New Perfume Review Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendre- Viridescent Iris

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I think if you are a writer, or reader, that means you have an inherent love of words. One of my favorite words is “viridescent”. It is an adjective which means greenish or becoming green. I have known that at some point in time there would be a perfume for which this adjective would be appropriate. That fragrance has arrived, Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendre.

naomi-goodsir

Naomi Goodsir

Ever since meeting Naomi Goodsir at Esxence in 2012 she has become one of my favorite people in all of perfumery. She and partner Renaud Coutaudier have fashioned what I consider one of the best examples on what it takes to succeed as a small niche brand today. In 2012 they began with two releases Cuir Velours and Bois D’Ascese. Many brands would have followed those up rapidly. It took almost a year and a half for the third release Or du Serail. Nearly another 18 months on and the fourth release, Iris Cendre, was premiered at Pitti Fragranze 2015. From many conversations with Ms. Goodsir and M. Coutaudier I know there is nothing which trumps the creative process. They will not add a new release until it is what they think it should be. There is a project currently in the pipeline that I am sure she is tired of me asking about. Her response every time is there is still something left to do to make it what she and M. Coutaudier want it to be. Unlike many of their contemporaries at Pitti Fragranze who release multiple fragrances at a time until the best of their brand is buried underneath an avalanche of mediocrity; Ms. Goodsir has taken the opposite approach. This fastidious attention to detail has produced the best perfume in a line which I already prize highly in Iris Cendre.

renaud coutaudier

Renaud Coutaudier (Photo: Claudio Bonoldi)

For Iris Cendre Ms. Goodsir and M. Coutaudier return to working with perfumer Julien Rasquinet with whom they did the first two releases. It is my speculation that the previous work helped Iris Cendre begin at an advanced state of understanding between the creative team. What has been produced is a unique iris perfume made viridescent.

julien rasquinet

Julien Rasquinet

M. Rasquinet opens with a sweet flourish of tangerine and bergamot bolstered with a grace note of spices. Consider it a flamboyant bow as the curtain raises on the star of the show an extremely decadent orris butter. When orris is used in this form it very often opens very rich, eventually evolving into something very powdery. M. Rasquinet uses a clever assortment of notes to prevent that from happening. Instead of turning into something found on the cosmetics counter it is more like something found beneath the earth as the iris stays much closer to its rooty origination as the rhizome from which orris butter is derived. Early on M. Rasquinet matches the iris with violet adding in the more floral quality of a different purple flower. At this point in any other perfume a descent into powder would be inevitable. Here a clean incense with a slightly metallic character cuts that off at the pass. It picks up the rooty qualities and even makes the violet more astringent. In the base M. Raquinet uses a variation on the cistus, tobacco, and amber construct he used previously in Bois D’Ascese. In that fragrance it was what lurked under the smoke. Here it provides a bit of translucent haze for the final phases.

Iris Cendre has 12-14 hour longevity with average sillage.

This was the very first scent I smelled at this year’s Pitti Fragranze. This was the answer I gave first when anyone asked me what was worth trying. It was the most buzzed about perfume at the fair, rightfully so. The pace and method at which these fragrances have been produced has been vindicated at every turn. Iris Cendre is one of the very best new perfumes of 2015 because of that dedication. Just as at the fair I am not sure I will try anything better this year.

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

Mark Behnke

Header photo courtesy of Luckyscent

The Sunday Magazine: The New Television Renaissance Has Been Delayed

Back in the 1980’s as homes were becoming wired for cable television there were a few channels which trumpeted their desire to uplift Newton Minnow’s description of it as a “vast wasteland”. Before cable most homes had the three major networks ABC, CBS, and NBC, the fledgling FOX network, and PBS. If you lived in a big city you had a few more independent channels showing old movies and repeats of popular television shows. As we were being urged to wire our homes there were new channels which were trumpeting their desire to improve the wasteland and bring intellectual programming that wasn’t dependent on mass audiences or endless fundraising drives. The subtext of that message was we were going to crush the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) by being more focused.

When most people got wired with cable they found two of these networks Bravo and The Learning Channel (TLC). Not long after they would be joined by The History Channel. Bravo advertised itself as the “film and performing arts” channel. TLC called itself “a place for learning minds”. The History Channel was self-explanatory. If each of these lived up to their desired mission we would have a renaissance of intellectual material on our multitude of new channels courtesy of the cable coming out of the wall.

bravo logo

As anyone who flips by these channels today knows all that high faulting’, hoity-toity stuff has been long jettisoned. The turning point for Bravo came when it began showing, in 2003, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”. The show about five gay men who came into a straight man’s life and showed him there was another way was a huge hit garnering over 3 million viewers at its peak. Once the money started to roll in the idea of “film and performing arts” flew out the window and more reality started to take its place. Right now it is the home of the multitudinous “Real Housewives” franchises, a cooking show “Top Chef”, and the fashion designer competition “Project Runway”. All of these huge successful franchises raking in advertising dollars and ratings. PBS not so much.

TLC-logo

TLC went through a similar alteration in 2000 as they had a more modest success in the home decorating show “Trading Spaces”. It would eventually lead to them never saying what the initials stood for as they rebranded the network with the motto “life unscripted”. Most recently that unscripted fare has focused on unusual families. Families of many children like “Jon and Kate plus 8” or the “17/18/19 Kids and Counting” franchises. Here was a connection to PBS as these were modern day versions of the 1971 PBS documentary “An American Family”. The similarity between all of them is the relentless lens of the camera destroyed these families. TLC has recently focused on little people and juvenile beauty queens to fill in their “life unscripted”.

The_History_Channel_logo

The History Channel is perhaps the most egregious evolution of these three examples. In its early days it was solid documentaries about history. In those early days the only things which they were able to procure had something to do with World War 2. Comedians would dub it “The Hitler Channel” because he was seemingly on most of the time. Just as with Bravo and TLC it was a reality program which changed the network; Pawn Stars in 2008. Pawn Stars followed the exploits in a Las Vegas pawn shop. Just like the other two, History would fill up their schedule with series about truckers, lumberjacks and other pawn shops. That would be fine but it is the other programming which really has twisted the function of a channel named History. There are a number of shows which plumb the ancient aliens, Nostradamus, Bigfoot, and conspiracy theory space. These are shows built upon a foundation of spurious facts and the ability to make the slightest morsel into some lurid conspiracy.

TLC and Bravo abandoned their principles but in the end they are entertainment. History seems to me like it should mean factual but that has also gone the way of the entertainment excuse too. What about PBS? Thirty years after these guys were going to put them out of business. Well when I am in the mood for international film, performing arts, documentaries, or educational offerings it is still the place to go. With nary a housewife, ginormous family, or an alien conspiracy theory to be found.

Mark Behnke

Olfactory Chemistry: Calone Part 2- The Search for a Better Mousetrap

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Last month I introduced you to Calone the molecule which launched thousands of marine fragrances. It should come as no surprise that a molecule as important as Calone has attracted much interest for the chemists at the big perfume houses. As I showed in the article on Hedione there is always a better mousetrap to be discovered. In the case of Hedione it was through purifying a mixture down to one specific molecule to find Paradisone. The method used for Calone improvements is more similar to my “day job” in pharmaceutical research.

When I have a new molecule I methodically make changes around the molecule looking for an increase in activity against a particular target. Over time I learn the key pieces of the parent molecule which are necessary for that activity. We call that the pharmacophore. A researcher at Firmenich Jean-Marc Gaudin believes there is an aromachemical equivalent called an olfactophore; that there are essential pieces of a molecule to produce a desired odor profile. He presented this hypothesis in a paper published in January of this year (European Journal of Organic Chemistry, p. 1437-1447, 2015). Following up on a previous 2007 paper ( Helvetica Chimica Acta, vol. 90, p. 1245-1265, 2007) he has used Calone as his basis to explore this. In the figure below I show what was known about Calone.

Calone SAR

The Firmenich group had shown in the 2007 paper that increasing the size of the CH3 group made a “better” Calone. By lengthening it by two carbons they could reduce the “low tide” aspect in Aldolone. By branching it they both attenuated the “low tide” smell and enhanced the floral quality in Lilial.

Aldolone Lilial

Now it was time to work on the spacing and the double bonded carbon on the other side of the molecule. They quickly discovered if they reduced that oxygen to an alcohol they made it much weaker. The Lilial alcohol shown below is described as “fruity, without character, very weak”

Lilial Alcohol

The next idea was to open the ring up allowing for the double-bonded oxygen some flexibility to find the key interaction. The closest they would come is the Aldolone analog shown on the left below which carried a description of “perspiration, aldehydic, slightly aldehyde muguet, vanillic, slightly metallic, nice, too weak”

open and five membered calone analogs

The final idea was to decrease the size of the ring from seven atoms to five. This would keep the sheer flexibility of the molecule in check a bit. They also wanted to give the double-bonded oxygen a little flexibility by attaching it to the five membered ring instead of making it part of it. Here is where they found some success as the molecule on the right above was described as “watermelon, aldehydic, Aldolone, Cyclosal, green, oyster, ozone, watery” This sounds like a different level Calone as now the watermelon is made more prominent plus the idea of a greener Calone sounds really interesting to me.

This paper makes a small incursion into the hypothesis that an olfactophore exists but it is but one part of the biochemical enigma that our sense of smell presents to scientists.

Mark Behnke

Header: Picture of the Board Game "Mouse Trap"

New Perfume Review Moresque Aristoqrati- The Not Usual Suspects

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There are so many perfume brands claiming to combine Middle Eastern perfumery with Western perfumery that it has become trite when another claims to be doing it. It is with a great deal of skepticism I approach these claims as most often it is tilted mostly to one side of the equation. The other half gets what amounts to a matador’s swoosh of a red cape of the other influence. Every once in a while there is a brand which actually does try to live up to that. I was sent a sample set of the new brand Moresque which is just beginning to be sold outside of a handful of Middle Eastern outlets. There are seven perfumes within the inaugural line. The one which impressed me most was Aristoqrati.

Moresque was started five years ago when CEO Cindy Guillemant met perfumer Andrea Thero Casotti. Together they wanted to produce a line which espoused equal parts Middle Eastern exoticism and Italian style. It is much easier to type out than to achieve. For their efforts they have produced three perfumes in the White Collection and three perfumes in the Black Collection. Aristoqrati makes up the sole member to date of the Art Collection.

Cindy-Guillemant,-Andrea-Casotti

Cindy Guillemant (third from l.) and Andrea Thero Casotti (second from r.)

For Aristoqrati Ms. Guillemant and Sig. Casotti wanted to marry the idea of Middle Eastern aristocracy with Italian flair. Most often that first bit of inspiration means oud. Thankfully this creative team has a different sense of history as instead of oud; nutmeg is the link between the Middle East and Italy. During the Dark Ages the Arabs traded nutmeg to Europe through Venice. It was prized as a potential cure for the Black Plague; it wasn't. It became more known as an exotic cooking ingredient worth its weight in gold. It would find its way to Tuscany many years later and be a part of that style of cuisine. The nutmeg in Aristoqrati pulls together an otherwise simple marriage of a few notes into something which actually does pay respect to both sides of its desired heritage.

Sig. Casotti opens Aristoqrati up with the nutmeg and early on it is matched with the green-tinted floralcy of geranium. There is a nuttiness to nutmeg which the greenish quality of the geranium enhances. The sweeter character survives into the heart. There it is met with vetiver and peony. This mix of these three notes is where Aristoqrati really thrived on my skin. Peony has that spring-fresh feeling to it. Vetiver is more grassy than woody. As mentioned above the nutmeg turns sweeter by this point. Sig. Casotti hits the balance just right. Eventually all of this drifts away to a fairly pedestrian amber and patchouli base.

Aristoqrati has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage. All of the Moresque fragrances are called Esprit de Parfum. Putting the concentration somewhere between extrait and eau de parfum. I found they all wore on my skin closer to something at extrait strength which means close to the skin.

I have great respect for the decision not to trot out the usual suspects when trying to make an East meets West perfume. Aristoqrati shows there is plenty of spice in that combination if you just use your imagination.

