In a normal year, thoughts of getting away from the cold on a beach somewhere is where the mind wanders. Of course this is not a normal year and I suspect very few reading this will end up on a beach. Which is why we must let our sense of smell transport us to a beach in our mind. The beachy style of perfume has always been a stalwart part of fragrance. Atelier Cologne Lemon Island is the latest to add itself to those ranks.
For all the history Atelier Cologne has I believe this is the first time they have made this type of cologne absolue. Founder and creative director Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and her husband Christophe Cervasel have certainly covered most of the bases in their eleven years as a brand. It is one of the strengths that it is so versatile. Which is what makes it surprising that it took them until release forty-four to find themselves on the beach.
Sylvie and Christophe Cervasel
What makes a successful beach scent? First it has to evoke the beach in a few different ways. It can capture the crash of the waves and the salty air. It can also work on finding a piece of the beach scene to emulate. This is the path Lemon Island takes. It wants to smell like that great suntan lotion.
To do that they use a very sunny lemon. The press materials say it is from an Indian Ocean island called Rodrique. i can’t say I notice a difference. What I smell is a slightly green lemon with brightness and tartness in equal measure. If there is some terroir to this citrus it isn’t obvious. Next comes a lovely jasmine given some of that sea air to provide an expansiveness. This is that floral at the core of so many suntanning products. It then moves to light vanilla also given a hint of saltiness.
Lemon Island has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
In this wintertime of 2021 I’m not going to make it to my favorite island. My best bet is to book a ticket to Lemon Island as my beach of choice this year.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.
Especially with perfume brands I know well I have expectations. Fair or unfair my favorites have an extra criterion to live up to. I’ve always realized that, but it was brought front and center with Atelier Cologne Love Osmanthus.
Those who have followed me over the years know I think of Atelier Cologne as one of those brands which are “mine”. It Is because we both started doing our respective things at the same time. Back when Atelier Cologne was just a stand in a section of the Bergdorf Goodman a little over ten years ago to the huge worldwide brand they’ve become. They have been my favorite example on the difference between mainstream and niche perfumes. When they started being offered in Sephora it was my stock answer to send readers in to give them a try and see if they detected the difference. Most of them did. This fragrance form of cologne absolue pioneered by founders Sylvie and Christophe Cervasel has been influential in ways big and small. Love Osmanthus is the forty-second release. Here is where things became difficult for me.
Christophe and Sylvie Cervasel
Another thing longtime readers know is I adore osmanthus. So to say I was psyched for an Atelier Cologne osmanthus was obvious. Except when I received the bottle this wasn’t an osmanthus fragrance. It is listed as an ingredient, but I’ve spent weeks in search of it. It is not there. Although I have other favorites the combination of wood and citrus is maybe the signature of Atelier Cologne. That is what Love Osmanthus is. What it isn’t is the best of that style within the brand. On my Atelier Cologne shelf there are many of these types of perfumes and I wear them all. It is just with forty-two Atelier Cologne choices Love Osmanthus is not my favorite. There is my conundrum. It is where I am taking my disappointment in no osmanthus being present along with it being a different iteration of woody citrus. Those are the extra criterion I was mentioning.
Then I had to ask myself is it fair? If this was the first Atelier Cologne I had encountered would I have thought it was good? Despite the name being misleading taken against the rest of the world and not the high bar within the brand is it good? Faced with my own bias I think the answer is yes.
Love Osmanthus is extremely simple a bitingly bright lemon over clean, slightly green, woods of cedar. There is this fleeting creamy floral which is buried deep. It doesn’t smell like any osmanthus I’ve encountered. If I was identifying it, I would call it magnolia because that is creamy and woody. The balance is ideal, and the lemon and cedar go all day.
Love Osmanthus has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
The bottom line is Love Oemanthus is another very good citrus woody from a brand which excels at them. If you focus on what it is and not on what it is not, I think you’ll like it.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.
In 2010 I had an appointment on the beauty level at Bergdorf-Goodman. I was there to meet one of the creative directors behind a new brand of perfume. I was very early in this idea of being a writer about perfume; I was a bit nervous. Sylvie Ganter stood next to the pedestal with her debut collection of five. She welcomed me with a smile then introduced me to Atelier Cologne. She also had one of the perfumers who had done three of the five; Jerome Epinette. He was there to answer my geeky questions about how you make a cologne last. In 2010 when you put cologne on a bottle of fragrance that was synonymous with cheap and diluted. If this brand was going to survive, they had to overcome that perception. Their answer was to create a form they called “cologne absolue”. The simplest way to make a cologne last is to up the oil concentration. That is a simplistic formula but if done without thought you get a fragrance that is sunny ingredients bogged down in its own strength. It might last a long time, but you wouldn’t want to put up with it. The brilliance of the way Atelier Cologne re-imagined cologne for the 21st century was they never lost sight of what made cologne a specific kind of perfume. They just found a way to make it better.
Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel
2019 begins the tenth year of the brand. They have not just survived they are one of the great success stories in perfumery over that period. Mme Ganter would marry her business partner, and co-creative director, Christophe Cervasel to become Mme Ganter-Cervasel. The brand would become one of the few to take the niche sensibility out to the mall. I’ve lost count at the number of people I’ve sent to try Atelier Cologne to learn of the difference between mainstream and niche. The brand has been the first step to a new perfumed world for many because of that availability. Throughout everything the vision of what “cologne absolue” is, and could be, was never lost. M. Epinette has designed 28 of the 39 perfumes released. He has been as influential at defining the brand as the creative directors. It is why as Atelier Cologne begins its tenth year the perfume which kicks it off is a return to its roots; Pacific Lime.
If you ask someone to describe a cologne to you it is likely they will reply “citrus-y” just before they complain about it not lasting. For perfume 39 the brand focuses on a citrus fruit they have not designed a perfume around previously, lime. M. Epinette has refined both his concepts of cologne and minimalist construction immensely over the ensuing years. Pacific Lime is proof of that.
There are five listed ingredients; lime, lemon, coconut, spearmint, and eucalyptus. Three of the five are traditional cologne components. Coconut and eucalyptus are not. The way both of those are used within Pacific Lime is what gives it that Atelier Cologne signature.
If you’ve ever spent time slicing fresh limes prior to a party, or if you work as a bartender, the first few minutes of Pacific Lime will remind you of that. Piercing the skin of the lime while the juice of the pulp and the citric acid of the skin scent the air. The sticky juice coating your hands. That’s what Pacific Lime smells like out of the bottle. Then if you read that ingredient list above and started thinking baker’s coconut or pina colada that is not what’s here. The coconut is reminiscent of the fresh white meat of the coconut after you’ve drained off the water. Growing up in Florida I husked many coconuts and used my penknife to scoop out the white part. This is not overly sweet it carries a kind of muskiness not unlike a synthetic white musk. For all I know M. Epinette might have made a coconut accord using that. The way the coconut combines with the incredible freshness of the lime is spectacular. It then finishes with twin prongs of mentholated goodness. The spearmint provides a lighter piece of that effect. The eucalyptus is what makes the final stages of Pacific Lime something special. It carries an expansiveness through the menthol inherent within the eucalyptus forming an energetic glow surrounded by lime.
Pacific Lime has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is one of the best citrus colognes Atelier Cologne has produced in their entire line. It continues to show that even when you come full circle there are still new things to say.
Disclosure: this review is based on a bottle provided by Atelier Cologne.
It has been almost exactly eight years since I first met Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel in New York City. She was showing me her new brand Atelier Cologne. The first question out of my mouth was, “does it last?” She then explained the concept behind the bottle was to create a new version called “cologne absolue”. On that day, and ever since, Atelier Cologne has been at the forefront of the 21st century re-interpretation of cologne. One of those first releases showed the possibilities within the concept, Orange Sanguine. That simple fragrance took the traditional citrus cologne adding depth and nuance along with longevity and projection. It is the perfume I send many to seek when I want to display why a niche perfume might be worth a little more. Mme Ganter-Cervasel has continued to collaborate with the perfume behind Orange Sanguine, Ralf Schwieger; their latest is called Iris Rebelle.
The current fragrance customer is in flux with a seeming desire for a lighter style of fragrance. For a brand there must come adaptations with that. I have been wondering whether Atelier Cologne must also bend towards this trend. One release is not a direction but Iris Rebelle is the most transparent Atelier Cologne released to date. Having Hr. Schwieger on hand to translate the original concept into something more on trend for the present day makes sense. What has been produced is a floating iris-colored veil on a breeze.
Hr. Schwieger cleverly uses a very rooty iris as his keynote. This is the iris which I prefer over the more traditional powdery style. By accentuating the earthiness, it also allows for it to not become an overbearing puffball. In the early going orange blossom combines with the iris to form an incredibly grounded accord. There is a slightly sweet carrot-like nature which comes forward which is very pleasing. Hr. Schwieger then uses a judicious amount of lavender to add a hint of floral quality so that you are reminded that iris is more than a root. Rose also provides a slightly more intense floral underpinning, too. This settles onto a base accord of guaiac wood continuing to keep the mood light along with some white musks and a bit of patchouli.
Iris Rebelle has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
It will be interesting to see how Iris Rebelle is received by long-time admirers of the brand. It is so much more transparent than anything else in the collection it stands out. As one of those I feel like it upholds that original ethos laid out eight years ago from a different perspective. I like it. What is still to find is does Iris Rebelle create new consumers. David Bowie says in “Rebel Rebel”, “You love bands when they're playing hard”. What happens when they play a little softer?
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.
Among all the things in my life of which I am a snob about coffee ranks right up there. Growing up in S. Florida I became enamored of the super sweet, super strong Cuban coffee. Espresso freshly made in a pot on the stove was the finish of every family dinner. The spread of the Seattle coffee craze nationwide exposed me to all the different ways to drink it. My favorite way to drink it straight became as a ristretto shot. When I am served my order in a small cup there is a bit of froth which floats on top called crema. It has a nutty slightly dark chocolate scent to it. I’ve always wanted a perfume to capture that. What I didn’t know was I wanted that crema to float on top of tuberose. That is what I got with Atelier Cologne Café Tuberosa.
Over the years I have admired the ability of creative director Sylvie Ganter- Cervasel to expand the notion of what the structure of cologne is. It is particularly interesting when they work with notes like coffee and tuberose which should never be in anything called a cologne. One reason this can be achieved is perfumer Jerome Epinette has been a part of this re-definition ever since the first releases from the brand. They have navigated the contradiction of powerful notes and cologne before. I’m not sure if it has ever been as interesting previously as it is here.
The only thing which will remind you, from an ingredient perspective, of old school cologne is the citrus sunburst of tangerine and bergamot which opens Café Tuberosa. M. Epinette then sweeps it away on a sirocco of cardamom which ushers in a rich tuberose. This is not a shy tuberose it is a grande dame version dominating the room. After a while she introduces her friend rose and the florals hold in position for a while. Then M. Epinette pours his ristretto shot over the top. As the rich coffee accord comes forward I imagine a bloom of tuberose stained brown with the espresso. It is fabulous different combination. Dark cacao comes along to give the espresso more traction against the tuberose. Patchouli completes my desired crema accord.
Café Tuberosa has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
Café Tuberosa is part of the Avant Garde collection within Atelier Cologne. I have taken that to mean these are the ones where we push the envelope on what it means to be a cologne. Café Tuberosa is the most envelope pushing of anything which carries the Atelier Cologne name. I think there will be some who find this a bit too much. For me M. Epinette and Mme Ganter-Cervasel have pitched this just right; giving me my fragrance version of crema on a white floral backdrop.
Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample provided by Atelier Cologne.
If there has been one thing I have done the most over the time I’ve been running Colognoisseur it has been to recommend Atelier Cologne. One of the difficult things for me is to receive an e-mail from a reader letting me know they want to give this niche perfume world a try but they live outside of the major US cities. Most consumers want to know if they are going to pay more that they personally can tell, and appreciate, the difference between mainstream and niche. My answer has been, more often than not, to head to their local mall; go to Sephora, and get a sample of Atelier Cologne. Most of the time I receive a follow-up from those who do see the difference. There are some who have replied that they like what they smelled but it was “too strong”. Even when I show visitors niche perfumes that is a common refrain, as well.
What that means is a perfume brand needs a fragrance which acts as a welcome mat to allow a consumer to take a smaller step from the mainstream into a different style of perfumery. I think the most recent release from Atelier Cologne called Clementine California will be that perfume for the brand. One of the reasons I think this will become important is if the recent acquisition by L’Oreal comes with a plan to expand the availability even more; Clementine California can become the brand ambassador.
Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel
Clementine California is still the Cologne Absolue for which the brand started by Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel pioneered. Jerome Epinette is once again the perfumer. Clementine California is a sparkling citrus cologne. All of this is part of the brand DNA. What is different is this is, seemingly by design, the most easygoing Atelier Cologne ever.
To achieve this affability M. Epinette uses a very traditional cologne spine of citrus, spice, and woods. Only in a few places is there a different twist to that classic cologne recipe which is what makes it a small step towards niche.
The opening is a sun-drenched citrus mix of clementine and mandarin. Then M. Epinette tints it green with juniper. This is the technique he will use throughout by adding a green facet to each accord. In the heart star anise and Szechuan pepper provide the spice component which is turned greener by basil. The base is sandalwood and cypress providing a woody alternative to the more commonly used cedar. M. Epinette adds vetiver for the last bit of green.
Clementine California has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
From the very first moment I smelled Clementine California I believed this is the cologne which can put its arm around your shoulder while you step over the threshold into a different fragrance world. I am looking forward to recommending this to the next person to send me an e-mail.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Atelier Cologne.
I have mentioned how I believe Atelier Cologne has done one of the best jobs at building a brand of any of their contemporaries. I have also believed a key part of that was the use of only two perfumers on nearly all of the previous thirty releases. Perfumers Jerome Epinette and Ralf Schwieger have provided the olfactory DNA which has define Atelier Cologne. Particularly over the last year I began to wonder if there was room for a new collaborator who could also add a different genetic makeup to this brand.
When I received my five press samples of Collection Orient I have become so used to the styles of M. Epinette and Hr. Schwieger that I felt like four out of the five felt like M. Epinette’s work. When I sent off the e-mail to Atelier Cologne to get confirmation I asked if the fifth perfume, Poivre Electrique, was maybe a new perfumer. When I received my response I was delighted to find out it was Bruno Jovanovic.
Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel
M. Jovanovic was the one perfumer outside of Atelier Cologne who I admired for also working on modernizing the cologne architecture. In 2012-2013 he made five fragrances which showed his version of contemporary cologne. The three releases he did for Thirdman, A Lab on Fire Almost Transparent Blue, and Dries van Noten for Frederic Malle. If there was a signature to his style of cologne it came in the more transparent use of woody notes in the base accord. The five fragrances I named above sit in the same space as all of my Atelier Cologne bottles because that is where I feel the future of cologne exists. I don’t know the story behind M. Jovanovic being brought in to the Atelier Cologne Perfume fold. I can say that I am delighted that creative directors Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel reached out to him.
For M. Jovanovic’s first brief he was tasked with using black pepper as a keynote in Poivre Electrique. Black pepper has been a fantastic note in perfume when used correctly. It has been an overbearing presence when used inappropriately. There are more examples of the latter. M. Jovanovic I believe recognized this. He uses black pepper as the replacement for the traditional herbal component of the cologne top accord. It is a beautiful beginning to what turns in to a spectacular new cologne.
Poivre Electrique opens with the black pepper front and center. It holds all of my initial attention until bitter orange eventually adds in the citrus piece of the cologne design. M. Jovanovic keeps this pepper set at a steady burn without crossing over into searing. The pepper continues as the heart notes begin to become more apparent. Rose and incense make up the duet along with pimento carrying on with the fading pepper in adjacent to it. In a set of perfumes dubbed as from the Orient this is the one phase where I felt like I was in a Pasha’s Palace. Myrrh warms the incense. Then M. Jovanovic provides his signature as sandalwood and cedar provide the translucent woody veil over the heart accord.
Poivre Electrique has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.
Poivre Electrique is my favorite of the new Collection Orient. I admire much of the risk taking evident in the other four releases but Poivre Electrique combines that adventurousness with a set of incredibly pleasing accords. I suppose it could just be that The Return of Bruno to making new cologne in a place where it feels like he should always have been, being a match made in Heaven.
Disclosure; This review is based on a press sample provided by Atelier Cologne.
Cumin is one of the more divisive materials used in perfumery. To some it smells strongly of unwashed perspiration. To others it is a vital piece of depth and texture as part of a whole composition adding in a level of spice only cumin can bring to a fragrance. Two of the new Collection Orient from Atelier Cologne, Tobacco Nuit and Philtre Ceylan, contain prominent cumin notes. It is an interesting evolution of the brand. Creative directors Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel take Atelier Cologne to a whole different scent space than they have in all of the previous releases. One smart thing to do is to take along a collaborator in perfumer Jerome Epinette with whom you’ve had a long fruitful relationship. Together this creative team successfully takes some risks.
Tobacco Nuit is an example of when the Cologne Absolue design is pushed to its limits because of the use of more intense ingredients. I have always enjoyed where M. Epinette chooses to alter his interpretation of cologne. With Tobacco Nuit this really does feel like a night inspired cologne.
M. Epinette starts with a true original take on the citrus-herbal traditional opening of cologne. He combines the intense tartness of clementine with coriander and cumin. This is a fabulous variation as the cumin and coriander provide a rough-hewn quality to press against the clementine. The nice thing is if it isn’t something you enjoy as much as I do it moves along quickly into the heart of tobacco flower, incense, and labdanum. Again the conventions of cologne are being stretched. The tobacco flower, instead of a full tobacco leaf accord, keeps the tobacco from being that rich narcotic version. It is a shade or two lighter. Which allows the silvery incense and the earthy labdanum an opportunity to form a heart accord which goes very deep but also stays quite opaque. Patchouli picks up on the earthiness of the olibanum, cedar adds a subtle complement to the incense and vanilla sweetens the tobacco flower for the final phase of development. Tobacco Nuit has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.
Philtre Ceylan actually is the first Atelier Cologne release which feels like it has truly reinvented the form. There are the very sketchy outlines of cologne present. Philtre Ceylan is much more interested in being a spicy tea fragrance than in being a cologne. Vive la difference!
If there is any part of Philtre Ceylan that feels cologne-like it is the opening where bergamot and cardamom are first to impress. No sooner do you get a handle on that than M. Epinette twists the screw by inserting a fresh spearmint. It blows up that opening completely. What reassembles starts with a rich strong tea accord equal parts black tea and green tea. Again M. Epinette adds in a note to impose itself upon that accord as a powdery iris forms a veil over the tea. It comes together surprisingly well. The cumin shows up in the base and in Philtre Ceylan it sticks around for a long time. It forms a foundation for the heart accord adding particular contrast to the iris. The light woodiness of gaiac and the similarly weighted green of papyrus round out Philtre Ceylan. Philtre Ceylan has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.
There has been no shortage of darker versions of cologne in the Atelier Cologne collection. Tobacco Nuit and Philtre Ceylan provide the deepest nights yet all through the use of cumin.
Disclosure: This review was based on press samples provided by Atelier Cologne.
Atelier Cologne is one of my favorite brands because they continue to test the boundaries of what can be accomplished with a cologne architecture. For this latest five fragrance collection the creative directors Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel have looked Eastward for inspiration to result in the Collection Orient. This is almost a natural as the ingredients those of us in the West associate with the East lend themselves to a cologne-type fragrance. I will review the entire collection over the next three days. Today I begin with Encens Jinhae and Mimosa Indigo.
Encens Jinhae is by perfumer Jerome Epinette. It combines incense and cherry blossom. The Jinhae in the name refers to the South Korean town where the most famous Korean celebration of the cherry blossom takes place. I have always associated both of these ingredients with Japan. Growing up in S. Florida there was this small Japanese Garden on one of the causeways linking Miami to Miami Beach. Whenever I visited as a child there was a cone of incense burning. Miami was too warm for cherry trees. For that it is my current home in Washington DC which provides me the spectacle of the cherry blossoms every spring. Encens Jinhae melds both of these memories into one.
M. Epinette opens Encens Jinhae with pink pepper and nutmeg. This is one of the rare occasions where the top accord has not appealed to me. I felt like the nutmeg and the pink pepper never found an equilibrium making it feel more discordant than I would have preferred. Thankfully all of that moves away as the heart of incense and cherry blossom blooms. Cherry blossom is a tough floral to work with because it carries a very slight scent profile. M. Epinette uses rose to add some of the depth nature left out. Because of that fragility the use of the incense also has to be carefully modulated. If I thought the top accord was off-kilter the heart accord is almost perfectly balanced. Since that is where most of my time wearing Encen Jinhae was spent it made me smile a lot. The base is a combination of sandalwood, elemi and a patchouli fraction. This provides an opaque woody foundation. Encens Jinhae has 12 to 14-hour longevity and average sillage.
Mimosa Indigo is also composed by M. Epinette. Encens Jinhae felt like a fairly straightforward paean to the Orient; Mimosa Indigo is a very conscious melding of East and West. M. Epinette works towards a heart of mimosa and leather. It leaves Mimosa Indigo as something straddling two worlds.
Mimosa Indigo’s East-West divide is illustrated by mandarin and saffron in the top notes. The mandarin provides the juicy citrus to the exotic nature of the saffron. I wouldn’t have expected these two to go together as well as they do. I was sort of sorry to see them move out of the way for the heart notes. The mimosa is beautifully realized. M. Epinette also chose to use lilac to up the floralcy because his white leather accord has some oomph to it. This leather accord is not so refined to be described a suede nor is it so animalic to be thought of as raw. It falls closer to suede than unrefined but this is no ultra-refined version of leather. This is why the lilac is necessary otherwise this would just be a heart of leather. The final mix of the mimosa and the leather is fascinating. The base is again sandalwood but made sweeter with some vanilla over a few sheer musks. Mimosa Indigo has 16 to 18-hour longevity and average sillage.
In both of these Orient Collection releases it is the floral heart accord which make them stand out.
I’ll review the remaining three entries over the next two days.
Disclosure; This review was based on press samples provided by Atelier Cologne.
In a year when I smelled almost 700 new perfumes it is easy to focus on some of the problems which affect the perfume industry. What is nice about this time of year is it allows me to focus on what is outstanding within perfumery. These next four winners are what keep me coming back for more.
Perfume of the Year: Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendre– There is one thing about finding a great perfume for the first time at one of the big expos; it stands out head and shoulders above all that surround it. When I arrived at this fall’s Pitti Fragranze in Florence my very first stop was to see Australian born milliner Naomi Goodsir and her partner in perfume Renaud Coutaudier. I look forward to connecting with this brand because these two have an uncompromising attention to detail in each of their releases. In three years they have only released four perfumes. Every single one of them is among the best for their particular year. I knew there was going to be a transcendent entry sooner than later. On that September day in Florence Iris Cendre turned out to be that fragrance.
For Iris Cendre Mme Goodsir and M. Coutaudier returned to the perfumer they worked with on their first two releases, Julien Rasquinet. Together they created a shimmering green iris which had a sly callback to their earlier collaboration Bois D’Ascese in the base. Iris Cendre is a success on every level I can name. Choosing a Perfume of the Year has never been easier.
Perfumer of the Year: Christophe Laudamiel– This category was the toughest it has ever been for me. There was so much laudable work by many perfumers this year I ended up looking for intangibles to elevate my eventual choice, Christophe Laudamiel. The perfume reasons were the three 2015 releases he composed; Raymond Matts Pashay, Raymond Matts Tulile, and Strangelove NYC meltmyheart. I mentioned in my overview yesterday that there were more unabashedly synthetic perfumes released this year. In the past I have used M. Laudamiel’s work for brands like Humiecki & Graef or Nest as what can be accomplished with a primarily synthetic palette. The three perfumes he worked on for 2015 are even better examples especially the Raymond Matts Pashay. Strangelove NYC meltmyheart shows how he can take a perfectly executed central accord of chocolate, oud, and orris accompanied by a set of synthetics which impart a transparency to create something supernatural.
The intangible that lifted him over the others listed below is his tireless work for The Academy of Perfumery & Aromatics. In that capacity he developed a fantastic children’s introductory set to fragrance. By using different ingredients and tying them to their geographic location and their smells it is an ingenious way of introducing the concept of scent, in an educational way, to the next generation.
A great year of perfume combined with an important ambassadorial role makes Christophe Laudamiel my Perfumer of the Year.
Runner-Ups: Mandy Aftel, Cristiano Canali, Jean-Claude Ellena, Bruno Fazzolari, Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Pierre Negrin, and Geza Schoen.
Creative Director of the Year: Celine Verleure of Olfactive Studio– Of the many things I say over and over it is how disappointed I am when a brand plays it safe. While I press for a brand to take risks their bottom line is at stake to please my desire. Any Creative Director who takes too many risks will probably not succeed. My choice for Creative Director of the Year is Celine Verleure of Olfactive Studio who fearlessly released two very different perfumes in 2015, Panorama and Selfie.
Mme Verleure has always been interested in pushing the envelope as a Creative Director and that started with her work on the Kenzo Jungle collection from 1996-1998 which were not hewing to current trends at that time. When she started Olfactive Studio in 2011 she still made memorable riffs on recognizable templates but the early releases were about building an audience. In 2015 she challenged that audience with the fierce greenness of Panorama including a wasabi accord. Followed up by Selfie which took a fractured top accord of contrasting notes and coalesced it around a maple syrup heart. It is a fascinating bit of olfactory architecture I enjoy every time I wear it. These are perfumes which invite scrutiny and that is something I can only say about the very best releases in a year.
For her sense of adventure, I name Celine Verleure my Creative Director of the Year.
Runner-Ups: Karl Bradl (Aedes de Venustas and Nomenclature), Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel (Atelier Cologne), Madalina Stoica-Blanchard and Julien Blanchard (Jul et Mad), Christopher Chong (Amouage), and Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena (Eau D’Italie, ALTAIA).
Brand of the Year: Atelier Cologne– Atelier Cologne has been on an ever expanding trajectory since their founding in 2010. This year represented their most ambitious to date as they released eight new fragrances and an extrait version of one of the bestsellers. Owners and Creative Directors Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel have always impressed me with their clear vision for their brand. By releasing a four fragrance Collection Azur at the beginning of the year meant to be an introduction to the world of Cologne Absolue which was released to various Sephora for that reason. It was followed by four releases spread out through the year that continued the evolution of this style of perfume. Saphir Oud, Pomelo Paradis, Jasmine Angelique, and Musc Imperial displayed the versatility that can be elicited from this concept.
Atelier Cologne is also the genial ambassador to niche for many who don’t live in large cities. I have lost count how many times I have told those who live in these areas to go to their local Sephora and try the Atelier Cologne that are there. I almost invariably get a return e-mail relating to me how they bought one after smelling the difference. I always talk about wanting niche brands to reach out to consumers beyond the big cities. Atelier Cologne has done this with great success.
For those reasons Atelier Cologne is my Brand of the Year.
Runner-Ups: Aftelier Perfumes, DSH Perfumes, Hermes, Jo Malone, and Olfactive Studio.
Part 1 was my broad overview of the year.
Part 3 tomorrow I will reveal my top 25 new perfumes of 2015.