The whole concept of Cologne Absolue, that the brand Atelier Cologne is built around, is a story of concentration. By taking a cologne architecture and increasing the perfume oil concentration to greater than 15% they removed one of the most commonly mentioned drawbacks to cologne, the longevity. That Creative Director Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel has changed that particular characteristic has been one of the reasons that Atelier Cologne has flourished.
Another reason is the willingness of the brand to boldly redefine what a cologne can be constructed of. What I consider to be the inflection point where Mme Ganter-Cervasel truly proved to me Atelier Cologne was going to change things came with the simultaneous release in Fall 2012 of Vetiver Fatal and Rose Anonyme. Perfumer Jerome Epinette created two examples of light and dark which allowed me to consider what makes up a cologne. That these have been consistently two of the more popular entries in the line shows how this has resonated with consumers as well.
With that background I was extremely interested to receive the press release for Rose Anonyme Extrait. I was wondering what M. Epinette would do as he reworked his original for an even greater concentration. The answer is in upping the concentration from 18% in the original to 22% in the extrait it throws interesting shadows. In those shadows some new interactions come to the foreground.
Rose Anonyme Extrait begins near identically with bergamot and ginger on top. One of the first shadows is the presence of baie rose which is noticeable in this concentration while still being in the background. What is great about that subtle spiciness is that it opens the door for the rose to arise. The source of the rose in this perfume is from the Robertet rose fields in Turkey called Rose Petals Natural. This is one of the best rose raw materials I have ever come in to contact with. Used in higher concentration the spicy core which was apparent in the original is now made deeper and more luminous. Especially as the incense is also a much stronger presence in the higher concentration too. Together these provide a heartbeat to the extrait. Patchouli, papyrus, and vetiver provide an earthy grounding of the extrait as they did in the original. Vetiver substitutes for benzoin in the original and it has the effect of making it woody as well as earthy.
Rose Anonyme Extrait has overnight longevity and moderate sillage.
Rose Anonyme Extrait has everything the original had. It also contains more space for the difference in concentration to provide fascinating shading to a perfume you know well. Those shadows are worth seeking out especially if you are a an of the original. I expect the Rose Anonyme Extrait is going to become my preferred version when the weather turns colder, the days shorten, and the shadows lengthen.
Disclosure: this review was based on a press sample provided by Atelier Cologne.
As we approach the mid-point of 2015 if I was going to point out two trends which have stood out over the first half of the year it would be green fragrances and the use of szechuan pepper; mostly as a top note. When it comes to green it is one of the fragrance genres I like therefore having more different interpretations is a pleasant problem to have. The szechuan pepper was a note I was introduced to back at Pitti last September in a talk given by Mane.They passed around some differently extracted forms of it. Each had interesting quirks that I was looking forward to seeing how my favorite perfumers would use it. One of my favorite brands Atelier Cologne and one of my favorite perfumers Jerome Epinette provided me both; a new green perfume using Szechuan pepper called Jasmin Angelique.
Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel (Photo: Sarah Bouasse via Flair)
Jasmin Angelique is the sixth entry in the Collection Matieres for Atelier Cologne. Co-owner and creative director Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel describes this collection as “mythical essences reinvented”. I describe it as things you shouldn’t be able to make colognes from, even if they are in absolue concentration. Jasmin Angelique is as close as it can get early on to being a traditional cologne but once it goes green and floral it transforms into something full of powerful intent while still retaining a cologne architecture.
M. Epinette uses a very traditional bright lemon opening which is at first made slightly green with angelica seeds. Then M. Epinette unleashes the Szechuan pepper. In the case of Jasmin Angelique it provides a piquant contrast you might normally get from baie rose. The difference with the Szechuan pepper is there is a deeper banked energy that radiates off of it. If lemon provides the sunshine the Szechuan peper is providing the molten red ball of the sun itself. These early moments are fascinating in their texture. The heart notes arrive with a green wave starting with galbanum and fig. They douse the fire of the top notes underneath a verdant vivaciousness. As the green pushes the top notes to the back ground the jasmine can then arrive. M. Epinette has to keep the jasmine tightly controlled bacause the green is meant to be ascendant and jasmine is the kind of floral that can take over. He does keep it on a short leash allowing it to take its place but not to dominate. The indolic core fits right into the galbanum and fig duet. After many hours Jasmin Angelique transitions into a base of amber, tonka, and incense. The amber is the leader of the pack with the incense and tonka providing support. The amber is as warm as the opening notes were as Jasmin Angelique finishes where it began, on a warm glow.
Jasmin Angelique has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Jasmin Angelique has to be one of the least floral perfumes I have ever tried which has Jasmine in the name. The keynotes of this perfume are the Szechuan pepper and the galbanum-fig heart chord. They are what draw me in when I am wearing Jasmin Angelique for the day. I once again tip my hat to Mme Ganter-Cervasel and M. Epinette for making a cologne out of a set of notes which you should have a difficult time doing it with. That they make it look so effortless is part of the magic of the Atelier Cologne brand.
Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample provided by Atelier Cologne.
I grew up on the James Bond films. I’m pretty sure there was a time in my adolescence I believed I could be James Bond. Throughout the 1960’s there was only one James Bond, Sean Connery. Mr. Connery did the first five 007 movies. Then he quit for 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” only to return to do 1971’s “Diamonds are Forever”. After that movie was released he said emphatically that he would never play James Bond again. Until he did in 1983’s “Never Say Never Again”. One should always be careful about using the word never especially when speaking to people who will record those things. Certainly Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel co-owner and creative director at Atelier Cologne probably regrets the time she told me there would “never” be an oud perfume at Atelier Cologne.
Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel
That assertion was made in the very earliest days of Atelier Cologne’s existence. One of the things I’ve admired about Mme Ganter-Cervasel and her partner in life, and business, Christophe Cervasel is the consistently evolving vision which has become a brand characteristic. Two years ago one of those evolutions was the creation of the Collection Metal. The idea was to work with rare materials and again re-define what it means to call something a “cologne”. It is only natural that an oud perfume fits in with this definition. The newest release is just that, Oud Saphir. If the brand has been ever-creating itself one thing which has remained a constant are the perfumers who create for Mme Ganter-Cervasel. Ever since the original five releases they have only used two. For this “never” perfumer Jerome Epinette signs his 15th perfume in the Atelier Cologne collection.
Oud Saphir opens with the slightly twilight kind of citrus opening which has become a hallmark of the Collection Metal. In this case bergamot is given depth with ambrette and bite with pink pepper. It is shaded beautifully by M. Epinette as it sets you up for a deeper cologne experience than normal. Jasmine cut with the metallic green of violet leaves come next and they are placed on a plush leather accord. M.Epinette uses one of the most transparent leather accords I regularly experience and in Oud Saphir it is just the right amount of heft to support and not overwhelm the jasmine. This transitions into a base where M. Epinette wisely chooses to use an oud accord instead of the real thing. Honestly this is more the norm than not. In the case of trying to form a cologne around oud too much of the real stuff would have trampled this construction underfoot. By using an accord M. Epinette was able to again find the appropriate shading of oud to match the volume of the rest of the development. A bit of birch wood provides some of the more characteristic rough edges of oud without being oud. It all finishes with a light flight of vanilla over all of it.
Oud Saphir has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
As I wore Oud Saphir I started to realize it had some connection to my James Bond analogy. Oud Saphir is the most formal of the Atelier Cologne creations to date. When I’m looking at the perfume vault for something to wear underneath my tux during gala season I never even think about one of the Atelier Colognes. Oud Saphir has now filled this gap as I can definitely see myself wearing this under my formal wear, sipping a martini as I scan the crowd for enemy agents. I am very pleased that “never” has turned into Oud Saphir it is everything Atelier Cologne stands for.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Atelier Cologne.
Atelier Cologne feels like such a mature perfume brand I have a hard time reminding myself that they are just under five years old. Creative Directors Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel were clear-eyed about what they wanted Atelier Cologne to be about. Over the last five years that clarity of vision has made one of the most consistently pleasing line of perfumes from any perfume producer going. They have taken a staid form of fragrance and re-invigorated it with their creativity. The latest release is called Rendez-Vous and as they have done so often they offer something new to the whole concept of cologne.
Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel
Perfumer Jerome Epinette is back for his eleventh fragrance in the Atelier Cologne line. The keynote for Rendez-Vous is a Chinese osmanthus that carries a particular luminescence to it unusual in this floral note. The apricot and leather components of osmanthus are here but this has a sun burnished glow to it, as well. It makes it a different but wholly appropriate heart note to build a cologne around. M. Epinette takes traditional bracing elements on top and after the osmanthus appears he lets Rendez-Vous turn plush and soft as if you were sinking into a soft chair or a feather pillow. It is this overtly subdued finish which takes Rendez-Vous into unexplored territory within the cologne genre.
M. Epinette begins in very familiar cologne territory with bergamot, lemon, and pink pepper as his opening stanza. This is classic cologne architecture. What comes next is not. The osmanthus comes to the foreground and as I mentioned above it is like it exists in its own private ray of sunshine. The remainders of the top notes almost act like dew being burned off by that sunbeam. The apricot quality comes out and it is rich and chewy. Orris combines with this to create a decadent duet, this is a fruity floral combination I can completely enjoy. As the osmanthus begins to shift towards the leathery qualities, violet leaves sharpen that transition with slightly metallic green borders. The base is an indulgent suede leather accord accompanied with a gentle white musk cocktail. All of this is as soft as a loved one’s caress. Rendez-Vous comes to an end in a most unexpected place, serenely.
Rendez-Vous has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.
Rendez-Vous is why I look forward to the latest release from Atelier Cologne. Every single release to date has been recognizably a cologne. Every single release to date has given me something new to consider on what that word, cologne, really means when I use it. Rendez-Vous fits right in with the family. I look forward to my next rendezvous with Atelier Cologne.
Editor’s Note: Mme Ganter-Cervasel and M. Cervasel were married a few weeks ago and the picture above is from their wedding via their Facebook page.