New Perfumes Review H & M The Essences Collection- 5 for 25

Anyone who has read my perfume writing over the years knows how much I despise huge debut collections of fragrance. It is because nobody has enough ideas to produce 8, or 10, or 12, or more perfumes all at once. Somewhere in all of that there are two or three completely realized ideas; the rest are mostly forgettable filler. It has been said these kind of mass releases are just a different kind of market research by allowing the consumer to drive the future of the brand. I don’t go along with that because there are times when it takes diligence to find what’s good in a sea of mediocrity. Few out in the real world are going to try them all. My compulsion to smell everything that makes it to my doorstep is even tested by these. If there was ever a time where my resolve was going to crack it was the 25 new releases from Swedish brand H&M.

Let me say I didn’t realize I was going to get an envelope filled with 25 different perfumes. I had seen a press release on a new collection of ten called “The Singles”. When my contact asked me if I wanted all the new releases I said yes thinking this was all of them. Au contraire, mon frere. There was another entire collection called “The Reveries”; ten in total. Then five more which comprise “The Essences”.

All the perfumes were composed by either Nisrine Grille, Olivier Pescheux, or both together. Twenty-five new releases irritate me so I’m going to help those of you who are faced with this ridiculously large amount of new perfume. Everything in “The Singles” is exactly what that intimates single note or accord perfumes. What is so blasted annoying about all ten is there is nothing extra to showcase the keynote. They’re all just flaccid single ingredient formulas a step up from anything at the health food store; maybe. “The Reveries” are equally boring because they are just a box-checking exercise to have poorly done examples of every style of popular perfume. Derivative in the extreme they are like drugstore versions of better perfumes. If you’re thinking about skipping the entire H&M fragrance section, and I wouldn’t blame you, there are five worth trying.

Olivier Pescheux

The remaining five releases make up a collection called “The Essences”. All five were done by M. Pescheux alone. These are all better versions of the boring ones done in “The Reveries”. There are glimmers of real interesting fragrance within these five. I thought I’d give each a couple of lines.

Comoro Ylang– I really like a full spectrum ylang which is what M. Pescheux uses as his nucleus. Wrapped in ginger and a set of linen musks before some benzoin warms things up at the end. This will be a nice fall floral.

Les Cayes Vetyver– M. Pescheux uses grapefruit and vetiver which is a typical pairing. The addition of the sweet earthiness of carrot seed was surprising. Finding the gaps between the tart green woodiness of the other two.

Makassar Patchouli– M. Pescheux takes the earthy herbal-ness of patchouli and contrasts it with the purple flower duo of violet and lavender. Warmed in the base with amber. This will be the sample I’ll probably use up.

Rose Absolute– A spicy rose architecture with cinnamon and cedar on both sides of a Turkish rose.

Santalum– M. Pescheux seemingly couldn’t just settle on one woody ingredient. Cypress, pine, cedar, and sandalwood form a fresh woods laden accord. Some jasmine in a small quantity is all that provides contrast. More interesting than it sounds as the woods developed dynamically on my skin until the sandalwood was the lone survivor.

All five of The Essence Collection has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I’ve made my case about the crass cynicism behind dumping 25 new perfumes at once on the market. What I can say is there are five out of that mess worth trying. I can only hope they are the ones which have the best sales, so H&M is encouraged to do more in that direction. I have a feeling that’s not going to be the result.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by H&M.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Terre D’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver- Vetiver on Top

If you are succeeding a perfume legend would you step right up and invite comparison? I think if you are confident in your abilities the answer is yes. The perfumer who succeeded Jean-Claude Ellena as in-house perfumer at Hermes, Christine Nagel has spent some time showing she is confident enough to invite those comparisons. I have been very impressed with her early releases for Hermes. Even so I admit some trepidation at the thought of her creating a flanker of one of M. Ellena’s best known perfumes, Terre D’Hermes. Turns out she continues to show respect for the Hermes aesthetic refined by M. Ellena while continuing to re-define it. The new Terre D’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver is a great example of how she does this.

Terre D’Hermes was groundbreaking in 2006 because M. Ellena relied on one synthetic ingredient, Iso E-Super, in overdose. The formula was 55% Iso E Super. Because of the size of the molecule there are people who can’t smell it. For those people if you ask them what they do smell they will say vetiver. That’s because in the non-Iso E-Super 45% Terre D’Hermes is a grapefruit and vetiver prominent fragrance. That is where Mme Nagel begins.

Christine Nagel

I don’t have access to all the synthetic vetiver ingredients but for Terre D’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver it seems like Mme Nagel has decided to allow what I believe is a vetiveryl acetate analog to take up some of the Iso E Super percentage. The reason I think this is there is a saltiness to the vetiver that I’ve only experienced in synthetic versions I’ve smelled. It is a fantastic effect by itself. Layered onto the core of Terre D’Hermes it forms a summery bright fragrance.

The opening is the classic bitter grapefruit and pepper. For Terre D’Hemes Eau intense Vetiver, Mme Nagel switches out the black pepper of the original for the more versatile Szechuan pepper. I like this top accord much better than the original. I have really come around on this complex ingredient. It carries lots of nuance which allows for Mme Nagel to find just the right version to use. What comes through is more herbal quality pepper which captures a bit of the sulfurous grace notes in the grapefruit. It has an almost minty freshness which sets the stage for the synthetic vetiver. This is a salty vetiver with a hint of smoke. Mme Nagel uses it to pick up on the green zestiness of the grapefruit and the herbal quality of the Szechuan pepper. It comes together in an expansive vetiver dominant accord that is compelling. Then the Iso E Super arrives with its scent of desiccated pencil shavings. This is still here in high concentration, but I will bet it is under 25% this time.

Terre D’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Terre D’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver is a recognizable flanker of the original. It is also a recognizable change from the original as Mme Nagel chooses to amplify some different qualities. The vetiver she uses makes it seem like we are near the coast without tripping over into full on aquatic. By putting vetiver on top, she has created a worthy successor to one of the best masculine perfumes of this century.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Clove

Fall is coming. Which means it is time to start thinking about my favorite spicy perfumes. One spice carries a fantastic character when it is used in fragrance; clove. It is an ingredient which can be tuned to feel like a bit of incense or tilted to a rougher edge. When used well it is imparts something different from the typical spices you find. Here are five of my favorites.

There was a Diptyque boutique on Newbury St. in Boston. It was always an experience in what niche perfumery was all about. Diptyque as a brand did that right from the start with Diptyque L’Eau. Based on an old English potpourri recipe the clove is the linchpin for all the spices in the top accord before going to a rose and sandalwood base. One of my favorite Holiday scents but I also wear it in October.

My first experience with the smell of cloves was at the end of French clove cigarettes called Kreteks. I was always drawn to it especially since it seemed to be a symbol of personal rebellion for those puffing on them. The perfume which captures this best is Ava Luxe Tabak Kretek. Indie perfumer Serena Ava Goode uses clove, tobacco, cinnamon, and cardamom to produce the scent of a Kretek which doesn’t make me have to inhale smoke.

Clove tends to show up more often in indie releases. Perhaps the best use of it came in Charenton Macerations Christopher Street. Creative director Douglas Bender and perfumer Ralf Schwieger use it to provide a clove orange effect in the heart. Orange blossom and cinnamon round it out. The tobacco on top and the musks below make it one of my favorite fall perfumes.

One of my all-time favorite perfumes is Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant. During the mid-1990’s creative renaissance at Kenzo this was the best of all of them. Creative director Celine Verleure and perfumer Dominique Ropion produced a luxurious spicy perfume by adding in the oiliness of ylang-ylang to an olfactory spice rack. The clove is one of the most prominent notes in this. This perfume is very close to being my all-time Favorite Thing because it is so good. It is one of my rituals to greet the first chilly morning in fall wearing this.

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur is one of the best Oriental fragrances perfumer Maurice Roucel has produced. It has one of those outsized reputations which it lives up to. M. Roucel also goes the spiced citrus route. By using equal amounts of clove and cinnamon to liven up tangerine it is the more compelling part of the development. The base is sweet vanilla and sandalwood with subtle musk attached. The colder it is the more I smell the clove and cinnamon; which is why it is a cold weather staple.

Looking to add some spice to your fall roatation? Give these five clove standouts a try.

Disclosure: I purchased a botlle of each perfume.

-Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jo Malone Honeysuckle & Davana- Farmgirl to Chypre Fatale

I delight in finding new perfume brands. It is part of what makes me enjoy writing about perfume. Like an olfactory Lothario I am always looking for a new relationship. The bad part of that behavior is the possibility to ignore one of the longer-lived brands when it is doing something extraordinary. I hope that I am a better correspondent than that, but it is human nature to put the new over the old. One point in my favor is I have been very impressed with the current direction at Jo Malone overseen by creative director Celine Roux. 2018 is shaping up as a prime example. The new Jo Malone Honeysuckle & Davana continues a fantastic year.

Celine Roux

I often write about how a strong creative director paired with a strong aesthetic is a formula for success. Mme Roux has placed her very distinctive direction upon one of the more recognizable perfume aesthetics by not being afraid to explore the fringes of that. Jo Malone is a classic British line which honors that in every perfume. Mme Roux has embraced that in the best releases over the last few years. Honeysuckle & Davana shows all of that.

Anne Flipo

The press materials for almost every new Jo Malone release offers quotes from Mme Roux and the perfumer about the creative process. For Honeysuckle & Davana the collaborator is perfumer Anne Flipo. Honeysuckle is not a flower which can be extracted easily. The alternative is for a perfumer to undertake headspace analysis where they capture and analyze the material in its natural state. By seeing the chemical makeup of the natural scent, they can then undertake an effort to produce that scent in the lab. The press release tells of Mme Roux and Flipo spending a full day at The National Arboretum in Gloucestershire. They took headspace samples throughout the day including one at midnight. They discovered an ever-altering scent profile. It was the late-night version which captured their attention as they felt it fit into a chypre construction. This effort pays off.

I didn’t speak about the other ingredient on the label; that one shows up right away. The top accord is rose oxide and davana. Both ingredients bring a fruit-tinted green to things. The rose oxide also has some earthiness from which the honeysuckle can spring. The honeysuckle accord comes next. It starts off very bright but Mme Flipo really turns it into an after dark version with osmanthus to contribute its leathery floral quality. There is the movement from innocent farmgirl to femme fatale. That is deepened as Mme Flipo uses the classic patchouli, moss, and sandalwood chypre base. Innocence is gone as the bad girl comes forward. It is this final stage of the perfume which impressed me. Even using the low-atranol oakmoss it is one of the few times I have not missed the bite of full octane oakmoss. The honeysuckle accord struts right through it all.

Honeysuckle & Davana has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Honeysuckle & Davana is my favorite Jo Malone release of 2018. It is also one of my favorite new releases overall in 2018. Mme Roux is making this Lothario take another look at the one he left behind; gloriously so.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review: Joy by Dior- Shaking My Head

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When it comes to my favorite dead brand, Jean Patou, I am a bit like Charlie Brown and Lucy when it comes to her holding a football for him to kick. Every time I think I will get some gratification only to find myself on my back looking at the sky. About a month ago I read that Jean Patou had been acquired by LVMH. What was odd was it had been done in such a way that people only learned of it well after the fact of the acquisition. Why was that? The press release announcing it was appropriately hopeful about giving the brand an elevated profile. Then the truth came about two weeks later when I got a press release announcing the new release from Dior; Joy by Dior. They acquired Jean Patou so they wouldn’t have to have any problems with the name of their new perfume.

Jean Patou Joy is one of the acknowledged masterpieces of perfumery. It is seen as one of the greatest perfumes ever. Because Patou has been so decimated as a brand it is not as cherished as its other contemporaries. Which is why it is puzzling why Dior would make the decision to produce a new perfume with the same name of a masterpiece. The cynic in me says because they’ve unleashed their market research staff and found out most consumers have no idea there is a previous classic perfume called Joy. Which fits with the perfume that has been produced. Joy by Dior is a good perfume put together via the perfume assembly line of focus groups and market research; as cynical as it gets in other words.

Francois Demachy

Francois Demachy the in-house perfumer at Dior is responsible for Joy by Dior. It is very simple, very fresh, and very derivative. M. Demachy chose to create a mash-up of two huge best-sellers. The citrus opening is straight out of Chanel Allure and the floral heart is Dior J’Adore. In other words, it is just a re-tread. This has become a disturbing trend that has bled over into niche perfumery (Try the new Serge Lutens for an example). If you want a crowd-pleasing top seller just combine some of the best accords from your past, or another brand’s, and toss them together into a “new” perfume. Count on the consumer to just go with the happy flow. Voila! You have Joy by Dior.

The top is citrus. Studies say everyone loves citrus. M. Demachy blends a slightly bitter orange version. Flowers, everyone loves flowers; especially rose and jasmine. Yes, but don’t make them too heavy that makes people uncomfortable. It also might remind them of that other Joy. So, make sure the rose and jasmine are composed of expansive synthetic versions. What's the safest base we can use? Oh yes, another synthetic sandalwood wrapped in linen musks to make this as soft as can be. Because above all we want you to feel comfortable with your purchase.

Joy by Dior has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Of all the big brands Dior has been the one which has been the most openly cynical about the mass-market consumer. The whole Miss Dior Cherie-Miss Dior debacle is a prime example. Joy by Dior joins that list of dubious distinction.

Bottom line, Joy by Dior is going to sell like crazy. It is a perfume for people who don’t like perfume but still want to wear perfume. It is going to find its way into Holiday presents galore. If it isn’t the best-selling new perfume this upcoming shopping season, I’ll be shocked. It is why I’ll be shaking my head every time I smell it in the mall for the rest of the year.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Dior.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Joy of the Unreliable Narrator

As I have been watching the HBO series “Sharp Objects” I have come to realize how much I enjoy the practice of using an unreliable narrator to tell a story. For most stories which are told they come from the recollection of a character who acts as the eyes of the reader/viewer. They take us along with them into whatever plot is unspooling. We trust them to tell us what they are seeing and feeling accurately. When a writer employs an unreliable narrator there is something that is being hidden in what they share with us. Author Gillian Flynn used the technique in her 2012 novel “Gone Girl”. It was so successful there that when it was shown to me it was one of those moments where I put my finger in the book and said “Wow!” out loud. “Sharp Objects” is based on a subsequent novel, by Ms. Flynn, and with one episode to go I think I’m dealing with multiple unreliable narrators. I had forgotten how much fun it is to try and piece together reality from the fiction we are being fed by the characters. I can’t wait to see what plays out in the finale.

I usually like to keep spoilers out of what I write but this time I fear the rest of this column is one king-sized spoiler.

My first encounter with an unreliable narrator came in one of Agatha Christie’s novels featuring her detective Hercule Poirot. At the beginning of the book I thought it was such a clever device to have the narrator be someone who had hired M. Poirot. By the end of the book it turns out the narrator was the killer. Coming in the 1920’s it was influential on the mystery writing genre. The book, “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” was voted the best crime novel ever in 2013 by the British Crime Writers’ Association.

The unreliable narrator is especially compelling when you’re still not sure if what you’ve read is at all real. “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk and “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis take us on an internal monologue narrated by two sociopaths; or do they? Have our narrators literally taken us for fools? We have been shown it is in their nature.

One which is heartbreaking in its revelation comes in the last act of “The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel. The narrator tells a fantastical story of surviving a shipwreck in a lifeboat with a full-grown tiger. This takes up the middle section of the book. When the narrator has been rescued he is presented with evidence, by those interviewing him, of an alternate version of events. The narrator asks the interviewers if they prefer the fantasy over the reality. By this point the reader knows the answer.

I don’t want a consistent diet of these kind of stories, but the infrequent use always allows for the final pages to contain those precious “Wow!” moments. I have a feeling the finale of “Sharp Objects” has one in store for me.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Daydream in Blue- Fulfilled Desire

On my recent visit to Boulder, Colorado I finally had the opportunity to spend some time with independent perfumer Amber Jobin. We have corresponded digitally over many years. This was the first time we were in the same place where we could relax. One of the things about independent perfumery is that through an artist’s perfumes you can get a picture of who they are. Ms. Jobin exceeded what I expected to find.

Ms. Jobin has come to perfumery through the crucible of the yearly Burning Man event. She has attended for several years and began offering custom fragrance blends as part of her contribution to the temporary society the event represents. She also creates a distinct “Burner” perfume each year based on the theme of the given year. It was through these early fragrances I became aware of her. As a student of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, and now a colleague in her Essense Studio, Ms. Jobin was uncommonly polished in her early work. If there is a common aesthetic that ties her perfumes together it is curious intelligence; which might be redundant. Ms. Jobin has been able to distill the abstract into perfume. At its base it is what all perfumers are doing. It is just Ms. Jobin does it with a little more verve. Of her most recent releases Aether Arts Perfume Daydream in Blue displays this.

(l. to r.) Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Me, Amber Jobin

The perfume was inspired by the song “Daydream in Blue” by the band I Monster. Ms. Jobin realized it was a song about daydreaming while in a field of wildflowers, but this reverie is a sexual one. It is unrequited because the dreamer’s partner is only present in the imagination. Ms. Jobin imagines the dreamer having an actual partner for whom that desire can be acted upon amongst the literal birds and bees doing their work pollinating things. She says in her press release, “I loved the idea of a pretty experience wrapped around a deeply erotic one.” This is exactly that.

The early moments of Daydream in Blue set the stage with a gentle floral accord matched with some of the grassy ingredients. It is a sun dappled meadow. Through an incredibly constructed accord Ms. Jobin captures the entire experience of making love outside. Her main accord is comprised of deer musk, civet, and costus. It is the balance she achieves with that last note that brings the whole thing together. Costus is a tricky note to get right. For Ms. Jobin she actually wanted to capture a fully realized erotic moment which means the smell of semen on sun warmed skin. I can hear some readers thinking that doesn’t sound great. Ms. Jobin has an ability to find beauty out of what I described. It especially comes home when the florals and grassy notes reappear around that animalic accord as nature returns after passion.

Daydream in Blue has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is what sets independent perfumery apart. The ability for a perfumer to take on a subject like this. I giggle to myself when I imagine one of those people spritzing perfume trying to describe this as they hand a strip to a mallgoer. This is perfume for those of us who see it as an art form as well as something to make us smell pleasant. Daydream in Blue succeeds on both of those levels. I adore much of what Ms. Jobin has created over the years but this one has also exceeded my expectations fulfilling desires of all sorts.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review aroma M Geisha Botan- Geisha at Work

More than their commercial counterparts, independent perfumers are storytellers. Through their creations you also get glimpses into personalities and histories of the artist behind them. Having a story underneath what you’re wearing adds something to the experience. One independent perfumer whose story I have connected with is Maria McElroy of aroma M.

Ms. McElroy lived in Tokyo, Japan in the 1980’s. That Japanese aesthetic has been the foundation upon which she has built her brand. Many of her perfumes carry the word “geisha” within them. As I have tried each one I have imagined the story of a fictional geisha. It has become part of the anticipation of any new release that I will have an opportunity to allow my imagination to travel to visit this lady of perfume. aroma M Geisha Botan is the latest chance for me to do this.

Maria McElroy

In the press release accompanying my sample Ms. McElroy tells of her affection for pink peonies that she acquired during her time in Tokyo. Botan is the Japanese word for peony. We have our own pink peonies which burst to life each spring along our front walkway. I share Ms. McElroy’s fascination with the flower. The dense layered flower which will eventually open to reveal a fuller beauty is like a geisha of the floral world; only when you get to know it better does it truly reveal its charms.

Geisha Botan uses rose to support the peony in the early going. It gives some heft to one of the more delicate floral ingredients. It also allows it to float upon the pool of sandalwood and vanilla which make up the heart. Over time an earthy quality slowly intersperses itself into the construct. A final dollop of animalic musk finishes everything.

In her previous releases my imaginary geisha has been enjoying some time off. With Geisha Botan it feels like she is back at work. As I’ve done in the past I will weave a description of the perfume within a little story.

It was nice to have spring back. Walking by Ueno Park and seeing the peonies in full bloom made her smile. As she entered the okiya she decided would use her special botan formulation to scent herself for the evening. She had worked on it for years finding the right rose to provide depth to her peony extract. To find the right balance was a tricky thing but it was worth it. Her client for the night always smiled when he picked up the top accord as she served tea to him. The peony tattooed on her forearm just visible under her sleeve as she offered the bowl to him. He breathed in followed by a nod. “Your perfume is more intoxicating than the tea.” As I played the samisen for him I observed him breathing deeply as the vanilla and sandalwood comforted him along with the music. By the time he was ready to leave the slightly musky scent remianing heightened the anticipation for our next meeting.

Geisha Botan has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Ms. McElroy has become a much more assured perfumer over the years. Geisha Botan is among her best work. The mixture of spring-like florals on top of vanilla and sandalwood is going to make this an ideal fall perfume as the air begins to cool. You can take my imaginary geisha along with you.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by aroma M.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aftelier Perfumes Antique Ambergris- Perfume Scrimshaw

We did one of those trips through New England when I was a young boy. One of the destinations I was looking forward to was Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. While most of my friends were big on dinosaurs; I was all about whales. Ever since the factoid of the blue whale being the largest animal on Earth lodged in my head that was my giant animal of choice.

Mystic Seaport is a museum dedicated to the New England whaling business. As we walked through the grounds there were two things which caught my attention; scrimshaw and ambergris. Scrimshaw was engraving done on the ivory they harvested from the whales they caught. I was transfixed by an innate ancient quality of the pieces on display. The etching was fabulously intricate in depicting the ships they were on. I would buy a silver ring with a small piece of scrimshaw in it. It was my first piece of jewelry. The second thing was exactly the thing that would intrigue a young boy when I was asked if I wanted to smell whale vomit. “Yes, please” as I waved my hand frantically. I don’t know what I expected but what I smelled was something which smelled of the ocean more than upchuck. Although it was plenty stinky enough to satisfy my adolescent anticipation. When Mandy Aftel contacted me to tell me her latest perfume, Aftelier Perfumes Antique Ambergris, was on the way my now more mature anticipation was piqued.

Mandy Aftel

Ms. Aftel is one of the crown jewels of the American independent perfume community. She was one of the first. She has been giving, as a teacher and a writer, of her knowledge. She also runs the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents. One of the stars of that collection is a 100-year-old bottle of antique Ambreine. Now you might think that’s a typo, but it isn’t. Ambreine is the chemical which makes up the floating piece of whale excretion which becomes ambergris. Ambreine in its pure form has no scent. Once it is set forth to float upon the sea, exposed to sun, and eventually to beach itself; the molecule is designed to undergo multiple chemical reactions as the ambreine reacts in multiple directions. The longer it is exposed the more complex the mixture. Once you smell a long-aged sample it will draw you in with its kaleidoscopic nature.

At the request of Ms. Aftel’s best friend, who had fallen hard for the old bottle of ambreine, she decided to create a perfume. This is what has become Antique Ambergris. I also love the idea of a perfume which is based on ancient ingredients is produced as a solid perfume. Ms. Aftel is one of the few producing solid perfumes and I find the tactile quality of smearing a dab very sensual. I know they are difficult to do but for this perfume it fit so well.

After spreading some Antique Ambergris on my skin, the aged ambergris Ms. Aftel uses floats to the top. This is not the century old version from the museum, but it is plenty old enough to be compelling. What is amazing about older perfume ingredients like this is the multitude of grace notes which surround them. Ms. Aftel calls them “phantom notes” but these are way more substantial than flitting wraiths They provide shading impossible to be replicated without having aged. This kind of experience is tripled by her adding in antique civet and aged cypress absolute. As these all come together the essential quality of ambergris, civet, and cypress are there, but it is the grace notes which provide the joy of Antique Ambergris as it develops over hours on my skin. These three notes are supported by a sturdy coumarin but it really is just a pedestal for the stars of the show.

Antique Ambergris has 10-12 hour longevity and low sillage.

Antique Ambergris is an example of what the best independent perfumers can produce with small batch ingredients. There is almost nowhere else something like Antique Ambergris could come from. Ms. Aftel captures the ancient art of scrimshaw with an exquisite perfume etching of antiquity.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Imaginary Authors Sundrunk- Summer of 69

When you are a child the summer months are a treat. There is no school only the horizon of how far you can travel on your bicycle. Growing up in South Florida it seemed like the world was just in front of my handlebars. The best part was being joined by your friends. By the time August rolled around our skin was tanned and our hair was sun bleached. For some reason several of my friends had birthdays in August. In 1969 that was a big year we were moving from the single digit of nine to the vastly mature double digits of ten. This was also the summer when I had my first kiss. I remember leaning forward into it at a birthday party game of Spin the Bottle. There was one girl I was beginning to notice. When she spun the bottle and the neck pointed at me. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it right. As we leaned into the center of the circle the sun glinted off the bottle. It felt like I was surrounded in a bright light. When our lips met, at first softly, before we pressed together with a little pressure I felt a whirl of emotion. I leaned back with a smile as the girl smiled back. Her lip gloss remained on my lips. I was light headed. I never had a word for this but now I do courtesy of Imaginary Authors Sundrunk.

Josh Meyer

I have enjoyed watching independent perfumer Josh Meyer develop into one of the best we have.  Over the seventeen perfumes he had released prior to Sundrunk he has continually refined the Imaginary Authors aesthetic which was in place from the beginning. I think he has come close to perfecting it over the last couple of years producing some exemplary fragrances. Sundrunk is a bit of a departure. It might be amusing when I say it is Mr. Meyer’s most light-hearted perfume to date. Especially on a brand which uses imaginary prose from imaginary writers to create very real fragrance. Sundrunk departs from the previous formula because it is such an innocent days of summer style. There is a simple pleasure to everything about it.

Sundrunk starts off with an orange sherbet accord. Neroli and rhubarb are sprinkled with orange zest to form a crystalline delicate orange scented accord. It is like having a sugar cone with a couple scoops perched on top. It is simply beautifully achieved. Mr. Meyer then adds in a watery floral accord of honeysuckle and rose water. This is the sweet scent of nature wrapping itself around the frozen treat. I would have been thrilled with this, but Mr. Meyer adds in a “first kiss” accord. This is a very gentle sun-warmed skin musk. As sensual as that first touch of lips over a sparkling empty soda bottle.

Sundrunk has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Every time I’ve worn Sundrunk I am on my Spyder three-speed in the summer of 1969. On my way to a birthday party where I will experience my first kiss. Any perfume that can take me back to that moment is magical.

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

Mark Behnke