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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.

*Unpopular Opinion Klaxon* I like Mon Guerlain and I think a lot of you are being unnecessarily grumpy about it. Yup. I’m not sorry. The way I see it, GUERLAIN has to make fragrances that appeal to the mass market as much as they need to keep the likes of Jicky and L’Heure Bleue on the shelves. They have always taken styles populised by others and given them a Guerlain twist (see Mitsouko, a twist on Coty’s Chypre, for example) and that’s exactly what Mon Guerlain is – a Guerlain take on the caramel, ethyl-maltol intensity of the likes of La Vie est Belle. The difference with the Guerlain? It smells good.

Mon Guerlain is candy floss by way of a Jicky-esque lavender and it is eminently wearable. I find it cosy, delicious and easy to wear in winter. I was not however, so keen on the Florale version that launched earlier this year which, for some reason seemed off somehow. Now we have Mon Guerlain Eau de Toilette, the third instalment in the Mon Guerlain series and the second to launch this year – we can’t accuse GUERLAIN of being lazy, that’s for sure!

Mon Guerlain Eau de Toilette is presented by GUERLAIN as a “citrus oriental” with notes of mandarin, carla lavender, sambac jasmine and vanilla tahitensis. They see it as a scent that presents a freer expression of the GUERLAIN woman – one that is seen through a lens of transparency and freshness. Let’s speed sniff.

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The concept behind Carat, Cartier’s latest feminine launch, is really beautiful. Cartier’s perfumer Mathilde Laurent was inspired by the light of diamonds, specifically how a beam of brilliant light hits the precious stone and is refracted into a full spectrum of colour. With this inspiration she chose to create a floral rainbow – a composition of seven flowers, each of which has been chosen to represent each colour of the rainbow. Isn’t that beautiful? So beautiful, in fact, that I’m not going to say anything more about the fragrance before I jump into the review, simply because nothing could sum it up better.

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We often talk about ‘notes’ or materials in fragrances and how they come together to create a multi-faceted composition. But these materials are incredibly nuanced themselves and each one brings not one, not two, but a multitude of different things to a fragrance, meaning that there is always a lot to learn when one goes back to the source materials. I always think that the best way to understand a perfume material is to break it down into facets and that’s exactly what these olfactory deconstruction pieces are for – to dissect each material into little parts so we can really understand what makes it tick, and what makes it smell so good.

Perfume is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each fragrance is made up of specifically shaped pieces that lock together. Perfumers match up the pieces, locking them together facet-to-facet, tessellating each nuance to either enhance or contrast them, or in some cases, to create something entirely new. The great thing is that, unlike jigsaw puzzles, where there is one way of piecing things together, perfumery is open-ended and the perfumer can tie things together in whichever way they see fit. This means that the picture at the end can be whatever they dream up. There are endless possibilities and to me, that’s pretty damn exciting.

Baiser Fou by Cartier
Baiser Fou by Cartier

Cartier’s in-house perfumer, Mathilde Laurent is one of the greatest olfactory artists living today. She has an innate ability to subvert familiar fragrant themes, twisting them with a dash of something unusual or humorous. At Cartier she has consistently created surprising and fascinating scent pieces, elevating the Parisian jeweller to it’s current position as a go-to fragrance house for those looking for luxury, quality and artistry all wrapped up in a beautiful package. Mathilde Laurent is a living legend (and if you need further proof you can read my interview with Mathilde here).

Cartier has recently launched another Laurent composition entitled ‘Baiser Fou‘ (‘Crazy Kiss’) – a scent inspired by lipstick kisses. Baiser Fou follows Baiser Vole in Cartier’s series of floral-focused fragrances and where the Stolen Kiss was an ode to lilies, it’s bonkers counterpart is a celebration of the orchid, with Laurent inspired to recreate the elusive smell of lipstick using the “intense powderiness and sweetness” of the orchid. Now, orchids aren’t exactly known for being particularly fragrant or you know, having the actual ability to yield a fragrance oil, so all orchid fragrances are very much a construction and Baiser Fou is exactly that – a fantasy flower.

The Candies 2016 - The Very Best (and Very Worst) Perfumes of the Year
The Candies 2016 – The Very Best (and Very Worst) Perfumes of the Year

Here we are then, at the very end of 2016. It feels, especially after the losses of George Michael, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, to name but a few, within the last week, a very bittersweet year. I say bittersweet because it’s not just the loss of the huge number of great talents this year, the likes of Bowie, Prince, Victoria Wood… (the list is endless), but also because the world seems to be a much harsher place than it did one year ago. Whatever your politics, I think we can all agree that 2017 is the year that we all need to work together to make our world a better place.

From a fragrant perspective, 2016 has actually been a pheomenal year. I’d be lying to you if I said that it was easy for me to pick out my very favourite scents of the year because I really did like a lot this year, and it feels like there certainly was a huge amount of good stuff, whether that be unique and interesting new things, or familiar styles that were executed very well. But you will be pleased to know that I was able to narrow down my choices and pick out the winners of The Candies 2016. I do need a stiff drink after all that work though…

If this is your first time attending The Candies, I shall explain how things work. Firstly, you may attend in your pyjamas and you do not need to worry about drinking too much and making a fool of yourself, in fact, such actions are encouraged. We have a number of awards to give out, each of which is split out by Mainstream and Niche, and then by gender. There are also awards for Best Top Down Design and even a Sour Candy Award, which names and shames the worst perfume of the year. This year we also have the addition of the Best Scented Product Award which celebrates the best smelly product for your body or home. It’s a full programme, so let’s get started!

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The Hottest Couple in Town: La Femme Prada & L’Homme Prada

I do like a bit of Prada, it’s true. Their fragrances are so in synch with their brand, offering modern luxury, innovation and often a splash of humour, right from the elegant Infusions all the way to the mischievous Candy. In fact, one of my current summer obsessions has been their Infusion de Cedre, which is that rare thing: an aldehydic floral for men. Anyway, I digress. Prada have just launched two new pillar fragrances: La Femme Prada and L’Homme. The Femme is a wonderfully voluptuous white floral in a golden sheen, whilst the masculine is much softer, warmer and greyer. Click here to head on over to Escentual to read my full review.

Galop d'Hermès - Christine Nagel's First Fragrance for Hermès since Becoming In-House Perfumer
Horsing Around with Galop d’Hermès

The brand new fragrance from Hermès, ‘Galop d’Hermès’,  is an interesting one on a number of levels. Firstly, and most importantly, it is the first fragrance for the brand by Christine Nagel since she became in-house perfumer (she previously created their Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate whilst Jean-Claude Ellena was still the nose-in-residence), but it also shows the house of Hermès firmly looking back towards their equestrian roots. Galop d’Hermès is a fragrance that many will look at to ascertain whether this new collaboration with Nagel will see their distinct house style put to bed in favour of a new one, or whether it will be maintained as part of the Hermès heritage. Galop d’Hermès is the first indicator of what is to come in the future and therefore, a very important fragrance.

Galop d’Hermès is an essay in two ingredients: leather and rose. Housed within a stirrup-shaped bottle, which is adorned with a smart leather tie, in vivid Hermès orange no less, the fragrance, presents itself as a scent that captures the very essence of the house, right from the overarching concept to the individual notes of the perfume. Leather is an integral element within the Hermès DNA, finding its way into many of their luxurious accessories, whereas rose has been a key ingredient in many of the brand’s illustrious fragrances over the years. Together these two notes are presented in a pure parfum that is undeniably Hermès but also entirely exciting and new.

“At Hermès, I discovered all the femininity of leather. I composed Galop d’Hermès like a painting with two main colours…two raw materials that are emblematic to Hermès and to perfumery: leather and rose.”

– Christine Nagel