New Perfume Review Memo Russian Leather- Cuir de Vert

Of all the accords perfumers construct my favorite is leather. One reason is there are so many different variations on the theme. Soft suede, rich Corinthian, black biker jacket, or equestrian saddle; they all require a perfumer to put together a group of other ingredients to create the accord. The first leather accords used birch tar and were often referred to as “cuir de Russie” or Russian Leather. It had a roughhewn quality more emblematic of the tack of the draft horse than the elegance of an equestrienne. It was so popular that this is the kind of leather accord the general populace is most familiar with. Those of us who love perfume have our favorites; the cuir de russie version is mine because I like that rawer quality to it.

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Clara Molloy

When I heard that the newest release in the Memo Cuir Nomades collection was going to be named Russian Leather I was excited to try it. I was interested to see how creative director Clara Molloy and perfumer Alienor Massenet would interpret it. They also thought of draft animals but they were high up on the steppes with reindeer in harness. They themselves described Russian Leather as a “frozen fougere”. There is never a point where I thought fougere. Instead I was greeted by a cavalcade of green leading me to the tack room adjacent to the reindeer stable.

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Alienor Massenet

For the beginning of Russian Leather Mme Massenet wants to create that sense of the frozen tundra. She accomplishes this with a neat trick of camphoraceous materials namely lavandin and mint. Lavandin carries a decent amount of camphor in tis natural essential oil. The mint picks that up and amplifies it. The mint also begins the march of green notes; basil, coriander, and clary sage start it off with a strong aromatic herbal trio. It modulates somewhat as cedar leaves, rosemary, and nutmeg rein things in. Next comes the leather accord and it is that smell of well-worked leather that has been well-worn through constant use. It doesn’t have as much of the birch tar bite as the old ones do. For that Mme Massenet turns to pine. The pine provides a sappy green roughness which complements the herbal fusillade from before. Over the final stages patchouli and tonka bean provide a fitting foundation.

Russian Leather has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I enjoyed the choice made by Ms. Molloy and Mme Massenet to go green and let that become the birch tar substitute at the end. It made me feel like this perfume was less cuir de russie and more cuir de vert. Russian Leather is another excellent interpretation of leather in a very strong collection within Memo.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Eric Buterbaugh Florals Kingston Osmanthus- Filling In The Blanks

I complain a lot about receiving these large collections. Truth be told as I am digging out samples and I get above five with more still in the envelope a slight irritation sets in. If there are one or two which grab me then things tend to work out. If I start with the ones that are less appealing even when I find the one or two I might have been more forgiving to; if they are last they get consigned to the “not going to review” bin. This was what happened a year ago when the initial sample set of Eric Buterbaugh Florals landed on my desk. Seven soliflore-like perfumes featuring a different floral. Eric Buterbaugh is floral designer to the stars in Los Angeles. He branched out in to fragrance in the back half of 2015. When I tried them I expected to like a couple of them but they all left me sort if cold. I wasn’t sure whether it was collection fatigue or something else. I recently received a sample of the latest addition to the line Kingston Osmanthus; this was one which I had no problem connecting with.

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Eric Buterbaugh

Mr. Buterbaugh was working with a strong roster of perfumers right from the start. Alberto Morillas designed two of the original set; Apollo Hyacinth and Fragile Violet. Kingston Osmanthus is his follow=up to those earlier releases. This fragrance grew out of a conversation between the two as Sr. Morillas explained his fascination with osmanthus. It made it a natural to become the eighth Eric Buterbaugh Florals fragrance.

Osmanthus is always a good choice as the focal point of a soliflore because of its inherent dual nature of apricot and leathery facets. What made me enjoy Sr. Morillas’ treatment of it is he uses that bifocal character as a way of filling in blanks in the top and base accords animating the osmanthus even more.

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Alberto Morillas

Sr. Morillas opens Kingston Osmanthus with a vivacious duet of violet leaves and jasmine. The indolic nature of the jasmine is dialed way down so the sharp violet leaf has an opportunity to rise to the same level. Now is when the osmanthus enters promoting its apricot forming a funky fruity floral top accord. Over time as the osmanthus develops a leatherier aspect Sr. Morillas uses sandalwood and orris to assist with that transition. Then he injects it into a patchouli fraction called Clearwood. Clearwood is a patchouli oil altered to remove the earthy components while also making it much less powerful. Because the leathery part is not overwhelming the Clearwood becomes an ideal partner. The final touch is a cocktail of musks to help the leather become more musky over the final stage.

Kingston Osmanthus has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Sr. Morillas shows how a raw material like osmanthus can be used as a clever nucleus to stitch the top and base accords together. Kingston Osmanthus is another excellent osmanthus in a year of them.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Eric Buterbaugh Florals.

Mark Behnke

Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2016 Wrap-Up- A Peek Behind the Curtain

Sniffapalooza has been putting on a biannual event in New York City for perfume lovers since 2004. This past October the aptly named Fall Ball 2016 was the twenty-fifth of these to take place. In the past editions, it has been the opportunity for attendees to be exposed to all the shopping delights NYC has to offer. For this landmark edition, the organizers Karen Dubin and Karen Adams decided to give those who would be spending the weekend the opportunity to see something special.

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It was a chance for a consumer to peek behind the curtain to see how perfume is made, which is where Saturday of Fall Ball began. Symrise invited the group up to their Park Avenue offices where the perfumes they work on are composed. Over the course of two panels we were going to go “From Idea to Shelf”.

The first panel was comprised of Symrise employees as they would talk about how Symrise worked as a company in creating fine perfume. The second panel would bring in two of their clients who would interact with some of the same panelists as they gave us the background on their brands.

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Symrise Panelists (l. to r.) Doreen Bucher, Dave Apel, Juilanne Pruett, Caroline Catherine, and Sophie Bensamou

The first panel was moderated by VP of Marketing Doreen Bucher. She introduced us to perfumer David Apel, Julianne Pruett VP of Fine Fragrance who represented sales, evaluator Caroline Catherine, and VP of Fine Fragrance Creation for North America Sophie Bensamou.

The panel was a fascinating look into how it takes an entire team to both land an account and eventually turn it into a fragrance to be sold. It starts at the beginning as all the panelists spoke about how when Ms. Pruett is vying for an account they will all learn as much as they can about that potential client. I learned that the cooperation that takes place in bringing a perfume to life occurs before the first raw material is chosen. Once the account is brought in each of the members of the panel do their jobs. Mr. Apel designs the fragrance, Ms. Bensamou and Ms. Catherine act as liaison between Mr. Apel and the client. That job of evaluator is often that of being the behind-the-scenes influencer. Hearing from both about their jobs is something rarely spoken of in the process of perfume making but it is a critical piece of the process. After the perfume is designed Ms. Bucher works on the marketing of it helping decide on the bottle.

For over 90 minutes this panel kept the entire room leaning in to absorb every word.

After the panel, we took a break to do some shopping at Bergdorf-Goodman on our way to the second panel at Brasserie 8 1/2.

Once again Ms. Bucher was moderating and was joined by Mr. Apel and Ms. Bensamou from the morning panel. The new additions were Eric Korman and Anne Serrano McClain of the brand Phlur along with Joseph Quartana of the new line Les Potions Fatales.

Throughout this panel we gained insight in to that give-and-take that happens during the creation of perfume which lives up to what the client wants. In the case of Les Potions Fatales Mr. Apel had been imaging an idea around the plant foxglove and the fairies who live in those flowers. As Mr. Quartana explained his concept Mr. Apel presented his idea to him. This would result in Digitalis becoming part of the initial collection.

I must thank the team at Symrise for being so willing to spend a Saturday with the group. For the rest of the weekend what we heard in these panels became starting points of discussions which took place as we spent our day walking around sniffing the new perfumes.

This made the twenty-fifth Sniffapalooza one of the most unique events I’ve been to.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer Au Coeur du Desert- Heartbreak Beat

As I fell deep down the rabbit hole that continues to be my love affair with all things fragrance there were so many turning points. Most of us who were using the internet to bond together in our perfume love looked to find out as much as we can. One of the great discoveries was this blog by a Swiss perfumer by the name of Andy Tauer. For someone who wanted to know how perfume was made here was a perfumer explaining all of it. The beauty of this is Hr. Tauer continues to do this as he has blogged for over ten years now. He has continued to share his creative process with readers. A couple months ago he wrote a post which reminded me of the perfume which introduced me to him; L’Air du Desert Marocain. Released in 2005 it was one of the earliest examples of the difference between independent perfumery and the large brands. I consider it one of the modern masterpieces of perfumery; it is damn near perfect.

