New Perfume Review Pierre Guillaume 7.2 Morning in Tipasa- Summer on the Rocks

When I moved to New England in 1984 my Florida friends were amused at how I would adapt. One of the hardest was the beaches were so different. My new colleagues told me I needed to adapt to the “rocky coastline” variant. At first, I was skeptical. Then I took a trip up to Maine. This was where my thinking turned around. I spent an afternoon on Schoodic Point. We spread a blanket on the rocks and watched the tide come in. Behind us was a stand of pine trees. The mixture of stone, sea, and pine gave me a new scent to associate with the seaside. Pierre Guillaume 7.2 Morning in Tipasa reminded me of this.

Morning in Tipasa is part of the “Rework” series where he re-interprets one of the original numbered perfumes. As the number indicates this is the second iteration of 07 Grand Siecle. The original and 7.1 Grand Siecle Intense were studies of the brilliance of lemon as a perfume. The opening lemon part of both are among my favorite lemon fragrance experiences. 7.2 Morning in Tipasa is a much different exploration.

Pierre Guillaume

The name comes from a piece of prose by Camus in where he describes the activities of young Algerians in the Roman ruins above the sea. M. Guillaume wants us to be on those rocks above the Mediterranean among the pine trees.

If Grand Siecle and Grand Siecle Intense are about the brilliance of lemon. This perfume is about a more fresh and diffusive experience. He uses lemongrass and peppermint to create an accord of fresh air and hazy sunlight. The lemongrass has a soft-focus citrus as the green adds a filter through which to experience it. The peppermint is that moment of filling your lungs with a sea breeze. I usually have a problem with mint. M. Guillaume balances it so well I notice the effect and not the ingredient. Now comes the pine. This is that windswept pine which is where the peppermint does some further work as it lightens up the terpenes at the core. This is that late afternoon moment where the breeze shifts to start coming from the land towards the sea. This carries the pine into the sunlight. The final ingredient is a judicious use of honey. This gives a slightly sweet and animalic foundation for this to rest upon.

Morning at Tipasa has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I want to classify this as an aquatic. I also want to call it a Mediterranean style fragrance. Neither of those captures it accurately. This is a summer perfume on the rocks.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Pierre Guillaume 30 Alphaora- Fantasy Moss

Every time I write about a modern chypre I usually make a mention of what has been lost through the restriction of use of oakmoss. What I concurrently admire is the ingenuity of this generation of perfumers to create their way around it. In the end they are building an accord which is a simulation of what the forbidden material smells like. An abstraction of sorts trending towards reality. Independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume has gone the other direction for Pierre Guillaume 30 Alphaora.

Pierre Guillaume

His idea is to work on a “Glam’moss” a fantasy moss which has never existed. He intends this to be an ongoing theme which is what the portmanteau name implies. Alpha representing first. “Ora” comes from the back half of “aurora” as in Aurora Borealis. What if moss was caught in the undulating waves of light of the Aurora? M. Guillaume’s answer is Alphaora.

When I read this I was thinking of the cold climate where the Aurora is mostly observed. M. Guillaume seems to have been inspired by the lights themselves. This is a very expansive transparent style of perfume. It has an ephemeralness to it which matches its description.

It opens with the tart citrus of blood orange. It is not as genial a citrus ingredient as regular orange or mandarin. This one pushes back. I usually describe citrus as sunny this feels more like the antithesis of that. Not quite starlight or a full moon but a different kind of illumination. The flower he chooses to match to that is what is called “albizia blossom”. Albiizia is more commonly called the Persian silk tree but it is a member of the acacia family which is most represented in perfume by mimosa. What happens here is he uses Hedione to expand it into its own flowing band of scent along with the same of the blood orange. To finish his version of a fragrant Aurora he adds in a woody ribbon of hinoki. This is again given a lighter treatment. Now comes the moss as he uses Assam moss as his foundation for the completed waves of scent to wash over.

Alphaora has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

As often as I bemoan the current trend of transparency Aphaora is one of those instances where it works. M. Guillaume succeeds by creating a fantasy abstraction of moss to be searched for by those looking for something different.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Pierre Guillaume Animal Mondain- Streamlined Design

As the weather cools one of my favorite comfort scents is that of tobacco. I grew up with a dad who smoked a pipe. One of my earliest scent memories was going with him to the tobacconist. The place smelled wonderful. When my dad would open his leather bag to fill his pipe the scent would slither out into the living room. I would lean in to get a good sniff. There is a lusciousness to tobacco that perfumes which feature it don’t often attempt to evoke. Pierre Guillaume Animal Mondain does go for it.

Pierre Guillaume

Animal Mondain is a member of the Black Collection which is the rebranding of the previous Huitieme Art Parfums. That group has some of my favorites by M. Guillaume because they are streamlined to feature a single ingredient. I wouldn’t describe them as soliflore-like because the supporting ingredients have more presence. They more resemble scent studies as the central note is interrogated by the others. In Animal Mondain tobacco is the one in the chair.

When tobacco is used it generally plays off the dried leaf and the mentholated narcotic quality of it. The source of tobacco in this fragrance is different. There is a humidity to it reminiscent of it being removed from the container at the tobacconist. It tamps down the addicting quality for something more inviting. The difference is evident right away as coumarin is used as the first ingredient. The hay-like quality provides a dried grass effect without going as deep as the tobacco might. To this a contrast of green pear leaves are there to add in an alternative to the missing mentholated thread. It gets even more supple as honey weaves its slightly animalic ways through this. It is a languorous effect which increases in intensity over an hour or so. At that point, the honey has displaced the coumarin. An accord of polished dark wood is where this ends.

Animal Mondain has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is that luscious tobacco I enjoy. M. Guillaume can coax that aspect from just a few well-chosen partners. By using this kind of streamlining he can create a maximum tobacco.

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

Mark Behnke

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