Pretty in Pink - Silk Blossom Cologne by Jo Malone
Pretty in Pink – Silk Blossom Cologne by Jo Malone

It has been a busy year for British perfume brand, Jo Malone. So far in 2014 they have launched four deluge-inspired colognes as part of their London Rain Collection, a new addition to their Cologne Intense series ‘Tuberose Angelica‘ and they’re set to launch the very intriguing ‘Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne’ in September. So yes, the perfumers over at one of Britain’s most popular fragrance brands have been working very hard indeed.

In amongst these new launches is a limited edition fragrance, and the subject of today’s review, entitled ‘Silk Blossom Cologne‘. Created by perfumer Marie Salamagne (Vivienne Westwood’s Let it Rock and Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic) and inspired by the “pink-fringed pompoms” of the flower, from which it takes its name, Silk Blossom is an airy, roseate fragrance that celebrates pale, powdery and blush tones of pink.

“Nature’s blooms at their most tempting.
The pink-fringed pompoms of Silk Blossom.
Irresistible to hummingbirds and butterflies.
Apricot-fresh with a touch of spice.
Airy with clouds of powder-soft heliotrope,
nestling on a bed of moss.
Fruity and enticing.”

Joy Forever
JOY FOREVER – A Modern Type of Joy

French couturier Jean Patou launched his iconic flagship fragrance ‘JOY‘ in 1930, almost immediately after the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Patou created his signature fragrance with a view of making it an affordable luxury for those that were no longer able to shroud themselves in the couture of the day. Quite ironically however, the fragrance was known as the ‘most expensive perfume in the world’ for quite some time, due in part to its prominent use of natural jasmine which, as you will all know, doesn’t come cheap.

It seems poignant almost that the house of Patou should launch a new interpretation of JOY in 2014, whilst the world is in the midst (and hopefully at the back end of) a global financial crisis. This new version of Patou’s classic is entitled ‘JOY FOREVER‘ and is described by the house as being a “stunning floral perfume that unveils a new chapter in continuing story of JOY“. Created by perfumer Thomas Fontaine for “today’s discerning woman”, JOY FOREVER is a more translucent, radiant and vibrant take on one of perfumery’s most iconic and timeless perfumes.

“Her mother may have worn JOY for its sheer luxury but she will choose JOY FOREVER for its natural quality and scent. She lives for the moment….she lives for today!”

JOY FOREVER joins the likes of Chanel’s Nº5 Eau Première and Guerlain’s Shalimar Parfum Initial as entry level fragrances for those that aren’t quite ready to commit to the classics. Perhaps the most surprising thing about it is the fact that, whilst it doesn’t smell anywhere near as heady, intense or timeless as the original JOY, it does look back to the past, not quite as far back as 1930 mind you, but instead it looks to the aldehydic florals of the 1980s, from which it takes more than a few olfactory cues.

Old School Whimsy - Tralala by Penhaligon's, Meadham Kirchhoff & Bertrand Duchaufour
Old School Whimsy – Tralala by Penhaligon’s, Meadham Kirchhoff & Bertrand Duchaufour

Old-school British brand Penhaligon’s has seen a positive renaissance over the last few years. In 2009 they appeared to make a conscious decision to move away from their more staid roots and played to their more risqué side with Bertrand Duchaufour’s masterful Amaranthine – a perfume that was created to smell like the inside of a woman’s thigh (oh my, I’m blushing), and have since set themselves a trend of creating old school perfumes with modern and quirky twists.

Thankfully this is a trend that they seem to be continuing and for 2014, Britain’s most idiosyncratic perfume house is teaming up with the equally unconventional fashion brand, Meadham Kirchhoff, to create perhaps their most whimsical fragrance to date. The result of this collaboration is a fragrance penned by super-perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour (the man also responsible for AmaranthineVaaraSartorial and Orange Blossom) and bestowed with the infectious name ‘Tralala‘.

Launching next week, Tralala is described by Penhaligon’s as being a “beguiling and addictive piece of counter culture couture” and all one needs for proof of this claim is a quick look at the wonderful bottle with it’s clown head and ridiculously huge signature Penhaligon’s bow. The scent itself, is billed as “an opulent, hedonistic blend” that “evokes the interplay of glamour and retrospection favoured by Meadham Kirchhoff”. Having spent quite some time sniffing this new creation, I can wholeheartedly confirm that it does do exactly what it ‘says on the tin’.

Oud Save the Queen
Oud Save the Queen

I realise that linking Sex Pistols’ lyrics with perfume in the title of this post is a tenuous connection at best, but if perfume brand Atkinsons is allowed to have fun with titles and monikers, then I’ll be darned if I’m can’t join in too. On the subject of names, the latest fragrance from Atkinsons has such a wonderfully hilarious name I genuinely could not pass up givin it a shot. I mean, you’ve got to admire the audacity of a brand who bestows a perfume with the name ‘Oud Save the Queen‘.

Atkinsons is a recently-revived British brand that started in London in 1799 and is self-described as being “the original London Society fragrance house and the first official Perfumer to the Royal court”. This royal connection is explored further by Atkinsons, who claim to have “created the first British Oud fragrance, Prince Ibraham Bouquet, for Crown Prince Mohammed Ali Ibrahim of Egypt” upon the request of Queen Mary, during the roaring twenties.

The Oud Collection, which consists of Oud Save the Queen and her masculine counterpart ‘Oud Save the King‘, celebrates the brand’s royal connections to Britain and Egypt. Atkinsons calls their feminine oud (created by perfumer Francis Deleamont of Firmenich) a “majestic fragrance of sublimely sovereign beauty” that boasts notes of tea, flowers and rich woods. The result is something that is a little bit too sturdy to be truly “majestic”, but majesty can be overrated if you ask me.

English Dawn White Gardenia
English Dawn White Gardenia

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – The Body Shop create decent and easy to wear perfumes at a phenomenally good price. They don’t perhaps approach the art of olfaction with as much gusto as their high street competitors Lush do, but they do know how to put together an enjoyable fragrance that doesn’t blow your socks off or your wallet up. In a world where many expensive perfumes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, this is a refreshing quality to have.

That said, The Body Shop doesn’t always get it right and their latest launch ‘English Dawn White Gardenia‘ is one such occasion (I’ve given the game away here, haven’t I?). Created to capture “the bouquet of hundreds of White Gardenia petals blowing gently in the first light of dawn”, this limited edition spring fragrance joins The Body Shop’s Voyage Fragrance Collection – a series of perfumes that take one on a whistle stop tour of the world via the medium of scent.

Capturing the hedonistic scent of the gardenia is a pretty tricky feat, especially seeing as the flower itself is incredibly elusive when it comes to giving up its scent. Most fragrances that boast ‘gardenia’ as a note are reconstructions – olfactory jigsaw puzzles that piece together the flower’s most distinctive scent with a number of floral notes and crafty raw materials. Very few perfumes actually achieve the full gardenia effect (so far I’ve only come across Estée Lauder’s Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia and Arquiste’s Boutonnière No. 7 that manage it), so the big question is – does The Body Shop succeed in achieving gardenia photorealism?

Rosabotanica
Kristen Stewart Looking Like She’s Having a Wonderful Time, As Always…

I have definitely tried Balenciaga’s Florabotanica but for the life of me I cannot remember how I felt about it. The bottle is gorgeous so I’m pretty sure that I recall being impressed to some degree, but that’s about as far as my recollection goes. Perhaps I was put off by spokesfaceperson Kristen Stewart (there really is only so much of her looking bored that I can take) or maybe the scent was nice but nothing noteworthy (that sounds more like it). Whatever the reasons, Florabotanica failed to make an impression.

Florabotanica’s first flanker ‘Rosabotanica‘ however (we’re going to get a whole slew of these aren’t we? I reckon it’ll be ‘Jasmabotanica’ next), is definitely more memorable and noteworthy and comes as a complete surprise for a brand that always makes high quality stuff but doesn’t always push the boat out artistically speaking. Rosabotanica certainly changes the game in that respect.

Launched in late 2013, Rosabotanica was created by perfumers Olivier Polge (Florabotanica, Dior Homme and Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb) and Jean-Christophe Hérault (Florabotanica and Comme des Garçons’ Amazingreen) as “the second flower in Balenciaga’s magical garden”. ‘Magical’ is indeed the right word for it as this second botanical scent takes the idea of flowers into unique, unusual and positively futuristic territory.

Le Tentation de Nina
La Tentation de Nina

One of the perfumes I have been very much looking forward to (read: lusting after like a geeky fan boy) since I heard about its impending launch towards the end of 2013 is ‘La Tentation de Nina‘ by Nina Ricci. “Why?” I hear you ask, well the answer is simple: this is a perfume inspired by a special macaron made by Ladurée. I love macarons (although I’d take an Ispahan over these little treats any day), I love Ladurée and I love perfume – a match made in heaven, I feel.

Created by Olivier Cresp (Nina Ricci’s Nina with Jacques Cavallier and Mugler’s Angel with Yves de Chiris) in partnership with Ladurée’s Head Pastry Chef Vincent Lemains – La Tentation de Nina is a perfume evocative of the most trendy meringue-based confection in the world. The brand bill this partnership and creation as a “playful mirroring of the sense” where a perfume and macaron take inspiration from each other, coming together to create “the ultimate temptation.” But does it live up to expectations? Well the short answer to that question is ‘sort of’…

Dark Lady
Dark Lady

I have a turbulent relationship with the house of CREED. They are definitely on the pricey side for what they are and their quality can be a bit hit or miss, but it would be unfair to say that none of their scents are worth seeking out. In fact, I can name at least four that are sniff worthy (Virgin Island Water, Silver Mountain Water, Millesime Imperial and Green Irish Tweed) so, as much as they may not be my favourite of brands, I’m still very much willing to give them the time of day, but have always approached them with a wary step.

One particular CREED perfume that sticks out for me is Love in Black – a scent that I like to call ‘Dark Lady’ as it presents an intriguing, feminine and unexpected representation of the colour black. It’s also a perfume that really does take awhile to ‘get’ due to its striking take on violet and iris – two ingredients often used to represent beauty, but in this perfume are added to give the impression of something beautifully unconventional.

Love in Black was launched in 2008 and was inspired by former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (or Jackie O as she was more commonly known) and is a far cry from the clean blooms of its sister scent Love in White. CREED describe the fragrance as a “lush floral oriental”, but in my mind it is more of a black swan of a scent (funnily enough the brand uses this imagery) that plays on the contrasting facets of a modern and powerful woman.

Erotique and FleurTeese by Dita Von Tees
Erotique and FleurTeese by Dita Von Tees

Celebrity fragrances (or ‘celebuscents’ as I like to call them) are so often the scorn of the perfume industry. Mainly because most are simply extra vehicles for our dear ‘celebrities’, a term which must be used loosely for a lot of the stars releasing perfumes these days, to make extra cash. After all, what’s easier than putting your name on a bottle of something you’ve had little involvement in creating?

But not all celebrities are in it for a quick buck and over the years we’ve seen a number of good celebuscents join the foray. Etat Libre d’Orange’s collaborations with the weird and wonderful Tilda Swinton and Rossy de Palma are notable examples, Madonna’s Truth or Dare was nicely done and even Britney Spears’ Fantasy has a degree of merit to it (I dare you to disagree that it is the perfect fruity floral cupcake scent). And then of course there is Dita Von Teese – the antidote to the world of naff celebrity scents and Dr. C. Perfume Boy is prescribing two big doses today.

Dita came to the rescue with her first perfume ‘Dita Von Teese‘ (sometimes referred to as ‘Femme Totale’) in 2012, a perfectly decent floral-patchouli affair that puts most of its contemporaries to shame. We shouldn’t be surprised though, as Dita is known for exuding glamour and style, and her perfumes certainly follow suit. This year sees the launch of Dita’s third and fourth perfumes – FleurTeese and Erotique, both of which show the Queen of Burlesque’s passion for fragrance

Les Liqueurs de Parfums
Les Liqueurs de Parfums by Thierry Mugler

I make no bones about the fact that Thierry Mugler is one of my all-time favourite perfume brands. Their signature perfumes – Angel, Alien, Womanity, Cologne and A*Men – all have a very special place in my collection and are so befitting of the style of perfume I love, they almost feel as if they were created for me – although I am entirely aware that they were not.

Once a year Mugler treats us all to a special collection of fragrances – four unique takes on their existing signature fragrances. The familiar accords of these perfumes are twisted and remixed to include an ‘enhancer’ that presents them in an entirely new light. Over the last few years the likes of Angel et al have been reshaped by leather and gourmet ingredients to name just a few.

This year’s collection – ‘Les Liqueurs de Parfums‘ – sees the famous Mugler fragrances imbued with equally well-known liqueurs and is a sidestep for the brand, having already released alcohol-inspired versions of Angel, Alien and A*Men in 2009. The difference with this collection, however is that the wooden casks each fragrance has been aged in were warmed up and toasted to add a brand new facet to these boozy ‘fumes.