New Perfume Review Imaginary Authors Yesterday Haze- Bitter Dusty Figs

Imaginary Authors is the amusing concept by independent perfumer Josh Meyer in which he houses his perfumes in bottles made up to look like the spine of books which never were. In 2012 he released the first seven volumes in his scented library and followed up in 2013 with two more. I have always loved the idea of making up literary inspirations for perfume. The perfumes were all above average but none of them really motivated me to write about them. I look forward to each new release to see if the latest edition will be the page turner I’ve been waiting for. It looks like the tenth volume Yesterday Haze is the one I want to take down from the shelf and spend some time with.

Before you even try the perfume you are greeted with a bottle and packaging so arch they bring a smile to your face. Yesterday Haze is penned by “author” Lenora Blumburg (1909-1983). Ms. Blumburg wrote one of the earlier volumes, Violet Disguise. Yesterday Haze is described as a “subtly sinister follow-up” around a love triangle between a crop-duster who is having an affair with his employer’s wife. Each volume comes with a quote and here is the one for this perfume, “Just as sunsets are more beautiful on hazy days, so, too, are the memories of yesterday.” What is clear after wearing Yesterday Haze is all of this takes place in a fig grove as that is what Yesterday Haze evokes.

joshmeyerJosh Meyer

Mr. Meyer is working the complete fig tree experience in Yesterday Haze, not just the fruit. As a result the opening of the perfume has not only the creamy aspects of the fruit but also the smoothly woody facets of the tree. Tonka is used to tilt the fruit of the fig more towards the creamy. Iris is used to powder over the potentially rough edges of the bark. This is where Yesterday Haze lingers for quite a long time on my skin. Very late in the development there is a bitter note matched with a slate-like minerality. These notes are identified as walnut bitters and orchard dust in the note list. They are much more common aromachemicals but the fancified names convey the feeling that in the end this story ends in bitterness and dust as there seems to be no happy ending.

Yesterday Haze has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Mr. Meyer has “penned” a diverse collection which should find one volume to appeal to most. Take your time with the line and give each one a try. Somewhere within the ten stories there is probably one which will have the right ending for you. Yesterday Haze is definitely the one I want to read over again.

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

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Pitti Fragranze 2014 Final Wrap-up Part 2- The Top 10 New Fragrances I Tried

I think I did pretty well for my first Pitti Fragranze as I tried 90 new perfumes over the three days. There were some which I had tried prior to Pitti but I don’t include those. The other thing to keep in mind is to try this many perfumes the surface area of my available skin was the most prime real estate inside the show hall. Therefore all of these impressions come from a much smaller sampling that I usually do. I can tell you all of the perfumes below will be worn extensively and duly reviewed. In alphabetical order here are the Top 10 New Fragrances from Pitti Fragranze 2014.

Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur– This literally was the very first new perfume I tried at Pitti standing outside with Francois Duquesne. He told me this was perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour’s most intense incense fragrance ever. If you love M. Duchaufour’s previous incense perfumes this is going to blow you away.

Huitieme Art Parfums Liqueur CharnellePierre Guillaume’s cognac laced perfume has the feel of being in an exclusive club with a roaring fire. In one hand is a snifter. In the other a pipe ready to be lit. The surrounding wood has been buffed to leave a subtle scent in the air. I think is going to be one of my favorite winter fragrances this year.

Laboratorio Olfattivo Patchouliful– With a name like Patchouliful you might imagine perfumer Cecile Zarokian would have loaded up on the titular note. Instead Mme Zarokian goes entirely in the opposite direction with a patchouli that feels diaphanous and opaque. It has been a long time since I thought of a patchouli fragrance as light but Patchouliful carries off this style incredibly effectively.

Map of the Heart Black Heart v.2– The single most unique perfume I tried the whole weekend. This is a journey into a heart of darkness, composed of eucalyptus, black pepper, and smoke; by perfumer Jacques Huclier. The other members of this collection are going to be easier to wear but Black Heart snarls and crackles with eldritch energies as it feels like a curse is being twisted via smell. You might not want to wear it but you won’t forget it. I can’t wait to wear it.

Maria Candida Gentile Leuco– It seems like every other stand I stopped at had a new tuberose. Maria Candida Gentile found a way to rise above the crowd by pairing her tuberose with beeswax. It creates a tuberose that is luscious and soft which embraces you instead of dominating you. The magic combination of these two ingredients gives Leuco a style all of its own.

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Masque Milano Russian Tea– The concept of a tea fragrance is nothing new. Even the concept of a Russian tea fragrance is nothing new. How then did perfumer Julian Rasquinet, in his last perfume as an independent perfumer, find a way to create something which uses tea as a focal point for fascinating grace notes throughout? It is like a Russian tea service in a bottle.

Olivier Durbano PrometheeOlivier Durbano has been guiding his brand with a sure aesthetic for ten years. With Promethee all of that experience has come together to result in the best fragrance within his collection. Every time I smell this I am pleased to see the level of assuredness which went into its creation. It feels like the moment of triumph as Prometheus is freed from the rock.

Peccato Originale Antidoto– You know how citrus doesn’t last? I have an antidote for that. This new perfumes from Silvia Monti has a mesmerizing intensity of citrus notes that take hours to unwind to reveal mate and rum underneath. You want a citrus to wear in the middle of winter? This is the one.

S-Perfumes Musk-S– Maybe it’s because I spent a few months writing about the different musk molecules in Olfactory Chemistry but perfumer Carlos Benaim has blended a splendid musk cocktail. There seem to be more synthetic musks here than you can shake a stick at. Once they all settle down you get the smell of sun-warmed skin underneath a linen shirt.

Zarkoperfume Molecule 234.38– Okay yes I am a sucker for any perfume which has molecule in its name. Zarko Ahlmann Pavlov the creative director and perfumer behind the entire Zarkoperfume line wanted to take a single aroma molecule of molecular weight 234.38 and let it unfold on the wearer. It is not Iso E Super it is something else but it shares that peek-a-boo quality of Iso E Super. For those who have liked the single molecule perfumes from other lines you have to add this to your collection. For the chemist it is a must have.

This was a very hard list to compile and there are another ten I have which are also great. Keep your eyes opened for upcoming reviews of all the things I brought back from my first Pitti Fragranze.

Mark Behnke

Read Part 1 of my Final Wrap-up here.

Daily wrap-ups live from Florence can be found here; Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.

Colognoisseur Pitti Fragranze 2014 Final Wrap-up Part 1-People, Trends, and Teases

Italy is blessed with two of the best perfume fairs in the world and Pitti Fragranze is the one which occurs in the fall. Ever since I knew about the existence of Pitti Fragranze in Florence, Italy I have wanted to attend; for the twelfth edition I finally made it. It was a wonderful experience for me as most first times are. I will split the final wrap-up into two parts talking about some of the people and trends along with some disguised teases of things I was given sneak previews of. Tomorrow in Part 2 I’ll call out the top 10 new perfumes I tried.

The first person I met in the first minutes of my first Pitti Fragranze was Andy Tauer. It was a special delight to have the opportunity to chat with him in person. I have always considered Hr. Tauer to be one of the founders of independent perfumery. After nearly ten years of doing this he still has a beguiling passion for creating perfume which comes through even more strongly in person. It was nearly the perfect way to start my experience.

One of those independent perfumers who has helped infuse independent perfumery with a signature style is Pierre Guillaume. He was another whom I never met in person before. When we started trying his new perfumes early on Saturday morning we had a great time laughing and discussing not only his latest but a couple of things he made just for the booth. It will be hard to wear a perfume by M. Guillaume from now on without hearing his laugh and sensing the joy in his creations.

Another person I was happy to meet was Georg Wuchsa of Aus Liebe zum Duft/First in Fragrance. He has been so supportive over the years in getting samples to me I was happy to have the chance to thank him even if it was a sort of hit-and-run encounter on the last day.

When it comes to new trends one stood out very vividly to me as I worked my way around the booths. Tuberose is the new Oud. It often felt like every other brand displayed a perfume to me containing noticeable levels of tuberose. One of the reasons for that is I think the perfumer’s palette has been expanded with new extractions of tuberose which allows for wider latitude in composing with a note which can be very intense. I smelled tuberose after tuberose but I barely smelled any new ouds. Even the Zarkoperfume Oud’ish seemed to be reluctant to display its oud outwardly.

Map of the Heart redMap of the Heart Red Heart v.3

Another trend is the unique bottle is back. The redesign of the new Mona di Orio bottles fit in my hand with a weight and presence. The Pierre Dinand designed bottles for Neela Vermeire Creations gives that entire collection an elegant container for the equally opulent contents. Pierre Dinand was also the man behind what has to be my favorite bottle of the whole fair. When I was making my first circuit of the floor I was stopped dead in my tracks by a set of three heart shaped bottles by the new brand Map of the Heart. That one of these hearts also contained one of the best new perfumes of Pitti just turned it into the complete package.

Finally I did get some confidential information that I am going to share as what are called “blind items”. These are teases with most of the identifying information about who and when disguised.

One perfume brand showed me two upcoming releases one of which will take the brand in a different direction.

One perfume brand showed me the very distinct architectural inspiration for their next release and just the visual has me excited for what is to come.

One perfume brand showed me the final version of a perfume I have long been waiting to smell. It surprised me at how it was realized but the tiny area of skin it was on might have been my most sniffed patch of skin throughout the entire exhibition.

One perfume brand is going to make their take on the cologne and it is one of the best I have smelled in the Nouveau Cologne category.

Come back tomorrow for my top 10 new perfumes from Pitti Fragranze 2014.

Here are links to the live recaps of Day1, Day2, and Day3.

Mark Behnke

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

5

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