The 2017 Midterm Review

We’ve reached the midway point of 2017 which causes me to pause and take stock of what the year has been like in fragrance so far. In very general terms I think it has been the best year at this point since I started Colognoisseur in 2014. Here are some more specific thoughts.

Many of the leaders of artistic perfumery have stepped up in 2017. Alber Elbaz par Frederic Malle Superstitious is an example as perfumer Dominique Ropion working with the other two names on the bottle created a hazy memory of vintage perfume. Christine Nagel composed Hermes Eau des Meveilles Bleue a brilliant interpretation of the aquatic genre. Clara Molloy and Alienor Massenet celebrated ten years of working together with Eau de Memo; it turns into a celebration of what’s right in this sector.

The independent perfumers have continued to thrive. In the independent sector, very individual statements have found an audience. Bruno Fazzolari Feu Secret, Vero Profumo Naja, Imaginary Authors Saint Julep, and Tauer L’Eau. Plus, I have another four I could have added but I haven’t reviewed them yet. My enthusiasm when I do will give them away. There is a bounty of creativity thriving on the outskirts of town.

Standing out on their own. Two perfumers I admire struck out on their own establishing their own brands. Michel Almairac created Parle Moi de Parfum. Jean-Michel Duriez has put his name on the label and opened a boutique in Paris. Both show each perfumer allowing their creativity unfettered freedom to some great results.

-Getting better and better. I look to see if young brands can continue the momentum they begin with. The two Vilhelm Parfumerie releases; Do Not Disturb and Harlem Bloom, have shown this brand is creating a deeply satisfying collection. Masque Milano is also doing that. Their latest release Times Square shows creative directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi are unafraid to take risks. In the case of Times Square, it succeeds. Victor Wong of Zoologist Perfumes keeps trusting his instincts while working with some of the best indie perfumers. He and Shelley Waddington got 2017 off to a flying start with Civet.

-Mass-market has been good but not great. I have found much to like at the mall in the first half of this year. Much more than last year. My problem is I think I’m going to have to remind myself about these perfumes a year from now. I think they are trying to take tiny steps towards something new. It might even be the right choice for this sector of fragrance buyer, the exception is Cartier Baiser Fou. Mathilde Laurent’s evocation of fruit flavored lip gloss; that I’m going to remember.

The Teacher’s Pets are Rodrigo and Luca. Rodrigo Flores-Roux has always been one of my favorite perfumers. For 2017 he has returned to his roots in Mexico where he produced two collections of exceptional perfume. For Arquiste Esencia De El Palacio in conjunction with Carlos Huber they created a luxurious look at the country of their birth. Sr. Flores-Roux then collaborated with Veronica Alejandra Pena on a new line based in Mexico City; Xinu. These were perfumes which allowed him to indulge an indie sensibility. It all came together in Monstera a crunchy green gem of a fragrance. That leaves out the three Black Collection perfumes he did for Carner Barcelona; and those should not be left out.

Luca Maffei is one of the many reasons for the Renaissance of Italian Perfumery. In 2017, it seems like he is trying to prove it all on his own. He has been behind eleven releases by seven different brands. Taken together they show his exceptional versatility. The one which really shows this off is the work he did for Fath’s Essentials. Working with creative director Rania Naim he took all his Italian inspiration and transformed it into a characteristic French aesthetic. Nowhere is this more evident than in Lilas Exquis.

I am glad I still have six months’ time to find some daylight between these two for my Perfumer of the Year. Right now I’d have to declare it a tie.

My overall grade for Perfume 2017 at the midterm is a solid B+ there is much more to be admired than to make me slap my forehead. I am looking forward to the rest of the term to finalize this grade, hopefully upward.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Elie Saab Essence No 10 Amande Tonka- Understudies Step Forward

One of the emerging trends of the last 12-18 months has been that of lighter gourmand fragrances. I have hypothesized that market research has provided some insight that this is the kind of perfume the younger fragrance consumer will be drawn to. I have been generally happy with this because lightweight gourmand perfumes are not an overplayed sector. Which makes it a bit of an undiscovered country for some of our best perfumers as they begin to work on briefs in this genre. Francis Kurkdjian has provided his entry with Elie Saab Essence No. 10 Amande Tonka.

M. Kurkdjian has been the perfumer behind all the Elie Saab fragrances since they began in 2011. If there is a thread running throughout the overall collection it is an expansive luminosity. In the exclusive Essence Collection it is even more pronounced as each of these releases have focused on single-notes. Now that it has entered double digits maybe they are going to become duets. For Amande Tonka it is a true meeting of equals.

Francis Kurkdjian

Tonka is one of the most versatile ingredients in modern perfumery. Having a high concentration of coumarin a perfumer can choose which version they want to have in their perfume. Almond, like tonka, is most often a supporting note to provide a bitter nuttiness. It makes Amande Tonka an opportunity for the understudies to step forward.

The amande is what you first encounter as for a few, too-short, minutes you get a concise nutty quality with a slightly bitter edge. The tonka arrives on a cloud of whipped cream. This is the toastier version of tonka allowing the vanilla to take up the slack on the sweetness. Once the title notes are together it forms a warm almond cream accord that is as light as a meringue. An equally transparent sandalwood with just a hint of vetiver provides the foundation to keep the titular notes from floating away.

Amande Tonka has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

M. Kurkdjian continues to provide these open style fragrances in his work for Elie Saab. Amande Tonka is all the better for him taking on a genre known for its intensity and finding a way to have it lighten up. All he had to do was bring a couple understudies out of the wings and give them a chance.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Elie Saab.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Imaginary Authors Saint Julep- Modern Southern Gothic

If I say, “mint julep” most Americans will reply “Kentucky Derby”. The cocktail has become synonymous with the first jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown. In May of 1982 I was in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May to watch Gato del Sol finish first. I also experienced a mint julep for the first time; it was the worst thing about the day. I couldn’t finish the overly sweet mint and bourbon cocktail. There were many at Churchill Downs who also had a few too many making for another unfortunate association with the mint julep. Pair this with my antipathy for mint in perfume and you might perceive that I wasn’t jumping for joy when I received Imaginary Authors Saint Julep.

Josh Meyer

One thing which tempered my dread was the e-mail I received from Josh Meyer the perfumer behind Imaginary Authors. I don’t care for mint in fragrance because it evokes mouthwash, toothpaste, or dental floss. Mr. Meyer communicated to me that he also is not fond of that style of mint either. He wrote that, “I wanted it to smell like mint leaves”. My favorite mint perfumes are those which remember it is an herb before it becomes something on the end of a toothbrush. Even so the mint julep cocktail is a syrupy intense experience. So, mentioning all the ingredients of the cocktail were present in Saint Julep brought back some of the worry. What got me over all of this is Mr. Meyer’s ability to surprise which is what Saint Julep did.

Saint Julep is less about the cocktail and more about the American South and its ability to draw on its Gothic past to create a modern Southern Neo-Gothic. That focal point is the bourbon accord at the center of Saint Julep. The description from Mr. Meyer’s fictitious storyteller, Milton Nevers, goes like this, “On the outskirts of Clarksdale, Mississippi, at the end of a secluded dirt road sat a small ramshackle church. It was not a place of worship but rather where many went to seek refuge during impoverished times. Legend has it the structure was transported to the wild mint field by hand, hoisted on the shoulders of two dozen men. The outside remained simple and nondescript but the interior was aglow with pilfered neon signs, Christmas lights, and a jukebox donated by the sheriff’s son. It was a distinctly secular place where locals who knew where to find it could share moonshine, socialize, and dance their troubles away. They called their ramshackle juke joint Saint Julep and the oral histories compiled within paint a picture of that magical place where “the smiles was always free and salvation had the distinct smell of sweet mint.”

As promised, the mint arrives with its leafy, herbal nature moved forward. Instead of getting syrupy sweet Mr. Meyer instead dusts his mint leaves with crystalline sugar. It is not treacly sweet it is much more muted than that. What mutes it is the use of tangerine. Then magnolia provides a floral bridge to the bourbon accord. The bourbon adds an alcoholic bite along with its own version of sweet which dovetails with the sugared mint leaves. What is so surprising is this part of Saint Julep is light and refreshing; the polar opposite of a mint julep’s density. The base is an ingredient called grisalva which is an ambergris replacement aromachemical which also carries some leather aspects. It is a fine way to finish Saint Julep.

Saint Julep has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Saint Julep is going to be an excellent summer scent. Mr. Meyer has overcome every reservation I had going in. He has delivered a contemporary Southern classic.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Imaginary Authors.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Coconut

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Having grown up in South Florida there were many summer afternoons when my snack was opening one of the coconuts which had fallen from one of the palms in our front yard. If I needed more coconut it was the smell of every suntan lotion people wore. Coconut has found its way into fragrances inspired by the sun tanning products and the fruit itself. It always seems particularly appropriate for the summer months. Here are five of my favorite coconut perfumes.

The best fragrance inspired by coconut suntan lotion is Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess. Bronze Goddess began its life in 2007 with the name Azuree Soleil before changing the name a year later. Perfumer Alberto Morillas has made a combination of sun, flowers, and coconut that is arranged on its own metaphorical beach towel. Citrus on top moves to a heart of jasmine and magnolia. The coconut here is fantastic because M. Morillas embeds it in myrrh and amber. It provides warmth like shimmering sun-warmed oiled skin. This is one of M. Morillas’ best perfumes. Every summer when I wear it I am reminded of that.

The perfume which reminds me most of the process of getting through the husk to the core nut at the heart is Comptoir Sud Pacifique Coco Extreme. Perfumers Claude Broggi and Jacques Lions use almond to represent the woody nut, coconut and vanilla to evoke the sweet meat inside. Whenever I wear this I am a child sitting with my back against our palm tree chewing on the coconut I just opened.

Perfumer Olivia Giacobetti created an abstract version of coconut in Honore des Pres We Love New York: Love Coconut. Mme Giacobetti wanted to have her perfumes for Honore des Pres be all-natural. She also wanted to keep her indelible transparent style. Coriander and tonka provide the outside while coconut milk and cedar provide the rest of the picture. This is a coconut cirrus cloud which works best when the temperature is at its hottest.

I’ve also eaten my share of coconut while on the beach. For that experience Heeley Cocobello captures all of that. Perfumer James Heeley’s opening of green gardenia over palm fronds is perfect. The sweet coconut is sprayed with briny mist before settling on a vanilla laden base.

My final choice is a way I learned to eat coconut while traveling through the islands. Once you crack it open you squeeze some honeycomb over the coconut. Perfumer Margot Elena must have also had this experience because she made her version as a fragrance in Love & Toast Honey Coconut. It is, as advertised, as she combines honey and a coconut accord in a simple linear construct. It is a lovely trifle ideal for a day at the beach.

If you want a little coconut in your summer fragrance choices give any of these five a try.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Mad et Len Vetyver Bucolique- Midsummer Milieu

The warmer the weather gets the more vetiver I want to wear. From the earliest days of my fragrance obsession vetiver-centric perfumes have been a staple of the days of summer. I have a disproportionate amount of choice when it comes to this section of my collection. There has been every variation under the sun produced and yet I still find admiration for a new version. This is why I have been enjoying Mad et Len Vetyver Bucolique on these first days of the summer.

Vetiver

Mad et Len is a niche brand which obfuscates the creative team behind the fragrances with a bunch of PR mumbo jumbo. Secret workshop in the mountains of France overlooking Grasse where the air clears one’s mind to allow creativity to flow. That previous sentence is not actually part of the Mad et Len press copy but it easily could be. The press release tango also gets in the way of a collection which tends to keep it simple; for the better. So while I don’t know who the cabal of creatives behind Vetyver Bucolique are the perfume itself is a vetiver and hay construct.

Hay

Vetiver and hay as a combination is not new. The hay is mostly due to the use of coumarin. The perfumer will dial it up or down to achieve a desired effect. In Vetyver Bucolique the coumarin level is dialed way up. That has the tendency to make it more tobacco-like early on before softening into sweet hay. It is this transformation of the coumarin which has added Vetyver Bucolique to my summer rotation.

The vetiver being used here is the greener version where the woodiness is second to the grassier nature. There is also a subtle spiciness to the vetiver which is what I smell in the first few minutes. Then the coumarin arrives in a walloping amount. At first it is the golden, slightly honeyed, version of dried tobacco leaf. It lacks some of the depth a true tobacco accord usually presents. For the next hour or so it is vetiver and tobacco. After that time, the honey facets move forward and the green of the vetiver also becomes more prominent. Once this finishes evolving, the coumarin and the vetiver have found that midsummer balance of green hay.

Vetyver Bucolique has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

What separates Vetyver Bucolique is the metamorphosis of the coumarin overdose on a backdrop of green vetiver. It captures the smells of midsummer in a refreshing way.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Mad et Len.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jean-Michel Duriez Parfums Bleu Framboise- Raspberry Beret

If there is a perfumer I have been aware of for a long time who I wish to make a splash it is Jean-Michel Duriez. M. Duriez was the perfumer behind one of my favorite perfumes of all time Yohji Yamamoto Yohji Homme. That came out in 1999. Two years later he was hired by Proctor & Gamble to be the in-house perfumer for the revival of the Jean Patou brand they had just bought. To say I was happy was an understatement as one of the perfumers I admired was going to revive my favorite heritage fragrance brand…..then nothing. The support never came they added him as perfumer at Rochas in 2008 where he released a few things. Because I was curious if all this inactivity had affected his creativity I acquired his last fragrance for Rochas a Dubai exclusive called Secret de Rochas Oud Mystere. A mango, osmanthus, patchouli and oud accord reminded me why it was worth the effort.

Jean-Michel Duriez (photo: Gerard Uferas)

In February, I learned he had finally ditched the corporate overseers and had established his own brand which could be purchased in France. Seven perfumes each representing M. Duriez’s impressions of Paris and the Seine River. Once again, I had to rev up my network to obtain them for me. I have recently received a Discovery Set of all seven. I am still working my way through them all but the one which felt just right for the beginning of summer was Bleu Framboise.

Photo by Gerard Uferas

Part of each of the perfumes is M. Duriez uses a photograph by photographer Gerard Uferas as the companion piece/brief. For Bleu Framboise it is the colors of that sky, seen above, that M. Duriez wants to evoke. The deep blue is represented by chamomile and chypre while the magenta is raspberry and rose.

What drew me in to Bleu Framboise was the grapefruit and rhubarb opening. This is becoming one of my favorite citrus openings because of the sulfurous aspects of both the grapefruit and the rhubarb providing an unusual contrast to the typical sunny citrus accord. In this case it provides some shading to that brightness. The bleu part comes next as chamomile shows up first. Quickly followed by the raspberry and the rose. The rose used is a Turkish rose and it adds a jammy quality to the raspberry. This leads to a base of patchouli and an oakmoss accord to form a modern chypre foundation.

Bleu Framboise has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am so very pleased that M. Duriez is back in the world of perfume in a more direct way. I think he is one of the best perfumers working now others will get a chance to experience his perfume, too. These new perfumes under his brand show much of why I believe in his creativity. I’ll be following up with a couple more reviews of others in the line before too long. For now Bleu Framboise is going to be like to paraphrase Prince’s Raspberry Beret , “If it’s warm I wouldn’t wear much more”

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample set I purchased.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Colognoisseur Summer Playlist 2017

Summer has always been about the music. It is a soundtrack to the hazy humid days to keep me moving. It is a time to allow myself to revel in catchy hooks and unapologetic pop music riffs. As the summer of 2017 settles into place here are the songs which are on my Summer 2017 playlist. First there are the songs I want to sing out loud in the car with the windows down and the wind blowing in.

Top of my list is Hiccups by WATERS. It has one of the catchier guitar hooks in a while. Along with that there is a line in the chorus, “I ain’t got no regrets” said with proto-punk sneer which gets better the louder it is turned up.

If there is a prom queen of summer anthems it might be Carly Rae Jepsen. She knows how to make pop music which relies on catchy lyrics matched to a driving dance beat. This summer “Cut to the Feeling” cuts to the chase and roars out of the blocks.

Then there are the wistful ballads which define every summer; Want you Back by HAIM is one which will make me think of 2017. The sisters Haim sing about wanting back the one who you left. My favorite line is, “I’ll take the fall and the fault in us” which encapsulates the realization of mistakes made.

I’ve been listening to Bad Liar by Selena Gomez which is her vocal over a bass line and clap track. I love great bass lines and the one here is awesome. Funny thing it was one I should have recognized as it is from Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer. Tina Weymouth was always an underrated bassist. That killer bass line isolated in Bad Liar allows Ms. Gomez the most sturdy of foundations to add her voice to.

I have been glued to the revival of Twin Peaks. The first six episodes ended with a current band playing on stage in The Bang Bang Bar. At the end of episode 4 I was introduced to Au Revoir Simone as they performed Lark. It is a dreamy (what else?) swirling soundscape which puts me in a Twin Peaks mood and that is very summer 2017.

In the same vein, Green Light by Lorde has an infectious indie energy which she seems to effortlessly channel. In my mind I am doing her herky jerky dance moves whenever I listen to this.

I also want that pop version of EDM on my summer playlist. This year Call on Me by Starley is filling that slot. Ryan Riback provides the beats in this remix which ignites this song.

The party song is I’m the One by DJ Khaled where he pulls together Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Chance the Rapper, and Quavo of Migos. All I know is when I listen to this I want to be where they are.

My final picks are the first songs from upcoming releases. I think Arcade Fire is one of the greatest rock bands working. Just in time for summer they released the title song for the new album “Everything Now”. The whole thing releases at the end of July until then Everything Now will keep me happy.

The other July release I am looking forward to is coming from producer Mura Masa. He has also released a summer-ready collaboration with charli XCX from the upcoming album; 1-Night. As a preview it is fabulous but I will admit it is the song he is doing with Christine and the Queens on the album I am most looking forward to hearing.

Until Labor Day it is these songs which will be flowing through my headphones and playing in the car on road trips.

-Mark Behnke

Cartier 101- Five To Get You Started

It took Cartier a while to finally enter the fragrance game. Most of the other luxury brands had been in for decades before Cartier released their first in 1981. In those days, it was a place for perfumers Jean-Claude Ellena and Christine Nagel to refine their signature styles. It was a place where there were memorable perfumes but no coherence. That would arrive with the hiring of perfumer Mathilde Laurent in 2005. At first, she was exclusively creating bespoke perfume at the Paris boutique. It wouldn’t be until 2008 that she started releasing perfume under the brand. It has become so distinctive that Cartier fragrance can be divided into: “Before Laurent” and “After Laurent”. She has also created a style which she has described as using “wonderful ingredients and very few”. It has made this one of the more impressive collections in contemporary perfume. For this edition of Perfume 101 I am going to focus on the “After Laurent” phase of Cartier with five fragrances that introduce her style.

Mathilde Laurent

I’ll start with that very first release from 2008, Roadster. I was so sure I wasn’t going to like it because mint was listed as a focal point. Instead Mme Laurent uses the green herbal nature of the leaf which eventually combines with vetiver in a fresh way. Patchouli and woods are the other foci. It highlights Mme Laurent’s ability to find strength in transparency.

That quality would find its pinnacle in 2011’s Baiser Vole. Working with Domitille Michalon-Bertier an exquisite lily perfume was produced. They chose to surround lily with a top accord of watery green and a base accord of powder and vanilla. The lily snuggles in between to create one of my favorite lily perfumes.

Last year L’Envol de Cartier was released with the description of it being a “transparent Oriental”. That translates into a perfume which is like watching the expansion of a soap bubble coated in a microlayer of honey. It is so light in effect I dismissed it as a trifle when I first reviewed it. The more I wear it the more I have come to admire this honeyed bubble for that lightness.

At the beginning of this year the sequel to Baiser Vole was released; Baiser Fou. This is Mme Laurent showing her playful side as she wanted this to represent “lipstick kisses”. Except her lipstick was not the iris or rose of the cosmetic counter. Baiser Fou is the fruit scented lip gloss you apply with a wand. That accord is layered over cacao. It is a stolen kiss leaving a bit of scent in its wake.

Along with the commercial releases Mme Laurent has produced a luxury line for Cartier called “Les Heures de Parfum”. These are more like Cartier 202 style perfumes and not a good choice to introduce yourself to the brand. If there is one which I think is the best introduction it is Oud Radieux. It is because it is a fascinating taming of that fractious Middle Eastern ingredient, oud. Mme Laurent transforms it with ginger and Szechuan pepper. It adds bite from somewhere besides the oud.

I am short shrifting the work done for Cartier prior to Mme Laurent. If you’re of a mind Declaration, Must de Cartier and Le Baiser du Dragon are great examples of that time. For now catch up with the current house style with the five suggested above.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review L’Artisan Parfumeur Histoire D’Orangers- Souss Valley Sunset

Why are sunsets, and sunrises, so compelling? Over my lifetime, if I am able, I pause to watch the sunset. This is especially true when I am on vacation. When I am in a new place I want to end my day of sightseeing by watching the sunset; usually from a vantage point with height. I know I’m not alone in this because I have never been alone while watching the sun disappear below the horizon.

As my interest in fragrance has deepened over the years there has always been a scent to each sunset. Particularly the summer versions as it is generally the warmest part of the day. The sun on its path across the sky has warmed and released the natural scent of the world. There are many fragrances which are wonderful scent memories of my travels. It would seem perfumer Marie Salamagne also enjoys sunsets in foreign climes. Unlike me she can bottle her memory. She has composed L’Artisan Parfumeur Histoire D’Orangers to capture a specific sunset in Morocco.

Marie Salamagne (Photo:Jerome Bonnet)

On Mme Salamagne’s visit to Morocco she headed to the city of Taroudant. If you travel, from there, through the Souss Valley you end up in the surfer’s town of Taghazout. Sunset happened at some point along her journey and she paused to take it in. The light infused the valley with a warm glow while the smell of orange tree flower water was around her. For Histoires D’Orangers she wanted to snare that moment in a perfume. To do that she uses a few very expansive materials to capture that wide-open spaces feel along with the orange flower memory.

It opens with a particularly green neroli. To add that glow underneath, white tea adds lift. Orange blossom comes along to overwhelm the green and intensify the orange flower accord the two notes form. Helevetolide is one of those very expansive synthetic musks it is like the warm air of the valley floor rising with the orange flower riding on top. It forms a transparent version of the early moments. To bring us back down she uses an overdose of Ambrox leavened with tonka bean.

Histoire D’Orangers has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Histoire D’Orangers is a fantastic warm weather fragrance. Mme Salamagne has translated her memory of Morocco into a modern take on the classic orange flower water. Her memory of the Souss Valley is worth sharing.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Masque Milano Times Square- One Dollah, One Dollah, One Dollah

The evolution of big cities is a fascinating thing to observe. There is no more compelling history than the transformation of Times Square from one of the worst neighborhoods in New York City to the place where the most selfies on the planet are taken. I started visiting New York City regularly in the late 1980’s. Thankfully I am a big guy and so I was able to walk fearlessly through the porn theatres, drug dealers, and peep shows with their barkers calling out, “girls, girls, girls, one dollah, one dollah, one dollah”. No bigger lie was being told than that one. By the time I started working in the NYC Metro Area in 1994 the current Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, in association with Disney began an aggressive campaign to evict all the gritty qualities to provide a family-friendly heart of Manhattan. Over twenty years later you have to know where to look to see the few holdovers from the dangerous times.

Riccardo Tedeschi (l.) and Alessandro Brun

The creative directors for Masque Milano, Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi, have decided to revive that last gasp of “Times Scare” circa 1993 in their newest release Times Square. They chose perfumer Bruno Jovanovic to collaborate with on this project. Each perfume in the Masque Milano line is part of their fragrant drama and carry an act and scene number. Times Square is the fourth and final scene of Act 1. This is a bold dynamic fragrance where the team captures the garishness of Times Square just before the scrub brushes arrive.

Photo by Gregoire Alessandrini

When I walked into Times Square for the first time the neon was what dazzled me. It was a bit like visual overload. It carried my eyes to the bright colors and motion. The opening moment of Times Square is much like that. It is so strong I suspect that, like many tourists who made the trip to the edge of the area, a lot will run away. If you have the desire to step into the intensity you will find cheap lipstick, blowsy florals, steam, leather, and rubber all coming together to form a decadent beauty.

Bruno Jovanovic

Times Square opens with a resounding pop of violet, iris, and hazelnut. M. Jovanovic captures the gritty nature with intensity. I loved it because it captures that “girls, girls girls” quality. That really comes out as the iris sorts itself into a lipstick accord to go with tuberose providing the over-perfumed aura of the hip-cocked streetwalker sizing you up. Osmanthus and styrax provide the leather and latex of the BDSM shop as you pick up your pace before you instead follow a desire to step inside. As you cross the street steam billows up from the manhole covers as the barkers call from behind you, “one dollah, one dollah, one dollah”. You reach the safety of your hotel room as the sandalwood provides a soothing island for your jangled psyche.

Times Square has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I have congratulated Sigs. Brun and Tedeschi, in the past, for their ability to follow their vision while finding perfumers to realize it. Times Square might be the best example of this. It is the most artistic perfume in the Masque Milano collection. It sets out to capture the grainy 9mm film world of Times Square in 1993 and succeeds. It is an unsettling fragrance as that place and time were if you traveled through it. Wearing it for a whole day I spent more time with the fragrance than I ever did in the actual location. With the fragrance, I discovered that given time garish neon, over-perfumed hookers, and leather and latex carry an odd kind of beauty. This is a perfume one should try; some will run away but others will find the same things I did. So “girls, girls, girls, one dollah, one dollah, one dollah, Masque Milano Times Square ovah heah!”

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

Mark Behnke