“I am free” says Perfumer Christine Nagel as she sits comfortably in the handsomely furnished apartment above Hermès’ New Bond Street store in London. Nagel is here to talk us through the five new fragrances she has created as in-house Perfumer at Hermès. The five are her first additions to the Hermessence collection, a series of olfactory haikus created by her predecessor Jean-Claude Ellena. Nagel’s style is somewhat different from Ellena’s – his domain was of watercolours and minerals, wrapped in cerebral, thought-provoking compositions that birthed the Hermès olfactory signature. If Ellena created this signature, then Nagel’s has opened it up to a new-found richness with her more immediate, grander and more voluptuous style. Despite their stylistic differences, the creations by both Ellena and Nagel are undeniably ‘Hermès’ in every way.
Anyway, back to freedom. Christine Nagel has full creative freedom at Hermès and with it she has chosen to create a collection of five oriental fragrances to add to Hermès iconic Hermessence collection. Nagel wanted to return to “the origins of perfumery” to create three Eau de Toilettes and two oil-based Perfume Essences. According to Nagel, when she proposed this to the CEO his answer was simply ‘yes’. So off to the origins of perfumery Nagel travelled, focusing on the noble and historic notes of myrrh, musk, agar wood and cedar, with which she has created five distinct fragrances that celebrate the styles of the orient in a way that is truly and faithfully ‘Hermès’.
I’ve always been a firm believer that first and foremost, a perfume must smell good. It can come in whatever bottle it wants with any back story it fancies, but if it’s not enjoyable to wear then what’s the point? So often us consumers are courted with gimmicks – perfumes that promise us all sorts of weird and wonderful things, and whilst this allows for the art of olfaction to be pushed forward, it doesn’t necessarily result in fragrances that translate for everyday wear. It’s a balance between making artistic statements and making wearable accessories and when done right, the results are utterly magical.
One brand that perfectly fulfils the ethos of smelling good is Jo Malone London and since the brand’s inception in 1983, they have brought us a wealth of accessible colognes that above all else, smell good. Jo Malone London is a brand that celebrates the luxury of simplicity with fragrances that usually focus on the contrast and harmony of two notes but are always served with a touch of British eccentricity. The idea is that the fragrances themselves are complex enough to excite the nose when worn alone but also have enough of a paired-back simplicity to allow them to be combined with other scents in the collection (following the brand’s Fragrance Combining suggestions). With Jo Malone London one builds a wardrobe of fragrances for each occasion, layering them to unlock new and exciting facets. To put it simply: they do what they do very well.
Sarah Jessica Parker, or ‘SJP’ as she is sometimes called, has always made fragrances that are a level above those of her celebrity counterparts. She is famously a lover of fragrance, having worn her own custom blend of Bonne Bell Skin Musk, Egyptian Oil and Comme des Garçons Avignon for years. Her first fragrance ‘Lovely‘ is iconic and beautiful and her collection of scents that followed always showcased something interesting whilst also managing to be accessible and wearable – the perfect balance. SJP simply gets it right when it comes to fragrance and her more recent offerings are further proof.
In 2016, SJP launched ‘Stash‘, her first fragrance in quite some time. The scent, which takes its name from the fact that it was passed around like an illicit substance during its development, due to its unique odour, had a big impact and many bloggers fell in love with it. I was one of those bloggers but I never got around to reviewing it. So today I’m featuring Stash alongside the latest addition to the collection ‘Stash Unspoken’. So from today Stash will no longer be hidden away and we will have the joy of, err, un-stashing it now (bad pun, sorry). Let’s get to it!
Out of all of the modern CHANEL fragrances, Coco Mademoiselle is the most iconic. It is the Nº5 for the modern age and since its launch in 2001 it has been the fragrance of choice for an entire generation of women. It’s hard to top a perfume this successful and rather surprisingly, Coco Mademoiselle hasn’t been subjected to the flanker treatment in its almost 20 year life span (for contrast, Chance, which launched after Coco M, has three flankers) – that is until now. Enter Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum Intense from stage right.
Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum Intense is a good example of a perfume that does what it says on the bottle – it’s essentially a more intense version of the original. CHANEL calls it “naturally excessive” billing it as a “fragrance with no intention of being forgotten”. It’s a bold statement and to achieve this, CHANEL has amplified each of the key facets of the original – the juicy citrus, dark patchouli fraction, and the glowing amber – to paint a clearer picture of Coco Mademoiselle. Let’s see if it is as ‘Coco Mademoiselle’ and ‘Intense’ as it thinks it is!
More! More! More! That’s what we want! Give us more!
Us greedy perfume lovers are very lucky because the perfume industry serves us up an all you can smell buffet with every kind of fragrance imaginable. There are fresh aperitifs, rich main courses evocative of exotic cuisines, and not to mention the desserts – oh the deserts! The perfumery dessert cart is filled with chocolate parfaits, rose macrons and candy floss knickerbockerglory sundaes. What’s more, this entire buffet is endless and brands are constantly us up more – more in the form of new treats, all for our insatiable appetite for scent.
This need for more doesn’t just apply to the volume of scent though, no, it also extends to the intensity of the fragrances we wear and one can guarantee that, when a brand launches a popular scent there will be an ‘intense’ or ‘extreme’ version that follows. Often, these flankers can be a little bit superfluous but sometimes they can do something really wonderful by giving more of the scented goodness that made the original so good. A perfect example of an ‘extreme’ done well is the new Straight to Heaven Extreme from By Kilian, which takes the booze and woods of the original, and intensifies them, resulting in something utterly excessive.