New Perfume Review Louis Vuitton Attrape-Reves- Crepitating Floral Gourmand

I have been wondering when the luxury brands were going to start jumping on the floral gourmand bandwagon. In the mainstream sector this has become one of the more consistent styles meant to appeal to younger perfume aficionados. For the most part the independent and luxury niche market has shrugged in response. It looks like Louis Vuitton Attrape-Reves is going to go first.

The Louis Vuitton fragrance foray has been too safe in my opinion. They have done some nice versions of styles without finding anything new. When the recent set of five was released Nouveau Monde provided me what I expected from the Louis Vuitton brand; a fabulous leather. Everything else in the collection has been transparent. I presume also to woo upscale younger consumers. Attrape-Reves is in this vein. The difference is the floral gourmand style has not been around that long allowing for something different. Which allows for it to stand out.

Jacques Cavallier

I also have to say that I don’t usually expand my vocabulary due to the press release but in this case perfumer Jacques Cavallier described the perfume like this, “It’s a dialogue between precious ingredients that, in theory, have no reason to cohabit. And yet, on the skin, they converse, crepitate, and command attention.” Crepitate? I had no idea what that was. Turns out the definition is “to make a crackling sound”. Turns out that is a good description as M. Cavallier sets up some nicely orthogonal accords which sort of crackle into each other.

That is where Attrape-Reves starts with ginger and lychee forming what reminded me of an Asian restaurant accord. It is like the scent of those ingredients are lifting off a dish containing both. This isn’t as humid as that description might portend. It is delineated as the zestiness of the ginger interacts with the off-beat sweetness of the lychee. This leads to the heart where a peony accord bolstered by Turkish rose crackles against cocoa flower. The freshness of the floral wrestles with the attempt to be coated in the chocolate. There really is a bit of give and take more than a harmony. Patchouli brings it home with a less earthy fraction continuing the opaque style until the end.

Attrape-Reves has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

It is a curious effect of this transparent floral gourmand style that the quality of the ingredients doesn’t make as much of an impact. There are some great ingredients here but because M. Cavallier is keeping them at such a lighter level some of the deeper complexity is lost. I am left wondering if this style will translate to the luxury side so easily because of this.

I do like Attrape-Reves quite a bit for being a floral gourmand with style. If you’re looking for a step up from the mainstream floral gourmands, this is worth trying. You might enjoy having some crepitation happening on your skin.

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

Mark Behnke

Flanker Round-Up: Miu Miu Fleur D’Argent and Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men Grey

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One of the more typical approaches to flankers it to lighten them up. The idea being that removing the stronger ingredients might allow for someone who is not appreciative of them to find a version to their liking. This month’s Round-Up looks at two of those.

Miu Miu Fleur D’Argent

2015’s Miu Miu is a good example of why I don’t give up on mainstream fragrances. There is still space for creativity and commerce to co-exist. Miu Miu introduced most of the world to the perfume ingredient Akigalawood; an enzymatic degradation of patchouli. Perfumer Daniela Andrier has been exploring the interactions of different floral ingredients with it through each new Miu Miu flanker. With Miu Miu Fleur D’Argent we have reached the white flowers.

Fleur D’Argent opens with a lilting orange blossom. It isn’t left alone for long as tuberose and jasmine join the white flower party. There is a restrained elegance to this bouquet which Mme Andrier keeps on a tight leash. Akigalawood has a distinct peppery facet. In Fleur D’Argent it is reduced in effect because of the presence of the white flowers. That peppery part has been a deal breaker for some I’ve introduced to the original. I’ll be curious to see if they like this one better.

Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men Grey

Among the mainstream releases which I think are very well done is 2008’s Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men. When I’ve recommended something available at the mall this is one which has been well-received. Perfumer Olivier Polge composed an elegant Oriental around a spine of basil, cardamom, and tobacco. It has been such a best seller the brand hasn’t really attempted to produce multiple flankers. The same is not true for Dolce & Gabbana The One. The new flanker Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men Grey goes for a different lighter effect mainly by removing the tobacco while finding a different style of herbal top accord.

