New Perfume Review Jo Malone English Oak & Hazelnut- Cerulean Oak

One of the things I get a kick out of is when a perfumer comes up with a new accord or the company they work for presents a new isolation of a well-known note. I always imagine it is like the charge painters received when the pigment Cerulean Blue allowed them to add blue to their palettes. Just like those painters who had ideas but were unable to express them because the material wasn’t there; when it does arrive, the imagination is unleashed.

Perfumer Yann Vasnier is one of those for whom there must be a myriad of these kind of “what if?” ideas. When Givaudan showed him Roasted Oak Absolute he saw it as an alternative to the ubiquitous cedar or sandalwood. Now where to use it? Jo Malone creative director Celine Roux upon smelling it wanted it because she had been wanting to have a “fall forest in England” style of fragrance in the collection. Once new ingredient, perfumer, and creative director intersected what came out of it is English Oak & Hazelnut.

Celine Roux

The Roasted Oak Absolute carries an interesting scent profile. There is a sharp woodiness inherent to oak. The roasted part is as if you took some cords of oak and put them in a drying shed. They would pick up some of the smoke of the low fire providing the heat. It would bring out a bit of inherent woody sweetness. This is what I encounter when wearing English Oak & Hazelnut.

Yann Vasnier

The fragrance starts with the hazelnut. If you’re looking for a similar roasted effect this is not that. M. Vasnier uses a green hazelnut. This is very reminiscent of walking through the forest and crunching raw nuts on the ground with your boots. It is a raw nutty quality along with a slightly sharp green component. It is paired with the citrus-tinted wood of elemi as contrast. Vetiver comes along to focus the greener facets and cedar begins the transition from raw nutty on top to the roasted oak in the base. The vetiver remains as the roasted oak gains presence. It is an interesting overall feeling as the vetiver sometimes shifts the oak more to the greener woodiness typical of simple oak absolute. Then the roasted oak pushes back and it gets warmer. This metronomic back-and-forth is where English Oak & Hazelnut comes to its end.

English Oak & Hazelnut has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

M. Vasnier and Mme Roux were so excited about the Roasted Oak they decided there needed to be another fragrance featuring it and English Oak & Redcurrant is the other half of the English Oak collection. I preferred English Oak & Hazelnut because it displayed the new material more prominently. In English Oak & Redcurrant it is overridden by the rose in the heart more than it is here. If you really want to experience the Cerulean Oak of the Roasted Oak I recommend English Oak & Hazelnut to get the full experience.

Disclosure: This review was based on sample provided by Jo Malone.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Divine L’Homme Sage- The Wise Man of Perfume

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I don’t remember which store it was in New York I tried Divine L’Homme Sage for the first time. I feel like it was either Henri Bendel or Takashimaya but I don’t know with any certainty. What I do remember was I mentioned I liked spices and immortelle. The sales associate handed me a bottle from a brand I had never heard of prior to that day. Once I had some L’Homme Sage on a wrist; by the time I went to sleep I knew I would be buying a bottle. That would begin my discovery of this independent perfume brand from France.

Yvon Mouchel

Divine was begun in 1986 by owner-creative director Yvon Mouchel. Based in the town of Dinard in Brittany M. Mouchel would enlist a fellow artist from the same region; perfumer Yann Vasnier. M. Mouchel would give M. Vasnier his first brief for the debut of the brand with the self-named Divine. For seventeen years that was it. M. Mouchel believes “A great perfume is a work of art” and so it seemed he had accomplished his goal. Somewhere during those years, he decided there was more he had to say. Starting in 2003 he reunited with M. Vasnier and would produce nine new Divine releases until 2014.  

It was that day in New York which brought me to the Divine story somewhat in the middle. L’Homme Sage was the overall fifth release; coming out in 2005. Because of that I had no sense of a brand aesthetic I just knew this particular one appealed to me. As I would come to experience the rest of the collection I would come to realize this was as much a part of M. Mouchel’s vision as the other ones were.

Yann Vasnier

If you read the name L’Homme Sage and are expecting clary sage to be found in the perfume you will be disappointed. L’Homme Sage refers to the “wise man” with sage being the wise part of the name. The perfume is a classy spicy Oriental with the formation of three distinct accords.

L’Homme Sage opens with mandarin coated in syrup. The syrup is provided by lychee. It diffuses the citrus allowing for cardamom and saffron the opportunity to find some space to form a spicy sweet citrus top accord. A transitional use of immortelle bridges the top accord to the heart of patchouli, balsam, and incense. This forms a resinous heart accord which provides warmth. The base is cedar and guaiac combined with cistus and styrax which continues the warmth. The final ingredient it the subtle bite of oakmoss.

L’Homme Sage has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

The point of this column is to shine the light on some great brands which are still out there but do not keep up a consistent release rate. M. Mouchel very much lives the credo that his perfumes should be a “work of art”. That means they do not arrive on a timetable but on a creative schedule. That is the brand aesthetic which can be discovered if you try any of the Divine perfumes.

L’Homme Sage has always been a part of my perfume rotation because it is exactly what I look for.

Disclosure: this review was based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: Marc Jacobs Bang- Would You Like Some Pepper?

It is a funny thing that I enjoy not being part of the crowd. Yet I want the general public to admire what I admire. It makes no sense but I know it is how I feel. When it comes to fragrance I feel it most often when a mass-market perfume tries to bring a niche sensibility to a perfume being sold at the mall. The Dead Letter Office is full of these attempts because consumers usually don’t know what to make of these very different perfumes next to the safe fragrances they know right next to them in the department store. One great example of this is 2010's Marc Jacobs Bang.

Marc Jacobs advertising Bang

In 2010 consumers were given two very different choices when they showed up at the Men’s Fragrance counter. In the summer of that year Bang and Bleu de Chanel were released within weeks of each other. For the second half of 2010 there was a referendum on what comprised success in the masculine mainstream fragrance world. If you were going to play it safe Bleu de Chanel was a “greatest hits” collection of every popular masculine accord of the previous twenty years. Bang was going to see if you were willing to leave the well-trod road for something more adventurous.

Ann Gottlieb

Marc Jacobs had been producing perfume since 2001. As a brand it had been primarily focused on perfumes marketed to women. Only 2002’s Marc Jacobs Men was aimed at men. By 2010 Marc Jacobs has produced two huge mainstream women’s successes in Daisy and Lola. As Mr. Jacobs and co-creative director Ann Gottlieb considered a new masculine perfume they decided to go with one of the perfumers who worked on Lola, Yann Vasnier.

Yann Vasnier

M. Vasnier has been one of those perfumers who, when given the opportunity, will happily add in niche aesthetics to the mainstream. As we headed past Y2K in the niche world black pepper was having a moment. Black pepper had been used as a supporting ingredient especially with the spicy varieties of rose. Italian perfumer Lorenzo Villoresi released Piper Nigrum which was a shot of pure black pepper. Just as the internet perfume forums were forming Piper Nigrum was one of the most talked about fragrances in those early days. Black pepper would start regularly appearing as a focal point in fragrances like L’Artisan Parfumeur Poivre Piquant, Penhaligon’s Opus 1870, or Viktor & Rolf Antidote. For Bang M. Vasnier was going to see if a more general consumer was ready for some black pepper.

The opening of Bang is not simply black pepper as M. Vasnier uses pink peppercorns and white pepper as leavening notes to keep the black pepper from hitting like a sledgehammer. Even so that top accord carried a great deal of presence pretty much making a consumer confront their feelings on wearing black pepper from the first moment. Even the woods in the heart were led by the rougher edged birch which enhanced the piquancy of the pepper instead of toning it down. Only in the base was the transparently resinous accord where any measure of safety could be found.

Bang has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I have loved Bang from the first moment I tried it. Which is why that might be why it is in the Dead Letter Office. Bang was not a tiny step toward niche sensibilities it was more like being shoved through a door and having it locked behind you. Whenever I was out shopping during the 2010 Holiday season I recommended Bang time after time only to have those shopping with me pick up the Bleu de Chanel gift set.

Bleu de Marc Jacobs?

Bang was gone from the department stores by 2015 while Bleu de Chanel has become one of the best-selling men’s fragrances in the world. Marc Jacobs would even ask M. Vasnier to make another perfume a year later called Bang Bang, which was more Bleu de Chanel like. Even down to the color of the bottle. That had no more success than Bang. In 2010 when given a choice the public went with safe while Bang, and Bang Bang, was on its way to the Dead Letter Office.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ex Nihilo Citizen X- Brand Expansion

Just over two years ago I became aware of the Paris perfume brand Ex Nihilo. It has become a brand for whom I look forward to their new releases because the creative direction of the three founders of the brand; Sylvie Loday, Olivier Royere, and Benoit Verdier. They began with a well-thought out brand vision and for the last two years have stuck to that. Starting this past April, they announced a new collection called Iconoclaste meant to celebrate the free thinkers among us. The first release is called Citizen X.

Ex Nihilo Creative Team

The group of perfumers the Ex Nihilo creative team has worked with so far have fit the brand concept. For the first Iconoclaste they chose one of the best perfumers working who has always impressed me with his ability to work creatively when given that freedom, Yann Vasnier. With Citizen X it seems like M. Vasnier has found a place to stretch his ingenuity. Citizen X is a resinous iris perfume. M. Vasnier uses a couple different resins to sandwich the heart of iris.

Yann Vasnier

The resin on top of Citizen X is mastic. Mastic is a lighter version of the green galbanum usually provides to perfumes. By using it for Citizen X M. Vasnier uses that brighter verdancy to good effect as he boosts it with white pepper. The pepper adds a clean piquancy to the lemony woody nature of the mastic. Next come the iris. This iris has some powdery parts but they are mostly background as the earthier character is enhanced by the mastic. The second half of the resins arrive with incense. This is typical incense and it provides both complement and contrast to the mastic. It also helps to keep the powder well in the background. This is where Citizen X spends most of its development. Over hours some musk provides the final roundness to Citizen X.

Citizen X has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Citizen X is a good start to the Iconoclaste collection. M. Vasnier’s use of resins and iris is creatively done while expanding the Ex Nihilo brand overall.

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

Mark Behnke

Arquiste 101- Five To Get You Started

Arquiste is another one of those perfume brands which I consider to be “mine”. The criteria to be considered “mine” is that it started about the time I started to get serious about writing on perfume. I’ve been trying to remember the first time I met Carlos Huber the owner/creative director of Arquiste. While I don’t remember the place Sr. Huber is one of the most genuine personalities in perfumery. He came to perfume from training as an architectural historian. Every Arquiste perfume starts with a brief which describes a place and time period. He then managed to find two perfumers with whom he has exclusively worked with by themselves and in tandem; Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier. Together since their debut in 2011 they have created a brand aesthetic which now announces itself with each new release. Obviously, I think this is a fragrance collection worth checking out; here are the five to start with.

When you get around other perfume lovers and you both really like the same perfume there is a combination of sounds and facial expression which convey the emotions. A fluttering of eyelids over rolled back eyes. A low semi-guttural purr combined with a tilt of the head to one side. Long-time friend Ida Meister and I did this when we both tried one of the first Arquiste releases called Anima Dulcis. The fragrance was set in 1685 Mexico City as cloistered nuns developed their concoction of hot cocoa and chiles. M. Vasnier and Sr. Flores-Roux capture the simmering heat of the chiles in juxtaposition to the cocoa. Cinnamon, clove, jasmine, and sesame provide texture and detail to one of the best gourmands I own.

L’Etrog is another co-production by M. Vasnier and Sr. Flores-Roux. It is at the cologne end of the spectrum as the perfumers imagine the scent of 1175 Calabria, Italy as the local species of citron known as Etrog provides the early citrus brightness. In the background are the very light smells of the flowers around the Calabrian milieu. Vetiver provides the green contrast in the base.

For Boutonniere No. 7 Sr. Huber asked Sr. Flores-Roux to imagine a group of young men at fin de siècle France in the lobby of the Opera-Comique in Paris. Their lure is the gardenia in their lapel. Sr. Flores-Roux captures the gardenia as it scents the air to capture attention. Using lavender to evoke the cologne the dandies would be wearing then a perfectly balanced gardenia accord, lush and green. It all ends on an expertly formed accord of a freshly ironed suit. Boutonniere No. 7 is a fabulously different take on gardenia.

The Architect’s Club is the Arquiste which most acts as a time machine. Set during 1930 Happy Hour at an elegant Mayfair club of the same name in London. Some of the Lost Generation burst into the room livening up the stuffy atmosphere. It opens with spice and wood paneled drawing room accords before M. Vasnier unleashes the gin-toting wild things into the mix. Things just pick up steam from there. M. Vasnier keeps the frivolity under control to make The Architect’s Club the best party in town.

Nanban is an East meets West fragrance set on a Japanese sailing ship in 1618 returning from their first contact with Mexico. Sr. Flores-Roux and M. Vasnier create a construct where osmanthus pushes against the spices of the New World. Myrrh and sandalwood provide serenity which is disrupted by coffee and leather. It ends as the ship sails into the harbor of home as the fir trees and frankincense welcome the crew home.

Arquiste is one of the best new brands of the last few years well worth the time to explore. Start with these five.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jo Malone Whisky & Cedarwood- The Devil’s Cut

There are times brands can still throw a curveball at me. When I received the announcement of the Jo Malone Bloomsbury Collection I was expecting something completely in keeping with the brand aesthetic developed over twenty years. The creative team at Jo Malone asked perfumer Yann Vasnier to make a set of five perfumes to represent the early Twentieth Century collection of intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group. Based in the London section bearing the same name it has taken on mythological import in the hundred years since its founding. I can’t say the five fragrances do much to remind me of a Lost Generation salon. What they do display is M. Vasnier’s versatility on his first work for the brand.

One thing M. Vasnier manages to do throughout all five perfumes is to take a titular note that you expect to have some depth instead are presented in an opaquer form. Which for people who shy away from the hi-test version might find these to be at a different intensity allowing you to relax in to it. Blue Hyacinth is a dewy spring version of hyacinth planted in moist earth. Garden Lilies goes for a waterier effect as the lilies in the name are waterlilies instead of the ones found in floral arrangements. Leather & Artemesia matches a suede leather accord with a light licorice-like note. Tobacco & Mandarin also lives up to its name with little else around and made transparent. All the above is typical Jo Malone kind of perfumes. The one which stood out for me and feels like little else in the entire Jo Malone collection is Whisky & Cedarwood.

Yann Vasnier

If you’ve ever visited a whisky distillery they will tell you during the aging in barrels there are two parts of what happens during that process. The amount of whisky that evaporates is called the Angel’s Share. The whisky that soaks in to the wood of the barrel is called The Devil’s Cut. Whisky & Cedarwood is a perfume of The Devil’s Cut.

M. Vasnier opens with allspice as the contrast for the whisky accord. I must complement M. Vasnier on employing a whisky accord which is not overwhelming in its booziness. Instead this is whisky almost as smelled from the person next to you at the bar. The cedar comes next completing the whisky soaked wood milieu. This is where the Devil gets his due. It is also where Whisky & Cedarwood lingers for quite a while until late in the development. That is where a truly odd high gloss waxed wood accord transforms the wood from barrel to bookcase. It works well but it feels so edgy for a line which does not usually willingly come close to that.

Whisky & Cedarwood has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

 If you are a Jo Malone fan I think the Bloomsbury Collection is worth seeking out to see if there is one which grabs you. Overall, I liked all five but Whisky & Cedarwood is the one I wanted to belly up to the bar with and share a drink with the Devil.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Jo Malone.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Velvet Orchid Lumiere- Yann Goes Solo

Most of the time when I see a list of many perfumers who are responsible for a new release I worry that it will be a muddled mess of competing aesthetics. One of the exceptions to this rule was 2004’s Tom Ford Violet Orchid. A group of four Givaudan perfumers, whom I called the TF All-Stars, because they had all worked on individual perfumes for the brand previously created that fragrance. I imagined them in my review as like a rock and roll supergroup all contributing their strengths to form a worthy successor to the original Tom Ford fragrance launch Black Orchid. Like all musical supergroups even the perfume ones must go out on their own. For the new Tom Ford Velvet Orchid Lumiere perfumer Yann Vasnier steps on to the stage alone to create this follow-up.

yann vasnier

Yann Vasnier

While I liked Velvet Orchid for all the subtle moments in what was a traditional floriental. I enjoyed Velvet Orchid Lumiere more because M. Vasnier took the opportunity to add some upgrades to the framework. This time the result is a gourmand floriental that doesn’t feel as recognizable.

gibson-12-string

Bergamot and mandarin have been the traditional openers to most of the Tom Ford Orchid named fragrances. For Velvet Orchid Lumiere M. Vasnier breaks out a very special version of mandarin as he uses the Givaudan Orpur version. Orpur are the crown jewel raw ingredients in the Givaudan palette. When they get used they have always added a bit of class. As if M. Vasnier puts down the electric guitar for a Gibson 12-string acoustic. The Orpur mandarin used here has subtle sparkling facets with an accompanying richness to them. The Orpur mandarin also stands up to the same mixture of honey and rum that was present in Velvet Orchid. When I compared these side-by-side there was a noticeable difference in the way the mandarin exhibited itself. M. Vasnier adds in grace notes of saffron, pimento, and ginger. They provide some contrast and begin to set up the gourmand accord to come. Before we get there the connective tissue of all the Tom Ford Orchid fragrances. The “black orchid” accord holds the center as M. Vasnier wraps it with the same rose, hyacinth, and orange blossom that was in Violet Orchid. He then replaces the jasmine with tuberose. Trading one white flower for another shouldn’t seem to have much of an effect but the tuberose has a focusing effect on the “black orchid” accord making it more distinctive while also making it a little quieter; the unplugged version of the florals in Velvet Orchid perhaps. This leads to the heavy vanilla base accord. M. Vasnier forms a rich almost custard-like accord except he supports it with some things you should never find in your dessert. Mainly tobacco, myrrh, and a suede leather accord. This is the moment when M. Vasnier picks up the electric guitar for one final high-octave solo as the vanilla looms large but the tobacco and the leather complement with the sweetness inherent in those notes. A woody foundation of sandalwood and balsam finish Velvet Orchid Lumiere.

Velvet Orchid Lumiere has near 24-hour longevity and above average sillage especially the florals and the vanilla.

I like the solo work M. Vasnier has done here quite a bit. Velvet Orchid Lumiere feels like a perfume to be worn to a semi-formal it carries a lot of class to it because of the quieter moments M. Vasnier imparts to the same construct that existed in Velvet Orchid. By starting quiet with some intelligent raw material choices, it allows for an intense coda. I will be enjoying M. Vasnier’s gourmand floriental solo a lot over these upcoming colder months.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Coolife Le Cinquieme Parfum- Herbal Kinetics

There is an inherent kinetic energy to the best herbal citrus perfumes. When they are done right the herbs provide a moving platform upon which the citrus can slide around on. As I’ve refined my personal taste over the years I have found I prefer this kind of style. I like having it carry me along with its exuberant nature throughout a day. The latest perfume to do this for me is Coolife Le Cinquieme Parfum.

Carole-Beaupre-Pauline-Rochas

Carole Beaupre and Pauline Rochas

Coolife creative directors Carole Beaupre and Pauline Rochas are exploring chakras in their debut collection. For Le Cinquieme Parfum the chakra that is being interpreted is Visuddha which represents “the search for truer knowledge, beyond time and space.” I have not bought into the mysticism behind these perfumes for the most part. What I have bought into is the work perfumer Yann Vasnier has done for the brand as Le Cinquieme is his second composition for Coolife.

M. Vasnier has done some of his best work with the herbal section of his perfumer’s palette. Le Cinquieme Parfum fits that pattern. He also uses some of the higher flying musks to provide the necessary expansiveness and lift to send this fragrance soaring.

yann vasnier 1

Yann Vasnier

Le Cinquieme Parfum opens with a brilliantly sparkling bergamot which is supported with lemongrass to provide a green vector for the herbal notes to gravitate towards. The first to show up is a leafy mint which pops against the citrus. Then we get a run of juniperberry, sage, basil, and pepper. The keynote for all of this is the synthetic musk Serenolide which provides a sheer kind of lift which gathers up all of these herbal notes expanding their presence like an inflating balloon. Just as it reaches its maximum volume M. Vasnier punctures it with incense leaving behind a set of balsamic notes combined with labdanum.

Le Cinquieme Parfum has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Le Cinquieme Parfum flits around with considerable energy for much of its first few hours. As those herbal notes begin to coalesce only to be expanded upon by the Serenolide it makes for something which has kaleidoscopic development. I’m not sure that I found “truer knowledge” but I did find a new a new fragrance to wear out during the day.

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

Mark Behnke  

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Vert D’Encens- Pine-cense

The Tom Ford Private Blend collection has been releasing a collection within the collection over the last few years. For 2016 the four new releases are called Les Extraits Verts. When I heard the name I was looking forward to a Tom Ford take on green. When I received my samples a couple weeks ago I was surprised overall it wasn’t as vert as I was expecting. Although there was one exception Vert D’Encens.

Antoine-Maisondieu

Antoine Maisondieu

Vert Boheme missed the vert boat entirely as it was mostly citrusy floral before getting a bit musky at the end. Vert de Fleur did have the green going but it didn’t feel special to me. Vert des Bois was my second favorite of the four as perfumers Olivier Gillotin and Rodrigo Flores-Roux really added in some odd versions of green in olive leaves, and marigold along with some more traditional choices. It made for a really engaging development.

shyamala-maisondieu-1

Shyamala Maisondieu

Vert D’Encens was the one I spent some time with because it, too, was an off-beat green but with two very common ingredients; pine and incense. Longtime creative director Karyn Khoury oversaw a team of perfumers consisting of Antoine Maisondieu, Shyamala Maisondieu, and Yann Vasnier. The decision to combine a full body pine tree, including sap, to a full throated frankincense turned out to be just the green I was looking for.

yann vasnier

Yann Vasnier

In the early going the perfumers bring out a very traditional pine joined by lemon and lavender. In these very first moments Vert D’Encens is a little bit a like a lot of drugstore pine fragrances. It doesn’t stay that way long as a green cardamom and sage set the stage for a pine sap accord. That accord carries a tint of the camphoraceous quality which provides a lift as the pine intensifies with the sap accord and the pine from on top becoming stronger. Right as it seems like the pine is at its zenith a fine silvery frankincense cuts across it and embeds itself in the sticky pine. Together it forms what I thought of as Pine-cense. This is where Vert D’Encens stayed at for hours. Much later on cedar and vetiver add a bit cleaner green to close things out.

Vert D’Encens has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

What drew me in to Vert D’Encens over the other Les Extraits Vert was the simple combination of the pine and incense. The perfumers found a way to find just the right balance for me. It is definitely going to be another excellent choice as the weather gets cooler as fall arrives.

Disclosure; This review was based on press samples provided by Tom Ford Beauty.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Parfums DelRae Mythique- Veils of Leather & Iris

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One thing I want to accomplish with this series is to remind perfume lovers of brands they may have forgotten about or never even heard of. A prime example of this is Parfums DelRae. Overseen by DelRae Roth there are only nine perfumes in the entire line. The first five: Amoreuse, Bois de Paradis, Eau Illuminee, Debut, and Emotionelle were released between 2002 and 2008. All five were composed by Michel Roudnitska. I had entered my phase of discovery which included devouring all things Roudnitska when I found the brand. M. Roudnitska is a perfumer with presence. He translates his belief in the way perfume should be made into his creations. In Ms. Roth he found a kindred spirit equally devoted to doing things correctly. You need no other indicator that while niche was exploding they only released five perfumes.

DelRae Roth1

DelRae Roth

M. Roudnitska was going to take a break from perfumery in 2009 and so Ms. Roth was forced to look for a new perfumer. To her great credit she found one who had an entirely different style in Yann Vasnier. From 2009-2014 they have released four perfumes: Mythique, Coup de Foudre, Panache, and Wit. Taken as a sub collection these are some of the best perfumes ever created by M. Vasnier. I would again point to the uncompromising creative direction of Ms. Roth as a critical component in the quality. Again this was a slow and steady process while those around them were rushing to market with multiple releases per year.

yann vasnier

Yann Vasnier

My favorite perfume in a line which has nine very good to outstanding fragrances in it; is the first one M. Vasnier did, Mythique.  

Ms. Roth was inspired by the story of Diane de Poitiers who was the mistress to French King Henri II. Diane de Poitiers was known as an equestrienne, a great beauty and demanding intellect. She was famous for regularly dressing in only white and black. Ms. Roth took all of that and asked M. Vasnier to design an orris and leather centered fragrance which would encompass her inspiration. What M. Vasnier delivered in the end is what comes off as a veil of orris scented leather that is breathtaking in its seemingly fragile beauty.

delrae mythique

Mythique opens upon a flare of mandarin tinted green with a light application of vegetal ivy. This leads to a leather accord of ambrette and patchouli matched to a rich orris butter which has no powdery character. This orris butter is the rootiness of the rhizome on display. It pairs exquisitely with the leather accord to create that transparent effect that captures me every time I wear this. Sandalwood is the final ingredient in the base.

Mythique has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage. This is one of those deceptive perfumes where you might stop noticing it but others can still smell it on you.

With Mythique Ms. Roth and M. Vasnier were defining the second act of Parfums DelRae as M. Roudnitska exited stage left. Mythique is one of the first perfumes which drew me into how beautiful fragility could be.

If Parfums DelRae have flown Under the Radar for you that should be remedied by sampling all nine. It is one of the true great collection top to bottom in independent perfumery. Mythique is a great place to begin that exploration.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke