New Perfume Review Maison Margiela Replica Under the Lemon Trees- The Perfect Lemon

In the South Florida neighborhood I grew up in there was a small citrus grove. Run by Mr. Meeks he realized in the neighborhood kids he had a labor force when he needed to harvest. Our parents encouraged it because it kept us busy and outside. I would say my love of citrus came from climbing ladders while filling a crate with ripe fruit. It is also one of the reasons I am so fond of citrus fragrances. It does give them a higher bar to clear to catch my admiration. Most citrus perfumes will go for an abstraction. There are a few which will attempt a photorealistic re-creation. For those to receive my approbation they have an even higher degree of difficulty to clear; Maison Margiela Replica Under the Lemon Trees does.

Maison Margiela began the Replica collection in 2012 it has overall been one of the more coherent selection of fragrance on the market. They each choose a place and a year allowing the perfumer the opportunity to interpret with a lot of freedom. It is one of the reasons for the success of the collection. Which is why I am so frustrated to not be able to tell you the perfumer behind Under the Lemon Trees. This is a fantastic piece of perfume construction which deserves to have the artist behind it named. I am sure I will eventually find out and I’ll update when I do. (UPDATED: The perfumer is Violaine Collas)

Violaine Collas

The Replica collection has quite a few of the photorealistic type of perfumes within it. I don’t think any of them have done it as well as Under the Lemon Trees. Intelligent choices throughout coalesce into a perfect composition which does what it says on the label.

The lemon source is an accord of petitgrain, which comes from bitter orange, and lime. This is realized as the sweetness of the petitgrain provides the right balance to the tart of the lime. The first time I sprayed this on a strip it was like picking a yellow ripe lime off Mr. Meeks’ tree. There is a cool breeze of cardamom which flows through the early moments. The perfumer clearly wants to capture the green leaves of the trees. The choice is unconventional as they achieve it through green tea and mate tea with coriander. The bitterness of mate tea mixed with the less confrontational green tea comes together to form the scent of those sharp green leaves. The smart perfume making continues in the base as a set of white musks soften a green cedar to the right density to capture the trunk of the tree. Once it all comes together it is exactly like sitting under a lemon tree.

Under the Lemon Trees has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

We’re still a few months way from when Under the Lemon Trees is really going to be at its best. That it still made me feel the sun on my face in an orchard grove in the middle of winter tells you how good it is.

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

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Tea

As we are firmly in the middle of winter where I need something to lift my spirits I turn to a hot cup of tea. I think I enjoy it because it carries a fragrant quality to the different types. Tea perfumes emulate that. One thing which always allows me to enjoy tea perfumes is the ingredient is not able to be extracted as an essential oil. That means this is another ingredient where a perfumer must construct their own signature tea accord. Here are five of my favorites.

Bvlgari Eau Parfumee au The Vert is the beginning of the tea trend in perfume. It is also remarkable for being one of the first releases where perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena’s style emerges in finished form. Today we take both for granted; in 1993 they were groundbreaking. M. Ellena forms a citrusy floral transparency through which tendrils of smoky green tea swirl. It is one of the all-time great perfumes.

Another perfumer known for her transparent style is Olivia Giacobetti in 2001’s L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two she would create her own version. She chose to make a lapsang souchong accord which is where the fragrance begins. The scent of wood smoke dried black tea is gorgeously realized. Mme Giacobetti then adds some cinnamon followed by a veil of honey in the base. Among the best perfumes by one of the best perfumers.

Another take on the lapsang souchong accord came from independent perfumer Mandy Aftel in Aftelier Vanilla Smoke. Ms. Aftel constructs a pine wood dried version of the black tea accord. It adds the perfect amount of counterbalance to the vanilla. The real linchpin is an interstitial saffron which provides the spacing between the vanilla and the tea. This is another example of Ms. Aftel’s ability to find the most out of her accords.

The creative directors of Masque Milano, Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi, wanted to create a Russian tea ritual in a snowy St. Petersburg square. Perfumer Julien Rasquinet intersperses mint and smoke through his black tea accord before using a brilliantly conceived immortelle. That maple syrup quality transforms Russian Tea into the best tea perfume of the last few years.

Parfum D’Empire Osmanthus Interdite is one of those jasmine tea flowers which unfurl in a clear teapot. Perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato uses jasmine and Osmanthus as floral components to a green tea accord which melds seamlessly with the florals. This is the fragrance equivalent of watching that jasmine tea rose languorously unfold in the tea pot.

If you’re looking for a little warmth this winter try wearing a cuppa perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze Madras Cardamom- Out of the Woods

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It is easy to commend the perfume brands which develop their aesthetic and stick to it. Those are the minority. The majority are made up of brands which never find their identity. This means a perfume with that name on the bottle comes to stand for nothing. Then there comes a moment when it seems like things start to coalesce from the chaos. It’s still a little early to be sure but Ermengilido Zegna Essenze Madras Cardamom might be a further signal this brand is finding its character.

Trudi Loren

Ermengilido Zegna got into the fragrance game in 2003. They were a trend follower in those early days looking for their own version of the popular styles of the time. After a few years of doing this Estee Lauder assigned one of their best creative directors Trudi Loren to revitalize the brand. It was better but still frustratingly unfocused. There were individual releases which were good without creating a Zegna style of fragrance. There was one collection which showed something approaching a unified perspective; the Essenze Collection.

Marie Salamagne (photo: Jerome Bonnet)

Launched in 2012 there were sporadic releases which all showed a similar style in highlighting a keynote without becoming soliflore-like. I’m not sure what the reasoning is but Ermengilido Zegna has decided to bring back five of the original Essenze releases along with one new one. That is Madras Cardamom.

Perfumer Marie Salamagne creates a sweet Oriental featuring cardamom which is where the perfume starts. The cardamom is a strong presence. So strong it took me some time to notice the other ingredient in the top accord. That ingredient was a cleverly placed coffee note. Don’t come to Madras Cardamom looking for a rich coffee presence. What Mme Salamagne does with it is to use it as a focusing element of the citrus parts of cardamom. Like pulling a thread I was enjoying the cardamom and started focusing on the citrus character only to find a roasted nuttiness at the end of that thread. It is very subtle which continues into the heart as cedar takes the lead with vetiver playing the same behind the scenes role. This is a green cedar which matches the cardamom. It is very clean. Mme Salamagne uses vanilla to sweeten the final stages.

Madras Cardamom has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

The work by Ms. Loren, over the last two years especially, maybe portends Ermengilido Zegna has finally found its way out of the woods. If that’s so Madras Cardamom might be remembered for being the fragrance which signaled that.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Parfum- Crowd-Pleasing 101

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There are very few brands which reach a significant size without finding a way to balance innovation and popularity. That is especially true for the ones which pride themselves on being the leading edge. If done well a smart brand will follow behind the more lauded creativity with something which is meant to please the masses. I doubt there are many who have done it better than the fragrance side of Chanel.

Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s into the 2000’s perfumers Francois Demachy and Jacques Polge re-wrote the concepts of masstige perfume making. By 2002 they would release Chance Eau de Toilette. As Chanel has done brilliantly over the years, they wanted to make a fragrance which would appeal to a younger demographic. Anecdotally they succeeded as Chance was easily the most commonly worn perfume on my travels. I smelled it everywhere. That continues until today. Chance is a monument on how to make a crowd-pleasing perfume.

Olivier Polge

Now seventeen years later Jacques Polge’s son Olivier Polge has succeeded him as in-house perfumer. It is his turn to make a crowd-pleasing perfume for the latest young demographic. Olivier Polge would approach this in an interesting way by making a more concentrated version of a flanker of Chance that his father and M. Demachy composed. It shows its past as there are previous ingredients which hew to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school. Olivier Polge also finds a way to make his own prominent contribution on top of that foundation which is the “if it ain’t broke give it a new coat of paint” school. If that sounds like damnation with faint praise you would be mistaken. Chanel Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Parfum is praiseworthy for the perfume in the bottle.

M. Polge approaches this Eau de Parfum counterpart to the earlier version by simple variations at every stage. It starts when he adds the herbal quality of baie rose to the signature top accord of Chance; grapefruit and quince. That herbal-ness finds the tarter qualities inherent in both fruits. What surprises is M. Polge also lightens up the top accord. If you’re going to make things tart you don’t want them to slap you in the face. The biggest change is the removal of iris and hyacinth as the partners for the heart jasmine with rose. This is that lighter debutante rose which gives some gentility to the more prominent jasmine. There is still a powdery effect from the rose but much more attenuated than in the original. The warm base accord of white musks and amber carries over with M. Polge choosing to add a hint of vanilla along with patchouli to provide sweetness and earthiness around that core accord.

Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Parfum has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

By releasing Chance Eau Tender Eau de Parfum just in time for Valentine’s Day and spring I expect that Chanel will have another best-selling crowd-pleaser. I should expect nothing less from the brand which could teach the class on crowd-pleasing 101.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I received from Sephora.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Best Picture v. Popular Picture

The Oscar nominations were released this past Tuesday. I was particularly interested in the nominees for Best Picture. Over the past few years it seems like if you were a film which made money at the box office that excluded it from winning, or even being nominated, for the big award. The Oscars had become about saluting the best movie which had the least audience. There became this unspoken rule that the popular moneymaking movies didn’t need the publicity an Oscar nomination brings. Better to nominate movies which could use the spotlight. It made it seem like if your movie makes money the box office position is enough notice.

This is a recent phenomenon. From 1940 through the win for “Annie Hall” in 1978; 90% of the Best Picture winners were also in the top-ten box office list. From 1979 through 2004 it became a less reliable indicator of Oscar glory as it broke 60-40 in favor of the box office winners. Since 2004 do you know the number of top-ten box office movies which have won an Oscar? Zero! I repeat, zero! That’s a problem.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized the issue and tried to come up with a solution. In the summer of 2018 they proposed an award for “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film”. One reason is the TV ratings have been declining because the movies most of the television audience have seen are represented nowhere. I’m one of those people. I have watched the Oscars every year. I’ve only become bored recently because I have no rooting interest. I remember rooting for ET in 1983 only to see Gandhi win. I remember feeling the opposite when Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won in 2004. Too often over this fourteen-year run of small movie nominees, and winners, I have no rooting interest because these are niche movies made for a small segment of the audience.

This was why I loved the idea of Best Popular Movie. I would once again have the chance to root for something I had seen. Critics of the move hated the idea of two “separate but equal” awards. They worried that the Best Picture award would become ghettoized as the place for the small serious movie. The Academy caved to the pressure, but I don’t have to.

Using this year’s list of nominees I am going to break them down into two categories. My imperfect barometer for the Popular Film category is grater than $100M box office or if released in the last quarter of the year three consecutive weeks in the top 10 box office list.

Using that criteria the nominees for Popular Film would be: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, and A Star is Born. Best (Artistic?) Film would be: BlacKKKlansman, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, and Vice. In my fantasy world that means there would be two slots left to fill in the Popular Film category. One would certainly be Crazy Rich Asians. I’m going to give the fifth slot to Mary Poppins Returns although there are three animated choices in Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Let’s look at those lists again:

Best Film

BlacKKKlansman

The Favourite

Green Book

Roma

Vice

OR

Popular Film

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

Crazy Rich Asians

Mary Poppins Returns

A Star is Born

Now ask yourself how many of those movies have you seen? I’ve seen all five Popular Film nominees and three of the Best Film nominees. Now ask yourself which list you have more rooting interest in? Which movie do you most want to see win an award? Which list is it on?

I really hope the Academy reconsiders the idea of the Popular Film category. I think if a movie can get enough people to leave their house to go see it in a theatre to the tune of over $100M that is not a flaw. I continue to think that Popular and Best are not mutually exclusive but if the Academy voters need some help then two categories would be great.

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: Spazio Krizia Donna- Left Behind

As we entered the new millennium the trend of niche perfumery was taking hold. Throughout the mid-1990’s there was this segment of perfume producers re-writing the rules. Pushing back against the commercial with a vision that perfume could be something more. I write over and over about those founding brands of the style of fragrance which changed the way things were done. What gets lost is there were some brands who were also looking to find their audience while never surviving. These were the putative failures. Except they really weren’t. There were equally great ideas at the brands which got left behind. This month I look at one of those with Spazio Krizia Donna.

Mariuccia Mandelli

Mariuccia Mandelli and her husband Aldo Pinto founded Krizia as a ready-to-wear Italian brand in 1954. Sig. ra Mandelli was a trendsetter as one of the mothers of the short shorts known as “hotpants” her most well-known innovation. As the 1990’s began Sig. ra had begun the diversification that every successful fashion brand had undergone. They had started making perfume in 1980 with their debut release K de Krizia by perfumer Maurice Roucel. They would follow that with four other perfumes. All five of those perfumes were nicely done. In 1991 is seems like Sig. ra Mandelli had decided she wanted the perfumes which carried the Krizia name to have something to say. By collaborating with perfumer Dominique Ropion she wanted to lead the way with her fragrance collection as she had with her fashion. With the release of Krazy Krizia she succeeded. For the next fifteen years she would keep making interesting niche-style perfumes. My favorite is Spazio Krizia Donna.

