New Perfume Review Jul et Mad Acqua Sextius- Love Story Part IV

There are so many inspirations which turn into perfume but the story behind Jul et Mad is, I think, unique. Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica-Blanchard are the owners and Creative Directors of Jul et Mad which comes from the abbreviation of their first names. The first three fragrances followed the pair from Lexington Avenue in NYC to a café in Paris and left us with them on a palazzo in Venice. For the fourth fragrance in the Histoire D’Amour series, Acqua Sextius, our lovers travel to Aix-en-Provence where they will wed.

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The Real Jul et Mad

For Acqua Sextius perfumer Cecile Zarokian was asked to be the interpreter of chapter four.  The name comes from the original name given Aix-en-Provence by Roman consul Gaius Sextius in 123 BC. The Acqua is particularly appropriate as Aix-en-Provence is now known for its over 100 fountains and its famous thermal springs. Mme Zarokian captures the green vitality of a summer day in the South of France at the same time there is a very clever watery theme running throughout. This turns Acqua Sextius into a sort of green aquatic although it often times feels in a class of its own.

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Cecile Zarokian

Mme Zarokian wakes us up with a sparkle of sunlight streaming into our bedroom; she combines a citrus trio of lemon, orange, and grapefruit with a translucent veil of green notes as if one was looking at the sun through gauzy green curtains. This is a wonderfully executed opening which brims with the potential of the day ahead. In a nod to the thermal baths a bit of eucalyptus and mint deepen the green and an application of ozonic notes give the impression of a spa bath. A bouquet of floral notes centered on mimosa make up the heart of Acqua Sextius. Mme Zarokian keeps them light and playful and as we head outside a fig tree adds in its luscious creamy greenness. Mme Zarokian uses labdanum to deepen the green theme as we are now walking in green fields. Ambergris carries the smell of the nearby Etang de Berre. For most of the time Acqua Sextius is on my skin this is where things stay; as a pleasant mix of aquatic, floral, and green. Many hours after applying it everything turns lightly woody with cedar and gaiac mixing with a light sheer musk which is the perfect easy way to end our day in Provence.

Acqua Sextius is an Extrait de Parfum and despite its ineffable lightness it lasts overnight on my skin. The sillage is also more than one might expect from an Extrait de Parfum but you won’t be leaving a vapor trail in your wake.

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Fontaine de la Rotonde on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence

One of things I am coming to admire about the way Mme Zarokian composes her fragrances is deftness of precision which places each note in its proper place. I also admire that even though she works for many different brands her style does not impose its will upon each brand's characteristics. Acqua Sextius is clearly a Cecile Zarokian fragrance but it is even more importantly a Jul et Mad fragrance and I am sure that is due to a very close working relationship throughout the process of finishing Acqua Sextius. For me the fragrant wedding of one of my favorite perfumers and favorite creative directors is a complete success. I will be wearing Acqua Sextius throughout the upcoming summer pretending my backyard is a field in Provence.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Acqua Sextius provided by Jul et Mad at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ann Gerard Parfum Rose Cut-Brilliance & Depth

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Often when I am at an exposition like Esxence with so much to experience there is a real concern I might miss something worthwhile. For the first two days I was at the most recent version of Esxence I kept walking by Ann Gerard making a mental note to stop and try her newest release, Rose Cut, but every time I was near I was heading to an appointment. On Saturday morning I received an e-mail from Lila Das Gupta of Basenotes as she was waiting to catch a flight home. She told me she was wearing Rose Cut and she loved it. That was enough for me to make my next appointment with Mme Gerard and I duly walked over to introduce myself and have her present Rose Cut. To cut to the chase Lila was right but I’ll give you a little more detail.

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Ann Gerard

Rose Cut follows up the first three perfumes released in 2012, Ciel d’Opale, Cuir de Nacre, and Perle de Mousse. Mme Gerard worked with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour on those and she rekindled the relationship for Rose Cut. The relationship between Mme Gerard and M. Duchaufour is a bit of a mutual admiration society as M. Duchaufour was a customer of Mme Gerard’s bespoke jewelry creations before he became her perfumer. As a result there is a more dynamic relationship between creative director and perfumer as Mme Gerard speaks in abstract ideas and M. Duchaufour translates them into perfume. There is a real affection between the two of them and the perfume they produce shows that connection.

