Timing is everything. After I’ve spent weeks smelling one debutante rose fragrance after another; the first to offer something different is sure to get my attention. This year’s refreshing slap came from Edward Bess Last Night.
A little over two years ago Edward Bess began to expand into fragrance with an initial collection of three perfumes. Working with perfumer Carlos Benaim they created a min-max group of simple ingredients chosen for big effects. I was drawn to them for this quality although it was the one which had more subtlety, La Femme Boheme, I enjoyed most. When I saw another spare ingredient list for Last Night I wasn’t sure which way this would go.
Edward Bess (Photo: Ruven Afanador)
One of the things about the previous three releases is M. Benaim takes these chosen ingredients and gives them space to fill. I like it when there is more overlap amongst them. Last Night finds a lot of overlap between the three ingredients of rose, leather, and smoke.
After being fed a steady diet of gentle rose having a diva like Bulgarian rose out in front was the right antidote. This is a rose that wants to be the belle of the ball. She wants to be remembered. She is curved in all the right places with insouciance to burn. When she shows up at the party wearing her biker jacket around her all eyes turn. That is the opening salvo of Last Night as M. Benaim surrounds Bulgarian rose in a leather jacket accord. It is where things pause for a bit before a layer of smoke inserts itself. It is not exactly wood smoke and it isn’t quite cigarette smoke. I’m not sure the source but I think one of the synthetic woods with a prominent smoky scent profile is what M. Benaim is using. This is an abstract smoke effect which I sort of liken to the morning after as our rose, still in her leather jacket, wakes up with a patina of smoke.
Last Night has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
Last Night has more of what I like from this style of perfume making by Mr. Bess and M. Benaim. They seem to have an agreed upon aesthetic which Last Night executes as rose spends the night out.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Edward Bess.
There is a conceit of movies and literature that when a pair of star-crossed lovers end up in a hay loft something sexual will happen. Not sure what it is about loose hay which gets the hormones flowing but the look of satisfaction paired with bits of dried grass stuck to their sweaty bodies and hair is a staple. There’s even the euphemism “a roll in the hay” to further the point. It is a funny thing that it took so long for a perfume to go for its own roll in the hay. With the release of Edward Bess La Femme Boheme we have one.
Edward Bess (Photo: Ruven Afanador)
Edward Bess is the precocious originator of his own eponymous makeup and hair line. He started when he was 20. This year he celebrated turning 30 and his tenth year in business by making the expansion in to fragrance. The perfumer he chose to work with for his foray into fragrance is perfumer Carlos Benaim. It could be argued that M. Beniam is the most successful mainstream perfumer ever. He rarely comes over to do a niche perfume. In those rare appearances, he has also taken the opportunity to use the extra budget to make similarly memorable niche fragrances with a populist’s aesthetic. The three perfumes he produced for Mr. Bess are stripped down crowd pleasers. Genre is a perfume where M. Benaim’s leather accord meshes with an austere frankincense on top of furry musks. Spanish Veil takes the toasted sweetness of tonka and amplifies it with the woody sweetness of sandalwood all framed by the cleanliness of guaiac wood. La Femme Boheme is also seemingly equally unembellished but as I wore it I found within the trio of primary notes M. Benaim also had some grace notes hiding underneath which only peeked out later.
La Femme Boheme opens with the hay accord formed by combining amber and honey. The honey takes the hay up a few levels of sweet but the amber counterbalances the overall effect so it doesn’t just become honey. The honey also uses its sometimes less pleasant nature to help add the sense of sweaty bodies amidst the hay. The final piece of M. Benaim’s tryst in the hay loft is a rich indolic jasmine. M. Beniam turns it loose in all of its skanky glory to really represent the physical act itself. The notes aren’t listed but there are times I get a bit of tobacco along with a bit of stale alcohol. I noticed it both days I wore it so I am pretty sure they are really there but it could just be a trick of the indoles playing off of the amber or honey too.
La Femme Boheme has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
There are so many perfumers to whom Mr. Bess could have turned. I am very happy that Mr. Benaim was the one who brought Mr. Bess’ vision of perfume to life.
Disclosure; This review was based on samples provided by Edward Bess.