New Perfume Review Sonoma Scent Studio Pacific Forest- A Different Walk

Independent perfumers have become the primary driving force for natural perfumery. When asked by someone to show them a natural perfume which has the same beauty as a mixed media version. One brand I turn to is Sonoma Scent Studio and the perfumer behind it Laurie Erickson. In 2013 she began her Sonoma Naturals collection with Cocoa Sandalwood and followed that up with Spiced Citrus Vetiver, and Amber Incense. These are great examples of her skill as a natural perfumer. I have found these perfumes to be as good as it gets. Just prior to the Holidays Ms. Erickson sent me the fourth entry in the Sonoma Naturals collection, Pacific Forest.

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Laurie Erickson

In 2012 Ms. Erickson released a perfume called Forest Walk as a result of an online conversation between Mandy Aftel and herself. Ms. Erickson’s side of the conversation was about the difficulty in blending a couple of sources of hemlock absolute. Forest Walk was a fragrance that started with its feet firmly planted on the ground but by the end you were high up among the trees surrounded by the woods. Pacific Forest wanted to take that natural hemlock and woods based formula and instead of soaring high; ground it as you dig your toes into the earth with an amber base. In the end Ms. Erickson would also find that some very small amount of synthetics were necessary to get the blend of Pacific Forest correct. So instead of 100% natural she says it is 99% natural.

Pacific Forest uses that hemlock blend from Forest Walk as the opening again. This time it is allowed to be a little gauzier and diffuse. That allows for the violet used to gain a little more prominence than in the original. This is a subtle effect to be sure but wearing them side by side it is definitely apparent. I suspect higher concentrations of synthetics help draw stronger lines between the notes. Pacific Forest is much less delineated and as such it makes changes to how it develops on my skin. The woods begin to arrive as fir, cedar, sandalwood and oakmoss all provide the woods of the forest. In Forest Walk this is where things begin to lift off with an ever expanding woody accord atop the hemlock. In Pacific Forest a fabulously warm amber keeps this earthbound. It has the effect of hugging the woods in a fragrant sunbeam. It also moves the hemlock to the background more.

Pacific Forest has 6-8 hour longevity and very low sillage.

Pacific Forest in the introvert’s version of the same walk taken in Forest Walk. Ms. Erickson puts you at a fork in the path and asks if you want to soar up into the branches or keep your feet on the ground. It depends on my mood which fork I will take on a particular day. That Ms. Erickson has given me that choice is another reason why I think so highly of her.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Sonoma Scent Studio.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The FA Cup

Everyone loves a David versus Goliath Story. The first part of January always presents this opportunity as the Third Round of the English football FA Cup takes place. The FA Cup is the short way of saying the The Football Association Challenge Cup. It is the oldest cup competition in the world starting in 1871. What makes it unique is every team which plays football in England is in the competition. Starting in August the smallest teams begin playing each other in one game knockout matches. Through December each successive round adds in the next highest level of competition until we reach January when the top division Premiership clubs enter the competition. At that point there are 64 teams left from a starting pool of 700+ who play until the Final in May. The final piece of The FA Cup is there is no seeding of stronger teams versus the weaker teams. All of the teams are thrown in a common pot and the matchups come out in the order they are drawn.

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For the smaller clubs just making it to the Third Round and playing the Premiership clubs is a victory. In the lower divisions of English football the players, and their supporters, are similar to American baseball Minor Leagues from A-AAA. Imagine if there was a baseball competition where the Single A Hickory Crawdads hosted the New York Yankees in their 4,000 seat LP Frans Stadium. This takes place in The FA Cup regularly. In this year’s Third Round the lowest level team still remaining is Eastleigh FC. Who hosted a team, in Bolton, four tiers above them. Not quite the Yankees versus the Crawdads but pretty close.

