It’s not often that I bring things to you on The Candy Perfume Boy before they launch, after all it’s not much fun writing about things that people can’t get their noses on yet, but right from my very first sniff of Le Cèdre, the brand new fragrance from Miller Harris (launching in May), I couldn’t not share it with you. I’m not a massive fan of woody fragrances as a genre and on the whole they very much feel lovely, but not for me, therefore it’s also rare for me to sniff something distinctly woody and be head over heels for it. So now you understand just why I’m so excited to be writing about Le Cèdre!
Le Cèdre is the latest addition to Miller Harris’ Perfumer’s Library, a capsule collection of scents created to play to different seasons and moods, and coming together to create a fragrant wardrobe filled with scents that cover all bases. This is a sort of IKEA approach to perfumery where one can purchase a flat-packed collection of scent ready to be assembled and worn throughout the seasons. Le Cèdre joins the collection as 2017’s seasonal entry and I’d suggest that it’s the unconventional scent for the summer season. Miller Harris describes Le Cèdre as an “audacious and escapist fragrance” that is softer than one might think. Well, for someone who finds cedarwood a touch on the solid side, that really does sound like something rather fabulous indeed.
Iris, or orris, is many things. It is famously known as the most expensive natural ingredient in the perfumer’s pallet, making it one of the most elusive and luxurious materials out there. It’s also one of the most beautiful and complex ingredients in the perfumer’s magic bag of tricks, allowing itself to be utilised in vast array of ways, which gives it this strange shape-shifting ability, whilst allowing it to remain instantly and undeniably recognisable as iris at all times. Iris is also a divisive material – some will dive readily into its often cold and aloof arms, whilst others will simply say it smells like carrots and they wish it to be moved very far away from them. Both view points are valid of course, but the striking character of iris cannot be denied.
In perfumery it is not the iris flowers that are used but the root. The roots are dried over a number of years (hence the hefty cost, orris is an exercise in patience) and then ground before being distilled to create orris butter (beurre d’iris). Reportedly, one ton of iris root produces two kilos of iris butter, making for a painstaking process that drives the cost of the material skyrocketing up to the roof and beyond. But is the beauty of the material matched by the price? Well, the answer to that question will certainly depend on your opinion however, the complexity of the odour profile or orris certainly lives up to its value, more so in fact.
The scent of orris is a tricky one to pin down. It is most known for its earthy character, which in extreme can smell vegetal, like carrots and turnips. The scent is mineral but it can also have sweetness, sharing a similar character to violets. If we’re talking texture, orris can be suede-like or powdery, but in some instances it can also appear as doughy and thick. There’s also a woody character to the material and in terms of colour, orris can present hues that range from blue to purple to grey to beige. If you hadn’t guessed already, orris is one of the most fascinating and flexible fragrant materials out there and it has been put to use in thousands of intriguing ways throughout the history of perfumery.
It’s battle day and in yet another epic duel, Thomas & Nick are feuding fragrances from one of the greatest living perfumers, or as Thomas’ says “one heck of a dude”: Bertrand Duchafour – the many behind iconic scents by Penhaligon’s, L’Artisan Perfumer, Comme des Garçons and more. They are joined by blogger and graphic designer (and Nick’s neighbour), Sabine Cornic (http://iridescentrics.blogspot.co.uk) as guest judge, as they traverse the impressive body of work from a talented, diverse and exciting perfumer.
As you may have noticed, National Fragrance Day is everywhere today! It’s a day dedicated to the importance of smell and fragrance. To celebrate, I’ve put together a list of my five favourite fragrance articles from the web over the least year. They’ve all been neatly put together for this week’s Escentual column. Click here to head to Escentual to give them a read. Also, don’t forget to share your scent memories with the hashtag #ScentMemories AND you must take a Smellfie with a favourite scent, tagging it with the hashtag #Smellfie and tagging @theperfumesociety and @fragrancefoundation!
Love it or hate it, it’s impossible to ignore Mon Guerlain and unless you’ve been hiding under a (rather fragrant) rock for the last month or so, it’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll have not seen or sniffed it. This is a Guerlain launch unlike no other – it is literally everywhere and the brand has gone balls to the wall (for want of a better phrase) in terms of promotion. Not only have they chosen Oscar-winning actress, director and human rights campaigner Angelina Jolie as the Mon Guerlain muse (an excellent choice IMHO), they’ve also worked with director Terrence Malick on the accompanying film. Not to mention the huge push in terms of press that the launch has had, which overshadows any other offering from Guerlain in the past. It really is a huge launch.
This post isn’t going to be a review of Mon Guerlain. I’ve already put together my thoughts on the scent, in isolation from its concepts and history for my Escentual column, and you can read those thoughts here. I stand by the fact that I really like how it smells. To me, Mon Guerlain is a novel take on lavender, one that amps up the material’s natural burned sugar notes and folds it into delicious butter candy and musk. It really is lovely, commercial yes, but undeniably lovely and made with top notch materials too. It’s also very Guerlain as well, especially seeing as the house is well know for being the utter dons at making gourmand treats for the nose. Mon Guerlain is no exception and it smells great.
So if this post isn’t a review, what is it? Well, Mon Guerlain is such a huge launch and such a game changer for Guerlain, I wanted to explore the commercial context in which it has arrived and what it may mean for Guerlain going forward. From a house that brought us Jicky, Shalimar, Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue, Vol de Nuit and Chamade (I really could go on and on, and on) with little fanfare, Mon Guerlain says that Guerlain has finally arrived to play with the big guns like Chanel and Dior. And guess what? They mean business.