Niche brand Juliette Has a Gun seems to be spoiling us with a bevy of launches this summer. We get not one, but two pillar fragrances from the house and style-wise these launches play to two completely different styles, with both opting to defy conventions in different ways. That said, they both sit comfortably into Juliette’s ever-growing oeuvre, which is a distinct mix of the oriental and strong, and the musky with intent. They make for an interesting mix, that’s for sure.
First up we have Gentlewoman, a fragrance inspired by a traditional eau de cologne but given a feminine twist. Of Gentlewoman, brand creator Romano Ricci said he wanted to “give women a dash of dandy”, creating a ‘gentlewoman’s code’ outlining a “citrus woody musky” fragrance that according to the brand, possesses, amongst other things, dandyism, impertinence, audacity, look and freedom. The result is a modern eau de cologne that strips away the gender barriers, favouring androgyny over tired notions of what is appropriate for men, women and anyone that identifies as in-between.
We also have Another Oud. That’s to say that the name of the fragrance is in fact, ‘Another Oud’, not that the launch is another oud fragrance, which it is, actually – an oud, that is. To clarify, this is another oud fragrance cheekily entitled ‘Another Oud’, which is all a bit of a riot if you ask me. Juliette Has a Gun say that this is actually “just the opposite” of a traditional oud fragrance and is, “Version 2.0.” as they quite nifty describe it. You’ve got to give credit to a house that says what we’re all thinking and does so deliberately in order to inspire curiosity. What’s more, this particular oud is actually rather sniff-worthy, and not just because of the name.
Do you ever get the impression that you’re going to love a perfume before you’ve even tried it? It’s an odd feeling. You read all of the reviews online, study the marketing bumf and ogle pictures of the bottle, whilst all the time feeding your inner perfume demon who is quietly whispering how “they wants it, they needs it”. Only when one actually gets their hands on the precious is the demon satisfied. Lalique’s latest feminine fragrance, ‘Living Lalique‘ was one such case of demonic perfume lust. All it took was one scan of the press release and I was hooked – I knew I needed it in my life.
Living Lalique, like all-things Lalique, looks to the past for its inspirations (see the Noir Premier Collection for further evidence). The fragrance takes cues from the flight of the swallow, Lalique’s house emblem, whilst the bottle is inspired by the ‘Carnette Fleur’, a bottle designed by founder, René Lalique in 1911, not to mention the fact that the ad campaign focuses on an art deco window inspired by the brands aesthetics. It’s definitely a Lalique affair and one has to feel positive about the brand’s love and respect for their heritage.
The fragrance itself is penned by Richard Ibanez of Robertet (Andrea Maack Coal & Divine L’Inspiratrice) and is described as being a “soaring fragrance” that “follows the Lalique woman from metropolis to metropolis and from emotion to emotion”. To evoke the spirit of the Lalique lifestyle, the brand and Ibanez have chosen to focus on perfumery’s richest and most divine ingredient – orris butter (iris). The result is a sumptuous, pillowy fragrance that, through subtlety and a paired-back warmth, evokes beauty with every fibre of its orris-soaked being.
“A moment of emotion. A flight of swallows. A window opening into a world of timeless luxury. The quintessence of the Lalique lifestyle is expressed in a new perfume, Living Lalique. A bold fragrance, reflecting the urban, contemporary, active life of the Lalique woman. A dream-like fragrance, sculpted from materials as luminous as crystal. A soaring fragrance, inspired by the elegant swallow, Lalique has chosen as its emblem.”
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner (five days away to be exact) and if you’re attached to a significant other you are likely to be thinking about what treats you may have in store for them. Now, don’t you worry, this isn’t yet another gift guide (I’ve done my anti-Valentine’s gift guide already) as they are a dime a dozen these days. No, instead I’ve decided to celebrate the day of St. Valentine by doing something a little bit different this year.
Perfume, like literature and film, is littered with many legendary lovers – iconic pairings that tell the story of true romance. These duos may have been created to market the idea of ‘his ‘n’ hers’ but they also allow a couple to share a fragrant experience by either matching, complimenting or contrasting each other. I’m all for them when done right and with a bit of flair. So, without further ado, here are my picks for perfumery’s most iconic pairings.
There are few brands whose launches I look forward to more than those from Maison Francis Kurkdjian. I’ll just come out and say it – I’m a Francis Kurkdjian fanboy. If you’ve been following my Instagram over the last week, you will have seen proof of this in the form of me spending much of my time enjoying Kurkdjian’s creations for rebellious fashion designer, Jean Paul Gaultier (specifically; Le Mâle, Fragile and Fleur du Mâle). Maison Francis Kurkdjian, the perfumer’s very own brand is one of my favourites and with MFK, Kurkdjian manages to weave simplicity and complexity effortlessly together, creating approachable but high quality, and more importantly, high class perfumes.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s latest fragrance is À la Rose, and unsurprisingly, it’s all about the humble rose – 250 of them, in fact. You can never get enough rose in my opinion, and seeing as the flower can be interpreted in so many different ways, ranging from delicious rosewater treats (see Essence Nº1: Rose by Elie Saab) to heady examples of rosy exoticism (see Guerlain’s Nahéma), there’s always a surprise, or two, to be had. In short: the world of rose is never boring.
Kurkdjian already has two roses within his collection (Lumière Noire pour Femme & pour Homme –two heavy and oriental roses), so exactly what does À la Rose bring to the table that we’ve not seen from the perfumer before? Well, the focus is definitely quite different and this new rose feels very much in keeping with Kurkdjian’s penchant for clear and radiant signatures that present familiar themes in their purest form. It does exactly what one expects it to and for once, lives up to the marketing spiel, which is somewhat of a rarity in the industry today. À la Rose is described as follows:
“A la Rose is an ode to femininity, a declaration of love captured in a fragrance. Two hundred and fifty precious roses from Grasse offer their radiance and their unmatched richness in every flacon”
Smelling Black Opium, the latest from YSL, one finds it hard to believe that this fragrance comes from one of the most iconic and innovative designer fragrance brands of all time. Just think about it for a second, Yves Saint Laurent brought the world Opium, Paris and Rive Gauche, arguably three of the most important feminines released in the modern age. Not to forget the fact that they have also created cult classics such as Nu, M7 and Rive Gauche Pour Homme – perfumes that paint YSL as a brand with no fear, and a thirst to be different and divisive.
Black Opium is not an important fragrance, nor is it a particularly good one, and it seems that I’m not the only one to think so. Yesterday, Saint Laurent Paris (the fashion arm of YSL) distributed a press release on behalf of Creative Director, Hedi Slimane that distanced him from any involvement with the fragrance, stating that “no creative direction has been given by Hedi Slimane on the market launches and on the choices of artistic elements, or the definition of image, related to the product lines or the advertising campaigns of Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, including the ones of Black Opium”. All I can say is ‘ouch’, that’s not a good sign.
With each release, YSL seems to be creating more and more duds (does anyone even remember 2012’s Manifesto? Exactly) whilst simultaneously unleashing a regular wave of flankers of their flagship fragrances. Black Opium is the third permanent flanker to the Opium name since 2010 (the others being Belle d’Opium and Opium Vapeurs de Parfum) and was created by perfumers Honorine Blanc, Olivier Cresp, Nathalie Lorson and Marie Salamagne – a waste of talent, if there ever was one. YSL describe Black Opium as follows:
“2014’s Most Anticipated New Fragrance [..] Black Opium, the new feminine fragrance by Yves Saint Laurent – new glam rock fragrance full of mystery and energy. An addictive gourmand floral.”
“Black, white and nude are my essential colors. Each time I start a collection, I start with these colors; they are the elemental colors we refer to from the beginning.”
– Narciso Rodriguez
Scent often presents itself to me in colours. I am not for one second claiming that I am a possessor of any form of Synesthesia, but like most people I’m sure, I often assign a shade or hue to a particular perfume or ingredient. For example, Frederic Malle’s Portrait of a Lady is the most shocking, ruby-like red, whereas 4160 Tuesdays’ Urara’s Tokyo Cafe comes out of the bottle in strands of fuchsia pink and dark green. Of course, a perfume’s packaging has an impact, leading one to think of a specific colour, and despite the way one’s mind may think they smell, it’s impossible to see a fragrance such as Mugler’s Angelas any other colour other than blue.
On some occasions the colour of a perfume’s packaging perfectly matches the shade of the smell it contains. This aesthetic and olfactory synchronicity can add to the overall experience of a fragrance, joining together the tactile and the ephemeral to make something that is ultimately more enjoyable. NARCISO, the latest fragrance from American fashion designer, Narciso Rodriguez is one such fragrance and it marries a bottle and a fragrance of white, nude and black to create an immersive olfactory experience that, even in its flesh tones, is distinctly colourful.
NARCISO, which takes its name from the designer and the Greek myth of Narcissus, was created by perfumer, Aurelien Guichard (Chinatown, Eros & Petit Fracas) and intends to celebrate “a woman’s powers of seduction with the utmost luxury”. It follows Narciso Rogriguez for Her as the brand’s second pillar fragrance for women and seeing as for Her is already considered as a modern classic, NARCISO has some big shoes to fill. NARCISO may be pale in colour, but does it pale in comparison to Rodriguez’s popular flagship fragrance? Only time will tell.
