Under the Radar: Prada Rossetto No. 14- Out of Sight But Not Out of Mind

3

Sometimes the way a brand treats its perfumes completely baffles me. None is more perplexing to me than the way Prada treats its line of exclusives. Every other designer line you can name displays their exclusive line in ways which are as elaborate as the perfumes themselves. Not Prada, you have to know these exist to even have a hope of finding them. In the Prada flagship store in New York I go through this same ritual every time I want to find one. I walk into the store and tell them I’m interested in perfume. They direct me to the counter which is full of the mainstream bottles. I ask them for one of the exclusives and they very politely tell me they don’t have it. I equally politely ask them to look it up on their computer. They are surprised to find out they have this and it is in stock; in the back room. They go retrieve my bottle usually mentioning they didn’t know about these. I walk away shaking my head.

Prada Rossetto

Since 2003 Miuccia Prada and perfumer Daniela Andrier have made one of the great experimental lines of perfume. The forerunner of Infusion D’Iris was the very first of these called simply Iris No. 1. Mme Andrier is one of our greatest perfumers because of her versatility and in this collection it is vividly on display. Last summer I repeated the ritual for the latest release Rossetto No. 14.

The concept of this line of exclusives is not necessarily to break new ground but to re-interpret existing fragrant forms. Rossetto No. 14’s task is that of the iris-scented lipstick. This is a study which has been done previously in perfume. It is a natural because for many, including me, the first smell of iris they ever encountered was the smell of their mother’s Coty lipstick. What Rossetto No. 14 does is to take that smell and update it to the super luxurious lipsticks being sold by the top luxury brands today. Even as a man I can see the depth to the newest lipsticks which look like the most upscale Chap-Stiks ever. Mme Andrier winks to that in the opening moments of Rossetto No. 14 but then she goes for the iris lipstick accord and it is beautiful.

Daniela Andrier

Daniela Andrier

The opening of Rossetto No. 14 is a breath of aldehydes of the hair spray variety reminding one you are at the vanity table surrounded by the appropriate accoutrements. The wink to more pedestrian lip balms comes with a flash of cherry followed by astringent violet leaves and baie rose. This is a fleeting phase as Rossetto No. 14 transitions rapidly right into the lipstick accord. Mme Andrier takes orris, rose, violet, and heliotrope to form the basis but it needs a catalyst. That ingredient which sparks the lipstick accord to life is raspberry. It is the moment of sheer genius within this perfume. As I detected the florals I was a bit disappointed but then the raspberry converts all of it into a lush lipstick accord. Mme Andrier places all of it on a vanilla and benzoin foundation which adds contrasting resinous sweetness to the lipstick. The final moments are a cocktail of musks as the lipstick has finally worn off.

Rossetto No. 14 has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Rossetto No. 14 is, as I mentioned, not a breakthrough lipstick evoking fragrance. It is a new interpretation of it. I find when I’m in the mood for it that Rossetto No. 14 scratches my itch without causing Oedipal issues. That is because Mme Andrier  has tweaked it just enough to make it her own and to allow me to make my own memories with it.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Ephemera by Unsound Bass and Drone- Does it Feel Good?

I started my reviews of the new Ephemera by Unsound line with Noise because it is going to be the easiest of the three to approach. That doesn’t mean the remaining two, Bass and Drone, aren’t as good because they are. Perfumer Geza Schoen continued to use music as his brief for the perfumes and MFO provided video interpretations. In the continuation of the conversation I began in the Noise review Bass and Drone live right on the edge of what is commonly considered pleasant smells. This is why these might be less easy to initially embrace. I think these are perfumes worth the effort because once they invade your consciousness they are darn hard to shake.

geza-schoen

Geza Schoen

Bass was founded on a piece of music from Kode9 aka Steve Goodman. He titled the music “Vacuum Burn”. It is his earliest olfactory memory of a vacuum cleaner which emitted a burning smell. Hr. Schoen goes for that odor of burning electronics, dust, and hair. That smell is going to be seen as flat-out unpleasant by many. I once responded to a forum thread on weird smells you like with hot electronics and the smell of hair burning. For me this means Bass accesses that affection for odd smells. Hr. Schoen does a fantastic job at bringing this to life. How he achieves this effect is to take woodsmoke and combine it with rum. The rum stands out very early on but eventually the smoke shrouds it and this forms the burning hair accord. The heated electronic accord consists of a combination in the heart of leather and black tea, on a platform of mastic. Hr. Schoen takes the mastic and uses it as a foundation to build this accord. The base notes are a rich animalic castoreum matched with oakmoss and a couple other musks. It forms a very human final accord as it reminds you there is a young child accessing a unique smell for the first time. Bass has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

The video of Bass, above, captures the sense of heat and burning but the music especially does an amazing job of this. There is a sound of crackling burning punctuated with an irregular mouse click. When I wore Bass and listened to the track I saw the image of the vacuum on overload. I spent my whole hour commute one day listening to Vacuum Burn on repeat with my eyes closed breathing deeply the evolution of Bass. The time flew by.

The piece of music Tim Hecker supplied Hr. Schoen is the antithesis of the name, Drone. It is a languidly swelling soundscape. Early on I lean in to hear the opening notes; by the end it has me sitting back in my chair. Mr. Hecker wanted “a speculative Day-Glo incense from rituals where long-form sound induces levitation.” Hr. Schoen starts with us up in the air as he uses a different set of aldehydes and ozonic notes than he used in Noise. In Noise these ingredients radiated cold. In Drone they do almost the opposite as they convey an expansive openness. This is a fabulous example of what a very talented perfumer can do with primarily the same sets of raw materials. By balancing and combining in just the right way Hr. Schoen produces two very different effects. These early moments of Drone make me feel like I am gliding a few hundred feet above the ground. The heart notes bring me in for a landing in the middle of a stand of pine trees. Fir and juniper are the heart notes but this is mostly fir with the juniper adding in depth. As I continue to take in the airy opening accord over the fir Hr. Schoen pulls out a wonderfully weird synthetic vetiver which begins to insert itself in between the other notes oozing into the spaces and creating a new fragrant accord. The base notes are patchouli and ambergris and they form perhaps the most traditional accord of any of the three fragrances in the collection. Drone has a lot of unusual angles and shifts to it to the point that on first sniff I wasn’t excited. I wore it a lot and the combination of sound and visual really drew me in. Drone has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Drone was the complete package for me. The music by itself was the one I liked the best and the one which has made it onto a playlist with other non-perfume music. This time the video captures the smell and the sound perfectly. There is a moment in the video at the 1:14 point which visualizes the way I smell the vetiver combining in the scent as the music hits the crescendo it has been building towards. This is the perfect combination of sight, sound, and smell. Because of all of this Drone has become my favorite.

Now let me return to the thesis I brought up in the review of Noise, does a perfume have to smell good? I can see showing someone these three perfumes and they can’t find anything within them that smells good. That is judging them solely on a superficial level. What I think all three of the perfumes in this collection exemplify is if you have the vision to go more than skin deep and attempt to connect with more than just the sense of smell there is something beyond the purview of simple questions like “does it smell good?”. Instead the question becomes, “Does it make me feel good?” Where the answer to the first question might be variable; if you allow these perfumes and the music and the visuals the opportunity I think the answer to the second question is something much more affirmative. If you have any interest in the potential of what perfume can do this is a collection you need to try.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ephemera by Unsound Noise- Does It Smell and Sound and Look Good?

Whenever I try a perfume which is attempting to be avant-garde I always think of the words of the late perfumer Guy Robert. He said famously, “A perfume above all must smell good.” I think many of us who love fragrance would take this as a truism. I also think if we want to believe that there is such a thing as olfactory art then there has to be room for a perfume which can audaciously explore the line of what smells good. The last part of 2014 and the first part of 2015 has been an opportunity for me to explore this concept in a brilliant new collection, Ephemera by Unsound, from perfumer Geza Schoen as part of the Unsound Project.

geza-schoen

Geza Schoen

The Unsound Project debuted a collaboration between Hr. Schoen and three electronic music artists Ben Frost, Tim Hecker and Kode 9. This was all further accompanied by three videos by MFO. Each was inspired by the other. Hr. Schoen took his brief from the music especially composed for each fragrance. MFO created visuals which capture the music and the perfume. I have heartily dug into this experience as I have spent time just listening to the accompanying track on my headphones on the days I’ve worn each. I’ve sat in a darkened office with the visuals playing and the music at high volume coming from the speakers. This is as complete a multimedia experience as I can remember experiencing with perfume at the center of it all. It is this satiation of so many of my senses at the same time which makes this as memorable as it is for me.