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

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Pitti Fragranze 2015 Final Wrap-Up Part 2- The Top 10 New Fragrances I Tried

I spent three days at Pitti Fragranze 2015 trying 96 new perfumes. It turns out it is very difficult to reduce that list down to ten. A year ago it felt like there were many brands vying for the same bit of olfactory space. This year as I look over the list below I am really pleased to see no obvious thread of similarity running through it. Here are the typical caveats for this list. These are all initial impressions obtained from a small patch of skin during three days where there is nothing but perfume in the air. Also these are the Top 10 which are new to me. Releases like Arquiste Nanban would have made the list but I had it before coming to Florence. I also did not mention Pitti-only perfumes like Pierre Guillaume’s Lumiere Fauve which would have also been on this list. Here is the list in alphabetical order:

ALTAIA Yu Son– Married creative directors and owners of Eau D’Italie Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena did some ancestral research and found their great great great grandfathers intersected in Argentina. It has produced an inaugural edition of three new fragrances all by perfumer Daphne Bugey. Yu Son is the orange-centric fragrance that cuts right to the heart of their story.

Essenzialmente Laura Lavanda- Perfumer Laura Tonatto has debuted a new line of fragrance with 39(!) new entries. It is overwhelming but buried within all of that new perfume is a trio of lavender fragrances which deserve to rise above the clutter. The best of them is the simplest as Sig.ra Tonatto combines five sources of lavender to create a supernatural lavender accord.

Ineke Idyllwild– Independent perfumer Ineke Ruhland had been focused on her Floral Curiosities collection over the past couple of years and her alphabet series had fallen behind. Ms. Ruhland is about to rectify that oversight with not only I but J coming out in short order. It was Idyllwild which completely mesmerized me. Ms. Ruhland took me through the building blocks which make up this gorgeous smoky rose. It left me more impressed than ever at her ability to construct a perfume.

mcg elephant and roses

Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses– Sig.ra Gentile was daydreaming at her home and she imagined an elephant walking through a field of roses crushing them as it passed. Her translation into a fragrance was to merge the animalic odor of the elephant with the floralcy of the rose. She chose a Turkish rose so that the spicy components would pick up the animalic accord it was paired with. Now when wearing it I see the pachyderm amongst the petals.

Masque Milano Romanza– Creative directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi have reached the act of their olfactory opera where the love story is told. Nose Cristiano Canali and the creative team decided on narcissus as the smell of passionate love. Romanza is a narcotic love poem written in bold floral strokes. I broke my first vial and my bedroom was filled with this narcissus swaddling me in its addictive embrace. I never slept so well.

Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendre– This was hands down the most buzzed about perfume at this year’s fair. Knowing nods were traded by those of us who had tried it. Ms. Goodsir and her creative partner Renaud Coutadier working with perfumer Julien Rasquinet created a green iris which never turns powdery on my skin. I already cannot get it out of my head and have been wearing it since my return. It is everything about perfume that I love; creativity, a twist on the familiar, and something eminently wearable.

Nomenclature Efflor_esce– I admit any perfume based on synthetic molecules and packaged in stylized Erlenmyer flasks is always going to have my attention. Creative directors Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero working with perfumer Frank Voelkl take the synthetic Paradisone, a modern successor to Hedione, and put it at the center of Efflor_esce. Surrounding it are florals osmanthus, tuberose, and neroli paired with bigarade and bergamot. Paradisone is the unquestioned star of the show but the complementary notes chosen by the creative team make it sparkle and shine.

olfactive studio selfie

Olfactive Studio Selfie– Creative director Celine Verleure usually uses a photograph as her brief. For Selfie you are faced with a mirrored surface to see your reflection within. To capture the narcissistic tendency to take one’s picture all the time Mme Verleure turned to perfumer Thomas Fontaine. Together the perfume they created has a fantastically realized heart of cinnamon, balsam, lily and an accord of maple syrup. I am not sure I get the relationship to egotism but I do know I definitely want to see my reflection in a bottle.

Olivier Durbano Chrysolithe- I mentioned this last year that M. Durbano really has grown as a perfumer. Chrysolithe confirms that assessment. M. Durbano returns to naming his fragrances after crystals. There were a number of perfumes I tried this year which contained sage. M. Durbano, by combining it with cumin on top; cedar and vetiver in the base, forms a sage which shows off all of its many attributes spectacularly.

Tauerville Rose FlashAndy Tauer working on his second line of perfumes has created a set of three flash fragrances that are all extremely good. I purposely held off trying these because I knew I could experience them for the first time with Hr. Tauer at Pitti. We saved Rose Flash for last and it just slayed me. If you like Une Rose Chypree this is Hr. Tauer showing you a different face of rose. It carries a definitive signature of the rose bush with the green of the leaves matched with the woodiness of the stems. Over it all a spicy lush rose prevails. There is nothing not to enjoy here if you like rose perfumes. Just make sure you get some before it is gone.  

That’s it for my wrap-up of Pitti Fragranze 2015. Full reviews of all of these will be forthcoming over the next few weeks plus many others which just missed making the Top 10. Thanks for following the coverage of Pitti Fragranze 2015 on Colognoisseur.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Pitti Fragranze 2015 Wrap-Up Part 1- People, Trends, and Teases

Every time I attend a perfume fair like Pitti Fragranze in Florence I value the concentration of new perfume it presents. The amount of different brands easily allows me to see if there any prevalent trends. It also allows me to spend some time with some of my favorite people in perfumery. This year there were a couple of those who really stood out for me.

First was Andy Tauer who was as gracious as ever. What impressed me was his new Tauerville brand which comes in at a price point about half of his regular Tauer Perfumes releases. The three perfumes Rose Flash, Vanilla Flash and Incense Flash are a reminder that Hr. Tauer was one of the first successful independent perfumers. The Tauerville line feels like he is returning to those early days in the lab creating for the sheer joy of it. I am looking forward to seeing what new denizens of Tauerville the future holds. I am hopeful that others will pick up this initiative and repeat it with their brand.  The entire package deserves some imitation.

It has been a few years since I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Ineke Ruhland of Ineke Perfumes. It had been two years since her last alphabet perfume Hothouse Flower. Making up for lost time she is adding two new letters; Idyllwild and Jack & Jackie. I spent a delightful hour with her as she displayed the raw ingredients used to create both of these new perfumes. When smelling some of the materials she employed I am left to admire her skill in toning down some of the louder ones and making some of the softer ones more noticeable.

IMG_20150912_070041601

I would go through the same experience a day earlier at the MANE panel where they handed the audience strips of every ingredient in the new JF Schwarzlose Altruism. What struck me between the two similar presentations was how precise a balancing act a perfumer needs to achieve a desired effect.

If there was one trend which stood out for me it was the resurgence of leather. It has always been around but the fall and winter new releases are heavily upholstered in fine leather. Last year it was a bland pretty tuberose which was the prevailing note. This year the leathers showed an admirable array of effects. One reason for this is leather is an accord and each perfumer has their own version of it. Because it is an accord it also can be tuned more specifically which makes it more varied in effect.

The other smaller trend I noticed was green tuberose is going to make a big statement over the next few months. Two of the sneak previews I received used the greener less boisterous version of tuberose as the central note. It is a much better alternative to full-spectrum tuberose which retains some of the indoles and the green keeps the more effusive nature under wraps. It gives room for brands to find something different under the tuberose sun.

Finally I end with some “blind items” where I share some of the confidential previews I obtained with some key information missing.

It may be spring of 2016 before the eau de cucumber perfume I’ve been teased with twice finally sees the light of day. I can wait because as it exists right now it should be perfect for that time of year.

Another brand is making a fragrant bridge between the creative director’s home country and the perfumer’s home country. The early version I tried of that needs a little more work but the heart accord I smelled was perfect. It just needs some equally impressive running mates.

I smelled three new perfumes from an independent perfumer for three different brands. I think all three are among the best work this perfumer has done. The gourmand coffee one is the one I am having the hardest time trying to forget.

Pierre Guillaume had one of the filthiest skankiest scents I’ve smelled in a while. That was an experiment made especially for Pitti Fragranze. A different perfumer displayed something almost as dirty with the desire to release it. I hope they do.

That’s it for Part 1. I’ll be back for Part 2 tomorrow where I name the Top 10 New Perfumes I tried at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Blackbird Zola Jesus Taiga- Snowy Forest

There haven’t been a lot of Rock & Roll fragrances that have actually really captured the sense of the music within the perfume. When I received my latest set of samples from Seattle-based Blackbird there was one of these collaborations in the package. Perfumer Aaron Way collaborated closely with indie rock singer Zola Jesus to develop a new fragrance to coincide with the release of her fourth album “Taiga”. The new Zola Jesus Taiga perfume is the result.

Zola Jesus is an American indie music artist who composes moody songs which make full use of her unique vocals. The video above for “Dangerous Days” off of “Taiga” is a good example of the kind of influences found throughout her work. This is of course the problem when I am familiar with the artist because I carry some preconceptions of what I think a perfume based on Zola Jesus should smell like. Zola Jesus is quoted in an interview on Nylon that Zola Jesus Taiga smells, “primal, environmental, ancestral, of earth.” I think Mr. Way approached this from the literal meaning of the word taiga as the extreme northern pine forests mainly found in Canada and Russia. Running throughout the fragrance is a swirl of consistent smoke similar to the way woodsmoke hangs in the trees on a cold winter day.

Aaron Way

Aaron Way

Zola Jesus Taiga opens with the smoke of both wood and incense providing a set of complementary smokiness. Frankincense is used in a very pure form and as such it carries that liturgical kind of ritual smoke with it. Mr. Way fashions a woodsmoke accord from Choya Loban and cade. This vies with two sources of frankincense from India and Oman. The latter is a particularly smoky version of frankincense. The frozen forest is represented by a panoply of wood notes as copaiba balsam, cedar, gaiac, oak, and sandalwood provide the arboreal accord in the heart. The base is an oud accord made of nagarmotha which is a much more restrained oud-like presence. It provides its own kind of exotic smoke.

Zola Jesus Taiga has 14-16 hour longevity. It also has very prodigious sillage for 4-6 hours before mellowing out to something more average over the remaining time on my skin.

I am not sure Zola Jesus Taiga captures the Zola Jesus part of the equation as well as it does the taiga part. If you’re looking for an indie rock perfume this still doesn’t fit the bill on that score. If you want a woody smoky perfume that captures a high winter day Zola Jesus Taiga gets that correct.

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

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2015 Day 3 Wrap-Up- Molecules, Ancestry and Boxing

Buongiorno Perfumistas!

It should be no surprise to anyone that if there is a perfume line which is going to excite me it will be one that wears its molecules on its sleeve. In the case of the new brand Nomenclature it wears its molecules on its stylized Erlenmeyer flask bottles. This is the brainchild of creative directors Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero. There are four synthetics ingredients which are the star of each of the four inaugural releases by perfumers Franck Voelkl or Patricia Choux. My favorite was efflur_esce which features the “Hedione on steroids” synthetic Paradisone. If you are a fan of the Escentric Molecules series Nomenclature is another set of fragrances in that theme.

nomenclature

There is a television show called “Who Do You Think You Are?” where a celebrity uncovers their ancestry. The perfume world has its own version courtesy of Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena. The married owners of Eau de Italie did some comparing of their ancestry and found out two of their great great great grandfathers intersected in mid 19th century Argentina. The line is called ALTAIA which is an acronym for A Long Time Ago In Argentina. Each of the three perfumes tell a part of the story of the life and times of Marina and Sebastian’s ancestors. I really fell for the tart orange of Yu Son. All three were composed by perfumer Daphne Bugey.

I love narcissus but it seems like it is never used to good effect. The new Masque Milano Romanza is a narcissus extravaganza. Perfumer Cristiano Canali collaborating with creative directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi have created a narcotic ode to first love.

For the next hour or so I received sneak peeks of upcoming perfumes from Nishane Istanbul, Neela Vermeire Creations, and Etat Libre D’Orange. One is by Quentin Bisch. One is a modern chypre and the other is A Rummy Delight. Which is which? Time will tell.

I had two final stops to make. One was at Frapin for the new release The Orchid Man by perfumer Jerome Epinette. Despite what the name infers this is inspired by the world of boxing as it was practiced in the 1930’s. M. Epinette has made a light spicy leather which still packs a bit of punch.

My last stop was at Essenzialmente Laura where I had heard great things about the lavender trio of perfumes. Perfumer Laura Tonatto has combined five different sources of lavender into La Lavanda. They came from two places in France, one in Torino, one in Morocco and one in England. Mme Tonatto combines all of them into a knot of lavender which has a mesmerizing fullness to it. The other two Lavambra and La Lavanda di Leonardo are also worth seeking out if you like lavender.

I spent the last hour saying my farewells hugging my perfumed friends. I am always sad to leave everyone even though my feet are killing me.

Until the next time we all meet; Ciao Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2015 Day 2 Wrap-Up-From a Flash Mob to a Frozen Daiquiri

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Buongiorno Perfumistas!

The beginning of Day 2 at Pitti Fragranze began with a Flash Mob. Okay not really it began with me talking with Andy Tauer about his new collection of Tauerville Flash fragrances. There are three in the collection and I knew I would be seeing him here so I stayed away from trying them. The three perfumes I tried were Incense Flash, Vanilla Flash, and Rose Flash. There is so much to admire from this concept, including the modest prices for these simply packaged perfumes. That being said my presumption was the one which was going to slay me was Rose Flash and it definitely did. If you are a fan of Une Rose Chypree then you simply must try Rose Flash. It is what I am wearing on one arm while I write this.

What’s on the other arm you ask? Unfortunately it is nothing which is for sale. Pierre Guillaume creates a special capsule collection only for Pitti every year. This year, after the success of the Collection Croisiere, he needed to stretch his artistic skills at the other end of the spectrum. The two Pitti only releases were called Lumiere Fauve and Leathermore. The creation of Lumiere Fauve is a funny story as M. Guillaume was particularly irritated by a review of one of the Collection Croisiere. The reviewer intimated it was a piece of crap. His thought was you want to see crap I’ll give it to you but I’ll make it 24K Gold crap. Before I got to try Lumiere Fauve I got to smell the unadulterated version of Hyraceum which would form the crappy core. At 100% strength it nearly made me gag. At 4.7% strength in Lumiere Fauve it was the dirty nucleus to be gilded. I loved both of these purely experimental non-commercial scents. They are the soul of spontaneous creativity. I also tried the new Huitieme Art Shermire and it is a fabulous floral iris done the Huitieme way.

After that I went over to Richard Luscher Britos who were debuting a new sixth terroir fragrance. The only problem was in a bit of fun they placed it behind a locked cabinet. The idea was to send keys to their distributors to come unlock the new release. When I showed up the Keymaster was having lunch but he returned to let me in to try the new release based on the welcome tea you receive when visiting a family in Marrakech. It is another all-natural triumph for the line.

chrysolithe

I finally had the time to catch up with two of my favorite people in perfume. First was Olivier Durbano who was debuting his eleventh perfume release Chrysolithe. After last year’s Prometheus he has returned to naming his stone poems after crystals. Chrysolithe is a symbol of purity in gemstone form. The opening salvo of herbal and spice notes draws you in until jasmine and woods provide the foundation. It is another step forward for a perfume brand which has been on a consistent upward trajectory.

I have waited patiently for two years for Ineke Ruhland to release a new alphabet fragrance as we have been stuck on H for a while. I was doubly delighted to find I will get not only I but J too in a few months. As part of the preview of both perfumes Ms. Ruhland sat down with me and, much like the Mane panel yesterday, let me smell the finished product but then also let me try the raw materials which went into it. Idyllwild starts with a green rhubarb which then segues in to a perfectly created pine accord before finishing on an intense woody note. Ms. Ruhland uses sage particularly well to add a veil of smoke. Jack and Jackie is a chilled daiquiri as lime and rum open it up. It proceeds through cedar and a new synthetic called Pyroprunet which is a slow building note which adds a dried fruit aspect reminiscent of raisins. It is a perfume re-telling of that comfort food Rum Raisin ice cream. Now that she had made me hungry and thirsty it was time to close out Day 2.

Tomorrow I am heading to see my chemist’s dream collection Nomenclature to start. Being the last day I will be moving fast as I can to see the last brands I want to see.

Until then Ciao Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2015 Day 1 Wrap-Up- A Party in Perfumeland

1

Buongiorno Perfumistas!

Day 1 of any perfume exposition is a time for hugs, kisses, and handshakes as I renew my acquaintance with the best smelling people I know. The first moments of Pitti Fragranze 2015 were spent with one of those friends as I walked in with perfumer Vero Kern. I would finish my day with her but at this point we headed our separate ways.

My first stop was with Naomi Goodsir to try the new release Iris Cendre. This was as good a start to this year’s fair as I could have hoped for. Working with perfumer Julien Rasquinet, Mme Goodsir has developed an iris which has a distinctly green tint matching the color of the juice. It got the honor of being the first perfume sprayed on my skin. I am still enjoying the final stages as I write this.

Next up was Carlos Huber of Arquiste to learn about the room fragrance he did for the St. Regis Hotel chain. It is based on the fabulous parties the founding patroness of the St. Regis hotel, Caroline Aster, used to throw. It is called Caroline’s Four Hundred to represent the guest who would attend these soirees. The room scent captures the flowers present throughout the party and the wood of the ballroom while holding a flute of champagne. I was imagining how nice it would be to experience this as I walked up to check-in after a long day’s travel. I think it would have the desired pick-me-up effect.

I went to visit with Niclas Lydeen of Agonist where he showed me the new Blue North. This is a perfume which captures the dichotomy of the deep cold of his native Sweden in winter coupled with the ability to come inside and snuggle in the warmth of the home. After having done collectible glass sculptural bottles for the previous Agonist releases; for Blue North it will be a collectible piece of fabric with the star-filled sky of the Swedish night upon it. It also represents the cocooning one does in the depth of winter as you draw it close around you.

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In between all of this I attended two panels. The first was from Mane. Last year’s exploration of their Jungle Essence process was one of the highlights. This year’s panel was a different introduction to the raw materials Mane produces. Lutz Hermann the creative director and owner of J.F. Schwarzlose worked together with artist Paul de Florian and nose Veronique Nyberg to create the new perfume Altruist. The panel then proceeded to breakdown Altruist into all of the raw materials that went into it. Cyril Gallardo explained the processes which produced each one followed by Mme Nyberg explaining the effect it produced in the fragrance. We were given a strip of Altruist to start with and that was followed by each of the twelve raw materials used. The ones which made the biggest impressions upon me were the fractionation of lemon where the citral was removed. It took that familiar note and turned it significantly greener and tarter. The Jungle Essence process was used on black pepper and it turned that material distinctly woody. Without knowing I would have thought it was some exotic new hardwood. The synthetic Aqual is a powerhouse new aldehyde. On the strip at 0.01% it still packed a punch.

The second panel was a discussion moderated by Chandler Burr between Francois Henin of Jovoy Paris and Franco Wright & Adam Eastwood of Los Angeles’ Scent Bar and online Luckyscent. It was a very lively discussion as the two businesses discussed the difference of selling fragrance in Europe and the US. One surprising takeaway for me was that the US business was primarily done online while Jovoy’s business was mainly done in-store. It definitively pointed out the difference in the willingness of the two sets of consumers to use the internet as their shopping space. I was also surprised that of the top selling fragrances at both there was not one American perfume brand to be found. Both have found a steadily growing trend of male customers visiting their stores. In LA it was noted the guys were more likely to be the ones who spent a couple hours in the store. The hour flew by with the exchanges.

I finally ended my day with Ms. Kern as she gave me a sneak peek at her new releases. All I will say is she has tobacco on her mind this time. What she is doing with that is something to be told another day.

On Day 2 I am starting it out with Andy Tauer to get my first sniff of Incense Flash. Until tomorrow, Ciao Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke