New Perfume Review Maison Martin Margiela Replica Jazz Club

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Maison Martin Margiela was late to the designer perfume game but under the Creative Direction of Karine Lebret and Pauline Zanoni they have built steadily upon the foundation provided by perfumer Daniela Andrier’s brilliant Untitled in 2010. In the summer of 2012 they began the Replica series where the idea is to capture a specific place and time. Each label carries the information that the perfumer is trying to capture. The first three, Beach Walk, Flower Market, and Funfair Evening; were the work of Jacques Cavallier and Marie Salamagne. My favorite of that first collection was Funfair Evening which was meant to capture a Santa Monica, California evening at a summer fair in 1994. It did a really nice job at capturing the smells of the carnival; candy apples along with sweet and sultry accords capture the humidity of the evening. I really liked the attempt to try and stay true to the source material.

I just received my samples of the newest set of three Replicas, Lazy Sunday Mornings, Promenade in the Gardens and Jazz Club. Much like the first three all of them are pretty good but one really stands out for me and that one is Jazz Club.

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Alienor Massenet

Replica Jazz Club is signed by Alienor Massenet who is familiar to many as the de facto in-house nose for Memo Paris. For Jazz Club the place and time on the box is Brooklyn 2013. The label also describes the fragrance as a combination of “Heady cocktails and cigars”. Despite the non-smoking rules which persist across the US the idea of the smoky jazz club remains and while I think a Brooklyn club in 2013 would be smoke free with nary a cigar in sight; Mme Massenet’s choice to base Jazz Club on the twin pillars of booze and tobacco works very well.

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Jazz Club opens on a strong brilliant riff of pink peppercorns with lemon and neroli. The citrus is like the glint off the bell of a trumpet under the spotlight and the peppercorns are the blare of that opening trumpet’s first sounds. It captures your attention and it carries you to the bar for Mme Massenet’s olfactory craft cocktail wherein she adds clary sage to a rich dark rum accord and garnishes it with green vetiver. There is an almost mentholated quality which overlays the depth of the rum accord and it is another piece of brightness continued from the top notes. Finally we take up a cigar and roll it between our fingers and run it under our nose. The narcotic richness of tobacco leaves is front and center. Styrax and vanilla accentuate the sweeter qualities of that tobacco leaf. The final phases of Jazz club is the promised combination of cocktails and cigars without any of the deleterious health effects.

Replica Jazz Club has overnight longevity and above average sillage.

Replica Jazz Club is one of the best new designer offerings of the last few years. Mme Massenet paints a perfect picture of a night in a jazz joint enjoying the fine music, alcohol, and cigars. It accentuates the fun of that kind of evening perfectly.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample purchased from The Perfumed Court.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Incense

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I often get asked to name my top 10 fragrances and of all the questions I get asked this is probably the most difficult for me to answer. There are so many perfumes out there I admire and I always fret I’ll miss one when making any list of any kind. Now that I have my own blog I feel like I should try and sort of answer the question. So once a month I’ll share my favorite things and the five I think are the best examples of that note or style. For the first version I’m going to tackle incense fragrances.

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Frankincense

Saying incense fragrances can be problematic all on its own but what I mean are fragrances where the incense note is prominent throughout. The five choices below all hit the spot when I’m craving an incense perfume.

Amouage Jubilation XXV- I have facetiously named Bertrand Duchaufour the “High Priest of Resins” as over a five year period starting with 2002’s Comme des Garcons Series 3: Incense Avignon & Kyoto he would refine his incense accord until it all came together in this brilliant luminous incense fragrance, in 2007.

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Juozas Stakevicius (aka Joe Stat)- There are a number of perfumes which capture the church incense vibe with cold stone walls and smoky censers, none of them do it better than this one by perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage D’Enfer– Most of my incense fragrances are on the heavier side and I rarely take them out as the weather turns warmer. Passage D’Enfer is the exception to that rule as perfumer Olivia Giacobetti turns in an incense that feels like it is miles away even though it is right underneath my nose. It is like an optical illusion as I expect it to get stronger every time I wear it but it just stays sheer and gorgeous.

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Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande- This was the Serge Lutens fragrance which made me find a way to get a bell jar flown back here to me. From the first moment I smelled the lavender, sage, juniper berry, rosemary, and incense core I was, and am continually, in love with Christopher Sheldrake’s ability to make all of that work.

Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure– Independent Perfumer Laurie Erickson has captured a cross between campfire and incense as Incense Pure has a glowing heart of frankincense, smoky cistus, and myrrh. This is the most comforting of my favorite incense fragrances and it immediately makes me feel better every time I wear it.

This is one of those categories where others could come up with their top five and it would be entirely different than mine and I would admire all of the choices in that list. If you need a place to begin your exploration the five above are a good place to start your own list of your favorite things.

Mark Behnke

Perfume Mythbusters: The Silence of the Molecules

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There are some widely held ideas out on the interwebs and some of them even came from before we had this worldwide connectivity. For some of these I am going to become an olfactory version of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman television’s Mythbusters. Imagine I have replaced my regular fedora with a beret like Jamie’s and off we go.

As a research chemist one of the funniest things I have heard over the years from Sales Associates after applying perfume to the wrist pulse points, “Don’t rub your wrists together you’ll bruise the molecules.” Now I know most people have a natural reticence when it comes to chemistry and all those atoms and molecules. Certainly the frequency with which I am greeted with “I hated chemistry in school.” when I tell people I’m a chemist lets me know the majority aren’t so jazzed to know about the molecules in their everyday life. So when you’re told that rubbing your wrists together somehow hurts the molecules some can think, maybe it could be true. The main reason that people have believed this to be true is that when you rub your wrists together you are changing a couple of things about the way the perfume is meant to be experienced but trust me you’re not bruising the molecules, you’re not even making them uncomfortable.

If you wanted to bruise a molecule what you’re really saying is you want to break the bonds between the atoms that make up that molecule. When I want to do that in the laboratory it takes energy, actually it relatively takes a lot of energy. I have to use heat, other chemicals, ultraviolet light, even microwaves sometimes; to break open a molecular bond so that it is available to react with another molecule. The amount of friction you would have to apply by rubbing your wrists together would probably damage your skin before the first molecule even felt a little queasy.

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Why this myth persists is that the perfume does develop differently when you rub your wrists together but it has nothing to do with molecular mauling. It has more to do with the physical effect of evaporation.

The perfume pyramid in a very, very basic way is just an arrangement of molecules with different evaporation rates. The term for that is called vapor pressure. Vapor pressure is reported in Pascals abbreviated Pa. To give you some idea of the ranges of vapor pressure; the molecule which makes up antifreeze, ethylene glycol, has a vapor pressure of 500Pa; water’s is 2300, and the propane gas in your gas grill 1,013,000 Pa. The higher the number the faster it evaporates. This is the basis for arranging notes from top to heart to base as differing vapor pressures means notes like aldehydes which have vapor pressures in the 10,000’s fly off first and the big synthetic molecules like Iso E super generally have vapor pressures in the 1,000’s. Now this is a simplistic comparison and the molecules which are used in perfumery also have other qualities which can make them persist a little longer than straight vapor pressure. For the purpose of this discussion the notes in perfume evaporate at different rates which form the development of a perfume on your skin.

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Water Drop by John Kane

When and how you apply perfume will have a very large effect on how this evaporation occurs. If you add a single drop to each wrist it is in a concentrated spot and the evaporation will take place slower causing a slightly longer development of the perfume on your wrist. Now when you take your wrists and rub them together taking that drop and smearing it into a thin film you are now speeding up the evaporation much as when you spread out water when you mop the floor. A thin widely applied film evaporates much quicker. So as you rub your wrists together the combination of body heat and dispersion makes, especially the top notes, evaporate all that much quicker.

The molecules aren’t so much bruised as excited to get out into the atmosphere a lot quicker now that you’ve made it easier for them to escape. The difference in the way a perfume smells when applying to a wrist and rubbing has nothing to do with brutalizing the molecules.

So if you’ve refrained from rubbing your wrists together because you think you're abusing the poor molecules in your perfume don’t worry they are fine. The only thing you do when you rub your wrists together is alter the evaporation profile in favor of the lower vapor pressure components. Which if you aren’t fond of the top notes of a particular fragrance might be a benefit.

So much as Hannibal Lecter asked of Clarice Starling at the end of “The Silence of the Lambs” I hope you no longer hear the cries of the molecules the next time you rub your perfumed wrists together.

Mark Behnke

That Unattainable Object of Desire: Andy Tauer’s Orris

There are fragrances out there that are among the best that you can get but they are limited in availability. These are the true quarry of the fragrant treasure hunters out there. Through fortune and the good graces of many in the perfume community I have been able to find many of these and have rarely been disappointed in the effort needed to procure them. While I don’t want to start a longing for something one can’t have I also want to let people know when you come across an opportunity to try one of these do not pass it up.

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I have been thinking about Andy Tauer’s 2006 limited edition release Orris as I have just received my bottle of Josh Lobb’s equally limited edition slumberhouse Zahd. There are a lot of similarities between the two. Both Hr. Tauer and Mr. Lobb are fiercely independent perfumers uncompromising when it comes to their perfume. They both communicate in sporadic pictures and words about their creative process. I would say when I discovered Hr. Tauer’s blog back in 2006 it was eye-opening in the amount of insight he would provide on his creative process. It has always been a lot of fun to read Hr. Tauer’s posts leading up to eventually wearing one of his releases. In both perfumer’s cases it is much of what fuels my passion to cover perfume because their creativity is so approachable.

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Andy Tauer

One of Hr. Tauer’s early posts in July 2006 described a limited edition he was working on called Orris. To read about it go this link and scroll down to the July 21, 2006 entry “layers and appearances”. In that post he explains that Orris is “like a facetted piece of jewelry, reflecting in all colours of the light”. It is that quality which makes Orris such a genius piece of perfumery. As he also mentions within that blog post Orris is one of the most mutable fragrances I have ever encountered as each person seems to pull their own unique version of it. Here’s what it does on my skin.

Orris opens with cinnamon, black pepper, and grapefruit which rapidly comingles with rose and orris. This is a fabulous beginning with the spices floating on top of the florals and the citrus adding some light. The orris is carried along with the cinnamon into a heart of frankincense. This is that very beautiful almost metallic frankincense and with the orris and cinnamon it is a marvelous combination and it is on this chord where Orris lingers for the longest time on my skin. Every time I wear it I realize there is nothing like it in my collection of iris fragrances. Once Orris does begin to head towards the base notes they are also a collection of rare woods: real Mysore sandalwood along with real oud and Australian sandalwood. Because of Hr. Tauer’s blog post this was one of the first times I was able to tease apart the two different varieties of sandalwood. Also remember that in 2006 oud was rarely used in fragrance so all of this added a level of uniqueness to the base of Orris. What I find interesting is even when I revisited Orris in 2014 to write this the entire composition still retains its singularity there has still been nothing like it.

Orris has all-day longevity and below average sillage.

When you are fortunate enough to find a young independent perfumer who you admire and they mention they are making a fragrance with one-of-a-kind ingredients; don’t think about it too long and buy it. I dithered over Orris and was never able to acquire a bottle. The small amounts I have are the generous gifts of fellow bloggers and perfume lovers. I have never seen an official number of how many bottles were produced but I do know Hr. Tauer is regularly asked whether he could reproduce it and he always politely replies, “No, the raw materials are unobtainable or too expensive now.” What is out there is all there is. Thankfully what is out there is a glorious fragrance experience amongst my very favorite ever from one of the very first independent perfumers.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfumerie Generale PG 26 Isparta- Portrait of Pierre?

It has been almost two years since Pierre Guillaume has released anything new for his Parfumerie Generale line. The early part of 2014 has seen four new releases. The three new reimaginings of his early fragrances PG 02 Coze, PG 03 Cuir Venenum, and PG 06 L’Eau Rare Matale which have turned into PG 2.1 Coze Verde, PG 3.1 Arabian Horse, and PG 6.1 Vetiver Matale. These three fragrances are interesting exercises in variation but I found I preferred the original over the newer versions. They have enough of the structure of the earlier with minor variations that expose interesting aspects of the perfumes but nothing truly exciting sprung out and so I was left hoping for something more stirring from his new release PG 26 Isparta.