We return to the central thesis though, “Does it smell good?” I am going to share my opinion on that over the next couple of days as I review each of the three perfumes Noise, Bass, and Drone on all of the levels that I experienced them on.

Noise as a perfume is a fragrance about chilly components. Hr. Schoen wanted to capture some touchstones from Mr. Frost’s olfactory memory. Mr. Frost asked for Australian brushfire, the showering sparks of an arc welder, church on Sunday- cold stone and frankincense, the bed of a pickup truck with the remnants of the tools of the hunting party. These are the kinds of things Hr. Schoen has captured in liquid form in the past. For Noise he boldly displays them as a fragrance equivalent of an Ice Princess. The beauty draws you in but if you stay too long the frostbite will devour you. He opens this perfume with a cocktail of aldehydes and ozonic notes. You’ve smelled all of these individually in hundreds of perfumes over the last few years. Like a music producer laying down tracks Hr. Schoen drops one aldehyde and another, then an ozonic note, then another aldehyde and so on until a bright olfactory harmonic is achieved. A slug of black pepper adds orthogonal spice. This moves into a heart of woody tinged florals. The note list says it is magnolia and orchid. I smell a bit of linden also and, as in the top, saffron is used as contrast. By using the woodier floral notes it keeps Noise aloof never allowing a full defrost to occur. The base returns to the metallic themes of the top notes but this time there is the hint of smoke in the distance and the smell of grinding gears. Hr. Schoen uses frankincense, amber, labdanum, cedar, and leather together to form this base accord. Noise assessed solely as a perfume is everything I can ask for of a fragrance willing to push my limits of what smells good.

When I just listened to Noise by Ben Frost while wearing the perfume I can’t say I found as much of the influences cited in just the auditory portion of this installation. What did pull it all together is the video above. The visuals capture my experience of the perfume as if they were pulled from my head by MFO. As I sat in my office surrounded by the music at high volume, pulsating, and the video occupying my entire visual field; right there this project came to life in a way I’ve rarely experienced with the multimedia explorations including perfume.

Noise has 16-18 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I will come back to answer the question of whether it smells good after I have reviewed Bass & Drone. On a more reductive scale Noise is one of Hr. Schoen’s most complete compositions ever. From a perfumer who excels in exploring the borders of perfumery Noise is perhaps the best example of avant-garde in his repertoire.

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

Mark Behnke

Reviews of Bass and Drone can be found here.

Dead Letter Office: Rochas Globe- The Best of Both Worlds

When it comes to many of the perfumes which find their way to the Dead Letter Office trying to create a demographic for a fragrance is one of the surest paths to discontinuation. When you look back over the history of perfume when there have been these perfumes which have served as pivot points for the industry; the years after that moment is a study in trying to catch up. In 1990, especially in the masculine category, Davidoff Cool Water had completely changed the game. Before Cool Water men’s perfumes were hairy chested powerhouses like Aramis for Men. By the 1990’s the men’s market supposedly wanted aquatics and fresh fragrances. Over at Rochas they had the thought to try and find a middle ground between the old and the new. That perfume would become Rochas Globe.

globe_ad

Rochas Globe had a big problem, who was it being made for? If the younger fragrance wearer was gravitating towards fresh aquatics while the older demographic wanted their powerhouses where did Globe fit? The answer was it didn’t. This would lead to its eventual market death within three years. The tragedy is Globe succeeded brilliantly at creating this kind of olfactory genetic splicing. The mad scientist behind this will surprise many of you, Jean-Claude Ellena. One of the most interesting periods of M. Ellena’s illustrious career was the period from 1988-1990. The five perfumes he signed during this time are some of the most unique in in his fragrant repertory. Globe fits right in.

jean-claude ellena

A Younger Jean-Claude Ellena

Globe opens with a juicy mandarin paired with a very sharp green leafy note. It was a few years until I was able to identify it as Boldo leaves. Boldo is a leaf used to make tea in some South American countries. It is most often used in a combination with yerba mate. I think M. Ellena knows this because that pungent leafiness runs right into a heart of geranium, rhubarb, basil, and mate. M. Ellena defines his version of fresh and allows the heart notes to become that. The base is very traditional vetiver and amber returning Globe to familiar masculine territory.

Globe has 10-12 hour longevity and prodigious sillage. This is one to definitely be cautious about spraying too much.

Looking back through the lens of twenty-five years it is easy to see Globe just had no audience in 1990. I would love to see this re-released now because it is such a fascinating combination of styles from a perfumer, in M. Ellena, who was at his most experimental. I have said Globe had trouble finding an audience but I am definitely someone for whom Globe was made for. It is too bad there weren’t more of us.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Raymond Matts Tsiling and Tulile- Declaration of Intent

I am not sure when I met Raymond Matts for the first time. I am sure about the where, at a Sniffapalooza lunch during a Spring Fling or Fall Ball. He gave a talk which spoke to the room about the state of perfume at that moment in time. He boldly declared perfume blogging as irrelevant. I was just starting to write and I wondered if he was right. Here was a man with a wealth of experience from nearly thirty years in the fragrance business. I like people who take provocative stances and I listened to all he said and considered his hypothesis.

raymond-matts

Raymond Matts

Mr. Matts has shown the same surety whenever our paths have crossed in the years since. Late in 2014 I found out he was going to have his own brand of perfume. Like so much about Mr. Matts these perfumes are declarative statements of intent. In my initial testing I have found all seven to have distinct pleasures. I want to really give all of them a little more time than I would normally and so my reviews of the entire line are going to happen in a series over the next few weeks. For this first installment I am going to focus on Tsiling and Tulile.

 olivier-gillotin

Olivier Gillotin

The names of all of the fragrances are made up words meant to convey something about them. In the press materials it is said they are meant to smell the way they sound. More than any other Tsiling lives up to this. Perfumer Olivier Gillotin was given a brief to capture a plastic flower which exudes a natural scent. This makes Tsiling a lively exercise with M. Gillotin having to strike just the right balance between the artificial and the natural. His choice is to start with the natural and allow for the artificial to provide the finish. The top notes are a mix of an aquatic accord, some green notes, and pear. The pear is most prominent and the other notes provide the more natural watery green of nature. As you move into the heart orris comes first and it is a rooty version. After M. Gillotin adds honeysuckle and what is named as rice notes the whole thing seems to plasticize in a time-lapse fashion. It just goes from natural to unnatural over the course of an hour or so. Then for the majority of the time I wore Tsiling it smells like a plastic flower scented with natural oils. Very late a bit of patchouli comes out but it is very minimal in nature. Tsiling has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

christophe_laudamiel_2

Christophe Laudamiel

Lots of perfumes marketed to men are said to be bracing. That usually means loud and overpowering most of the time. For Tulile Mr. Matts asked perfumer Christophe Laudamiel to create a masculine perfume which was embracing, instead. It starts off with a traditional zing of citrus over some aquatic notes. This is a common trope for men’s perfume. M. Laudamiel then starts to shift the paradigm as he uses lily of the valley as the floral heart of Tulile. This is a very floral muguet which combines very well with the watery citrus. It is because the citrus sticks around that Tulile doesn’t become overtly floral. For the base notes M. Laudamiel mixes two woody aromachemicals, Polywood and Ambrox. There is an interesting effect I have found with synthetics like both of these. By themselves they often irritate me. But if they are the right two synthetics they form an accord which is very pleasant. In the case of Tulile the Polywood and Ambrox form an opaque woody accord which is surprisingly soft for something composed of synthetic components. Tulile has 16-18 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I’ll be back over the next few weeks with reviews of the other five perfumes in the line.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Raymond Matts.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews DSH Perfumes Peace, Love, and Perfume- Serious Fun

I think there are times I probably attach too much importance to the business of perfume. It is why I am glad there are opportunities to shake off the self-important stance and remember that perfume is fun. An ongoing opportunity for me to do this has been The PLP Project created to celebrate the third anniversary of the Facebook group Peace-Love-Perfume, or in this world of abbreviated terms, PLP. The originator and ringmaster of the group, Carlos J. Powell, reached out to a number of perfumers to create a perfume. One of the perfumers he contacted was Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes. He gave her a simple brief for each of three perfumes, one for each word in the group name. He asked for Peace to be “a meditative incense fragrance.” Love to be “a sexy animalic fragrance.” Perfume to be “a traditional cologne with a twist on the concept.” Ms. Hurwitz loves these kind of open-ended concepts and I suspect it is because she has fun just letting it rip. One of the things I admire about her is that while these might have a bit more light-heartedness to them they are never anything less than perfumes with Ms. Hurwitz’s consummate skill on display.

plp project

When asked for a meditative incense fragrance as Peace Ms. Hurwitz decides she isn’t just going to rely on the classics like frankincense and myrrh. Nope she throws in a bit of Laotian oud, Bakul attar, and Choya Ral. On top a bit of green champaca leaf and a pairing of rose de mai and orris adds some floralcy but this is the promised incense fragrance. My only quibble is with it being meditative. Peace is a resin lover’s house party. It is so full of interesting resins and combinations I am sure I could never just contemplate a single point while wearing this. It is just like the best gatherings with way too many interesting people around you can’t stop for fear you might miss something. Each time I wore Peace the resins presented themselves slightly differently and that increased my enjoyment immensely.

When Ms. Hurwitz is asked for an animalic fragrance as she was for Love I know I am in for something memorable. Ms. Hurwitz and I have spent a lot of time talking about the great perfumes of the past. When asked to go animalic I knew she would be thinking about those classics. As she did with Peace she makes sure Love is not going to be lacking and so she takes musk, civet, castoreum, and ambergris which are the foundation of those mid-twentieth century perfumes and then twists it with a combination of more contemporary botanical animalics, ambrette, labdanum, and hyracium. This is all matched with a fantastic indolic jasmine and gardenia. This is so over-the-top it reminded me of Norma Desmond and a line she never said, “I am big. It’s the perfume that got small.” Love does feel a bit like an unearthed relic of a few decades ago but it is a delightful riff on perfume from that time period as only a student of those perfumes could accomplish.

dsh_goldroom

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

As regular readers know I love this renaissance of cologne we are currently in. By asking Ms. Hurwitz to deliver a twisted cologne in Perfume I was very excited.  The first twist begins by using a large dose of rhubarb paired with grapefruit. There is a wonderful synergy between these two notes but the real twist comes when she soaks them in a jigger of cognac. This rapidly flows in to an herbal heart of basil paired with fruit and a jasmine-like pittosporum. The transition from the top to the heart is not as abrupt as it might sound. Ms. Hurwitz has smoothed the transition out so it is more gradual than it might seem. Ambrette and vetiver provide a traditional finish to Perfume but there were plenty of twists and turns before allowing us to catch our breath at the end.

Peace and Love are extrait strength and last for 12-14 hours on my skin with minimal sillage. Perfume lasts for 6-8 hours with average sillage.

All three perfumes show Ms. Hurwitz at her best taking a very broad brief and composing three perfumes with a joyful abandon which permeates every moment of Peace, Love, and Perfume.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by DSH Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Amazing Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge

1

Since I am a scientist I am sure it will come as no surprise to any of you that I am also a skeptic when it comes to paranormal phenomenon. It is a consistent source of conversation here between Mrs. C and myself. I apply the scientific method when I analyze anything and most things paranormal fall apart pretty quickly. The hardest to debunk are the claims of psychic powers. Those who claim to have these abilities are amazing when you see them in person. They know things that they shouldn’t know. When one of these is on Mrs. C will often say, “How could he/she know that?” My response is it is a magic trick in the same way a magician reads minds but the magician fully admits it is a trick. My last line of defense has always been The Amazing Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge.

James Randi is a stage magician who goes under the name The Amazing Randi. I first became aware of him in 1973. He was contacted by Johnny Carson just before he was to have psychic Uri Geller on the show. Mr. Randi advised the show on how to present the objects that Mr. Geller would perform upon. At this time Mr. Geller claimed he could bend spoons, stop watches, divine which container had water in it, and reproduce drawings that were in sealed envelopes drawn by someone else. All of these supposedly done with his mind. As you can see in the video above Mr. Geller failed spectacularly in front of a national audience.

james randi

James Randi

In 1964, while on a radio show, Mr. Randi was challenged by the psychic on the air with him to “put his money where his mouth is”. At that time it was a $1,000. Over time it has grown to a million dollars. There is an application process through the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) for anyone who wants to take up the challenge. The challenge is simple; under controlled conditions with agreed upon protocols if anyone can show they have paranormal powers they will be awarded One Million Dollars.

Most years at the convention for skeptics called The Amazing Meeting someone takes a shot. This past year a psychic who claimed to be able to transmit heat or pressure was given the opportunity. If he could do it in eight out of nine subjects he would claim the prize. He failed on the first two subjects and the test was over. This is what normally happens.

According to the JREF website over 1,000 people have applied from 1964 until 2005. With no recent figures supplied it is safe to say there are at least a few hundred more applications in the last ten years. To date there have been no displays of true psychic powers and the scientist/skeptic in me says there never will be.

I am very happy that Mr. Randi affords me the opportunity whenever I am faced with the prospect of some real psychic phenomenon to respond that there is a concrete way to prove it and win a million bucks. That nobody has done it in over 40 years should tell you all you need to know.

Mark Behnke

Thank You to The Original Five

5

I started my own blog less than a year ago and these few months have been an incredible experience for me. Over the course of this year I realize how much I owed to those who started doing this perfume blogging long before I ever thought about doing it. I am always quick to embrace the new but it often leaves me less time to wax eloquent on that which lasts. Back in 2006 when I discovered the perfume groups on the internet I found there were five distinctly different websites which were run by five distinctly different perfume lovers with their own personalities. They were early adopters of this new thing called blogging. For me they were the planted seed of an idea that a personal view of perfume, or any subject, could be expressed on the internet. It would take me a lot longer to finally take my own step of doing it. These Original Five blogs were the forerunners of everything that has come since. As many of them turn 10 years old this year I wanted to take a minute to express my thanks to what each has taught me through their efforts.

blogging

Now Smell This has always been referred to as “the perfume blog of record” by myself and others. If Robin publishes it, it must be true. Robin has set a standard which I try to live up to. Get it right first and foremost. Then never forget its just perfume. There is never a day which passes where I don’t stop by Now Smell This and I know I am not alone in this.

Bois de Jasmin has been the blog of Victoria Frolova for ten years now. It has always been a pleasure to read along with her as she has developed over that time. As she says in her “About Me” section on the site, “One cannot be an expert in this fascinating subject until one spends a lifetime practicing it, so I have a long way to go.” That attitude is one which has always informed my view of being a perfume blogger. I think it is too easy to get caught up in the attention and I need to remind myself that, like Victoria, I have a long way to go.

Perfume Posse is as the name portends is the rowdiest of the early blogs. It is a group effort but the den mother has been Patty White throughout its tenure. Perfume has always been categorized as a feminine pursuit but the gang from the Posse, March, Musette, Tom, and Portia, have always made it seem like a raucous party for all. There is no blog which leaves me with a smile more often and it reminds me that those who love perfume are defined by their passion and not by who they are.

Grain de Musc is the blog of Denyse Beaulieu and has been the blog I look most forward to reading a new post on. Denyse has spent years examining the world of perfume. She has gone from writing about it to teaching to writing a book about being a creative director on a perfume. In short she is the example that all possibilities are open to someone who is genuine in their passion. She reminds me to stay true to myself and to be open for whatever comes next.

The Non-Blonde is Gaia Fishler’s blog not only on perfume but also make-up. Gaia has been everything I aspire to be. She is accurate. She is passionate She is a great support to other bloggers as they start out. She says more in 400 words than most say in 4000. She is a constant presence in my daily reading.  When I grow up as a blogger I want to be The Non-Blonde.

These five women did this blogging thing when it was a crazy idea and they still continue to lead the way every day. They deserve our thanks and appreciation as the foundation upon which all of us who write perfume blogs stand. I want to thank Robin, Victoria, the gang at the Posse, Denyse, and Gaia for blazing the way, you continue to inspire this writer.

Mark Behnke

Perfume 101: Tauer Perfumes

I always admire the pioneers. The ones who do something different that a few years later becomes the norm. Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer is one of those rare individuals. He started his independent Tauer Perfumes label in 2005. With no resources for advertising Hr. Tauer turned to the internet and started reaching out to the nascent perfume blogosphere. He started a blog, which continues to this day, and started letting us in in what it took for him to create a perfume. For ten years he has continued to be one of the most successful independent perfumers in the world. His line of perfumes has grown to 20 which makes it a perfect candidate for Perfume 101. If you’ve never tried any Tauer Perfumes here are five suggestions on where to start.

Andy-Tauer

Andy Tauer

L’Air du Desert Marocain– This might be the most famous independent perfume ever. It received a 5-Star rating in Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s “Perfume: The Guide” in 2008 and the secret was out. I D’Epicediscovered it in mid-2006 and it was like Alice going through the looking glass. The perfume is a beautiful jasmine tinted breath of desert air. It is ethereal and strong in equal parts. From this single perfume I discovered Hr. Tauer’s blog, the world of independent perfumes, and how much I wanted something more than what the mainstream perfume brands were offering. Ten years on and all of these things still thrill me.

Incense Rose– In 2008 Hr. Tauer released two incense based perfumes. I preferred Incense Rose over Incense Extreme precisely because of the rose in the name. In both he uses a sumptuous frankincense but it is Incense Rose which uses the rose as a more endearing partner.

andy tauer rose

Une Rose Chypree– Hr. Tauer has explored rose extensively throughout his career and there are more perfumes within the collection which feature that note than any other. Une Rose Chypree is a good place to start the rose portion of the Tauer Perfumes experience because it is the most approachable of all of them as it is what it is advertised as a rich chypre featuring rose. If this becomes one of your favorites you will have a wonderful time trying the other takes on rose by Hr. Tauer.

Eau D’Epices– Another recurring theme of Hr. Tauer’s is that of orange blossom and/or orange married with spice. In Eau D’Epices the usually demure orange blossom is taken for a ride by orris and jasmine. By the time she gets home she’s learned a few spicy new tricks as she reeks of cinnamon, clove and cardamom. Eau D’Epices is my second favorite of Hr. Tauer’s perfumes.

Cologne du Maghreb– Born of a discussion on his blog which asked out loud if he could create an all-natural all-botanical cologne. He did but at first it was a tiny batch that only a few got to try. In 2014 he made a larger amount and released it to the public. This perfume is a testament to the imagination and creativity of Hr. Tauer. It also shows that almost ten years on he still has the same drive he started with.

Hr. Tauer is one of the great people in all of perfumery. I only met him in person for the first time this past September at Pitti Fragranze. He is everything in person I have been corresponding with for ten years. Give the five perfumes above a try they are some of the best that independent perfumery has to offer.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur 2015 Hopes and Wishes

After spending the last three days looking back over 2014 it is now time to turn our attention from over our shoulder to the far horizon. For the first day of 2015 I have a few things I hope and wish for to have happen over the next 365 days.

olivier and jacques polge

Olivier (l.) and Jacques Polge

I really want Chanel to make another great perfume. The last one which was at this level was 2008’s Sycomore for the Les Exclusifs Collection. For a brand which is one of the pillars of modern perfumery that is far too long. I hope Polge Pere et Fils collaborate on something which reminds all of us that this is one of the great perfume labels.

I hope Estee Lauder treats its new properties, Le Labo and Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, with the respect they showed by wanting to acquire them. I believe they are going to do a good job with them. I hope I am right twelve months from now.

I am extremely curious to see the first perfume Christine Nagel produces for Hermes. I think she will be a worthy successor to Jean-Claude Ellena. I hope her first effort confirms that.

I want a big crossover success for an independent perfumer. When Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain was the first to do this in 2005 it seemed like we were on the cusp of perfume by the little guys making as big an impact as the conglomerates. Since then we have not seen a success of that magnitude. There is too much talent out there right now and the Estee Lauder acquisitions has brought attention back to the niche and independent perfume sector. I know one of you has something in your creative imagination that can do this. I wish for everyone to know how good you are.

I hope the second edition of The Art + Olfaction Awards continues to grow and nurture the independent perfume community. The huge jump in submissions for the upcoming edition tells me this is more of a certainty than anything else on this page.

Elements

I hope Elements Showcase returns to New York this year. As the only US example of the great European fairs like Esxence and Pitti Fragranze I have always wanted it to succeed. As of right now they haven’t announced plans for 2015. I hope it isn’t too far into the year that I have some dates to put on my calendar.

I wish for less new releases in 2015. I also wish for a world free of hunger. Both of these wishes have about the same chance of happening.

One non-perfume hope is for the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens to be the Star Wars movie I’ve been waiting thirty years for. I think JJ Abrams is the man who can actually pull that off.

high dive

Finally, I wish for a very happy and healthy 2015 to all the readers of Colognoisseur. One year ago I was looking off the edge of the high dive deciding if I wanted to do my own blog. It took me a month to finally get the nerve to take the leap. For all of you looking from the edge of your own platform at that water way down there, I hope you decide to take the leap.

Mark Behnke