Friday, August 1, 2014

Persolaise Review: Jour D'Hermès Absolu from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena, 2014)

I still haven't made up my mind about the original, 2012 edp of Jour D'Hermès. Those of you who saw my post on it may remember that several readers who'd tried it found it bloodless and were perplexed by its green, near-vegetal note, which they variously read as lychee, shoe polish or overpowering tomato stem. Personally, I was left unsatisfied by its lack of precise legibility: its attempt to be an abstraction of all florals, as opposed to a bouquet of recognisable flower notes, seemed to create a vacuum at the heart of the composition. That said, I couldn't write it off completely. There was an elusive, intriguing quality somewhere around its edges which drew me back every now and then, curious to solve the mystery. Now, with the release of the new Absolu version, Jean-Claude Ellena offers what is essentially the same story, but by presenting it from a slightly different angle, he's made it more comprehensible and easier to enjoy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Caron's Pour Un Homme Celebrates 80th Birthday

One of the most beloved perfumes ever made, Ernest Daltroff's Pour Un Homme De Caron, turns 80 this year. To celebrate the occasion - and to pay homage to what is a personal favourite - I've decided to reproduce my review of the scent from my book, Le Snob: Perfume.
The very first perfume aimed specifically at men, 1934's Pour Un Homme, remains hard to beat. Despite being advertised by hirsute rugby players, it is that most peaceable of scents: a sweet lavender. There's more to it, of course (pepper and rosemary offer a hint of intrigue; vanilla suggests an oriental leaning; civet adds a measure of testosterone), but essentially, it is an unfussy affair for times when you want to smell interesting, but uncomplicated. Long may it stay with us.
To which all I would add is this: if you've never smelt it... you're in for a treat! Seek it out now.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Persolaise's Favourite Rose Perfumes In The Scented Letter

I'm very pleased to announce that the second issue of The Scented Letter - the e-magazine of the newly-founded Perfume Society - features a piece by me in which I delve into that most swoon-inducing of topics: my favourite rose perfumes. The magazine is available only to the Society's subscribers, so it would be unfair for me to reveal much about my article here. However, I will say that it was pretty tough to write, mainly because I had to limit my fragrance choices to no more than seven! You'll have to read the piece to discover which scents made it through to the final list. But as the selection was so difficult, I thought I'd use this post as a platform from which to give a shout-out to the wonderful creations which I had to reject. These ended up on the virtual cutting room floor either because they didn't quite fit the angle of the article or because I thought I ought not include more than one perfume per brand. In no particular order, they were:

No 18 from Chanel
Mohur from Neela Vermeire Créations
La Fille De Berlin from Serge Lutens
Rose Barbare from Guerlain
Lipstick Rose and Une Rose from Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle
2 from Comme Des Garçons
Rose Ikebana from Hermès
Oud Ispahan from Christian Dior
Paris from Yves Saint Laurent
Imogen Rose from Gorilla Perfume
and Rose Absolue from Annick Goutal

So, from that list above, can you guess which rose scents I did feature in the article?

To read the latest issue of The Scented Letter, you'll have to subscribe to the Perfume Society; click on this link for more info.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Persolaise Review: Otis & Me, How You Love, Neon Graffiti and Led IV from Jazmin Saraï (Dana El Masri, 2014)

Today, in the world of book publishing, agents and editors often bemoan the fact that they no longer have the time to nurture their writers' talents: there is tremendous pressure on new authors to be a success from the moment their first title is released. If that doesn't happen, they find themselves gently pushed to the sidelines. The situation isn't entirely different in the perfume industry, which is why I don't envy anyone the task of launching a new perfume brand right now. It may be a cliche to say that the fragrance market is over-saturated, but it also happens to be true. According to Michael Edwards - the nearest we have to an official archivist - more than 1400 new scents were launched in 2013, which means not only that it's difficult for customers to keep track of what's out there, but it's equally tough for brands to attract the attention of potential buyers. One of the consequences of operating in this crowded environment is that a new perfume house has to score a palpable hit with its debut release. It has to make an impact from the word go, otherwise it runs the risk of being written off completely as a non-starter.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Persolaise Quoted In The Chicago Tribune - Summer Break 2014

The Chicago Tribune's Life & Style section recently published a piece by Bill Daley about wearing tomato-centred perfumes in warmer weather. The article contains a few insights from yours truly, so if you'd like to read it, please click here.