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Rose Harvesting in Isparta

Isparta is the name of the province in Turkey where the rose oil from “Isparta Summer Roses” is produced. The rose oil produced is said to be “intense, rich, slightly spicy” due to harvesting in the morning before they have reached full bloom. Personally I prefer the Turkish or Moroccan rose because of that slightly spicy quality it brings to a fragrance along with the more familiar rose floralcy. M. Guillaume also likes contrasting what has come previously within the Parfumerie Generale collection. The other previous rose-centric fragrance PG 13 Brulure de Rose was the more refined rose one finds more prominently in perfumery. Brulure de Rose was a sunnier rose allowed to blossom in the midday sun accompanied by raspberry and M. Guillaume’s signature gourmand notes of cocoa and vanilla. Isparta is the rose cut off in its prime with its potential needing a bit of energy to release it. In Isparta that energy comes, again, from raspberry. It seems a number of perfumers have discovered this combination of raspberry and Turkish rose, Frederic Malle’s Portrait of a Lady by Dominique Ropion being the best example. Isparta shares some of the same early beats of that as the rose and berry combination is ascendant but Isparta goes for a more sheer effect over the rest of its development as the resinous suite of notes paired with oud and patchouli are precisely applied to keep Isparta sotto voce all the way.

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Pierre Guillaume

Isparta opens with that raspberry and rose duet; the juiciness of the berries along with the spicier quality of the rose seem like perfect complements. The piquancy is blunted by the sweet and the sweet is reined in by the spiciness allowing for the floral component to have a little more prominence. A bit of calamus adds a tiny bit of green to the early moments but it is more of a grace note than a note. The heart is a resinous coffee klatch of peru balsam, benzoin, and incense. They serve to add a dryness to the opening accord and they also seem to serve as restraint from keeping that roseberry accord from becoming too overwhelming. The resins hold their own until the base notes of oud and patchouli take their place and usher the rose into its final phase. As I keep saying it feels like this should be overwhelming and intense with these kind of raw materials but M. Guillaume has found a way to keep it much much sprightlier than this note list should have produced.

Isparta has all-day longevity and average sillage.

Some are going to call Isparta “Portrait of a Lady 0.1” and that would be the easy interpretation especially based on the top notes. It is the rest of the journey in Isparta which truly shows how different it is. This also feels like a natural aesthetic progression for M. Guillaume which I think began with PG 24 Papyrus de Ciane and has continued in PG 25 Indochine and PG 22 Djhenne. That perhaps makes PG 26 Isparta the complete portrait of Pierre Guillaume.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample purchased from Surrender to Chance.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Fashion of Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford- Fall 2014

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As fragrance fans we eagerly look forward to the next perfume release from Marc Jacobs or Tom Ford. Both of these, now, ubiquitous names started with their fashion lines before expanding into the accessories and beauty sectors. The fragrance calendar goes all year long but the fashion calendar is pretty much concentrated on two times of the year, February-March and September-October, when fashion designers show their latest couture in runway shows. The shows happen about six months before the season they are meant to be worn in. Thus the February shows are for Fall of that year and the September shows are for the Spring of the following year. It is also a traveling circus as there are fashion weeks starting in New York, then London, followed by Milan, and finishing up in Paris. For the current cycle, fall 2014, we are about halfway through with New York and London finished and Milan ongoing.

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Marc Jacobs (l.) and Tom Ford aking bows at their Fall 2014 Runway Shows

My interest in fashion is similar to my interest in the great perfumers. Both endeavors are highly informed on what has gone before with the best designers and perfumers using things from past creations as the launching point for the future. Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford are perhaps two of the savviest at doing this. Their designs are based on classic lines but always there is a bit of a modern or retro-modern twist apparent. It is a big reason why they are the most anticipated runway shows at New York where Mr. Jacobs is the closer with the last show; and London where Mr. Ford moved his shows to from New York a year ago.

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Marc Jacobs' "Cosmetic Colors" (l.) and Tom Ford's Jay-Z Knockoff of a Knockoff

(Photos George Chinsee/WWD (l.) and Giovanni Gianonni/WWD)

One of the things I always find fascinating is how each season forms its own zeitgeist as all the designers seem to work towards the same big ideas. Halfway through the Fall 2014 offerings the colors seem to contain more pastels than you see in the Fall. Spring is usually where the pastels fill the runway. These pastels are of the cooler variety. Mr. Jacobs described them as “cosmetics colors” when describing his collection. Both designers brought in sportswear themed flourishes with the most talked about of those Mr. Ford’s knock off of a t-shirt Jay-Z has been wearing on stage when he performs his hit “Tom Ford”. The sequined couture version will carry a price tag, 100 times more than the $65 t-shirt, which has its own shade of social commentary underneath.

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Marc Jacobs Fall 2014 (Photo: George Chinsee/WWD)

Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2014 collection was all about soft colors and fabrics to go with it. It was almost as if the Marc Jacobs Blush fragrance could’ve been the tagline for the fashion. There were lots of examples of great separates the best which was the chunky knit look with its own slouchy vibe to it. All of this was brought together in one look as a sparkly stunner.

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Tom Ford Fall 2014 (Photo: Giovanni Gianonni/WWD)

Tom Ford’s Fall 2014 collection was less pastel and his color palette was more focused on black, navy, and red. In a collection of dark looks it was the reds which provided impact as either a red crocodile skirt suit or a luxurious velvet dress both of which are the kind of aspirational couture Mr. Ford does so well. The middle look above represents where hemlines will be next fall as it looks like the knee and lower will be on trend.

By the time fall rolls around I am sure we will be getting new fragrances from both designers to match the looks above.

Mark Behnke

My Scent Memory: Fairchild Botanical Gardens 1969- Anya’s Garden Fairchild

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It is a common experience of most who love perfume that certain fragrances conjure up strong memories. Sometimes it is the scent of a specific place or an occasion and the fragrance you wore to it. When fragrance works on this level it is about its ability to truly lodge itself within your conscience. One of my favorite fragrances which does this for me is Anya’s Garden Fairchild.

Fairchild was inspired by the Fairchild Botanical Gardens in South Florida. Ms. McCoy has magically created a steamy summer day at these gardens perfectly. My review for CaFleureBon can be found here. Every time I wear it I think of these gardens. There is also one special memory which almost always comes to mind when I wear Fairchild. It was of a late August day in 1968 as my grandfather taught me not to be afraid of change and to judge people by their actions and not their appearance.

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Mark L. Harned in 1969

I am named after my grandfather Mark Harned and he had returned to South Florida after his retirement. One of our favorite activities was to walk through Fairchild Botanical Gardens and enjoy the beauty of all the tropical foliage and the smell of the ocean brought to us by the sea breeze. Granddaddy Harned would always punctuate these walks with tales of his travels all over the world. I blame these talks for my wanderlust which has taken me from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego in this hemisphere. One thing he never spoke about was his time in World War II. Until this day late in the long hot summer of 1969.

That summer was a moment of tumultuous American history as protests against the Vietnam War and long simmering racial divides finally boiled over in many US cities. Miami wasn’t an epicenter of this kind of activity but there was a moment where the African-American sections of the city set some fires and threw some things at passing cars it was mild compared to what was going on in Chicago or Berkley. As a precocious 9-year old I was a little unsettled especially because I was going to be sharing school with children of another skin color as desegregation was starting with my grade school. I was nervous about what the new school year would bring. My grandfather sensed it and after asking me I told him I was worried “they” wouldn’t be like me. That was when he launched into the only story he ever told me about his service in World War II.

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Map of Ledo Road (in bright green)

My grandfather was a civil engineer in the Army Corps of Engineers and he was flown to India in the Far Eastern Theatre to begin the work on building what would come to be known as the Ledo Road. The Allies needed an alternative overland supply line to the more well-known Burma Road which was in Japanese controlled hands. If the Allies were going to engage they would have to build their own supply line. Construction began in December of 1942 and in just under two years it would be finished and all war materiel would flow down the Ledo Road.

What my grandfather told me next was what was important for me to learn as a young man. Almost all of the labor that worked on the Ledo Road were African-American. My grandfather told me of the construction work performed by these soldiers. He told me of the pride in their work as the progress they made was faster than the commanders had expected. He told me how the work was in brutal heat and brutal cold as they were working at mountainous altitude and then down in tropical jungles in the valleys. I asked him if there were problems like what we were seeing. He looked at me with a smile and said to me something I have always remembered “Marcus always judge a man on his heart and soul, never on the color of his skin. Good and bad exist beneath the skin not because of it.”

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It was a powerful moment for me and it was these words which drove me to start talking to Rodney whose desk was next to me in Mrs. Dundee’s Fifth Grade class. I realized very quickly that Grandaddy Harned was correct as Rodney and I would team up on the basketball court and watch each other’s back at dodgeball. When I got off my bike in the morning I was as happy to see Rodney as I was the friends I had been in school with previously. Our parents, unfortunately, were less evolved and we were never invited to each other’s house. Although in the spring of 1970 Granddaddy Harned chaperoned a field trip and I introduced him to Rodney. My grandfather shared one of those special smiles with me as I introduced him which told me he thought I might just have learned something.

Everytime I wear Anya’s Garden Fairchild I am back in Fairchild Gardens with Granddaddy Harned filled with pride to share his name.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bellegance Midnight Promise- Sniffapalooza Crowdsourciing

One of the best things about the biannual event put on by Karen Dubin and Karen Adams (aka The Karens) called Sniffapalooza is the bringing together of fragrance fans from all over the world. Through the course of the weekend event there are three meals where you share a table with, usually, somebody you haven’t met before. I have had the pleasure of having the beginnings of many of my favorite, and long lasting, fragrant relationships begin at Sniffapalooza. It seems like almost everything has sprung up from these gatherings except fragrance. That has all changed with the release of Bellegance Midnight Promise.

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Carmen Schaye(l.) & Karen Dubin at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2013

At Sniffapalooza husband and wife Gordon & Carmen Schaye began talking with Ms. Dubin and from those discussions they decided they wanted to make a fragrance. Ms. Schaye wanted to create a team of talented women to make a fragrance to celebrate women. Ms. Dubin asked perfumer Sarah Horowitz-Thran to join and to complete the Fantastic Four of Bellegance, Ping Li would design the flacon. During the process of designing Midnight Promise they would return to Sniffapalooza and ask the group to pick their favorite from a number of preliminary mods. In October of 2013 the process was finished and Bellegance Midnight Promise was premiered at Sniffapalooza to bring things full circle. While this isn’t exactly an example of crowdsourcing Midnight Promise feels like it has had a lot of midwives on its way to the perfume counter.

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Sarah Horowitz-Thran (l.) & Karen Dubin at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2013

Ms. Horowitz-Thran starts Midnight Promise with a wonderfully chosen duo of mandarin coated in cinnamon. Cinnamon has a sweet spiciness which is complemented by the sweeter citrus of the mandarin. Ms. Horowitz finds a nice balance and, as top notes go, Midnight Promise holds that chord a little longer than most fragrances. A rose damascene holds the heart and it picks up the cinnamon as a running mate as the mandarin fades. Moroccan rose often has a slightly enhanced spicy character and the cinnamon enhances it. The base is a panoply of warm comforting notes as incense, sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli, and amber weave a figurative woolen scarf to pull tight around you for soft warmth.

Midnight Promise has six-eight hour longevity and above average sillage.

For those who have followed Ms. Horowitz-Thran’s previous fragrances Midnight Promise feels like a more luxurious and intimate version of her Love Comes from Within. There are significant differences but the spice/rose/warm progression is the same. If you’ve never tried Ms. Horowitz-Thran’s fragrances this is a great place to start as she has become one of the more reliable American independent perfumers.

Every Sniffapalooza holds promise in the form of finding a new fragrance or a new friend or coming up with a great idea. Bellegance Midnight Promise is the culmination of all that potential into a great new perfume.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Bellegance Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar Bentley for Men Intense- Driving Madame Lorson

In Under the Radar I want to highlight a recent release, within the last 18 months, which I think has not received enough attention. In the never ending flow of new releases it is not hard to believe one can miss something good, perhaps even something great. The explosion of blogs is supposed to help this not happen but even with over 1,000 blogs devoted to perfume and fragrance there are still those which manage to slip through the cracks.

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Nathalie Lorson

Bentley for Men Intense was released in April 2013 and was signed by Nathalie Lorson. I got a preview sniff at Esxence in Milan last March but I didn’t receive a sample until a few weeks ago. I think smelling something in the middle of one of the biggest perfume expos in the world is never ideal. As I spent some quality time with Bentley for Men Intense I really came to realize this is one of the best designer fragrances of the last two or three years and it just might be the best car inspired fragrance ever.

Mme Lorson particularly thrills me when she works the deeper notes of the perfumer’s palette. In Bentley for Men Intense she makes it feel like I am in the back seat of Bentley surrounded by the smell of leather seats and polished wood paneling. Winding in and out among the luxurious facets are resins and spices. It feels opulently decadent.

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The opening moments of Bentley for Men Intense are clove-like geranium, pepper, and clary sage on a swirling spiral of rich sweet incense. The heart is a rich leather accord refined and plush. There are no sharp edges this is a debonair dashing leather like Charles Lindbergh’s flying jacket. The base notes are a mix of cedar and sandalwood over patchouli. As with the leather the wood feels like it has been polished to a high gloss, shimmering with cedar’s cleanliness and sandalwood’s creamy nature. The patchouli adds depth to the woods.

Bentley for Men Intense has all-day longevity and above average sillage.

For those who love fragrances with spices, resins, woods, and leather Bentley for Men Intense is as good as it gets. When it comes to designer fragrances with cars in their name this is simply the best in class like the car it shares its name with.

Bentley for Men Intense can be found online at a number of places. It widely available in Europe. I was told they expect to have a US point of sale soon.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I obtained from Surrender to Chance.

Mark Behnke

Editorial: 90 Days ‘Til The End of Perfume?

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I was wanting to wait a little bit longer before tackling this subject but recent events have forced me to comment a little sooner than I expected. Last Thursday February 13, 2014 the European Union (EU) has announced a three-month period of consultation on fragrance allergens. The regulations under review are recommendations by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) to ban three substances from being used in perfume; two of the molecules found in oak moss and tree moss, and a lily-of-the-valley chemical called Lyral. There are an additional 12 molecules and 8 naturals which would be severely restricted in concentration and require labelling on the perfume it was contained in. The reasoning behind the SCCS’ recommendation is these are allergens and removing them from fragrance is in the interest of public health. As a scientist who works on the pharmaceutical side of things I’ve watched this debate and have been amazed at many aspects of it.

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A Skin Irritation test with 2 controls and and 4 concentrations of the test molecule

The data used to determine the allergen potential of these molecules is scientifically and statistically unsound. Many of the studies used to determine these molecules as skin irritants lacked the necessary statistical and scientific structure to come to the conclusions they have reached. The studies conducted on the three banned molecules that have been published were done with small groups of patients with no control. When I am developing a topical drug formulation I would have to have multiple groups of 30 patients treated with the drug in varying concentrations in one place on each patient as well as what we call a control patch of skin on the same patient. You usually use a negative control you expect to cause no effect, like water, and a positive control that you do expect to cause an irritation. These are used to calibrate the skin of the patient being tested. If the patient shows a reaction to the negative control, which remember is just water, any other result would have to be thrown out because the patient has responded to only water. This is called a placebo effect and it occurs in 15-20% of patients. For a molecule to have a statistically relevant response it would have to have a response rate 20% greater than the placebo effect. The studies these bans and restrictions have been based on were performed one time at one concentration on 25 patients with no controls, positive or negative! This is what makes me shake my head as this is not good scientific practice and the conclusions made are very preliminary and possibly incorrect.

An even bigger flaw is the idea that it’s really only 23 molecules, so what? If these single molecules are restricted and banned it will have a ripple effect throughout many more raw materials. A natural oil is not a single molecule it is a combination of as many as hundreds of individual molecules. Any one of which could be identified as one of the “bad 23” which would then make that natural oil unusable as well. In Denyse Beaulieu’s blog Grain de Musc, The Different Company CEO and Creative Director Luc Gabriel expands on this thought as he worries at the impact of these changes on the industry.

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All of this is complicated by the fact that there is no unified response. According to some sources LVMH and Chanel are extremely concerned. Other brands like Coty and L’Oreal seemingly stand on the sidelines. The Fragrance Foundation has stayed away from this debate with a ten-foot pole. Some of the raw material houses like Robertet have tried to get their lavender fields and products protected under French heritage law.

Until last Thursday this mix of concern and apathy was the norm now a 90-day clock has been turned on. Let me offer a solution to propose to the EU. Let LVMH, Chanel, and any other company that wants to participate, fund a full-blown study of these 23 substances under the highest scientific and statistical standards. Multiple controls, multiple concentrations, multiple patient groups spanning different ethnicities. In other words prove that these molecules are as “bad” as they are reported to be. This is a study that could easily be performed in 12-18 months to add a level of scientific rigor sadly lacking in the process so far.

If you also want to read more about this let me point you to this excellent post on the blog Kafkaesque where she has been diligently reporting on this issue for the past year.

The time to offer solutions is now and the time for discussion has been forced upon us by the EU. Together the industry and those of us who love perfume need to stand up and be heard or we will pay a price I think none of us wants to pay.

Mark Behnke