New Perfume Review Chanel L’Eau Tan- It’s Two Beauty Products In One

There are new products I get which remind me of old television commercials for non-fragrance products. The most recent recollection was of a product called Certs. Certs was a mixture of a candy mint in a roll infused with a breath freshening ingredient called Retsyn. Every commercial would have two people taking up a different side; “It’s a breath mint!” “No, it’s a candy mint!” Then they would tap the rolls together and say in unison “It’s 2, 2 mints in one!” When I received my bottle of the new Chanel L’Eau Tan I felt like it was two beauty products in one.

Olivier Polge

L'Eau Tan is a combination of self-tanner and cologne. It combines two of the very talented team of people behind the Chanel beauty brands; in-house perfumer Olivier Polge and creative make-up and color director Lucia Pica. Both joined the brand in 2014-2015 replacing longtime predecessors. In their short time they have reimagined Chanel within their respective areas. The idea of creating a refreshing self-tanning body spray comes straight from the historical style influence of Coco Chanel.

Lucia Pica

When Coco cruised the Mediterranean, she tanned just from being on a boat in the sunshine. As she appeared with her sun burnished skin in each port the fashion reporters of the time noticed. Women began to spend time in the sun to emulate her skin tone. Coco never one to miss a trick would release L’Huile Tan, in 1924, the first tanning lotion for women. Other perfume brands would also join in during the late 1920’s and 30’s. That there is an attempt to add a pleasing scent to the functional product of sunscreen goes back nearly a hundred years.

In 2018 the current fashion trend is for self-tanning products which allow the wearer to minimize exposure to the UV rays. Mme Pica wanted to come forth with a Chanel version. Working with M. Polge to add a traditional cologne scent to the self-tanner produced L’Eau Tan.

I am going to review L’Eau Tan from the “It’s a cologne!” perspective with only a small nod to the “It’s a self-tanner!” part.

What M. Polge comes up with is to use a mixture of lemon and orange to form a citrus accord. From here there is a bit of floral support using the classic cologne ingredient, orange blossom. Then what really made this work is his use of tendrils of white musks winding through these traditional cologne components. It provides an effervescent expansiveness. As you should expect this is as transparent and as fleeting a fragrance as can be.

L’Eau Tan has 4-6 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

As it regards to the self-tanning aspect I wore this for four straight days on my arms when I was cooped up inside because of incessant rain. When we went out with friends one asked me if I had been down in Florida because I looked like I got some sun. I can’t speak for the accuracy of my friend’s perceptions but at least to her it was noticeable.

I am definitely going to be wearing this over the course of the summer because it is a nice light modern cologne perfect for some days. So, while I am in the “It’s a cologne!” camp I think there is something to the “It’s a self-tanner!” which means it is “2, 2 beauty products in one!”.

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

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: The Summer Perfume Playlist

As Memorial Day approached last week I was busy refurbishing my summer music playlist. The songs have to be light fun and made for singing at the top of my lungs in the car. It gets a little longer every year as a couple of songs from the previous summer are added to my evergreen collection of songs I associate with long sunny days. At about the same time I was arranging the perfume on my shelves to get the ones I like on my perfume playlist out in front. As I was looking at them I realized that there is also a group of five I like wearing every summer because they are part of what makes the season for me. I thought I’d share my summer perfume playlist in this month’s My Favorite Things.

It might be the alpha perfume, or more accurately the alpha cologne, but there is nothing I enjoy more than spraying myself with a healthy coating of Roger & Gallet Jean Maria Farina Extra Vieille. Reputedly the original cologne recipe: lemon, rosemary, and orange blossom. It lasts for a short time, but it refreshes just as much as any three-chord rocker like “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” by The Ramones. Gabba Gabba Hey.

When I want something as bright as the noonday sun I choose Chanel Allure Homme Edition Blanche. Perfumers Jacques Polge and Francois Demachy open with a fantastic shiny fanfare of lemon before heading to a lightly woody base. I seem to hum “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves when I wear this.

Summer isn’t summer unless you spend some time at the beach. The Different Company Sel de Vetiver captures the smell of salt water on skin matched with vetiver and grapefruit to capture the dune grass and the sun. Perfumer Celine Ellena makes a fragrant version of “Surfin USA” by The Beach Boys.

