I love learning about new perfume ingredients. Once I encounter something, I look forward to it being used in a perfume. I had the opportunity to smell the ingredient Noreenal. It is an exclusive ingredient for the Mane perfumers to use. My chance to smell it came about through a discussion with a Mane chemist about the effect adding branching and double bonds to long chain aldehydes has. What Mane discovered is if you add both branching and a double bond you get an unusual scent profile for an aldehyde. It still has the effervescence typical of these molecules. In the case of Noreenal it adds a fresh citrus-like scent to it. This is like a stiff breeze from out of a citrus orchard. I expected to encounter it in a Mediterranean style perfume. Instead it is used as a nose-catching opening for a classical rose and musk perfume, Armani Prive Musc Shamal.
It seems appropriate that the first perfume I am aware of to use Noreenal is named after a Middle Eastern wind, shamal. I wonder if perfumer Julie Masse was waiting for a brief which mentioned a fresh wind to add Noreenal to. It fits ideally in a perfume named Musc Shamal.
That Noreenal is where Musc Shamal opens. Mme Masse uses enough to capture the natural effect it is mimicking. The freshness fused on the kinetic energy of an aldehyde makes this compelling. Mme Masse amplifies the citrus quality to add to the desired effect. The breeze crashes into a floral heart of deep rose before the other ingredient on the label flows into sight. Mme Masse forms a mixture of musks capturing both fresh and animalic aspects. The cleaner musks reiterate the opening Noreenal breeze while the deeper musks combine with amber and vanilla for a warmer accord.
Musc Shamal has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
My affection for Musc Shamal is due to the way Mme Masse unleashes a new breeze across a classical fragrance form.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample supplied by Neiman-Marcus.
When I received my samples of the five new perfumes from Comme des Garcons to celebrate their twenty fifth anniversary in the fragrance world, there was one which I was most interested in. Over this time period one thing Comme des Garcons has stood for is pushing unusual accords to extremes. Two of my favorites are the pair of perfumes called Odeur 53 and Odeur 71. Both are fragrances of metallic heat. Synthetic to their core. They are representative of those odd comforting smells like electronics overheating. It has been since 2000 that Odeur 71 was released. Now we can add another to the collection Comme des Garcons Odeur du Theatre du Chatelet.
Theatre du Chatelet is a theatre on the banks of the Seine in Paris. The current creative director for the theatre, Ruth Mackenzie, was asked to join Comme des Garcons fragrance creative director Christian Astuguevieille to oversee the new Odeur. The perfumer they chose to work with is Caroline Dumur. The fragrance they envisioned is a mixture of the old and the new on the floorboards of the Theatre du Chatelet.
Mme Dumur nods back towards the earlier Odeurs with her top accord. She takes the botanical musk of ambrette and combines it with the metallic floral of rose oxide. This is further enhanced with black pepper. It creates this sizzling electric pink accord as if you smell the pink filter over the spotlight in the theatre. This is exactly what I wanted from a new Odeur. It is right on the edge of harsh for my sensibilities. I have a feeling it is going to go way past many others’ tolerances. That is what this series is meant to do. Every time I wear it, I am more and more enchanted by this top accord it is so unique. In the heart it moves to the orris powder used by the actors cut subtly with a bitter coffee from the cups on the apron during rehearsal. It settles on the cedar floorboards for the final moments with a woody base accord.
Odeur du Theatre du Chatelet has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
Odeur du Theatre du Chatelet is why Comme des Garcons is still among the premiere niche perfume makers after so long. It carries aspects from which a thoroughly contemporary perfume takes center stage bathed in electric pink.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Dover Street Market.
For as long as I’ve lived on the East Coast there has only been one perfumed thing on the West Coast I have envied. That is the store which is the headquarters for the online perfume sellers Luckyscent called Scent Bar. Adam Eastwood and Franco Wright have been one of the premiere niche and independent perfume purveyors for over fifteen years. One of the reasons for the longevity, and the popularity, is their excellent curation of brands to feature. Many new discoveries by perfume lovers have begun with a package of samples from Scent Bar/Luckyscent.
Scent Bar NYC
At the beginning of this month Scent Bar has expanded to the East Coast, landing on Elizabeth St. in downtown Manhattan. This area of New York City has always been a destination for perfume tourists to the Big Apple. Scent Bar NYC adds a new piece to the itinerary. As part of the grand opening Messrs. Eastwood and Wright asked one of those brands they debuted to make a perfume capturing the energy of the new location. The perfumer they chose is Antonio Gardoni of Bogue Profumo.
