Elements Showcase February 2014 Wrap-Up- Finding the Right Teammates

2

It seems like the perfume year really doesn’t get underway until the winter version of Elements has kicked us off. Coming the week after the Super Bowl had consumed New York City it was an interesting transition from football World Championship to, sort of, the opening of the 2014 perfume regular season. What really struck me was the efforts which really stood out were team-ups of olfactory art and another kind of art. So stretching the sports analogy until it breaks I’m going to let you know which rookies captured my attention in the early moments of 2014.

2013 best of pics12

The first thing that caught my eye were the striking bottles from Suleko. The atomizers sit inside individual sculptures three of which were designed by Joelle Fevre and the fourth one by Alain Fichot. Owner and Creative Director Anastasia Sokolow teamed up with the talented perfumer Cecile Zarokian to complete a Big Three team-up of sculptor, creative director and perfume which has resulted in a fantastic collaborative effort on all three fronts. The bottles were easily the most visually impressive thing on both floors of the Elements Showcase. The perfume inside, meant to evoke one of the seasons, equally impressive. From first impressions Baba Yaga’s spicy energy is more attention grabbing in the early going but I think Albho’s high altitude impression might win me over when I spend more time with them.

Olivia Bee Quiet

Quiet by Olivia Bee

Another collaborative effort came from Ulrich Lang as he debuted his fifth fragrance under his Ulrich Lang New York label called Aperture. There has always been a strong photographic inspiration to this line of fragrance, with Aperture the connection is made even stronger. Mr. Lang asked 19 year-old photographer Olivia Bee to come up with the photograph which accompanies the fragrance. The picture above came from Ms. Bee’s series “Quiet”. The silhouette against three strong bands of color almost mirror the pyramid of peppery aldehydes on top, a deep heart of tobacco, jasmine, and cedar, and an intensely blue base of vetiver, ambergris, and civet. All proceeds from Aperture will be used to support the Aperture Foundation.

2013 best of pics11

Chef Rene Berges (l.)

The novel “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” by Patrick Suskind has been the jumping off point for many fragrances. The latest, by Absolument Parfumeur, is Le Trezieme Note Femme and Le Trezieme Note Homme. The Thirteenth Note, in the novel, is that which turns perfume into legend according to Baldini, the perfumer who teaches the protagonist Grenouille. Founder and Creative Director Pascal Rolland teamed with Chef Rene Bruges to create a fusion of food and fragrance for the thirteenth note. The Femme version, inspired by a dessert, is a fruity floral on a honeyed ambery base. The Homme version, inspired by an entrée, is an herbal wonderland with a wormwood heart which nods to the first Absolument Parfumeur fragrance Absinthe. The Homme version was particularly enjoyable and only time will tell if either will become legendary.

Sydney Australia floral designer Saskia Havekes presented her first two fragrances inspired by magnolia. Using the same name as her floral design business Grandiflora she convinced two of the more itinerant perfumers on the planet to create two visions of magnolia. Michel Roudnitska and Sandrine Videault, in her last fragrance, created Magnoila Grandiflora Michel and Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine. These two perfumers have turned in singularly magnificent interpretations of magnolia under Ms. Havekes’ creative direction. She also told me the third Grandiflora fragrance will be based on Madagascan jasmine called Stephanotis Floribunda and will also be composed by M. Roudnitska. Based on these first two fragrances it is my most anticipated new fragrance coming out of Elements Showcase.

I also got some advance peeks into the future of some of our favorite brands. Union’s Anastasia Brozler will be taking us to the Garden of Eden, Union-style, with the release of their sixth fragrance later this year. Douglas Bender of Charenton Macerations is currently hard at work on two follow-ups to last year’s Christopher Street. Designer Christian Siriano will be releasing his first perfume, Silhouette, in the next few months and it mirrors his fashion designs full of volume and intensity. Rouge Bunny Rouge has two new releases Muse and Allegria coming out very soon. The new Parfums de Marly Darcey was very nice and it is just starting to be released. I also got a sneak peek at the new boronia fragrance from Nomad Two Worlds, Raw Spirit: Desert Blush. It is another very beautiful fragrance born of an indigenous ingredient to Australia.

Elements Showcase continues to evolve and under the steady hand of Frederick Bouchardy, Ulrich Lang, and Jeffrey Lawson it will continue to present the best of the newest fragrant offerings. I’ll be back in August to see what they have for the mid-season showcase.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Profvmvm Sorriso- Brevity of Expression

2

Economy of expression can be a difficult trick for most anyone. When it comes to perfumery the Durante family knows how to consistently make fragrances which sing with three to four notes. Their line of perfume is called Profvmvm and it has produced thirty of these minimal note/maximum enjoyment perfume since their first releases in 1996. The thirty-first release is called Sorriso and continues this style of perfume making.

Sorriso means smile in Italian and it made me smile as one who loves chocolate and orange together. Orange and dark chocolate are my favorite combination as the sweet of the orange contrasts with the bite of the higher concentration cacao chocolate to make for a savory combination. The note list for Sorriso is brief as always; bitter orange, bitter chocolate, exotic woods. When I read that I expected my candy bar to materialize from the atomizer. That isn’t what happened and it made me give up my mental image and really pay attention to what was there.

sorriso bottle

Despite the listing of bitter chocolate it really seems like it is more cocoa powder on display in Sorriso. It is cocoa powder lavishly spread over a tray of orange wedges. Despite the note listing describing both the chocolate and orange as “bitter” I found them to be on their best behavior, more optimistic than jaded. The orange was juicy with a pronounced sweet over the tart. The cocoa powder adds a desiccated quality with a smooth chocolate sweetness with only the slightest hint of an edge. Chocolate in perfume can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and the choice to stay more towards the cocoa powder kind of chocolate makes Sorriso a little more approachable, I think. The woods come into play very late and they sort of sneak up on the orange and chocolate. Both times I wore Sorriso it felt like they just sort of arrived out of nowhere but they keep things soft and tilted towards the sweeter, creamier side of woods.

Sorriso has all-day longevity and moderate sillage.

In a world where communicating in 140 characters is lauded so should Profvmvm and the Durantes be praised for also making a complete olfactory statement in three to four notes. Sometimes that is all you need to make someone smile with delight. Sorriso does just that especially for those who like a little orange with their chocolate.

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

Mark Behnke

Serge Lutens 101- Five To Get You Started

8

I’ve been doing this a long time and as new brands come, and go, I tend to be there at the beginning which allows me to grow along with the perfume house. I often wonder how somebody new to the world of niche perfumery deals with some of the larger lines that they hear so much about. When you are faced with trying to figure out a place to start you generally have to rely on your best guess at what will work for you. With this series I am going to take some of the larger perfume houses and suggest five introductory fragrances as a place to start your journey. First to get this treatment is Serge Lutens.

Desktop8

Serge Lutens (l.) and Christopher Sheldrake (r.)

Serge Lutens was established in 1992 and for over twenty years Creative Director Serge Lutens and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake have been creating some of the best perfumes in the niche perfume space. With over 40 perfumes released under the Serge Lutens label it is a formidable task to figure out where to start. With Serge Lutens the best place to start is truly at the beginning.

Feminite du Bois was originally created under the Shiseido label but now is under the Serge Lutens imprint. I remember smelling Feminite du Bois for the first time and being absolutely fascinated that a fragrance with Feminite in the name had such a pronounced cedar heart. The real genius here is the pairing of violet with that cedar note. The core accord is bracketed by orange and a trio of spicy notes to create a vibrancy one rarely finds and it is a hallmark of Serge Lutens fragrances that will appear time and again. Feminite du Bois underwent a re-formulation when Serge Lutens acquired it from Shiseido but this is one of those which manage to keep the spirit of the original alive.   

In 2000 with the release of Ambre Sultan this style would become more refined with another inspired pairing of herbal notes with a warm amber. Bay leaves, coriander, oregano, and angelica root provide a feisty contrast to the languorous warmth of amber made even warmer with the additional resins of benzoin, styrax and a full suite of balsamic notes. This is often the fragrance which turns many into amber fanatics.

sa majeste la rose bottle

Also in 2000 Sa Majeste La Rose shows M. Sheldrake’s adeptness with a simple rose soliflore. By using an opulent Moroccan Rose as his nucleus he then sends into orbit around it lychee, clove, and honey to impart a mobility to the rose which elevates it to something much more than just a soliflore. Sa Majeste La Rose is one of the most versatile entries in the entire Serge Lutens line perfect for a wide variety of uses.

One of the hallmarks of the Serge Lutens style is a “stewed fruit” accord which pops up frequently. In 2004’s Daim Blond it shows up swathed in cardamom, orris, and suede leather. You will swear there are dried apricots in the note list, they aren’t listed but they are there, and this is a good place to see if you like “stewed fruit” in your fragrance.

Five O’clock au Gingembre is my last choice as it shows the skill of M. Sheldrake with a gourmand in the Serge Lutens style. An exquisite tea accord leads to a mix of gingerbread, ginger, and cinnamon which have an unusual warmth that will make you think a tray of gingerbread cookies are cooling somewhere nearby. It slowly settles into a honeyed cacao and vanilla finish that manages to keep from turning into treacle and always stays terrific.

Serge Lutens is one of the perfume houses that really produces quality fragrances year in and year out and if you’ve been needing a place to dive in the five above make for a good place to introduce yourself to Uncle Serge.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles of these fragrances which I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Olfactory Chemistry: Ethyl Maltol- Angelic Candy Floss

I have always been fascinated with the synthetic molecules that go into my favorite fragrances. Very often the first use of these molecules form an inflection point from which many other fragrances spring from once it has been used successfully.

angel

The first molecule I want to talk about is Ethyl Maltol. It’s most famous use is in 1992’s Thierry Mugler Angel. Perfumer Olivier Cresp combined it with other synthetics, Hedione and Coumarin, to create an indelible piece of day-glo olfactory art. Angel is a love it/hate it fragrance for its exuberant nature and at the heart of that exuberance is Ethyl Maltol.

2013 best of pics9

Maltol (l.) and Ethyl Maltol (r.)

Ethyl Maltol by itself smells like a cotton candy machine running at full throttle at the state fair. It almost feels like the fumes are vaporized sugar floating in the air right on the verge or crystallizing. Prior to Ethyl Maltol’s synthesis perfumers used the natural form Maltol. As you can see from the two structures above there is only one small difference between Maltol and Ethyl Maltol. The addition of one more carbon and two more hydrogens leads to a significant difference. Maltol is a naturally occurring material which is used to add a note of coffee, caramel, or cocoa depending on the dilution. Ethyl Maltol does not occur in nature and is synthesized in a lab. The simple addition of one more carbon and its attending hydrogens increases the effect of Maltol by a tremendous amount and turns it into a powerhouse source of sweetness in a perfume. You have to dilute Ethyl Maltol many times more than Maltol to achieve a similar intensity.

It is exactly these kind of small molecular changes which lead to dramatic olfactory differentials which make this so intriguing to me. It also points up the difference in natural and synthetic sources of perfume materials as the synthetic conterparts to natural molecules generally carry a a bigger impact and intensity. This can be a reason for a perfumer to choose it especially for that over the top quality.

When you smell that intense cotton candy smell the next time you are trying a new fragrance, or revisiting Angel, now you know where it comes from.

Mark Behnke

Boot or Reboot: Patou pour Homme 1980 & 2013- Taking on a Classic

2

 

The world of movies and television is full of what are called reboots where a beloved older property is given a fresh interpretation by a new set of creative minds. An excellent example of this is the television series of the 60’s Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry and the fantastic re-imagining of that universe in 2009 by J.J. Abrams and the movie version of Star Trek. Both retain the essential soul of the creation but each set of artists imparts their own sense of style to things. Particularly over the past few years the perfume world has seen a number of cherished “out of print” vintage fragrances get a modern reboot. Sometimes the results are similar to the Star Trek experience where both retain the essential soul but differ in fascinating ways. Other times one is clearly better than the other and not always in the original’s favor. In this series I am going to examine both the original (boot) and the reformulated version (reboot) and give you my opinion on both of them.

Jean Kerleo

Jean Kerleo

Of all the purely masculine marketed fragrances to have ever been released 1980’s Patou pour Homme by the perfumer Jean Kerleo is one of those Holy Grail type fragrances. When the discussion of what the best masculine fragrances ever created are I have never not seen Patou pour Homme not make the short list of contenders and is often the winner of many of these olfactory beauty contests. It has created a hunger for the vintage bottles which show up on auction sites and estate sales with bottles fetching between $500-1000 regularly. For me personally it is not just Patou pour Homme but the entire output of Jean Patou which is priceless and they are the most prized parts of my perfume collection as I think they are the very pinnacle of what perfume can be. Patou pour Homme is just one of those which sits very high in my personal esteem.

thomas_fontaine

Thomas Fontaine

Over the past fifteen years I have watched as numerous business entities have taken a run at reviving the house and reformulating these classic fragrances. All throughout the process I was simultaneously rooting for its success and fearing the worst. Finally in 2013 Jean Patou was bought from Proctor & Gamble by a British firm Designer Parfums, Ltd. They hired perfumer Thomas Fontaine to oversee the resurrection of these perfumes. In the second half of 2013 they released their first three recreations, Chaldee, Eau de Patou, and Patou pour Homme.

pph ad

Patou pour Homme 1980 was groundbreaking for its day as Jean Kerleo used a mix of pepper, lavender, clary sage and tarragon to create a shimmering heat at the beginning. Patchouli, cedar, and vetiver took the traditional triptych of men’s fragrances and moved it up the pyramid into the heart. The finish was a lavish amount of oakmoss, labdanum, and sandalwood. The synergies and interplay has always made this one of the most fascinating fragrances that I have ever worn and M. Kerleo’s skill at keeping this as kinetic as a kaleidoscope is not to be underestimated. This is a fragrance which lives up to its hype.

pph2013

Patou pour Homme 2013 has a couple of difficulties for M. Fontaine right from the start. First he has to comply with IFRA restrictions and so the oakmoss is out. The shimmering heat effect also was going to be difficult to replicate. M. Fontaine consulted with M. Kerleo and worked from the original recipe as he composed this modern version. The top notes are much brighter as bergamot and lemon partner the tarragon and galbanum is added to the top notes to try and create that shimmery effect. The effect it gives is a deeper richer citrus accord but the stunning piquancy of the original is gone. Instead of having a two-step of very intense notes M. Fontaine crafts an intermezzo of jasmine, violet, and rose which partner the top notes quite pleasantly. The base is clearly a bit of inspired perfumery as since he can’t use oakmoss he goes for a raw leather accord, olibanum, patchouli, and ambergris. While it misses that “je ne sais quois” of the original it really works at the end of the brighter less extreme lead up of this modern version.

I think it is obvious that the winner of this battle is the original Patou pour Homme but that really is unfair to the newer version. M. Kerleo had a fuller palette to work with than M. Fonatine did and he used that to his advantage. The fragrance that M. Fontaine has created is very good and maybe the real disservice is calling it Patou pour Homme. If it was named Patou pour Homme II I think many would think it was much better than they are going to with it having the same name. If you have never tried the original, the new Patou pour Homme is very good without being compared to one of the great perfumes of the last 35 years. If you’re looking for that experience you’ll still need to haunt the internet and auctions to get your fix.

In this case I would say Boot is the winner but the Reboot deserves its own amount of attention because M. Fontaine has made me believe he is the right person to oversee this revival of Jean Patou.

Disclosure: Thie review was based on a bottle of Patou pour Homme (1980) that I purchased and a sample of Patou pour Homme (2013) I received from Aus Liebe zum Duft.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Laboratorio Olfattivo Kashnoir- Orange Blossom Takes a Trip

I think that every perfumer I have met has made something that I truly adore. There are a select few of them though that just seem to create perfume that never fails to make me smile. One of the perfumers in that category is Cecile Zarokian. She is early in her commercial career but she is slowly but surely building an impressive portfolio. The latest entry is also the latest fragrance from Laboratorio Olfattivo called Kashnoir.

Laboratorio Olfattivo is an Italian brand which is dedicated to artistic perfumery. They give the perfumers who work for them a lot of leeway when they are creating a fragrance for them. It has really brought out the best in many of the perfumers who have created fragrances for them. Mme Zaokian is just the most recent to join those who have enjoyed the freedom to create without a marketing group overseeing everything.

cecile zarokian

Cecile Zarokian

According to the press kit Kashnoir is inspired by “narcotic flowers, psychotropic herbs, and haunted spices”. There is also a lot of description of it being similar to a search in the East for a mysterious and lethal drug. This is what is wrong with reading the words first as I was expecting something like opium den chic. Mme Zarokian had something much different in mind. She takes an ingénue of a floral note in orange blossom and sends her on a psychedelic trip.

Kashnoir starts off very innocent and bright with a halo of lemon and lavender over the genteel orange blossom. This is something we’ve experienced many times before. Coriander signals the change to something a little more “noir”. This is also a greener coriander than I’m used to in a fragrance. It gives it even more of a roughhewn quality than it usually adds to a fragrance. A ridiculous amount of patchouli and benzoin take the orange blossom even deeper into unusual territory. This combination of deeply resinous notes almost seems to bring out the indolic qualities of the orange blossom to a more pronounced level. It is more likely that it is the only thing left to stand up to this set of powerful notes. I often remind people that orange blossom is a white flower and does contain an indolic core. With Kashnoir I think I can actually have a fragrance to show the truth of that. Heliotrope and vanilla combine to give a soothing almond milk like finish to this trip.

Laboratorio Olfattivo Kashnoir has overnight longevity and above average sillage.

Cecile Zarokian has done a masterful job of taking orange blossom and finding a way for me to view it in an entirely different way. It is a trip well worth taking.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from Aus Liebe zum Duft.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur is Going to Esxence 2014!

I am very pleased to announce that Colognoissuer will be attending Esxence 2014. Esxence is one of the premiere, if not the premiere, perfume expositions in the world. This will be the third time I have attended Esxence in their six year history. One of the things that makes this such an exciting exhibition of artistic perfumery is it is a rigorously curated event. Every exhibitor has to pass through a curatorial process before being admitted to the expo. This leads to a very high quality experience. The lists of exhibitors get released in waves leading up to the opening on March 20, 2014. The first group of exhibitors for Esxence 2014 have just been announced and they are :

  • AA Absolument Absinthe
  • Alyson Oldoini
  • Baldi Firenze 1867
  • Bois 1920
  • Bond No. 9
  • Cale Fragranze D'Autore
  • Clive Christian Perfume
  • Cowshed
  • Cuarzo the Circle
  • Du Bois
  • Eau D'Italie
  • Emmanuel Levain
  • Eternal by Ajmal
  • Eutopie
  • Fleur de Cafe
  • Franck Boclet
  • Geo F. Trumper
  • Giulietta Capuleti
  • House of Sillage
  • Hugh Parsons
  • La Manufacture des Chateaux
  • La Parfumerie Moderne
  • Le Galion
  • Les Parfums Keiko Mecheri
  • Mancera Paris
  • Mariella Martinato
  • Memo Paris
  • Mendittorosa Odori D'Anima
  • Montale Paris
  • My Inner Island Parfums
  • Naomi Goodsir Parfums
  • Nu_Be
  • Panama 1924
  • Pantheon
  • Parfums D'Orsay Paris
  • Parfums M. Micallef
  • Paul Emilien
  • Philab
  • Pineider
  • Profumi del Forte
  • Profumi di Pantellaria
  • Prudence Paris
  • Rance 1795
  • Rose & Co. Manchester
  • Rouge Bunny Rouge
  • Teatro Fragranze Uniche
  • Teo Cabanel
  • Tiziana Terenzi
  • Torre of Tuscany
  • Ulili Moroccan Scents
  • Ulrich Lang New York
  • Vanessa Tugendhaft
  • Washington Tremlett
  • X-Pec

Along with this exciting line up of artistic perfumes there will be a contest to design the bottle to hold the perfume which won last year’s “The Scent of Esxence” contest, Etoilegance by Alexander Lee of Mane. This is especially fitting since Esxence 2014 will be taking place in the Triennale di Milano which is an institution devoted to promoting contemporary design, art, and architecture. This will be an exciting extension of last year’s contest to see which flacon best represents Mr. Lee’s fantastic fragrance.

There will be announcements of panels and additional exhibitors as we approach the opening day and I’ll be sure to keep you updated as those details come in.

Mark Behnke