New Perfume Review Frapin Nevermore- A Perfumed Toast to Poe

Wherever I have lived there is always a bit of a local mythology about things that go bump in the night. Now that I live in Maryland one of its most famous sons Edgar Allan Poe is a source of pride and inspiration especially as Halloween approaches. One of the more unique celebrations of Poe’s life was practiced for over seventy years. The tradition of the Poe Toaster who would show up at the gravesite in the early morning hours of January 19, Poe’s birthday. The Poe Toaster was dressed all in black with their face covered by a scarf carrying a cane. The Poe Toaster would lay three roses on the grave and pour a glass of Martell cognac raise a silent toast and leave the unfinished bottle next to the roses. The tradition started sometime in the 1930’s and ended in 2009 on the bicentennial of Poe’s birth.

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David Frossard

David Frossard the creative director at Frapin Perfumes had heard of this tradition and wanted to make a perfume as a homage to this. The perfumer he chose to work with is Anne-Sophie Behaghel. The result is the new release Frapin Nevermore. Mme Behaghel was going to be the right choice for this because as I read her bio on the Flair website it starts with, “I was born in Paris with the all-pervasive smell of concrete and the Metro in my nostrils.” It serves her well as she evokes a chilly night in a graveyard of concrete grave markers with roses and alcohol added in.

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Anne-Sophie Behaghel

Mme Behaghel sets the stage of a January early morning as she takes a combination of ozonics, aldehydes, and black pepper to create a frozen concrete accord. This is a bit of fragrant scene setting but it might be my favorite part of Nevermore. There is an almost frozen density to the opening moments. Next the roses come out to play as she mixes Rose de Mai and Damask Rose with a rose essential oil. The figurative three roses laid on the grave. As a perfume these three rose sources are blended into a heady middle stanza. As if the rose wasn’t enough Mme Behaghel dunks them in wine. I think this is an excellent choice because if she went with the cognac I think it might not have been as well balanced. The wine adds a deep ruby foundation for the roses to float upon. Now it is time for the Poe Toaster to make his escape and they do so in a swirl of ambrox, saffron, and cedar.

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

Nevermore is a fascinating perfume which manages to straddle a line between unabashedly old fashioned and completely modern. The opening accord could be used for an urban jungle perfume and along with the ambrox in the base that makes Nevermore seem contemporary. The wine and roses in the heart seem to hearken back to a day when those ingredients were the stuff of civility and refinement. All together Mme Behaghel makes Nevermore a fascinating study in perfumed storytelling. I think Poe would approve.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jacques Zolty Van-Ile- Transitional Vanilla

For those of us who love niche perfume we have to be hopeful that the number of people interested in it continues to grow over time. For most who fall down the rabbit hole of artistic perfumery it happens through being introduced to the world from an avid perfume lover who will share. Or you might stumble across a boutique carrying brands you’ve never heard of and fall in love with one. That way requires expansion through word of mouth or chance. Over the past few years we have seen niche brands expand outward by ingenious partnerships with other more populist brands. Sephora has begun to offer some niche brands on their fragrance shelves again. The hard thing is that sometimes making the jump to something so different, from the mainstream, is a big leap. Sometimes it seems like if there was a bit of an intermediate step offered it might help make the transition a bit easier.

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Roberto Drago

I had this exact conversation with Roberto Drago who is well-known in niche circles as the creative director of Laboratorio Olfattivo. Sig. Drago is well aware that having a line of perfumes which can be seen as transitional would be good for business. Towards that end he has a line, he also creative directs, which attempts to do that called Jacques Zolty. These are meant to be easily worn fragrances which show much of what makes niche perfume interesting without becoming so complex as to be aloof. One of the most recent releases for this line has straddled this line brilliantly and is called Van-Ile.

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Cecile Zarokian

Vanilla is an ideal focal point for a perfume trying to complete this delicate kind of balancing act. Vanilla is a comforting familiar component to most who wear mainstream perfumes. Sig. Drago asked perfumer Cecile Zarokian to be the one to realize this. Mme Zarokian does a wonderful job of balancing this so that it carries widespread appeal to the longtime niche perfume lover and the person deciding to give something new a try.

Van-Ile is a very simple structure which opens with the figurative perfume version of “once upon a time” as citrus in the form of orange is what you encounter first. As Van-ile proceeds into the heart it uses jasmine as a safe haven but here is where Mme Zarokian offers a little something more as a nutty almond adds a toasty quality to the floral notes. It also is a great note to usher in the vanilla. The vanilla here is that of the vanilla orchid. Which means besides the immediately recognizable sweet vanilla there are also green flares throughout. Some oakmoss picks up and accentuates those green moments. It all finishes in a safe patchouli foundation.

Van-Ile last 8-10 hours with average sillage.

Van-Ile does exactly what it sets out to do as Mme Zarokian mixes the common with just a bit of uncommon. It allows someone who is familiar with mainstream perfumes to take a slight step towards the world of niche. For me I enjoy it for the simple good-natured companion it can be for a day of running errands because even someone who wears as much perfume as I do likes something a little less challenging once in a while.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Jacques Zolty at Pitti Fragranze.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Argentinian Malbec Wine

Location, location, location is a widely known axiom in real estate. It also applies to wine making as well. For great wines to be made it requires a combination of the right amount of sunshine, the right temperature range, and the right kind of soil. These considerations are all combined in a single concept called terroir. Terroir loosely translates to “sense of place”. When the term was first coined I suspected that it was more a marketing ploy by France and California to continue to promote the idea that they were the premiere wine growing regions in the world. It wouldn’t be until the early Naughts that I actually came to believe in the concept and it wasn’t a French or California wine that convinced me it was one from Argentina.

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Malbec grapes on the vine in Mendoza

The malbec grape was a widely used blending grape for the French and California red wines. It was primarily used to soften some of the rougher edges a particular vintage might produce. By itself malbec was never considered to be a wine on its own because it just didn’t have enough character. In France after a particular rough winter in 1956 where most of the malbec vines were lost vintners gravitated to other varietals when replanting like cabernet franc. In California the opposite happened as it wasn’t until the mid-1990’s that malbec began to be produced in significant quantities for use as a blending grape.

I remember going to my favorite wine store in Boston and being offered this new wine from Argentina. i freely admit I’m a wine snob and so I expected this new wine from Argentina to be uninspiring. Except when I took my first sip the incredible texture and flavor made me reassess my thoughts on Argentinian wine making. When I asked what the wine was I was told it was Terrazas de los Andes Malbec. I was flummoxed; not only Argentinian but a flaccid tasting grape like malbec. How could this be? The answer was in the name of the wine I had tasted.

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Nicolas Catena Zapata

The introduction of the malbec grape came from French agronomist Miguel Pouget who brought some cuttings with him to Argentina in the mid-18th century. It wouldn’t be until 1994 when winemaker Nicolas Catena Zapata would decide to plant malbec grapes in the high-altitude of the Andes Mountains that these spectacular wines would be cultivated. His Bodega Catena vineyard is the result.

The region in the Andes known for this is called Mendoza. The vineyards that are in the region all exist from altitudes of 3,000-5,000 feet above sea level. The soil is also very flinty as you might expect from being on the side of a mountain range. You would also expect that being on the side of a mountain at altitude the grapes are exposed to a greater and more intense amount of sunlight. All of this is probably true and together they transform the malbec grape grown in Mendoza into one of the best red wines in the world. Terroir indeed.

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The malbec wine imported to the US is uniformly good and unlike most other big red wines is drinkable right away without further aging. These malbecs don’t have a lot of the tannins and harshness that require some mellowing by aging in the bottle. This quality makes them very accessible. What even makes them more accessible is the best malbecs are still available at less than $20 a bottle, often less than $15 a bottle. Compared to their French and California counterparts which are over a $100 a bottle these are fabulous bargains.

Malbecs go with any kind of meat dishes or robust tomato-based dishes. Whatever you would pair a cabernet sauvignon or Bordeaux with a malbec will serve just as well. The best vineyards are Terrazas de los Andes, Bodega Catena, Trapiche, Layer Cake, and Cigar Box. So far I can say there hasn’t been a poor vintage yet produced which is another oddity as the terroir seems to be remarkably stable in the conditions for the grapes to grow.

If you’re looking for a great red wine that doesn’t cost a lot heading into the fall and winter you just need to head to the Argentina aisle in your local wine store and say “Malbec please.”

Mark Behnke

Under The Radar: Von Eusersdorff Classic Orange- As Simple as 1-2-3

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As I decide what to write about on an ongoing basis simplicity always loses out to edgy or weird. There are time that I think I do a disservice not only to myself but those who read my reviews. A really well executed single note perfume can be just as enjoyable as the latest avant-garde experiment in olfactory art. There are a couple of lines which excel at these kind of perfume still lifes. One of those is Von Eusersdorff.

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Camille Henfling

Von Eusersdorff is the perfume brand of Camille Henfling. Mr. Henfling had learned that his ancestors had been a German family which specialized in the international trade of rare oils, spices, herbs, and dried flowers. In 2010 he decided that Von Eusersdorff would once again stand for rare oils, spices, herbs, and dried flowers; except this time they would be perfumes. The first release in 2010, Classic Patchouli, is an example of the template Mr. Henfling would follow for the next four releases. When most perfumers use patchouli they attempt to distance themselves from the concentrated oil form because of its association with hippies and the 1960’s counterculture. Mr. Henfling embraced this nature and produced a beautiful study of every single bit of patchouli. A year later Classic Mimosa, Classic Myrrh, and Classic Vetiver would follow the same formula. Late last year the newest release Classic Orange was released and the Von Eusersdorff style displayed the orange spectacularly.

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The source of orange Mr. Henfling chose was not just a regular orange but a blood orange. I love eating and cooking with blood orange because besides the juice there is also an added tartness which makes the sweet less overpowering. In Classic Orange Mr. Henfling takes the blood orange and sets it up as the frame upon which a truly inspired list of notes will hang. First up is a dense black tea which works very well because we are dealing with the less saccharine blood orange. The bit of tart blends with the tea seamlessly. Next up is osmanthus in all of its apricot and leather glory. Here the blood orange sets up shop right in between in a menage a trois nuzzling up to the apricot only to be enticed by the animalic leathery aspect. It is here that Classic Orange remains for hours on my skin simply beautiful and engaging. Very late on, an austere dry sandalwood provides the base notes for the last few hours.

Classic Orange has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I was reminded of classic Orange and how much I liked it when I was at the recent Pitti Fragranze. In a booth shared with some of the most artistic brands out there Classic Orange shone like a simple jewel among the movers and shakers. I’ve been wearing it more since my return and want to make sure it is no longer Under the Radar.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hermes Hermessence Cuir D’Ange- A Flight of Fancy

There is no collection in perfumery which more fully captures my attention than the Hermessences. Composed by Hermes in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena these deceptively simple constructs have been called everything from perfumed haiku to olfactory watercolors. Without looking back I’ve probably used these terms to describe these perfumes as well. It is an unsatisfactory way to capture the beauty of the best of the Hermessence entries. When they work it provides some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful moments in all of olfactory art. The most recent release Cuir D’Ange is one of the best in the collection.

Cuir D’Ange translates to Angel’s Leather and it was inspired by a visit M. Ellena made to the vault where the leather used to make Hermes accessories is stored. This visit was made in 2004 when he first came on-board as in-house nose. He knew as he walked amidst the stacks of tanned skins he wanted to capture this essence. One of the things that makes capturing a specific leather essence is the perfumer has to create a leather accord as there is no single note which mimics leather. Most often the components of a leather accord are deep heavy things like birch tar as it was for the classic leathers of the early 20th century. For Cuir D’Ange M. Ellena found a fusion of floral notes to complement his leather accord which makes it smell as if it is a Hermes purse or wallet which has been handled by a woman wearing the most delicate floral perfume.

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Jean-Claude Ellena

M. Ellena uses hawthorn as his top note in Cuir D’Ange. Hawthorn is one of my favorite ingredients when used well as it imparts an indolic component along with the floral character. It is a great choice to start with as the indoles stick to the leather template which is also present from the first moments. The leather accord is that of a supple soft leather which smells of opulence. It is by turns dry and then voluptuous. In the early going it the dry aspect which matches up with the hawthorn. Then like the named angel unfurling its wings heliotrope arrives and Cuir D’Ange takes wing. The faux violet nature of heliotrope is perfect as it lifts the leather up and makes it feel luxurious, as a Hermes leather should feel. The final ingredient is a musk which evokes the smell of sun warmed skin. It is an especially apt finishing note as it becomes a duet of processed skin and living skin. It may sound a bit macabre but it is a fascinating study as it lingers on your skin.

Cuir D’Ange has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

One of the things which allows the Hermessence line to stand out is not just the construction but how M. Ellena is able to take a relatively few notes and be so expansive. Cuir D’Ange might be the most successful of all in this collection at providing transitional grace notes. Despite the notes I describe above each of those notes carries subtle undertones and at different points you will get a hint of iris or a suspicion of almonds. Cuir D’Ange is a perfume which allows all of my senses to soar to new heights.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by the Hermes boutique in Vienna, VA.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bottega Veneta Knot- Tying It All Together

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When it comes to designer perfumes on display in the department stores I have found that the ones with clear connections to the brand on the label are the most successful. The Italian leather luxury goods brand Bottega Veneta has flourished under the brand and creative direction of Tomas Maier. Starting in 2001 he turned Bottega Veneta into a complete luxury goods enterprise. This would finally spread to perfume with the release of 2011’s Bottega Veneta. That was one of the best designer perfumes released that year and in the five successive releases since then it has become clear that Bottega Veneta is going to make as big an impact in fragrance as they do in purses.

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The most recent release is Bottega Veneta Knot. It is inspired by the line of clutches which have a knot clasp on top. Perfumer Daniela Andrier has created an olfactory Gordian Knot in which she takes four exquisitely constructed accords and brings them together in an orange blossom focused creation that almost seems a bit too edgy for the department store.

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Daniela Andrier

The first accord from Mme Andrier is that freshly washed linen evocation. It is comprised of aldehydes and lavender. The aldehydes give that hint of the remains of the detergent used to wash the linen. The lavender adds a crispness to it all with a green tint. The orange blossom arrives on a stiff sea breeze as Mme Andrier uses mandarin to usher in the orange blossom over the top of the ozonic cascade used to mimic the sea spray. This is the cleaned up version of orange blossom. Mme Andrier lets it linger for a short while before adding what she calls a mothballs accord of cedar and indoles. The indoles in particular serve to add a lot of depth to the orange blossom and the cedar frames it. Despite the suggestion of mothballs I mostly get a full spectrum orange blossom. The remaining accord is focused on peony which is supported by a foundation of rose and tonka.

Bottega Veneta Knot has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Mme Andrier has captured the texture of the woven nature of a Bottega Veneta purse as each of the accords acts as its own strip of material to be woven tightly with the others. Most mainstream releases do not have this level of texture and intricacy to them. When I think back to the ones which do it seems like Mme Andrier has also been behind those as well. Bottega Veneta Knot is one of the finest designer releases of the year and an excellent reason to visit the department store fragrance counter.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Bottega Veneta.

Mark Behnke

ComicSniffaConPalooza 2: The Wrath of Kilian

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If you’ve been following along you have figured out that I have many things I am interested in. Over the weekend of October 9-12, 2014 two of them combined to give me one gigantic weekend of immersion into my passions. Over these four days I attended New York Comic-Con and Sniffapalooza Fall Ball. Two years ago the same confluence of events happened and I dubbed the weekend ComicSniffaConPalooza. I would spend Thursday and Friday at Comic-Con (Comic). Saturday would be a day of perfume in the morning and comics in the afternoon (SniffaCon) finishing on Sunday by spending the whole day with my friends downtown sniffing new releases (Palooza). Since this is the sequel to the first one it needed a catchy subtitle which really makes no sense except Kilian really was there.

Comic

I awoke at 3:30AM to catch a 5:00AM bus to NYC from DC. By Noon I was walking on to the show floor at the Javits Center headed for the Marvel booth to get an NYCC exclusive Rocket Raccoon plush doll. Others around me were dashing for their particular obsessions as well as Green Power Rangers sprinted to the BanDai booth for a statue. Others headed to the Hallmark booth for the exclusive Star Wars holiday ornaments. Others actually headed to comic brands to pick up exclusive printings of specific titles. It is fascinating to see what each person really wants because you can only really get one and the way everyone spreads out is a fascinating exercise in consumerism and the desire to have something exclusive.

With my bag of Marvel swag under my arm I was ready to walk around a bit. One of the things which has expanded greatly at Comic-Con has been people who walk around in costume. Costume Playing or CosPlay for short. This year I saw one of the sweetest moments I have ever observed. I was walking next to a woman dressed as Elsa from Frozen. A brother and sister I would say were both under 10 screamed at the top of their lungs “Elsa!!” and ran headlong for her hugging her around her knees. The children’s mother was horrified but the young woman in the costume leaned down and fully in character talked with the kids. There were smiles everywhere.

I would spend the next two days seeing panels with one of my favorite authors, Kim Harrison. One of my favorite TV shows Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. One of my favorite comics The Walking Dead. One of my favorite personalities in all of media Kevin Smith. I was soaking it in but as I went to sleep Friday night I knew it was time for the perfume portion of the weekend to begin.

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Kilian Hennessy at Bergdorf Goodman

SniffaCon

At 8AM I showed up at Bergdorf Goodman and sat down in the café with my fellow perfume lovers to have the wondrous new releases displayed to us while sipping coffee and eating croissant. There were a lot of things new to me this year. The most impressive collection of the morning was the new Diana Vreeland perfumes. Ms. Vreeland was the person who created the editrix position at Vogue when she joined in 1962 and shepherded the magazine through the remainder of the decade before moving to the Costume Institute at the Met. She was influential and she was dynamic. I am happy to say the new collection of five fragrances capture the essence of what Ms. Vreeland was all about.

The other new perfume to me was the new B Balenciaga, It stands out for the use of an edamame accord on top which actually works well with the rest of the perfume.

Our final presenter was Kilian Hennessy who presented his Addictive State of Mind collection. Because I had already tried it I had a lot of fun watching others in the room reacting to the three perfumes for the first time. Based on my unofficial consumer research I think all three hit the mark for someone in the room. He also presented the wearable jewelry which can be scented. A couple of the necklaces were gorgeous. There really was no wrath here just well-done perfumes and accessories.

Next it was off to lunch where I heard from multiple speakers the highlight of which was Karen Dubin putting Chandler Burr through the questions James Lipton uses on “Inside the Actor’s Studio”. It was very funny when Chandler turned the tables on Karen when he had a hard time answering and asked her the question. Very fun way to see a different side of both of these people.

The clock was ticking and I had to bolt for the Javits Center so I could catch the panel for The Walking Dead TV show. The panel was completely crazy with the crowd roaring and screaming as everyone was introduced. My favorite moment was actress Melissa McBride talking about how the cast is a family and without that support she couldn’t have the courage to hit her performance week after week. It was sweet to see the love for a cast and crew in a show about a zombie apocalypse.

One last panel to see a preview of the upcoming Netflix series for Marvel’s Daredevil. I was giddy with excitement how one of my favorite comic book characters might just get done the way I want it to get done. The clips we saw have me ready to binge watch as soon as it is released in 2015.

Palooza

Sunday began at Osswald downtown where Carlos Huber of Arquiste took the crowd through the entire Arquiste line of perfumes ending with the fantastic new release The Architects Club. Next stop was Sue Phillips’ The Scentarium. It is where she will guide you through the process of making your own personalized perfume using pre-blended accords. This is all done with a wonderful joie de vivre which makes the experience feel very personal.

It was my turn to be the entertainment at lunch as I introduced the speakers. The two speakers who had perfume were the new brand Kiori and the young brand Phoenix Botanicals. Both perfumers presented perfume oils which are starting to become more common and desired by the consumer. Both new perfumes were very good and I will be reviewing both shortly.

It was now time to head for my bus to take me back home but I will be dreaming of superheroes and perfume all the way home.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Patchouli Absolu- Clear Patchouli

One of the first Tom Ford Private Blend perfumes released in 2007 was Amber Absolu. For many, including myself, it is one of the best entries of the Private Blend collection. By giving perfumer Christophe Laudamiel the direction to create a study in amber creative directors Tom Ford and Karen Khoury would repeat this starting with Oud Wood. The latest release, Patchouli Absolu, is another exploration of one of the most used notes in all of perfumery.

For this they turned to the same perfumer behind Oud Wood Richard Herpin. What made Oud Wood work so well was M. Herpin’s ability to surround oud with a set of notes not containing rose which allowed the full versatility of this, at the time, unusual perfume note to be displayed. With Patchouli Absolu his job is much different as he has to take a note probably every person who has any interest in fragrance is familiar with and make it different. He accomplishes this by making a refined version of patchouli. You could even say it is a patchouli which has been to a Tom Ford Men’s Store and fitted for a tux. It has the power you are familiar with but it is now refined and elegant as well.

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Richard Herpin(r.)

One of the ways M. Herpin does this is by using patchouli flower as one of his top notes. Patchouli comes from extraction of the leaves and the flower is not used very often because it is a more ephemeral version of what you get from the leaves. M. Herpin can do this because he matches it with a new aromachemical called Clearwood from Firmenich. Clearwood comes from a fermentation of sugar cane. Firmenich describes clearwood as a “Soft, clean version of patchouli without the earthy, leathery, and rubbery notes found in the natural oil.” It is this clearer version of patchouli which allows the patchouli flower to add back the parts that are missing but with a degree of subtlety. This opening sets the tone for the rest of the development as this patchouli is tamed. Even when after an herbal intermezzo of bay and rosemary the patchouli which comes from the leaves arrives it is also more controlled in every way like the man who has his name on the bottle. The base segues into a leather and woods finish surrounding the patchouli in a luxurious frame.

Patchouli Absolu has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

The funny thing about Patchouli Absolu is when you try it at first it seems very simple, maybe too simple, especially on a mouillette. I really didn’t find Patchouli Absolu compelling until I wore it. Once it was on my skin it became more expansive exponentially. On the strip is was all closed up; on my skin the very intricate opening truly comes to life. The use of Clearwood was a very smart choice by M. Herpin and it really showed once I was wearing it. Patchouli Absolu is a Tom Ford patchouli and that gives it a degree of luxury this ubiquitous note rarely finds.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tom Ford Beauty.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur- The High Priest of Resins Returns

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It is no secret that one of my favorite fragrance categories is incense fragrances. One of my favorite perfumers within that category is Bertrand Duchaufour. As I recounted in Perfumer Rewind from 2002-2007 I called him The High Priest of Resins for his facility with all kinds of incense notes. After that article was published I received an e-mail letting me know M. Duchaufour was returning to his resinous roots for an upcoming new perfume which would have a higher concentration of incense than any that came before. Often more is better but sometimes more is just too much. With M. Duchaufour at the helm the new release Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur reveals, in the hands of the master insense perfumer, more is just a new kind of beauty realized.

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Karl Bradl (l.) and Robert Gerstner

Aedes de Venstas is the line from the perfume store of the same name in New York City. Owners Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner have been the creative directors for three previous fragrances. They return to working with M. Duchaufour who was the perfumer behind the first Aedes de Venustas perfume in this collection. They clearly felt that M. Duchaufour could bring something new to the incense perfume. One of the new things for M. Duchaufour was to work with a new incense source, copal. Copal comes primarily from Central America where it was used as an indigenous incense source during pre-Columbian times. It is also a component in some varnishes. M. Duchaufour had to be careful in how he used it in Copal Azur because if he used too much he would risk it smelling like varnish. He did not disappoint as he incorporated the new resin into his existing arsenal of resins.

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Bertrand Duchaufour

Copal Azur starts with a bit of an oceanic aspect as a mix of salt and ozone evoke a turbulent ocean. The copal comes next and it has a bit of a sharper edge to it than other incense sources. I think if this had gone much higher in concentration it might have been unpleasant. In Copal Azur it just sets the stage for frankincense to match it with its own slightly metallic nature that all fine frankincense seems to have. Cardamom and patchouli add some levity to the incense action. The base is the sweetness of myrrh matched with tonka and amber. The myrrh elides away the rough edges and takes Copal Azur deeper and softer. The final phase of Copal Azur is almost a study in the contrast of strength and softness. Whenever Copal Azur reached the late stages of development I always felt it culminated in a full spectrum incense accord.

Copal Azur has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

It was a pleasure having M. Duchaufour return to that with which he was so successful with and create another perfume that is amazing. Copal Azur is a perfume for incense lovers which delivers it with an unmatched power.

Disclsoure: This review was based on a sample provided by Aedes de Venustas at Pitti Fragranze.

Mark Behnke  

The Sunday Magazine: Thor Goddess of Thunder

Spending this weekend at the 2014 New York Comic-Con I realize how far things have come since I attended my first con back in 1973.  Back then it was more about comics than popular media although Star Trek original series episodes were often the entertainment in the early days. Things would continue to grow over the years until by the early 1980’s the San Diego Comic-Con had grown in size to become the biggest con in the country. Throughout those early days I can tell you there was one very common aspect to all of them, very few women. This year as I walk around the convention hall there are lots of women. Some of this is due to the expansion of Comic-Con to cover a wider swathe of pop culture as it is more than just comic books. Even with that as a disclaimer over the last couple of years there have been a lot of female characters added into the mainstream superhero comics.

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The biggest indicator of this change is the recent change in gender of Thor. For those not up on your comic book mythology Thor has been the embodiment of the Norse God of Thunder son to the ruler Odin. Thor has a hammer called Mjolnir which only he can wield and which only he can pick up, because he is worthy. The new story line outlined in the latest issue of the comic is the male Thor has lost the ability to pick up Mjolnir. Part of the mystery to be resolved over the next few issues is why this happened. What has changed is a woman walks forward and picks up Mjolnir which makes her Thor Goddess of Thunder. Her face is shrouded and the other mystery to be resolved is her identity. Along with a female Thor, Odin’s wife Freyja has been ruling over the Norse Gods recently and seems reluctant to let go the reins of power. The women are taking charge in Asgard, the Norse Gods home.

This is a big event within comic book mythology and it has much to do with the changing demographics of who is reading. In the third quarter of 2013 young women aged 17-33 purchasing comic books increased by 20%. They are drawn to the books which show women superheroes. They eventually may show up at a con dressed as their favorite superhero which represents their ability to find fun in imagining themselves saving the world.

The trend isn’t going away as Wolverine of X-Men is being killed off in the comic books and the new version will be his genetically engineered daughter X-23 who will be the new lead in her own series of books.

I am looking forward to reading the adventures of Thor Goddess of Thunder, and X-23, and hopefully many more female heroes over the next years because there is nothing like a woman who can be as tough as she needs to be.

Mark Behnke