Sig. Gardoni was inspired by the classic “I Love NY” public relations campaign and turned it on a new set of floral initials. This is where Bogue Profumo I Love YY begins. Anyone who enjoys floral perfumes will easily understand that the “YY” is ylang-ylang. I share the same fascination with it as Sig. Gardoni does. When allowed to be featured to its fullest extent it gives a perfumer opportunity to tease out any of the multi-faceted nature to a desired effect. My favorite part of ylang-ylang is a fleshy sensuousness which is not usually featured. I had a feeling Sig. Gardoni might also share my feelings.
I Love YY starts with the YY on display. In the early moments Sig. Gardoni uses the sulfurous citrus of grapefruit and the scalpel-like sharpness of violet leaf to find the softer green threads within ylang-ylang. It transforms again as jasmine and rose provide floral backing vocals. This is where that fleshy sensuousness I enjoy so much is on display. The indoles of the jasmine tune that sensuousness while the rose adds an exclamation point to the floral quality. Through it all the menthol-like nature of ylang-ylang breathes fresh air into the composition. Ylang-ylang has a kind of custard quality to it which Sig. Gardoni sweetens at the end. He uses tonka, vanilla, and benzoin to give I Love YY a gourmand-y base.
I Love YY has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I Love YY is a very Bogue-esque floral as Sig. Gardoni examines his keynote from three different perspectives. It is a fitting representative of one of the great cities of the world as well as one of the great perfume stores as they open their new location.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Luckyscent/Scent Bar NYC.
Editor’s Note: The address of Scent Bar NYC is 244 Elizabeth St. It is on the same street as Le Labo and Atelier Cologne. Those of you heading to Sniffapalooza Fall Ball this weekend will be spending part of your Sunday there.
All the way down here at Colognoisseur HQ we had a visit from the aurora borealis. Watching the undulating lights from my porch was a surprise. It was also serendipity as I was wearing a perfume inspired by that phenomenon, Maison Crivelli Aurora Boreale.
I only recently obtained the collection of five perfumes released by creative director Thibaud Crivelli starting last year. One of the things that made me seek the brand out was the idea of combining texture and keynote. When a creative director seeks to add a conscious textural element it can elevate the fragrance beyond the ordinary. When I tried all five perfumes, I found M. Crivelli was not just writing press releases he was achieving his desired aesthetic. The one which captured my attention most fully was the brief of absinthe over snow colored by the aurora overhead. Working with perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer, M. Crivelli imagined a frosty fougere over which absinthe and shadow reigns.
Absinthe Boreale opens on an icy accord of artemisia, lemon, and geranium. That’s the chilly field of snow you stand upon. Mme Feisthauer finds a pleasantly balanced chill so that the lavender rises over it with an herbal-focused floral scent. It pulls at the geranium as along with the wormwood the sky begins to undulate in waves of glowing green. This is a wonderfully realized accord of shadow and light. Mme Feisthauer further adds texture with oakmoss representing the darkness of the night sky behind the aurora. The scent of the nearby woods adds the finishing touch.
Absinthe Boreale has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Absinthe Boreale is a great fall fougere. It complements the frost in the air with an olfactory version all its own. I would also encourage readers to try the other Maison Crivelli releases if you also enjoy textural perfumes. M. Crivelli is doing a great job of living up to his potential.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
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.
Two years ago when premiere candle makers Cire Trudon finally entered the liquid fragrance game with Trudon Parfums it was an event. The original five perfumes were memorable for not trying to check boxes. Creative director Julien Pruvost wanted to have Trudon Parfums stand out by not following trends. I concluded my reviews of those perfumes looking forward to what was next. Two years later M. Pruvost has my answer with Trudon Parfums Elae and Medie.
M. Pruvost works with perfumer Yann Vasnier again after creating Mortel in the debut collection. This time the pair of perfumes are evocations of summer effulgence. M. Vasnier pushes both perfumes to embrace the saturated brightness of late summer.
In Elae M. Vasnier creates a heady floral. He could hardly do otherwise by making tuberose his keynote. Before the white flower makes its entrance, he uses a snappy fruit top accord of apple and neroli to set the scene. Neroli acts as harbinger of its louder sister tuberose. The apple provides a crisp fruit which will push back at the creaminess of the tuberose. The floral diva is shrouded in a stole of benzoin and akigalawood in the base. The benzoin adds snuggly warmth while the akigalawood adds a spicy contrast.
Elae has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Medie is a fresh summery citrus perfume modulated with spices. M. Vasnier uses grapefruit as his citrus focal point. I enjoy the choice because grapefruit carries a sulfurous undertone along with the bright fruitiness. M. Vasnier uses the spicy woody chemical Pepperwood to tease out that pungency. It adds depth to what would have otherwise been a typical citrus top accord. The clean woody lines of cypress and cedar provide guardrails for the citrus as it heads towards the base. Awaiting it there is Akigalawood and incense. If there is a commonality between both Elae and Medie it is the Akigalawood. In Medie it continues the synthetic spicy beat begun by the Pepperwood. The incense adds a silvery resinous sheen to it all.
Medie has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I am very pleased that M. Pruvost is taking time between releases. Elae and Medie seem the better for it. If you need a little summer sunbeam as the world around you cools Elae and Medie offer two versions.
Disclosure: this review is based on samples provided by Trudon Parfums.
Now that summer seems to have finally passed, I can start enjoying my spicy perfumes. Spice heavy perfumes might be my very favorite style of perfume, but they are best in colder temperatures. It is one of many reasons I look forward to fall. Perfume companies also are aware of this dynamic and so I get new spicy perfumes to consider this time of year. The latest to catch my nose is Comptoir sud Pacifique Eclats d’Amandes.
Comptoir sud Pacifique is one of the long-time perfume producers few know about. They have a very narrow corridor of distribution. I have always kept an eye on them because when you can find them there are some excellent perfumes within the collection. For 2019 Comptoir sud Pacifique wanted to try for a gourmand style. Working with perfumer Vanina Muracciole they produced two perfumes. The first Vanilla Café hewed closely to the South Pacific tropical vibe characteristic of the collection. The one which captured my attention because it was all gourmand without the island milieu was Eclats d’Amande.
Mme Muracciole chooses two interesting keynotes in cinnamon and almond. Cinnamon is a tough ingredient to use well. Too sweet and it smells like red-hot candies. Pull back on it and it just smells woody with no fire. Find the sweet spot and cinnamon causes a perfume to simmer. That’s the kind of cinnamon here. By pairing it with the nuttiness of almond she allows that quality to tease out the woodiness of the cinnamon. It is a kind of cinnamon not encountered often in fragrance, but one I enjoy. Tonka bean provides a toastier almond as it mixes with it. Cedar arrives to continue to amplify the woods in cinnamon. It heads to a sandalwood base given some character with some heavier musks.
Eclats d’Amandes has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Eclats d’Amandes is just the kind of spicy perfume to ease me into the autumn. The choice to interrogate the woody facets of the keynote spice without losing the fire makes it different than most cinnamon based perfumes.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Comptoir sud Pacifique.
Most perfume brands which claim rock and roll inspiration come out more closely related to Muzak. It makes me suspicious of the quality of so-called rock perfumes. Over the past year one brand which has lived up to this has been Jusbox Perfumes.
The brand was started in 2016 by siblings, Andrea and Chiaro Valda; or as they have dubbed themselves V Monkeys. When they have gotten it right, I have enjoyed the result. Even when they miss there is a hint of the messiness of the early rock legends. Up until now the perfumes have captured different eras in rock. The thirteenth release, Siren & Sailors, captures a specific singer and her home of Camden Town.
Amy Winehouse exploded onto the musical scene with the release of her second album “Back to Black” in 2006. Her distinctive voice would invade the airwaves as she found fame. What set her apart was her jazz-inspired way of singing paired with a singular voice. Her voice had an emotional depth which captured a sense of desperation. It turned out the desperation would come from a real place inside Ms. Winehouse who would take her life in 2011. V Monkeys turned to perfumer Julien Rasquinet to compose a perfume worthy of her.
The opening of Siren & Sailors is seemingly a nod to the striking appearance of Ms. Winehouse. It is an effusive accord of peach and osmanthus. The apricot quality of the osmanthus and the lushness of the peach captures an over-the-top fruitiness that would be annoying except for the rose which comes along with it. M. Rasquinet uses the Laboratoire Monique Remy (LMR) version of rose. The LMR natural ingredients are the best of the best. The rose here is that rich jammy velvety one. It is that sultry siren Ms. Winehouse portrayed onstage. Underneath it all runs a current of the demons that would eventually catch up to Ms. Winehouse as rum and whisky form a boozy underpinning. The base is where the depth of Ms. Winehouse’s vocals and emotions come together. M. Rasquinet uses an LMR patchouli fraction enhancing the earthier qualities. It is wrapped in a suede leather accord which also envelops the osmanthus and rose. It is here with these four ingredients where Sirens & Sailors holds a gorgeous perfume note for hours. A set of growly musks provide the final ingredient.
Siren & Sailors has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Siren & Sailors is the best perfume by Jusbox to date. It is also the most emotional fragrance they’ve produced. As I wore it, I was reminded of my favorite song by Ms. Winehouse; “Back to Black”. In the song she says farewell to a lover by lamenting “we only said goodbye with words”. Siren & Sailors allow me to say goodbye with perfume.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
Growing up in S. Florida I saw my share of thunderstorms. One of my favorite natural scents was the way the air smelled after the storm had passed. I couldn’t put a name to it until I started writing about perfume. One of the chemists at IFF clued me in when he gave me some geosmin to try. From that moment on it fascinated me. I wrote a column on it in the Olfactive Chemistry series. I found an incredible story in The Atlantic from 2015 about a village in India that essentially harvested this as a natural perfume source called petrichor. In the hands of a few perfumers it has been part of some outstanding fragrances. I never expected it to succeed as the feature note in a soliflore. Leave it to Le Labo to prove me wrong with Baie 19.
Fabrice Penot and Edouard Roschi
Creative directors Fabrice Penot and Edouard Roschi could have just ordered up some petrichor and labeled it Petrichor 1. Instead they did something more difficult.They asked for an accord which smells like petrichor. This is what modern perfumery is meant to be; an interpretation of nature instead of a replica. I don’t know who the perfumer is (UPDATE: the perfumer is Frank Voelkl) but whomever did this succeeded. What works so well by using an accord, instead of the actual material, is it allows things to build like a thunderstorm then after it breaks you’re left with the scented aftermath.
Baie 19 opens with the gathering ozone ahead of the storm front. Juniper berry and an assortment of green leafy notes represent the stiff breeze through the bushes crackling with kinetic energy. An aquatic accord captures the downpour itself. As the rain stops that watery effect soaks an earthy patchouli. Where this all comes together is the perfumer’s use of precise amounts of cade oil and Ambrox to complete the petrichor accord.
Baie 19 has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Baie 19 is one of those perfumes which captures my attention because it is a true abstraction of nature. The technical aspects make me dissect every nuance. It takes me time to just revel in the after the storm beauty of Baie 19. It is an incredible petrichor soliflore.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Le Labo.
Among the success stories of niche perfumery is that of Laurice Rahme and her brand Bond No. 9. Started in 2003 Ms. Rahme has released multiple perfumes each year. Most of them inspired by a part of New York City where Bond No. 9 has its headquarters. It is a huge collection and I have a dozen of them. It can be daunting to keep up with the pace Ms. Rahme sets. On a recent visit to Saks I was struck by how much her latest release, Bond No. 9 FiDi, reminds me of the early days of the brand.
FiDi is shorthand for the Financial District at the southern end of Manhattan. It includes Wall St as well as a new place to go on weekends with restaurants and bars in the surrounding area. This part of NYC is no longer a ghost town after trading hours. Ms. Rahme wanted to capture the dichotomy of financial masters of the universe by day and happy hipsters at night. To accomplish this she worked with perfumer Harry Fremont.
It isn’t the first time Bond No. 9 has traveled to this part of the city. Back in 2004 Ms. Rahme and perfumer David Apel produced Wall Street. Back then they decided an energetic aquatic captured the buzz of the traders. Fifteen years later the area and the vibe has changed. Which is why Ms. Rahme and Mr. Fremont go for a spirited woody style of perfume.
The first steps in FiDi are paved with baie rose. Mr. Fremont surrounds it with citrus to tease out the subtle fruitiness while black pepper adds a piquant contrast. Nutmeg then rises to be the main counterweight to the baie rose. Mr. Fremont finds a nice balance between the sweet spice and the herbal baie rose. Lotus flower reminds us that FiDi is also near the water with its dewy floral quality. It all rests on an assertive woody base of ambrox and cedar attenuated with a touch of the sweetness of tonka bean.
FiDi has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
Just as it is in NYC, you must keep watching as things change. The same can be said for Bond No. 9 you have to keep watching so you can find good perfumes like FiDi.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Saks.