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By now we all know my thoughts on the House of MUGLER. I am and always will be, a lifelong MUGLER fanboy. I am indoctrinated in their ideology. I am a card-carrying member of the Muglerati. If you ask me where I’m from, I will tell you that I was born from a star in the far reaches of the Muglerverse. The brand is my favourite and their fragrances are some of my most-beloved. I am MUGLER, smell me roar.

So it’s always exciting for me when MUGLER launch a new fragrance and this year hasn’t been short in terms of output from my favourite brand. So far we’ve had two Alien flankers (Musc Mysterieux and Eau Sublime), some delicious Angel-flavoured chocolates, oh we can’t forget the entirely brand new feminine pillar fragrance in the form of Aura. It’s been a busy year on Planet Mugler, for sure, and there’s no let up yet, because the brand has just added the ninth fragrance to their exclusive Les Exceptions range: the intriguingly named Wonder Bouquet.

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Star Magnolia by Jo Malone London

Magnolia, much like Mimosa, is a floral note not commonly used in perfumery. Sure, there are magnolia scents out there but for every one magnolia there is a thousand tuberoses, a million orange blossoms and a billion jasmines, give or take a few. The strange thing about this is the fact that magnolias smell bloody fantastic, more so than many other white flowers. They’re an easy breezy white flower with wonderful citrus accents and a whole heap of headiness. So yes, we need more magnolia please.

Always ones to answer my cries of fragrant pain, Jo Malone London have just launched a limited edition fragrance called Star Magnolia. Woohoo! Bathed in white, the bottle comes complete a soft collar of white floral petals in an unusual display of exuberance from a brand that is so normally classic and paired back. They describe Star Magnolia as being flirtatious and what could be more apt than a flirtatious floral for spring? Nothing! Let’s sniff…

Infusion de Mimosa by Prada
Infusion de Mimosa by Prada

If you read my Iris Deconstruction recently, you will already know that I have a ‘thing’ for Les Infusions de Prada. What’s more, if you’ve heard me waxing lyrical about one of my all time favourite scents over the last 18 months, the wonderful Mimosa & Cardamom by Jo Malone London, you’ll also be aware that mimosa is very much my jam right now. And if you didn’t know either of these things well, I’ve just told you so now consider yourself informed! With all of this in mind, it’s no surprise that it took little coercing for me to fall head over heels for Prada’s Infusion de Mimosa. In fact, all it took was one sniff…

If you’re not familiar with Les Infusions de Prada, then you’re in for treat. In essence, the collection explores the fantasy of single notes dissolved as infusions to create fragrances that fuse the modern with the classic and explore the diverse facets of their titular ingredient. Like all scented things ‘Prada’ the fragrances are composed by Perfumer Daniela Andrier and Mimosa is the latest note to get the ‘infusion’ treatment. Prada describe the scent as follows:

“It is the smell of the tree in full bloom, late in summer perhaps in the South of France. Powdery, floral, with a yellow-velvet softness that is almost tactile.”

– Prada

Maduraï by Cire Trudon
Maduraï by Cire Trudon

Cire Trudon is not a conventional house of home fragrance. They do not, like many brands, create candles that represent one smell, like rose or oud, or even combinations of such notes. No, Cire Trudon tell stories through wax, smoke and glass. They are a brand that allow you to fill your home with the scent of the cold stone walls from a Carmelite convent or fresh mint from the mountains of ancient tribes. Cire Trudon are not a typical brand and their many scented offerings are anything but ordinary, in fact they are rather extraordinary!

This Spring, Cire Trudon have twisted their narrative ever so slightly with their Les Belles Matières collection. Starting with three scented candles, which are housed in the most eye-catching of blue jars, Cire Trudon promise a “geographic odyssey” with this new collection, which takes one on a journey to three exotic destinations by way of iconic ingredients, covering not only a number of air miles but also three of the most familiar olfactory genres: florals, woods and fruits. The three scents are Tadine (New-Caledonia by way of sandalwood), Reggio (Calabria via citrus) and Maduraï, the focus of today’s review, which is all about “the splendour of Indian Jasmine”.

I’ve never been to India but you don’t have to do much convincing to get me on board with a white floral so the prospect of an jasmine sambac by the bucket load is an easy sell. Maduraï tells the tale of the flower’s many uses, whether they be in tea, as floral garlands or in perfumery. Maduraï is an ode to jasmine in its full glory and unexpectedly, it’s rather glorious.

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.

Tuberose, Cocaine & Mercury - This is Jusbox Use Abuse
Tuberose, Cocaine & Mercury – This is Jusbox Use Abuse

I get bored of new niche brands, I really do. Yes, there are a lot of wonderful new things popping up on a daily basis but my problem is that so many of them are nothing more than familiar fragrances housed within pretty bottles, with some gimmick or other to set them apart from everything else on the shelves. They often try and offer something new, something exciting, but in more cases than not it’s just the emperor’s new clothes – pretty packaging, yes, but what’s within is nothing more than derivative juices, or in some cases, pretty dreadful smells! So yes, I’m a bit cynical of new niche brands, but not all of them are bad – in fact, some of them are bloody brilliant!

Jusbox Perfumes could fall into the trap of being yet another niche brand with a gimmick if it weren’t for two important factors; 1) the scents are incredibly well made, and are not secondary to their packaging; and 2) the attention to detail the brand has factored in to every element of the product is remarkable, not to mention perfectly in keeping with their overarching concept. It’s the little things that matter here – the weight of the vinyl-capped bottle, the fact that each is sold in a 78ml size, the boxes which contain beautiful CD cased-sized cover art for each scent, the individual print designed for each fragrance, and need I mention the fact that the four scents in the collection have been composed by two industry greats – Dominique Ropion and Antoine Lie? I could go on.

The concept behind Jusbox is the link between music and scent. Their four fragrances are inspired by a particular decade of music, as opposed to a specific genre. For the 1960s we have Beat Café (Dominique Ropion), a tobacco, leather and booze fragrance inspired by Bob Dylan,  for the 1970s there is 24 Hour Dream (Antoine Lie), a hazy vanilla and patchouli scent that feels like a hippy encounter with a mind-altering substance at Woodstock and for the grungey 1990s we’re treated to Micro Love (Dominique Ropion), an aquatic with the feel of hot circuit boards. You may have noticed that I’ve omitted one fragrance from these descriptions and you would be right and that’s because today’s review focuses on my favourite from the collection: Use Abuse.