Monday, June 29, 2015

The All New London Perfume Shopping Guide

As some of you may be aware, about 4 years ago, I published a guide to my favourite perfumeries in London. Little did I know how successful that post would turn out to be. It won a Jasmine Award. It quickly became - and to this date remains - the most frequently-visited article on this site. And, most gratifyingly, it led to countless emails from and encounters with scentusiasts who said they found it invaluable during their wanderings around the capital. In order to keep up with a constantly shifting retail scene, I have updated it fairly regularly, but I've decided that the time has come for a more extensive revision. So I am now very pleased and excited to unveil the brand new London Perfume Shopping Guide, version 2.0.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - January to March 2015 [part 2]

Here's part 2 of my digest of mini-reviews from Twitter, spanning January to March 2015. For part 1, please click here.

À La Rose from Maison Francis Kurkdjian (Francis Kurkdjian; 2014)*
Give this one plenty of skin time! You think it's going to be a simple soliflore, but it keeps surprising. It's like a tour through all sorts of different rose perfumes: green, jammy, airy, honeyed, musky. Both light and substantial. A real treat.

La Petite Robe Noire - Ma Robe Pétales from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser; 2015)*
Pistachio note takes away cheerfulness of original's cherry & almond. No sparkle. No zing.

Bronze Goddess from Estée Lauder (2015)*
One of the best 'coconut/suntan lotion' scents, because it tempers sugars with wood. No longer limited edition!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fragrance Flitting - IFF Speed Smelling Comes To London

Alexis Dadier at Speed Smelling, Salon De Parfums
image: Harrods
"What raises the pitch of the event to an especially heart-rending level is the fact that none of these works will be made commercially available. They are all either too expensive or too unusual to be deemed suitable for general release. Once sniffed, they may well be gone forever."
A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of popping into Harrods' Salon De Parfums for the London debut of IFF's much-lauded Speed Smelling extravaganza, in which the brand's star perfumers - including Dominique Ropion, Anne Flipo and Aliénor Massenet, amongst many others - presented the results of their own creative endeavours (ie not the stuff they're required to make by brands). To read my account of the experience, please click on this link to Glass.

The only thing I'd add to the piece is that if Harrods still have any stock left of the Speed Smelling Collection (details in the Glass article) I would seriously urge you to consider buying it. At £100, it isn't exactly cheap, but the sum does get you 11 x 10ml of creations which will probably never again be available in a retail setting. If the price tag is too hefty, see if you can split the purchase with one or two like-minded friends: I'm confident you won't regret parting with the cash.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - January to March 2015 [part 1]

It's time for another edition of my digest of Twitter mini-reviews; the following are from January to March 2015.

Ostara from Penhaligon's (Bertrand Duchaufour; 2015)
Truly delightful jonquil soliflore from Duchaufour. Orange blossom and subtle white florals mingle with woods & musks. A radiant marriage of the brand's own Orange Blossom & Amaranthine. As optimistic, life-affirming and uplifting as the sun itself. Lovely.

Pour Homme Extrême from Bottega Veneta (Daniela Andrier & Antoine Maisondieu; 2015)*
Recognisably related to the spicy, leathery original, but with emphasis on woods in base. Elegant work.

Knot from Bottega Veneta (Daniela Andrier; 2014)*
Much love lavished on this one. The top notes certainly deserve praise: orange & neroli cascading like liquid gold. But I'd say the loveliness isn't sustained. Fresh, cologne-like feel grows thinner. Still, much to commend it as an 'easy to wear' scent.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Persolaise Review: Noir Extreme from Tom Ford (2015)

I don't know where Tom Ford has been eating his kulfi, but I'm pretty sure it isn't the same place where I've been eating my kulfi. The taste of the dessert - essentially an Indian form of ice cream - is, obviously, one of its most important features. But I'd argue that its texture is perhaps an even more crucial component of its very particular identity. A delectable combination of the velvety, the creamy and the flaky - like downy, sugar-coated snow - the feel of the stuff serves as a perfect medium for the almond, the pistachio, the mango or whatever flavour takes your fancy. In other words, it's an ideal marriage of form and content.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

French Coca-Cola In New York - Cartier's Mathilde Laurent On Working With Oud

In 2014, when Cartier launched their three oud scents - Oud & Rose, Oud & Musc and Oud & Oud (yes, really) - I confess I was rather disappointed. Yet another brand, I thought, jumping on a bandwagon so crowded, it's a wonder it's able to move at all. So when I met their perfumer, Mathilde Laurent, in Paris a few months ago, I had to raise the subject with her. Whose idea was it for Cartier to join the oud brigade?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Uplifting Scents On ParfumPlus

Please click on this link to read my latest piece for the Middle East's ParfumPlus magazine. Some of you may recognise it as an edited version of my recent post on fragrances for a sunny day.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Persolaise Review: Marni Spice from Marni (Daniela Andrier; 2015)

Hats off to the people at Marni for the way in which they're handling their perfume portfolio. They hired an excellent creator, Daniela Andrier, to put together their first scent. They returned to her for their subsequent releases. And they've held their own in a fiendishly crowded environment without any undue fuss or gimmickry. Some may argue it's a shame that, since giving us the original fragrance, the brand has put out nothing but flankers, but there's something geekily satisfying about these variations on a theme; it's fascinating to see how the main accord has been tweaked and re-worked to produce markedly different effects. The latest effort is Marni Spice and, sure enough, it is recognisable as a cousin of the original Marni. In other words, it is a weightless, papery rose, placed upon a plentiful supply of musks. However, in this new incarnation, the flower is made dryer through the use of cedar, nutmeg and enough cinnamon to festoon every cappuccino in the land. It's a quietly elegant affair - reminiscent of Chanel's Chance - with sufficient charm to sustain interest for longer than you might expect. Ultimately, it fails to make a lasting impression, but I suspect it isn't even trying to. Like an expertly-judged piece of background music at a restaurant - effective precisely because it is unobtrusive - it arrives, it serves its purpose and then it makes a polite retreat. It may be easy to forget, but it's also very easy to like.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Marni in 2015.]


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Looking For Something Unique - Harrods' Mia Collins On The Salon De Parfums

image: Harrods
"We had a Portuguese craftsman come to hand paint all of the gold leaf detailing on the oak panels, in the Henry Jacques boutique; we had a team from Italy lovingly install the Murano light fitting in the Xerjoff boutique and over 3,000 origami flowers were created in France for the Dior boutique."
The words above are from Mia Collins, Harrods' Head Of Beauty, and they refer to one of last year's most high-profile additions to London's perfume shopping scene, the Salon De Parfums. To read the rest of my interview with Collins - which covers the development of the space as well as Harrods' plans for its future - please click on this link to Basenotes.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Support The Next Issue Of ODOU Magazine

The people at the Jasmine Award-winning ODOU have been working hard to produce their fourth issue. But now they need you! To find out how you can help bring about the publication of what is a truly unique magazine, please click on this link to Indiegogo... and please consider making a contribution!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Father's Day Ideas - What To Do If Your Dad's Perfume Collection Is Already Quite Healthy

Blame the geek in me: I'm always on the lookout for an excuse to make a new list. And I've just discovered that I haven't addressed Father's Day since 2011 (when I wrote this tongue-in-cheek piece for Penhaligon's). So I've decided it's high time I put together another paternal post. But, somewhat perversely, I don't want it to be about perfume. I'm sure other sites will provide plenty of suggestions as to the best scented matter to purchase for one's pater*. Instead, I would like to offer a few ideas - taken from my own personal forays into the realm of male grooming - for the man who really doesn't need any more fragrance bottles...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A New Type Of Femininity - Cartier's Mathilde Laurent On Female Perfumers, Guerlain & L'Heure Perdue

"With La Panthère, I really wanted to renew the femininity you can find on the market. I wanted to offer something different. Because I thought at that moment that femininity was too caricatured on the market. With Baiser Volé I tried to offer a very simple and very fresh, not sophisticated femininity. With La Panthère, I wanted to fight with the caricature of the sensual woman. You would think there’s only one woman to represent all perfumes that are launched: she is always nearly naked, she always has a lot of make up, and she is very sexual. I thought women were fed up with that. Sometimes, they can be like that, but sometimes they want to be very casual, they want to be very fresh. They are not always wanting to be sexual."
To read the rest of my interview with Cartier perfumer Mathilde Laurent - in which she chats about Guerlain, the pace of her work and her latest composition, L'Heure Perdue - please click on this link to Basenotes.

Stay tuned for more from Laurent in the weeks to come!


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Perfume Course - Design With Scents Is Back!

image: Design With Scents

Design With Scents - which, in the words of its organisers, is "the world's only workshop about the design of places through the sense of smell" - is back for its 4th edition. Once again led by Nicola Pozzani, Jo Norman and John Ayres, the course aims to help professionals and fragrance lovers "discover how scent is a powerful communication tool at work and at home." Although I haven't attended it myself - sadly, the dates have always clashed with my day job commitments - I have spoken to several people who have, and they've all raved about the experience.

According to Jo Norman, current Chair of the Jasmine Awards, the course would be ideal for "anybody who is interested in branding or design of any sort - jewellers, architects, fashion designers, artists or general fragrance enthusiasts. It's about working with smell as inspiration. We have post-grads and school leavers, retired and young. A real mix! It's multi-sensory: we have had wine enthusiasts and there is a wine tasting session. Participants create a fragrance and keep a set of oils."

The course will run from 6th to 10th July 2015 at the London College Of Fashion. For more details, please click here; to book a place, click here.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Persolaise Review: Oud Satin Mood from Maison Francis Kurkdjian (Francis Kurkdjian; 2015)

I confess I find it extremely interesting to watch what Francis Kurkdjian does with his brand. He has made it clear that he does not wish the scents released under the MFK label to be especially outré or unusual: he wants them to find a sizeable audience... which invariably means keeping to the realms of what's been done before. However, within this entirely understandable fiscal imperative, he also does as much as he can to try to reinterpret and revitalise old forms and ideas. The new Oud Satin Mood is a case in point. It presents Kurkdjian's own rendition of oud - in other words, it contains a dry, peppery, faintly medicinal wood note - but it places it within a surprising setting: the lipstick floral.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Goldfish, Rice And Musky Teleporters - Perfume Recommendations For A Sunny Day

I’ve never fully bought into the idea that summer calls for fresh scents and winter for heavy ones. Having said that, I do concede that there is a very particular pleasure to be derived from covering one’s skin with a squirt of lemon or blood orange or tangerine on a day when the sun causes the air itself to ripple with heat. The next time a day like that comes along (those of us in the UK are not holding our breath), I shall certainly consider hunting out one of these buoyant scents from my collection...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fragrance Foundation UK 2015 Prize Winners

The UK branch of the Fragrance Foundation held its annual awards ceremony last night at London's Brewery. According to the votes of the Foundation's members, the best feminine release of last year was YSL's Black Opium; the best masculine scent was Jimmy Choo Man. The award for Best Independent Perfume (which I had the honour of presenting and for which I was one of the judges) went to Richard E Grant's Jack. The Perfume Extraordinaire prize (for which the judges - one of whom was yours truly - had to assess the entries 'blind') went to Robertet for their work on Kilian's Light My Fire. Click on this link to see the full list of winners.  If you've got a few moments to spare, you might also like to cast your eyes at the widget below and scroll through the tweets that were generated by last night's ceremony.


PS Do come back on Monday for a list of some of my favourite sunny-weather scents. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fragrance Foundation UK Awards On Thursday

Those of you who enjoy keeping track of what the industry selects as the finest examples of perfumery may be interested to learn that the UK's Fragrance Foundation Awards (formerly known as the FiFis) will be handed out on the evening of 14th May. The likes of L'Homme Ideal, Ginepro Di Sardegna and Costa Azzurra will be battling it out for the title of Best Male Fragrance; contenders for the Best Female Fragrance prize include La Panthère, Rosa Nobile and Black Opium. I was fortunate enough to be a judge in two categories this year: Best Independent Fragrance (an award which I will have the tremendous honour of presenting to its winner) and Perfume Extraordinaire (in which scents are judged 'blind'). For a full list of the nominees, please click here. Mobile phone signal (or wifi) permitting, I shall be tweeting the results as they're announced... and if I'm very clever, I'll attach a Twitter widget to the bottom of this post, just to make your lives that much easier. The hashtag for the evening will be #FragranceAwardsUK.

May the best perfumes win!


PS Here we go. This widget should show every tweet which contains the #FragranceAwardsUK hashtag, so if you'd like to join the conversation on Thursday, remember to use the hashtag.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Persolaise Review: Habit Rouge from Guerlain (Jean-Paul Guerlain; 1965)

I've never really liked the name Habit Rouge. For the two of you out there who may not already know this, it roughly translates as 'hunting red' and it is the equestrian association that has always bothered me. Perhaps I'm just being too English about this - do other countries have similar public dramas about blood sports? - but I know where I stand on the fox hunting debate and it isn't on the side that would wish to promote the activity by wearing a perfume which alludes to it. Then there's also the fact that I don't find the fragrance especially red, but more on its attributes in a moment. Fortunately, its name is the only thing I dislike about Habit Rouge; as far as I'm concerned, everything else about it is a miracle of perfume artistry. And, as a culmination of my special posts this week marking the scent's 50th anniversary, I've decided to put together a special Persolaise tribute to everything that makes it special.


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