What might be the omega cologne, Thierry Mugler Cologne, is one of the best reinterpretations of a classic fragrance style that exists. Perfumer Alberto Morillas uses the same lemon and orange blossom seen in many colognes but by threading a lot of white musks through that duo he creates something brilliant. This is the summer perfume I wear when I want to smile like “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

I discovered Diptyque Philosykos near the end of a particular summer. It conjures end of season memories for me with perfumer Olivia Giacobetti’s transparent fig providing the coda to the summer before fall arrives. Just like “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley.

For the next three months all five perfumes and five songs will be on heavy rotation. See if you want to add them to your summer playlist.

Disclosure: Reviews based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Roger & Gallet Feuille de Figuier- Refreshing Green

I have written many times in the past about my belief that Roger & Gallet is one of those “best bang for your buck” brands. Using some of the best perfumers available while giving them latitude to provide something different in the drugstore venue has produced a collection which should be more widely known. Until the end of last year it seemed like Roger & Gallet had given up on bringing their version of quality to the masses. After a two-year hiatus they came back with a five-fragrance collection which captured all that I praise the brand for. I was hoping this was a sign there would be more regular output. When I received my package of Feuillle de Figuier I was happy to see things were back on track.

I was particularly pleased to see the name of this new release because one of the highlights of the Roger & Gallet collection is 2013’s Fleur de Figuier. Composed by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian it is still one of the best fig perfumes I own. Feuille de Figuier seeks to interpret fig in a different more austere paradigm.

Mathilde Bijaoui

Perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui decides to focus on creating a perfume with refreshing shades of green. This befits a perfume named after fig leaves. Throughout the entirety of its development there is a consistent green spine which is delivered in a lighter style ideal for warm weather months.

The best example of Mme Bijaoui tempering some of the stronger ingredients is her use of galbanum in the top accord. Most often this is a deep green powerful effect. By pairing it with sunnier citrus and controlling the concentration there comes a refreshing quality that will be repeated throughout Feuille de Figuier’s development. The citrus gives way to neroli and its green underpinnings. The galbanum amplifies that. The orange blossom part of neroli finds itself adding some joie de vive to the fig leaves. Fig leaves a carry a creamy aspect along with the obvious leafy nature. That creaminess is enhanced by benzoin in the base while cedar brings in the raw green woodiness to keep things on the light side.

Feuille de Figuier has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Mme Bijaoui has delivered a genial transparent green perfume which is just the kind of sparkling green the days of summer call out for.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Luna Rossa Black- Formal Sailing

I keep repeating this, but Prada is one of the best mainstream perfume collections. It has consistently released a broad spectrum of fragrance. That they have all been overseen by in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier provides an aesthetic connection which is now becoming synonymous with Prada the perfume brand.

In 2012 Mme Andrier created a new masculine pillar collection with the release of Luna Rossa. Based on the sailboats sponsored by the brand competing in the America’s Cup she would create atypical aquatics. Over the course of four flankers Mme Andrier explored the boundaries of an aquatic fougere in the mainstream sector. Upon receiving my sample of the latest flanker Luna Rossa Black I was ready to set sail on a breeze of lavender only to be met by something entirely different.

Daniela Andrier

If the previous members of the Luna Rossa collection were meant to capture the exhilaration of sailing; Luna Rossa Black is for the evening formal party after you’re back on shore. Gone are the fresh fougere beats replaced by an Oriental architecture of spice. Mme Andrier keeps it fresher then most other fragrances of this style which is as close as Luna Rossa Black comes to resembling any of its predecessors.

The perfume opens with the subtle peppery nature of angelica seed matched with the freshness of bergamot. Angelica seed carries an energetic spiciness which opens this with some gusto. The star of this perfume is Mme Andrier’s combination of patchouli and coumarin in the heart. In most Orientals the partner to patchouli is something heavier; resins or amber among a few. Mme Andrier’s choice of coumarin provides a lighter touch on an accord which is recognizably within the framework of the style.  It also allows for the angelica seeds to extend their presence into the heart where if something heftier had been used it would have been obliterated. The base is a suite of musk, again, freshened a bit by a synthetic ambergris.

Luna Rossa Black has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Sometimes you have to come ashore. Luna Rossa Black provides something for that man to wear while on shore.

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

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Problem with Prequels

Coming home from the new Star Wars film “Solo” I realized why I enjoyed it yet there was something missing. Took me a minute but it is something that has been missing from most movies or television shows which go back to before we met the main characters. What it means is there is no chance of anything drastic happening to them before they get to that place where we met them. In “Solo” it isn’t really a problem because at heart it is a heist movie and those don’t usually have mortal consequences for any of the main characters either. Where it becomes an issue is in large sprawling sagas where there is so much ingrained history that the story is straitjacketed into a very narrow space.

A perfect example has been the two attempts at Star Trek television series designed as prequels to the original series. Star Trek: Enterprise showed the first voyages into deep space by Earth. If the writers had been content to leave it at that the show might have been better. Instead as happens all too often they begin to introduce things way before they are supposed to be known. This happened with so many things in Star Trek: Enterprise it became irrelevant. The latest series Star Trek: Discovery is doing the same thing by introducing a new character into one of the iconic characters’ family who should have been mentioned somewhere prior. This becomes especially egregious when this person plays pivotal parts of at least three key moments in Starfleet history; in the first season.

It isn’t just Star Trek; Gotham also struggles with the Batman story. Every villain ever is infesting Gotham City all while Bruce Wayne is a teenager. It is like “Teen Batman” but in typical DC fashion made gritty so it is PG-13 rated “Teen Batman”. There is zero dramatic tension between any of these characters. Why? Because we know every single one of them becomes older to bedevil Batman/Bruce Wayne at a later date. It doesn’t matter how dire the situation I know nothing permanent is happening to any of these characters no matter how it may seem.

Which really leads to the real problem. All of these are made for the particular fan base not for the general public. It is fan fiction done by professionals. They survive by filling themselves with inside jokes only a dedicated fan gets. So yeah am I interested to see something actually happen which was only explained in dialogue in the original? Turns out it is like visiting a museum exhibit. It can be fun, but it feels old.

As a fan these prequels are mostly enjoyable, but they really will never come close to the originals they are trying to fill in the backstory for.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Armani Prive Bleu Turquoise- Salt Tanned Skin

One of the more difficult things for me to do is to become excited for a new perfume within some of the most highly populated genres. It becomes tedious when I receive something new which reminds me of something very similar to it. One of the reasons that happens is the perfumer follows the existing recipe at the recommended concentrations. I have found that what it takes for me to lift something out of the pile is having something more than a tweak to it. The recent Armani Prive Bleu Turquoise shows how to do it.

Aurelien Guichard

In the aquatic genre I could spend a few days naming perfume with a “sea spray” accord. It is usually a focal point, but it is kept balanced. What captured my attention in Bleu Turquoise was perfumer Aurelien Guichard wasn’t interested in the sea spray but the smell of it evaporated on sun-warmed skin. M. Guichard keeps it exceedingly simple around the sea salt accord putting it forward as the keynote with only two significant supporting ingredients.

The perfume opens on a delicate frankincense drifting in soft puffs of slightly metallic beauty. Out of this comes the central accord. M. Guichard uses salt but adds in a musk or two to evoke tanned bare skin encrusted with the ocean’s brine. This is a familiar scent from many days lying on a beach towel as the sun dried off from my swim; leaving swirls of white on my chest, legs, and arms. The choice of vanilla in the base is also a nice twist as it is like applying a sweet-smelling suntan lotion over my sun-dried skin.

Bleu Turquoise has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Bleu Turquoise is a nice take on the aquatic genre. It isn’t going to change the style but if you want something different for the upcoming summer this is a good choice.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Juliette has a Gun Moscow Mule- Cocktails on the Deck

As I write this I’m getting ready for company here in Poodlesville for the traditional kickoff to summer, Memorial Day. One part of this is bringing out all my cocktail paraphernalia. The martini and margarita glasses are front and center. Tall julep glasses and absinthe goblets join them. Then there is my set of four copper mugs which find a place, too. I acquired those three summers ago when I discovered the cocktail known as a Moscow Mule. A mixture of lime juice, vodka and ginger beer served very cold. The copper mugs are reputed to keep it colder longer. Because of the heat capacity properties of copper. Not sure about that but I admit drinking them on the deck at Poodlesville as the sun shines down is an ideal summer cocktail. A new perfume is inspired by this refreshing cocktail Juliette has a Gun Moscow Mule.

Juliette has a Gun was founded in 2006 by Romano Ricci he began by being a hands-on creative director working with the perfumers. This was, in essence, his graduate school of perfumery as he supplemented what he had learned previously. M. Ricci has a proud name to live with as a double-edged sword as the great grandson of Nina Ricci. Like her he has forged a consistent identity for his brand. Over the past few years M. Ricci has begun to take the wheel as the perfumer for Juliette has a Gun. One set of ingredients he has a fondness for are the synthetic woody ingredients. Moscow Mule might be the most exuberant example of this aesthetic; half of the ingredients come from this class. In the case of Moscow Mule, they act as the figurative “copper cup” although it is woody instead of metallic. Inside is the cocktail.

Romano Ricci

M. Ricci squeezes a lime out at the top of Moscow Mule followed by a strong ginger. This smells very much like the cocktails I make. I smiled every time, from the memory, for the first few minutes. There is an alcoholic accord which represents the vodka which comes next. It carries a sharp focused accelerator to the ginger and lime. Then the woods begin their rise as they form the container. M. Ricci has become one of the masters at using these powerful ingredients. It reminds me a bit of being a wild animal trainer trying to get each one to behave without mauling the overall construct. For Moscow Mule it is a veritable honor roll of these ingredients; Amber Xtreme, Norlimbanol, Ambroxan, and Iso E Super. Those have been the backbone of hundreds of woody perfumes but because of their intensity they are rarely combined. M. Ricci gets them to not only behave but to form a fascinating solid woody accord I found I enjoyed. Some ambrettolide provides a bit of musk to the later stages but it is the woods which predominate.

Moscow Mule has near 24-hour longevity and average sillage.

If you are someone who is not fond of the synthetic woods in perfume stay far away from this; it is definitely not going to be a refreshing cocktail for you. If you are a fan M. Ricci has coaxed some interesting intersections within the overdose. I liked it because it reminded me of the smell of the deck I do most of my cocktail drinking on as the summer sun heats it up there is always a scent of heated wood around me. If this sounds good come join me on the deck for cocktails this summer.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle supplied by Europerfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Commodity Nectar- Fun and Sun Neroli

There has been a quiet success story taking place at the mall. The brand is called Commodity. It started when Ash Huzenlaub and Konstantin Glasmacher decided they wanted to create a fragrance line which could stand on its own without needing all the PR trappings to find its audience. One thing they did very differently was they realized they were entrepreneurs not creative directors leading to a bold decision for a mainstream perfume; we’ll leave the creativity up to the perfumers we hire. They gave the perfumers a budget along with an ideal to keep it minimalistic; then turned them loose. It has formed a collection where the perfumers are able to push at certain mainstream tropes. One of the recent successes Is Commodity Nectar.

Mathieu Nardin

The perfumer chosen for Nectar is Mathieu Nardin. M. Nardin has shown a deft touch when given latitude to explore a specific keynote. For Nectar that focal point is neroli. Neroli has an inherent scent profile of green tinted floral citrus. It is why it has been a versatile complement throughout the history of perfumery. In the past few years neroli has been stepping into the spotlight as perfumers have been using it more often as a keynote.

Nectar opens with a zippy trio of citrus; pomelo, tangerine, and bergamot. It produces a tart, pulpy top accord. It is a bit of summer sunshine right from the start. The neroli begins to take charge soon after. M. Nardin uses a decent concentration of it which allows for all the multi-faceted appeal to be displayed. To accentuate the floral, honeysuckle provides the support. For the green M. Nardin first uses the green woodiness of cedar to pick the thread out, then with vetiver develop it into something distinct down into the base. He finally swathes it in a swirl of white musks providing lift to the overall effect.

Nectar has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

As the official start of summer is rapidly approaching Nectar is the kind of perfume which could live at the beach. It provides a genial fragrant companion which shares all the fun and sun of the season.

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

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: Giorgio Armani Sensi- Can We do Niche?

I have no idea if this first paragraph carries a grain of truth but in hindsight I think it might. As fragrance crossed into the 21st century the uprising of interesting perfumes willingly marching out-of-step with the mainstream were creating a movement. The large corporations behind the mainstream had to be looking at this wondering how they could turn this to their ends. I don’t think they were any more successful at identifying and defining niche than I can twenty some years on. It still makes me think that at some boardrooms there was a conversation which began with the question “Can we do niche, too?” I think this led to a lot of poorly thought out perfume, but here and there that concept found its place. That mainstream audiences weren’t ready for that is why Giorgio Armani Sensi is this month’s Dead Letter Office subject.

Harry Fremont

Giorgio Armani began their fragrance line in 1982. It would become incredibly successful with the back-to-back releases of Acqua di Gio and Acqua di Gio pour Homme in 1995 and 96 respectively. They became exemplars of the prevailing trends on the men’s and women’s fragrance counters of the day. To this day they remain big sellers. By 2002 Armani wanted to release another pair of perfumes. The men’s one was Armani Mania pour Homme which was a typical masculine woody. Sensi would be released six months later and it was not typical.

Alberto Morillas

Perfumers Harry Fremont and Alberto Morillas collaborated on Sensi. What they produced is a fragrance of nuance which charms because of its complexity. They used some interesting ingredients which give textural effects not usually found at the mall. Which might be why its no longer for sale.

Sensi opens with a laser beam of lime. It is focused, delineated, and clean. It is an attention getter before the florals arrive. The floral accord is primarily jasmine and mimosa. It is a gorgeous accord with some of the indoles present instead of being scrubbed away. Then the first bit of texture arrives with barley providing a “grain” to the florals. It comes off as a slightly toasted almond effect which meshes with the florals in a fascinating way. Throughout this phase it is like there is a kinetic accord subtly shifting moment by moment. This moves to a kind of gourmand-like vanilla and benzoin accord. I say gourmand because the barley also interacts with these to form something which feels gourmand. Except as it also interacts with the florals it provides a warming depth. As it moves into this phase I am again met with a perfume which continually shifts. Some palisander wood provides a woody base for this to end upon.

Sensi has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Even now there are almost no perfumes in the department store which display the subtle charms of Sensi. It never caught on with consumers. Although those who did find it have become fanatic about it. It is one reason you see the bottles go for high prices on the auction sites.

So if there is any accuracy to my first paragraph the answer to the question “can we do niche?” was answered with an enthusiastic “Yes!” by Sensi. That it was received somewhat less enthusiastically by the buying public is why it is in the Dead Letter Office.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Eau D’Italie Fior Fiore- Summer at La Sireneuse

Eau D’Italie was another of the early brands which helped define the broad outlines of niche perfumery. The brand is overseen by owners, co-creative directors, husband and wife; Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena. All of it inspired by their hotel La Sireneuse in Positano, Italy. Especially in the most recent releases there has been an attempt to capture the carefree style lakeside in Positano in the warmer months. The latest release Fior Fiore is that gentle companion for warm days at the shore.

Sebastian Alvarez Murena and Marina Sersale

The past twelve months has seen a revival of the use of ambrette. Many of them have gone for a classical vibe by using the botanical musk along with a floral or two to provide a soft effect overall. Working with perfumer Olivier Cresp the creative directors have made a kind of sequel to 2015’s Morn to Dusk. In that one it displayed lily-of-the-valley dew covered in the morning. M. Cresp captures the same floral but at twilight as the jasmine begins to unfurl under the moonlight. It is a soft gentle study of three ingredients.

Olivier Cresp

Fior Fiore opens with the lily-of-the valley front and center. M. Cresp uses the ambrette to blunt many of the sharper green aspects of the floral. For the first hour or so it is just these two notes like a gentle floral breeze. The jasmine languidly inserts itself in between. Using jasmine sambac, M. Cresp allows the indoles to take the ambrette into a deeper phase. The sweeter floral component raises up the lily-of-the-valley as the sun begins to set. Once all three notes are present Fior Fiore shimmers with facile beauty.

Fior Fiore has 10-12 hour longevity.

As I mentioned above over the last couple of years there has been a noticeable lightening of the Eau D’Italie aesthetic. Fior Fiore is the lightest perfume in the line. That is not a drawback by any means. I still find the same cheerful “lake life” smiling back at me. This is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a floral summer perfume which isn’t just stuffed with flowers and aquatic notes. Fior Fiore offers you a refreshing change of pace.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke