I admire artists who know when to stop. There is always the opportunity to do more. To create more. The question becomes do you have more to say? Or do you realize you’ve completed your conversation? It seems as if Saskia Havekes the owner of Grandiflora flower shop has arrived at the end of her fragrant discussion with Grandiflora Saskia.
Ms. Havekes began her perfume brand in 2014 where she took two perfumers and asked them for their interpretation of magnolia. For those the first name of the perfumer; Michel (Roudnitska) and Sandrine (Vidault) were on the label. The artistic direction which someone who works with flowers as a vocation provided a new perspective. Together they created a compelling diptych of magnolia. In the ensuing years it seemed like Ms. Havekes was only interested in releasing a fragrance when she had something she wanted to express through perfume. Each release would explore Madagascan Jasmine, Queen of the Night, or Boronia. Each sought out the full profile of the floral on the label. There was also a grandiosity to these. They filled my room with floral gaiety. I should be sad that she announced her sixth release would be her last. Except something as exuberant as Saskia can’t help but make one smile.
The brief for this final fragrance is her Sydney, Australia flower shop. The scent of walking inside and breathing deeply. She collaborates with perfumer Christophe Laudamiel. Together they evoke the artistry of Ms. Havekes as florist and perfume creative director.
Right from the start they impress. Whenever I step into a flower shop there is a chilly wateriness which is the first scent I detect along with the greenery. This is before I ever notice the blooms. The opening of Saskia is this. Using the rainstorm ingredient of petrichor and violet leaves it creates that accord. Simultaneously baie rose and hyacinth drag my nose towards the flowers awaiting. And they are magnificent. The primary nucleus of the floral accord is gardenia given extra heft through boronia leaves. It is always there but the other flowers in the shop have their moment, too. A lush ylang-ylang and a shy mimosa are given a summer hillside twist through immortelle. It as if your nose encounters something new at every turn. Just as if you were in the shop.
Saskia has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
If this is going to be Ms. Havekes’ last word through fragrance it provides an exclamation point to what has been an outstanding conversation.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.
Every spring I am inundated with debutante rose style perfumes. Every spring I ask myself does every woman want to smell like a fresh-scrubbed youth? I guess there is an appeal to trying to be the blushing rose. I am bored to death of this style of fragrance. That I have to subject myself to another couple dozen every year seems ridiculous. Shouldn’t there be rose perfumes for that debutante who turned into a stylish woman? Something that sets her apart as a person of assuredness. Lazarus Douvos Rose 1845 seems to want to be that perfume.
Lazarus Douvos has been an internationally recognized hair stylist for years. He has designed his own line of haircare products that are just the basics. A little over a year ago Mr. Douvos decided to add a perfume to his line. Most of the time this results in a collection of multiple mediocrities. Mr. Douvos chose a different path by only concentrating on one perfume. The other great decision was to choose Christophe Laudamiel as his perfumer.
Lazarus Douvos (l.) and Christophe Laudamiel
According to the press materials Mr. Douvos introduced himself over social media. After five tries M. Laudamiel agreed to meet with him. One of the reasons I adore M. Laudamiel is his ability to identify and use new sources of perfume oils. It is only for an independent operator like Mr. Douvos that he is going to be allowed to use them. There is plenty of rose to be found here but it is two ingredients from Tasmania that give this rose something extra.
Laudamiel uses the classic debutante rose from Grasse, Rose de Mai. Instead of letting that lead the way he adds in an equal amount of Bulgarian rose. That has a velvet-like texture which immediately shrouds the innocence of the Rose de Mai in something more grown-up. This is still a fresher rose accord. It just isn’t an insipid teenager. It is a rose of elegance. M. Laudamiel then adds Boronia from Tasmania. Boronia has a prismatic floral scent profile. Which means the part of it which smells like rose comes together with the rose. The other parts which have the scent of osmanthus and immortelle provide a rugged quality of animalic and subtle sweetness. Myrtle from Tasmania pulls it all together in a floral ribbon tying the accord off. The base is a subtle woody mixture of cedar, tonka bean, and benzoin. Each finding facets to ground the floral accord in a satisfying finish.
Rose 1845 has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage. This is a powerhouse perfume, a little goes a long way.
I’ve been talking about Rose 1845 in terms of a woman’s perspective. I think this could also be worn by a man who likes darker rose perfumes. It isn’t as dark as many rose fragrances marketed to men but it sure isn’t some airy rose either.
Mr. Douvos designed a rose perfume that isn’t for those debutantes, or the senior citizens. Rose 1845 is for a woman who knows who she is and how she got there.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample supplied by Lazarus Douvos.
I admire purity of vision in all the arts. One of the ways that manifests itself is producing that art on the artist’s time scale. It exists in perfumery as it does elsewhere. It happens when a new brand releases too many perfumes in a debut collection. As a result muddling their aesthetic. It happens when a new brand rushes their next releases after a successful introduction. They forget those first perfumes came from an extended time of development. Changing that will lead to compromises. Then there are the outliers. The creative teams who have faith in their process. One of those teams is the one behind Strangelove NYC. Founder Elizabeth Gaynes, creative director Helena Christensen, and perfumer Christophe Laudamiel have produced one of the best collections in all of perfumery because they don’t stray from their core principles. The latest example is Strangelove NYC fallintostars.
Elizabeth Gaynes (l.) and Helena Christensen
The first of these principles is to use high quality natural materials as the keynotes. Ms. Gaynes has proven to have an outstanding instinct about which ones to feature. In many ways fallintostars comes full circle back to the first release, deadofnight. Their commonality comes from the use of real oud as the heart note. deadofnight was a modern version of the classic oud-rose duet. fallintostars returns to the oud while surrounding it with a new ensemble of supporting ingredients.
When M. Laudamiel is left to his own devices he will find every rough edge within oud and amplify it. Ms. Christensen provides the direction to allow for him to go just far enough with as fractious an ingredient as oud.
For fallintostars M. Laudamiel created a special cocktail of different sources of oud. It is like a kaleidoscope in the way it subtly shifts as it is on my skin. I don’t know how many ouds are here, but I suspect four or five because I believe I detect at least four. M. Laudamiel masterfully combines them into an uber-oud accord. It is present right from the first moments. Early on he gives it a sunny glow via saffron and ginger. The ginger flits through the early moments like a will of the wisp. It sets up the floral contrast which is jonquil nectar. This adds a honeyed jasmine-like floral to the oud. It oozes over the top of the oud, filling in spaces. It is complete when the green vein within jonquil seals this with an almost audible click. The base is a mixture of Peru balsam and benzoin. This gathers up the resinous character of the oud and gives it a warm foundation.
fallintostars has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Over five releases Ms. Gaynes, Ms. Christensen, and M. Laudamiel have created perfume of the highest quality. There is not one misstep within this collection. They have remained true to their core artistic beliefs. Which means fallintostars is another example of how quality wins over quantity, every time.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Strangelove NYC.
There are popular terms which enter the vernacular which I enjoy. One of the more endearing ones to me is “hot mess”. To capture the ability to still be interesting while being discombobulated is summed up in those two words. I refer to a lot of things as a hot mess because I like it so much. When I got my sample of a new perfume, Ryan Richmond Rich Mess, I was wondering if the definition remained. Was this a perfume which would smell rich while being a bit of a disorganized composition? Sort of.
Ryan Richmond presenting Rich Mess at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2108
Ryan Richmond has been an Art Director for numerous beauty brands fusing digital content and print. It isn’t clear what caused him to enter the fragrance business. He found one of my favorite perfumers, Christophe Laudamiel, to collaborate with him on Rich Mess. They have produced a perfume which kind of lives up to its name. The early moments are chaotic with ingredients ping-ponging off each other. It isn’t uninteresting because these are interesting ingredients. Over time I’ve found this overclocked kineticism to be fun. It’s like being someplace where so much is happening you can’t just focus on one thing. That’s the “mess” part. The “rich” part comes after things settle down into a fabulous leather accord.
Things open with fig, grapefruit, saffron, and bergamot acting like electrons orbiting the early moments of a leather accord. For the first part of the development those ingredients are moving back and forth relentlessly. I would get the fig for a few moments and then the saffron would come into view. The citrus would crash off both. When I first smelled this on a strip that lack of a focused top accord was irritating. Once I had it on a patch of skin it was like watching separate objects circling on a tilted surface whizzing around and around. As the leather accord begins to rise in intensity it manages to swat those electrons out of orbit. It is time for that to be the focal point. M. Laudamiel forms an animalic leather. There is a musky component to this leather accord which captures that clean sweat within the sleeves of my favorite leather jacket. Sandalwood and cedar provide a woody complement to finish things off.
Rich Mess has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
I really came to enjoy Rich Mess the more I became acquainted with it. As the name portrays it might prove difficult to get close to, at first. Only to find it well worth the effort. It is a perfume for the same cool mornings warm days I wear my actual leather jacket on. I hope there is more to come from Mr. Richmond and M. Laudamiel.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Ryan Richmond.
From its inception in 1988 with Davidoff Cool Water and for twenty years after the aquatic style of perfume has become a cliché. It was caused by the desire for consumers for more of this fresh and clean style along with the desire of brands to give it to them. For a couple decades that was good enough. I was bored with the genre long before that with only a few continuing to be found in my consistent rotation.
Then as we crossed in to the 2010’s there seemed to be a re-thinking of the aquatic aesthetic. It wasn’t all beach milieu there were other kinds of scenes which could inspire a fragrance. In the last few years there has been a conscious transfer to more rocky coasts for the metaphorical waves to crash upon. These kinds of aquatics have reinvigorated my enjoyment of the style. When I received Strangelove NYC silencethesea I had another one to add.
Elizabeth Gaynes (l.) and Helena Christensen
In previous reviews of Strangelove NYC releases I have lauded the creative team and the vision behind it. Co-Creative Directors Elizabeth Gaynes and Helena Christensen have collaborated with perfumer Christophe Laudamiel. One of the things which allows the brand to stand out is they are only produced by using the best natural raw materials as their keynotes. Every release has one at its heart. For silencethesea that ingredient is ambergris.
Any perfume lover is familiar with ambergris because it is part of the base accord of too many to count perfumes. Except as it is with oud, ambergris is often a clever manipulation of other ingredients to form a facsimile. When you smell real ambergris there are nuances which never appear in a constructed accord. It is a challenge because with an accord a perfumer can tune for a specific effect. When dealing with the actual version you have to find a way to allow the odd-smelling aspects to also have their part to play. M. Laudamiel does just this with the ambergris in silencethesea.
From the moment I sprayed silencethesea the ambergris was there. It is apparent throughout the time it exists on my skin. M. Laudamiel then spends the rest of the development adorning it with specific ingredients. First is angelica which as it interacts with the ambergris provides a flinty accord. The earthiness comes from a truffle accord. It reminds me of particularly rich loamy soil for a bit. Three florals, narcissus, jasmine, and tuberose provide deep indolic complement to the briny quality of ambergris. It works better than I thought it would on paper. The tuberose and its slightly mentholated green vein was the big surprise in how well it fit in. A rough leather accord of oud and frankincense is the last part of silencethesea.
Silencethesea has 12-14 hour longevity in the Eau de Parfum concentration and moderate sillage.
It is funny how the boy who grew up in South Florida has left that kind of beachy perfume behind in preference for a rocky strand where the waves crash instead. Silencethesea is that kind of advanced aquatic.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Strangelove NYC.
There are a few perfume brands which I enjoy because of a certain combination of elements.Strangelove NYC is one which I admire for its creative team paired with its ability to release perfumes only when they find a signature element to build upon.
Elizabeth Gaynes (l.) and Helena Christensen
The creative team begins with owner Elizabeth Gaynes who has a philosophy of quality over quantity for Strangelove NYC. In my e-mail conversations with her there is a passion for doing perfume which comes through. She partners with supermodel Helena Christensen to create the brief for perfumer Christophe Laudamiel. M. Laudamiel when presented the opportunity to use a unique ingredient for this brand has yet to disappoint. The latest release lostinflowers is another excellent member of the collection.
Ms. Gaynes discovered a red champaca otto essential oil on her travels. Called “joy oil” in India it provides the unusual aspect which seems to have become the signature for the brand. In the hands of M. Laudamiel under their direction they build outward from that nucleus to live up to the name.
The star of the show is displayed prominently early on as the champaca comes forward. Champaca often seems like it is itself an accord, as it is a multi-faceted ingredient. To get one of such quality allows for M. Laudamiel to pick what to expand upon. The core champaca is a fruity honeyed floral. M. Laudamiel chooses two flowers to harmonize with it; tagetes and gardenia. The tagetes provide an acerbic pushback to the joy oil. The gardenia comes by way of enfleurage which makes it softer than the oil. M. Laudamiel allows both to swirl upward encircling the chmampaca until you are lost in the scent of these florals. This is not a heavy-handed effect it is much more restrained. I wouldn’t call it transparent, but it isn’t overwhelming, either. There is a lushness to the floral accord which allows for the fruity and musky aspects of champaca to peek out from among the petals. Saffron adds a shimmering glow over the surface of this. Oud provides a grace note deepening the overall accord without taking over.
Lostinflowers has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage as the perfume oil, as the eau de parfum it has average sillage.
Lostinflowers comes in two concentrations; perfume oil and eau de parfum (EdP). I was introduced to Strangelove NYC through their first release deadofnight as an oil. It is one of the rare cases where I prefer the oil formulation over the EdP. The EdP seems to make these constructs more expansive when I prefer just burying my nose in a closely held comfort. I can see the appeal of maybe making the floral heart a little more voluminous as an EdP but not for me.
I am once again impressed with the perfume produced by Ms. Gaynes, Ms. Christensen, and M. Laudamiel. I know it will probably be a while before the next release but the joy oil that is lostinflowers will be good company until then.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples I purchased.
In a year when I smelled almost 700 new perfumes it is easy to focus on some of the problems which affect the perfume industry. What is nice about this time of year is it allows me to focus on what is outstanding within perfumery. These next four winners are what keep me coming back for more.
Perfume of the Year: Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendre– There is one thing about finding a great perfume for the first time at one of the big expos; it stands out head and shoulders above all that surround it. When I arrived at this fall’s Pitti Fragranze in Florence my very first stop was to see Australian born milliner Naomi Goodsir and her partner in perfume Renaud Coutaudier. I look forward to connecting with this brand because these two have an uncompromising attention to detail in each of their releases. In three years they have only released four perfumes. Every single one of them is among the best for their particular year. I knew there was going to be a transcendent entry sooner than later. On that September day in Florence Iris Cendre turned out to be that fragrance.
For Iris Cendre Mme Goodsir and M. Coutaudier returned to the perfumer they worked with on their first two releases, Julien Rasquinet. Together they created a shimmering green iris which had a sly callback to their earlier collaboration Bois D’Ascese in the base. Iris Cendre is a success on every level I can name. Choosing a Perfume of the Year has never been easier.
Perfumer of the Year: Christophe Laudamiel– This category was the toughest it has ever been for me. There was so much laudable work by many perfumers this year I ended up looking for intangibles to elevate my eventual choice, Christophe Laudamiel. The perfume reasons were the three 2015 releases he composed; Raymond Matts Pashay, Raymond Matts Tulile, and Strangelove NYC meltmyheart. I mentioned in my overview yesterday that there were more unabashedly synthetic perfumes released this year. In the past I have used M. Laudamiel’s work for brands like Humiecki & Graef or Nest as what can be accomplished with a primarily synthetic palette. The three perfumes he worked on for 2015 are even better examples especially the Raymond Matts Pashay. Strangelove NYC meltmyheart shows how he can take a perfectly executed central accord of chocolate, oud, and orris accompanied by a set of synthetics which impart a transparency to create something supernatural.
The intangible that lifted him over the others listed below is his tireless work for The Academy of Perfumery & Aromatics. In that capacity he developed a fantastic children’s introductory set to fragrance. By using different ingredients and tying them to their geographic location and their smells it is an ingenious way of introducing the concept of scent, in an educational way, to the next generation.
A great year of perfume combined with an important ambassadorial role makes Christophe Laudamiel my Perfumer of the Year.
Runner-Ups: Mandy Aftel, Cristiano Canali, Jean-Claude Ellena, Bruno Fazzolari, Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Pierre Negrin, and Geza Schoen.
Creative Director of the Year: Celine Verleure of Olfactive Studio– Of the many things I say over and over it is how disappointed I am when a brand plays it safe. While I press for a brand to take risks their bottom line is at stake to please my desire. Any Creative Director who takes too many risks will probably not succeed. My choice for Creative Director of the Year is Celine Verleure of Olfactive Studio who fearlessly released two very different perfumes in 2015, Panorama and Selfie.
Mme Verleure has always been interested in pushing the envelope as a Creative Director and that started with her work on the Kenzo Jungle collection from 1996-1998 which were not hewing to current trends at that time. When she started Olfactive Studio in 2011 she still made memorable riffs on recognizable templates but the early releases were about building an audience. In 2015 she challenged that audience with the fierce greenness of Panorama including a wasabi accord. Followed up by Selfie which took a fractured top accord of contrasting notes and coalesced it around a maple syrup heart. It is a fascinating bit of olfactory architecture I enjoy every time I wear it. These are perfumes which invite scrutiny and that is something I can only say about the very best releases in a year.
For her sense of adventure, I name Celine Verleure my Creative Director of the Year.
Runner-Ups: Karl Bradl (Aedes de Venustas and Nomenclature), Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel (Atelier Cologne), Madalina Stoica-Blanchard and Julien Blanchard (Jul et Mad), Christopher Chong (Amouage), and Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena (Eau D’Italie, ALTAIA).
Brand of the Year: Atelier Cologne– Atelier Cologne has been on an ever expanding trajectory since their founding in 2010. This year represented their most ambitious to date as they released eight new fragrances and an extrait version of one of the bestsellers. Owners and Creative Directors Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel have always impressed me with their clear vision for their brand. By releasing a four fragrance Collection Azur at the beginning of the year meant to be an introduction to the world of Cologne Absolue which was released to various Sephora for that reason. It was followed by four releases spread out through the year that continued the evolution of this style of perfume. Saphir Oud, Pomelo Paradis, Jasmine Angelique, and Musc Imperial displayed the versatility that can be elicited from this concept.
Atelier Cologne is also the genial ambassador to niche for many who don’t live in large cities. I have lost count how many times I have told those who live in these areas to go to their local Sephora and try the Atelier Cologne that are there. I almost invariably get a return e-mail relating to me how they bought one after smelling the difference. I always talk about wanting niche brands to reach out to consumers beyond the big cities. Atelier Cologne has done this with great success.
For those reasons Atelier Cologne is my Brand of the Year.
Runner-Ups: Aftelier Perfumes, DSH Perfumes, Hermes, Jo Malone, and Olfactive Studio.
Part 1 was my broad overview of the year.
Part 3 tomorrow I will reveal my top 25 new perfumes of 2015.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is a truism. In the Early 1990’s I beheld supermodel Helena Christensen when she was at the height of her fame. In a room full of other professional models it was apparent to me why super was attached to her. She carried a special quality which ran from the top of her head to her toes. When having any discussion on beauty she is one of my prime examples. I have always followed her career. Last year she stepped into the niche perfumery world as the creative director on Strangelove NYC (nee ERH1012) deadofnight. It has been eighteen months since that release and the second perfume has recently arrived Strangelove NYC meltmyheart.
Ms. Christensen worked with perfumer Christophe Laudamiel who also was responsible for deadofnight. Ms. Christensen says she wanted meltmyheart to be “tender and poetic”. M. Laudamiel has taken some of the more powerhouse notes in the perfumer’s palette and made them live up to that description. When I tell you that the heart of meltmyheart is dark chocolate, oud, and orris I suspect tender and poetic does not rise to the top of the adjectives you might expect to use for that mixture. If there is one thing I have learned while following M. Laudamiel over the years is he is one of the few who can make the most obstreperous notes behave like they never deserved that reputation. For meltmyheart he has achieved that as he does make those notes tender and poetic as the core of this perfume.
M. Laudamiel uses a zingy opening of ginger and bergamot. If meltmyheart is all about falling in love this is the frisson of meeting someone special for the first time. Nutmeg provides the transition into the heart. The chocolate comes out first as it picks up the sweetness of the nutmeg. The oud comes next and I am struck once again by what a perfect partner chocolate is for oud. It doesn’t get used as much as I would like even though in meltmyheart it is an excellent choice. For a short while I begin to wonder where the orris is. As the chocolate and oud have my attention. The orris is there but it takes a little time to find its position as it catches some of the bitter components of the chocolate and powders over some of the more intense facets of oud. What the orris does is provide the harmonic to allow the best qualities of the chocolate and oud to predominate. The skill of M. Laudamiel to pull this off and to keep it almost transparent in its effect is fabulous. When I wore meltmyheart I expected this phase to just expand and evolve into something overpowering. It never does. Instead it is a relationship of equals which has an unusual fragility I never expected. Many hours later a bit of smoky sage absolute winds its way through the orris/oud/chocolate making it seem like it is all melting away in a cloud of smoke.
Meltmyheart is a perfume oil and has 24-hour longevity with no appreciable sillage.
Ms. Christensen and M. Laudamiel have made a perfume around a perfectly executed central accord. I spent an entire weekend wearing this. Like Ms. Chritensen when I saw her back in the 1990’s meltmyheart is a perfume of beauty to behold.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Strangelove NYC
To make it through the year with all of my enthusiasm intact I need spaced out booster shots of time with other people who love perfume as much as I do. My end of spring burst comes courtesy of Sniffapalooza Spring Fling every May. Once again the best smelling group of olfactory glitterati convened in New York City for a weekend of perfumed experiences. This year’s edition was loaded with some of the biggest names in perfumery and some really special new releases just for this event.
It always starts early on Saturday morning in the café at Bergdorf Goodman’s. I was especially pleased this year to have the opportunity to introduce John Molloy of Memo Paris who after four years was finally showing his excellent line of perfumes to an American audience. For me there were two other releases which caught my attention at breakfast. The new Brioni creatively directed by Raymond Matts and composed by Frank Voelkl is a beautifully done masculine perfume. It is every bit the singular fragrance as a Brioni suit is. Roja Dove finished the morning program. My favorite story he tells is of this goodnight kiss his mother gave him which set him on the path to being Roja Dove. He has captured that moment in a perfume called A Goodnight Kiss. As he finished the story about the perfume there wasn’t a dry eye in the place including Mr. Dove’s.
Takasago Presentation boards for lunch talk
After two hours of power shopping the Bergdorf’s Beauty Level we all headed to lunch. I am used to being the speaker on Sunday but this year I was also asked to introduce Colognoisseur to the Saturday crowd, too. The highlight of the lunch were the presentations from Kelly Jones of Takasago and perfumer Christophe Laudamiel. Mr. Dove had passed out strips of the raw materials he uses in his perfume at breakfast. Ms. Jones who was accompanied by Kent Lombard took us through the citrus raw materials from the Takasago orchard in Florida. Christophe Laudamiel was promoting the Academy of Perfumery & Aromatics. To that end he shared a sniff of vintage L’Air du Temps with the crowd. I have become more interested in both the history and the building blocks of perfume. These lunch presentations fed my appetite for that.
Robbie Wilson of Orlov Paris (l.) and Karen Dubin
The final event of Day One was the premier of the Orlov Paris line of five perfumes complete with caviar and champagne at Black Label Wine Merchants. Robbie Wilson introduced the line in a wonderfully opulent setting which showed off the diamond inspired perfumes like the jewels that they are.
Day Two opened at the Birchbox store downtown with a presentation from Harvey Prince on their line of fragrances and ancillary products. Afterward we wandered on Elizabeth St at Le Labo and Atelier Cologne.
Mark Crames and Miriam Sangster presenting Tomboy
We headed for lunch and a very special line-up. Usually when I emcee the Sunday lunch it is all about new perfumers and their emerging brands. Not this year, I was handed an all-star lineup. Sue Phillips of Scentarium introduced her fragrance kits so you can have the custom perfume making experience Ms. Phillips provides at her Scentarium space in your own home. I had never met Mark Crames of Demeter prior to Sunday and he along with artist Miriam Sangster presented their combined visual and scented installation called Tomboy. Ms. Sangster challenged Mr. Crames to capture her Tomboy which was inspired by a clip from the cartoon Powerpuff Girls. Next up was Irina Adam of Phoenix Botanicals as she presented her latest release Ella. She also shared some vintage raw materials she had obtained with the audience. As they were passed around I was sitting with the next speaker Christophe Laudamiel and we were intrigued at the quality of these very old ingredients. M. Laudamiel again promoted the Academy and tried in vain to share an even more vintage version of L’Air du Temps than he had the day before.
Jacinta Bunt aqnd Michael Edwards (r.)
The final speaker of the day on Sunday was Michael Edwards of Fragrances of the World. I had the pleasure of doing a Q&A with him. He spoke about how his reference book came to be and how it has grown over the past 31 years. I asked him if the word Niche was still relevant. In his guide he has already decided it doesn’t and has now come up with four categories which cover what we called Niche previously. At the prodding of Karen Dubin he gave some personal non-perfume details. He likes Italian food, attending art exhibitions, and working through his Netflix queue. It is always a pleasure to hear Mr. Edwards speak and it was the perfect way to end the 2015 version of Spring Fling.
As always thanks to the Karens for allowing me to participate in this year’s events. I am already looking forward to October and Fall Ball.
All photos by Karen Adams from the Sniffapalooza website.
As I continue my reviews of the new Raymond Matts Aura de Parfum collection I turn to a pair which are complete opposites. One celebrates all of the promise of a spring day. The other is the smell of attraction from afar traveling the paths of imagination wherein the feeling is returned. Maiaday and Pashay are those perfumes.
There are instructions for how to pronounce the names in the press materials. Maiaday is supposed to be pronounced (My*a*day). Ever since wearing it I’ve been calling it May*a*day because it embodies that day in May when we acknowledge the return of green and growing things. Perfumer Annie Buzantian composes a perfume which captures that pent-up energy of the coming of spring after the long winter. Ms. Buzantian keeps it all very supple and soft as a sunny floral green haze enveloped me when I wore Maiaday. Ms. Buzantian opens with her greenery floating on a pond which she marries to a citrus grouping of notes. It adds that zing to the opening as it amplifies and complements the green accord. Maiaday moves into a floral heart with that May Day flower, muguet, at the center. Ms. Buzantian brackets it with the expected, in violet leaves, picking up the greener facets of muguet. The unexpected is saffron which adds a bit of outre´ charm. Saffron works here because it is such a softly assertive spicy note. Something a little more aggressive would have thrown off the vibe Ms. Buzantian is building. This carries through into the base as she uses a number of synthetic woods to form a translucent woody accord to evoke the trees waking up on May Day. As much as I’ve been enjoying wearing Maiaday on these winter days I am really looking forward to wearing it on a mid-summer’s day. Maiaday has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
Christophe Laudamiel (Photo: Marcus Gaab for NY TImes)
The inspiration for Pashay came from a chance encounter on a Fifth Avenue bus Mr. Matts was riding. Also sharing his ride was “a beautiful black woman…with flawless skin and an exposed shoulder.” When Mr. Matts approached perfumer Christophe Laudamiel with this inspiration he also had an interesting request for a starting point for M. Laudamiel. By looking at this olive toned skin he wanted to use a Kalamata olive note as the focal point of Pashay. M. Laudamiel thought it a crazy idea but once he and Mr. Matts started working on Pashay they found there was some latitude to realize their vision while starting from such a different beginning. Pashay opens on a fruity flurry of citrus and pear. This leads to the heart where they chose seaweed and narcissus to join the Kalamata to form their desired salty skin accord. If you look at those ingredients on face value you might not see how this comes to be. By using the oily salty olive to build upon; the seaweed pulls out the hidden marine facets as well as a sense of clean sweaty skin. The narcissus takes this and uses its intense floralcy to frame and enhance the illusion. It really is the smell of a woman’s shoulder after she has worked up a sweat. This all fades into a woody base of sandalwood and guaiac wood. This is a cleaned up sandalwood synthetic stripped of the sweet facets and the guaiac wood provides a more versatile clean wood than something like cedar might have. The final stages of Pashay are the dream of that woman on the bus as it pulls away and you watch it move down the street. Pashay has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Disclosure: These reviews were based on samples I received from Raymond Matts.