La Petite Robe Noire
These Boots are Made For Walkin’

Guerlain’s ode to the Little Black Dress, ‘La Petite Robe Noire’, has a confusing history. First it was released as a pricey boutique exclusive, then there was the sequel ‘La Petite Robe Noire 2’ (and yes it was about as good as you would expect a sequel to be), the first of five planned additions to Guerlain’s wardrobe. Following all of that Guerlain has now decided to relaunch a new version of La Petite Robe Noire as part of its main collection, and in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser has gone in and tweaked things a little bit.

Now, I don’t mean to be smug (OK maybe just a little) but I have always said that La Petite Robe Noire was wasted as a boutique exclusive, strongly believing that it would be a massive hit if it were unleashed into the world of mainstream perfumery, and from the response it’s getting on the counters I think it may just be as popular as I expected.

Taking inspiration from the most classic and versatile pieces of clothing – the little black dress, La Petite Robe Noire is the perhaps the most fun, free-spirited of Guerlain’s many offerings. It comes billed as “the epitome of couture for the skin” [1] and if you’re wondering what “couture” smells like, the answer is, in true Guerlain style, a big fruity floral gourmand.

Last week’s poll focused on the age old debate of spraying vs dabbing. Unsurprisingly, due to the fact that is the most commonly available application method, spraying won the battle with a total of 73.5% of the vote. What I found particularly interesting about the results was the fact that 20% answered that they didn’t care how the perfume was applied and a number of comments stated that it actually depended on the perfume as to whether they sprayed or dabbed, with dabbing being the preferred method of application for pure parfum/extrait and spraying for Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette.

The Poll

This week’s poll moves on to a completely different subject, that of perfume genres. Tastes in perfume tend to be fairly eclectic and most fumeheads own a number of bottles from a variety of fragrance families, but most will also have a favourite, and I want to know what yours is. Register your vote and let me know your thoughts in the comments box below!

Philippine

“I love a perfume that makes me smile – Fils de Dieu brings the smiles, and plenty of them”

Despite their often hyper-sexed and occasionally misdirected marketing techniques, Etat Libre d’Orange are one of the most solid niche brands out there. They offer a line of well made, interesting, unusual and affordable fragrances that simply cannot be matched. The Etat Libre d’Orange war cry is “Parfum est mort, vive le parfum” (“perfume is dead, long live perfume”) and they are going a very long way to resurrect the concept of fun into the landscape of modern perfumery, a landscape that can so often become devoid of any delight.

I have said many times before that I am a self-proclaimed Etat Libre d’Orange fanboy, I simply cannot help it, I find their compositions to be filled with humour, occasional, nay regular genius, surprise and wonder. Each one is an essay in pushing the boundaries of perfume, turning familiar genres on their heads and firmly sticking two figures up at the bland, the trite and the cheap.

Fils de Dieu or ‘Fils de Dieu Du Riz et Des Agrumes’ (Son of God of Rice and Citrus Fruits) to use its full name is one of two latest releases from everyone’s favourite French olfactory freedom fighters, the other being Bijou Romantique. It was created by Ralf Schwieger and the concept behind it is interesting to say the least. Also available under the more controversial name of ‘Philippine Houseboy’, Fils de Dieu “is the golden eye that reflects beauty and conflict, rapture and pain. It is an emotional fragrance that requires a sympathetic connection between the server and the served, the giver and the taker, and the willingness to exchange roles.” [1]

Tilda & Rossy

The Etat Libre d’Orange Muses

Celebrity fragrances, or ‘celebuscents’ as they are so often called, are the scorn of many a perfumista. The majority are cheap, thoughtless compositions with the sole intent of making a quick buck for a celebrity desperate to cash in on the latest trend. As you can imagine, most of the time the celebrity has very little input in the development of their fragrance, preferring simply to be ‘the face’ rather than ‘the brains’.

There are of course exceptions, and some celebrities do insist on being more involved by playing the role of creative director. Celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and J Lo are widely reported to have been directly involved with the creation of their early fragrances and this involvement shows in the final product. But these celebrities are few and far between.

One brand in particular has taken the idea of the celebuscent to a new level by choosing to partner with unusual celebrities who take on the role of muse and work with the perfumer to create their fragrance. This brand is Etat Libre d’Orange, those funny French olfactory freedom fighters whose compositions feel like a breath of fresh air within the industry.

For their celebuscents Etat Libre d’Orange chose two unexpected, subversive celebrities; Oscar Winning British Actress & Androgynous Style Icon Tilda Swinton and Pedro Almodóvar’s Picasso-esque Muse Rossy de Palma. Two strong, unique women for a strong and unique brand.

Pierre Guillaume

Pierre Guillaume – Not just a pretty face!

What a busy boy Pierre Guillame is. Not only is he the man and the exceptionally talented nose behind the über exciting brand Parfumerie Générale, he is also responsible for brands such as Phaedon and Hutième Art. He creates for all three brands whilst managing to look effortlessly handsome. It makes you hate him just a little bit, doesn’t it?

Ok, I’m just being silly, I don’t really hate Pierre Guillaume, in fact it’s quite the opposite, I have great respect for him and his fragrant vision. He has managed to craft himself a distinct style and has very much found his own little niche in the market. With Parfumerie Générale and Huitième Art, Guillaume tinkers with the most ancient and noble of ingredients, interpreting each one in new and surprising ways.

Huitième Art is one Pierre Guillaume’s many projects and is a collection of 9 perfumes “showcasing an all-new ‘plant capture’, an original plant-inspired accord or natural organic ingredient” and with “an emphasis on originality and sophistication”. Each perfume is housed in one of the most fascinating flacons I have ever come across, a part-modern, part-natural ceramic cyclops intended to represent the eye looking to the future, which just so happens to be the exact same direction that M. Guillaume’s nose is pointed.

A*Men Pure Shot Ad

The appointment of Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius as the new face of Mugler’s flagship masculine fragrance A*Men last year marked a new chapter in the brand’s superhero saga. Pistorious plays the part of the ‘Bionic Fawn’ and he perfectly embodies the Muglerian style of high-energy futurism taken to the limit.

Thierry Mugler is known for bold statements and the use of a Paralympian, who just happens to be the hottest name in sport right now, is an encouraging display of diversity from a major brand. If only others would follow suit! Pistorius is an inspiring person and an inspired choice for the brand. He very much deserves his place alongside the likes of Jerry Hall, Eva Mendes and Naomi Watts as a citizen of Planet Mugler.

For 2012, the year of the London Olympic Games, Pistorius reprises his role of the Mugler man for the brand’s latest fragrance ‘A*Men Pure Shot’. A*Men Pure Shot, created by Jacques Huclier, is the latest limited edition flanker of the original A*Men which was released in 1996. It follows Pure Coffee, Pure Malt, Pure Havane and A*Men Le Goût de Parfum in the A*Men series, and it’s fair to say that it is the most unique and surprising incarnation of A*Men so far.

Inspired by Oscar Pistorious, Mugler’s “modern day hero”, Pure Shot is Mugler’s entry into the plethora of Olympic-themed sport fragrances that we’re going to see this year. But as we know, Mugler does things a little bit differently and has to be given Kudos for not including ‘sport’ in the name, and for actually creating a sport-themed fragrance that doesn’t smell bland or cheap. Mugler describes Pure Shot as “a performance booster for seekers of strong, inspiring scents”.

A*Men

“There’s nothing that I enjoy more than a trip to Planet Mugler”

It’s no secret that I am pretty much THE Thierry Mugler Fan Boy and there’s nothing that I enjoy more than a trip to Planet Mugler, but would you believe there was a time, many Mugler moons ago, when I really didn’t like the Thierry Mugler perfumes? I don’t think I have ever been more appalled by two perfumes in my entire life than when I tried both Angel and A*Men for the very first time. To call them an ‘assault on the senses’ would be a dramatic understatement. But as you know, tastes change and I kept coming back to them. There was just something alluring about this ‘assault’ that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and it wasn’t long before I ended up buying my first bottles of Angel and A*men. That’s when my Muglerian-obsession started.

A*Men, or Angel Men as it is often referred to, was Thierry Mugler’s first, and currently the brand’s only, masculine fragrance. Released in 1996, it was created to be a masculine interpretation of the already-quite-masculine Angel, released four years previously. With A*Men, Mugler was inspired by the comic book superheroes of his childhood, and in particular his favourite hero ‘The Silver Surfer’.

Since its release A*Men has become somewhat of a cult fragrance, and has spawned a number of pretty decent flankers including; A*Men Pure Coffee, A*Men Pure Malt, A*Men Pure Havane, A*Men Le Goüt du Parfum and A*Men Pure Shot (to be reviewed tomorrow). Does A*Men deserve cult status? Absolutely! There is nothing else quite like it around, and love it or hate it, you cannot deny just how innovative and unique it is.

Katy Perry

Kiki – Fun loving free spirit.

Vero Profumo is the brainchild of Swiss Aromatologist turned Professional Perfumer, Vero Kern. The line currently consists of three creations; Kiki, Onda and Rubj, all of which are available as Extraits or Eau de Parfums, with each concentration being a different composition.

Vero Kern describes her line of perfumes as “unconventional combinations of pure, high quality materials” [1] and after lengthy sampling sessions I have found each one to have their very own distinct character. I see them as three different personalities, each of them being unconventional and beautiful in their own way. This week I will explore the personalities of all three Extraits, starting with my happy, fun-loving girl, Kiki.

I am on a lavender kick at the moment so when my Vero Profumo samples arrived I was inevitably drawn to Kiki. To me, Kiki is the most joyful of lavender perfumes, there is a distinct sense of frivolity and a touch of naughtiness to it. Kiki is a flirt at heart, she likes to fall in love with all of the boys but never gives herself away, she is a free, fun-loving spirit that is irresistible in each and every way.

Orange Stars

Andy Tauer, the self-taught independent perfumer from Switzerland, offers a line of unique perfumes that vary in their unique identity, yet they all seem to share an inherent ‘Tauerness’ that runs as a coherent theme linking each scent to each other. Others have coined this link ‘The Tauerade’ (in the same way the Guerlain base is known as the ‘Guerlainade’) and my favourite example of the Tauer accord is in Orange Star.

Orange Star was released in 2010 and is one of the latest additions to Andy Tauer’s ‘Classics’ line, which includes such highly regarded scents as; L’Air du Désert Marocain, Lonestar Memories, Incense Extrême and Incense Rose. Andy Tauer describes Orange Star as “a rich citrus fragrance with a clean orange flower in its heart, and a soft elegant base that seems to last forever”. [1]

If I had to pick a favourite Tauer fragrance (it’s a hard task to pick just one) Orange Star would probably be it, it’s just so unique and not in an unwearable way (see Sécrétions Magnifiques), it is absolutely beautiful and wearing it is akin to receiving a big orange scented hug.

B*Men

“Here we are today, lamenting a long lost comic book hero who was my favourite fragrant superhero – B*Men.”

In the Thierry Mugler universe there used to be two superheroes who defended us perfume-loving civilians against the banality and lack of quality & creativity within the perfume industry. These superheroes were; A*men, whose superpower was the ability to shock and stun any villain with his audacious blend of lavender, mint, cocoa, coffee, patchouli & tar and B*Men, whose superpower was the ability to leave villains in awe of his intriguing, addictive odour.

Unfortunately one of these superheroes was defeated by his arch enemy ‘General Perfume-Consumer’, who knew that the hero’s kryptonite was to ignore him, and with that knowledge the evil villain made it their mission to destroy our beloved hero. So, here we are today, lamenting a long lost comic book hero who was my favourite fragrant superman – B*Men.

B*Men was released in 2004 and followed A*Men (or Angel Men as it sometimes known) as the second superhero themed masculine fragrance from the world-renowned couturier, and un-confirmed extra terrestrial – Thierry Mugler. Whilst it wasn’t presented as a flanker to A*Men, B*Men does showcase Mugler’s gourmand signature and can be seen as a lighter, less extreme version which would appeal to those who like their fragrances slightly less ‘over the top’.