Friday, May 27, 2016

Persolaise Review: Muguet Porcelaine from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2016)


The soundbites
If Muguet Porcelaine were a colour it would be: aqua green with a suggestion of pink
If it were a piece of music, it would be: Alone In Kyoto by Air
If it were a texture, it would be: the flesh of a ripe cantaloupe

The review
It's difficult to know where to begin a review of Muguet Porcelaine... which is probably why, for several weeks, I haven't. Various angles have jostled for attention within my head, but because they're all equally important, they've cancelled each other out and led to nothing more than stultified inertia. For instance, it would be valid to view Muguet within the context of the Hermessence collection, the high-price-tag range devised by Hermès to showcase their perfumer's more impressionistic, haiku-like creative tendencies. It would be similarly valid to consider the perfume in terms of a technical accomplishment: thanks to restrictions on key materials, producing a convincing muguet (ie lily of the valley) has become something of a challenge for scent-makers across the globe. And it would also be valid - nay: crucial! - to evaluate Muguet as the final artistic expression of Hermès' aforementioned perfumer, the one and only Jean-Claude Ellena. Yes, you read that right: the UK release of Muguet Porcelaine was accompanied by official confirmation that this particular fragrance would, indeed, be Ellena's swansong for Hermès.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Where Will They Take You? - Perfumes For Summer 2016


Regular readers will be aware that, for me, the summer usually involves travel. However, for various reasons, this year is shaping up to be rather different... which perhaps explains why I've recently been fixated on the idea of linking perfumes to specific holiday destinations. So, as a means of getting this mini-obsession out of my system and, hopefully, providing you with some inspiration, here are my 'scented city' recommendations for summer 2016.

Mumbai -- Salomé by Papillon
India’s most vibrant city is an onslaught of smells, sights and sounds. Liz Moores’ highly-praised Salomé is equally outgoing, combing leathers, balsams and woods with a massive dose of skin-hugging cumin. The two were made for each other.

Orlando -- La Petite Robe Noire by Guerlain
The delights of Disney may not be to everyone’s taste, but sometimes it’s fun to give in to the child-like allure of sugar, giggles and fruity innocence. Guerlain’s cheeky bestseller – with its juxtaposition of black cherry with sweet notes – is a scented trip to a sparkling fairyland.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter: January to March 2016 [part 2]


The second and final part of my January-to-March mini-review round-up.

Fahrenheit Cologne from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2016)*
Addition of sweet citrus is touch incongruous, but the more translucent violet-leaf heart works well. Thumbs up.

CK2 from Calvin Klein (2016)*
What to say? CK One is an absolute icon, a memento of its time. This is a faceless, gutless exercise in timidity. Wasabi note? Err, I don't think so. Orris? Doubtful. Pebbles??? Yeah, okay. It's just another pseudo-woody, translucent 'youth' scent. Sigh.

Eternity Night from Calvin Klein (2014)*
Oh dear, the descent continues with this half-baked plum pudding. Boredom-inducing musky drydown.

Eternity Night Man from Calvin Klein (2014)*
This one's even more depressing. Some vague notion of fruity woods embroiled in dull musks. Mindless.

Black Lapsang from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Wild, heady souq + jasmine notes. Dense, dark and dangerous. More leather than tea, but then, so is lapsang.

Tobacco Flower from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Strange, sticky, engaging concoction. Bitter, lemony tobacco smoke piped through dark treacle. Too overbearing?

Golden Rose from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Meeting point of Nahema and Noir Epices - fiery, spicy, ambery rose. Somewhat derivative, but enjoyable to wear.

Black Orange Pekoe from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Another spicy rose, this time with the camphor edge of Axe Oil. Heavy, stewed black tea lurks in background.

Poison Girl from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2016)*
Oh the quips I'm tempted to make about toxins & the sugar bombs in this sickly, ditzy, soulless flanker to the 80s classic.

Persolaise

* sample provided by the brand
** sample obtained by the author

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"Seventeen Families" - An Exclusive Interview With Francis Kurkdjian [part 2]


Part 1 of this exclusive interview with Francis Kurkdjian was published yesterday on Now Smell This; please click here to read it.

Persolaise: If you could place perfume anywhere in a department store, where would you like it to be?

Francis Kurkdjian: By itself.

Ah, but it's always going to be next to something.

Maybe it should be somewhere quieter. It should be in an environment where every brand could talk about what they are, not being lined up like tin cans.

Which young perfumers are you currently excited about?

Only one, because I know him very well. A perfumer I've trained for 3 years now. His name is Jerome Di Marino. He's with me at Takasago. It's not easy for him, because it's so different from my time. Everything is super regulated. 20, 25 years ago, when I started, brands were kind of separated. Guerlain was owned by the Guerlain family. Coty was not as big. L'Oreal was not as big. LVMH was not as big. Now, if you don't belong to the right supplier company, there are things you can't work on. Why are Givaudan doing all the Tom Ford fragrances? Because they're part of the core list of Estée Lauder. So basically, a big corporation divides its portfolio into parts, it gives one part to IFF, one part to Firmenich etc, and that's it. So if you don't belong to one of these big companies, you don't have the chance to play.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"An Easy Subject To Lie About" - An Exclusive Interview With Francis Kurkdjian [part 1]


Part 1 of my exclusive interview with perfumer Francis Kurkdjian has just been published on Now Smell This; please click on this link to read it. Part 2 will be published here on Persolaise.com tomorrow.

Persolaise

UPDATE: Part 2 has now been published. To read it, click here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Live Twitter Coverage From Fragrance Foundation UK 2016 Awards


On the evening of Thursday 12th May, the UK branch of the Fragrance Foundation will hold its annual awards ceremony and I hope to bring you live tweets from the event. You should be able to see them in the widget below. Or you can follow the action on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #FragranceAwardsUK.

May the best perfumes win!

Persolaise


Monday, May 9, 2016

Fragrance Foundation UK Best Female & Male Perfume Commercial Award Nominees 2016


It's that time of year again when the UK branch of the Fragrance Foundation hands out its awards. As ever, my interest in the world of film prompts me to pay particular attention to the 'Best Commercial' nominees; it's always fascinating to see how brands try to use audio-visual channels to sell their scents. So, here are this year's contenders, divided into 'male' and 'female' categories.

I can't say any of them display an especially novel approach to the task at hand. From the ladies' camp, I enjoy the kooky humour of the Chanel (good Abba cover, by the way), the quirky, off-the-wall quality of the Missoni and the infectiousness of the Guerlain (although the novelty of the Petite Robe Noire campaign has now worn off). But the overall vibe is very safe. The boys' offerings aren't any more original. The Miyake actually does a decent job of conveying its perfume's characteristics and the Paco Rabanne stands up to a few repeat views. However, other than that, it's predictable sailing all the way.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Gender-Bending Perfumes In Grazia, Chosen By Persolaise


Well, here's a bit of excitement! The latest issue of UK's Grazia - out today - features an article by yours truly about gender-bending perfumes: ie 'feminines' which would work well on men, and vice versa. Please do pick up a copy from your nearest newsagent. As it happens, the entire issue features a gender-bending theme - amongst other articles, it contains a survey of women's views on current identity issues - so it's well worth a read. Plus, it has Beyoncé on the cover. What else do you need?

Persolaise

Friday, April 29, 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - January to March 2016 [part 1]


It's that time again: a round-up of my mini-reviews from Twitter. Come back soon for part 2.

Cedro Di Taormina from Acqua Di Parma (2016)*
Typically elegant AdP cologne, this time twisted with a citron note. Velvety & gentle rather than tart.

Goldea from Bulgari (Alberto Morillas; 2015)*
Familiar shampoo-sweet musk affair, lifted by a hint of citrusy jasmine. The 70s come to life in the stroke-me curvy bottle.

Be Desired from DKNY (2015)*
Effective green apple note at the top which segues into, of all things, the creepy white florals of Secretions Magnifiques.

Icon Absolute from Dunhill (2015)*
Original's neroli heart marred by a crude, pseudo-oud note. A brutish failure.

Chypre 21 from Heeley (James Heeley; 2015)*
Elegant, if overrated nouveau chypre, which replaces the requisite mosses with heavy woods in the base. Too po-faced?

Equipage Géranium from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2015)*
As it says, tactile leather of Equipage + rosy mint of geranium. Very Ellena. A charming, easy to wear delight.

White Spirit from Juliette Has A Gun (2015)*
Dilution is an apt allusion here - rough, synth sandalwoods, thinned down to ghostliness. A pale Opus V.

Luna Rossa Sport from Prada (Daniela Andrier; 2015)*
Has somebody been spraying Minotaure? Citrusy woods over subtly sugared amber. More attractive than you'd expect.

L'Eau De Paille from Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake; 2016)*
Lutens reach an unexpected low with this overly synthetic, 80s man disaster. Juniper + wood cliches. Shame.

Persolaise

* sample provided by the brand
** sample obtained by the author

Monday, April 25, 2016

Super Scent - The Very Best Of Chanel


Well, we couldn't put it off much longer. After having grappled with the sizeable portfolios of Dior and Lauder, Grant Osborne, the Candy Perfume Boy and I decided that there was no escape: we had to get to grips with Chanel. As you can imagine, this wasn't exactly what you'd call an easy task. The brand which, by most accounts, pioneered the concept of linking couture with fragrance has been at the forefront of mainstream scent creation for almost a century and its current line-up boasts some undisputed classics of olafctory art. So yes, we had our work cut out for us.

As ever, a few treasured gems couldn't make it onto the top 5. I agonised for hours over whether to include Cristalle (still such a wonderfully verdant chypre) or Bel Respiro (which never fails to transport me to an endless Mediterranean vista) or Bois De Iles (that sandalwood! that rose! that elegance!) or No. 22 (the scent of the clouds against which angels brush their wings). And Madame Persolaise will probably never forgive me for not finding a space for one of her personal, all-time favourites, Coco. But rules are rules, and sacrifices had to be made.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Psst... It's Super Scent Time Again


Just when you thought we'd given up on our popular series, I'm pleased to announce that the Candy Perfume BoyBasenotes and I will reveal our latest Super Scent brand on Monday... and it's going to be a big one! Here are the rules of this little project, in case some of you have forgotten them. We have to:

- come up with a list of the best perfumes from a particular brand's current line-up (ie no discontinued scents)
- ensure the list is based on the perfumes' current formulations
- refrain from sharing the list with anybody else until it's published

The list will be revealed on Monday 25th April at 12:00 pm UK time. See you then!

Persolaise

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hunting For A New Beast - Tom Ford Private Blend Styling


Tom Ford wants us to mix things up. Literally. For the last few months, the staff at his Private Blend counters have been trying to encourage customers to indulge in what you and I would call layering, ie combining two (or more!) perfumes in the hope of creating a novel effect. But of course, Mr Ford has to give the practice his own name: Private Blend Styling. In addition, he doesn't want us to have free rein when it comes to choosing the scents; he's devised his own list of recommended pairings. And he's even worked out ideal application ratios: two sprays of Perfume X to one spray of Perfume Y, and so on. After all, Styling is a serious business.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Persolaise Review: Eau De Rhubarbe Écarlate (Christine Nagel) & Eau De Néroli Doré (Jean-Claude Ellena) from Hermès (2016)


Today's review takes the form of a conversation between the outgoing, in-house perfumer at Hermès, Jean-Claude Ellena, and his replacement, Christine Nagel. It is entirely fictional. Probably.

---

Christine Nagel sweeps into Jean-Claude Ellena's study. She finds him sitting in front of a 50 inch plasma screen, playing a video game.

Christine: I've just had Head Office in my ear, dahling. They want two new colognes.

Jean-Claude: [looking up from his X-Box controller] Colognes? Two of 'em?? Oh, for cryin' out loud! We got plenty of colognes in the collection!

Christine: This is exactly what I told them, sweetie, but they weren't listening. They want two new ones.

Jean-Claude: But there ain't no point in making new colognes. Everyone's just gonna keep wearing the lime one, no matter what we make.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Luca Turin Has A New Perfume Blog


I expect most of you are aware of this, but for the benefit of the few of you who aren't: Luca Turin has a new blog. It's called Perfumes I Love and although it's been around for less than a fortnight, it's already proving itself to be as much of a must-read as the rest of his work. If you're interested in reading it - which you should be! - I'd urge you to start with his first post (click here) and then go wherever your nose takes you.

Whilst I'm on the subject of Luca, I ought to mention that my transcript of the talk he gave to the Perfume Society's members in London in October 2015 has become one of the most read posts on Persolaise.com. If you haven't come across it, please click here to read it.

Persolaise

Friday, April 8, 2016

Persolaise Review: Maai from Bogue Profumo (2014; Antonio Gardoni)


There's been a fair amount of talk lately about the extent to which current creations from the niche world are little more than reactions to the mainstream: pious homages to retro values which satisfy the needs of nostalgic fume-geeks but do little to further the art of fragrance. I'd say that particular criticism is often justified, but when indie brands get the backward glance right, they come up with startling pieces of work. A case in point is 2014's Maai from the Italian brand, Bogue. It owes its soul to masculine chypres of yesteryear - those glorious Cary Grant compositions that are more expertly put together than an origami-folded pocket square - but it dresses its body with lean, modern finery. To put that in olfactory terms, its core is a grandiloquent, brazen mix of animalics, woods and urinous, medicinal herbs (lots of sage) whereas its external layer presents sheer, uplifting blossoms, ready to break into a smile at a moment's notice. It may lean on its niche credentials too heavily, but as a union of the assertiveness of Kouros, the sophistication of Cacharel Pour Homme and the romanticism of Fleur Du Male, it is a fascinating creature indeed. Do seek it out.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum obtained by the author in 2015.]

Persolaise

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Best Wishes For Easter 2016


To all of you celebrating the imminent conclusion of Lent: a very happy Easter. Forget about guilt, enjoy the feasting and permit yourselves to indulge in excess!

My warmest wishes,

Persolaise 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Persolaise Review: Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Essence Aromatique (Amandine Marie; 2016)


Where's the line between old-school masculines which are too... well... old-school and those which don't feel out of place in a contemporary setting? Is it somewhere near notions of transparency: do we now read 'opaque' as 'dated'? Or is it connected with legibility: do we require modern creations to present their constituents in lucid, easily-comprehensible layers? Wherever the boundary lies, I'd say Amandine Marie has found it in this latest addition to the solid Bottega Veneta range. A flanker of sorts to 2013's Pour Homme, this Essence Aromatique takes a simple accord - patchouli and pine - bolsters it with a thigh-slapping, vetivert-heavy leather, and then lightens it with a dew-laden, woodland breeze to create an endearing 'nouveau cologne'. It's diffusive and long-lasting, but it's also as weightless as a sliver of lemon zest floating on the surface of Lake Como. By the way, in case you didn't know, 2 years ago, BV also gave us an Essence Aromatique rendition of their signature women's perfume. A subtle 'skin scent', it places citrus and floral notes beneath a layer of gauze through which you can just discern the shape of full lips and alabaster cheekbones. Well worth checking out.

[Review based on a sample of eau de cologne provided by Bottega Veneta in 2016.]

Persolaise

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Persolaise Wins 4th Jasmine Award + Final Reminder About Aerin Event


Yesterday, I had the tremendous and unexpected honour of winning a Jasmine Award - my fourth! - for an article I wrote for the Perfume Society's Scented Letter about my favourite incense perfumes. I can't link to it here because you have to be a member of the Society to be able to read it, but for an appetite-whetting snippet, please click here. I'd like to thank the Jasmine judges for selecting my piece, the folks at the Society for publishing it and the people at Fragrance Foundation UK for putting together another memorable awards ceremony.

I'd also like to point out that my win was one of several endorsements of the talents of those involved with the Perfume Society. Kim Parker's victorious piece for Red Magazine was about the Society's popular 'smell training' sessions. Jo Fairley - who is, of course, one of the co-founders of the Society - won an award for a piece she wrote for the Telegraph. And Suzy Nightingale - a senior writer at the Society - won the literary award for an article about synaesthesia. Congrats to them all, as well as to the other winners!

On a different note, I'd like to remind you that your time is almost up if you'd like to buy a ticket for my Aerin event at Selfridges London on Monday evening. Please come along if you can! It's going to be great fun. For full details, click here.

Persolaise

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