New Perfume Reviews Arquiste for J. Crew No. 31 and No. 57- This Way to Niche

There has been a very interesting trend over the last few years as niche brands reach out to work with mid-level prestige brands. This is a bit more refined version of the capsule collections by haute couture fashion designers at mass-market department stores. The most recent partnership is between J. Crew, a clothing line with a very recognizable aesthetic. The same can be said about Arquiste. Both of these brands are successful because of the creative direction at the top. Jenna Lyons is the President and Creative Director for J. Crew. Carlos Huber holds the same positions for Arquiste. Both of these talented visionaries have combined to create Arquiste for J. Crew No. 31 and No. 47.

jenna lyons

Jenna Lyons of J. Crew

When doing a project of this kind both of the brands who have their name on the label have to come through without overwhelming the other. It very much has to be a true partnership. Sr. Huber as he does with all of his fragrances found a setting he wanted these fragrances to represent. For this he looked back to the 1943 exhibition, the first featuring art exclusively by women, curated by Peggy Guggenheim called “Exhibition by 31 Women” and held in her gallery, Art of this Century, on W. 57th Street in New York. These are the source of the numbers in the perfumes No. 31 for the number of artists and No. 57 for the location. Sr. Huber felt that he wanted these perfumes to be “as stimulating as the art, drawing on the scents of the strong cocktails and bold perfumes that filled the night.” He then turned to his two longtime collaborators Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier to create the fragrances.

carlos huber

Carlos Huber of Arquiste

No. 31 is the one of the pair meant to evoke the mise en scene of opening night at the gallery. It is really working to pick up the drinks and perfume as the crowd mixes and mingles. When I wore No. 31 for the first time there was part of me that felt like it was very reminiscent of some older vintage perfume. I realized instead this is the smell of many perfumes overlapping in close quarters not so much one as a virtual collage of many. Sr. Flores-Roux and M. Vasnier do this by using plum, rose, and an eau de vie accord. All of these are classic perfume ingredients of the past and together they create a vintage feel. A bit of booziness courtesy of sweet vermouth is joined by oakmoss and patchouli. All together this truly achieves the desired effect of creating a 1940’s night in the gallery.

The exhibition was of modern art and No. 57 is meant to have a bit more modern feel to it than No. 31. I also think Sr. Huber really likes the idea of the drinking going on as No. 57 features a potent whiskey. No. 57 opens with that whiskey but it is paired with a vibrant cinnamon to create a spicy cocktail. This is all framed in with clean cedarwood. It all heads towards a base of vanilla and labdanum which is warm and comforting.

Both No. 31 and No. 57 are eau de toilette strength and have 6-8 hour longevity with moderate sillage.

Both of these perfumes fir right in with the J. Crew aesthetic of clothing and accessories for the modern woman. The Arquiste half is a bit of an introduction to the idea of niche perfumery as neither fragrance probably goes quite as far as It might if it was a full-on Arquiste release. I think that is probably for the best because I’d like to see these perfumes succeed in showing the J. Crew customer that there is a world of perfume beyond the department store counter if they can just be shown the way. Ms. Lyons and Sr. Huber are to be congratulated for constructing a pair of signposts which do just this.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Regime des Fleurs Nitesurf- A Night on Ocean Drive

When I am back in South Florida, visiting, like many who visit I usually end up on South Beach. After we stroll around, the early morning hours are often spent on a park bench in Lummus Park. There is a smell as the tropical night begins to cool, the night blooming flowers are in their glory, and the waves crash on the beach as the tide comes in. To me it the smell of where I grew up. Until recently a perfume has never completely captured that smell; Regime des Fleurs Nitesurf does.

Regime des Fleurs is a new indie brand founded in February of 2014. The owners and self-taught perfumers are Alia Raza and Ezra Woods. Ms. Raza is a filmmaker and Mr. Woods is a stylist who want to make a perfume line focused on different florals. They also want to hearken back to the brazen style aesthetic of the 1990’s. All six of the debut fragrances are based on specific florals and they all have a pretty significant presence to them. There isn’t anything introverted about these first releases. Nitesurf’s central flower is neroli. Neroli is reminiscent of Florida Water which is the classic citrus eau de cologne I smelled everywhere growing up. This floral core is placed into a matrix of beach notes to create an olfactory still life of a night by the beach.

Ezra and Alia

Alia Raza and Ezra Woods (Photo: Town and Country)

The neroli on top glows with the brightness of the neon on an Art Deco hotel. There is almost a palpable buzz. To go with that electrical hum an ozonic accord picks up on that. This is a typical aquatic neroli opening. What changes it is by adding in some supporting florals, like ginger lily, it gives a greater depth to the neroli. It feels like the neroli is on a time lapse loop as it blooms and expands rapidly. I like the expansiveness of Nitesurf at this moment in its development. To create the surf Ms. Raza and Mr. Woods make a choice of two notes to realize their vision. Ambergris is a typical choice. Distillation of crushed nautilus shells is not a typical choice. This ingredient is what separates indie perfumery from the mainstream. This is the second time I have smelled a distillate of crushed sea shells in a perfume and it adds this earthy chalky quality which in combination with the ambergris creates a fabulous beach accord. The neroli is still in place as the surf accord comes together and once they are all there Nitesurf is complete.

Nitesurf has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Nitesurf is my favorite of the original six releases and it is a perfume which makes me interested in what Ms. Raza and Mr. Woods do next. For now I just put on some Nitesurf, close my eyes, and imagine I am with my friends.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Regime des Fleurs.

Mark Behnke