies, queens and delightfully calamities but with their latest release Juliette Has a Gun is unleashing the Mad Madame.

“For this new episode I wanted to pay tribute to a woman who dares. A woman slightly more mature than the previous episodes, but by no means better behaved! Mad Madame has this touch of craziness, which she is happily displaying. Endowed with a sense of provocation, she enjoys being looked at and igniting conversations. As Oscar Wilde once said, The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Romano Ricci

Mad Madame is described as a green chypre “revolving around the metallic Rose Oxyde” and as you would expect from Juliette Has a Gun it is a fragrance with a strong character, as Mr. Ricci puts it; “Mad Madame has the knack of getting herself talked about. And she likes it.” What are they saying about this Madame? Well, I can tell you that it may not all be good.

Eau Dynamisante
Clarins’ classic citrus chypre is 25 this year

What do The Candy Perfume Boy and Clarins’ Eau Dynamisante have in common? They were both born in 1987 and turned 25 this year, that’s what! Such longevity in the perfume industry sure is something to celebrate and Clarins are doing so by releasing a limited edition bottle which sees Eau Dynamisante encased in a veil of red glitter.

Eau Dynamisante was first released by Clarins in 1987 and is innovative because it is not just a fragrance, it’s a skin treatment too. Clarins describe Eau Dynamisante as “an innovative feel-good fragrance created from an inspired blend of 14 aromatic essential oils and therapeutic plant extracts with the power to scent skin, invigorate the sense and moisturise and soften from top-to-toe.” It’s not just innovative though, it’s also very popular and every three minutes a bottle is purchased in the UK. Now that’s impressive!

Before spritzing on some Eau Dynamisante in preparation for this review I was absolutely sure that it would not be ‘my thing’. This pre conceived notion was based on the fact that citrus fragrances don’t really move me and I was convinced that I had tried it before and wasn’t wowed. I am actually quite surprised to say that I really like it and I think it is the perfect scent to combat the muggy, sweaty days of summer.

Dali
Salvador Dalí – Apparition of the Visage of Aphrodite of Cnidos in a Landscape

Parfums Salvador Dalí is an odd brand. They aren’t readily available in the UK but I always see them when scouring the discount stores for interesting things. I often find myself tentatively eyeing up their weird, surrealist bottles and wondering whether the juices they contain are as crazy as the vessels that contain them.

On one such recent trip to the discounters I came across the Salvador Dalí perfumes as usual and decided to refer to  Perfumes: The Guide to see what our Perfume Oracles (Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez) thought of them. Only two Dalí fragrances received a high rating of four stars; Dalí and Laguna, the former of which is evaluated by Turin in the following way:

“[…] a big, handsome, strapping floral chypre somewhere between Amouage [Gold] and Bal à Versailles, though lacking the exquisitely rich texture of the former and the bold, striking structure of the latter.” [1]

Well, as you can imagine I was sold by the word “Amouage” and less than five minutes later I had added a 30ml sized bottle of Dalí Parfum de Toilette to my shopping cart (a steal at £10) and had checked out. A blind buy is a risky thing I know, but I figured that if I didn’t like the scent I could at least display the bottle somewhere and ogle it on a regular basis.

Released in 1983 Dalí, created by none other than the great Alberto Morillas, was Salvador Dalí’s first foray into the perfume market. Dalí’s wife and muse Gala was the inspiration behind the fragrance and it contains notes of rose and jasmine which were her favourite flowers. Parfums Salvador Dalí describe Dalí PdT as “a feminine fragrance, with character, created in the purest of tradition of opulent Chypre perfumes” [2] and I would classify it as a big ole 80s floral made with a soft touch.

An interlude from the chaos
An interlude from the chaos

Since being bitten by the Amouage bug last year thanks to Honour Woman (there is no cure BTW) the wait for the next annual Woman/Man duo has almost been a bit too much. Luckily since then we have had the wonderful Opus VI and Beloved to keep us busy, but still the anticipation has been growing. The problem with such a strong hunger for a new fragrance launch and the high expectations that inevitably accompany such an appetite is the fact that so often the final result is disappointing. This is not something that can be said of the this year’s fragrance duo from Amouage.

For 2012 Amouage is releasing Interlude Woman and Interlude Man, both inspired by the “interlude moment […] a reflection of all the trials and tribulations one overcomes to attain personal satisfaction and achievement” [1] Encased in Amouage’s signature bottles, hued in pure midnight blue, the Interlude duo has been created to “evoke an air of disorder while maintaining a sense of balance and tranquility” [2] Both encompass the chaos of life and offer moments of desperately needed escapism in the form of unique, contemporary fragrances.

I’m at a point now where I have tried the majority of the fragrances in the Amouage stable (although not all have been reviewed, yet) and Interlude Woman & Man are easily the most unique, and perhaps the most daring to date. The multi-coloured graffiti of the packaging gives a mere hint of the high-scale chaos that each fragrance adds to the Amouage line. Where they don’t differ however is in quality and sheer artistry, they are 100% Amouage in those respects.

Vintage Shocking Ad
Shocking de Schiaparelli

The Gone, But Not Forgotten series focuses the spotlight on those fragrances that, despite being absolutely wonderful, have suffered at the hands of the unfortunate inevitability, and my biggest bug-bear of the industry that is discontinuation. They may be gone, but this series aims to ensure that these gems certainly aren’t forgotten.

When I first had the idea for the series there was one perfume in the back of my mind that would be the ultimate addition, the holy grail of rare, discontinued perfumes that would be nigh on impossible to obtain. That perfume was Shocking by Schiaparelli. Luckily for me I have been able to get my greedy little hands on a 7.5ml bottle of pre-1970s Shocking Parfum, and I am pleased to say that I am as wowed by it as I thought I would be.

Shocking was created by Jean Carles in 1937 and was named after the shade of hot pink that Elsa Schiaparelli created for her collections. Schiaparelli was known for actively embracing the surrealist movement (her famous shoe hat is all the proof you need) and a lot of her creations took inspiration from Dadaism so it stands to reason that her most famous fragrance is bold, beautiful and unconventional.

Italian Alps
Amorosa – Inspired by the mountains and clear turquoise skies of Italy

What exactly is the point of watermelon? It has always seemed to me to be the the most pointless of fruits because it smells and tastes of practically nothing. I’d go as far as saying that it is the worst fruit, along with grapefruit, which is also horrid due to its mouth-screwingly bitter taste. It is my impassioned hatred for watermelon that made Amorosa, the latest fragrance from Ruth Mastenbroek, such a surprise.

Ruth Mastenbroek is a British perfumer, and former President of the British Society of Perfumers, who has created perfumes for a number of niche lines, including Jo Malone, before deciding to go it alone and start her own brand. So far her line consists of two fragrances; RM Eau de Parfum and Amorosa.  Ruth’s philosophy is “to create fragrances that are unique, luxurious and distinctive” [1], and if Amorosa is anything to go by, that is exactly what she does.

Amorosa is inspired by Italy, “its mountains, its clear turquoise skies” [2] and is described as “the seductive scent of a woman in love with life.” [3] It is a fascinating modern chypre that is a unique take on the genre. Not only does it showcase a beautiful watermelon note it does so in an interesting and new way. In an industry where “new” can be an alien concept, this is something absolutely worth celebrating.

Last week’s poll focused on the age old debate of spraying vs dabbing. Unsurprisingly, due to the fact that is the most commonly available application method, spraying won the battle with a total of 73.5% of the vote. What I found particularly interesting about the results was the fact that 20% answered that they didn’t care how the perfume was applied and a number of comments stated that it actually depended on the perfume as to whether they sprayed or dabbed, with dabbing being the preferred method of application for pure parfum/extrait and spraying for Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette.

The Poll

This week’s poll moves on to a completely different subject, that of perfume genres. Tastes in perfume tend to be fairly eclectic and most fumeheads own a number of bottles from a variety of fragrance families, but most will also have a favourite, and I want to know what yours is. Register your vote and let me know your thoughts in the comments box below!