New Perfume Review Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose- Let Them Sniff Roses!

Someday, somewhere, a perfume PR person is going to explain the reasoning behind putting the same name as a classic within the brand on a new perfume which smells nothing like it. I’ve never figured it out because those who loved the original version feel “cheated” when faced with the new version. It must be especially jarring when the new version very pointedly goes for a contemporary vibe. This is the case for Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose.

Back in 1984 the original Elisabethan Rose, composed by perfumer Michael Pickthall, was released. It was a big powerful aldehydic rose sandalwood affair. When smelling it for the first time in the early 2000’s I felt this was Exhibit A of what people meant as “old lady perfume”. It felt like it should have a warning sticker of “only for those with grandchildren”. I received a press release announcing that Penhaligon’s was bringing back Elisabethan Rose. My first snarky thought was there must be a new generation of grandmothers by now. As I read further into the press release I saw that perfumer Alienor Massenet has been asked to produce the new version. Once I saw the note list I became much more interested in trying it. Mme Massenet has a very lean style which was just what a new Elisabethan Rose needed.

Alienor Massenet

If the original Elisabethan Rose was the perfume of a Dowager Queen the new one is for the Princess first in line to the throne. Rose has always been one of the most regal perfume ingredients which something with the name Elisabethan Rose should reflect. With all of the aldehydes in the original you felt the crown was perched on a heavily hairsprayed coif. Mme Massenet creates a rose with vitality and verve for the lively Princess.

Mme Massenet substitutes a green opening for the aldehydes of the original. This comes via hazelnut leaves. This is a foliage type of accord. Almond is used in a judicious way to provide a kind of nutty woodiness. What comes next is what really drew me in as Mme Massenet uses cinnamon to add some shimmering heat to the top notes. Out of this a classic rose begins to increase in presence. It becomes very forthright; reaching a kind of sticky, near cloying, level. Mme Massenet has a firm grip on the reins which keeps it from tipping over into an unpleasant level. This is the regal spine of both versions. The cinnamon amplifies the spicy core of the rose making it a spicy jammy rose. The sandalwood is back from the original as the rose wanes. It is accompanied by a splash of vetiver, bringing back the green, and a bit of musk.

Elisabethan Rose has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I like this new version quite a bit more than the original. It feels like a rose for 2018 represented by a vivacious Queen-in-waiting telling her admirers to “Sniff the Roses!”.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Bloomingdale’s.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Elie Saab Girl of Now Shine- Floral Gourmand Balance

Floral gourmands are one of the styles brands have decided will be popular with a younger perfume consumer. Particularly over the last two years there have been an increase in these kinds of fragrances. For the most part they have been on the lighter, more transparent side of the spectrum. One of the outliers was last year’s Elie Saab Girl of Now. That chose to leave the transparency behind, going for a fuller gourmand accord. In that case I felt like a groom whom the bride had smushed a particularly fine pistachio vanilla cake up his nose. It was a case I wondered if it would benefit from some of that opacity so many others were using. I guess the same idea occurred to the people at the brand because we now have Elie Saab Girl of Now Shine.

Sophie Labbe

Most of the time I am going to complain when a flanker rehashes an original with a couple of changes. This is one of those infrequent cases where that all worked to the better along with a lighter tone overall. Perfumers Sophie Labbe and Dominique Ropion re-team, after composing the original, for Girl of Now Shine.

Dominique Ropion

What I didn’t care for in the original was it was so aggressively cake-like. It was cloying in every bad definition of that word. Girl of Now Shine captures the earlier iteration of that cake as it is being baked. It is much airier, and that expansiveness allows more room for the florals to find some balance; all for the better.

The note added to Girl of Now Shine is pineapple. Despite my antipathy to the note in general the perfumers use it as an alternative sweetener. Like using fruit juice in an actual cake recipe. It underpins a crisp pear. If there was one thing I really liked about the original it was the use of pistachio. It adds an unusual roasted nutty quality. It is again given a prominent place in Girl of Now Shine. As it begins to combine with the fruit the florals in the presence of jasmine and orange blossom provide a lilting white flower duet. Vanilla provides the finishing amount of traditional gourmand sweet. It is used in a much lower amount than in the original. It closes out a perfume which is much the better for the restraint.

