New Perfume Review Memo Corfu- Overstuffed in all the Right Ways

There are moments when I receive an ingredient list that cause me to stifle a laugh. Two dozen listed ingredients. It makes me look for the kitchen sink accord. In the great majority of these types of releases it is an unfocused cacophony of scent. Everything crashing into everything else. Rarely one of these comes along which shows this is not a lost cause if the intent is there to see it through. Memo Corfu sees it through.

Clara Molloy

Creative director Clara Molloy and perfumer Philippe Paparella-Paris want to form a modern chypre to represent the Greek island. Corfu is part of the ongoing Graines Vagabondes collection which are perfumes inspired by places. This is the scent of a summer day enjoying all that a Mediterranean island has to offer.

Philippe Paparella-Paris

Corfu succeeds because while there are lots of ingredients, they really form three distinct accords. The only difference is every piece of each one is listed. A lot of time I am making my best guess. This time Ms. Molloy and M. Paparella-Paris remove the mystery.

The top accord could be called “Greek sky”. It is formed around a set of citrus notes, orange, lemon, and grapefruit. The latter is given the prominent placement. Rhubarb adds the connection between the citrus and the greener pieces of this accord, basil, and blackcurrant buds. The basil adds in a freshness that I have only recently come to appreciate from its use.

The heart accord is a fruity floral accord around peach and jasmine. M. Paparella-Paris deftly juggles other parts of this as raspberry, rose, muguet all find some space. Titrated into this is the botanical musk of ambrette seed. This is that slightly sweaty skin musk threaded through the fruit and flowers. This completes the “stop and smell the flowers” accord.

The base accord is his interpretation of a modern chypre. Sandalwood patchouli and atranol-free oakmoss form the foundation. A healthy set of animalic musks are what he uses to create the intensity. Amber brings back some of the bite. It is all made to be very austere which works. It seems stripped down even though it really isn’t.

Corfu has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Once I came to the understanding two dozen plus ingredients represented three accords, I found Corfu to be overstuffed in all the right places.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Memo Sintra- Covert Pleasures

Near our place in the Florida Keys there was a marina with a well-kept secret. If you visited, you would be able to go into the little grill to buy a box lunch from Richard before heading out on your fishing charter. Richard was a man who had found his place in the world on the string of islands at the tip of Florida. What you had to learn was once every three months or so he would have a special invitation only dinner at the grill. Richard was a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef who wanted to occasionally exercise his skills beyond the box lunch crowd. These were nurturing community affairs where the locals would gather. It was here where I would have my first experience with all the classic French cuisine. Even after eating multiple courses I knew to always save room for dessert. Of all the dinners I attended there was one dessert which has never been matched. A delicate vanilla custard with raspberries drizzled with an orange oil, a sprig of orange blossom on top. I hadn’t thought of this in years until I tried Memo Sintra.

Clara Molloy

Sintra is the latest addition to the Art Land collection. This is the series which evokes these beautiful locales. Usually I am along for the ride. Except this time I couldn’t imagine myself in Portugal. I was in a marina grill in Florida. Creative director Clara Molloy works with perfumer Philippe Paparella-Paris on what I experience as a gourmand confection.

Philippe Paparella-Paris

If there was one part of this which took me right back to the time and place it is the petitgrain which is right on top. This has a more pronounced green to it than I am used to. It is called mandarin petitgrain in the ingredient list, so I wonder if it is just a different source which creates the different profile. The orange blossom comes next and it is like removing the sprig on top of my dessert and holding it to my nose. For a moment it is all the flower and the citrus. But now comes the gourmand accord but not all together at first. Some raspberries pave the way. Then the vanilla begins to swirl in creamy spirals as a hint of cinnamon flows through. It firms up into that custard I remember. Some patchouli adds some cocoa-like contrast in the later stages.

Sintra has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is an example of that special effect fragrance can have. When a scent jogs loose a memory. I had a big smile when I was wearing this. Mrs. C asked me what was amusing me. I told her it was the perfume I was wearing. I didn’t share the story why. Just like Richard’s dinners Sintra is a covert pleasure of memories.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales (Part 5)- Mandrake, Wolfsbane, & Conclusions

Concluding my reviews of the new Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales with Mandrake and Wolfsbane.

carlos vinals

Carlos Vinals

Most people are familiar with Mandrake as the squalling magical plant in the Harry Potter novels and movies. This comes from Wiccan beliefs that the roots emitted a fatal scream when dug up. Creative director Joseph Quartana working with perfumer Carlos Vinals wanted to mix both the fictional qualities with the reality of the plant. What they came up with was a fragrance which evokes a plant firmly rooted in the soil which after you unearth it might just have a magical scream waiting for you.

Mr. Vinals was inspired by the smell of actual Mandrake which has an uncanny resemblance to apples. So he uses a classic red apple accord. He surrounds the crisp fruit with the off-beat green of rhubarb, cardamom, along with birch leaf and birch root. This creates a really interesting fruity foliage accord when it all comes together. That apple is ever present but the two sources of birch provide the leafiness and the sense of the soil it is growing in. This eventually slides into a leathery woody finish around leather, sandalwood, and patchouli. To represent the magical shriek Mr. Vinals adds a sharp synthetic contrast which has an air of being too sharp. I would have liked less of this as the fragrance at this point didn’t need that kind of grace note added. On the days I wore it I found it distracting.

Mandrake has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I like everything about Mandrake except for that final bit of artistic flair. It was what kept it from being my overall favorite.

philippe paparella-paris

Philippe Paparella-Paris

That goes to Wolfsbane. When I was sitting with Mr. Quartana in Milan as he explained the collection to me I was already imagining a fragrance which was found deep in a wood full of supernatural influences. Probably for the best Mr. Quartana only gave in to that most obvious of impulses only once with Wolfsbane. Working with perfumer Philippe Paprella-Paris this is that walk through a mystical wood holding tight to your wolfsbane in the hope it will defend you from the beasts in the shadows. M. Paprella-Paris wants you to feel that there is something just outside your vision but not beyond your sense of smell.

This opens with an absinthe-laden top accord. M. Paparella-Paris realizes a wee bit of The Green Fairy might be necessary to step into the woods at night. The other aspect is the wormwood within the absinthe also gives off a senses of ancient decay. To heighten that M. Paparella-Paris uses angelica root, fig, ginger and most importantly cumin. That cumin is what portrays nervousness with the sweaty character that normally comes with it. In combination with the ginger it also creates a simmering kind of kinetic energy. As you move deeper into the woods castoreum brings the scent of whatever stalks you to your nose. Night-blooming tuberose seems less innocent and more threatening all of a sudden. Patchouli, tobacco flower, prunol, and benzoin evoke the forest floor you are moving through at a renewed pace. Somewhere you smell the truffles present in the ground but you need to keep moving as the woods seem to close in with vetiver becoming ever stronger along with the whatever is right behind you.

Wolfsbane has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Wolfsbane is my very favorite of the Les Potions Fatales. It has the most dynamic evolution of any of these debut fragrances. It never failed to make my days better when I wore it.

When it comes to large collections like this I am usually dismissive of them. My biggest irritations are no real lack of cohesion matched with cynical box checking. Let me assure you that Mr. Quartana has overseen a true collection in every way that word should apply to fragrance. He also never, not for one moment, diminished his artistic vision of what this collection was going to be. No box checking going on here. One other thing I would like to mention is the use of a different perfumer on each fragrance. Granted he chose to work with the roster of perfumers at Symrise which truly showed their versatility throughout this collection. But getting a cohesion from different artists even being directed by a single creative director is not easy. I think this is a collection which should be sought out by those who enjoy something different in their perfume.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Parfums Quartana.

Mark Behnke