New Perfume Reviews Atelier Cologne Mandarine Glaciale & Sud Magnolia- Atelier Cologne 2.0 (Part 1)

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As Atelier Cologne celebrates the end of its fifth year with the release of Pomelo Paradis to the original collection of colognes. They open the future with a brand new collection dubbed Collection Azur. As I experienced these new cologne absolues over the last few days I was struck that it feels a bit like Atelier Cologne 2.0. Five years ago Creative Directors and owners Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel knew what they wanted to achieve by exploring the boundaries of cologne. Over the last five years they have produced a collection which has hewed to that vision. Now just like when computer software gets updated the new four fragrance Collection Azur feels like the next evolution of Atelier Cologne. It also reminded me of the day five years ago when Mme Ganter introduced me to the line for the first time. I looked forward to seeing this line succeed and they have. I am going to review all four of the new colognes over the next two days. Today I’ll start with Manadarine Glaciale and Sud Magnolia.

mandarine glaciale picture

One of the unifying themes of the Collection Azur is that of citrus as all four have it featured in their development. Manadarine Glaciale, by perfumer Jerome Epinette, is the citrusiest of them all. Mandarine Glaciale opens with the mandarin along with lemon and bergamot. It is a snappy beginning but it also lives up to the second part of the name. There is a feeling like this is frozen citrus almost encased in a chilly block of ice. That effect is produced by M. Epinette using ginger and petitgrain. Often citrus colognes feel like a gentle slap on the cheek. The early going of Mandarine Glaciale feels like it has been hidden behind an opaque material as it works to break free. After a couple of hours when it finally sheds some of the chill jasmine emerges along with it. M. Epinette uses a well-behaved jasmine which adds a floral vector without getting too floral or feral. The base slides into vetiver over amber and white musk. As with the jasmine the vetiver is kept from being too influential and the citrus stays throughout the development. Manadarine Glaciale has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

sud magnolia picture

Sud Magnolia, also by perfumer Jerome Epinette, pins a flower to its citrus lapel. Over the last six months there have been a number of magnolia perfumes which have made it in front of my nose. I am not sure why the sudden increase but Sud Magnolia is one of the better ones, of this recent group. M. Epinette goes for a lip-puckering sour citrus top combining bitter orange and pomelo. He marries them to lush blackcurrant to further add some depth. This opening is all about getting your attention and it is hard to ignore when wearing it. I really like the enhancement of the sour over the sweet during the early going. This time the citrus is swept away by the magnolia and M. Epinette has found a really striking source of magnolia to use as a focal point. It is at turns creamy and woody while maintaining its floralcy. He supports this beauty by adding in rose and saffron. Together they make a floral accord that is just made for a garden party in the spring. It all finishes upon a foundation of sandalwood and cedar wood, more of the latter than the former. That makes the finish a bit more austerely woody than warm. Sud Magnolia has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I will conclude these reviews with Cedre Atlas and Figuier Ardent tomorrow.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Atelier Cologne.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Atelier Cologne Pomelo Paradis- Creating a Hybrid

I met Sylvie Ganter in the spring of 2010 at Bergdorf Goodman as she presented the original five fragrances which make up the Atelier Cologne Collection Originale. Mme Ganter wanted to revolutionize cologne by taking it places cologne had never gone before. Along with her husband, Christophe Cervasel, they have made Atelier Cologne the leader in transforming the way we view cologne. All Atelier Colognes are called Cologne Absolue by upping the perfume oil in their fragrances they produce. They took the architecture that was cologne and made it recognizably cologne but also pushed the boundaries of what that design could bear. Over the last five years it has been a distinct delight to observe where Atelier Cologne would choose to go. Five years after their beginning they have chosen to return to the Collection Originale and release a new one, Pomelo Paradis.

ralf christophe and sylvie

Ralf Schwieger, Christophe Cervasel, and Sylvie Ganter (l. to r.)

Pomelo Paradis was composed by perfumer Ralf Schwieger. Hr Schwieger was responsible for what is perhaps now considered the flagship of the brand Orange Sanguine. It was this perfume which displayed all of the, now realized, potential of Cologne Absolue. Hr Schwieger has been an integral part of the process as all of the Atelier Cologne fragrances, since the originals, have been signed by him or Jerome Epinette. I think it is this consistency of creative direction and perfumer which has made Atelier Cologne one of the best new brands of the last five years.

Citrus_grandis_-_Pomelo

Pomelo

Pomelo Paradis returns Atelier Cologne back to its citrus roots. Many are going to smell Pomelo Paradis and exclaim grapefruit and they will be right but they will also be wrong. Almost all of the more common citrus fruits are hybrids. It is a trait common to the family and it is why you can have so many different varieties of limes or lemons. Nature is its own experimentalist creating new varieties based upon what pollen can combine. Scientists now believe all citrus fruit came from four basic fruits, citron, mandarin, papeda, and pomelo. Grapefruit comes from the natural hybridization of pomelo and mandarin. It then occurred to me that Atelier Cologne is also a hybrid of its own as pure parfum and cologne have formed Cologne Absolue.

Hr. Schwieger chooses to re-create nature’s work in the top notes of Pomelo Paradis by taking pomelo and mandarin and combining them to create a grapefruit accord. This is an important distinction as Hr. Schwieger could have just chosen to take grapefruit and start this perfume with that. By combining pomelo and mandarin it creates a nuanced grapefruit accord that would not have been easily achievable otherwise. Together the two pieces give a grapefruit with real heft without being overwhelming. A very judicious use of blackcurrant bud by Hr. Schwieger tunes the grapefruit accord further. Grapefruit has a bit of a sulfurous quality. The blackcurrant bud adds that in while also adding some green sturdiness. The heart is why Ateleier Cologne has succeeded, in this re-imagining of cologne, as a floral bouquet of rose and orange blossom cut by mint take this very traditional opening and move it off in a new direction. Mint has to be used very carefully. Hr. Schwieger knows how to keep it as a participant without overwhelming. The mint in Pomelo Paradis is like a sprig of mint added to your morning grapefruit as it adds contrast but in small quantity. This all settles down onto a traditional bed of vetiver and amber.

Pomelo Paradis has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Pomelo Paradis is a delightful circling back to the very roots of Atelier Cologne and is also an equally delightful hybrid of all that the brand stands for. As much as I have been enjoying wearing Pomelo Paradis I know it will be right at the front of my summer rotation. Pomelo Paradis is everything that Atelier Cologne does right and that is almost everything.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Atelier Cologne Rendez-Vous- Softness of Purpose

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Atelier Cologne feels like such a mature perfume brand I have a hard time reminding myself that they are just under five years old. Creative Directors Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel were clear-eyed about what they wanted Atelier Cologne to be about. Over the last five years that clarity of vision has made one of the most consistently pleasing line of perfumes from any perfume producer going. They have taken a staid form of fragrance and re-invigorated it with their creativity. The latest release is called Rendez-Vous and as they have done so often they offer something new to the whole concept of cologne.

sylvie and christophe

Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel

Perfumer Jerome Epinette is back for his eleventh fragrance in the Atelier Cologne line. The keynote for Rendez-Vous is a Chinese osmanthus that carries a particular luminescence to it unusual in this floral note. The apricot and leather components of osmanthus are here but this has a sun burnished glow to it, as well. It makes it a different but wholly appropriate heart note to build a cologne around. M. Epinette takes traditional bracing elements on top and after the osmanthus appears he lets Rendez-Vous turn plush and soft as if you were sinking into a soft chair or a feather pillow. It is this overtly subdued finish which takes Rendez-Vous into unexplored territory within the cologne genre.

Jerome-Epinette

Jerome Epinette

M. Epinette begins in very familiar cologne territory with bergamot, lemon, and pink pepper as his opening stanza. This is classic cologne architecture. What comes next is not. The osmanthus comes to the foreground and as I mentioned above it is like it exists in its own private ray of sunshine. The remainders of the top notes almost act like dew being burned off by that sunbeam. The apricot quality comes out and it is rich and chewy. Orris combines with this to create a decadent duet, this is a fruity floral combination I can completely enjoy. As the osmanthus begins to shift towards the leathery qualities, violet leaves sharpen that transition with slightly metallic green borders. The base is an indulgent suede leather accord accompanied with a gentle white musk cocktail. All of this is as soft as a loved one’s caress. Rendez-Vous comes to an end in a most unexpected place, serenely.

Rendez-Vous has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Rendez-Vous is why I look forward to the latest release from Atelier Cologne. Every single release to date has been recognizably a cologne. Every single release to date has given me something new to consider on what that word, cologne, really means when I use it. Rendez-Vous fits right in with the family. I look forward to my next rendezvous with Atelier Cologne.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: Mme Ganter-Cervasel and M. Cervasel were married a few weeks ago and the picture above is from their wedding via their Facebook page.

New Perfume Review Atelier Cologne Blanche Immortelle & Santal Carmin

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There are few brands I admire more for understanding both their brand identity and their customer than Atelier Cologne. In just four years the Owners and Creative Directors, Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, have shown an innate knowledge of how to stay true to a vision and allow an audience to come to meet that vision. For those who are unfamiliar with that vision in 2010 they created a perfume formulation that they dubbed “cologne absolue”. The concept was to take classic cologne architecture and to increase the perfume oil concentration for a longer lasting experience. By doing this they also turned the idea of cologne from something fleeting and ephemeral to something with foundation and depth. Throughout the thirteen releases they have explored all manner of keynotes and how to create a cologne of lightness or darkness. There is no perfume line which I look more forward to trying what is next than this one because of this dedication to their ideals.

Jerome-Epinette

Jerome Epinette

I just spent the last week wearing the two new releases from Atelier Cologne, Blanche Immortelle and Santal Carmin. Both of these display all of the strengths of a brand operating at the top of its game. I also like that one is a crowd pleaser and the other takes a note that is less loved but both succeed brilliantly. Perfumer Jerome Epinette contributes his ninth and tenth compositions for Atelier Cologne and I believe that is another strength as M. Epinette intrinsically gets the concept of cologne absolue and executes it flawlessly.  

Blanche Immortelle is as the name promises White Immortelle. M. Epinette creates a softly glowing immortelle fragrance. Immortelle is a divisive note among perfume lovers as its characteristic maple syrup-like quality can be treacly and cloying in overdose. I am one who likes his immortelle as intense as he can get it but I was looking forward to seeing what M. Epinette would do. Immortelle is one of those notes that is fractious to work with because it is so easy for it to get out of balance. M. Epinette places it as a central pivot between a sunny group of top notes and a rich woody grouping of base notes and keeps it positioned perfectly as to intensity.

Blanche Immortelle opens with a burst of summertime light as bergamot, mandarin, and mimosa flare to life. This is as traditional a cologne opening as you could ask for. The immortelle arises and shreds tradition. Immortelle by itself often is too thin a note and it needs support from other floral notes it is that support which often makes it too sweet for many. M. Epinette uses jasmine and Turkish rose to support the immortelle but yet not so much that it ever becomes heavy. The immortelle darts in and out amongst the bright top notes like a buzzing bee with a bit of the same energy as that metaphorical bee. Here is where Blanche Immortelle remains for many hours on my skin. Very slowly vetiver, patchouli, and sandalwood exert their influence and turn Blanche Immortelle from sunny day into cool twilight.

Sylvie-Ganter-Christophe-Cervasel

Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter

Santal Carmin is a pure crowd pleaser of a fragrance as M. Epinette takes a heart of sandalwood and as he did with Blanche Immortelle open with bright top notes and closes with deeper base notes. The difference is sandalwood as a cologne ingredient is better known. That means M. Epinette needs to add a bit of a twist to the phases that surround that more familiar heart.

Bergamot and limette comprise the first notes of Santal Carmin and then M. Epinette adds saffron which entwines itself among the citrus and turns it into something wholly exotic. He also does this without sacrificing the traditional bracing opening of cologne it just feels like something rare and precious. The sandalwood used in Santal Carmin is the variety harvested in New Caledonia and I like it for its desiccated quality over some of the creamier aspects of other sources of sandalwood. M. Epinette adds a white musk to define the aridity of the wood at the heart of Santal Carmin. The sweeter facets require some coaxing out and the use of vanilla in the base does bring out the inherent sweetness of the sandalwood and papyrus adds a bit of green to go along with the sweet which helps attenuate the extreme dryness of the wood.

Blanche Immortelle and Santal Carmin have 12-14 hour longevity on me and average sillage.

I suspect that Santal Carmin will be the more popular of these two new Atelier Cologne releases and it is a great cologne as the summer approaches. For me I am really looking forward to wearing Blanche Immortelle as I won’t have to wait until fall to enjoy one of my favorite notes. In any case if you have been a fan of Atelier Cologne they continue producing high quality perfumes. If you want a place to start this pair is a good place to discover a brand that has never wavered from their quality and their ideal.

Disclsoure: This review was based on press samples provided by Atelier Cologne.

Mark Behnke