Chandler Burr Scent Dinner 10/14 with EB Florals and Chef Michael Hung in LA

One of the things all perfume lovers enjoy is finding new settings in which to experience perfume. One of the most unique of these are the Scent Dinners hosted by Chandler Burr. Mr. Burr has traveled the globe hosting these one-of-a-kind experiences since 2007. What happens is he collaborates with a chef to create a meal which mirrors the perfumes being sniffed. They have been so popular that they are usually private affairs. On October 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA he is holding a Scent Dinner in conjunction with Eric Buterbaugh of EB Florals and Chef Michael Hung of Viviane Restaurant. This is the first US Scent Dinner open to the public in over three years.

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Chandler Burr

For this particular edition Mr. Buterbaugh is using it as the premiere for his latest addition to the EB Florals collection called Kingston Osmanthus, by perfumer Alberto Morillas. All of the courses served by Chef Michael will be associated with other of the EB Florals fragrances. Before you receive the food course Mr. Burr introduces you to the raw materials within each fragrance; then the perfume. After that a food course follows using the raw ingredients you have been experiencing in edible form. It is an eye-opening experience as you get the chance to really interact with the basic building blocks of a perfume. It attunes you to those notes and as you try the perfume and eat the haute cuisine you will experience the impact of fragrance from a new viewpoint.

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Eric Buterbaugh

Mr. Buterbaugh is hosting the dinner in his gallery on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles where his fabulous floral designs will help set the stage for the evening. There are 25 seats available to the public for the price of $395. What that provides is a cocktail hour prior to the dinner where mixologist Ryan Wainwright will mix aromatic cocktails. A full 100mL bottle of the new EB Florals Kingston Osmanthus (which retails for $395 by itself) as an avant premiere gift. This all leads up to a five-course meal served by Chef Michael Hung inspired by EB Florals fragrances with Chandler Burr guiding you through an equally intricate menu of scent.

Avalon Beverly Hills

Chef Michael Hung

These Scent Dinners are singular experiences as each is different because of the chef and the perfume featured. If you have ever wanted to be part of one and can be in LA October 14 here is your opportunity. For more information and to reserve a seat you can e-mail gallery@ebflorals.com

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Laboratorio Olfattivo Nun- Egyptian Summer

Now that the calendar tells me we have moved into autumn I look forward to that last gasp of warmth we call Indian Summer. Usually in the first few days of October after we have had some cold days and nights the weather provides a streak of a few days in a row where the temperature rises back up to near summertime levels. It is always an interesting confluence as the sun strikes down through the leaves changing color on the trees. Instead of running on the beach in shorts I shuffle through fallen leaves. It isn’t really summer and it surely is fall but they co-exist for a few days. Perfume tends to get shuffled into categories based on what I would wear based on the temperature outside. When I received the new Laboratorio Olfattivo Nun I found it to be a perfume which also wanted to live in those in-between times, too.

Owner/ Creative Director Roberto Drago works again with perfumer Luca Maffei on Nun. Their inspiration is not Catholic sisters. Instead it is the Egyptian word which refers to primordial water. The mythology says this water gave birth to the lotus. Sigs. Drago and Maffei wanted to make a perfume which celebrated the lotus and its cycle of sleeping at night only to open at the touch of the sun in the morning. Nun does capture the lotus but it is the inclusion of fantastically rich pear which makes Nun something different.

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Luca Maffei (l.) and Roberto Drago

Nun opens with a flash of citrus from both lemon and bergamot. Next comes the pear. This is not that crisp pear that so often shows up in many fragrances. Sig. Maffei has fashioned a pear which is almost overripe. It carries a lactonic undertone making the fruit softer, lusher. Then floating on top is the white lotus which seems to enter on tip-toe. It becomes more defined by jasmine and ylang-ylang. What I like is that instead of being this meditative single bloom floating on a pool of still water. This heart accord is more akin to the lotus bursting open right as the rays of the sun touch it releasing all of the pent up scent in a kinetic burst. At the end there is a bit of an inspirational air as a grouping of lighter synthetic woods and white musks form the basenotes.

Nun has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

For all that this should be a watery summer perfume it really captures my ideal of Indian Summer. The bright notes within Nun are also matched by deeper richer counterparts. Taken together it creates a hybrid which I might think of as Egyptian Summer.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Therapeutate Parfums Cardamom Rose- The Perfume Next Door

I have a very bad habit of not appreciating that which is right in front of my face. If I hear there is a great restaurant right next to where I live you can be sure I’ll drive three times as far to go somewhere else. If the local band is supposed to be awesome I’ll make sure to check out one from across town. I live next to some of the greatest museums and historical sites in the world; and go to none of them. I live down to Groucho Marx’s admonition, “I don’t want to be a member of any club which would have me as a member.” In perfumery I have usually avoided it.

When Michelyn Camen invited me to be part of her original staff when she founded CaFleureBon one of my earliest colleagues was the Natural Perfumes Editor, Rodney Hughes. One of the things I miss about being at CaFleureBon is being part of a team because it was fun to meet up and talk. I met Mr. Hughes on a trip in to NYC for some perfume event. At that point he mentioned he had a perfume line, Therapeutate Parfums. Right away my insanity kicked in and you could be sure I was never going to try them. Now that I am on my own Mr. Hughes reached out to me; sending me a full sample set of all seven of his releases. Again my insanity kicked in, to his favor, now that he was far away I was excited to try them.

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Rodney Hughes

After spending time with the entire collection I can say that it is a really solid grouping of perfumes. Osirius, Modern Patchouli, and Taosi are all stand-outs. The one which was always going to be the one which attracted me was Cardamom Rose. it is my favorite of the entire line because of my fondness for cardamom as well as Mr. Hughes way of adding in much more than just the two notes on the label.

That cardamom I like so much greets me right away and introduces me to its friend orange. Mr. Hughes uses a full bore orange which also requires an equally weighted application of cardamom. This allows Cardamom Rose to take off right from the first moments. Mr. Hughes uses a lush Rose Otto as the other note in a starring role. Again pitched at a higher intensity he uses a really ingenious underpinning of pine and tuberose to elevate the rose to meet the cardamom. As everything begins to come together a swirl of vanilla surrounds it all providing a sweet grounding of the entire composition.

Cardamom Rose has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Just in the last few months I have been trying to face up to my silly attitudes. Mrs. C made me take her to Fort McHenry last weekend; and I enjoyed it. The same holds true here as Mr. Hughes has sent me an excellent example of independent perfume of which Cardamom Rose is the compelling scent coming from next door.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples sent by Therapeutate Parfums.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Mint

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Every perfume lover has one or two problematic notes. One reason can be a strong association with something unpleasant. For me mint is that note. When I smell it I think of dental floss, mouthwash, and toothpaste; none of which conjure up particularly interesting images. I will find myself taking extra time when I receive a new fragrance with a strong mint presence because I don’t want this inherent bias to keep me from missing something good. What has probably been a positive by-product of writing about perfume is I felt the need to give some of these mint perfumes a chance. Over the years there have been a few which have managed to leave the dental behind while making a lasting impression. Here are five which have done that.

Heeley Menthe Fraiche was probably the last of the brand I tried because there was “menthe” on the label. I expected to not like it but I should have remembered James Heeley’s way of finding unique combinations of notes. In Menthe Fraiche before it can start getting too minty he cuts it with sharp mate, lotus leaf, and green tea. This is what mint needed; something to shred it a bit. A very pure cedar provides a greenish woodiness. This is as close as I get to a straight mint fragrance.

One of the great underrated collection is the Comme des Garcons Series collections from 2000-2005. Over seven Series they explored great accords using some of the very best emerging perfumers. Series 5 Sherbet had three entries all done by Bertrand Duchaufour. Comme des Garcons Series 5 Sherbet: Peppermint nailed the chill of the frozen dessert best. By applying sheerer applications of both peppermint and spearmint over similarly light versions of cardamom, and white pepper. The real linchpin is a floral note, daphne odora, which provides a light floral core which is similar to neroli but lemon-tinted while also being sweet like vanilla. A cocktail of white musks provide the chill as it curls away from the scoop.

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In 2008 Cartier in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent wanted to design a modern masculine perfume. Roadster was going to be that fragrance built upon an axis of mint, patchouli, and woods. It helps that she keeps the mint tilted slightly towards the herbal side. Roadster has been one of those perfumes I have gone back and forth upon, because of the mint, until I wore it one blazing hot day. In that heat it all of a sudden shifted in to fifth gear with a roar. Now it is a shank of summer staple for me.

If there was a single fragrance which turned around my thinking on mint it is probably Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Geranium pour Homme. Perfumer Dominique Ropion had been one of the select group of early perfumers putting their names on the bottles for the brand. In 2009, I was excited to see what he would do with geranium. What he did was coat it in spearmint oil. This was a mint which was viscous and oozed over the geranium picking up green facets as it flowed over the flower. Underneath it all M. Ropion used ambrox and sandalwood to form a woody base. The oiliness of the mint won me over and Geranium pour Homme is one of my favorites within the brand.

By now I am a tiny bit more open to mint. When Pierre Guillaume showed me an early version of Mojito Chypre for his Parfumerie Generale Collection Croisiere I was caught up in the boozy revelry. The mint was there but so were all the sweet parts of a strawberry mojito. Sometimes perfume needs to just be fun. In the case of Mojito Chypre the mint is just part of an all-day party.

Even for me I’ve managed to find some pleasure in a note I find difficult. The above five mint perfumes are my favorite things.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Van Cleef & Arpels Moonlight Patchouli- Taking Patchouli for a Dance

There are times I get almost wholly inappropriate associations when I am trying a perfume. I don’t know if it is because New York Comic-Con is approaching but when I finally got around to trying the new Van Cleef & Arpels Moonlight Patchouli I had one. What kept springing into my mind was the question the comic book villain The Joker asks just before he guns down Bruce Wayne’s parents, “Did you ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” It has nothing to do with the perfume which is quietly beautiful; as far from being a super villain as it can get.

What got me thinking about The Joker is the difficulty many perfumers have with patchouli as a keynote. There are so many ways it can unbalance an architecture. Especially when it is used in high concentrations. One technique which is used less frequently is to dial it back making it less obstreperous. In Moonlight Patchouli perfumer Sonia Constant chooses to take this path. The patchouli here is made opaque then combined with some familiar partners which are also treated with similar opacity. It truly felt like Mme Constant took her patchouli out for a spin in the rose garden underneath the full moon.

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Sonia Constant

Moonlight Patchouli presents its transparent version of the titular note with a flourish of bergamot. As the patchouli rises it begins to circle in a holding pattern before some of the more challenging facets become apparent. Instead there are hints but mostly it is an herbal quality which suffuses Moonlight Patchouli. Mme Constant brings in powdery orris and spicy Bulgarian rose. As she did with the patchouli Mme Constant treats these as veils instead of scarves. What this does is form an atypical iris rose patchouli accord notable for its softness. The final flare is an equally soft leather which wraps all of this up in a gentle embrace.

Moonlight Patchouli has 12-14 hour longevity but below average sillage.

There are many within my perfume circle who do not like patchouli for all of its characteristic earthiness. I am going to be interested to see how they react to Moonlight Patchouli. I believe like it is something which might attract them because it isn’t so aggressive. I appreciate it because of the feather-light touch Mme Constant applied throughout the construction. With a deft hand she was able to take patchouli out for a dance in the pale moonlight.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Amouage Lilac Love- Start Here!

It is always interesting to me to watch perfumers construct accords for that which they cannot extract from their real sources. As I’ve mentioned many times a leather accord can act almost as a signature as each perfumer will generate their own version slightly different than others. While I am a big fan of leather the other more common fragrance note which cannot be extracted easily, and in quantity, from nature is lilac. You might think that odd to hear since the tiny flowers have such projection and presence in nature. There have been many perfumers who have taken on creating a lilac accord for a perfume which would feature it. The most recent is Amouage Lilac Love.

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Christopher Chong

Amouage creative director Christopher Chong is usually a man who likes to probe the boundaries of what modern perfume can be. Lilac Love is not one of those fragrances. It is the most straightforward Amouage perfume, I think, ever. Lilac Love is a soft floral gourmand with nothing very surprising in the overall architecture. Despite saying this, it is undeniably an Amouage perfume but one which is also moving further towards a European aesthetic while leaving some of the Middle Eastern part of that equation behind.

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Nathalie Lorson

Mr. Chong worked with two perfumers, Elise Benat and Nathalie Lorson, on bringing Lilac Love to life. The lilac accord is fresh but with one key point of abstraction which is what gives it its brand identity. Chocolate and vanilla provide the gourmand part of the classification.

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Elise Benat

The perfumers choose a fascinating group of floral notes to construct their lilac accord: gardenia, heliotrope, jasmine, peony, and rose. This produces a slightly dewy version of lilac as all of these notes get into place over the first half an hour or so. Once they come together this is where you get the Amouage touch as a very powdery orris presents itself as it coats the lilac in a fine layer. While the powderiness is most apparent there is also a strong rhizomal nature also here and it is what connects to the chocolate which is now arriving. It adds an earthy element to the sweetness of the cocoa bean. That rootiness also connects to the patchouli in the base. Sandalwood and vanilla are the finishing notes and they work as expected; the vanilla adding more sweet to the chocolate while the sandalwood pulls the patchouli back from being quite as earthbound.

Lilac Love has 16-18 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I have said it in previous reviews Amouage is a perfume brand which is best appreciated by those who love experiencing perfume. Mr. Chong has overseen a brand which has never shied away from taking multiple risks. Lilac Love feels like it should be the perfume which is in every Amouage display having a little red arrow pointing to it which says, “Start Here!” It is a fantastic introductory scent into what Mr. Chong has developed while being something a more casual perfume lover can access. I would also mention that this is a lilac that will do well in colder temperatures because it is supported by so many other powerful notes. In other words, if you need a reason to wear, or try, an Amouage, “Start Here!”

Disclosure: This review is based on a press sample provided by Amouage.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Fall TV Season

I probably watch too much television. It is certainly not a recent development. I have always had a love affair with the shows on television. There are life-defining moments for me that came out of the glowing screen. Which is why the first week of the new Fall TV season is always one of my favorite times of year. Prior to the internet, getting the extra-large edition of TV Guide with “Fall Preview” emblazoned upon the cover let me know there were new things coming. I would devour the issue reading about every single one of the new shows deciding which ones I wanted to try. In a few paragraphs on one page of a magazine my viewing habits for the next month would be set. There is a lot I love about being connected all the time but it has made the TV Guide Fall Preview obsolete.

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I have spent the last month of the summer watching the trailers for the shows which interest me this year.

Kiefer Sutherland is one of my favorite actors. His new show is called “Designated Survivor” where he is the only government official to survive after an attack on the State of the Union address eliminates the government. I am hopeful the show will touch on how this event impacts the country along with the difficulty of repairing the government while they deal with the conspiracy behind the attack.

One of my favorite shows as a child was “The Time Tunnel” the new series “Timeless” seems like an updated version. A group of three time travelers are chasing a villain who is bouncing through history trying to alter the future. The first episode takes place at the crash of the Hindenberg. I am hoping they don’t get tied down explaining all the time paradox stuff and just have fun ala Time Tunnel.

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The Cast of "Speechless"

Minnie Driver is another actor I am happy to invite into my world. Her latest comedy is called “Speechless”. She is a mother looking out for her son who is disabled. Ms. Driver is a blunt object with feeling. It is a sweet show with a vicious tongue, just my thing.

I am a sucker for family dramas and it has been a while since we’ve had one. The new show “This is Us” might provide it. As story of different groups of people dealing with their day-to-day crises. It is a show with heart and that is also my thing.

Of course Netflix will premiere the latest Marvel series, “Luke Cage” along with season three of “Peaky Blinders”.

There is no TV Guide anymore but the coller days of Fall brings me nack to my TV looking to be entertained.

Mark Behnke

Heeley 101- Five to Get You Started

One of the fantastic things about observing perfume over the last few years has been the rise of the auteur independent perfumer. They are intuitive about making perfume without formal training. One of these whom I have followed since 2006 is James Heeley. Mr. Heeley came to perfume making after attaining a degree in Philosophy and Aesthetics from King’s College, London University. Both of those disciplines has led to the simple brand Heeley having the aesthetic of being free to create. That’s because Mr. Heeley’s philosophy is ever evolving when it comes to perfume. This is a perfume line that is all the more interesting because of it. Here are five to get you started exploring Heeley.

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James Heeley

Cardinal was the perfume which introduced me to the brand it was the fifth release in 2006 although the brand debuted in 2004. It is one of my very favorite incense perfumes because while the incense heart accord is photorealistic the top accord of aldehydes and the base accord of vetiver and patchouli provide some abstraction. If you love incense fragrances Cardinal is one you need to try.

In Cuir Pleine Fleur the opposite occurs as an abstract version of leather is seen through a floral haze. The florals of acacia flowers, rose, mimosa, hawthorn provide a blooming riot of an accord. The leather delicately intercalates itself within these boisterous blooms. Then Mr. Heeley burnishes it with glowing drizzles of honey, some cinnamon, and cedar. All before finishing on a real animalic high as castoreum makes the leather stand up and be noticed.

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By 2008 the idea of another aquatic was about as welcome as a case of sunburn. I had become exhausted with the banality of the form. Sel Marin is a good example of how Mr. Heeley can transform the common into something worth trying. The way he achieves it is to have really well-chosen partners to the tried and true. So the sunny lemon is made green by beech leaves. The ozonic briny accord is made greener by a seaweed accord. Finally, the clean cedar and vetiver finish is roughed up by birch. If you think aquatics are boring this will change your perspective.

When it comes to patchouli many perfumes struggle with trying to elide the “head shop” vibe out of it. With the appropriately named Hippie Rose Mr. Heeley embraces it and makes it elegant. He does this by sandwiching that patchouli between moss, rose, vetiver, and incense. It could be the Summer of Love in a bottle.

Last year’s Chypre 21 is a great example on how to construct a modern chypre without the full-fledged oakmoss. Start with rosemary and lemon, then bring in a Bulgarian rose. Lay all of that on top of a nouveau chypre accord of patchouli, sandalwood, low-atranol oakmoss, white musks and dust all of it with saffron. One of the better versions of extrapolation of a venerable form to the current day.

If you have not tried the Heeley perfume line these five will give you a great idea of what Mr. Heeley’s philosophy and aesthetics of fragrance are all about.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Paglieri 1876 Romae- Roman Chypre

Whenever I am at a perfume exhibition my favorite part is finding a new brand to try. At Cosmoprof North America that experience came to me courtesy of Paglieri 1876. Introduced in Italy at the end of 2015 they are now beginning to expand in to other markets. The basis of the brand is one of travel within Italy. Each of the six perfumes in the debut collection is meant to fly you away to a specific Italian locale.

All six of the perfumes were done in collaboration by perfumers Henri Bergia and Eric Fracapane. Part of the display at the booth was a little old fashioned travel diary. All six of the perfumes feel like chapters in one of those whirlwind tours where you would see six cities in seven days. Time enough to get a broad impression but to really understand the city it would require a future visit where you could stick around for a few days. These are kinetic perfumes which develop fairly rapidly which allows for things to come and go with aplomb. I generally liked all six but the one I spent some time with was Romae.

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Henri Bergia

Romae is based on the capitol city of Italy. In the press notes they say it is inspired by the tiles and mosaics found in the city. I’m not sure I see the connection between a floral chypre and that but the perfume is very nice when all is said and done.

The perfumers throw a fast moving top accord out made up of mandarin, rosehips and pepper. The rosehips have an unctuous quality which becomes a matrix for the mandarin and pepper to interact. It is an interesting way to start a travel scent because there is familiarity but the rosehips add an exoticness which let you know you aren’t at home anymore. After that the components of the floral chypre begin to assemble. Orange blossom and rose provide their part. Patchouli and amber provide the chypre. In another interesting choice instead of adding something which might have provided more of a bite to that chypre accord the perfumers add a bit of vanilla to again finish with a bit of “away from home” kind of different.

Paglieri 1876 Romae has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

All six of these fragrant travels are worth trying. Perhaps somewhere in them you will find a city you want to spend some more time in. For me I’m going to stroll around in Romae for a while.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Paglieri 1876 at Cosmoprof North America.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Vilhelm Modest Mimosa- Straight to the Heart

When I visited Robertet I was very impressed with the number of fractions they take of various raw materials. For those who aren’t familiar a fraction is a smaller temperature range collected during final distillation forming a different scent profile. Depending on when it is collected it can have very different characteristics. One part of this group of raw materials were the ones named “Coeur”; French for heart. As you might intimate from that it is the oil collected within a few degrees of the very center of the distillation temperature range. What you also might expect is this is the most authentic version of a particular raw material. What I found was with some of the nuanced character distilled away in front of and behind it the “Coeur” was not just a more focused version it also draws your attention to certain aspects easier to overlook in the unfractionated essential oil. The new Vilhelm Modest Mimosa uses Mimosa Coeur in a stunning way.

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Jan Ahlgren

Creative director Jan Ahlgren has been working with perfumer Jerome Epinette since the inception of the brand last year. It has been a prolific partnership with Modest Mimosa the twelfth release with two more to come before the end of the year. What is becoming the typical Vilhelm architecture is three phases of two notes. This does require that those few notes provide something memorable to elevate the fragrance overall.

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Jerome Epinette

Modest Mimosa opens with neroli and carrot. This is the second time this year a perfume has opened with this and I have been taken with it both times. The neroli has some transparent green qualities which mesh extremely well with the earthy rootiness of the carrot. There is a sun-warmed quality to these notes when they are paired. Then the Mimosa Coeur comes out. As the heart of mimosa the green facets and the slightly woody components have been distilled away. What is left is the most delicate creamy indolic white flower. M. Epinette then chooses violet to prop up the mimosa Coeur with its slightly sugared sweet floral nature. This all ends on a foundation of refined leather and what is called “salt musk” in the notes. What that means is one of those white musks that imparts a slightly ozonic quality as well. In the case of Modest Mimosa it adds expansiveness to the leather while subtly deepening the animalicness of it all.

Modest Mimosa has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

2016 has had more than its fair share of excellent mimosa perfumes this year. What is nice about these different interpretations is each is distinct. Modest Mimosa’s comes from going straight to the heart of it all.

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

Mark Behnke