Christine Nagel

Spazio Krizia Donna was released in 1998 it was the “donna” version of the “uomo” version released five years earlier. Beyond the name there is no comparison Spazio Krizia Uomo is a crazy herbal vetiver in a moss-covered ocean cave. Spazio Krizia Donna was composed by Christine Nagel which confirms Sig. ra Mandelli’s eye for talent. It is best described as a floral gourmand a term which had not ben coined in 1998.

Spazio Krizia Donna opens with a spicy rose floating on a cup of slightly bitter brewed coffee. There have been quite a few floral coffee releases the last year or so. This is more floral than coffee, but the roasted contrast is a nice companion. Mme Nagel uses an ingredient which is not used very much these days, cascarilla bark. The essential oil from the distillation of this wood is a kind of allspice effect. If you smell it by itself you will think you are smelling a blended perfume of pepper, nutmeg, and green herbal-ness. In the case of this perfume it elicits a response from the spicy core of the rose. Paradise seed is also present providing a nutty cardamom piece. This is such an interesting accord as Mme Nagel uses alternative sources for specific spice effects. It gives it a lighter feel than it probably would have if the regular ingredients were used. The base accord covers the florals in a sticky coating of honey which is warmed by amber and musk.

Spazio Krizia Donna has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

The collection of Krizia releases from 1991-2006 contain some great examples of the early days of niche perfumery. They continued to be available until three or four years ago. The brand was sold in 2014 and it was soon after the fragrance collection was contracted to just four perfumes; none from the time period I mentioned above. The scions of niche perfumery are well-known. If you want to find the creative brands which couldn’t thrive you have to visit the Dead Letter Office.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I received from a reader.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review St. Clair Scents Casablanca- Finding Her Groove

The path to independent perfumery has multiple paths to producing a perfume. One of the more unique journeys is Diane St. Clair’s. Ms. St. Clair is an elite provider of butter who has her aptly named Animal Farm in Orwell, Vermont. Her butter has been featured at some of the most exclusive restaurants in the US. She decided to add perfume making to her portfolio.

The unique part of the story is she received teaching and feedback over an online connection with DreamAir perfumer Eliza Douglas. After learning the basics of making perfume she began on her own fragrance line. Ms. Douglas acted as her evaluator throughout the process providing valuable real-time feedback.

Diane St. Clair (Photo: Caleb Kenna via sevendaysvt.com )

Back in the spring of last year Ms. St. Clair sent her debut collection out to the perfume community. What I experienced was a young perfumer who was gaining her feet. If there was something that I commonly felt; it was that I wanted Ms. St. Clair to go further. To take what was there and push it in a direction. There were so many signs of intelligent perfume design I was looking forward to what came next. What has come next is St. Clair Scents Casablanca.

The perfume is not inspired by the classic movie but the desire to be someplace warm while the snow falls in a Vermont winter. To Ms. St. Clair this means a lush floral heart reminiscent of a garden in full bloom. If I wanted Ms. St. Clair to go all in, Casablanca gives it to me.  

A warm citrus pairing of grapefruit and mandarin form a diffuse sunny accord. A sticky green blackcurrant bud prepares the way for the florals. Ms. St. Clair uses the white flower triad of orange blossom, jasmine, and tuberose. These are not the cleaned-up indole-free versions. This is a “Girls Trip” of rambunctious florals ready to flaunt those indoles. One of the things I noticed in Ms. St. Clair’s earlier releases is her ability in adding the right interstitial ingredient to pull together her accords. In Casablanca it is an oily ylang-ylang which chaperones the rowdy floral ladies. If the ylang-ylang was missing this just would have been an accord of loud flowers. By adding in the right piece to the puzzle it rounds out the edges smoothing the indolic heart into a memorable accord. The base accord is where Ms. St. Clair takes the snarling indoles and allows them to find some new beasts to cavort with in musks, civet, and Africa stone. As with the ylang-ylang in the heart, oakmoss is the linchpin in the base pulling the whole perfume together into a satisfying experience.

Casablanca has 24-hr. longevity and average sillage.

There were many times on the days I wore Casablanca I felt like I was wearing a classic perfume of sixty years ago. Despite saying that Ms. St. Clair is not mimicking those perfumes. She is creating her own style. I’m not sure what comes next but of the first four releases it is Casablanca I would like to see the next releases emulate. It seems to me like Ms. St. Clair might have found her perfume groove.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by St. Clair Scents.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chatillon Lux Lamplight Penance- Memories of Exploration

When I tell people I write about perfume to say I get odd responses is an understatement. When I give my inevitable explanation on why I think perfume is a subject worth writing about there is one thing which rings true. I will respond by asking them, “is there a smell which reminds you of a place, time or person?” Almost every time I get an affirmative answer. I ask them to describe it. Then I tell them they’ve just described the outline for a perfume. What sets independent perfumery apart is someone is inspired to take that kind of thinking and turn it into something that goes in a bottle. The past as seen through the haze of memory is where Chatillon Lux Lamplight Penance begins.

Shawn Maher

A new independent perfumer, Shawn Maher, has used his hometown of South Saint Louis City as his inspiration. Mr. Maher has particularly focused on the history of his part of the city. The name of his brand, Chatillon Lux, comes from Henri Chatillon. Mr. Chatillon was a trapper and guide during the early to mid-19th century. He was the guide who is featured in Francis Parkman’s 1849 book “The Oregon Trail”. What sparked Mr. Maher’s perfume is the finding, in 1967, of some of Mr. Chatillon’s belongings underneath some attic floorboards. What was found was a rifle wrapped in an oil painting of Mr. Chatillon and his first wife the Oglala Sioux, Bear Robe. In his “scent notes” on the brand website he says, “Lamplight Penance seeks to re-create Chatillon’s later years as he retired to a life of creature comforts……while, by the lamplight, secretly yearning for the trail along with his past life and past love, neither of which he could manage to forget.”

Painting of Henri Chatillon (l.) and wife Bear Robe found in 1967

His brief was Mr. Maher imagining Mr. Chatillon ascending to the attic with a glass of bourbon in one hand and an oil lamp in the other to look at the picture of he and his first wife; while his current spouse slept below. As he opened a window the scents of the garden below would mix with the memory of the trail.

Mr. Maher opens Lamplight Penance with the pastoral smells of that garden. He visited the grounds of the mansion and found berry bushes and peach trees among the daffodils. That is the top accord with peach playing a leading role. This is the fleshy kind of peach which is sweetened by the berries. The green acerbic quality of the daffodils provides a contrast. The heart is where Mr. Maher lights his oil lamp and pours a few fingers of bourbon. So many young perfumers rely on birch tar or cade to provide a smoke effect. I was impressed when Mr. Maher explained he chose not to use either of those. Instead he reached halfway around the world for a mixture of Himalayan cedar and the harvested resin of the Sal tree called “choya ral”. This captures the smokiness he wanted while also adding in a textural component for the bourbon to attach itself to. This is surrounded by the wood of the attic as he opens the cedar chest where his keepsakes are stored. A puff of leather comes along with the woods. As the choya ral, leather, and bourbon settle in to roam the trails of memory.

Lamplight Penance has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Mr. Maher has mined his local history to produce a perfume which captures the gentility of fond memories. There is a softness to Lamplight Penance that is not apparent if I tell you this is a bourbon, leather, and smoke perfume. I look forward to the next time Mr. Maher want to translate more of Mr. Chatillon’s life into perfume.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bortnikoff L’Heure Exquise- Distilling It Down

The last couple of years have seen the rise of a new style of independent perfumer; the distiller. It stands out because these are unique small-batch ingredients. As an analogy I think of some of the more esoteric craft beers which are brewed in limited quantity due to a special ingredient. These kinds of products provide a thrill for the aficionado because of the rarity and novelty. This holds particularly true for the distillers. These new materials capture the attention but there are some drawbacks.

As I really began to try some of these types or perfume late in 2017 and into 2018 it was the materials which drew me in. Exquisite attars and co-distillates were like finding undiscovered gems. As it has always been when I discover something new it was the tree which enthralled while I forgot to look for the forest. These styles of fragrance are stuffed to the gills with material after material; literally dozens of ingredients. They are not so much perfumes as exercises in sensory overload. Eighteen months after having experienced a few of these I am looking for more than just a wall of scent. I want something a bit more nuanced. I’m not sure if it was by design, or not, but Bortnikoff L’Heure Exquise offered me a moment or two of something sublime instead of scented sledgehammer.

Dmitry Bortnikoff

Dmitry Bortnikoff is the distiller behind his eponymous brand. On his website he says he is both architect and distiller. He learned the art of distillation while in Thailand. That experience has allowed Mr. Bortnikoff to source some exquisite oils. He released three perfumes early in 2018 all of them had beautiful facets to latch on to but they were overcrowded with distracting ingredients. It made it seem like I was hacking through a jungle of perfumed vines on a frustrating journey. One of the things I’ve found with the distillers is they also tend to improve as they release each of their waves of limited editions.

When I received the second set of three releases over the Holidays I tried Oud Maximus first and encountered what I didn’t care for in the first three. Things improved when I tried Vetiver Nocturne. There the precious distillate of rus khus was given some room to breathe. This time the trip through the congestion was worth it. When I got to L’Heure Exquise I found a fragrance where Mr. Bornikoff found a genre of perfume where the bombast is an asset.

L’Heure Exquise is a weighty floral gourmand which starts softly as cardamom and neroli add a gentle spiced citrus breeze. A high cacao content chocolate appears carrying a bitter bite. Mr. Bortnikoff chooses clove as its companion. For a moment L’Heure Exquise breathes in as the citrus, spices, and cocoa form the most authentic accord Mr. Bortnikoff has produced. What comes next is a lovely transition involving camphor and cypriol as they provide some staging for the floral notes of jasmine and champaca to float on a flow of myrrh. This is where things begin to verge on the congestion I have previously found distracting. Just as I begin to think that; the base accord of oud, balsam, and styrax manage to cut through all of that bringing back the cocoa to interact with the woods.

L’Heure Exquise has 24-hour longevity and average sillage.

There is a part of me that wishes a half-dozen of my favorite creative perfumers could go spend six months with Mr. Bortnikoff. Returning with three or four of his distillations and see what kind of perfume they could make. I think that is as likely as finding unicorns on my front lawn tonight.

What is not so rare is Mr. Bortnikoff will continue to distill beautiful raw materials and every once in a while, it will find the right balance as in L’Heure Exquise.

Disclosure: this review is based on samples I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Beauty Pie Brazilian Lime, Fig Leaves, & Tea- Leaves of Desire

I get a lot of e-mail informing me of the latest new trend in selling beauty products online. I get enough that I can’t imagine what a real make-up blogger receives. Most of them are easily ignored by me because perfume is not part of the offerings. One I received at the end of the year caught my attention because they did offer perfume. Even then I still would have passed until they mentioned the name of the perfumer they were using. That got me interested enough to obtain a sample set of the first three perfumes. One of those three stood out for its quality; Beauty Pie Brazilian Lime, Fig Leaves, & Tea.

Beauty Pie is a new way to sell beauty products by asking people to pay a monthly membership which gets them deep discounts on the products they buy. As an example, on the perfume side you can buy any of the Beauty Pie perfumes without a membership for $125. If you join with a three-month minimum, at various levels, you can buy one of the bottles of perfume for about $21. I don’t have a great handle on the economics of it all and I may have oversimplified it.

Frank Voelkl

What caught my attention on the perfume side is they asked perfumer Frank Voelkl to produce the three perfumes. They allowed him to go in whatever direction he wanted to. What has resulted is three perfumes which all felt like a step up from typical department store fragrance. Red Apple, White Peony & Cashmere Wood is an expansive fresh fruity floral. Petals, Heliotrope, & Ambrette is a fun musky white flower style of fragrance. The third is Brazilian Lime, Fig Leaves, & Tea.

What helps set this apart is Mr. Voelkl uses a Brazilian orange to form the sweeter Brazilian lime accord. If you’ve ever had an authentic caiparinha cocktail you know what a Brazilian lime smells like as the lime gets crushed in the making of the drink. The first moments of this reminded me of sitting by the beach in Bahia with a caipirinha in my hand. Mr. Voelkl then allows a tendril of green ivy to wind around the citrus. It connects to the creamy feel of the fig leaves waiting in the heart. Mr. Voelkl throws leaves of black tea into the mix. It adds depth while still maintaining the leafiness of the ivy and the fig. within all this there are threads of violet to be found. This is the part which connected with me. This is a fantastically realized accord. It ends on a soft woody base of cashmere woods.

Brazilian Lime, Fig Leaves, & Tea has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I’m not the desired customer for Beauty Pie to be sure. If they are going to give other perfumers the leeway they afforded Mr. Voelkl, or just ask him for more, I might join just for the perfume. Brazilian Lime, Fig Leaves & Tea has me figuring out if its worth it to join for one perfume.

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

Mark Behnke