EASTLEIGH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05:  Chris Todd manager of Eastleigh poses with the Fa Cup trophy during an Eastleigh media day ahead of the Emirates FA Cup third round match against Bolton Wanderers at The Silverlake Stadium on January 5, 2016 in Eastleigh, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Eastleigh Manager Chris Todd

Silverlake Ten Acres Stadium was full to capacity of around 5,000 supporters from this town in England’s south. The Spitfires are the local lads as they took to the field against their higher ranked opponents. After a scoreless first half where the home team looked the equal of their presumed betters; early in the second half they took the lead. Ten Acres was rocking as 5,000 sounded like 50,000. Bolton would fight back tying the game with under four minutes remaining. This will lead to a replay at Bolton in a week’s time where they will determine a winner after extra time and penalty kicks if necessary. After the game the Eastleigh manager Chris Todd walked around the ground applauding the supporters. You felt like he just wanted to soak up the moment. On the other side it looked like Bolton couldn’t get on the train back home quick enough. For Eastleigh the dream lives on for at least another week.

This year’s competition still has many of the smaller teams playing above their classification and it is what makes it so interesting because in most years at least one of the lower division clubs finds themselves a win or two away from the final while collecting wins for club and supporters that will be talked about for years.

I’ll be rooting for my beloved Arsenal to win The FA Cup for the third year in a row but I’ll also be watching and rooting for Eastleigh too. That’s what makes The FA Cup magic.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Preparation Parfumee Andree Putman L’Original- The Forgotten Giacobetti

When I look back over a perfumer’s career I look for those years when their creativity comes into full bloom. If pressed to pick the time period where perfumer Olivia Giacobetti reached that level, I would say that 1999-2001 was the moment when she was finding her first peak as a perfumer. Over ten fragrances in that time period she made some of her most memorable perfumes including Editions de Parums Frederic Malle En Passant, L’Artisan Passage D’Enfer, and Hermes Hiris. The one which got lost in this period of creativity was a collaboration with famed French interior designer Andree Putman.

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Andree Putman (Photo: Nour El Gammal)

Mme Putman came to her vocation at the age of 46 when she founded Createurs & Industriels where she was free to indulge her desire to “design beautiful things”. She also provided an incubator space for designers among whom were Issey Miyake, Claude Montana, and Thierry Mugler. The idealism of Createurs &  Industriels would go bankrupt and she would turn to the world of interior design. When she was commissioned to do the interior of the Morgans Hotel in New York City it would spark a career which would see her design museums, boutiques, government office buildings, and other hotels. One of her last commissions was to revamp the interior of the Guerlain flagship store on the Champs-Elysees in 2005. In 1997 she opened the Andree Putman Studio and branched out into all areas of design including fragrance in 2001.

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Olivia Giacobetti

During this time period Mme Putman was doing a lot of one-of-a-kind design like asymmetric flatware for Christofle or a champagne bucket for Veuve Clicquot. When it came to fragrance she turned to Frederic Malle to help advise her on the creative direction and employed Mme Giacobetti to bring their vision to life. What they came up with was an asymmetrical response to the aquatic wave cresting in fragrance at that time. Mme Giacobetti composes one of her most ethereal perfumes which carries a fragile beauty. The perfume was called Preparation Parfumee Andree Putman when it was released. It was gone from shelves in 2013 and I thought it was going to be an entry in the Dead Letter Office. Last March I discovered it was returning, renamed as Preparation Parfumee Andree Putman L’Original, as part of a collection which included six other new releases.

L’Original opens on a fascinating duet of pepper and damp wood. Most often pepper has a nose-tickling presence. Mme Giacobetti uses it to breathe life into her damp wood accord. If you spend any time in a rainforest you know that Nature adds its own form of spiciness to the trees in the wild. The pepper is used to make the top accord feel as if it is photorealistically accurate. The heart is a transition note of waterlily where the green qualities of the floral float through a mist of water. This is the riposte to the Calone-heavy aquatics as Mme Gicobetti makes an aquatic that is meditative instead of disruptive. The base is the opposite of the top as a bleached out driftwood accord is displayed paired with cilantro for a unique green contrast. The driftwood accord is a triumph of delicacy as again something which can be so strident is instead turned into something which requires you to lean in to get the full impression. The cilantro is such an outre green note yet it conjures up the grass growing in the dunes as the sea breeze blows through it.

