The Sunday Magazine: Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

As I have been following the coverage from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con and the wall-to-wall coverage it is receiving I have been thinking of an earlier time. I’ve been thinking about a time when comic books weren’t graphic novels and you were likely to take the dustcover off your fantasy book while reading it in public. I have recently gone back to look at some of the fantasy series from the 1980’s that blazed the trail which stories like “Game of Thrones” and Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series built upon. One of the first rule breaker series was written by author Tad Williams in three volumes. The overall story was called Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. The three books are titled The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower.

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Many of the familiar tropes of epic fantasy are here. Our hero is Simon; seen as a kitchen boy in the beginning of The Dragonbone Chair. Events catch the young man up and he sees too much and must flee his mundane life. He picks up a wise caretaker by the name of Binnabik who teaches him survival skills. Eventually it is revealed that Simon must retrieve three legendary swords named Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Each book details the recovery of one sword.

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Tad Williams

What set Mr. Williams storytelling apart was he asked an interesting question as an epic fantasy writer, ‘Why do we trust the mystical agent that sends our hero on their quest?” Certainly Bilbo nor Frodo ever questioned the need to destroy the One Ring in Lord of the Rings; or anything Gandalf told them. Most of the epic fantasy that was released after that certainly followed that path. Mr. Williams decided to take that concept and twist it one hundred and eighty degrees. For the first time as I was reading a series I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted our plucky hero to succeed.

Nowadays we take it for granted that there are unreliable narrators shot through any current day series. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn was the first series to take this concept out for a spin. When the final book came out in 1993 this wasn’t well-received. A lot of my fellow geeks did not like this plot twist. They felt Mr. Williams had “cheated”. I was one of the few defenders of this because I saw the potential it had for the future of the genre. If you are a fan of the current state of the art epic fantasy stories you should go back and read Mr. Williams’ books. In them you will see some of the components, on display for the first time, of where the genre is today.

Mark Behnke

The 2015 Halftime Report

We have hit the halfway mark of 2015 and I’ve been thinking about everything I’ve smelled in the first half of 2015. Here are some quick thoughts on the perfumes so far.

-It has been a very green year. I haven’t gone back and made a hard count but a significant percentage of the perfumes I have reviewed this year have had a verdant color to them. The vegetal green of Penhaligon’s Ostara. The completely abstract wasabi green of Olfactive Studio Panorama. Monsillage Eau de Celeri and the cilantro of Dasein Summer. Finally the classic chypre green of Aftelier Perfumes Bergamoss. I have never been happier to go green.

-In my New Year’s wishes for 2015 I hoped Olivier Polge would step up and revitalize the Chanel perfume offerings. With the release of Misia for Les Exclusifs in the spring it wasn’t a home run but it was a solid double up the middle. What I liked was all of the boldness Olivier Polge has shown in the past was still there. It has been a while since Chanel has seen that, which I think I figured out was what I was missing.

-There have been more excellent independent offerings than there have been in a while. Many of these have been from first-timers. Jessica Hannah and her perfume for Canoe Goods, Skive. Andrea Rubini and his Rubini Fundamental team. The established names have also impressed. Bruno Fazzolari Room 237 and Charna Ethier’s Providence Perfume Co. Provanilla.

-Interesting aquatics continue to arrive most of them leaving the Calone on the shelf. Pierre Guillaume’s Collection Croisiere is a great example of this through the first five releases.

-Really beautiful synthetic prominent fragrances have caught my attention. All of the Raymond Matts Aura de Parfum collection are examples of how synthetic does not necessarily mean banal. Kaiwe was my favorite but the entire collection is the best of the half-year. Mathilde Laurent also picked up the synthetic baton with Cartier XI L’Heure Perdue.

– Both Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle and Serge Lutens were underwhelming in their early 2015 releases. Hopefully the second half of the year has something to thrill me again.

-Looking towards the second half I am still eagerly awaiting the first fragrance by Christine Nagel for Hermes. I know there will be something unexpected that will thrill me which is what makes doing this so much fun.

I think the marching band has left the field time to head out for the second half.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Azzedine Alaia Alaia- Perfumed Silhouettes

It is rare that I am excited to try a new designer perfume. Yet there are still some designer names which make me sit up and take notice. Azzedine Alaia would be one of those names. Everything he does he does to his own beat. He shuns the Fashion Week traveling circus to show his collections when he is ready to show them. He had dismissed the need for a designer to add extensive accessories collections and perfume to their lines. I never expected there to be an Azzedine Alaia perfume, ever. Then in May I received a press release announcing Alaia, a fragrance. I was so intrigued I went into overdrive to get my hands on some. I received a sample two weeks ago.

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Azzedine Alaia (l.)

M. Alaia is known for his form-fitting designs. He was one of a few designers who put the curve back into women’s clothing. His silhouettes always accentuate the classic hourglass feminine figure. From there what he adds is singular detail which never detracts from that hourglass but gives it new form and function. The perfume which bears his name, signed by perfumer Marie Salamagne, also has that kind of hourglass shape to it as it is most prominent on top and in the base with a lighter floral intermezzo in between.

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Marie Salamagne (Photo Jerome Bonnet)

In a NY Times interview M. Alaia said he wanted Alaia to smell like “the smell of cold water falling on hot chalk.” I take this to mean that moment when cold meets hot capturing the steam rising and the hot wet mineralic aspect. I think Mme Salamagne gets the first part right with a fabulous spicy ozonic top. I don’t know what “hot chalk” smells like in M. Alaia’s world; in this perfume it smells musky. Which is not how I describe the smell of chalk.

Mme Salamagne takes baie rose and adds it to what she describes as an “air accord”. It is a mix of aldehydes and ozonic synthetics. They form a billowing cloud of steam with the baie rose adding in the texture. It is a really enticing beginning. It all blows away on a stiff breeze of freesia and peony, mostly the latter. The florals stick around just long enough to reset your expectations as the base offers a different type of experience altogether. Mme Salamagne adds in some of the more animalic synthetic musks to form something very primal in its nature. If the top was a cloud this is something weightier asking more of the wearer.

Alaia has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

As mentioned above there is a signature silhouette to M. Alaia’s fashion. The perfume contains the same silhouette with a similar attention to detail. For someone who didn’t want to make perfume he has produced one of the better designer perfumes out there. It certainly doesn’t smell like the other things on the perfume counter with a designer name on it.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Stephane Humbert Lucas Mortal Skin- The Art of Provocation

There is a maxim that art should provoke a reaction. Some artists think provocation equates to confrontation. Some artists will work with materials not thought of as beautiful and somehow find grace within. Other artists will seek to provoke, like a long con, by working their way into your consciousness and refusing to leave. The very best will attempt to do all of this. When it comes to perfume there are very few artists that pull this trifecta off repeatedly. One of them is Stephane Humbert Lucas. His latest release is called Mortal Skin which manages to confront, confound, and compel.

Mortal Skin is not being released under the Stephane Humbert Lucas 777 brand. When speaking with him at Esxence he told me he wanted to distinguish the two lines from each other. Mortal Skin does not feel like a 777 fragrance. It reminds me most of his previous work for Nez a Nez. In those perfumes M. Lucas helped compose olfactory stories layered and nuanced that rewarded repeat wearings with new discoveries. I have found Mortal Skin to have the same effect. I have had a sample since Esxence and it has been one of my favorite perfumes to wear of 2015. One of the reasons for that is I still don’t think I’ve discovered all there is to enjoy and I’ve worn this a lot. In a career of very imaginative creations Mortal Skin might be the best.

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Stephane Humbert Lucas (Photo: Robert Greco)

Mortal Skin is meant to evoke a snake slowly drawing you into its gaze before striking. The top notes are mesmerizing as M. Lucas starts with a black ink accord which is coupled with smoky frankincense. It takes the acrid slightly unpleasant ink smell and by wrapping it in resinous fumes transforms it from unpleasant into an incense accord which smells like few others. The ink accentuates those hard metallic edges found in fine frankincense. The smoke floats over it all. The frankincense and ink give way to a breeze of cardamom which carries into the heart. Myrrh provides resinous warmth to contrast the chill of iris. Opoponax and davana provide depth and texture. This all leads to a base which speaks of the decay of death and the fragility of life. A woody triptych of birch, sandalwood, and cedar provide a strong framework within which M. Lucas adds in ambergris and labdanum. This is the smell of the ocean and the soaring sentinel trees. It is joined by civet and musk in high concentration so that the ambergris and labdanum are struggling at all times to be noticed over the animalic decay. This final stage is what is so compelling to me. There are times life wins as the woods and ambergris manage to make themselves more apparent. There are days entropy wins and the civet and musk rise up to remind me everything falls apart.

Mortal Skin has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

I imagine it is apparent that Mortal Skin is one of my favorite perfumes of 2015. I would say it is the most artistic perfume M. Lucas has ever released. This is not the kind of perfume meant to wear easily while running errands. This is a perfume to wear with a friend with whom you want to have a meaningful encounter. The answer to “What are you wearing?” might lead to some interesting places. If you are a fan of the 777 perfumes allow M. Lucas to take you to a different mind space I think you’ll enjoy the new direction. I know it is a place I plan on returning to often because it is at its most basic, great olfactory art.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample I received at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

Header photo by Robert Greco via Sagma Corp. Facebook Page.

Dead Letter Office: Gucci Nobile- Lost in Compromise

As I’ve mentioned the late 1980’s were a battleground for the masculine demographic at the department store counter. At one corner you had the powerhouse fougere Drakkar Noir. In the other corner the fresh aquatic Cool Water. The guys who saw themselves as men about town chose Drakkar. It was easily the most popular men’s going out fragrance of this time period. Cool Water was the choice for the rest of the day from the office to the gym. The other brands raced to make imitative versions of one or the other

Gucci had waited twelve years to commission a follow-up to 1976’s classic Gucci pour Homme by perfumer Guy Robert. That was a typical woody oriental which matched the majority of the other woody orientals on the fragrance counter at that time. Gucci had realized the fragrance trends were moving on and they needed something that would work for the late 1980’s man. Which way would they choose would they go powerhouse or fresh? The decision turned out to be trying to stake out an interesting middle-ground. Gucci Nobile would be a fougere but one made of the clean lines characteristic of the aquatics. Perfumer Kathy Gurevich decided the sweet spot in between would be tinted green.

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Mme Gurevich composed something with all of the touchstones of the fougere but so attenuated it was immediately identifiable as something different. This was a perfume that was made for the man who would have one perfume on his dresser that would go from office to the evening seamlessly.  That is what Gucci Nobile delivered. It was also what men didn’t think they needed. After years of languishing sales it would be discontinued. I know it didn’t make an impression on me until a perfume friend shared a sample with me long after it was discontinued. I felt this was a crisp green fougere that delighted me.

Gucci Nobile opens with an herbal flash. Mme Gurevich uses lavender but by surrounding it with sage and a cut grass accord she pulls the lavender towards it less displayed herbal character. My favorite lavender perfumes all manage to do this and it is the way I prefer lavender in my fougeres. Nobile gets this just right. The heart is held by that “green rose” geranium matched with galbanum to make sure the green outduels the rose. The base continues with vetiver and oakmoss providing the green there. Later on sandalwood and patchouli provide the final flourish.

Gucci Nobile has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Gucci Nobile was such a failure that it is still available in those deep discounted perfumer sellers you find in mall kiosks or outlets. You’ll have to dig for it as it is usually shoved all the way to the back of a shelf. It shows up on the auction sites for around $100/bottle. Nobile is worth the effort. This is a fougere that would thrive in 2015 as the perfume trends have finally caught up to it. It is too bad that the soul of compromise was cruelly ignored by the men of the 1980’s.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Apoteker Tepe The Peradam- In Search of…..

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When I was in college we would gather around the television to watch a cheesy series called In Search of…. It was hosted by Leonard Nimoy and would delve into all things paranormal and extraterrestrial. Think of it as the forefather of most of the content on the History Channel these days. When it comes to perfume I am In Search of….a uniquely authentic experience. After my review of Apoteker Tepe After the Fall I struck up a conversation with owner and perfumer of the brand Holladay Saltz. Through our exchange of e-mails I realized the way Ms. Saltz composes is also in search of authenticity. Of all of the debut four perfumes the one which exemplifies this best is The Peradam.

The name comes from the following quote from Mount Analogue by author Rene Daumal; “One finds here, very rarely in the low lying areas, more frequently as one goes farther up, a clear and extremely hard stone that is spherical and varies in size—a kind of crystal, but a curved crystal, something extraordinary and unknown on the rest of the planet. Among the French of Port-des-Singes, it is called peradam.
The clarity of this stone is so great and its index of refraction so close to that of air that, despite the crystal’s great density, the unaccustomed eye hardly perceives it. But to anyone who seeks it with sincere desire and true need, it reveals itself by its sudden sparkle, like that of dewdrops.”

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Holladay Saltz

The fragrance which carries the name carries an unusual amount of emotion. I would call it yearning as it seems to want to bring the wearer closer to its great density so that it can be perceived; while knowing most will never see it. Ms. Saltz uses three extremely precious ingredients to bring The Peradam in to view; an SCO2 extraction of jasmine grandiflorum, orris butter, and sustainable Mysore sandalwood. I was curious to hear why Ms. Saltz used these ingredients and here is her answer,

Orris: fizzy, soft, powdery, smoothing and soothing (I think of it almost as a shushing sound), evocative of feminine associations due to historical use of powdered iris pallida rhizome as an ingredient in cosmetics

Jasmine: the meeting point between the charnel house and the boudoir, a night flower blooming in enveloping darkness, a lover, can be masculine or feminine depending on the context

Sandalwood: both creamy and thin, sharp and mild, evokes masculine associations due to its historical inclusion in shaving products, also sacred and Eastern associations due to its use in temples and incense”

She is correct when she states many perfume lovers will never have smelled these raw materials before as very few commercial perfumes contain them in any appreciable quantity. The Peradam forms its transparent density around the axis provided by these three special notes. The only other note in The Peradam is lily. That lily is what I first notice as it is fairly rapidly enveloped by the orris. As Ms. Saltz mentions this is the orris of the cosmetics of the past. To me it speaks of a day when women powdered their noses regularly. The lily enhances that vibe. The jasmine takes it in an entirely different direction. This extraction makes the indoles even more prominent than usual while also somehow softening them. Most of the time a fully indolic jasmine has all the swagger of a Lost Generation flapper. This indolic jasmine is a wily seductress full of whispers and lies. The sandalwood is the best use of the renewable form of the Mysore sandalwood I have tried to date. Ms. Saltz has made the modern version used here feel vintage when added into the previous notes. After about an hour all four notes have found their balance and it is then which The Peradam becomes visible in all of its glory.

The Peradam has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Ms. Saltz is one of the new generation of independent perfumers for whom the journey is as important as the result. I am happy to say that when she went in search of The Peradam she found a precious bit of olfactory beauty.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Unum Opus 1144- Jurassic Goth

With new perfumers there are times they want to just turn the volume up and see where it leaves them. Most of the time it leaves a poorly constructed mess akin to too many people talking at the same time all trying to gain your attention. That style of perfumery wears me out. Less of the time the balance is struck precisely right and I walk away thinking that shouldn’t have worked but it did. Even more rarely is a perfume which teeters on the edge of olfactory cacophony and perfumed precision managing to stay poised on the knife edge of good and bad. The second release from Unum called Opus 1144 is one of those balancing acts.

When I reviewed the first Unum perfume LAVS I praised perfumer and owner Filippo Sorcinelli for keeping it simple. In Opus 1144 Sig. Sorcinelli is anything but unassuming in his construction. Opus 1144 is over stuffed with ideas. Sig. Sorcinelli wanted to reach back to the beginning of Gothic architecture and culture’s beginnings in 1144. The result is a fragrance full of detail some of which almost makes no sense only to find its place in time.  

Filippo Sorcinelli

Filippo Sorcinelli

The opening is as soft as Opus 1144 gets as Sig. Sorcinelli uses bergamot, tangerine, elemi and vanilla to sweeten the citrus. It makes it reminiscent of a candy cream felling almost gourmand-like very early on. That gets washed away on a tide of intense amber and Cashmere woods, actually not exactly as the vanilla hangs in there making this a very sweet amber for a long while in the heart. These early moments tread up to the limit of my sweetness tolerance. I imagine for some it will cross that line. If you allow just a little more time Sig. Sorcinelli abandons the sweet and goes for the animalic as musks and leather are combined with benzoin and ambergris. It forms an accord full of life pulsing with its own heartbeat. The dramatic switch from sweet to animalic is one of my favorite parts of Opus 1144 because it is done with a subtle shift of components and not a whiplash inducing snap.

Opus 1144 has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Opus 1144 has one of the characteristics I look for in perfumes; the ability to change dramatically over the hours I am wearing it without feeling like it is just going through the motions. I felt the real shifting of notes as they would move towards their next stage of development. This is what I was talking about in the first paragraph in a different perfume all of this would’ve felt like a mess. In Opus 1144 it feels like a huge homage to all things Gothic.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I received at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Le Tour de France

Every July since 1986 I look forward to the yearly running of the bicycle race known as Le Tour de France. Every year some of the greatest athletes in the world race for a little over three weeks riding throughout France. In even numbered years the riders travel the country in a clockwise fashion and in odd numbered years they go counterclockwise. The race is composed of twenty-one daily challenges called stages. The rider who arrives in Paris in the fastest time is the winner. Throughout the race the riders will ride by themselves in an individual race against the clock called a time trial. They ride up the side of impossible mountains in the Pyrenees and Alps with names like the Col de Tourmalet or L’Alpe D’Huez. They spend days riding over one hundred miles. No matter what today’s challenge is tomorrow presents a new one.

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What sounds like it is an individual sport is actually an incredibly orchestrated team sport. Every rider who is in contention to win Le Tour is supported by eight other riders. Throughout the race these teammates bear the burden of chasing down riders from other teams if it seems like they are getting too far ahead. They pace their leader up the most severe climbs. At the end of a stage where there is a mad dash for the finish the best teams will co-ordinate to spring their leader free to sprint to the finish line. I have attended a few professional cycling events and I remember seeing this happen over the last half a kilometer as three teams had formed at the head of the pack, also called the peloton, and like the gates opening at a horse race three riders sprung from the crowd to battle for the finish line.

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Greg LeMond receiving the Le Tour de France Winner's Trophy

Like most Americans my interest in Le Tour coincided with the rise of the first great American cyclist Greg LeMond. He had gone where no American rider had gone before joining the powerhouse, think Yankees, team Le Vie Claire where he was being groomed to succeed French legendary rider Bernard Hinault, nicknamed The Cannibal, for his ferocious competitiveness. In 1984 LeMond was supposed to support Hinault’s attempt to win a fifth Tour de France. It was clear throughout that race LeMond was the better rider but he buried his ambition with the tacit agreement next year Hinault would return the favor. The 1985 race was a soap opera of Lemond and Hinault vying for leadership of the strongest cycling team in the world. It wouldn’t be until two-thirds of the way through the race that LeMond would finally put Hinault behind him in terms of team leadership and the standings. That day he became the first American to wear the yellow jersey signifying the leader of the race. He would wear yellow all the way to the final finish line.

Back in 1984 it was difficult to follow the happenings in France. In 2015 there are so many ways for me to keep up it is facile to find out what is going on. There is now live coverage on American television. The official Le Tour website gives real-time updates throughout the race day. For the next month perfume gets shunted to being my second favorite French thing as Le Tour moves to the top for July.

Mark Behnke

Hail To a Founding Mother of American Independent Perfumery

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It is July Fourth in the US. It is the day we Americans celebrate our Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers who formed that document. If there is anything that makes an American stand up straighter it is that sense of wanting to do things our way.

When it comes to perfume there has been a huge expansion in the American independent perfume movement over the last 5-10 years. There are multiple factors which have contributed to this growth. I also believe there is a person who could be considered one of the Founding Mothers of this movement, Mandy Aftel.

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Mandy Aftel

Ms. Aftel began making perfumes for commercial sale in 1995 under the brand name Garandiflorum Perfumes. Two years later she would found her current brand Aftelier Perfumes. Right from the beginning Ms. Aftel wanted to change the perception of natural perfumes. Prior to 1995 they were sold mostly at health food stores and head shops. They had an unfortunate association with being seen as both low in quality and lacking in style. Ms. Aftel would take the time to seek out materials and understand their nature before using them in a perfume. Nowhere is this more evident than in the fragrance with which I became aware of her with, Cepes and Tuberose.

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According to an interview Ms. Aftel did on the blog Kafkaesque wherein she talks about her love for working with difficult ingredients. While she was working on her 2004 book Aroma with Chef Daniel Patterson she decided she wanted to incorporate mushrooms, or cepes, into a perfume. The choice to pair it with the most boisterous white flower on the planet tuberose could have been disastrous. Instead this single perfume represents so much of what is right about Independent perfumery; the ability matched with the desire to take crazy chances which pay off in perfumes that stand among the best of the best. Cepes and Tuberose is a spectacular example of this. If I was just going to call Ms. Aftel a Founding Mother for her portfolio of perfumes that would be justified. There is another reason I think of her this way.

Ms. Aftel has been the teacher, inspiration, and confidant to so many independent perfumers it is difficult to make an accurate count. In 2002 she founded the Natural Perfumers Guild so she and the other people who wanted to see natural perfume elevated from the poor perception it had banded together. They would spread the word that Natural Perfumes were something to be celebrated. They would provide outreach to budding independent perfumers to give them a place to come together and learn from each other.

That sense of teaching extends to her book Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume. It is many young independent perfumers’ key reference. I believe it is a part of the essential perfume library for anyone interested in perfumery in any way. The aforementioned Aroma which explores scent and taste along with last year’s Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent which delves into the history and use of five perfume raw materials show her desire to share her experience through writing.

Beyond that Ms. Aftel is extremely giving of herself. She teaches classes out of her home studio on a regular basis. She is one of the key figures in the West Coast Perfume movement. She will invite people into her home to visit her garden and studio.

In science we have what we call “family trees” where we trace ourselves back through the people we obtained our degree from. Eventually we all end up springing from the tree labeled “Newton”. I would venture to say if the same method was applied to independent American perfumery that original tree would be labeled “Aftel”.

All of the above is why I consider her a Founding Mother. While I am watching the fireworks tonight and thinking about the founding of this country I will also take a moment to think of Ms. Aftel. I will send out a silent toast as a chrysanthemum firework explodes in a circle of color far above my head and thank her for all that she continues to do to support the American independent perfume world.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Orlov Paris Sea of Light- Fruity Aquatic

You’ve definitely heard of fruity floral but have you heard of a fruity aquatic? You have but they are not encountered that often. When you do find them it is usually just an infusion of basic fruits onto a Calone foundation. For the new brand Orlov Paris one of their debut releases, Sea of Light, is something slightly different.

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Daria-i-Noor Diamond

Like all of the Orlov Paris perfumes they are named after a real-life diamond. This perfume is inspired by the Daria-i-Noor (Sea of Light in Persian) 182 carat pink diamond that might, or might not, have been one of the Iranian Crown Jewels. The actual stone has a tumultuous history including where it can be found today. Either a vault in Dhaka, Bangladesh or Tehran, Iran. It is a stunning looking diamond with the pale pink color adding in a subtle shading and nuance to the natural brilliance of the diamond. Perfumer Dominique Ropion would be inspired to layer a pale shade of fruitiness over a brilliantly sparkling white musk and sea spray accord.

Sea of Light stands out among the five debut perfumes of Orlov Paris for that lightness. The others have the heft of the huge gems they are named after. Sea of Light has the facets of light captured within the cut of the Daria-i-Noor tinted with the watercolor pink.

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Dominique Ropion

Sea of Light opens with petitgrain leavened with mandarin. This is a common citrus opening and it is executed here by M. Ropion as if it is a reflection of the light caught in the stone. It pulses with a pinpoint radiance. M. Ropion brings in two stalwarts from the fruity floral category, peach and blackcurrant, to provide a deeper fruit. The peach has its more fizzy nature brought to the fore again evoking the light effects across the surface of a piece of jewelry. The blackcurrant provides the only point of shadow in the whole composition as it tries to dim the shine, unsuccessfully. This leads to the base which is my favorite part of Sea of Light. Here M. Ropion takes a soft combination of white musks and keeps them from being as high-pitched as they can often be. This soft skin accord is then covered with the spray of the ocean as it dries in the sun. It forms an overall accord of the smell of skin covered in the mist off the ocean.

Sea of Light has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

As I already mentioned Sea of Light stands out for being the lightest fragrance in the debut Orlov Paris collection. It also stands out for M. Ropion’s take on the aquatic genre which is surprisingly made better with a fruit cocktail bobbing on the water. The entire debut collection will be coming to stores this month and if you want one to wear right now in the summer Sea of Light should be where you start.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Orlov Paris at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: If you are going to be attending Cosmoprof in Las Vegas over July 12-14, 2015 Orlov Paris will be one of the perfumes featured in the Discover Scent exhibit curated by Karen Dubin and Karen Adams of Sniffapalooza.