Friday, January 23, 2015

Persolaise Review: La Religieuse from Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake; 2015)

Waiting for the next Lutens release has almost become like anticipating the next movie from Terrence Malick. Granted, Uncle Serge doesn't exercise our patience quite as much as Malick does, but the narrative cohesiveness of his recent perfumes has been so pronounced that the arrival of a new one sparks exactly the sorts of questions that could be asked of a creation from a cinema auteur: how will it pick up from where the previous one concluded? what will it have to say about x, y and z? in which direction will it push the body of work as a whole? It's not surprising, then, that it was with considerable excitement that I wore Lutens' latest olfactory tale, La Religieuse, put together by his regular perfumer, Christopher Sheldrake.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Scent & Sensibility To Close Down - Buy Your Favourite Tauer Perfumes Now

Some of you may be aware that the Swiss franc went through what might wryly be called an 'unexpected situation' last week (click here for the BBC's description of the event and here for a Guardian piece about the immediate effects). One of the consequences is that Tauer Perfumes have had to increase their prices, in relation to the euro and and pound (click here for Andy Tauer's blog post on the subject). The ripples of this change have travelled across the Alps and the Channel, all the way to this grey little isle, with the result that Scent & Sensibility Perfume - the retailer which first brought Tauer to the UK - has decided to shut its virtual doors. The site has started a closing down sale. All its Tauer creations are being sold at last week's, pre-currency-drama prices. Whilst you ponder what long-term effects all this is going to have on the future of perfume shopping, you may want to give serious thought to spending some of your hard-earned pennies on a few of Andy's gorgeous creations. Please click here to be taken to the Scent & Sensibility Perfume site or here to see their Facebook page. Please note that S&S also offer wares from the likes of Aftelier, Soivohle, Dorissima and Andy's cinema-inspired brand, Tableau De Parfums.

Sending warmest wishes to Ronny Geller, the founder of Scent & Sensibility, together with heartfelt thanks for all the support she has given this blog over the years,


Friday, January 16, 2015

Persolaise Review: Aperture from Ulrich Lang (2013)

You know a perfume is sufficiently interesting in its own right when wearing it makes you forget its marketing baggage. In this case, the 'story' revolves around photography and Lang's support of a collective - also called Aperture - founded in 1952 to create "common ground for the advancement of photography". That's all well and good, and I wouldn't wish to belittle any publicity the fragrance might be able to drum up for the organisation in question. But it would also be a shame if this release came to be known as nothing more than an 'agenda scent' (see 2012's In Peace).

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vote For The Best Perfumes Of 2014

As we sink deeper into the melee affectionately described as 'awards season', some of you might like to make your own voices heard about your favourite perfume releases of last year. If so, here are a couple of opportunities. If you click on this link, you'll be taken to the Basenotes Reader Awards page, where you can select your favourites in several different categories, from Best Niche Fragrance, to Best Perfume Ever and Best Perfumery. Your choices are not restricted in any way: you can vote for whichever perfumes you like. However, you do need to be signed up to Basenotes to be eligible to vote. It's also worth noting that this year, the Basenotes team have put together a prize draw for anyone who submits votes. The deadline for submission is 28th February.

The second opportunity is perhaps less exciting, but no less interesting. If you click here, you should be directed to a Basenotes poll I put together a few days ago. It features a list of the perfumes which came up most frequently in various critics' Best Of charts. All you have to do is choose the one perfume which you think is better than all of the others. I concede that, as far as polls go, it isn't entirely scientific and it doesn't take into account the fact that most people won't have had a chance to sniff all the scents on the list. But hey, even the American film Academy's members aren't obliged to watch all the movies nominated for Oscars, so on this occasion, perhaps we can push technicalities to one side. And besides, I always think it's fascinating to see what does well in such polls: they provide telling insights into which perfumes manage to filter through to a wider audience. As I write these words, Dior's Cuir Cannage is in the lead, but of course, that could change.

Finally, whilst I'm in a Basenotes mood, I'll mention this article (click on the link) in which various contributors to the site, including yours truly, were asked to name some of their scent highlights of 2014.

Happy reading,


Friday, January 9, 2015

Persolaise Review: Kerbside Violet from Gorilla Perfume (Simon & Mark Constantine; 2014)

Violet leaf absolute is one of those materials which serve to show how utterly impossible it is to describe smells with words. In perfumer-shorthand, it's called 'green', but that places it in the same category as galbanum (think: peas and peppers) and cis-3-hexenol (cut grass), which doesn't really help a layperson gain an understanding of its unique odour profile. Sure, it shares a few facets with grass, but it's also melony, waxy, sappy, vegetal and eye-poppingly bracing. Like the opening of Dior's Fahrenheit - which famously contains a notable quantity of it - it hisses with organic life.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy 2015!

A very happy new year to all of you. I hope you've recovered from the excesses of the festive season and are looking forward to twelve months of peace, happiness, good health and, of course, numerous encounters with gorgeous perfumes. At this stage it's impossible to tell what 2015's scented highlights are going to be. Will Mathilde Laurent impress us with her olfactory take on Proust - L'Heure Perdue - for Cartier? Will Uncle Serge charge even more than £380 for his next creation? And will Estée Lauder buy up any other niche brands? Who knows. Time will reveal everything, no doubt. Meanwhile, kicks back into normal gear on Friday with this year's first review. Until then, let's reach for another mince pie, shall we?


Monday, December 29, 2014

Best Perfumes Of 2014 - A Time For Looking Back

If a pining for the past is a sign of social disquiet, then 2014 must have been a worrying year for the perfume industry: a significant proportion of new releases focussed on bygone eras, presenting 'retro' aesthetics in an attempt to win over an increasingly apathetic public. This was particularly apparent in the number of old-school leather scents which hit the shelves. Granted, several of them were very good indeed - you'll find a few below - but they did suggest that scent-makers' creative endeavours were in a holding pattern, unwilling to stray too far from a familiar flight path.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Wishes 2014

We've nearly made it, folks. We just need to get through that pile of mince pies in the corner, the presents under the tree, the turkey in the oven... and then we'll be home free.

I'd like to wish all of you the very best for the festive season. I hope you find the time to relax, unwind and dig out those old samples you've been meaning to sniff for months. Please come back on Monday 29th December for my round-up of the best perfumes of the year. Until then: enjoy the feasting!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Persolaise Review: Tobacco Rose, Anubis & Angélique from Papillon (Liz Moores; 2014)

When I interviewed Papillon's founder, Liz Moores*, I told her that, putting aside the issue of personal taste, the most striking feature of her debut scents is that they are extremely well-rounded and finished in comparison with other niche creations. Several non-mainstream fragrances display a cheerful roughness around their edges - indeed, in some cases, this is their most endearing feature - but Moores' work conveys a maturity and craftsmanship entirely at odds with her low levels of experience and her claims about a lack of formal perfumery training. I guess she's just talented, pure and simple. When faced with an array of scented materials, her head and her hands know exactly what to do.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Persolaise Review: Mitsouko from Guerlain (Jacques Guerlain; 1919 [and Thierry Wasser; 2013/14])

I seem to have written about the current formulation of Mitsouko in all my usual haunts except, ironically, on this very blog. So I've decided to take a few minutes to remedy the oversight, mainly because the end of the year is almost upon us and I want to strike this off my To Do list before we hit 2015. I realise that the blogosphere has already gilded Thierry Wasser's re-working of Jacques Guerlain's 1919 master-chypre with layer upon layer of praise - and rightly so - but I'm eager to add my own voice to the compliments, just in case there's anybody out there who's in two minds about whether to get their hands on a sample of the stuff.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - July to September 2014 [part 2]

Here's the second part of my compilation of Twitter mini-reviews published between July and September 2014.

Cologne from Etat Libre D'Orange (Alexandra Kosinski; 2014)*
Pays homage to Mugler's Cologne. Citruses processed through a near-apocalyptic Steam Punk factory. Cogs and sprockets clatter and clang. Calcium fizzes. The female robot from Metropolis would wear this. Somehow, very 'right' for ELDO.

L'Etrog Acqua from Arquiste (Rodrigo Flores-Roux; 2014)*
Photo-real, finely-grated, tart lime zest segues into dewy floral and well-judged musk drydown. Lovely, happy work.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Persolaise Review: Dior Homme Parfum from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2014)

I'd love to know what the thinking is behind Dior's creation of 'parfum' versions of their classic masculines. Yes, obviously, on one level, it's related to the beep of cash registers - they wouldn't be doing it if it weren't profitable - but I'd like to believe that a few non-commercial reasons are involved too. Perhaps it points towards the arrival of heavier, more opulent compositions for men. Or maybe it's further evidence of François Demachy trying to stamp his own identity onto the brand: he daren't mess around too much with the bestsellers, but if he makes up an alternative identity for them, then he can allow his creative urges to run a little bit freer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

'It's Still A Challenge' - Arquiste's Carlos Huber At Bloom Perfumery

Carlos Huber at Bloom
image: Bloom

Although I remain a massive fan of the brand, I find myself unable to give an unqualified thumbs up to Arquiste's new The Architects Club (composed by Yann Vasnier). Several critics have been won over by what they've read as its gorgeous presentation of vanilla, but I haven't been affected in quite the same way. I love the scent's opening - an expertly-balanced, boozy, peppery evocation of the interior of Claridge's Fumoir - but as it develops, its complexity appears to diminish: to my nose, the vanillic drydown isn't as multi-layered and compelling as it could have been. Perhaps that's the perfume's inadvertent statement on the profession referred to by its name. Architects need to have an artistic temperament, but they must also ensure that their work is grounded in prosaic, physical realities. Maybe that's why the scent feels like it's holding back and keeping its more free-spirited impulses in check. It's a compelling explanation, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept that, as an olfactory representation of the Fumoir, the scent doesn't come across as sufficiently debonair. So when I met up with Arquiste's founder, Carlos Huber, at London's Bloom perfumery in October, I began our conversation by asking him why the vanilla in The Architects Club isn't more engrossing and more elaborate.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - July to September 2014 [part 1]

Here's another round-up of my mini-reviews from Twitter, this time spanning the period July to September 2014.

Royal Extract from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser (& Mathilde Laurent?); 2014)**
This new Harrods exclusive is actually the much-missed Attrape-Coeur by Mathilde Laurent. Attrape-Coeur was, of course, also known as Guet-Apens and was also released as an EDT called Vol De Nuit Evasion. Royal Extract is perhaps a touch more powdery and a bit less boozy than Attrape-Coeur, but it's essentially the same scent. And now, hold your breath for the crunch: a mere £285 for 125 ml. And it's a limited edition.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Persolaise Review: Patchouli Absolu from Tom Ford (2014)

Watch out, the 70s have just walked into the room. Or have they? The first thing that attacks you from Tom Ford's latest Private Blend is, appropriately enough, a bell-bottom-wearing, disco-ball-swinging, heavily-permed patchouli. It's brown, muddy and unashamedly unwashed. But then it changes. It ditches the dirt, boogies into the nearest wormhole and hurtles towards the 21st century. When it arrives, it seems to be radiating light from every single facet that had been caked with earth mere seconds ago. Suddenly, it's clean and gleaming. Indeed, this is Patchouli Absolu's most remarkable feature: it manages to retain the distinct, recognisable personality of its star material, but it also strips it of all the allegedly negative associations with the past.

Tauer Perfumes Advent 2014 Give-Away Winner

Thank you so much for all your contributions to yesterday's Tauer Perfumes draw. Honestly, I enjoyed reading every single one and I wish I had the time to reply to them. It was fascinating to see where all your perfume tastes lie and to learn about your very personal experiences with the world of scent. Sadly, there can be only one winner and the gods at have decided that it is:


Congratulations! Please can you send your postal details to persolaise at gmail dot com, together with your three choices from the list of perfumes available in the Explorer Set format (see this link for more info).

Commiserations to everyone else, but don't forget that Andy will be holding a different draw every day until the 24th. Please check out the advent calendar on his blog for more details.

My thanks once again to Tauer Perfumes for making the draw possible.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Advent 2014 - Win An Explorer Set From Tauer Perfumes

There are 27 days to go until the end of the year, and I don't know about you, but Madame Persolaise and I are definitely not ready to bid farewell to 2014. We haven't written our Christmas cards, we haven't planned our festive menus and we certainly haven't bought all our gifts yet. I feel a hectic three weeks coming on... during which I'll also have to start thinking about my Best Perfumes Of The Year list... but let's not go there today...

Whilst I'm trying to organise myself, you can take part in today's special give-away, which forms part of Andy Tauer's series of Advent draws. Once again, Andy has kindly asked me to take part in his festivities, which started on the 1st of December on Now Smell This and will continue until Christmas on Andy's own blog as well as various other sites.

The prize is a Tauer Explorer Set, which consists of three 15 ml bottles. The winner will get to choose the three scents, but please note that not all of Tauer Perfumes' fragrances are available in the Explorer Set. For more details, please click here

To enter, please read the terms and conditions below and then leave a comment on this post on the subject of your favourite fragrance discoveries of 2014. What were your highlights of the year? Which new releases did you enjoy the most? Which oldies did you finally get around to trying for the first time?

Please do take the time to read the terms and conditions carefully, as this draw is not open to readers from certain countries.

My thanks to Andy Tauer for making this draw possible and for including me in his Advent celebrations.

Good luck to one and all!


Terms & Conditions

i) the draw will be closed at 6 am (UK time) on Friday 5th December; ii) the winner will be selected at random; iii) the winner will be announced on on Friday 5th December; iv) if the winner has not made contact with by Monday 8th December, an alternative winner may be selected; v) the winner's address will be shared only with Tauer Perfumes, who will post the prize to the winner; vi) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter EXCEPT for those based in Italy, Spain, Croatia, Russia and Greece, as Tauer Perfumes does not ship to these countries; vii) by entering this competition, you indicate that you are able to receive alcohol-based perfume products in your country of residence; viii) the prize will be shipped for free from Switzerland, using FedEx; local taxes, VAT and import fees may apply; these will not be covered by Tauer Perfumes; ix) takes no responsibility for the contents of the perfumes, particularly as regards potential allergens and/or harmful components; x) if the prize is lost in transit, it will not be possible for a replacement to be posted; xi) relatives of anyone associated with are not permitted to enter.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

'Something Very New York' - An Interview With Kelly Kovack Of Odin

I'm not sure how it's perceived in the USA, but here in Britain, Odin seems to be one of those brands which are always slipping beyond the reach of most people's radar. Its portfolio is sizeable and it's stocked in one of London's best perfumery departments, yet it rarely seems to generate much interest amongst scentusiasts, even though many of its wares are worthy of attention. This low profile could possibly be on the brink of a transformation: the brand has just released a so-called 'White Line' - currently consisting of three fragrances - set apart from the signature 'black' range.


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