New Perfume Review Byredo Bibliotheque- Language Envy

There are times I have language envy. What I mean by that is other languages have words for things I like more than the English word for them. When I was taking Spanish classes in school in S. Florida the word for library might have been my first instance of language envy. As a child, the library was the place where my mind was opened to the possibilities. When Sr. Dowdy, my Spanish teacher, said that “la biblioteca” was the word for library that felt like such a better word to me. So, I appropriated it. When I would be running out the door I’d yell over my shoulder “off to the biblioteca”. I don’t know which came first but the French word is very similar “bibliotheque”.  Now there is a perfume carrying the French version of the name, Byredo Bibliotheque.

Ben Gorham

Bibliotheque came about from a rare reversal as it lived its first incarnation as a candle at Byredo. Apparently, it got a lot of requests to be made into a perfume. Creative Director Ben Gorham and perfumer Jerome Epinette worked on the transformation from solid to liquid.

If you are looking for a fragrance which captures the smell of ink, paper, leather, and wood of a classic library; Bibliotheque is not that. At least not entirely. There are some aspects of that but early on it is a fruity floral construct which eventually gives way to that library accord. What I liked about that early fruity floral phase is M. Epinette makes the keynotes so effusive it is like encountering them minutes before they make that transition from ripe to rot.

Jerome Epinette

M. Epinette opens Bibliotheque with a fruit combination of peach and plum. They are so ready to burst they throw off gentle aldehydes around their inherent deep fruity nature. I am not usually a fan of these kind of fruit accords but this time it worked for me. Probably because the floral counterpart was also equally engaging. Peony and violet are those notes and they provide a contralto version of floralcy that harmonizes with the fruits. Finally, the library accord begins to form. I am guessing a patchouli fraction is being used by M. Epinette to form the dry paper and ink aspect. A transparent leather accord is also here along with an equally delicate woodiness. The base accord is much lighter than the fruity floral one that preceded it.

Bibliotheque has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I do like the fragrances which are out there which have captured the empty library milieu. Yet I might like the fragrance Bibliotheque in the same way I prefer the word. The reason is that fruity floral opening seems full of possibilities as ideas can be balanced on the edge of realization or disregard. Bibliotheque captures the world where those ideas come to light.

Disclosure: This review was based ona sample provided by Byredo.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Poetry on Perfume by Lynne Haussler Oakes

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My wife, Mrs. C, is an artist and serves on the board of a local arts association. One of her fellow members, painter Lynne Haussler Oakes, who started the Art League of Germantown 35 years ago; began corresponding with me. As is common among creative minds it generally isn’t confined to just one medium. She shared some poetry she had written on perfume. I really enjoyed what I read and asked her if she would allow me to post them on Colognoisseur. For this week, I am turning over The Sunday Magazine to artist-poet Lynne Oakes.

My Personal Perfume Story

By Lynne Haussler Oakes

Early in my life I learned where to place the scent so it did the most ‘damage’. Perfume was ammunition. For after all, didn’t we want guys to swoon over us? It was the invisible weapon. Put it on pulse points, at one’s neck, at the crook of your arm, even behind your knees! I started putting it on a cotton ball and tucking it between burgeoning breasts.  The guy had no chance at all.

As I became a young lady, I was given cologne or more precisely, eau de toilette. One would not spend what true perfume cost on a child. Even in the days of my youth, it was expensive stuff. I can’t say that I understood what it took, or even now what it takes to secure and create the elements of a perfume, but early in my life it was those lighter scents that got me hooked on smelling delicious and hugging the women in my family who wore the real thing.

Things of mine that I see or touch nearly every day seem to cause a line of poetry to appear and with it, the demand to write something about it. Sometimes the lines come to me at night, or when half-awake just before I get up. Recently it has been like that with my perfume bottles. Fragments of memories surface from the small assortment on my dresser.  I recall the round mirrored tray with gold filigree embracing my Mother’s collection. And my Grandmother’s art deco vanity, her tray staging the beautiful glass containers. These trays were part of the presentation and a practical matter as well. They protected one’s dresser from the damage of alcohol rings. The bottles themselves are a story of art and design. Remembering them on my mother’s dresser is clearer to me than remembering the scent within. Each woman had her favorite, a sort of extension of their personal essence. It was part of who they were, these ladies with perfume.

 

Scents

 

I remember a stylish European woman from a place where I worked years ago.

