Rosabotanica
Kristen Stewart Looking Like She’s Having a Wonderful Time, As Always…

I have definitely tried Balenciaga’s Florabotanica but for the life of me I cannot remember how I felt about it. The bottle is gorgeous so I’m pretty sure that I recall being impressed to some degree, but that’s about as far as my recollection goes. Perhaps I was put off by spokesfaceperson Kristen Stewart (there really is only so much of her looking bored that I can take) or maybe the scent was nice but nothing noteworthy (that sounds more like it). Whatever the reasons, Florabotanica failed to make an impression.

Florabotanica’s first flanker ‘Rosabotanica‘ however (we’re going to get a whole slew of these aren’t we? I reckon it’ll be ‘Jasmabotanica’ next), is definitely more memorable and noteworthy and comes as a complete surprise for a brand that always makes high quality stuff but doesn’t always push the boat out artistically speaking. Rosabotanica certainly changes the game in that respect.

Launched in late 2013, Rosabotanica was created by perfumers Olivier Polge (Florabotanica, Dior Homme and Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb) and Jean-Christophe Hérault (Florabotanica and Comme des Garçons’ Amazingreen) as “the second flower in Balenciaga’s magical garden”. ‘Magical’ is indeed the right word for it as this second botanical scent takes the idea of flowers into unique, unusual and positively futuristic territory.

A Gift of Roses for Valentine's Day
A Gift of Roses for Valentine’s Day

So if you’re just recovering from Christmas Day and New Year (personally, I’m still trying to shed that darn turkey-weight) you’ll be shocked to know that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. That’s right, you blinked and missed January so now it’s time to think about showering that special someone in your life with lots of lovely gifts to say those important three words.

Of course you don’t have to give gifts to say “I love you” and you don’t need one special day in the year to do so – I for one try to make an effort to profess my undying adoration for my beau at least once a day (normally just after I’ve been served dinner). But if you’re looking for a little token for your love, then what better way to show your love than with the gift of perfume?

Roses are the traditional flower to gift on the day of Saint Valentine, so for my Escentual column this week I have pieced together a veritable bouquet of beautiful rose scents for you to give as lovely fragrant gifts. They range from the straight-up photorealistic rose to the hedonistic oriental rose via a brief stop at the raunchy bedroom rose. So, please click here to head on over to the Escentual blog and read ‘A Gift of Roses’.

Perfume Pic of the Week: The Meditative Rose by Salvador Dalí
Perfume Pic of the Week: The Meditative Rose by Salvador Dalí

In a weird case of serendipity I have been in the mood to do things on a regular basis over the last week; wear rose perfumes and stare at Salvador Dalí’s 1958 work ‘The Meditative Rose. The painting captures the ethereal beauty of the rose, floating high in the sky, casting a tranquil scene that aptly sums up how I feel about rosy fragrances within my collection.

I’ve always seen roses as having a soft and calming presence and much like the two small figures in Dalí’s painting I find myself feeling quite contemplative when wearing any perfume with roses. Over the last week I’ve been relying heavily on Montale’s Black Aoud, a perfume that pairs the sharpness of leather and oud with the most powdery of roses. It’s exotic but comforting and allows one to shroud oneself in a red blanket, which is especially handy in this weather.

Ladurée's Ispahan
Ladurée’s Ispahan – The best damn thing I’ve ever eaten!

Inspiration can come along at the oddest of moments and often in the most surprising of guises. This is why I currently sit on a train whizzing home from London and feel the need to whip out my iPad and start writing a post about my day. A little self-indulgent? Perhaps but in the spirit of ‘sharing the joy’ I’ve had the urge to write about the sensory pleasures of the day.

Today, having finished work early, I took myself off to The Big Smoke on a ‘treat yo’ self day’, during which I pottered around the Isabella Blow exhibition at Somerset House, visited one or two of my usual fragrant haunts and took myself for some much earned sugar at Ladurée, before attending a Perfume Lovers London talk in the evening. And why not? I’ve been working very hard over the last couple of weeks so a little sensory R&R is surely deserved.

The main event was of course the food and it will come as no surprise to those who know me that I have spent the last few weeks ogling images of Ladurée treats on the internet. There is just something about the pastel shades of smooth macaron shells and the vivid sight of pastries overdosed with fruit that sends my mouth, stomach and brain whirling towards sensory overdose.

Marni Eau de Parfum
Marni Eau de Parfum

Too often us perfume lovers (and bloggers) can don our snobby caps and declare that all designer fragrance output is trash. This is more than just simple misconception, it is in fact a big fat lie, after all most of the perfumes that one would laud as a ‘classic’ are from designer outfits such as Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior – the most ‘designery’ of brands.

That said, there is still a lot of dreck out there and the general modus operandi appears to be to create inoffensive fragrances that cater to the tastes of the mass market. But it seems that there is a small revolution taking place, where some designer brands are changing the game by creating enjoyable and easy to wear creations with more than just a little hint of ingenuity. We’ve seen it from Bottega Veneta, we’ve seen it from Prada and we’ve seen it from Maison Martin Margiela. Now we’re seeing it from Italian fashion brand Marni.

Marni Eau de Parfum is the brand’s first fragrance outing and they are in safe hands, having picked esteemed perfumer Daniela Andrier (Prada Infusion d’Iris & Candy and Maison Martin Margiela Untitiled) to pen the project. The fragrance intends to capture the playful spirit of Marni’s fashion and is described as “the opposite of the standard concept of femininity”, a description that fills this fragrance gender-bending nerd’s heart with nothing but joy.

Angel and Alien Aqua Chic
Angel and Alien Aqua Chic

It’s almost impossible to believe that the first day of Spring has already arrived. Looking out of the window one is greeted by flurries of beautiful but ultimately inconvenient (and more than a little bit annoying) snow. To put it in to context, at this time last year it was a rather more palatable 21 °C and today it’s… – let’s not depress ourselves shall we?

Whilst this blogger may not be ready for spring his favourite perfume brand – Thierry Mugler – certainly is. This month sees the release of their annual ‘Aqua Chic’ editions of pillar fragrances Angel, Alien and Womanity. All three of which are reinterpreted as fresher, livelier and more aqueous perfumes.

For the Aqua Chic editions both Angel and Alien have been redressed in floral waters – rose and orange blossom respectively – to create summer-infused perfumes that are more than welcome to turn our SAD minds to think of warmer, happier and decidedly less blizzardy days.

La Fille de Berlin by Serge Lutens

It’s that time of the week again – Monday means another Escentual post and this week’s article takes a break from the usual A-Z and focuses on a review of the latest fragrance from the venerable perfume world of Serge Lutens. ‘La Fille de Berlin’ (The Girl from Berlin) is a rose of many textures inspired by the androgyny of German-American actress Marlene Dietrich.

To read my review please click on the above image to head over to the Escentual Blog.

Oud Mood
Francis Kurkdjian’s Trio of Oud Moods

If I were to pose most perfume-addicts the question; “are you in the mood for oud?” the response would likely be a resounding ‘no’, with a good few exasperated sighs and possibly one or two slaps to the face for good measure. The simple fact is that oud, the noble rot from the Aquilaria tree, is over exposed in the world of perfume and one cannot step into their local fragrance hall without being bombarded by “THE LATEST OUD FRAGRANCE FROM XXX” or “LOOK, WE’VE MADE A PERFUME AND IT HAS OUD IN IT, ACTUAL OUD (KINDA, NOT REALLY)!”.

But I refuse to be disheartened by the oud trend, because that’s exactly what it is – a trend, and we all know that trends are transient in nature, meaning that it’ll all be over before we know it. In reality this trend is far from being all bad, after all there are some great oud-based scents out there (check out my Guide to Oud), with perhaps the best in most recent years being Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s incandescent OUD.

“The creation of the OUD mood collection is a tribute to the type of perfume that makes you feel as if you are wrapped in a rare, delicate material, one that is in perfect harmony with a warm, gentle, refined state of mind.”

Following on from the success of last year’s incandescent OUD, Francis Kurkdjian has added not one, but three new oud fragrances to his Maison. Named ‘OUD Mood’ this collection takes inspiration from the soft feel of fabric, namely; Silk, Velvet and Cashmere. Each one offering a brand new and interesting texture of oud and serving as a wave of refreshment for tired, bored and frankly cranky perfume lovers.

Candies 2012
The Candies 2012

I can’t believe it but it’s the end of 2012 already, which means that it’s time for us perfume bloggers to put together our lists of the very best and very worst perfumes of the year, honestly, where did the time go?! This year I’m affectionately entitling my awards ‘The Candies’ as a short, punchy alternative to The Candy Perfume Boy Awards. Neat huh?

Across all genres there have been many interesting, exciting and unique perfumes unleashed on to the market along with the usual amount of celebrity dreck, dud flankers and down-right-bizarre niche offerings. All-in-all it’s been a busy year with over 1,300 launches. Impressive but exhausting!

Below you will find my awards for Best Masculine, Best Feminine and Best Unisex Fragrances for both niche and mainstream houses. In addition to this I’ve also included awards for Best Flanker, Best Celebrity Fragrance and Best Ad Campaign. But we’re not just celebrating the very best of perfumery in 2012 here, no sir, we’re also highlighting the very worst with the Sour Candy Award, reserved solely for the naffest perfume of the year.

So I hope you’re wearing your very best frock (or tux for the boys, or frock if you prefer, it’s up to you really) and sipping on some fine Champagne as The Candies 2012 are underway…

"OMG! Who is she?"
“OMG! Who is she?”

Juliette Has a Gun is a curious little outfit. They seem to happily fill the space that separates niche and designer perfumes and does so in a young and fancy free way. The thing is, as much as I like the brand and one or two of the scents they’ve yet to have a hit as far as I’m concerned. Calamity J and Romantina came close but neither had the wow factor needed to convince me to part with any of my hard-earned dosh.

That said, the spunky, take-no-prisoners attitude of Romano Ricci’s heroines is definitely appealing to me and I’m always more than happy to dive into their new releases to see what they are up to. So far we’ve had charming girls, vengeful ladies, queens and delightfully calamities but with their latest release Juliette Has a Gun is unleashing the Mad Madame.

“For this new episode I wanted to pay tribute to a woman who dares. A woman slightly more mature than the previous episodes, but by no means better behaved! Mad Madame has this touch of craziness, which she is happily displaying. Endowed with a sense of provocation, she enjoys being looked at and igniting conversations. As Oscar Wilde once said, The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Romano Ricci

Mad Madame is described as a green chypre “revolving around the metallic Rose Oxyde” and as you would expect from Juliette Has a Gun it is a fragrance with a strong character, as Mr. Ricci puts it; “Mad Madame has the knack of getting herself talked about. And she likes it.” What are they saying about this Madame? Well, I can tell you that it may not all be good.