The Sunday Magazine: Glee

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In May of 2009 I spent most of a week humming Journey’s song “Don’t Stop Believin’”. Now it could have been I was just listening to the 80’s station but it was because of a television show. I had watched the first episode of a series called Glee. Glee told the story of a group of lovable geeks who wanted to sing in the glee club. In those days of 2009-2010 the show was a white-hot phenomenon introducing the nation to the real-life show choirs and a cappella groups which existed in high school and college. I wasn’t just the music, though.

In the early seasons it was about finding friends in high school when you’re a quirky outsider. Our heroes regularly got “slushied” with one, or many, thrown in their face. It dealt with very serious issues like teen suicide, teen pregnancy, or bullying; among many. Glee grabbed a hold of its bully pulpit and was unafraid to show its audience the consequences of actions.

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For three seasons the show had a clear mission as the glee club called New Directions kept competing until they finally would win the big prize. The final three seasons were more problematic as the kids graduated and their stories in the real world never gained the same amount of emotional traction. Part of the issue was one group of characters went to New York City to chase their dreams and another group stayed behind in Ohio. Glee had a very hard time balancing the stories and it became doubly hard when actor Cory Monteith died of a drug overdose in July 2013. Whatever the grand story arc that had been planned by creators and writers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk had to be changed. When Glee returned after that it felt like it had lost its way. I felt it never really got its groove back.

Glee came to an end this past Friday night and I sat down for the finale which was a mix of looking back to the beginning and flash-forwarding five years to see our geeks become great. When they reunited everyone who had played on the show for one last performance in the auditorium to OneRepublic’s “I Lived” it brought a final tear to my eyes.

Glee was never meant to be realistic it was a big fantasy of the way I would wish the world to be where the geeks can carry the day. For a while they had a large part of this country embracing that outsider part of their character all while humming “Don’t Stop Believin’”. After everything that’s a pretty good legacy to leave behind.

Mark Behnke

Olfactory Chemistry: Hedione- My Fair Jasmine

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When you look back at perfumery there are some specific moments where the use of a new aroma chemical sparks a flurry of creativity. In 1966 perfumer Edmond Roudnitska introduced the world to Hedione in the classic men’s perfume Christian Dior Eau Sauvage.

Hedione was a synthetic jasmine discovered by chemist Edouard Demole. Dr. Demole was part of the team at Firmenich who discovered that the component in natural jasmine essential oil was a molecule called Methyl Jasmonate. From a synthetic perspective the double bond was problematic as far as synthesizing and making large quantities of this molecule. Dr. Demole discovered if he removed the double bond he formed a transparent version of jasmine chemically called Methyl Dihydrojasmonate and trademarked as Hedione.

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For many jasmine essential oil was a very difficult ingredient to use in moderation. Not only for the strong floral character but also for the presence of strong-smelling indoles in high percentage it made jasmine something which was strong. Maybe too strong. Hedione was a version of jasmine in which Dr. Demole played Henry Higgins and cleaned up jasmine removing the filthy skanky indoles. He also made it much less overwhelming. Hedione provides a unique middle ground between volatile top note and heavier base note. It is probably overstating things a bit to call Hedione the missing link for many perfumers looking for a diffusive floral transparency but it has been a part of thousands of perfumes over the last fifty years.

You will notice that unlike the drawing of Methyl Jasmonate which has the dashed and solid wedges to designate a specific geometry I didn’t draw Hedione that way because it is a mixture of all four possible variations. The chemists at Firmenich would go on to continue to synthesize ever more specific structures of that mixture. It would take thirty-seven years, in 1993, when it was discovered if you had a mixture of the two compounds shown below you got an enriched effect by having the two compounds where the side chains were on the same side of the molecule. This is called cis- in chemistry speak. In the structure of Methyl Jasmonate above that would be called trans- when the side chains are on different sides.

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The mixture would be called Hedione HC which stood for “High Cis” meaning a high percentage of the cis-isomers. It would take three more years to develop a synthesis of the single isomer responsible for most of the effect in Hedione, and Hedione HC. That is the structure on the right and it is called Paradisone.  Paradisone is Hedione on steroids as now there is nothing to attenuate the power. The shy Eliza Doolittle of Hedione has become a stunning version which turns heads.

Perfumer Alberto Morillas has been one of the more contemporary perfumers who uses these molecules in interesting ways. One of the more recent uses of both Hedione and Paradisone was in 2013’s Penhaligon’s Iris Prima. Together they make the jasmine and iris heart feel like it has no horizon, almost infinitely expansive.

It may have taken forty years for the chemists at Firmenich to finally arrive at Paradisone but it all started with a simple reduction of a double bond on the natural molecule.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review The Beautiful Mind Series Vol. 2 Precision & Grace- Herr Professor Doktor Attends the Ballet

There are many things which start with volume one and you wonder when volume two will eventually arrive. One of the earliest fragrances I reviewed in my blogging career was Geza Schoen’s The Beautiful Mind Series Vol. 1 Intelligence & Beauty. Hr. Schoen spent time with Grandmaster of Memory Christiane Stenger and she was the creative director for that first perfume. Hr. Schoen wanted to create a fragrance that captured the brilliance of a brilliant mind. Of course volume one made one think there would be more but for five years there hadn’t been a follow-up. Then I received that promised volume two almost out of the blue two weeks ago.

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Polina Semionova

For The Beautiful Mind Series Vol.2 Precision & Grace, Hr. Schoen teams with ballet dancer Polina Semionova. Ms. Semionova is a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre in New York City where she has been since 2012. The inspiration for Precision & Grace comes from this quote of Ms. Semionova’s, “Without intelligent work, there is no result, even if you have a great gift. The precision only comes with hours of work in the studio. Then, when I go on stage, I don’t think anymore. I release myself to the music. I fly.” This is a great place to start designing a perfume which captures early precision only to soar with grace, and humanity, at the end. This is what Hr. Schoen and Ms. Semionova have produced with Precision & Grace.

There would be very few perfumers who I think are as precise as Hr. Schoen who also know how to fly. For Precision & Grace the early moments are delineated fruit and florals which lead to a base full of animalic abandon as the dancer soars.

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Geza Schoen

Precision & Grace starts off with a crisp pear note. When I first wore this I thought that was all there was but the second time I wore it I detected the other notes which act as modulators for the central pear note. Mandarin, bergamot, and especially lemon form an olfactory magnifying glass and it is their presence which creates that crispness that I can almost hear the snap as I bite into this pear. The same thing happens in the heart but this time it is two notes which combine, jasmine and plum. As with the pear it is the other notes which create the desired effect. Hr. Schoen takes mimosa and osmanthus and lets the mimosa act as tulle to the weight of the jasmine. The apricot quality of the osmanthus provides the same effect to the plum. They supply the figurative ballet dancer’s tutu to the body of the perfume. All of this has a clear purpose of construction but if Precision is all about exactitude; Grace will be something a little more human. For that part Hr. Schoen goes for a base consisting of real sandalwood and castoreum. A real sandalwood has a slightly animalic quality. The castoreum is present to make sure that slight becomes prominent. This is the seemingly wild abandon of the dancer unleashed. The transition from the fruity floral to the woody animalic is really well done. Every time I wore this the tonal shift made me grin with pleasure.

Precision & Grace has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

There are many times Hr. Schoen gets very experimental in his perfumed creations. I think that is the equivalent of Ms. Semionova’s “intelligent work”. It allows Hr. Schoen to take his cues from The Beautiful Mind of Ms. Semionova and produce one of the prettiest perfumes he has made in years. While I know Beautiful Minds are few and far between I am hopeful it won’t be another five years before volume three arrives.

Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample provided by The Beautiful Mind Series.

Mark Behnke

That Unattainable Object of Desire: Guerlain Djedi- Jacques Guerlain’s Dry Leather

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Even the great perfume houses have their versions of unicorns. When it comes to Guerlain that rarest of rarities is 1926’s Djedi. Everything about Djedi is an outlier to the rest of Guerlain. Even so it is one of Jacques Guerlain’s greatest perfumes because it breaks most of the “rules” perfumes from Guerlain follow.

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Photo: Fragrantica.com

I think all artists want to try and move out of their comfort zone and test their vision. In what is purely conjecture on my part during the mid-1920’s many of the perfume houses were releasing leather fragrances, Chanel Cuir de Russie would be the standard bearer. I wonder if M. Guerlain also wanted his brand to also have its own leather. Up until that point in time Guerlain had not done a leather-based fragrance. M. Guerlain chose to construct Djedi on a vetiver core over which the animalic elements would be attached. For whatever the creative reasons Djedi is one of the driest leather chypres I have ever tried. It is that dryness which sets it apart. You can almost envision a perfume order which asks M. Guerlain to make me a dry leather straight, no Guerlinade. Which is precisely what he does.

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Djedi opens on an aldehyde and muguet opening. The first time I smelled Djedi the sample had lost all of the aldehydes. In more recent tests I have been fortunate to try more well-preserved samples and the aldehydes suffuse the muguet with their sparkly brilliance. Even with these really good versions I can only imagine what a fresh bottle of Djedi must have smelled like with the aldehydes full of life. What I can smell tells me M. Guerlain wanted a ray of light on top before going very dark. I have mentioned how dry Djedi is and it starts right with the muguet which sometimes can have a bit of a dewy quality, not here. Any hint of watery has been excised. It gives the early going almost the feel of a sprig of muguet left in a desiccation jar to be dried. Next up was a huge application of civet which feels like an untamed thing stalking through my consciousness. This is what makes real civet so prized as it imparts a decadent filth to Djedi. Vetiver comes in and this is the driest vetiver you will encounter. The civet is given some counterbalancing floralcy courtesy of jamine, orris, and rose. They are shoved into a corner by the vetiver and civet and they peek though at odd moments like they are trying to make a hasty getaway. The leather accord in the base was made up of oakmoss, musk, and amber. Unlike most of the leathers of the day M. Guerlain eschewed using birch tar and his leather accord reaches an arid austerity because of it. For the great majority of the time Djedi is firmly placed in leather territory.

Djedi has 14-16 hour longevity and prodigious sillage.

Djedi was only produced in the 1920’s and except for a 1,000 bottle limited edition released on its 70th anniversary in 1996 that is all there is. Finding a bottle is complicated by the beautiful Art Deco bottle designed by Baccarat’s Georges Chevalier. The complication is for those who care only about the bottle and not the liquid inside this is also one of their unicorns. One of my most tragic stories is of being locked in a bidding war with someone who coveted the bottle and I was too slow to contact the winner and found out she had poured the contents down the drain. It is all of this which makes it so difficult to find a bottle.

If you ever have a chance to wear a drop or two do not pass it by you will find a perfume from Guerlain which feels very unlike the rest of the collection.

Disclosure: this review was based on multiple samples of Djedi I have acquired over the years from kind fellow perfume lovers.

Mark Behnke

Perfume Reviews Bruno Fazzolari Au Dela and Room 237- Dreams & Terror

Bruno Fazzolari Au Dela is a modern chypre inspired by the music of French composer Olivier Messaien. Specifically Mr. Fazzolari based it on the Fifth Movement of M. Massaien’s last work “Eclairs sur L’Au Dela” (Flashes of the Beyond). This movement is the only soft dreamy movement within the work everything else is full of percussion and flash. Only here are you expected to linger and smell the roses. The perfume based on this also asks you to let it develop in a less flashy way. It asks you to take it in as it fully forms a chypre on your skin.

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Bruno Fazzolari

Au Dela opens on an herbal shot of coriander with a bit of bergamot. For the first few minutes it is all about the coriander. The heart is all white flowers neroli, orange flowers, and jasmine. I love indoles and white flowers can have a lot or a little and usually a perfumer picks one side of the coin and works from there. Mr. Fazzolari stakes out a more difficult middle ground where he domesticates the snarling ferocity of the indoles into something docile. They have an unusual luminosity to them made even more brilliant by the floralcy that goes with them. As I wore Au Dela many times I expected the indoles to slip the leash and start growling but they never do, they stayed perfectly behaved. Mr. Fazzolari trots out the oakmoss and amber to provide the traditional chypre basics. Because he is independent this is the real stuff and it is glorious in its depth. It creates a platform upon which the white flowers rest to complete the chypre picture. Au Dela has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

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From Stanley Kubrick's The Shining

Mr. Fazzolari’s newest release is Room 237. If you are a fan of the Stanley Kubrick movie “The Shining” then you get the reference. For those who aren’t, a quick summary. A family is left to be caretaker of a Rocky Mountain summer resort over the long winter. The hotel is called The Overlook and the young son in the family, who has psychic powers, is warned by the cook before he leaves not to go into Room 237. It wouldn’t be a horror movie if everyone in the family didn’t eventually end up in Room 237 at some point. One of the hallmarks of The Shining was Mr. Kubrick’s almost glacial pace at building up to a jolt. No sawing violins to denote the impending terror here it is all seen through the eyes of the protagonists. Room 237 as a perfume is meant to capture that sense of opening doors into dangerous forbidden places. As a result Room 237 is a perfume that is going to deeply unsettle some and others are fearlessly going to turn the key and enter. Follow me as I take you inside.

As we turn the key on the door a mix of angelica, fleabane, and tarragon form a weird accord. It has a sort of miasmic shifting quality as the fleabane and the tarragon have off-center herbal characteristics and the angelica is the only normal kind of note. You can feel the hair on the back of your neck rise as we push into the room. There is a woman stepping out of bath she carries a fresh washed skin smell courtesy of oppoponax and olibanum. She also carries an aura which seems like decomposing wood along with the cleanliness which comes from costus. We should run now but we stand transfixed as she beckons us closer. In the mirror we see she has been in the water too long as flesh sloughs off her back. As we get close she wraps us up, too tightly, in the plastic shower curtain as we are enveloped in it. Mr. Fazzolari has created a powerful plastic accord reminiscent of freshly unpacked shower curtain and it dominates the final part of the development of Room 237. I know my fanciful story might make you wary of Room 237 and in less prosaic terms it really is Mr. Fazzolari working on a perfume which is meant to be emotionally provocative. If you’re willing to go along for the ride you will have a singular experience which only an independent perfumer can provide. Room 237 has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

All four of the fragrances I tried by Mr. Fazzolari show a perfumer inspired by art, music, and film. They show a perfumer who can comfort and discombobulate. They show an artist who is fearlessly exploring all that perfume can attempt to communicate. If you haven’t already look these perfumes up they are exquisite examples of one man’s vision.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Bruno Fazzolari.

Mark Behnke

Perfume Reviews Bruno Fazzolari Monserrat and Lampblack- Ink on Plaster

Some of my favorite independent perfumers have come to it from a beginning in the visual arts, particularly painting. I have known about San Francisco-based artist Bruno Fazzolari for over a year but I only really had a chance to sniff the one of his early perfumes, Lampblack, which has garnered the most press. Mr. Fazzolari contacted me just after the beginning of the year and subsequently sent me four samples of his creations and I’ve now had a real opportunity to live with them. All four of them have a fantastic “visual” component to them as he creates perfumes which drew me into a world of color and texture. Over the next two days I’m going to review all four. Today I’ll start with Monserrat and Lampblack.

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All of Mr. Fazzolari’s perfumes match a painting with the fragrance. Monserrat came from a painting which was exhibited at the Jancar Jones Gallery in Los Angeles. Mr. Fazzolari was “thinking of worn and repainted urban walls and the matte surfaces of Italian fresco painting”. He was also inspired by the paint color Montserrat Orange which is an orange with a distinct pink quality to it. I consider it a skewed orange not pink nor orange but something in between. Mr. Fazzolari seems to be working towards that kind of marriage of influences looking for something like a fruity floral but not really what we think of as a fruity floral.

Monserrat opens with a burst of tart pink grapefruit sweetened with carrot seed. The carrot seed has a really pleasant balancing effect with the grapefruit. This moves into a jasmine and osmanthus floral heart. Here Mr. Fazzolari uses the osmanthus to make the jasmine less indolic and floral and something with more prominent fruity aspects. The apricot and leather quality of osmanthus is very evident. The base is the smell of plaster walls or wet dry wall, whether classic or modern this accord provides a distinctly grounding aspect as Mr. Fazzolari primarily uses a mixture of white musks to produce his accord for his fruity floral color to settle upon. Monserrat has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

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If Monserrat is an affable fruity floral, Lampblack is a deeply threatening meditation on inky darkness. Mr. Fazzolari describes his goal with Lampblack to “create a transparent, colorful darkness.” He succeeds at those diametrically opposed goals by using nagarmotha in one of the more unique applications of the note most usually called “oud” in other fragrances. Here he takes that faux-oud and gives it its own distinct identity.

Lampblack opens on a citrus and black pepper duet. The pepper is more forward as it should be the citrus adds interesting contrast. Mr. Fazzolari then begins to assemble his fast moving shadows as nagarmotha, benzoin, and vetiver ghost through my consciousness like wraiths in the night. There are times that it seems one surrounds me only for another to chase it off. The whole construction of Lampblack feels like an exercise in chasing shadows in a dark alley. There is a reason Lampblack is so acclaimed because it has a unique layering of textures not often found in perfumery. Lampblack has 8-10 hour sillage and moderate sillage.

Tomorrow I’ll review Au Dela and Room 237.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Bruno Fazzolari.

Mark Behnke

All paintings by Bruno Fazzolari.

New Perfume Review Penhaligon’s Ostara- Duchaufour’s Daffodil

One of the first signs of spring for those of us in the snowier climates is the sale of daffodils in our local markets. Often before the snow has melted and before the calendar tells us it is spring, vases full of yellow blooms let us know warmer days are coming. Of course daffodils are also narcissus and that note is one of my favorites in all of perfumery. For me the difficulty in getting a daffodil accord correct is in the real flower there is a green astringency that is usually not seen as an asset in a fragrance. In the new Penhaligon’s Ostara perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour makes what I consider a real daffodil perfume.

How M. Duchaufour goes about doing this is to use a cassette of notes made to create that astringent underpinning to the narcissus that makes me think daffodil. Early on he lets Ostara be expansive and sweet before tilting it into something that carries the scent of renewal. There is no perfumer for whom I enjoy analyzing what he has done to create an effect more than M. Duchaufour. Because of his output I have more opportunity with him than others to see multiple uses of the same note or accord. In Ostara he has once again found a new use for the blackcurrant bud which has found its way into so many of his recent creations.

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Bertrand Duchaufour

The opening of Ostara is a flurry of aldehyde wrapped berries. It strongly reminds me of blackberry picking in the late part of spring plucking juicy berries from within the foliage. The use of the aldehydes give an almost “fresh air” feeling to the early moments. The beginning of the green foundation for the narcissus begins with violet leaves, spearmint, and blackcurrant buds. In the past he has used the last note in so many different ways that I thought I knew what to expect. In Ostara he is using a CO2 distillation and it has stripped away much of the denser qualities the essential oil provides. This allows for it to have a more luminous green quality than I have experienced previously. The heart is the narcissus but the green accord is an equal partner in this part of the development. Hyacinth adds a bit of a watery spring shower vibe and it really does make this like smelling daffodils growing in the earth after a spring rain. Right here is where Ostara achieves my idea of a spring daffodil accord. Ostara moves into the base with a smooth beeswax and benzoin partnership. Eventually a bit of musk and vanilla provide the finishing touches.

Ostara has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I really like Ostara for the very green qualities M. Duchaufour provided to go with the narcissus. There is that moment in the heart where this just makes me feel like everything has been reborn. It is as good as any narcissus perfumes I own and at least for me is the only true daffodil I own.

Disclosure: This review was based on press sample provided by Penhaigon’s.

Mark Behnke

Title Illustration by Melissa Bailey for Penhaligon’s.

The Sunday Magazine: Contact

When I am flipping channels late at night I almost always hear Bruce Springsteen’s “57 Channels and Nothing’s On”. My problem is I eventually reach the movie channels and there always seems to be something on. More often than not it is after 11PM on a work night and I end up staying awake too late. One of my recent re-discoveries was the 1997 film “Contact” based on the book by astronomer Carl Sagan and directed by Robert Zemeckis.

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Contact tells the story of humanity’s first contact with an extraterrestrial civilization. What sets Contact apart is that it is not a story of alien invasion but a meditation on the co-existence of spirituality and science. I saw the movie when it came out in the theatre and I remember sensing the disappointment of my fellow moviegoers that there had been no explosions or bug-eyed aliens. Mr. Zemeckis wanted something less sensational and more emotional. Jodie Foster plays Ellie Arroway who is the scientist who discovers the signal. She is the voice of science who doesn’t believe in God because she hasn’t seen evidence He exists. I had forgotten Matthew McConaughey plays the voice of the spiritual, lay preacher Palmer Joss. He is the spokesman of faith over empirical evidence. The themes are approached from many vectors throughout the movie and I think Mr. Sagan’s story and Mr Zemeckis’ direction allow the movie to explore all sides of this.

An example of how they do this is a conversation between Ellie and Palmer about halfway through the movie. Ellie uses the principle known as Occam’s Razor which says the simplest explanation is most often the right one and she has seen no proof of God. Palmer responds with a question for Ellie, “Did you love your father?” when she answers yes he tells her to prove it. It is such an elegant way to describe matters of logic and faith.

Contact was the first movie Mr. Zemeckis did after winning the Oscar for Best Picture in 1994 for Forest Gump. Like that movie he used real footage of the current President, Bill Clinton, and inserted the actors into the video. It gave Contact a real feel of faux-authenticity that surprisingly held up when I watched it recently.

As a scientist who also has faith Contact is one of those rare movies which treats both sides with respect and allows one to think. So if you’re hearing Bruce Springsteen in your head and you see Contact showing on your channel guide press select. I promise you in this case something’s on.

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds: Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel- Razor-Sharp Crease

Currently the names that are given a fragrance can have such a disconnect that I wonder if the marketing team actually smelled the perfume before designing the campaign. Back in the 1970’s and 80’s the names pretty much carried a truth-in-advertising realism to them. One of the most classic men’s fragrances of all-time is Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel. Like a finely tailored pair of pants Grey Flannel provides a sharply drawn perfume and one of the early versions of a masculine floral. Even though it can be found on the bargain shelf it is still quite the classic.

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Grey Flannel was signed by perfumer Andre Fromentin. Back in 1975 when Grey Flannel was released the perfumers were ghosts, rarely mentioned. In Fragrances of the World, Grey Flannel is M. Fromentin’s only listed fragrance. I would be interested to know which other perfumes of the time he had a hand in and whether Grey Flannel was a good example of his style. What M. Fromentin produced in Grey Flannel was a powerhouse perfume centered on violet.

Grey Flannel opens with a very green herbal set of top notes. Sage is the core around which M. Fromentin adds in galbanum and violet leaves. The use of the silvery green violet leaves make this opening a bit too much for many. The authority it carries definitely stamps it as a product of the 70’s. M. Fromentin then brings the violet forward and it is supported by iris to give depth. As this combines with the top notes it forms a freshly mown grass accord. As it develops over a few hours the violet becomes more prominent. Much later on a bit of cinnamon adds some zip. As Grey Flannel heads into the base it plays it very safe with a mix of sandalwood and oakmoss.

Grey Flannel has 16-18 hour longevity and prodigious sillage. This is one you need to be careful applying or you will have a visible vapor trail.

Grey Flannel despite being a product of its time does not feel dated. It feels odd because in today’s ocean of fresh sporty men’s fragrances it is so different. If you’re looking for a change-up from those kind of fragrances you can find a 4oz. bottle for less than $20. Hard to go wrong at that price. It is one of my favorites of the powerhouse perfumes from that time period.

Disclosure: This review based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Strange Invisible Perfumes Scorpio- Alexandra Balahoutis’ Perfume Signs

If you came of age in the late 1970’s there was a book which was omnipresent among teenagers and young adults. Unlike today where it would be a series about vampires or dystopian futures; this book was a new iteration of astrology. The book was called Linda Goodman’s Love Signs and the red covered trade paperback was read by many. What set it apart was she broke each sign down into gender characteristics and even gave advice on which signs went together. I still blame her for being unable to convince one of the women I wanted to date for turning me down because I was a Scorpio. It couldn’t have been me, right? I have been reminded of this as Alexandra Balahoutis of Strange Invisible Perfumes has finally finished her perfumed take of all twelve signs of the zodiac. She left my sign, Scorpio, as one of the last five. I thought I’d have a little fun with this review comparing Ms. Goodman and Ms. Balahoutis’ impressions of my sign.

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Alexandra Balahoutis

Ms. Goodman says of the Scorpio man, “He's sizzling underneath his deceptively controlled manner.” Ms. Balahoutis seems to agree as she opens Scorpio with a sizzling flash of cinnamon. This is the cinnamon of candy red-hots. They look sweet until you put them in your mouth. Same for the cinnamon here it builds in presence until it smolders.

Ms. Goodman says, “Just behind his frosty reserve is a huge pot of boiling steam that bubbles and seethes continually.” Ms, Balahoutis uses a very cool frankincense to provide a cooling effect to the cinnamon. It takes a little bit of time but Scorpio eventually slams that frankincense “frosty reserve” over the bubbling cinnamon.

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Ms. Goodman says, “The dark, magical and mysterious power of Pluto turns desire into reality with cool, careful, fixed intent.” Ms. Balahoutis uses vetiver as that green woody “reality” at the core of Scorpio.

Ms. Goodman says, “Normally, Scorpio will surround himself with luxury.” Ms. Balahoutis also brings a sense of luxury into the base with a mix of cognac and leather. This is definitely the luxury version of both of these accords. You can almost see the Scorpio man lounging holding a snifter on a leather couch inviting you in.

I am narcissist enough to say that my favorite of the Zodiac series is Scorpio but it is mainly because Ms. Balahoutis has used some of my favorite notes. Now I need to go see how my Virgo wife feels about it.

Diaclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Strange Invisible Perfumes.

Mark Behnke