New Perfume Review D.S. & Durga HYLNDS Foxglove- Oisin’s Grave

Brooklyn-based Independent perfume brand D.S. & Durga branched out in 2013 by producing the HYLNDS collection. The first four fragrances were evocations of the Highlands myths and folklore. The fifth release Foxglove continues that tradition as it is focused on the man who was considered the greatest poet of Ireland, Oisin. Perfumer David Seth Moltz was inspired by a visit to the gravesite. He says, “When I walked up to Oisin’s grave, I found one foxglove flower facing it 20 feet from the site. It was if Nieve was sitting watch over her lost love.”

foxglove-flower-2

One of the characteristics of the HYLNDS collection of perfumes is they all have a distinctive sense of place within their composition. When I smell all of these fragrances I feel very much aware of the inspiration surrounding me. Foxglove does a fantastic job of fusing the legend of Oisin with the idea of standing near his grave on a damp moor with a single bloom in front of you. Mr. Moltz has chosen a slightly vegetal citrus top. Champaca absolute centers the heart. Leather combined with immortelle makes up the base. It is a fragrance of open green spaces.

david seth moltz

David Seth Moltz

Mr. Moltz uses citron peel, rosewood, and Queen Anne’s lace as his opening trio. One should always remember that Queen Anne’s lace is a member of the carrot family and as such while floral it also carries a significant vegetal quality. The citron is well-chosen contrast for that with the rosewood adding gentle woody aspects underneath it all. Champaca rises to the foreground next and it is buttressed with orris and neroli. The two supporting notes help the champaca from being overwhelming as they temper the more boisterous qualities of the absolute. We are standing near a grave and should show some respect. The base is my favorite part of Foxglove as Mr. Moltz starts with a smooth leather. This is the leather of a saddle ridden upon often, well-oiled, and taken care of. The leather accord has a wonderfully broken in feeling to it. The choice of immortelle is also a great decision and it blends well with the leather accord. The final two ingredients in the base are ambergris and peach. These shouldn’t be as good with the leather and immortelle as they are. Together this carries a hint of the sea, the dampness of the highlands, and the leather of a warrior poet. This last phase of Foxglove is what I look forward to whenever I wear it.

Foxglove has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I really believe this HYLNDS collection is the best most cohesive set of fragrances D.S. & Durga has produced. I am not sure if Mr. Moltz is just especially inspired by the subject matter or if this is just the evolution of his skills as an independent perfumer. Foxglove is my favorite of the five and it is because of that leather and immortelle base as it conjures up its location as well as a perfume possibly can.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by D.S. & Durga.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Living the Country Life

I am a city mouse. I’ve lived in cities for the great majority of my life. Mrs. Colognoisseur is a country mouse. When I describe us I often say we are a reverse “Green Acres” Mrs. C is Oliver and I am Lisa. When I changed jobs to move down to the Washington DC area we have ended up living the country life in Poolesville, MD. After three years I have become surprised at how much I have enjoyed it.

montgomery county agriculture preserve

Poolesville is right in the middle of the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve. This was an initiative where 93,000 acres of the county was protected from development and encouraged to become working agricultural businesses. The effect is, thirty years later, we live in the middle of a flourishing farming community. From May through early November the local farms are our produce section. We go from vegetable farm to fruit farm and buy what is in season. While we aren’t interested in tilling the soil ourselves this allows me to see the change in harvest as the calendar moves on. As I have started to get a handle on when things will be ready I find myself looking forward to the crop of beets as much as I look forward to the seasonal lattes at Starbucks. I have truly come to dislike having to go back to the grocery store for the winter months.

welcome to poolesville

Besides the farms there is the town of Poolesville itself which is the smallest place I have ever lived. The population is just around 5,000 people. It is very interesting to live in a place where the guys who run Poolesville Hardware know who we are and what we need, often before we do. There is a town green which has events on a near weekly basis. It brings the town out to spend some time together. I have always heard about this concept of a “sense of community” but living in the city that get buried under the hardness of the urban landscape. In Poolesville it is a reality and it is something many feel is worth the effort to maintain.

Like all small communities there are some changes coming Poolesville’s way. Poolesville High School has been the #1 high school in the state for many years and is annually ranked in the top 100 high schools in the entire country, #47 for 2014. This has made Poolesville a desirable location for parents who want their children to go to a good school. This is where the foresight of the Agricultural Reserve runs head-on into upper middle class values. There are few areas which can be subdivided into the prototypical Mc Mansion but there are some and they have grown steadily. This is changing the socio-economic makeup of town and it is unclear how that will impact the town. A couple of signs is the arrival of two national chain stores which will directly compete with existing family-run stores. As I hear many of the older residents say their goal is to “Keep Poolesville, Poolesville.” So far that task has been easy but it might become more difficult over time.

It has turned out that Poolesville has been more interesting than my inner Lisa was worried it would be. I haven't been longing for Fifth Avenue that much. To be honest I’ve found out there is a little more Oliver in me than I suspected. So far the country life has agreed with me.

Mark Behnke

Don’t Forget Your Base

1

I am very flattered that a number of fledgling independent perfumers ask me to try their fragrances. It is as close as I will ever get to being a perfume evaluator, which is probably a good thing. I just finished assessing a new line this past week. As I was writing up my e-mail to the perfumer I realized one part of my missive was coming out almost formulaic, as if I had written it many times before. I then realized that maybe this was good advice to be able to find before beginning your independent perfumery. What is most often lacking from early efforts is the proper base.

bottomup

When I use the word base I am not speaking of base notes. A perfume base is a mixture of notes which are meant to form the foundation of a fragrance. The most famous example of a perfume base is one called Mousse de Saxe which was the signature finish to all of the Caron perfumes. By having a consistent place to start perfumer Ernest Daltroff would build many diverse olfactory architectures. That is a key point to also understand; a great perfume starts from the base upward not the top down. It is that thinking which I run into most often when trying a new perfumer’s early efforts as they spend a lot of effort getting the top right but end up just leaving it hanging. It is also the answer to many early perfumes’ longevity issues, as a proper base can also be the last thing left at the end of the drydown.

A perfumer for a commercial firm spends years doing nothing but making bases as they train. By the time they are given their first commercial brief starting from a base is second nature to them. It is precisely the raw talent and unregimented vision that sets the independent perfumer apart from those more corporate perfumers and it is what makes independent perfumery such fun to experience. The principle still remains the same you need a base to start to build your perfumes upon.

guerlinade

Another reason for doing this is to give your perfumes a signature. I smell Mousse de Saxe and it is hard not to think of many of my favorite Caron perfumes. Guerlain has its own base called Guerlinade which is the thread which connects every Guerlain fragrance. They even bottled it and sold it as a perfume, too. Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes has had his characteristic woody incense base dubbed Tauerade. As a perfumer it is a way to add your figurative John Hancock to every perfume you make.

Usually after one of these e-mails I get a question on where to start. My advice is something I have learned from two of my favorite people in perfume, Michael Edwards and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Ms. Hurwitz spent the early years of her independent career trying to make the classic perfumes herself. It was a valuable exercise because she came to understand the value of each ingredient and how they impacted each other. That is the best, more laborious, way. Mr. Edwards has the easier way. Just go to the mall and take a few small Ziploc bags and spray a bunch of strips all from one perfume brand and lock each of them away in their own Ziploc bag. After a few hours go back open the Ziploc and sniff. What you should be left with is the base used for those perfumes. From there you will gain an understanding of what this particular perfumer used as their starting point and you will be surprised to find out how different they smell at this point.

If you start from a good base it is much easier to create a memorable perfume, and you’ll save me from writing the same words to another young independent perfumer.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Serge Lutens L’Orpheline- Lost in the Light

2

When a perfume brand evolves sometimes it evolves with the perfumista who loves it and sometimes it grows away. Artists have to be encouraged to follow their muse and that doesn’t always mean that old fans will remain fans and new fans won’t try the new direction. I am one of those who is having a hard time sticking with the new direction Serge Lutens has taken over the last three years. Ever since the advent of the L’Eau series M. Lutens has decided he wants to walk in the light. My problem is I don’t want to walk in his version of the light. The latest release L’Orpheline finally made me see the light.

serge lutens

Serge Lutens

M. Lutens has said in a few published interviews that many of his fragrances are meant to pay tribute to his mother who abandoned him during World War II. Without going all Sigmund Freud a perfume which translates as The Orphan is probably dealing with some of these issues. An artist’s life experiences often make for compelling art but L’Orpheline is just painful to me. When I received my sample of the spring release Laine de Verre I couldn’t bring myself to wear it. It was full of jagged aldehydes, an overdose of cashmeran, all over synthetic musks. The worst Serge Lutens fragrance ever. In L’Orpheline, perfumer Christopher Sheldrake, recycles the aldehydes and cashmeran and this time adds in incense in place of the musk. Which is an improvement because I at least was able to wear L’Orpheline for a couple of days and I couldn’t wear Laine de Verre at all.

Christopher-Sheldrake

Christopher Sheldrake

Those aldehydes are the beginning of L’Orpheline and for me it is a collection of all of the most unpleasant aldehydes. It is overtly metallic, unnecessarily sharp, and irritating. It is an example of all of the worst qualities aldehydes bring to a fragrance. At least in L’Orpheline the cashmeran is kept a little more under control but just as in Laine de Verre I am not sure what M. Sheldrake is going for in this aldehyde-cashmeran accord but I just don’t like where it takes me. It lingers around for way too long like this before I get some relief from incense and patchouli in the base; which actually serve to remind me of other perfumes from the brand I like better.

L’Orpheline has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Over the last three years only La Fille de Berlin has been the kind of fragrance I want and love about Serge Lutens. Everything else has been an attempt to take things in a different direction. If you have enjoyed the L’Eaus then I think L’Orpheline will be another which you will enjoy as it is that audience for whom it is made for. Alas I am not that audience.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aedes de Venustas Oeillet Bengale- This Rose is on Fire

3

Every perfumer has a particular style that, in essence, becomes their signature on a fragrance they have composed. That doesn’t mean they can’t make perfumes outside of that but there is a sweet spot or comfort zone where these perfumers can seemingly make a memorable fragrance at will. Rodrigo Flores-Roux has a portfolio of many varied and fantastic perfumes. When he chooses to work on a floral centered fragrance that is where I think he has done his best work. The recent release Aedes de Venustas Oeillet Bengale is as good as Sr. Flores-Roux gets.

rodrigo flores roux

Rodrigo Flores-Roux

One of the reasons I think he is so deft with florals is he spent a year in college before going to Versailles to begin his perfume training. That year at university in Mexico City he spent studying biology. In an alternative universe where he wasn’t accepted into ISIPCA to become a perfumer I imagine him becoming a botanist presiding over a magnificent greenhouse of the most unique, and fragrant, blooms. In the universe we live in Sr. Flores-Roux is a perfumer and he brings the observant eye of a scientist when he chooses to interpret a flower as a perfume. There is always an elegance of precision to Sr. Flores-Roux’s scents but when it comes to the florals it often seems like it is being dissected into its component notes to be put back together. Oeillet Bengale is a type of China rose and owner of the perfume boutique Aedes de Venustas, Karl Bradl, saw a still life of it and knew he wanted this to be the inspiration for their third fragrance. Without the assistance of the press materials I saw “oeillet” and expected carnation. What Sr. Flores-Roux has produced is a simulation of the China rose by using carnation as the foundation to create the accord. A number of spice notes have to be balanced exactly to bring to life the desired “fiery rose”. All of this is placed on a foundation of smoking incense.

Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner

Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner Owners and Creative Directors of Aedes de Venustas

The first few minutes of Oeillet Bengale show off Sr. Flores Roux’s highly evolved citrus accord. It is paired with herbs and a surprising bit of strawberry. Together it creates a snappy opening full of refreshing notes. The carnation comes up next and this is the current version of carnation stripped of its clove-like nature because that version is no longer IFRA-compliant. Sr. Flores-Roux puts back in what IFRA has removed by using his own mix of spicy notes; clove (of course), cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper return the spicy heart to the carnation and improves upon it. The heart of Oeillet Bengale really does feel as if it is a rose on fire as the florals and the spices feel right on the verge of spontaneous combustion. To add a calming effect Sr. Flores-Roux takes frankincense, labdanum, and tolu balsam to form a smoky resinous base to rest the smoldering bloom upon. For a long time on my skin this is where Oeillet Bengale lingers as the carnation and spices float on a resinous cloud of pungent vapor.

Oeillet Bengale has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Oeillet Bengale is one of the most compelling perfumes Sr. Flores-Roux has created and it takes its place among my favorites by him. This is my favorite of the three Aedes de Venustas fragrances released to date. I look forward to whatever Sr. Flores-Roux will release next but when he is in his floral sweet spot there is nobody better.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Lime

The smell of lime seems synonymous with summer to me. From the slice in my gin and tonic. Squeezing it lavishly into my guacamole or over grilled shrimp. Key Lime Pie never tastes better than in August. I use so much lime this time of year my hands seem naturally perfumed from the most organic of sources. There are some great perfumes which allow me to smell of limes as much as I want. Here are five of my favorites.

jo malone lime basil and mandarin

Jo Malone Lime, Basil & Mandarin– Probably the fragrance which put Jo Malone on the map. Perfumer Lucien Piguet creates one of the greatest citrus top note accords ever. Lime and mandarin are the key notes but grapefruit also plays a significant role. The basil, along with thyme, provides a fascinating herbal contrast before finishing with a refreshing vetiver base. 2008’s discontinued Sweet Lime & Cedar replaced this in my affections until the bottle ran out.

Floris Limes– I doesn’t get simpler than this venerable English brand’s lime and musk perfume. Really many of the classic English brands like Geo F. Trumper and Truefitt and Hill also do single lime perfumes but Floris’ choice to go with a musky finish instead of woods makes it stand apart and above the others.

Frapin-LHumaniste

Frapin L’Humaniste– My favorite Gin and Tonic fragrance complete with a big wedge of lime included. You can almost feel the beads of condensation running down the side of the glass while wearing this. I think perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur must like the smell of G&T, too.

Creed Virgin Island Water– Whenever I wear this I sing Harry Nilsson’s most famous lyric, “She put de lime in de coconut”. Creed turns that song into a perfume where the lime is in the coconut along with jasmine and musk.

Charenton Macerations Christopher StreetDouglas Bender’s debut fragrance, with an assist from perfumer Ralf Schwieger, is much more than the lime top notes but they are fantastic and prominent. There are many who never get beyond the limes but the rest of Christopher Street is full of the joys of life lived well. The lime may pull you in but the rest of Christopher Street is just as exhilarating in a different way.

Grab a slice of Key Lime Pie make yourself a G&T and wait for the lime marinated shrimp to come off the grill all while wearing one of my favorite lime perfumes.

Disclosure: I purchased bottles of all the fragrances mentioned.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Soivohle Amun Re The Tears of Ra- Tracks of My Tears

Creative people are fascinating to watch especially those who have multiple outlets for that urge. Liz Zorn is one of those polycreative people. It is her perfumes that brought Ms. Zorn to my attention under her brand Soivohle. For the last few years her energies have been focused more on visual arts than olfactory ones. Thankfully she still returns to the perfume aspect of her artistry to occasionally produce a new perfume. Just recently she released Amun Re The Tears of Ra.

Ms. Zorn is one of my favorite independent perfumers because of the effort she puts into her raw materials. She often works with all natural materials and Amun Re is one of those instances. When Ms. Zorn chooses to work with an all-natural palette I am impressed with the textural effects she manages to weave into her fragrances. In Amun Re she was inspired by the story of The Tears of the Egyptian sun god Ra who was said to have cried tears of honey which as they fell turned to honeybees which upon landing on earth became the first men. Just thinking about the concept of tears of honey I envision viscous sweet droplets oozing down the side of a sweaty face picking up the tang of skin all along its track. The early moments of Amun Re are all about the viscosity and the gravity drawing it downward. The heart transforms to a flight of florals before ending with a botanical musk centered skin accord.

liz zorn

Liz Zorn

Amun Re opens with the welling up of that metaphorical tear of honey. The sweetness has a heft to it which Ms. Zorn cuts with a very light application of aldehydes. The spice of tears comes in a bit of cinnamon supported with citron as contrast. Together this makes for a beautifully complex opening as the honey is evolved into something almost tactile. The heart is focused on ylang-ylang in its more fleshy character. Opopanaz, hawthorn and linden assist in creating the floral heart of Amun Re. The final note in the heart is henna leaf and if you’ve ever smelled henna hair dye you know this smell. It is a fascinating choice and it really adds a great quality to the floral heart. The base goes sweeter as vanilla starts off followed by amber. Ms. Zorn’s botanical musk is the star of the base. Her version of an all-natural musk is really brilliant in its ability to feel completely animalic while not being of an animal. Ms. Zorn’s botanical musk is among the best I have found in the natural perfume community.

Amun Re The Tears of Ra has 6-8 hours of longevity and moderate sillage.

I have been enjoying seeing the paintings Ms. Zorn has been posting on her website but when I try something as good as Amun Re I can’t help but wish for more perfume. For now it is enough to let Amun Re cry my figurative tears for me. The real ones will only come if Ms. Zorn gives up perfume all together.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Amun Re I purchased from Soivohle.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Atelier Cologne Rendez-Vous- Softness of Purpose

1

Atelier Cologne feels like such a mature perfume brand I have a hard time reminding myself that they are just under five years old. Creative Directors Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel were clear-eyed about what they wanted Atelier Cologne to be about. Over the last five years that clarity of vision has made one of the most consistently pleasing line of perfumes from any perfume producer going. They have taken a staid form of fragrance and re-invigorated it with their creativity. The latest release is called Rendez-Vous and as they have done so often they offer something new to the whole concept of cologne.

sylvie and christophe

Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel

Perfumer Jerome Epinette is back for his eleventh fragrance in the Atelier Cologne line. The keynote for Rendez-Vous is a Chinese osmanthus that carries a particular luminescence to it unusual in this floral note. The apricot and leather components of osmanthus are here but this has a sun burnished glow to it, as well. It makes it a different but wholly appropriate heart note to build a cologne around. M. Epinette takes traditional bracing elements on top and after the osmanthus appears he lets Rendez-Vous turn plush and soft as if you were sinking into a soft chair or a feather pillow. It is this overtly subdued finish which takes Rendez-Vous into unexplored territory within the cologne genre.

Jerome-Epinette

Jerome Epinette

M. Epinette begins in very familiar cologne territory with bergamot, lemon, and pink pepper as his opening stanza. This is classic cologne architecture. What comes next is not. The osmanthus comes to the foreground and as I mentioned above it is like it exists in its own private ray of sunshine. The remainders of the top notes almost act like dew being burned off by that sunbeam. The apricot quality comes out and it is rich and chewy. Orris combines with this to create a decadent duet, this is a fruity floral combination I can completely enjoy. As the osmanthus begins to shift towards the leathery qualities, violet leaves sharpen that transition with slightly metallic green borders. The base is an indulgent suede leather accord accompanied with a gentle white musk cocktail. All of this is as soft as a loved one’s caress. Rendez-Vous comes to an end in a most unexpected place, serenely.

Rendez-Vous has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Rendez-Vous is why I look forward to the latest release from Atelier Cologne. Every single release to date has been recognizably a cologne. Every single release to date has given me something new to consider on what that word, cologne, really means when I use it. Rendez-Vous fits right in with the family. I look forward to my next rendezvous with Atelier Cologne.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: Mme Ganter-Cervasel and M. Cervasel were married a few weeks ago and the picture above is from their wedding via their Facebook page.

The Sunday Magazine: Colognoisseur Awesome Mix Vol. 1

3

I went to see the new movie from Marvel, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, which is a fantastic piece of filmmaking. The movie is not going to be the topic of today’s column. Instead the movie inspired me to write something different. One of the characters in the movie is a cassette tape given to our hero Peter Quill by his mother just before he is taken from Earth. The tape is labeled “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” and was his mother’s favorite songs from her youth in the 70’s. The music is used ingeniously throughout the movie and the tape shows up as much as many of the secondary characters. My suspicion is if the movie is as successful as I expect it to be all of these songs are about to have a renaissance of sorts for the next couple of months.

awesome-mix-tape-vol-1

As I thought about the movie I got to thinking what would I put on a tape I labeled “Awesome Mix Vol. 1”. What were the songs of the 70’s I loved? What would make a great mix together? The thought exercise was fun as I sort of let my mind wander to that time in my life most of which was my time in high school and college. What I found as I just sort of let myself free associate was a pretty interesting group of songs. So here are the ten songs I would make a mix tape of to give my non-existent child just before being abducted by interstellar outlaws.

Joy to the World by Three Dog Night– If you just say the opening lines “Jeremiah was a bullfrog” you will inevitably smile. This was the first mega-pop hit I can remember as it dominated the charts during its release in 1971. It is still one of the best-selling singles ever.

Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry– At the height of disco in 1976 the members of Wild Cherry were at a gig when they received a request written on a napkin, “play some funky music, white boy”.  From that request this song which is one of the most popular examples of funk rock came to be. The bass line, horns, and guitar hook make you get up and boogie.

Evil Woman by ELO– Electric Light Orchestra were one of those hybrids of rock music accompanied by a string section that the 70’s seemed to spawn weekly. ELO lasted because the impresario behind it, Jeff Lynne, had a clear vision of what he wanted. Evil Woman was the first big hit for ELO in 1975. This was not your father’s string section as halfway into this there is a moment where the strings take over for the lead guitar and show they can rock just as hard.

Rocket Man by Elton John– Elton John is one of my favorite artists and it was Rocket Man which was the first song by him that I played over and over on my cassette tape. The song about an astronaut getting ready for liftoff was a product of the post-moon landing generation. The combination of piano and synthesizer make a perfectly otherworldly duet to lay down the vocals over.

The Boys are Back in Town by Thin Lizzy- One of those songs with an insanely catchy guitar hook which lodges itself within my consciousness and sets up shop for days. It is all shimmering guitars and it might have been the first song I actively broke out the air guitar to.

Why Can’t We Be Friends? By War– War was one of those bands which tried to use almost every musical influence available and stuff it into their songs. This was one of their earliest hits which was as pop as War would ever get. The lyrics are hysterical and slyly subversive.

I Wanna Be Sedated

I Wanna be Sedated by Ramones– I had discovered Ramones when I discovered punk music in the mid 70’s but it is this 1979 song which will always be my favorite song by them. It is everything punk rock evolved into by 1979. As a reaction to rock bands with string sections, choruses, synthesizers and orchestras Ramones stripped it down to the basics and ripped it out in two minutes or so. Gabba Gabba Hey!

Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie– This collaboration by pop icons Queen and David Bowie is in my estimation one of the greatest songs of all-time. Bowie arrived to sing backing vocals on a different song but over time he and Freddie Mercury came up with this rock opera in four minutes of a perfect rock song.

One Way or Another by Blondie– As punk music began to gain traction it was bands like Blondie that helped provide that. Lead singer Debbie Harry had a perfect mix of punk look with the bleached blond hairdo and dark makeup while wearing a little black dress. Safe enough for people to dip their toes in the punk rock pool. Everyone knows about the vocals but Chris Stein’s driving guitar was also integral to this band’s success and in One Way or Another it is all right there.

The Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet– This song was inspired by the time the band was driven off stage by the audience throwing bottles at them. The song itself has a kinetic kind of wind-up similar to the way one might convince themselves to release their frustration. Beware what the man in the back says.

That’s my list. If you want to listen to it and are on Spotify; friend me and you will find it labeled Colognoisseur Awesome Mix Vol. 1 in my account.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Tom Ford Private Blend London- Like A Pendulum Do

As a perfume collection matures over the years it tends to swing back and forth like a pendulum. The Tom Ford Private Blend Collection has been around since 2007, under the creative direction of Tom Ford and Karen Khoury. Most of the early fragrances had an intensity to them and that depth is what drew me to the line in the first place. Noir de Noir’s mix of chocolate, rose, oud, and patchouli is a good example. In 2010, things lightened up a bit and Jasmin Rouge is a good example of where the pendulum had swung to as the jasmine was kept cleaner and the notes surrounding it were kept in check. That kind of restraint added a sense of ephemeral beauty to those that I came to appreciate very much. But, but, but I wanted another Private Blend which swaggered with audacity. Little did I know it had been released last September.

Private-Blend-by-Tom-Ford-London

Tom Ford Private Blend London was an exclusive to the new Sloane Square Tom Ford boutique which opened in 2013 in London. There was little enthusiasm for it among the London contingent of perfumistas and as a result without an attendant buzz I had a very difficult time getting a sample. I did finally get one from online decanting site Surrender to Chance. What I was greeted with was a fragrance which seemed to encompass something more than trying to assay London as a fragrance. This was a fragrance of the East; exotic spices, opulent florals, and deep woods. This was the London of the Royal Geographic Society as their members brought back things seen for the first time from all over the globe. In a wood paneled drawing room, furnished in leather, one explorer shows off the cinnamon and cardamom he acquired. On another table a species of jasmine from the Himalayas scented the room. Raw vanilla pods from the West Indies mixed with these very intense smelling oud wood chips from Egypt smoking in a censer. This is the smell of Tom Ford Private Blend London.

yann vasnier

Yann Vasnier

Perfumer Yann Vasnier opens London up with a spicy mélange centered on cinnamon but heavily influenced with cardamom, ginger, and black pepper. This captured my attention immediately as M. Vasnier swirls all of this up into a spicy sirocco which blows with an airy potency. The jasmine in the heart is full on indolic jasmine and it has to be to make any headway against the spices. This skanky jasmine fits in perfectly with the spices and it is heady stuff. It gets even deeper as oud over leather makes up the key notes of the base. It is sweetened with a bit of vanilla and amber but this is drawing room leather and oud mostly.

London has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

My wish has been answered as London feels like it belongs to the original collection more than the more recent releases. It seems appropriate if London is the signal that the pendulum is swinging back because y’know; London swings like the pendulum do.

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

Mark Behnke

Editor’s note: I expect London will be available worldwide sooner than later as the previous exclusive fragrance to a boutique, Lavender Palm, became widely available about a year later. As of this writing it is still only available in London.