The Sunday Magazine: Punk Rock Revisionist History

1

Back in the late 1970’s I was into punk rock. I can confidently say that most of my contemporaries did not share my enthusiasm for the genre of music. Whenever it was in the cassette player it was greeted with cries of, “Turn that crap/noise/insanity off!” Let me say there was little affection for the likes of The Ramones, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Gen X, or Iggy Pop by many. So why oh why have advertisers turned to that music to promote products?

The first instance of this was the 2005 Diet Pepsi commercial where the cans in the refrigerator were dancing to The Ramones 1976 song Blitzkrieg Bop. Blitzkrieg Bop is one of the seminal punk rock songs by The Ramones and I can say for sure that it never got any significant airplay on any American radio station at the time. In hindsight it has been picked as one of the 100 greatest songs of all time by Rolling Stone. The fact that the commercial came out four years after Joey Ramone’s death just seemed worse to me.

The next instance was also in 2005 as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line began using Iggy Pop’s paean to heroin use, drinking, and overdosing addicts, “Lust for Life”. Again this was a song that never made any kind of impact when it was released and had little airplay. I wonder who the advertising agency is appealing to. Cleaned up addicts looking for vacation ideas? Or is it much, much, much, more cynical? Are they trying to appeal to middle aged people who wish they had the courage to push boundaries when they were younger and now look back in time and see what they were missing?

There have been more examples as when Wendy’s used Violent Femmes “Blister in the Sun”, a song about masturbation, to sell their new fish sandwich in 2007. AARP, yes AARP, used the chorus of The Buzzcocks “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” to sell the idea that life begins at 50. Cadillac used The Pogues “Sunnyside of the Street” and counted on the fact that the title words were the only thing people would clearly hear from Shane McGowan’s slurred vocals and glide over the first line containing the lyrics about a “heart full of hate and a lust for vomit.”. All of these felt to me cynical as hell but there is a new recent example which just dives under my skin and rasps against my nerves.

In the new Acura commercial promoting their new 2015 TLX mid-size sedan they have chosen the Sid Vicious cover of the Frank Sinatra classic “My Way”. This song was recorded just as The Sex Pistols had imploded and was to be included on the soundtrack to the documentary film “The Great Rock n’ Roll Swindle”. If somebody asked me to pick one song to explain punk rock in the 1970’s this would be the one. It starts with Sid singing the first verse in a mocking parody of Ol’ Blue Eyes including limp wristed effete arm moves and raised eye brows. As the second verse begins snarling guitars take over from the piano and you can hear the snarl on Sid’s face in the lyrics as he completely takes this song apart. Sid’s anarchic version was a gigantic middle finger to everything about music at the time and that doing it My Way meant destroying everything else. This is what Acura is using to advertise their new family friendly sedan. The commercial is supposed to come off like the design team at Acura is doing things their way but really do they think this drab semi luxury sedan is something different than the million other sedans from every other car company? Nope I think they want to convince my generation that punk rock rebellion now includes a four door sedan.

For anyone under the impression that drinking a Diet Pepsi and a Wendy’s Frosty on a Royal Caribbean Cruise on an AARP discount where your Cadillac and Acura are parked back at the lot makes you a rebel or a punk; you’re not. You’re just the victim of a mid-life crisis in musical form.

Mark Behnke

Villa La Tana-That Which Inspires Simone Cosac Perfumes

There are multiple stories of the places that inspire creative directors and perfumers. I have always wanted to visit the specific place which inspired a perfume. On my recent trip to Florence, Italy for Pitti Fragranze that opportunity presented itself to me. I stayed in the Villa La Tana on the outskirts of Florence while attending the fair. This is where Simone Cosac Naify as the creative director and owner of Simone Cosac Perfumes lives, along with her family. It is also where Mme Cosac has looked to for inspiration when designing her perfumes.

villa la tana 4

When I met Mme Cosac, nearly two years ago in New York, she presented her perfumes to me while showing sketches of the beautiful villa she had renovated after purchasing it. With her words she painted a picture of bucolic serenity. She spoke of the history of Villa La Tana as the home of Bianca Cappello consort to Frederic I de Medici in the 16th Century. She felt like Bianca spoke to her as she walked the gardens. Mme Cosac needed to enlist a perfumer to help realize her internal conversations with Bianca. She would invite Sonia Constant to spend some time at Villa La Tana. During her stay Mme Cosac and Mme Constant would traverse the gardens speaking of Bianca and what a perfume which would embody her would smell like. From those discussions and walks they would collaborate to produce Trama and Trama Nera.

Villa la tana 2

I believe it has to be walking through the rose garden above that Trama was conceived. By the edge of fall there were only a few roses left on the bushes but as I walked around the path I imagined what this would smell like on a midsummer’s day with all of the bushes in full bloom. I can imagine Bianca standing in the center of that garden looking up at Frederico who had ridden out from the city to see her. Trama the fragrance captures the bouquet of myriad rose sources but it also carries the greenery of the bushes and the gravel of the path. Mme Constant captures the riot of this rose garden, with Bianca standing fulgently in the center, a queen among the roses.

Alessandro_Allori_capelloBianca Cappello by Alessandro Allori

Trama Nera was meant to capture the beauty and intelligence of Bianca as a woman capable of holding her place in a Medici court. Beauty would be a given but to survive there would have to be more to Bianca than that. Besides romantic rendezvous I could feel that Villa La Tana was where Bianca could consult with Frederico on how to navigate the intrigues and real dangers of court. I imagined them walking the paths in the morning as the flowers would scent the planning between the lovers. There would always be a thread of real danger in place. Mme Constant weaves a dark thread throughout Trama Nera from saffron on top through orris and violet in the heart down to oud and patchouli in the base. Around the axis of intrigue softer notes of bergamot, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, and amber place a soft façade hiding the steel underneath. Bianca was a beauty but she was nobody’s fool.

Villa la tana 1

The time I spent at Villa La Tana gave me insight into how a sense of place can create a distinct aesthetic which can carry as much impact as the people behind the perfume. The best part of this story is Villa La Tana, Mme Cosac, and Mme Constant have new tales to tell with three new perfumes Ose, Sublime, Peccato. I know as I wear these it will be impossible for me to not be transported back to the garden paths and hospitality of Villa La Tana.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Imaginary Authors Yesterday Haze- Bitter Dusty Figs

Imaginary Authors is the amusing concept by independent perfumer Josh Meyer in which he houses his perfumes in bottles made up to look like the spine of books which never were. In 2012 he released the first seven volumes in his scented library and followed up in 2013 with two more. I have always loved the idea of making up literary inspirations for perfume. The perfumes were all above average but none of them really motivated me to write about them. I look forward to each new release to see if the latest edition will be the page turner I’ve been waiting for. It looks like the tenth volume Yesterday Haze is the one I want to take down from the shelf and spend some time with.

Before you even try the perfume you are greeted with a bottle and packaging so arch they bring a smile to your face. Yesterday Haze is penned by “author” Lenora Blumburg (1909-1983). Ms. Blumburg wrote one of the earlier volumes, Violet Disguise. Yesterday Haze is described as a “subtly sinister follow-up” around a love triangle between a crop-duster who is having an affair with his employer’s wife. Each volume comes with a quote and here is the one for this perfume, “Just as sunsets are more beautiful on hazy days, so, too, are the memories of yesterday.” What is clear after wearing Yesterday Haze is all of this takes place in a fig grove as that is what Yesterday Haze evokes.

joshmeyerJosh Meyer

Mr. Meyer is working the complete fig tree experience in Yesterday Haze, not just the fruit. As a result the opening of the perfume has not only the creamy aspects of the fruit but also the smoothly woody facets of the tree. Tonka is used to tilt the fruit of the fig more towards the creamy. Iris is used to powder over the potentially rough edges of the bark. This is where Yesterday Haze lingers for quite a long time on my skin. Very late in the development there is a bitter note matched with a slate-like minerality. These notes are identified as walnut bitters and orchard dust in the note list. They are much more common aromachemicals but the fancified names convey the feeling that in the end this story ends in bitterness and dust as there seems to be no happy ending.