Girl of Now Shine has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is the aesthetic I prefer when it comes to floral gourmands. It allows for the florals to shine alongside the gourmand aspects. Finding the right balance means this is a better perfume than the original.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Goutal Chat Perche- Child’s Play

I grew up in the flattest of flatlands in South Florida. Which meant any elevation was treated as something of wonder as a child. Even better it was something to play upon. Near my house they had built up an artificial elevation for a new highway. By the time I was out of school for the summer the new grass on this mound had fully grown in. Someone in the neighborhood had received a large appliance delivery and the giant box it came in was on the street for disposal. I imagined a different use.

Camille Goutal

Slicing down each corner seam with a steak knife I had four long panels of carboard. I took them over to the new hill and walked to the top. I sat on the cardboard on one end pulled the other end up in a curved cover to my feet and nudged myself over the edge. I hurtled down the grassy slope on my cardboard-a-boggan. It was not long before my friends showed up on their bicycles and the other three panels of cardboard were also flying down the hill. If I was asked for a perfume which captures the scent of that day it would be a combination of crushed vegetation, sun-warmed cardboard, and freshly washed clothes. Not something I expected to find its way into a bottle until I received my sample of Goutal Chat Perche.

Isabelle Doyen

Creative director and owner of Goutal, Camille Goutal, has been overseeing a shift in the brand aesthetic over the last couple of years. It is not an easy thing to accomplish but I have been impressed with the latest releases for this long-time niche perfume brand. Ever since the 2016 release of Tenue de Soiree it has felt like there is new vitality at Goutal. One thing which has remained a constant is Isabelle Doyen who has been there for most of the last thirty years. She is the perfumer behind Chat Perche.

The name of the perfume comes form a child’s game which is a variant of “Tag”. In this game the Chat (cat) stalks Perche (perched) mice who are not allowed to have their feet on the ground. Once the cat touches a perched mouse they yell out “Chat!” and the mouse has now become the Chat; then the game continues. The perfume is meant to represent that spirit of outdoors play as a child. Mme Doyen has created a fantastic fragrance of green growing things and the scents produced when running through them.

Chat Perche begins with a fabulous accord of green grass. I am reasonably sure this is a mixture of oximes to provide the scent of a field of grass. To this there is a lovely piece of nuance as a peppery green floral accord identified as nasturtium in the note list. Nasturtium essential oil is quite pungent and I guess it could be a new isolate I am unaware of but I think Mme Doyen has fashioned a fascinating variant of the grass accord. Together there is this natural effect that might be the product of a perfumer who knows how to get the most out of her synthetic palette. There is a diffuse citrus accord from lemon blossom which captures the hazy sunlight of a summer’s day. It finishes with a set of clean laundry musks which feels like just right as grass stained clothing would be the order of the day.

Chat Perche has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Goutal suggest this is an all-ages perfume starting from age three. I am not sure if I subscribe to that as I have had many e-mail conversations with readers about the right time for them to share their perfume with children. Age three has never been one of my recommendations. For the older perfume lovers Chat Perche captures the joy of child’s play in the summer. Even at 58 it has me eyeing the large cardboard box out for recycling across the street.

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

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Dear George

1

There is a hazard to knowing too much about the process of writing that goes into releasing a popular book. The rapid, and insatiable, information flow doesn’t allow an author to hide away and finish their book. The more popular the author the worse this is. It is something which is never mentioned enough when discussing J.K. Rowling. Writing the most popular book series in the entire world she managed to finish all seven books in ten years. Especially after the third one was released, for the last four books, through the incessant nattering and theorizing Ms. Rowling found the ability to stay on schedule providing readers with a complete story.

George R.R. Martin

The more typical timeline is what we see with author George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series which is the inspiration for HBO’s “Game of Thrones”. He released the first book of a planned seven in 1996 and we’re still waiting for book six 22 years later. This is also an atypical situation because his story has gotten beyond the books in the television series. Which means the visual version is going to tell us how it all ends before Mr. Martin has the opportunity to do so.

Because of the popularity of these books he also is facing the issue of people who will not allow him to live his life on his own terms. Whenever he posts on his official blog there are always a few responses along the line of; “would you get back to work on the book”. I was going to add the word “please” but these requests are rarely that polite.

There is an even more worrisome level of commentary on the speed of Mr. Martin’s writing that includes the concept that he won’t live long enough to finish as he will turn 70 this September. There is some precedence for this worry because author Robert Jordan did not live long enough to finish his “Wheel of Time” series. I didn’t care because he told a young author, Brandon Sanderson, everything that was going to happen, bringing the series to a satisfying conclusion.

I don’t worry about Mr. Martin’s health. But I think some of getting the ending right might be part of his delay in writing. About a year from now the final season of “Game of Thrones” will have aired. At that point we will know who wins, and loses, the Game of Thrones. It will be the same ending as in the books because Mr. Martin shared it with the producers. I think that has to be monumentally difficult for Mr. Martin. Some of the biggest twists in the story have been shown visually before hitting the printed page. I imagine how much different it is to write out a delightful twist knowing you are the only one who knows it and can’t wait to see how the readers will enjoy it. In the current book he is writing we’ve probably already seen every major twist on the TV screen. He has become a kind of appendix to his own series as the book fills in background and provides texture, but the plot has passed it by. Doesn’t mean I won’t devour it when it comes out, but I will know what’s going to happen; at least the big things.

Which leads me to a short open letter to the author.

Dear George,

Put down the book and leave it alone. Come back to it later; or never. Your story is going to be finished on the screen. Thrill me with something new. Something which excites you to write. Not something which I believe has become an onerous chore. You have one of the most amazing imaginations in fantasy literature. Having it chained to filling in backstory for the next few years is a waste.

I will get your ending on the screen in a year. Make me a new beginning. Just don’t sell the film option until you are done.

Your reader,

Mark

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds: L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme- Aquatic Trendsetter

I have mentioned this before, but I sometimes look at the fragrance bargain bin at my local discount store mournfully. This happens not because of the selection but that there are some of the original trendsetters of perfumery in there. I get over it because it means those are accessible to many more people because of the modest price. Which is also the point of this column. This past month the summer allotment of the fresh aquatics must have arrived because the bin was covered in a layer of bottles of L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme.

Chantal Roos

In 1992 as Issey Miyake began their fragrance brand, creative director Chantal Roos and perfumer Jacques Cavallier would define the brand. In these early days Mme Roos decided the new aquatic style was what would set Issey Miyake, as a brand, apart. It was a shrewd play and when 1992’s L’Eau D’Issey was released it made a splash, literally. Two years later the same creative team released the masculine counterpart L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme.

Jacques Cavallier

When I try a perfume like L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme I always place it in context of where it began. If I received a new release aquatic which smelled like this I would dismiss it. Yet back in 1994 the aquatic fragrance for men was just getting started and L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme is one of those that cemented the popularity of the style. It is also a great perfume to wear in the summer.

L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme opens on a Calone-centered top accord matched with yuzu. Back then Calone was something new. This is the typical aquatic top accord we now know very well. From here M. Cavallier makes some clever choices starting with geranium and cinnamon in the heart. The slightly spicy contrast to the fresh seaside accord works really well before heading to a sandalwood and vetiver base.

L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

There might be a hundred clones at the mall right now but if you go to the local discount bin you can find one of the originals for a fraction of the cost. That is what Discount Diamonds are all about.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Miller Harris Wander Through the Parks- Start Me Up!

I talk a lot about the early brands which really cemented my love of niche perfumery. Because they were my entry into the world of perfume which has become such a large part of my life. Most of those brands have had their trials and tribulations which I chronicle. The ones which I feel badly about are those which never seem to find their place. Miller Harris is one of those brands. Early in my exploration of niche brands I found the perfumes being produced by owner perfumer Lyn Harris to be some of my favorites only to disappear by 2011. Like a difficult to start gas lawnmower I watch as they try to get this hard to catch engine in gear. A year ago, I began to have hope something might change.

Sarah Rotherham

The reason was the hiring of Sarah Rotherham as Chief Executive. Ms. Rotherham has been one of those who joins a fragrance brand shaking it out of its rut. The first three releases of her tenure have just arrived; the Miller Harris Forage collection.

Mathieu Nardin

Her stamp is immediately apparent as a collection named Forage conjures up the country to me. To Ms. Rotherham it is finding the country within the urban landscape. It was a mixed bag for me. Hidden on the Rooftops, by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, is a lightly honeyed floral. Lost in the City, by perfumer Mathieu Nardin, had an interesting concept of green growing through cracks in the concrete jungle. The green is all here; the concrete accord is not. The last one, Wander Through the Parks also by M. Nardin, captured the theme in the way I desired.

Wander Through the Parks is the kind of summery perfume which captures the time when everything is at full growth in the parks. Which means it is great foraging. In England it is said stinging nettles are also rampant. Making foraging a bit of a semi-hazardous effort. M. Nardin captures this all in a strongly green perfume.

Wander Through the Woods opens with a bit of citrus representing the sunlight through the tree canopy. The other ingredient in the top is a good amount of blackcurrant bud. M. Nardin uses enough to bring out the sappy quality of this ingredient when used at higher concentration. It’s a tricky balance and M. Nardin carefully counterbalances it with galbanum and the nettle flower. This results in a spiky green accord which is fitting based on the nettle inspiration. Violet leaf forms a bridge from that green accord to the patchouli base with some musk.

Wander Through the Parks has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

While it was only Wander Through the Parks which caught my attention in this new collection I did see the glimmers of a hopeful new future at Miller Harris. Perhaps Ms. Rotherham will remind me why I fell in love with the brand in the first place..

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Miller Harris.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Mugler Alien Man- Warning Sign?

There is a series of commercials in the US where they show one half of a married couple acting like their mother or father. I’m getting old enough it isn’t my parents I’m acting like but my grandparents. My grandmother used to always see the potential bad outcome to everything. If there were 99 ways things could go right she would make sure to mention the one which would be terrible. She always looked for the warning signs of the disaster she knew was right around the corner. I’ve watched the decay of some of the great perfume brands into happy mediocrity, or worse, over the last few years that my grandmother’s voice greets every stumble by my very favorite brands. I’ve spent a couple of months with Mugler Alien Man trying to decide what it portends.

Pierre Aulas

Mugler is one of the great perfume brands ever. It is the product of consistent creative direction by Pierre Aulas and Thierry Mugler which has always gleefully gone against the grain. If I say Angel, A*Men, and Alien to you if you are a perfume fan you’ve tried them or smelled them on another person; and you are not indifferent about the way you feel about it. It has been the Mugler credo to ask perfume aficionados to come over to their way of thinking. If there was a bit of change it maybe came with last year’s release of Aura. It felt like the Mugler attempt to woo the younger perfume generation. It definitely had a presence just one lighter in character. I liked it better the more time I spent with it. Which is why it has taken me so long to write this review I expected Alien Man to win me over.

Jean-Christophe Herault

Alien Man, I think, wants to be the counterpart to Aura on the masculine side of the fragrance counter. Perfumer Jean-Christophe Herault puts together something which is so typical of the other perfumes in this sector; that was the main surprise. Except for the top accord which is where there may have been an attempt at something Mugler-like which just doesn’t come together.

The top accord is named “The Electronic Vibration”. It definitely does not shock it doesn’t even sizzle a bit. M. Herault creates an herbal dill opposite apricot and anise. This was unpleasant for me, reminding me of a refrigerator crisper door where the dill and the apricot got left together. I gritted my teeth every time to get through to the heart. There I found a refined leather accord which is great but nothing different than many others out there. Pairing it with osmanthus to bridge the apricot and leather is also as typical as it gets. If I was waiting for a surprise ending beechwood and white amber provide another reminder of many other perfumes out there.

Alien Man has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I’m not sure if Alien Man is a warning sign, or not. There were many who thought Womanity was a warning sign eight years ago; and were wrong. I also wonder if that top accord just never coalesced into that envelope pushing style Mugler is known for. Time will tell if this is the beginning of something or just a stumble.

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

Mark Behnke

2018 First-Half Recap

Before I plunge into the fall releases starting to show up in my mailbox I want to recap the world of perfume for the first half of 2018. Especially here in the Poodlesville HQ of Colognoisseur.

For those who have followed my writing for the over ten years I’ve been doing reviews I am sure you’ve tired of my whining about too many spring roses. Guess what? This year I got my wish. I’m not sure what caused the change but even a perfume called Miu Miu L’eau Rosee was not a rose. That one was a very nice lily perfume. I got Bvlgari Magnolia Sensuel. I got Nest Wisteria Blue. I got the neroli of Commodity Nectar. I got the crazy blackberry of Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme. I got Jo Malone Jasmine Sambac and Marigold. Yes, there were plenty of pretty roses, but the spring of 2018 found new perfumed ways of celebrating the season.

One of those ways was the return of the classic ambrette-iris-musk so embodied by Chanel No. 18. There were many of these, most of which I liked. There were two which stood out for taking this classic accord in a modern direction; Diptyque Fleur de Peau and A Lab on Fire Hallucinogenic Pearl. Perfumers Olivier Prescheux and Emilie Coppermann, respectively, found a way to freshen this triad up. In Mme Coppermann’s case it was by incorporating the De Laire base Iriseine; which made this one of my favorites of the first half of 2018.

Christine Nagel

Christine Nagel continued her strong showings for Hermes. If there was a last question left for her it was, “How would she make the Hermessences her own?” She released five in the spring. They were all good, but it was her move towards an “essence de parfums” oil-based formulation where she confirmed her stamp on this collection. Cardamusc is another favorite of 2018, so far.

The independents also thrilled me in the first six months of the year. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz finished her Haiku Series for DSH Perfumes with Tsukimi and Shimotsuki. Among the very best work of hers I have experienced.

Hiram Green Slowdive was a textural marvel as a tobacco accord traverses a viscous mixture of honey and others.

Sarah McCartney’s 4160 Tuesdays Freeway is So Cal car culture in search of an exotic sorbet. Sounds odd but it is fabulous.

Andy Tauer provided a contemporary version of the “golden age” in Tauer Les Annees 25.

There were three other perfumes which really caught my attention so far in 2018.

A Lab on Fire And the World is Yours by perfumer Dominique Ropion is perhaps my favorite from the brand ever. The opening bergamot, neroli, and cumin accord is spectacular.

Louis Vuitton Nouveau Monde is the leather perfume which should have Louis Vuitton on its label. I may be a bit let down by the others in this collection, but Nouveau Monde, and perfumer Jacques Cavallier, gives me the leather I wanted.

The leader at the midway point of 2018 is Neela Vermeire Creations Niral. The collaborative energy between creative director Neela Vermeire and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has always produced excellent perfume. Niral is better than that. The iris shimmers over a subtle leather accord. I still haven’t got enough.

This covers what I was able to write about in the first six months. Just in the next couple of weeks I have some reviews coming which are also among the best of 2018.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Maison Christian Dior Balade Sauvage- Fig Tree Meditations

Patience is not a virtue of mine. Especially when it comes to perfume from brands and perfumers I admire. Which makes it frustrating when there are perfumes I am very interested in trying that are out of reach. When it comes to the work done by Francois Demachy for the Christian Dior Collection Privee there is so much that I admire. Starting in the fall of 2017 I heard rumors of a release of multiple Collection Privees coming as Dior sought to expand this collection. As 2018 began I received a preview of one Souffle de Soie with the information more were right on the horizon. Within a month I received press releases on the other eleven new releases along with a new name for the overall collection; Maison Christian Dior.

Francois Demachy

Even with a brand I admire I was taken aback by twelve new releases. It turns out four of them are very slight soliflore-like constructs. All four failed to connect which reduced what was left down to seven for me to explore. One of the things I mentioned in my previous review of Souffle de Soie is M. Demachy is working on a more transparent aesthetic across all of his Dior creations in the last year or two. This style is going to be part of what will make or break your affection for many of the new Maison Christian Dior releases. I am not a fan, in general, but M. Demachy seems to find a level in the ones I do like of providing just enough structure underneath that it draws me in. The best example within these new releases is Balade Sauvage.

According to the press materials M. Demachy wanted Balade Suavage to evoke sitting under the shade of a fig tree on a coastal cliff overlooking the Mediterranean. Taken at face value what that means is far-away impressions of everything mentioned in that. To his credit he succeeds.

The opening is that ripe fig but dialed way down when compared to other perfumes which use this as a keynote. Then a listed “sea breeze accord” arrives simultaneously. This is the typical ozonic notes but this time with just a hint of the ocean and best of all a hint of the stone of the cliff we’re sitting upon. It also brings a bit of the citrus groves it has blown through on its way to me sitting under the tree. The creamy woodiness of the fig tree itself starts to arise. It all ends on a base of labdanum and light airy musks.

Balade Sauvage has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Balade Sauvage translates to “wild ride” this is not truth in advertising. The perfume with that name is more akin to an afternoon spent under a fig tree meditating.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian Love the Way You Feel- Polynesian Dreams

Sometimes delays work to a new perfume’s advantage. I have commented that it is difficult to judge a perfume which is meant for the opposite season from which I receive it. There are times when I try it in its proper season which causes me to see it as it should be. Unfortunately, the calendar and PR firms do not subscribe to my desire. As the first rush of this fall’s new releases have begun to arrive in the middle of a 100-plus degree heat wave. Then there are those who just take more time to arrive. Because of ongoing postal delivery issues my samples of the new By Kilian Miami Vice Collection were significantly delayed. I think it was better that I got them just as summer was heating up.

Kilian Hennessy

The Miami Vice Collection is a two-fragrance release; Love the Way You Feel and Love the Way You Taste. Creative Director Kilian Hennessy chose to work with two of the perfumers who have been there from the beginning. Sidonie Lancesseur composed Love the Way You Taste. It is a Kilian take on a mojito fragrance. The evocation of boozy accords has been a staple of By Kilian. Love the Way You Taste captures it, but it felt like a higher quality version of other mojito perfumes I’ve tried.

Calice Becker

For Love the Way You Feel M. Kilian and perfumer Calice Becker returned to something they’ve done so well in the past creating a near-perfect accord of something which exists. In this case it was to be a re-creation of Monoi Oil as perfume. Monoi Oil is the skin softener and hair spray of choice in Polynesia. It is made by soaking tiare flowers in coconut oil. Those will be the tentpoles that Mme Becker will build upon. She effectively chooses some complementary notes to complete the effect.

The perfume opens on the sun-glistened accord of bergamot and neroli. The neroli allows for the tiare to echo the floral quality as it appears. Tiare in this form has a kind of sparkly quality, too. To begin to give it the depth of Monoi Oil Mme Becker uses the oily nature of ylang ylang to provide a slippery floral nature. This becomes more prevalent as coconut starts to complete the accord. The final ingredient is vanilla, as modulator, providing the right amount of sweetness to the overall effect.

Love the Way You Feel has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

When Mme Becker does these kind of perfumes I almost hear an audible click as it all assembles into a single beautifully realistic accord. Once the vanilla arrives it is like I am in the middle of a Polynesian dream. Which is exactly where I want to be in the middle of summer.

Disclosure: this review is based on samples provided by By Kilian.

Mark Behnke