New Perfume Review Commodity Milk- A Happy Return


I’ve done this long enough to have seen many brands come and go. There are some which go because they are built upon an unfocused idea. I don’t miss those, usually. The ones I feel a little sad about are those which seem to have a good idea executed well. Which was why in 2019 when Commodity abruptly closed, I gave a sigh. This was a collection which I felt was one of those great bridges between mainstream and niche. The perfumes were simple without necessarily following trends. Instead offering the mall consumer something different at a modest price point. The reviews I made of the perfumes are some of my most read so I was kind of dumbfounded when it all disappeared. Then a white knight rode in to save the day.

Vicken Arslanian

The brand was acquired by the head of the fragrance distribution company Europerfumes, Vicken Arslanian. He believed the brand still had some life. One of the more interesting pieces of the buyout was Mr. Arslanian was also going to step up as creative director. I think someone who has been involved in the niche perfume business is an ideal person to oversee the making of new ones. I’ve been waiting to see what the first new release under new management would be like. The answer has arrived in Commodity Milk.

Christelle Laprade

One of the earliest successes for Commodity was their odd gourmand Gold. It was also one of the most popular within the collection. For the comeback Milk is also a gourmand but it is a more traditional example of the style. Working with perfumer Christelle Laprade they produce a sweet comfort scent.

Creating milk accords has been a tricky thing. Some of them can have a funky scent profile that is distracting. Some can just feel like you’re coated in sweet cream. In between there is a version which is like the scent of milk slowly warming on the stove. That’s what the accord Mme Laprade creates here. It finds an engaging middle ground. To it some marshmallow is added. This also adds in a very subtle muskiness as the sweetness rises. Mme Laprade keeps everything balanced. The sweetness doesn’t overtake the milk accord it harmonizes with it.

Tonka bean provides a transition to the woody base where an interesting choice is made. A tendril of woodsmoke flits over the top. It is as if you’ve taken your mug of warm milk with marshmallows outside and the breeze brings a scent of a far-off fire burning. The comfort rises as benzoin along with the tonka begin to shift this to a warm blanket to snooze the winter night away under.

Milk has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Based on this first example it seems as if Commodity is back thanks to Mr. Arslanian. Which is a great sign that quality can still win the day.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Christian Siriano Ooh La Rouge- New Beginnings?


Ever since fashion designer Christian Siriano appeared on Project Runway I have rooted for him. He was one of those reality show contestants who was easy to like. He used his victory to launch his own line which has thrived for over ten years. It was only a matter of time until he would begin to expand into fragrance. As much as I wanted to like the perfume with his name on the bottle, they’ve mostly been unimpressive in their lack of originality. Chasing trends without finding a way to make them stand out. The latest release Christian Siriano Ooh La Rouge still is chasing trends but this time there is a bit more there.

Christian Siriano

Mr. Siriano has been the creative director for the fragrance line. When it began in 2014 with Silhouette, he worked with perfumer Christelle Laprade. It was a transparent jasmine and praline accord with a jarring apple note which threw it off. This would become a common theme in the successive releases. There was something nice which would be offset by something that seemed out of place. Mme Laprade returns for Ooh La Rouge and they find the right partner for the jasmine and praline.

Christelle Laprade

The better choice is a sharp grapefruit. The citrus adds some points of light to the jasmine. This is that non-indolic jasmine given a transparent shine. The grapefruit is what adds in some edginess through its tartness. The praline accord from six years ago returns with a lighter more balanced appearance. These three keynotes are expanded through some musks to the desired opacity of the current consumer. A synthetic wood ingredient completes the composition.

Ooh La Rouge has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

While I was wearing Ooh La Rouge I dug out my old sample of Silhouette. It probably isn’t a flattering thing to say but Ooh La Rouge feels like the perfume they’ve spent six years making better. It isn’t distinctly a flanker, but it shares the important set of core ingredients. I am hopeful that this might mark a new beginning for Christian Siriano perfumes.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample supplied by Macy’s.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales (Part 3)- Digitalis & Hemlock

Continuing my reviews of the new Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales collection with Digitalis and Hemlock.


David Apel

Digitalis is well known to me in my day job in drug discovery. It is used to treat heart arrhythmias. Although patients have to be careful not to take too much or the toxic nature can overwhelm the therapeutic one. Creative director Joseph Quartana, working with perfumer David Apel, were focused on the lore around the more colloquial name for digitalis, foxglove. Foxglove is an attractant for faeries in folklore. Mr. Apel composed a perfume which captured the glittery trails left by the fairies as they flit among the trumpet-shaped blooms. When I think of fairies I think of silver winged sprites trailing fairy dust in a sparkling trail behind them. Mr. Apel pulls together a group of ozonic and metallic trending notes to create a perfume which evokes this sparkling flight.

Digitalis starts with the aromachemical floralozone as the linchpin of the ozonic accord on top. All of these notes provide lift. Matched to them is the metallic nature of violet leaf and silver iris. These provide an austere floral nature. These combine to form the wings full of dust. A very green phase comes next with galbanum, basil, cucumber, and coriander. It grounds the high flying sprites as they alight on the foxglove. The smell of the flowers are represented by a mixture of violet, rose, neroli, and jasmine. Mr. Apel lets the florals provide a contrast to the more strident ozonic and green accords which came prior to this. The base becomes a little more like damp soil as incense, fern, and moss provide that accord.

Digitalis has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

While Digitalis didn’t necessarily set my heart a-flutter it is an excellent interpretation of the brief by Mr. Apel.

Christelle Laprade

Christelle Laprade

If I asked you to name a poisonous flower chances are Hemlock would be one of the ones you named. Famous for being the method of execution of Socrates for corrupting the young men of Athens. The perfume Mr. Quartana collaborated on with perfumer Christelle Laprade is meant to carry a bit of that corruption the philosopher was imparting so long ago. Mme Laprade starts with an accord which reminded me very strongly of when I used to open a new vinyl record and the smell of the fresh-pressed plastic would arise from the sleeve. Other corrupting influences like leather and rum show up as well.

Hemlock opens with that fantastic fresh vinyl accord. I was enchanted by this from the first time I smelled it through to every time I wear it. Mme Laprade then adds a coterie of spices with clove, cinnamon, and pink pepper transforming it from synthetic plastic to something more vital. A rum accord is next which is melded with a synthetic white floral accord. There is nothing natural about the florals at the heart of Hemlock. It is an appropriate progression from the vinyl to in essence synthetic flowers. This heads into a leather and patchouli base sweetened a bit by vanilla and benzoin.

Hemlock has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Hemlock is one of my favorites in this collection, The embrace of the unnatural carries a large amount of appeal for me.

In Part 4 I will review Lily of the Valley and Poppy Soma.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Parfums Quartana.

Mark Behnke