Grey opens with the familiar swoosh of grapefruit and cardamom. As I lean in waiting for the basil I get a mixture of clary sage and lavandin. The entire top accord of the original is altered as the grapefruit takes more of a leading role lifting the herbs up to a higher plane. The base is also a fresher non-Oriental accord of vetiver and ambrox. Typical masculine woody accord. If the original was too heavy I think The for Men Grey is worth giving a try as it keeps much of what I liked from the original.

While I like the more full-bodied originals, in both cases. These are good versions of fresher constructs worth giving a try if you prefer that.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by the manufacturers.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jovoy Remember Me- Where Gourmand Is Going

It seems like we are at the beginning of a creative upswing around the gourmand genre of perfume. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is purely creative. The gourmand style has only been in existence for 26 years and it has only seen any kind of serious consideration over the past decade. That means there is room for imagination to flourish. Another reason is the younger perfume generation seems to prefer floral gourmands. These have been some of the early mass-market winners. Which should then lead to the independent and niche perfume brands to provide more sophisticated versions. The great majority of the gourmand perfumes rely on strongly edible sweet central accords. There has been a lack of trying to find a contrasting accord which explores the places they mesh while providing depth. Perhaps Jovoy Remember Me is an example of where gourmand is going.

Francois Henin

Creative director for Jovoy, Francois Henin, and perfumer Cecile Zarokian took a trip to Doha, Qatar. They were there looking at the uniquely Middle Eastern ingredients which have become popular in perfumery. While they were taking a break from their business they stopped to visit local friends. Which is where inspiration would strike. They were served a Qatari drink called Karak tea. It is an offshoot of chai tea most are familiar with. The scent of the drink struck both as it was paired with a breeze flowing through the frangipani growing in the garden. They walked away wanting to capture this as a perfume. If that was what ended up in the bottle, and it does, that would have been enough to be a memorable gourmand. What elevates Remember Me is Mme Zarokian contrasts it with one of the best leather accords she has produced.

Celine Zarokian

It opens with the spices of cardamom and ginger. A dollop of lemon chills the heat, of especially the ginger, as Mme Zarokian pushes the concentration of that ingredient. Black tea, milk and vanilla provide the rest of the chai accord. It is creamy with a curl of steam rising off it. Mme Zarokian then floats the frangipani over the top. This sets up the final accord of luxurious suede leather. All refined leather carries a sweetness. This accord picks out that thread, so it can harmonize with the chai and the frangipani. It sets up a fascinating triad. Underneath which slips the rawer, but smooth, aspects of the leather. It is a compelling give and take over the hours it stays on my skin in this state.

Remember Me has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Remember Me occupies a unique space within the gourmand genre. There are few fragrances similar and none which are better than it. These are exceedingly small data sets. Although I think that might be changing. If it does Remember Me might be remembered for being one of the earliest bellwethers of a new day for gourmands.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfumerie Generale 9.1 Komorebi- Rising Sap

Independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume has continued with his re-examination of his original releases. After which he releases a new perfume with the X.1 attached to the number. It has been interesting to observe M. Guillaume as he takes his early inspiration and reconsiders it years later. It look forward to see what M. Guillaume chooses to do with each new concept built upon the old. The latest release is Parfumerie Generale 9.1 Komorebi.

The perfume getting an update is 2006’s Parfumerie General 09 Yuzu Ab Irato. M. Guillaume was attempting to cross a Japanese and Mediterranean aesthetic. This was one of the early misses for me. The mint smelled like mouthwash and it didn’t help the perfume shared the color of the same product. This was one of the few times I felt like M. Guillaume was trying to force a concept into the bottle instead of allowing it to come together from a less manufactured place.

Pierre Guillaume

For the first time the update was not going to be taking on one of the perfumes I liked. This was going to be a case where M. Guillaume would have my full attention without my comparing back to something I really liked. The name was already a good sign. Komorebi is a Japanese word which describes sunlight filtered through the leaves of the trees. Gone are the attempts at grafting a Mediterranean style onto something Asian. It also lives up to the name because this is an unrelenting perfume of crushed greenery. I happen to enjoy that smell which is why I enjoyed Komorebi.

It opens with an ozonic accord to capture the sunlight. The mint makes a return but thankfully only for a moment adding a chill to the fresh air. M. Guillaume uses two sources of green; blackcurrant bud and reseda. The latter is an unfamiliar ingredient to most, but it carries a violet aura in herbal packaging. It is a good match with the black currant bud which carries a fruity aura within sappy green packaging. Combined there is an accord as if you took handful of green leaves and crushed them in your hand. Sniffing the sticky places where the sap clings to your fingers. It is the heart of Komorebi and I have enjoyed it in these final days of summer. The base accord comes through with the trees, as a sturdy oak holds the center slightly ameliorated with some tonka.

Komorebi has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Komorebi is not only an update it is also an upgrade over the original. This shows when M. Guillaume allows an idea to arise like the sap in trees he can create something memorable.

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

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Single Greatest Episode of Television

I had something all ready to go for this column and then I woke up to Facebook this morning and this post: “It was five years ago tonight that the single greatest episode of television aired.” As soon as I read it I knew exactly what he was talking about; although I checked IMDB to be sure.

Five years ago, I was sitting down to the penultimate episode of the final season of Breaking Bad called “Ozymandias”. There is no single episode of the series I remember more clearly. The show would end its run a week later but it is this episode which stands out.

One reason it stands out is it ties off several plot strands instead of leaving them to what would have been an overstuffed final episode. From its beginning Breaking Bad was the story of a man doing bad things for a good reason. The entire series is a testament to the old axiom about the path to hell being paved with good intentions. As we near the end Walter White has become a morally bankrupt character. His action, or inaction, has caused the death of many. In “Ozymandias” two of those come home to roost. One was watching a character die while doing nothing. This plot strand was two years in the making to hit this payoff. When Walt reveals his indifference to his longtime partner in crime, Jesse, it is the height of cruelty. The episode opens with a reminder of Walt and Jesse in happier(?) days when they first started cooking meth. By the time it circles around to current events it captures the line from the poem which gives the episode the title, “Look on my Works, ye mighty, and despair!”

Bryan Cranston as Walter White

The final three lines of the poem are “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/ Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare/ The lone and level sands stretch far away.” Those describe the final act of the episode as it revolves around a final phone call from Walt back to his wife Skyler. The acting was always of the highest caliber in Breaking Bad, but this single exchange might be its best. Bryan Cranston who plays Walt and Anna Gunn playing Skyler payoff four seasons worth of story in four minutes.

Anna Gunn as Skyler White

Walt calls Skyler knowing the DEA will have tapped his phone. He wants to take this opportunity to exonerate her in the eyes of the authorities. When Skyler begins to talk with him she begs him to turn himself in. Walt cruelly castigates her for her lack of support. It seems like he is compounding the cruelty shown Jesse earlier in the episode. But he isn’t. We know this because Ms. Gunn shows the audience with a narrowing of her eyes what is happening. As Walt continues to spout hateful things we cut to his face as he chokes back sobs. Again, the facial acting of Mr. Cranston is incredible as that is where you see the true emotion; not in the words. Those words though will exonerate Skyler and keep her from being dragged down by Walt’s acts. As the conversation ends with Walt’s words, “I still got things to do.” It is like a gut punch of emotion.

One other piece of this scene is the direction by Rian Johnson. As the phone call takes place he moves the camera from shadow to light and one profile to the other to visually cue the double-sided nature of the conversation. It provides the actors the opportunity to switch masks as the scene progresses. Mr. Johnson would use his work on Breaking Bad to find himself directing a little movie called Star Wars: The Last Jedi a couple years later. If you watch that movie you will notice some of the same kind of camerawork and staging from “Ozymandias” is also found in a galaxy far, far away.

I am far from being alone in my praise of this episode. It was what the series submitted to the Emmy committees the year it aired. Should be no surprise it won multiple awards including acting ones for Mr. Cranston and Ms. Gunn.

If you watched Breaking Bad, it is worth reminding yourself of this episode by watching it again. If you haven’t watched Breaking Bad and someday do just know it isn’t the final hour which will leave you devastated but the one just before it.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Zadig & Voltaire Girls Can Do Anything- Tailoring and Detail

Whenever Mrs. C and I are out looking at art we have a conversation which goes like this, “Isn’t that piece incredibly done?” I reply, “Yes but I wouldn’t want to live with it every day.” I find myself having this internal conversation about perfume more frequently. One part of the reason for that is there are a lot of fragrances being made for, and marketed to, a demographic decades younger than me. It is a normal thing, but I now get new perfumes which I have to try and figure out whether it is what that consumer wants. I end up paying more attention to the construction because I understand that. This struggle was front and center on Zadig & Voltaire Girls Can Do Anything.

Thierry Gillier

When Thierry Gillier founded Zadig & Voltaire in 1998 he was looking to dress the cool girl of Paris. He believed that style would find acceptance word-wide. Twenty years on it appears he was correct. The clothes are simple designs modernized with modern tailoring and detailing. When M. Gillier made the move to fragrance it was a bit of a bumpy ride. He partnered with the founders of Le Labo to create two perfumes in 2009 and 2012. They were both Orientals of a similar style that seemed to fall somewhere between the Le Labo and Zadig & Voltaire aesthetic. It didn’t work.

Quentin Bisch

Two years ago, M. Gillier was ready to give it a try again. This time he was the creative director providing a clear vision of what the brand stood for. The most obvious change was a streamlined style with fragrances of a few ingredients mostly dominated by a single keynote. Reacquainting myself with them they are typical designer perfumes.

For Girls Can Do Anything there is a similar aesthetic at work. Except this time the supporting ingredients have more of an obvious effect. Perfumer Quentin Bisch took the style of the brand of tailoring and detail and transformed it to a fragrance.

Girls Can Do Anything starts with a crisp pear which is given a soft green shimmer via a fern accord. Tonka bean provides a toasty sweet nuttiness which M. Bisch floats a veil of orange blossom over. Vanilla and ambrox provide a dry sweet woody base accord.

Girls Can Do Anything has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I wore Girls Can Do Anything I appreciated the details M. Bisch provided around the keynotes. They are tuned to provide a specific effect which I could admire. This is where the second half of my internal conversation takes place as this perfume is not meant for me. I asked a couple of young women I know what they thought, and they seemed to like it. Maybe it is that group who wants this style. I can admire the tailoring and detail, but I will never be a cool girl on the Seine.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Zadig & Voltaire.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Lost Cherry- Found Enthusiasm

I suspect it is quite difficult to maintain a consistent state of enthusiasm for any endeavor. Perfume is unlikely to escape that. Eleven years ago, Tom Ford released one of the boldest collections at the time as he popularized luxury perfume with his Tom Ford Private Blend collection. In 2007 it was unheard of to release ten new perfumes into the luxury market at the same time. Working with creative director Karyn Khoury these perfumes stood out for their unique quality. I own all the first ten and I still think about what they would change in the niche market. It was another groundbreaking fragrance move from Mr. Ford.

Karyn Khoury

Over the past few years I have been wondering if the brand is working a bit on autopilot. My recent favorites have been obvious riffs on some of the originals. It was understandable as it seemed like the naming of the perfumes were meant to be the innovation now. After Fucking Fabulous I rolled my eyes when I received the press release for the latest entry, Tom Ford Private Blend Lost Cherry. I was worried the name was all I would remember.

Louise Turner

Lost Cherry is unique in the Private Blend collection for being the first intentionally gourmand entry. Noir de Noir is my favorite of the Private Blends because it is a chocolate-red wine-rose stunner on me. That is all achieved through clever perfumery creating that accord. The perfumer for Lost Cherry, Louise Turner, moves in a more direct fashion as she combines some different sources of cherry.

One cherry comes in the form of the cherry liqueur known as Cherry Heering. The other is the rich fruitiness of black cherry itself. The third is the most interesting as it is the result of headspace analysis of the filling of a cherry cordial. Known as griotte syrup, I use it in cocktails often. Ms. Turner has found a way to re-create it as the third piece of the cherry trio.

Ms. Turner opens with the black cherry fruit on top. It is combined with slivers of bitter almond. It is added to a glass of cherry liqueur as a slightly alcoholic quality begins to appear. It intensifies with a jammy rose inserting itself. If you’re looking for a lost cherry it doesn’t take long to find it as this top accord assembles itself. The rose adds a metaphorical viscosity which is enhanced when the griotte syrup accord oozes onto the scene. Ms. Turner adds in pistachio as a nutty foil to the bitter almond from the top. This is a perfume equivalent of a cherry cordial; if you start at the center first. The remainder of Lost Cherry is building the chocolate casing as an accord of sandalwood, tolu balsam, tonka bean, and vanilla. It is a guess, but I think there might be some of the tonka resinoid used in Fucking Fabulous because the tonka has more of a presence that I expected.

Lost Cherry has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is as good as it gets with a gourmand style of perfume. The only caveat is the same with any of them; if you’re not fond of cherry Lost Cherry isn’t going to find you changing your mind. If you’re looking for something new from Tom Ford Private Blend this is definitely that. It has been a long time since I couldn’t stop thinking about a Private Blend release. Lost Cherry has helped me find my enthusiasm for the brand, again.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Tom Ford.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review: Byredo Eleventh Hour- Defining the Limits

As I come to know a brand I have an expectation of how each new perfume will fit into what came before. This is especially true of brands which have a long-time association between creative director and perfumer. It is something I think can be critical to creating the defined aesthetic for any perfume brand. Many of my favorites fall into this category. Because of that it can be soothing to get a new release from one of them because it can be an antidote to a bunch of samples from brands just beginning to figure it all out. Except for 2018, Byredo has been seemingly exploring the far edges of their well-known style.

Ben Gorham

Earlier this year creative director-owner, Ben Gorham, along with longtime collaborator perfumer, Jerome Epinette, worked with Off-White designer Keith Abloh on Elevator Music. For a brand known for a lighter style of fragrance this was out on the edge of that. Now the second release for 2018, Eleventh Hour, goes the other way as Mr. Gorham and M. Epinette make the darkest release for the brand.

Jerome Epinette

The name stands for the final hour of existence. The press copy is a bit arch even, “Eleventh Hour is an exploration around the smell of things ending, a journey to the end of time, the last perfume on Earth.” You’re a better person than me if that gives you any idea what the perfume should smell like. I was half-expecting something that smelled like metal, scorched electronics, and smoke. That is not what is in the bottle. Eleventh Hour is more about how you might face the eleventh hour if you weren’t planning on sticking around.

I have been really interested in the many ways Szechuan pepper has been used in perfumery especially over the last year or so. It is becoming a new top to middle ingredient which seemingly can be tuned to multiple effects. Eleventh Hour is another example of this versatility.

The top accord of Eleventh Hour is Szechuan pepper and fig. A green fig is what I smell first. The Szechuan pepper acts to cleave the fruit into a piquant pulpy accord. M. Epinette also uses carrot seed as an earthy sweetness to further elaborate this top accord. On the night I first smelled this I thought maybe this was going to be a new style of a Mediterranean kind of fragrance. Except M. Epinette pours some rum over the top. It turns it into a decadent boozy fig dessert which is where this lingers. Woods and tonka bean eventually form the foundation in the later hours.

Eleventh Hour has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

This stands out from most of the Byredo brand for its darker aesthetic. It fits right in because of Mr. Gorham and M. Epinette know how to take the aesthetic they’ve created while finding a way to define the limits. Eleventh Hour finds the darkness on the edge of town.

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

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds: Estee Lauder Cinnabar- From the Ashes

I devote one column a month to perfumes which have crashed and burned to end up in the Dead Letter Office. When I started Colognoisseur this month’s Discount Diamonds entry was scheduled to be part of that series. Then like a phoenix, Estee Lauder Cinnabar, rose from the ashes three years ago. It sits right on the edge of my $50 limit for this column. It is such a great fall perfume I’ve decided to fudge my criteria just a tiny bit.

Cinnabar was born to three influential perfume personalities. Estee Lauder was hands on, as creative director, in 1978. She asked perfumers Josephine Catapano and Bernard Chant to design an answer to the blockbuster Opium. Ms. Lauder wanted her own Oriental at a lower price point. They would form a softer Oriental which still retained a decent kick. Seems like a recipe for success. Except it failed. There are times when something permeates pop culture so thoroughly it removes all opportunity for competition. This is what caused Cinnabar to find its way to the discontinued shelf in the late 1990’s.

Then for some reason Estee Lauder, the brand, re-launched it in 2015. It is somewhat different than the original because of formulation restrictions. I’d really like to know who did the reformulation because I like it very much. It retains all of what I enjoy from the original. Just to be clear this column is describing the new 2015 version and not the original 1978 version.

Cinnabar is a simple construction of spices florals on top of a classic Oriental base. The modern version is the same with a lighter touch here and there which I only noticed when I had them on side-by-side. To my nose the differences are negligible.

It opens with what almost became a Lauder trademark of the time aldehydes and bergamot. There is a fizz across the early moments before the real business of Cinnabar appears. That is the heart accord of clove and rose. This is a big obstreperous accord full of 70’s attitude. It is balanced without going over the edge. It also really accentuates the spicy core of the rose. The currently available version of Cinnabar had to reduce the percentage of clove oil. The reformulator has found some neat tricks to get the volume back up where it was. The base is patchouli, sandalwood, and incense. It is the classic Oriental base, only thing missing is a touch of amber.

Cinnabar has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Cinnabar can be found right around the $50 a bottle limit. It is an excellent choice for fall if you want to add a new spicy Oriental to your rotation.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Memo Tiger’s Nest- Incense at the Roof of the World

There are a few brands which connect with me. To the point that I am always interested to follow where they lead. I do have to admit there is a bit of a fantasy where I am approached by one of those brands and asked what you would like to see in a perfume. Sometimes it happens through serendipity as it has with Memo Tiger’s Nest.

Clara Molloy

Incense is probably my favorite ingredient in perfume. Amber is a close second. There are a lot of perfumes on my shelf with that combination. The third ingredient in Tiger’s Nest is a favorite floral; osmanthus. If creative director Clara Molloy and perfumer Alienor Massenet asked me for a suggestion I might have chosen these.

Paro Taktsang a.k.a. Tiger's Nest

Their inspiration for Tiger’s Nest is the temple of the same name in Bhutan. This results in a church-like incense surrounded by facets of polished wood. The osmanthus is like an offering at the shrine as it rests upon the resinous foundation. The creative team has captured this milieu.

Alienor Massenet

Tiger’s Nest opens with a fillip of an accord to represent the altitude of the temple which clings to the side of a cliff. A set of aldehydes freshened with lime capture the clean cool air of the Himalayas. It is fleeting; it is adroitly done. A thread of saffron leads inward to a shimmering silvery frankincense. This is the church-like incense version. There is an austerity to it that can be tough. Mme Massenet ameliorates that with the warmth of amber softening the inherent sharp edges of the incense. Osmanthus takes this in a different direction as the leathery quality of the ingredient finds purchase. Some tolu balsam acts like the polished wood of the surfaces inside the temple. This is where Tiger’s Nest lingers for a long time. Vanilla eventually adds a sweet finish.

Tiger’s Nest has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I will eventually purchase a bottle of Tiger’s Nest because of the way the osmanthus provides the kind of texture I desire in an incense perfume. When I wear it, I will imagines standing on a cliff in Bhutan about to enter a temple through a cloud of incense at the roof of the world.

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

Mark Behnke