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

New Perfume Review Banana Republic 17 Oud Mosaic-Fragrance Safari

When I got my first professional job in 1984 a large amount of my wardrobe came from the store Banana Republic. The whole adventure safari vibe of the store appealed to me. By 1995 when the brand branched out in to fragrance I had moved on. It wouldn’t be until 2006 when I seriously checked out a Banana Republic fragrance called Black Walnut. Perfumer Harry Fremont made a well-balanced tobacco and cedar fragrance that was good for the price. It was time for me to check back in another ten years on as they release a new five fragrance collection in celebration of their upcoming 40th anniversary of their founding in 1978.

The collection is dubbed the Banana Republic Icon Collection. It is made up of five different fragrances each representing one of the five decades of the brand’s existence. Each fragrance leads with the last two numbers of the year and decade they represent. Some, like 90 Pure White, is so emblematic of the rage for clean white musks in the 1990’s it seems historical. Most of them are straightforward but there was one which stood out 17 Oud Mosaic.

Claude Dir

17 Oud Mosaic is meant to represent 2017 and was composed by perfumer Claude Dir. Now don’t get fooled by the name there isn’t even a tiny bit of oud here; there isn’t even an oud accord. What “oud” must be shorthand for is Oriental. If it was re-named 17 Oriental Mosaic that would be more accurate. M. Dir combines some interesting choices to form a contemporary Oriental.

Those interesting choices come right from the top as M. Dir chooses white pepper and plum to open 17 Oud Mosaic. The spicy fruitiness leads to a heart of Turkish rose along with cardamom and saffron adding to the spiciness. It is this spicy fruity floral accord which captured my attention. There are hints of leatheriness from the saffron, the cardamom provides a freshness, the rose radiates in waves throughout. It ends on a generic musky amber base accord.

17 Oud Mosaic has 4-6 hour longevity and average sillage. The longevity is pretty low but for $25 you can freely reapply.

If you’re kicking around the mall I would suggest giving the Icon Collection a try. 17 Oud Mosaic is the least derivative but the others also have appeal, too. Well worth taking a fragrance safari on a shopping trip.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Banana Republic.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Amouage Blossom Love- Come On In!

Amouage is one of my favorite perfume brands. Creative director Christopher Chong has made it the epitome of what artistic perfumery should aspire to. His visionary art direction has consistently taken risks. He has made Amouage stand for a particular exploratory place in the fragrance world. All that makes it a difficult brand to recommend because the collection is so unusual. Last year it seems like Mr. Chong also realized having a more welcoming entry point to the Amouage aesthetic would be helpful. The result was Lilac Love the first scent in the Secret Garden Collection. I thought Lilac Love succeeded in being a gentler version of the Amouage aesthetic more easily accessible. This has been borne out through the last year as I successfully recommended it many times with very positive feedback for doing so. Amouage has now expanded the Secret Garden Collection with Blossom Love.

Christopher Chong (photo: Ben Rayner)

As much as I complain about too many rose fragrance releases in the spring; in 2017 I received a few excellent cherry blossom focused new perfumes of which Blossom Love is one. Lilac Love was a floral gourmand composed of lilac accord, orris, and chocolate. The same perfumers, Elise Benat and Nathalie Lorson, repeat the floral gourmand style for Blossom Love. This time the trio of notes are a cherry blossom accord, amaretto accord, and vanilla.

Elise Benat

Most cherry blossom fragrances start gently but the perfumers open Blossom Love with a bit more volume. Their cherry blossom has depth provided by a syrupy rose which elegantly supports the gentle blossoms. It gives the early moments the presence familiar to Amouage fans without also adding in the also typical complexity. This is why I see Blossom Love as something more easily accessible as any perfume lover can just sink in to the cherry blossom without complexity getting in the way. Next the amaretto accord appears and it is more almond and less boozy than I expected. There is a subtle hint of alcohol but it is the sweet almond which arises to meet the cherry blossom. It is a soothing duet of ingredients kept at a moderate level; anymore and it would become cloying but the perfumers have pitched it correctly. Comforting vanilla bolstered by toasty tonka are the final part of Blossom Love. In the last hours, it has firmly become a cherry almond vanilla dessert fragrance.

Nathalie Lorson

Blossom Love has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I was already excited at the prospects of being able to use Lilac Love to introduce Amouage to perfume lovers. Blossom Love will be just as affable an introductory experience. Step into the entryway to one of the best perfume brands out there.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Penhaligon’s Paithani- Graduation Day

In the US, it is graduation season as every weekend sees a new group of young people in caps and gowns trailing proud family members behind them. Graduation signifies a change in circumstance as high school, or college, ends and the next part of each graduate’s life begins. For a perfumer at one of the established oil houses as they work their way up they eventually “graduate” to their first brief for a perfume. When I was working at CaFleureBon, Editor-in-Chief Michelyn Camen; introduced me, in 2010, to one of these young perfumers at the beginning of his career; Alexander Lee. Ms. Camen’s interview shows what the early days of an aspiring perfumer are like. Three years later Mr. Lee entered the contest to have his fragrance chosen as the 5th Anniversary perfume of Esxence; the Milan-based perfume exposition. That perfume was called Etoilegance. In it Mr. Lee took advantage of a new raw material called Bushman’s Candle. I reviewed it for CaFleureBon and I closed the review with this quote, “this feels like the work of a perfume star in the making.” His career as a perfumer has now reached the stage where he is releasing perfumes to the public he has composed. His first three were European releases for Ungaro. I was hoping something I could get in the US would be forthcoming and now it is.

Alexander Lee

Penhaligon’s has a collection called Trade Routes where they capture one of the original ports of call on the sailing ship trading journeys. For the latest two releases; Paithani and Agarbathi, India is the destination. This was the concept given to Mr. Lee to turn into perfume. Agarbathi is a trip to a Hindu temple where the smell of incense intertwines with jasmine and sandalwood. It is nicely done but it was Paithani which grabbed me. Paithani was inspired by masala chai the spicy tea and milk drink. Mr. Lee does create a chai fragrance but what impressed me was his ability to capture the accord so well before heading into a leather base accord.

Mr. Lee starts with a blend of three spices; cardamom, nutmeg, and black pepper. The latter is one of Mane’s Jungle Essence extracts which are exquisite materials to work with. What that brings to the top accord is a pure spiciness which frames the cardamom and nutmeg in a feistier setting. It is that nose-tickling smell of entering a spice market and taking your first breath. For the chai tea accord in the base Mr. Lee fashions a creamy milk accord and instead of using black tea, as in real chai, he chooses to use the green tea mate. Mate can be problematic as a raw material as it sometimes carries an unfortunate bite. In Paithani Mr. Lee balances it with the milk accord so those obstreperous aspects are removed. Every perfumer creates their own leather accords; for the base Mr. Lee’s is that of a piece of well-worn leather luggage. It has a subdued influence which allows amber and cedar to complete the base accord.

Paithani has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I wore Paithani I imagined Mr. Lee wearing a cap and gown as I could experience his style of perfume composition for the first time on a commercial release. Throughout the days I wore it I also felt like my assessment of him as a perfumer to keep an eye on was also confirmed. Mr. Lee joins my coterie of Young Guns in whom I believe comprise the next generation of perfumery. Go try Paithani, and Agarbathi, and introduce yourself to his fragrances. I think you’ll join me in looking to see what comes next after Graduation Day.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Penhaligon’s.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: American Gods

One of the great things about all the choice we now have for our video entertainment is it has ushered in an age of television and movies that can find the right way to adapt a literary source. When I was a teenager and we would have these discussions about what actor would play what beloved literary character; in my head was “never gonna happen”. Now, even the most fractious literature can be turned into vision. When I read American Gods by Neil Gaiman back in 2001 I thought “never gonna happen” because a complex pastiche of vignettes and stories seemingly would never translate to a smooth visual narrative. Turns out it has happened as the first season of American Gods is wrapping up on Starz.

The central premise of Mr. Gaiman’s story is because America was founded by immigrants each brought the gods of their home with them to this new country. It allowed each of the Old Gods to find a foothold to provide enough worship and sacrifice to keep them going. As we enter the present day there are New Gods; Technical Boy, Media, and Mr. World. The story is America has arrived at a tipping point where the New Gods can potentially remove the Old Gods from the country, probably dooming them.

The protagonists in the story are Shadow Moon who is released from prison after serving his sentence only to find out his wife Laura dies in a car accident. On his way home, he meets Mr. Wednesday who hires him as his bodyguard/assistant. Shadow becomes the reader’s, and viewers’, window into the machinations of the world of American Gods.

Neil Gaiman (l.) and Bryan Fuller

This is difficult story material to tell visually except the person they hired to do it is one of my favorite television creative minds; Bryan Fuller. Mr. Fuller has a way of telling fractured fairy tales as exemplified by his series Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and Pushing Daisies. It turns out many of the themes of American Gods are ones already explored in those previous series.

Throughout the first season Mr. Fuller has overseen an adaptation which I am much fonder of than the book it is based upon. I liked Mr. Gaiman’s book fine but I have never adored it as much as most who are fans. Mr. Fuller’s adaptation I am brought in to in a way the book didn’t. The reason is Mr. Fuller has made a change to the book and it turns out to be for the better.

Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) and Laura Moon (Emily Browning) on the road

As I mentioned Laura Moon dies in a car accident. She is brought back to life after which she meets a leprechaun who stands six feet tall. For his own reasons, Mad Sweeney wants to help Laura fully resurrect from her walking dead woman status. Throughout the first season their relationship is like an odd couple road comedy. It is funny and the actors are fantastic in the roles, Pablo Schreiber plays Mad Sweeney and Emily Browning plays Laura Moon.

In the book, they play supporting roles to Shadow and Mr. Wednesday. In the television series, they are almost the main reason to watch. It culminated in the penultimate episode titled “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney”. The episode used one of the more interesting plot devices in both novel and series. Sprinkled throughout are vignettes titled “Somewhere in America” followed by a date. Each mini story tells of a God and how it deals with its worshippers in America. The tales are narrated by Mr. Ibis who works at a funeral parlor with Mr. Jacquel. Mr. Ibis is compelled to write these stories down as they come to him. “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney” is an entire episode in which Mr. Ibis relates the story of Essie MacGowan. How she ends up in American and brings Mad Sweeney with her. Ms. Browning also plays Essie. The episode displays the parallels between Essie and Laura. Where we see how it all turns out for Essie we are left wondering if that is also in store for Laura. Mr. Schreiber is having a gigantic amount of fun playing Mad Sweeney. In this episode, he gets to show off what he can do. If you have any desire to see if the series is to your liking this is the episode to try. Here is the funny thing almost everything in this episode is not in the book.

Mr. Ibis as played by Demore Barnes

I’m not sure if that is going to be a problem in the long run because what has made me enjoy American Gods the series more than the book has been Laura and Mad Sweeney. I know where the book heads from the ending of this season and there are still are still big moments for both but not a lot. Even though I am worried; this is what makes Mr. Fuller such an engaging storyteller. He has a way of creating characters with whom I want to spend hours watching.

The first season has just come to an end so you can binge watch all eight episodes if you want. Also, the book is a great beach read. Both have their pleasures and there are seemingly enough differences that experiencing both, enhances both.

Mr. Gaiman’s universe of Gods, Old and New, fighting for the attention of Americans has found the right time along with the right visionary in Mr. Fuller to turn “never gonna happen” to something patently untrue.

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: Marc Jacobs Bang- Would You Like Some Pepper?

It is a funny thing that I enjoy not being part of the crowd. Yet I want the general public to admire what I admire. It makes no sense but I know it is how I feel. When it comes to fragrance I feel it most often when a mass-market perfume tries to bring a niche sensibility to a perfume being sold at the mall. The Dead Letter Office is full of these attempts because consumers usually don’t know what to make of these very different perfumes next to the safe fragrances they know right next to them in the department store. One great example of this is 2010's Marc Jacobs Bang.

Marc Jacobs advertising Bang

In 2010 consumers were given two very different choices when they showed up at the Men’s Fragrance counter. In the summer of that year Bang and Bleu de Chanel were released within weeks of each other. For the second half of 2010 there was a referendum on what comprised success in the masculine mainstream fragrance world. If you were going to play it safe Bleu de Chanel was a “greatest hits” collection of every popular masculine accord of the previous twenty years. Bang was going to see if you were willing to leave the well-trod road for something more adventurous.

Ann Gottlieb

Marc Jacobs had been producing perfume since 2001. As a brand it had been primarily focused on perfumes marketed to women. Only 2002’s Marc Jacobs Men was aimed at men. By 2010 Marc Jacobs has produced two huge mainstream women’s successes in Daisy and Lola. As Mr. Jacobs and co-creative director Ann Gottlieb considered a new masculine perfume they decided to go with one of the perfumers who worked on Lola, Yann Vasnier.

Yann Vasnier

M. Vasnier has been one of those perfumers who, when given the opportunity, will happily add in niche aesthetics to the mainstream. As we headed past Y2K in the niche world black pepper was having a moment. Black pepper had been used as a supporting ingredient especially with the spicy varieties of rose. Italian perfumer Lorenzo Villoresi released Piper Nigrum which was a shot of pure black pepper. Just as the internet perfume forums were forming Piper Nigrum was one of the most talked about fragrances in those early days. Black pepper would start regularly appearing as a focal point in fragrances like L’Artisan Parfumeur Poivre Piquant, Penhaligon’s Opus 1870, or Viktor & Rolf Antidote. For Bang M. Vasnier was going to see if a more general consumer was ready for some black pepper.

The opening of Bang is not simply black pepper as M. Vasnier uses pink peppercorns and white pepper as leavening notes to keep the black pepper from hitting like a sledgehammer. Even so that top accord carried a great deal of presence pretty much making a consumer confront their feelings on wearing black pepper from the first moment. Even the woods in the heart were led by the rougher edged birch which enhanced the piquancy of the pepper instead of toning it down. Only in the base was the transparently resinous accord where any measure of safety could be found.

Bang has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I have loved Bang from the first moment I tried it. Which is why that might be why it is in the Dead Letter Office. Bang was not a tiny step toward niche sensibilities it was more like being shoved through a door and having it locked behind you. Whenever I was out shopping during the 2010 Holiday season I recommended Bang time after time only to have those shopping with me pick up the Bleu de Chanel gift set.

Bleu de Marc Jacobs?

Bang was gone from the department stores by 2015 while Bleu de Chanel has become one of the best-selling men’s fragrances in the world. Marc Jacobs would even ask M. Vasnier to make another perfume a year later called Bang Bang, which was more Bleu de Chanel like. Even down to the color of the bottle. That had no more success than Bang. In 2010 when given a choice the public went with safe while Bang, and Bang Bang, was on its way to the Dead Letter Office.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Eric Buterbaugh Florals Nick’s Sunflower- Milliner’s Abstract

Those of you who know me have rarely seen me not wearing a hat. I have worn and loved hats most of my life. Which means when others aspire to other expensive purchases, like shoes, I want a hat. Whenever I am in Barney’s there are a brand of fedoras I just want. They are made by Venice Beach, California fashion designer Nick Fouquet. They are gorgeous amazingly made hats which have one consistent detail, a matchstick somewhere on the brim. It acts as Mr. Fouquet’s logo. There have been several milliners who have successfully collaborated on a fragrance. Mr. Fouquet decided to team up with Eric Buterbaugh to creatively direct Eric Buterbaugh Florals Nick’s Sunflower.

Nick Fouquet (l.) and Eric Buterbaugh (Photo: Eric Minh Swenson)

Mr. Buterbaugh really enjoys the creative process which he starts by going through proposals with different perfumers. Last year’s Kingston Osmanthus grew out of a discussion with perfumer Alberto Morillas when he spoke of his affection for osmanthus. This year Mr. Buterbaugh and Mr. Fouquet got more abstract as they began to imagine what a flower without a scent should smell like if it had one; sunflower. They asked the perfumers Mr. Buterbaugh has worked with in the past to give their impressions of what a sunflower should smell like. Perfumer Ilias Erminidis would be the one who convinced Mr. Fouquet and Mr. Buterbaugh he had the right vision for Nick’s Sunflower.

Nick Fouquet Sunflower Top Hat (Photo: Eric Minh Swenson)

We grow lots of sunflowers and have for years. I can attest to the lack of scent from the flower. The stalk has a strong green vegetal scent. Which I expected to be a part of Nick’s Sunflower. Except Mr. Erminidis wasn’t trying for realism he was more interested in interpreting the way the flower looks as fragrance. Which means Nick’s Sunflower is a perfume of sunlight on the corona surrounding a darker center without ever being too dark.

Ilias Erminidis

It is with the brilliant yellow petals where we start. Mr. Erminidis uses lime blossom, quince, lychee, and nectarine to create a sweet solar flare. Then to remind us this is a flower a delicate application of narcissus leads us into the next circle of muted yellow made up of disc florets. Mr. Erinidis interprets this as a diffuse floral of tiare and jasmine. The tiare is an excellent choice because it adds a summery freshness over the remains of the narcissus along with the jasmine. As we move into the cluster of seeds at the center osmanthus, muscenone, and ambrox form that accord. Ambrox provides the hint of the coating of the seeds while osmanthus adds its leather face; maybe the figurative matchstick? Muscenone is one of my favorite musks because it carries a suppleness to it which Mr. Erminidis uses here to soften the final phase.

Nick’s Sunflower has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Nick’s Sunflower is an ideal summertime floral perfume. It was at its best on an over 90-degree day I wore it on. It is definitely going to be something I wear throughout the upcoming summer. Mr. Fouquet and Mr. Buterbaugh collaborated successfully in bringing their vision of a sunflower to a perfume. My only question is where is the matchstick on the bottle?

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

Mark Behnke