New Perfume Reviews Jul et Mad Nea & Garuda- Ascending Star of the Ancients

I think there is no greater pleasure for me than meeting a young perfumer who is just starting to take off. I have written a lot about what I call inflection points in a perfumer’s development. It always seems that there comes a specific year when the journeyman attains a new level of sophistication. When I was at Esxence 2015 I had the opportunity to be with a perfumer who is right at that inflection point and we will look back at 2015 as the year Luca Maffei’s star rose.

While at Esxence I had Sig. Maffei next to me as he presented the two perfumes he had composed for Jul et Mad. In my review of Nin-Shar I wrote of the inspiration of creative directors Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica-Blanchard to evoke specific ancient civilizations in their new Les White collection. They assigned Sig. Maffei two of the three to realize; Nea and Garuda.

Nea was inspired by the Holy Church Nea Ekklesia built during the height of the Byzantine Empire. The word Byzantine when used as an adjective means excessively complicated. In the brief Sig. Maffei received he was asked to create a gourmand oriental. That description almost seems Byzantine in nature. Sig. Maffei avoided those pitfalls by making Nea the antithesis of Byzantine and instead kept it very simple with a straightforward progression that works incredibly well.

The opening part of Nea is deep fruit as Sig. Maffei combines dates, plum, and pomegranate into a kind of subtle opulent fruit accord. The plum is the core of the early going and it form a luscious nucleus for the other two fruit notes to orbit around. The heart is jasmine and rose imposed on top of the fruit. Sig. Maffei manages to tune this at just the right pitch as it never gets too floral or too fruity. Nea heads towards the gourmand in the base notes with a woody intermezzo of patchouli and cashmeran. They have the effect of moving the fruity floral character to the background. This sets up the gourmand finish as Sig. Maffei takes tonka bean, vanilla, and caramel to fashion an edible finish to Nea. Nea has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

luca maffei accepting iao award

Luca Maffei accepting 2015 Art & Olfaction Award

There are times that the imagery provided for a perfume doesn’t resonate for me. As Sig. Maffei spoke to me of the inspiration for Garuda I could instantly feel it in the perfume underneath my nose. Garuda was inspired by Angkor Wat. When Jul et Mad traveled to the ancient site and were in the gallery dedicated to Garuda; the sun was setting and all of the bas-relief pulsed with a golden glow. It is that they wanted Sif. Maffei to re-create. I was told he was so successful at realizing this vision that he got it right in his first mod and it is that formulation which made it in to the bottle.

Sig. Maffei used Cambodian Oud as the heart note upon which he would build this golden glow. The rest of the construction of Garuda is finding a way to encase that oud in a golden glow. The three most prominent notes used to achieve that are saffron, rum, and cashmeran. Those three notes soften the oud and also allow it to warmly radiate with a pleasant thrum over quite a few hours on my skin. It eventually gives way to a very woody base of cedar, vetiver, and the IFF aromachemical Timbersilk. The latter is a tenacious woody synthetic and it lasts for an extremely long time at the end of Garuda. Garuda has overnight longevity although the last few hours is mainly the Timbersilk and it has above average sillage.

Sig. Maffei has crafted two very excellent perfumes which manage to live up to their press release. If I needed any further evidence Sig. Maffei’s star was ascendant he would win an Art & Olfaction Award a few weeks after Esxence for his work with Acca Kappa. I have a feeling one of these new perfumes for Jul et Mad might possibly make him a two-time winner next year.

Disclosure: this review was based on a press sample provided by Jul et Mad during Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jul et Mad Les White Nin-Shar- Hanging in Babylon

For a brand to thrive they need to be willing to take on new directions. They also need to be aware that the new direction needs to feel connected to what has come previously. When I learned about the new Jul et Mad Les White Collection I was interested to see how, what seemed like, a new direction would feel.

jul et mad

Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica-Blanchard

Jul et Mad is the perfume brand owned and creatively directed by married couple Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica-Blanchard. The first four perfumes in the line were chapters in their love story from first meeting to marriage. With Les White it is inspired by ancient civilizations that they admire. Those first four perfumes had sprightliness along with the frisson of a new relationship. They also were mostly on the lighter side of things. Les White was going to head for the deeper richer style of perfume that hadn’t really been represented by Jul et Mad so far.

sidonie-lancesseur

Sidonie Lancesseur

When I stepped up to the booth at Esxence 2015 I had the inspiration explained to me. Then I had the chance to try all three. I was very pleased to find they all adhered to what I would consider the Jul et Mad aesthetic as they all took a dive into the deep end of the perfumed swimming pool. Perfumer Luca Maffei was responsible for Nea and Garuda. Perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur did Nin-Shar. I am going to review all three and will save Sig. Maffei’s for another day. Mme Lancesseur’s entry is a good place to start.

HANGING-GARDENS-OF-BABYLON

Nin-Shar is the Goddess of Plants in Sumerian mythology. The ancient civilization Mme Lancesseur was asked to interpret was that of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Hanging Gardens didn’t really hang they were the original rooftop gardens on the Royal Palace of Babylon. As you can imagine Nin-Shar would be a busy goddess overseeing all of this. In Mme Lancesseuur’s perfume we find her in the section of the garden where roses grow. Nin-Shar is a decadently rich rose fragrance.

Mme Lancesseur uses an interesting rose accord to open Nin-Shar called Rose Liquor. It smells to me like rose which has been marinating in rum. It imparts a boozy floral quality to the early moments. It also has a kind of dark fruits character to it as it dominates for almost an hour and it slowly evolves over that time. The heart of Nin-Shar is actual Turkish rose along with Egyptian jasmine. A lot of time these raw materials are used so as to moderate their spicy and indolic facets, respectively. Mme Lancesseur couldn’t afford to allow that or they would have been lost to the rose liquor. She uses everything those notes have to give. This makes for a floral heart with an intensity of deep floral highlights that is in constant evolution on my skin. I think because Mme Lancesseur doesn’t try to hold back it makes for an overall effect which is much more kinetic than you might expect from something this intense. We head for a woody base with one of the Robertet patchouli fractions which accentuates the more herbal nature of patchouli. Mme Lancesseur blends oud, cedar, and sandalwood as her foundation. Unlike the heart accord this is kept tightly controlled. That allows the rose to linger much longer over the final stages. A bit of sweet vanilla and frankincense round things out.

Nin-Shar has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Nin-Shar is without a doubt the deepest and strongest perfume in the entire Jul et Mad Collection. Even so it does not feel out of place. It feels like the deeply emotional connection between two individuals in love. Had they chosen to make this Chapter 5 of the perfumed love story it would have fit. Instead we have an opulent rose which seems like its own Ancient Wonder.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Jul et Mad at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke