The Sunday Magazine: Fantasy Football

For the next ten days I will be consumed with football players and how many points they can score for me. No I haven’t won the lottery and purchased a National Football League team. I am just one of an estimated 40 million fans who play fantasy football.

Fantasy football is a game where you build a team of current players by drafting them from a pool of all players. Each owner in the fantasy league builds a team this way. Each week throughout the season you match your team of players against another owner’s team of players. All of the stats those players accumulate on that specific weekend count toward that week’s score. Whoever has the most points after the last game has been played has won the match. I have been doing this for fifteen years and it has dramatically changed the way I watch football on Sunday. It has also been embraced by the NFL as according to Forbes the fantasy football market provided $11 billion in revenue in 2012. That is more than the $10 billion made from traditional things like jersey sales and such. This disparity can only have gotten bigger.

jamaal charles

Jamaal Charles the consensus No. 1 pick

One of the reasons for the support from the NFL is it encourages fans to watch games not involving their home, or favorite, team. Most players I play with will have a couple players from their favorite team but you usually can’t, and don’t want to, fill your team up with players from one team. I know on Sunday I watch the Dolphins play but for the rest of the day I am paying attention to the games that not only have my players in them but also the games which have the players my opponent is using. Television ratings for the NFL have continued to rise every year and I believe fantasy football fuels some of this. I have purchased NFL Sunday Ticket just so I can watch any game I want to; i.e. the game with my players in it.

These next few days are arguably the most fun as I connect with the other owners in an online draft room and start picking players. I play in seven leagues all of which I have participated in from 3-15 years. I have had good years and won championships and bad years. 2013 was a bad year for me as I did uniformly bad across all of my leagues. My strategy has always been to target a few key players that I try to draft on most of my teams. Last year all of those players got injured or did not produce high enough point totals. Which means I will be drafting highly in most of my leagues allowing me to potentially turn things around.

Instead of assessing the latest from Guerlain, Comme des Garcons, and Chanel. I’ll be deciding between Charles, McCoy and Forte to spend my draft pick on. For the next ten days those are the most important names to me.

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds: Avon Calling!

My first exposure to Avon was our local Avon Lady who visited our house regularly. There were commercials with the tag line “Avon Calling!” Many of those companies which sold door-to-door in the 1960’s and 1970’s were made obsolete by the internet. Avon has not only adapted they have thrived with $10 biliion in sales in 2013. They have managed to navigate the shifting fortunes and stake out a place for themselves. As I went through the box of fragrance supplied by my friend who is a current Avon Lady I was impressed with the consistency of the collection as a whole. Current Creative Director Isabel Lopes and her predecessors all understand how to make an appealing fragrance for their customers at a more than appealing price, around $20. The epitome of Discount Diamonds. Here are five more I think are worth giving a try.

Haiku Kyoto Flower by perfumer Pierre Negrin is the latest flanker to 2001’s Haiku, whose gauzy lilting green was also good. The newest member of the Haiku family is a little more outgoing. M. Negrin uses sharp violet made greener with blackcurrant. This is very much a recognizable opening from many niche perfumes but made more palatable by keeping it very light. The heart is peony and orange blossom, pretty and more pronounced then the top notes. It ends on sandalwood and a favorite in many of the feminine marketed Avon fragrances a cocktail of the cotton linen musks. This is very lovely green floral perfume.

avon calling

Avon Femme is by perfumer Harry Fremont. M. Fremont is one of the best mainstream perfumers working currently. He definitely knows how to interpret a brand’s character and capture it in a fragrance. Avon Femme is a crisp fruity musk perfume. It starts with the snappy pairing of grapefruit and pear matched with a bit of very clean jasmine. There will be no indoles here this is fresh and pretty. Magnolia is the floral keynote supported with a bit of peach. It ends with the sheer musk cocktail I mentioned above. For those who want a skank-free jasmine fruity floral Avon Femme is a good choice.

Avon does make fragrances for men and Avon Exploration by perfumer Laurent Le Guernec is a good example. As I mentioned yesterday the men’s fragrances hew to an aesthetic of bracing and woody, Avon Exploration does that. M. Le Guernec does choose to make Avon Exploration very bracing as he fashions an olfactory slap of cardamom, sage, and rosemary. This is a very concentrated opening and it is typical of the masculine Avon fragrances. It does settle down into a sandalwood, vetiver, and non-sheer musk which is less challenging. If you are a fan of powerhouse men’s fragrances Avon Exploration is a modern version.

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Far Away Gold by Calice Becker is a special warm floral. Mme Becker knows how to build a soft warm vanilla and sandalwood base even with the more cost-efficient materials and it is that where Far Away Gold ends. Prior to that osmanthus and peach lead to a jasmine and ylang-ylang heart. A wonderful comfort scent.

Avon does have their celebuscents and one of the more interesting collaborators is musician Bon Jovi. Part of the Bon Jovi collection is Unplugged for Her by perfumer Annie Buzantian. This was the most subtle fragrance of all of the ones I tried. It was very surprising since a rock star is associated with it, although it is unplugged. Mme Buzantian uses a very opaque application of ivy and plum to give a sheer green fruity opening. Rose carries the heart but this is a synthetic rose which carries the fresh floralcy and little of the spiciness or powdery facets. It keeps it on the light side for making that choice. A cocktail of soft woods and even softer white musks close this. Very easy to wear and a perfect office scent for those who work in close quarters and still want to wear perfume.

Now let me reiterate what I stated yesterday, perfume for $20 is not chock full of essential oils. There might be a pinch here and there but this is all synthetic versions of the notes I mentioned. As you can see there are very talented perfumers working for Avon and I think they do a tremendous job at making the most of a limited budget. Enough so that if you need an economical perfume fix contact your local Avon Lady…..Avon Calling!

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Avon.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Avon Flor Alegria- Pretty Simple

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I have an old high school friend who lives in Pennsylvania and she is an Avon salesperson. She asked me if I had an opinion on the recent Avon perfumes. I told her I hadn’t given them a thought in years. As we corresponded I realized how shortsighted that view was. Many of my favorite perfumers work on briefs for Avon. Just in 2014 here is the list of perfumers who have composed perfumes for Avon: Laurent Le Guernec, Harry Fremont, Frank Voelkl, Alberto Morillas, Calice Becker, Pierre Negrin, Nathalie Lorson, and Rodrigo Flores-Roux. Pretty impressive lineup for perfume which runs about $20-30 a bottle.

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Rodrigo Flores-Roux

For that price we are not talking about perfumes which are loaded with essential oils these talented perfumers are employing the cost-efficient synthetic ingredients on their perfumer’s organ. You could make the case that these are more difficult to compose with and tease nuance out of. In response to my lack of knowledge my friend sent me a huge box of many of the current Avon perfume offerings. After spending a few weeks with them I was very pleased to find there were more than a few which rose above the others. Tomorrow in Discount Diamonds I will give a bunch of short reviews of my favorites but for today’s column I want to focus on the one which was hands down my favorite in the box Flor Alegria.

Isabel Lopes

Isabel Lopes

Flor Alegria was composed by Rodrigo Flores-Roux under the Creative Direction of Isabel Lopes. Ms. Lopes recently took over the creative direction for the fragrance division and one thing I can state assuredly Ms. Lopes has a consistent aesthetic she is asking for from the perfumers she oversees. For the women’s perfumes pretty and light. For the men’s colognes bracing and woody. Nobody should expect anything different from a mass-market brand like Avon but just as with any niche brand which has an active creative director who keeps true to the brand, Avon is no different. Just a different audience and by this point in time they should have a good idea what sells to that audience. As I tried these perfumes what I kept coming away with was simple does not have to be uninspiring. Sr. Flores-Roux puts a strong exclamation point on that thought with Flor Alegria.

Flor Alegria inhabits one of the styles of perfume I always have difficulty with, fruity floral. What I liked about it was Sr. Flores-Roux was able to balance these synthetics, which can be harsh in excess, and in the case of Flor Alegria turn them into a perfume that was pillow soft.

The top notes are citrus and passionfruit. When it comes to citrus in a perfume Sr. Flores-Roux knows how to use it to precise effect. He wants the passionfruit to be the top but if it was left alone it probably would have become cloying and overwhelming. By using citrus to curtail some of that exuberance he strikes a perfect balance. The heart is rose in all of its powdery sweet floral glory. Here he has to be careful to not let the powder get out of control because his base of iris could’ve doubled down on the powderiness. Instead the iris provides a bit of powder but it is complementary to the rose. The overall effect is a downy fruity floral that was very pleasing to wear.

Flor Alegria has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

The whole Avon collection I tried was much better than one might expect for perfumes costing $20. On the other hand talent is talent and if Sr. Flores-Roux is making a fragrance he can probably make a good one from sealing wax and twine. Flor Alegria is an example of Sr. Flores-Roux working at the top of his game to make a pretty fruity floral and sometimes pretty is all you need.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Avon.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Capsule Parfums Polis- Starched Collar Aquatic

It isn’t often on my field trips to the local mall I find something I haven’t heard of. If there is something I haven’t heard of there is usually a good reason. As I was talking to the sales associate at one of the big department stores I kept getting this great sophisticated aquatic coming off her arm as we moved through the department. I asked her what she was wearing and she pointed to this display of five non-descript bottles and said Capsule Parfums Polis. The Colognoisseur was stumped and she eagerly showed me something I hadn’t experienced previously.

There is pretty scant information on the brand. On their website they call themselves “an independent collective practicing art in the realm of olfactory expression.” There are articles which describe it as an LA-based brand and they say they work “in collaboration with some of the finest talent in modern perfumery.” I am really glad I didn’t read this text before trying the fragrances as it comes off just a bit too arch for my tastes. There are five entries in the line; Moto, Jaunt, Urbane, Byway, and Polis. There is also mention of combining them to create your own personal scent, which is something we have heard before. The price and size is fantastic as they retail for $38/15mL.

Calone

Calone

Polis was what the sales associate was wearing and it is my favorite of the five. It is surprisingly engaging for being a simple aquatic. Aquatics as a class seem so played out to me that Polis makes it slightly different by pairing the calone and ozonic notes with clean cotton musk notes. A bit of florals with a base of vetiver and other white musks come together very nicely. It really is the smell of standing on the beach with the breeze blowing off the water while wearing a freshly ironed and starched cotton shirt.

Polis opens with the foundation of every aquatic for the last twenty years, calone. Often what makes aquatics so deadly boring is they just rely on the calone to do all the heavy lifting. The perfumer for Polis made an interesting decision to give the calone some equal running partners. The first is one of those cotton musks which adds a crisp linen underpinning. A bit of mimosa and lily tease out some of the floral facets inherent in calone. The base is vetiver and two or three white musks added for a bit of softness.

Polis has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

It has been a long time since a straightforward clean and fresh aquatic has excited me but Polis has pulled off the trick. It has become my Saturday morning companion as I run errands for the past month. It is easy to wear without being uninteresting. I am very impressed with these early offerings by Capsule Parfums and look forward to the next ones.

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

Mark Behnke

Olfactory Chemistry: Lactones- Peaches and Cream

“I’ll take cream in that” is a common phrase when talking about the way you like your coffee or tea. When a perfumer wants to add creaminess to a perfume they are composing they mostly turn to one class of compounds called lactones. The names of these compounds are derived from the Latin phrase for milk, lac lactis.

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Lactones were discovered in the early 1900’s as chemists found a way to cyclize esters. A beneficial side effect of this cyclization was it took esters that couldn’t be used for perfumery because they were so short lasting because of their volatility. The cyclic form could last on skin for hours, even days in some cases. The very simple case is shown above as methyl propionate is the ester on the left and when it is cyclized it is called gamma-Butyrolactone. Lactones are also found naturally, most prominently in tuberose. There are so many lactones in tuberose new ones have been discovered as recently as 2004.

peach coconut lactone

Almost from the moment they were discovered the lactones became key components of perfumes. One of the most influential, in perfumery, is one called Peach Lactone. Chemically you can see it is an analog of the gamma-lactone with a long carbon chain attached to it and is called gamma-Undecalactone. For no reason I have ever been able to understand it is also called Aldehyde C-14 because it is not an aldehyde, it doesn’t even decompose to an aldehyde. The nomenclature craziness continues as a smaller lactone, gamma-Nonalactone, is called Aldehyde C-18 and also called Coconut Lactone. This kind of confusing way of referring to the molecules drives the chemist crazy. Don’t even get me started on Aldehyde C-16 which is neither lactone or aldehyde nor structurally similar to the two above.

Peach Lactone is the key ingredient in one of the best perfumes of all time, Jacques Fath Iris Gris. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz used it as a key component of her reconstruction of this fragrance for her recent Scent of Hope. Peach Lactone forms a gauzy fruity layer carrying smooth creamy components. Peach Lactone is also found as the source of that fruit in Guerlain Mitsouko. In almost every great case I can think of if you smell peach in a perfume this is probably the chemical behind it.

massoia lactone

One of the most amazing uses of lactones has come recently in 2011’s Hermes Hermessence Santal Massoia by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. M. Ellena takes Massoia Lactone and uses it to bridge the natural creamy qualities of fig and sandalwood. Massoia Lactone besides the creaminess also has a rich caramel aspect and it is this which creates a dulce de leche accord in the middle of Santal Massoia.

If you smell fruit and cream in your perfume it is lactones which are probably responsible.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Blackbird Triton- The Ice of Neptune

I’m not sure what it is about the Pacific Northwest in this country but as far as independent perfume goes it seems to be fertile ground for fragrance. Latest evidence of this creative Renaissance is the newest release from the Seattle-based store Blackbird. Blackbird recently transitioned from a brick and mortar store with an online presence to exclusively online. As a big part of this vibrant scene the store was a place to have events. It was one reason that the initial seven fragrances released under the Blackbird brand were a little disappointing. They were provocatively named, Pipe Bomb as an example, but they failed to impress as they were fairly linear and simplistic. I trusted that was what their clientele wanted and didn’t really give them another thought. A couple months ago I received the latest release Blackbird Triton. Because of my previous experience I kept pushing it down the priority list until a couple weeks ago.

Triton is named after the moon of Neptune and inspired by the icy orb. It has a frozen surface populated with cryovolcanoes which erupt in jets of frozen nitrogen. The fragrance inspired by this harsh landscape is a study in the cooler notes on the perfumer’s palette. Throughout its development it carries a metaphorical frost with aldehydes and violet providing the initial chill. It stays extremely delineated through a dry heart before having its own cryovolcano which shoots out a stream of incense.

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Photo of Triton by Voyager 2 (Photo: NASA JPL)

Triton immediately goes frigid as the more metallic aldehydes are combined with violet leaf. There is also just a pinch of black pepper to simulate the tickle in one’s nose when breathing in very cold air. This has an almost sci-fi kind of metallic gleam to it, which seems appropriate. With the violet leaf continuing the icy vibe; an extremely dry cedar and very astringent vetiver form an austere heart. This is a barren set of perfume notes it almost echoes it is so punctuated. I think that this is where some will have difficulty with Triton. If you want your perfumes luscious and warm Triton is not your perfume. I really like the choice to keep it so locked into a minimalist attitude. The base allows an eruption of incense, styrax, and amber. These add a bit of contextual heat but not enough and fairly rapidly the incense recaptures the coolness.

Triton has 6-8 hour longevity and modest sillage.

I was very surprised at how assuredly Triton went through its paces. Based on the previous Blackbird releases there was no reason to expect this kind of avant-garde type of perfume. Triton really impressed me more each successive time I wore it. For something so cold it has found a warm place in my perfumed heart.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Maison Francis Kurkdjian feminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel- The New Classics

Francis Kurkdjian is one of the elite perfumers working currently. He still takes briefs from many of the more mainstream brands but his best work has been for his own line, Maison Francis Kurkdjian. M. Kurkdjian is a refreshing personality who carries an amused smile at those of us, like myself, who take perfume so seriously. He has compared the perfumes in his Maison Francis Kurkdjian collection as pieces of olfactory wardrobe. Aqua Universalis is a t-shirt and Absolue pour le Soir a pair of leather pants. The idea being one you wear every day and the other only comes out occasionally. The latest two releases are to “complete the wardrobe” and are called feminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel. If I understand the video below correctly these are supposed to be the versatile pieces of the collection the virtual Little Black Dress and Navy Blazer.

