Union Fragrance Collection presents the best of British
The Union Fragrance Collection presents the best of British ingredients

I have never felt more proud to be British in my life than I have over the last two weeks. Team GB and everything Olympics related (did you see the opening ceremony? Wasn’t it fabulous?) have gone a long way into strengthening the nation’s sense of pride, making everyone realise that for a small little island we aren’t half bad at all!

Along with the explosion of national pride this year, due mainly to the Olympics and the Queen’s diamond jubilee, is the overwhelming number of British-themed product releases. Of course the world of perfume is no exception and there is a new fragrance brand on the block celebrating the very best of what Britain has to offer in terms of perfume ingredients.

“From the moorlands of Yorkshire to the mountains of Snowdonia, the windswept fens of County Derry and craggy Highland heaths, Union’s creative perfumer, Anastasia Brozler, has scoured the countryside for the most beautiful ingredients, gaining access to some of the country’s oldest private estates in her relentless search for the finest single notes that Britain has to offer”

The name of the brand is Union and rather than just cashing-in on the current high in national spirit they have spent a significant amount of time sourcing ingredients from the four corners of the British Isles to successfully showcase the flora and fauna that makes the country so beautiful (not that I’m biased or anything). The result is four unique compositions that feature such incredibly British ingredients as thistle, quince bluebell and Marmite…

Steel and Black
Steel and Black – The first two premium fragrances from “British hero brand” Superdry

First things first, massive apologies for the lack of posts over the last week or so. Things have been busy in both good ways (my Perfume Lovers London talk etc) and bad ways (job hunting) and the blog has had to take a little bit of a back seat. Thank you for bearing with me and things should now run on their usual schedule!

I’m quite partial to the odd piece of clothing or accessory from British clothing brand Superdry. I currently rock a coat, couple of shirts and a rather snazzy pair of specs from their collection and I’m attracted to the brand’s laid back style which seems to be a mish-mash of Japanese graphics and vintage Americana.

As for Superdry fragrances, well up until very recently my exposure was minimal. I haven’t spent too much time with the brand’s first three scents (Dry, Double Dry and Dry Oil) but I remember them being relatively well done (one in particular was a nice take on Dior Homme) so it was with great interest that I accepted an offer to try the fragrances in Superdry’s Cologne collection.

The first two in the collection that I will be reviewing are Steel and Black. Both fragrances were released in 2011 and are designed to have “day-to-night appeal” and whilst they may not be masterpieces of modern perfumery, they easily fit the laid back, modern-with-a-retro-touch styling of the Superdry brand. Oh and they come in really cool Zippo lighter-style bottles too…

It may not be a perfume but I'm sure that it's not safe to drink...
It may not be a perfume but I’m pretty sure that it’s not safe to drink…

I like Juliette Has a Gun. They have succeeded in producing relatively artistic fragrances with good quality ingredients at an affordable price (lets face it £59 for 50ml is practically free by today’s niche standards) and they straddle the line between designer and niche fragrances quite happily. For these reasons I find it utterly baffling that they would decide to launch something as naff as Not a Perfume.

In 2010 the man behind Juliette Has a Gun (Romano Ricci) made the bold decision to shake things up with the brand by following the Escentric Molecules school of thought and create a non-fragrance containing only one aroma compound, and as the name suggests Not a Perfume is, well, not a perfume.

Ricci opted to use the rich, ambery ingredient Cetalox, or Ambroxan as it is sometimes known, for Not a Perfume, stating that: “usually used in perfumery as a back note, I have decided for once that it would play the lead role…because it is one of my favourite ingredients…the result is minalimst, elegant, pure” [1] Oh and it is “entirely allergen free” [2] too…

…You may not be able to see it dear reader, but my right eyebrow just met my hairline.

Alien Essence Absolue
“At the height of her radiance, the statuesque solar goddess embodies sensuality more than ever before. In her magnetic aura, intense emotions burst forth and open the door to new imaginary worlds.”

Thierry Mugler’s second major feminine Alien has managed to become almost as popular and iconic as its sister fragrance Angel, which is no mean feat when you consider exactly how popular the latter is. Since its release in 2005 Mugler has released a plethora of Alien Editions, each of which has seemed better than the last, and it would be fair to say that the very latest edition ‘Alien Essence Absolue’ is the best yet, and they know it too hailing Essence Absolue as “The Supreme Perfume”.

What I love about the Thierry Mugler brand is that they are not afraid to experiment, not only with their flagship launches but also with their flankers. They may not always work (see Ice*Men) but they are always interesting and it’s great to see a brand really give a damn about the quality and artistry of all their fragrances. Personally, I didn’t think that Mugler could top the salted-caramel-goodness of Alien Le Goût de Parfum (released last year), but by jove they’ve gone and proved me wrong.

Alien Essence Absolue is the latest interpretation of Alien and serves as an oriental twist on the original. Created by Dominique Ropion (one of favourite perfumers FYI), who worked on the original as well as creating the Eau de Toilette, Eau Luminescente and Sunessence versions, Essence Absolue is a more intense interpretation that focuses on warm, resinous notes and intense flowers. Mugler describes it as “an intense amber, floral, vanilla perfume […] a magnetic fragrance that illuminates the skin in a halo of light” – well if “magnetic” partly explains why my nose is currently stuck to my wrist then I’m all for it.

Mito
Mito – “The myth of a timeless eternity.”

Vero Profumo’s first three fragrances; Rubj, Kiki and Onda are unusual, not only in their style and composition but also in the fact that they are each five star fragrances that can easily be considered as modern masterpieces. They each also have strong personalities, multi-faceted in themselves, but incredibly diverse in character as an entire entity – a collection to be envied.

With her initial collection Swiss indie perfumer Vero Kern proved that she has a natural talent for perfumery as well as a clear and fascinating artistic vision that translates effortlessly into her creations. For her line’s fifth anniversary year Vero Kern is introducing a brand new fragrance, one that doesn’t break cohesion of the line but also brings an entirely new approach to Vero Profumo.

Mito (Italian for “Myth”), will be the latest fragrance from Vero Profumo to join her Eau de Parfum collection. Taking inspiration from Italy, specifically the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, smelling Mito is like opening a time capsule, unleashing a single moment where as time has stopped in the garden of Villa d’Este, allowing Vero Kern to paint an olfactory oil-painting of the trees, mosses, flowers, stones, sculptures and water that inhabit such a beautiful space.

Last week’s Saturday Poll was a classic flagship-fragrance showdown, in which Guerlain’s Shalimar and Chanel’s N°5 went head-to-head to see who was the supreme holder of perfume glory. Both have their loyal fans but scent-wise they could not be further away from each other if they tried; one is a warm, delicious oriental and the other is an abstract aldehydic floral. Opinion was divided!

The results of the poll, as always, were very interesting. Shalimar stormed ahead receiving a huge 56% of the vote, which blows N°5 out of the water with its mere 21%. What is interesting is that the Shalimar appears to be more accessible than the N°5, which like other Chanel’s appears to leave some feeling cold.

Anyone, on to this week’s poll…

Lady Gaga Fame
The black soul of fame

Lady Gaga has finally revealed details of her debut fragrance, interestingly entitled “Fame”, via her Twitter account. Now, I may be no massive fan of celebrity perfumes, or celebuscents as they are often called, but I am a huge Gaga fan. More than anything I really enjoy her music, but I also find her fascinating and I don’t think any other current pop star is pushing the envelope in the way that she is. So it is with great excitement that I await the release of Fame.

Fame is billed as the “first ever black eau de parfum”, it uses an innovative technology that allows the black perfume to be invisible once sprayed and represents “the black soul of fame”. Many die-hard fumeophiles will know that this isn’t exactly a new thing, nice house Boudicca did something similar with their first fragrance Wode, which magically turned from being blue to invisible in almost the same way.

But that’s not all…