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

New Perfume Review Agonist Solaris- Midnight Sun

My only experience with the Midnight Sun came on my honeymoon when we cruised to Alaska, followed by a tour of the state. It was an experience which illuminated the effect daylight has on one’s emotional state. I would be happily moving along and would look at my watch to see it was 11PM when it felt like 4PM. The light was almost magical in the way it energized and sustained me. In conjunction with the extended daylight there was a great crispness to the air we were breathing which also seemed especially rejuvenating. I hadn’t considered the idea of a fragrance attempting to evoke the Midnight Sun. If I did give it some thought I would’ve imagined Niclas and Christine Lydeen, owners and creative directors, of Agonist to be capable of doing it. The ninth release Solaris is exactly this.

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Christine and Niclas Lydeen

The Lydeens have forged a durable partnership with perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin and through the eight previous perfumes created a very Nordic aesthetic for the Agonist line. This aesthetic has a bit of an aloof personality and many find Agonist to be a perfume line which requires too much effort to get close to. I have always found that slightly chilly antipathy the perfumes tend to wear defiantly something which perversely makes me want to give them an extra spritz when wearing them. If you have found this style one you have had issues with in the past Solaris might be a great perfume to give it a try again. M. Pellegrin has made the easiest to wear Agonist to date by turning Solaris into an unnaturally long lasting citrus fragrance whose sun finally sets on the woods in the distance.

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Fabrice Pellegrin

M. Pellegrin uses a veritable olfactory produce section of citrus notes with pink grapefruit, mandarin, lemon, and petitgrain combining to make a mega-citrus accord. To add some variation black pepper adds spice and black currant adds dark berry features. The pepper and currant have the effect of turning all that citrus into something less bracing and more diffuse in effect. It is a really beautiful combination. Galbanum anchors the heart with a green focal point. M. Pellegrin then uses peach, ginger, an ozonic accord, and litsea cubeba. That last note is an evergreen shrub found in Southeast Asia. Its essential oil is mostly the lemon scented molecule Citral. The rest of it is as you would expect from an evergreen, lighter greens and a very subtle floral component somewhere between iris and violet. It isn’t often used but based on Solaris I would like to see it used a little more. It is what extends the citrus vibe from the top notes. The peach and ginger balance it out with fruit and spice. The ozonic accord is that of a lungful of clear cool crisp air inhaled with gusto. The base notes are centered on labdanum. Tonka and benzoin add sweetness, patchouli and amber add depth. As befits a fragrance inspired by the Midnight Sun the base notes don’t show up for a long time and when they do they are there for a shorter time than normal.

Solaris has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I didn’t know I wanted a Midnight Sun perfume. Solaris has shown me the fallacy of that thinking. M. Pellegrin has made a fragrance of opaque strength which captures a feeling, a place, and the light just right

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

Mark Behnke

Parfumerie Generale 101- Five to Get You Started

Pierre Guillaume has been producing perfumes since 2001 when he releases his first fragrance under his Parfumerie Generale label. That first perfume PG02 Coze was my introduction to this idiosyncratic perfumer. M. Guillaume is a perfumer who works on the more ethereal side of the perfumed spectrum. Many of his perfumes have an opaqueness to them that sets them apart from many other lines. That gauziness can be seen as a drawback by those who like a lot of oomph in their perfume. I find it draws me in close; to lean in to gather up the delicate tendrils with care. Over the past fourteen years the collection has grown to over 30 perfumes. Here are the five I would suggest are a good starting place.

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Pierre Guillaume

PG10 Aomassai– M. Guillaume has a reputation for composing great gourmand perfumes. In my opinion Aomassai is the greatest within the collection. A roasted hazelnut accord is decorated with caramel, cinnamon, licorice, and herbs. This is not an opulent gourmand it is a droll gourmand.

Querelle– This is the fragrance which makes me ask over and over why caraway is not used as a topnote alternative to bergamot. In Querelle M. Guillaume uses black caraway and sweet myrrh to draw you into a heart of rose and vetiver. Frankincense and ambergris finishes this which is my favorite of the entire Parfumerie Generale line.

L’Ombre Fauve– Even though I’ve said M. Guillaume likes to keep it lighter L’Ombre Fauve shows what he can do when he turns to the dark side. I have seen some of the more intense entries in the Parfumerie Generale line described as having a “furry” quality. L’Ombre Fauve might be the most prominent of the “furry” PG’s. Intense red amber, civet, and a cocktail of woods keep it simple but incredibly animalic.

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PG24 Papyrus de Ciane– M. Guillaume is a student of the history of perfume and for Papyrus de Ciane he wanted to use the classic Mousse de Saxe base that forms the foundation of the great Caron perfumes. M. Guillaume takes that starting point and imposes his style upon it. A veil of green galbanum, a watery green accord, and incense set up the darkness of the Mousse de Saxe. The success of this perfume is I never think of the original source of Mousse de Saxe I just enjoy a modern take on a classic base.

PG25 Indochine– M. Guillaume’s inspiration was a sepia toned photograph of the Mekong River. Indochine is a perfume of tints. A bit of pepper is cooled off by a breeze of cardamom. Rich honey is drizzled over a woody thanaka accord. Benzoin is the final ingredient. Indochine feels like it is unstuck in time both vintage and contemporary at the same time.

Parfumerie Generale is a line I often recommend and it has become much easier to experience as it is more widely available these days. Give these five a try and if they appeal to you there are many more worth trying.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Rouge Bunny Rouge Silhouette & Tundra- Tales Told Well

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Rouge Bunny Rouge the English beauty line overseen by Alexandra de Montfort has two fragrance collections that they offer. The Fragrant Confections Collection has not really resonated with me although I think they are well-done. The other collection Provenance Tales has been a complete success for me. I really enjoyed the three initial releases and now they have been followed up by two new releases, Silhouette and Tundra.

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Nathalie Lorson

Both perfumes were composed by Nathalie Lorson under Mme de Montfort’s creative direction. Both fragrances share a spicy opening but then head in different directions. Silhouette is a rose leather fragrance; Tundra is woods and vetiver. Mme Lorson has done a really nice job with both of these.

Silhouette opens with a nice coriander and nutmeg pairing. The greener aspects of coriander are enhanced by the sweeter aspects of nutmeg. From here the rose really takes a hold and it is a delicate fragile rose. The note is called rose petals in the press release and it does feel like a gentle wash of petals flowing over my consciousness. Sandalwood provides a sweetly woody foundation to the rose. The leather accord comes next and this is modern refined leather, like the kind you smell in the leather department at a store. A touch industrial, a touch animalic. Ambergris and musk provide the final touches.  Silhouette has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

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Alexandra de Montfort

Tundra is a fabulous woody fantasia which also begins in the spice cabinet. Here Mme Lorson takes pink pepper along with nutmeg, as well. Just as with Silhouette they form a spicy harmonic which is then enhanced with juniper. The juniper adds a superb bit of sharpness from a different vector. Patchouli holds the heart along with violet and elemi. The early moments of the patchouli seems sort of common. That changes as vetiver insinuates itself within the patchouli and eventually overwhelms it. Mme Lorson has a particularly dexterous hand when it comes to using vetiver. In Tundra she turns it into an unusually soft presence which tames the patchouli leaving a velvety green effect behind. Moss keeps the green beat going before cedar adds its deeply clean woody individuality. It really adds a distinct frame to all that has come before. Tundra has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Rouge Bunny Rouge has really made a splash in the overall beauty sector over the last year. That they are not leaving their fragrances to secondary afterthoughts is to be admired. The Provenance Tales Collection is just getting better and Tundra and Silhouette continue the trend.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples from Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review D.S. & Durga HYLNDS Foxglove- Oisin’s Grave

Brooklyn-based Independent perfume brand D.S. & Durga branched out in 2013 by producing the HYLNDS collection. The first four fragrances were evocations of the Highlands myths and folklore. The fifth release Foxglove continues that tradition as it is focused on the man who was considered the greatest poet of Ireland, Oisin. Perfumer David Seth Moltz was inspired by a visit to the gravesite. He says, “When I walked up to Oisin’s grave, I found one foxglove flower facing it 20 feet from the site. It was if Nieve was sitting watch over her lost love.”

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One of the characteristics of the HYLNDS collection of perfumes is they all have a distinctive sense of place within their composition. When I smell all of these fragrances I feel very much aware of the inspiration surrounding me. Foxglove does a fantastic job of fusing the legend of Oisin with the idea of standing near his grave on a damp moor with a single bloom in front of you. Mr. Moltz has chosen a slightly vegetal citrus top. Champaca absolute centers the heart. Leather combined with immortelle makes up the base. It is a fragrance of open green spaces.

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David Seth Moltz

Mr. Moltz uses citron peel, rosewood, and Queen Anne’s lace as his opening trio. One should always remember that Queen Anne’s lace is a member of the carrot family and as such while floral it also carries a significant vegetal quality. The citron is well-chosen contrast for that with the rosewood adding gentle woody aspects underneath it all. Champaca rises to the foreground next and it is buttressed with orris and neroli. The two supporting notes help the champaca from being overwhelming as they temper the more boisterous qualities of the absolute. We are standing near a grave and should show some respect. The base is my favorite part of Foxglove as Mr. Moltz starts with a smooth leather. This is the leather of a saddle ridden upon often, well-oiled, and taken care of. The leather accord has a wonderfully broken in feeling to it. The choice of immortelle is also a great decision and it blends well with the leather accord. The final two ingredients in the base are ambergris and peach. These shouldn’t be as good with the leather and immortelle as they are. Together this carries a hint of the sea, the dampness of the highlands, and the leather of a warrior poet. This last phase of Foxglove is what I look forward to whenever I wear it.

Foxglove has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I really believe this HYLNDS collection is the best most cohesive set of fragrances D.S. & Durga has produced. I am not sure if Mr. Moltz is just especially inspired by the subject matter or if this is just the evolution of his skills as an independent perfumer. Foxglove is my favorite of the five and it is because of that leather and immortelle base as it conjures up its location as well as a perfume possibly can.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by D.S. & Durga.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Living the Country Life

I am a city mouse. I’ve lived in cities for the great majority of my life. Mrs. Colognoisseur is a country mouse. When I describe us I often say we are a reverse “Green Acres” Mrs. C is Oliver and I am Lisa. When I changed jobs to move down to the Washington DC area we have ended up living the country life in Poolesville, MD. After three years I have become surprised at how much I have enjoyed it.

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Poolesville is right in the middle of the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve. This was an initiative where 93,000 acres of the county was protected from development and encouraged to become working agricultural businesses. The effect is, thirty years later, we live in the middle of a flourishing farming community. From May through early November the local farms are our produce section. We go from vegetable farm to fruit farm and buy what is in season. While we aren’t interested in tilling the soil ourselves this allows me to see the change in harvest as the calendar moves on. As I have started to get a handle on when things will be ready I find myself looking forward to the crop of beets as much as I look forward to the seasonal lattes at Starbucks. I have truly come to dislike having to go back to the grocery store for the winter months.

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Besides the farms there is the town of Poolesville itself which is the smallest place I have ever lived. The population is just around 5,000 people. It is very interesting to live in a place where the guys who run Poolesville Hardware know who we are and what we need, often before we do. There is a town green which has events on a near weekly basis. It brings the town out to spend some time together. I have always heard about this concept of a “sense of community” but living in the city that get buried under the hardness of the urban landscape. In Poolesville it is a reality and it is something many feel is worth the effort to maintain.

Like all small communities there are some changes coming Poolesville’s way. Poolesville High School has been the #1 high school in the state for many years and is annually ranked in the top 100 high schools in the entire country, #47 for 2014. This has made Poolesville a desirable location for parents who want their children to go to a good school. This is where the foresight of the Agricultural Reserve runs head-on into upper middle class values. There are few areas which can be subdivided into the prototypical Mc Mansion but there are some and they have grown steadily. This is changing the socio-economic makeup of town and it is unclear how that will impact the town. A couple of signs is the arrival of two national chain stores which will directly compete with existing family-run stores. As I hear many of the older residents say their goal is to “Keep Poolesville, Poolesville.” So far that task has been easy but it might become more difficult over time.

It has turned out that Poolesville has been more interesting than my inner Lisa was worried it would be. I haven't been longing for Fifth Avenue that much. To be honest I’ve found out there is a little more Oliver in me than I suspected. So far the country life has agreed with me.

Mark Behnke