Atelier Cologne is one of my favorite brands because they continue to test the boundaries of what can be accomplished with a cologne architecture. For this latest five fragrance collection the creative directors Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel have looked Eastward for inspiration to result in the Collection Orient. This is almost a natural as the ingredients those of us in the West associate with the East lend themselves to a cologne-type fragrance. I will review the entire collection over the next three days. Today I begin with Encens Jinhae and Mimosa Indigo.
Encens Jinhae is by perfumer Jerome Epinette. It combines incense and cherry blossom. The Jinhae in the name refers to the South Korean town where the most famous Korean celebration of the cherry blossom takes place. I have always associated both of these ingredients with Japan. Growing up in S. Florida there was this small Japanese Garden on one of the causeways linking Miami to Miami Beach. Whenever I visited as a child there was a cone of incense burning. Miami was too warm for cherry trees. For that it is my current home in Washington DC which provides me the spectacle of the cherry blossoms every spring. Encens Jinhae melds both of these memories into one.
M. Epinette opens Encens Jinhae with pink pepper and nutmeg. This is one of the rare occasions where the top accord has not appealed to me. I felt like the nutmeg and the pink pepper never found an equilibrium making it feel more discordant than I would have preferred. Thankfully all of that moves away as the heart of incense and cherry blossom blooms. Cherry blossom is a tough floral to work with because it carries a very slight scent profile. M. Epinette uses rose to add some of the depth nature left out. Because of that fragility the use of the incense also has to be carefully modulated. If I thought the top accord was off-kilter the heart accord is almost perfectly balanced. Since that is where most of my time wearing Encen Jinhae was spent it made me smile a lot. The base is a combination of sandalwood, elemi and a patchouli fraction. This provides an opaque woody foundation. Encens Jinhae has 12 to 14-hour longevity and average sillage.
Mimosa Indigo is also composed by M. Epinette. Encens Jinhae felt like a fairly straightforward paean to the Orient; Mimosa Indigo is a very conscious melding of East and West. M. Epinette works towards a heart of mimosa and leather. It leaves Mimosa Indigo as something straddling two worlds.
Mimosa Indigo’s East-West divide is illustrated by mandarin and saffron in the top notes. The mandarin provides the juicy citrus to the exotic nature of the saffron. I wouldn’t have expected these two to go together as well as they do. I was sort of sorry to see them move out of the way for the heart notes. The mimosa is beautifully realized. M. Epinette also chose to use lilac to up the floralcy because his white leather accord has some oomph to it. This leather accord is not so refined to be described a suede nor is it so animalic to be thought of as raw. It falls closer to suede than unrefined but this is no ultra-refined version of leather. This is why the lilac is necessary otherwise this would just be a heart of leather. The final mix of the mimosa and the leather is fascinating. The base is again sandalwood but made sweeter with some vanilla over a few sheer musks. Mimosa Indigo has 16 to 18-hour longevity and average sillage.
In both of these Orient Collection releases it is the floral heart accord which make them stand out.
I’ll review the remaining three entries over the next two days.
Disclosure; This review was based on press samples provided by Atelier Cologne.