Speaking of rising temperatures, I'm now switching this blog into 'summer mode' for a few weeks as I take my annual break from scent-related writing. Several posts have been scheduled to pop up automatically over the course of the next few weeks, including an interview with Thierry Wasser and reviews of new releases from Hermès, Cartier, Vero Profumo and Odin.

All the very best to you and yours for the summer,


Monday, July 21, 2014

Seeing The Signs - An Interview With Dana El Masri Of Jazmin Saraï

The perfume world is small at the best of times, but there are some occasions when its proportions seem laughably minute. A few months ago, a Montreal-based perfumer called Dana El Masri contacted me by email to ask if I'd be interested in receiving samples of fragrances from her new brand, Jazmin Saraï. I replied, and after a few days, we entered into a brief correspondence. As our emails flitted back and forth across the Atlantic, we soon made a startling discovery about a link between ourselves: not only did we both grow up in Dubai, but we also had the same English teacher, albeit at two different secondary schools (when my teacher left my school, she went to work at Dana's). Coincidences don't get much more Hardy-esque!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Persolaise Review: Colonia Leather from Acqua Di Parma (François Demachy; 2014) & Ginepro Di Sardegna (2014)

One of the pleasures of smelling new perfumes is that they sometimes jolt you into spotting undiscovered facets of older favourites. When I first encountered François Demachy's suave Colonia Leather for Acqua Di Parma, I was immediately reminded of Harry Frémont's equally urbane Tuscan Leather for Tom Ford. Don't worry: they're not copies of each other. But they're both the type of leather scent which I am unable to describe without resorting to the word 'tangy'. From within their sinewy blend of tobacco, incense and wood, a piquancy emerges, somewhere between the bite of lime zest and the lip-smacking softness of mandarin. It's not quite bitter, it certainly isn't sour, and it definitely isn't too sweet either. It's just tangy, perfectly balanced between acid and sugar, like the freshly-squeezed juice of a ripe orange.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - April to June 2014 [part 2]

More mini-reviews from Twitter. For part 1 of this latest digest, please click here.

La Petite Robe Noire Couture from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser, 2014)
Flanker that isn't sure what to be: sweeter or deeper? Improves once past the fakey-fruit stage. Eventually, it presents a more sophisticated take on the black cherry idea, but I'd say: Stick with the fun-loving EDP.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - April to June 2014 [part 1]

Here's another 'digest' of the reviews I've posted on Twitter. To read the first instalment of this occasional series (which focussed on reviews published between January and March) please click here. And for more mini-reviews, please come back tomorrow. You can follow me on Twitter by searching for @Persolaise.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Harrods Unveil The Salon De Parfums... And Move The Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie

The Roja Dove Haute Perfumerie photographed in July 2014,
a few weeks before its transformation

If there's one reason for the enduring success of Harrods, it's the fact that the people who run it - whoever they may be at any given time - never rest on their laurels. There's nearly always something changing or being upgraded at the store, be it the escalators, the eateries or the location of the various departments. Following on from their extensive refurbishment of the Black Hall on the ground floor - one of London's top perfume-shopping destinations - current owners, Qatar Holdings, have just announced the imminent arrival of what promises to be a major addition to the city's fragrance scene: the Salon De Parfums.

Neela Vermeire Créations Give-Away Winners

A big Thank you to everyone who entered last week's Neela Vermeire draw; all your comments were a delight to read. I have now done the necessary at and I am pleased to reveal that the winner of the 1st prize (an 8 ml bottle of Mohur extrait, a ceramic disc and sample vials of Trayee, Bombay Bling and Ashoka) is


The winner of the 2nd prize (a Neela Vermeire Créations Discovery Set) is


Congrats to both of you and commiserations to everyone else.

ThirteenFive70 and Kathryn, please send your postal address to persolaise at gmail dot com so that I can forward it to Neela Vermeire Créations.

My thanks again to Neela Vermeire for making the give-away possible.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Persolaise Review: Eau De Magnolia from Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle (Carlos Benaïm, 2014)

There's a moment in a short promotional film for Eau De Magnolia in which Frederic Malle raises his hand into the air and mimes running a fine thread through his fingers: the scent was tweaked and reworked, he explains, until it displayed a "seamless continuation" of its central idea. It is this precision which is perhaps one of the perfume's most praise-worthy attributes: from the moment it starts to the very last stages of its drydown, it remains locked on its core concept, refusing to be tempted by any prettiness that might prompt a diversion into less relevant territories.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Perfume Give-Away: Win Mohur Extrait And Other Fragrances From Neela Vermeire Créations

There are only a couple of weeks to go before I take my annual break from perfume-writing activities (don't worry: several posts will be scheduled to pop up throughout the summer) so I thought I'd start getting into holiday mode by hosting a give-away. On this occasion, I'm very pleased to be able to say that the prizes have been generously provided by Neela Vermeire Créations.

The first prize is an 8 ml 'purse' bottle of the brand new Mohur extrait together with a ceramic disc (which can be sprayed with any perfume and then used to scent drawers, a cupboard, a bag etc) and sample vials of the other scents in the brand's range: Trayee, Bombay Bling and Ashoka.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Twenty Blotters For... Mark Buxton

Pick a blotter... read the question... give a short, snappy answer!

His name may not be as familiar as that of, say, Bertrand Duchaufour or Francis Kurkdjian, but there's no doubt that Paris-based, half-German, half-English Mark Buxton has a fervent following amongst scentusiasts. Over the course of the last few decades, he has put together several well-regarded olfactory creations - including 2 Man and Ouarzazate for Comme Des Garçons, Vetiver 46 for Le Labo and Unifaith (aka Moslbuddjewchristhindao) for Elternhaus - so it came as little surprise when he announced the creation of his own line in 2008. A few weeks ago, he was in London to promote the revamped incarnation of Mark Buxton Perfumes - and to draw attention to the latest addition to his line, the vetivert-focussed Emotional Rescue - and I'm pleased to say that he agreed to being subjected to the demands of my Twenty Blotters...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Persolaise Review: Wonderoud from Comme Des Garçons (Antoine Maisondieu; 2014)

I know, I know, it was only a few weeks ago that I vowed never again to review any scent with 'oud' in its name, and here I am, going back on my word. But you see the problem is that: a) there are more and more passengers hopping onto the oud-y magic carpet ride every week and b) a few of them do actually make an attempt to say something new in what has become an Arabian tale filled with so many cliches, it'll soon force Sheherazade to pop out of her grave and scare the civet out of every perfumer in the Western hemisphere. The latest effort comes from Comme Des Garçons, which immediately makes it more attention-worthy, given the brand's philosophy (not much in evidence lately, I grant you) of bringing innovation to the mainstream.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Persolaise's Winter Perfumes In ParfumPlus Magazine

I'm very pleased that the UAE's ParfumPlus magazine has published a piece I wrote about some of my favourite perfumes of the last winter. To read the article in 'flip book' form, please click here. (Some of you may recognise it as a tweaked version of a piece which appeared on this blog a few months ago.) Do take the time to check out the rest of the magazine too; the current edition features an interview with perfumer Sophie Labbé (Bulgari Jasmin Noir, Givenchy Organza).


Monday, June 23, 2014

A Perfume Has To Fulfil A Promise - An Interview With James Heeley

James Heeley at Les Senteurs, London, in May 2014
image: Callum Langston-Bolt

In the run-up to their 30th anniversary celebrations, the fine folks at Les Senteurs hosted an event in May at which guests were invited to enjoy a relaxed conversation with the creative forces behind some of the brands stocked at London's venerable perfumery institution. James Heeley was one of the figures mingling with the city's scentusiasts, and as I'd never met him before, I asked if he'd be willing to give me a brief, impromptu interview. To my delight, he accepted, so off we went to the more quiet atmosphere of the spacious basement at the Seymour Place branch. Immaculately turned out in a bespoke, grey suit, and with a subtly francophone inflection to his diction, the creator of Cardinal, Sel Marin and L'Amandière, amongst others, gave me his full attention and considered his answers carefully before speaking, as though he'd been expecting our appointment for weeks.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Persolaise Review: L'Orpheline from Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake; 2014)

Most press releases can be scanned and dismissed in a matter of seconds, but the ones from Serge Lutens are always worth a quiet read with a strong coffee and a sliver of dark chocolate. They rarely make objective sense - some of them take the form of obscure narratives or of impenetrable descriptive passages - and they hardly ever make reference to raw materials or ingredients. But in their refusal to offer journalists the easy short cut - ie olfactory pyramids and dubious lists of scent notes - and in their attempt to engage with 'the product' in an unconventional way, they do grasp at a sort of truth which digs deeper than a prosaic roll call featuring bergamot, sandalwood, musk and all the other usual suspects. The press material for the gnomic Frenchman's latest release - L'Orpheline, put together by Christopher Sheldrake - is a case in point: on one level, it may be bonkers, but on another, it marks a desire to persuade writers that the substance which they're about to spray upon themselves deserves to be taken more seriously - dare I say: more metaphysically? - than the latest lipstick.


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