New Perfume Review Amouage Silver Oud- All About That Base

Perfume dork that I am there are things which happen in my head as I try perfumes. One of them is when I encounter a particularly intriguing base accord the internal jukebox in my mind begins playing the 2014 pop song by Meghan Trainor “All About That Bass”. The song is speaking about the bass line to a song especially as it pertains to dancing. It is the reason I have bass enhanced headphones so I can make my music all about the bass if I want to. There is something satisfying about a depth which resonates deep in the belly and spine.

I also hum this song when giving advice to fledgling indie wanna-be perfumers. The great majority of the time what is lacking in their earliest attempts is the base accord. This is not so different than the bass line in a song. In perfumery the base is what you build upon, it is foundational. It is often where the soul of perfume resides. It may be covered in all matter of fabulous other accords and ingredients but without it there is nothing. What happens when a professional perfumer decides to make it all about the base? You get something like Amouage Silver Oud.

Renaud Salmon

Creative director at Amouage, Renaud Salmon is early in his time there. He is beginning to create a set of perfumers he believes can realize his vision for the brand. One of them seems to be perfumer Cecile Zarokian. Mme Zarokian is one of the best perfumers as well as one of my favorites. A couple of her earliest fragrances are among my personal faves. She has only become better over time. In recent years she has been the perfumer closest to pushing the gourmand genre into something grand. Earlier this year Amouage Material is an example of this. When I reviewed that I mentioned I wanted more from her and M. Salmon in Silver Oud I am getting that.

This is inspired by Stendahl’s 19th century novel “The Red and the Black”. I’ve never read it, but Wikipedia tells me it is a tale of a young protagonist rising above his modest beginnings only to be brought low by his passions. To that end there are three titled accords in Silver Oud; confusion, passion, and destruction. I’ll allow someone who has read the book to weigh in on those themes as the heart of the novel. I encountered the perfume based on them quite differently as I was brought to mind of a clever rumination on oud in modern perfumery.

Cecile Zarokian

This is a perfume which is three distinct base accords, but they are presenting how oud is perceived in Western perfumery. The early part is an oud accord. Mme Zarokian weaves a classic patchouli, cypriol and cedar version. Most of the oud in fragrance is this kind, an accord given some life with a tiny amount of the real thing. In this case what comes first is a reminder of what those accords represent. Not quite the real thing but close enough to be part of a bigger construct. Here it is given some time to itself. This is much better than many of the commercial oud accords because of the quality of the patchouli and cedar used here. They bring in some of the rougher edges these type of accords usually lack.

In the heart real oud from Assam, India pushes through the simulation with authenticity. This is that full-throated oud which has medicinal, barnyard, and resinous aspects in its profile. Most of the time a perfumer will look for a complement. Mme Zarokian chooses a contrast, a slightly smoky vanilla from Madagascar. This isn’t a gourmand accord yet her facility in that genre allows her to find a sweet smoky contrast. The vanilla smolders its way through the oud. It is what those who love real oud are looking for. A simple pairing which brings out the best in both.

The final piece is a strong smoked amber accord. This is one of those tricks some brands like to play when they say there is oud in their perfume. They create a strong amber layered with ingredients which add smokiness. It is why so few perfume lovers ever know the real thing. Mme Zarokian creates a version of this which is better than almost all the ones trying to confuse perfume lovers. It creates its own version of an oud accord around amber, guaiac wood, and castoreum. The smoke comes courtesy of birch. She smartly keeps it at the level where a comparison can take place. The real oud paired with vanilla versus the smoked amber simulation. It is a fascinating debate which took place on my skin.

Silver Oud has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Silver Oud is as good as Material was earlier in the year. M. Salmon and Mme Zarokian are forming a creative partnership which might be the core of what this phase of Amouage is all about. The absolute fun of wearing this and having the history of oud in Western perfumery play out is fantastic. Then again that’s because this is a perfume which is all about that base.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle provided by Amouage.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Ebene Fume- Smoke Gets in My Perfume

I remember going to my local Neiman-Marcus one day in 2007. The head of the fragrance department was excited to see me because she had a new line to show me. I was taken to a counter where a row of brown bottles with round gold-colored orbs on top. This was my introduction to Tom Ford Private Blends. It is hard to underestimate the influence this would exert over the fragrance market. It defined the ultra-luxe sector. They also defined a Tom Ford fragrance aesthetic. As he and Karyn Khoury would creatively direct a kind of boldness which would become a defining trend of the noughts. Over time I would own all those initial releases and many of the ones which followed.

Karyn Khoury

Like many brands the most recent releases have shown an evolution. I like many of them. Lost Cherry is a good example of how that early aesthetic remains in place without becoming stale. There have been attempts to reach out to the newer perfume consumers who perhaps enjoy a lighter style. Even those still had that Tom Ford-ness present. When I received my sample of Tom Ford Private Blend Ebene Fume it felt like the past and present were in the bottle.

One of the things that was great about the early releases was the highlighting of an ingredient that was given a luxurious setting. In Ebene Fume perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux features the wood of palo santo as the focal point. This wood has seen some popularity in niche perfumery over the last few years. It has a scent profile which is like sandalwood. In the areas where it is indigenous it is seen as an instrument in religious rituals. Sr. Flores-Roux sees the parallel between burning palo santo and incense to create the nucleus of this.

Rodrigo Flores-Roux

Both are present in the beginning. Twin spirals of resin and wood which form a central double helix. In the earliest going there is a subtle theme of green running through things. Thyme, papyrus, and violet leaves add a noticeable accentuation to the main ingredients. Osmanthus serves as a bridge to a sturdy leather accord. The palo santo and incense swirl around it. Then a simple piece turns this transcendent.

Cade oil is a perfume ingredient I usually curse inwardly when I see it on an ingredient list. In the hands of amateurs, it is a headache inducing sledgehammer which obliterates anything it is around. Sr. Flores-Roux is a maestro who knows the right amount can change everything. In this case the cade oil acts as the flame underneath a pyramid of palo santo and incense. I could imagine flames licking at the woods and resins. This is all perfectly balanced. It is this single addition which elevates Ebene Fume.

Ebene Fume has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

This will make long time Private Blend fans think of the past and there is some of that. There is also a dose of the present as a more modern ingredient is given the Private Blend treatment. What it confirms is after fourteen years and seventy perfumes there is no lack of imagination here.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Tom Ford Beauty.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Comme des Garcons Marseille and Mirror X KAWS- Series: Laundry Room

One of the earliest examples of independent perfumer thinking came through a set of perfumes by Comme des Garcons. Over a course of years, they released successive “Series” focused on a theme. The most well-known and revered is the Series 3: Incense collection. In 2002 they released five very different interpretations of incense perfumes. I own all these perfumes from every series because they are brilliant thoughts on a theme as expressed through scent. The most recent was 2019’s Series 10: Clash which I thought was another triumph within the series. My affection for these sometimes makes me try and imagine my own series. Two recent releases Comme des Garcons Marseille and Comme des Garcons Mirror X KAWS had me thinking about the laundry room.

Quentin Bisch

Marseille is inspired by the soap called Savon de Marseille. Creative director Christian Astuguevieille asked perfumer Quentin Bisch to put this together. One of the things I find often causes a soapy scent to fall apart for me is it gets lost in the lather. Anyone who has opened a fresh bar of hand-milled soap knows it is akin to that new car smell, it is at its best before it is used. M. Bisch turns Marseille into that moment.

This soap is neroli scented. M. Bisch uses a greener version of neroli. It has a slightly vegetal undercurrent which reminds me of the vegetable oil used to make the soap. This is surrounded with a lanolin accord which forms the soapy piece. Right from the start the scent of a good bar of soap predominates. As you bring it close to your nose there is a powdery feel along with a slightly sweet and floral support for the neroli. There is also a slight muskiness present in the heart. This is that new bar of soap accord completed. I kind of wish this had stayed here. It ends on a lot of an ambrox analog which overwhelms the subtle joys which came before.

