Floral Architecture
Floral Architecture

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?

Neroli Portofino Acqua
Neroli Portfino Acqua – A Tropical Sensation

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.”

– TOM FORD

Cedro Di Taormina - The Perfect Holiday Treat
Cedro Di Taormina – The Perfect Holiday Treat

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.

BondStreetOxford
Oxford at Oxford

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.”

– Ruth Mastenbroek

Shadow Play

“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.

Lip-Smacking Ouds
Lip-Smacking Ouds

During this review I am going to attempt not to; a) mention; or b) moan about, the perfume industry’s boring obsession with oud. Oh, well that didn’t last very long, did it? In all seriousness, you don’t need to hear me bang on about oud and why we’re all fed up with it, because frankly, I’m fed up with saying it. So onwards and upwards. Oud is popular and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, despite our collective ennui regarding the subject. Which leads me nicely onto two brand new oud fragrances from luxury brand Robert Piguet…

The Piguet brand has exploded considerably over the last three years and their small capsule collection of a handful, or so of scents has increased significantly with 19 new fragrances created since 2012 (that’s quite the growth, people). In truth, they’ve been a bit of a mixed bag, and whilst I thought that scents such as Petit Fracas were great fun (and really worth sniffing), many haven’t lived up to the greatness of the brand’s classics such as Fracas, Bandit and Visa. Which, let’s face it, must be quite difficult, i mean, not every fragrance are ever going to be as great as Fracas!

This summer, Piguet have launched Oud Divin and Oud Délice, two follow-ups to their Oud, which was launched in 2012, and was a pretty big and funky take on the note. These two ouds take the signature of the original and turn it into something a little bit more palatable. They flirt with the gourmand and present the signature Oud Piguet, the “proprietary blend of resins and woods” that was the core of 2012’s stinky (in a good way) Oud, in two strikingly different ways – one is robust, shocking and intriguing, whilst the other pleases with softness and familiarity.

U is for Unisex
U is for Unisex

“Perfumes don’t have a gender” – I cannot tell you how many times I have said this, whether on this blog, or in casual conversation, and I stand by it. It is my firm belief that, seeing as a fragrance neither has balls or boobs, it cannot be assigned a particular gender. That said, perfumes do possess characteristics that can be perceived as either more masculine or feminine, depending on whose nose is doing the sniffing. To combat all of this brands try to dispel the gender myth (or do they reinforce it?) with unisex or genderless fragrances.

For my Escentual column this week, and the latest instalment in my ‘Escentual A-Z of Fragrance’ (only V, W, X, Y and Z to go, y’all) I’ve pondered the origin of the modern unisex perfume, and have also included some of my favourites for your reading pleasure. So if you’re wanting to dip your toes into a world where the gender lines don’t matter much at all, then simply click here and head on over to the Escentual blog to read my post. Don’t forget to tell me what your favourite unisex scents are.

Somewhere in Paradise Lies Tom Ford's Fleur de Portofino
Somewhere in Paradise Lies Tom Ford’s Fleur de Portofino

Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino series is a collection within a collection. Housed like a fragrant Matryoshka inside the Private Blend collection, the four colognes that currently comprise the series (Neroli Portofino, Mandarino di Amalfi, Costa Azzura, and now, Fleur de Portofino) tick all of the required boxes; 1) they smell great; 2) they are so much more than straight-up Eau de Colognes; 3) they’re unique; and 4) they have decent longevity and sillage. Don’t be fooled by the (rather beautiful) transparent bottles cast in varying hues of blue and green, because there are some intriguing, and complex juices within.

Fleur de Portofino is the latest addition to the Neroli Portofino collection and it marks a bit of a shift from the world of contemporary Eau de Cologne, to the domain of the floral, where the wistful reigns supreme. The spirit of the collection is well and truly alive here, with lots of aquatic vibrancy and freshness however, flowers take centre stage and the beauty of citrus has been instructed to wait in the wings. The result is a floral that presents a new olfactory take on the mediterranean – one that is teeming with life.

“Vibrant. Carefree. Captivating. Private Blend Fleur de Portofino is inspired by the cascades of white flowers that spill off the the branches of the white acacia beloved shade tree that dots the mediterranean’s gardens and lines its tranquil avenues. Fleur de Portofino creates a crisp and bright floral accord from this bloom, then surrounds it with effervescent citruses and acacia honey. The fragrance creates an effect of sheer floral possession that is incomparably hypnotic and extremely bold.”

– Tom Ford

Cologne Indélébile - As Good as Cologne Gets
Cologne Indélébile – As Good as Cologne Gets

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle is a unique brand.  Positioning himself somewhere between Creative Directory and Fragrance Curator, Malle is responsible for putting the perfumer centre stage, famously slapping their names on the bottles of the fragrances they create, and allowing them artistic carte blanche to create perfumes that are works of art.  It’s quite staggering to think just how many modern classics come from this line – Carnal Flower, Portrait of a Lady, Le Parfum de Therese, Une Fleur de Cassie and Vetiver Extraordinaire – I really could go on, there really isn’t a single ‘dud’ in the collection, and when viewed against the plethora of niche brands on the market, Editions de Parfums de Frederic Malle puts many to shame.

The most iconic, and in my personal opinion, the most beautiful fragrances within the collection are penned by legendary perfumer, Dominique Ropion – a man that conducts fragrant symphonies, rather than simply creates perfumes. He is the nose behind some of the greatest fragrances from the last thirty years. In short, the man is a genius and he seems to be the go-to guy for Malle when the brand wishes to ‘perfect’ a genre, whether that be the greatest tuberose scent (Carnal Flower) or the ideal rose fragrance (Portrait of a Lady), or even the coolest modern fougére (Geranium Pour Monsieur).

With that it mind, it seems appropriate for Ropion to be the nose to take on the humble Eau de Cologne with a view of creating the cologne – a cologne to serve as a reference point for the genre, and blow all others out of the water. The result is ‘Cologne Indélébile’ (‘Permanent Cologne’), a fragrance that is described by the brand as being a “modern yet traditional Eau de Cologne that lasts forever”, which is quite a statement to be making, if you ask me. With this permanent cologne, Malle and Ropion are attempting to redefine an age-old genre and drag it firmly into the 21st century by embracing modern technology (specifically through the use of ‘technical musks’). If that’s not an exciting prospect for a fragrance, then I don’t know what is!

“A clean scent, yet surprisingly magnetic. A modern yet traditional Eau de Cologne that lasts forever. Dominique Ropion embraces musk’s nature as both a quasi-aphrodisiac and a scent of purity to create a very personal interpretation of Eau de Cologne. A splash of the best neroli intertwined with orange blossom, bergamote, and the most technical musks for a scent that endures, and endures, and endures… Cologne Indélébile.”

– Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

adidas ORGINALS x Jeremy Scott
adidas ORGINALS x Jeremy Scott

I do like a nice surprise, especially when perfume is concerned, and definitely when my cynical perfume blogger hat is firmly atop my head. adidas ORIGINALS by Jeremy Scott, the first fragrant collaboration between the legendary sportswear brand and the pop-culture dabbling designer, is one such surprise and I have no shame in admitting that I really do like it much more than I thought I would. As will be a shock to nobody, I’m not a hugely sporty person, and my personal style certainly couldn’t be described as ‘pop-fashion’ (as Scott’s designs are). Further to this, Scott’s first olfactory creation for MOSCHINO (the disappointingly ‘style over substance’ scent that is TOY) didn’t fill me with too much hope for a masterpiece. All-in-all, I didn’t expect to think much of this new collaboration. I was wrong, of course.

adidas ORIGINALS by Jeremy Scott makes a statement right from the moment one removes it from the “thermoformed velvet” placement inside it’s shoe box-like outer packaging. The bottle, which is shaped like one of Scott’s ‘winged’ adidas high-tops will divide opinion but personally, I think it’s really cool and it’s as much a decorative object as it is a vessel for the fragrance. Speaking of the perfume, adidas and Jeremy Scott have worked with perfumers Maurice Roucel (Musc Ravageur, Gucci Envy & Iris Silver Mist) and Philippe Roques to create a blend that reportedly “defies expectations with a unisex formula that contrasts masculine and feminine” – and you know what? They’ve done exactly that!

“Fashion designer, Jeremy Scott defines pop fashion. His brand of rebellion-humurous, optimistic-polished is irresistible to international pop stars and style-makers alike. His vision for remixing and elevating popular culture – with spectacular results – tells the story of the possible made real. There are no limits. There is no questioning. Reality will bend. His first fragrance, Jeremy Scott for adidas ORIGINALS, embodies the high-contrast world of pop fashion where imagination is everything.”

– adidas ORIGINALS