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Rose Cut Diamond Ring

The name Rose Cut refers to a particular way to cut a diamond to allow the facets to reflect in such a way that it looks like a rose. As I learned more about the rose cut I found out it is a shallow cut so that it allows a maximum amount of light to refract off the symmetrical surfaces cut in to the stone. As I was wearing Rose Cut and reading about rose cut diamonds I could see M. Duchaufour composing a fragrance which captures the essential sparkle and concurrent depth a rose cut diamond displays. I also thought you could also interpret Rose Cut as the act of removing a rose from the bush at the peak of its blooming. Rose Cut the perfume encompasses both of these descriptions as M. Duchaufour has brilliance to spare throughout and depth of design all coalesced around a lush rose focal point.

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Bertrand Duchaufour

M. Duchaufour uses a magazine of aldehydes to create that opening brilliance along with a little bit of pink pepper. Then he brings in the rum accord he has perfected in the last few years and instead of turning this boozy it adds a louche depth against which the aldehydes shimmer upon. Out of this comes a classic rose and patchouli combination which forms the heart of Rose Cut. The rum gives an interesting bit of contrast and some peony keeps the rose on the fresh side of things. The base is assembled from comfort notes of vanilla, oak, and benzoin to finish Rose Cut with a slightly sweet coda.

Rose Cut has all-day longevity and way above average sillage.

I hope I would have eventually made my way over to Mme Gerard without Lila’s prompting but I am happy for the prodding because Rose Cut was one of the star fragrances of the entire show for me. As much as I liked the original three releases Rose Cut is a cut above them and really does the best job yet at capturing the sparkle of a diamond as a perfume. It is a sophisticated lively rose perfume that is as good as it gets.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Ann Gerard Parfum at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke

All Photos by Sabine Hartl & Olaf-Daniel Meyer except for the diamond ring photograph.

New Perfume Review Olfactive Studio Ombre Indigo-Shadowy Perspectives

When I am out walking my two standard poodles on the night of a full moon; the yard is filled with shadows as the dogs and I cast shadows either from the moonlight or the electric floodlights. The size and intensity of those shadows varies depending on our respective positions in the yard. It is an interesting study of perspective. Perfumes also like to capture shadows and through them also add unique perspectives to what those shadows are representing. Creative Director Celine Verleure of Olfactive Studio was also thinking about shadows for her latest release Ombre Indigo.

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Photo by Gustavo Pellizzon

Every Olfactive Studio fragrance begins with a brief based on a photograph. For Ombre Indigo Mme Verleure chose the picture above by Brazilian photographer Gustavo Pellizzon. This picture was part of Sr. Pellizzon’s 2012 photgraphic series “Encante” inspired by Brazilian myths and legends. If you click on the link you will see the rest of the series, with the exception of one, are all bright. The inspiration piece for Ombre Indigo is unique within the collection. When I look at the picture I am struck by two things; the indeterminate nature of the person at the center. Is it male of female? Young or Old? Sr. Pellizzon has seemingly photographed a shadow made solid. The second thing is the saffron colored clothing. It is a contrasting splash of color which only deepens the reflection of the indigo water except for one echo of the saffron in the upper left corner. Mme Verleure had posted this picture on her Facebook page and it had captured my attention from the moment I saw it. I had a week to think what a fragrance from this picture would smell like until I met Mme Verleure at Esxence in Milan.

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Mylene Alran

I had also seen a picture of the bottle and knew the juice was colored blue but it is as blue as the water in the photograph and the depth of the color creates another visual shadow to complete the eye candy prior to smelling the perfume. Mme Verleure tapped Robertet perfume Mylene Alran to produce the perfume. Mme Alran chose tuberose and vetiver as the central themes but she carefully turns them from the powerhouse notes that often overwhelm fragrances into dancing shadows. By using notes like bigarade, leather, or incense to provide the more intense floodlight variety of shadow. Or saffron, plum, and papyrus to shine a little diffuse moonlight on the central notes; Ombre Indigo leaves me delightedly pursuing these shadows while I wear it.

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Celine Verleure

Ombre Indigo opens with a fully realized bigarade oozing its slightly sulfurous nature and then the tuberose comes next but accompanied by saffron and plum. If you’re used to tuberose knocking you off your feet Mme Alran gives you a tuberose that is a shadow of that incarnation. This is delightfully precise perfumery of the highest order to keep the tuberose in check. The vetiver then arrives and together the tuberose and vetiver form the central accord for the remainder of Ombre Indigo’s development. Papyrus slides a veil of green over the vetiver and tuberose drawing one’s attention to that facet lurking in the background of both core notes. A very animalic leather accord comes next and that enhances the indolic nature of the tuberose and turns the vetiver more deeply woody. The final stages are a sturdy amber and musk drydown to allow the tuberose and vetiver a final point of reflection.

Ombre Indigo lasts all-day on me and has above average sillage.

Ombre Indigo is the most complete package of visual and olfactory treat that Olfactive Studio has produced, so far. There is nothing out of place as every piece of the puzzle fits together to form a fascinating experience. With each new release Mme Verleure’s consistent vision continues to produce perfume of the highest quality which deserves to be displayed in the brightest light. This has become my favorite Olfactive Studio fragrance to date for the completeness of vision produced by Mme Verleure, Sr. Pellizzon, and Mme Alran. I think the only shadows one will find Ombre Indigo in are those of its own making.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Ombre Indigo provided by Olfactive Studio at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfum D’Empire Corsica Furiosa- A Flash of Green

Growing up in South Florida I spent many sunsets on a boat in the water. Watching those sunsets I saw a distinct phenomenon called a “green flash”. As the last sliver of sun starts to drop below the horizon you can see a green halo form right at the top of the curve which grows in intensity as the sun drops and just as the sun disappears the sky will light up with a flash of green. I used to love watching this from the bow of my boat as it felt like the sun was building up a verdant charge before letting it flare across the sky. It wasn’t something I would expect a fragrance to remind me of but ever since I sniffed the new Parfum D’Empire Corsica Furiosa it is the image which keeps coming to my mind.

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Marc-Antoine Corticchiato hasn’t had a new release for Parfum D’Empire since 2012’s Musc Tonkin. For me that was going to be hard act to follow as I named Musc Tonkin my best new fragrance of 2012. Oftentimes when following up something as good as that perfumers can fall into a number of traps. For his follow-up to Musc Tonkin M. Corticchiato chooses to go away from the deeply animalic and instead explore the nature of green in perfume. Corsica Furiosa is built around a spine of lentiscus, otherwise known as mastic resin, which gives a lemon tinged viscous green nucleus to start from. M. Corticchiato then swirls in all kind of shades of green to interact with the resin and just as it builds in intensity it releases in an olfactory flash of green that fills the senses before finally settling into a leather base to relax.

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Marc-Antoine Corticchiato

There is a lime component in the top notes which is perfect to pick up on the lemon tinge of the lentiscus. It makes the early going tarter and I see tart as green so this is where the first layer of green appears. A bit of balsam adds a woody facet of green and turns this more forest glade before another turn and a cut-grass accord turns it into open field. Then here is where a particularly beautiful transition takes place as the green grass dries out into a sweet hay accord where some honey is used to amplify the sweet dried grass aspect of the hay. This is where Corsica Furiosa all of a sudden releases a ball of energy as moss and labdanum seem to cause this perfume to go from tightly focused intensity to diffuse sheerness. It is an arresting transition on my skin and in my mind’s eye the olfactory sky has just gone entirely green. A leather accord forms the base notes and the lentiscus is still very present but now it seems as if it has spent all of its energy and needs to sit down in a leather armchair for a rest.

Corsica Furiosa has all-day longevity and above average sillage.

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Corsica Fruriosa is a more than worthy sequel to Musc Tonkin it captivates me in an entirely different way. Corsica Furiosa leaves me on the bow of my boat waiting for the moment of breathtaking beauty to come and knowing it will be there every time.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Parfum D’Empire at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Nose- Searching for Blamage

The very last event I attended at Esxence 2014 was a screening of the documentary “The Nose-Searching for Blamage”. Director Paul Rigter followed perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri of Nasomatto around as he designed his tenth, and final, Nasomatto fragrance. Sig. Gualtieri wanted to call this last fragrance Blamage which is loosely translated as mistake. The opening of the movie shows Sig. Gualtieri talking about how some of the more famous perfumes in history were improved by adding too much or too little of an ingredient. For this last fragrance in the Nasomatto line he wanted to leave it all up to chance what he would use to create Blamage. He had his assistant blindfold him with a plaster blindfold and then walk him over to his wall of raw materials where six random ingredients were selected. These would form the core of Blamage.

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After the blindfold was removed and Sig. Gualtieri saw what he had chosen he exclaims, not for the last time, “Cazzo!” The subtitle translates it as “shit” and for the rest of the film when the word is used it goes unsubtitled. What is great about the way Sig. Gualtieri uses the word is its meaning is all dependent on the tone of his voice. When he is looking at sandalwood in Delhi, India it is said with weary disgust at the cheap materials. When he is smelling one of the mods of Blamage it is said with a smile and suppressed laugh as his task at meshing these six disparate notes is proving difficult but also fun.

Throughout the almost one-hour running time we watch Sig. Gualtieri as he visits Milan for Esxence in 2012 and goes throughout the city leaving little altars of scent, as seen in the clip above. His visit to Delhi, India on a search for raw ingredients has a funny turn as he walks by a store with a knockoff of his Black Afgano. His reaction is priceless as the artist assesses the knockoff.

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By the end of the year Mr. Rigter had to stop filming before the final version of Blamage was finished. At Esxence 2014 the bottle was on display and at the movie showing a bottle was given away to a lucky attendee who was surrounded by many to get a chance to smell the result of this intentional mistake. Mr. Rigter has captured much of what is special about Sig. Gualtieri in the world of perfumery. His irreverence coupled with his serious love of making unusual fragrances comes through via Mr. Rigter’s lens.

For anyone who loves Nasomatto I think The Nose-Searching for Blamage will make you appreciate the perfumer behind your favorite perfume. If you’ve never tried a Nasomatto fragrance I’d be surprised if you aren’t a little interested in trying one after spending an hour with Sig. Gualtieri on film. The Nose- Searching for Blamage is a wonderful insight into one of our most iconoclastic perfumers.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: The Nose- Searching for Blamage will be shown at the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto, Canada on Apr 26, 27, and May 3, 2014. For more info click on this link.

Welcome to the Colognaissance!

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One of my favorite pop culture terms is the one used to refer to actor Matthew McConaughey’s reinvention of his acting career which lead to him winning the Best Actor Oscar, for Dallas Buyer’s Club, a month ago. The term for the winning streak he has been on is “McConaissance”. I like it because it succinctly describes how this lightly regarded romantic comedy actor more known for being People’s Sexiest Man alive in 2005 has become this respected dramatic actor without really changing much of anything but the acting roles he has chosen.

As I was walking around Esxence 2014 I began to realize there is a sort of a fragrance equivalent going on. It started to hit me after spending time with Luc Gabriel of The Different Company talking about the seven fragrances which make up the L’Esprit Cologne Series. It became a little more solid while chatting with Jean-Christophe Le Greves of Thirdman. It finally became a fully formed idea when Etienne de Swardt of Etat Libre D’Orange showed me his new release titled simply Cologne. Yes I’m going there; we are in the midst of a Colognaissance.

matthew mcconaughey stetson

For far too many years cologne was seen as the perfume equivalent of wine in a box. No discerning lover of fragrance would be caught wearing a cologne. Those were the out-dated smells of our fathers who likely wore too much of something like Faberge Brut or Dana English Leather. The cologne was turned into a trifle and a punchline and it pretty much stayed that way for forty years in the US. Even Mr. McConaughey was enlisted as the celebrity face behind Stetson Cologne. This devaluing of cologne never seemed to take place anywhere else in the world. Things got so bad that cologne became synonymous with cheap fragrance. What was needed was a group of creative minds to turn this around.

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Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter

Just as Mr. McConaughey found a way to be cast in roles with more heft Creative Directors and owners of Atelier Cologne, Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, created a “new” version called cologne absolue. The cologne absolue was a higher concentration version, pushing 20% perfume oil. What this addressed was one of the perceived issues around colognes, their lack of longevity on the wearer’s skin. By upping the oil percentage and finding a way to retain the cologne architecture and balance Atelier Cologne rapidly began to pick up converts. Atelier Cologne has continued to push the envelope on what a cologne can be, even choosing heavier keynotes like leather or amber and still managing to make a fragrance identifiably a cologne.

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Thirdman Cologne

Perfumer Emilie Coppermann working under Luc Gabriel’s creative direction took some of the finest ingredients never found in colognes previously and throughout the seven L’Esprit Cologne Series showed they could be turned into luxurious luminous compositions. Jean-Claude Ellena at Hermes has added four new Eau de Colognes to the original Eau de Orange Verte. Each of these explore a specific duality of two notes and are among some of the best work M. Ellena has done while at Hermes. One of the most recent lines to join the Colognaissance has been Thirdman, under the creative direction M. Le Greves, which has made completely modern colognes meant to be splashed on liberally and often. I kept my bottle of Eau Monumentale in the refrigerator so I could catch a cool splash in the summer.

All of these lines are worth exploring if you have not tried them up until now. I have all of them on permanent rotation once the mercury soars as they all refresh the spirit as a good cologne should do. What is nice is that along with the refreshment there is also a wonderful spread of styles and aesthetics to choose from. As we finally leave winter behind start thinking about joining the Colognaissance the choices have never been better.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfums DelRae Wit- The Truth of Nature

I admire a Creative Director who takes their time and won’t release a new fragrance until they consider it done. Since 2010 I would infrequently inquire of DelRae Roth of Parfums DelRae if there was something new coming soon. The answer I received was that she and perfumer Yann Vasnier were working very hard to make this next fragrance perfect. When I would press a little further she would let me know it was based around a flower which is a harbinger of spring and that’s it. It was with a lot of joy I received my sample of the new release, Wit, because this winter has left me wanting something to get me through these last few days of cold. Wit absolutely fits the bill as Ms. Roth and M. Vanier’s labor has paid off in an extraordinary green floral based on the flower Daphne.

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DelRae Roth

Ms. Roth tells how she came to want to use Daphne as the core note of Wit in the press materials, “I have always loved to walk. Regardless of where I am, I love to be able to walk from place to place. I discovered the gorgeous, beguilingly fresh Daphne on one such stroll many years ago. It was late February and I was stunned and captivated by the small, intensely fragrant flowers. Daphne is one of the first flowers to bloom in early spring. Its delicious lemony, neroli scent is such a surprise and delight in the chill and gray of winter.”

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Daphne

I had never encountered Daphne before but I was able to get a sniff of it after trying Wit for the first time and Ms. Roth accurately describes it as a hybrid of neroli and lemon. There are some indoles around and there is a tingly tartness to the bloom. M. Vasnier turned to the Givaudan proprietary ScentTrek technology to acquire an extract of Daphne Cneorum and he also employed a ScentTrek Meyer Lemon note on top. What is special about these raw materials is they are extracted in the wild and when they are used properly they are the familiar rendered as something more vital.

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Yann Vasnier

The beginning of Wit is that ScentTrek Meyer Lemon acting as a ray of sunshine banishing the early morning chill. M. Vasnier allows the lemon to own the early going and supports it with mandarin and angelica. The lemon remains as the flowers start to respond to the light as a bit of laurel begins the floral ascendency. The Daphne arrives next and because it is a ScentTrek version it feels very much like a simulacrum of the real bloom. There is the bit of waxy lemony quality which is complemented by the remains of the Meyer Lemon. The indolic nature is slightly amplified by using narcissus and jasmine. Mimosa and ylang ylang accentuate the neroli quality. All of these notes serve as the figurative black velvet for the ScentTrek Daphne jewel to shimmer and sparkle against. What I like about Wit, as a spring floral, is this almost photorealistic heart as it never gets too flowery or fresh as the lemon and the indoles keep this from being that common over the top floral perfume. The base notes add a bit of midday warmth with amber, vanilla, and musk providing the glow at the end.

Wit has all day longevity and average sillage.

If you need an example of what uncompromising principles and hard work can produce Wit is a fine Exhibit A. I can definitely tell there were a lot of mods that were close but just missing something. I am very thankful that Ms. Roth and M. Vasnier stuck to their guns and after four years produced a beautiful new floral fragrance which will easily take its place among the best of Parfums DelRae’s collection.

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

Mark Behnke

Perfume Mythbusters Love Potion No. 9?

One of the more pervasive fallacies when it comes to fragrance is the idea that there is a magic elixir that when worn will cause the object of your desire to fall madly in love with you, or in lust with you. I can’t say I am immune to the sentiment as the first bottle of perfume I owned was Jovan Musk. Why? Because at the age of thirteen the ads intimated that women were crazy about men who wore musk. Of course Hai Karate intimated I would need a black belt to fend off the women if I wore that. What I found out pretty quickly was it wasn’t the way I smelled that lead to success with women it was a lot of other things of which fragrance was just a component.

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For many years this always seemed like a concept held exclusively by men, and women were above this kind of simplistic thinking but the recent release of Le Premier Parfum changes that. Le Premier Parfum allows the chakra associated with sex to open and in their press materials they flat out say, “Le Premier Parfum is not merely a fragrance, but an aphrodisiac.” So much for the more evolved gender. The two women behind the brand have been giving interviews urging women to, “wear it responsibly.” I guess that is their version of safe sex. This is as nonsensical as the idea of Creed Aventus causing women to lose their senses and drape themselves on the man wearing it.

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The truth of this is there is not one scientific study which has ever shown any particular scent to immediately cause the object of one’s desire to go weak in the knees and let their chakras do the talking. A lot of the confusion comes from the idea of pheromones. In the insect world pheromones have been well studied and proven to exist. These substances are used to convey a lot of specific primal information from alarm, to a trail to follow back to food, and yes, sex. So because the bees do it the suggestion is so should we humans. Except there has never been any human pheromone identified to do what it does in the insect kingdom. Of course that doesn’t stop perfumes from claiming they have the magical non-existent pheromone in their fragrance. The bottom line is there has been no unequivocal scientific proof that a human pheromone exists and there are certainly none in the fragrances which claim to have them in them.

When it comes to scent and how we perceive others there have been some interesting studies which show when a woman wears grapefruit fragrances she is perceived as much younger. A very recent study has shown the smell of cedar has the opposite effect when it comes to men with people seeing a man as older than his age when wearing a cedar fragrance. The real point is that fragrance does have the ability to shape our opinion of others but not to cause them to go all googly eyed and become one’s fawning acolyte for a night. That is why when searching for the mythical Love Potion No. 9 instead look for the fragrance which complements your personal style. It is the complete package which is the real attraction between people and your fragrance is part of that package but most of the rest of the work is up to you.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Esxence 2014 Final Wrap-Up Part 2- The Top 10 New Fragrances I Tried

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By my count I tried 68 new fragrances over the three days I spent in Milan at Esxence. This doesn’t include the ones I had already tried before Esxence like the nu_be Mercury and Sulphur, Neela Vermeire Mohur Extrait, or Maria Candida Gentile Finesterre all of which probably would have made the list if this was the first time I had tried them. Keep in mind these are all the most initial of impressions as I rationed my skin space like I was Scrooge McDuck. Over the upcoming weeks you can expect much more detailed reviews of all of these because these are the perfumes which have me the most excited to wear over the next few days. In alphabetical order here are my Top 10 New Fragrances from Esxence 2014.

Ann Gerard Rose Cut by Bertrand Duchaufour– Rose Cut refers to the name of a jewelers cut of a finished stone. The fragrance Rose Cut displays itself like a brilliant jewel with sparkling facets and reflective depths throughout. Right from the start, M. Duchaufour mixes an opening accord of aldehydes and rum which sparkles and mesmerizes simultaneously.

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Arquiste The Architects Club by Yann Vasnier-Creative Director Carlos Huber sets the place as 1930’s Mayfair in London. M. Vasnier first sets the mood by embellishing the clubby aspects of dark woods and leather which all changes in a flash of citrus, juniper, and cardamom. The Architects Club goes from staid to wanton in the blink of an eye and the olfactory transition is as dynamic as lemon twist added to a dry martini.

David Jourquin Cuir Altesse by Cecile Zarokian– David Jourquin has followed up his two 2011 releases with two more leather focused creations. Cuir Altesse was probably my favorite fragrance by Mme Zarokian in the entire show and considering how many fragrances she had on display that is not faint praise. The cardamom opening flows into a magnificent cumin and jasmine heart before going all leathery in the base. Cuir Altesse strummed all of my fragrant pleasure centers.

Humiecki & Graef Abime by Les Christophs– Abime is meant to be the perfume of pain. Les Christophs use an overdose of narcissus to achieve a perfume equivalent of that tightness I feel in my forehead when I am fighting off the dull throb of aches. Once again Humiecki & Graef’s creative team of Sebastian Fischenich and Tobias Muksch allow Les Christophs the freedom to create something which exposes the beauty of every facet of “la condition humaine”.

Jul et Mad Aqua Sextius by Cecile Zarokian– The story of creative directors Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica’s relationship is the story of Jul et Mad perfumes. For Aqua Sextius we visit Aix-en-Provence where a wedding will take place. Mme Zarokian sets up an altar of green and citrus notes draped over a woody frame. It feels like a summer day in Provence full of life and love.

Le Galion Whip– If I wanted to make this list easy I could’ve just listed the nine fragrances in this collection and added one more and been done. Le Galion was easily the most buzzed about line at Esxence this year, justifiably so. Owner and Creative Director Nicolas Chabot has resurrected this perfume house which went out of business in the 1980’s. With the blessing of the surviving daughter of the family of perfumers behind the brand M. Chabot has, perhaps, made the best Retro Nouveau re-creations yet. Each of these feel like perfume the way it used to be done but with some added modern twists of current materials. It adds the Nouveau to the Retro and it has been done exquisitely across the line. Whip’s spiced citrus leather concoction grabbed me the most but this truly was the booth I walked away from with the biggest smile on my face.

Naomi Goodsir Or du Serail by Bertrand Duchaufour– Naomi Goodsir Parfums impressed me with their first two releases but the third completely obsessed me. Ms Goodsir was the very first booth I visited and the strip of Or du Serail I walked around with all day got sniffed over and over. M. Duchaufour, under Ms. Goodsir’s and partner Renaud Coutaudier’s creative direction, created the most textural perfume I tried with tactile depths and olfactory wonders which languidly unfolded delightfully over hours and hours

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Olfactive Studio Ombre Indigo by Mylene Alran– Creative Director Celine Verleure gave perfumer Mme Alran a picture of a person of indeterminate gender wading into shadowy water (seen above). The resulting perfume which also carries the deep blue liquid to go with the picture is a study of shadows. Tuberose, saffron, vetiver, papyrus, and leather form a shadowy conclave of mysterious beauty.

Parfum D’Empire Corsica Furiosa by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato– It has been over a year, since the brilliant Musc Tonkin, for perfumer M. Corticchiato to dazzle me again. With Corsica Furiosa he seems to gather every shade of olfactory green together to form a pastiche that continues to plumb the depths of what it means to be green.

The Different Company Nuit Magnetique by Christine Nagel– Creative Director Luc Gabriel assures me this is Mme Nagel’s last fragrance before taking up her new position at Hermes. She delivered it to him on March 4th and started her new job on March 6th. If anyone wonders why I think she is so special Nuit Magnetique might convert some doubters. The top note pairing of ginger and blueberry is captivating only to be followed by another weird but wonderful pairing of jasmine and prune in the heart. Nuit Magnetique exerted a pull over me I couldn’t shake.

There were so many good fragrances at this year’s Esxence that I had a very hard time narrowing it down to ten. Full reviews of these and many others will be coming over the following weeks. Leave a comment if there is one you are particularly interested in and if there is a consensus I’ll move it up the list.

Mark Behnke

Part 1 of my Final Wrap-Up can be found here.

My live wrap-ups for Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

Colognoisseur Esxence 2014 Final Wrap-Up Part 1- The People

It has been about 48 hours since I left the Triennale di Milano for the last time. Since then all of the scents and sounds of the weekend have been macerating in my memory. I am going to split my final wrap-up of the 2014 version of Esxence into two parts. For this first part I’m going to go through the people who make writing about perfume so much fun.

michael edwards

I have to start with my interview subject of Saturday morning, Michael Edwards. The opportunity to work so closely with Mr. Edwards was a very special honor for me. He is an invaluable resource to the perfume community and it was a lot of fun watching him have the SRO crowd in the theatre leaning forward to listen to every word.

bertrand duchaufourcecile zarokian

When it came to the perfume on display it seemed like there were two perfumers who were the unquestioned stars of Esxence 2014; Bertrand Duchaufour and Cecile Zarokian. Both of them were circulating among the many different perfume lines they produced new releases for. As it seemed I couldn’t walk two or three steps without running into one of them or one of their creations I realized there was something very similar about both of them. As independent “guns for hire” they both seem to excel at meshing their personal style with the brand aesthetic of whoever they are working for. While M. Duchaufour is, and has been, a known quantity I reiterate what I said earlier this year; 2014 is going to be a breakout year for Mme Zarokian. I suspect we will look back to this 2014 version of Esxence and realize it was The Bertrand and Cecile Show.

The very lovely Sarah Colton, the Paris Correspondent for Beauty Fashion, introduced me to perfumer Thomas Fontaine. M. Fontaine is the perfumer responsible for reformulating the classic Jean Patou perfumes and we had the opportunity to talk about what’s next. In response to what he was working on he told me it was a new version of Vacances. I am very hopeful that he is the right man for the job not only for what he has done for the first three Jean Patou re-releases but also for the work he has done recreating another old perfume house Le Galion. The Le Galion line was the most buzzed about new fragrance collection at Esxence as Roja Dove and Michael Edwards both called it out as one of the best things they tried. You can add me to that list, too.

I met Etienne de Swardt of Etat Libre D’Orange for the first time and I admired the passion which he still has for his perfume line. Many perfume lines have come and gone since 2006 but M. de Swardt keeps ELDO going strong with an engaging smile and a laugh. I wish more people exuded as much joy as he does.

naomi goodsir1

I renewed my acquaintance with Naomi Goodsir and Renaud Coutaudier of Naomi Goodsir Parfums. As we spoke about their latest release Or du Serail they told me they let their personal instincts help them decide when M. Duchaufour had finally delivered a finished mod. So far this method has produced three very individual olfactory statements and I know that they will keep allowing their line to develop based on these instincts.

I don’t speak French and perfumers Marc-Antoine Corticchiato of Parfums D’Empire and Anais Biguine of Jardins D’Ecrivains don’t speak English but my body language and large smile communicated my pleasure at their latest releases without any language barrier.

This barely scratches the surface of everyone who I spent time talking to. Some of these conversations planted some seeds which I hope will sprout into some future stories for Colognoisseur.

For Part 2 tomorrow I’ll let you know what I thought the top 10 new fragrances were that I tried at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke

My daily live wrap-ups can be found here for Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

All photos courtesy of Esxence Facebook page by Michele Dell'utri