Under the Radar: Domenico Caraceni 1913- Italian Tailoring

In those early days of the internet it was exciting to discover there were other people out there who also loved perfume. One of the by-products was perfumes I had never heard of I was now hearing about. And I wanted them. It was sort of fun to watch a member talk about a new discovery and then watch it propagate over the next few months as more joined in. In that time period there were many of these waves. There are a number of my favorite perfumes that came from those times. In the first weeks of 2008 a forum poster waxed eloquently on Domenico Caraceni 1913. Which set off a chase for others to get some and join in on the conversation.

Domenic Caraceni is an Italian men’s suit maker who according to the website is the “father of Italian tailoring” In 2007 there were three perfumes released under the Domenico Caraceni brand; 1913, Ivy League, and Loren. I do not know who the perfumer is for any of these releases. What struck me about Domenico Caraceni 1913 as soon as I received my bottle was that this was my impression of a European tailor shop. There were clean citrus and woody creases along with a powerhouse floral heart which all comes together like a fine suit, impeccably.

domenico caraceni 1913 old and new

Domenico Caraceni 1913 from 2015 (l.) and 2008

Domenico Caraceni 1913 opens on a scissors sharp citrus accord of petti grain honed with styrax. Every time I wear this I think of the glint of light along a pair of clothing shears as it travels from handle to the point. Rose forms the core of the heart and it is made less overtly floral by neroli and geranium. This was meant to be a masculine fragrance and it seems clear that they wanted to moderate the rose so that it wouldn’t become too powdery. One thing they didn’t alter was the power as the rose is at a high volume which makes the neroli and geranium necessary to try and keep it more controlled. This heart note was called “funeral home-like” by many on those early forum days. I never got that it; is a hugely expansive rose but it never tripped over into cloying for my tastes. The base is very traditional masculine territory as tobacco, incense, and cypress form the foundation.

Domenico Caraceni 1913 has 10-12 hour longevity and way above average sillage. This is one you probably want to wear a lot less than you might normally.

Domenico Caraceni 1913 disappeared in 2010-2011 but it has just been brought back into production. I have compared the new version to my original bottle and I see little difference which can just be explained by seven years of aging in the bottle. If you are one who likes rose sandwiched between citrus, incense, and woods Domenico Caraceni needs to be on your radar screen.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews DSH Perfumes Noel Enchante and The Voices of Trees- The Scents of the Season

At this time of year there is always one fragrant package I look forward to receiving. Every year independent perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz releases a Holiday perfume. When I received my DSH Perfumes package I was surprised to find there were five other new releases along with the Seasonal offering. I think these six new fragrances show the breadth of Ms. Hurwitz and I will be reviewing a pair of each over the next few days. I am going to start with that Holiday offering Noel Enchante and the follow-up to last years’ Seve de Pin, The Voices of Trees.

Noel Enchante translates to enchanted Christmas. Ms. Hurwitz related her inspiration via an e-mail, “One of my long time clients is a wonderful, very elegant man who told me this great story about his growing up experience and that his father was a grower of hothouse flowers in NYC and sold them to the best hotels, florists, etc in the city for corsages, boutonnieres, hair pieces, etc.  As he told me this part of the story I somehow imagined it as night time, and wintery cold and yet this fellow had these luscious flowers for his customers.  The contrast between the bitter, NY cold, and the dark of night mixed with the hothouse flower made a strong impression.” What this translates to in Noel Enchante is a very heady tuberose chypre with oriental accents.

Noel Enchante opens with a very green galbanum focused top accord. It reminds me of the slightly acrid smell of poinsettias. The tuberose arrives next and it is joined in this olfactory Holiday corsage with her other white flower friends, most prominently, gardenia and jasmine. The base is all classic chypre accented with some spices and amber, the oriental accents. The chypre adds a dark contrast to the white flowers while increasing the intensity. Noel Enchante is more chypre than floral when I wear it. Noel Enchante has 10-12 hour longevity and surprisingly modest sillage.

DSH

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

One of my favorite releases of 2014 was Ms. Hurwitz’s Seve de Pin. For 2015 she is re-exploring the same themes but with a bent towards a more expansive experience. If Seve de Pin was the tree the new The Voices of Trees is the complete forest. I again asked Ms. Hurwitz for a comment on the differences and she replied, “The major changes for The Voices of Trees are the additions of two major accords: the maple leaf accord in the top note and the sycamore accord that comes out more in the base with an expanded 'pine amber' accord.  I did use the pine resin infused piñon again with increased fir balsam absolute in the pine aspects.  I wanted the maple leaf and sycamore accords to speak to the deciduous trees found in the Northeast as well as to the telling of my childhood experiences (of the talking / singing trees). “The addition of those two notes makes all the difference from an immersive experience to a more open one.

The Voices of Trees opens with less of a full-throttle pine as the maple leaf accord Ms. Hurwitz fashioned presents a gentler green woody set of top notes. The heart is that fantastic pinon infused pine oil she used in Seve de Pin. This time she rushes in and covers it in a blanket of amber and labdanum. It tremendously softens the pine making it less strident but every bit as compelling. Over time the sycamore slowly morphs the pine to a woodier facet. I think Ms. Hurwitz having a year to play with the pinon infused pine oil has led to a tremendous fragrance being created. In Seve de Pin she sat back and displayed it like a solitaire. In The Voices of Trees she gives it some other partners in the perfumed woods. That renders a more complex experience and an overall better perfume. The Voices of Trees is even better than Seve de Pin because of that completeness. Seve de Pin has 10-12 hours longevity and average sillage.

I’ll be back on Monday and Tuesday next week with reviews of the other four new DSH Perfumes releases.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by DSH Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aroma M Voluptuous Nostalgia Perfume- Get on your Vespa!

When I was a boy all of the traveling I did to Europe was in a seat at my local movie theatre. I especially liked the movies which took place in one city as at that age I treated them as documentaries. At the Miracle Theatre they used to show older movies as matinees. One of my mother’s favorite movies was “Roman Holiday”. Director William Wyler created one of the great romantic comedies of all-time. Much of that was also down to the two stars, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. If you asked the eight-year old me I would also have pointed out that the Vespa scooter they rode around on was also an important member of the cast. There was a Vespa dealer right next to the Miracle and whenever I walked by those shiny scooters lined up I would think of Rome and wayward princesses looking for freedom. I was reminded of those memories because independent perfumer Maria McElroy was inspired by those same things to create her new release Aroma M Voluptuous Nostalgia Perfume.

I believe this is the first release not inspired by Geisha and Japan for Ms. McElroy. Voluptuous Nostalgia Perfume has a combination of a 1950’s vibe along with the gentle feeling of motion as if it is its own fragrant scooter careening through the senses.

maria mcelroy

Maria McElroy

Ms. McElroy conjures up a spring day by opening with muguet and gardenia. Muguet is a veritable symbol of that time of year. It would have worked by itself. By choosing gardenia to partner it Ms. McElroy conjures up the feel of the big floral perfumes of the mid-20th century. It is fresh and lush as the Vespa zigs and zags between them. It all turns slightly less heady as violet predominates in the heart. This is a moment where we gently pass through the cobblestoned streets enjoying the arms wrapped around my waist. Things begin to pick up speed again as a warm amber provides the rotary around which we will travel picking up ambergris and tonka before zooming off. About an hour in it is easy to still pick up all of the notes I’ve mentioned as the trip to all of them becoming apparent is fairly rapid. It isn’t linear but the development does move with alacrity. What forms is a pastiche of fragrant harmonics finding a place of equilibrium.

Voluptuous Nostalgia Perfume has 10-12 hour longevity and almost no sillage, it is very much a skin scent.

Ms. McElroy succeeded in taking me back to watching Ms. Hepburn and Mr. Peck zooming through 1953 Rome. Which has made me want to go call up Roman Holiday on Netflix. I think I’ll spray some Voluptuous Nostalgia Perfume as my scent track for that viewing.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Aroma M.

Mark Behnke

Olfactory Chemistry: Low Atranol Oakmoss- Keeping the Bite

In the ongoing saga of restricted materials the one which has elicited the most concern has been oakmoss. The reason for this concern is it is one of the key components of a chypre accord. When the restrictions were first being considered there was a lot of consternation over the effect it would have on the classic chypres like Guerlain Mitsouko. One solution was to bring chemistry to the rescue to see if the oakmoss absolute could be treated to remove the chemicals which were the suspected skin sensitizers.

atranol chloroatranol

In 1992 a team at Givaudan (International Journal of Cosmetic Science, vol. 14, pg. 121-130, 1992) used the nature of these molecules and their reactivity to remove them from oakmoss absolute. Atranol and Chloroatranol (shown above) were the suspected bad actors in oakmoss absolute. What you see highlighted in red is the aldehyde function. These are not the typical aldehydes associated with perfume. Those are at the end of long carbon chains. The ones depicted in Atranol and Chloroatranol are what are called aromatic aldehydes and they are much more likely to react. The team at Givaudan took advantage of that and used that reactivity. These aromatic aldehydes in the presence of an amino acid like Leucine will form a molecule called a Schiff Base. Under the right conditions this will form a solid which will fall out of solution. Then if you filter that solid off what remains is a version of oakmoss absolute with those molecules “washed” out. After some early success with a few amino acids by themselves they found a mixture of Leucine (the one pictured) and Lysine removed the Atranol and Chloroatranol down to barely detectable amounts.

atranol schiff base

The big question left to answer was would this treated oakmoss absolute still be able to be used in perfumery. If you’ve smelled oakmoss in a perfume in the last ten years it is likely this Low Atranol Oakmoss is what you smell. It retained enough of the nature of the oakmoss that the perfumers could add in other materials to replace whatever the Atranol and Chloroatranol would have otherwise brought to the scent profile. One of the more common materials used for this purpose is one of the synthetic oakmoss replacements Evernyl which by itself was not seen as a good alternative. When combined with the Low Atranol Oakmoss it helps fill in for the missing Atranol.

The further question about whether the removal of the Atranol now made these compounds less allergenic is not as clear cut. The most recent paper on the subject published in 2014 by a group from Odense University in Denmark (Contact Dermatitis, vol. 72, pg. 75-83, 2014) showed it was much less allergenic but not completely free of causing a reaction. What this means as far as potentially further restrictions will be determined by the regulatory agencies.

When preparing this article I asked a number of perfumers if they thought oakmoss was necessary to create a chypre. All of them replied there are enough synthetic and natural materials to create any chypre effect they desire. I hope the Low Atranol Oakmoss is still allowed to be used because there is something pleasing about the bite of a good chypre and I think oakmoss is part of that.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Missoni Eau de Parfum- Slashes of Color

One of my favorite early fashion brands was Missoni. During the 1970’s the brightly colored knitwear was among the most popular fashion of the day. Angela Missoni took over from her founder mother Rosita in 1998. The brand has been extremely consistent; in some years being the only reliable splash of color and pattern on the runway. Missoni has also had a very proud perfume tradition.

Angela+Missoni

Angela Missoni

It started in 1981 with their debut fragrance named Missoni composed by Bernard Chant. It was a rich floral chypre. In 2006 perfumer Maurice Roucel would make his version of Missoni as it evolved into a floriental dunked in chocolate. Now in 2015 they are releasing the third Missoni Eau de Parfum. Angela Missoni chose to turn to one of the best young perfumers currently working Quentin Bisch. This iteration is a classic fruity floral.

quentinbiscgh

Quentin Bisch

One thing I have admired about M. Bisch, in these early days as a perfumer, as he takes on each new brief he is taking the opportunity to work with every different facet of the exclusive raw materials Givaudan has. In the case of Missoni Eau de Parfum M. Bisch has taken down Petalia and Mahonial. Petalia is an aromachemical which smells like a hybrid of rose and muguet. It has an assertive floral character with the greenness of the muguet providing a bit of counterbalance. Mahonial is the jasmine and muguet counterpart to Petalia. It is these two ingredients which make up the floral heart of Missoni Eau de Parfum.

M. Bisch opens crisply with citron and pear. The citron is tart and the pear adds a snappy fruitiness to that. Fairly rapidly the Petalia and Mahonial arrive. The overriding effect of these two in combination is the jasmine is ascendant. That might be because there is some actual jasmine presence or it might just be Mahonial is more tenacious than Petalia. In any case in Missoni Eau de Parfum it is the jasmine that you will notice at first. The rose and muguet qualities become more apparent as the citron and pear begin to become noticeable again. Once everything began to harmonize on my skin Missoni Eau de Parfum reminded me of the vertical stripes of color characteristic of a Missoni garment. The slash of yellow green for the fruit. A band of pink with a thin band of green underneath. The base note band of brown is all Ambroxan enhanced with some sandalwood and tonka to give it a sweet woody foundation.

Missoni Eau de Parfum has 18-24 hour longevity and average sillage.

I think M. Bisch has assuredly followed in the footsteps of M. Chant and M. Roucel creating a Missoni fragrance which stands as an excellent example of the current times and the fruity floral trend.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hermes Equipage Geranium- Green Rose in Focus

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When someone tells you they are retiring it usually means a slow winding down prior to their leaving. I guess it must be different in perfumery. Jean-Claude Ellena announced he would be eventually retiring, date unknown, as the in-house perfumer at Hermes in December of 2013. At the same time Christine Nagel was brought in to work with him and eventually take over. M. Ellena has been one of the singular artistic perfumers of the last few years. He would easily be one of the names in the debate over “greatest living perfumer”. As his tenure at Hermes draws to a close it feels like he wanted the opportunity to give a fresh take on some of the original Hermes releases. This starts with Bel Ami Vetiver in 2013 followed by Rose Amazone last year. For 2015 Equipage Geranium is the newest addition.

The original Equipage was released in 1970 by perfumer Guy Robert. It was a leather fragrance to pay homage to the Hermes saddles. In that original version there was birch tar and oakmoss galore creating a real feel of the tack room at a stable with all the leather hung up and oiled. Equipage would be re-formulated in 1992 by Jean-Louis Sieuzac who lacking the ability to use either the oakmoss or birch tar in the quantities M. Robert did, allowed some of the other notes to come to the foreground as the heart notes of carnation and pine follow a citrus opening. As was done for both Bel Ami and Amazone it feels like these recent versions are an attempt to update these classics for the 2010’s. I wonder if M. Ellena wants to make sure these are always relevant. Equipage Geranium is less about the tack room and more about the leather reading chair in the library next to a vase of geraniums.

ellena

Jean-Claude Ellena

Equipage Geranium opens with a citrus flourish which is close in intensity to the 1992 Equipage reformulation. To make sure I don’t go too far down that path M. Ellena adds a sprig of mint to bring the geranium into focus. Geranium is a note I often refer to as “green rose”. For many people they would recognize geranium as just rose; as geranium is what passes for rose in almost every mass commercial product. In Equipage Geranium M. Ellena brings the geranium into hyper focus. When I want to introduce someone to geranium from now on this is the perfume I am going to use. The mint is the framing which first draws my attention to the greener subtleties under the floralcy. Some actual rose is used to deepen that floralcy. Once the focal point is assembled now the very light leather accord forms a platform for the geranium to rest upon. A swirl of gentle spices interacts to keep the geranium slightly spicy as well as fresher. After a while a sturdy sandalwood provides the final addition to Equipage Geranium.

Equipage Geranium has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

On the days I wore Equipage Geranium to work my younger co-workers asked me enthusiastically what I was wearing. I have shared my sample generously with them and I know it is on a couple of wish lists for the upcoming holidays. I brought in some 1970 Equipage and they all said that was too strong. This is the real innovation M. Ellena is achieving, intended or not, as these reworkings are attracting a different generation of perfume lovers. For those older perfume lovers, like me, the update makes it different enough, and good enough, that I want a bottle to stand next to my 1970 and 1992 bottle of Equipage.

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

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Peace on Earth/ Little Drummer Boy by David Bowie and Bing Crosby

One of the earliest staples of television was the variety show. None more famous than The Ed Sullivan Show. During the 1960’s as they started to die off they got replaced by Holiday specials hosted by various singing stars in the 1970’s. Perry Como was the most well-known. Joining him were other celebrities like Bob Hope, Andy Williams, and Dean Martin. One of the most popular of these were the specials hosted by Bing Crosby. In many ways these were the last stand for regular television variety and as the end of the 1970’s approached the ratings were dooming these once-a-year versions. Which is why the 1977 Bing Crosby Holiday Special titled, “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas” would be eventful in so many ways.

By this point with the popularity waning these shows were looking for ways to draw younger viewers. For the 1977 special they wanted to set it in London as if Bing was spending the holidays there. Then famous British performers could drop in and have a little fun with him. One of the guest stars was actor Ron Moody; best known for playing Fagin in “Oliver!” on stage and screen. He was the safe choice. Model Twiggy was the choice for those liberated women who might want to see someone closer to them in age and attitude. The third guest star was David Bowie. I don’t even know how to categorize this. I guess they were going for those rock music aficionados. Whomever had the idea to pair up Mr. White Christmas with The Thin White Duke had to see something that wasn’t obvious to most.

The skit in the show revolved around Bowie stopping by his neighbor’s house and finding Bing staying there. After a bunch of generation gap banter they settle down to sing together. They duet on the classic “Little Drummer Boy’ which gets mashed up with a new song written for the special called “Peace on Earth”.  This should have been a trainwreck of massive proportions. I have to admit I tuned in expecting to see something ridiculously kitschy with Bowie grimacing. The groan inducing banter doesn’t seem as bad nearly forty years later but at the time it felt really forced. Once they start to sing it is a gorgeous harmony as the songs weave together.

When Bowie showed up to tape his part and was told he was going to sing “Little Drummer Boy” he replied “I hate that song.” The producers put their heads together and wrote “Peace on Earth” in a little over an hour. Bowie and Bing rehearsed for an hour then nailed it in one take. That should have been that as this should have just been forgotten. Events conspired to make sure this would never be forgotten.

The special was taped on September 11, 1977. On October 14 Bing died of a heart attack while in Spain. The show now took on a very special significance as this was Bing’s final performance. It also made the duet even more memorable for that reason. After the show aired, by the next Christmas, there were bootlegs out for those who wanted a copy. In 1982 the label, RCA, released it as a single and it has never been out of the Holiday rotation since. I play it a lot because these two very different men found some common ground to create a timeless piece of music. Is there any better message than that for the Holiday season?

Mark Behnke

Serge Lutens: Am I Missing Something?

One of the best things about having my own blog is the e-mails I receive. Many of them are nice tales of how a particular perfume has enhanced some part of their life. Many others are questions about whether I think this fragrance is good for a man, or a woman. Will it be good in the summer/winter/fall/spring? In the nearly two years since I started Colognoisseur I haven’t had a piece provoke a number of e-mails claiming I am missing something until I did my abbreviated dismissive reviews of the new Serge Lutens Section D’Or releases. I received almost a dozen e-mails all with a variation on the theme that I am missing the grand theme M. Lutens is attempting with not only Section D’Or but the other recent releases which I’ve also been unhappy with. The one-on-one discussions were good enough that I thought I’d address that core issue.

It was sometime around 2000 when I was gifted a sample of Ambre Sultan. There are these wonderful moments when I discover a new perfume brand that I like. The complexity on display was unlike anything else I had smelled. I would work through obtaining the rest of the collection over the next few years. Once bell jars had been brought back from Paris and I had them all I realized what an artistically diverse collection they were. To this day I return to certain touchstones within those early fragrances as baselines to compare new releases against. Only the very best are able to stand up to that comparison favorably. So at this point I would say I was in sync with the artistic vision of M. Lutens.

i dont get it

At least for my tastes the first sign things were changing in M. Lutens vision came with the release of L’Eau Serge Lutens in 2010. This wasn’t the first release I didn’t care for, Miel de Bois gets that honor. It was that L’Eau was so light and inconsequential. When I read this was coming I thought to myself, “Now we will see what crisp clean aquatic can be at its best.” It didn’t hold my interest but there is no brand which does that from A to Z. I forgot about L’Eau Serge Lutens because another string of excellent releases followed. Which reached a personal crescendo with the over-the-top rose of La Fille de Berlin. At this point in time I would say I was ready to build a shrine to M. Lutens, so I would say I still enjoyed his vision.

The next two releases of La Vierge de Fer and L’Orpheline I did not get. The felt like extensions of the themes explored in the L’Eaux series. Except now they went across the line to nearly unwearable. When wearing them prior to reviewing them I had to use a cosmetic wipe to remove them when I got home because they had become annoying to my senses. In my reviews I mentioned that M. Lutens move to the sunny side of the street had left me in the shadows wondering what happened. I freely admit the vision behind all of these was not shared by me.

Which brings us to the Section D’Or. These should have been exactly what I was looking for but for the first time when it came to Serge Lutens all six felt derivative and in the case of a couple poorly designed. One of my correspondents pointed out to me my love of great raw materials and felt these all displayed that in simple constructs. I retried them on the strip and one of things which put me off is in each case there is either a note which provides active dissonance or the raw material is not that special.

The most active give-and-take I had with my correspondents was over the concept that I was pre-disposed to not liking them because I want M. Lutens to stay mired in his past and to not evolve. That is the one which provoked some soul searching and caused me to write all of this out. As I mentioned above I have not enjoyed the new direction but Section D’Or should have been something I could find one to make my own. After all of this I have decided a couple of things. First, for now I won’t review a new Serge Lutens release unless I absolutely like it. I am not at my happiest when writing negative thoughts about different perfume brands I admire. One of the reasons Colognoisseur is mostly about the things I like is because those are the things which make me happiest when sitting at the key board. If you know there is a new Serge Lutens release and there is nothing to be found here on it you can safely assume I feel similarly as I have about the recent releases. Second, I think I do want to live in the past when it comes to Serge Lutens. There are so many of those perfumes which resonate with me. I clearly don’t share the current vision so there is no need for me to continue to hammer that point. There are still things worth writing about in those previous releases and now might be the time to start thinking about those perspectives.

Finally, I want to thank my correspondents who provoked some thought without rancor. I had a number of well-thought out points which were explained with passion but not unproductive emotion. I am keeping your names anonymous for the time being because I suspect if you wanted this to take place in public you would have used the comments.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review JF Schwarzlose Fetisch- Slap and Tickle

I know there has to be a fair amount of consideration given to the naming of new perfumes. When a perfume has a good name it can set my expectations appropriately. When it has a non sequitur kind of name it can leave me thinking more about the name than the fragrance. The new JF Schwarzlose Fetisch falls in between these two extremes.

JF Schwarzlose is another resurrected Heritage perfume brand. Creative director Lutz Hermann has partnered with perfumer Veronique Nyberg to both revive some original formulas as well as create new perfumes. My favorite Heritage brands are taking this approach as they honor the history of the brand while striking out in new directions. Hr. Hermann has been using the new compositions as ways to evoke the town where these perfumes were born, Berlin.

lutz-herrmann

Lutz Hermann

Berlin is known for its vibrant fetish club scene. It is a city which wears its kink freely. This was where I expected Fetisch to venture. When I visited the JF Scharzlose stand at Pitti Fragranze there was a leather harness hanging there. I expected Fetisch to dive deep into the bite of leather and the shine of latex all tinted with a Gothic sensibility. Hr. Hermann had other less subversive things in mind. Fetisch does have an exotic leathery quality but it has an oddness rather than a kinkiness to its style overall.

veronique-nyberg

Veronique Nyberg

I love the opening of Fetisch as Mme Nyberg opens with a beautifully intense osmanthus. The leathery quality of the floral is matched by a refined leather accord. I wanted a biting birch tar leather. Mme Nyberg’s accord is much softer. Which is good because the saffron also present in the top notes has room to breathe and swirl through the osmanthus and leather duet providing exotic harmonics. The first hour of Fetisch is spent here. The heart is where Fetisch provides a little weirdness. Mme Nyberg has a milk accord she uses which is less creamy and more like raw milk with a bit of an animalic undertone. Before it gets too strange a dollop of vanilla sweetens the heart. The base is a sharply resinous incense and styrax. Here at the end I get some of the Gothic vibe I was looking for.

Fetisch has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Despite its name Fetisch does not really want to dive deep into unconventional waters. Only with the vanilla milk heart is there anything truly unusual here. Which is really good because despite the name the top accord of osmanthus, leather, and saffron is simply gorgeous. Which is the problem with the name there needs to be some danger. Instead Fetisch is all slap and tickle. If you are looking for an exceptional osmanthus and incense perfume Fetisch will fill that desire. If you have other darker desires you think a perfume called Fetisch should realize, this is not that fragrance.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from JF Schwarzlose at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Annick Goutal Les Absolus Ambre Sauvage- Vanilla Fetiche

Over the last couple of years there have been a number of well-established niche brands which wanted a share of the luxury market. To that end they launch an offshoot collection at double, or more, of the price of their regular releases. The selling point is usually that there are more expensive and precious raw materials in the fragrance. There is also an implicit promise that these hold a different aesthetic than the regular line. The latest brand to do this is Annick Goutal.

The new collection is called Les Absolus D’Annick Goutal and all three of the inaugural releases are composed by perfumers Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen. In the press materials there is a lot of talk about both women’s love of raw materials. With Les Absolus being the opportunity to work with the best of them. 1001 Ouds is a very typical rose and oud combination which does live up to the concept of good raw materials but doesn’t present anything new on this very tried and true combination. Vanille Charnelle is like 1001 Ouds very focused on the vanilla with a fleshy ylang-ylang providing some contrast. Again nothing new. Ambre Sauvage was the one of the Les Absolus which caught my attention but it did that because it strongly reminded me of a previous Annick Goutal release.

isabelle and camille

Isabelle Doyen (l.) and Camille Goutal

If you spend any time in the fetish community they refer to those who live a conventional lifestyle as “vanilla”. This concept would come back to me as I wore Ambre Sauvage. One of my favorite ambers of all-time is Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche. It was another of those fragrances which seemed out of place from the rest of the Annick Goutal style. It was discontinued last year with a few other of the releases which also had this out-of-step style in common. Ambre Sauvage seems like this is the opportunity to make a more accessible Ambre Fetiche. The perfumers achieve this by making it more vanilla.

Ambre Sauvage opens on a mixture of pink pepper, lavender and orris. While not identical to the opening of Ambre Fetiche when smelled side-by-side they are surely close cousins. The main difference is the lavender and orris are more pronounced in Ambre Sauvage. Ambre Fetiche has a glorious frankincense and amber foundation. It is Gothic and beautiful. Amber Sauvage is much more conventional as the amber accord is tilted to be warmer. Patchouli adds a woody aspect. The vanilla provides a safety net with its crowd pleasing nature. It forms a very conventional final stage to Ambre Sauvage.

Ambre Sauvage has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

It might not seem apparent with the comparisons to Ambre Fetiche but I really enjoyed Ambre Sauvage. It has much of the same things which I enjoy in Ambre Fetiche. There are definitely days when you have to show a vanilla personality to the world. For those days Ambre Sauvage is the perfect choice.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Annick Goutal.

Mark Behnke