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It’s been a long time since I’ve written about violets, so here are four very good ones on Escentual. Click here to read.

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Anima Vinci offers a very solid collection of fragrances. They riff off classic styles – the hesperidic, the rose, the white floral etc. – but bring something entirely new to their respective genres. Most are beautiful (find me a prettier rose than Rose Prana, I challenge you) and some, like Wood of Life, are new and challenging. All are fascinating, fully fleshed out fragrances created with a vibrant spirit and a sense of passion.

Sesame Chān is the latest launch from Anima Vinci. It’s an ode to vetiver via an unusual combination of nutty notes and sesame seeds:

Sesame Chān exudes tranquillity, Japanese gardens, a touch of almond pink flowers, light meditation stones, deep and rich grounded emotions, the cosiness and warmth of a winter season.

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The success of Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic masculine fragrance Le Mâle somewhat overshadows the greatness of anything else the brand has created. Many of the Gaultier fragrances that followed – the likes of Fragile and Gaultier² – were just as innovative and remarkable as Le Mâle, even if the market wasn’t quite ready for them at the time. Le Mâle is often talked about and nearly always lauded – I myself have written about it on numerous occasions, partly because it’s an icon, and partly because it played a large part in my formative years – I wore it throughout my adolescence and on many a raucous night out (and in…).

But this article isn’t about Le Mâle, no, Le Mâle gets more than enough attention (cheeky git that he is). This is a celebration of Classique, the feminine counterpart to Le Mâle and Gaultier’s very first fragrance – a perfume that doesn’t get the spotlight anywhere near as often as it deserves or desires. Classique has sat on the shelves of our department stores and our bedrooms for 26 years now and whilst others have come and gone, Classique has remained, proving that a good idea executed at the right time really does stand out. But what makes Classique so timeless? Today we’re going to find out.

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The great thing about packaging your flagship fragrance in the shape of a couture-clad torso is that you can redress it again, again, and again, leaving lots of room for many exciting limited editions. The possibilities are endless and it’s true, Jean Paul Gaultier’s Classique has a vast wardrobe (one that many a supermodel would envy) packed to the brim with corsets and gowns, each of which has been fashioned from the imagination of a game-changing, rockstar of a fashion designer: the cheeky yet supremely talented Jean Paul Gaultier.

For 2019, Classique once again has a new outfit and this time, a new scent to match too. Classique Cabaret is the latest limited edition to launch in the Classique canon and aside from the original, which I love, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is the best version yet. Inspired by the cabarets of the 1940s, Classique Cabaret is a light-hearted and liberated fragrance that just wants to have fun. The glitzy-red dress wearing Classique Cabaret blends the signature orange flower of Classique with electric ginger and sensual amber, putting together quite the olfactory show. So roll-up, roll-up, take your seats and get ready for the smelliest show in town: the Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Cabaret!

 

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Sometimes I smell a perfume and I just don’t know what to make of it. Whilst many fragrances I smell can provoke an immediate reaction – filing themselves neatly in to piles of ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘ew’, and ‘oooooh’, some take time, and some forever remain in a purgatory land where an opinion is the absolution never to arrive. OK, so I’m being a bit dramatic (just a tad, mind) and this is all a very longwinded way of saying that sometimes, it takes me a while to make up my mind about a fragrance.

Aaaaaand you can probably guess where this is going, right? Yes, when it came to Opus XI from Amouage, the 11th instalment in the brand’s Library Collection (where Amouage does its most unusual and often challenging work), I found myself unsure what I thought, even after spending a considerable amount of time with it. Opus XI was created by perfumer Pierre Negrin – it takes inspiration from the Orient and presents oud, one of perfumery’s most popular materials, in an entirely new guise. It’s a singular perfume that brings nuances to a material that could easily be described as tired, forging something that really is fascinating.

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I was having a conversation with a good friend the other day and the subject of our musings was that when it comes to fragrance, CHANEL is rarely bad. One can accuse them of being commercial at times, and on the very rare occasion, they can even be guilty of being bland, but bad? Never! There is an inherent quality to CHANEL fragrances – a fastidious commitment to a luxurious house signature achieved through an obsessive dedication to the very best ingredients, both natural and synthetic – that means everything they make is undeniably wearable and pleasant.

CHANEL has created a great many wonderful fragrances (I don’t need to list them – you know what they are) and the ones I adore the most are within their capsule collection ‘LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL’. In this collection, CHANEL goes inwards and draws inspiration from its history, creating perfumes of house significance, with reference points in the fabrics, addresses, and muses, found deep within the CHANEL archives. In my view, LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL, is the brand at its most experimental (by CHANEL standards, of course) where a subtle boldness and an effortless wearability come together in harmony.

It has been two years since CHANEL last added a fragrance to LES EXCLUSIFS (the subversive feminine twist on a fougère that was the remarkable BOY) and I for one, have been waiting very patiently. The new fragrance is 1957 and it celebrates Coco Chanel’s relationship with America – a country where the couturier made her fortune. The name of the fragrance is an amalgam of reference points. 1957 was the year that Coco Chanel was awarded the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion. 19 is Chanel’s birthday and 57 is the address of the CHANEL boutique on New York’s East 57th Street – the largest CHANEL boutique in America. 1957 is all of these things and an olfactory ode to the country that cemented the success of CHANEL.

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Amy Winehouse was a tremendous talent. Her voice (that voice!) was unlike any other and she crossed the genres, traversing jazz and r&b, to create her own unique sound – the sound of Amy. I remember hearing her for the first time – my boyfriend at the time (now my husband) played me the song ‘Take the Box’, in which Amy implores her ex-lover to pack up the shit he bought her, put it in a box and go on his merry way. Her humour, pain, and power all came through in that song – with that voice. I hadn’t heard anything like it and sadly, won’t hear it again.

Amy did the unconventional – she became the voice of a generation with just two albums. These albums, her jazzy debut ‘Frank’ and her insolent, pain-soaked sophomore effort ‘Back to Black’ are opposing works but each are iconic in their own right. Speaking of icons, Jusbox is a brand that takes inspiration from titans of music – from decades and artists, so it’s no surprise that Amy Winehouse is the feature of their 13th fragrance: the pink rose of Siren & Sailors. It is Amy’s haunt, the bohemian Camden Town in London, that provides inspiration for this olfactory tale – the story of a beautifully voice siren who enchanted those who heard her sing.

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L’Interdit was originally a fragrance comissioned by legendary couturier Hubert de Givenchy for iconic Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn. Launched in the 1950s and created by perfume Francois Fabron, L’Interdit was an aldehydic floral bouquet of the kind that is seldom found in this day and age. Its name, ‘The Forbidden’, is a reference to its initial exclusivity – it was Audrey’s perfume and for anyone else to wear it was, well, just not allowed.

Of course, L’Interdit did not remain forbidden for very long and soon became one of Givenchy’s most famous fragrances. Over the years it has seen a number of incarnations, most notably last year when Givenchy worked with perfumers Dominique Ropion, Anne Flipo, and Fanny Bal to create an entirely new fragrance composition bearing the L’Interdit name.

The new L’Interdit is described by Givenchy as a “tribute to bold femininity” and an “invitation to defy convention and embrace your singularity” showcased by the collision of white florals and dark notes. This leads one to expect a brassy and excessive fragrance – a perfume that speaks with a confident tone and evokes a free spirited character. Let’s see whether it delivers…