New Perfume Review Aerin Cedar Violet- Escape to the Mountains


As we enter the last week of the dog days of summer I turn to one of my favorite summer ingredients for succor. Regular readers will know what it is. I have an odd craving for a big cedar-centric fragrance the hotter things get. What is nice is I usually get a new one to enjoy just at the right time. This year’s version is Aerin Cedar Violet.

Aerin Lauder

Aerin Lauder has found her groove at this brand named after her. Over the last four years I have been appreciative of the work it took to get there. Each successive release is a new mainstream take on a floral ingredient. This has become another line I have become comfortable recommending because while it might not do as much as others, what it does is good. One of the amusing things about Cedar Violet is that the floral isn’t the one on the bottle but gardenia. She collaborates with perfumer Clement Gavarry.

Clement Gavarry

It begins with the silvery green of violet leaf. It is matched with the freshness of muguet. This is a summery type of top accord that eschews citrus for a more verdant alternative. The cedar comes next. What makes me enjoy cedar in the warmer weather is first its cleanliness. In the good ones there is also a raw green woody thread which runs through it. This is what happens here as the top notes and the cedar all align on a green axis. This is where gardenia appears and attaches its green underpinning to the same continuum. This concludes with an austere sandalwood spiced up with amber.

Cedar Violet has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

In the press materials Ms. Lauder said this was inspired by the Adirondack Mountains. On the days I wore this I came to realize that hiking among the trees is just as much a summery scent as anything inspired by the beach. For the reminder of this year’s dog days if I need to escape to the mountains, Cedar Violet is here.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Nordstrom.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ariana Grande Cloud- Toasted Marshmallow

I am probably in the same place as the large cosmetics companies in trying to figure out what younger fragrance consumers want. I am interested whenever I feel there is an attempt to try something slightly different to attract them. It sometimes shows up in the most surprising places; like a bottle of Ariana Grande Cloud.

When I say younger consumers, I am generally not speaking of those as young as the demographic which makes up Ms. Grande’s fan base. While I can see Cloud appealing to some of them this fits more securely in the style of transparent gourmands which is looking for admirers a few years older. Up until now it has been floral gourmands which have been the early choice. Cloud changes to a style of fruity gourmand without using the usual suspects of berry overload. Perfumer Clement Gavarry creates something quite nice.

Clement Gavarry

The fruit being used on top is juicy pear. M. Gavarry adds a supporting note of lavender but it is the fruit which is ascendant. The core of cloud is a toasted marshmallow accord. M. Gavarry uses a clever trio of vanilla, coconut and praline to form a cloud of sticky fluff. This might all sound like a sickly-sweet mixture, but this is pitched at a more transparent level. It is sweet but not overly so. I enjoyed this marshmallow accord at the heart of Cloud. It is easy to detect the three pieces, all of which are gourmand notes themselves, while also experiencing the accord. That makes it somewhat more dynamic than it might seem; which was what I experienced while wearing it. M. Gavarry pulls it all together with a set of white musks and soft synthetic woods to keep this cloud afloat.

Cloud has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am overall enjoying this expansion of the gourmand category because it is a style which has a lot of room to grow. It is why a good perfume heading in a different direction stands out. Cloud is a toasted marshmallow cumulus puff drifting that way.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Ulta.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review SJP Stash- Be Careful What You Wish For


Sarah Jessica Parker set the standard for what a celebuscent could be when she released Lovely in 2005. It was widely praised mainly because it was obvious she was directly involved as creative director. Lovely is arguably the best mainstream celebrity perfume ever. It has become a new classic of perfumery. With that foundation I was very curious to try Ms. Parker’s latest release SJP Stash.

In the press leading up to Stash’s release one of the more interesting pieces of information was Ms. Parker had designed Stash before Lovely. She would further elaborate that Coty who owned the rights to Ms. Parker’s brand thought Stash was not “commercial” enough. It has taken eleven years but Ms. Parker now has the freedom to releases Stash with her new deal with the beauty store chain ULTA. Stash is meant to be the first in an ongoing relationship with the store.

sjp stash ad

The perfumer Ms. Parker worked with has been undisclosed although they are from IFF. If the backstory is accurate it probably means it contains themes from the perfumers behind Lovely, Clement Gavarry and Laurent LeGuernec. With an assist from an IFF perfumer today I would imagine that is the perfume team behind Stash. After trying Stash I can definitely see how there was a vigorous discussion about whether it was commercial in 2005. Now in 2016 I think Stash has found a time period where it won’t stand out as much as a woody oriental. In fact, it could be that woody orientals have become so prevalent that it might have some trouble gaining traction.

Stash opens with a contrasting trio of grapefruit, black pepper, and sage. It is a lively opening but it feels common today. The heart ramps up the woods as cedar cleans up the spicy parts and co-opts patchouli as a running mate. Ms. Parker mentioned wanting a body odor accord and I think the cedar and patchouli are meant to be that. It is subtle to be sure and not as prominent as it would have been if they had used cumin. So if you have read the press releases and seen “body odor” don’t fret because this is the cleanest body odor you will run across. The base is the best part of Stash as a sweetly resinous mixture of olibanum, vetiver, sandalwood, and musk combine.

Stash has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

As I’ve indicated above Stash is not groundbreaking or unusual in today’s mainstream market. In 2005 this would have blazed a similar trail as Lovely did. In 2016 it is following the trail not blazing it. Stash is more complex than much of what can be found at ULTA. If that consumer is enticed by Stash I think it has a chance to open those perfume wearers’ horizons. I can see how passionate Ms. Parker was to get Stash on the market but as the old adage says, “be careful what you wish for”.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from ULTA.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Olfactive Studio Panorama- Contemporary Green Architecture

At the end of 2011 when I was first introduced to the Olfactive Studio line of perfume I was immediately drawn in. Owner and Creative Director Celine Verleure has married photography and perfumery in a striking package. Through the six fragrances that have come over the last four years there has been a consistent progression towards a more modern aesthetic. Last year’s Ombre Indigo began the transition and it is the latest release Panorama which unabashedly completes it.


Photo: Miguel Sandinha

Mme Verleure always begins with a photograph and usually it is one which already exists as part of a photographer’s collection. For Panorama she already had in mind the subject of the photographic brief, The Sheats Goldstein House in Los Angeles. The Sheats Goldstein House is an example of modern architecture from one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s students John Lautner. It is one of the finest examples of modern architecture to be found. The unique nature of the house has found it in multiple movies. Mme Verleure commissioned Miguel Sandinha to photograph the residence and she would pick one of the shots as the brief for Panorama. You can see the picture she chose above.


Clement Gavarry

Next step was to enlist perfumer Clement Gavarry in turning that visual into a fragrance. One of the things to notice about that picture is the actual part of the house takes up only a small portion of the overall photo. The great majority of it is the verdant greenery which surrounds the house and far off in the distance you see the skyline of LA. If you look at that photograph and take all that in you will get an idea of what is to come in Panorama as M. Gavarry makes a fragrance of varying hues of green including some truly inspired unusual choices. All together it makes one of the boldest artistic statements this brand has ever made.


Celine Verleure

The accord that many will be talking about when trying Panorama appears in the first moments. M. Gavarry has constructed a wasabi accord and like that dried horseradish paste which accompanies sushi it captures your attention. When Mme Verleure told me about this being one of the components of Panorama I had to admit I was skeptical. That concern remained right up until I sprayed some on my skin. M. Gavarry has indeed created a recognizable wasabi accord, it has a cold spiciness with an accompanying desiccated quality. It is weird. It is also wonderful. Oft times something weird can be interesting but when you wear it all day it continually begins to rub you in the wrong way. On the days I wore Panorama it was exactly the opposite as I spent much of my time wanting more. One of the reasons that I think it doesn’t become irritating is because M. Gavarry uses bamboo and fig leaves to keep the oddness under control. Over an hour or so like a light show the bright vivid green of the wasabi changes hues and gets a few shades deeper. A freshly-cut grass accord leads down to a pairing of galbanum and green cardamom with violet leaves. This is where you get the clean lines of the glass and concrete structure of The Sheats Goldstein House. It is still green but it is a sleek metallic green like the reflection of the plants in the glass of the house. The final shade of green comes through a deeply coniferous fir balsam. It is given even more depth by the skillful use of myrrh, labdanum, and vanilla. Like the bamboo and fig on top these alter the fir balsam into something completely modern.

Panorama has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Panorama is the most experimental fragrance release from Olfactive Studio. I applaud Mme Verleure for being willing to move the brand in this direction. Panorama smells like nothing else in the collection and it is all the more fascinating for that. I have found it to be one of the few fragrances I have tried recently which has me completely intellectually engaged throughout its development. It is as architecturally unique in its construction as the edifice which inspired it.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Panorama provided by Olfactive Studio at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke