New Perfume Review Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses- A Rose Grows on the Serengeti

One of the things I like so much about the independent perfume community is when a perfumer is working from a very personal inspiration something interesting follows. It is among the advantages of being on your own. You don’t have to live by the lowest common denominator as you design the releases for your brand. You generally can’t have a brand full of challenging perfumes; but when the mood strikes you it can allow for a freedom more mainstream brands aren’t allowed to have. The downside is when a perfume is this personal the circle of those who also share the desire to share that vision is most likely smaller than something safer. It is certainly never going to be described as boring. It is going to present itself in defiant terms forcing the wearer to embrace it or to turn away. While I was at Pitti Fragranze 2015 I discovered the new Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses is one of these kind of perfumes.

When I sat down with Sig.ra Gentile she told me the story of how this perfume came to be. She was working on an animal accord; attempting to capture the smell of an elephant. While she was concentrating on her task she had a strong vision of a fuchsia pachyderm tattooed with roses trampling a full field of roses. This was her brief for Elephant & Roses.

maria candida gentile

Maria Candida Gentile

Over the last few years as I have come to know Sig.ra Gentile I have learned the care she takes in constructing her accords. It is one of the things which sets her brand apart as when she uses them as the foundation for her perfumes it provides a signature quality to them. The animal accord used in Elephant & Roses is that closed in smell of a circus tent or even a horse barn. It is the smell of a living thing in motion leaving its personal sillage in its wake. The roses are provided by two different Turkish rose formulas.

Elephant & Roses opens with a very herbal accord on top dominated by thyme. That thyme is going to be an early deciding point for manty if you want to continue this safari or not. Usually thyme is used in more measured doses. In this perfume Sig.ra Gentile does not want measured she wants power and the thyme delivers it. Instead of trying to ameliorate it she twists it on a bed of costus and osmanthus. As with the thyme the amount of costus used is more than you would usually find. When costus is used in this quantity it takes on an animalic character. This is the bellwether for the elephant’s arrival. Before that we find the field of roses growing on the savannah as the Turkish rose accord sets itself up in the heart. The thyme and costus are still there but the roses are ascendant through the middle part of the development. Then from out of the brush comes the fuchsia protagonist of this perfume as the animal accord crashes like a wave over the roses. The mix of thyme, costus, rose, and the elephant accord is where Elephant & Roses stays on my skin for many hours. It eventually dries down to vetiver and sandalwood much later.

Elephant & Roses has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Elephant & Roses is going to be a fragrance of divided opinions. For many the thyme, costus, and elephant accord are not going to please. I think there will be many, like me, who will willingly place themselves in the path of this rose covered elephant. Even though it might rough you up a little more than the typical fragrance I think the trip is worth it.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Maria Candida Gentile at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Pitti Fragranze 2015 Final Wrap-Up Part 2- The Top 10 New Fragrances I Tried

I spent three days at Pitti Fragranze 2015 trying 96 new perfumes. It turns out it is very difficult to reduce that list down to ten. A year ago it felt like there were many brands vying for the same bit of olfactory space. This year as I look over the list below I am really pleased to see no obvious thread of similarity running through it. Here are the typical caveats for this list. These are all initial impressions obtained from a small patch of skin during three days where there is nothing but perfume in the air. Also these are the Top 10 which are new to me. Releases like Arquiste Nanban would have made the list but I had it before coming to Florence. I also did not mention Pitti-only perfumes like Pierre Guillaume’s Lumiere Fauve which would have also been on this list. Here is the list in alphabetical order:

ALTAIA Yu Son– Married creative directors and owners of Eau D’Italie Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena did some ancestral research and found their great great great grandfathers intersected in Argentina. It has produced an inaugural edition of three new fragrances all by perfumer Daphne Bugey. Yu Son is the orange-centric fragrance that cuts right to the heart of their story.

Essenzialmente Laura Lavanda- Perfumer Laura Tonatto has debuted a new line of fragrance with 39(!) new entries. It is overwhelming but buried within all of that new perfume is a trio of lavender fragrances which deserve to rise above the clutter. The best of them is the simplest as Sig.ra Tonatto combines five sources of lavender to create a supernatural lavender accord.

Ineke Idyllwild– Independent perfumer Ineke Ruhland had been focused on her Floral Curiosities collection over the past couple of years and her alphabet series had fallen behind. Ms. Ruhland is about to rectify that oversight with not only I but J coming out in short order. It was Idyllwild which completely mesmerized me. Ms. Ruhland took me through the building blocks which make up this gorgeous smoky rose. It left me more impressed than ever at her ability to construct a perfume.

mcg elephant and roses

Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses– Sig.ra Gentile was daydreaming at her home and she imagined an elephant walking through a field of roses crushing them as it passed. Her translation into a fragrance was to merge the animalic odor of the elephant with the floralcy of the rose. She chose a Turkish rose so that the spicy components would pick up the animalic accord it was paired with. Now when wearing it I see the pachyderm amongst the petals.

Masque Milano Romanza– Creative directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi have reached the act of their olfactory opera where the love story is told. Nose Cristiano Canali and the creative team decided on narcissus as the smell of passionate love. Romanza is a narcotic love poem written in bold floral strokes. I broke my first vial and my bedroom was filled with this narcissus swaddling me in its addictive embrace. I never slept so well.

Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendre– This was hands down the most buzzed about perfume at this year’s fair. Knowing nods were traded by those of us who had tried it. Ms. Goodsir and her creative partner Renaud Coutadier working with perfumer Julien Rasquinet created a green iris which never turns powdery on my skin. I already cannot get it out of my head and have been wearing it since my return. It is everything about perfume that I love; creativity, a twist on the familiar, and something eminently wearable.

Nomenclature Efflor_esce– I admit any perfume based on synthetic molecules and packaged in stylized Erlenmyer flasks is always going to have my attention. Creative directors Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero working with perfumer Frank Voelkl take the synthetic Paradisone, a modern successor to Hedione, and put it at the center of Efflor_esce. Surrounding it are florals osmanthus, tuberose, and neroli paired with bigarade and bergamot. Paradisone is the unquestioned star of the show but the complementary notes chosen by the creative team make it sparkle and shine.

olfactive studio selfie

Olfactive Studio Selfie– Creative director Celine Verleure usually uses a photograph as her brief. For Selfie you are faced with a mirrored surface to see your reflection within. To capture the narcissistic tendency to take one’s picture all the time Mme Verleure turned to perfumer Thomas Fontaine. Together the perfume they created has a fantastically realized heart of cinnamon, balsam, lily and an accord of maple syrup. I am not sure I get the relationship to egotism but I do know I definitely want to see my reflection in a bottle.

Olivier Durbano Chrysolithe- I mentioned this last year that M. Durbano really has grown as a perfumer. Chrysolithe confirms that assessment. M. Durbano returns to naming his fragrances after crystals. There were a number of perfumes I tried this year which contained sage. M. Durbano, by combining it with cumin on top; cedar and vetiver in the base, forms a sage which shows off all of its many attributes spectacularly.

Tauerville Rose FlashAndy Tauer working on his second line of perfumes has created a set of three flash fragrances that are all extremely good. I purposely held off trying these because I knew I could experience them for the first time with Hr. Tauer at Pitti. We saved Rose Flash for last and it just slayed me. If you like Une Rose Chypree this is Hr. Tauer showing you a different face of rose. It carries a definitive signature of the rose bush with the green of the leaves matched with the woodiness of the stems. Over it all a spicy lush rose prevails. There is nothing not to enjoy here if you like rose perfumes. Just make sure you get some before it is gone.  

That’s it for my wrap-up of Pitti Fragranze 2015. Full reviews of all of these will be forthcoming over the next few weeks plus many others which just missed making the Top 10. Thanks for following the coverage of Pitti Fragranze 2015 on Colognoisseur.

Mark Behnke