Yesterday Haze has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Mr. Meyer has “penned” a diverse collection which should find one volume to appeal to most. Take your time with the line and give each one a try. Somewhere within the ten stories there is probably one which will have the right ending for you. Yesterday Haze is definitely the one I want to read over again.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Pitti Fragranze 2014 Final Wrap-up Part 2- The Top 10 New Fragrances I Tried

I think I did pretty well for my first Pitti Fragranze as I tried 90 new perfumes over the three days. There were some which I had tried prior to Pitti but I don’t include those. The other thing to keep in mind is to try this many perfumes the surface area of my available skin was the most prime real estate inside the show hall. Therefore all of these impressions come from a much smaller sampling that I usually do. I can tell you all of the perfumes below will be worn extensively and duly reviewed. In alphabetical order here are the Top 10 New Fragrances from Pitti Fragranze 2014.

Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur– This literally was the very first new perfume I tried at Pitti standing outside with Francois Duquesne. He told me this was perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour’s most intense incense fragrance ever. If you love M. Duchaufour’s previous incense perfumes this is going to blow you away.

Huitieme Art Parfums Liqueur CharnellePierre Guillaume’s cognac laced perfume has the feel of being in an exclusive club with a roaring fire. In one hand is a snifter. In the other a pipe ready to be lit. The surrounding wood has been buffed to leave a subtle scent in the air. I think is going to be one of my favorite winter fragrances this year.

Laboratorio Olfattivo Patchouliful– With a name like Patchouliful you might imagine perfumer Cecile Zarokian would have loaded up on the titular note. Instead Mme Zarokian goes entirely in the opposite direction with a patchouli that feels diaphanous and opaque. It has been a long time since I thought of a patchouli fragrance as light but Patchouliful carries off this style incredibly effectively.

Map of the Heart Black Heart v.2– The single most unique perfume I tried the whole weekend. This is a journey into a heart of darkness, composed of eucalyptus, black pepper, and smoke; by perfumer Jacques Huclier. The other members of this collection are going to be easier to wear but Black Heart snarls and crackles with eldritch energies as it feels like a curse is being twisted via smell. You might not want to wear it but you won’t forget it. I can’t wait to wear it.

Maria Candida Gentile Leuco– It seems like every other stand I stopped at had a new tuberose. Maria Candida Gentile found a way to rise above the crowd by pairing her tuberose with beeswax. It creates a tuberose that is luscious and soft which embraces you instead of dominating you. The magic combination of these two ingredients gives Leuco a style all of its own.

masque-russian-tea

Masque Milano Russian Tea– The concept of a tea fragrance is nothing new. Even the concept of a Russian tea fragrance is nothing new. How then did perfumer Julian Rasquinet, in his last perfume as an independent perfumer, find a way to create something which uses tea as a focal point for fascinating grace notes throughout? It is like a Russian tea service in a bottle.

Olivier Durbano PrometheeOlivier Durbano has been guiding his brand with a sure aesthetic for ten years. With Promethee all of that experience has come together to result in the best fragrance within his collection. Every time I smell this I am pleased to see the level of assuredness which went into its creation. It feels like the moment of triumph as Prometheus is freed from the rock.

Peccato Originale Antidoto– You know how citrus doesn’t last? I have an antidote for that. This new perfumes from Silvia Monti has a mesmerizing intensity of citrus notes that take hours to unwind to reveal mate and rum underneath. You want a citrus to wear in the middle of winter? This is the one.

S-Perfumes Musk-S– Maybe it’s because I spent a few months writing about the different musk molecules in Olfactory Chemistry but perfumer Carlos Benaim has blended a splendid musk cocktail. There seem to be more synthetic musks here than you can shake a stick at. Once they all settle down you get the smell of sun-warmed skin underneath a linen shirt.

Zarkoperfume Molecule 234.38– Okay yes I am a sucker for any perfume which has molecule in its name. Zarko Ahlmann Pavlov the creative director and perfumer behind the entire Zarkoperfume line wanted to take a single aroma molecule of molecular weight 234.38 and let it unfold on the wearer. It is not Iso E Super it is something else but it shares that peek-a-boo quality of Iso E Super. For those who have liked the single molecule perfumes from other lines you have to add this to your collection. For the chemist it is a must have.

This was a very hard list to compile and there are another ten I have which are also great. Keep your eyes opened for upcoming reviews of all the things I brought back from my first Pitti Fragranze.

Mark Behnke

Read Part 1 of my Final Wrap-up here.

Daily wrap-ups live from Florence can be found here; Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.

Colognoisseur Pitti Fragranze 2014 Final Wrap-up Part 1-People, Trends, and Teases

Italy is blessed with two of the best perfume fairs in the world and Pitti Fragranze is the one which occurs in the fall. Ever since I knew about the existence of Pitti Fragranze in Florence, Italy I have wanted to attend; for the twelfth edition I finally made it. It was a wonderful experience for me as most first times are. I will split the final wrap-up into two parts talking about some of the people and trends along with some disguised teases of things I was given sneak previews of. Tomorrow in Part 2 I’ll call out the top 10 new perfumes I tried.

The first person I met in the first minutes of my first Pitti Fragranze was Andy Tauer. It was a special delight to have the opportunity to chat with him in person. I have always considered Hr. Tauer to be one of the founders of independent perfumery. After nearly ten years of doing this he still has a beguiling passion for creating perfume which comes through even more strongly in person. It was nearly the perfect way to start my experience.

One of those independent perfumers who has helped infuse independent perfumery with a signature style is Pierre Guillaume. He was another whom I never met in person before. When we started trying his new perfumes early on Saturday morning we had a great time laughing and discussing not only his latest but a couple of things he made just for the booth. It will be hard to wear a perfume by M. Guillaume from now on without hearing his laugh and sensing the joy in his creations.

Another person I was happy to meet was Georg Wuchsa of Aus Liebe zum Duft/First in Fragrance. He has been so supportive over the years in getting samples to me I was happy to have the chance to thank him even if it was a sort of hit-and-run encounter on the last day.

When it comes to new trends one stood out very vividly to me as I worked my way around the booths. Tuberose is the new Oud. It often felt like every other brand displayed a perfume to me containing noticeable levels of tuberose. One of the reasons for that is I think the perfumer’s palette has been expanded with new extractions of tuberose which allows for wider latitude in composing with a note which can be very intense. I smelled tuberose after tuberose but I barely smelled any new ouds. Even the Zarkoperfume Oud’ish seemed to be reluctant to display its oud outwardly.

Map of the Heart redMap of the Heart Red Heart v.3

Another trend is the unique bottle is back. The redesign of the new Mona di Orio bottles fit in my hand with a weight and presence. The Pierre Dinand designed bottles for Neela Vermeire Creations gives that entire collection an elegant container for the equally opulent contents. Pierre Dinand was also the man behind what has to be my favorite bottle of the whole fair. When I was making my first circuit of the floor I was stopped dead in my tracks by a set of three heart shaped bottles by the new brand Map of the Heart. That one of these hearts also contained one of the best new perfumes of Pitti just turned it into the complete package.

Finally I did get some confidential information that I am going to share as what are called “blind items”. These are teases with most of the identifying information about who and when disguised.

One perfume brand showed me two upcoming releases one of which will take the brand in a different direction.

One perfume brand showed me the very distinct architectural inspiration for their next release and just the visual has me excited for what is to come.

One perfume brand showed me the final version of a perfume I have long been waiting to smell. It surprised me at how it was realized but the tiny area of skin it was on might have been my most sniffed patch of skin throughout the entire exhibition.

One perfume brand is going to make their take on the cologne and it is one of the best I have smelled in the Nouveau Cologne category.

Come back tomorrow for my top 10 new perfumes from Pitti Fragranze 2014.

