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.
Grab yourself a coffee, tea or any appropriately-hot beverage because your Sunday fragrance entertainment is here! Episode Three of Fume Chat, the perfumed podcast hosted by Nick Gilbert and me, is available to download. In this episode, Nick and I discuss the subject of niche perfumery. We try to find out where it started it and how’s it change, in addition to posing the key question: is niche really niche anymore? It’s a fun and insightful conversation that we hope you will enjoy.
Juliette Has a Gun is an excellent example of how a niche brand should operate. The fragrances, for the most part, are interesting and well-composed, not to mention the fact that they are affordable and served with a generous helping of wit! The brand’s Luxury Collection however, is somewhat more serious but what it lacks in humour, it certainly makes up for in quality. The three fragrances in the collection range each present the note of tuberose in an unusual way, ranging from transparent orientalism to ’80s decadence and modern austerity. Click here to head over to Escentual to read my full review of the Luxury Collection.
Atelier Cologne, the purveyors of the modern eau de cologne, have launched a brand new collection of five fragrances entitled ‘Collection Orient’. Oriental fragrances, and oriental collections for that matter, are a dime a dozen in the world of perfumery and so often they present nothing more than the same notes in the same dense manner and in the same black and white bottles, but not Atelier Cologne’s Collection Orient. No, this collection is something different altogether. For a start, the bottles are white, hinting at a look at the genre from an entirely new angle, whereas the scents themselves are entirely unexpected and refreshingly unique, subverting one’s ideas of oriental scents rather marvellously.
I haven’t sniffed the entire collection yet (we did give Tobbaco Nuit a good nose in episode one of Fume Chat), but the clear standout from the Collection Orient fragrances I have smelled is Mimosa Indigo. Now, I like me a mimosa, but good ones are hard to find, so it’s always reassuring when a respected brand such as Atelier Cologne gives the note a go. Mimosa Indigo is described as a “velvet and addictive” cologne, taking inspiration from the story of a three am trip home after an evening spent in a New York jazz club whilst wearing the most amazing purple dress, you know, as you do. This is Atelier Cologne shaking up the genre and doing it exceptionally well.
If you were to ask me which fragrance house has really pushed the boundaries of what perfume can be I would answer Etat Libre d’Orange without a moment’s hesitation. They arrived on the scene in a whirlwind of spunk and accompanied by a plethora of bold olfactory characters, ranging from high class hookers to smoking sirens of the silver screen. The house rubs noses up both the wrong way and the right way, taking pleasure in the delightful and the depraved. In short, they are the most scandalous perfumery on the planet but they’re also one of the most substantial with fascinating fragrances that more than live up to their provocative names and inspirations.
The man behind Etat Libre d’Orange is Etienne de Swardt, a self-described troublemaker. Having spent many years ‘working for the man’ at LVMH, as it were, de Swardt broke free from the constraints of boring everyday big business perfumery, which included scents for cats and dogs, to create the ideal ‘anti-brand’. He launched his perfume house not with a slogan or a mission statement, but with a battle cry. Etat Libre d’Orange marched into war in the department stores screaming “Perfume is Dead, Long Live Perfume” at the top of its smoke-filled lungs. The scents were the weapons – missiles that exploded, destroying inhibitions and preconceptions. Etat Libre d’Orange was a chieftain tank and Etienne was the maniac at the wheel.
Having been a big fan of Etat Libre d’Orange ever since I encountered their phenomenal Jasmin et Cigarette one drunken evening, I jumped at the opportunity to pose some questions to the rebellious renegade that is Etienne de Swardt. In one of the most fascinating and frankly hilarious interviews I’ve had the pleasure of partaking in for The Candy Perfume Boy, Etienne tells us what led him to perfume, whether he could create anything more shocking than the blood, sweat, sperm and saliva of Sécrétions Magnifiques, and what is next for the brand. So buckle up, leave your inhibitions at the door and get ready for one hell of a ride, because Etienne de Swardt is in the building and he’s in a mischievous mood…
[Please note that there are a few NSFW images below]
In the 1920s, the legendary Spanish painter Pablo Picasso was driven to move away from cubism and paint in the style of the classics, just to prove that he could. Having always been at the forefront of modern perfumery, the equally iconic house of Mugler have decided to make a similar move with their latest collection of fragrances: Les Exceptions. Mugler create bold, extra-terrestrial fragrances that are far removed from the tropes of modern perfumery. They do not follow genres or olfactory families, they create them, having famously crafted the oriental gourmand genre with Angel, the solar woody genre with Alien and the, err, well, whatever genre you could classify that weirdo, Womanity as – bioluminescent fruit, perhaps? In fragrance Mugler are the leaders, not the followers.
Happy new year to you, Dear Reader. I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas involving lots of fragrant gifts and that your new year was a ball. 2016 will be The Candy Perfume Boy’s fifth year and it feels like the blog has come a long way since our very first post (a review of the ill-fated but remarkably beautiful Shalimar Parfum Initial, no less) back in July of 2011. Last year was a stressful year for me personally, due to work, the loss of a friend and an exciting, yet complicated house move, and it would be fair to say that my posts have not been as regular as they should have. I hope to change this for 2016 with more regular reviews and instalments in series such as The Scent a Celebrity Series and The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to. Here goes!
One thing I’d like to do is look back a bit more. The perfume industry is so active, with thousands of launches each and every year, and it’s very easy to get caught up in all that’s new and exciting. So when there is time and the mood strikes, I’d like to focus on fragrances that aren’t brand new, but are wonderful none the less. Kicking us off on that theme are two recent discoveries for me from the legendary niche house L’Artisan Parfumeur. These two scents, Tea for Two and Bois Farine, show how meticulous and measured the brand was during its more focused days. L’Artisan seem to have been seeking an identity for themselves over the last few years and have created some exquisite scents along the way (Séville à l’aube, Traversée du Bosphore, Déliria, Al Oudh, Nuit de Tuberéuse etc.), but the greatness of the some of the oldies in the collection cannot be ignored. Tea for Two and Bois Farine are two standouts.