Live from Milan! It’s Esxence 2015! Day 3 Schedule and Live Viewer

Esxence 2015 is back on the air for all four days of the exposition.

Below is the live viewer which will stream all of the panels. If you also keep watching you will even see me interviewing the people involved in this year's event.

 

Here is the schedule of events for Day 3:

11.00 a.m. local/ 6:00 am US ET

Book presentation

Dillo con un profumo (ed TEA). The Scent of Design

The Author Mariangela Rossi talks with Laura Maggi, Managing Editor at Elle Decor and with Giorgia Martone Art Director of Magna Pars Suites Milano, the first Hotel à Parfum

 

12.00 a.m. local/ 7:00 am US ET

Workshop by Mouillettes & Co

Invisible Messages

The language of fragrances is invisible but it always tells us a story

with Maria Grazia Fornasier and Emanuela Rupi

 

2.30 p.m. local/ 9:30 am US ET

Book Presentation

Le lacrime di Mirra – Miti e luoghi dei profumi nel mondo antico

by Prof. Giuseppe Squillace, University of Calabria

 

4.00p.m.local/11:00amUS ET

Conference Perfume Wardrobe

with Marta Siembab, Senselier

 

5.00 p.m. local/ Noon US ET

Book Presentation

La sua voce è profumo

The Author Giovanna Zucconi introduced by Maddalena Scagnelli (voice and violin) and Franco Guglielmetti (accordion)

Colognoisseur Esxence Day 2 Wrap-Up- How Green Can You Go?

Buongiorno Perfume Lovers! The start of Day 2 was the panel on creating a harmonious relationship between brand and retailer moderated by Sarah Colton of ThePerfumeMagazine.com and Beauty Fashion Magazine. This was really a continuation of the panel Ms. Colton hosted at last year’s Esxence. This year there was a strong consensus that clear communication between brand owners and retailers on their goals are the biggest key to a fruitful, and profitable, relationship. This was once again a fast moving thought-provoking panel and much of the credit must go to Ms. Colton for steering her panelists into the more notworthy aspects of this relationship.

After the fast moving ninety minute presentation it was time to go visit Marc-Antoine Corticchiato at Parfum D’Empire where I was introduced to the new Corsica Furiosa. This is the first new Parfum D’Empire since 2012’s Musc Tonkin. The tagline for this is “furiously green” and while I wouldn’t use furious as an adjective this is a kaleidoscopic green fragrance ever revealing new shades throughout the time it develops on skin.

architects club

Next was Carlos Huber who had two new Arquiste releases to debut. The first is called L’Etrog Acqua which is a variant on the original L’Etrog. Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux decided he wanted a more summer version of L’Etrog and so he ditched the dried fruit accord at the heart and replaced it with lavender, myrtle and more woods. The result is a much fresher and greener fragrance bursting with sunshine. The other new fragrance is called The Architects Club as Mr. Huber asked perfumer Yann Vasnier to create a fragrance capturing a Lost Generation 1930 club in Mayfair London. The early going is all textural effects before they get doused with all of the ingredients of a dry martini. There is a fantastic inflection as The Architects Club goes from Parlor to Party almost in the blink of an eye.

acqua sextus

Perfumer Cecile Zarokian seemingly has a fragrance around every corner at this year’s Esxence. One of her creations I was most excited to experience was also the fourth chapter in the olfactory love story between Julien Blanchard (Jul) and Madalina Stoica (Mad); or more colloquially know as Jul et Mad. When last we left them they were on a Palazzo in Venice. For the fourth chapter, Aqua Sextus they are in Aix-en-Provence where they will marry. Mme Zarokian has created a collaboration of green notes for the fields, watery notes for the 100 fountains, and a bouquet of florals for the bride. This is one of Mme Zarokian’s most assured constructions and it captures all of the lovely emotions of Jul et Mad.

le-galion-perfumes-1963-whip

If there is one thing I have learned in attending my third Esxence is when someone you respect suggests you check out a line, I go check out that line. Roja Dove said the best new line he tried was Le Galion and so it was on my schedule today. What pushed it closer to the top was running into perfumer Thomas Fontaine who helped compose many of the Le Galion line and told me these were right up my alley.  Brand owner Nicolas Chabot kindly showed me all eight of the fragrances and this collection is everything one could want in a Retro Nouveau line. By finding modern alternatives to original vintage recipes many of these Le Galion perfumes straddle the old and the new simultaneously.  I can’t wait to spend quality time with all eight of them but the spiced citrus of Whip and the incredible abstract rose of La Rose will be top of the list.

The ever lovely Sara Carner of Carner Barcelona gave me a sneak sniff of the upcoming El Born and it is a licorice and chocolate bundle of energy.

Tomorrow I will be finishing the rounds but before I do that I have the great pleasure of interviewing Michael Edwards on the occasion of the 30th Edition of Fragrances of the World. I think I need my beauty sleep.

Ciao Perfumistas e Colognoisseurs!

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Esxence 2014 Day 1 Wrap-Up- The Happy Hours

Buongiorno Perfume Lovers! As I am now attending my third Esxence I have come to realize the days of my walking the expositions without seeing someone I know are long gone. That is not a bad thing as I traversed the brand new location the Triennale di Milano sharing kisses on both cheeks and wide smiles of recognition. For an exhibition devoted to artistic perfumery having it in a museum devoted to cutting edge design seems like a natural fit. The layout this year of one long winding road with the best artistic perfumery has to offer is a delightful change as I often felt as if I was on the road to discovery.

Naomi goodsir

Naomi Goodsir Parfums Display

My first stop was at Naomi Goodsir Parfums. Why? Because besides fabulous fragrances Ms. Goodsir makes the most amazing hats and her display had a condenser in it. This appeals to the perfumista, the hat wearer, and the chemist all at once. What really appealed to me was the new fragrance, Or de Serail. For this third fragrance in the line perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has created a densely textural tobacco fragrance. This has all the complex design elements of one of Ms. Goodsir’s hats and the same unique aesthetic offered by the first two fragrances. This was the strip I kept smelling all day as it just kept evolving into something different every time I revisited it. Can’t wait to wear it when I get home.

I renewed my friendship with perfumer Mark Buxton and although there is nothing new to add to the Mark Buxton Perfumes line he did give me a sneak preview of something very special. For the new Wes Anderson movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel” he created a classic cologne for the character played by Ralph Fiennes, Monsieur H. Monsieur H never leaves his room without spraying on “L’Air de Panache”. This is a throwback to the old 50’s style of cologne but redolent of high quality naturals. This is the epitome of what cologne can be when great materials are used. L’Air de Panache was only produced in small quantity for the movie premiere and is not available for sale. Why am I telling you about this? Because just steps away another perfume house was going to scratch the perfume itch Mr. Buxton started.

When I walked up to Etienne de Swardt at the Etat Libre D’Orange Booth I saw this advertising tag line, “We’ve given you decadent, we’ve given you outrageous, and now we give you nice” for the simply named Cologne. As I longed for a return to the 50’s style of cologne here was that fragrance. This is simple cologne construction done extremely well. Which makes it better than just nice.

ombre indigo

I think the fragrance I knew was going to be here that I was most eager to try was the new one from Olfactive Studio, Ombre Indigo. The azure colored juice delivered a one-two punch of tuberose and leather surrounded by shadowy notes like saffron, papyrus, benzoin, and plum. They capture the shadows inherent in the photographic inspiration, by Gustavo Pellizzon, seen above. New perfumer Mylene Alran of Robertet has combined a host of the singular Robertet palette of natural raw materials to produce a feast of visual and olfactive delights. It is captivating in every way.

In between all this sniffing there were three panels to attend. Prof. Claus Noppeney spoke on the different ways Perfume & Art are intersecting. The thesis is the collaborations open up the concept of “Perfume As Art” to the general public.

Mustafa Sebbagh took us on an explanation of the images he chose for the nu_be advertising campaign. It was something he said though that really resonated with me. He was talking about how the essential odor of something holds the truth about it and when he meets someone he takes in their odor because, “Your smell doesn’t lie.” Something to ponder.

Happy Hour

Pouring the Rochas Femme Cocktail

The final panel was Edmond Roudnitska Happy Hour as Marika Vecchiattini, of Bergamotto e Benzoino, and Patricia de Nicolai shared M. Roudnitska’s classic fragrances Rochas Femme, Eau D’Hermes, and Diorella. Paired with each of these was a special cocktail to attempt to mimic the fragrance. The one which went with Femme was the most successful as by using wine it recreated the classic prunol base in drinkable form.

As I walked away from Happy Hour I realize the entire day spent at Esxence wasn’t just a single hour of enjoyment they were all Happy Hours.

I’ll be back tomorrow with reports on some other new perfumes I can’t wait to try from some of my favorite lines and Roja Dove has directed me to a brand new line which has impressed him.

Ciao Colognoissuers e Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Yosh Konig- King Me!

Yosh Han is one of those people in perfumery who seems to be in constant motion. Whenever I see a post from her on Facebook I play a mental game of “Where in the World is Yosh Han?” All of this travel is as a consistent proselytizer for independent perfume. Ms. Han believes in the indie perfume community and always is available to promote it. She is so good in this role I sometimes forget she is a damn good perfumer, as well. Then I received a sample of her latest release Konig and I am immediately reminded that Ms. Han has got skills.

Konig is the German word for king and Ms. Han wanted to create a fragrance fit for a medieval king of the Schwarzwald. Certainly the woods and the smoke of the fireplace are on display but the inclusion of an excitingly unusual red apple note really allows Konig to feel less medieval and more modern.

yosh han

Yosh Han

Konig opens with those apples as the crown on this king. Because of the apples I kept thinking about princesses and poison apples but Ms. Han has some more masculine ideas as vetiver shows up to joust with those apples. The greener facets of vetiver are supported by papyrus and sage early on and they add tartness to the apple. The woodier aspects of vetiver come forward and so too do the smokier accords accompanied by leather and amber. At this point ‘dem apples have been jettisoned and the ending stage is a smoky leathery vetiver, the epitome of the swaggering medieval king at play, or war.

Konig lasts all-day on me and has above average sillage.

Konig is the second in the “M” Series by Ms. Han which are meant to explore our “deepest nature”. Sombra Negra was the first and in tandem both of these are distinct departures from the earlier collection Ms. Han produced. What they also show is that Ms. Han knows how to span an aesthetic spectrum when making her perfumes. Konig shows this excursion into the “M” series will be every bit as fascinating as her previous fragrances.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Konig provided by Yosh Han.

Mark Behnke

Editor's Note: Yosh Konig has been named a finalist for the 1st "The Art and Olfaction Awards" in the Independent Category.

Colognoisseur at Esxence 2014

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I am on my way to Milan to attend Esxence 2014 and Colognoisseur will be covering it from top to bottom. I will be posting a daily wrap-up of everything as I interact with many of the most prominent players in niche perfumery. Lots of new releases from old friends and the excitement of discovering something new make Esxence special.

You will find the streaming Esxence player here on Colognoisseur and it will be running daily from 5:30AM-1:30PM EST. You will see live coverage of the panels and in between interviews with the exhibitors and others.

I am particularly pleased to be interviewing Michael Edwards as we celebrate the 30th Edition of Fragances of the World.

Please check in daily from Thursday March 20-Sunday March 23 for my reports right here on Colognoisseur.

Here is the panel schedule (All time EST)

Thursday March 20. 2014

7:30AM Artistic Perfumery: on the Links between Art & Perfumery with Prof.Claus Noppeney, Bern University of theArts / Bern University of Applied Sciences

10:00AM Book Presentation IGiardini di Saffo by Prof. Giuseppe Squillace, Universita della Calabria

11:30AM Presentation Conversation about the Images with Mustafa Sabbagh interviewed by Ermano    Picco, LaGardeniaNellOcchiello.com

12:30PM Perfumed Cocktail Polysensorial journey inside the Perfumes of Edmond Roudnitska presented by Marika Vecchiattini,  BergamottoeBenzoino

Friday March 21, 2014

5:00AM Workshop- From Conflict Management to 'Pas de Deux': Towards a Harmonious Niche Fragrance Brand/Retail Interface- Chairman: Sarah Colton,ThePerfumeMagazine .com and Beauty Fashion Magazine.

7:30AM Workshop- Artistic Perfumery in Middle East (R)evolution Parfumee- Chairman: Alireza Khazal, LuxAssist  & Co

9:30AM Conference- The Chemistry in Perfume: Source of Creativity with Bernard Bourgeois, Osmotheque

11:30AM Lecture- Smells of Saudi Arabia with Nicola Pozzani, S Sense The Senses of Perfume

1:00PM Olfactory Tasting- Amarone: Smell and Taste the Great Red Italian Wine and its Perfumed Notes- Danilo Della Mura, Confraternita dell'Amarone and Stileltalia.tv

Saturday March 22, 2014

6:00AM Book Presentation- Michael Edwards – the Man behind Perfume Legends, Fragrances of the World and the Fragrance Wheel- Michael Edwards interviewed by Mark Behnke, Colognoisseur .com

7:30AM Workshop by Mouillettes & Co Olf'Evolution with Maria Grazia Fornasier and Emanuela Rupi

9:00AM Lecture- Scent Culture in East Asia with Chi Wai Tang, Fragrance Moment

10:30AM Presentation by Sultanate of Oman Tourism Office Fragrances and Myths of Arabia Felix:The Frankincense Route and the Roses Gardens with Wanda Benati, Nadia Bizzarro, Sara Cusma

12 Noon Presentation- Les Lignes de Parfumerie Alternatives Maisons de Luxe vs.Maisons de Niche- Carine Lanteri interviewed by Claudia Stagno, Export Magazine

Sunday March 23, 2014

5:30AM Tribute to Sandrine Videault with Michael Edwards, Saskia Havekes, Sabine Chabbert, Laurence Ferat and Silvio Levi

6:00AM Book Presentation- Parfums Rares- Sabine Chabbert and Laurence Ferat interviewed by Tessa Williams, Author, Cult Perfumes

9:00AM Contest -Award Ceremony-The Art of Scent

10:00AM Workshop by Mouillettes & Co Olf'Evolution with Maria Grazia Fornasier and Emanuela Rupi

New Perfume Review Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur Extrait- Love the One You’re With

One of the things that can be very difficult for a writer on perfume is when you get a sample and you are told to wait until it is released before writing about it. Last March, at Esxence in Milan, Neela Vermeire of Neela Vermeire Creations, spritzed a little of her more concentrated version of Mohur, simply called Mohur Extrait on the back of my hand. I was a big fan of the “rose in a fisted glove” intensity of the original Mohur Eau de Parfum where perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour took us through a spicy opening before rose and leather combined for that incongruous connection. As it goes with the best of extrait level versions M. Duchaufour doesn’t just up the volume with higher concentration he also varies the tune so Mohur Extrait is a much more intimate experience.

neela_vermeire1

Neela Vermeire

In the original EDP formulation the numerous ingredients all seemed very distinct and played their role to create a fantastic whole. In Mohur Extrait that is not the case. Now the carrot note is more prominent but as a modifier for the three rose sources used. In the EDP the spices breeze across the top leading to the rose. In the Extrait the rose is out in front with the carrot and it is very steadily changing on the periphery. The violet and the orris eventually take over turning things slightly powdery.

One of my favorite parts of the EDP was this almond milk accord M. Duchaufour uses which is sort of creamy and nutty at once. As in the EDP it is the bellwether to the arrival of the leather accord. One of the things about M. Duchaufour that has been fantastic to watch over the years has been his evolution of an accord. This leather accord he has been using recently is one of those where he has achieved a near perfect balance by itself and now depending on what it is paired with it feels like something new. If any single accord can be said to be a Bertrand Duchaufour signature this leather accord would have to be in the discussion. For Mohur Extrait it is very prominent and together the “rose in a fisted glove” is more nuanced while having greater depth. This is what I want in an extrait version and Mohur Extrait gives me all I could ask for.

Bertrand Duchaufour

Bertrand Duchaufour

The final phase of Mohur Extrait is where you find some of the spices that were up front in the EDP paired with some amber and other resins along with a tiny pinch of oud. The backloading of the spices works very well in this extrait version because the Turkish rose used has a prominent spicy character which is more pronounced later in this extrait version. All together it adds an extraordinary amount of warmth to the final stages of Mohur Extrait.

Mohur Extrait has overnight longevity and very little sillage. It is very much a skin scent and only you and those you allow to get close are going to notice it.

Mohur Extrait is a limited edition of 450 bottles that are sadly only available to those in the EU. If you want a bottle you need to contact Neela Vermeire through her e-mail found at her website and request a bottle. The price is 340Euros for 50mL.

Mohur Extrait is another example of the pleasures a higher concentration can reveal about a fragrance you thought you knew well. I wore Mohur EDP a lot and while it is still a wonderful fragrance I am all about “loving the one you’re with” and when I want Mohur these days it is always the Mohur Extrait I reach for. It is a fantastic perfume and easily my favorite of all of the Neela Vermeire Creations to date.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample of Mohur Extrait provided by Neela Vermeire Creations.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka is a finalist in the 1st “The Art and Olfaction Awards” in the Independent Category.

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Nude Moderne, Ginger Rose, Electrum

In the middle of 2013 I received the first three perfumes from independent perfumer Amber Jobin; A Roll in the Grass, Aether Argent, and Inuus. These were surprisingly assured fragrances for a first-time perfumer. One of the reasons that they are as finished as they are is Ms. Jobin has worked for, and with, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz as she learned the techniques of making perfume. These fragrances stood out from the many indie perfumes I receive in a year in the way they seemed polished to me. A downfall of many indie perfumers is to think they are finished without trying to improve the transitions from top to base. All three of the initial fragrances showed a sense of completeness to them. Ms. Jobin would follow this up with one of my top 50 new fragrances for all of 2013, No. 4 John Frum. With that she took an unusual note, Kava Kava, and created a tropical jungle milieu that combined intense florals, juicy fruits and the woods and foliage all with a palpable humidity. I was eagerly waiting for more. About a month ago I received the three latest Aether Arts Perfumes, Nude Moderne, Ginger Rose, and Electrum. Three more examples of a new star in the world of indie perfumes.

Amber Jobin

Amber Jobin

Nude Moderne is Ms. Jobin’s take on a skin scent in both meanings of that word. Nude Moderne is meant to evoke warm skin and it is also meant to wear very close to the skin of the person wearing it. Ms. Jobin shows her skill in balancing a number of synthetic musks to realize her warm skin effect. What she also does is to quite presciently add a bit of labdanum to ground this effect. Without that inclusion Nude Moderne would come off like a one-trick pony. With its inclusion it gives a bit of a spine for the musks to adhere to and to endure for a long time. While Nude Moderne may have very little sillage it persisted on my skin for well over 24 hours and through a shower. Because of the nature of the synthetic musks Ms. Jobin used there is an almost glacial kind of evolution to Nude Moderne allowing it to become sweeter as it lingers on. All of this is not an easy feat to realize and I am quite impressed at the surety with which Ms. Jobin produced it.

geraldine-doyle-rosie-the riveter

Geraldine Doyle (The model for Rosie the Riveter)

Ginger Rose is meant to be a Nouveau Retro take on aldehydic florientals from the 1940’s-1950’s and Ms. Jobin shows the research she put into designing her modern version of a vintage perfume. She said she made up a personality, Miss Ginger Rose, as she composed this fragrance. In her mind’s eye Miss Ginger Rose was an up-and-coming starlet or a debutante. When I was letting my imagination run away with the same idea I saw Miss Ginger Rose as a woman who had taken over many of the traditional male roles during World War II and as the boys have returned home a bit of her favorite perfume reminded her of being a woman again but one who discovered a little power underneath the surface femininity. Ginger Rose the fragrance is like that as it starts off with a fusillade of aldehydes fizzing off the skin along with the energy of ginger. Often ginger adds the effervescence to a fragrance but here with the aldehydes adding the carbonation the ginger is a little more refined. This all leads to a fabulously dense floral heart of rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, and heliotrope. It is pretty and multi-faceted throughout. The base is where a bit of the steel of Miss Ginger Rose arrives as Ms. Jobin adds indoles and beeswax to bring out the animalic heart of jasmine and add a bit of growl to the florals. The growl becomes a knowing resinous smile as frankincense, myrrh, and sandalwood provide a sensual end to Miss Ginger Rose’s olfactory journey.

Ancient-Greek-Electrum-Stater-Coin

Ancient Greek Electrum Coins

Electrum is the classical name for amber which according to myth came into being when Phaeton’s, son of Helios, sisters turned into poplar trees and cried tears of amber. Electrum is also a naturally occurring alloy of silver and gold used in ancient coins. Ms. Jobin wanted to capture both meanings as she fuses the silvery scent of pine needles with the golden glow of amber. Those silvery pine needles are right there at the top but they are joined with an inspired choice of rosewood. The rosewood adds a subtle bit of odd woodiness underneath the sharper facets of the pine needles. As the amber begins to intensify the needles still retain their edge and that edge keeps the amber from being too warm to start. Once the tobacco arises the more traditional warmth of amber also comes to the foreground. The mix of tobacco and amber along with some vanilla turns this sweet until a bit of Africa Stone turns the amber towards the animalic.

All three of these have incredible longevity and moderate sillage except for Nude Moderne which as mentioned above almost has none.

Ms. Jobin has been deliberately putting together a very worthy collection of perfume which I am finding belie her relative newness to perfumery. These first seven fragrances and especially these last three show a combination of technical skill and aesthetic vision that is all too rare in the indie community. I can’t wait to see what is next.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

Editor's Note: Aether Arts Perfume No. 4 John Frum has been named a finalist in the 1st "The Art and Olfaction Awards" in the Artisan Category.

The Sunday Magazine: Veronica Mars

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When it comes to television it seems like I am the patron saint of shows which are canceled fairly quickly. There are many shows through the years which I have really enjoyed which were canceled within their first year or two. Firefly, Pushing Daisies, Freaks and Geeks, Twin Peaks, Profit, Rome; even the original Star Trek could be included on my list. What is also great about these shows I’ve listed is even though they are gone they connected with a fairly passionate fan base who keep their memories alive with websites and forums dedicated to them. A common theme you will always find on these forums is the desire to somehow someway get the beloved show back into production. Almost all of the time because these shows are owned by studios who see no profit in bringing back a failed series this is all wishful thinking.

Kickstarter_Logo

In March of 2013 I logged into my e-mail to find a message from the “Veronica Mars” fansite urging me to go contribute to the Kickstarter campaign to get a Veronica Mars movie made. I read this with the same amount of skepticism one reads e-mail from a Nairobi Prince trying to share his fortune with you. I headed over to Kickstarter to see which starry eyed dreamer was trying to raise money to convince the studio to bring Veronica back. Imagine my surprise that it was the creator/writer Rob Thomas and the star Kristen Bell with the blessing of the studio Warner Brothers. If they could get $2 Million dollars in 30 days they could make a movie. Well this wasn’t fanciful thinking this was a plan. Over the next thirty days I and 91,584 other fans donated enough money to go well past the target to end up gathering $5.7 Million. I felt great. I felt like we the fans had actually brought something back to life that I never thought to see again. Then I started to worry that it would be bad as Mr. Thomas tried to satisfy 91,585 fans/backers and it would be another failed attempt to broaden the audience.

veronica-mars-movie-logo

One year after donating my money I sat down and watched “Veronica Mars” unspool before my eyes and when it was done I was smiling ear-to-ear. It was perfect as it was everything I had loved about the writing, the characters, and the actors who played those characters. Mr. Thomas  made a movie with lots of hidden layers in throwaway lines of dialogue which made us long-time fans giggle but never making it so much of an inside joke that others couldn’t find something to laugh about, too.

As of the writing of this I don’t know whether Veronica Mars was a success at the box office and frankly I don’t care. With the help of a group of other fans we were able to get another installment of something we all connected with years after we thought it was gone. Obviously I am hoping some of the other shows I named also have the opportunity to find their way back through a Kickstarter campaign. The success of Veronica Mars will be closely watched and imitated if it is a success.

Which leads me to wonder if there isn’t a perfume brand that faded away before its time which could be Kickstarted back to life. I do have a line I would be thrilled to see return to production and I would contribute to a Kickstarter campaign to finance it. So Victoire Gobin-Daude if you’re out there and want to bring back your original collection of Gobin-Daude perfumes I’ll be the first to contribute.

Mark Behnke

My Desert Island Perfume: Frapin Caravelle Epicee

Probably the question anyone who writes about perfume gets most is to name your “Top 5 or 10 or 25” Perfumes of All-Time. For those of us who spend our time trying everything new we can get our nose on as well as find times for our favorites it is an impossible question. I usually say something like I have enough trouble naming my Top 25 for a given year much less the Top 25 ever. This elicits a mix of reactions but mostly disappointment that I can’t point them to the absolute best perfume in the world. Heck maybe I’m a little disappointed I can’t do it either. There is a different version of this question though which I have had an answer for since 2007, “What is your desert island fragrance?”

To me this is a much different query than name the best fragrances ever. When asked what I would want to wear on a desert island it means to me a fragrance that would not be boring as I wore it every day. A fragrance that would be comforting and energizing. A fragrance which would be an olfactory Friday to my Robinson Crusoe or Wilson to my Tom Hanks. A fragrance which would remind me why I wanted to get off the island. For me that fragrance is 2007’s Frapin Caravelle Epicee.

I learned about Caravelle Epicee one morning in 2007 when a Basenotes member “Two Roads” listed it as his Scent of the Day followed by the note list: coriander, cardamom, clove, cumin, nutmeg, allspice, thyme, gaiac wood, patchouli, sandalwood, amber, and tobacco. He generously sent me a sample and a few days later I would wear it for the first time but not the last time.

Jeanne-Marie-Faugier

Jeanne-Marie Faugier

Jeanne-Marie Faugier is the perfumer under the Creative Direction of Frapin’s David Frossard. Caravelle Epicee translates to Spice Ship and I have always seen it as an olfactory landscape of the hold of a 17th Century Dutch East India Company ship just after it has unloaded its cargo after returning to its European port from a trip to the Indonesian Spice Islands. As you can tell from the list of notes above this is a veritable smorgasbord of spice. Mme Faugier is able to keep what could have been an unruly cacophony instead tuned to politeness with an almost genteel façade. This is why I describe it as standing in the hold after it has been unloaded because the spices seem to reach a certain level and then never get much more intense. After the spices there was obviously some tobacco also in the hold and then you smell the wood of the ship as the patchouli, gaiac, and sandalwood combine to give that accord. I also always get a tiny hint of an aquatic accord which captures the water just on the other side of the hull.

Caravelle Epicee has all-day longevity and average sillage.

There you have it and finally I have put this down in print so the next time I get asked this question I can just forward them this link.

Disclosure: this review is based on a bottle of Caravell Epicee that I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Amouage Opus VIII- The Light’s Winning

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The Library Collection from Amouage started in 2010 with the release of Opus I-IV and has released a new volume every year since. 2013’s Opus VII was an excursion into darkness which asked a wearer to gaze into the equivalent of an olfactory abyss. It was one of the more fascinating releases of last year because of the introspective nature of going for that level of depth. One of the hallmarks of the Library Collection is that it is a more experimental creative process than the paired “Man & Woman” annual releases of the main Amouage line. Creative Director Christopher Chong has urged the perfumers he has hired to realize his visions to push the limits in their designs. I imagine working for Mr. Chong has to be a fantastic experience as I’m sure there are few creative directors who believe enough in their customers that they will follow anywhere they are taken. Opus VII challenged that with its downward spiral of the heaviest notes in perfumery. For 2014, Opus VIII is the opposite as it glows with a gauzy sunlight although that gauziness is the remnants of some of those dark notes from Opus VII.

CHRISTOPHER_CHONG

Christopher Chong

The perfumers for Opus VIII are Pierre Negrin who participated with Alberto Morillas on Opus VII and Richard Herpin who is composing his first fragrance for Amouage. M. Negrin also did the exquisitely constructed Interlude Man in 2012. M.Herpin, like M. Morillas, has spent much of his time working on the more commercial side of the business. This sets up an interesting dynamic as these two come together to realize the brief that Mr. Chong asked of them, “an evocative exploration of the subconscious dialogue between illusion and reality.” What this translates to is an incandescent opening of jasmine followed by a transition of light and dark in the heart before the darker notes bring down fragrant twilight.

The opening of Opus VIII is jasmine sambac, ylang ylang, and orange flower. The early going is all about the jasmine, it floats off my skin like a heat mirage. The ylang ylang and orange flower shimmer as energetically but from a more distant perspective. Each is used to enhance a different part of the jasmine, the ylang pulls the sweetness to the foreground while the orange flower adds a slight bump to the indolic heart. Messrs. Negrin and Herpin make this glow like a golden halo. The florals are then subsumed by a wave of saffron, ginger, and incense. The lighter notes of ginger and saffron have a more prominent part of the heart but the incense slowly increases in character until the base notes start to arrive. Bay, benzoin, and balsam signal the lessening of the light. As I said earlier this is a gauzy kind of darkness as it sort of lays a film of these notes over the jasmine, which is still going strong, and its light can’t be put out by these intruders. A solid application of vetiver turns the later phases of Opus VIII distinctly woody but the jasmine still refuses to give way as its glow remains even as darkness threatens to descend.

Opus VIII has overnight, and then some, longevity and above average sillage.

cohle light winning

As I wore Opus VIII over the last week I was reminded of the final line from the recently completed HBO series “True Detective”. After one of the main characters has survived his encounters he talks about the night sky and how there is an awful lot of dark between the light. The other detective replies that everything used to be all black and the existence of the stars show that the light is winning. This is what I thought of as I wore Opus VIII the light at the heart of this fragrance continues to shine even though the black attempts to overwhelm it. Opus VIII is another bright star for both Amouage and The Library Collection.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Opus VIII provided by Amouage.

Mark Behnke