Recent times have seen the rise of fragrances which essentially do one thing. They are essentially an accord masquerading as a perfume. One thing I’ve learned is simple sells. When clothing brand AllSaints expanded into fragrance in 2018 I found their debut collection of three to be what I described. They were interesting because the accord was one I liked. In subsequent releases I was less engaged. The most recent release AllSaints Concrete Rain is built around one of my favorite real scents.
If you’ve lived in a city there is that moment just as the rain begins to fall. The first droplets steam off the hot pavement and concrete. It produces that scent I referred to. I always think of it as the scent of the big city. As rain washes things clean this fills the air with an odd reminder of the concrete.
As I learned more about perfume I found out there is a name for the molecule, petrichor. There is a town in India which actually harvests the rain and this scent. Perfumers are able to construct an accurate accord. Which is what the perfumers here, Nathalie Benareau and Carlos Vinals do.
Concrete Rain is all about the rain accord. The perfumers build it around some petrichor while also adding in some of the metallic chrome of the cityscape. As the rain washes through a powdery orris dusts it with a softly clean effect. It finishes with a set of synthetic dry woods and musks.
Concrete Rain has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
One of the things I liked most about Concrete Rain is it is different than the previous releases for the brand. The others all were a popular accord which the consumer enjoys. Concrete Rain introduces that demographic to the joy of rain in the city.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Nordstrom.
I am usually a proponent for change. Even when it comes at the expense of something that works well. A year ago the fragrance side of fashion designer John Varvatos announced a three-fragrance collaboration with musician Nick Jonas. It seemed like a natural synergy because Mr. Varvatos’ aesthetic has a rock-and-roll inspiration. The change which I wondered about was not using perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux who had been the perfumer on every fragrance before this. I was hoping change would add new perspective.
John Varvatos (l.) and Nick Jonas
Then a year ago the first two perfumes were releases JV X NJ Blue and JV X NJ Crimson. After trying those I was no longer a supporter of change. They were generic synth wood monoliths. I had never been underwhelmed by a perfume with John Varvatos on the label and these would be the first two I had no desire to own. I wasn’t expecting much from the promised (threatened?) third perfume in the deal. When JV X NJ Silver arrived, I put it aside because I didn’t want to be let down again. What it showed me is that being derivative can also have some room to not be generic. Perfumer Nathalie Benareau takes a couple of popular masculine styles and mashes them together. It ends up being familiar but not insipid.
The first masculine trope is displayed on top as a citrus mélange is placed over an aquatic accord. The difference is the aquatic accord is of sea spray on rocks carrying a significant mineral character over the freshness of the brine. The citrus sparkles like sunlight off the little water-filled crannies in the rocks. This leads to the second trope, the use of iris as a men’s floral. A perfumer must make sure it doesn’t get all powdery. Mme Benareau does that by using sage to rough the iris up so its rootier character comes forward. JV X NJ Silver still ends on a cocktail of synth woods but Mme Benareau mixes in patchouli which keeps it from being too boring.
JV X NJ Silver has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
JV X NJ Silver is the only one of these three perfumes I would want to own. It still hearkens back to other, better, contemporaries. If I do decide to get a bottle it will be the stony iris which is the reason.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by ULTA.
This year has seen all sorts of initiatives to try and attract Millennials to a fragrance brand; most have presumed if it is done right the audience will find them. The new brand Phlur has decided to go out and find them where they live; online. Erik Korman came up with a concept where the consumer visits the website clicks around a bit exploring what is written while also looking at specific visuals. The idea is the person will be intrigued enough to order two samples and try them at home; eventually making a sale of a full bottle. I must say it is an interesting concept but the grumpy Baby Boomer who writes this blog didn’t want to be treated like a neophyte. The PR people kept insisting I play along. I kept resisting. Finally, at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball I was able to put together a full set of samples to understand the fragrances behind Mr. Kormann’s concept.
One thing I learned about the brand was Mr. Korman enlisted indie perfumer Anne Serrano-McClain while he was working with the perfumers at Symrise. All six fragrances are essentially a single perfume accord. Pared down to that it makes how one feels about them very clear-cut. Olmstead & Vaux was that very common citrus and ginger mixture. Hanami is a creamy sandalwood base accord. Greylocke is the smell of a pine tree sap and needles. Moab is spice and incense. Siano is one of two which actually had more than one distinctive phase as it segued from a floral opening into a boozy finish. The one I liked best was Hepcat because this was the only one which developed over a few hours and had three distinctive phases.
Nathalie Benareau was the perfumer behind Hepcat. Mme Benareau is still working on one level of the pyramid as she uses a lot of notes typically found in the base. What helps here is she is using ingredients which have mutable natures by themselves. When she mixes oud and vetiver as the core; saffron early on teases out exotic parts of those notes. They both shift completely when the leather accord arrives. Much later vanilla provides one more pivot to the central oud-vetiver pairing.
Hepcat has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I am clearly not the target audience for Phlur. Throughout my experience with the brand I felt like the old man at the rave. I think this is an interesting way to market to millennials. It will be interesting to see if all the ancillary bells and whistles gets the young buyers to become fans. If it does this is probably the first installment of Millennial Marketing 101.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball.