New Perfume Review aroma M Camellia- Geisha at Rest

There are so many perfumers who work so very hard to form a brand identity. Then there are others where it feels like an organic extension of who they are. Maria McElroy created her aroma M perfume line in 1995 as an extension of her affection for Japanese art and incense. Over almost twenty years Ms. McElroy has made eight perfume oils and four eau de parfums all meant to portray a different geisha. Each perfume like the variation in kimono or makeup had a distinct personality. I admired Ms. McElroy’s dedication to letting her muse take her where it will. Geisha O-cha was a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Geisha Marron was the French courtesan who formed a mismatch of her Occidental features while wearing a kimono. I only discovered the line in 2011 and it has become one that I keep an eye on because of Ms. McElroy’s singular style. Her latest release Camellia is another entry in her impressive collection.

Ms. McElroy had initially developed Camellia as a line of beauty products; hair oil, face oil, and bath oil. It is said that geisha use camellia oil to remove their make-up and Ms. McElroy was inspired to make her own formula of that product. The funny thing is for a line known for its perfumes there wasn’t an accompanying Camellia perfume oil. After multiple requests Ms. McElroy capitulated and designed two concentrations; perfume oil and eau de parfum. As has been the case with the previous EdP concentrations I find I prefer the oil based formulations better. There is a deeper interaction with the perfume oils and the EdP’s seem to become so expansive that they lose some texture along the way. It is purely a matter of preference as both concentrations are wonderful. I am going to focus on the perfume oil for the rest of this review.

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Maria McElroy

My imagination takes me to the table where a geisha sits at the end of the evening. She looks in the mirror and uses her camellia oil make-up remover to uncover the person beneath the façade. As the woman underneath the geisha reveals herself she unpins the gardenia from her hair and removes her kimono still holding the scent of the frankincense burning in the main areas of the house. The rose and jasmine also from her hair lies next to the gardenia. As she lies down to sleep the remnants of the camellia oil reminds her who she is before closing her eyes.

Ms. McElroy has made a fantastic deep floral fragrance with Camellia. She opens it with the camellia essential oil on display from the first moments. In those early moments geranium and neroli provide harmony.  The geranium adds a green transparency, the neroli adds a hint of indoles. The heart is a narcotic mix of gardenia and camellia. This is as potent as an opium pipe as it fills every bit of my senses. Ms. McElroy manages to make something encompassing without being overwhelming. Camellia ends on an austere slightly metallic frankincense. The incense really has to push hard to be noticed and it takes hours before it really gains some traction on my skin. Once it does the gardenia camellia and frankincense usher Camellia through its final paces.

Camellia perfume oil has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage. The EdP has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Camellia is a perfumed homage to a geisha at rest. It feels like the most personal perfume Ms. McElroy has composed to date.  It is the truth behind the illusion. I always prefer the truth.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by aroma M.

Mark Behnke

Jo Malone 101-Five to Get You Started

You have probably walked by the display of bottles in your local department store. Dozens of clear bottles with a black and white label on them with the name of Jo Malone. There is a simple elegance in the display but you look at all those bottles and wonder where to start. This edition of Perfume 101 will give you some suggestions on just how to do that with one of the best bang for the buck brands in the department store.

Lime Basil & Mandarin– This wasn’t the first Jo Malone fragrance, that was 1990’s Nutmeg & Ginger. It was the second one and it has become the flagship fragrance in the line. Back in 1991 the idea of taking strongly herbal notes like basil and thyme while matching them with citrus on top over a woody base was not as common as it is 23 years later. Perfumer Lucien Piguet would take the citrus cornucopia centered on mandarin and juxtapose it with a heart of sage and basil along with iris. It all ends with a lilting amber, patchouli and vetiver base. There is a reason this perfume has lasted so long it really is a new classic.

Amber & Lavender– In 1995 very few people knew who Bertrand Duchaufour was. Jo Malone tapped him to make Amber & Lavender. It was his first signed fragrance. These kind of time capsules in perfume form are interesting. Amber & Lavender shows M. Duchaufour’s desire to use contrasting notes to form texture and depth was there right from the start.  He sort of condensed the core of Lime Basil & Mandarin into the top notes of Amber & Lavender as petitgrain along with basil and rosemary give the herbal and citrus tension. The heart takes a Provencal lavender and allows it to be a little more herbal in character. This opens space for spices like cinnamon and nutmeg the opportunity to flow in around the floral nature. The base is vetiver, oakmoss, amber, and musk which provide a dark green finish. This was where M. Duchaufour started and you can see, in hindsight, some of his favorite techniques in play already.

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Dark Amber & Ginger Lily– By 2008 Jo Malone had created an impression that they were all about making lighter brighter fragrances. Dark Amber & Ginger Lily would shatter that impression as perfumer Andrea Lupo would compose a gorgeous woody gem. Dark Amber & Ginger Lily opens with ginger and in 2008 there were so many poor uses of ginger in perfumes. Here it was used as a foundation for cardamom and pink pepper. The lily comes in the heart and it carries a watery quality. The floral character is enhanced with a bit of jasmine and rose. This all leads to an as advertised dark amber made even darker with leather, patchouli, and sandalwood added in. I remember getting this sample back then and I just couldn’t believe it was Jo Malone. This would start a trend of having some deeper compositions every year.

Vanilla & Anise– I am a sucker for vanilla and licorice and 2009’s Vanilla & Anise gave me both. What perfumers Celine Barel, Clement Gavarry, and Pascal Gaurin created was a perfume featuring both vanilla and licorice but the most transparent perfume featuring these notes I own without sacrificing one iota of depth. Fennel and star anise provide the lighter licorice quality in the top notes. A floral intermezzo of vanilla orchid and frangiapani usher this in to a rich musky vanilla base with a grace note of clove to add an exotic fillip to keep it from being too vanilla.

Sakura Cherry Blossom– I live near Washington DC and when the cherry blossoms herald the coming of spring I revel in the delicate scent as I walk along the Tidal Basin in the snow of petals falling around me. In 2011 perfumer Christine Nagel made one of the only perfumes I think captures the inherent fragility of the cherry blossom. By opening with a bergamot and cardamom zephyr into an even more opaque cherry blossom accord. It all ends on an equally transparent base of rosewood and musk. It is one of my very favorite perfumes by Mme Nagel.

I hope this guide gives you a reason to stop by the Jo Malone counter next time you walk by it.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Kiori Perfume Oil- The Long and Fragrant Road

Every time I host the Sniffapalooza Sunday Emerging Artisans Uncorked lunch I seem to meet a new independent perfumer. This past edition at Fall Ball 2014 was no different as I met Lisa Wallos and David Cantor the brother and sister behind Kiori Perfume Oil.

Their story has come to be a typical story for someone who comes to making perfumes later in life. Ms. Wallos found her introduction to fragrance came while she was studying at the School of American Ballet in New York City. As she watched the senior dancers powder themselves in preparation for performances she loved the smell of each ballerina who seemed to carry her own signature scent. After her dance studies she went on to become a special education teacher and a mother. Throughout this time she would obtain and work with natural ingredients to make her own personal fragrance. As she had settled on a mixture she felt was hers she also started to be asked what she was wearing and where could it be bought. Her brother Mr. Cantor had built a career in the health and wellness industry and he encouraged her to try and market her perfume. Together they have produced Kiori Perfume Oil.

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David Cantor and Lisa Wallos presenting Kiori at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2014

Kiori is a Japanese word meaning “inner strength” and it is an appropriate description for the fragrance itself. Kiori contains a tenacious core which shows strength but because it is a perfume oil it also seems very personal and introverted. Having had Ms. Wallos tell me about her dance history I definitely smell a hint of the iris scented powders of the prima ballerinas in Kiori but it is primarily a vanilla perfume with florals and resins.

That bit of iris I mentioned is where Kiori starts. It is the powdery version of that note and it is subtle. There are some other delicate florals like neroli all floating around like a cloud of powder as the corps de ballet rushes on stage. The vanilla shows up next and it is the keynote for Kiori. The remains of the florals are still around but the vanilla is matched with patchouli. This turns Kiori into a darker earthy vanilla. This could be an abrupt change in a more traditional alcohol composition but because Kiori is an oil this transition happens in smaller increments. The base notes are a mix of incenses and they add a bit of chill austerity to the grounded sweetness of the vanilla and patchouli.

Kiori has 12-14 hour longevity with almost no sillage.

Kiori is an impressive debut by Ms. Wallos and she hopes to have a new release sometime in 2015. Kiori shows the patience of getting to know the materials really paid off as it allowed Ms. Wallos to have a comprehensive feel for using them. Kiori has summarized the long and fragrant road Ms. Wallos traveled until she could share her perfume with us.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Kiori I received at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2014.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Amouage Sunshine Woman- The Rainbow after the Storm

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Where I am living now we get these very intense thunderstorms throughout the summer. The sky is covered in angry dark clouds and the rain lashes down punctuated by bolts of lightning and the rumble of thunder. Then after about twenty minutes of this it passes through and quite often leaves behind the most brilliant blue sky and a vivid rainbow in its wake. I have always been enchanted with the sudden change from dark to light within minutes. The new Amouage Sunshine Woman has me thinking that this is very much a perfume like those moments after a thunderstorm has passed.

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Christopher Chong (Photo: arabia.style.com)

My admiration for Amouage Creative Director Christopher Chong is well-known. He has always imparted a clear artistic vision to Amouage which has led to a consistency which is unmatched in perfumery over the last five years. I have also admired the slow evolution of Amouage from thunderous powerhouse perfumes prior to Mr. Chong’s creative stewardship to one of the most complex collections of fragrance on the market. It has been like watching that figurative thunderstorm move on and now with Sunshine Woman the sun shines on a crystal blue sky with an arc of prismatic color through the middle of it. The perfumer Mr. Chong chose to work with was Sidonie Lancesseur who is signing her first perfume for Amouage. These are two of my very favorite people in all of perfume and the perfume they collaborated on creating is simply amazing.

When I use words like sparkling, bright, sunshine, or brilliance; that usually means citrus, bergamot, maybe some of the higher register florals. What Mme Lancesseur has accomplished with this composition is to create something which lives up to all those adjectives I mentioned without using any of those notes I mentioned. Sunshine Woman is an expansively bright young thing in liquid form. It is also brilliant in the way that word means when used to describe creativity.

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Mme Lancesseur opens Sunshine Woman with a trio of notes davana, almond, and blackcurrant liqueur. The woody nuttiness of the almond forms the core for the herbal fruity quality of the davana and the straight up syrupy fruity of the blackcurrant liqueur to converge upon. You read that and you think, how can that be light? It can be because the almond is the lead in the early moments and the davana and blackcurrant are used in such restrained quality that they add contrast and texture more than a distinct fruity presence. The almond segues into a floral heart of magnolia supported by jasmine and osmanthus. If the top notes were mainly almond with some support. The heart notes are a meeting of equals although the magnolia is a little more out front. Osmanthus and jasmine are becoming a favorite combination among florals as they complement each other almost perfectly. Here the magnolia adds a slightly woody aspect. Together this is crystal blue sky in vivid crisp tones. The figurative rainbow is supplied by an arc composed of papyrus, patchouli, tobacco, and cade wood. Mme Lancesseur uses these notes to etch a bold slash of olfactory color across the sky of Amouage Sunshine Woman. Her use of cade especially in this grouping is amazing. Cade usually adds smoke and deep black facets to a fragrance. Mme Lancesseur has used it in such a way to have it seem like it comes from a far distance as if you see the back edge of that line of thunderstorms as it moves away. The papyrus is an opaque green which is misted in smoke from the cade and given roots in the earth by patchouli. Finally a vanilla and tobacco accord add a bit of sweet narcotic air after the maelstrom has passed.

Amoauge Sunshine Woman has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

It is rare that I say this but my description of this perfume does not do it justice. As you can see by the list of notes up there this should not be a fragrance which gets compared to a sunbeam. Except it is and I have spent days trying to dig deeply inside of it to find a way to communicate this. I finally have to admit failure and tell you of any new perfume release in 2014 you simply have to try Amouage Sunshine Woman and then you will understand.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Amouage Sunshine Woman provided by Amouage.

Editor’s note: Currently Amouage Sunshine Woman is only available at the 17 stand-alone Amouage boutiques around the world. As of February 2015 it will be available elsewhere.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

When I was in graduate school in the early 1980’s there was this late night talk show that ran at 12:30 called Late Night with David Letterman. It was weird. It was different. It was just what I needed after a long day and night in the lab. The 12:30 slot for late night talk show hosts has offered up many unique versions of the talk show. One of the best, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, is coming to an end on December 19, 2014.

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I first became aware of Craig Ferguson when he played the boss Mr. Wick. From 1996-2003. While I thought he was good in the role I had no idea how good he would be when he made the leap to host of The Late Late Show in 2005 succeeding Craig Kilborn. What has stood out even from the earliest shows was the removal of the typical talk show tropes. There is no band. There is no human sidekick. The monologue comes after a cold open sketch. This is what the 12:30 slot has always represented as the hosts have some freedom to make their own rules. Mr. Ferguson has taken this freedom and created a talk show which makes fun of talk shows.

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As I mentioned Mr. Ferguson has no human sidekicks but he does have two sidekicks. One is a robot skeleton by the name of Geoff Peterson who joined the show in 2010. Grant Imahara of Mythbusters was looking for Twitter followers and he told Mr. Ferguson if he could get him 100,000 twitter followers he would make him a robot sidekick. The milestone was achieved and Mr. Imahara delivered Geoff Peterson, a robot skeleton. This is in itself a comment on the near vacuous quality of the typical late night sidekick. Geoff is voiced by one of the writers on the show, Josh Robert Thompson. The interplay between Geoff and Mr. Ferguson is my favorite part of The Late Late Show. It allows these two characters to impale the inane brilliantly. The other sidekick is Secretariat which is two guys in a horse suit. Secretariat doesn’t speak but hangs out in a stall on the opposite side of the stage from Geoff. Again there is biting satire that two guys in a horse suit function as a sidekick as well as any human.

Mr. Ferguson has a refreshing interview style where he doesn’t have his staff pre-interview the guest and help shape the questions. Instead Mr. Ferguson takes some time to find out about the guest and they have a real conversation. This reminds me of the old style of interview you saw on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson or The Dick Cavett Show. By not being sort of scripted it allows for spontaneity and sometimes chaotic side trips. When Kristen Bell is the guest it is a treat to watch two similarly minded comics trade riffs back and forth.

The final segment of every show is “What Did We Learn on the Show Tonight, Craig?” This is a parody of those sensationalistic shows like The Jerry Springer Show where after an hour of yelling and screaming a tacked on coda is meant to add meaning to the idiocy. When Mr. Ferguson does it he acknowledges the silliness of it and sometimes makes it wickedly subversive.

Before he starts his monologue Mr. Ferguson says, “It’s a great day for America” and for ten years is has been. On December 20 it will not be a great day for America because The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson will be done.

Mark Behnke

Acquisition Mania

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There has been a lot of words written about the latest big business acquisitions in the niche perfume space. I’m going to add a few more.

During the first week of November 2014 Estee Lauder purchased three niche companies: Le Labo, Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums, and Rodin Olio Lusso. This news was met generally with the reaction that Estee Lauder will ruin these brands. Examples used were the previous acquisition of Jo Malone by Estee Lauder ten years ago. Guerlain’s acquisition by conglomerate LVMH is also always mentioned.

Detractors tend to point towards these examples and say they aren’t the same since they were bought. The implication is the business has overtaken the artistry. Except that isn’t true. In Jo Malone’s case the availability expanded dramatically. I would also argue that under the stewardship of perfumer Christine Nagel some of the very best perfumes in that label’s history were produced. The ability to give the creative reins to someone like Mme Nagel only comes when there is a bit of big money behind a brand. If the future holds more opportunity for people to discover great perfumes like Le Labo Rose 31 or Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums L’Eau d’Hiver, how can that be bad? I have always wanted a wider distribution for niche perfume which has embraced the principles of niche perfumery to make something for the true aficionado without worrying about the bottom line. The big money sale of these brands show they have been successful at that and I am hopeful that more people can see there is more to perfume than the latest mass-produced fruity floral.

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Frederic Malle

I have also seen a number of comments around the idea that these two lines which have come to be prime examples of niche perfumery “selling out” is bad for the other brands out there. My short answer to this is, “Good!” One of the things that has distressed me is the proliferation of business people behind new niche brands who believe there is money to be made in this sector, quickly. If nothing else these sales show that it takes time to build a brand identity and allow that identity to find an audience. All of these moneychangers in the perfumed temple looking for a quick buck might realize there is a little more to it than fancy bottles, aspirational pricing, and high-concept marketing. If they want a quick score what the spate of brands bought by the big companies has shown is you better have a good track record over many years.

My bottom line is both Le Labo and Frederic Malle will continue largely unchanged and the only noticeable change will be the opportunity to buy some of their perfumes more widely, a good thing. It might also bring to an end Le Labo’s city exclusives since Estee Lauder would want to have those with a wider availability; also a good thing. Reformulations should be a non-issue as both brands were already IFRA compliant. I think that there are many good years and great perfumes ahead for both brands no matter who reaps the monetary benefits.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Providence Perfume Co. Natural Perfume Oils- The Quiet Storm

In October the New York Times published an article about the proliferation of perfume oils. The article extolled the convenience, the more close wearing nature, and as an economical alternative to their alcoholic cousins. Natural Perfumer Charna Ethier came to this conclusion through paying attention to the customers in her retail store in Providence, RI. She came to realize through watching customers at her in-store custom perfume bar that as many customers were choosing to base their creations in oil as alcohol. Along with this realization she was getting requests from customers for something more “wearable”. She wanted to “highlight the most beautiful aspects of natural essences”. All of this thinking has led to the creation of a collection of six natural perfume oils under her Providence Perfume Co. brand: Rose 802, Orange Blossom Honey, Summer Yuzu, Ivy Tower, Sweet Jasmine Brown, and Violet Beauregarde.

A few things I noticed when wearing these perfume oils was the very nature of them wearing so close to the skin made them feel much more personal in nature. I often felt like it was my little perfumed secret for the days I wore them. I would have to test this next observation a little more blindly but while I was testing the oils in between other fragrance I was testing it seemed the oils had a more diffuse quiet and softer feeling. It was like these were gauzy dreamlike versions of perfume. When I would wear one of these after wearing a more traditional formulation from another perfumer these has a degree of comforting calm to them.

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Charna Ethier

Rose 802 is a tribute to mid-summer in Vermont, 802 is the Vermont area code, as the wild roses and blackberries scent the air. Ms. Ethier takes rose and black currant to form that core and adds in cedar and fir to bring forth the woods of Vermont. A bit of myrtle modulates the rose to keep it from being as boisterous. This was a good example of how the perfume oil formulation can take something like rose and currant which is the very loud opening to many fruity florals and by keeping it close and hazy turns it contemplative and calming.

Orange Blossom Honey exemplifies that the oils can allow the wearer to go beneath the surface and find something different in notes as well-known as orange blossom and honey. Ms. Ethier goes for a bit of transparent golden viscosity as the neroli is encased within a thick matrix of honey. Grace notes of ginger and vanilla add a bit of olfactory lens flares but this is an indolent lazy day as a perfume.

Summer Yuzu shows that just because these perfume oils are kept on the quiet side that doesn’t have to mean they lack energy. Summer Yuzu has energy to burn as Ms. Ethier takes a brilliant sparkling yuzu as her nucleus and sends a fantastic array of notes like, sunflower, aglaia, tomato, frankincense, and tomato spinning madly around it. This was the most fun of these six to wear because it just felt like a perpetual motion machine in perfumed form.

Ivy Tower is a photorealistic version of ivy growing among a selection of spring flowers. Ms. Ethier captures the deeply vegetal green of the ivy growing in rain-soaked earth by combining geranium, narcissus, blue tansy, jonquil, and lily. All together these floral create the ivy accord but then as you focus it is like finding a bunch of flowers growing within the vines.

Sweet Jasmine Brown is Ms. Ethier’s riff on the jazz standard “Sweet Georgia Brown”. Ms. Ethier wanted a sassy and sweet construction. To bring this dichotomy together she chose pink pepper, jasmine and musk ambrette to represent sassy and cocoa nib, ylang-ylang, and vanilla to hold up the sweet side. It sets up a bit of a see-sawing development as it moves from the sassy to sweet and back to the sassy again. Like watching Miss Georgia Brown sashaying down the street.

Just from the name I suspected that Violet Beauregarde was going to be my favorite. It seems like we both share an affection for the gum snapping child of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who would eventually expand into a human blueberry. Ms. Ethier eschews going the blueberry route and instead focuses on violet. The violet is transparent but like the namesake Ms. Ethier expands the transparent violet by inflating it with ylang-ylang, jasmine, and mimosa. It makes it feel like a purple balloon blown up to its limit with the sun shining through it. I loved the delicacy of this one which always seemed to be on the verge of popping like that overinflated balloon in my mind’s eye.

All of the perfume oils had 6-8 hour longevity and about as close to zero sillage as you can get.

Ms. Ethier wanted something “beautiful and wearable” and with all six of these perfume oils she has achieved her goal.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Providence Perfume Co.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Heeley Vetiver Veritas- In Vetiver, Truth

British perfume maker James Heeley has excelled in creating perfumes which capture a basic truth in their composition. Cardinal is the Catholic Church Mass incense. Sel Merin is the sea spray in your face. Hippie Rose is one of my favorite rose and patchouli fragrances ever for the depth of both of those notes. Mr. Heeley has worked in mixed media using synthetic raw materials along with high quality naturals. With the release of Vetiver Veritas he is moving into the world of botanical all-natural perfume.

When someone like Mr. Heeley embraces natural perfumery it helps to broaden the appeal. His starting point for Vetiver Veritas was to use the natural Haitian Vetiver he had been wearing as a straight dilution for years. For Vetiver Veritas he takes that vetiver and makes it 90% of the composition. Then to keep it completely simple he only adds four other notes two of them to comprise a leather accord. This kind of perfumery really allows for maximum appreciation of the central note. It allows for the truth of that Haitian vetiver to radiate.

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James Heeley

That Haitian vetiver is where Vetiver Veritas begins. By using it in such a high concentration it allows for nuances that are not usually detected to show up. The vetiver mainly comes forward with an intense green quality, very vegetal in nature. There is also a deep rooty and earthy quality which matches the green. All of this is familiar territory. What I also detected was a bit of sugar cane-like sweetness lurking underneath. At the level of vetiver it could have been very standoffish. But as it grows in power this unusually natural sweet leavens the harshness and reveals an undiscovered truth about vetiver. Mr. Heeley adds a bit of grapefruit and mint to help define the green. Together they provide an astringent framework for the vetiver to be displayed in. Finally a smoky leather accord appears to sweep away the green and allow the roots and earth to have the final say.

Vetive Veritas has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I know I’ve smelled Hatian Vetiver as a raw material but that sweetness never presented itself until I had Vetiver Veritas on my skin. This is what Mr. Heeley does so well he takes something and allows the wearer to discover their own truth within the perfume. With Vetiver Veritas I found there was an all-natural truth about vetiver I had never experienced. If you are a fan of vetiver especially in its smokier darker variety I think there will be some truth to be found in Vetiver Veritas.

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

Mark Behnke

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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I have been part of many enthusiast communities on the internet. I have always thought they were special groups of people. Over the past few days the group of perfume lovers who connect digitally all over the world have flown into action and shown that they are ready to help in any way they can.

The unfortunate reason which precipitated this outpouring was the announcement that my former colleague at CaFleureBon Tama Blough has terminal cancer. I have known Tama for years but it was only this past March that we actually met in person at Esxence in Milan. I thought how funny it was we both had to travel to Europe to finally meet. Tama was the same in person as she was electronically. A warm presence always smiling. I got a kick out of watching her meet some of her favorite perfumers and then communicate that in her daily post for CaFleureBon. I remembered my first trip to Esxence and the doors it opened up for me and was thrilled to see Tama opening her own doors. I knew she would create personal relationships that would last. She has done that for years as the organizer of her hometown SF Sniff and has created a local community of perfume lovers who regularly met up to go sniff perfume.

As the word of her illness was revealed late last week one of those local people Nina Zolotow took it upon herself, with Tama’s permission, to rally the perfume community to help by starting a Give Forward donation site called Tama Blough’s Cancer Fundraiser. In just five days it has raised $12,000 of its $20,000 goal. That money is critical to Tama’s ability to face her cancer on her own terms, in her own home, surrounded by the things she loves and her cat Buster. As someone who works within the cancer community I know the importance of keeping a hold of all of the things you love in life and allowing that to raise your spirits. I believe Tama also has to be drawing strength from the level of genuine love that has been displayed. Not only by donations to her website but different efforts to raise money using perfume as the vehicle. There are multiple sale threads on Facebook where people are selling their unwanted bottles and donating what they sell those bottle for. Perfumer Tanja Bochnig of April Aromatics and CaFleureBon Editor-in-Chief Michelyn Camen have made a limited edition perfume called San Francisco Rose which can be purchased here. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is donating 15% of the sales for her The PLP Project perfumes; Peace, Love, and Perfume.

So often when a person is facing a terminal disease there is a reaction by many to pull away to not want to face the inevitable. What makes me proud to be part of the perfume community is from all parts of the world it has come together to give Tama a virtual hug. We can only hope that Tama allows that love and caring to help her through the difficult times ahead.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review House of Cherry Bomb Pink Haze- Peace Love Perfume & Brooklyn

The Brooklyn section known as DUMBO (Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass) has become a vibrant creative nexus in Brooklyn. There have been a couple of perfumers who have gotten their start in this section. Maria McElroy of Aroma M perfumes and Alexis Karl of Scent by Alexis work on their own creations in their ateliers in Brooklyn. What has come to be special is when Ms. McElroy and Ms. Karl decide to collaborate for their shared brand House of Cherry Bomb. While their first two releases Truth or Dare and Rebel Angel were constructed for a different perfumista than I there was a great energy in those compositions. Last year’s Cardamom Rose and Tobacco Cognac were very much constructed for a perfumista like me. That energy I detected in the first two fragrances was even more assured here. It seemed like Ms. McElroy and Ms. Karl had really found a collaborative harmonic from which more perfumes would come. That next perfume has come and it is called House of Cherry Bomb Pink Haze.plp project

Pink Haze is part of The PLP Project. PLP stands for the Facebook perfume group Peace-Love-Perfume started by Carlos J Powell, also known as YouTube reviewer Brooklyn Fragrance Lover, three years ago. For this third anniversary Mr. Powell has reached out to the perfumers who are part of the community to help celebrate by making perfumes in celebration of PLP. Pink Haze is more about Brooklyn than the Facebook group but that seems right as that is where Mr. Powell calls home, too. On the House of Cherry Bomb website Pink Haze is described as “the scent of tree lined Brooklyn streets, of stone buildings, both old and new, and of the hot metal of subway cars.” Pink Haze is the smell of midsummer twilight in DUMBO as the sun hits the horizon. The stone of the bridge and the smell of the sun charged aluminum on the side of the subway train roaring past all the while the summer flowers release their natural fragrance into the cooling air. Pink Haze paints a perfect Brooklyn still life on a summer evening.

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Maria McElroy (l.) and Alexis Karl

Pink Haze opens underneath the Manhattan Bridge as the smell of the stone is juxtaposed with the smell of hot aluminum. Ms. McElroy and Ms. Karl have created an authentic city accord as the stone has the feel of seeing the heat shimmer in waves off of it. The same holds true for the hot aluminum which also feels like it is radiating its scent in heated pulses off of its surface. I was drawn in by this opening and I think it takes a city dweller to get this just right and the Brooklynites nail this. As the stone and aluminum cools in the night the florals begin to come out and on this street lilac, muguet, and gardenia are what is growing. The muguet leads the way and the lilac and gardenia come a bit later. The strength of these are kept well-modulated and that help keeps Pink Haze more true to its name. A bit of cedar provides the base note for the end of Pink Haze.

Pink Haze has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

Pink Haze is the best perfume by House of Cherry Bomb to date. I think that is because this was a very personal project. Not only to evoke the place where they create but to also celebrate the online place where they congregate. Taken all together Pink Haze is a celebration of Peace-Love-Perfume and Brooklyn.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Carlos J Powell.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: For more information on all of the perfumes that are part of The PLP Project check out the Facebook link here.