What M. Kurkdjian does as he has so many times in the past is to work within a very classic perfume architecture but to update it, to turn it into a new classic. Both versions of Pluriel have the classic part down perfectly as for the feminin Pluriel it is a chypre and for masculin Pluriel it is a fougere. Those forms are clearly present but for the feminin Pluriel he covers it in a delicate veil of florals. For the masculin Pluriel it is a really fantastic leather accord that transforms the fougere into something very special.

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Francis Kurkdjian

feminin Pluriel carries a beautiful bit of fragility despite being laden with some of my favorite floral notes. In truth as I read the note list before trying it I was having a hard time seeing how this was all going to balance out. I needn’t have worried as M. Kurkdjian has placed each floral as precisely as Calder does to make his mobiles attain the perfect position and spacing. The opening is the softness of orange blossom contrasted with the chill of violet. Muguet bridges the two notes and carries them down to the heart to mingle with orris, jasmine, and rose. You read all of those notes and you expect heavy pendulous powder. M. Kurkdjian delivers muted slightly powdery floralcy which comes to a conclusion on a base of patchouli and vetiver. Providing the chypre foundation underneath the flowers. feminin Pluriel really does feel as versatile as a Little Black Dress able to function from office to cocktail party to formal affair. It really does do exactly what M. Kurkdjian wants it to.

masculin Pluriel is even better as this note list is simplicity itself, lavender absolute, cedar, leather, patchouli, and vetiver. You have smelled that mix of ingredients in many other perfumes but you have never smelled it as it exists in masculin Pluriel. Lavender is often cleaned up so much in perfumes that it becomes insipid. The lavender that grows in my garden is a wonderful combination of herbal and woody components under the sweet floral. The lavender absolute M. Kurkdjian uses here smells more like the fresh lavender outside my front door and less like air freshener. The lavender absolute used is so full of nuance and texture M. Kurkdjian allows it to own the early development all by itself. The very dry clean cedar eventually comes along to pick up the woody aspects but it becomes an equal partner to the lavender absolute, making it just feel woodier. The leather accord is next and it is beautifully poised without getting too rambunctious or becoming a faint suggestion of the animalic. The accord M. Kurkdjian fashions here is a well-used and maintained leather strong but not forceful. masculin Pluriel ends with patchouli and vetiver as well but this time the balance is more vetiver, again picking up on the woody theme running throughout. This also has the same versatility as feminin Pluriel.

feminin Pluriel had 6-8 hour longevity and modest sillage. masculin Pluriel has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

In the press materials M. Kurkdjian says these two Plutriels should be seen as mirror images and especially in the base there is some truth to this. I see them more as brother and sister undeniably sharing some genetic similarity but equally undeniably each is true to their own aesthetic. I really like both of them but masculin Pluriel has really blown me away as it has been a pleasure to spend the last few days with. It is one of the very best of the entire Maison Francis Kurkdjian collection.

Disclosure; This review was based on samples provided by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Semicolon Project

There are many things I like about Facebook. One of the more interesting things about Facebook is when there are events which seem to cause large amounts of the people who I share Facebook with to gather around. This past week of August 2014 there were two things which dominated my Facebook News Feed.

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Robin Williams

One was the tragic suicide of actor Robin Williams. As I write this there has still been no concrete reason for his desperate act, and there may never be one. Facebook was full of clips from his stand-up comedy specials and movies. He had a habit of playing roles which had more than a bit of shadow to them. These characters all managed to quell those darker impulses and learn to live with them.  As I saw these clips throughout the week I am reminded we all carry our shadows. When they start to speak too strongly to us we need to ask for help. More about that in a second.

The second thing in my Facebook News Feed was the videos of people participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This started a couple of weeks ago with a few people posting a video of themselves dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads. The way this works is the person in the video challenges three other people to either dump a bucket of ice water over their heads or donate $100 to the ALS Foundation. Hopefully do both. Somewhere over the last two weeks this crossed over to celebrities and it seemed to particularly peak this week as I seemed to wake up every morning to a new batch. Early in the week it was the late-night talk shows, in the middle of the week it was sports teams, and towards the end of the week it was the head of every big tech company. The videos got more elaborate especially when the likes of Bill Gates engineers a complicated contraption to dump the water over his head. (There is a Windows joke in there somewhere) The ALS foundation has received over $4million in donations over the past two weeks, three times more than they raised at the same time last year.

All of this is great for raising awareness of ALS and helping the patient community but I worry about something as narcissistic as filming yourself starts to lose the message at some point. The money raised is great but does it have a real lasting effect? I like my Facebook campaigns to be a little more subtle.

This brings me to The Semicolon Project which I also became aware of through Facebook. A very old friend who I connected with again on Facebook posted a picture of a semicolon tattoo she got. I asked about it and she sent me the link to The Semicolon Project. As you can see in the picture below it started on April 16, 2013.

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This was also a simple organic campaign to raise awareness and the pictures posted were incredibly powerful. More than a few of them had the semicolon over cutting scars on their wrist. What is fantastic is this has turned into a full-fledged organization to support those suffering from mental health issues. On April 16 this year there was another day of semicolons posted on the internet. I suspect every April 16 from now on will be the day to show off your semicolon. The power of people who have suffered showing these simple, elegant statements to those who are currently suffering is way more relevant to me. As Robin Williams’ suicide shows the decision to choose a semicolon over a period is extremely difficult. I am very happy The Semicolon Project exists so that those who suffer from mental health issues can find help and then share the ability to overcome with a simple piece of punctuation. I hope this grows into an annual celebration of finding the strength within to continue with life.

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: Helmut Lang Cuiron pour Homme- Minimalist Leather

A common thread of this series will be “right fragrance, wrong time”. These are releases which attempted to lead a charge only to look around to see nobody following behind. By the time tastes catch up these fragrances are long forgotten. In the case of Helmut Lang Cuiron pour Homme I think if Hr. Lang hadn’t decided to chuck his whole fashion career aside in 2005 it might have survived until perfumistas caught up to it.

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Helmut Lang Autumn/Winter 1996 in Vogue

Helmut Lang was one of the most influential fashion designers from 1988 through his retirement in 2005. In the middle of the “greed is good” decade he was designing fashion which was stripped down. He was one of the designers at the head of the “neo-modernists”. His fashion was simple pieces tailored to a scalpel’s edge. You can see the Fall 1996 collection from a spread in Vogue from that same year above. His fashion stood out because it was a reaction to the excess everywhere else. In 1999 Prada acquired the brand and started to expand the offerings under the Helmut Lang imprimatur. As part of the Prada deal Proctor & Gamble was going to partner with Hr. Lang on a fragrance collection. The first two releases in 2000 were a pair of Eau de Cologne and Eau de Parfum by perfumer Maurice Roucel. Two years later Cuiron pour Homme would be released. All three fragrances were fitting examples of Hr. Lang’s aesthetic they were streamlined and sharply tailored perfumes. Cuiron pour Homme stood out because it was a leather that was completely different than the leathers on the market.

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Self-Portrait 2007 by Helmut Lang

By the early 2000’s the state of leather in fragrance was that of powerful birch tar laden powerhouses. Perfumer Francoise Caron would go in an entirely different direction. When I read the press release for Cuiron it described the leather in three distinct phases; fluid leather, sensual leather, and noble leather. What Mme Caron did was to use a mix of synthetics to create a post-modern leather accord. It reminds me of those chrome tube chairs with big leather cushions. Mme Caron’s leather felt like patent leather fresh off the assembly line. For this to not be unbearable she had to use a smart assortment of complementary notes to keep the leather light. In the top mandarin provides a juicy citrus. The heart uses pink pepper to accentuate the artificialness of the leather accord. Iso E Super and Cashmeran also add a synthetic vibe with their austere woodiness. The base uses tobacco and olibanum to add sweetness to the leather and try and make the synthetic seem natural. It never does as Cuiron always seems like an artificial construct in a fascinatingly good way.

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Francoise Caron

Cuiron has 12-14 hour longevity and very modest sillage.

Cuiron pour Homme is one of the greatest leather fragrances ever, in my opinion. Mme Caron captures everything that Hr. Lang stood for in fashion at this time and turned it into a true masterpiece. In 2005 Hr. Lang split with Prada and retired from fashion. Prada quickly sold off the brand and Proctor & Gamble stopped making the perfumes. Three years after it was released it was discontinued. This is one of those perfumes which seems to have regular rumors of its resurrection. I would love to see it back again as I think it is a perfume whose time has arrived.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Creed Acqua Originale Collection Aberdeen Lavender, Asian Green Tea, Cedre Blanc, Iris Tubereuse, & Vetiver Geranium

It has been a while since Creed has released a completely new perfume. Last year’s Millesime 1849 is the only new fragrance since 2011. 2014 will make up for that as Creed inaugurates a new collection, Acqua Originale, with five new releases: Aberdeen Lavender, Asian Green Tea, Cedre Blanc, Iris Tubereuse, and Vetiver Geranium. Olivier Creed is the perfumer for all five and he has created a collection of luminous perfumes which all exude a beautiful glow.

Aberdeen Lavender is a lavender but it is surrounded by a fantastic choice of notes by M. Creed. Before you get to the lavender in the heart the top notes of absinthe, rosemary, and lemon create a fascinating accord of herbal and citrus components. Once the lavender rises to prominence it is supported with orris and tuberose. The lavender and the absinthe seem like they were made to go together and I really enjoyed the moments they were both on top. This all ends with a suede leather accord along with patchouli and vetiver. Lavender is such a common perfumery note but M. Creed gives it a luxurious makeover.

Thankfully there are no truth in naming statutes for perfume. If there was Asian Green Tea would be arrested for false expectations. I have to say I was expecting another riff on jasmine tea or mate but M. Creed wanted to make an elegant citrus floral. The top notes are a brilliant collage of lemon, mandarin, petitgrain, and neroli. M. Creed lets these notes form a sunburst in the early moments of the development. Violet and sticky green blackcurrant buds form the heart. According to the note list there is supposed to be tea here but I don’t detect it at all. What is here is a dense green fruity floral heart. The base is a silky smooth mix of sandalwood and amber. The name aside this is a great fruity floral perfume among the best Creed has ever done. Just don’t look for the tea.

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Olivier Creed

Cedre Blanc is the most straightforward of the Acqua Originale Collection. It runs in a fairly straight line from a green top of galbanum and cardamom through a heart of geranium and waterliy down to a base of cedar and vetiver. It is very well composed but it really seems to me that only cedar lovers are going to want this one as it feels so boring.

Iris Tubereuse is anything but what I expected. I was ready for an olfactory tussle between iris and tuberose. Instead of conflict the purple flower escorts the white flower out in a surprising harmony. Orange and galbanum form an orthogonal pair of green and citrus into which violet is inserted. This forms a sort of iris accord which is more malleable and it expands to corral the tuberose in the heart. Very quickly this all comes together on my skin and the richness of the tuberose with the softness of the “iris” is quite pleasant. The base is a simple duo of vanilla and musk. It is that moment when the iris accord and the tuberose combine which makes this one magical.

Vetiver Geranium is my favorite of the Acqua Originales because M. Creed really gets imaginative with his composition. Lemon is on top again but it is paired with a marvelous Granny Smith apple. This makes the early moments feel crisp and tart. I enjoyed this opening so much I kept topping up on the days I wore this just to get a little more. The green tinted rose quality of geranium is front and center in the heart and here M. Creed dusts it with smoldering cinnamon. The spicy floral is dynamic and as lovely as the top notes. Patchouli and amber provide the foundation of Vetiver Geranium and it is simple and appropriately chosen.

The Acqua Originale Collection has 8-10 hour longevity and below average sillage. These are light compositions and they can seem to be gone when they are still there.

If you are interested in these perfumes I urge you to make sure you try them on skin. I sniffed them on blotters at Esxence and walked away unimpressed. Once I had the samples in hand and wore them over the last six weeks they are much better when on skin. Wearing each for a couple days completely altered my initial opinion of the collection. Particularly Asian Green Tea and Vetiver Geranium have risen very high in my estimation.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples I received at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke