There has been a revival at the house of Gucci. For the first time in a long time (since Tom Ford was at the helm, in fact) the olfactory style of the house is in tune its visual aesthetic. Of course, the fashion has evolved tremendously since then and the bohemian, vintage chic that Creative Director Alesandro Michele has brought to the house has made Gucci THE fashion brand everybody wants. Michele clearly gets perfume, having worked with Master Perfumer Alberto Morillas to create intriguing, on-brand creations such as Gucci Bloom, Gucci Guilty Absolute and now, Memoire d’une Odeur, completely overhauling the way Gucci presents perfume. I for one, am here for it.
Memoire d’une Odeur explores the intrinsic link between memory and scent. For Michele, the scent memory he wished to recreate was that of Roman Chamomile, which takes centre stage in what Gucci are positioning as a “mineral aromatic”. This fragrance, they say, is universal – it’s for everyone regardless of gender or age – and that, my friends, is exactly how every fragrance should be. Memoire d’une Odeur is an unusual, unfamiliar fragrance that conjurs a specific memory for Michele and creates a new one for those who experience it.
To me, MUGLER COLOGNE, has always felt like a perfect mid-point in the MUGLER brand. Where ANGEL and ALIEN etc. have always been divisive, challenging compositions, COLOGNE embodies a more palatable signature, whilst maintaining the innovative, unusual quality of the brand. With its weird, steamy muskiness, COLOGNE is as much a ‘MUGLER’ as ANGEL, but somehow it feels more casual, more effortless and with a wider appeal.
Ever since couturier Paul Poiret launched the perfume house Parfums de Rosine in 1911, fashion and fragrance have always had an unbreakable link – a seam and a stitch that has brought them together. Today fashion houses, high street brands, and all that sits in between, have fragrances in their portfolio, attempting to, with varying degrees of success, distill their brand identities into scents that provide an accessible entry point for the consumer.
Founded in 1994, AllSaints, the London-based fashion brand, has always moved to the beat of their own drum, so it’s no surprise that it has taken them a long time to get into the fragrance market. AllSaints is all about a free-spirited coolness – an easy, ‘I wear what I want’ spirit. With a price point elevated above many high street brands, AllSaints has always struck me as a place one goes for pillars in their wardrobe – investments like a leather jacket that goes with anything, perhaps. It’s a brand that favours neutral colours, with an aesthetic that enjoys contrasts – juxtapositions of hard and smooth, of wood and metal.
With their debut collection of fragrances, AllSaints has captured the laid back, London-spirit of their brand in three scents that “contrast, complement and contradict”. The fragrances – Sunset Riot, Metal Wave and Incense City – are housed in structured square bottles topped with concrete caps. The boxes and labels each feature a polaroid negative of a flower – a design touch intended to showcase the link between fragrance and memory. It’s a collection that has been put together with clear thought and vision, and truthfully, this shows in the fragrances themselves.
I feel as if Les Infusions de Prada best showcases the DNA of the Prada brand. It was Infusion d’Iris, the genesis of the collection, that really birthed that inimitable Prada signature that is now so familiar. This Prada trademark is the result of the fusion of two materials; iris and benzoin, both of which come together to create a fizzy, powdery, grey and sweet, gauzy aroma that is so luxurious and so ‘Prada’. It’s glorious and to be found front and centre in the brand’s many infusions.
Speaking of infusions, the latest to join the collection is Infusion de Mandarine, a fragrance that seeks to distil the essence of mandarin and merge it with that Prada signature. Created by perfumer Daniela Andrier, who is responsible for most (if not all) of the Prada fragrances, Infusion de Mandarine presents a cacophony of orange notes wrapped together in a little juicy package. This may look like an unassuming citrus on the surface but boy, it is anything but!
“It’s the scent of your lover on your skin after sex.”
That’s how Roland Mouret described his debut fragrance to me at the launch this week, and when that is the first thing one hears about a perfume, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the scent is going to be good. Roland Mouret is known for his use of draping and asymmetrical folds in his designs, but he’s also known for form-fitting sensuality. So with sensuality and sexuality in mind, it’s no surprise that he turned to Etat Libre d’Orange, the most x-rated (and cheeky) of perfume houses, to create his debut fragrance.
That fragrance is the unisex ‘Une Amourette‘ (‘A Fling’) and it is created by Perfumer Daniela Andrier, who has been responsible for all of the mostly iris-centric Prada perfumes. I’ll say now that Une Amourette smells nothing like any other Andrier perfume – so much so, in fact, that if you’re familiar with her style, you will second guess whether this is one of hers. A bubbling, suede-like iris this is not, no. Une Amourette is described as “seductive” and “powerful”. It’s a scent that “leaves it mark as you move” – a statement piece carefully crafted to accentuate your body and draw attention to it as you strut through your everyday life. Everywhere is a catwalk, never forget that, Dear Reader.
If you’ve been following the blog over the last year or so you will know that I’ve wholly and truly been bitten by the photography bug. All of the photographs on this blog for the last year or so have been my own and I’ve made a conscious effort to use my own photos over press shots because I want to visually interpret the fragrances I write about. But I’m breaking from tradition today, because in this post I’m showcasing the amazing work of a professional photographer working in the perfume industry: Mr David Newton.
David Newton is an illustrator turned photographer who has worked with some seriously big names in the industry – Harrods, Vogue, Dior, YSL – you name them, he’s worked with them. David photographs cosmetics and accessories as well as perfume, and his style is idiosyncratic as well as visually stunning. I first became aware of his work at the Jasmine Awards this year where he won an award for his jellylicious work with Harrods magazine. I have since dived into his portfolio and become increasingly more obsessed by his unique visual style. David is an amazing photographer and he provides a fascinating insight into his process in this interview. He also has really good taste in perfume, which you’ll find out as you read on.
When it was announced that Christine Nagel would replace Jean-Claude Ellena as the in-house perfumer at Hermès I remember wondering whether the house-style that Ellena had crafted to be so distinct would change. Both are idiosyncratic perfumers with a bold style and Ellena’s mineral watercolours are as far removed from Nagel’s voluptous compositions as they can be. So we’re now four launches into Christine Nagel’s tenure at Hermès and it is safe to say that yes, the house style has changed from minimalism to a subtle maxamilism (i’m making that a thing, by the way), but it still remains completely faithful to the one thing that Hermès always delivers: luxury.
Hermès latest launch is Twilly d’Hermès – a fragrance named for the brand’s Twilly scarves, which are colourful, think silk scarfs that can be worn in a multitude of ways, and the scent really cements the brand’s new style, which feels a little bit more accessible. Twilly the perfume is just as vibrant as the scarves and Hermès use words such as “joyous”, “impish” and “playful” to describe it. The presentation, which sees the fragrance housed within a carriage lantern-style bottle topped by a bowler hat and finished with a Twilly tie, says that this fragrance is young, fun and full of surprises. So let’s not wait any longer and give Twilly d’Hermès a sniff.
The TOM FORD fragrance collection is massive and it touches every aspect of olfaction, boasting colognes-a-plenty, a feast of florals and more ouds than one can shake a stick at. Not to mention many other styles of fragrance! What makes the brand so good, and ultimately so successful, is the fact that the fragrances aren’t afraid to be bold. In the mainstream, fragrances are made to appeal to everyone and their cat, but at TOM FORD fragrances are created to appeal and to resonate with only some, meaning that the scents themselves are often very interesting, and with so many TOM FORD scents to chose from, one is bound to find something they like.
Speaking of TOM FORD fragrances that aren’t afraid to be bold, let’s take a look at Noir Anthracite, the latest addition to the brand’s Signature Collection. Now, if you’ve tried the original Noir, you will remember it as a plush and powdery scent that felt very much like a modern, masculine interpretation of Shalimar. Well scrap whatever thoughts you had about Noir because Noir Anthracite could not be further from the original if it tried. What Noir Anthracite does share with its namesake however, is a sense of shadow and rather than possessing a blissful purr like Noir, Noir Anthracite is a fragrance that will blow your socks clean off with its mighty roar.