I never know what to expect when a new Amouage lands on my doorstep. The entire output from the industry’s most luxurious of houses is complex, intricate and grand beyond much else found in perfume stores. This complexity means that they’re not always the easiest perfumes to pin down and I personally find that one has to spend a fair bit of time with an Amouage before they can truly say they know it.
Amouage’s latest edition to their experimental Library Collection, ‘Opus VIII‘, is no exception and much like the wickedly dangerous, galbanum-soaked leather jacket of Opus VII and the delectably intense, salty amber of Opus VI that have preceded it, this beguiling perfume created by perfumers Pierre Negrin and Richard Herpin in conjunction with Creative Director Christopher Chong, is perhaps the most labyrinthine composition to have ever exited Amouage’s doors.
My love of Thierry Mugler’s Alien, and all things Mugler in fact, is widely known. I just cannot help myself when it comes to the weird, wacky and über glamorous creations that come straight from Muglerville – they resonate deep within my soul, awaking the hidden Glamazon inside of me. So I do feel very excited when I hear that the brand is launching a brand new fragrance, especially if aforementioned scent it is to be a close cousin of my most beloved Alien.
Mugler’s latest launch is exactly that – Alien Eau Extraordinaire – a lighter take on the the brashness of Alien, that reportedly “accentuates incandescent freshness” and amps up the scent’s brighter citrus notes. Alien, whilst being a foghorn of a scent (a beautiful foghorn, of course), did display an impressively fresh citrus facet worthy of further exploration, so it is with great interest that I approached this entirely more luminous creation.
Created by perfumer Dominique Ropion who, along with Laurent Bruyere, was responsible for the original, Alien Eau Extraordinaire is a stand alone fragrance described by Mugler as being “charged with a positive energy” and “combining a blend of notes known for their uplifting, energising powers with the unique signature of Alien to convey a feeling of happiness and serenity for all women”. That all sounds rather promising, if you ask me!
I don’t understand Juliette Has a Gun. They started out as a rebellious niche brand boasting a number of intriguing fragrances evoking the spirit of fierce women with daring characters (scents such as Calamity J and Lady Vengeance) – all at designer prices. But with the brand’s most recent launches it seems that Juliette has lost her nerve and decided to throw away the pistol that made her so spunky and dangerous.
This decline in boldness can be seen in the increasing lack of ingenuity in scents such as Mad Madame (a collage of just about every scent in the line) and Not a Perfume (at least they got the name right with this one), both of which felt very safe and not in keeping with the punky spirit of the brand. An over reliance on ambroxan has also ensured that these new offerings are all very similar in both odour and style.
The brand’s latest fragrance ‘Anyway‘ runs very much along the same lines as its recent stable mates and presents an airy, relaxed style of perfume that tries its absolute best not to offend or make an impression. The brand proclaim it to be a “simple and original formula” boasting “only fifteen ingredients” – a fragrance that has been designed to be a signature scent and anything but “anonymous”.
I’m on a Serge Lutens kick at the moment, which is funny considering that I was considerably late to the Lutens party and it took me quite some time to ‘get’ the brand’s aesthetic. This is due in part to the fact that much of what Uncle Serge puts out is truly hedonistic and oriental, and can often feel thick and oppressive. This style is attractive to many but for years I failed to see the beauty amongst the spices, resins and balsams.
Unsurprisingly, it was the florals (specifically the incandescent Fleurs d’Oranger) within Lutens’ stable that served as a gateway to understanding perfume’s most highly respected, reclusive and artistic individual. But why the florals? What does Lutens do to nature’s blooms that others don’t? What does he see amongst the petals, the stems and the pollen that many perfumers and creative directors cannot?
The answer is simple – Serge Lutens sees the darker side of flowers and he’s not afraid to present the beautiful amongst the downright terrifying. Within his exclusive collection of fragrances housed inside his Palais Royal shop in Paris (a purple-tinted perfume Mecca), Lutens has three of the most deadly, carnivorous and fatal florals ever to have graced the noses of the human species, they are; the maniacal tuberose – Tubéreuse Criminelle, the viper jasmine – Sarrasins and the ghostly iris – Iris Silver Mist.
I try to be mad at Dior I really do, I mean they have shamelessly reformulated a number of their modern classics (namely Dior Homme, Pure Poison and Hypnotic Poison) and whilst the newer versions still capture the essence of the original, it feels as if a small part of their spirit has been lost forever, like a butterfly who has been touched by human hands, beautiful still but irrevocably damaged.
So yes, I try to be mad at Dior, but I really can’t. “Why’s that?” I hear you ask, well I can sum the reason up in three short french words; La Collection Privée. That’s right, the problem is that the recent few releases from Dior’s La Collection Privée, along with a good few others in the collection (Eau Noire anyone?), are so good that I simply cannot stay mad, just like when Nigel makes me laugh when I’m attempting to be grumpy at him. I may be smiling at you Dior, but I’m still mad, somewhere deep down.
Grand Bal is the latest addition to La Collection Privée and as you have probably guessed from the introductory paragraphs in this post, it is another good’un. Taking inspiration from “Christian Dior’s great ball gowns, whose full skirts and beauty evoked the petals of a flower in full bloom” Grand Bal is a big, beautiful and buxom jasmine that accurately “embodies the intoxication of a summer’s night at the first light of dawn”. I was destined to like this wasn’t I?
With so many perfume launches per year and the overwhelming number of niche houses that seem to be popping up all over the place, it stands to reason that one has to give in to the fact that not everything can be tried, and in some cases entire lines must be ignored for the sake of one’s sanity. For me, CB I Hate Perfume was one of these lines that unfortunately fell by the wayside.
I’m not entirely sure why I have ignored CB I Hate Perfume for so long, Christopher Brosius is regarded as somewhat of an industry maverick and his appearance in BBC4’s Perfume documentary last year should have piqued my interest, but instead it had the opposite affect. Instead I couldn’t help but feel that line was just a gimmick hiding behind an eccentric personality – watch me eat my words.
I recently had the opportunity to try the two latest CB I Hate Perfume fragrances (in water perfume concentration); 7 Billion Hearts and M5 Where We Are There Is No Here. The names didn’t fill me with a huge amount of confidence, they again sounded quite gimmicky, but I’m always happy to be proved wrong and despite the names both of these new offerings from CB I Hate Perfume are beautifully unusual.
Rubj The Actress – A talented diva, unconventional in her beauty and full of moxie.
Vero Profumo is the brainchild of Swiss Aromatologist turned Professional Perfumer, Vero Kern. The three Extraits from Vero Profumo are an absolute joy to behold, each one displays a distinct character; Kiki is the cheeky Parisian, Onda is the stoic, yet fragile Matriarch and Rubj is the Actress.
Unusual beauty appears to be a reoccurring theme amongst the three Extraits and none are more beautiful and unusual than Rubj. I see Rubj as an actress, a talented diva, unconventional in her beauty and full of moxie. She is the artist of the three, she appreciates the beauty in all things and whilst she may be hard to handle at times she makes up for it with vivacity and wit.
I think Rubj was always going to be my favourite of the three offerings from this line, I am a sucker for a white floral after all, and Rubj is very different from a lot of the white florals I own, she is much more understated and glamorous. Rubj is proof that amongst a sea of mediocrity within the perfume industry, there are still perfumers and perfumes with the ability to surprise, thrill and move you.