New Perfume Review Parfumerie Generale 11.2 Spicematic- Cedar for Summer

In my to be reviewed box there are two slots for perfumes I am waiting for a specific condition to wear. One has a drawing of a snowflake and the other a thermometer popping its top. I save perfumes that I think will be better in extremes of cold or heat. One I was waiting for a typical high heat high humidity day to wear again was Parfumerie Generale 11.2 Spicematic.

Independent perfume Pierre Guillaume’s Parfumerie Generale brand has been one of my favorites. It is mostly because of M. Guillaume’s ability to challenge my thinking about perfume ingredients I know little of or don’t care for. In 2006 Parfumerie Generale 11 Harmatan Noir is one of the first times I enjoyed mint in my perfume. Most of the time it is an unwelcome intruder.

Pierre Guillaume

Since 2013 M. Guillaume has been revisiting some of his original Parfumerie Generale as part of his “Rework” collection. It has been an interesting exercise where I’ve found myself usually enjoying the new version. One of the exceptions was Parfumerie Generale 11.1 Indian Wood because the mint was so integral it got in the way of my enjoying it. Now in the first of the reworks to get a second version 11.2 Spicematic gives me a new opportunity to experience mint in M. Guillaume’s hands.

One of the reasons I wanted to save Spicematic for a hot day was, it has a prominent cedar note. That is one of my favorite warm weather perfume ingredients. The mint and spices from the previous versions remain along with the addition of perfectly chosen complements.

The mint is there right from the start. What makes it much more palatable is it is paired with an equal amount of saffron. It makes all the difference as it gives the mint a pulsating glow which draws me in. What comes next is a fraction of frankincense this is not the church incense you are used to. It is the stone of the church as it smells like the cold granite walls. Ginger wends its way through spicing things up. It ends on a glorious woody base of pine and red cedar. This is where the terpenic nature of the pine finds the clean green cedar.

Spicematic has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Spicematic is one of my favorites within the Rework series because it has a dynamic core courtesy of the ginger. That provides a lively woody perfume which is at its best when the thermometer is about to pop its top.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Parfumerie Generale.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Pierre Guillaume Anti-Blues- The Bitter End

I think it is a given that most people wear perfume to make themselves smell good. The group of us who enjoy different fragrant thrills are a small population. One type I enjoy is one which embraces the bitter ingredients. Pierre Guillaume Anti-Blues is this type of fragrance.

Pierre Guillaume

Anti-Blues is the first entry in a new series by independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume called “Confidentiel”. The construction is inspired by the paintings of Jacques Monory who was known for his blue tinted photography. M Guillaume is looking for the same effect where he adds a chilly blue over the top of some bitter ingredients. The keynote to it all is a frankincense which adds bitter simultaneously.

The first bitter is chocolate. This is the smell of high quality dark chocolate. To keep it from being too austere some saffron adds warmth. Grapefruit finds the bitterness within the chocolate and pings it like a tuning fork of acidity. This is a fantastic top accord full of gourmand-like facets while also having a distinct cool to it. The frankincense then spears it. This is the silvery church incense full of sharp edges. It at first softens the chocolate before slicing it open to find a softer bitter chord within. Vetiver adds in a sharp green which continues the bitter theme. Only in the base is there some relief as tobacco and vanilla form a richly comforting effect.

Anti-Blues has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I guess I would classify Anti-Blues a gourmand because of the prominence of the chocolate. My only hesitation to do that is it has such a bitter vein throughout that it doesn’t seem as edible as other perfumes in this style. It reminds me of the upper end of the high cacao content chocolate that is inedible because of its strength. Anti-Blues captures that all the way to the bitter end.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Pierre Guillaume PG 28 Peau D’Ambre- Four Resins

One of my earliest scent memories is of attending Midnight Mass at Christmas as a very young boy. It was my first time to be awake that late. My jaw was hanging open from all the sensory stimuli. My mother wearing her customary Mitsouko was behind me as I peered down the center aisle. The attendants preceded the priest each swinging some silver sphere with smoke coming out. This was transfixing to me. I followed each swing of the censer until they came even, and I smelled the smoke of the incense inside. I almost leaned out to get another sniff of that wonderful smell. Incense is one of my favorite perfume styles and I have always believed it imprinted on my mind that Christmas night past. It is why I enjoy finding new incense focused perfumes like Pierre Guillaume PG 28 Peau D’Ambre.

Pierre Guillaume

Peau D’Ambre is the first new PG releases without a decimal attached to the number in three years. Independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume has been more interested in re-interpreting his earlier perfumes. Peau D’Ambre is inspired by the early perfumers of Corinth in the 6th century BC. M. Guillaume imagines what a boat of Corinthians headed out to deliver their goods might smell like.

It starts with a gorgeously full fir balsam overlaid upon a still water accord. As if the boat is docked waiting to be offloaded. As they hand up the leather gourds of precious materials they mix with the scent of the conifers. A worn leather accord contains frankincense. This is that silvery redolent frankincense I remember from that Midnight Mass. Two more containers of resins join in as opoponax and benzoin complete the delivery. On my skin it forms a resin super accord which seems appropriate for the Holidays as fir and incense meld into one another.

Peau D’Ambre has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

M. Guillaume constructs a compelling resin accord with his four materials. It is just like that first Midnight Mass all I want to do is lean forward to stay within its scent. Now with Peau D’Ambre I can.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Pierre Guillaume Mecanique du Desir- Ode to a Garage

One of the things I enjoy about perfume is the duality of certain accords. One which probably smells different to every nose which experiences it is a leather accord. Some of that is because perfumers must create their own leather accord; there is no bottle labeled “leather” on their ingredient shelf. It is one of the places where a perfumer shows off their own style. When it comes to leather accords, I am a devotee of the early Cuir de Russie versions. Imitating the raw leather on a team of horses. There is a comforting pungency to these accords. It is such a classic that many contemporary perfumers want to make their own version. When they do, I have a simple test; does it smell like a garage? The best of these leather accords can also be seen as the smell of grease and motor oil. In some cases it is what makes the perfume compelling. Independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume embraces this with Pierre Guillaume Mecanique du Desir.

Pierre Guillaume

On the website M. Guillaume mentions that the smell of engine grease carries an “attraction-repulsion” for him. This was borne from winter days working in the garage with his father who was restoring luxury cars. I fall more on the attraction side of that pairing but I don’t want a perfume that makes me smell like a grease monkey. What M. Guillaume achieves with Mecanique du Desir is to find the blue collar beauty in just the right amount of engine grease.

Before we get to work in this garage, we first must admire the cars themselves. The opening of Mecanique du Desir uses the inherent metallic quality of aldehydes given shiny glints of chrome with mandarin. The real star of the early going is blackcurrant bud. M. Guillaume finds the right amount of sticky green to complement the aldehydes making sure I think of aluminum and not hair spray. Now its time to get into the grease. The accord comes from a set of animalic musks combined with amber, guaiac wood, and violet leaf. Just as the top accord made me think of polished cars. This makes me think of the black fluid which allows them to move. M. Guillaume balances this so that it never becomes heavy. Instead it sits just the right side of interesting. Grease is one of those odd natural scents which can be improved by a perfume abstracting the parts which attract versus repulse. M. Guillaume successfully navigates this.

Mecanique du Desir has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage  

For someone who is conflicted about the actual smell of engine grease M. Guillaume was able to extract a compellingly unique perfume out of it. It is a perfumed ode to a garage.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfumerie Generale 23.1 Jasmagonda- Jasmine Butterfly

One of the more interesting sub-collections from any brand has been the “reworks” of the original Parfumerie Generale fragrances by independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume. M. Guillaume started this in 2012 where he took one of the numbered entries in the Parfumerie Generale line and re-interpreted it; releasing it with a point 1 after the original number to indicate the new fragrance.

Parfumerie Generale has been one of my favorite independent perfume brands. Most of the time the idea of a perfumer going back to reconsider his previous work would have me shaking my head. M. Guillaume has shown ingenuity in his second take on his original concepts. All the early reworks were of some of my favorites within the line causing me to get caught up in comparisons. It was only with the release of 9.1 Komorebi that he reworked one I didn’t care for. Which made it easy for me to prefer the new version. With 23.1 Jasmagonda he has taken one of my least favorites 23 Drama Nuui and transformed it into something which soars.

Pierre Guillaume

23 Drama Nuui was meant to showcase jasmine. The reason I didn’t care for it was that it was a flat uninspiring jasmine sprinkled with some spices and musk. This is among the most boring perfumes from a perfumer for whom I rarely use that adjective. Even the other perfumes which have not connected have been interesting. 23 Drama Nuui is one of the very few in this line which felt stunted. With a second chance, in 23.1 Jasmagonda, he uses jasmine as the keynote but this time he sends it aloft in a clean expansive perfume.

It begins with a crisp fruity snap of apple, grapefruit, and bergamot. This is the kind of fruity top accord I appreciate because it doesn’t dissolve into a sweet fruit salad, instead retaining a more focused quality. Relying on the tarter scents of the components they push back against a rich jasmine. Over all of this is a misty watery effect. Kind of like dew on the petals. Magnolia adds in a woody floral-ness which allow for cedar to provide an expansiveness to the overall perfume. This is when it takes flight. There is slight tuning over the final stages as tonka accentuates the floral over the wood.

23.1 Jasmagonda has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I’m not sure if it is because a rework of a Parfumerie Generale I didn’t care for but 23.1 Jasmagonda is my favorite of the reworks. They have all felt like new perfumes but 23.1 Jasmagonda feels like a metamorphosis from drab caterpillar to vibrant butterfly as we go from 23 to 23.1.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Parfumerie Generale.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfumerie Generale 9.1 Komorebi- Rising Sap

Independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume has continued with his re-examination of his original releases. After which he releases a new perfume with the X.1 attached to the number. It has been interesting to observe M. Guillaume as he takes his early inspiration and reconsiders it years later. It look forward to see what M. Guillaume chooses to do with each new concept built upon the old. The latest release is Parfumerie Generale 9.1 Komorebi.

The perfume getting an update is 2006’s Parfumerie General 09 Yuzu Ab Irato. M. Guillaume was attempting to cross a Japanese and Mediterranean aesthetic. This was one of the early misses for me. The mint smelled like mouthwash and it didn’t help the perfume shared the color of the same product. This was one of the few times I felt like M. Guillaume was trying to force a concept into the bottle instead of allowing it to come together from a less manufactured place.

Pierre Guillaume

For the first time the update was not going to be taking on one of the perfumes I liked. This was going to be a case where M. Guillaume would have my full attention without my comparing back to something I really liked. The name was already a good sign. Komorebi is a Japanese word which describes sunlight filtered through the leaves of the trees. Gone are the attempts at grafting a Mediterranean style onto something Asian. It also lives up to the name because this is an unrelenting perfume of crushed greenery. I happen to enjoy that smell which is why I enjoyed Komorebi.

It opens with an ozonic accord to capture the sunlight. The mint makes a return but thankfully only for a moment adding a chill to the fresh air. M. Guillaume uses two sources of green; blackcurrant bud and reseda. The latter is an unfamiliar ingredient to most, but it carries a violet aura in herbal packaging. It is a good match with the black currant bud which carries a fruity aura within sappy green packaging. Combined there is an accord as if you took handful of green leaves and crushed them in your hand. Sniffing the sticky places where the sap clings to your fingers. It is the heart of Komorebi and I have enjoyed it in these final days of summer. The base accord comes through with the trees, as a sturdy oak holds the center slightly ameliorated with some tonka.

Komorebi has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Komorebi is not only an update it is also an upgrade over the original. This shows when M. Guillaume allows an idea to arise like the sap in trees he can create something memorable.

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

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Huitieme Art Manguier Metisse- Ripe Mango

I have received a couple of new perfumes featuring a ripe mango ingredient. I have enjoyed this when it is used because that is how I remember the mangos I picked off the tree in our yard as a child. I’m not sure it is the beginning of a trend, but it reminded me of the first time I encountered it in a perfume; Huitieme Art Manguier Metisse.

In 2010 independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume had become fascinated with all of the new isolation techniques which were opening up new design possibilities. To fully explore them he created a new brand, Huitieme Art, which would feature one of these as the keynote in a minimalist form. These weren’t necessarily soliflore-like because M. Guillaume found notes which more often formed an accord with the featured ingredient. Manguier Metisse created a mango tree with ripe fruit hanging from the branches.

Pierre Guillaume

Prior to Manguier Metisse when mango was listed it was a greener tarter version. What was shown in Manguier Metisse for the first time was a ripe juicy mango. M. Guillaume uses the new mango extract as the nucleus around which a few well-chosen notes literally flesh it out into a pulpy lush accord.

The mango is there from the first second to the last one, hours later. Frangipani provides tropicality by adding an exotic vibe. M. Guillaume uses black tea, rose, and patchouli in small judicious amounts. Each of these provide depth and texture. Within minutes I am surrounded by the smell of ripe fruit bursting with juice.

Manguier Metisse has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Manguier Metisse has remained one of my favorite perfumes by M. Guillaume because he so successfully re-created the smell of many summer afternoons tearing into a ripe mango. If the Huitieme Art collection has fallen under your radar I highly recommending obtaining a sample set. I especially think the original eight releases show M. Guillaume’s prescience at which new isolates would find new creative uses. If you need to try one before diving in start with Manguier Metisse.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfumerie Generale Suede Osmanthe 5.1- Changing My Mind

Pierre Guillaume has been one of my favorite independent perfumers because his aesthetic has significant overlap with mine. It doesn’t mean I like everything but I do like, and own, most of what he has done. For the last few years M. Guillaume has been doing a collection called the Rework series where he takes one of his previous releases and re-conceptualizes it. Starting in 2012 he has been working through his Numeraire collection adding a new release with the X.1 designation depending on the original number. Up until now he has done this with perfumes of his I like including some of my favorites. I knew we would eventually get to one of the originals I didn’t care for. Would I find some joy in the Rework? The first data point has arrived in Parfumerie Generale Suede Osmanthe 5.1.

Suede Osmanthe is the Rework of L’Eau de Circe. What does not appeal to me in the original 5.0 is that it is aggressively fruity floral which buries me beneath all of it. Part of it is my reticence to embrace fruity florals. Part of it was the osmanthus was overthrown by the other florals. Just by the name I had a feeling Suede Osmanthe was going to rectify much of what I found lacking in L’Eau de Circe.

Pierre Guillaume

Those of you who have followed my reviews know that osmanthus is one of my favorite ingredients. It is the dual nature of this floral as it carries an apricot and leather character within it. Even the apricot appeals because it carries a darker shading due to the leathery nature of the flower. As the name portends M. Guillaume is looking to explore the deeper aspects of osmanthus.

As much as I was ready for dark osmanthus M. Guillaume wanted to give the apricot its due in a beautifully creative way by loading it on an aldehyde bottle rocket and lighting the fuse. When I sprayed my first spritz of Suede Osmanthe I was expecting the apricot to lead. M. Guillaume packs in a bunch of the fizziest aldehydes and uses them to explode the apricot. It is a literal olfactory explosion which as it dies down leaves an afterimage of the apricot to lead into the leather heart. The synthetic Suederal is there waiting to provide that soft suede effect. As the leathery face of osmanthus peeks out the Suederal embraces it. A black tea blends in to provide a gentle smokiness to this part before a set of the animalic musks bring it home.

Suede Osmanthe has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Suede Osmanthe is as good as it gets from M. Guillaume and especially this Rework collection. I have been very impressed with the last few releases but Suede Osmanthe is the first to turn around my initial opinion of 5.0 with a much better 5.1. The fruity aldehyde transition to the deep leather is excellent every time I wear it; this makes it my kind of fruity floral.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfumerie Generale 19.1 Neroli ad Astra- This and That

Independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume has been doing an interesting thing within his collection; he has been going back and re-doing his older Parfumerie Generale perfumes. This is not re-formulation this is looking at them again and using them as inspiration for new fragrances. It unfortunately sets up an unintentional competition in my mind. I have owned the original version of everything M. Guillaume has redone. After I’m done I end up debating on whether it is better or worse than the original. The tenth release under this Parfumerie Generale Rework collection, 19.1 Neroli ad Astra, has shown there is a different way for me to experience the two different versions.

The original 19 Louanges Profanes was released in 2008. In it M. Guillaume layered a fabulously rich neroli over incense and benzoin. It is one of my favorite shoulder season florals, ideal for cool mornings and warm afternoons. The neroli was from Tunisia and carries a spicy facet that complemented the resins it will float upon. One of the best features of the Rework collection is it gives M. Guillaume the opportunity to re-imagine a perfume using a different source of the keynote. For 19.1 Neroli ad Astra he changes to the Moroccan neroli.

Pierre Guillaume

The neroli from Morocco is more luminous it carries a delicacy to it which the Tunisian version does not. Something else the Moroccan version lacks is a significant green thread which runs through my favorite neroli sources. The version in 19.1 Neroli ad Astra is all flower no stem. It seems M. Guillaume realized that as well and so uses a couple of other ingredients to provide some of the missing verdancy.

Before we get to the neroli in 19.1 Neroli ad Astra we transition through a fruity top accord cut with baie rose. Pear and mandarin provide a juicy effect tamped down by the herbal nature of baie rose. Then like a sunrise the neroli arrives as it spreads across the fruity opening and whisks it away as if it was tendrils of fog. The neroli exalts in its lightness until blue agave and geranium come around to add back that green grounding quality. The blue agave provides an unusual green which makes the neroli effect kind of abstract while also feeling natural at others. Jasmine is used as a floral foundation while providing some expansiveness to the overall neroli accord. A mixture of vetiver and white musks provide even more volume as the base accord.

19.1 Neroli ad Astra has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

In the past with the Rework versions I end up choosing “this or that” as one of them becomes my favorite almost to the exclusion of the other. For the first time 19.1 Neroli ad Astra has me thinking “this and that”. It is because 19.1 Neroli ad Astra has been so good in the summer heat. It is opaque without being a trifle but it isn’t going to be something I’d wear in the upcoming fall. Then I am going to reach for my old favorite 19 Louanges Profanes. Which makes this the first Rework where each version has a time and place for it.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Phaedon Concombre- Simple Summer Spritzer

One of the fun things about attending Pitti Fragranze is seeing what independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume has made just for the fair as a one-off. When I attended in 2014 he showed me this fabulously watery cologne of cucumber. In many ways it was like the amuse bouche served by a chef before the meal. A simple statement of aesthetic in a trifle. The funny thing was that silly trifle got stuck in my head. So much so that when I saw him the next year I asked about it. He then told me that he was definitely going to release a version of it. He just wasn’t sure when. The answer is he has released it a couple months ago; Phaedon Concombre.

We always talk about wanting a perfume that can be worn on the hottest of days which will not turn cloying in the heat. Concombre is that design wish come true. One of my favorite summer meals when it is just too hot to turn the oven on is to thinly slice cucumber and place it in ice water. After the slices are cooled I drain them and sprinkle balsamic vinegar over it. For dessert a similarly ice-cold watermelon rounds out the meal. We’ve never discussed it but M. Guillaume must also have the same summer routine of some kind because Concombre has cucumber and watermelon as its nucleus.


Pierre Guillaume

Concombre starts with that fresh chilly watery cucumber note. M. Guillaume livens it up just a little with a sprig of mint. It is almost as if it came over on the breeze from the mint on top of my iced tea. He freely uses freesia to provide that watery quality. It also provides a chill which is not something I usually ascribe to freesia but in Concombre it definitely does cool things down. Then as the watermelon accord arises you get this lightly vegetal with the sweet melon floating on top of cool water. It is delightfully refreshing. It is all framed in clean lines of cedar.

Concombre has 6-8 hours of longevity and moderate sillage.

There is no practical reason to keep perfume in a refrigerator. I do it with some of my favorite colognes because they go on more refreshing when they are chilled. Concombre is another which also benefits from being in a refrigerator. It enhances all of the chill elements throughout Concombre. The days I wore it I refreshed it twice and each time it elevated my spirits. Concombre is a summer special.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from Phaedon.

Mark Behnke