Here are links to the live recaps of Day1, Day2, and Day3.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Papillon Artisan Perfumes Anubis- Smoke Gets in the Way

There is a new artisanal line of perfume out of England called Papillon Artisan Perfume. The creator and perfumer behind the line is Liz Moores. In June of 2014 she released her debut fragrances, Tobacco Rose, Angelique, and Anubis. These fragrances have only recently become widely available outside of the UK. As it is with many independent perfumers the first offerings can be a bit uneven but I often see the foundation of someone who has the potential to grow into a creative force. This is the case with the first three release for Ms. Moores. Each of them have moments when I start to see a complete idea form only to have a couple of notes throw it off kilter and make it feel like there was never an idea there in the first place. This is a common issue with first-time perfumers they need someone who is not friend or family to let them know more is not necessarily better. Of the three inaugural releases Anubis feels the most finished to me.

liz mooresLiz Moores (Via Papiilon Perfumery website)

Anubis is the Egyptian god of the afterlife and he is a man with the head of a jackal. Anubis the fragrance feels a bit like that depiction as it has elements in it which feel as if they shouldn’t go together and are sort of shoehorned in. Ms. Moores seems to envision the Egyptian afterlife as a smoky place as the early going of Anubis is all about smoke and how much you can add. For the first hour or so it is almost all smoke and then Ms. Moores attempts a transition but she uses immortelle and this is where Anubis figuratively clunks for me. The immortelle feels out of place like after I’ve waved the smoke away the maple syrup aspect of immortelle is just lying there. Through the early part of Anubis’ development this was disappointing but then Ms. Moores turns the back half of Anubis into something quite wonderful. Once the fans have cleared all the smoke and maple syrup away what is left is a supple suede leather accord that she ingeniously uses jasmine to complement. This part of Anubis is as good as it gets. It has the richness of jasmine over the softness of leather. This time Ms. Moores’ transition is perfectly executed as she uses benzoin and myrrh to lead to a frankincense dominated base. All of this together is really quite wonderful and I particularly enjoy the latter half of the ride.

Anubis has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I am looking forward to seeing Ms. Moores further develop her line as the latter half of Anubis definitely convinces me there is talent there. Now if she’ll just find someone who can serve as editor I think the future can be bright.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2014 Day 3 Wrap-up- Last Call at Stazione Leopolda

Buongiorno Perfumistas! It seems like the last day at every perfume expo I attend feels a little bit like last call at a bar. You have to decide how much you want to do in the little time remaining to you. So it is no surprise that Day 3 of Pitti Fragranze would send me scurrying to finally talk to the perfume lines I thought I had so much time previously to speak with. First stop was D.S. & Durga where perfumer David Seth Moltz debuted the new release Debaser. For those of you who are fans of The Pixies yes that is what it is named after. It is an excellent new release from a brand featuring a perfumer who is really hitting his stride over the last year.

I went next door to visit Coquillete Paris their new scent, and the last in their debut collection, Tudor. It is meant to be an androgynous rose and it succeeds quite well at giving off that vibe. It is a continuation of well-crafted easy-to-wear perfumes from this line. One thing I was told which I will have to try when I give it a proper wearing is because it is the last in the collection there is one note from the previous seven included in Tudor as a way of concluding things. This doesn’t mean there will not be more to come from Coquillette Paris just that it will be in a different direction.

S-PERFUME

One of the brands I was most excited to try were the four new perfumes from S-Perfumes. S-Perfumes is overseen by Nobi Shioya and he really allows his perfumers a wide latitude in creativity. The original two releases 100% Love and S-ex are very high up on my list of avant-garde perfumes. Of the four new fragrances, Himiko, Musk S, 1499, and Kamakura my favorite was Musk S. Composed by perfumer Carlos Benaim it is a contemporary take on a fragrance which will evoke the smell of skin. It is simple and I found it compelling as I was completely drawn in to its structure. S-Perfumes were in a section of the fair called unscent which is sponsored by Intertrade Europe. Besides the brands they represent they also allowed some young perfumers to show off their emerging skills by creating a scent just for this exhibit. One of the young perfumers whom I have had an interest in for a long time, Alex Lee, produced a fabulously nuanced floral creation. He is growing every time I see another of these creations and I look forward to the day he is given his first commercial brief to realize.

Dr. Gritti is a brand which always seems to lose out to the time pressure when I am at these fairs. Today I made a point of visiting and being taken through the line. On first impression my favorite of the line is one called Doped Tuberose. It is tuberose unleashed and then tamed. There is a wonderful inflection between the early and late phases of development on my skin. I clearly put off for far too long getting to know this brand. I am going to rectify that as quickly as I can. Closing time was near but I had one last stop to make and that was with Gerald Ghislain so I could try the new Histoires de Parfums Opera collection. There are five fragrances in the collection all inspired by famous operas and the year they premiered. They are: 1831 Norma, 1875 Carmen, 1890 La Dame de Pique, 1905 Madame Butterfly, and 1926 Turandot. Carmen and La Dame de Pique are the early standouts based on a quick sniff.

The booths were coming down and they were announcing the fair was over. We made our way out into the central part of Florence to watch the sunset over the Arno River for the last time. It made a perfect ending to my first Pitti Fragranze.

Arrivaderci Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2014 Day 2 Wrap-up- The Heart of Perfume

Buongiorno perfumistas!

On day 2 of Pitti Fragranze the public is invited to attend. This gives a different energy to the fair from Day 1 which is industry only. It is enjoyable to watch young perfumistas discovering brands and meeting the perfumers behind them. Their attendance today will light a fire in their heart which will burn for many years to come. I still had some work to do catching up with some of my favorite brands and exploring some new brands.

I didn’t recognize Pierre Guillaume with his new short haircut and as a result I kept looking past the tall man standing next to his display. Maybe because it was first thing in the morning but I finally realized that tall man was M. Guillaume. Another perfumer who I had never met in person before. He showed me his latest release for his Huitieme Art Parfums line Liqueur Charnelle. This is a rich cognac perfume that made me feel as if I needed to be wearing a velvet jacket next to a fireplace. I also got a preview of the next new release Mojito Chypre. You might think the name tells you all you need to know but M. Guillaume includes a wonderfully surreal strawberry note in between the lime and the chypre. This felt like perfume made with a wink and a smile.

Perfumer Cecile Zarokian has been having a tremendously successful year and I was able to try her two latest releases; Laboratorio Olfattivo Patchouliful and Jacques Zolty Van’lle. The press art for Patchouliful captures a king sitting on a throne in shorts and flip flops. It is an apt description for a fragrance which uses patchouli in a lighter opaque application. It is another example of Mme Zarokian’s ability to find new ways to interpret notes we all think we know. Jacques Zolty is meant to be an entry brand into niche with a bit of niche sensibility. Easy to wear but with some unique aspects added to it. Van’lle is just that a rich light amiable vanilla. It doesn’t cloy it swaddles you in sweet comfort.

I also connected with Olivier Durbano and tried his tenth release, Promethee. M. Durbano delved into the Greek myth of Prometheus. My first impression is this might be the best fragrance M. Durbano has released. Promethee captures the fragrant touchstones of the myth and it is housed in a temple of resinous components. This is confident perfume made by a perfumer who has developed over the last ten years into one of the best independent perfumers we have working.

John Molloy of Memo walked by and asked me when I was going to drop by and get a sneak preview of the next release from them. Before I sprayed it on he told me to imagine a woman dressed in a leather skirt who carried that ineffable air of a Parisienne wearing rose perfume. The upcoming French Leather is that rose and leather combination with the style of Paris imposed on it. It will be released early in the fall.

ChandlerBurr_RobertGerstnerFragranze12_027Chandler Burr (l.) and Robert Gerstner

Time for the presentation by Chandler Burr interviewing Robert Gerstner and Miguel Briceno of Aedes de Venustas in New York City. For the first part of the interview the talk centered on how the selections in the store are curated and what it takes to have the full package necessary to be included in the store. They figure they get approached by one new brand a day and over the course of a year they might only find one or two which they would like to add to the inventory. It was a fascinating candid look behind the scenes in a premiere niche perfumery and how decisions are made.

Now I went to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the section called Spring for new fragrances by small independent brands. I saw most of them and there were two which stood out to me.

IMG_20140913_161512384

Peccato Originale is an inventive brand which bases their packaging, perfume names, and inspirations on old pharmacy artifacts. What you see above is a first aid kit from sometime in the 1920’s. Two new fragrances were introduced at Pitti, Tintura Spiritosa and Antidoto. Silvia Monti has taken her previous life as a pharmacist and used it to make perfumes which feel like blend of old style chemist and new style perfumer. Antidoto is my favorite of the two new releases as it has a very long-lived top note combination of intense citrus. It takes hours before mate tea followed by rum push it out of the way. This kind of juxtaposition was really interesting to wear and I enjoyed the languid development which is still continuing twelve hours after I applied it.

IMG_20140913_141422168

The best new brand I have seen through the first two days of the show is Map of the Heart. Pierre Dinand designed heart shaped bottles which look like they came out of the television show Once Upon a Time. These fragrances are no fairy tale as the three fragrances Clear Heart, Black Heart, and Red Heart form a diverse collection from Clear Heart’s easy wearing affability through to Red Heart wearing its tuberose on its sleeve. The one real stand out of not only the line but the entire show is Black Heart. This is a descent into all of the dark places most perfumes fear to tread. It is not for those who like their fragrances lighter. Black Heart is simply fascinating to wear.

One day left and eight hours to try and cover everything I haven’t so far. See you tomorrow.

Ciao perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2014 Day 1 Wrap-up- Old Friends, New Tricks, and a Mozart Ball

4

Buongiorno Perfumistas!

Every perfume event I go to it seems like the first day is all about checking in with those who have become friends over the years. This began on the sidewalk outside the Stazione Leopolda in Florence, Italy the site of Pitti Fragranze 2014. Francois Duquesne emerged from his cab and I asked him if there were any new Aedes de Venustas fragrances coming. He pulled out a sample vial of Copal Azur the new release coming in the fall. This is composed by the man I call The High Priest of Resins, Bertrand Duchaufour. Copal Azur is one of the most resinous fragrances I have smelled in a long time and it is tuned expertly by a perfumer who seemingly can do this at will.

They finally let us inside and I began by walking the entire room to see what is here. After my reconnaissance was done and many hugs and handshakes exchanged I stopped to introduce myself to Andy Tauer who I met in person for the first time. We discussed the Sotto La Luna line and I asked what was next and he told me the formulas for the next two are finished. We have Sotto La Luna Hyacinth and Sotto La Luna Tuberose to look forward to. Based on our conversation I am particularly excited to see how Hyacinth is realized.

Next stop was with Jeroen Oude Sogtoen who was presenting the new bottle designs for Mona di Orio Perfumes. One thing I was delighted to see was Oud has been renamed Oudh Osmanthus. Mme di Orio used osmanthus as the perfect unusual floral foil to oud at a time when too many perfumes were just throwing it in to fragrances with no thought. Oudh Osmanthus showed there was a different, and better, way to go. The new bottles feel like they were designed to nestle in your hand perfectly. Finally I had the opportunity to try the new release Myrrh Casati by perfumer Melanie Leroux. Mme Leroux captures the shadow play Mme di Orio was known for and this looks to be a worthy continuation of the legacy. One last thing for those who were missing the original fragrances Lux and Nuit Noire are now both available again in the new packaging.

As I walked into the next room the team from Masque Milano were standing in front of a giant samovar. It will be no surprise to you that the fifth fragrance from Masque Milano is called Russian Tea. The perfumer is Julien Rasquinet who made this his last work as an independent perfumer before accepting a job at IFF. While I fully expect M. Rasquinet to produce more great fragrances Russian Tea was a great one to finish this phase of his life as a perfumer. It is smoky and it has a surprising grace note of mint which works surprisingly well. I kept returning to this strip throughout the day and the development and the way it evolved rewarded me every time. I am looking forward to wearing this on my return home.

IMG_20140913_010821637

I then attended two presentations in the conference hall that were back to back. The first was from Mane all about their supercritical fluid extraction technique named Jungle Essence. This form of extraction gathers all a natural source has to give without having to be heated up. There is a video they used to show this process that I hope I can share with you in the future because it did the best job of showing how the process works. The best part was they passed around examples of raw materials captured via Jungle Essence and more traditional ways. It was striking how much more nuanced the Jungle Essences were, especially when comparing side by side. For me the most surprising was the difference between cardamom absolute and cardamom Jungle Essence. The absolute has a raw green quality which the Jungle Essence has but it is much softer.

The second presentation was by perfumer Maria Candida Gentile who presented the three fragrances in the “Il Volo del Calabrone” (The Flight of the Bumblebee) collection. Using three different versions of beeswax form three different countries she complemented each one with different notes. In Kitrea it is lemon. In Leuco it is tuberose. In Synconium it is fig. The different style of honey is apparent on first sniff, it really adds a dimension to a note which can be difficult to balance.

On my way down the hall I met the lovely Valerie “Cookie Queen” Sperrer. Now you would think I would say she gave me a cookie but she also had some new tricks to share and instead I got a Mozartkugel or as we call it in English a Mozart Ball. It was yummy after dinner tonight. Thanks Valerie.

Final stop of Day 1 was to meet the team at Grossmith and try the new Fortnum & Mason exclusive, Sylvan Song which is a fabulous floral fantasy as only Grossmith can do as they continue to create perfumes which feel like classics reinvigorated. I think I might have to arrange for someone to visit Fortnum & Mason for me as this is truly exclusive and will not be sold anywhere else.

It was off to dinner as I rode into a beautiful sunset over the Arno river.

I’ll be back tomorrow as I concentrate on the section of the exposition called Spring which has gathered a number of new brands.

Until then Ciao Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews By Kilian Light my Fire, Smoke for the Soul, & Intoxicated- Kilian’s Smoke Shoppe

Photo via The GoodSmellas blog

Smoke ‘em if you got ’em. Smoke gets in your eyes. Smokin’. The thought of smoke, of all kinds, has saturated pop culture for decades. The swirling, curling tendrils of scent are a natural for a perfume collection. Creative Director Kilian Hennessy of By Kilian is in that frame of mind with his latest collection Addictive State of Mind. There are three debut releases; Light my Fire, Smoke for the Soul, and Intoxicated, in the line each touching on fragrant wisps.

sidonie-lancesseurSidonie Lancesseur

Light my Fire is composed by perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur and is inspired by Monte Cristo cigars. I have to say before trying Light my Fire I thought it was not a good idea to have another tobacco fragrance in a line which contains Back to Black which I think is one of the best tobacco scents ever. Mme Lancesseur works a different angle as her tobacco in the cigar is sweetened with vanilla and honey. It adds a fragrant sweetness to the tobacco to start before eventually ending up on an amber foundation. Light my Fire is a lighter take on tobacco and very different from Back to Black so that I think it will find its fans.

fabrice-pellegrin-firmenichFabrice Pellegrin

Smoke for the Soul is signed by Fabrice Pellegrin and is inspired by cannabis. Smoke for the Soul get this just right. If you have ever opened up a container with sticky buds of cannabis in it you will know exactly what this smells like. The notes M. Pellegrin used to create the cannabis accord are grapefruit, green cardamom, mate, eucalyptus, and tobacco. This is the cannabis counterpart to Back to Black as M. Pellegrin opens Smoke for the Soul with the cannabis accord in place and over the next few hours it slowly starts to fray and decompose until you are left with a woody base of birch and cashmere woods. Smoke for the Soul is beautifully realized by M. Pellegrin and I enjoyed it immensely.

calice beckerCalice Becker

Intoxicated is formulated by Calice Becker and is inspired by Turkish coffee. Maybe it is because coffee is my choice among these three addictions but Mme Becker’s take on strong dark coffee is my favorite of the three. Mme Becker brews her coffee accord and it comes out redolent and steaming from the first moments and the green cardamom she pairs the coffee with makes an exotic mix that has never been seen in a Starbucks. The lemon tinged spice made more sappy because of the greenness is, as the name promised, intoxicating. From there Mme Becker swirls in some more spices in nutmeg and cinnamon but they are not as interesting as the cardamom. This all rests on a woody foundation at the end.

All three perfumes have 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

The Addicitve State of Mind Series feels like the sequel to the L’Oeuvre Noire series that M. Hennessy started the By Kilian line with. Unlike most sequels these three new fragrances are as good as any in that collection. If you have taken a break from By Kilian because Asian Tales and In the Garden of Good & Evil were different then I suggest you tune back in as I think these three will make you feel like things have returned to the older aesthetic. I am happy to spend some time in Kilian’s Smoke Shoppe and breathe in all of the wonderful smells.

Disclsoure: this review was based on samples provided by By Kilian.

Mark Behnke