New Perfume Review Papillon Artisan Perfumes Anubis- Smoke Gets in the Way

There is a new artisanal line of perfume out of England called Papillon Artisan Perfume. The creator and perfumer behind the line is Liz Moores. In June of 2014 she released her debut fragrances, Tobacco Rose, Angelique, and Anubis. These fragrances have only recently become widely available outside of the UK. As it is with many independent perfumers the first offerings can be a bit uneven but I often see the foundation of someone who has the potential to grow into a creative force. This is the case with the first three release for Ms. Moores. Each of them have moments when I start to see a complete idea form only to have a couple of notes throw it off kilter and make it feel like there was never an idea there in the first place. This is a common issue with first-time perfumers they need someone who is not friend or family to let them know more is not necessarily better. Of the three inaugural releases Anubis feels the most finished to me.

liz mooresLiz Moores (Via Papiilon Perfumery website)

Anubis is the Egyptian god of the afterlife and he is a man with the head of a jackal. Anubis the fragrance feels a bit like that depiction as it has elements in it which feel as if they shouldn’t go together and are sort of shoehorned in. Ms. Moores seems to envision the Egyptian afterlife as a smoky place as the early going of Anubis is all about smoke and how much you can add. For the first hour or so it is almost all smoke and then Ms. Moores attempts a transition but she uses immortelle and this is where Anubis figuratively clunks for me. The immortelle feels out of place like after I’ve waved the smoke away the maple syrup aspect of immortelle is just lying there. Through the early part of Anubis’ development this was disappointing but then Ms. Moores turns the back half of Anubis into something quite wonderful. Once the fans have cleared all the smoke and maple syrup away what is left is a supple suede leather accord that she ingeniously uses jasmine to complement. This part of Anubis is as good as it gets. It has the richness of jasmine over the softness of leather. This time Ms. Moores’ transition is perfectly executed as she uses benzoin and myrrh to lead to a frankincense dominated base. All of this together is really quite wonderful and I particularly enjoy the latter half of the ride.

Anubis has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I am looking forward to seeing Ms. Moores further develop her line as the latter half of Anubis definitely convinces me there is talent there. Now if she’ll just find someone who can serve as editor I think the future can be bright.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2014 Day 3 Wrap-up- Last Call at Stazione Leopolda

Buongiorno Perfumistas! It seems like the last day at every perfume expo I attend feels a little bit like last call at a bar. You have to decide how much you want to do in the little time remaining to you. So it is no surprise that Day 3 of Pitti Fragranze would send me scurrying to finally talk to the perfume lines I thought I had so much time previously to speak with. First stop was D.S. & Durga where perfumer David Seth Moltz debuted the new release Debaser. For those of you who are fans of The Pixies yes that is what it is named after. It is an excellent new release from a brand featuring a perfumer who is really hitting his stride over the last year.

I went next door to visit Coquillete Paris their new scent, and the last in their debut collection, Tudor. It is meant to be an androgynous rose and it succeeds quite well at giving off that vibe. It is a continuation of well-crafted easy-to-wear perfumes from this line. One thing I was told which I will have to try when I give it a proper wearing is because it is the last in the collection there is one note from the previous seven included in Tudor as a way of concluding things. This doesn’t mean there will not be more to come from Coquillette Paris just that it will be in a different direction.

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One of the brands I was most excited to try were the four new perfumes from S-Perfumes. S-Perfumes is overseen by Nobi Shioya and he really allows his perfumers a wide latitude in creativity. The original two releases 100% Love and S-ex are very high up on my list of avant-garde perfumes. Of the four new fragrances, Himiko, Musk S, 1499, and Kamakura my favorite was Musk S. Composed by perfumer Carlos Benaim it is a contemporary take on a fragrance which will evoke the smell of skin. It is simple and I found it compelling as I was completely drawn in to its structure. S-Perfumes were in a section of the fair called unscent which is sponsored by Intertrade Europe. Besides the brands they represent they also allowed some young perfumers to show off their emerging skills by creating a scent just for this exhibit. One of the young perfumers whom I have had an interest in for a long time, Alex Lee, produced a fabulously nuanced floral creation. He is growing every time I see another of these creations and I look forward to the day he is given his first commercial brief to realize.

Dr. Gritti is a brand which always seems to lose out to the time pressure when I am at these fairs. Today I made a point of visiting and being taken through the line. On first impression my favorite of the line is one called Doped Tuberose. It is tuberose unleashed and then tamed. There is a wonderful inflection between the early and late phases of development on my skin. I clearly put off for far too long getting to know this brand. I am going to rectify that as quickly as I can. Closing time was near but I had one last stop to make and that was with Gerald Ghislain so I could try the new Histoires de Parfums Opera collection. There are five fragrances in the collection all inspired by famous operas and the year they premiered. They are: 1831 Norma, 1875 Carmen, 1890 La Dame de Pique, 1905 Madame Butterfly, and 1926 Turandot. Carmen and La Dame de Pique are the early standouts based on a quick sniff.

The booths were coming down and they were announcing the fair was over. We made our way out into the central part of Florence to watch the sunset over the Arno River for the last time. It made a perfect ending to my first Pitti Fragranze.

Arrivaderci Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2014 Day 2 Wrap-up- The Heart of Perfume

Buongiorno perfumistas!

On day 2 of Pitti Fragranze the public is invited to attend. This gives a different energy to the fair from Day 1 which is industry only. It is enjoyable to watch young perfumistas discovering brands and meeting the perfumers behind them. Their attendance today will light a fire in their heart which will burn for many years to come. I still had some work to do catching up with some of my favorite brands and exploring some new brands.

I didn’t recognize Pierre Guillaume with his new short haircut and as a result I kept looking past the tall man standing next to his display. Maybe because it was first thing in the morning but I finally realized that tall man was M. Guillaume. Another perfumer who I had never met in person before. He showed me his latest release for his Huitieme Art Parfums line Liqueur Charnelle. This is a rich cognac perfume that made me feel as if I needed to be wearing a velvet jacket next to a fireplace. I also got a preview of the next new release Mojito Chypre. You might think the name tells you all you need to know but M. Guillaume includes a wonderfully surreal strawberry note in between the lime and the chypre. This felt like perfume made with a wink and a smile.

Perfumer Cecile Zarokian has been having a tremendously successful year and I was able to try her two latest releases; Laboratorio Olfattivo Patchouliful and Jacques Zolty Van’lle. The press art for Patchouliful captures a king sitting on a throne in shorts and flip flops. It is an apt description for a fragrance which uses patchouli in a lighter opaque application. It is another example of Mme Zarokian’s ability to find new ways to interpret notes we all think we know. Jacques Zolty is meant to be an entry brand into niche with a bit of niche sensibility. Easy to wear but with some unique aspects added to it. Van’lle is just that a rich light amiable vanilla. It doesn’t cloy it swaddles you in sweet comfort.

I also connected with Olivier Durbano and tried his tenth release, Promethee. M. Durbano delved into the Greek myth of Prometheus. My first impression is this might be the best fragrance M. Durbano has released. Promethee captures the fragrant touchstones of the myth and it is housed in a temple of resinous components. This is confident perfume made by a perfumer who has developed over the last ten years into one of the best independent perfumers we have working.

John Molloy of Memo walked by and asked me when I was going to drop by and get a sneak preview of the next release from them. Before I sprayed it on he told me to imagine a woman dressed in a leather skirt who carried that ineffable air of a Parisienne wearing rose perfume. The upcoming French Leather is that rose and leather combination with the style of Paris imposed on it. It will be released early in the fall.

ChandlerBurr_RobertGerstnerFragranze12_027Chandler Burr (l.) and Robert Gerstner

Time for the presentation by Chandler Burr interviewing Robert Gerstner and Miguel Briceno of Aedes de Venustas in New York City. For the first part of the interview the talk centered on how the selections in the store are curated and what it takes to have the full package necessary to be included in the store. They figure they get approached by one new brand a day and over the course of a year they might only find one or two which they would like to add to the inventory. It was a fascinating candid look behind the scenes in a premiere niche perfumery and how decisions are made.

Now I went to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the section called Spring for new fragrances by small independent brands. I saw most of them and there were two which stood out to me.

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Peccato Originale is an inventive brand which bases their packaging, perfume names, and inspirations on old pharmacy artifacts. What you see above is a first aid kit from sometime in the 1920’s. Two new fragrances were introduced at Pitti, Tintura Spiritosa and Antidoto. Silvia Monti has taken her previous life as a pharmacist and used it to make perfumes which feel like blend of old style chemist and new style perfumer. Antidoto is my favorite of the two new releases as it has a very long-lived top note combination of intense citrus. It takes hours before mate tea followed by rum push it out of the way. This kind of juxtaposition was really interesting to wear and I enjoyed the languid development which is still continuing twelve hours after I applied it.

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The best new brand I have seen through the first two days of the show is Map of the Heart. Pierre Dinand designed heart shaped bottles which look like they came out of the television show Once Upon a Time. These fragrances are no fairy tale as the three fragrances Clear Heart, Black Heart, and Red Heart form a diverse collection from Clear Heart’s easy wearing affability through to Red Heart wearing its tuberose on its sleeve. The one real stand out of not only the line but the entire show is Black Heart. This is a descent into all of the dark places most perfumes fear to tread. It is not for those who like their fragrances lighter. Black Heart is simply fascinating to wear.

One day left and eight hours to try and cover everything I haven’t so far. See you tomorrow.

Ciao perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2014 Day 1 Wrap-up- Old Friends, New Tricks, and a Mozart Ball

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Buongiorno Perfumistas!

Every perfume event I go to it seems like the first day is all about checking in with those who have become friends over the years. This began on the sidewalk outside the Stazione Leopolda in Florence, Italy the site of Pitti Fragranze 2014. Francois Duquesne emerged from his cab and I asked him if there were any new Aedes de Venustas fragrances coming. He pulled out a sample vial of Copal Azur the new release coming in the fall. This is composed by the man I call The High Priest of Resins, Bertrand Duchaufour. Copal Azur is one of the most resinous fragrances I have smelled in a long time and it is tuned expertly by a perfumer who seemingly can do this at will.

They finally let us inside and I began by walking the entire room to see what is here. After my reconnaissance was done and many hugs and handshakes exchanged I stopped to introduce myself to Andy Tauer who I met in person for the first time. We discussed the Sotto La Luna line and I asked what was next and he told me the formulas for the next two are finished. We have Sotto La Luna Hyacinth and Sotto La Luna Tuberose to look forward to. Based on our conversation I am particularly excited to see how Hyacinth is realized.

Next stop was with Jeroen Oude Sogtoen who was presenting the new bottle designs for Mona di Orio Perfumes. One thing I was delighted to see was Oud has been renamed Oudh Osmanthus. Mme di Orio used osmanthus as the perfect unusual floral foil to oud at a time when too many perfumes were just throwing it in to fragrances with no thought. Oudh Osmanthus showed there was a different, and better, way to go. The new bottles feel like they were designed to nestle in your hand perfectly. Finally I had the opportunity to try the new release Myrrh Casati by perfumer Melanie Leroux. Mme Leroux captures the shadow play Mme di Orio was known for and this looks to be a worthy continuation of the legacy. One last thing for those who were missing the original fragrances Lux and Nuit Noire are now both available again in the new packaging.

As I walked into the next room the team from Masque Milano were standing in front of a giant samovar. It will be no surprise to you that the fifth fragrance from Masque Milano is called Russian Tea. The perfumer is Julien Rasquinet who made this his last work as an independent perfumer before accepting a job at IFF. While I fully expect M. Rasquinet to produce more great fragrances Russian Tea was a great one to finish this phase of his life as a perfumer. It is smoky and it has a surprising grace note of mint which works surprisingly well. I kept returning to this strip throughout the day and the development and the way it evolved rewarded me every time. I am looking forward to wearing this on my return home.

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I then attended two presentations in the conference hall that were back to back. The first was from Mane all about their supercritical fluid extraction technique named Jungle Essence. This form of extraction gathers all a natural source has to give without having to be heated up. There is a video they used to show this process that I hope I can share with you in the future because it did the best job of showing how the process works. The best part was they passed around examples of raw materials captured via Jungle Essence and more traditional ways. It was striking how much more nuanced the Jungle Essences were, especially when comparing side by side. For me the most surprising was the difference between cardamom absolute and cardamom Jungle Essence. The absolute has a raw green quality which the Jungle Essence has but it is much softer.

The second presentation was by perfumer Maria Candida Gentile who presented the three fragrances in the “Il Volo del Calabrone” (The Flight of the Bumblebee) collection. Using three different versions of beeswax form three different countries she complemented each one with different notes. In Kitrea it is lemon. In Leuco it is tuberose. In Synconium it is fig. The different style of honey is apparent on first sniff, it really adds a dimension to a note which can be difficult to balance.

On my way down the hall I met the lovely Valerie “Cookie Queen” Sperrer. Now you would think I would say she gave me a cookie but she also had some new tricks to share and instead I got a Mozartkugel or as we call it in English a Mozart Ball. It was yummy after dinner tonight. Thanks Valerie.

Final stop of Day 1 was to meet the team at Grossmith and try the new Fortnum & Mason exclusive, Sylvan Song which is a fabulous floral fantasy as only Grossmith can do as they continue to create perfumes which feel like classics reinvigorated. I think I might have to arrange for someone to visit Fortnum & Mason for me as this is truly exclusive and will not be sold anywhere else.

It was off to dinner as I rode into a beautiful sunset over the Arno river.

I’ll be back tomorrow as I concentrate on the section of the exposition called Spring which has gathered a number of new brands.

Until then Ciao Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews By Kilian Light my Fire, Smoke for the Soul, & Intoxicated- Kilian’s Smoke Shoppe

Photo via The GoodSmellas blog

Smoke ‘em if you got ’em. Smoke gets in your eyes. Smokin’. The thought of smoke, of all kinds, has saturated pop culture for decades. The swirling, curling tendrils of scent are a natural for a perfume collection. Creative Director Kilian Hennessy of By Kilian is in that frame of mind with his latest collection Addictive State of Mind. There are three debut releases; Light my Fire, Smoke for the Soul, and Intoxicated, in the line each touching on fragrant wisps.

sidonie-lancesseurSidonie Lancesseur

Light my Fire is composed by perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur and is inspired by Monte Cristo cigars. I have to say before trying Light my Fire I thought it was not a good idea to have another tobacco fragrance in a line which contains Back to Black which I think is one of the best tobacco scents ever. Mme Lancesseur works a different angle as her tobacco in the cigar is sweetened with vanilla and honey. It adds a fragrant sweetness to the tobacco to start before eventually ending up on an amber foundation. Light my Fire is a lighter take on tobacco and very different from Back to Black so that I think it will find its fans.

fabrice-pellegrin-firmenichFabrice Pellegrin

Smoke for the Soul is signed by Fabrice Pellegrin and is inspired by cannabis. Smoke for the Soul get this just right. If you have ever opened up a container with sticky buds of cannabis in it you will know exactly what this smells like. The notes M. Pellegrin used to create the cannabis accord are grapefruit, green cardamom, mate, eucalyptus, and tobacco. This is the cannabis counterpart to Back to Black as M. Pellegrin opens Smoke for the Soul with the cannabis accord in place and over the next few hours it slowly starts to fray and decompose until you are left with a woody base of birch and cashmere woods. Smoke for the Soul is beautifully realized by M. Pellegrin and I enjoyed it immensely.

calice beckerCalice Becker

Intoxicated is formulated by Calice Becker and is inspired by Turkish coffee. Maybe it is because coffee is my choice among these three addictions but Mme Becker’s take on strong dark coffee is my favorite of the three. Mme Becker brews her coffee accord and it comes out redolent and steaming from the first moments and the green cardamom she pairs the coffee with makes an exotic mix that has never been seen in a Starbucks. The lemon tinged spice made more sappy because of the greenness is, as the name promised, intoxicating. From there Mme Becker swirls in some more spices in nutmeg and cinnamon but they are not as interesting as the cardamom. This all rests on a woody foundation at the end.

All three perfumes have 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

The Addicitve State of Mind Series feels like the sequel to the L’Oeuvre Noire series that M. Hennessy started the By Kilian line with. Unlike most sequels these three new fragrances are as good as any in that collection. If you have taken a break from By Kilian because Asian Tales and In the Garden of Good & Evil were different then I suggest you tune back in as I think these three will make you feel like things have returned to the older aesthetic. I am happy to spend some time in Kilian’s Smoke Shoppe and breathe in all of the wonderful smells.

Disclsoure: this review was based on samples provided by By Kilian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer Perfumes Sotto La Luna Gardenia- Gardenia Pixy-Stix

Andy Tauer has been making perfume for almost ten years. He is one of the independent perfumers who has developed a very distinct aesthetic. There is even a characteristic base of woody incense which has been dubbed Tauerade by other writers. I agree there is definitely a strong DNA running through many of Hr. Tauer’s fragrances and the Tauerade is part of it. There is also another accord he has revisited a number of times. I describe it as a Pixy-Stix accord after the flavored powdered sugar candy I ate as a child. It has also been compared to Pez candy as well. It adds a granulated kind of opaque sweetness to the perfumes Hr. Tauer employs it in. One’s tolerance for it is going to determine whether you like the latest release Sotto La Luna Gardenia.

Sotto La Luna Gardenia is the first in a series of Sotto La Luna perfumes Hr. Tauer intends on producing. For Sotto La Luna Gardenia he wanted to capture the titular bloom under the wash of a full moon as it scents the night air. Getting just the right balance with a gardenia fragrance is a tricky proposition. Too much and it is overpowering and cloying. Too little and it is wan and green. The difficulty with finding that balance is the gardenia never feels as if it is in full bloom; it can feel restrained. This is why Hr. Tauer adds in the sugar to amplify the sweet without turning it treacly.

andy tauerAndy Tauer

As one who grew up with gardenia bushes around my house in South Florida I know the vibe Hr. Tauer is attempting to create. To start with he blows a gentle zephyr of spices across your conscience. This is the smell of the night of the full moon, full of portent. The gardenia first comes in as the restrained more green gardenia I mentioned above. The greener, woodier aspects are as prominent as the floral aspect. Over about an hour that changes as the flower expands and so does the fragrance. This is where Hr. Tauer dusts all of this with his “Pixy-Stix” dust. I like the crystalline sweet quality it adds as it makes the gardenia feel like a candied version of itself. Sotto La Luna holds this position for a few hours on my skin and this is why the sugar sweet accord will make or break one’s enjoyment of this perfume. I think Hr. Tauer has used it well and I enjoy it quite a bit. The base notes are sandalwood, vanilla and a bit of tonka; no sign of Tauerade this time.

Sotto La Luna Gardenia has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I like when an indie perfumer starts to display some character with recognizable accords to define their aesthetic. In Sotto La Luna Gardenia Hr. Tauer shows how it can be used to create a special effect rendering the gardenia something supernatural in its power.

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

Mark Behnke

Sonoma Scent Studio 101- Five to Get You Started

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So far in this series I have been concentrating on niche lines. A reader sent me an e-mail which made me realize independent perfumers also have large collections and some advice on where to start there would also be appreciated. The reader requested some insight into one of my very favorite independent perfume brands Sonoma Scent Studio.

Sonoma Scent Studio is the indie label that perfumer Laurie Erickson founded in 2004. Ten years later it is one of the premiere independent perfume labels out there. Despite there being twenty-one choices on her website she creates her perfumes at a sedate pace. I have been pleased to act as tester during the process a few times over the years. Ms. Erickson takes the time to source just the right raw materials, a trait common among the best indie perfumers. As a result the entire collection is one worth trying but if you need a place to start here are the five I would begin with.

laurie ericksonLaurie Erickson

Champagne de Bois– Ms. Erickson wanted to capture the effervescence of champagne and to do this she selected a number of aldehydes to provide the sparkle. This was paired with a spicy woody base Ms. Erickson had developed containing sandalwood and vetiver which are kicked up a notch with clove and amber. I’ve always felt this captures the fizz of fine champagne which tickles the nose before the wine refreshes the palate.

Tabac Aurea– There is the most photorealistic tobacco perfume I own. Ms. Erickson captures the smell of a tobacco leaf curing barn as you stand within breathing deeply of the drying tobacco leaves. It captures the narcotic sweetness of tobacco leaf by using a judicious amount of tonka and musk. Cedar brings home the wood of the barn. This all ends on a sweet amber and vanilla mix.

Wood Violet– I am not a fan of fruity florals but Ms. Erickson balances her mix of violet and plum so efficiently it even makes a grump like me smile. She wraps the core notes in cedar and sandalwood along with a spicy duo of cinnamon and clove. As much about the spice and woods as it is the plum and violet which is probably why I like it so much.

handsSMS(Photo: Avis Mandel)

Velvet Rose– There are few fragrances which capture their name better than Velvet Rose. Ms. Erickson makes a tactile rose of crushed red velvet. She keeps it very simple using a Damask rose as the center of her fragrance. She uses violet leaf and carnation to add green facets and a bit of clove-like floralcy, respectively, to surround the rose in the early going. In the base a fabulous patchouli provides depth and detail while the musk provides strength.

Cocoa Sandalwood– Ms. Erickson started her all-natural line with this stunning creation which does exactly what is advertised. Ms. Erickson takes cocoa and coffee absolute combined with cinnamon to create a deep dark cacao accord. This coats a renewable New Caledonian sandalwood. The absolutely brilliant choice to add peach lactone to keep this from being too desiccated is perfect. One of the finest natural perfumes I own.

Sonoma Scent Studio is a brand well worth the effort to seek out and she does offer a sample program so you can try before buying. The five choices above are a gateway to one of our best independent perfumers.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased of these perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Penhaligon’s Bayolea- The Simple Pleasures

Most days when choosing which perfume to wear I will probably opt for something full of fascinating nuance and multiple levels of development. Then there are the days I want my perfume to just give it to me straight in a smooth progression from top to base notes. There are always a few new perfumes which delight me with a vivid progression of usual ingredients. The latest perfume to keep it simple is Penhaligon’s Bayolea.

Penhaligon’s released Bayolea as a full-service men’s grooming line named The Gentleman’s Grooming Range. The Eau de Toilette is part of a collection that includes shaving products, bath gel, facial scrubs, hair products, and deodorant. Everything carries the basic scent of the EdT. For something which was going to have to be tuned across a number of different uses, perfumer Mike Parrott was smart to keep the construction elementary. Which is not synonymous with boring. At each phase of Bayolea’s development Mr. Parrott adds one ingredient to add some contextual detail. This makes Bayolea’s trip from citrus to spicy floral to a patchouli base; straightforward but with some interesting roadside attractions along the way.

mike parrottMike Parrott

Bayolea opens with what at first blush seems like a traditional citrus opening of mandarin, tangerine, and lemon. Except the lemon isn’t lemon as Mr. Parrott chooses to use lemongrass instead. It adds a bit of green and a bit of far eastern exotic character. The heart takes lavender and neroli combined with a green cardamom and black pepper. I have really liked that perfumers have begun to use spices to accentuate the herbal quality of good lavender. That is the case here as the green coriander picks up the green of the lemongrass and transitions to a greener more herbal lavender truer in character to the real thing. A pinch of black pepper keeps it tilted to the herbal side and neroli acts as a balancing note to keep it from going too far that way. The base notes are centered on a rich patchouli framed with cedar and sandalwood. This all eventually concludes with an amber and musk accord.

Bayolea has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have to congratulate Mr. Parrot on creating a fragrance which works across so many different uses. I also have samples of the shaving products and face washes. Bayolea works all the way through my morning toilette because Mr. Parrott keeps it simple. Sometimes the simple pleasures are all you need to start your day.

Disclsoure: This review was based on a sample of Bayolea provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review DSH Perfumes Seve de Pin Extrait- Sappy Sticky Bliss

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For many years I was quite a hiker. I have hiked a large amount of the Appalachian Trail as well as through some of the great National Parks out west. For someone who loves fragrance the smells of the woods while hiking was one of the joys of walking in the woods. Particularly in the US if there is a consistent base note to the smell of the great outdoors it would be pine. It seems there are pines no matter what trail I am following. Just breathing in the smell of a Christmas tree lot reminds me of being on the trail. Perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz also shares my love of the woods and her new release DSH Perfumes Seve de Pin reflects that.

Ms. Hurwitz has been working for years on a pine scent which would capture “the smell of the night air on my first overnight trip away from my parents…in pre-school summer camp. The trees were speaking to me all night long” I knew what she was talking about as there is a comfort of setting up camp inside a circle of sentinel pines. The smell of the wood, the soft bed of needles on the ground, and the glorious viscous sap oozing out of rents in the trunk. This is the smell of the forest’s bosom on which to rest one’s head on in peace. This is also an extremely hard smell to get right in a perfume. All too often pine fragrances smell like cleaning products or, worse, the cardboard air freshener hanging from way too many rearview mirrors. To get this right Ms. Hurwitz was going to have to find a special material with which to build her Seve de Pin around, for this she turned to Eric Bresselsmith of House of Aromatics.

DSHDawn Spencer Hurwitz

Mr. Bresselsmith travels the inter-mountain region of Utah searching for conifers damaged by weather or the depredations of humans. He co-distills many of the fruits of his labor. For Seve de Pin Ms. Hurwitz used a combination of 50-year old resin crystals dissolved in pure pinion oil. When I wax rhapsodically about the glory of independent perfumery and their tendency to use some of the most exquisite materials to build a fragrance upon; this essential oil is exactly what I am talking about. This is the heart of a pine forest, vibrant and resinous.

Having the greatest raw material in the world does not a perfume make. Ms. Hurwitz had some work in front of her to find the right set of complementary notes to display this fantastic raw ingredient in the best way. She keeps it simple by adding green facets on top and a full house of resin notes to provide the foundation upon which to build Seve de Pin.

The green accord Ms. Hurwitz employs on the top is like the wind soughing through the branches of the pine trees. It is always the first thing I smell before the rest of the pine forest milieu catches up. In Seve de Pin the same is true as after the green has made its presence known the pinion oil arises and Ms. Hurwitz uses two important grace notes to help focus this, in amyris and rose. Amyris with its slightly lemony woodiness and rose with its spicy floral aspect add an intoxicating depth as they smooth out any rough edges the pinion oil might have. It is a perfect choice. Olibanum, oppopanax, and labdanum form the resinous base on which Seve de Pin rests. These resins in combination with the pinion oil really create the smell of dried droplets of sap clinging to the trunk. When I wore Seve de Pin and it reached this part I almost felt like my fingers should’ve been sticky with sap it is so photorealistic.

I tested Seve de Pin as an extrait and it is amazingly gorgeous in this concentration. As a result it has overnight longevity and minimal sillage. This forest walk is for the wearer exclusively.

There are a group of pine perfume aficionados who have named themselves “Coneheads” and I have to imagine Seve de Pin will be as close to a Holy Grail fragrance for them as there could be. I know I will treasure my sample of extrait because it is as near and dear to me as my time walking in the woods. Seve de Pin is tonic for the forested soul.

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

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Joan Rivers

As the celebrities I have grown up with begin to pass away I find that each one hits me with a different level of impact. Once it happens I am often surprised at which ones I subconsciously feel the most. This week was one of those surprises to me when the news of comedienne Joan Rivers passing away at 81 was reported. I felt the news right in the pit of my stomach as my eyes teared up. Why did this hit me? I think it is because I admired her make no apologies, take no prisoners approach to life. I have a bit of that attitude as well and I think it was nice to see someone succeed to her level while not being afraid of confrontation.

I first became aware of Joan Rivers as Johnny Carson’s frequent guest host throughout the 1970’s. She would be named permanent guest host in 1983. She was the perfect contrast to Johnny’s style as interviewer and it was always a refreshing change when she was in charge. The other part of this was female comedians were pretty much unheard of and her success would inspire almost every successful comedienne you currently know. It was assumed by many when Johnny left Joan would eventually be the host. It didn’t work out that way as she tried to start a late night franchise on the fledgling FOX Network in 1986 called The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. In what she would describe in later years as one of her biggest mistakes she didn’t tell Johnny she was doing this. When he found out he banned her from The Tonight Show and that ban was upheld by Jay Leno throughout his time as host. The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers was cancelled after two years on the air after she refused to allow her husband Edgar to be replaced as producer. This humiliation would lead to Edgar committing suicide and Joan disappeared for a while. By 1989 she returned with a daytime show The Joan Rivers Show which ran for five years.

Joan-Rivers-Red-CarpetJoan Rivers and her daughter Melissa at the 2007 Academy Awards

It was on that show where she began to comment on red carpet fashion and it would lead to her covering the red carpet arrivals for the Golden Globes and Academy Awards in 1994 for E! Joan Rivers may be one of the most influential fashion people ever because of this. As she asked star after star “Who are you wearing?” I imagine many viewers were hearing fashion names like Carolina Herrera or Vera Wang for the very first time. This was in stark contrast to runway fashion as here were real live women, albeit Hollywood stars, wearing haute couture. In my opinion it made high fashion more accessible to everyone and it was in no small part to Joan Rivers’ way of presenting the fashion in a positive way. Twenty years later every red carpet is covered extensively by multiple networks and fashion designers become household names because of this exposure. Every one of them should say a prayer of thanks to Joan Rivers for starting this.

I never met Joan Rivers but we did stand next to each other during a Tory Burch fashion show at New York Fashion Week a few years ago. I was impressed at how engaged she was with the fashion as it was presented and it was that passion that allowed her to make those red carpet appearances so influential.

It was only appropriate that her last televised appearance was the next day post-mortem of the red carpets for the Emmy Awards and MTV Video Music Awards. Two days before her ill-fated operation. I like that my last memories of her is in full on red carpet mode leaving us laughing until the very end. Every time I watch an awards show I will miss her; but mostly I will miss her unapologetic way of living life and leaving us with a laugh.

Mark Behnke