The purpose of these olfactory deconstructions (see Iris and Vetiver) is to understand a raw material used in perfumery by dissecting it into its many facets. By experiencing the many nuances, one starts to gain an appreciation for how it is used within a wider composition and how it can be utilised to create interesting and novel effects. Such is the magic of perfumery – where one distinct material can bring so much more to a fragrance than its odour profile, shifting and changing as it tessellates with other notes to create things that are more than the sum of their parts.
Today’s deconstruction is a widely used material: patchouli. I chose patchouli because it’s a material found in so many fragrances, many of which utilise it as a supporting act as opposed to the star that takes top billing. I also picked it because it’s a tricky note to love, due largely to its associations with head shops and hippies, not to mention how abrasive it can be as a smell. But patchouli is so much more than a new age oil, it’s actually a fascinating and multifaceted material that deserves a lot of attention – and today we are going to give it that attention!
If there is one fragrance I’m asked for my opinion of more than any other it’s Aventus by CREED. Seriously, I regularly get emails from readers or DMs on social media from followers asking me what I think about this super popular masculine fragrance. Aventus has achieved cult status amongst fragrance obsessives and casual observers alike. It’s a perfume I find myself talking about a lot – I so often have conversations with men about Aventus, whether they are into perfume or not, because it’s often the first fragrance they mention. But why? What makes Aventus special? Why has it resonated so well? I’m genuinely curious.
Aventus launched in 2010 – the year that the house of CREED celebrated its 250th anniversary. According to the brand, CREED perfumer Olivier Creed was inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte, choosing to use a host of ingredients that had a link to the French military leader. Structurally it is not an unusual fragrance – the top notes are fresh and citrussy (bergamot, blackcurrant, apple and pineapple), whilst the rest is floral, aromatic and warm (jasmine, rose, patchouli, amber etc.)
So, what is all the fuss about?
Madonna turns 60 today – Happy Birthday, HRH Madonna! To celebrate, I thought I would resurrect my much-loved ‘Scent a Celebrity Series’, in which I ‘scent’ (pick fragrances for) some of my favourite celebrities. So let’s jump right back in with none other than the Queen of Pop!
Madonna; no other name is more instantly recognisable and no person is more likely to divide opinion. Arguably the most famous woman on the planet and factually the best selling female recording artist of all time, Madonna is a force that is hard to define; singer, dancer, performer, entertainer, provocateur, feminist, business woman, calculating she-devil – love her or hate her, whatever moniker you throw at her will most likely apply. She has done what many other icons fail to do – achieve longevity and on her 60th birthday, we celebrate her phenomenal four decades in music.
The fascinating thing about Madonna is that her ratio of talent to fame is perhaps slightly off balance. She’s not the greatest singer or dancer in the world, or even the best looking, but she has that je ne sais quoi that makes a person a star – the x factor, as they call it. Some say that she’s just a good business woman and I’m sure she is but that does not make for such longevity. By pushing people’s buttons and having something to say (and saying it well) Madonna has ensured that she is more than a just a star, she’s that rare commodity: an icon.
Speed Sniffs are a way to bring you ‘to-the-point’ fragrance reviews that are quick and easy to digest. They are perfume reviews without the faff.
The MUGLER Eau de Toilettes for ANGEL, ALIEN, and now AURA are almost like diet versions of the originals. The structure is still there but they have been lightened in a sense, making them zero-calorie, palatable options that are a little bit easier to get on with. Now I’m here for the full fat, calorie-laden versions at all times, but sometimes one wants a little bit of lightness and clarity. Every now and then, maybe? OK, OK, once in a blue moon then!
Following the success of AURA, MUGLER’S first feminine pillar since 2010’s WOMANITY (poor, doomed WOMANITY), MUGLER have launched an Eau de Toilette version – a yin to the Eau de Parfums yang. They describe it as “a new aromatic interpretation of colourful, glowing freshness”. Or as I’d put it, if AURA EDP is a lush rainforest filled with stifling, scented air, AURA EDT is a fine mist of rain that breezes through said forest. They are of the same place but they are not of the same weight.
The simple elegance of a decent eau de cologne is one of the greatest things in the whole of perfumery. That tension between citrus, flowers and herbs (and now in modern times, musks) is a sparkling tonic when the mercury rises. In fact, the purity of a good eau de cologne transcends seasons and can be the perfect thing to wear at any time and on any occasion. To put it simply, when eau de colognes are good, they’re very good, and even when they’re bad they’re still pretty good!
One cologne that really struck a chord with me recently was the latest launch from Givenchy: ‘Eau de Givenchy’. Inspired by Hubert de Givenchy’s gardens in the South of France, Eau de Givenchy is a modern reinterpretation of a Givenchy fragrance of the same name that launched in 1980. François Demachy is the man behind this new scent and he has penned a contemporary eau de cologne that presents, as Givenchy puts it, “a moment of freshness suspended in time that feels like it could last forever.” Well, that’s quite the promise – let’s see if Eau de Givenchy delivers…