Marseille has 10-12 hour longevity although the great soapy piece is gone rather quickly and the majority of the development is just the ambrox offshoot.

Nicolas Beaulieu

Mirror X KAWS sees the return of KAWS to collaborate with the brand. He designed the bottle for Pharell Williams’ collaboration Comme des Garcons Girl. Now he takes a turn as creative director for this perfume. Along with perfumer Nicolas Beaulieu they create a scent which embraces clean linen.

It also uses neroli as its focal point. The difference is this neroli is much softer with barely a tint of the green which is more present in Marseille. M. Beaulieu then goes up the scale adding in a soft orange blossom along with a set of clean musks. At this point there is a strong reminder of fabric softener, The remainder of the development is the soft sheet the laundry product was used on. A base accord of Cashmeran, Benzoin, and the synthetic Sinfonide. The last ingredient adds a powdery sheen which reminded me of shaking out a freshly washed sheet to make my bed.

Mirror X KAWS has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I said it is a stretch to call these Series: Laundry Room but because I was wearing them a day apart, I went there. They both do what any of the Series fragrances of the past do; provide a perfume insight into the smells which surround us.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Comme des Garcons.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Rubini Nuvolari- Grand Prix

It was New Year’s Day 1967. One of my Christmas presents was tickets to the new Cinerama movie, Grand Prix. In those days going to these event movies required buying tickets in advance as you would to attend a play or concert. We only had one Cinerama screen in the area. It is where my love of movies was born. Going to see these movies in this larger-than-life curved screen environment was exhilarating. Which was why for my birthday, and Christmas I always asked for tickets to whatever was playing. I was generally too young to really understand what I was seeing, I just knew it was going to be gigantically entertaining.

Movie poster image

On January 1, 1967 the film we sat down to see was Grand Prix directed by John Frankenheimer. It was a story of a racer who was trying to gain success played by James Garner. The story is a typical sports movie where the hero eventually triumphs. What was memorable to me in this movie were the racing scenes. The movie had received permission to rig a car with cameras and drive it at speed on the actual Grand Prix tracks in the movie. These scenes gave you an incredible sense of speed especially because the curved screen was at the edge of your peripheral vision. While focused on the center of the image the sense of speed being implied from the sides made you feel as if you were in the cars. From this day on I was a fan of racing.

In March of 1975 I was invited to go see the endurance race in in nearby Sebring, Florida. There was where I became familiar with the scent of the racetrack. As I was given access to the garage area the smell of burnt rubber, motor oil, and gasoline permeated the air. This was the missing piece from my previous movie experience. Anyone who has attended any motor sports knows this scent. I have always found it one of those comforting unusual scents of the world which captured what was happening in the moment.

Andrea Rubini

Which brings me to the release of the third perfume from Andrea Rubini, Rubini Nuvolari. Sig. Rubini has surrounded himself with his own version of a perfume pit crew. He has perfumer and engineer Cristiano Canali. Materials expert Francesca Gotti, and inspirational influence Ermano Picco. With Sig. Rubini behind the wheel the first two perfumes they collaborated on Fundamental and Tambour Sacre are among my favorites of the respective years they were released. One of the reasons I enjoy them is there is no hesitancy to create an accord on its own which might sound unpleasant only to find it as part of a pleasing whole. The greasepaint accord in Fundamental is a prime example of this. Nuvolari does it better by creating racetrack accords.

Cristiano Canali

Nuvolari is named and inspired by Italian racer Tazio Giorgio Nuvolari. Sig. Rubini wanted a fragrance which captures the essence of racing. The rest of his team helped bring it to life.

I’ve found the smell of gasoline enjoyable. When I have inadvertently spilled a bit on my finger while filling the car, I tend to smell my finger afterwards. The opening of Nuvolari is centered around a gasoline accord. Sig. Canali isn’t looking for photorealistic but something which is reminiscent of petrol in the air. The fuel accord has that petroleum smell which he ameliorates with black pepper and lemon. The latter gave it a sense of flammability to me. As if it was just waiting to ignite within the engine.

The heart is that sense of being on the track. Making the driving decisions at high-speed. Here the motor racing accord is composed of rubber and motor oil. They are not elevated to extreme levels. Sig. Canali keeps a firm hold of this steering wheel keeping the perfume on track. A tiny piece of mint represents the adrenaline of racing. There is a sense of heated metal here which the press notes seem to claim comes from the neroli. It feels more reminiscent of rose oxide to me. It adds the danger of being in a car which is hot and fast.

Finally the race is run, and you lean down to kiss the track upon winning. The base is built around an asphalt accord. This has a similarity to the way any roadway smells in the heat of summer. There is a burnt scent in the air. This is given texture by some Laotian oud and Haitian vetiver. When both come to the fore, I am reminded a bit of creosote, too. Ambroxan adds the final piece to this trip around the track.

Nuvolari has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

On the days I wore this I so wanted to be that child back in the theatre. So I could’ve added the missing piece of scent to the movie experience by wearing Nuvolari.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Rubini.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Maison Crivelli Hibiscus Mahajad- Gemstone Floral

As I watch new brands begin to define their aesthetic some common themes come up. Most often a creative director will choose to work with a small set of perfumers, one to three to help in the early days. I am a proponent of this especially for new brands. Defined working relationships can lead to consistent results. What is surprising are the outliers. Creative directors with such clarity of vision they can work with any perfumer. The ability to coax exactly what you want from a perfumer is the essence of the best creative directors. In just a couple of years Thibaud Crivelli has shown he is one of these. Maison Crivelli Hibiscus Mahajad shows another side of his vision.

Thibaud Crivelli

M. Crivelli from the beginning laid out his desire to have textural perfumes. Before I ever tried one, I was skeptical he could do it. Fromm the first set of five through to this, his eleventh he has achieved it. He has done it working with a variety of perfumers. Quentin Bisch who he collaborates with here is the eighth different nose in eleven releases. The other change is to create a fragrance at extrait strength. Working at new concentration and with a new perfumer should be difficult. The result makes it look easy.

Quentin Bisch

Hibiscus Mahajad is inspired by “hibiscus tea in a gemstone market”. That description describes the idea trying to be realized. A floral steamy accord over harder glossier ingredients. It is achieved through two separate accords.

The choice to use a hibiscus accord is an interesting way to allow for the texture to be engineered through balancing the pieces. In this case three interesting ingredients comprise the accord. First is Ebelia which carries a dewy cassis-like scent profile. Also present is the lily surrogate Nympheal which also has a dewy floral quality more green than typical lily. The third piece is Rose NeoAbsolute this is a recent addition to the perfumer’s palette. It is achieved by taking the rose petals which have been distilled once for their essential oil and doing it a second time. It forms a fascinating rose with deeper facets. Together these are what forms the hibiscus accord. The dewiness is what will add the steam to form the hibiscus tea.

It is this accord where the perfume opens. Added to it is a sprig of herbal spearmint and a stick of cinnamon. These coax out some of the greener and spicy subtleties lurking in the hibiscus accord. Which allows for the second half of this to come together.

Vanilla leads the way adding just the right amount of sweet counterbalance to the top accord. Ambrette forms a bridge to the leather accord waiting. A warm amber comes along with the leather to create that glossy surface. Prodded by the description I was thinking about topaz as I wore this. A deeper colored gemstone to complete the initial vision.

Hibiscus Mahajad has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Having this at extrait concentration is an added benefit. All of what I described isn’t propelled off your skin. It rises in undulating waves like swirls of steam off the cup of tea as you look at a topaz through a loupe. Because it is concentrated it is going to be a great floral choice for the upcoming colder months. It will be enough to tide me over until M. Crivelli is ready to give me something new.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jo Malone Starlit Mandarin & Honey- Snuggling In

As we begin the sprint towards the Holidays the seasonal limited editions are beginning to arrive. It always produces a mixed bag of happiness and coal in the stocking. There is a brand which has reliably been a purveyor of excellent Holiday releases. Every year I look forward to the release from Jo Malone. Over recent years under the creative direction of Celine Roux they have been on top of their fragrance game. This year’s model, Jo Malone Starlit Mandarin & Honey is a great example of why this brand gets it right for the Holidays.

Celine Roux

Throughout the years Jo Malone has been happy to create scents of the season. Those have been good. It is when there is a different thought about the Holiday season expressed through fragrance when I am most intrigued. Starlit Mandarin & Honey is that.

My favorite memory of the season is sitting in the dark watching the lights on the Christmas tree twinkle and the logs in the fireplace crackling. I am snuggled under a blanket with Mrs. C and the poodles. We are watching a movie. The coziness of it all seems most vital as we hit the end of the year. This perfume is an abstraction of this feeling. Perfumer Yann Vasnier pulls it all together.

Yann Vasnier

The beginning is the mandarin promised. M. Vasnier adds some points of starlight to it by using cedrat. To give it some shading a precise amount of star anise adds to the irrepressible citrus. Now comes the subtly animalic honey. This is a difficult material to get right there is a sweet spot where on either side it is sugar water or unpleasantly dirty. M. Vasnier finds the place where the animalic facets and the golden sweetness ooze around the citrus accord. Just like that blanket we gather under.

The clever piece that M. Vasnier uses to tie this perfume together is a suite of dried grasses. First the dried grass of hay is threaded through the honey and citrus. Sweetgrass is also braided into the honey. What they are waiting for is the linchpin of coumarin. Coumarin has a strong-hay-like quality. With the other grasses present it is tilted towards that profile. The final piece is the warmth of Peru balsam providing a hint of the Holidays right at the end.

Starlight Mandarin & Honey has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is a comfort scent which will be easily worn in the colder months beyond the Holidays. It will be especially welcome in those long nights of the beginning of the year. Just snuggle in with your pack.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hedonik Divine Perversion- Lusty Fun

It took me a while to appreciate what independent perfumer Francesca Bianchi was doing with her perfumes. I have found a frame of reference which has found me eagerly looking forward to her releases. Her latest, Hedonik Divine Perversion is her thoughts on leather.

Sig.ra Bianchi created a new brand, Hedonik. Here she would marry her fragrance aesthetic to her design of wearable leather. What makes this early collection interesting is it is all accessories. Leather studded with metal and crystals meant to create a versatility described on the website as, “pop-fetish, dark, rock, punk, fun.” They allow you to let any or all those aspects to be on display or hidden away. There is something great about hidden desires or extroverted challenge.

Francesca Bianchi

Sig.ra Bianchi also had to add a perfume to this debut collection. Divine Perversions also finds a line where darkness is hidden and displayed. It fits ideally the way she has designed her fragrance aesthetic over the last couple of years. She has found a fascinating balancing point where she is on the verge of going too far without going too far.

The leather accord she creates is at the center of this. It is a rough-edged leather which is given some refinement in the early going through orris. She adds a light layer of iris powder over the animalic accord. Some rose also acts to soften the accord.

In the earliest moments a sense of flirtatious gourmand-like fun reigns. Some raspberry and baie rose push up against the leather with a berry infused sweetness. What comes next is called “caramel” in the note list. What I perceive is a gooey hot fudge. Warm thick chocolate sauce covering the fruit and the leather. This is especially apparent as the tarry pieces of the leather accord grab the chocolate right down into the grain. This is the Divine

As this develops the gourmand pieces are washed away with something lustier. She is using some of the animalic musks to take that leather accord from Divine to something more enticingly sensual. This is where that approach to the edge of excess occurs. Those animalic pieces take this from fun to something which might have the snap of a leather crop. She completes her base with an exuberant amber which pushes all this deeper towards Perversion.

Divine Perversion has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Sig. ra Bianchi captures the fun and lustiness of her leather creations perfectly within the fragrance inspired by them. This is another great perfume from her.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Naomi Goodsir Corpus Equus- Go Slow, Get it Right

We live in a society which always seem to want to move at the speed of a bullet train. Consumers want everything fast and lots of it. Fragrance is as susceptible to these forces as any. The pace of releases or the double-digit collections is meant to sate the appetites of perfume lovers. As someone who smells his fair share during a year, I think the rush to market sometimes leave good ideas unfulfilled. When I try something that is almost there, I wonder what a little extra time might have wrought. It is a fanciful thought most brands just want to churn their releases. Getting it right is not part of the equation. There are outliers, Naomi Goodsir Corpus Equus is one of them.

Naomi Goodsir

There are no more exacting creative directors than Naomi Goodsir and Renaud Coutadier. From the moment I met them in 2012 I have been a persistent correspondent asking when the next new thing is coming. They are polite in replying with a version of this, “When we think it is right?” This has been a process which has taken years. It has led to a small collection which exhibits the success of this way of making perfume.

Renaud Coutadier

Corpus Equus took eight years to finally get it right. Ms. Goodsir and M. Coutadier know what they are looking for. In this case they worked through every iteration with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour. In the press materials there is talk about it being the spirit of an Arabian horse. What I found was a smoky leathery amber which reminds me of a leather sofa in front of a fireplace more than a horse.

Bertrand Duchaufour

This begins with that scent of woodsmoke from a chimney. Those who remember one of Ms. Goodsir’s first releases Bois D’Ascese will likely see a kinship. This is a much better-behaved smokiness. Which is good because a compelling incense pairs with it in the early going. I imagined an incense burner where a sliver of wood and a joss stick smoldered next to each other. Releasing spirals of smoke which tangle themselves together.

The leather accord comes next. This is a modernized Cuir de Russie version. A lot of birch tar is used. It simultaneously picks up on the smoke in the top accord while beginning the construction of the leather one. There is a pungent cigarette ash rubbed into the leather. Reminded me of the way my leather jacket smelled after a night of clubbing. The final piece is an animalic musk which pulls it all together into a leather accord with vitality. If there is a horse to be found here this is where it might be, I guess. It all folds into a strong amber in the base as the smoke and leather envelop it.

Corpus Equus has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

There is a lot of pleasure in finding some aspects of the first and this sixth one nine years apart. It confirms that the concept of go slow, get it right works if you let it.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Fzotic Pantoum- Goodbye to a Friend

Life is full of comings and goings. When a long-time friend makes the choice to move far away it is bittersweet. You are happy that they are moving towards something they desire. You are sad because the person who was always there for you won’t be. Your life shifts around as an important person leaves to pursue their path. The final act is the going away party. This is where you get to let the person know they will be missed while sending them forth on a wave of goodwill. Fzotic Pantoum was born of this.

Independent perfumer Bruno Fazzolari was inspired to create Pantoum as part of an LA exhibit “The Going Away Present” at the Kristina Kite Gallery. It was done in honor of 30-plus year resident of LA, Bruce Hainley. He is a poet and art writer who is moving to Houston. The degree to which he will be missed was expressed through this installation. Mr. Fazzolari contributed Pantoum to the party.

Bruno Fazzolari

Pantoum refers to a style of poetry where the second and fourth lines of a stanza become the first and third lines of the next. According to Mr. Fazzolari on the website it “is a metaphor for new beginnings”. I was curious about the poetry produced from this process and looked a few up online. The best ones use the construct to capture an evolution of syllables through the piece. I was wearing Pantoum on the night I was enjoying finding them. Because of that it struck me that this was like the evolution of a perfume as the opening accords give way to the heart only to come back again before interacting with the base. This is how I experienced Pantoum.

One thing I noticed was how bright the early stages of this are. Mr. Fazzolari is not necessarily a perfumer who shies away from it. Yet the early moments of mandarin, grapefruit, and neroli are probably the most luminous accord he has made. I don’t know if it was intentional, but it is reminiscent of the citrus groves of California. The place which is being left behind.

The heart looks forward through a magnolia centered accord. Magnolia has a creamy scent with a woody underpinning. Mr. Fazzolari uses cedar as an amplifier of that. I know cedar is native to Texas so perhaps this is meant to be the transition from citrus groves to the plains of the Lone Star State.

When I read the pantoum poetry I found they all had a bit of melancholy to them. As the clever wordplay runs its course it is like when the going away party winds down. There are the heartfelt hugs. The promises to keep in touch. The knowledge it won’t be the same. These are captured in a surprisingly emotional oakmoss in the base. This is not a chypre because the oakmoss hides underneath the floral and citrus for a long time. It is only as they fade that it becomes apparent. It carries the soft bite of regret that maybe you forgot to say something.

Pantoum has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Pantoum feels like it contains much of Mr. Fazzolari’s emotions about Mr. Hainley’s departure. I think it is the most exuberant perfume he has made. Which is only fitting when saying goodbye to a friend.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Fzotic.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Henry Rose Flora Carnivora- Clean and Good

1

From the moment I started writing about perfume I was inextricably bound to the beauty industry. What that has meant is when I would attend a large beauty event there were lots of claims that made the scientist scream inside. The way I made up for that was to visit the booth and torture them over their lack of understanding. The most important piece of advice I can give is if they say there is some scientific reason for some positive effect, there almost surely is nothing.

Which is why I am skeptical of this “clean” movement in perfumery. There has always been an unreasonable amount of hysteria about the supposed bad things hidden in perfumes. The way it is thought of is when you see “fragrance” on the ingredient list on the label, somewhere in there is hiding a terrible toxin. Common sense should tell you that of the hundreds of thousands of bottles of any mainstream perfume sold in a year if that was true there would be higher percentages of something bad happening to perfume wearers. There aren’t and there isn’t. What “fragrance” is meant to protect is the composition of the oil itself. Which is around 10% of a bottle anyway.

Michelle Pfeiffer

What the “clean” movement has decided is to add more transparency to the ingredients used in perfume. This is not a bad thing. That it is seen as something “better” is where I draw my line. If a perfume brand wants to work more openly that is their choice.

Two years ago the actress Michelle Pfeiffer took this to an even stricter level. She wanted to work with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) an independent agency which monitors the ingredients in beauty products. She also wanted to only use only sustainably produced natural ingredients, collaborating with the organization Cradle to Cradle for that. Either piece is a significant hurdle. She found that the oil house International Flavor & Fragrance (IFF) was interested in working with her. They released a debut collection of five perfumes produced under this strategy.

Celine Barel

What I found was when you ask a perfumer to work with a radically reduced roster of ingredients you get something not quite what I would call a perfume. Many of them felt like accords in search of a structure. I forgot about them after this initial introduction.

I received a press release and sample for the latest release Henry Rose Flora Carnivora. This was supposed to be a white flower scent. Now this seemed to me like a bridge too far for this concept. Except I found that perfumer Celine Barel had an ingenious way around it. Creating a perfume that made me think.

What makes Flora Carnivora so interesting to me is Mme Barel is working in an accord of tuberose instead of the real thing. Orange blossom and jasmine are both sustainably grown and harvested. Tuberose is less so. So if you can’t use the real thing, make an accord. Mme Barel does that. It has the creamy quality of tuberose which adds a lovely piece to the mix of orange blossom and jasmine. It is completed with vetiver and cedar adding a fresh woody foundation. Over time it warms to a more ambery woody as the florals become less prominent.

Flora Carnivora has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is a much better perfume than any of the original five. It is also good enough that the provenance of the materials doesn’t concern me. What I do find is a creative perfumer using the restrictions to her advantage to make something good which is also “clean”.

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

Mark Behnke