Can one say ‘I remember a fragrant woman’?

She was Belgian with that lovely French accent in the middle of New York City.

Walking into an empty room you knew she’d just been there.

Her perfume lingered and it always made me smile.

She told me it was “Femme” when I asked her.  

Fifty-some years ago and still I remember that, but not her name.

I wasted no time buying some for myself, even the scented powder.

I was so captivated by the magical effect it made.

Perfume, that perfume. 

 

Standing in line behind a man in a bank,

I became aware of the same body scent my boyfriend had.

This was after years away from being a teenager

who borrowed a jacket and slept with it because

it smelled like the one I loved then.

 

A college boyfriend gave me a very expensive

and famous one

and I did not like it.

I did wear it a few times, just to please him,

but it mostly stayed on a little shelf

over the sink. 

 

How can I say what it is that I like?

What my heart, nose and body respond to?

You just have to experience it,

inhale it at the perfume counter, try it on

and wear it home,

breathing it in over and over.

 

I’ve heard that upper classes and royalty used it

to mask the infrequency of bathing.

It had to be really powerful.

 

It is totally, seriously, dangerously, utterly powerful.

 

-Lynne Haussler Oakes

Perfume

 

The bottles are themselves a work of art,

exquisite feminine sculptures of crystal and glass.

I’ve kept some especially lovely ones

of grandmother’s and mother’s 

which were theirs.

 

It is the contents that bring memories

Mother’s Shalimar

Dad’s Bay Rum and one he gave me

called ‘First’

which I was.

 

My dresser is the stage for a few of my own,

tucked in with empty ones I’ve saved.

A Chanel scent my son brought me from Paris,

another arriving in a box of goodies from a friend,

and one I found myself called ‘Dead Sexy’

and it is.

 

Spraying on the one I’ve chosen,

brings instant connection to someone I cherish.

The enchantment of perfume with its

sensual notes that carry love

and it does.

 

-Lynne Haussler Oakes

 

Dad’s Bay Rum

I have a bottle covered with woven grass

holding a remnant of my Dad’s aftershave.

Its disappearance is not by evaporation,

but from his use of it.

The bottles of scents he liked

were all lined up

on the back of the commode

in the master bath in the house where I grew up.

 

It is a sweet memory for me

hugging him, kissing his neck,

inhaling his day’s chosen fragrance.

Now I open the one bottle I have left,

breathing in what is so familiar

bringing him to me

once again.

 

-Lynne Haussler Oakes

 

Shalimar

 

With my oil paints

I fashioned

a small canvas of

the empty bottle.

Beautiful, alone,

empty now for years.

My Mother’s Shalimar.

 

-Lynne Haussler Oakes

 

For those interested in checking out Ms. Oakes' paintings here is the link to her website.

My thanks to Ms. Oakes for allowing me to post these on Colognoisseur.

Discount Diamonds: Kate Spade Live Colorfully- Niche Me, Kate!

There have been several attempts to bring those who have been innovators in niche perfumery into the mainstream market. I would say they have been a mixed bag as far as success in the marketplace has gone. From the perspective of translating the creativity of niche that success has been more easy to discern. One of the earliest examples of this effort was Kate Spade Live Colorfully.

Kate Spade is a fashion brand established in 1993 selling handbags. Less than ten years later they were rapidly expanding in to other areas; one of which was fragrance. The first release in 2002, Kate Spade, was a pretty floral fragrance around muguet. It was discontinued about the same time the second fragrance, Twirl, was released in 2010. Twirl was an aggressive fruity floral which put me off for that forward nature.

Fabrice Penot and Edouard Roschi

Because of the uneven success of the first two releases the brand made a decision to try something different. For Live Colorfully the two creative directors from Le Labo, Fabrice Penot and Edouard Roschi, were joined by putative “lipstick queen” Poppy King. Working with perfumer Daphne Bugey they together worked on a mainstream perfume that could carry some niche sensibilities along with the safer aspects. What they produced was a fragrance more recognizably mainstream than niche but in a couple of places the independent streak peeks out.

Daphne Bugey

Live Colorfully opens with a pairing of mandarin and star anise. Mme Bugey allows mandarin the lead role but the star anise adds an odd complementary sweetness. The real niche aspect comes in the floral which opens the heart; as waterlily is set afloat on a pond of coconut water. It is the kind of accord you find in niche regularly. Here it is an outré watery floral accord. The perfume quickly gets back into safer waters as orange blossom and gardenia form the floral accord which is where Live Colorfully spends most of its development. Mme Bugey finishes this with a warm amber and vanilla accord.

Live Colorfully has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Live Colorfully has become a standard presence on the discount perfume points of sale usually going for around $25. It is a good spring perfume at that price.

I would have liked to been in the room as the decision on the final form of Live Colorfully was decided. I would be surprised if there wasn’t one version which was more niche-like. The final decision probably came down to a brand which wanted the opportunity to create a tentpole fragrance which is what Live Colorfully has become spawning two flankers in the last two years. Even with that said Live Colorfully still has those moments of rebellion within its typical architecture.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Givenchy Pi Air- Fraiche Redux

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Ever since the release of Cool Water in 1988 blue has been the color of fresh in fragrance. Whenever I walk up to a bottle of perfume and there is blue in the name or the bottle is blue or the perfume itself is tinted azure I can almost guarantee it will be fresh. What usually accompanies that is clean. No perfume brand seems to go broke by going this route which makes it one of the most ubiquitous tropes in the department store.

Back in 1998 when Givenchy Pi was released perfumer Alberto Morillas provided a warm vanilla accord consisting of coumarin and benzoin. It is still one of those perfumes which elicits unsolicited compliments when I wear it. To Givenchy’s credit they haven’t gone flanker crazy only producing five since the initial release. At the beginning of the month I received the sixth addition to the Pi collection, Pi Air.

Alberto Morillas

Once again Sr. Morillas is the perfumer as he has been for three of the other Pi flankers; 2001’s Pi Fraiche, 2012’s Pi Leather Edition, and 2015’s Pi Extreme. Of all the flankers Pi Fraiche is my favorite because Sr. Morillas transformed the warm vanilla into a fresh herbal and pine which retained the benzoin from the original. It was also in a frosted blue bottle.  When I first tried Pi Air I was strongly reminded of Pi Fraiche as Sr. Morillas has decided to update that version of fresh in an even more blue bottle akin to the color of ice. That seems to be the theme for Pi Air as Sr. Morillas employs a couple of the most expansive aromachemicals in the heart to create a perfume which feels like it fills up my olfactory horizon with a frosty fresh fragrance.

This icy nature shows up right away in what is called a “frozen neroli” accord. What that means is a neroli chilled by grapefruit and ginger. Both of those notes provide a closing in of the neroli. It means most of the green facets are muted while the sweetly floral is also subtler but struggles out of the ice to make its presence known. Then the iciness leads to a heart where paradisone and lavandin provide a high altitude mixture of fresh aromachemicals. Rosemary is an herbal complement to everything in the heart. Sr. Morillas manages to harness both of these strong notes into a well-balanced accord which I enjoyed a lot. The base keeps it simple with a dry cedar, a couple of white musks, and benzoin which is the connective tissue to the Pi heritage.

Pi Air has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Pi Fraiche has been discontinued for a few years now. It is hard not to think of Pi Air as Sr. Morillas’ making a 2017 version. There is nothing particularly different here but somehow, I found Pi Air to be a pleasant fragrance to wear on the days I wore it. Sometimes that is all I need.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Macy’s.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Stora Skuggan Silphium- Herb, Herb, Baby!

When I receive the first fragrances from a new brand it is always a bit like putting my hand in a grab bag. Most of the time as I reach in blindly the shapes are familiar to my hand. What I eventually come to perceive in the light of day is something which is a traditional kind of perfume. Then there are the times where I’m almost afraid to clutch too hard because I can feel the protruding spines. What comes of that is invariably unique but sometimes shows the rough edges of self-taught perfumers. Trying the two releases from Swedish brand Stora Skuggan was this kind of experience for me.

Stora Skuggan was founded by Tomas Hempel and Olle Hemmendorff in 2015 out of a shared passion for fragrance. Over time they would learn that quality raw materials were more likely to lead to better perfumes. One corollary to this is too many notes make for a cacophony. Their first release, Fantome de Maules, is a victim of this. Too often a self-taught perfumer decides the idea to make their composition better is more; usually it’s not. In Fantome de Maules if they had gone in a different direction and tried to streamline down to the basics this could have been a much more focused and better perfume. After that when I moved to the second fragrance, Silphium, my expectations were lowered a bit. Except in this case they had a much more clear-eyed creative direction which resulted in a much-improved final product.

Tomas Hempel

Silphium is the name of a plant used by Ancient Greeks as a medicinal herb, spice, or perfume ingredient. For the fragrance based on the name Mr. Hempel and Mr. Hemmendorff focus on creating a very green fragrance which captures both the medicinal and the spicy.

Silphium starts very green with a mixture of green notes for what the perfumers describe as a “silphium accord” which is supported by a large amount of labdanum. The overall effect is that of an herbal poultice being prepared by an Ancient Greek physician. Geranium is used to tune the green into something a little less stridently sharp while cinnamon, clove, and ginger take the fragrance in to the spicy realm without ever giving up that herbal quality from the opening. It makes this feel like the same Ancient Greek was now using it as something with which to marinade his lamb in. The perfumers use a base of cedar and frankincense. The sharp green woodiness of the cedar along with the silvery facets of the incense provide a nice finish.

Silphium has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Silphium is a perfume for those who enjoy green perfumes. The journey from medicinal to savory with the herbal nucleus is beautifully realized. As Mr. Hempel and Mr. Hemmendorff learn more through their experiences I hope for more like Silphium in the future.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

Chandler Burr on Creative Directing Etat Libre D’Orange You or Someone Like You

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At last October’s Sniffapalooza Fall Ball Chandler Burr showed up with a surprise on Sunday. He revealed that he had been working as the creative director on a new fragrance and wanted to share a sneak preview. The new fragrance is Etat Libre D’Orange You or Someone Like You.

The press release for You or Someone Like You gives you an idea of what Mr. Burr was looking for:

“There is an Englishwoman who doesn’t exist. Her name is Anne Rosenbaum, and I created her in my novel “You Or Someone Like You.” She lives, with her movie executive husband, in a house high in the blue air of the Hollywood Hills, just off Mulholland Drive, overlooking Los Angeles above the 101.

I’m fascinated by LA, this strange dream factory that exists in its eternal, relentless present tense, its otherworldly beauty both effortlessly natural and ingeniously artificial. A movie that makes movies. Palm trees, the symbol of LA, aren’t natural there. They were imported, placed in the hills, “but then,” Anne observes to you, “so was I.”

Los Angeles’ smells mesmerize, the astringent mint/green of eucalyptus, wild jasmine vines unselfconsciously climbing the stop signs, catalyzed car exhaust, hot California sun on ocean water (although “You” contains no jasmine or eucalyptus; if you need to know what it’s made of, “You” is not for you).

When Etat Libre d’Orange approached me about creative directing, my perfumer Caroline Sabas and I created not a “perfume” — people in Los Angeles don’t wear perfume – but a specific scent, the scent someone like Anne would wear, an Angelino Englishwoman high in the hills in the blue air.”

I had the chance to get a little more information from Mr. Burr on the perfume he calls “You”. First, I asked the obvious why did he choose now to take on creative direction. He responded, “The moment I started at the New York Times I was frequently asked, "Are you going to creative direct/ create a scent/ collection of scents/ perfume brand?" The Times would have, correctly, forbidden it had I asked, but I had no intention — I was a critic. Frankly I didn’t have any interest. My focus was and is the scent artists. And for years I never wanted to creative direct a perfume. I was while working at the Times getting to know the Etat collection, which I found and find just extraordinary, along with the Comme des Garcons collection the most daring, aesthetics-forward, balls out art-centric scent works in the world. Tilda Swinton's agent called to say Tilda was interested in creative directing a scent, and Etienne was the instant and most natural person to put her in touch with. and I talked on and off about working together somehow. But then I was at the Museum of Arts and Design as a scent art curator, and for obvious ethical reasons it was still off the table that I'd direct a scent.

After I'd left MAD, Etienne called and said he's read my novel You Or Someone Like You, that he liked the title, and proposed we create a scent using the novel's title. That I creative direct it. The concept came instantly. My novel's narrator is a woman named Anne. She's an Englishwoman who long ago married an American guy, now a movie studio exec. They have one son, Sam. She has a Ph.D. in Romantic Literature and is a voracious reader. Anne is extremely private, reserved. She's perceived as a cool customer by most people, and she is with everyone not her husband and son. She lives in the Hollywood Hills — on Macapa Drive, if you want to google map it — above the 101 and overlooking the city. She lives in contemporary Los Angeles. What my (brilliant) perfumer Caroline Sabas has created is the scent Anne would wear.”

Mr. Burr has described fragrances throughout his career as belonging to different schools. When I asked what school, he was aiming for he said, “Luminism, Minimalism, and contemporary Romanticism. I started with exactly this aesthetic mix in mind.”  

This lead me to asking what perfumes inspired “You”, and you, in the process which lead into his long-held belief (one I disagree with) that discussing notes devalues the art, “Of course– Mugler Cologne, Calyx, Jardin sur le Nil are probably the most important. There are others, but their names mention raw materials, and I really–really–am not going to go anywhere near this fucking reductionism of scent works to their materials. It's extraordinarily stupid. You don't give a sense of a new musical work, say something by Max Richter, by saying "It's in D major, 4/4 time, it has among other instruments oboes and violins and violas and flutes, and the notes include D, E, F#, G, A, B♭, and C." That would be idiotic. We say, "It's contemporary Minimalism that draws on Glass and, more, Reich, but Richter is also strongly influenced by the minimalist Romanticism of Satie." If we're going to describe fragrances in a truly intelligent, sophisticated way rather than the reductionist "This building has cement, steel, glass, plastic", it's going to be by using intelligent analogies.”

I finished my interview with a question I am always interested in, how did he know they were finished? “"Finished" is equal to "perfect," which you rarely get to. The mod of "You" that we chose was one that Caroline, our Givaudan evaluator Audrey Barbara, Etienne, and others at Etat loved. My personal favorite was slightly different in one specific way. But we had a long conversation about it, and I trust them, so I decided that we'd go with that one. It doesn't bother me because, I don't know, I guess I just don't think in this case that my perception and taste is perfect and mandatory. Part of it was that Etienne really felt the mod we chose had an Etat aspect to it. He's the creative director of the collection, so that's a pretty compelling reason from my point of view.”

I am looking forward to wearing “You” and should have a review up soon. My thanks to Mr. Burr for taking the time to answer my questions.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian Noir Aphrodisiaque- Hot Chocolate by Calice

I must start as I always do with city exclusive releases that I hate them as a concept, especially when they are good. The By Kilian brand has been doing some pretty good ones for their different boutiques as they open around the world. I spend some time chasing down one if there is something I think I’ll like. After the first of the year I heard about the Paris exclusive called Noir Aphrodisiaque.

One of the reasons I was so interested in Noir Aphrodisiaque was because it felt like it was going to be the finish of what I call perfumer Calice Becker’s hot beverage trilogy. She assayed a study of green tea with 2014’s Imperial Tea. Later that year she would follow that up with Intoxicated which was inspired by Turkish coffee. When I read Noir Aphrodisiaque was chocolate and cinnamon I realized this was hot chocolate. It turns out that Noir Aphrodisiaque is that steaming cup of flavored milk I was hoping it would be.

Calice Becker

I make my hot chocolate with Dutch Process Cocoa powder; no Swiss Miss nonsense for me. I can’t speak for Mme Becker but it seems she also uses something similar in her home. It is because she starts with the dry dusty powdery cocoa and then by adding a creamy accord she forms the steaming beverage with cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Noir Aphrodisiaque opens on that chocolate dust through which passes a bit of bergamot, cedrat, and jasmine. These three notes are all used in moderation more to act as contrast to the drier version of cocoa in the early going. Then Mme Becker adds a creamy gourmand accord as the warm milk covers the cocoa and now turns it luscious. It is exactly the smell of the kind of rich hot chocolate I make. Then like a garnish she adds a sprinkle of cinnamon which melds into the gourmand accord. The final ingredient after a long while is amber which revives the cinnamon a bit over the final moments.

Noir Aphrodisiaque has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am a big fan of Intoxicated it is one of my favorite By Kilian fragrance within the entire collection. Noir Aphrodisiaque is every bit as good as that one. I am now hoping Mme Becker has another hot beverage she wants to transform in to perfume. For these final days of winter, I’m going to spray myself with Noir Aphrodisiaque and warm my hands on a mug of hot chocolate.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hermes Eau des Merveilles Bleue- Nagel’s Miracle Mineral Water

If there is a perfume series on which to take the temperature of an in-house perfumer at Hermes it might be the Merveilles series. Begun in 2004 with Eau des Merveilles by perfumers Ralf Schwieger and Nathalie Feisthauer. It was meant to be a salute to ambergris and it was amazing in its ability to capture the subtlety of that important fragrance ingredient. Just after Jean-Claude Ellena was named in-house perfumer one of his earliest compositions was Elixir des Merveilles. M. Ellena’s take was to float the ambergris not on top of the ocean but instead a sea of luscious chocolate. It has always been my opinion that this was M. Ellena’s response to Thierry Mugler Angel as a way of doing a sophisticated gourmand. M. Ellena would do another in 2012 L’Ambre des Merveilles which was more in keeping with his minimalist aesthetic. Now that Christine Nagel has taken over as in-house perfumer at Hermes it is her turn to add to the Merveilles line; Eau des Merveilles Bleue.

Christine Nagel

Mme Nagel decides to concentrate on the eau of the ocean for this latest Merveilles. It is a fascinating commentary on how the aquatic genre can be re-invigorated with imagination and the by resisting using Calone along with the other typical ozonic notes. In the press materials, there is this quote from Mme Nagel, “I marveled at the pebbles, wet from the ocean; they had such a particular color and luminosity, and I discovered on them a salty, mineral taste”. Instead of going for sea spray and ozone Mme Nagel chooses to go for stone and salt as she translates that “salty, mineral taste” into a perfume.

The juxtaposition of those two inspirations shows up right away. A mineralic accord is matched with a sea salt accord. To mimic the luminosity of the brine covered pebbles Mme Nagel shines a shaft of lemon to provide the sparkle of sunlight off the pebble in your hand. Then the tide goes out leaving the pebble drying out on a piece of driftwood as at least a couple of the dry woody aromachemicals are used to create a soft desiccated wood accord. All during this the mineralic accord transforms from damp stone into dried earth. The base is a mixture of white musks and patchouli. As in the previous development Mme Nagel is keeping this on the drier side which makes me think this is a fractionated patchouli being used but I am not sure of that. The bottom line is this ends in an accord of the sand drying out as the waves recede with the tide.

Eau des Merveilles Bleue has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

For nearly twenty years I avoided the aquatic genre because of its banality. In the last couple of years, I have been shown time and time again that banality is due to lack of creativity. When a perfumer really is given the freedom to create even in what seems like an overexposed segment of fragrance they can show you there is lots of space to be explored. Mme Nagel has shown that the aquatic genre is not played out it just needs imagination. She has created a new aquatic which I know I will be wearing a lot as the days get warmer. Eau des Merveilles translates to “miracle water”. Eau des Merveilles Bleue should translate to Miracle Mineral Water.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Hermes.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Logan

I remember a time many years ago, when the idea of a superhero movie based on the comics was laughable. Whenever I would sit with my fellow geeks reading the week’s comics there was a bit of wistful hope that someday the comics would come to the cinema. It could be said the turning point came with the release of The X-Men in 2000. I remember sitting in the theatre at the end of it and saying softly, “Perfect”. This was what geeks had hoped for a director and writer who treated the source material respectfully. Bryan Singer did that and really laid down the formula for the best of the movies that have followed. When the creative team has been a fan of the comic it usually produces a good to great movie. When it becomes more cynical it usually produces something that kind of attitude should produce.

The X-Men have been one of the successes because the people who are in charge do love the material they are adapting. The latest release in the family is “Logan” and it sort of closes the circle begun with that first X-Men movie.

When it comes to the X-Men the most popular mutant is and has always been Wolverine. When Mr. Singer cast Hugh Jackman in the role I don’t know if he knew what an ideal choice he would be. Mr. Jackman has never treated the role as anything but serious. Even when interviewed about it he embraces playing this particular superhero. It is why with “Logan” I am sorry to see his time with the character come to an end but it does come to a beautiful conclusion.

Hugh Jackman as Logan

“Logan” is an adaptation of the Old Man Logan story from the comics. Directed by James Mangold with a script he co-wrote it tells a story of the future set in 2029. In that time mutants, have stopped being born while the ones which exist have been slowly lost. Logan lives as a limousine driver in El Paso when the movie opens. It is revealed that he lives with a tracker of mutants named Caliban and an aged Professor X who is suffering from a neurodegenerative disease. When the most powerful telepath has a seizure it is not a pretty sight and Logan is one of the few who can get close enough to help when Professor X has one. A mysterious little girl shows up at the same time as a cybernetically enhanced band of hunters called The Reavers do. The rest of the movie is our trio of Logan, Professor X, and the girl attempting to stay ahead of their pursuers until they get to a purported safe haven.

Once again it is Mr. Jackman who portrays the duality of savagery and sensitivity within Wolverine. He makes both sides of the personality believable. As the movie drew to a close I wonder about the next actor who has to follow this performance. It is difficult to think of anyone who can do a better job.  

One last thing I am pleased about is the studio was unafraid for this to be an R-rated movie allowing for the violence to be more visceral which it is. For the first time the damage a man with metal claws can do is shown. For that reason, if you have younger kids who are fans you might not want to take them to see Logan

If you have been a fan of The X-Men and Wolverine on the screen Logan is the fitting epilogue to seventeen years of movies. It is the kind of superhero movie I am surprised to see made and I had the same response to the final scene here as I did seventeen years ago, “Perfect”.

Mark Behnke

If You Like Creed Aventus Will You Like This?

In the corner drugstore near where I grew up the fragrance selection was populated by a bunch of similar looking aluminum canisters. The only thing which differed were two words the rest was the same. What was there was “If you like Fahrenheit You’ll love Celsius” or something like that. I don’t know if they exist anymore but I have been reminded of them often because if there is a frequent e-mail I receive is if I think a particular perfume is similar to Creed Aventus.

Among a group of perfume lovers Creed Aventus is the equivalent of Love Potion No. 9. If you read through the posts on the forums you might also think the same. I can’t think of any other currently produced perfume which is as analyzed as Aventus is. There are whole posts on the variations in different lot numbers. I’m not sure the Rosetta Stone has been as intently studied as much as Aventus has.

I am a fan of Aventus it is one of the few Creeds of which I own a bottle of. I think it stands out among the other Creed releases as being unique which might explain some of its popularity. One of the reasons that people want to know if there is a knockoff of Aventus out there is Creed is a luxury line with a price tag to match. If you could find a perfume which was close enough for a fraction of the price that would be great; which is why I get e-mails. Which is why I am doing this post. Because I just want to point to the link from now on. Here is my Buyer’s Guide on the Creed Aventus clones I am aware of.

Al Haramain L’Aventure is the one with the name that reminds me the most of those old drugstore canisters. As far as Aventus goes it must replace higher quality natural materials with cheaper alternatives, which is true of all of these. For L’Aventure the black currant is here but the pineapple and apple are replaced by a lot of lemon. Then smoke careens through the heart down to a very generic finish. Verdict: If you like Aventus, You Won’t Like L’Aventure.

Photograph by Daisuke Takakura

Armaf Club Nuit de Intense is a better version as the apple and pineapple are present but to keep costs down the concentrations are also minimized. If I spray a lot it is almost similar enough in the early going. The use of the smoky synthetics is better blended here but the floral contrast in Aventus is missing in action in da Club. The base is, actually, a pretty good simulation. The biggest drawback is the lack of longevity as it was gone from my skin in less than six hours. Verdict: If you like Aventus, You Might like Club Nuit de Intense. Especially if the florals in Aventus aren’t your favorite part.

Afnan Supremacy Silver throws a matador’s flag at the fruity opening with a top accord that is barely there. It goes to a faithful reproduction of the rose-jasmine and birch-patchouli heart. The base is also close to the original, too. Verdict: If you like Aventus, You Might Like Supremacy Silver. Especially if the fruity top notes in Aventus aren’t your favorites.

Parfums Vintage Pineapple Vintage gives you a clue where they are going within the name. It is my favorite of these four because of the incredibly vibrant pineapple note in it. That pineapple is the star of the early going and only after a few minutes does the apple, black currant, and apple show up but because of the strength of the pineapple they are significantly dialed down. The smoke is barely present here while the rose and jasmine go well with the juicy fruitiness. The sweet base also fits well. Verdict: If You Like Aventus, You Might Like Pineapple Vintage. Especially if the birch notes in Aventus aren’t your favorite part.

Final Verdict: There is nothing in the list above which is a fraction as good as Creed Aventus. They are credible clones accentuating different aspects of the Aventus architecture. If I had to pick one, it would be Pineapple Vintage because it was the best overall perfume of the four.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Creed Aventus I purchased and samples of the other four also purchased.

Mark Behnke