They say that, when it comes to perfume, all that matters is the juice. Well, I disagree. Or should I say that I agree to an extent. The scent is, first and foremost, the most important part, after all, marvelous packaging cannot save a disastrous fragrance from smelling awful now, can it? But when a bottle and fragrance are both masterful one can really enhance the other to create a truly luxurious object.
One such object is the brand new travel spray for Acqua di Parma’s iconic Colonia. Now, Colonia is already a bloody lovely scent, but when housed within the tan leather of the travel spray well, it is really quite something to behold. For my Escentual column this week, I’ve taken a good old look at this wonderful new object and have also rambled on about, amongst many other things; myself, Vivienne Westwood bags and Ferraris. If that piques your interest, click here to give it a read.
Can you believe that we’re already heading towards the completion of quarter two of 2015? I certainly can’t! Time seems to be moving so fast and it’s staggering to think that we’re halfway through the year already – it’ll be Christmas before you know it (sorry)! As you may, or may not know, for 2015 I’ve started a new quarterly round-up of all my favourite things which I’ve entitled ‘The Candy Perfume Boy’s Hitlist’. In these posts I take a look back at the fragrances, launches, blogs, books, brands or perfumers that have been taking my fancy over the last quarter.
There are no rules. Well, there are three rules with this series; 1) the subjects must be linked to fragrance somehow (a rule that I’m allowed to bend); and 2) the hitlist is to be published towards the end of each quarter; and 3) the list must include my favourite things, as if I were a fragrant sort-of Oprah (which I like to think I am). So, now we’re heading towards the end of June (my birthday month – just throwing that out there), let’s take a gander at what’s topping my hitlist for quarter two of 2015.
An army of amorous brides chase a practically terrified Jon Kortajarena through city streets in the advert for Guerlain’s latest fragrance, L’Homme Idéal Cologne, and who can blame them? After all, Kortajarena isn’t exactly harsh on the eyes now, is he? But these ladies (who are all Guerlain employees, FYI, and include a few Guerlain gents in the mix too because marriage equality is real, people) aren’t really chasing the handsome model, they are after the ideal husband and, more importantly, his fragrance.
With last year’s L’Homme Idéal, Guerlain presented their idea of the ideal man – a cheeky yet suave woody gourmand that boasted more than a small nod to the house’s extremely successful La Petite Robe Noire. This time around, and for L’Homme Ideal’s first flanker, that naughty little scamp of a man has grown up a bit, gone on a diet and switched out his black tux for white linen. The result is a lighter version of the original that still maintains the almond signature that is integral to ‘L’Homme Idéal’. Click here to check out my review over at Escentual.
Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle is a unique brand. Positioning himself somewhere between Creative Directory and Fragrance Curator, Malle is responsible for putting the perfumer centre stage, famously slapping their names on the bottles of the fragrances they create, and allowing them artistic carte blanche to create perfumes that are works of art. It’s quite staggering to think just how many modern classics come from this line – Carnal Flower,Portrait of a Lady, Le Parfum de Therese, Une Fleur de Cassie and Vetiver Extraordinaire – I really could go on, there really isn’t a single ‘dud’ in the collection, and when viewed against the plethora of niche brands on the market, Editions de Parfums de Frederic Malle puts many to shame.
The most iconic, and in my personal opinion, the most beautiful fragrances within the collection are penned by legendary perfumer, Dominique Ropion – a man that conducts fragrant symphonies, rather than simply creates perfumes. He is the nose behind some of the greatest fragrances from the last thirty years. In short, the man is a genius and he seems to be the go-to guy for Malle when the brand wishes to ‘perfect’ a genre, whether that be the greatest tuberose scent (Carnal Flower) or the ideal rose fragrance (Portrait of a Lady), or even the coolest modern fougére (Geranium Pour Monsieur).
With that it mind, it seems appropriate for Ropion to be the nose to take on the humble Eau de Cologne with a view of creating the cologne – a cologne to serve as a reference point for the genre, and blow all others out of the water. The result is ‘Cologne Indélébile’ (‘Permanent Cologne’), a fragrance that is described by the brand as being a “modern yet traditional Eau de Cologne that lasts forever”, which is quite a statement to be making, if you ask me. With this permanent cologne, Malle and Ropion are attempting to redefine an age-old genre and drag it firmly into the 21st century by embracing modern technology (specifically through the use of ‘technical musks’). If that’s not an exciting prospect for a fragrance, then I don’t know what is!
“A clean scent, yet surprisingly magnetic. A modern yet traditional Eau de Cologne that lasts forever. Dominique Ropion embraces musk’s nature as both a quasi-aphrodisiac and a scent of purity to create a very personal interpretation of Eau de Cologne. A splash of the best neroli intertwined with orange blossom, bergamote, and the most technical musks for a scent that endures, and endures, and endures… Cologne Indélébile.”
Here in the bonny isles of the United Kingdom, the weather is flirting with us. For the last couple of weeks, Mother Nature has been coquettishly winking at us, flashing days of sunlight and pure bliss on to these green and pleasant lands. Of course, we’re in that definite transitionary period between seasons. Spring is here, and Summer is waiting in the wings, but the cold and grey of winter is persistent on some days, meaning that the weather’s dalliance with summer love hasn’t quite taken hold – but soon, it will.
I don’t know about you, but these short flashes of summer and glimpses of warmth, and vitamin-enriched days of halcyon make me reach for the lighter things in my fragrance wardrobe (and there are some hidden amongst my show-stopping sillage bombs, as hard as that may be to believe). At this time one craves bracing citrus, the sweet headiness of flowers and the airiness of musk, all of which lead one to think of one perfume genre in particular, a genre that is one of the industry’s oldest and most classic styles – the humble Eau de Cologne.
Eau de Colognes speak of lighter, fresher and more vibrant signatures. They are lighter, usually boasting a concentration between 2%-5% and utilise fresh citrus notes (mandarin, lemon and bergamot etc.) alongside herbs (rosemary and thyme) and florals (neroli, lavender, jasmine, orange blossom). The Eau de Cologne is ephemeral and designed to be splashed on at multiple times throughout the day in order to re-awaken, revitalise and refresh the sense. In short, they are an olfactory jolt to the system.
To celebrate the changing of the seasons, I’ve collected together six of my favourite Eau de Colognes for your reading pleasure. They range from the classics, which really are light and traditional, to more modern and contemporary twists on the genre, that manage to smell both unique and long-lasting. So brace yourself, folks, for ‘The Eau de Cologne Edit’ – six scents that will get your nose positively aching for summer.
Here’s a bit of a quickie review to end the week. Over the years I’ve dipped in and out of Jo Malone’s catalogue of fragrances. For the most part I find them to be well-executed scents that range from clean easy-pleasers like Lime, Basil & Mandarin and Earl Grey & Cucumber etc. to more intriguing oddities such as Rain & Angelica and Wood Sage & Sea Salt(there’s also that upcoming Incense & Cedrat that I keep saying I’m obsessed – more of that soon). They may not necessarily be the first brand that I’d go to if I was looking for a wild and wacky fragrant adventure, but I’m always keen to see what the world of Jo Malone has to offer.
As they often do, Jo Malone have launched a collection of limited edition fragrances. This year, the theme is British history and the name of the game is “Rock the Ages”. Charting British tradition from the Tudor era to the present day the five fragrances (four new ones plus a limited edition bottle of popular fragrance, Pomegranate Noir) map the many facets of our vibrant history. Birch & Black Pepper (perfumer: Christine Nagel), the subject of today’s review is the one assigned to modern Britain, to 2015 specifically, and it’s described by the brand as being “individual, audacious and stylish”.
Niche cologne brand, Atelier Cologne, seems to have mastered the world of citrus notes. Often seen as the most perky and revitalising notes in perfumery, citrus notes are as enjoyable as they are temperamental, with the idea of a photorealistic citrus painting that is both long lasting and realistic appearing as somewhat of an elusive enigma. Atelier Cologne proves that this ideal isn’t unobtainable, and they offer a whole host of ‘Cologne Absolues’ (colognes in pure parfum strength) that display dazzling, delicious and decidedly good citrus notes.
Out of all of their offerings, last year’s Cédrat Enivrant really struck me as an idealised cologne. It had everything one expects and hopes for from the genre – freshness, lightness and tartness – with the added bonus of strength and longevity. Cédrat Enivrant is the best example of Atelier Cologne’s penchant for modernising and improving the traditional eau de cologne, and it’s a theme they have continued with the launch of Pomélo Paradis, their latest scent, and the final edition in their Collection Originale.
According to the brand, Pomélo Paradis“marks the inevitable encounter between a man and a woman always destined to be together”. This new “neo-cologne” also marks the brand’s fifth anniversary too, and they’re celebrating with a super-fresh, super-sweet and super-clean taken on the bright, and dazzling citrus tones of pomelo. In the words of Atelier Cologne, Pomélo Paradis “celebrates the elegance of citruses”, and I can’t put it any simpler than that.
“Was he a fool to drive all night just for a chance to see her? Perhaps it was adrenaline and the lack of sleep, but as he pictured moments they had been together, the word destiny stuck in his mind. The coral sunrise burned bright and he drove faster. There was no choice but to see her again.”
Wow, what a whirlwind of a year 2014 was. The perfume industry has, as always, been nothing short of prolific in its output, with new brands popping up all over the place and the same big names releasing perfume upon perfume, and flanker upon flanker. It has, once again been a very busy year, and the hive of activity within the industry has meant that a great number of wonderful new olfactory treats have been unleashed on the noses of perfume lovers and consumers.
For me, this year has been one of great personal significance. In March I won my first Jasmine Award for my Guide to Violet, and shortly after in May, my best buddy and I tied the knot, only a few days before I presented an award at the Fragrance Foundation Awards. Then in August I was promoted at work, and in September my new husband and I headed off to Tokyo for the honeymoon of a lifetime. In short, it has been a fantastic year and one that will always remain truly in my heart as one of the very best.
To celebrate 2014 from a fragrant perspective, I present to you ‘The Candies 2014’. Those of you who have followed The Candies before will know that they are my annual perfume awards, celebrating the very best, and the very worst perfumes of the year (out of the 147 scents I have reviewed in 2014). Under the jump you will find the winners, losers and honourable mentions filed under neat little categories. So please, don your tux or ball down, break open the Bolly and take your seats for The Candies 2014.
[Also, please don’t forget to head on over to my dear perfume pals, Persolaise and Perfume Shrine, who are both joining me in sharing their ‘best of’ lists today.]
If there is any pop icon that has suffered badly from over exposure, it’s Lady Gaga. Bursting onto the scene, in a haze of wild couture, progressive synths and disco sticks, she has quickly gone from the wild child hailed as the new Madonna, to a spectacular fall from pop grace (let’s not talk about ARTPOP…) straight into the arms of a lacklustre jazz album. Now, I’m positive that Gaga will get back on her feet soon enough, after all she is a talented songwriter, singer and musician, not to mention a pop visionary that pushes the boundaries and champions the underdog. I have every faith in her continued success, she just needs to take some time out and reevaluate.
Anyway, on to perfume. As you will be aware, Lady Gaga released her first perfume, Fame in 2012. The fragrance launched with about as much fanfare as the singer’s career did, if not more, and it sold like hot cakes, despite the fact that, in my humble opinion it was all style over substance. A visual masterpiece but an olfactory dud, to say the least. This autumn, Gaga has launched her second fragrance, Eau de Gaga and it would be safe to say that the entire mood of the scent, and its launch has shifted somewhat. Gone are the lavish launch parties and ridiculously over the top tv campaigns, and in with a more paired back approach to vision and smell.
Eau de Gaga is billed as a unisex fragrance that has been created for “the adventurous woman and the man who loves her”, and that’s it, there appears to be absolutely no gimmicks associated with the scent – no special black liquid that sprays clear, no alleged semen note, nothing. So Eau de Gaga is just a unisex fragrance from a fresh-faced Lady Gaga who appears to be comfortable in her own skin, despite the failures or successes of her current standing as pop’s new darling.
Hold the presses! Before I commence with this review, could someone do me a massive favour and take a short trip down to the underworld and check that the river Styx is still in full, bubbling-hot lava flow? I ask simply because it seems that hell has indeed frozen over and that the impossible has finally happened – Etat Libre d’Orange, also known as the world’s most naughty and rebellious perfume brand, have brought us the most unexpected and out of character perfume – a humble eau de cologne.
Now, you may be thinking that lots of brands bring out eau de colognes and that this isn’t particularly noteworthy a launch, so I should stop making a big old fuss. But one should remember that Etat Libre d’Orange are in fact, the very people that, amongst many other things, bottled the erotic cartoons of infamous Finnish illustrator Tom of Finland, and brought us olfactory interpretations of hotel whores and magnificent bodily secretions. They are not ones to shy away from controversy – in fact, they actively court it and shock factor is an old friend that they simply cannot keep away from. Luckily for us lovers of fragrance, their perfumes mainly deliver the olfactory goods and whilst their names are often gimmicky, the scents themselves rarely are.
With their eau de cologne, which is snappily named ‘Cologne’, FYI (no gimmicks here, thank you), they have created, what they like to call “a nice scent”. This could be, and should be viewed as a massive break from tradition for the Orange Free State, who are famously more prone to naughty than nice, and that would be a fair summation. But as the brand explains, they like to break rules, including their own. So it is with an unassuming cologne that this renegade purveyor of perfumes steps away from their usual modus operandi – a risky move that has resulted in a fragrant outing that really is most unusual for such a rebellious brand.
“You can always expect the unexpected from Etat Libre d’Orange. We break the rules. Sometimes, we even break our own rules. We’ve given you decadent, we’ve given you outrageous, and now we give you nice. We pay allegiance to the concept of a modest cologne. Not an ordinary cologne, not a basic cologne. A proper cologne that achieves the perfection of simplicity.”