Somewhere in Paradise Lies Tom Ford's Fleur de Portofino
Somewhere in Paradise Lies Tom Ford’s Fleur de Portofino

Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino series is a collection within a collection. Housed like a fragrant Matryoshka inside the Private Blend collection, the four colognes that currently comprise the series (Neroli Portofino, Mandarino di Amalfi, Costa Azzura, and now, Fleur de Portofino) tick all of the required boxes; 1) they smell great; 2) they are so much more than straight-up Eau de Colognes; 3) they’re unique; and 4) they have decent longevity and sillage. Don’t be fooled by the (rather beautiful) transparent bottles cast in varying hues of blue and green, because there are some intriguing, and complex juices within.

Fleur de Portofino is the latest addition to the Neroli Portofino collection and it marks a bit of a shift from the world of contemporary Eau de Cologne, to the domain of the floral, where the wistful reigns supreme. The spirit of the collection is well and truly alive here, with lots of aquatic vibrancy and freshness however, flowers take centre stage and the beauty of citrus has been instructed to wait in the wings. The result is a floral that presents a new olfactory take on the mediterranean – one that is teeming with life.

“Vibrant. Carefree. Captivating. Private Blend Fleur de Portofino is inspired by the cascades of white flowers that spill off the the branches of the white acacia beloved shade tree that dots the mediterranean’s gardens and lines its tranquil avenues. Fleur de Portofino creates a crisp and bright floral accord from this bloom, then surrounds it with effervescent citruses and acacia honey. The fragrance creates an effect of sheer floral possession that is incomparably hypnotic and extremely bold.”

– Tom Ford

Cologne Indélébile - As Good as Cologne Gets
Cologne Indélébile – As Good as Cologne Gets

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.”

– Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

The Eau de Cologne Edit
The Eau de Cologne Edit

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.

The World of Pomélo Paradis
The World of Pomélo Paradis

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.”

– Atelier Cologne

Etat Libre d'Orange Cologne - %22A Nice Scent%22
Etat Libre d’Orange Cologne – “A Nice Scent”

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.”

– Etat Libre d’Orange

Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino Collection
Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino Collection

If there ever was a time for Tom Ford to launch two new colognes, now was it. The relentless heat of summer appears to be continuing, well, relentlessly, and light, citrus-centric and floral colognes really are the genre du jour at this time of year. When the sun beats down indiscriminately in the sky and the muggy air really starts to the take the biscuit, the humble eau de cologne really is the only way forward.

Of course, Tom Ford’s fragrances are generally contemporary and high-fashion twists on traditional themes, therefore any eau de cologne launched by the brand isn’t likely to be conventional. Just take Ford’s Neroli Portofino, for example – a vibrant and clean neroli-based cologne that does the unthinkable – it lasts, and lasts. Tom Ford’s colognes may tip their cap to history, but as with all things he touches, they are exceptionally modern.

Much like last year’s Oud Wood Collection, Tom Ford is capitalising on the phenomenal success of Neroli Portofino to create the Neroli Portofino Collection. This capsule collection within Ford’s series of Private Blend consists of the aforementioned Neroli Portofino and two new colognes as stable mates – Costa Azzurra and Mandarino di Amalfi. One represents the early morning sun over a glimmering ocean, whilst the other is that same ocean scene as the sun dips below the horizon.

Eau de Magnolia by Carlos Benaim for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle
Eau de Magnolia by Carlos Benaïm for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

It seems that the world’s greatest, and possibly only perfume curator is spoiling us. Last year, after four years of long, painful silence, Frédéric Malle launched the extraordinary Dries van Noten – a perfume that genuinely is like no other, and this summer he is generously treating the world to yet another, brand new fragrance. It seem that, much like buses, Monsieur Malle’s perfumes come in multiples and after a lengthy wait. But who are we to complain?

The new edition to the extensive and wonderful Editions de Parfums library is entitled ‘Eau de Magnolia‘ and is penned by venerable perfumer Carlos Benaïm, the man behind scents such as Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb and Dior’s Pure Poison. The fragrance is billed as both an entirely new take on the classic ‘Eau de Cologne’ as well as a beautiful presentation of the magnolia flower, and one should see it as a perfume that sits somewhere smack bang in the middle of these two things.

“This time the conversation between Frédéric Malle and Carlos Benaïm was on the headspace analysis of the magnolia and the fact that the flower is closer to an Eau de Cologne than to a classic flower. Carlos then suggested to magnify the hesperidic equilibrium of the Magnolia to enhance the Eau effect and to add a woody vibration to give it depth and sensuality. The result is a fresh chypre, an extraordinarily transparent and very natural, smelling note, animated by a somber base (vetiver, patchouli) that gives it a touch of mystery. A timeless summer perfume.”

Magnolia blooms sing with a complex profile of odours that range from the zesty smell of lemons to the waxy and almost cheesy scent of gardenia flowers. It’s a truly versatile bouquet that can radiate with freshness or revel in plush creaminess, depending entirely on how it it used. Frédéric Malle and Carlos Benaïm’s take on magnolia errs on the fresher side of things, creating a perfume that veers from eau de cologne to floral chypre in an incredibly enjoyable manner.

The Neroli Portofino Collection
The Neroli Portofino Collection

Well the wedding has happened and it’s a great big smack bang of a return to normality for my new husband (I just love saying that word) and I. We had a truly wonderful time, the best time in fact, and once we get all of the photos back I will be sharing with you some of the fragrant treats we had during the day, which as you would expect were plentiful, so stay tuned for that!

Now the wedding is over, it’s time to think about the honeymoon and it’s a venture that requires a huge amount of thought. Does one opt for an active city break (I’m thinking Florence or even San Francisco) or a more relaxing trip to a Greek Island (Crete looks fab)? The choices are plentiful and I have to admit that the idea of blue skies, Greek food, sumptuous views and a private pool are most definitely calling my name.

One perfume that seems incredibly befitting of such a honeymoon getaway is Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino. Launched as part of the original crop of Private Blends in 2007, this ode to azure seas and skies has proved so popular that it has been repackaged, redistributed to a wider audience and evolved into an expansive range of bath and body products. Smelling the fragrance it is easy to understand it’s popularity, after all what is there not to like about a crisp, modern and intense take on the traditional ‘Eau de Cologne’?

[Slightly NSFW image after the jump…]