I’m still alive! Due to being away for work this week, I haven’t been able to turn my attention to The Candy Perfume Boy. I assure you that normal service will resume next week, with more reviews and news from the perfume world. Whilst I may not have had time to put together a post for the blog this week, I have still written for my weekly Escentual column, and this week’s subject is the fabulous, glamorous and radiant new fragrance from Jean Paul Gaultier – ‘Classique Intense‘.
This new scent, penned by none other than Francis Kurkdjian, isn’t your typical ‘intense’ version that amps up the heavier notes and makes for a thicker and long-lasting experience. No, this is Classique with the glamour dials turned right up – a radiant floral vanilla that is the shows topping starlet to the original’s backstage boudoir. Between all that glitter and gold lies a beautifully composed fragrance that is a worthy addition to the Classique lineup. Read my review here.
Good news, folks! Stella McCartney is re-launching her eponymous fragrance, ‘Stella‘. The composition of the perfume, originally launched in 2003 and created by perfumer Jacques Cavallier (Alexander McQueen’s Kingdom, Issey Miyake’s Le Feu d’Issey and Yves Saint Laurent’s Nu), thankfully remains unchanged, whilst the bottle has undergone a very slight revamp with a number of new sizes available. Stella launches exclusively to Harrods in the UK today.
To celebrate this welcome relaunch (I’m a personal fan as it’s my beloved sister’s signature scent), Stella McCartney has teamed up with fashion photographers Mert & Marcus, and model Lara Stone to create a provocative print and television ad campaign that shows the woody rose fragrance in an entirely more edgy light. One image (NSFW, FYI) displays Stone completely nude and covered with strategically placed flacons, positioning Stella’s relaunch as entirely unmissable.
At the recent launch event for Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s latest duo of fragrances there was a lot of discussion around art and its relation to the world of perfume. Kurkdjian, who is ever a frank and fascinating speaker, asserted that perfume is not art because it is created to please consumers and where art is given a value by the market, perfume prices are set by their creators. This isn’t to say that Kurkdjian is belittling perfume by any means, in fact it seems that he takes a purely practical view of the subject, comparing his collection to an olfactory wardrobe, containing a plethora of pieces ranging from the everyday staple of the white T-Shirt (Aqua Universalis) to the more occasionally worn leather trousers (Absolue Pour le Soir).
Also at the event, Art Curator, Karine Giannamore spoke at length about what constitutes a masterpiece, piecing together simplicity, hard work, innovation and emotion, as the key ingredients that create a timeless work of art. Giannamore states that a masterpiece “has to be new [and] has to be original” but also must be “cemented in tradition”. This collision of the innovative and the traditional is exactly what Francis Kurkdjian has played with for his two new fragrances – féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel.
“What makes a work of art? A masterpiece? A Timeless work of art? Something so good or beautiful that it cannot be affected by changes in society or fashion.”
– Karine Giannamore
The Pluriel (Plural) duo has been created as a mirror image – two fragrances that perfectly capture the essence of femininity and masculinity, or as the brand puts it; “the eternal feminine and masculine.” With each fragrance, Kurkdjian takes a traditional theme and adds a contemporary twist to create a pair of perfumes that feel thoroughly modern and very much in keeping with his clear and radiant style. For féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel, Kurkdjian has crafted two new pieces for his olfactory wardrobe – two fragrant garments that are as modern, chic, timeless and elegant as anything a couturier could construct.
Lots of perfumes are sold on the basis that they are ‘sexy’. All one needs to do to see proof of this is simply peruse an assortment of perfume ads, which will inevitably show attractive men and lady folk in varying states of undress post and pre-coitus. Sex sells, of course, and the perfume world is not immune to this, meaning that where fragrance goes, ‘sexy’ is never far behind.
One brand that is not averse to racy perfumes is Agent Provocateur. Their wardrobe of fragrances (or should that be ‘knicker draw of fragrances’?) is full of retro, glamour puss perfumes that are instantly evocative of silk stockings, garter belts and frilly brassieres. ‘Fatale’, their latest perfume, feels very much like a step into the mainstream and plays with the idea of a powdery ‘fruitchouli’ in an enjoyable, but not particularly erotic manner.
For my Escentual column this week, I have taken a close look at this new fragrance and whether it feels more fun than foxy (spoiler: it does). So, if you’re in the mood to read about a femme without the fatale then please click here to head on over to Escentual. As always, don’t forget to let me know what you think of Fatale, if you’ve given it a try, or even what your favourite sexy fragrance is.