I have a confession to make: I’ve always found leather perfumes difficult. They’re just so damn demanding most of the time and one has to commit to wearing them for the whole day, which can be a chore if they start to get annoying, which I find they often do. Don’t get me wrong, the smell of leather in fragrance is often beautiful, but with time it can become dry, harsh and tar-like, suffocating a guy and sending himm reaching for a mouthwatering cologne to quench the nose-thirst. So yes, I like leather, but it’s not often that I find myself loving a leather fragrance, and whilst there are exceptions (Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leatherbeing the most notable), leather just isn’t my thing as a rule.
With that in mind, I’m always very happy when a scent comes along to convince me that I do, in fact, like a style I’m slightly averse to. In terms of leather, that very scent is the new Étui Noir by Miller Harris. Described, rather fantastically, as being “like a well-worn leather jacket shared by lovers with comforting flashbacks of each other” and “as deep as the night”, Étui Noir is a leather with a difference. This is a leather fragrance crafted with an emotional point of view, speaking in nuanced and eclectic tones. It’s representative of the new style of Miller Harris, which is much more focused than it has been in recent years and to put it simply, Étui Noir just is an interesting fragrance to unravel.
If last year’s Misia was anything to go by, perfumer Olivier Polge is definitely finding his feet at CHANEL, having taken over the position of perfumer-in-residence from his father, Jacques Polge, the man behind the likes of Antaeus, Coco, Coco Mademoiselle, Égoïste – need I go on? Big boots to fill, most certainly, but M. Polge Jnr certainly has a fair few hits under his own belt, scents such as Dior Homme, which, lets face it is already a modern classic, so perhaps those shoes aren’t quite so big after all?
For his second outing in CHANEL’s niche line, ‘Les Exclusifs’, Olivier Polge pays homage to Arthur Capel, Gabrielle Chanel’s patron and lover. ‘Boy’, as he was called, lends his name to the fragrance, which is a feminine take on the typically masculine fougère inspired by Chanel’s clothing, couture that borrowed heavily from the codes of menswear and tailoring. BOY the fragrance has been created to capture Capel’s “irresistible elegance” and “virile strength” and is a gender-bending scent that borrows from the olfactory codes of men and women. As CHANEL describe it, BOY is the “mark of a man on the skin of a woman”.
What is there to say about the career of Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena at the house of Hèrmes as it draws to an end? His work speaks for itself and through the perfumes that constitute Ellena’s body of work at Hèrmes one can detect a distinct DNA that has been carefully crafted and woven through the olfactory outputs by the man, who is arguably one of the greatest perfumers of all time. Jean-Claude Ellena has created a signature that is now undeniably ‘Hermès’. It is a complexly pieced together as a Kelly bag but as ethereal and light as a silk scarf. To put is simply, Ellena really has taken the spirit of the house of Hèrmes and bottled it.
Ellena’s work is so often referred to as fragrant watercolours and his lightness of touch has proven that perfumes need not be loud, confrontational and weird to be beautiful, they can portray light and shade in utter simplicity. This style in itself is divisive because the fragrances can so often seem imperceptibly simple or transparent, but they are, in fact, incredibly complex. It’s a testament to Ellena’s talent that he can say so much with such reserved abstraction. His work is cerebral and intelligent in a way that modern perfumery isn’t nowadays, and he has always been a refreshing voice amongst the cacophony. The man is nothing short of a genius and one of the handful of true master perfumers who have earned the title through a life’s work.
For his final piece at Hèrmes, Jean-Claude Ellena has attempted to capture the elusive lily of the valley, a flower that smells so intense, yet yields no fragrant oil usable within perfumery. The work is a construction of the flower, of course and as Ellena puts it, he wanted to “snatch the fragrance of these flowers from the dawn sky, together with that of the foliage that envelops them”, thus crafting an homage not only to white blooms but also to its accompanying greenery. The result? Well, Hermès describe it perfectly as “a shower of delicate bell-shaped flowers evoking the opalescent white of porcelain – radiant, playful, diaphanous”. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
TOM FORD’s Neroli Portofino is pretty much legend at this point. Arriving as part of the initial crop of Private Blends in 2007, it has since been repackaged (in a glorious azure blue bottle, I must add) and has spawned its very own line of body products and flankers, scents such as; Costa Azzura, Mandarino di Amalfi and Fleur de Portofino. Neroli Portofino’s success is easy to understand – it is one of the best, if not the best neroli cologne on the market and it does what many fragrances of this ilk fail to do: it presents luxurious, globetrotting cologne nuances in a highly present and long lasting format, all with TOM FORD’s inimitable signature. What’s not to love?
This summer, MR FORD is expanding the Neroli Portofino lineup to include two additional fragrances. The first is Neroli Portofino Acqua, a lighter, more affordable and more widely distributed the fragrance that could be considered as the ‘Eau de Toilette’ version of the scent that we shall be putting to the test today. The second is Neroli Portofino Forte, which is the inverse of Acqua, serving as a more intense, exclusive and expensive take on TOM FORD’s standard bearer cologne, but we’ll get to that later in the week. The brand describes Neroli Portofino Acqua as follows:
“Vibrant. Sparkling. Transportive. Neroli Portofino Acqua is an invitation into the seductive atmosphere of the Italian Riviera from a new perspective afloat in the coastline’s idyllic azure waters, with endless skies overhead and steep, verdant hillsides just within view. A fresher expression of Neroli Portofino’s clear and sparkling facets, it is an irresistibly light way to wear the fragrance’s citrus-and-amber signature.”
Passport, pants and perfume, that’s all you need in your luggage when travelling. Of course, when brining the essentials you want to make sure that you pack the right things, which means it pays to select the right fragrances for that trip away. I always pack something from Acqua di Parma because they offer such beautifully easy to wear scents that sing under the sun and their latest, Cedro di Taormina is no exception. In fact, it’s the perfect thing to kick start your summer. Check out my full review over at Escentual by clicking here.
I feel like we’re going from the ridiculous to the sublime with fragrance reviews on The Candy Perfume Boy this week. We started with Frédéric Malle’s Monsieur., which whilst fabulously composed is almost comically butch (which in my world is a compliment, of course) and yet we finish with Ruth Mastenbroek’s Oxford which is an entirely more refined and subtle affair. The two fragrances are so different in fact, that a comparison would be silly, so let’s move on and focus solely on Oxford.
Oxford is Ruth Mastenbroek’s third fragrance and it’s a unisex scent inspired by the perfumer’s time spent studying at Oxford University. It’s classified as an oriental, but as one would expect from a fragrance inspired by an established British institution, this is far from an East-looking perfume, in fact it takes the familiar notes of this fragrance family and spins them into something hopeful and free-spirited, just like one’s university days. The official description of Oxford is as follows:
“…inspired by my experiences at Oxford University, where I studied chemistry at Lady Margaret Hall. The scent of the French cigarette brand Gitanes, with its connotations of other-worldly chic and sophistication, was new to me as an innocent undergraduate. It came to embody for me the moment of discovery- when you realise you can make your own mistakes, your own choices, and discover life’s extraordinary adventure. I describe Oxford as the scent of an awakening.”
“By my side, Hermann seemed to me like a shadow” – that’s the name of the latest fragrance from rebellious niche brand, Etat Libre d’Orange. A long, pretentious name in French is no real surprise from a brand that shot to fame by marketing a fragrance using the icon of a spewing dick, but much like all things Etat Libre d’Orange, this particular scent, with its particularly long name is absolutely fascinating, albeit without any erotic influences. Not that sexual innuendo, naughty hijinks and a healthy sense of humour are bad things, mind you!
Etat Libre d’Orange have moved into a new phase. Gone are the hilarious, shocking and hyper-sexualised names, and cartoons, all in favour of concepts inspired by Nijinsky’s ballets and poems by Victor Hugo. They seem to be treading a more serious path and elevating their olfactory art to a higher level. I think it’s a good move, one that will prevent them from being pigeonholed as the antisocial abuser of good taste. That rebellious and crass streak still exists – the spirit is very much alive in the brand’s back catalogue, but for now, Etat Libre d’Orange want to stand out for being innovative, not for being innovative and rude. I say power to them.
Hermann à Mes Côtés Me Paraissait Une Ombre, or ‘Hermann‘ for short, is inspired by Victor Hugo’s poem ‘What Two Horseman Were Thinking in the Forest’ and was created by Givaudan perfumer Quentin Bisch (La Fin du Monde & Ambre Imperial). The perfume plays with the idea of shadows, with shade serving as our companion or even our fragrance. They call it your alternate self – that side of you that is always there, whether it can be seen or not. Perfume too, can be a second self – a character we wear to send a message about who we are and who we want to be. But what happens when that second skin talks back? Etat Libre d’Orange seems to want to find out.