If you paid a visit to the blog yesterday you would have caught our latest episode of Desert Island Sniffs with Barbara Herman, the author and scent historian who has recently launched a brand new line of fragrances called Eris Parfums. Named after the Greek goddess of chaos, strife and discord the Eris perfumes tap into Herman’s love and passion for vintage fragrances, you know the kind with proper animalics and heady florals, and brings them bang up to date. The result is a thrilling clash of the vintage and the modern.
For Eris Parfums, Barbara Herman teamed up with renegade perfumer, Antoine Lie, the man behind Etat Libre d’Orange’s Sécrétions Magnifiques, Tom of Finland and Rossy de Palma, amongst others. The fragrances are inspired by the “bold eroticism of vintage animalic florals perfumes” and they certainly don’t hold back, my friends. If you’re a lover of the bold, beastly fragrances of yesteryear, then you need look no further than Belle de Jour, Ma Bête and Night Flower, because these modern twists on classic florals aren’t afraid to cause quite the scandal.
“Antoine Lie and I have reimagined the intensity and eros of perfumes of the past for a contemporary audience. We wanted to bring back the emotion of animalic perfumes.”
It’s spring, which means that it’s Aqua Allegoria season! I always enjoy Guerlain’s mini-line of simplistic, nature inspired fragrant ditties because they are easy breezy wears that are such fun in the summer. They showcase fruits and flowers in an intelligent and high quality manner but with a sense of style and fun. This year, the mainstream AA is Pera Granita – a sweet little daydream that feels more like a scoop of ice cold pear sorbet than it does a fragrance. Click here to head on over to Escentual to read my review in full.
I have a test for masculine fragrances to identify whether they meet the mark or not. I call it ‘The Nigel Test’. Nigel, as you may be aware is my husband and he, in his very discerning way only wears masculine scents, and only ones that he deems to smell rather luxurious. The test always starts the same way. I spray on a scent to test it. The other Mr. Dunckley quickly appears to enquire as to what I am wearing. “It’s so and so”, I say “do you like it”. “It’s ok”, he says. Cut to a few days later and the bottle is missing. Some scented sleuthing will unearth the fact that the crime was committed by Mr. Dunckley in the living room, with 10 sprays to the chest.
I give you this back story because this was exactly the case with Gruhme No.14, which landed on my doorstep recently and was quickly snapped away by Nigel, who wore the heck out of it for a good week. I let him get away with his crimes for two reasons; 1) he puts up with me, so a degree of leniency with light fingered endeavours is only fair; and 2) it gives me the chance to smell a scent on someone else, which usually gives me a good idea of the sillage and signature. So, in short, in the case of Gruhme No.14 (or The People vs Nigel Dunckley), the fragrance receives approval from Messrs Dunckley in unison.
The Gruhme brand is the passion project of corporate lawyer, Rob Hallmark who, after spending a number of years working in law, decided to build his own business of men’s products having not been able to find a “strong male brand” to identify with. Gruhme is the result and they now have two fragrances, the second of which, the aforementioned (and Beauty Shortlist Award Winner for ‘Best Masculine Fragrance’) No.14 is a more highly concentrated version (14% as opposed to 10%) of their debut scent. Gruhme describes No.14 as an “evening variant” of their “sensual and aromatic” flagship fragrance. It’s passed the ‘Nigel Test’, but let’s see how it fairs in the ‘Smell Test’.
Addiction. That’s the inspiration between Juliette Has a Gun’s latest fragrance ‘White Spirit‘. The fragrance is dangerous, Romano Ricci (the man behind Juliette) says, further stating that a failure to respect the prescribed dosage may lead to the wearer never being able to do without it. That dose, by the way is “one or two drops delicately placed in the hollow of your neck”. Well, I threw caution to the wind and took five sprays to the chest on my first wearing, and I have survived to tell the tale. Although, that said, I have worn it a number of times since, so maybe I haven’t quite escaped the White Spirit’s dark passenger entirely.
What about the scent though? What’s it all about? Well, White Spirit is a melange of flowers and in true Juliette Has a Gun style, an array of aroma chemicals. Romano Ricci describes it as “a contrast between minimalism and poison […] the virginal white flower versus the explosive woody dry accord” defining it as “an unlikely cocktail, yet resolutely addictive”. The presentation is one of the brand’s finest examples, showcasing a white capped bottle filled with a milky juice that appears as a substance to be applied with caution. As always, it’s all served with a sense of irony and tongue pressed firmly in cheek, after all, that’s the ‘Juliette’ way.
It honestly does not take much convincing to get me on board with a fragrance called ‘The Orchid Man’. I am, after all, a well-documented lover of all things floral and I always feel encouraged by a modern launch that gears a floral towards men. As a man, or a boy (The Candy Perfume Man just sounds a bit creepy, doesn’t it?), whichever fits, I get tired of the industry’s attempts to encourage me to wear brutish things with burly ingredients, solid things like cedarwood, amber and oud. I like all of these things, but sometimes a guy wants to sissy things up with a great big whack of indolic jasmine, do you feel me? I am confident enough in my sexuality to not care about labels so a masculine floral, or a floral of any kind for that matter, is a no-brainer.
So yes, I was very intrigued when a bottle of Frapin’s latest fragrance, ‘The Orchid Man’, arrived on my doorstep, partly due to the fact that I’ve never really tried anything from the brand before. Without giving too much away, I must say that after spending some time with The Orchid Man, I certainly feel motivated to spend more the with the brand. Inspired by the life and fashions of French boxer, Georges Carpentier, The Orchid Man takes its name from his nickname, which is a reference to the orchid corsage he often wore with his suits. As a man of many talents, Carpentier was than just a boxer, he also was a star of stage and in film, a dabbler with the sport of Rugby and even the proprietor of the first cocktail bar in Paris. It’s no wonder then, that Frapin’s The Orchid Man is a complex and nuanced perfume.
Created by perfumer Jérôme Epinette (Byredo M/Mink & Atelier Cologne Rose Anonyme etc.), The Orchid Man strives to capture both the “elegance” and “violence” found within the spirit of such a contrasting man. Jérôme Epinette took inspiration from a boxing gym, centring the fragrance around “an animal leather accord that gives the scent its signature, power, elegance and the iconic aspects of boxing gloves” adding patchouli, which “brings the hot and humid tones that conjure up the atmosphere in a boxing gym”. The result is a kinetic spritz of energy full of juxtapositions that speaks of contact sport as much as it does gentlemanly elegance.
As I walked up the Crawford Street in Marylebone, London, towards the new Perfumer H store, I must admit that I had a fair few butterflies in my stomach. I’m a nervous person at the best of times, but I was especially so on this occasion because I was on my way to meet Lyn Harris, the nose that puts the ‘Perfumer’ and the ‘H’ into Perfumer H. Harris’ CV precedes her, having built the hugely successful fragrance house, Miller Harris, from scratch in her early twenties, to the global lifestyle brand that it is today, Harris has a knack for making unfussy perfumes with a spirit of clarity. This spirit is not lost in Perfumer H however, it is presented in an entirely different way.
Stepping across the threshold of Perfumer H, I needn’t have been worried or been nervous at all, as the whole experience was an entirely relaxed affair, from the setup of the shop to the rather insightful chat I had with Harris herself over a cup of hot bergamot tea. As I enter the store, I’m greeted by a dog snoozing calmly on the chair. His name is Pop and he’s a handsome border terrier who, quite rightly, appears rather at home amongst the inviting, yet surprisingly minimal decor of the store. The presence of Pop cements the fact that Perfumer H is not a brand in the typical sense, with a pre-defined personality or ethos. Instead, Perfumer H is an extension of Lyn Harris, and its personality is Lyn as she is today, and it says what she wants to say, all through the medium of olfaction.
The perfume and fashion loving public have been longing for a fragrance from clothing and accessories brand, Miu Miu for quite some time. Known largely for their handbags and shoes, the Prada-helmed fashion house knows youthful style quite unlike anyone else, and their aesthetic is undeniably feminine and fun. It’s no surprise that Miu Miu lovers would be keen for a fragrance to represent the aesthetic of such a key fashion brand. On the perfume front, Miu Miu’s parent company Prada has released a decent crop of exceptional perfumes in conjunction with the talents of perfumer Daniela Andrier. It stands to reason then, that a decent scent from Miu Miu would be a no-brainer, and despite some dissenting voices on the blogs, I really think it is just that.
“Natural and timeless in a contemporary way”¹ is the manner in which Miu Miu are describing their eponymous fragrance, which is penned by none other than Prada-favourite, Daniela Andrier, of course. Housed within the most gorgeous bottle to have graced the shelves of department stores in quite some time, Miu Miu the fragrance feels like a baby blue throwback to the pastel-shaded ’60s and ’70s, whilst keeping very much in line with the modern tastes of today. It also centres on lily of the valley, which means it’s a white floral, which therefore means that I was destined to fall for it hook, line and sinker. Just as expected, I did.
Criticise Paco Rabanne all you want, but you can never say that they don’t have a knack for tapping into the zeitgeist. Their fragrance launches are a perfect example of how marketing drives the success of a modern perfume, with irresistible packaging and expensive advertising campaigns drawing the consumer in. Take 1 Million for instance – a perfectly decent woody amber fragrance that most likely wouldn’t have had the phenomenal success it has if it weren’t packaged inside a faux piece of gold bullion and marketed with a club-culture inspired ad that tapped into the image and money-obsessed nature of modern youth. They are anything, if not clever.
Their latest launch for women, ‘Olympēa‘, which arrives as the feminine counterpart to 2013’s Invictus, comes with all of the trappings of a typical Paco Rabanne launch right from the show-stopping bottle shaped like a laurel crown to the high-budget visuals, but the scent itself appears to have a bit more depth than one would usually expect. Created by perfumers Anne Flipo, Dominique Ropion and Loc Dong, Olympēa is described as the “fragrance of a modern day goddess” and a “statuesque idol of conquest and victory”. That is quite the description, I must say, and in truth, the fragrance is more intimate and cuddly than the concept would lead one to expect, but that’s not to say that Olympēa is without interest, in fact, it’s really quite intriguing.
“The fragrance of a modern day goddess, Paco Rabanne Olympea Eau de Parfum makes a statement of strength, power and seduction. Between myth and reality is where you’ll find Olympēa, a statuesque idol of conquest and victory. Her fragrance is just as commanding as she is, featuring a legend-inspiring salted vanilla accord that elevates her above the clouds.”
Perfume lovers across the world have been watching the New Forest studio of Papillon Artisan Perfumes with bated breath. Last year, Papillon launched with three fragrances; Angelique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose – three perfumes that boldly said that a scent should be beautiful and unique, rather than awash with gimmickry. Papillon Artisan Perfumes have been a refreshing addition to the world of perfume that, along with Sarah McCartney’s hugely important 4160 Tuesdays, has put independent British perfumery on the map – a fact reflected by the nomination of all three Papillon scents for Best New Independent Fragrance at this year’s Fragrance Foundation Awards. It stands to reason then, that Papillon’s latest scent ‘Salome‘, launches in a veritable cloud of fragrant excitement.
You will hear a lot of talk about Salome and her erotic, and animalistic tendencies over the coming months. “Pure filth” is what they’ll call her and perfume lovers here, there and everywhere will revel in her raunchy and primal ways. But there’s more to Salome than meets the eye, and there’s another facet that deserves praise – her golden sheen and glittering sense of movement, to be specific. Salome is a dancing diva moving methodically and mesmerisingly through the many hypnotic motions of the dance of the seven veils.
Salome takes its name from the biblical character – the daughter of Herod and the dancing woman from the New Testament. In a recent interview on The Candy Perfume Boy, Papillon Perfumer Liz Moores explained how a vintage photograph of a 1920s flapper girl was the inspiration for Salome; “I have an original vintage photograph of a 1920’s flapper girl in a state of undress; she’s positioned side on to the camera with her breasts bared and the lower half of her body only slightly covered with ostrich feathers. The woman in this photograph fascinates me; I have often wondered who she was, where she lived in the world and what her name might have been. In my head I called her Salome, a name befitting such a beautiful and daring woman of her time.” This photo, which potrays the seductive dancer partly nude informs Salome’s vintage tones and erotic escapades. This is a fragrance made in a style seldom seen in this modern, post-IFRA age, and it acts as a startling reminder that perfumes can still be richly textured, gloriously complex and absolutely, downright filthy.
I must admit that I have a little bit of a soft spot for Jo Malone London. In my opinion they do what they do and they do it very well, specifically, they create pleasing, low-key fragrances for scenting both people and their homes, and package them all beautifully. Jo Malone London sell a lifestyle, one that is housed within the simplicity of their structured bottles, placed carefully in gorgeous boxes and tied with beautiful bows. It’s a life that looks and smells good.
Over the last year or so, the brand has started to become a little bit bolder with their offerings. Rain & Angelica, a limited edition from their London Rain collection was weird and glassy, like crystallised drops of summer rain. There was also last year’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt, another unusual blend that was somewhere between salted caramel and sea spray. Oh and we mustn’t forget Incense & Cedrat, the latest addition to the Cologne Intense collection and an absolutely gorgeous benzoin-heavy incense that begs to be snuggled. They’ve been very busy making some intriguing scents, it must be said.
The hard work of Jo Malone London continues this autumn as September sees the launch of a brand new pillar fragrance for the brand. Focusing on the rich notes of Mimosa & Cardamom, this new launch (unsurprisingly called ‘Mimosa & Cardamom‘) created by perfume Marie Salamagne is an ode to word travel, eclectic fabrics and a mixture of cultures seen through the lens of a bohemian blend of flowers and spice. Without offering too many spoilers for the rest of the review, I will say that Mimosa & Cardamom really lives up to its inspiration and I for one think that it’s great to see such an underused yet fascinating note as mimosa being used front and centre in a mainstream fragrance. Good work, JML.