New Perfume Review Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Cologne Indelebile- Too Technical Cologne

Those who read me regularly know I am one of the happiest perfume lovers at the current renaissance in the number of new Eau de Cologne releases. A Colognoisseur by nature of the name has to be a supporter, and I am. I have said on more than one occasion that the creativity in this sector over the last four years has been imaginative leading to some truly great Nouveau Colognes. It was why when I received the press release for the latest release from Editions de Parfume Frederic Malle called Cologne Indelebile by perfumer Dominique Ropion I was anticipating something grand.

In my recent review of Amouage Opus IX I spoke of the contrast between emotional and technical approaches to perfumery. I believed that Opus IX was an example of the emotional and the raw ragged edges that can bring with it. Cologne Indelebile is the paean to the technical. This is an eau de cologne which has been patiently constructed to produce a singular post-modern riff on the form.


Dominique Ropion

M. Ropion builds Cologne Indelibile in a precise manner with each phase distinctly present and accounted for. Eau de Cologne starts with citrus so does Cologne Indelibile. Bergamot and lemon provide a sharply delineated splash of tart citrus. Eau de Cologne usually combines a floral and an herbal component. Cologne Indelebile eschews this for a solely floral heart. Neroli is the floral chosen and it is pretty much all that I smell when I wear this. The note list says narcissus is also here but I never detected it. Eau de Cologne finishes with a bit of spice. Cologne Indelebile in an attempt to live up to the permanency the Indelebile in the name promises uses a collection of white musks. The note list calls them “technical musks” and that is truth in advertising. This is a detailed mixture of multiple musks to provide the laundry-fresh finish they are known for. It is here where I have my problem with Cologne Indelebile. This feels over-engineered to me and it sucks all of the life out of the fragrance for me. I usually love these kind of musk cocktails; this was like a high pitched whine that wouldn’t abate.

Cologne Indelebile, true to its name, lasts 10-12 hours but the great majority of that is the white musk finish; with average sillage.

If you haven’t tried many of the Nouveau Colognes, and you really like white musk, Cologne Indelebile is going to be something that will be perfect for you. For me I found that Cologne Indelebile didn’t bring anything new to the current cologne portfolio. For the first time an Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle fragrance did not engage me. Which makes in not Indelebile but Peu Memorable (forgettable).

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle.

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office Alexander McQueen Kingdom- The Vagina Monologues

One of the most cutting edge fashion designers of the last fifty years was Alexander McQueen. His was a life of vibrant imagery crossed with internal demons which would lead to him taking his own life in 2010 at the age of 40. Like many who have their brilliance tempered with something entirely the opposite it leaves behind a glittering trail like a shooting star across the sky.


Alexander McQueen

Mr. McQueen by 2003 at the age of 34 had been named British Designer of the Year four times. Like all designers with that much success it was time to branch out into other areas. Of course one of those areas was fragrance. The first perfume was released in 2003, Alexander McQueen Kingdom. Of the many designers who release their first signature perfume Kingdom might have been the most emblematic of the fashion that the name on the bottle portended it to be.

jacques cavallier

Jacques Cavallier

Mr. McQueen would team up with Chantal Roos, as Creative Directors, to perfumer Jacques Cavallier for Kingdom. Mr. McQueen was known for going for the dramatic on his catwalk shows. Kingdom was going to do the same. M. Cavallier while producing many mainstream fragrances was also having a creative streak with lots of different fashion designer brands. I think most of those fragrances in the latter category are part of the most impressively creative collection by a single perfumer. That most of them will be subjects of this series tell you they really were for only a precious few. Kingdom was no different M. Cavallier was creating a perfume that was meant to shock and the note he was going to use to shock and awe was cumin.

alexander mc queen kingdom advert

By the time I got my opportunity to try Kingdom that cumin note was all anyone was talking about. Remember in 2003 the predominant perfume aesthetic was the fresh and clean. Cumin was not fresh and clean it was filthy dirty. When I was talking about it with a couple of other perfume lovers they told me it was disgusting that it smelled like, as they lowered their voices, “a vagina”. This became a pervasive label for Kingdom and it is at least partially responsible for its demise. It was out of step with the current trends and the whisper campaign did it no favors.

I love cumin in perfume and one of my most favorite Ditpyques, L’Autre, was loaded with cumin. It was also one of the perfumes I had to be careful to choose my moments on when to wear it. Hearing Kingdom was similar had me smiling in anticipation. So imagine my surprise when I finally get a bottle that the first thing I smell is orange. M. Cavallier takes bergamot, neroli, orange blossom, and mandarin to create this gauzily beautiful citrus opening. It is gorgeous and it is shredded in the next phase as a spicy rose and indolic jasmine form the layers that the cumin would perch between. the indolic jasmine was the perfect floral to go with the cumin to form a deeply human accord. The rose is not as prevalent as you might think as it creeps in and out with a waxing and waning effect. This all finishes on a base of Copahu balm, sandalwood and myrrh. After the heart this serves to soothe the nerves set jangling with the confrontational heart.

Kingdom has 12-14 hour longevity in the EDP concentration and above average sillage.

This is one of my most cherished bottles because I think the entire creative team achieved the perfume they wanted to make. That they had the fortitude to release it into a world which, at the time, was not ready for it was also impressive. I end many of these by saying if it was released today it would find its audience. Not in this case. Kingdom was a unique evocation of a particular designer’s aesthetic written in bold olfactory strokes. This was never going to be a commercial success. It is a spectacular piece of olfactory art that I have continued to enjoy for many years now.

Disclosure: this review was based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Roja Parfums A Goodnight Kiss- It Started with a Kiss


Roja Dove is one of the biggest personalities in all of perfumery. He is also one of the most ardent ambassadors for olfactory art there is. He believes in the power that perfume can have on a person. For many years when I have seen Mr. Dove speak he has related the story of when he also learned of the intimate connection fragrance can make. That was condensed into a paragraph in the press release, for his new perfume, by Mr. Dove to read as, “I remember vividly being about 6 years old and seeing my mother standing in the doorway of my bedroom wearing a gold lame cocktail dress, the light from the landing coming over her as if she had a corona around her. Enchanted by this vision, as my mother came and kissed me goodnight, her scent together with the smell of her face powder pervaded me. Her scent, intertwined with that image, will always stay with me.” The most recent recitation of this story was at the recent Sniffapalooza Spring Fling as he was the final speaker of the morning. By the time he was done the entire café was in tears. One of the great attributes of Mr. Dove is you can tell he feels perfume and when he talks about perfume his audience also feels it. With all of us brushing tears away he presented the perfume based on that Roja Parfums A Goodnight Kiss.

As he spoke about the fragrance he mentioned that this was a perfume he had to be convinced to make. It was his belief that this was a singular experience for him personally and not easily translatable. Thankfully he decided to risk putting a personal olfactory statement like A Goodnight Kiss out. It was released on January 6, 2015; his mother’s birthday and immediately sold out. It has taken until now for it to be available again. It is intensely personal but it is also a shared experience as I also treasured my mother’s goodnight kiss and much of what Mr. Dove captures here is that idealized version of all mothers as they look in on their children before sleep.

roja dove 1

Roja Dove

A Goodnight Kiss is meant to be a perfume reminiscent of another time. It opens on a classic aldehydes and bergamot piece of elegance. Because so many of the great classic perfumes start with this it almost acts as a mental placeholder preparing me for something similar for the rest of the way. The heart is a convocation of florals as jasmine, rose, carnation, ylang-ylang, violet, and orange blossom rise out of the top notes. It is rich and opulent and as a guess this is meant to recreate the perfume Mr. Dove’s mother was wearing that night. The florals are very powerful but underneath there is a bit of real delicacy to be found. I am not sure I would have found it if Mr. Dove hadn’t shared it with me. There is an orris scented rice powder accord which forms a transparent shell around the floral heart. Once I was clued in to its presence it was as noticeable as the powerhouse florals. To me this is the kiss as a powdered cheek leans close. The remainder of A Goodnight Kiss is to create a leather accord like the purse his mother carried to hold all of the fragrances of perfume, powder, and lipstick. At this point A Goodnight Kiss almost turns photorealistic as it smells a lot like my mother’s purse which contained all of these as well. The leather accord is joined by cedar and musk, primarily, to provide the final moments.

A Goodnight Kiss has 14-16 hour longevity and prodigious sillage.

That Mr. Dove succeeded in turning these primal emotions into a fabulously representative perfume is to be applauded. It is difficult to put your heart on display. Thank you Roja it is now A Goodnight Kiss for all of us who love perfume and what it can do.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reivew Apoteker Tepe After the Flood- Making Mud Pies

When I was a child the twin goals of being both dirty and wet were often abetted by the near daily thunderstorm which occurs in South Florida. Just behind our house there was a depression which would fill up with the rain. I would lustily jump in, channeling my inner swine, as I rolled in the muddy water. This would all finish as the water would drain away leaving loads of ooey gooey mud for me to dig my hands in and make mud pies with. It was the afternoon version of bliss when I was seven. Considerably removed from that time I haven’t really thought about my days in the earthen bakery until I tried one of the perfumes from independent brand Apoteker Tepe called After the Flood.

holladay saltz

Holladay Saltz

Apoteker Tepe is the brand owned by Holladay Saltz who is also the perfumer. She works out of her brownstone in Harlem, New York. She released her first collection of perfumes in 2014 and has recently released her second collection called “The Illuminations”. The Illuminations are four perfumes which are meant to evoke “The Hero’s Journey”. After the Flood is inspired by Rimbaud’s poem of the same name. When I try the other three members of The Illuminations I am more easily drawn in to Ms. Saltz’s vision. After the Flood returns me to sitting in a hole surrounded by thick redolent mud.

holladay saltz at work

Ms. Saltz at work in her in-home atelier (via

One of the best, and worst, things about independent perfumers is they will try almost anything. There are times where that fearlessness coupled with inexperience can take a good idea and bury it underneath too many concepts vying for the wearer’s attention. Ms. Saltz is one who uses only a few ingredients and her perfumes are much the better for that restraint. In After the Flood her keynote is violet leaf absolute. She takes the green earthy quality of that ingredient and adds in even more earthiness. Mushroom, patchouli, and green cardamom are combined with her wet soil accord. Throughout it all there is the violet leaf unchanging and beautifully displayed as these other notes enhance and contrast it. I found the cardamom in particular helped evoke the slightly spicy nature wet dirt has. It is subtle. Ms. Saltz recognized this and keeps the cardamom finely tuned.

After the Flood has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Any fragrance which can strongly evoke a scent memory is always going to find a fond place on my skin. After the Flood is a perfume which celebrates a time where I could sit in the mud and consider the world from its center. I’m much cleaner, and less impulsive, these days but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be reminded that little boy is still there. Thanks to Ms. Saltz I now have a perfume which accomplishes just that.

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

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

As I am now firmly in my mid-50’s it is surprising what things make me feel my age. I find more and more often it is pop culture things which really remind me how much time I’ve been kicking around. The one that has me looking way back is the 1986 movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. Mainly because through the industrious detective work of baseball writer Larry Granillo and a Chicago Cubs baseball game shown during the movie he was able to pinpoint the infamous skip day as June 5, 1985. Thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, how can that be? I used to give my parents grief for watching movies thirty years old and now that I am their age I’m doing the same thing. Yeah I’m feeling my age. The movie which is making me feel my age; that seems ageless.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was the fourth movie directed by John Hughes. In his first four directorial efforts he was focused on the high school experience. Starting with Sixteen Candles, followed by The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science; he had delved into that world completely. In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off he was now placing his characters at the end of high school facing the uncertain future. The lead characters decide to take a “day off” because in Ferris’ words “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Over the next hour and a half Ferris, his best friend Cameron and his girlfriend Sloan have every student’s version of a skip day ever imagined.

ferris cast

(from l. to r.) Ferris (Matthew Broderick) Sloan (Mia Sara) Cameron (Alan Ruck)

The actor chosen to play Ferris is much of why this movie is still talked about so many years after its release. Matthew Broderick so inhabited the role I imagine many people would think Mr. Broderick was Ferris and want to participate in his charmed life. Mr. Hughes asked Ferris to break the fourth wall and throughout the movie he speaks directly to the audience. It is this one-sided conversation that provides the necessary insight into Ferris’ choices. This is about having fun but this is also the last time for him to get the attention of his two closest friends. This is Mr. Broderick’s breakout role on the movie screen. He was able to give some depth to what looks like something so shallow. That also has a lot to do with the words Mr. Hughes put into his mouth as he was also the writer for the film as well as the director.

Outside of the obvious 1980’s things like no cell phones Ferris Bueller’s Day Off still works today. I think it speaks to the timelessness of many of the themes explored in the film. I will admit that I have made sure to keep an eye on the life going on around me so that I don’t “miss it.” I believe it is that curiosity which has brought me to the place where I am in my life right now. Despite it being thirty years on there is still more than a little of Ferris in my heart and my head. While thirty years is a long time there has been a lot to see and I treasure all of it.

Mark Behnke

I’m not a Candle Guy

There is an e-mail exchange which takes place after I’ve reviewed a perfume which has a companion candle. I am asked how the candle compares to the perfume. My answer is always the same, “Sorry, I’m not a candle guy.” My fellow editor when I was writing at CaFleureBon, Tama Blough, found candles as compelling as the liquid she wore. We had many e-mail exchanges and because I respected her so much I burned way more than I would have on my own.

It seems like every winter I decide that maybe this one will open my eyes. Then it doesn’t move me to light it again. There is a shelf of many candles with burnt wick and hardly any of the candle burned down. I’ve sent a lot of them away without a thought. I get much more Gollum-like when it comes to mailing away a bottle. They are beautifully displayed and they contain a scent I generally like enough to have my whole house smell like it. So why am I unmoved?


I think it took a discussion with an artist friend who passed on some insight into my appreciation of art I hadn’t considered. We were at a recent opening and I was mesmerized by these motion sculptures the artist had displayed in the center of the gallery. The artist had also done some paintings which hung on the wall. I gave them a quick walkthrough and then I was back with the motion sculptures. When we were out getting something to eat afterward my friend asked me about the paintings and I admitted I gave them a cursory examination. He chuckled in that knowing way of a good friend and said, “Of course you did.” When I asked for clarification he related to me that it was his observation that I am always drawn to art which has some kind of aspect which allows me to walk around it in a state of constant analysis. It was his opinion that things in motion are more appealing to me than things which are fixed.

I think that is the reason I’m not a candle guy. When I wear perfume it is in constant development on my skin changing, challenging me as it develops to follow along with it. Candles are static they ask me to enjoy the same experience but as something concentrated into a consistent continuous experience. Based on the recent observation by my friend I think I might be incapable of truly appreciating that.

I am still open to the opportunity for some candle to change my opinion. But I suspect my answer will continue to be, “I’m not a candle guy.”

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Armani Prive Pivoine Suzhou- Getting a Second Chance

There have been a few moments, especially at the beginning of this year, where I fear I might be on perfume overload. I receive so many samples and when deciding what I am going to wear, and subsequently review, that first impression out of the envelope is critical. I always liken my evening snap evaluation of what has come in the mail to speed dating. Each perfume has the time it takes for me to smell a strip and a patch of skin to make their case for a chance to get to know me better. While I was attending Esxence and Sniffapalooza there have been a few perfumes which would get a second chance because they were presented again during the event. I admit as they were placed under my nose again I still had the first impression in my mind only to find something which was more interesting on the second sniff. The latest perfume to make a more favorable impression the second time around is the new Armani Prive Pivoine Suzhou.

cecile matton

Cecile Matton

Armani Prive is the exclusive fragrance line of Giorgio Armani started in 2004. It has all the Armani hallmarks of exquisite tailoring for these fragrances. As a collection the perfumes might be a little too obviously engineered and it is what makes it a collection which when it hits for me as with Bois D’Encens or Cuir Amethyste it really makes an impact. Other times it just feels like a competently constructed perfume but almost unemotionally so. When I received my sample of Pivoine Suzhou, by perfumers Cecile Matton and Julie Masse,  in the depth of winter I was probably not in the mood for a sprightly spring fruity floral. I do remember that it was one of the earliest spring florals I received this year and in this case being first might not have been an advantage. After my initial spray it went into the “not for review” pile. Flash forward to May at Sniffapalooza Spring Fling and the swag bag from Bergdorf’s, a nice tester of Pivoine Suzhou was included. On my bus trip home something happened and mine began to leak. By the time I unpacked I got hit with an intense wave of the perfume. Which I really liked. It took me awhile to track down the culprit in a bag full of almost 75 samples but I was surprised to find out what it was. What I found was Pivoine Suzhou was a perfume which I needed to spray on with abandon to find the parts of it I enjoy.


Julie Masse

Pivoine Suzhou opens with a fruit duet of tangerine and raspberry contrasted with baie rose. I have really come to appreciate the use of baie rose as an instrument of texture in the fruity opening of this style of fragrances. In Pivoine Suzhou it really makes the fairly common opening feel less pedestrian. It leads into the floral mix of peony and Rose de Mai. This is where wearing more really made a difference. On a strip this comes off watercolor weak and it was overridden by the fruit. On my skin with multiple sprays it not only stands up to the fruit but it takes a fairly standard combination of fruity floral components and injects new life into them. This is not a watercolor it is a pop art day-glo fruity floral fragrance which radiates in intense waves. The base is the usual mix of Ambrox, patchouli, and white musks.

Pivoine Suzhou has 10-12 hour longevity and the way I tested it, with 8 sprays, above average sillage.

As I considered the way I would review this I was wondering whether a perfume which requires me to spray a lot on myself to make a memorable impression is a well-constructed perfume. Shouldn’t I have been able to realize this from a quick preliminary test? I’m not sure I have a final answer but in the case of Pivoine Suzhou more was definitely better.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Giorgio Armani and a sample received at Sniffapalooza Spring Fling.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Unum LAVS- Papal Bull

As I have mentioned many times one of my very favorite class of perfumes is incense. Over the years of writing about perfume there is nothing I look more forward to than trying a new incense fragrance. At Esxence 2015 there was a very uniquely placed incense fragrance.

As I was acquainting myself with the new brands on display at Esxence prior to my trip I found the story behind the brand Unum to be a different path to a perfume than most. The brand started off as a room spray and it was in their Laboratorio Atelier Vesti Sacre where they would use it to scent the air where they produced religious vestments. Just before they would send them out to their clients they would lightly spray them with the room spray. Two of their clients are former Pope Benedict and the current Pope Francis. Over the years they found that some of their clients were actually wearing the room spray as perfume. They would decide to create an extrait de parfum version of this room scent and name it after the initials of the atelier LAVS. The perfumer and owner of Unum is Filippo Sorcinelli.

Sig. Sorcinelli has crafted a church-like incense perfume in LAVS. One of the major differences is where other church inspired incense perfumes work on capturing the entire religious milieu LAVS is first and foremost the incense. It is incredibly simple for that amount of focus although after wearing it for a couple of days I would discover some nuances not immediately apparent on my initial tests.

Filippo Sorcinelli

Filippo Sorcinelli via his website

Whenever I talk about incense in a perfume I remark that the best ones have an almost metallic edge to them. I wasn’t able to find out the source of incense used for LAVS but wherever it comes from it is exquisite. It forms a pristine pyre radiating a chilly presence. This is where the other church-like perfumes race to add something. Sig. Sorcinelli allows his incense to just be. It makes it an almost meditative kind of perfume. One of the days I wore LAVS I found myself almost supernaturally drawn in to this incense lost in contemplation. There is a very long list of notes which are said to be present in LAVS. To my nose there are only four which I detect. Primarily elemi provides a bit of rough texture to the incense. It never really gets much traction but it does make it feel less perfect. There is a tiny bit of jasmine and it is such that it flits around the edges barely rising up enough to notice it. I mostly find it hiding out with the clove which is the only other really prominent note, along with the elemi. The clove provides depth. Rosewood is the choice to provide the foundation for the incense to be displayed upon. This is an inspired choice as it provides solidity without volume.

LAVS has 16-18 hour longevity and almost no sillage.

I admire LAVS a lot for all of the quality present. I actually think the quality works a little bit against me falling head over heels in love with it. There is an almost religious purity to the incense that there were times I was wearing it I thought this was just the greatest incense soliflore ever. Then there were times it just receded to the back of my consciousness and I barely remembered I had it on. LAVS is going to be some people’s Holy Grail incense perfume for all of that. It is definitely going to be one I revisit quite a bit I won’t even need a Papal Bull to remind me of that.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples I received from Unum at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar X-Ray Profumo Amnesia- The Tide is High

The very essence of this series is that as diligent as I can be I can’t try everything. It is one of the reasons the large perfume expos like Esxence offer me a second chance to find something I overlooked. At the most recent version this happened when I walked up to the X-Ray Profumo booth to meet owner and creative director Ray Burns. In 2012 the line had debuted five new releases exclusively in Barney’s. I remember trying it at the time but one of my colleagues at CaFlureBon wrote about it first. Then as so often happens with brands that are exclusive to a store I forgot about it.

x-ray amnesia

Photo via Fragrantica

I was drawn to the booth by this turquoise colored liquid. Mr. Burns presented to me the perfume he released in the spring of 2014 called Amnesia. Amnesia was inspired by the Mediterranean island of Ibiza. Ibiza is a summer paradise which is as known for its nightlife as it is for its beaches. Amnesia is meant to capture that mix of beachside fun Ibiza is known for. Mr. Burns employed perfumer Ralf Schwieger to help him capture this. In a year of new twists on the aquatic perfume style Amnesia steps up and produces yet another one.


Ray Burns

One of the things very admirable about Hr. Schwieger is he can take an accord which smells unpleasant on its own and magically transform it into something that is unforgettably beautiful. In Amnesia the accord he uses as the focal point is a sea salt and seaweed accord. By itself it smells exactly as it sounds, like low tide. There is a strong damp vegetal component matched with the smell of clean sea spray. By itself this is nothing anyone would want to wear. Placed at the center of a perfume called Amnesia it gives it a depth and texture unobtainable without it.

ralf schwieger

Ralf Schwieger

Amnesia opens with a fresh water bouquet of water lily floating on a pond. It is a very opaque floral accord which is also quite watery. A mix of salicylates remind us we are at the beach as they form a suntan lotion accord. Then the tide goes out and the sea salt and seaweed accord arrives. The salicylates do quite a lot to ameliorate the more pungent aspects. Violet wood and clove also help twist it from full-on low tide into something more abstract. As if you were trying to remember the smell of the beach after you had forgotten it. This wonderfully effective aquatic accord is where Amnesia spends most of its time on my skin. When it moves into the base it is a woody base of sandalwood, cedar, and ambrox along with a white musk cocktail to form a skin accord.

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

I’m not sure why the aquatic style of perfume has suddenly attracted the creative talents of so many perfumers recently. I can only enjoy each new version as they give me something new to consider. I know that Amnesia is another one of these and it will take a real case of amnesia for met to forget Hr. Schwieger’s creation.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by X-Ray Profumo at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Jul et Mad Nea & Garuda- Ascending Star of the Ancients

I think there is no greater pleasure for me than meeting a young perfumer who is just starting to take off. I have written a lot about what I call inflection points in a perfumer’s development. It always seems that there comes a specific year when the journeyman attains a new level of sophistication. When I was at Esxence 2015 I had the opportunity to be with a perfumer who is right at that inflection point and we will look back at 2015 as the year Luca Maffei’s star rose.

While at Esxence I had Sig. Maffei next to me as he presented the two perfumes he had composed for Jul et Mad. In my review of Nin-Shar I wrote of the inspiration of creative directors Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica-Blanchard to evoke specific ancient civilizations in their new Les White collection. They assigned Sig. Maffei two of the three to realize; Nea and Garuda.

Nea was inspired by the Holy Church Nea Ekklesia built during the height of the Byzantine Empire. The word Byzantine when used as an adjective means excessively complicated. In the brief Sig. Maffei received he was asked to create a gourmand oriental. That description almost seems Byzantine in nature. Sig. Maffei avoided those pitfalls by making Nea the antithesis of Byzantine and instead kept it very simple with a straightforward progression that works incredibly well.

The opening part of Nea is deep fruit as Sig. Maffei combines dates, plum, and pomegranate into a kind of subtle opulent fruit accord. The plum is the core of the early going and it form a luscious nucleus for the other two fruit notes to orbit around. The heart is jasmine and rose imposed on top of the fruit. Sig. Maffei manages to tune this at just the right pitch as it never gets too floral or too fruity. Nea heads towards the gourmand in the base notes with a woody intermezzo of patchouli and cashmeran. They have the effect of moving the fruity floral character to the background. This sets up the gourmand finish as Sig. Maffei takes tonka bean, vanilla, and caramel to fashion an edible finish to Nea. Nea has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

luca maffei accepting iao award

Luca Maffei accepting 2015 Art & Olfaction Award

There are times that the imagery provided for a perfume doesn’t resonate for me. As Sig. Maffei spoke to me of the inspiration for Garuda I could instantly feel it in the perfume underneath my nose. Garuda was inspired by Angkor Wat. When Jul et Mad traveled to the ancient site and were in the gallery dedicated to Garuda; the sun was setting and all of the bas-relief pulsed with a golden glow. It is that they wanted Sif. Maffei to re-create. I was told he was so successful at realizing this vision that he got it right in his first mod and it is that formulation which made it in to the bottle.

Sig. Maffei used Cambodian Oud as the heart note upon which he would build this golden glow. The rest of the construction of Garuda is finding a way to encase that oud in a golden glow. The three most prominent notes used to achieve that are saffron, rum, and cashmeran. Those three notes soften the oud and also allow it to warmly radiate with a pleasant thrum over quite a few hours on my skin. It eventually gives way to a very woody base of cedar, vetiver, and the IFF aromachemical Timbersilk. The latter is a tenacious woody synthetic and it lasts for an extremely long time at the end of Garuda. Garuda has overnight longevity although the last few hours is mainly the Timbersilk and it has above average sillage.

Sig. Maffei has crafted two very excellent perfumes which manage to live up to their press release. If I needed any further evidence Sig. Maffei’s star was ascendant he would win an Art & Olfaction Award a few weeks after Esxence for his work with Acca Kappa. I have a feeling one of these new perfumes for Jul et Mad might possibly make him a two-time winner next year.

Disclosure: this review was based on a press sample provided by Jul et Mad during Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke