New Perfume Review Pont des Arts A Chaque Instant- Chypre Bridge

As we enter the final weeks of summer this is my chance as a reviewer to start plucking samples out of the “maybe” box. These are the reviews which keep getting bumped because something newer arrives that captures my attention. One chance is for me to re-visit a new collection where I only reviewed a single release. Today I am returning to review Pont des Arts A Chaque Instant.

Geraldine and Bernard Siouffi

Geraldine and Bernard Siouffi founded Pont des Arts in 2018 with a debut collection of three perfumes. Named after the famous pedestrian bridge over the Seine, the Siouffis want these perfumes to be very French in style. They turned to perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour to realize that vision in A Chaque Instant.

Bertrand Duchaufour

A Chaque instant is meant to be a modern chypre. M. Duchaufour is one of the few current perfumers who has successfully created contemporary versions of this venerable fragrance style. The reason for that is his ability to find overlaps between ingredients which provide the depth and bite of the classic chypre. For A Chaque Instant those overlaps are found in spices, florals, and resins.

A Chaque Instant opens with an overdose of baie rose. In this concentration the green herbal quality is much amplified. Some galbanum hones that to a sharper edge. Angelica provides a more vegetal green to this super-green top accord. The heart accord is comprised mainly of jasmine and tuberose. They come together in white flower harmony that is enhanced by M. Duchaufour’s use of beeswax as the connecting note. It provides a matrix for the white flowers to push back against the green. What remains is the chypre accord. That comes from the low atranol version of oakmoss given a resinous polish via myrrh and benzoin. Vetiver provides the bite the loss of the atranol removes. Patchouli finishes this with an earthy grounding.

A Chaque Instant has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

You might not be feeling a green floral chypre with the midsummer sun beating down. Keep this one in mind once we move into the cooler months. It is going to be a great addition to any chypre lovers collection.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Moth and Rabbit Dolls- Plastic Fantastic

When I was a young child there was a doll that was sold which had a tiny reservoir on the back for a child to put a fruit fragrance in. It had the scent of plastic soaked in fruit. I hadn’t thought about it for fifty years, probably. When I opened my sample of Moth and Rabbit Dolls it came back to me.

Moth and Rabbit is the new name of the previous brand Folie a Plusieurs. It still retains the ideal of interpreting avant garde films as perfume. I have not tried all of them but the ones I have are all unapologetically different. Asking wearers to embrace the oddness. The ideal perfumer for this is Mark Buxton who has made all the Moth and Rabbit releases.

Mark Buxton

I think it helps to know the film being interpreted. I had never heard of the 2002 film by Japanese director Takeshi Kitano. It moves through the seasons which is what Mr. Buxton wants to do beginning in spring and ending in winter. I can’t say I got any of the seasonal shift. What I did get was a dose of plastic doll head and fruit. Which brought back my childhood memories. Mr. Buxton has always found ways to explore the fringes of the perfumer’s palette. In Dolls he finds the plastic.

The plastic doll head accord centers on an unctuous ylang-ylang. Most of the time when I smell this I think a perfumer missed the mark on the right amount. I don’t think that here. Instead Mr. Buxton wraps it in the subtle fruitiness of cherry blossom followed by apple blossom. This is that fruity doll head I remember. The final stages transition to woods with maple and cedar over a selection of white musks. The latter is probably meant to evoke the snow of winter, but I never felt that.

Dolls has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.  

I’m not sure how many will be running for fruit scented plastic doll head as something they want to wear as a perfume. I found it to be quite easy to wear even in the heat of summer. I’m sure I’m going to return to it in the cooler weather because I think this plastic is fantastic.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

2019 First-Half Report

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I always like to look back at the first half of the perfume year every July. I enjoy trying to pick out the emerging trends and to give the best releases of the first half of the year some more love.

Christopher Chong

Before I get to that though the biggest news of the first six months of 2019 was the departure of Christopher Chong as Creative Director at Amouage. At this time it isn’t clear what that means for the brand or where Mr. Chong will eventually be making perfume again. If both resolve over the next six months those will probably be headlines for my end of year wrap-up.

I feel like I’ve found more new brands to be impressed with over these past six months. Maison Violet is a heritage brand doing it well. Chatillon Lux and the perfumer behind it, Shawn Maher, have an incredible collection already of which Lamplight Penance is one of the best of the year. Ryan Richmond Rich Mess was far from that description; it was a crazy thrill ride of a perfume.

A couple of brands followed up strong 2018’s with even better releases this year. Marc-Antoine Barrois Ganymede is a lightweight leather that I enjoy the more I wear it. Goldfield & Banks Velvet Splendour is a mimosa fragrance I have also spent a few summer days wearing.

There were two very limited editions, which sold out in hours, which are among the best of the year. Bogue 0,7738 is Antonio Gardoni at his best. Hans Hendley for American Perfumer Bloodline is an homage to the perfumer’s Texas heritage via a red cedar oil from his home.

Two brands which I haven’t heard from for awhile made impressive returns. Rubini Tambour Sacre re-assembled the creative team from the debut Fundamental. This time they found the sacred rhythm of excellent perfume. Dannielle Sergent took her Cognoscenti brand in a layered floral direction with Warrior Queen.

Finally there are three perfumes which are at the top of my list for the first half of 2019.

Hiram Green Lustre is a breathtaking rose soliflore on an all-natural palette.

Nishane Ani takes what you think you know about vanilla in perfume and evolves it.

Talc de IUNX is as good as it gets from Olivia Giacobetti. I’m always pleased to get something new from her this time I can’t forget about it.

The fall releases are starting to show up in my mailbox. Based on early returns I am expecting the last half to be as good or better than the first half of 2019.

As always thank you for reading.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Maison Violet Tanagra- Personal Grace

When it comes to heritage brands if they are working for a retro nouveau style they sometimes lean too hard on the retro. To be relevant in today’s market I think a heritage brand has a challenge to keep the past as part of the future. Easier to write than achieve. One which has done it is Maison Violet. I was quite impressed with their first three releases for finding this sweet spot. It made me look all the more forward to trying their fourth release, Maison Violet Tanagra.

(l. to r.) Paul Richardot, Anthony Toulemonde, and Victorien Sirot

The same creative team has returned for Tanagra. The three Parisian perfume students who acquired the name, Paul Richardot, Victorien Sirot, and Anthony Toulemonde, collaborate with perfumer Nathalie Lorson. Because the creative team never found any of the Maison Violet perfumes to smell themselves, they combed the newspapers and magazines of the time to get an idea of what the original was like. For Tanagra what they found it was named after small statues of Ancient Greece which celebrated femininity. This provided a wide-open opportunity to compose something for Tanagra which captured that.

Nathalie Lorson

What I wasn’t prepared for was Tanagra is a skin scent. It is a risky play for consumers who desire projection. After wearing Tanagra I can’t imagine it any other way. Mme Lorson creates a beautifully subtle floral surrounded by fruit and wood also dialed way back.

It is those fruits which show up first. Mandarin and pear form a delightful juicy pair. Out of that a shimmering iris shaking powder off itself arises. That is supported by fresh floral notes of freesia and peony. Jasmine provides a little depth. It finishes on a clean foundation of cedar and vetiver.

Tanagra has 10-12 hour longevity and very little sillage. On the days I wore it Mrs. C thought I wasn’t wearing anything.

I know many are not fond of close wearing scents. Tanagra might change that notion for some. If it was more intense the gorgeous grace inherent would be lost, I think. As I walked around wearing it, I felt like I had my own bit of personal grace with me.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Tuscan Leather Intense- Let The Right One In

In a line of perfume as extensive as Tom Ford Private Blend is, it is easy to say there is something for everybody within. Ever since its 2007 debut it has offered perfume lovers an almost unparalleled opportunity to find “their’ perfume. I am no different. I have favorites within the genres which span the collection. More than any other fragrance brand there is probably a “Goldilocks” version of what ever kind of perfume makes you smile.

That has certainly been true of the leather focused offerings. One of the original set of Private Blends was Tuscan Leather. Tuscan Leather was a surprising combination of raspberry over suede leather. It was not my favorite of that first collection. Over the years there have been other leather perfumes. Three years ago I found my “just right” one; Ombre Leather 16. No raspberry and a leather with suppleness and bite. From this perspective I was quite interested to see where Tuscan Leather Intense would fall.

Karyn Khoury

On the days I wore Tuscan Leather Intense it was hard not to think in the early moments that it was a discarded mod of the original. Creative Director Karyn Khoury probably did not do that because while the opening feels like a shuffled version of the original the latter half is all its own thing.

It opens on the same trio as the original; saffron, raspberry, and thyme. The difference here is the raspberry is pushed to the back over the thyme and saffron. The leather early on is also a bit unrefined with rougher edges. The thyme sets the pace for what is a much greener opening. That effect is deepened as davana comes into focus. It creates a woody green softening of the leather into a sueded version. A lot more olibanum coats it with smoke. The biggest change comes as a strong set of animalic musks turn this leather into something a bit untamed. Some amber provides a touch of warmth in the final stages.

Tuscan Leather Intense has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Tuscan Leather Intense captures many of the qualities which have made Tom Ford Private Blend leather perfumes stand out in the past. It is interesting enough to me that when I reach for Ombre Leather 16 I am going to give Tuscan Leather Intense a glance. As a perfume consumer if you’re looking for a Tom Ford Private Blend leather to call your own you just have to let the right one in; Tuscan Leather Intense is going to be that one for many.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Tom Ford Beauty.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Please Change Your Hurricane Coverage

I was watching the news on Friday night. The lead story was on Hurricane Barry bearing down on Louisiana. Part of the package is a story which always irritates me. When they interview someone who chooses to ignore an evacuation order.

I grew up in South Florida and weathered two hurricanes as a child. Our closest family friends had a house right on the water. I always knew the storm had arrived when their son, and my best friend, Buddy and their dog Rex crashed my bedroom. Our friends knew what was important and acted to get it out of the way of the storm. Everything else was stuff. There was always a stark reminder of what would have happened if they remained. On a post inside the house there was a line for every hurricane which had hit marking the level of the water that made it inside the house. Both hurricanes we lived through the water level was above the adults’ heads. I always respected their choices even though there were tough times recovering after each storm.

It is one of the reasons the stories which come every hurricane about the idiot who won’t evacuate bother me. These people are not folk heroes they are fools caring more about their stuff. Why every news organization feels the need to cover them without pointing that out is my problem. On Friday night there was a woman standing in a foot or so of water already. 24 hours before the storm hits. What illumination of the coming disaster does this provide?

The other part of this is I have first responders in my close circle. I know that if the idiot calls that they are in danger they will respond. Putting their lives in danger because of someone so stupid they can’t walk away. It infuriates me. During one of the hurricanes last year this exact story was covered.

This plea to stop covering idiocy also applies to post-storm coverage. Don’t go cover the moron who managed to make it through. It just gives bad ideas to others in the future.

Hurricanes are dangerous and important enough that the coverage of simpletons who literally want to spit into the wind do not need to be part of it.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Rag & Bone Monoi and Genmaicha- Seeing the Vision

When I receive a large debut collections from a designer, I find it difficult to give a good assessment. This was the case three years ago when I received the first set of fragrance from Rag & Bone. I thought they were well done but one, Oddity, stood out far above the others. Which leads me to unfairly think of the others as lesser. It is nice to get a second chance as Rag & Bone release two new fragrances Monoi and Genmaicha.

Marcus Wainwright

Creative director Marcus Wainwright wants the Rag & Bone perfumes to mirror the fashion side of the business. In his vision it means putting a focal point ingredient on the bottle and “accessorizing” it. In the first collection that generally meant one prominent note and another slightly less prominent note. At the time I thought it was a good concept. Now with Monoi and Genmaicha it proves to be durably so.

Monoi is a lightweight white flower style of fragrance. It takes a tiare accord of frangipani and gardenia to represent the creaminess of the white flowers. A green banana leaf, crisp pear, and sandalwood are the main accessories. It is finishes with a set of white musks to build in the expansiveness over the long run.

Genmaicha is a citrus blended green tea type of fragrance. A tart yuzu sets up the sharp green tea note in the heart. Nutmeg is used to tease out a toasty nuttiness underneath. It blunts a lot of the roughness of the green tea if left on its own. It all ends on a clean cedarwood platform.

Monoi and Genmaicha both have 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

With only two to assess this time around I see what Mr. Wainwright wants his fragrance collection to represent. Both Monoi and Genmaicha rise to his vision.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Rag & Bone.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review L’Artisan Parfumeur Le Chant de Camargue- Strength of Fragility

If there is an off shoot of the trend towards transparency that I will welcome it is the chance for the more fragile ingredients to shine. The majority of the time I have satisfied my desire for that quality by finding it in the independent perfume community. With L’Artisan Le Chant de Camargue it might be finding its way to a broader audience.

Le Chant de Camargue is the fifth release in the “Les Paysages” collection. This group of perfumes is meant to highlight a different region of France. Since its inception in 2017 I have found it to be one of the best group of perfumes from L’Artisan in years. Le Chant de Camargue does not break that streak.

Alberto Morillas

For this homage to the Camargue region perfumer Alberto Morillas chose to create a fragrance around the “white gold” of the area; rice. Rice is one of those accords that is difficult to construct. When done well it is magical. M. Morillas spent months building his accord. The construction of the perfume is kept simple to protect the fragility of that rice accord. What is also remarkable about this perfume is the precise use of three of the most common synthetic ingredients to provide a stronger backbone to the overall fragrance.

Bergamot leads to the rice accord as this opens. The rice accord has a beautiful watery green effect before going milky through a powdery phase. What M. Morillas does is to titrate in exact amounts of hedione and Paradisone. These are usually powerful jasmine alternatives. Here they are used with a restrained hand providing a floral veil. The milky rice accord finds a complement in an equally creamy sandalwood. Just the right amount of ambrox supports the final accord without overwhelming it.

Le Chant de Camargue has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I think this will become my favorite of the Les Paysages collection. I find M. Morillas’ ability to provide strength to fragility as compelling as it can be.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Mark Behnke

Hans Hendley for American Perfumer Bloodline- American Vitality

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I have a friend who has a woodworking hobby. He enjoys working with woods most people have never heard of. I know when I visit, I get an education on a wood new to me. The scent of that workshop is magical. My friend works on small wooden creations using rare materials. All of that came to mind when I tried Hans Hendley for American Perfumer Bloodline.

American Perfumer Shop

Bloodline is the third special edition from Dave Kern’s shop American Perfumer. Mr. Kern is asking different American perfumers to create one-of-a-kind fragrances. Bloodline comes from Brooklyn-based Hans Hendley. Mr. Hendley has been selling perfume since 2014. His is a line I do not have extensive experience with. There was a set of four releases in 2015 which I had samples of but never reviewed. My favorite of those was Bourbon. Just from that one example there are some definite connections to Bloodline.

Hans Hendley

Mr. Hendley does what always thrills me from the independent perfume community; he works with small batches of exquisite ingredients for Bloodline. The pulsing heart of Bloodline is a red cedar oil his father distilled from their home in Texas. That might not thrill you, cedar is a common perfume ingredient. This is not that. This oil comes from the Eastern Red Cedar which is closely related to the juniper tree this gives it an unusual scent profile. What Mr. Hendley does is to take his family derived gem of an oil and surround it with his own tinctures and unique distillates. It turns Bloodline into a testament to American vitality in perfume.

Right from the beginning the red cedar holds prominence. It acts as a sentinel standing tall at the central axis of Bloodline. To enhance those juniper characteristics Mr. Hendley uses a tincture of white pine fatwood along with an artisanal distillation of pinyon pine needles. This creates a densely faceted woody accord. To tease out the inherent sweetness of the wood Mr. Hendley turns to another tincture of his own of vanilla bean combined with tobacco. This provides a deeply narcotic foundation to everything. It delves deep in the earth as patchouli and oakmoss provide the final touch.

Bloodline has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Bloodline is one of the best perfumes of the year. It seems to be a clear labor of passion for Mr. Hendley in paying homage to where he came from. To take a piece of his Texas home into his Brooklyn atelier to produce Bloodline; is there anything more American Perfumer than that?

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by American Perfumer.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Monsillage Eau Fraiche- Summer Splash

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The amount of perfume in the Colognoisseur Home Office is ridiculous; I admit it. Yet like Gollum I look at all of it and think “my precious”. One cool thing about it all is discovering something in the back of the closet and reacquainting myself with it all over again. It is part of the reason for this column. The last ten years, especially, has seen so much good perfume it shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. This year literally against the wall of the perfume vault I found a bottle of Monsillage Eau Fraiche. It has been a joy catching up with it this summer.

For those who are unfamiliar with Monsillage and the independent perfumer Isabelle Michaud behind it, a little recap. Mme Michaud released her first perfumes in 2010. She sold them exclusively in Canada, at first. By 2011 when I discovered them, I was impressed with all of them and eventually purchased all three.

Isabelle Michaud

One of the reasons Eau Fraiche returned from the back of the shelf is it uses a lot of verbena. When it comes to citrus perfumes verbena provides a lemon-green combination I find refreshing. Mme Michaud uses it in a classic Eau Fraiche

Eau Fraiche opens with that zing of verbena. Mme Michaud supports it with an herbal coterie of rosemary, thyme, and lavender. All of those provide more traction to the green quality of the verbena. Mandarin is present to make sure the lemony quality does not get lost. A dewy lilac transitions to a deep vetiver in the base. This is that summer vetiver which has made it such a popular perfume ingredient. A little white musk and cedar rounds it out.

Eau Fraiche has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

We have been in a heat wave for much of the last few weeks. Eau Fraiche has been my antidote to that. It is just the right perfume for this season. As I was learning to enjoy it all over again, I was thinking I could have called this column “Back of the Closet” but it is called “Under the Radar”. Monsillage and Eau Fraiche should be on your radar screens.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke