New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Soleil Blanc- Sunbathing at the Cement Pond

There is an interesting subsection of perfume genres titled suntan lotion. There are some great examples from some of our best perfume brands. It should be no surprise that Tom Ford Private Blend wants to join in the fun in the sun with the new release Soleil Blanc.

Growing up in South Florida the smell of suntan lotion was one of the consistent smells of my day-to-day life. Which is why I probably enjoy this niche within a niche. To get this right there is a certain amount of tropical touchstones which need to be present. Perfumer Nathalie Gracia-Cetto working under the creative direction of Karyn Khoury has chosen to go in a slightly different direction. Soleil Blanc eschews the deeper, oilier nature some of the other sunscreen fragrances conjure. As a result, Soleil Blanc is kept very sheer almost like the scent of the afternoon’s suntan lotion as it remains on a wrap hanging on the door.

Nathalie Gracia-Cetto

Nathalie Gracia-Cetto

Soleil Blanc speaks sotto voce right from the start as breezy cardamom is matched up with bergamot and baie rose. The cardamom is the focal point and its slightly lemony nature conjures up the sun. The tropical nature is carried off by ylang-ylang bolstered with jasmine and a very precise amount of tuberose. Ylang-ylang has this oily quality when taken on its own. The jasmine used here is meant to lighten that up. The tuberose is very controlled and it is meant to enhance the tropical feel without getting out of control. Again this is all done at the volume of a whisper. The base forms an interesting sun-kissed skin accord of benzoin, tonka, and cocoa. That last note is there for a very interesting alternative to Ms. Gracia-Cetto using a bunch of musks. Together this is the smell of your skin as you get up after a day sunbathing. A very distant fragrant reminder of the afternoon.

Soleil Blanc has 14-16 hour longevity and very low sillage. This is one of those perfumes where you will think it is gone after a few hours. Because of the low sillage it can seem that way but it does last a decent amount of time.

Ms. Gracia-Cetto has composed the cleanest of the suntan lotion scents. The low wattage on it is going to be an issue for some. I found the transparency of it all to be very appealing. It is such a clean scent that it doesn’t remind me of the beach but instead sunning by the pool or as Ellie May Clampett says the cement pond. Soleil Blanc is by far the quietest of the Private Blend collection but sometimes there is beauty in the softer moments.

Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample provided by Tom Ford Beauty.

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: Chopard Madness- Christine Nagel’s Fever Dream

Early in a perfumer’s career there are moments when the style they would become known for has not completely formed. I have found that in those places you can find something very interesting about a specific perfumer. One of my favorite perfumers Christine Nagel is on the verge of releasing her first fragrance as in-house perfumer for Hermes, Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate. I expect it to adhere to her wonderfully transparent lilting style of the last few years. Although it would be a wonderful surprise if she returned to a style she really only did once back in 2001 with Chopard Madness.

Christine Nagel 1

Christine Nagel

There has rarely been a perfume more aptly named than Madness. It feels like a perfume Mme Nagel came up with during a fever dream. It opens with a wild fruity floral fusillade and only gets more frenetic from there. This is not a perfume for anyone who likes smooth transitions or gentle caresses of scent. Madness slaps you across both cheeks and then continues the sweet barrage all the way until the end.

That opening smack comes with an unusual fruity floral pairing of kumquat and lychee added to rose. Mme Nagel then adds a wallop of baie rose. This all comes together with a roiling strength. The maelstrom continues into the heart with a sueded floral accord of hibiscus and leather. The top notes have all made the journey into the heart and now it feels on the edge of spinning out of control. Except it all holds together better than you might suspect. It ends with a beautifully realized rosewood focused base accord including a bit of incense and magnolia bridging the floral intensity to the woods. If you’re looking for any sign of Mme Nagel’s current style this is where you find it but you have to ride the whirlwind before arriving at it.

Chopard Madness has 16-18 hour longevity and way over the top sillage.

chopard madness

Chopard Madness was launched in the last quarter of 2001; weeks after the tragedies of September 11th in New York City. The ad campaign was actress Selma Hayak with a city skyline behind her. In a less chaotic time Madness might have found some traction. With this timing a perfume as challenging as Madness was never going to do well. People wanted soothing and comforting not the thousand-yard stare of Madness. It was quickly relegated to Chopard boutiques exclusively, within a year, and was removed from those within a couple of years. This is one of those perfumes which has been added to the Dead Letter Office due to its timing. Bottles can be found online for as little as $20. It is definitely worth the price of admission to see one of our most precise perfumers take a walk on the wild side.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauerville Amber Flash- The Shallow End of the Indie Pool

As the independent perfume market has grown over the past ten years it has become difficult to tell someone where to start. The very essence of the indie perfumer is doing things a little different, sometimes a lot different. If a consumer new to this sector is adventurous just jumping in and letting your nose take you where it may, is best. For most they want to enter at the shallow end of the pool cautiously easing themselves in. One of the problems with that is there is a lot less indie perfumes in that shallow end of the pool. Which is why I am pleased with independent perfumer Andy Tauer’s brand Tauerville.

andy tauer

Andy Tauer

Tauerville was created at the end of 2014 with the release of Rose Flash. Throughout 2015 three more releases were added; Vanilla Flash, Incense Flash and the latest Amber Flash. Tauerville was a place where Hr. Tauer wanted to “experiment”. He has certainly done that by taking some of his well-known effects from his main Tauer Perfumes line and tweaking them slightly. When I tried the first three Tauerville fragrances all at once it was that which I noticed first. Having had a few months to spend with them now I have realized that they are also very approachable examples of an independent perfumer’s aesthetic meant to entice you in to the indie perfumes pool at the shallow end. Amber Flash might be the introductory step leading into that metaphorical pool.

When I first smelled Amber Flash I was once again drawn to where I believe Hr. Tauer is tweaking something. In the case of Amber Flash I believe it is the spicy woody incense accord found in many Tauer Perfumes dubbed “Tauerade”. It is an olfactive signature for many of the perfumes in that line but it is strong. In Amber Flash it feels like Hr. Tauer has fashioned a low calorie version of Tauerade easier to experience and embrace.  It is surrounded by other notes which enhance the softer version of this signature.

Amber Flash opens with what is often used as a substitute for ambergris, labdanum. In this case it provides the less aggressive aspects of amber and allows the wearer to ease into the rest of the development. It fairly quickly deepens as patchouli combines with the labdanum leading to an earthy kind of feel to this part of Amber Flash. This is where in a different indie take on this concept something strong would seal the deal making it a different kind of earthy. Hr. Tauer instead just adds a bit of vanilla to keep it a little on the sweet end and much more approachable. Then we get to the Tauerade-lite base. In regular Tauerade there is a strength to that base which has so often provided the foundation to many of the Tauer Perfumes that I wait for it with delight. In Amber Flash that accord is modulated into something much softer only hinting at the strength of the full Tauerade. In Amber Flash sandalwood, cashemran, amber, and benzoin form this lighter weight version. It is the perfect way to finish Amber Flash because it displays an aesthetic without clobbering you over the head with it.

Amber Flash has 16-18 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

One could arguably make the argument that the independent perfume explosion began with the Chandler Burr review of Tauer Perfumes L’Air du Desert Marocain. Which is why with the Tauerville line I am happy to see Hr. Tauer finding a new way to entice perfume lovers into the indie perfumer’s world. Amber Flash is a great place to begin for anyone considering that.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Etat Libre D’Orange Hermann A Mes Cotes Me Paraissait Une Ombre- Me and My Shadow

There are many fragrances which speak about capturing shadows in fragrant form. What that means most of the time is the weaving of dark notes within brighter ones. But is that a shadow? A shadow is an indistinct reflection of something which light shines upon. The latest release from Etat Libre D’Orange, Hermann A Mes Cotes Me Paraissait Une Ombre (from here on out just Hermann), got me thinking about shadows and perfume.

The incredibly long name of Hermann comes from a Victor Hugo poem entitled “What Two Horsemen Were Thinking in the Forest”. The specific line cited translates to “by my side, Hermann seemed to me like a shadow”. The press materials ask if your perfume might be your shadow. As I wore Hermann I found that it was a shadow of itself throughout its development.

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Etienne de Swardt

Perfumer Quentin Bisch was invited to collaborate with creative director Etienne de Swardt for the second time. His first brief, as a perfumer, was for La Fin du Monde two years ago. Hermann is a very different kind of fragrance from that. Over the past year it seems M. Bisch has been enjoying using many of the Givaudan captive molecules seeing what the newest materials can bring to a fragrance. Hermann is no different as he employs four distinct synthetics. What I think he does very cleverly is to allow each synthetic to provide a shadow to another note. Sort of like one horseman is looking at the other from distance as they travel through the development.

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Quentin Bisch

M. Bisch opens Hermann with a fanfare of green galbanum matched with black pepper. This provides one bookend. The next stage of development is a strong blackcurrant bud note. It is sticky green and concentrated fruit. The last note is Calypsone providing the indistinct replica of the blackcurrant bud. Calypsone is an ozonic melon note. M. Bisch keeps its presence at a whisper because it is meant to be just a shadow of the fruit. The same takes place with rose and the synthetic Petalia. Petalia provides a fruity peony-like shadow to the rose, again modulated to be the lesser of the two notes. Geosmin’s earthy quality gives frankincense a grounded simulacrum. Pepperwood provides the spicy, weaker, twin to patchouli; to provide the other bookend to the black pepper on top. In the final stages Ambroaxan brings this to its finish.

Hermann has 24-hour longevity and above average sillage. You will leave a shadow of scent if you spray too much.

M. Bisch composed a study of olfactory point-counterpoint as for each focal point there was a note meant to reflect it as a shadow does. Hermann is not a particularly dark fragrance in tone. I think I’ll be able to wear it year-round. I think in the summer it might even be more pronounced in its pairs of notes. Walking the beach, me and my perfumed shadow.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle from Etat Libre D’Orange.  

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Marvel’s Jessica Jones

When happens to a superhero when they are used to do bad things? It isn’t a question which is asked often on the page or on film. Usually the biggest conflict is making sure they are doing good for the right reasons. The second Marvel Netflix series, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, goes places no Marvel series has gone before.

The story is of Jessica Jones who was a superhero who fell when she was mind controlled by a villain named Kilgrave. He made her use her powers for his own unpleasant ends. It isn’t until he asks her to kill someone that things begin to change. When we meet Jessica at the beginning of the series this is a woman in the throes of PTSD. She is free of Kilgrave but he is still inside of her head. Drinking is how she drowns out the voice. Since she has given up being a heroine she, now, is a private investigator. Her clients in the opening episode are parents looking for their daughter, Hope, who has gone missing. This gives the audience the opportunity to see how competent Jessica is as a PI. When she finds Hope she also finds that Kilgrave is back. What that means leads to a harrowing final act of the first episode.

jessica jones

I saw the first episode at New York Comic Con and had to wait six weeks to see episode two through thirteen. The subtext for the series is control. The very woman-centric cast are all looking for ways to control others. The show does not shy away from showing the effects of this psychological violence as it is wielded not just by our villain but also by others for their own self-centered reasons. Kilgrave’s destruction of free will and the gruesome collateral damage is no less horrifying than a stage mother making her daughter vomit to “keep the weight down”. Or a married lawyer trying to manipulate her current wife into a divorce so she can marry her current lover. If there is a moral to Jessica Jones it is the act of manipulation and control through special powers, or human duplicity, is massively destructive.

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Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones and David Tennant as Kilgrave

Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg has a cast of multi-faceted women all looking to find a way to survive. Top of the list is Krysten Ritter as Jessica. Ms. Ritter allows all of the internal loathing present in Jessica to be seen without saying a word. She portrays Jessica perfectly. The other huge performance in the series is by Rachael Taylor as her adopted sister Trish Walker. She has always known about Jessica’s powers and is the only anchor which keeps Jessica from being lost. In a pivotal moment in the series the ability of Jessica to say “I love you” to Trish is a beautiful realization. Throughout the series via flashback the story of Jessica and Trish is told. Carrie-Anne Moss plays lawyer Jeryn Hogarth, who was a man in the comic this is based upon, the baddest shark in the tank.

Of course no heroine can truly soar without a villain and David Tennant’s portrayal of Kilgrave is the equal of Ms. Ritter’s. Their battle of will throughout crackles with emotional energy and it is both actor’s performances which provide the charge. As one who was a huge fan of Mr. Tennant’s version of Dr. Who; Kilgrave has some of the same manic energy but this time perverted into the ultimate invader of a person’s free will. Each moment Kilgrave shows the extent of his power it is frightening.

Jessica Jones pulls no punches and takes on its issues head-on. You don’t hear the word rape until well into the later episodes but the writers say it without saying it. There have been gratuitous portrayals of this violent act for shock value in too many series to name them. In Jessica Jones you not only feel the violence behind the act, you see the rest of the damage; all without ever showing the act itself. I applaud the whole creative team for this.

Finally, Jessica Jones is the most mature Marvel property yet. Sexuality is honestly portrayed. Psychological violence is seen up close and personal. Actual physical violence is also frequent and brutal. The original comic book series “Alias” by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos was the first Marvel Max release meant for age 18+ audiences. Marvel’s Jessica Jones is the first visual representation of the Marvel Universe meant to be seen by that same audience. It is great visual storytelling of a story not seen before.

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds: Glow by J Lo- This is Where Clean Begins

It is easy with hindsight to look backward and find the perfumes which were responsible for trends. Any visit to the fragrance counter in the department store will tell you that “clean” fragrances occupy a large share of the fragrances being offered. Like all of these trends the one which launched it is usually a pretty good perfume. When it comes to this “clean” trend Glow by J Lo is the one.

In 2002 the idea of celebrity based perfumes, or celebuscents, was pretty much a tiny market share and not many of the more recognizable celebrity names were interested. Jennifer Lopez aka J Lo aka Jenny from the Block was going to change that. Her evolution from a Fly Girl on the television show In Living Color to superstar would take seven years. Wanting to parlay her success, and celebrity, into a lot of different ventures Ms. Lopez would display her business smarts matched her acting and singing talents. When I say in 2016 a celebrity is doing a fragrance you say, “Of course.” As Ms. Lopez began to design Glow by J Lo she wanted to make a perfume which would live up to her vision of “Fresh, sexy, clean”. Working with perfumer Louise Turner, Glow by J Lo would define that phrase for years to come.

glow by j lo

Glow by J Lo opens with the snap of grapefruit softened with neroli. This is the promised “fresh”. The heart is where the beginning of “clean” begins. Ms. Turner uses a selection of synthetic aromachemicals for the floral appearance of iris, jasmine, and rose. The advantage of using these is that you can clean the jasmine up of its indoles; the rose up of its spicy core, and attenuate the powderiness of the iris. This is the clean version of three of the biggest floral powerhouse notes out there. Ms. Turner’s heart accord is brilliantly achieved. This sets up her mixture of synthetic musks to make the soapy accord for these florals to rest upon, completing the effect, as Glow by J Lo smells like clean skin after using a floral soap. A bit of sandalwood and vanilla provide a final bit of sweet creamy woods.

Glow by J Lo has 18-24 hour longevity and average sillage.

Even from the beginning Glow by J Lo was an inexpensive fragrance. Nowadays you can pick up 100mL for under $20 US. Ms. Lopez used her star power to promote it and by the end of its second year it was the bestselling perfume in the US. In 2016 it still sells very well but it has lots of competition from ever more celebrities putting their names on bottles. I tip my hat to Ms. Lopez and Ms. Turner for getting this right when there wasn’t a formula to be followed.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aeon 001- Blind Vetiver

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Ever since Frederic Malle began putting the perfumer’s name on the bottle a cult of personality has sprung up around the best. The admiration can be stifling for a perfumer looking for a chance to try something different. The new brand Aeon is trying to allow that to happen and their first release Aeon 001 is the way all Aeon releases will be handled.

The Liechtenstein based brand is releasing each new perfume as a limited edition of 333 bottles. The concept is to not name the perfumer until all 333 are sold. Their credo, from the website, is to “collaborate with perfumers, artists and adventurous minds around the globe to deliver with every scent an entirely new universe of chemically driven emotions”. That statement is a little grandiose to describe Aeon 001’s vetiver-based fragrance. On the other hand, I like not knowing the perfumer. That made my days wearing Aeon 001 a bit of treasure hunt as I considered who could be the perfumer. Is it a mainstream perfumer getting to walk on the niche side of the street? Is it an independent perfumer taking a different tack from what they are known for? The mystery added to my enjoyment.

japanese puzzle box

Which perfumer will be found inside the puzzle box?

Aeon 001 is a vetiver fragrance. I’m not sure what it is about vetiver which allows it to be the core of so many perfumers’ out of the box designs. As one who has enjoyed these kind of fragrances Aeon 001 continues the tradition.

Aeon 001 opens on a very smoky vetiver brightened ever so slightly by bergamot. The smoke is the more prominent of the three notes. It reminds me of a peat fire. The perfumer them makes an interesting choice to take a few white flowers and blow away the smoke with indoles as tuberose, jasmine, and gardenia transform the vetiver from smoke bomb into the greener woodier nature. The indoles are given an opportunity to growl and the vetiver supports the animalic sneer. I am still unsure if there are two sources of vetiver or one well-chosen chameleon which shifts according to what else is there. What is there is a beautifully urbane version of vetiver cutting through the smoke only to find the white florals ready to pounce. This all ends on a resinous base of labdanum giving the final phases of Aeon 001 a chypre-like base as the vetiver again changes to interact with the resin.

Aeon 001 has 24-hour longevity and above average sillage.

Do I have some ideas about the perfumer? I certainly do. My guess is it is one of two independent perfumers known for their experimental one-offs. I will be very surprised, and pleased, if this turns out to be a mainstream perfumer’s experiment. Aeon 001 is a very well done vetiver fragrance which covers a bit of new ground.

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

Mark Behnke

The Phases of Mandy Aftel’s Bergamoss

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When it comes to physics there are three phases of matter: liquid, solid and gas. In perfumery there are two phases solid and liquid. Almost all new perfumes are made as liquids. There are very few brands which make solid perfume versions of their liquid perfumes. Even rarer is the perfumer who composes with a solid formulation as their preferred form. One perfumer who has always considered the form her perfumes will take as part of the creative process is Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes.

Ms. Aftel and I had an e-mail conversation sparked by her sending me a sample of her Eau de Parfum version of Bergamoss at the end of last year. Bergamoss in its solid form was one of the perfumes I considered for Perfume of the Year. It is a shimmering modern chypre revolving around a unique focal point of flouve absolute. When translated to a liquid form Bergamoss becomes more expressive. Instead of shimmering it feels more like a sunbeam of focused light and energy. The flouve, so mobile in the solid formulation, feels more like a pivot point in the EdP as the bergamot switches to the chypre. I was interested in Ms. Aftel’s take on how, as a perfumer, she approached a solid versus a liquid perfume. The conversation provided a unique insight into Ms. Aftel’s considered creative process.

Mandy working on Bergamoss

Ms. Aftel at work on Bergamoss

To start I wanted to know in the most basic way how Ms. Aftel viewed her solid perfumes and her liquid versions. She related to me, “I started making solid perfume over twenty years ago and they were the first perfumes that I made. They have a very special place in my heart. I always carry one with me in my purse and use it when I am out. In the beginning of my career, there was no overlap between my solid and liquid perfumes, in other words, a perfume I created was either a solid perfume or a liquid perfume. Whenever I am creating a fragrance the form and carrier of the fragrance are a part of my creative process and I create for something to be in a specific form.”

Also part of conceptualizing a solid perfume is the very different way it is applied. The very act of dragging a finger through the solid and applying it to my skin provides what I consider a unique tactile experience. Ms. Aftel also feels this adds to a perfume in its solid form as she says, “I think of my solid perfumes as simpler, denser, and easier to layer.  I also see them in my mind’s eye traveling with my customer to various and sundry parts of his or her life and bringing some beauty and comfort there. I love the different ways that you can apply perfume, to dab, spray or smooth on a solid perfume. To me these ways of application are intimately connected to the total experience of the perfume on the body. I always think about how a person will experience putting on a perfume of mine and this impacts how I create the perfume and how I package it.” 

I was very interested in the concept of creating for a specific form and asked her to use her two most recent releases, Bergamoss and Vanilla Smoke, as examples to clarify this, “Bergamoss was intended to be a solid perfume because I liked the way that the soft heaviness of the oakmoss revealed itself in a base of wax and oil.  I think of solid perfumes as better for layering.  The drydown on Bergamoss felt like a beautiful foundation upon which to layer liquid perfumes. Vanilla Smoke needed the lift of the high proof perfume alcohol to spread out into and reveal the different levels of wood and smoke and vanilla.”

bergamoss solid

With that in mind I had to know why release Bergamoss as an Eau de Parfum. Ms. Aftel said, “I always thought Bergamoss would make a beautiful liquid perfume — perhaps more beautiful than the solid version — but I wanted it to be a solid perfume. The richness and history of vintage chypres called out to me have the substance of a solid perfume —  and I liked the shimmering aspect of the solid on the skin. But when the holiday came around I wanted to offer another version and was concerned that perhaps it wouldn't make the leap from solid to liquid form with grace. I knew it would be much lighter and brighter and was relieved to find that it still has the substance of the forest coming alive at dusk.”

Ms. Aftel sees Bergamoss as a solid perfume and as such the Eau de Parfum is a limited edition which will be discontinued in February 2016. Her reasoning for offering it as a liquid at all is, “My solid perfumes are expensive and I wanted people to have a chance to experience Bergamoss without having to purchase a solid case.  I love having a small line of perfumes and will stop offering a perfume even when it is selling well and in demand.  It has to do with my interest, as an artist, in the whole of my perfume line being coherent to me and not growing too large. I think of my fragrant offerings as chapters of a book that should create a whole.”

I had to finish our conversation about Bergamoss asking Ms. Aftel to describe this particular chapter in her compendium of perfumes, “My book of perfumes is ever changing with the introduction of new perfumes and the phasing out of old ones. It is something I do intuitively: There is a beautiful and alive “rightness” that I strive for in the whole of the offerings of Aftelier Perfumes.  I don’t want any perfume in my line to be too close or repeat a creative idea that is central in another perfume.” When pressed on Bergamoss EDP she chose a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “Bergamoss EDP is a brief character — “that struts and frets its hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.”

I want to thank Ms. Aftel for taking the time to answer my questions so thoroughly. It is always interesting to hear an artist find a way to describe something which is at heart an intuitive process.

Mark Behnke

Acqua di Parma 101- Five to Get You Started

There are brands that are sold in so many places they almost begin to blend in to the background. Which makes them go unnoticed and unloved. Acqua di Parma is one of those brands. You can find it on sale seemingly everywhere. Ever since this house has returned in 1998 it has worked with some of the greatest perfumers who have produced some of their most distinctive work. If you’re ready to give them a second look here are the five I think you should start with.

Then entire Acqua di Parma brand began with a Cologne which was made in Parma in 1930. In 1998 it was the first perfume released to announce the comeback. Just five years later they would decide to make the modern version called Colonia Assoluta. They would also employ one of the most interesting duo of perfumers to compose it; Bertrand Duchaufour and Jean-Claude Ellena. The top accord feels like M. Ellena’s deft touch with a breezy sheer citrus snap underpinned with spicy facets of cardamom, allspice, and baie rose. The heart and base feel like M. Duchaufour’s habit of wringing every nuance out of deeper notes like ylang-ylang and jasmine followed up by cedar, incense, and amber. There is also a layering of white musks in the base which seems very Ellena-like to me. This might have been better if one or the other was in charge but the tension of different aesthetics makes Colonia Assoluta fascinating.

Another high powered pairing of perfumers would work on Iris Nobile. Francoise Caron and Francis Kurkdjian combined their efforts on this. This is not truly an iris perfume as it is only present in any meaningful way in the drydown. Iris Nobile is one of the best white floral chypres you can find. Mme Caron and M. Kurkdjian definitely found a meeting of the minds as it is not so easy to say this is Kurkdjian-like or that bears Mme Caron’s fingerprints. After an opening accord of anise, tangerine, and bergamot the florals assemble in the heart. Orange blossom in one of its most expansive uses reminds you it is a white flower. Ylang-ylang provides that oily unctuousness to bring even more depth. Then a brilliant choice of cumin and peach to create a fierce fruity floral. The bite comes courtesy of a perfect chypre accord. If you’re looking for the iris it shows up here hours into wearing this one. Don’t worry the rest is so good you won’t miss it.

fico di amalfi

There is a collection within Acqua di Parma called Blu Mediterraneo. The concept was for a lighter breezier set of perfumes. Heftier than colognes but not as heavy as an Eau de Parfum. The next two choices come from there.

Fico di Amalfi was composed by Michel Girard around the idea of fig trees growing on the Amalfi Coast. It captures the smells of a fruit orchard in the height of ripeness. The citrus trees scent the air with grapefruit the closest to you. The leaves and the wood of the trees is also found. Jasmine and the ripened flesh of fig make up the heart before giving way to a woody finish. An intense figgy experience.

You ever wonder what it would be like if bergamot was made the focal point of a perfume? Bergamotto di Calabria is the answer courtesy of perfumer Francois Demachy. You’ve been told bergamot is a bitter orange. M. Demachy uses enough to make you feel that edge. Citron delineates it even further. The bergamot is always on top and it is supported through the rest of the time by ginger, vetiver, and cedar. This is a simple perfume but it shows how interesting bergamot can be if allowed to stick around for a while.

Profumo is a floral chypre from the early days as, supposedly, the original formula was brought forward to the current day. I’ve smelled both vintage and current and I am sure there was someone who was responsible for the re-formulation but I can’t find who. The current version of Profumo has a more distinctly powdery chord than the original did. I think it makes it a better balanced fragrance but it is not the same. The current version opens with beautifully rich ylang-ylang. It only gets richer as orris powders over Rose de Mai and jasmine. This is a perfect example on how to balance three of the most powerful florals into an achingly beautiful accord. It ends on a very classic ambergris, patchouli, and oakmoss chypre accord. One of the greatest chypres ever.

If you’re looking for something new to try here are five which have probably been right under your nose every time you go shopping.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bvlgari Goldea- Burnished Musks

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Brands, if they stick around long enough, will ebb and flow. This is a natural effect of shifting priorities, changes in creative direction, or just plain laziness followed by industriousness. Bvlgari has done this and after a long fallow period it seems like the fortunes of this brand are on an upswing. It started with Eau Parfumee au The Bleu. I’ve recently received samples of the three new additions to the La Gemme collection and these are significant improvements over the first set of La Gemme releases. The last sure sign of a change in the wind direction is the launch of a new mass-market release. That attempt is Goldea.

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Alberto Morillas

One of the reasons for this upward trend is Bvlgari has been using two perfumers fairly exclusively over the last 18 months; Daniela Andrier and Alberto Morillas. I think when a couple of perfumers can help define the brand aesthetic for a brand like Bvlgari it can be an asset. When I learned M. Morillas was the perfumer behind Goldea I was particularly interested beacuase of this line in the press release, “this patina are brought by the very modern and nearly tangible musks”. There is no perfumer who uses the various synthetic musks better than M. Morillas. His perfumes which feature musk are my own personal reference library on what can be achieved with them. It sounded like Goldea had some new things to show me.

bulgari goldea ad

Goldea is based on Cleopatra. Despite the PR imagery using Isabeli Fontana doing her best to channel her inner Egyptian queen it is the bottle next to her that gives the best indication what Goldea smells like. A light polished golden orb. The press materials spend a lot of time talking about gold and that is what Goldea does resemble. It has the feel of well-polished gold held up to sunlight. The musks plus one very inspired choice of floral note make this a golden glowing musky floral.

Goldea opens with what M. Morillas describes as a “crystal musk”. This is one of those musks that almost has an ozonic aspect to it evoking a sea breeze quality. It is sharp and clear as a crystal. To soften that M. Morillas uses a little bit of orange blossom and raspberry. This is not as interesting as the rest of the development as it is pretty standard fruity floral top accord territory. The heart is where things become very interesting as jasmine arrives wrapped in a furry musk. This is a mass-market perfume so when I say furry musk it isn’t enough to scare the customers but it almost replaces the reduced indolic nature of the jasmine used. What turns the heart of Goldea into a glowing globe is a beautifully chosen ylang-ylang. A perfumer has at their disposal almost every version of ylang-ylang and most often they go for a version with a specific effect. I prefer the full version which has an almost fleshy floralcy. M. Morillas doesn’t push that far but he is using a fuller version of ylang-ylang than you will normally run into in the department store. The ylang-ylang here is much more tropical in its effect and it is also matched with another animalic trending musk. Together the two musks and the two florals form a fantastic heart accord. The base is a couple of the cozier musks snuggling up with patchouli with one final surprise in the green veil of papyrus adding in a sheer woody aspect. It glows like a sunset.

Goldea has 18-24 hour longevity due to the musks and average sillage.

Goldea is a bold step away from the releases of the past few years. I am pleased to see Bvlgari back to taking a few chances instead of releasing another set of flankers. At least for the moment Bvlgari is riding high and Goldea is one of the reasons.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I received with purchase.

Mark Behnke