New Perfume Review Miller Harris Violet Ida- Iris Powder Snowfall

There are some fragrances which grab me just because of their name. Miller Harris Violet Ida is one of those. It was released in the spring in England and it took me a few months to get a sample sent to me. One of the reasons the name appealed to me was it was based on a character from a classic mystery, Graham Greene’s “Brighton Rock”. Ida Arnold is the ostensible detective who resolves the central plot in the book. She is the only “good” person in the novel. She also wears violets in her hair. When I heard this was the inspiration and based on the name, I wanted to try this badly because I was expecting a violet perfume. When I received my sample with the ingredient list that wasn’t what was in the bottle. It was so different that I put off really trying it. Then the “good” angel, or Ida, on my shoulder told me to give it another try minus the unrealistic expectations. This time I found a powdery iris fragrance that will be great as the weather gets cooler.

Mathieu Nardin

Velvet Ida is composed by perfumer Mathieu Nardin. This is a perfume which celebrates the powdery nature of orris. I mean really celebrates it. If you like powdery iris fragrances this is one for you. I prefer my iris rooty over powdery. What turned me around on Violet Ida is M. Nardin gave me just enough root before going all in on the powder.

That bit of rootiness comes with the presence of carrot seed in the top notes. It pulls out the rooty, slightly bread-like quality, of orris; for a short period of time. Like snowfall, grains of iris powder begin to fall almost immediately subsuming everything else. Eventually it is a giant powder drift of iris. It is warmed in the base with some amber and vanilla but only slightly. Once the powder takes hold it doesn’t let up.

Violet Ida has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you are excited about the potential of the name as a fragrance this is not the perfume you’re looking for. If you love powdery iris perfumes and can’t get enough this might be the perfume you’ve been waiting for.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Miller Harris.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel Gabrielle Essence- Having Your Cake

When Chanel Gabrielle was released two years ago, I suspected this was a perfume meant to bring new consumers to the brand. Because it was a kind of introductory Chanel perfume it wasn’t well-liked by many of the long time Chanel aficionados. In conversations I had about it there were many who wanted Gabrielle to be just a little bit more of this or that. If that sounds like you Chanel Gabrielle Essence might be what you were looking for.

As one who looks for the deeper consumer message in releases from the great brands Gabrielle Essence strikes me as a response. One aimed right at those who dismissed the original as a trifle. One which seemingly wants the older perfume lover to be happy, too. I was one who admired the efforts of in-house perfumer Olivier Polge to position Chanel for a younger generation. With Gabriele Essence it seems like he wants to keep both the older and younger generations interested.

Olivier Polge

That Gabrielle carries a light transparency was ideal for a perfume capturing the woman who had yet to become Coco. Gabrielle Essence is that same woman with some more assurance. I’m not sure if it is supposed to evoke the moment Gabrielle became Coco but it comes close.

Throughout its development Gabrielle Essence is sweeter. That starts in the top as the citrus is amplified with a bunch of red berries. Right away I notice the increased level of ingredients. If Gabrielle is transparent Gabrielle Essence is much more substantial and it starts right from the top. It really shows in the heart as the same four flowers as in the original; tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, and ylang-ylang are shuffled. In Gabrielle Essence the jasmine has a much more prominent placing. It is the equal of the tuberose. The orange blossom and ylang-ylang are along to add depth. It is here where I noticed the most difference between the two. Gabrielle Essence uses the florals in the heart in a sultrier way much as Gabrielle the person was probably coming to terms with the Coco which was on the verge of breaking out. The base is sandalwood again but given a much sweeter profile with a shot of vanilla added to things. It ends with a set of more palpable musks in the final moments.

Gabrielle Essence has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Gabrielle Essence seems like Chanel, and M. Polge, are trying to have their cake and eat it too. Nothing wrong with that if someone who is a fan of Chanel can find the right Gabrielle to suit themselves.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree- Leveling Up

When Twilly D’Hermes was introduced two years ago I think many missed its reason for existing. In the press release and subsequent interviews in-house perfumer Christine Nagel wanted this to be a perfume which would appeal to a young girl. Perhaps as a first perfume on her dresser. I tried to see it from that perspective and believed that Mme Nagel made smart choices in the tuberose, ginger, and sandalwood to appeal to that demographic. From my point of view I thought she succeeded. It wasn’t widely loved by the perfume community, but it wasn’t meant for them. I enjoyed the sense of fun which seemed to be interwoven throughout. Now Mme Nagel is here to take the child up a level with a slightly more mature composition called Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree.

Christine Nagel

Even though the name might lead you to believe this is a flanker; it is not. None of the keynotes from Twilly D’Hermes are present here. If there is any connection it is in the simplified three-ingredient aesthetic as that is repeated in Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree. This new fragrance is an entirely different style of perfume.

The press release tells me this new iteration is “the peppery spirit of the Hermes girls”. Based on the accompanying photos those “girls” look to be in their early 20’s. Mme Nagel hasn’t explicitly stated this is the demographic for Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree but I am thinking it is. Much of how I think of it comes from believing that.

This time the three keynotes are baie rose, rose, and patchouli. I spend a lot of time writing about how versatile an ingredient baie rose is. Mme Nagel spends most of this fragrance proving that. In the early going it is the fresh green herbal-ness which holds the attention. As a transparently powdery rose rises the slight fruitiness of baie rose transforms it into a subtle fruity floral through the middle stages. In the base the patchouli seems like it is a fractionated version with the herbal qualities of the ingredient enhanced. It allows for the baie rose to come full circle back to herbal in the end.

Twilly D’Hermes has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I believe Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree is going to have more fans outside the target demographic than the original did. I also think this is the kind of perfume which will be a best seller in that targeted generation of women. Twilly D’Hermes Eau Poivree is a level up for a woman who wants to leave children’s things behind.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Hermes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Monsillage Route du Quai- A River Runs Through It

When it comes to the overexposed styles of fragrance all I can ask for is just a tiny bit of imagination to be applied. You can still stick to the basic architecture by using some different materials. There is no more overexposed style than the aquatic. The desire for fresh and clean perfumes has created a monster where perfumes don’t want to stray too far from what works. Which is why I look to the independent perfume community to give me an aquatic which is different. One of the best, Isabelle Michaud, has given me one in Monsillage Route du Quai.

Isabelle Michaud

Mme Michaud has made several perfumes capturing a sense of place. For Route du Quai she wants to capture the town, Riviere-Ouelle, she spent summers in. Riviere-Ouelle is situated on the east bank of the St. Lawrence River in eastern Quebec. As a child of South Florida my summer beach does not smell like Mme Michaud’s. The only constant will be the water, although the temperature will be very different. That is what struck me as I wore Route du Quai this is an aquatic that captures summertime next to a cool running river.

Another big difference is where Rout du Quai begins. Mme Michaud captures the vegetation on the riverbank. Her opening is a trio of clary sage, juniper berry, and seagrass. It reminds me of the scent of the dune grass in New England except this accord is a shade, or two, deeper than that. Mme Michaud then creates an ozonic accord to represent the wind off the water. On this breeze rides a trio of three flowers; rose, lilac, and iris. These add a powdery veil to everything. The river accord is created around a desiccated driftwood, sweetgrass, benzoin, and myrrh. This is the scent of a wide moving body of water carrying chilly depths. It is as refreshing as those trite aquatic accords in lesser fragrances. A mixture of light musks finish Route du Quai.

Route du Quai has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Route du Quai finds its own space within the aquatic genre of fragrance by having a cool river run through it. It is another riff on an aquatic that only comes from a talented creative like Mme Michaud.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample supplied by Monsillage.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chatillon Lux Admiral- Riverboat Aquatic

One of my favorite new independent brands and perfumers of this year is Shawn Maher’s line, Chatillon Lux. Lot of perfumers choose to evoke their surroundings. Few have done it as well as Mr. Maher has taken on his St. Louis home. It is difficult to know what direction his perfumes will take when reading the accompanying text. For his latest he wrote that it “an homage to a mid-century modern steamboat that was an icon of the Mississippi”. You might read that more carefully than I did but in my mind’s eye I saw one of those paddle wheelers where a poker game was taking place. Imagine my surprise when I saw the ship, he was designing a perfumer to, below. It sure as heck isn’t my grandfather’s steamboat. This looks like something out of a futuristic movie. A classic Art Deco design. A twist on what a riverboat suggests. Which also means Mr. Maher would make a perfume which reminds you of something classic but gives it a newer sleeker design. That is what you will find in Chatillon Lux Admiral.

