The success of Coco Mademoiselle took CHANEL by surprise when it launched in 2001. Created to rejuvenate the ageing Coco, which had launched 17 years prior but aged double in that time, Coco Mademoiselle’s purpose was to keep the Coco name on the shelves, which it more than did. In reality, Coco Mademoiselle’s popularity isn’t that surprising, after all, it plays a familiar tune (fruity patchouli a la ANGEL) and does it well, all whilst bearing the name “CHANEL” on its bottle. That’s pretty much a recipe for success, if you ask me.

Coco Mademoiselle presented a chic, yet bombastic, blend of sticky citrus (orange, bergamot, mandarin), sweet rose and contrasting patchouli. It riffed on ANGEL, of course, but pushed everything in a more luxurious, less challenging direction becoming a fruitchouli for the masses. I cannot deny that it’s a great fragrance, it’s just one that I’ve never personally gelled with, but then again, as a 33 year old, bespectacled and slightly stocky gay man (OK really stocky), I’m hardly the target market (“Mademoiselle” I am not).

So since 2001 we’ve had Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Toilette (2002) and the Eau de Parfum Intense (2018) (which I liked more than the original). Now we have Coco Mademoiselle L’Eau Privée, a lighter, more sheer fragrance that is meant to be worn at night time. The mood is very much satin sheets and silk lingerie in a blush shade of pink. Perfect for spritzing on when you’re wearing your flannel PJs and bunny slippers from Primark, I say. Let’s sniff.

Let’s talk about Atelier Cologne. For me they are a brand that very much fits into the category of ‘mainstream niche’, which means they are a niche, exclusive brand that has a sort of mainstream appeal and is on the more accessible side of the luxe fragrance world. You won’t find anything particularly challenging there, but you will find quality and luxury. Juliette Has a Gun is another example of a mainstream niche brand, but we’re not here to talk about them.

What I love about Atelier Cologne is that they are successful in their mission to create enjoyable, long-lasting colognes, and it would be fair to say that they do citrus fragrances better than anyone. Scents like Orange Sanguine (basically a shower of juicy oranges – cover me in it now, please), Bergamot Soleil (the closest you’ll ever get to an Earl Grey scent) and Pomelo Paradis (unf, so good) show just how euphorically beautiful and long-lasting citrus can be.

Their latest fragrance isn’t actually a citrus cologne (well, it kinda is but we’ll get there), instead it’s a sunny floral called Love Osmanthus. Inspired by the story of love in a secret garden, Love Osmanthus shines a spotlight on the unique flower from Asia, playing up its fruity, peach-like aroma into a fragrance that creates the impression of an “exotic garden under the moonlight”. Colour me intrigued….

Colonia Futura

Colonia Futura is a perfume that comes with a loud message of sustainability. This is no surprise, of course, as over the last two years or so, consumers have been demanding more sustainability from their products, and perfume is no exception. There are two key elements to consider when thinking of sustainable perfume; the juice itself, and the packaging – Colonia Futura aims to address both.

So, how exactly is this new cologne from the historic Italian brand sustainable and eco conscious? Acqua di Parma are billing Colonia Futura as their “declaration of love for nature” and in that vein, it contains 99% ingredients from a natural origin. The packaging has also changed to fit this new drive of friendliness towards nature – the traditional Bakelite cap has been replaced with one made from recycled and recyclable plastic, whilst the bottle (excluding the spray mechanism, which can be removed) can also be recycled. Perhaps the coolest innovation is the label on both the bottle and box, which is fashioned from scrap dust from marble quarries. That’s pretty neat if you ask me.

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Warning: I will be saying the word “vibe” an annoying amount of times in this review…

 Vanilla Vibes is the lastest launch from punky French niche brand Juliette Has a Gun. I am a self-confessed Juliette fan – I think what they do is accessible, high quality and whilst they sometimes miss the mark (Not a Perfume, Anyway) they often make interesting, wearable work that offers something different (Sunny Side Up, Gentlewoman, Lady Vengeance). Vanilla Vibes is filed neatly into the interesting camp – a  fresh, mineral take on vanilla that is inspired by festivals in the desert,

Hermès’ Un Jardin series, which was started by the previous in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, is an ode to nature that doesn’t necessarily rely on nature to showcase the botanical. Through both natural and synthetic ingredients, the collection takes one on a journey through many gardens around the world, capturing specific and often surprising elements of these landscapes. For Un Jardin En Méditerranée, the piquancy of tomato stems evoke fig trees in a Tunisian garden, whilst in Un Jardin Apres La Mousson paints a watercolour of rainsoaked concrete through melon and spices, creating a mineral, atmospheric beauty. In my favourite, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li,  plasticky notes of kumquat and jasmine create a collage image of an imaginary garden – one that could only exist in the mind. Each of these ‘jardins’ is full of suprise.

Now Hermès has Christine Nagel as their nose and with their latest garden, Un Jardin sur la Lagune, Nagel continues the story. Her first jardin is inspired by a dream – a secret Venetian garden imagined in the deepest part of her subconcious. Nagel describes this garden as a “cycle of trees and flowers, nature still enduring within it”. From an olfactory perspective, la Lagune is a soft aquatic floral pieced together with transparent colours – cooling and warming as the sun moves across this most dreamlike of olfactory gardens.

There’s something really exciting and free about new niche brand KIERIN NYC. They may not offer any complicated gimmicks or a wildly unusual olfactory point of view, but they do something really surprising for niche: they offer accessible, genderless fragrances at a price point this is more reasonable than many designer brands. But this is the spirit of KIERIN NYC – a brand that wants to be for anyone and everyone, making high quality, niche-style fragrances easily available to anyone who is interested.

KIERIN NYC was founded as an “uncompromising New York centric brand” by Mona Maine de Biran (co-founder) that aims to tell the stories of the city through the art of olfaction. KIERIN NYC partnered with perfumer Mathieu Nardin, a Grasse-native who has lived and worked in the Big Apple, to create their debut collection of four fragrances. The brand has a distinct point of view with strong values. They believe in fragrances that are cruelty free, eco-conscious, genderless and inclusive. Those are things that resonate in the fragrances and are absolutely things I can get on board with.

The four KIERIN NYC fragrances are: Sunday Brunch, 10 A.M. Flirt, Santal Sky and Nitro Noir.

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To me, MUGLER COLOGNE, has always felt like a perfect mid-point in the MUGLER brand. Where ANGEL and ALIEN etc. have always been divisive, challenging compositions, COLOGNE embodies a more palatable signature, whilst maintaining the innovative, unusual quality of the brand. With its weird, steamy muskiness, COLOGNE is as much a ‘MUGLER’ as ANGEL, but somehow it feels more casual, more effortless and with a wider appeal.