One of the great collections of inexpensive fragrance is the one created by the twin celebrities Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Starting in 2014 they released pairs of perfumes under the label of Elizabeth & James. Back then when I wrote about it, I mentioned the name came from the ladies’ younger, less famous, siblings. Revisiting that statement in 2021 the distaff side of the name is no longer the less anything to her sisters. Elizabeth Olsen has been a brilliant actor in the streaming series WandaVision. The twins turned out to have their own version of precocious vision as they moved into fashion and fragrance.
When it came to these perfumes the idea was to design simple easy-to-wear constructs. That isn’t an uncommon target for many modestly priced brands. What always seemed to set this collection apart was the choice of three tightly integrated keynotes. Each of the six releases are designed with this in mind. Elizabeth & James Nirvana French Grey was part of the lest set of two in 2017. Perfumers Nicole Mancini and Linda Song use lavender, neroli, and musk as the trio to build this with.
What all the perfumes do in this collection is to sandwich one multi-faceted ingredient between two others. Using the variability to move back and forth between the two it forms a more dynamic fragrance than you might expect from just three ingredients.
Lavender plays the part of the ingredient with facets. In French Grey it is sandwiched between neroli and musk. The herbal nature of the lavender resonates with the green floral scent of neroli. Early on you get a slightly green floral accord. As the lavender shifts towards the musk it shows off its powdery side. It creates a lightly powdered skin accord. Over the hours it stays on my skin the lavender seemingly pivots back and forth between the neroli and musk until it finally fades.
Nirvana French Grey has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
All six Elizabeth & James fragrances qualify as Discount Diamonds they are that good. Nirvana French Grey is just the best choice for these early spring days. If you are enjoying Elizabeth’s acting, you should see the vision her twin sisters bring to perfume.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.
I am always interested to try the first perfume from a fashion designer. It is a fun exercise to see what tack they will take. Do they do the lazy thing and license their name out with almost zero creative control? That is the cynic’s recipe. Do they pick up on the aesthetic of their brand and try to translate it to fragrance? That’s the afficionado’s recipe. Or do they aim at the consumer market they’ve built with a fragrance meant to appeal to them? That’s the recipe for Rebecca Minkoff.
Rebecca Minkoff began her fashion brand in 2005. From day one her target audience has been millennial women. She has found a style which appeals to that segment which has translated into a successful brand. When it came to the first perfume with her name on it, she turned to two perfumers Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Linda Song. She asked them for a fragrance which would appeal to her audience. What they delivered is a beautiful variation on the transparent florals in vogue currently.
One of my biggest issues with this style of perfumery is it can become so insubstantial it is meaningless. What the perfumers have done here it to add just enough counterweight to offset that. It is in those ingredients where Rebecca Minkoff steps it up.
The first fresh floral I encountered is called “baby orchid” in the note list. This is that slightly chilly florist shops cold room scent. It is given some of that counterweight I spoke of through coriander and cardamom. They provide an herbal veil of green over the fresh floral. In the heart that floral vibe becomes more tropical as two floral synthetics Hedione and Karmaflor are balanced into an airy floral accord just a bit less transparent that the top accord floral. The counterweight here is the nice use of tobacco. This is not the narcotic dried leaf tobacco. This is a light application which adds the dried leafy sweetness to the flowers. It connects to the hay-like tonka bean in the base and a lighter patchouli to complete things.
Rebecca Minkoff has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is a great debut for the brand. It should appeal to the same women that the clothing does. Sometimes that is the best recipe for success staying true to your consumer.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Rebecca Minkoff.
Back in the summer Tom Ford Private Blend released two different fougeres. I reviewed Fougere D’Argent first because I felt it had a more contemporary feel. I also promised in that review to get to the other, Fougere Platine, in a couple weeks. Its been two months and I think I put it off for so long because it is a classic fougere done well with good quality ingredients. There should be some attention paid to perfume which achieves just that. So, better late than never here we go.
As always creative director Karyn Khoury is overseeing any new release from this brand. This time she works with a team of perfumers, Olivier Gillotin and Linda Song. Ms. Song has been doing most of her early work on the mainstream side of fragrance. I was interested to see how she would do with a niche budget. The answer is in the first paragraph; the perfumers create a fougere which is more fleshed out throughout its development.
All fougeres begin with lavender and this is one which displays equal parts the floral and herbal faces of it. Which it needs because clary sage and basil amplify that quality. It is a greener style of lavender top accord, but it is still recognizably lavender. If you are a fan of M. Gillotin’s work on the Private Blend Vert series this has a bit of that feel early on. The heart is a mixture of labdanum, olibanum, and honey. This was where the perfume crossed the line into luxuriousness for me. It is my favorite part of Fougere Platine as the lavender sinks into the sticky resinous heart accord. The honey provides a sweetness vector for the resins to cling to. The honey slowly transforms into dried tobacco leaf made green by atlas cedar. The original fougeres had oakmoss and coumarin in the base. The perfumers’ approximation here is to use the narcotic quality of tobacco and the clean woodiness of cedar as their base accord, which worked for me.
Fougere Platine has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
If there was a silver lining to waiting for two months; wearing it in the cooler fall weather made it cozier. Fougere Platine is a well-executed version of a straightforward fougere. If you’re a fan of the style and want a black-tie version this might be a good formal fougere.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Tom Ford Beauty.