New Perfume Review Arquiste Nanban- The East Comes West

One of the more interesting periods in history was when western sailing ships discovered Japan. The very insular society was shaken to its core as evidence of other civilizations were uncovered. The resulting culture clash as Western attitudes and Eastern honor clashed is the subject of much popular culture in books and film. Even though it wasn’t as well-known there was the reverse as Japanese sailing ships made their way west. The first diplomatic mission from Japan to Europe via Mexico took place from 1611-1618. Carlos Huber the creative director behind Arquiste uses this historical trip as the inspiration for the new Arquiste Nanban.

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Carlos Huber

Nanban in its first usage in 16th century Japan referred to the visitors from Portugal and Spain. It has evolved over time to come to mean Japanese art of that time period which has obvious Western influences. This is fertile ground for Sr. Huber to mine as he has done with historical touchstones for the previous nine releases in the line. He has employed his team of perfumers in Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier to collaborate together for the third time. This is another example where the teamwork between this team leads to extraordinary results. There is a clear bond between all of them whenever I have met them. I think that shows in the perfume they produce. While all three worked on the preliminary concept it would be Sr. Huber and Sr. Flores-Roux who would carry it to the finish. The idea was to have Nanban be the view of the West this Eastern diplomatic mission would bring back home.

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Rodrigo Flores-Roux

The story Nanban tells is of a Japanese delegation who has been away from home for too long. When they arrived in Mexico I can imagine they must have been very happy to see the familiar osmanthus flowers greeting them after the long ocean crossing. This is where Nanban starts. The perfumers then dust it with black pepper, infuse it with black tea, and cloak it in saffron. All of the Western influences are imposed on the Eastern floral. The feel of culture clash is vividly on display. In the heart sandalwood and myrrh provide a meditative core of resinous woods. That calm is shattered with the new Western influences of coffee and tanned leather. The tug of war begins in earnest as the coffee and leather are in direct opposition to the sandalwood and myrrh. This is a civilized struggle as on my skin it was a vigorous negotiation as to which would eventually have the upper hand. Over time the coffee and leather win out. By the time we get to the heart the members of the mission breathe deeply of the forest adjacent to the harbor. The woods of home embrace them upon their return. Cade wood, copahu balm, and frankincense provide the structure of the homecoming.

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Yann Vasnier

Nanban has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

The best Arquiste fragrances are descriptions of the everlasting change history provides. Nanban is one of the liveliest discussions to take place so far. On the days I wore Nanban I found myself engrossed in the voyage it took me on. It also made me consider what it must have been like for the crew of the Japanese ship alone in the West trying to build a bridge. I can’t ask more from a perfume than to engage my intellect as well as my emotions, The Arquiste team has once again put time in a bottle, making it beautiful.

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

Mark Behnke

Header photo by Hisao Oka and Edwin Pabon

New Perfume Review Dior Sauvage- Rocky Horror Perfume Show

There is nothing which exemplifies the principle of “it is so bad it is good” than the 1970’s cult movie “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. It was one of the earliest examples of a bad movie kept alive because some people found something lovable about a film containing time-traveling transvestites from the planet Transylvania. One of the things which makes it endearing is the filmmakers just couldn’t stop themselves adding in one more thing to the mix. It means that somewhere within the running time of the movie there is at least one thing which will make you smile. That is the hallmark of most of the movies which fit the “so bad it is good” category; lots of recognizable bits and pieces jammed together.

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Francois Demachy

I was thinking a lot about the “so bad it is good” concept while trying the new mass-market release Dior Sauvage. Francois Demachy who has been in charge of all things fragrant at Dior has made the Dior version of the perfume for a man who only has one bottle of perfume on his dresser. As with many other brands it requires M. Demachy to mash together a number of popular masculine perfume tropes into his own version of a “greatest hits” perfume. That there is a market for this kind of perfume I have no doubt. Other brands have proven there is. When I received my sample and tried it the first time. I immediately dismissed it as boring and derivative. Then I went about my evening cooking and doing blog things. Lo and behold I kept pulling the patch of skin with Sauvage on it back to my nose fairly frequently. If it was so boring and derivative why couldn’t I completely ignore it? I felt I needed to try wearing it at least one day, which turned into two days. Yes I’ve smelled all of this before. Yes it is as unoriginal as it sounds. But I couldn’t stop myself from enjoying it.

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"The Time Warp" from Rocky Horror Picture Show

If there is going to be one thing which keeps people at arm’s length it will be that Sauvage wears its synthetic heart on its sleeve. Without doing a thorough analysis I am pretty sure there is only one naturally sourced ingredient in the formula. That ingredient is Szechuan pepper and it is one of four notes which provide a chaotic start to Sauvage. M. Demachy takes geranium, the aforementioned pepper, bergamot, and elemi and smooshes them together. With this he begins to check off boxes; citrus (It’s just a jump to the left), spice (and then a step to the right), masculine floral (with your hands on your hips), and light woody resin (you bring your knees in tight). He adds in synthetic ambroxan (but it’s the pelvic thrust), safe base notes of patchouli (that really drives you insane) and vetiver (let’s do the Time Warp again).

Sauvage has 18 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Sauvage is as fun as doing the Time Warp at a showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Just like that kind of thing you might feel a little guilty for enjoying it so much. Better yet just embrace Sauvage and take a jump to the left.

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

Mark Behnke

Atelier Cologne 101- Five To Get You Started

There are certain brands which I feel are “mine”. What I mean by that is once I started writing about perfume more seriously, and regularly, there were some brands that were starting out at the same time. I and those brands have grown-up together so they are “mine”. Most of those won’t be ready for the 101 treatment for a few years; Atelier Cologne is.

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Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel

Atelier Cologne started in 2010 with five releases. Creative director/ co-owner Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and co-owner Christophe Cervasel have created a brand which has flourished in the last five plus years. The concept was simple to up the perfume oil concentration in a cologne architecture to create long-lasting colognes which they call cologne absolues. They have worked exclusively with two perfumers Jerome Epinette and Ralf Schwieger. As I constantly mention, that kind of consistent creative relationship can be very good for a brand. It creates a signature which a buyer can come to rely upon. There are few brands who have defined themselves better than Atelier Cologne. I think they are one of the best current examples of how to start and grow your perfume brand. With the release of Musc Imperial they have released 25 perfumes in just under six years. If you need a place to get started here are the five that should be top of the list.

When I met Mme Ganter-Cervasel for the first time she stuck a strip of Orange Sanguine by Hr. Schwieger under my nose. It was probably the moment the mix of orange and blood orange hit me that this line imprinted itself on my consciousness. If you want a citrus perfume which lasts all-day this is the one as it moves through a floral intermezzo of geranium before ending on sandalwood. All kept at a perfect pitch throughout.

It would be a year later with Vanille Insensee by Hr. Schwieger where Atelier Cologne would show even the deeper notes in perfumery could be given the cologne absolue treatment. Hr. Schwieger creates a fantastic transparent vanilla which opens with lime and coriander to jasmine and vetiver down to oak and vanilla. A strong green thread runs throughout and by the time the sweet of the vanilla shows up in the base it seems like it should always have been the basis for a cologne.

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Rose Anonyme by M. Epinette might be the best single fragrance in the entire line. He uses one of the best rose raw materials I have experienced as the centerpiece. Ginger on top provides the intro to the rose and an earthy accord of patchouli, bezoin, and papyrus give you the sense of the plant growing in the soil. In a field as crowded as rose perfumes this one is in the very upper tiers of that category.

M. Epinette would again display another set of fantastic floral raw materials in Silver Iris. A Florentine orris and mimosa from Grasse form the crisp floral heart. A “kir royale” accord comes before getting to that. This provides the chill snap of fizzy fruity champagne. The florals provide a pillowy contrast to that. It all ends with patchouli and tonka singing a sweet lullaby.

I really love fig perfumes but there hasn’t been a good one in the last few years until earlier this year Figuier Ardent by Hr. Schwieger was released. This all starts with a green fig swathed in cardamom, anise, and pepper. Like a time-lapse photo the fig ripens on my skin into a lush rich creamy experience surrounded by orris, tonka, and cedar. This is the best fig perfume of the last five years.

A final note on this brand. I am often asked for “office-friendly” suggestions. Atelier Cologne is right at the top of my list for those recommendations. Because these are cologne constructs they don’t overwhelm in any way. The higher perfume oil concentration just makes them last all-day and then some. I think if you haven’t introduced yourself to “my” line the five above are a good place to start.

Disclosure: This review based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Roja Parfums Sweetie Aoud- AbFab Oud

There are times I find it hard not to giggle when I hear the names of upcoming perfumes. I had a large case of the giggles when I heard the  names of the three perfumes which made up the Roja Parfums Tutti Frutti collection; Candy Aoud, Fruity Aoud, and Sweetie Aoud. Based on those names I was expecting a mixture of extreme sweetness matched with the pungency of fine oud. Roja Dove the creative mind behind these perfumes had something else in mind.

None of the three entries in this collection adhere to what my pedestrian mind was thinking. None of these would I describe as sweet. Also none of these has an incredibly prominent oud note in it. The sweetest is Candy Aoud which is surprisingly where you find the fruit. The oudiest, and it isn’t that oudy, is Fruity Aoud. Which leaves the one I am reviewing today which is Sweetie Aoud.

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Roja Dove

When I heard the name my mind kept rolling back to the BBC comedy series Absolutely Fabulous. In that series the lead characters greeted each other with the phrase, “Sweetie Darling!” That series was about a pair of women who worked in the London fashion industry. It would be safe to say the lead characters’ better days were behind them although they were oblivious to that fact. While I was wearing Sweetie Aoud I realized it was also a bit of an illusion as well. It starts with the oud because I am pretty sure it is an oud accord and if there is any real oud in the formula it is very buried. I suspect the use of the accord over the real thing is intentional because of the three perfumes in this collection Sweetie Aoud has a more delicate framework that real oud most likely would have impacted negatively. What is here is a slightly gourmand-like fragrance much more transparent than most of the other entries from Mr. Dove.

The early development of Sweetie Aoud is a fast moving affair as it transitions rapidly into its central accord. A whiff of artemesia, a drive-by rose and we arrive at the business end of Sweetie Aoud. This fragrance settles into a very interesting spice cake accord for a large part of its development on my skin. Cardamom is the flavor of this cake as it sets itself upon a yeasty foundation. It is then placed within a wooden cabinet lined with gaiac, cedar, and juniper. These add a crisp clean framing device to the gourmand accord within. At this point is when the oud accord begins to very lightly make itself known. It adds a bit of contrast without becoming too strident. This is where Sweetie Aoud remains on my skin for hours. Very late on patchouli becomes more noticeable but it is this spice cake, framed by wood, hazed by an oud accord which is what Sweetie Aoud is all about.

Sweetie Aoud has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Sweetie Aoud is one of the lightest fragrances in the entire Roja Parfums line. This is more a description which holds within the brand. Comparing Sweetie Aoud to other brands known for their transparency and it is much more substantial than those. I just want those who love the more powerhouse Roja Parfums to be aware Sweetie Aoud is not like that. I found the switch to be very enjoyable and especially easy to wear in these last days of summer. I think it is going to be a great choice for the fall, too. So Roja Sweetie Darling I loved this new Sweetie Aoud thing. I could do with a few more in this style.

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

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Attends Pitti Fragranze 13

Buongiorno Perfumistas! I am heading to Florence, Italy to cover the thirteenth version of Pitti Fragranze.

The theme for this year’s edition is A Kaleidoscope of Scents as the Stazione Leopolda will be turned into a celebration of scent and color designed by Alessandro Moradei.

Chandler Burr is curating an installation of fifteen pieces of visual art paired with fifteen pieces of olfactory art. Each pairing is going to be dispersed throughout the exhibit hall allowing for each one to be a surprise as you stroll the fair.

Two panels I am looking forward to are the one by Mane on the opening day, Friday, as they present a comparison between natural and synthetic raw materials. Also on Friday, Mr. Burr moderates a panel where the owners of Luckyscent in Los Angeles, Franco Wright and Adam Eastwood, compare and contrast their retail experience with Francois Henin of Jovoy in Paris.

This is all in addition to over 250 brands being displayed on the show floor.

I will be posting daily reports of all I encounter each day of the exposition. Followed by my wrap-up upon my return home.

Colognoisseur will be your eyes and nose in Florence.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Memo Paris African Leather- Savannah Smiles

One of the things I truly appreciate is when there is a long-term marriage of creative director and perfumer. It is not the usual state of affairs for a fragrance brand as the majority of them have a number of different perfumers they work with. What I like about the more monogamous fragrant relationship is there is a real sense of evolution as you move along with the brand. I was thinking about that as I tried the new Memo Paris African Leather.

Memo Paris started as a brand in 2007 with four releases. Co-owner Clara Molloy provided the creative direction and her partner in perfume for the last eight years has been perfumer Alienor Massenet. I wouldn’t discover the line until a few years later. One of the first Memo perfumes I owned was Moon Dance a perfume described as “an imaginary safari on the moon”. In that first collection from 2007 there was a perfume called Lalibela which was inspired by the Ethiopian city of the same name. In both of these cases these were the early versions of leather and Africa from the line. As Mme Molloy and Mme Massenet returned to these grander inspirations for African Leather there is very clear evidence of how much they have grown together as a creative team as African Leather is perhaps the best perfume in the entire Memo Paris line.

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Clara Molloy

This time the safari is more literal as African Leather is reminiscent of the smell of wide open savannahs stretching to the horizon. Lalibela used incense and tobacco to create the exotic; African Leather uses a fantastic trio of spice notes to convey the same impression. Put together it just feels like the culmination of a fruitful creative partnership resulting in a fantastic fragrance.

One of the things which really allows African Leather to stand out is that Mme Massenet employs molecular distillations of the natural materials. These versions allow for a specific fraction of the entire essential oil to be isolated resulting in a different scent profile. This effect is used nicely by Mme Massenet as she employs each ingredient for the desired effect.

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Alienor Massenet

African Leather opens with a trio of spices; cardamom, saffron, and cumin. They provide a warm breeze as if the mid-day wind is sweeping the smell of the open plains to your nose. I wasn’t able to find out the source of the saffron Mme Massenet used here but it has one of the more pronounced combinations of warmth and shimmer I think I have noticed in saffron in a perfume. It floats above the entire perfume for almost all of its development giving this interesting textural quality. The heart is the molecular distillation of geranium where the greener facets have been stripped away by the process leaving the floral aspects. I have often called geranium a “green rose”. This fraction puts the lie to that description as once the green is removed, via a physical process, the floral is much more expansive. It needs to be because the leather accord is what makes up the other half of the heart. This is that animalic smell that feels alive. Like just over that hill there is a herd of wildebeest that your nose picks up before your eyes do. The base is another example of molecular distillation as patchouli with its earthy qualities enhanced is mixed with vetiver with its greener grassier qualities upgraded. This is the smell of grass and sun-baked earth. It is the savannah come to life. Mme Massenet finishes it with a mixture of white musks which manage to uplift the saffron back into my conscience again.

African Leather has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

African Leather is easily one of my favorite new perfumes of 2015. If it isn’t my favorite Memo fragrance it is pretty close. A little more time and perspective is required for that I suspect. Every time I wore this I can feel the evolution of the collaborative effort between these two extraordinary artists. African Leather is an example of how familiarity breeds excellence.

Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample from Memo.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Fear The Walking Dead

I’m not sure who did it first but there is a fairly recent storytelling trope which I find annoying. If you watch any television dramas at all you will be familiar with it. It goes something like this. The opening few seconds show our well-known protagonists in some dire predicament. After it plays for some time the words “x hours or y days or z years previously” appear on the screen and the show starts from how the situation came to be. Maybe the first time it was used it was interesting. Now that every show seems to use it, some multiple times, I think it is just lazy storytelling. Good writers can take you from a place where the audience has no idea what’s going on and finally get you to a place where you finally get a handle on things. I prefer that and it is arguably harder to pull off which is why the “insert amount of time previously” treatment is so popular.

One show which totally got this right was “The Walking Dead”. When our hero Rick Grimes comes out of a coma directly into a zombie apocalypse both he and the audience are asking the same questions. In the first season there was a strong desire to find out what happened. By the second season our survivors had realized even if they knew it wouldn’t help them stay alive. In the three seasons since it has been asking the question of which is more dangerous the living or the dead? Which has been a much more dramatic question than “why?”

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Unfortunately the creators of “The Walking Dead” has decided to employ the “insert amount of time previously” with the new companion series “Fear The Walking Dead”. Robert Kirkman who created The Walking Dead is also behind the new series. They have decided to go back to the beginning of the zombie apocalypse and show us how it happened. The story has moved to the west coast and is set in LA. We meet a blended family complete with progeny who check off all the necessary checkboxes. The brilliant daughter, the drug addict son, and the video auteur son. The first episode was very heavy handed in comparing the drug addict and his shambling ways with the coming zombies. It was so obvious it made it more irritating each time they did it over the first two episodes.

There is definitely horror to be mined from people you know who all of a sudden want to eat you for lunch. At this point you can’t tell the living from the dead until they want to take a bite. That has been when “Fear The Walking Dead” has been its best. In both episodes a character has been responsible for killing a friend turned zombie. The emotional reaction to that is interesting. This is all moving along at a crawl with way too predictable plotting. This time the audience does know where this is heading; patience wears thin as characters do things which put them at risk. We are left at the end of the second episode with the family separated into two parts of the city. The next four episodes will be the fight to reunite and then flee the city at which the first season will probably end.

I am hopeful that Mr. Kirkman can somehow rescue the pace and pedestrian plotting, surprising me. Because right now the only fear I have is that “Fear The Walking Dead” will continue shambling along; a zombie incarnation of its predecessor.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Calypso St Barth Figue- Adding the Island Life

Much as television and movies take advantage of brand awareness, and reboot a previous project, fragrance has begun to do this as well. There are also some of these projects which make me wonder who thought this was a good idea. One of the latest reboots of a brand overcame my skepticism with one really good new release which fixes some of the things I thought the brand never got right.

Calypso St. Barth started as a resort wear fashion brand in 1992. By 1995 they would branch out into fragrance and release fifteen fragrances until 2012. Then I heard the brand was going to stop making perfume. At that point I sort of felt it was a mercy killing. The collection had unsuccessfully tried to capture that easy breezy aesthetic that resort wear conjures up. Most of the earlier fragrances were flat nondescript compositions. The biggest thing I found irritating was there was nothing of the island of St. Barth’s inside the bottle. Where was Island Time? How about some tropical fruits and/or flowers? Somewhere the creative team decided less island and more bland was the right choice.

Calypso - Figue

I received my packet of press release and samples at the beginning of the summer. It took me awhile to get around to opening the envelope I will admit. One thing which sort of forced my hand was in my pile of unopened packages there was something which was smelling pretty good to me. After finally hunting down that pleasant smell I was surprised to find it was Calypso St. Barth Figue.

Jerome-EpinetteJerome Epinette

For this re-launch of the brand they were concentrating on three releases all composed by perfumer Jerome Epinette. What I was smelling from my stack of mail was primarily coconut and fig. I was happy to think maybe the islands finally found their way into a Calypso St. Barth Perfume.

M. Epinette opens Figue with a brilliant lemon matched with coconut. This is not a rich coconut think more like coconut water. You get a hint of the sweetness but more transparent. The lemon turns out to be a pretty good partner and I really enjoyed the first moments because of this. The heart is where Figue really takes off as M. Epinette takes two purple florals in violet and heliotrope and sets them as contrast to the creamy woody fig. This is all kept very light, matching the intensity of the top notes. A sweet sun-kissed skin accord of musks, sandalwood, and vanilla is where Figue comes to an end.

Figue has that kind of deceptive longevity where the wearer thinks it is gone but it really isn’t. My wife was able to smell it on me after 10 hours. The sillage is moderate.

M. Epinette really has a way with using some powerful notes in quite transparent ways. Figue captures that relaxed attitude of a vacation on an island. With actual nods to things you might find on that island. If like me you ignored Calypso St. Barth perfumes in the past now is the time to perhaps put them back on your radar, especially Figue.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Calypso St. Barth.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Vitae Forte- Francis Fortissimo

There are perfumers who I enjoy them most when they compose in transparencies and whispers. There are others where the converse is true. It usually takes a particular perfume to reach out and hit me between the eyes for me to realize it. For Francis Kurkdjian that realization came when my favorite perfume of his initial Maison Francis Kurkdjian releases in 2009 was Cologne pour Le Soir. A year later he would release Absolue pour Le Soir the more feral cousin to the original. When M. Kurkdjian decides to add more to a previous construction there is no mistaking the power behind it. The newest release Aqua Vitae Forte is another example of this.

Aqua Vitae was released in 2013 as a pleasant Hedione-focused fragrance with citrus on top and the very light woodiness of Gaiac on the bottom. It was a perfume for the hot days of summer with the Hedione giving off shimmers like a heat mirage at the center. For this new version M. Kurkdjian has again put on his loud speaking voice as a composer of Aqua Vitae Forte. The follow-ups he has done within Maison Francis Kurkdjian should not be thought of as flankers because the notes he uses transforms them completely. I can detect a few bits and pieces of Aqua Vitae but Aqua Vitae Forte really stands on its own despite the similarity in name.

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Francis Kurkdjian (Photo via www.ft.com)

The place where the two perfumes come closest to being similar is in the very early moments as both open on a tart mix of lemon and mandarin. In the original the Hedione takes over from there. In Aqua Vitae Forte M. Kurkdjian throws three spice notes into the mix. Cinnamon, Szechuan pepper, and cardamom intersperse themselves within the bright citrus shading the sunniness and providing contrast. A lot of times the spices overwhelm the citrus but here they stand their ground and it really makes the opening purr with energy. The Hedione remains in the heart but for Aqua Vitae Forte M. Kurkdjian uses orange blossom and ylang ylang as running mates. The florals provide the same effect as the spices did in the top notes by curtailing the expansiveness of the Hedione and keeping it more compact in its effect. This time the Hedione simmers instead of shimmers. All pretense at mimicking the original is tossed aside in the base as a rich sandalwood and a sturdy vetiver form the foundation. There is no lightness of being anymore just a two-footed stance of assuredness.

Aqua Vitae Forte has 10-12 hours longevity and above average sillage.

If Aqua Vitae was perfect for the heat of summer; Aqua Vitae Forte is going to be perfect for the upcoming chilly days of fall. This is a perfume which will go extremely well with sweaters and scarves on a crisp autumnal sojourn. When M. Kurkdjian raises his tone it usually leaves me saying Bravo Francis!

Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample from Maison Francis Kurkdjian,

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ex Idolo Ryder-WYSIWYG

There is an acronym in software, WYSIWYG, which stands for “What You See Is What You Get”. It generally is used for word processing and editing programs to indicate that what you see on screen will be reproduced when shifted to a different program. In the acronym filled world of computers it serves as a reminder that the best programs are the ones which let you see the final result. I have never considered whether a perfume could qualify for that acronym where See is replaced by Sniff. Then I received Ex Idolo Ryder.

Ex Idolo arrived on the fragrance scene late in 2013 with Thirty-Three. It was named after the exquisite 33-year old Chinese oud perfumer and owner Matthew Zhuk had sourced and used as the core of that fragrance. It was a classical rose and oud perfume but Mr. Zhuk had assembled a coterie of elegant ingredients which made that familiar combination take on an air of sophistication. Thirty-Three was one of my favorite new perfumes of 2013 because Mr. Zhuk took the classic and gave it a modern retelling.

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Matthew Zhuk

The new release, Ryder, was inspired by the old members-only clubs of the London districts of Mayfair and St. James. Tobacco, booze, and polished woods provide the evocation of that. Mr. Zhuk is again working with another beautifully chosen ingredient in Omani Frankincense. In Thirty-Three the oud was the heart of a typical perfume pyramid. Ryder eschews that tradition in lieu of a very linear construction which takes that frankincense and drops it in the middle of a gathering of the other dark and warm notes with one specific exception which is what makes Ryder more than just a fragrance that sits there being dark and brooding.

When encountering a perfume like Ryder it is almost like a smell-based Rohrshach test to see which note I notice first because they are all there right from the first moment I apply it. When I received my sample because of all the talk about the frankincense it was what I noticed first. This has the slightly metallic character I associate with good frankincense. It certainly provides a resinous boost throughout to Ryder. The first day I wore it the tobacco was what caught my attention initially. The second day it was the boozy whisky accord. I am sure as I wear it throughout the fall the amber will impose itself on a different day. All of these are good but Mr. Zhuk elevates this with the choice of jasmine to rise out of all this old boy’s club collection of notes. I detect the jasmine straightaway but it seems to impose itself on the rest of the fragrance about an hour in to wearing it. Mr. Zhuk added this note to represent the shift to admitting women to the clubs which inspired Ryder. The jasmine does a great job of being that first woman through the door casting a challenging eye across the room daring anyone to deny her admittance. Without the jasmine Ryder would just be another warm collection of notes. The jasmine makes it something entirely different.

Ryder has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Once the jasmine takes hold Ryder doesn’t develop one jot differently for the remaining hours on my skin. For some a linear fragrance is seen as a lack of compositional skill. That is a tenet that I would adhere to the great majority of the time. Ryder is the exception to that rule because Mr. Zhuk places each note in his perfume still life in its exact place; then steps back. It really is WYSIWYG kind of perfumery. When the ingredients and the ideas are as good as Ryder it is a sniff worth seeing.

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

Mark Behnke