Discount Diamonds: Paco Rabanne 1 Million- Seasonal Spice

This column is often dictated by my digging through the discount bins while Mrs. C is shopping elsewhere. While digging a few weeks a go I ran across some gold bars in the bin. Those bottles meant to look like gold ingots is Paco Rabanne 1 Million. Especially for this time of year it is a real Discount Diamond.

Paco Rabanne has been making perfume since 1969. Prior to the 2000’s those early perfumes were some of the best of their kind. After we entered the new century Paco Rabanne became a more aggressive mass-market fragrance producer. A pillar perfume followed by multiple flankers. While most of the flankers are easy to dismiss the pedigree of the brand shows up in the pillars. In 2008, 1 Million was the new pillar which illustrates the point. 1 Million was the fall release for the year. A team of three perfumers, Michel Gerard, Olivier Pescheux and Christophe Raynaud would combine for a rich Oriental style.  

1 Million opens with a chilled citrus accord composed of mandarin and spearmint. The mint is where the frost comes from. It is given a blast of spicy heat as cinnamon removes that icy coating. The cinnamon citrus accord is deep and satisfying. The perfumers then add in rose and leather. The leather is a soft driving glove type. It creates a trapezoid of animalic floral spicy citrus. This is where 1 Million smells as good as the name promises. It fades to a typical vanilla sweetened amber base accord.

1 Million has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

1 Million is the kind of fragrance that shines in the colder weather. It is versatile while adding a classic Oriental aesthetic to any dresser. If you come across a bottle in your local discount bin it is worth its weight in….well you know.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Boucheron Orange de Bahia- Brazil Dreamin’

Sometimes perfumes excite me just by their name. Such is the case with Boucheron Orange de Bahia. The reason is one of the best trips I ever took was an extended tour of Brazil in the 1980’s. One of the most memorable parts was the time I spent in Bahia. It was the closest place I have found to the casual way of life I adored in the Florida Keys. I always believed because I knew how to channel that Keys attitude that I fit in as a tourist. My days in Bahia were begun in the same way having breakfast with a street vendor; fresh squeezed orange juice and “americano sandwich” which felt like an Egg McMuffin given a Brazilian twist. I would sit in the plaza with the palm trees swaying above. Life has rarely been better. So when I see the name Orange de Bahia I am thinking, “Yes!” here is my scent memory. Then I read the press release to find out is was inspired by an orange gemstone from Africa, The Mandarin Garnet. Once I got to the description of the perfume, I realized my initial thoughts might not have been as far off as it seemed.

Michel Girard

Orange de Bahia is part of La Collection; Boucheron’s luxury line of soliflore-like perfumes. It has been a hit or miss series because sometimes there is nothing more than a high-quality version of the material named on the bottle. When it hits it is because the perfumer finds some complementary notes to display the keynote in a more interesting way. For Orange de Bahia perfumer Michel Girard accomplishes that.

Orange de Bahia opens with a slightly tart juicy orange. This was the smell of my street vendor squeezing my orange juice. There is a hint of green which floats above the juice and that is on display here. Where this perfume takes off is M. Girard uses the creamy green of fig leaves and amplifies the creaminess with a dollop of coconut milk. It is such a clever way to transform Mediterranean to Brazilian tropical. Rose threads its way through the creamy green and orange. A dry woody accord forms the base.

Orange de Bahia has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am sure some other perfume reviewer will find the gemstone inspiration here. I can’t keep from doing my version of Brazil Dreamin’ of lazy days in Bahia.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review L’Homme Lacoste- Rushing the Net

It was the mid-1970’s was when logo mania began. There was a desire by consumers to wear or own something with a conspicuous brand logo which showed off their taste/affluence. One of the earliest of these were the active wear produced by French clothing brand Lacoste. The logo was a little alligator and if you were wearing one you were on trend; for that time. I was part of it and owned my share of Lacoste shirts made for playing tennis in. I actually would play tennis in them because where else better to show off the alligator on my shirt? From these beginnings Lacoste has become an evergreen brand producing a full line of activewear, ready-to-wear, accessories, and fragrance.

The fragrance piece of Lacoste started in 1984 with the legendary perfumer Jean Kerleo creating an elegantly classic fougere. This was pretty much all that was released until 2002 when Lacoste really embraced fragrance as part of the overall collection. In this iteration Lacoste fragrances have become mainstream styles of perfume. There are some nice ones in there but they aren’t particularly different than others on the same shelf. I think this is an overall adequate collection with generally good perfumes within it. Which means when I receive a sample that I always give it a try. The new L’Homme Lacoste caught my attention.

Michel Girard

The reason it caught my attention was perfumer Michel Girard created a beautifully crisp top half over a generic base. This is an unfortunately common practice where some creativity is displayed early on only to fade to the commonplace. Which means the things up front need to be extra compelling. In L’Homme Lacoste they were.

M. Girard uses rhubarb and its grapefruit-like vegetal scent profile. He matches it with the sweet pear-like quality of quince. This is not a common combination which is why it struck me. The two ingredients form a lively duet. This is made even more kinetic with ginger and black pepper. These turn the duet into a snappy quartet. The pepper functions as a pivot for the greener aspect of rhubarb. The ginger takes the quince for a quick spin. For about 45 minutes these four notes are as good as mainstream perfume gets. Then it all gets consumed in a wave of bland cedar and ambrox which is where L’Homme Lacoste spends many hours; unfortunately.

L’Homme Lacoste has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

The early moments of L’Homme Lacoste are such a good representation of mainstream perfume creativity I had to carry my sample around and re-apply after a few hours because I needed a reminder of why I thought this was good. Those early notes are like a tennis player rushing the net to lay down a perfect drop shot only to go back to a long exchange of boring groundstrokes. I do wish the base wasn’t so crushingly generic because the opening is not.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample supplied by Lacoste.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Ex Nihilo Bois D’Hiver and Oud Vendome- Two Faces of Wood

Back in March I wrote about the new perfume brand Ex Nihilo created by partners Benoit Verdier, Sylvie Loday, and Olivier Royere exclusively in their Paris boutique. At that time, I had five of the nine releases and was hoping for another helpful friend to get me the remaining four. Instead those remaining four came to me as Ex Nihilo has opened an in-store boutique at Bergdorf-Goodman in New York. Ona recent trip to New York City I stopped in to get samples of the remaining four and take in the Ex Nihilo experience. I will talk more about that in tomorrow’s review for today I will give quick reviews on two of the woodier offerings in the original collection.

michel girard

Michel Girard

Boid D’Hiver (winter woods) is composed by perfumer Michel Girard. M. Girard has spent most of his career composing mass-market designer fragrances. I am always interested to see what a perfumer who has been so successful in the mass consumer market does when given the opportunity to go with a niche sensibility. In Bois D’Hiver it is clear that M. Girard relishes having the opportunity to add a few more precious raw materials while staying true to his populist aesthetic. It makes Bois D’Hiver the more easily experienced fragrance but no less interesting for that affability.

M. Girard uses a very focused burst of cardamom and pink pepper to lead you into those winter woods. The first of which is cedar wrapped in a floral cloak of cyclamen and heliotrope. The intense florals do an excellent job of making the cedar more interesting and less of a framing device as it so often can be. The real woods come in the base as an oud accord and sandalwood form the real woody heart of Bois D’hHver. A little patchouli and a little musk are here also but it is the sandalwood and cypriol-based oud accord which stand out.

Bois D’Hiver is a smoothly unspooling piece of perfumery. I admired the way M. Girard agilely carried me from one phase of development to the next. Bois D’Hiver is so easy breezy to wear I suspect this is going to be one of the brand’s best sellers.

Bois D’Hiver has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.  


Olivier Pescheux

Oud Vendome by perfumer Olivier Pescheux is the opposite of Bois D’Hiver as I think it is one of the more adventurous entries in this inaugural collection. M. Pescheux combines many of niche perfumery’s most challenging notes into a perfume which is fascinating for how they all manage to combine into a perfume more enjoyable despite the envelope pushing going on.

M. Pescheux opens with a very focused ginger swathed in saffron. The ginger here is really tightly controlled making it a concentrated focal point. By making it that tight the saffron has more space to expand into. I think there are going to be people who will be surprised at this opening as it was nothing like I imagined it would be when I saw the note list. The heart is a raw cedar wood made even more vestigial with galbanum making it seem like a freshly shattered branch. Then we get down to a base of real oud matched with incense. The oud is allowed to be oud and some of its more challenging facets are here to be seen. The incense helps keep them from being as strident as it could be.

Oud Vendome is going to be the one Ex Nihilo for those who really want to smell different. I think when it finds its audience it will have a fan forever.

Oud Vendome has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I appreciate the creative team at Ex Nihilo choosing to have two such very different interpretations of a woody perfume. It is a real testament to the variety overall of these first nine releases.

Tomorrow I will review Rose Hubris and Musc Infini as well as give you my impression of how the Osmologue personalized my favorite in the line, Vetiver Moloko.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Ex Nihilo.

Mark Behnke