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Andy Tauer

Hr. Tauer has decided to revisit the architecture of that perfume with his latest release; Au Couer du Desert. That translates to “heart of the desert” which also serves as a description of the perfume itself. Hr. Tauer’s first change is to make it an extrait formulation at 20% fragrance oil concentration. Right away this has the effect of blurring the edges making things softer. This desire to soften continues throughout the development as Hr. Tauer makes a sepia toned photograph of L’Air du Desert Marocain.

This softening effect comes right at the top as Hr. Tauer switches up the spices into a softer palette over a juicier citrus. Things get more defined as the next phase is frankincense framed by cedar even that is made softer than it would be due to concentration. The final base accord is where Au Coeur du Desert breaks with its inspiration. The mixture of patchouli, ambergris, and vanilla provide an opulent plushness to finish upon.

Au Coeur du Desert has 12-14 hour longevity and low sillage.

All memories tend to have a soft filter applied to them giving them some pliability. If Hr. Tauer had just upped the concentration across the board of L’Air du Desert Marocain I don’t think it would have worked. Instead he retools the fragrance in a way which brings back memories while also delivering new treats. While I was wearing this I thought of the old 1980’s song “Heartbreak Beat” by The Psychedelic Furs. There is a line which felt like an appropriate summary of the way I felt about Au Coeur du Desert, “and there’s a perfect kiss, somewhere out in the dark”. Au Coeur du Desert feels like that perfect soft kiss in the dark.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Etat Libre D’Orange Attaquer Le Soleil Marquis de Sade- The Lash of Cistus

Marquis de Sade is a historical figure who suffers from the titillation aspect of his life having too much influence on his stature. People tend to focus on the sexuality which has been derived from his name. The thing I learned about de Sade when reading his writings is he was a proponent of the freedom to do everything. The term for that was “libertine”. His belief was you become a deeper human being by experiencing as much as you can. This includes facing the things we are not fond of, on an abstract level. If you face what you believe is unpleasant you might find something illuminating within the experiment. Despite the focus on the fetishism M. de Sade’s philosophy is as embraced by extreme sports people who dive off mountains in flight suits as those who explore their sexuality through the dichotomy of pain and pleasure.

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Etienne de Swardt

If I was going to tell you that a perfume brand was going to use M. de Sade as an inspiration I would expect many wouldn’t go too far down their list of possibilities before naming Etat Libre D’Orange. Creative Director Etienne de Swardt is known for his brand using sexuality as part of its image. You might think a perfume based on M. de Sade from Etat Libre D’Orange would be all slap and tickle with a sly wink. Instead one should also be reminded that the brand has the ultimate fragrance which asks a perfume lover to face the unpleasant, Secretions Magnifique, and perhaps find the beauty. I know I have probably spent large amounts of time with this specific fragrance. Through that study I have probably learned as much about perfumery as any other. For this new fragrance called Attaquer Le Soleil (Attack The Sun) M. de Swardt tasked one of the most talented young perfumers working today to take on an ingredient they find unpleasant while using it in a fragrance. Perfumer Quentin Bisch took on this brief by choosing to make a perfume based on cistus.

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Quentin Bisch

Cistus is the main ingredient of that more commonly known raw material labdanum. Labdanum is the resin that forms on the plant. It has a very green resinous quality often compared to a balsamic nature. M. Bisch has never used the material as a focal point because he disliked it. For Attaquer Le Soleil he decided to not just go for the resin. Givaudan has extracted almost every part of the cistus plant and M. Bisch took these different variations combining them into Attaquer Le Soleil.

This makes Attaquer Le Soleil, in essence, a labdanum soliflore which is supported by the rest of the plant. By having the other sources of cistus, leaves, branches, and flower it has the effect of making it more intense while also making it kinetic in scope. Early on it smells more like a pine tree. It warms into a balsamic simmer that eventually becomes leathery in character. It all converges on the more familiar labdanum by the final hours.

Attaquer Le Soleil has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Much like M. Bisch whether you like Attaquer Le Soleil will come down to how much you like labdanum. Labdanum is an ingredient I like which allowed me to just relax and enjoy Attaquer Le Soleil experiencing the pleasure of a resinous soliflore. If you want to embrace your inner libertine while experiencing labdanum and cistus in all of its glory, then allow M. Bisch to lash you with cistus.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Etat Libre D’Orange.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Cliffhanger or Consequence

All forms of art live on imitation. When someone does something interesting others will take that technique and employ it. When it comes to episodic television the thing which has worn out its welcome with me is the cliffhanger ending.

The idea of watching television is to allow yourself to be manipulated by the actors and the continuing story they are telling. As of late the manipulation is happening with a capital M. The recent example which I think was the straw that broke this couch camel’s back was the season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead. At the end of season 6 almost all the major characters were seen kneeling in front of a villain who was going to kill one of them. The way the director shot the final scene was for us as audience to see the death blow from the perspective of the one receiving it. Leaving us a few months to speculate on who it would be. For a show about a zombie apocalypse The Walking Dead began to fall in love with the idea of cliffhangers throughout season 6. It became so common it reduced the stakes of the conflict because you wondered if they were just going to find a way to wriggle their way out of the dire situation.

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The Walking Dead #100 Cover

The interesting contrast is Robert Kirkman who is the writer and creator of the comic book by the same name as well as a writer on the TV show chose a different tack on the printed page. The same event shown in the show was the centerpiece of issue #100. Except on the final page of that comic we saw who was killed. We saw the consequence. I remember reading that issue and heading to the internet to commiserate and predict what that event would do to our other heroes. It was much more satisfying on the page than on the TV screen for me. It felt like the difference between being respected as a reader and made to feel a sucker as a viewer.

One of the things shows like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones get absolutely right is they ended their seasons showing the consequences of the characters’ actions. I spent countless months in between speculating on what those consequences would be. If you’re going to manipulate me then give me some release.

The other thing The Walking Dead got wrong with this cliffhanger is they diminished what Mr. Kirkman wrote in the comic book. By turning what is a harsh pivotal act in to some kind of macabre guessing game it lessened the impact of that selfsame death. After there was widespread discontent on social media with the cliffhanger ending the executive producer of The Walking Dead, Scott M. Gimple, he said he knew they had to “earn” the choice. That ability to make a bold choice like this means the resolution needs to be something unexpected. Unfortunately, it was one of the low points of the entire series. For the first time since I started watching I am skeptical of all that I see. The cast and crew of The Walking Dead has a lot of work left to do this season to “earn” my trust back. That’s a consequence of their overuse of cliffhangers.

Mark Behnke

Flanker Round-Up: John Varvatos Dark Rebel Rider & Alaia Paris Blanche

My feelings about flankers is well-known. I mostly dislike them. There is also a different situation which crops up with some of the better versions, though. Not all flankers are cynical marketing exercises some of them are different takes entirely. Those are flankers I want to approve of. Except when they are not to my personal taste, what then? This was the situation I found myself in with the release of two flankers of two of my favorite mainstream perfumes of last year. I think while they are not for me they are good enough that they might be something that will be adored by someone else. So, I am doing another round-up on John Varvatos Dark Rebel Rider and Alaia Paris Blanche. One caveat these did not get two days of wear as other perfumes I review do. Each of them got a liberal application to one arm on a weekend afternoon. I will say they did not go together all that well and the clash of both caused me to end the experience after a few hours. Even so I think I can share some broad experiences which might let a reader know if these are worth them seeking out.

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The John Varvatos brand of perfume is one I laud, especially in the department store. The same perfumer has composed all of them, Rodrigo Flores-Roux. While there are flankers within the collection Sr. Flores-Roux always makes systematic changes to the original. The same effort is made with the follow-up to last year’s Dark Rebel; Dark Rebel Rider. Dark Rebel caught the smell of a well-worn leather jacket along with some rum and spicy wood. For Dark Rebel Rider Sr. Flores-Roux lightens up the beginning before returning to a different leather accord in the base.

Sr. Flores-Roux opens with bright citrus accord made expansive on a bubble of aldehydes. It leads into a floral heart of iris and violet. In the final third a birch tar-like Russian leather appears supported by balsamic notes along with incense and some smoke. The bright citric floral is an interesting contrast to the rougher leather in the base. Just not for me.

Dark Rebel Rider has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

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The first perfume under the label of fashion designer Azzedine Alaia, Alaia Paris, was not just one of the best mainstream perfumes it was just one of the best perfumes of last year. Perfumer Marie Salamagne captured this duality of high and low with ozonic notes contrasted with musks. It was a vibrant silhouette. Alaia Paris Blanche is all powder, overwhelmingly so. Mme Salamagne makes a cloud of almond scented facial powder.

Alaia Paris Blanche lacks that silhouette that so enchanted me with Alaia Paris. Instead Mme Salamagne combines almond, heliotrope, vanilla, and a different suite of white musks. It is completely well-balanced as each ingredient contributes to the entire effect. It was just so powdery I couldn’t allow myself to relax in to it. If you are a lover of powdery fragrances I think Alaia Paris Blanche might be the ticket. I’m not interested in taking this trip, though.

Let me be clear though I think both are above average perfumes. They suffer by comparison to their predecessors which both made my year-end top 25. My personal antipathy to what each of these perfumers have successfully achieved should not keep you from lassoing a sample or two to give them a try if the descriptions above intrigue you.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by John Varvatos and Alaia Paris.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review DSH Perfumes Axis Mundi- After the Burn

Independent perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz still manages to surprise me after all these years. When I eagerly received the package of her four Autumn releases for DSH Perfumes I looked through the names Chinchilla, Vert et Noir, Souvenir de Malmaison, and Axis Mundi. They all carried varying degrees of interest. Chinchilla is a fur coat clad woman, musk and fur colliding. Vert et Noir a watery fruity vetiver which tickled my sense of odd hybrids. Souvenir de Malmaison reminded me too much of the great work Ms. Hurwitz did with the Monet inspired creations of the previous year. Plus, La Belle Saison from earlier this year is an unbeatable floral in my estimation. Which left Axis Mundi.

Axis Mundi is described on the website as, “The ritual censer is lit filled with the most beautiful and costly incense….The smoke rises and releases the sweet and lightly charred aroma.” What Ms. Hurwitz has created is one of the most fragile soft incense fragrances I have ever encountered.

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Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

She lives up to her words of using costly versions of incense. Three exquisite resin sources form the axle around which Axis Mundi spins. One is a CO2 distillation of Frankincense. The best frankincense has a slightly silvery quality along with the resins. The CO2 distillation reduces that metallic nature dramatically. The second is an Indian distillation of cedarwood and the resin of the indigenous Sal tree to form Choya Ral. Choya Ral makes a magic trick out of taking cedar and in the combination with the Sal tree turns it into a leather accord impregnated with incense. The final ingredient is Bakul Attar. This is also a leathery co-distillation of bakul flowers and sandalwood. The Bakul Attar is a transparent floral leather. Ms. Hurwitz has combined these three ingredients into a fabulous resinous nucleus.

Before we get to that nucleus Ms. Hurwitz opens Axis Mundi with a combination of rose and champaca leaf. This is a floral harmonic which sets up the entry into the three resinous raw materials. When the frankincense, Bakul Attar, and Choya Ral come together the heart accord is not the moment of burning incense. It is instead the smell of the censer the next day. It is delicate instead of boisterous. It is surprising because it continually drew me in on the days I wore it for that fragility. To keep the resin party going, with a continued serenity, Ms. Hurwitz adds in precise amounts of civet, myrrh, olibanum, and benzoin. They all have slight modifying effects on the central accord but are mainly used to add a long tail onto the heart notes.

Axis Mundi has 10-12 hour longevity and very low wattage sillage.

I am so used to being subsumed in smoke with my favorite incense fragrances Ms. Hurwitz asks a different question with Axis Mundi. Is there beauty in what remains after the burn? Axis Mundi’s answer is most definitely.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Gosha Rubchinskiy- cdgone?

As an observer of fragrance 2016 is going to go down as one of the more interesting years. A big part of that is the generational shift to the Millennials as the desired consumer demographic. So far this year many brands have decided to take on the task of appealing to them by using their previous successful marketing skills and perfumers who are decidedly not in the age group. As we enter the last part of the year there was room for a different tack. That it came from Comme des Garcons makes it even more interesting.

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Gosha Rubchinskiy

This time they are going right for the heart of this generation by using one of their fashion icons, Gosha Rubchinskiy. Mr. Rubchinskiy is a skateboarding designer of street wear. After showing his designs at 2014 Paris Fashion Week he produced a debut collection for the Comme des Garcons Dover Street Market stores. It was so successful they entered a partnership with Mr. Rubchinskiy where they do all the production of his designs. Mr. Rubchinskiy has a unique way of looking at the things he designs. In an interview with the Business of Fashion website he had the following quote, “Brands like Supreme and Gosha replaced musicians,” said Rubchinskiy. “Before, teenagers had a favourite band and they waited to be the first to get new singles. Now, you do not need to go to stores to buy records. But I think people still want to have objects. They buy t-shirts not as clothes, but as a fan piece or something collectable.” If you think that is overblown the other brand he mentioned, Supreme, released a brick with their logo on it. It sold out immediately getting huge prices on the online auction sites. The latest “single” to drop from Mr. Rubichinskiy is a perfume with his name on it; Gosha Rubchinskiy.

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Christian Astuguevieille

Creative director at Comme des Garcons fragrance Christian Astuguevieille collaborated with Mr. Rubchinskiy on the brief they would give perfumer Alexis Dadier; “young people hanging together, skating together — concrete and skateboards.” Together they have come up with a perfume which has something different than any of the other Millennial focused attempts I’ve smelled this year.

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Alexis Dadier

Gosha Rubchinskiy starts with an herbal citrus effect. M. Dadier uses mandarin in conjunction with angelica root and buchu. The latter two raw materials provide an opaque version of herbal facets. They provide a light peppery, minty chord. By using the two stand-ins the presence is dialed way back. Even the mandarin is not as juicy and bright. Where this perfume takes off is in the base as that promised “concrete and skateboards” comes together. There is a definite presence of the rubber wheels from styrax and birch. There is the wood of the skateboard deck with vetiver while patchouli provides the grounding.

Gosha Rubchinskiy has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Gosha Rubchinskiy is by far the boldest attempt to capture this younger market. It reminds me of a previous perfume meant to capture the generation before this one. It makes me wonder if this is “cdgone”. It is much more interesting than that might indicate as there is a lot of old school CdG spliced into Gosha Rubchinskiy. I will be watching to see how this “single” is received by the consumers it is aimed at.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Comme des Garcons.

Mark Behnke

Ormonde Jayne 101- Five to Get You Started

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British perfumery has a long distinguished history. It makes England one of the great perfume-making countries in the world because of it. Like everywhere else in the world the beginning of niche perfume also had its early pioneers in the UK. One of those brands was Ormonde Jayne.

Ormonde Jayne was started in 2002 by Linda Pilkington. Ms. Pilkington left her career in the agrochemical business to start her fragrance career. As she put together the brand she also found the perfumer that she has worked with for the entirety of the Ormonde Jayne collection, Geza Schoen. Many of the Ormonde Jayne fragrances are among the best that Hr. Schoen has composed. Here are the five I would suggest you start exploring the brand with,

My introduction came from Ormonde Man. It was the overall sixth release from the brand in 2004. When I first tried it this was one of the first perfumes which really brought home to me why niche was different. This was one of the most sophisticated masculine perfumes I had ever smelled at that time. Hr. Schoen would take a spicy top of cardamom, coriander, baie rose, and juniper berry segueing into a heart of hemlock and oud before alighting on a sandalwood and musk base. To this day this is one of those perfumes which I wear for formal occasions. It always makes me feel like the kind of man I want to see myself as.

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The sophisticated style of the house would continue with the release of Orris Noir in 2006. Iris is used as a powdery foil to several darker notes as myrrh, patchouli, incense, and coriander swirl around it. Orris Noir is a study in contrasts beautifully played over three acts on my skin.

One of the things Ms. Pilkington has made part of her brand DNA is sourcing great versions of raw materials. Nowhere is that more evident than in the 2009 release Tiare. This is as close as Hr. Schoen is going to come to a soliflore as he allows the sparkling tiare form the central accord supported by jasmine and iris. Lime on top; sandalwood and patchouli on the bottom set the titular note out to be admired.

Ta’if was released at the same time as Ormonde Man in 2004 but it took me a few years to give it a try. Here Hr. Schoen makes a great floriental using saffron, broom, and peach as contrast to Turkish rose and orange blossom heart. The real star here is the stewed fruit sweetness of dates providing depth to the florals.

In 2014 Black Gold was a return to the style of Ormonde Man but this is a more casual version. Here Hr. Schoen starts with an herbal citrus top accord. The floral heart of carnation is one of the best I have ever encountered. The base is sandalwood and the botanical musk of ambrette. Labdanum brings this all home. Black Gold shows how much Ormonde Jayne has evolved over the past 14 years.

If you never explored Ormonde Jayne here are the five you should start with.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke