There’s an ongoing debate as to whether perfume is an art. I for one, know which side of the debate I come down on and I very much believe that yes, perfume is an art form – after all, it can evoke emotion, illicit memories and tell stories in the exact same way sculpture, photography, film and many other types of art can. But does that mean that every perfume is art? Hell no! Perfume is first and foremost a commercial enterprise, in which many brands create things that are new, exciting and beautiful, but also where many others create replicants that are simply made to sell, so it’s a mixed bag and a more in-depth conversation than this one paragraph allows for.
Anyway, I talk about perfume and art because the fragrance I’m reviewing today is created by an artist named Paul Schütze, whose work spans photography, sound and now, perfume. Schütze’s latest duo of fragrances (Cuadra and Villa M – his fourth and fifth fragrances) take inspiration from two famous buildings, weaving architecture and olfaction together in a bold way. Today’s subject, the bright-pink-bottled Cuadra, is inspired by Mexican architect Luis Barragan’s “brilliantly hued modern masterpiece” Cuadra San Cristobal – a ranch situated amongst reflective pools and fountains. I tell you now, it makes for one heck of a fragrance!
I do love a bit of nasal excitement here at The Candy Perfume Boy, so for my first post of 2018, I’m reviewing two fragrances that certainly have caused quite of a bit of intrigue for my nose. They come from The Zoo an NYC-based company created by Perfumer Christophe Laudamiel. Now, you will know Laudamiel as the creator of the Thierry Mugler ‘Le Parfum’ coffer inspired by the movie ‘Perfume – The Story of a Murderer’, as well as being the man behind Abercrombie & Fitch’s Fierce, and Amber Absolute by TOM FORD. Truth be told, Laudamiel is somewhat of a renegade and if you don’t follow his Instagram account, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so, because you’ll find lots of content that aims to demystify the world perfumery and unfurl its reality – a rarity in this day and age.
The Zoo create fragrances that sit within four categories (or ‘territories’ as The Zoo call them); fresh, sexy, raw and forbidden. Laudamiel compares them to animals that with distinct and lovable personalities that are either “expected, reassuring or totally surprising”. I was sent two to try: LOUIS, “a pleasant watery masculine”, and SPACEWOOD, a piece of “fresh icy dewy paradise” that encourages one to “trampoline into the future”. They are housed within simple bottles, protected by handsome wool pouches. The presentation may be subtle, but don’t let that fool you, because the descriptions of the scents are off the charts. Let’s take a sniff and see if The Zoo’s fragrant animals are as much fun as they sound.
Instead of a Christmas gift guide this year, I’m switching out my regular Candy Crush posts for just as regular Christmas Crushes instead. In these posts over the coming weeks you’ll find some wonderfully scented gifts just in time for the holiday season, with products that I am crushing on. So get ready for some marvellous Christmas gift inspiration!
Gosh, I’ve been reviewing so many candles recently you might as well call me ‘The Candle Perfume Boy’ (hold for applause). OK, terrible puns aside, I very much enjoy a scented candle so it was imperative that I brought you a selection for one of my Christmas Crush gift guides – nay, not a selection, an extravaganza! So that’s exactly what this is, a round-up of some beautiful scented candles that make lovely Christmas gifts for those languishing on your ‘to buy’ list (hurry up folks, because you don’t have many shopping days left). Some are evocative of the festive season and some aren’t, but all smell fabulous, making perfect gifts for the house proud or those that simply love a scented candle like me!
There’s a simplicity and cleanliness to the Tom Daxon brand that really appeals to me. It feels unfussy and uncomplicated in presentation, with clean, structural lines favoured over anything remotely eye-catching or gimmicky. It’s a brand where the fragrances are allowed to speak for themselves and whilst the presentation may be simple (and elegantly so) the composition of each of the fragrances is anything but. Tom Daxon presents a collection with remarkable range, offering beautiful twists on familiar themes, creating fragrances that really don’t smell like anything else. If you haven’t sniffed anything from Tom Daxon then you absolutely must rectify that fact immediately.
The latest addition to the Tom Daxon collection is Riven Oak, and if you’re in to woods in a big way, then your interest should most definitely be piqued right now. Tom Daxon describes this oak-centric fragrance as “layers of smooth woods” and without giving away too much in advance of this review (because I’d quite like you to read on!), I’d say that’s a pretty spot on description. Riven Oak is no ordinary wood fragrance (see more on wood fragrances here) – it’s a multifaceted essay on the complexity of wood, with an entirely unique signature. Interest still piqued? Good, because it should be.
I have a lot of time for Atelier Cologne. They’re a brand with a very clear direction and whilst they have an absolutely massive range (over 30 fragrances!!), which includes an impressive number of fragrances across many sub-collections, they don’t feel as if they are overdoing it. Whether it’s the glorious never-ending citrus tones of their neo-colognes or the unconventional exoticism of their oriental collection, Atelier Cologne are making beautiful, well-composed fragrances high on the wearability factory. Absolutely nobody can fault them for that!
So we’ve established that Atelier Cologne know how to make perfumes that smell good, but are they actually adding anything new to the world of perfumery? There is so much scent out there and the big question is whether Atelier Cologne are making anything particularly unique. The short answer is ‘yes’ and the perfect example of this is their latest offering, the intriguing, nay, surprising ‘Café Tuberosa‘ – a fragrance that pairs two completely polar opposite materials together: coffee and tuberose. How’s that for new and unique?
Please indulge me whilst I tell you a little tale that informs you all you need to know about Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdjian. I was sit in the lobby of the Soho Hotel the other day, having just attended an evening with Perfumer Christine Nagel hosted by the Fragrance Foundation. It had been a long day and I desperately needed to charge my phone (for instagram purpose, obviously). As I sat there, minding by own little fragrant business, I watched industry bods trickle past me on their way out. After about ten minutes, two journalists walked past and their conversation went something along the lines of:
“You’re wearing Baccarat Rouge by Kurkdjian, aren’t you?”
“No I’m not.”
“Yes, you are. I can smell it.”
“I’m not. I think I’d know.”
“I can smell it!”
Guess who was rocking the Baccarat Rouge? Oh yeah, that’s right, this bad candy boy right here, that’s who! I fessed up, don’t you worry. But this little tale just goes to show how distinct and unique a signature the fragrance has. In fact, I don’t think I said this when I reviewed Baccarat Rouge 540 last year, but I think it is easily the cleverest perfume composition of the last five years. For a short formula it does a lot, evoking white and red hot crystal with novel accords that feel entirely new. It’s a technical marvel but it’s also a rather unrestrained essay in excess, from a perfumer who usually brings us spacious, chic beauty with a steady hand. I’ll stop beating around the bush and just come out and say that Baccarat Rouge 540 is a god damn masterpiece, and now it comes in an even more lush and luxurious Extrait de Parfum. Colour me excited!