The Admiral

In every review I’ve done I’ve pointed you to Mr. Maher’s “Scent Notes” column on his website. For those who have been following independent perfumery for a long time it reminds me of the early columns by Andy Tauer; providing similar insight into how Mr. Maher makes perfume. In the column about Admiral he speaks about how he is not a fan of aquatic perfumes. Yet he was going to make a perfume about a riverboat. Because of the milieu he wanted to evoke he was already ahead of the game. Almost every aquatic wants to capture the beach mise-en-scene. Mr. Maher wanted Admiral to be a Mississippi River aquatic. That means no salt air or sea spray. A river is in motion, but it doesn’t generally have waves crashing on the shore. Mr. Maher was going to have to concoct a watery accord which captured the difference. That he does it so well is what makes Admiral stand out.


Shawn Maher

If you’ve ever stood on a riverbank with a bamboo fishing rod in hand the top accord will take you back. Mr. Maher uses a diffuse set of citrusy ingredients without getting too focused. It is a hazy sunshine of a humid summer day. He constructs it around orange blossom and verbena primarily. Some blackcurrant bud and clary sage provide a sharper vegetal green to the overall accord. This floats like a raft on Mr. Maher’s perfumed river. The aquatic accord here is fantastically engineered to give that flowing river instead of crashing waves effect. That Mr. Maher uses some of the most common synthetics all precisely balanced to pull this off is noteworthy. His accord is made up of Calone, Ambroxan, Iso E Super, and Helional. He takes these in judicious amounts and stirs them together with seaweed absolute to provide a sense of the riverbank. It results in an aquatic accord I can almost guarantee you’ve never tried before. Finally he creates a soft smoke accord to represent the Admiral itself. So many independent perfumers go wrong when using cade oil. Mr. Maher has learned just a little, as part of a larger accord, has a much more dramatic effect than just smoking the place out. Here he counterbalances the cade with vanilla and tonka bean over a light leather. This is what a smoke accord should be.

Admiral has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Mr. Maher said he wanted to make a different aquatic. All he had to do was go down to the river in his hometown and watch the Admiral to create a riverboat aquatic.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Chatillon Lux.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Netflix’s GLOW Season 3

There are so many streaming series I wish would have the smarts to stop after one season. Too often a second season is just more of the same instead of doing something new with the story. The series which take advantage of this new way of telling stories in a creative way are few and far between. One of them is the series GLOW on Netflix which just streamed its third season.

GLOW stands for “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling”. Writers and creators of the series, Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch thought about basing a series around the real-life GLOW after seeing a documentary. They got the idea that a series set in the 1980’s would have lots to say about women in the workplace even in an odd occupation like wrestling. Over three seasons they have explored many of the pressures women faced trying to have a career at that time. In this third season they took the setting of the original television show, Las Vegas, and turned it into an off-the-Strip casino show. All the women in the cast have to leave their home in LA for three months in Vegas.

The core relationship in the show is that of hopeful actress Ruth Wilder, played by Alison Brie and her best friend successful soap actor Debbie Eagan, played by Betty Gilpin. The writers have turned the state of their friendship as the central plotline through which a season runs. One of the brilliant decisions for this season was to have the other members of the cast be roommates in Vegas. It created interesting options for the characters to use their roommate as a sounding board.

I must mention one new character for this season played by Geena Davis. She plays entertainment director for the casino, Sandy Devereaux St. Clair. She is a touchstone for many of the women who want something more. As we learn how she made it from showgirl to executive she also makes clear the choices necessary to achieve that specific success. One character embraces it, another sees it as too high a price to pay. Ms. Davis seems to be having a fantastic time in the role which mirrors the enthusiasm the rest of the cast brings to the screen.

As much as the dramatic moments resonate this is also a comedy. How couldn’t it be? There are laugh out loud funny moments. None better than when the wrestlers, in character, re-tell “A Christmas Carol” in the ring.

As I said most streaming series only have enough story for one season. GLOW has evolved every season and it is why it stands apart. Based on where this season ended the same re-invention will happen in season 4.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Yves Saint Laurent Libre- Powdery Lavender

I’ve mentioned that Colognoisseur HQ is out in farm country. One of those farms grows lavender. You will be unsurprised to learn I have become great friends with the owners. I taught them my lavender lemonade recipe and one summer day all about the great lavender perfumes. If you’ve read my reviews of lavender-centric perfumes you will know I like the ones which feature the herbal quality as much as the floral. When I had a table full of different lavender perfumes among a group of people who grow it, I noticed an interesting trend when I asked them to pick their favorite. It split almost perfectly along gender lines with the women all choosing the powderier versions while the men went for the ones with the herbal quality. I remember thinking on the way home that a powdery mainstream lavender might be a big seller. Yves Saint Laurent Libre has arrived to test that hypothesis.

Anne Flipo

Usually when the press releases drifts into gender nonsense I tune it out. In this case when they were mentioning that the intent was to have Libre be a feminine fougere I had two reactions. One is I am surrounded by women who regularly wear fougeres in the spring and fall; that kind of assignation seems arbitrary. Then I thought back to my experience at the lavender farm and wondered if Libre was a fougere which would go powderier because it was meant to appeal to those who like that. Perfumers Anne Flipo and Carlos Benaim succeed at creating the latter.

Carlos Benaim

Libre opens on a juicy citrus accord of mandarin given focus with petitgrain. The lavender here is supposedly a Yves Saint Laurent proprietary ingredient called “diva lavender”. Seems like a lot of hype over what seems like a fraction of lavender which has removed almost all the herbal character. The citrus provides an active light contrast at first. As that recedes orange blossom and blackcurrant bud provides an abstract green floral replacement for the missing herbal part. It makes this a lighter fresher lavender accord overall. It ends with a clean mixture of cedar and white musks.

Libre has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am heading over to the lavender farm in a couple weeks and I will have Libre with me to do my own market research. I predict it will be a hit at the farm and the mall.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Floral Street Electric Rhubarb- Green Velvet Gardenia

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Usually the month of August is a sleepy time here in perfume land. I am receiving lots of fall releases that I can’t write about for a month or so. The summer releases have dwindled. It usually means it is a good time to catch up. Except this time I keep getting new interesting things I can write about. The latest discover came from my box of new releases from Sephora.

Jerome Epinette

I had head about a British brand called Floral Street which debuted in 2017. It was interesting to me because perfumer Jerome Epinette was the nose behind the collection. I’ll also admit some of the names were enticing, too. I was already interested in something named Ylang Ylang Espresso, Iris Goddess, or Chypre Sublime. Although the name which most enticed me was this year’s release called Electric Rhubarb.

Michelle Feeney

Electric Rhubarb was released this past May in conjunction with the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual Chelsea Flower Show. The brand was founded by Michelle Feeney who collaborated with M. Epinette through a series of moodboards for each fragrance. She wanted to have a light-hearted style of perfume. Based on my sampling of the nine perfumes, so far, she succeeded.

I would love to see what the moodboard was for Electric Rhubarb. Based on the press release I am guessing “bubbly, effervescent, and a little bit unexpected” might have covered it. M. Epinette interprets the “little bit unexpected” by using the rhubarb as a modulator of gardenia. Based on the name I was expecting a kinetic rhubarb. What is in the bottle is a gorgeous green velvet gardenia.

Most of the time when rhubarb is on top in a fragrance you get both the grapefruit-like quality and the green vegetal quality in equal measure. M. Epinette manages to tamp down the citrus aspect while allowing that greenness to find an ideal partner in gardenia. Gardenia in perfume also has a green vein within. It is often sharp in nature. Part of what makes a good gardenia to me. M. Epinette takes the vegetal green and uses it to soften that sharp green inherent in the gardenia. It produces this lushly textural gardenia. Not only is it plush it is also opaque. I wore this on blazing hot days, and it was never too much. The perfume lands on a base of Australian sandalwood in all its desiccated glory. It is the kind of unobtrusive platform for the soft gardenia to shine upon.

Electric Rhubarb has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This same kind of textural alteration of floral keynotes happens throughout the Floral Street collection. There are a trio of them I will wait for a little cooler weather to review because I think they are going to be awesome in cooler weather. If you’re a fan of floral perfumes Floral Street should be an avenue you want to take a walk on; start at Electric Rhubarb.

Disclosure: This revew is based on a sample provided by Sephora.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Juicy Couture Palm Trees Please- Summer Green

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I’ll admit that there are samples which arrive here at Colognoisseur HQ I expect little of. These are brands which are content with their derivative aesthetic and their share of the market. I never expect anything more than a competently designed perfume I’ve smelled many times before. When one confounds those expectations, according to Mrs.C, I double check it by re-spraying on a new strip. I also pick up the press materials looking with more intent. What is almost always the result is I am experiencing a perfume which is much different from expectations; usually done by a perfumer allowed some latitude to have fun. All of that happened when I tried my sample of Juicy Couture Palm Trees Please.

Alienor Massenet

The reason I continue to want to try each new release from Juicy Couture is because the third fragrance they released, Dirty English, is high on my list of best mainstream releases ever. It let me know that whenever they are in the mood to try something different it can result in something wonderful. Palm Trees Please is the fifth release in the “Rock the Rainbow” collection. The previous four are riffs on common fragrance tropes. It was what I expected from Palm Trees Please. What I found was this amazing chilly green floral which was ideal for the last days of summer.

Maurice Roucel

As I mentioned one of the reasons for a deviation from the norm is sometimes down to the perfumer. In the case of Palm Trees Please it is two of the best, Alienor Massenet and Maurice Roucel, working together. From the moment I discovered the perfumers much of the creativity present became evident. That they were given the leeway to be this creative is more surprising.

Palm Trees Please opens on a fresh, cool, green accord. The perfumers use a juicy nectarine as the core of the top accord. They surround it with lemon blossom, matcha tea, blackcurrant buds, and ivy. Somewhere in the interaction of all that a compelling chill settles across the fruit as if the green ingredients place it in a deep freeze. I spend every summer going through one “fresh” accord after another only to discover something truly fresh in the most unexpected place. The remainder of the development evolves in a straightforward manner as jasmine emerges from the top accord to eventually settle on a lightly musky base with sandalwood.

Palm Trees Please has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you’re looking for something to give a new type of fresh to your final days of summer give Palm Trees Please a try.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I received from Juicy Couture.

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds: Nicole Miller for Men- Boozy Apple

Apple is one of my favorite top notes in perfumery. I like the crispness it usually adds. Early on in my fragrance journey I began searching out any fragrance with apple listed in its note list. This led me to Nicole Miller for Men.

Nicole Miller for Men was released in 2004 a year after the first fragrance for the brand Nicole Miller. These would be the only perfumes for the brand for a long time. By the early 2000’s Nicole Miller for Men was discontinued. This was where I first found it buying a bottle off someone looking to sell theirs. At this point it was most definitely not a Discount Diamond. The scarcity made it a desirable perfume to have. Then in 2006, Nicole Miller for Men returned and has stuck around ever since. Now it is widely available at the discount bargain bins and online for $10-15 a bottle; squarely in Discount Diamonds territory.

David Apel

As I mentioned I was drawn to it for the apple. Perfumer David Apel floats it on top of a beautifully constructed boozy accord. I am always reminded of a green apple martini when I first spray it on. What always makes me enjoy this is the shift from fun-loving cocktail to dark leather and oakmoss in the heart. Mr. Apel again puts together a compelling leather accord which is given a green shadow courtesy of the oakmoss. It sticks here for a few hours before developing into a warm amber and sandalwood base.

The current version available at the discounters is slightly different than my first bottle. The biggest change is the oakmoss has less of a presence in the heart. Mr. Apel has altered the leather accord to give it a slightly rougher texture to make up for the loss of full-spectrum oakmoss. The other noticeable change is less longevity. It is my belief they reduced the amount of perfume oil because it lasts about half the time of my older bottle.

Nicole Miller for Men in its current formulation has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Even with the caveats on the current formulation this is a great bargain for the price. I will always enjoy this boozy apple.

Disclosure: this review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke