Sing to the Moon!
Sing to the Moon!

One of the brands Escentual turned me on to was Van Cleef & Arpels and more specifically, their more exclusive line of ‘Collection Extraordinaire’ fragrances. The scents within the collection are often modern takes on classic themes. I wouldn’t say that they are particularly innovative or weird, but many of them are beautiful and Moonlight Patchouli, the latest addition to the series, is no exception. Click here to read my full review of this gorgeous take on perfumery’s timeless lovers, rose and patchouli.

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The Candy Perfume Boy's Guide to Jasmine
The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Jasmine

The Candy Perfume Boy’s ‘Guide to…‘ series is a Jasmine award winning fragrant exploration of the individual notes that make up the vast and multi-dimensional spectrum that is the world of perfume. In each episode, we take a detailed look at a particular ingredient, analysing its odour profile and the ‘must sniff’ perfumes that serve as reference examples within the genre.

The many fragrant trips in the series have seen us make stops at Planet Tuberose, Chocolate World and Lavender Moon. We’ve also taken journeys to discover the notes of Oud, Orange Blossom, Violet and Lily. Oh, and we mustn’t forget Vanilla – we’ve been there too (and it was particularly delicious, I must say). All-in-all, we’ve traversed some delectably smelly places, learning more and more about the world of perfume on the way. I for one have found it to be great fun, and I hope you, dear reader, have too.

In this instalment we take a look at one of perfumery’s most important, prominent and prolific ingredients – jasmine. This stuff is a vital building block in our perfumes and iconic fragrances such as Chanel’s Nº5 (a true legend) simply would be the same without it. So, without further ado, I have put together my selection of ‘reference’ jasmine fragrances – seven of the very best, to be precise – to help you guide yourself through the must sniffs of the jasmine world. Let’s go scent-trekking.

The Fifth Element
The Fifth Element

One of my favourite films is Luc Besson’s 1997 futuristic sci-fi ‘The Fifth Element’ – a look at the future through a French lens. I love everything about this film, from the Jean Paul Gaultier-designed costumes to Chris Tucker’s bizarre, yet engaging performance as a camp and sexually confusing radio-host. I even don’t mind the sight of Bruce Willis in a vest (Gaultier, of course), but that’s a less important fact, and one that I’m sure you will judge me for later.

I watched the film recently and whilst delving into Besson’s pre-apocalyptic vision of the future, my mind turned to perfume, as it so often does. If you’ve not watched The Fifth Element, firstly shame on you, but secondly, it is essentially a film about saving the world by gathering together the four fundamental elements (earth, water, wind and fire), along with the elusive fifth element (Milla Jovovich) to create the Divine Light and destroy the Great Evil. Sounds pretty fab, huh?

Rubbing Noses With...
Rubbing Noses With…

‘Rubbing Noses’ is a new series, in which I, The Candy Perfume Boy, grill the most important members of the perfume industry – the perfumers. These are the brains and noses behind the perfumes we know and love, and their unrivalled insight into one of the world’s most ancient of arts is something to be treasured, enjoyed and shared.

For my very first episode of ‘Rubbing Noses’ I am posing questions to a perfumer whose body of work includes such gems as; Etat Libre d’Orange’s Jasmin et Cigarette, Comme des Garçons’ Stephen Jones, Aqua di Parma’s Magnolia Nobile and Bottega Veneta Pour Homme. I am of course referring to Antoine Maisondieu and I think that we can all agree that his fragrant back catalogue is quite impressive, with a wide variety of perfumes that make him a perfumer that cannot be pinned down to a particular genre or style.

One of Antoine Maisondieu’s latest creations is the beautiful California Rêverie for Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection Extraordinaire (a perfume that I’m quite smitten with of late). In our Q&A, we discuss this new fragrance, the inspiration behind it and how this talented perfumer manages to take heavy materials and make them feel as light and soft as a summer breeze. We also talk IFRA and the smell of California, so all-in-all it’s a very intriguing read with a well-respected perfumer who is undeniably interesting in a varied number of ways.

Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire
Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire

Up until very recently, Van Cleef & Arpels was not a brand whose fragrant offerings I was particularly familiar with. They are well known for the older scents, especially the Jean-Claude Ellena-penned ‘First’, which was created way back in 1976. It seems that in my ignorance, I have been missing out on some intriguing perfume blends, especially with the brand’s exclusive line – ‘Collection Extraordinaire’.

For last week’s Escentual column I have reviewed all of the fragrances within the Collection Extraordinaire, including the latest addition – ‘California Rêverie’ (a more in-depth review of which, can be found here). This is, for the most part, a thoroughly well-executed collection that covers a wide range of familiar styles and serves as a rather understated approach to ‘niche’ perfumery. To read my review, simply click here. Don’t forget to let me know which of the collection is your favourite in the comments box.

Paysage d'Opale - A Shining Piece from the Van Cleef & Arpels California Rêverie Collection
Paysage d’Opale – A Shining Piece from the Van Cleef & Arpels California Rêverie Collection

If I was forced to pick my favourite fragrance genre, I would be able to answer with “floral” without a moment’s hesitation. My love for all things fragrant and flowery knows no end and I find myself drawn to a wide range of flower based fancies, ranging from supreme aldehydic floral bouquets to soliflores, and all that is in between. So yes, I love it when flowers and perfume come together, but I especially adore the heady tones of white floral perfumes based on the notes of; jasmine, tuberose or orange blossom.

Not all florals are symphonic beauties however, and it is often tricky to strike the right balance between something that is evocative of nature and something that is more abstract. Many attempts at capturing the hypnotic melody of flowers end up being too thin, due in part to the perfumers not being given enough money to work with, or in many cases they can fall into the trap of simply being ‘too much’ – one wants to revel in these flowers, not be devoured by them. Some however, get this balance absolutely right and this leads me quite nicely on to today’s subject: California Rêverie by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Created by perfumer Antoine Maisondieu (the man responsible for Etat Libre d’Orange’s Jasmin et Cigarette and Comme des Garçons Stephen Jones etc.), California Rêverie is the latest addition to Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection Extraordinaire – a collection that follows one rule, and one rule only – the rule of “excellence”. Taking inspiration from the brand’s jewellery collection of the same name (a sample of which can be seen above), this fragrance picks the note of jasmine to evoke Californian landscapes. California Rêverie is described by Van Cleef & Arpels as a “dizzying state of sensuality” that allows one to “drift off on a dreamlike voyage to the heart of Californian nature”. That all sounds rather good, doesn’t it?

Scenting Kimye
Scenting Kimye

As you may or may not know, I have a penchant for picking perfumes for hapless celebrities. There’s just something so satisfying about getting down to the nitty gritty of a celeb’s character and seeking out a fragrance that matches or compliments them. In my Scent a Celebrity Series I have perfumed; The Muppets, The Royals, The Disney Villains, Björk, Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga, just to name a few. I simply love a good celebrity perfume match, it’s true.

For my Escentual column this week and in honour of their recent wedding, I have scented Kimye. That’s right, my scented picks have been plucked for the one and only Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Think what you want about these two, but you cannot deny the power these two celebrities hold over the media and legions of gossip-lovers. So click here to read my wedding perfume picks for two of the most iconic (and not necessarily most important (although I do think Mr. West is very talented)) celebrities of our age.