New Perfume Review The Different Company Le 15- Moving Towards the Horizon

In the “things which make me feel old” category is the number of perfume brands which are celebrating double-digit anniversaries. It is a wonderful thing that these forerunner brands of artistic perfumery have found their respective audiences and thrived. But I remember when they started just after the new millennium began. It seems like forever ago. The latest brand to remind me of my mortality is The Different Company with their anniversary release, Le 15.

Luc Gabriel / Portrait Shoot

Luc Gabriel

As I wrote in my Perfume 101 piece on The Different Company it has been one of those consistently good producers of perfume for these last 15 years. For this celebratory fragrance Luc Gabriel who has served as CEO and Creative Director for the brand since 2004 collaborated with perfumer Alexandra Monet. M. Gabriel wanted Le 15 to be “a perfume of immortality”. To capture that very grandiose brief Mme Monet chose to use the wood palo santo known for its mystical qualities. If you’re attempting immortality beginning with the wood of the gods is probably a good place to start.

alexandra_monet

Alexandra Monet

For me one of the hallmarks of a fragrance of The Different Company is minimal amount of ingredients which produce an effect beyond what you might expect. It has been so from Jean-Claude Ellena in the beginning and continues with the current set of perfumers because of the creative direction provided by M. Gabriel. Le 15 fits right into the collection as the palo santo holds the center and it is surrounded by spices and resins.

The opening of Le 15 is an attention getter as Mme Monet mixes citrus and nutmeg in a spicy slap and tickle. It heads straight into the palo santo nucleus which is supported on the woody side by cedar. Mme Monet also uses Hedione to tease out the floral nuances present but the main reason it is present is to provide lift and expansiveness. Once the woodiness has expanded sufficiently Mme Monet slides in sweet myrrh and arid frankincense. The palo santo accord has the feel of a kind of woody incense and so the additional resinous notes fit right in. Later on a selection of skin musks provide the finishing touch.

Le 15 is an extrait de parfum and has 14-16 hour longevity with minimal sillage.

Le 15 is a fitting bookmark for a brand which has produced a few iconic perfumes over the last 15 years. That it comes from a perfumer new to the brand shows M. Gabriel is not stuck in the past but looking towards the future. Le 15 is a beautiful way of moving towards that horizon wrapped in a woody resinous embrace.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by The Different Company at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

-Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: The header photo is also from M. Gabriel. I suspect pretty soon he will be designing the bottles.

My Favorite Things: Oud

The seasonal rotation has begun as the vetivers, aquatics, and citrus perfumes move towards the back of the shelves and the cold-weather favorites come forward. A nice aspect of this change in perfumes is I welcome back these perfumes like long lost friends. It is particularly helpful in a sector of fragrance as crowded as oud perfumes. There are so many oud releases it is easy to become jaded. It is hard to believe it has only been thirteen years since Yves Saint Laurent M7 introduced oud to the western perfume conversation. Ever since it has been a mad rush to embrace this precious and fractious note. When I was thinking about my favorite oud perfumes I realized it is the ones where the perfumer doesn’t just allow the exoticism to lay there and act weird. These five perfumes are examples of perfumers working to bend oud to their will which is why I think they have all stood the test of time with me.

Very top of my list is the Mona di Orio Oudh Osmanthus. It was the last perfume released prior to Mme di Orio’s untimely passing. It is the best perfume of her career and I thought it was the best new perfume of 2011. She tamed the oud with a multi-layered effect surrounding osmanthus. By early on embracing the faux-oud of cypriol before heading to a mix of genuine Laotian white oud and oud in the base. This is how you make oud something like you’ve never smelled before. It is what I consider to be one of the five best perfumes of the past five years.

It would only be a few months before I found another oud to swoon over. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud is also another testament to a master perfumer’s ability to wring new facets out of something as overplayed as oud. M. Kurkdjian’s choices are to first frame it in the clean woodiness of cedar before planting it in the earthiness of patchouli and finally upping the exoticism quotient with saffron.

soivohle oudh lacquer

Liz Zorn is one of those independent perfumers who definitely illuminate the mundane into the extraordinary. The best example of her ability to do that is Soivohle Oudh Lacquer. The core of this perfume is a sinkwood tincture which takes Ms. Zorn a year to make. As the source of the oudh it adds a complexity you will not find in other oud perfumes.The lacquer is a dense chocolate. I couldn’t have told you before trying Oudh Lacquer how much I would like chocolate and oud. Not only do I love it but nobody who has tried to do this since has even come close to the richness of Oudh Lacquer.

Memo Shams Oud required a personal shopper to bring it back to me from Paris early in 2012. Clara Molloy creatively directing perfumer Alienor Massenet make an oud which rides on a sunbeam. An explosive spicy opening of ginger, pepper, and saffron turns greenish with vetiver and papyrus. The oud arises on a platform of birch and balsam. It is the reason I fell in love with this brand at first sniff.

By Kilian Rose Oud is the most traditional of my favorite ouds as rose and oud are the classic Middle Eastern pairing. Perfumer Calice Becker fuses a very European rose with an oud accord to create what I consider to be the best of these rose and oud combinations by a Western perfume brand.

As I was writing this I came to the realization that each one of these perfumes made my top 25 of the year they were released. I think it goes to show that a talented creative mind can make something transcendent even from the most pedestrian of notes.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased of each perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Essenzialmente Laura Lavanda- 5 Shades of Lavender

Very likely as an infant my first fragrance experience was the sprinkling of Florida Water on my crib linens. As a toddler I vividly remember the orange and lavender concoction as the scent of my bedroom. My mother liberally used it to freshen up the room and something to use after a bath. As a result I have always loved lavender perfumes. What I have always enjoyed are the many different varieties of lavender I have come across as they cover a range from more green and herbal at one extreme to sweet floral on the other. Depending on the place in the world it is grown and the technique used to extract the essence there are probably myriad gradations in between the two versions I described above. If you have a good lavender perfume I am going to be interested.

Which brings me to Pitti Fragranze 2015. I have lost patience with these new brands which land with too many releases. When I hear some ridiculous number of entries I am just going to give up before trying because smelling a massive collection is just bound to be mainly disappointing. The nagging worry in the back of my head is always but what if in the midst of all that average perfume there is something really good? This was what happened on Day 1 at Pitti when I stopped at the Essenzialmente Laura stand and heard there were 39 new releases by perfumer Laura Bosetti Tonatto. I couldn’t move away fast enough. On Day 2 while having lunch with Michael Edwards he asked me if I had stopped by the stand. I said 39 new perfumes! I don’t have the time to try them all. Mr. Edwards had tried them all and he also knows of my enjoyment of lavender. He suggested I go try the three lavender ones. That I thought I could handle and so on Day 3 I came back to try 3 not 39.

Laura Tonatto

Laura Bosetti Tonatto

The three lavender perfumes in the Essenzialmente Laura collection are Lavambra, La Lavanda di Leonardo, and Lavanda. Lavambra as the portmanteau name portends is lavender and amber. La Lavanda di Leonardo is lavender and rose. These are both excellent perfumes which are balanced quite nicely between the two main notes. At the end of the day though it was Lavanda which captured most of my attention.

Sig.ra Tonatto keeps it simple as she takes lavender from five different sources. Two from France, one from Morocco, one from England, and one from Torino. The five different versions chosen run the gamut from herbal to floral. Together Sig.ra Tonatto has created a grand lavender accord like no other. On the days I wore this it was like a kaleidoscope which as I turned it a new shade of lavender would take precedence. To balance all five lavenders so that I can detect each of them plus to form the uber accord is not easy. Lavanda is simple in effect but complex in architecture.

Lavanda has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

The lavenders were so good I did delve a little deeper into the line and among the others I tried the vetiver centric VI was also pretty good. If you love lavender all three of the Essenzialmente Laura lavenders are worth the effort to seek out and try. If you are a lavender fanatic Lavanda is a must try for the most complete lavender accord you will find in a perfume.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Essenzialmente Laura at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Olivier Durbano Chrysolithe- The Wisdom of Sage

I thought independent perfumer Olivier Durbano had reached a new level of creativity with last year’s release Promethee. The new more mature aesthetic was perhaps paired with a move away from his beloved crystals as the focal point for his perfumes. For the new release, Chrysolithe, the perfumer still ascending has remained. The inspiration has once again turned to the crystalline.

Chrysolithe is a Greek word meaning “gold stone”. It describes gems which “sparkle gold, tinted with green”. The most notable thing about Chrysolithe is that green. M. Durbano uses sage as the green to tint his other notes. While golden is not the adjective I would use to describe those notes the color of the juice is the promised golden color.

olivier durbano

Olivier Durbano

M. Durbano uses hyssop in the early going to provide the green. Hyssop is not one of those usual materials you find it has a strongly herbal quality under laid with a camphor-like nature. When you combine it with strong spicy notes like cumin black pepper, and cinnamon there is roughness to the hyssop which also become apparent. The opening is a good example of the accomplished artist M. Durbano has become. The choices made set the stage for the arrival of the sage in the heart. For that middle part of the development he employs sage essence matched up with rosemary and jasmine. This is mostly rosemary and sage; the jasmine is more in the nature of a grace note which takes some effort to detect. The sage displaces the hyssop in a sheer way. The base will make a more indelible sage statement as there the absolute forms the nucleus. Around it cedar, vetiver, and ambergris provide the complementary facets. The sage has all of my attention over the last part of wearing Chrysolithe. It becomes the logical ending to what has come before.

Chrysolithe has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Chrysolithe is the work of a perfumer working with clarity of purpose. When M. Durbano spoke to me about the creation of Chrysolithe at Pitti Fragranze it was obvious the level of conscious creation he had worked with. I think this only comes when you have achieved enough experience to make these choices thoughtfully. M. Durbano has most definitely attained that skill level and Chrysolithe is another example of that. I am going to be wearing a lot of this “gold stone” over the fall. It is going to be lingering on more than a few of my scarves.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Olivier Durbano at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Gewurztraminer

Perfume isn’t the only thing I rotate with the seasons. Many of my other passions also reflect the season. Wine is no different as through the warmer months I enjoy my chilled white wines and lighter body reds. In the winter it is the big reds and ports which warm up my palate. They also seem to go with all of the foods of those seasons as whites go so well with fresh seafood and reds go with hearty stews. Fall presents some dilemmas with the right wine to pair with the plethora of spiced fare. Not to mention pumpkin versions of seemingly everything. This mix of flavors tramples a traditional white and gets trampled by reds. It takes a special kind of wine to cut through all of the pumpkin spice. The wine I find myself drinking a lot of during the autumn days and nights is Gewurzrtraminer.

Gewurztraminer is a white wine made from red grapes. It requires the skins to be removed immediately after pressing them after harvest. This leads the typical wine to having a deep golden color. The varietal was originated in the Alsace region of France. It has spread all over the world with great versions being produced in almost every winemaking region. The “Gewurz” part of the name translates to spice. While there are some high priced versions particularly from the Alsace vineyard of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht there are many great ones to be found under $20 including some from Alsace.

The wines have very prominent flavors and aromas. It is also one of the wines I use when I teach to explain the concept of the nose of a wine. I regularly compare it to fragrance as these wines have very distinct floral aromas matched with spices and mineral accords. Sounds like a Floriental right?

Once you sip those spices come to the fore usually wrapped in a honeyed sweetness before a panoply of fruit notes. From the floral nose to the fruity end on the palate I jokingly refer to Gerwurztraminers as the fruity florals of the wine world. Another advantage of this type of wine is it is meant to be drunk now. No cellaring necessary.

As for food pairing this is a great wine to serve with spicy cuisines like Chinese, Indian, or Mexican. For my tastes it is the only wine I will drink with those cuisines. It goes really well with cheese plates prior to the meal. In conjunction with sharper, creamier cheese it sings in harmony. As I already mentioned above if you are using the typical fall spice palette this is one of the few wine choices which cuts through all of that too.

Here are five under $20 Gewurztraminers worth looking for at your local wine store.

Lucien Albrecht Reserve from Alsace should be available in both the 2012 and 2013 vintages. The 2012 was one of the best wines I tasted in 2014. It was an incredibly strong vintage from one of the best producers of Gewurztraminer in the world. The 2013 is very good but if you can get the 2012.

Hugel and Fils is another Alsatian Gewurztraminer worth seeking out. It has much more fruitiness than the Lucien Albrecht. Again both 2012 and 2013 are available and the 2012 is slightly better.

chateay ste michelle gewurz

Chateau Ste. Michelle from the Columbia Valley in Washington State is what I consider to be the best buy in this varietal. This winery excels in producing consistently great wines in every varietal they take on. Gewurztraminer was one of the early efforts which put it on my radar. It has never disappointed and it can be found for less than $10 in most places. If you want a place to experiment without spending too much this is where you should start.

This next recommendation might be a little hard to find but Anthony Road in the Finger Lakes region of New York has one of the more unique takes on this grape. The Gewurztraminer produced here is one of the driest you will find. As a result it reins in the fruitiness and releases the floral qualities. If all this talk about lush fruit and spices has you cautious Anthony Road might be the way to go. This vineyard does not produce a huge amount but it can be found in better wine stores throughout the US.

In the very early days of California wine making Gewurztraminers were found throughout Napa and Sonoma. Things changed as the more upscale varietals began to push it off the hillsides. There are still a few good Cali Gewurzes to be found you just have to go south to the Monterey Coast region. Thomas Fogarty has become the most reliable producer from that region. It gets criticized for trying to be Chardonnay-like Gewurztraminer. What that means is this is the lightest of the five I am recommending. It also means that the fruit is ascendant and the floral and spicy qualities are dialed way back. If that makes it Chardonnay-like then so be it.

If you’re looking for a wine to take to a friend’s dinner where they will be serving pumpkin spice latkes or souffles or casseroles take a stroll over to the Gewurztraminer section.

Mark Behnke

I’m a Judge

I received some great news just prior to leaving for Pitti Fragranze. I wanted to wait a couple of weeks to share it because I didn’t want it to get lost in my coverage of that event. What I have been waiting to shout about is I have been named as a Finalist Judge for the 2016 Art & Olfaction Awards.

For those who are not familiar with the Art & Olfaction Awards they were established in 2014 as a way to recognize the best perfume in a calendar year within the independent perfume community. Saskia Wilson-Brown in her role as Director of the Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO) realized there was no way of recognizing the amazing creativity taking place outside of the mainstream. With the creation of these new awards there would now be a way of doing that.

Golden-Pears-2014-001

There had been a few previous attempts at trying to award the indie community. They failed because of two things. One was a distressing lack of transparency. Once the entry was submitted it sort of entered a black hole from which a list of finalists would be announced followed by a winner without knowing who was judging or even how it had been performed. The other poorly thought out aspect was an extremely high entry fee. I am guessing the thinking behind that was it would reduce the amount of entries because an indie perfume brand was only going to be able to afford one or two candidates. When all was said and done the indie community felt a bit trampled upon. It was high time for a different way of doing things.

The process for The Art & Olfaction Awards has addressed both of these issues. The entry fee for any of the categories is $65 for non-IAO members and $55 for members. This is mainly to defray the cost of storing the entries and shipping them around as necessary. At this cost it allows for a brand which feels it has multiple worthy entries to enter them.

AO Awards Preliminary Judging Table

The Preliminary Judging Table for the 2015 Art & Olfaction Awards

The judging could not be more transparent. For the preliminary round a panel of 10-20 individual judges come to the IAO and to a table laid out as in the picture above from last year’s preliminary judging. The nominees are stripped of all the labeling and are just anonymous vials. This allows for the perfume to be the most important thing. Pictures of the judging are posted to the Facebook page. After the preliminary round there are five finalists chosen in three categories: Artisan, Independent, and Experimental. For the Artisan and Independent categories they are sent in anonymous vials to the panel of Finalist judges for those categories. The Experimental category has its own panel of judges. I am one of the finalist judges for the Independent and Artisan categories. I and five other judges will determine the winners based on our votes.

To say I am excited would be an understatement. I have been so impressed with the first two editions of these awards and had been happy with being one of those who covered it. To be a part of the process is more than I could ask for.

Even to the best news there are a couple things I will miss about being a spectator instead of a participant. Over the last two years it has been my pleasure to encourage those brands which I believed had done exceptional work to enter. I was happy to give advice on what I thought was their best of the year. I was also happy to be the pusher urging some of those reluctant to enter. I believe that by being a judge that kind of activity has to end for me. In the spirit of the transparency of these awards I can’t have off the record conversations with potential entries if I am eventually going to be judging them.

While I can’t have personal conversations that doesn’t mean I can’t make a more generic plea here in public. I think that’s why I have a blog.

If you are an independent perfume brand I implore you to enter what you consider to be your best work of the past year. Entries open on October 5, 2015 and must be postmarked by December 4, 2015. The health and vitality of this particular award is made stronger by more entries. All of the rules for entering can be found here.

Finally to those of you who I will not be able to be that annoying voice in your ear this year. To those of you who feel you don’t want to be part of a beauty contest. To those who have that nagging little mantra about not being good enough buzzing in your brain. Get over it and enter. If you have made what you consider to be a good perfume this year enter it and let us both find out how it stands up. The short history of this award has already shown that even the smallest brand can bring home the golden pear. Give yourself the opportunity to see if you will be this year’s success story.

Sometime after the first of the year I will be sitting down across from ten anonymous samples and break into a big smile before undertaking the job of judging them. I want one of them to be yours.

Mark Behnke

New(ish) Perfume Review Tauerville Rose Flash- Anticipation Rewarded

In the hustle and bustle of trying to cover all of the new perfume releases I frequently make decisions to leave something for later. Those kind of decisions seem to happen more frequently during the last few months of the year. I receive samples on a daily basis and for the ones which take some effort to track down I sometimes just say I’ll do it in the New Year. Last fall independent perfumer Andy Tauer began a new brand called Tauerville and its first release was Rose Flash. It has taken me a year to get around to trying it. Now that I have there is much to say about the perfume and the concept.

Tauerville came about because Hr. Tauer wanted a place to experiment. On the Tauerville website he says he wanted it be a place where he could “break the rules”. It is an interesting idea that one of the preeminent independent perfumers in the world needed a place to break the rules. Surely he could break down expectations in his established Tauer Perfumes line. Except once you have a reputation and a brand there is a loss of freedom to go too far out of the boundaries your previous releases have defined. With Tauerville Hr. Tauer had a clean slate; the opportunity to create without expectations. What was also great about this idea was it was also going to be modestly priced coming in about two-thirds the price of the regular line. The perfumes would be produced in limited runs with no guarantee or expectation they would be produced forever. It makes them sort of a limited edition although the truth is there have been three Tauerville releases and none of them have been unavailable for very long.

andy tauer

Andy Tauer

I finally got the chance to experience all three Tauerville releases to-date at Pitti Fragranze 2015. Incense Flash is the most recent and was preceded by Vanilla Flash. Both of those are in eau de parfum strength and carry a delightful translucent quality. If I was looking for a place where Hr. Tauer was breaking some of his previous “rules” it would be that opaqueness in both Incense Flash and Vanilla Flash. There is a shimmering quality to both that has not appeared often in the original line. Rose Flash is something else again as Hr. Tauer made his first Tauerville release at parfum strength. Rose Flash does not shimmer it surrounds and envelops you in a rosy embrace.

Hr. Tauer has left those of us who will write about Rose Flash to be the ones to dissect it. His desire was for the wearer to just let it be without picking it apart. If you do that what you will experience is the smell of a living rose garden at its fragrant peak. I am pretty sure there are at least two sources of rose in here and maybe a third. Rose Flash is all of the rose: bloom, leaf, bush, soil, and thorn.

When I wear Rose Flash I smell a demure rose along the lines of Rose de Mai and a spicy rose like a Damascene version. As those reach my nose in the very early moments there is also sunlight as some citrus notes glint off of the petals. It eventually gives way to green with I suspect geranium providing the first hint of verdancy before more prominent green notes arrive. Underneath it all is a bit of the woodiness of the stem and the soil of the earth. The longer it dries down on my skin there is the piquant bit of thorniness some spices, cinnamon I think, add as they provide a contrast to the powdery rose source while complementing the spicy rose source.

Rose Flash has 16-18 hour longevity and low sillage. As it is at parfum strength it is a skin scent for the great majority of its development.

There was an old television commercial set to the song “Anticipation” by Carly Simon. It showed a child watching a slow moving ketchup on its way out of the bottle on to his hamburger. For a year I have been hearing Ms. Simon’s song in my head as I anticipated my opportunity to try the Tauerville releases. Upon that moment all of my anticipation was realized. Hr. Tauer has happily created a new perfumed sandbox for him to play in. We are all the beneficiary of the new constructs which arise there. All three are worth trying but if there is room for only one Rose Flash is the choice for me.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tauerville at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses- A Rose Grows on the Serengeti

One of the things I like so much about the independent perfume community is when a perfumer is working from a very personal inspiration something interesting follows. It is among the advantages of being on your own. You don’t have to live by the lowest common denominator as you design the releases for your brand. You generally can’t have a brand full of challenging perfumes; but when the mood strikes you it can allow for a freedom more mainstream brands aren’t allowed to have. The downside is when a perfume is this personal the circle of those who also share the desire to share that vision is most likely smaller than something safer. It is certainly never going to be described as boring. It is going to present itself in defiant terms forcing the wearer to embrace it or to turn away. While I was at Pitti Fragranze 2015 I discovered the new Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses is one of these kind of perfumes.

When I sat down with Sig.ra Gentile she told me the story of how this perfume came to be. She was working on an animal accord; attempting to capture the smell of an elephant. While she was concentrating on her task she had a strong vision of a fuchsia pachyderm tattooed with roses trampling a full field of roses. This was her brief for Elephant & Roses.

maria candida gentile

Maria Candida Gentile

Over the last few years as I have come to know Sig.ra Gentile I have learned the care she takes in constructing her accords. It is one of the things which sets her brand apart as when she uses them as the foundation for her perfumes it provides a signature quality to them. The animal accord used in Elephant & Roses is that closed in smell of a circus tent or even a horse barn. It is the smell of a living thing in motion leaving its personal sillage in its wake. The roses are provided by two different Turkish rose formulas.

Elephant & Roses opens with a very herbal accord on top dominated by thyme. That thyme is going to be an early deciding point for manty if you want to continue this safari or not. Usually thyme is used in more measured doses. In this perfume Sig.ra Gentile does not want measured she wants power and the thyme delivers it. Instead of trying to ameliorate it she twists it on a bed of costus and osmanthus. As with the thyme the amount of costus used is more than you would usually find. When costus is used in this quantity it takes on an animalic character. This is the bellwether for the elephant’s arrival. Before that we find the field of roses growing on the savannah as the Turkish rose accord sets itself up in the heart. The thyme and costus are still there but the roses are ascendant through the middle part of the development. Then from out of the brush comes the fuchsia protagonist of this perfume as the animal accord crashes like a wave over the roses. The mix of thyme, costus, rose, and the elephant accord is where Elephant & Roses stays on my skin for many hours. It eventually dries down to vetiver and sandalwood much later.

Elephant & Roses has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Elephant & Roses is going to be a fragrance of divided opinions. For many the thyme, costus, and elephant accord are not going to please. I think there will be many, like me, who will willingly place themselves in the path of this rose covered elephant. Even though it might rough you up a little more than the typical fragrance I think the trip is worth it.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Maria Candida Gentile at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds: L’Occitane Eau des Baux- Transitional Amber

There are so many signals that summer has ended and fall has arrived. The temperature is obvious but there is also a crisp edge to the air I breathe in. It makes itself evident in food and drink as pumpkin spice invades everything. September is always a transitional month for me because I will still get very warm days but they are often paired with chilly mornings. The summer fragrances don’t feel right on those chilly mornings but I also don’t want my heavier ambers of autumn to be hanging around by the end of the day as things have gotten much warmer. I have a go-to set of perfumes for these days of transition which manage to capture this shoulder season between summer and fall. When I want an amber for this time of year I turn to L’Occitane Eau des Baux.

Many of you might walk by the L’Occitane store in your local mall and be unaware there are some pretty great perfumes lurking behind all of the bath and beauty products. They have released just over a hundred perfumes since 1996 always at a really good price point. For this series it skirts the $50 limit but I regularly have found it on sale for under that price and so I’m bending the rules a little bit.

loccitane eau des baux

Eau des Baux was released in 2006 and was composed by perfumer Karine Dubreuil. The other L’Occitane releases for the year had been firmly on the lighter side as green tea, orange, and verbena were the focal points of the earlier 2006 releases. Eau des Baux was meant to be a bit sturdier fragrance. If there was a hallmark at this time in the L’Occitane collection it was a sort of lighter style of fragrance. That would become less prevalent over the next few years but Mme Dubreuil was most likely tasked with making a lighter Oriental. Eau des Baux turns out to be exactly that.

Eau des Baux opens with a creamy green woody accord of bergamot, birch leaves, and fig tree. The bergamot provides the citric core for the rough green quality of the birch leaves to push against. The soft woodiness of the fig tree accord fits between the two notes as if it was meant to be. In the heart the amber accord comes together and it is surrounded by cinnamon and incense. This is a warm amber but it never gets too strident. The cinnamon and incense are also kept from becoming too prominent as well. The base is a clean woody palate cleanser of cedar sweetened with a bit of vanilla.

Eau des Baux has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you’re looking for an amber version of that light sweater you wear on September mornings I think Eau des Baux fits the bill. Make a stop at L’Occitane the next time you’re at the mall you might be surprised at what you find in the fragrance section.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Nomenclature Efflor_esce- Chemist’s Bliss

Let me admit this up front; I am the bullseye on the target audience for the new fragrance brand Nomenclature. Any perfume which is going to be bottled in a stylized Erlenmyer flask and feature a specific synthetic aromachemical has my full attention. When I was at Pitti Fragranze this brand was high on my list to experience.

When I finally worked my way to the booth where co-founders and creative directors Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero were displaying the four debut releases I was delighted with what they are attempting to do. Working with perfumers Frank Voelkl and Patricia Choux, who each composed two of the initial four, each Nomenclature shows off the beauty of chemistry in perfume. Over the next few weeks I will eventually review all four because not only are all pretty good but they will be good jumping off points for a couple of Olfactory Chemistry columns. I am going to start with my favorite Efflor_esce.

frank voelkl

Frank Voelkl

The featured aromachemical in Efflor_esce is Paradisone. Paradisone is the culmination of thirty years of research at Firmenich in trying to improve one of the most important materials in all of perfumery Hedione. If you are interested in the chemistry you can read my Olfactory Chemistry post from a few months ago. Hedione is used primarily because of the diffusive jasmine-like quality it adds to a fragrance. Paradisone is like Hedione on steroids as it is orders of magnitude stronger on every level. If Hedione is candlelight, Paradisone is a halogen spotlight. In point of fact it can become too much of a good thing as it can muscle out everything around it in a poorly constructed fragrance. Just sticking it an alcohol base and exclaiming “Voila!” is not going to make a perfume. Mr. Voelkl had to find some complementary and contrasting notes which displayed Paradisone to its fullest without becoming overbearing. Efflor_esce does this extremely well.

For the opening of Efflor_esce it has a sunny citrus vibe as bergamot and bitter orange provide the sunshine. As the Paradisone begins to make its presence known it takes those citrus notes and allows them to ride on the expanding bubble of the expansive synthetic. If you wonder what I mean when I write about the expansiveness of a synthetic aromachemical the early moments of Efflor_esce are as good an example as I could mention. As the Paradisone expands until that imaginary bubble pops it releases two other florals captured inside as tuberose and osmanthus now combine with it. The tuberose is all complement as it amplifies the intense floral quality. Osmanthus provides contrast with its apricot and leather nature providing a lighter application of dried fruit and animalic facets. This is where Efllor_esce spends the majority of its time on my skin.

Efflor_esce has greater than 24 hour longevity as Paradisone is one of the more tenacious synthetics out there. It also has above average sillage.

If you have enjoyed previous perfumes which featured synthetic ingredients the entire Nomenclature line is going to scratch the same olfactory itch. As I said at the beginning for the chemist all of these lift me to different levels of bliss. Efflor_esce takes me the highest of all of them.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Nomenclature at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

Mark Behnke