Oud Ispahan
The Romantic Oud

I think the only thing more frustrating than the constant slew of oud-based fragrances is the fact that each time one is released I have to mention that we’re all a bit fed up with this oud avalanche that we’ve all been facing over the last few years. So, for this review I refuse to mention the frustration (I am aware that I haven’t succeeded in doing so) and instead say that at least Christian Dior appear to have got this whole oud malarky spot on.

In 2010 Dior, following on from the trend started by Chanel with their Les Exclusifs line, created La Collection Privée, a series of exclusive boutique scents. Part of this private collection was Leather Oud, a fantastically pornographic take on oud. Following Leather Oud’s success Dior, who know a good thing when they see it, have decide to launch a second, Oud Ispahan.

Oud Ispahan, which is named after the Iranian city, follows a more traditional route by pairing oud with its beloved partner rose. If the oud trend is considered boring, then the fact that most of its offerings are blends of oud and rose is even more boring, but fear not, Dior has done a good job with Oud Ispahan. Taking its inspiration from Christian Dior’s “fascination with a fantastical orient” along with the “intoxicating scents” and colours of such a place, Oud Ispahan is a very beautiful perfume indeed.

Insolence

“This extreme freedom, indifference to commentary, spontaneity and even her excesses make her magnificent. She is who she is; she is irresistibly set against prejudice and convention and is unafraid to be unreasonable. Her motto: whoever loves me will follow!”  [1]

One thing that I absolutely pride myself upon is that when it comes to perfume the subject of gender means absolutely nothing to me. I’m as happy rocking YSL’s ‘so masculine it’ll put hairs on your chest’ M7 as I am splashing on Robert Piguet’s oestrogen-fuelled Fracas. But there is one perfume so feminine that even I, yes I with the pink stripy blog think twice about before spraying on. That perfume is Guerlain’s Insolence.

I’m not saying that I don’t wear it, that would be silly and against everything I have ever said about perfume and gender, but I do really have to be in the mood for it and there have been times when I’ve felt just a little self-conscious/Candy Perfume Girl-ish whilst wearing it. Insolence is unapologetic in its femininity, and why should it apologise? Insolence is a girl that knows what she wants and most importantly she knows how to have a good time.

Insolence, which was created by the great Maurice Roucel no less, was released in 2006 and is a fruity floral with a difference – it actually smells good. Roucel presented Insolence as an essay on Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue, taking the classic anisic gourmand iris and giving it a modern twist. The result is an intelligent, yet ridiculously ditzy (how’s that for an oxymoron?) perfume that smells current whilst giving a firm nod to Guerlain’s esteemed heritage.

Tilda & Rossy

The Etat Libre d’Orange Muses

Celebrity fragrances, or ‘celebuscents’ as they are so often called, are the scorn of many a perfumista. The majority are cheap, thoughtless compositions with the sole intent of making a quick buck for a celebrity desperate to cash in on the latest trend. As you can imagine, most of the time the celebrity has very little input in the development of their fragrance, preferring simply to be ‘the face’ rather than ‘the brains’.

There are of course exceptions, and some celebrities do insist on being more involved by playing the role of creative director. Celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and J Lo are widely reported to have been directly involved with the creation of their early fragrances and this involvement shows in the final product. But these celebrities are few and far between.

One brand in particular has taken the idea of the celebuscent to a new level by choosing to partner with unusual celebrities who take on the role of muse and work with the perfumer to create their fragrance. This brand is Etat Libre d’Orange, those funny French olfactory freedom fighters whose compositions feel like a breath of fresh air within the industry.

For their celebuscents Etat Libre d’Orange chose two unexpected, subversive celebrities; Oscar Winning British Actress & Androgynous Style Icon Tilda Swinton and Pedro Almodóvar’s Picasso-esque Muse Rossy de Palma. Two strong, unique women for a strong and unique brand.

The Actress

Rubj The Actress – A talented diva, unconventional in her beauty and full of moxie.

Vero Profumo is the brainchild of Swiss Aromatologist turned Professional Perfumer, Vero Kern. The three Extraits from Vero Profumo are an absolute joy to behold, each one displays a distinct character; Kiki is the cheeky Parisian, Onda is the stoic, yet fragile Matriarch and Rubj is the Actress.

Unusual beauty appears to be a reoccurring theme amongst the three Extraits and none are more beautiful and unusual than Rubj. I see Rubj as an actress, a talented diva, unconventional in her beauty and full of moxie. She is the artist of the three, she appreciates the beauty in all things and whilst she may be hard to handle at times she makes up for it with vivacity and wit.

I think Rubj was always going to be my favourite of the three offerings from this line, I am a sucker for a white floral after all, and Rubj is very different from a lot of the white florals I own, she is much more understated and glamorous. Rubj is proof that amongst a sea of mediocrity within the perfume industry, there are still perfumers and perfumes with the ability to surprise, thrill and move you.

Idylle“I imagined for Idylle a bouquet of fresh and joyous flowers, a symbol of love” Thierry Wasser [1]

In 2009 the eyes of the perfume-world were firmly fixed on the doors of No 68 Champs-Élysées in Paris. The world awaited the brand new feminine fragrance from the world’s most important (and arguably the greatest) perfume house – Guerlain. In the previous year Guerlain (now owned by the fashion-gargantuan Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) had appointed Thierry Wasser as their in-house perfumer and he had already started to create exciting fragrances for the house (see Guerlain Homme), but he was yet to conquer the mammoth task of creating a Guerlain feminine.

A new feminine fragrance from Guerlain is always big news and it can’t be easy creating a fragrance for a house that brought Jicky, L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko and Shalimar into the world, but with Idylle it felt like the pressure was REALLY on. Thierry Wasser had the huge tasking of creating a contemporary and modern fragrance that wouldn’t betray Guerlain’s age old heritage and for that reason Idylle is a relatively important fragrance, it signifies a shift within the house, and this shift is highlighted in the tag-line on the above advertising image, which presents Idylle as “The New Guerlain”.

Guerlain describes Idylle (‘Love Dream’) as “Like a mist of petals on the skin, a fresh floral bouquet warmed by the sensuality of chypre” [2] and if only to emphasise the ideal of ‘The New Guerlain’, Idylle marks a complete break from the house’s tradition of lavish chypres, big florals and Guerlainade-filled orientals.

Retro Rose

“Une Rose Chyprée is a fragrant time capsule that transports you back to a sepia-toned past.”

I am continuing this week’s rose theme with a review of yet another rose fragrance from Andy Tauer. Following Andy’s Master Class on Roses, I discussed the divinely edible Une Rose Vermeille, now it’s time for me to focus on the wonderfully retro Une Rose Chyprée.

Une Rose Chyprée is like no other modern perfume, it is a fragrant time capsule which transports you back to a sepia-toned past, when perfume was bold and perfumers didn’t shy away from deep, rich mossy notes with a masculine edge. Andy Tauer describes Une Rose Chyprée as a “modern vintage perfume” [1] and that is exactly what he delivers, a throwback rose chypre with a modern twist.

Rose Macarons

“Macarons – Om, nom, nom.”

Following Andy Tauer’s Rose Master Class at Les Senteurs on Thursday I have had roses on the brain. Well, to be precise I have had Andy Tauer’s rose fragrances on my brain, so this week, it makes sense for me to write about two Tauer fragrances that I have been meaning to review for quite some time – Une Rose Vermeille and Une Rose Chyprée. Seeing as I am renowned for having quite a sweet tooth and being a sucker for anything rose flavoured, I will start with Une Rose Vermeille.

Une Rose Vermeille was released in 2010 and is the second addition to Andy Tauer’s ‘Homages’ line, which also houses Une Rose Chyprée and Carillon Pour un Ange. It is described as a ‘Gourmand Rose’ and is, in my opinion, the most delicious fragrance I have ever tried – it is a rose good enough to eat.

Andy Tauer

“I invite you to trust your nose” was just one of the many perfumed pearls of wisdom offered by Andy Tauer at Thursday’s rose master class held at Les Senteurs brand new store in London. Of course, an invitation to an evening with Andy Tauer at London’s premiere perfume stop was definitely not to be missed and the event offered a fascinating insight into the world of Tauer and roses.

Andy Tauer, as I’m sure you all know, is an independent perfumer from Switzerland with a natural flair for creating beautiful and thought-provoking pieces of scented art. If there is one particular ingredient/note that makes me think of Tauer perfumes it is rose, and Andy has created three exceptional rose-centric fragrances (the polar-opposites Une Rose Chyprée & Une Rose Vermeille and the wonderful Incense Rosé ) and rose is a staple note in most of the line. So, who better to hold a rose master class than Andy Tauer?

Anglomania
“Anglomania is quite a blowsy scent, a fact that is only emphasised by the quite, erm, ‘breasty’ advertising image.”

Vivienne Westwood is the epitome of British eccentricity. A self-taught designer, mother of punk and general, all round odd ball, Westwood put British fashion on the map and her mixture of shabby chic and unusual tailoring has proved to be timeless.

Dame Viv has released five fragrances (not including flankers); Boudoir, Libertine *, Anglomania *, Let it Rock * and Naughty Alice, three of which have since been discontinued. If I’m being perfectly honest the fragrances from the line have been a mixed bag, Boudoir is a great, slightly filthy chypre, Libertine is a pretty decent floral citrus (it used to be a favourite of mine until my tastes developed), Let it Rock was a dreadful oriental and don’t get me started on Naughty Alice…..Anglomania is the best and most interesting of the bunch.

Anglomania is named after Westwood’s recurring collection of the same name and the scent is intended to evoke “Asian intensity with British heritage” [1]. It was released in 2004 and was created by the great Domique Ropion (Carnal Flower, Alien, Geranium Pour Monsieur to name but a few), it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Gold

“Two of the most rich and lavish perfumes of all time.”

Gold Woman and Gold Man were the first fragrances to be released by Omani fragrance house Amouage. The house was founded by His Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said and in 1983 Amouage hired famous french perfumer Guy Robert to create two of the most rich and lavish perfumes of all time. His brief? “Put whatever you like in it, no matter how much it costs.” [1]

Both fragrances showcase silver frankincense, an ingredient the country is famed for, and whilst they have a distinct middle eastern feel they are also undeniably french in their style. Unlike almost everything from the 1980’s, Gold Woman and Gold Man do not feel dated in the slightest, they are both timeless classics that mark an important beginning from a venerable house. They have stood the test of time.