L’Original has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

L’Original is a masterpiece of construction by a perfumer in her prime. Every note has a function and a place in creating a fabulous perfume. I had thought this lost but now it has been found again. If you love the architecture of perfume do not allow L’Original to not be on your radar screen.

Disclosure: This review based on a bottle of the 2001 release I purchased and a sample of the 2015 re-issue I received from Andree Putman.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Lubin Upper Ten- 19th Century Masters of the Universe

Every era has their movers and shakers. In the current time they can be internet moguls as well as the more traditional business kind of mogul. Also in 2016 the corridors of power are less defined. Back in the 1880’s not only were those corridors well known the members were a select confederation of men. Lubin Paris has been a brand which has explored, through fragrance, different European historical figures and times. With their latest release, Upper Ten, it is the American experience being interpreted.

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Gilles Thevenin

Upper Ten comes from American Nathaniel Parker Willis who in 1850 described those men who were the visionaries and bullies as America began to exert more influence as “the ten thousand who matter”. President and Creative director of Lubin Gilles Thevenin wanted a perfume which captured the wood paneled parlors where those “who matter” met to divide up the opportunities. He enlists perfumer Thomas Fontaine to bring this to life. What Upper Ten really does well is to settle into a nice leather wing chair surrounded by polished woods.

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Thomas Fontaine

Upper Ten has a very beautiful but maddeningly fleeting top accord. M. Fontaine uses bergamot, saffron, juniper berry, cardamom, and baie rose. It is a lovely opening but it comes and goes so fast it doesn’t have the chance to make an impact. It is a shame because I really liked the energetic way those notes all came together and could’ve done with a little more time with them. Geranium and leather form the core of the heart notes. This begins to assemble the lair of the men of influence. M. Fontaine imparts a softness to the leather by a judicious use of peach to blur the sharper framing leaving something more refined. That leaves the woods to arrive with gusto as cedar and sandalwood become the overwhelming accord for most of Upper Ten. These do have a sharp separation between the strong lines of cedar juxtaposed against the more arid features of sandalwood. The woods in Upper Ten are extremely desiccated and are only modulated ever so slightly by a bit of patchouli and white musk.

Upper Ten has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Upper Ten is mostly a very dry woody perfume. Everything that comes before develops rapidly until you are left with the woods. I think the unforgiving nature of these dry woods will only be enjoyable for those who really like cedar and sandalwood. One day I was happy to be smelling it into the evening. The other time it was borderline irritating because of the almost unforgiving relentlessness of the woods. I liked it but it something I will only wear when I am in the mood for woods or getting my Vanderbilt on.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Calvin Klein CK2- Eau de Millennials?

Calvin Klein has always been a designer brand which has targeted itself for the current generation of twentysomethings to thirtysomethings. When that description fit me, in the 1980’s, a disproportionate amount of my wardrobe was from Calvin Klein and my fragrance was Obsession for Men. As the 1990’s approached the brand shifted again and the fragrance made for Generation X was called CK one, released in 1994. Creative director Ann Gottlieb collaborated with perfumers Alberto Morillas and Harry Fremont on one of the earliest most successful fresh and clean fragrances. CK one would be the flagship perfume of Calvin Klein for a couple of generations. Now Calvin Klein is angling for the latest generation, dubbed Millennials, with the new CK2.

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Ms. Gottlieb has tapped a new perfumer for this task Pascal Gaurin. CK2 is described as a “gender-free fragrance that celebrates the endless possibilities of modern connections between two people”. The ad campaign by photographer Ryan McGinley shows that those two people are also not restrained by traditional gender roles. This actually sets a fairly difficult moving target for the creative team to hit. To truly be a fragrance which appeals broadly it would seem you would need to shoot for a middle ground set up for mediocrity. What I found surprising was Ms. Gottlieb and M. Gaurin are willing to challenge some of the newest generation of fragrance wearers to see beyond the commonplace.

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Pascal Gaurin

CK2 opens with one of those challenging choices as a piquant wasabi accord is folded into a traditional opening of mandarin and violet. There is much I like about these choices if you’re attempting to be a “gender-free” fragrance. The fruit and the floral are kept very attenuated. Because you can’t really be too much of either. That is why the wasabi accord is so important here. It adds an odd grace note throwing the traditional slightly off kilter. I stress slightly because the wasabi is used as a modulator here meant to alter but not have a prominence to it. The same theory works in the heart as iris and rose give a very traditional floral bouquet. Just as in the top it is tweaked by the presence of another odd accord of wet cobblestones. The slightly aquatic and mineralic accord literally grounds the florals; keeping them from being too florid. The base is a very nicely balanced trio of sandalwood, vetiver, and incense. It is more of those clean woods which are so popular in mass-marketed fragrance these days and is the most familiar part of CK2.

CK2 has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

It is going to be very interesting to see if Calvin Klein has made an Eau de Millennials with CK2. I think there is enough different here, especially compared to some other high profile designer releases, that CK2 does stand out among its peers. When it starts showing up on fragrance counters in February I am going to be fascinated observing, on my next trip to the mall, to see how this target audience reacts. I think Ms. Gottlieb and M. Gaurin have given CK2 the best chance to succeed.

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

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: La Nuit de Paco Rabanne- Perfumed Shoulder Pads

I think there are times that a perfume so perfectly characterizes its time that when things move on that fragrance ends up in the Dead Letter Office. One of those examples is La Nuit de Paco Rabanne.

La Nuit was the fourth perfume released by Paco Rabanne in 1985. In 1985 we were at the height of the nighttime television soap operas of Dallas and Dynasty. In America it was a race to see how much one could acquire. That attitude would peak in 1987 with Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the movie “Wall Street” where he would proclaim “greed is good”. It also was a time when fragrance for the final time in the 20th century would also go for it with its own “greed is good” mentality. La Nuit is one of the best examples of this time period.

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Jean Guichard

Paco Rabanne Fragrance was still looking for successors to the very popular Calandre and Paco Rabanne pour Homme. They had tried in 1979 with Metal to create a straightforward pretty floral. My impression was it was meant to be a softer version of Calandre. It was so similar to my nose that I think that caused its eventual demise. You just didn’t need to own both. By the time the creative team was ready for the fourth release they decided to go entirely in the other direction. They sat in the middle of the 1980’s which lead them to believe a full throated leather chypre would be the right choice. They enlisted perfumer Jean Guichard to come up with this.

Whenever I wear La Nuit I feel like I am putting on a pair of perfumed shoulder pads because this is a perfume which definitely wants to have it all. M. Guichard stuffs it with spice, florals and a tiny bit of fruit before one of the more strident leather chypre accords I know of kicks in. I often comment that there are perfumes that wear me instead of the other way around. La Nuit is one which epitomizes that kind of thinking.

La Nuit opens confidently with a bit of citrus flash before myrtle, artemisia, pepper, and cardamom really pick up the pace. This rolls, with a soft peach note providing the connection, into a heart of jasmine and rose. Now we have a full strut happening. The rose and jasmine carry a presence but the real power is on its way. At first cedar, oakmoss, and patchouli form the skeleton of the chypre. Then M. Guichard drops in a hugely powerful leather accord which makes that chypre become underpinning to it. As the base evolves it gets more and more animalic until at the end you are left with a pacing untamed beast stalking the scene; in shoulder pads.

La Nuit has 18-24 hour longevity and above average sillage.

La Nuit started out with strong sales for the first three or four years before seemingly going out of style along with those shoulder pads. About the time that fashion was seen as an example of deplorable excess La Nuit was also victim of an era which had passed it by.

La Nuit is a perfume which I seem to want to wear when there is a significant drop in the temperature. I think the grandiosity of it allows me to put on some perfumed shoulder pads underneath my sweater against the chill.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review April Aromatics Purple Reign- Violaceous & Vibrant

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I love words. I love knowing interesting words so I can score big in Scrabble. I also like them because sometimes they fit a particular perfume I am wearing perfectly. Two of my favorite adjectives beginning with the letter V came to mind while enjoying the latest release from indie perfumer Tanja Bochnig and her April Aromatics brand called Purple Reign.

The first adjective is violaceous which is defined as “of a violet color”. Ms. Bochnig wanted Purple Reign to be inspired by “the purple flame” which is “a unique light of subtle realms that supports the enhancement of our vibrations”. That last word leads to the other adjective, vibrant. Most often it is defined as “full of energy and enthusiasm” I am thinking of it more as an alternative definition which reads “(of color) bright and striking”. Ms. Bochnig as a yoga teacher also keenly feels the spiritual harmonics and in Purple Reign wants to capture those.  

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Tanja Bochnig

Working with an all-natural set of ingredients Ms. Bochnig pulls together a bouquet of some of the best purple flowers. At the heart of Purple Reign is a natural lilac tincture. This is the ingredient which reigns in Purple Reign. With this tincture lilac is drawn in strong very defined strokes. It allows what can often be a lilting note when used as an absolute a much stiffer spine. A regal spine. Sitting up erect on its throne. What other notes come to pay court is what makes Purple Reign so enjoyable.

The lilac is present right from the first moments as the tincture sets up the axle upon which things will travel. First up is violet and lavender. The violet adds its odd candied sweetness. The lavender hews more to its herbal nature. The lavender in particular meshes with the lilac tincture softening some of those stark lines. In the heart orris provides a powdery alternative purpleness. Jasmine deepens the sweetness. Even with all of that the lilac stands tall holding its own. The base is osmanthus and opopanax. Even here where these might have overwhelmed the lilac it still holds its head high beckoning the apricot nature of osmanthus and the earthy resinous quality of opopanax to kneel before it.

Purple Reign has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I have to return to vibrant as the final word on Purple Reign. Throughout the time I wore it I really was captured by the very distinct different tonal shifts around the lilac. That tincture can only come from the individuality which defines an indie perfumer. Purple Reign captures all of the positive vibrations that come with that independence.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by April Aromatics.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Beaufort London East India a.k.a Vi et Armis- Smack My Brit Up

When I go to a website for a new perfume brand sometime I learn the most amazing things. For instance, when I visited the site for Beaufort London I learned the Founder and Creative director is Leo Crabtree. Mr. Crabtree is more familiar to pop culture as the drummer for the rock group The Prodigy. On the website it adds to that biography with the statement, “whose life-long love of fragrance and preoccupation with the darker elements of British history are the collection’s impetus”. His first home was a boat on the River Thames which has tied him tightly to the “the sea, its traditions, superstitions and way of life are ingrained in me.” I think it is an interesting place to begin a career in perfumery.

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Leo Crabtree

Mr. Crabtree oversaw the creation of a three perfume debut collection named “Come Hell or High Water”. The perfumers are unnamed but are said to be “the most accomplished perfumers in Great Britain.” The name of the brand comes from the Beaufort scale used to describe the severity of wind on land and sea. On the website each perfume comes with its own “wind chart”. East India has the gentlest of breezes while 1805 has the largest gusts. Coeur de Noir is closer to 1805 than East India. There is a real attempt in 1805 (has been re-named to Tonnerre) to capture the smell of warfare during the Battle of Trafalgar. The problem is it catches all the acrid parts. The harsh smell of a gun powder accord the copper tinted scent of blood plus an almost antiseptic fir balsam. I felt like I was the ensign swabbing the decks post-battle. It is one of the oddest perfumes I have smelled recently but I couldn’t roll with it. Coeur de Noir was slightly different in it attempted to marry the ink of a naval life. Those of the pen in the Captain’s Log with the tattoos of those below decks. The ink accord is done right but the rest of the milieu is buried underneath and never came through for me. The ink accord is worth trying but you have to like it a lot because that is pretty much all there is.

Beaufort London Male grooming Eau de Parfum Leo Crabtree photographed by Andrew Ogilvy Photography

Photo by Andrew Ogilvy Photography

East India (has been re-named to Vi et Armis)was the one I found most appealing. Instead of actual war it was based on the travels of the British East India company and its travels across the known world acquiring goods. What I particularly like about the choices Mr. Crabtree encouraged in his perfumer was the addition of an opium accord to the more expected spice, tea, rum, and tobacco. This is what it must have smelled like to be in a hammock in the hold as your ship headed for home with a full cargo.

East India opens with sticky green cardamom and a smoky Lapsang Souchong-like tea accord. There is a smoky vein that starts with that tea accord that will wind throughout the development. A bit of incense and rum set up the heart of opium. Opium has a sweet narcotic odor that when it goes up in smoke is also present. East India captures that as the incense provides a bit of a contrast to it. This is my favorite part of East India. It heads towards a base where you smell the birch tar on the hull planking next to bags of dried tobacco leaf. The birch tar accord is well-realized and the tobacco provides its own sweet narcotic aspect as contrast.

East India has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I applaud Mr. Crabtree for unapologetically going for the naval vibe he was after. I believe he got the perfumers to give him exactly what he was asking for. This is one of the more unique collections you will encounter.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: How to Turn the Past into the Future

When it comes to anything artistic I tend to approach anything which is a remake with skepticism. I think it comes from my high school days when we did a production of MASH in 1975 for the Drama Club. It was one of those magical personal moments for me as the group of people doing this play bonded in ways that have lasted in some cases to the present day. After we all graduated I heard not even five years after we did it they were doing MASH again. Those people were trying to recapture the camaraderie we all felt. I am pretty sure they didn’t. Magic moments are just that; because they can’t be manufactured on one’s whim.

This is also true with remakes or sequels of movies. The reason these projects get approved is because of the magic that happened on screen. I think movie studios know how rare it is but they just can’t keep from trying to put all the same ingredients up there and hope for something special. Most of the time it fails. Except 2015 has three amazing examples of when lightning does strike twice and three of my favorite movie going experiences of 2015 are sequels nearly forty years on after their inspirations. Those movies are Mad Max: Fury Road, Creed, and Star Wars The Force Awakens. Each has a lesson on how not to remake but to reimagine the stories being told.

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Mad Max: Fury Road brought back the director of the original Mad Max, as well as both sequels, George Miller. Mr. Miller had become a maker of family movies in two different series, “Babe” and “Happy Feet”. The original Mad Max movies were his first movies and those had the hallmarks of a director with nothing to lose in doing something different. Those movies carried with them what I called a “casual anarchy” that I thought only a hungry young man could effectively elicit on screen. Fury Road carried that same “casual anarchy” throughout and it is what ties all of the movies together. What sets it apart is the character of Imperator Furiosa played by Charlize Theron. This is a character that only comes with that nearly forty years of time. Furiosa is a seeker of the Paradise she was removed from as a child still out there in the wasted rest of the world. The journey along the road beset by those trying to keep that from happening is pure “casual anarchy”. The cathartic moment which leads to the final act of the movie is heart-wrenching and unique in the series.

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Creed should also be titled Rocky VII. It was the original Rocky in 1976 which was made by Sylvester Stallone on a $1 million budget which spawned the new template for sports movies where winning the match isn’t everything. Creed takes everything which made Rocky work and spin it around. The illegitimate son of Rocky’s opponent in that first movie turns to Rocky to train him. Once they start to work towards the climactic fight there are similarities but again it comes down to a single performance which makes Creed so good. It is Michael B. Jordan as Donnie Johnson. He has become a successful business man when he walks away to try and become a professional boxer. This is not the story of a man who needs the fight to make his life. This is the story of a man who needs the fight to complete his life. Sylvester Stallone playing Rocky for the seventh time is the best he has been since the original. There is a moment in the movie when Donnie and Rocky find themselves at the top of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is a moment of joy that left me sobbing.

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I’ve already written a lot on Star Wars The Force Awakens but for the purposes of my thesis here the choice of cast is what makes this so successful. Yes the plot is a remix of many of the beats from the original trilogy. The characters of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac) are not. The first female starring heroine, the first black hero, and the first latino hero in the galaxy far, far away. What struck me about Star Wars now is it has the power to allow any child to dream and see themselves up on the screen. I goth the biggest kick after walking out of a recent screening watching a young girl holding her 3-D glasses like a lightsaber saying, “I’m a Jedi.”

The point I want to make here was each filmmaker created a singular character or characters for each of these remakes which made them feel different enough to not feel like we were watching the same thing all over again. Ms. Theron, Mr. Jordan, Ms. Ridley, Mr. Boyega, and Mr. Isaac have brought these characters so much to life that each of these movies feels like the beginning instead of the end. When looking to the past makes something relevant for the future.

Mark Behnke

The Gold Standard: Aldehydes- Lanvin Arpege (1993)

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If you play perfume word association and I say “aldehydes” your response is likely to be “Chanel No. 5”. Certainly perfumer Ernest Beaux’s use of aldehydes in that iconic perfume was the bellwether for their essential use in perfumery for nearly one hundred years. The aldehydes are so integral to the success of Chanel No. 5 I suspect many would say that is their baseline for an aldehydic perfume. I have a different answer when it comes The Gold Standard for aldehydes although it comes from the same time period, Lanvin Arpege.

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Arpege was created in 1927, six years after Chanel No. 5. Andre Fraysse the in-house perfumer for Lanvin would collaborate with Paul Vacher on Arpege. It was meant to be presented to Jeanne Lanvin’s daughter Marie-Blanche for her 30th birthday. It has become one of the classics of the time and Arpege has always been available. What I consider The Gold Standard is the 1993 reformulation overseen by Hubert Fraysse, Andre’s brother. What makes it my aldehydes reference standard is that in the 1993 reformulation they are very much more prevalent. They form a sharper presence to compensate for a slight attenuation in the floral character before heading to a defined vetiver base.

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Andre Fraysse

Arpege opens on a tiny bit of bergamot and neroli before the aldehydes start popping like fireworks. When I’ve tried a vintage version of Arpege the aldehydes are mostly long gone. In the reformulation not only are they there, they form a sparkling halo which overlays the transition into the floral accord in the heart. Primarily composed of orris, rose, and ylang the use of clove and coriander enhance the spicy facets within those florals. In the early moments the aldehydes fizz through everything like pixie dust drifting down among the petals. Arpege holds this kineticism for a good long while. This is where the reformulation differs from the vintage. I think the cost of the florals got prohibitive and the compensation was to up the aldehyde content. Usually this would not be something I would think positively upon. In this case I like this 1993 version of Arpege better than the original. The base of vetiver, patchouli, and sandalwood, tinted slightly sweet with vanilla reminds me of a lot of some of the classic masculine powerhouse bases of the 1980’s.

The 1993 Arpege has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Luca Turin in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide writes that “Arpege supports the theory that perfumes become more masculine over time.” That is something which I consider in my affection for the reformulated version of Arpege. I might not be the target audience but it sure does speak to me. In any case the ability to acquire a fresh bottle with the aldehydes intact is one good reason why this reformulation is my The Gold Standard for aldehydes.

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

Mark Behnke