Dead Letter Office: Calvin Klein Crave- Growing Pains

Because I’ve been so interested in the trend of perfume brands reaching out to Millennials this year I’ve been looking back to find other times fragrance was designed to specifically capture a young market. It will not surprise anyone that a good example would come from Calvin Klein. For almost 40 years now this has been a brand all about finding appeal for the young consumer. In 1994, with ckOne, they were perfectly positioned to ride the swelling wave of cleanliness in fragrance long before it turned in to a tsunami. By 2002 they were ready to do it again with Calvin Klein Crave. Except this time, it was one of the rare fragrances for this brand to end up in the Dead Letter Office.

As the brand was looking out at their target audience they were seeing the beginning of the wireless age. Nearly every young person had a pager hanging from their belt while the early cell phones were just starting to penetrate society at large. Creative director Ann Gottlieb wanted to oversee the creation of a perfume which would capture this connected generation on the bleeding edge in 2002.

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Ms. Gottlieb assembled a group of four perfumers in Jean-Mark Chaillan, Olivier Polge, Pascal Gaurin, and Yves Cassar. The perfumers were given the brief I think all Calvin Klein perfumers are given, “make it young, fresh, sexy, and clean”. Except with the concurrent electronics modernity in mind it drove them to think a little more outside of the box than they might normally have done. What resulted was something that seems Calvin Klein but at other moments seems like the name on the label must be incorrect.

Crave opens with some of that unusual quality right away. The perfumers use a Calone-laden “fluorescent fresh accord”. There is so much Calone here that the melon-like quality of that aromachemical is also evident. To that the perfumers add a different fruity partner; carambola, or starfruit, which has a tart smell to it but not nearly as much as a citrus note would have. That actually turns the fruitiness of the melon and the carambola into its own sort of fluorescent fruit accord. To all of this there is a strong green counterpoint. The longer this lingers on my skin the sugarier the fruit gets and just as it is about to become Kool-Aid the perfumers unleash a spate of herbs as basil, coriander, and allspice come forward. For a little while this is a like a chaotic house party as the fresh of the Calone, the fruits, and the herbs whirl madly. Again just as it threatens to become annoying the base notes try and calm things down. Crave goes all woody as sandalwood and vetiver provide the calming effect needed while the typical mixture of white musks finish this off.

Crave has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is a perfume which lives life on the edge of irritating. If it stays on the right side of the line, as it does with me, it is a fun fragrance. If it falls on the other side of that line this is going to be an irritant. It seems the consumers were in the latter category as three years after launch it was pulled. It is still the quickest discontinuation for the brand.

There is a bit of cautionary tale in Crave for all of those brands trying to figure out what the Millennials want. Even an all-star team can miss the mark by trying too hard to cater to a perceived taste.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Charenton Macerations Eye, Hatshepsut- Kyphi Moderne

Egypt has been a rich source of inspiration for many perfumers. From the ancient history all to the modern-day version with the Nile as centerpiece. I had thought I had seen a version of every point of inspiration that there could be. Leave it to the creative force behind Charenton Macerations, Douglas Bender, to find a new perspective for the new release Eye, Hatshepsut.

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Douglas Bender

If you have never gone over to the Charenton Macerations website you should. Mr. Bender will take you on a deep-dive into the inspirations for his perfumes. The same is true for Eye, Hatshepsut. The unique perspective he takes is to offer the thesis that the Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut who ruled from 1480-1458 BC was the first historical queer icon. Hatshepsut would combine the traditional male dress of pharaoh with her own evident feminine curves. Over the 22 years of her rule she did her part as ruler, she opened new trade, she vanquished her enemies on the battlefield, and added her temples to the Valley of Kings.

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Cecile Hua

The traditional sacred incense called kyphi was one of the earliest versions of perfume known. Each pharaoh would have their own distinctive blend their bespoke kyphi. The 32 ingredient recipe found in the temple at Dayr-al-Bahri would not be something I would necessarily want to try. Mr. Bender was inspired to try and make a modern version of Hatshepsut’s Kyphi. He would work with perfumer Cecile Hua to bring this together.

Kyphi has a very distinct smell. I’ve smelled a couple of re-creations at different museum shows. I’ve found it to be strongly animalic with incense and patchouli at high levels as well. I walked away from those thinking I don’t want to smell like that. Mme Hua and Mr. Bender also realized kyphi needed a modern make-over. That is what Eye, Hatshepsut is all about.

To start with Eye, Hatshepsut a candle burns in the dark while smoke is trapped against the walls of the temple. A watery blue lotus floats among the warm wax and wood smoke. I was not engaged by this opening. Too often smoke obscures instead of illuminates and in the early going the smoke is too much in control. It improves immensely as the heart accord comes together around orris. Mme Hua uses a rich version of orris butter. This is the woman underneath the masculine garments. Honey, cinnamon, and a “kohl accord”. That final bit is an inky black mineralic juxtaposition against the rich rooty orris. The cinnamon and honey provide a bit of heat and sweet. The base is what I remember from traditional kyphi constructs as patchouli and incense come forward along with a whole series of animalic musks. Mme Hua keeps this much more restrained than the real thing which I found to be a good thing.

Eye, Hatshepsut has 16-18 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I think Mr. Bender achieved his desired version of a kyphi moderne. I appreciate the attempt and it is much more wearable than the faithful recreations. I don’t prefer it over the other two releases from the brand but it carries an undeniable presence. While I might not want to get my pharaoh on if these notes I described are among your favorites Eye, Hatshepsut is worth seeking out.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Charenton Macerations.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Vert D’Encens- Pine-cense

The Tom Ford Private Blend collection has been releasing a collection within the collection over the last few years. For 2016 the four new releases are called Les Extraits Verts. When I heard the name I was looking forward to a Tom Ford take on green. When I received my samples a couple weeks ago I was surprised overall it wasn’t as vert as I was expecting. Although there was one exception Vert D’Encens.

Antoine-Maisondieu

Antoine Maisondieu

Vert Boheme missed the vert boat entirely as it was mostly citrusy floral before getting a bit musky at the end. Vert de Fleur did have the green going but it didn’t feel special to me. Vert des Bois was my second favorite of the four as perfumers Olivier Gillotin and Rodrigo Flores-Roux really added in some odd versions of green in olive leaves, and marigold along with some more traditional choices. It made for a really engaging development.

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Shyamala Maisondieu

Vert D’Encens was the one I spent some time with because it, too, was an off-beat green but with two very common ingredients; pine and incense. Longtime creative director Karyn Khoury oversaw a team of perfumers consisting of Antoine Maisondieu, Shyamala Maisondieu, and Yann Vasnier. The decision to combine a full body pine tree, including sap, to a full throated frankincense turned out to be just the green I was looking for.

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Yann Vasnier

In the early going the perfumers bring out a very traditional pine joined by lemon and lavender. In these very first moments Vert D’Encens is a little bit a like a lot of drugstore pine fragrances. It doesn’t stay that way long as a green cardamom and sage set the stage for a pine sap accord. That accord carries a tint of the camphoraceous quality which provides a lift as the pine intensifies with the sap accord and the pine from on top becoming stronger. Right as it seems like the pine is at its zenith a fine silvery frankincense cuts across it and embeds itself in the sticky pine. Together it forms what I thought of as Pine-cense. This is where Vert D’Encens stayed at for hours. Much later on cedar and vetiver add a bit cleaner green to close things out.

Vert D’Encens has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

What drew me in to Vert D’Encens over the other Les Extraits Vert was the simple combination of the pine and incense. The perfumers found a way to find just the right balance for me. It is definitely going to be another excellent choice as the weather gets cooler as fall arrives.

Disclosure; This review was based on press samples provided by Tom Ford Beauty.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Stags Leap

In 1984 I took my first job in Danbury, CT which was about an hour from New York City. One of my friends from college was living in the City. In college he was one of the small group who spent some time trying to learn more about wine. Our birthdays are eight days apart in October. We decided that we were going to work our way through the great 4-star restaurants in NYC on the weekend in between our birthdays over the next few years. The first of these dinners was in the restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center Towers called Windows on the World. Within the restaurant there was a special room called Cellars in the Sky. There they had a seven-course meal paired with wines chosen by the Windows on the World sommelier Kevin Zraly.

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Mr. Zraly was one of the earliest voices to demystify the idea of drinking wine. Moving it from intimidating to welcoming. That night was a catalyst for a number of wine-related things. Mr. Zraly took the time to chat with us. I probably gushed a little bit while speaking too fast. Of all the wines we had tasted that night it was an American Cabernet Suavignon which was my favorite; Stags Leap Cask 23. Mr. Zraly became the first to relate the story of the Paris blind tasting of 1976 in which two American wines won the best in both white and red. The red was Stags Leap. In those pre-Internet days I actually had to go to a library to find the articles written about that tasting. It also fueled my interest in Napa Valley and American winemaking.

Stags Leap became the most prestigious address in all of Napa. So much so that neighboring vineyards started putting on their labels “Stags Leap district”. I was skeptical of this idea of wine from the same region sharing a particular quality. I also believed it had a lot to do with the people making the wine too.

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Over the years though Stags Leap has continued to prove itself as a true vinicultural region. In 2007 it actually became the first named American Vinicultural Area (AVA) because of this sustained quality. I was returned to thinking about this when I attended a recent tasting of the wines from Dylan’s Ghost.

Dylan’s Ghost came from a walk through Stags Leap by two of the stars of American winemaking, Aaron Pott and Joseph Carr. Mr. Pott was a graduate of the University of California-Davis wine program after which he spent time in Bordeaux before returning to California and heading up Beringer vineyards. Mr. Carr is one of those raconteurs of wine who once he turned to producing wine under his own eponymous label showed that independent American spirit is what separates the Napa reds.  As these two walked they decided that it was time to do a wine which was a blend of Stags Leap grapes beyond the famed Cabernet Sauvignon. The result is two different bottlings a year Dylan’s Ghost The Beast made up of one-third each cabernet franc, petit syrah, and merlot grapes; and Hell Hollow a near equal split between cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.

Much like that night on top of the world I was enchanted by these wines especially The Beast. This is deeply dark wine which evolves on my tongue in waves of dark fruits which segue into a noticeable licorice before it fades. The Beast is as good as any of the more famous Stags Leap releases for a third to half the price. Plus because it is a blend it doesn’t require as much aging to let the tannins die down although the older vintages I tried showed some cellaring does add something.

I think my skepticism at American wine terroir might have just been misplaced pride in the independence which formed the Napa wine community fifty years ago. With wines like Dylan’s Ghost the evidence for Stags Leap is overwhelming.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Versace pour Homme Dylan Blue- Tangled Up In Blue

2016 is going to be a very good year for perfumes that were released in the mainstream sector. The primary factor which I think have made this year better is the desire of the big perfume brands to connect with the younger fragrance buyer. What this has led to is a few interesting takes on existing tropes. One of the more consistent things this has produced are perfumes which take half chances. Willing to let the top notes or the base notes carry some risk but the other half needs to be safe. If the interesting half is engaging enough that might be enough. The latest example of this is Versace pour Homme Dylan Blue.

Versace pour Homme Dylan blue is ostensibly a flanker to Versace pour Homme. While it shares the same perfumer, Alberto Morillas, this is pretty much a very different fragrance. It shares some of the same freshness of the original but that’s pretty much where I would end any comparisons. Dylan Blue is making a play for the player in his 20’s or 30’s.

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Alberto Morillas

M. Morillas’ plan to ensnare this perfume wearer is to take that stale aquatic fresh accord and really add some pizazz to it. This is that half of Dylan Blue which really succeeds. M. Morillas combines a whole host of synthetics which bounce off one another in a very engaging fashion. The problem is that ends and what we are left with is a very generic ending which lasts longer than the opening.

Dylan Blue opens on the tried and true citrus of grapefruit buttressed with bergamot. Right away M. Morillas switches things up by adding fig leaves and an aquatic accord. The fig leaves are a really nice touch adding a creamy green quality. This juxtaposes with the aquatics and the citrus. Then M. Morillas just keeps adding in kinetic energy; black pepper, violet leaves, and papyrus all come in and find a dance partner. The papyrus inserts itself with the aquatic accord and the fig leaves. The violet leaves provide a sharpness to the grapefruit. As this all comes together this does feel like an attempt to reach out to a new younger fragrance wearer with the plea “I’m not your father’s cologne.” The unfortunate part is the base is just like your dad’s cologne. A very generic ambrox, musk, and tonka is what is left behind.

Dylan Blue has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Dylan Blue is half of a very good fragrance. On the second day I wore it I topped it off three times during the day so I could enjoy the early moments again. Even though the title refers to a color of fabric used by fashion designers I was reminded of Bob Dylan’s great song “Tangled up in Blue”. In that song the lyrics tell of a search for love that always begins well but ends with him back in the same place heading down the road. Versace pour Homme Dylan Blue begins well only to end up in the same place but that beginning is worth getting tangled up in Dylan Blue.

Disclosure; This review was based on a sample provided by Versace.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Dear Rose Mentha Religiosa- Minty Herbal

Before niche really took off just after the year 2000 there were a few creative directors who were working on the early outlines of a niche aesthetic. One of those was Chantal Roos. From 1992-2002 she was among the most creative creative directors in perfumery. Because of that ability to challenge the status quo many of those fabulous perfumes were discontinued and are now highly sought after. Most recently she has been working with her daughter Alexandra Roos on their own perfume brand Dear Rose. I met both of them in Esxence in Milan in March. Soon after I returned I received a package of samples of all eight Dear Rose releases since its inception in 2014. Joining them in this endeavor Is perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin who has composed all eight. M. Pellegrin has worked a lot with the elder Mme Roos on other brands so it is natural to believe they had built up a rapport. What is refreshing about the entire Dear Rose line is these are not box checking easy fragrances. These are complex constructs which reward the time spent with them. The most recent release Mentha Religiosa is a good example.

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Alexandra and Chantal Roos

Mentha Religiosa is loosely translated to religious mint. How the creative team has interpreted this is to combine mint with church-like frankincense. Now that combination sounds like there was a collision as a dental products truck ended up in the apse of an old church. I have very little affinity for mint in fragrance because it is so fresh. Especially when I take a leaf of peppermint and slowly crushing it in my hand it doesn’t release treacly insipid sweetness but an herbal green matched equally with the sweet mint. This is the mint M. Pellegrin serves up with Mentha Religiosa.

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Fabrice Pellegrin

How M. Pellegrin goes about doing that is to take peppermint essential oil and combine it in equal parts with petitgrain and a very bitter version of bergamot. The petitgrain adds back the green and the herbal bitterness as contrast. The bergamot adds a different kind of bite but one which creates that minty herbal accord. The very austere frankincense comes next. Together they form a delightfully quirky duo. I don’t think this is going to appeal to everyone but for me it was so off-beat I got lost in its oddness. A bit of iris tries to attenuate that but it isn’t until cedar and patchouli really grab ahold in the base that it becomes a bit more approachable.

Mentha Religiosa has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I enjoyed getting to know all eight fragrances in the Dear Rose line because the entire creative team of The Roos and M. Pellegrin seem to want to make perfume interesting again. If you need to know what that smells like pick up some Mentha Religiosa.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Dear Rose.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Grandiflora Queen of the Night- The Power of Impermanence

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One of the reasons I fell in love with hiking in the desert is despite what many might think there is so much to see. One of the things which has always drawn me is the number of things that happen for relatively short time in the desert milieu. In the spring it is the riot of color as the desert in bloom shows swathes of color on top of the barrenness. After we get through the heat of high summer there is a call back to that earlier time but it is only for the tine of one night. The Cereus cactus only blooms for one night usually from mid-September through October in the high desert. I remember one hike in the fall one year as I was stargazing with my binoculars. There was this wave of intensely vanillic smells which were coming from just outside the campsite. Interspersed with the smell of the desert at night it distracted me from the heavenly beauty above. As I got my flashlight and moved towards the smell I found a little cluster of cactus with these amazing fragile white blooms. I was amazed that it was just these few flowers that were producing this amount of scent. As I extinguished my light I leaned against a nearby boulder and went back to looking at the stars surrounded by this fantastic floral scent. These flowers, I found out later, only last for one night. I took for granted my fortune in being in the right place at the right time.

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Saskia Havekes

Because of this experience I was very interested in the fourth fragrance Owner/Creative Director Saskia Havekes was releasing for her Grandiflora brand called Queen of the Night after this Cereus cactus flower. I was also pleased to see she was collaborating with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour. M. Duchaufour has a nifty skill at creating specific accords. In Queen of the Night this is shown as it really is a dance of three accords; one for the sand and stone of the desert, another for the cooling air of the desert night, and an accord to evoke the flower itself.

Bertrand Duchaufour

Bertrand Duchaufour

Because it is all about the flower that is what makes its presence known first. The Queen of the Night accord is primarily formed around a core of orange blossom. M. Duchaufour weaves other white flowers, tuberose and gardenia, in to amplify the indolic effect. Then he adds vanilla to finish this accord which is a creditable simulation of the real thing. Now he needs to add in the vault of the desert sky at night with the grounding element of the surface. For the desert night sky accord he uses a set of the more expansive aldehydes this adds a cooling transparency which overlays the Queen of the Night accord. Then from below the sand and stone thrust their way into things. Here M. Duchaufour takes incense and clove while surrounding them with some spices a bit of galbanum, patchouli, and sandalwood. It provides a craggy foundation for the other two accords to interact with.

Queen of the Night has 10-12 hour longevity about the same as the real bloom. The sillage is average.

M. Duchaufour under the direction of Ms. Havekes has done a very nice job of capturing a rugged terrain at a moment where it shows off a more pleasant side. The desert has always been about the power impermanence has in that unforgiving climate. Queen of the Night is also about that same effect.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle provided by Grandiflora.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Diptyque Kimonanthe- Smoldering Osmanthus

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I think Diptyque is having a period of quiet excellence. Some of it is easy to attribute to the simple fact that they have been a part of the niche perfume landscape for nearly thirty years. When there are brands that come and go in thirty months it can become simple to forget that which has always been there. Much of this renaissance at Diptyque I can lay at the nose of perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin who has been doing some of his best recent work for the brand. It is reminiscent to the body of work that Olivia Giacobetti did for ten years starting in 1996 at Dipryque. There is something about this brand which allows perfumers the opportunity to create with abandon. I was excited to receive the latest by M. Pellegrin Kimonanthe.

Kimonanthe is part of The 34 Collection calling back to the very first Diptyque shop on 34 boulevard Saint Germain. This has become emblematic of the quality I was describing above. For Kimonanthe M. Pellegrin wanted to make a perfume which evoked the powdered incense of Japan called zukoh. Zukoh is meant to be worn on the body directly. It was also used as body purification by Buddhist monks prior to ceremonies. Paired with the incense in Kimonanthe the other keynote is a fulgent osmanthus which has been powdered with zukoh.

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Fabrice Pellegrin

Kimonanthe opens with a distinct apricot note very prominent. Out of that M. Pellegrin allows the osmanthus to reveal itself. It happens in tiny steps as apricot dominates things and then the leathery component of osmanthus is there slowly gaining in intensity. As that happens the incense also begins to insert itself. M. Pellegrin uses clove as a connective note between the osmanthus and incense. A pinch of camphor provides a lift to the incense making it seem as if it is more ephemeral as it nestles into the petals. It Kimonanhte ended here I would have been very happy. M. Pellegrin then takes a risk by forming a base accord of sandalwood and leather infused with a milk accord. It adds a wonderful foundation to the zukoh infused osmanthus.

Kimonanthe has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

M. Pellegrin gets the balance on this just right. These are notes and accords which can fill a room. In Kimonanthe they are kept at half that volume throughout. This is going to be a fabulous choice which with to spray my scarves this coming winter. Surrounded by a smoldering incense laden osmanthus is just the way to keep warm.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Olfactive Studio Close Up- Annick Menardo’s Vision Quest

A perfume brand has to know when to take risks and when to please their audience. Creative director/owner of Olfactive Studio Celine Verleure has tread this fine line very well over the five years of its existence. After a 2015 which saw the more adventurous side of things with Panorama and Selfie; 2016 is going back to the more comforting side of things. The earlier release this year Still Life in Rio was related to one of the original releases Still Life. The latest release is called Close Up.

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Photo: Suren Manvelyan

Those familiar with the brand know that Mme Verleure chooses a photographic brief to give to her chosen perfumer. I knew Close Up was going to be interesting because she chose a picture by Suren Manvelyan. It comes from a series of photos of the human eye in extreme close up called “Your Beautiful Eyes” In this case it is of an iris floating in blackness. It is a blue eye with orange/red flecks like solar flares puncturing the serenity of the blue. It looks like it could be a galaxy being swallowed by a black hole but it is that which we use to see.

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Annick Menardo

The perfumer Mme Verleure asked to interpret this is Annick Menardo. Mme Menardo usually spends most of her time in the mainstream perfume sector. The beautiful thing about her work is on the rare occasions she ventures into the niche space with a creative director who appreciates her style she has had a fantastic track record. Mme Verleure is one of those creative directors who allows enough space for her perfumers to excel. For Close Up Mme Menrado was allowed to shine.

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Celine Verleure

One of the first things they must have agreed on was that this was not going to be some transparent opaque composition. It was going to carry the intensity of Mr. Manvelyan’s photograph with a host of bold notes. After a year of so much lightness it was a treat to have something which wasn’t afraid to swagger a bit.

Close Up struts its stuff from the very first moments. Mme Menardo combines green coffee with a cherry liqueur note. It is like getting a single blend coffee flavored with cherry syrup. It may sound weird but it goes together unusually well. This transitions into a cherry flavored tobacco while the coffee grabs ahold of the patchouli in the heart. These four ingredients form the part of Close Up which lasts the longest. It has great intensity to it as it wears throughout the day. Once Close Up moves on Mme Menardo has one more surprise as a suite of animalic musks provide the final flare. The musks are ameliorated with a bit of tonka and cedar.

Close Up has 24 hr longevity and average sillage.

My most-worn Olfactive Studio fragrance has been Lumiere Blanche it is probably my favorite fall fragrance I own. The testament to that is my bottle is almost empty. I was expecting to go pick up a replacement before the weather turned cooler. After having worn Close Up I am not so worried about that anymore as I think it might just nudge Lumiere Blanche off of its perch. If you are looking for a new fall fragrance you can’t go wrong with embracing Mme Menardo’s vision of Mr. Manvelyan’s eye.

Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample supplied by Olfactive Studio.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Louis Vuitton Dans La Peau- Luxe in Flux

It has become so common for luxury brands to have a fragrance as part of their portfolio it is more surprising when one doesn’t. The luxury leather goods brand Louis Vuitton has taken their sweet time about entering the fragrance market. There have been a few fits and starts which never made it past the early development stage. Earlier this year it became apparent that Louis Vuitton had made their decision on how to make their entrance. They decided on a seven fragrance collection in the exclusive category. Initially available only in Louis Vuitton boutiques before slowly becoming more available.

When I received the collection I spent a lot of time with them on strips. The perfumer behind all of them was Jacques Cavallier. All of them are part of this current trend of simpler and lighter fragrances, presumably targeted at a younger fragrance buyer. Except I have never viewed Louis Vuitton as a place where that demographic shops. I was surprised that with seven fragrances there weren’t a couple that went for something bolder. None of them do. Even more confusing to me was leather was only a keynote in three out of the seven. When I imagine the fragrance which embodies Louis Vuitton lily of the valley or orange blossom don’t even come close to being on top of the list but Apogee and Contre Moi are limpid versions of those florals. Even when having the chance to take some luxurious ingredients like orris and rose in Rose des Vents or narcissus and oud in Matiere Noire they come off less opulent than they should. Which leaves the three leather fragrances; Turbulences pairs tuberose with it while Mille Feux is a typical osmanthus and leather mixture. The only one which actually gave me some feel of being a perfume which was a Louis Vuitton aesthetic was Dans La Peau.

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Jacques Cavallier

Dans La Peau is no more complex than any of the other members of the collection. What enticed me to wear it for a couple of days was the very nice luxury leather accord M. Cavallier employed. This is what a leather goods store smells like. This is closer to what a Louis Vuitton fragrance should smell like.

Dans La Peau opens with the leather accord right there as if you have entered an LV boutique and breathed deep. M. Cavallier then uses three florals to nice effect as complements to the leather. First a very light narcissus adds a bit of floral astringency. Magnolia adds a bit of creamy floralcy. Jasmine is the main floral in Dans La Peau. M. Cavallier combines two sources from Grasse and China. Both are jasmine scrubbed mostly free of indoles. There are some and they make sure never to get too obstreperous. I wanted more tension between the jasmine and leather instead of the generally genial way they are in Dans La Peau. It finishes with a suite of musks but again the safer less animalic synthetics which confirmed that I wanted more of that, too,

Dans La Peau has 8-10 hours longevity and average sillage.

As the perfume brands look to be more enticing to a younger fragrance audience it seems like simple and light are the current choices. The entire Louis Vuitton collection hews to that. In a luxury market which has thrived on fragrances which carry something exclusive along with their brand I wonder how these Louis Vuitton fragrances will fare. Luxe is in flux and Louis Vuitton has placed a wager on simple and light.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Louis Vuitton.

Mark Behnke