New Perfume Review Thierry Mugler Angel Iced Star- Don’t Forget Fun


We have had about five years of the big perfume brands assessing what the new younger demographic wants. There are some trends which are beginning to take a firmer hold. The most important is for a lighter perfume experience. The biggest sellers among this group of consumers are all transparent. There does seem to be a threshold. You can’t become so ephemeral to be invisible.

Quentin Bisch

There is an experiment I would like to run among these types of perfume lovers. I’d like to see their reaction to the original Thierry Mugler Angel. This is the beginning of gourmand style perfumes, but it is miles away from opaque. This is an unrelenting aesthetic which was part of the Thierry Mugler fragrance DNA for a decade or more. My suspicion is these new perfume users would back away slowly. Which is why what the brand has done since 2016 has been so remarkable.

Starting with 2016’s Angel Muse they took that DNA and turned it into something more on trend. Perfumer Quentin Bisch would lay down the path to be followed. Keep the gourmand but make lighter substitutions up and down the pyramid. It has begun a winning streak which has seen Angel Eau Croisiere, Angel Eau Croisiere 2, and Angel Nova follow at the beginning of every summer. Angel Iced Star is the latest addition to that.

Louise Turner

M. Bisch is joined by perfumer Louise Turner behind this. I have spoken a lot about the lightness but there is one more essential ingredient to these, fun. There hasn’t been an annual release which has done a better job of that vibe of being on holiday drinking cocktails with umbrellas in them. Angel Iced Star adds pina colada to the drink selection.

Frozen pina coladas are one of my favorite beach chair cocktails. The opening of this captures it as icy coconut and pineapple are slurried together. There is a frostiness that is refreshing in the warm temperatures. Part of this recent success has been not to abandon the Angel DNA but to update it. What it means is the praline part and the patchouli piece of the original remain. Except the perfumers have some more leeway with both. The patchouli is a less intense fraction one where the chocolate-like quality is toned down. The praline gives that caramel a doughier scent profile. It means that chocolate caramel is still there but in different guises. It is what has made these current Angel evolutions so good.

Angel Iced Star has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

It seems like this might become an every year beginning of summer tradition. Angel Iced Star belongs in your beach bag to take away for your weekend getaway. It is the ideal way to get your mind in the right place to have fun.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Thierry Mugler.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male Le Parfum- Dressing up a Classic

1995’s Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male is one of the great perfumes because it redefined a style of fragrance for a generation. Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian composed a true classic. It has also been a veritable cash machine for the brand where they have released flanker after flanker. If you have ignored those because of their ubiquity that would be normal. Many of them were lesser than the original. The problem is within that steady flow of product they manage to sneak in something worthy of attention. That brings us to Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male Le Parfum.

Quentin Bisch, Nathalie Gracia-Cetto, Louise Turner (l. to r.)

When you look at that name you might think this is just a parfum version of the original. You would be half right as it uses the keynotes of Le Male. Where it differs is the team of perfumers; Quentin Bisch, Nathalie Gracia-Cetto and Louise Turner add depth befitting a parfum with something different.

It opens with the same cardamom which is part of the best Le Male flankers. Then what the perfumers do is allow the complementary original note of artemisia more agency in the perfume. It elongates the cardamom with a slightly licorice bite. It gives it the same herbal green of the original without using mint. The heart is made up of lavender given the same additional depth using iris. Here it is to give an earthier floral to enhance the herbal part of the lavender. It gives top and heart accord a connection through that. The biggest difference comes with vanilla in the forefront of the base. There are still the woods from before, but they are given the warmth of vanilla to add to it.

Le Male Le Parfum has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I wore Le Male Le Parfum I kept thinking this was the dress-up version of Le Male. If the original was the carefree casual one. Le Parfum is the one gussied up for the evening. Maybe that is all that is needed for a successful flanker the opportunity to dress up a classic.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Jean Paul Gaultier.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Thierry Mugler Angel Nova- How to Lighten Up

Since 2016 I have been watching the popular perfume brands come to grips with the current trend for lighter more transparent fragrances. Each of them has chosen their own path with varying degrees of success. At this point their choices have become evident. Thierry Mugler has made one of the more interesting choices. If you want to lighten up your perfumes you should also do it with a palpable smile. Thierry Mugler Angel Nova continues to achieve that.

Quentin Bisch

The original Angel is nobody’s idea of a light perfume although the spirit behind it was fun. In 2016 perfumer Quentin Bisch laid down the marker on the new Angel with Angel Muse. It has continued through two iterations of Angel Eau Croisiere and Eau Croisiere II. Those perfumes are made for nights on holiday. They are also intelligently designed perfumes. Angel Nova picks up on all of this with a team of M. Bisch, Louise Turner, and Sonia Constant collaborating.

Louise Turner

One of the hallmarks of this current generation of Angel flankers is they have been simple constructs. Angel Nova is three keynotes of raspberry, rose, and akigalawood. There are a couple of supporting ingredients which add to the complete piece, but it is predominantly those three.

Sonia Constant

It opens with a juicy raspberry given a syrupy finish through lychee. It made me think of opening a can of lychee and finding raspberries covered in the syrup. This is the kind of value added of a clever supporting note. It leads into a rich rose living up to its jammy adjective. I know you read this and think light, how could this be light. It is a remarkably transparent effect. It is capped with the spicy patchouli analog of akaigalawood adding an echo back to the original with its own patchouli inspired base. Some benzoin completes that base accord.

Angel Nova has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is another perfume full of joy. I keep looking forward to these Angel flankers because they all manage to find a way to have fun without becoming inane. Perhaps because they know the secret on how to lighten up their perfumes.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Thierry Mugler.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jo Malone Nettle & Wild Achillea- Ramble Through the Brambles

This has been the first warm weekend in Poodlesville this spring. That means I spent some time clearing away the detritus of the winter. It also means I spent some time walking through the adjacent woods with one of the poodles. I enjoy the natural scent of the world as winter gives way to the earliest days of spring. With the snow gone nature presents her prickly self in smell and thorn. On my favorite walk I always come home with a few scratches from the brambles which choke the path here and there. The smell of the woods is equally pointed as the greenness presents itself in sharp hues. There are a few perfumes which do this well; Jo Malone Nettle & Wild Achillea is a new addition.

Celine Roux

The creative director at Jo Malone, Celine Roux, likes to take her perfumers out to meet what she wants to capture in a perfume. In April a couple years ago she took Louise Turner and Yann Vasnier out to the canals of England. Upon their return Mme Roux asked them to create a collection based on that trip. This year the Wild Flower & Weeds collection was released as five perfumes. This goes to reinforce that as much as I think something is going to be great based on everything I read; the reality lets me down. I found four of the five releases didn’t contain as many weeds while allowing the wild flowers to have too much of the frame. The one which was weedier was the only one I really connected with. Ms. Turner is the perfumer behind Nettle & Wild Achillea. She has composed a thorny green perfume which captures the freshness of a spring day in layers.

Louise Turner

It opens with the “flower” in the title Wild Achillea which is more commonly known as yarrow. That essential oil has a soft herbal quality instead of a more typical floral scent profile. Ms. Turner uses baie rose as herbal counterweight to tilt the top accord even further away from being “pretty spring floral”. This is the soft green of the buds peeking through the soil. The thorns come next as a sharp mate tea slices through the top accord opening the way for even more sharpness due to the silvery nature of violet and the astringent green of the nettles. Ms. Turner completes an adroit balancing act by keeping this just the right side of strong without drawing blood. The fresh air of spring blows through courtesy of a set of white musks carrying a woody green vetiver in the base.

Nettle & Wild Achillea has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you want a perfume which carries all the sharp and fresh scents of early spring Nettle & Wild Achillea will fit the bill. It allows me to ramble through the brambles without checking for snags in my sweater or scrapes on my skin. That’s good enough for me.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Lost Cherry- Found Enthusiasm


I suspect it is quite difficult to maintain a consistent state of enthusiasm for any endeavor. Perfume is unlikely to escape that. Eleven years ago, Tom Ford released one of the boldest collections at the time as he popularized luxury perfume with his Tom Ford Private Blend collection. In 2007 it was unheard of to release ten new perfumes into the luxury market at the same time. Working with creative director Karyn Khoury these perfumes stood out for their unique quality. I own all the first ten and I still think about what they would change in the niche market. It was another groundbreaking fragrance move from Mr. Ford.

Karyn Khoury

Over the past few years I have been wondering if the brand is working a bit on autopilot. My recent favorites have been obvious riffs on some of the originals. It was understandable as it seemed like the naming of the perfumes were meant to be the innovation now. After Fucking Fabulous I rolled my eyes when I received the press release for the latest entry, Tom Ford Private Blend Lost Cherry. I was worried the name was all I would remember.

Louise Turner

Lost Cherry is unique in the Private Blend collection for being the first intentionally gourmand entry. Noir de Noir is my favorite of the Private Blends because it is a chocolate-red wine-rose stunner on me. That is all achieved through clever perfumery creating that accord. The perfumer for Lost Cherry, Louise Turner, moves in a more direct fashion as she combines some different sources of cherry.

One cherry comes in the form of the cherry liqueur known as Cherry Heering. The other is the rich fruitiness of black cherry itself. The third is the most interesting as it is the result of headspace analysis of the filling of a cherry cordial. Known as griotte syrup, I use it in cocktails often. Ms. Turner has found a way to re-create it as the third piece of the cherry trio.

Ms. Turner opens with the black cherry fruit on top. It is combined with slivers of bitter almond. It is added to a glass of cherry liqueur as a slightly alcoholic quality begins to appear. It intensifies with a jammy rose inserting itself. If you’re looking for a lost cherry it doesn’t take long to find it as this top accord assembles itself. The rose adds a metaphorical viscosity which is enhanced when the griotte syrup accord oozes onto the scene. Ms. Turner adds in pistachio as a nutty foil to the bitter almond from the top. This is a perfume equivalent of a cherry cordial; if you start at the center first. The remainder of Lost Cherry is building the chocolate casing as an accord of sandalwood, tolu balsam, tonka bean, and vanilla. It is a guess, but I think there might be some of the tonka resinoid used in Fucking Fabulous because the tonka has more of a presence that I expected.

Lost Cherry has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is as good as it gets with a gourmand style of perfume. The only caveat is the same with any of them; if you’re not fond of cherry Lost Cherry isn’t going to find you changing your mind. If you’re looking for something new from Tom Ford Private Blend this is definitely that. It has been a long time since I couldn’t stop thinking about a Private Blend release. Lost Cherry has helped me find my enthusiasm for the brand, again.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Tom Ford.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Fougere D’Argent- Fougere Evolution

It is agreed that modern perfumery began in 1882 with Houbigant Fougere Royale. Paul Parquet’s use of coumarin transformed the concept of fragrance as utility into something more aspirational. Over the nearly 150 years since, we have seen those aspirations realized. It is something I am always thinking of when there is a new material being used by perfumers. Is this something that will allow for a perfumer and creative director to reach for something they were unable to before. One of the places you often see this is by returning to that original fougere construction you can display a new ingredient within all of the fougeres that came before it. I was strongly reminded of this with Tom Ford Private Blend Fougere D’Argent.

Karyn Khoury

Fougere D’Argent is one of two new fougeres in the Tom Ford Private Blend Collection. I’ll be reviewing the other, Fougere Platine in a couple of weeks. I was more intrigued by the construction of Fougere D’Argent that I spent time with that first.

Louise Turner

Fougere D’Argent was composed by perfumer Louise Turner under the eye of long-time creative director Karyn Khoury. That alpha fougere was an axis of lavender, coumarin, and oakmoss. Ms. Turner takes Fougere D’Argent to a different place as her spine is ginger, lavandin, and akigalawood. The latter as a substitute for the oakmoss in the original is what really caught my attention.

Fougere D’Argent opens with the more expansive CO2 extraction of ginger. It picks up the bergamot and mandarin for a zesty citrus opening. Baie rose leads into the heart where lavandin is waiting to become the traditional heart. Lavandin is less herbal than other varieties of lavender. The baie rose adds back that herbal quality as an ingredient which allows Ms. Turner to tune to what ends up smelling like a hybrid of the two main lavender sources. Labdanum takes us into the base. What is there is the newer ingredient akigalawood. I’ve spoke of it in the past but due to being the product of an enzymatic degradation of patchouli it leaves behind a patchouli variant which is spicy and woody while leaving out the earthier facets. On its own it wouldn’t have been an ideal replacement for the oakmoss. By adding coumarin, in a nod to the original fougere, it becomes much closer to the oakmoss base from the beginning.

Fougere D’Argent has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I enjoyed Fougere D’Argent as much as I did because it felt like another signpost on the continuum of perfumery. Ms. Turner reminded me that out on the edges fragrance can still keep deciding what modern is.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Tom Ford Beauty.

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: Trussardi Python- A Fine Chocolate

I’m starting this edition of Dead Letter Office a little bit differently. In the almost four years I’ve been writing on my own at Colognoisseur I am very happy that certain columns connect with specific readers. This usually leads to delightful conversations via e-mail or chat. One big fan of this column has decided to move beyond that. Over the past year I can count on seeing a chat pop-up the next morning after a Dead Letter Office piece. This reader has a crazy collection of discontinued fragrances. At the beginning of the summer I was asked how many more Dead Letter Offices I had in me. I responded that I was getting to the end of my list that I own. I was asked for my address and a few weeks later the most amazing surprise arrived; a box full of samples of discontinued gems. There was a little note which accompanied it, “this should keep you busy”. I’ve asked, I’ve pleaded, I’ve begged for the reader to allow me to name them. I feel like I should be able to call this the “Person’s Name Collection” when I write about it. For now, it will remain an anonymous random act of kindness.

Louise Turner

When you get something like this there is a giddy moment of colognoisseur in the rare perfume store. I wanted to try everything. As the temperatures were cooling there was one which I had heard about which was purported to be a “perfect chocolate gourmand”. I felt like that was where I wanted to start, with Trussardi Python.

Trussardi is an Italian fashion design house which began by selling leather goods in 1911. Over the next seventy years the brand would expand into accessories of all kinds. In an interesting turnabout the fragrances which bore the brand name came before the clothes. In 1982 they would release their first branded fragrance; the women’s ready-to-wear collection would come a year later. The rest of the 1980’s would see a dramatic worldwide expansion for all things Trussardi.

Nathalie Gracia-Cetto

As they reached the turn of the century they decided to jump on the fledgling gourmand perfume trend with Python. At this point in time Thierry Mugler Angel had spawned multiple follow-ons. To stand out perfumers Louise Turner and Nathalie Gracia-Cetto decide to create a photorealistic chocolate accord and serve it up on a sandalwood platter. It turns out to be all of that.

The perfumers raise the curtain with a raucous fanfare of orange, jasmine, and rose. It is loud and proud to be on your skin. Soon enough the chocolate comes forward as it seems to kick the florals to the curb while embracing the orange. The perfumers pull a neat effect by using plum to add depth to the chocolate. This then allows cardamom and nutmeg to gently spice the overall accord. The base is all sandalwood in overdose. It is sweet and creamy and kept there with a little vanilla.

Python has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

The chocolate in the heart of Python is not an abstraction in any way. The perfumers successfully present the smell of a fine chocolate bar. Evidently the abstract fireworks of Angel were preferred by the segment of consumers who wanted to buy a gourmand perfume. Which meant Python would join many other early gourmands in the Dead Letter Office.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample supplied by a reader.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Carolina Herrera Good Girl-High Tack

I have a very dear friend who has a favorite term for the gloriously tacky; tacky so bad it is good. She calls it “High Tack”. In perfume terms, there are many examples of High Tack bottles. It is rare that what is inside those bottles is as interesting as the container. I have actually wanted a perfume which was unafraid to embrace the tacky nature of the bottle and go for the same over-the-top style with the fragrance. At the end of last year, I got my wish with Carolina Herrera Good Girl.

Carolina Herrera has been producing perfume since 1988. As a mainstream designer brand, they have been above average overall. When it comes to the bottles they’ve been typical cylinders and rectangular shapes. They had a series that looked like big capsules earlier in 2016 but nothing that had come before prepared me for a black stiletto heel shaped version. Good Girl? This looks like what a very not good girl would be wearing. Was there an arch sense of humor here? Was the perfume inside going to be another generic mismatch to the High Tack on the outside? The answer is perfumer Louise Turner embraces all of this and produces a giant tuberose and tonka gourmand.

Louise Turner

Good Girl opens with that tuberose swaggering into view. It strides in as if on those stilettos. Ms. Turner chooses an interesting note to add some warmth to the big white flower, almond. The pale nutty quality tames the tuberose a bit. Iris and jasmine also provide a modulating effect. Then we get the other big note tonka. It arises out of the almond. At first I thought the almond was intensifying but it was the tonka arriving with a presence. Tonka is a note which I like in overdose. Ms. Turner takes all that tonka provides in this high concentration and uses it to fashion a gourmand base accord as she mixes in chocolate, vanilla, and sandalwood. It becomes a yummy sweet bomb matching the tuberose that came before.

Good Girl has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

If you’re looking for subtlety in any aspect; move along, nothing to see here. If you are sometimes in the mood for a perfume which glories in its exuberantly brash taste then grab a hold of this High Tack perfume and have fun.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Macy’s.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Stella McCartney Pop- Light ‘Em Up, Up, Up

I took my quarterly filed trip to the huge mall nearby to do some observation. For the second time this year I was keenly aware of the perfumes which are being marketed to Millennials and I was curious to see if any of them were hitting the mark. Back in March it wasn’t obvious if they were or not. On this latest trip while standing in line getting my coffee there was a group of women in my target demographic talking in front of me. Most surprising they were actually talking about perfume. Part of the reason was the large Sephora in this mall is right next to the coffee place. The gist of the conversation was one of the women had found, “the perfect office perfume, it’s like I’m the only one who can smell it.” This is one of the current beliefs that the big perfume brands have when catering to this generation; they want it light. Naturally I followed them into the store to see what the identity of this perfume was. This time I kept my distance so I couldn’t hear the conversation but I definitely could see which bottle was being sampled. Turns out it was one of the same perfumes I particularly wanted to try as well, Stella McCartney Pop.

stella mccartney

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney has created a thriving fashion and fragrance empire since she started her eponymous brand in 2001. Since 2003 she has released fragrances and Pop is the 21st release from the brand. As mass-market consumer brands go I would place her in the upper percentile of that sector. She certainly kept to a particular formula of sensual florals with presence. The one time she strayed from this formula was 2012’s L.I.L.Y. where she went for a modern chypre. It never caught on and was pretty quickly discontinued. Since then she has stayed true to her early aesthetic.


The Pop Crew (l. to r.) Lola Leon, Grimes, Amandla Sternberg, and Kenya Kinski-Jones

When I was reading about Pop the short description from the brand reads, “Pop is a spirit. It’s about celebrating that exciting time when you are coming into your own. It’s about freedom, and starting your life away from judgments or labels.” To go with this Ms. McCartney gathered four young creative Millennials to be the faces of the advertising campaign: Grimes, Lola Leon, Amandla Sternberg, and Kenya Kinski-Jones. All of this seemed to be exactly the kind of buzzwords and campaign designed to entice the target audience. It surely had worked with my test group from the coffee bar.

Louise Turner

Louise Turner

It was when I saw what the key notes were that my interest was piqued. Pop was described as a tuberose and sandalwood perfume composed by perfumer Louise Turner. Ms. Turner is one of the best perfumers in the mass-market category as she knows how to get the most out of her budget. But tuberose and sandalwood? Really? Tuberose is one of those derided “old lady” notes and sandalwood trends more masculine. Neither of these seemed like something that would appeal. Except for my little focus group. As they walked towards the cash register with two of them buying the rollerball version I approached the shelf with the tester.

When I sprayed it on a strip I got exactly what was promised, tuberose and sandalwood. Except these are not full-blooded essential oil versions, these are the cleaned-up synthetic versions. Ms. Turner has cleverly found a tuberose which has all of the “old lady” scrubbed out of it. Indoles, and intense floralcy are replaced by a well-mannered floral. The sandalwood synthetic is one that is so cleaned up it might as well be cedar. A few clean linen white musks and you have Pop.

Pop has 8-10 hour longevity and low sillage.

Pop shares a similarity to pop music as it doesn’t really want to challenge anything. It wants to be a pleasant fragrant companion which never offends. Depending on how you feel about those goals will likely color your feelings about Pop. The other thing that is most obvious about Pop is it is pitched so light that it is perfume nobody else but the wearer can smell. Which going back to my pop music analogy might be exactly what the Millennials want. Nobody knows just yet but maybe Fall Out boy has it right and when it comes to fragrance this generation wants to “Light ‘em, up, up, up” until you barely know they are there. At least with four young women Pop is a rousing success on all fronts.

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

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds: Glow by J Lo- This is Where Clean Begins

It is easy with hindsight to look backward and find the perfumes which were responsible for trends. Any visit to the fragrance counter in the department store will tell you that “clean” fragrances occupy a large share of the fragrances being offered. Like all of these trends the one which launched it is usually a pretty good perfume. When it comes to this “clean” trend Glow by J Lo is the one.

In 2002 the idea of celebrity based perfumes, or celebuscents, was pretty much a tiny market share and not many of the more recognizable celebrity names were interested. Jennifer Lopez aka J Lo aka Jenny from the Block was going to change that. Her evolution from a Fly Girl on the television show In Living Color to superstar would take seven years. Wanting to parlay her success, and celebrity, into a lot of different ventures Ms. Lopez would display her business smarts matched her acting and singing talents. When I say in 2016 a celebrity is doing a fragrance you say, “Of course.” As Ms. Lopez began to design Glow by J Lo she wanted to make a perfume which would live up to her vision of “Fresh, sexy, clean”. Working with perfumer Louise Turner, Glow by J Lo would define that phrase for years to come.

glow by j lo

Glow by J Lo opens with the snap of grapefruit softened with neroli. This is the promised “fresh”. The heart is where the beginning of “clean” begins. Ms. Turner uses a selection of synthetic aromachemicals for the floral appearance of iris, jasmine, and rose. The advantage of using these is that you can clean the jasmine up of its indoles; the rose up of its spicy core, and attenuate the powderiness of the iris. This is the clean version of three of the biggest floral powerhouse notes out there. Ms. Turner’s heart accord is brilliantly achieved. This sets up her mixture of synthetic musks to make the soapy accord for these florals to rest upon, completing the effect, as Glow by J Lo smells like clean skin after using a floral soap. A bit of sandalwood and vanilla provide a final bit of sweet creamy woods.

Glow by J Lo has 18-24 hour longevity and average sillage.

Even from the beginning Glow by J Lo was an inexpensive fragrance. Nowadays you can pick up 100mL for under $20 US. Ms. Lopez used her star power to promote it and by the end of its second year it was the bestselling perfume in the US. In 2016 it still sells very well but it has lots of competition from ever more celebrities putting their names on bottles. I tip my hat to Ms. Lopez and Ms. Turner for getting this right when there wasn’t a formula to be followed.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke