New Perfume Review L’Artisan Parfumeur Un Air de Bretagne- The Rocky Coastline

When I first moved to New England and the Florida boy was grumping about the lack of beaches; I was told that I would come to appreciate the rocky coastline. In the height of summer that was never exactly true. I wanted soft grainy sand to lay out on not craggy outcrops. Where it became true was when we would venture out late in the fall, north towards Maine. With some chill in the air as we would walk along the rocks, hopping from one to the other, there was a complex scent in the air as the minerality of the rocks mixed with the sea spray. Along with bright late fall sunshine this was an aquatic kind of perfume I could want. Just as I headed into the fall of this year I received my sample of L’Artisan Parfumeur Un Air de Bretagne which reminded me of those rocky coastlines.

Un Air de Bretagne was based on what I think is the French equivalent to Maine; the Brittany coast. Perfumer Juliette Karagueuzoglou uses many of the popular ingredients you fine in the aquatic style of perfume but she manages to give them a little more heft evoking the fall rather than the apex of summer.

Juliette Karagueuzoglou

The best example of her adding something to the ordinary comes right at the beginning as Calone is part of the sea spray accord. Calone is this classic ingredient but in Un Air de Bretagne M. Karagueuzoglou wants to capture a more kinetic crash of big waves against the algae covered boulders. So, she adds some of those green algae-like accords along with a kind of iodized note. It takes the Calone and transforms it into something different than almost every other fragrance which relies on it. There is more energy to it as the melon-like quality is covered over by the green and mineral aspects. She perfectly captures that fall day when the spray hangs heavier in the air. A softer style of green comes as neroli comes out of the sea spray and sends the perfume towards a base of ambergris and cedar.

Un Air de Bretagne has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have mentioned many times how much the aquatic genre has evolved, especially over the last three or four years. Un Air de Bretagne is one of those next generation aquatics. I have become a fan of the genre again because some of our most talented perfumers are finding new ways to display old tropes. M. Karagueuzoglou has shown that there is still plenty to explore on the rocky coastline of Un Air de Bretagne.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Puredistance Warszawa- Warsaw Curves

I hate waiting. I was an impatient child. I’ve become better in my old age, but I still don’t like it. I am particularly bad about it when one of my favorite perfume brands makes me wait a year. Last December Puredistance released Warszawa exclusively at Quality Missala in Warsaw, Poland. When I contacted the brand about getting a sample I was told it would be released worldwide in November of 2017. Then a couple of my Polish readers told me how much they enjoyed it. None of this helped the wait go down any easier. Now that I have had the chance to try it I find Warszawa to be one of the most elegant retro nouveau perfumes I’ve tried in a long while.

Jan Ewoud Vos presenting Warszawa in Poland (November 2016)

When we say they don’t make perfumes the way they used to I also tend to couple it with the idea of what passed for beauty back then. The perfumes and the women were curvaceous. There was contour to their structure as the eye, or nose, enjoyed the sensations of swooping in and out and around those curves. Warszawa was based on the Polish society women during that Golden Age. Creative Director Jan Ewoud Vos and perfumer Antoine Lie takes us back to a time where things had curves.

Antoine Lie

One of the great things about Mr. Vos’ creative direction is that it comes from a visual perspective. For Warszawa he visited with the Missala family in Warsaw and was shown the family pictures from this period. He walked away thinking about how to turn this into perfume. Working with M. Lie for the third time there is seemingly an easy creative rapport. The model they use for Warszawa is a floral chypre where the floral part feels very Golden Age but the chypre feels very modern.

The opening is a silk glove being drawn along a sinuous arm as candied violet and grapefruit provide a smooth opening. A big green emerald flare of galbanum transforms it into something more extroverted. The floral heart accord is made up of a deep jasmine absolute paired with a rich orris butter. Just those two notes would have been spectacular, but M. Lie adds in the broom flower which provides its own twists and turns as it swirls through the more extravagant florals. The broom adds in a softness as its herbal nature inserts itself within the overall effect; it gives a slightly acerbic nip. The base is patchouli and vetiver carrying the chypre frame while styrax tries to add into a contemporary form of the classic base.

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

Warszawa is a perfume which celebrates another time where a different aesthetic was ascendant. It is nice to have a reminder that the days of elegance can still inspire great modern perfume. Warszawa is proof that there were curves a plenty during the Golden Age in Poland.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Sonoma Scent Studio Bee’s Bliss- The Bee’s Knees

When Mrs. C and I moved out to farm country six years ago I was worried about how I would handle it. My wife and I are the reverse of Green Acres, she loves the fresh air and I want Fifth Avenue. After seventeen years of urban living in Boston it was her turn to have the lifestyle she wanted. Surprisingly I have come to love this life. Much of it is because of the farms which surround us and the relationships we have with all of them. As a result, I have become more intimately acquainted with the source of the food I eat. One of those foods is honey. I have gone to the hives and seen the honey being harvested. There is a fantastic scent of the raw honey as it comes off the beeswax of the hive in viscous sheets. That has been captured as a perfume in Sonoma Scent Studio Bee’s Bliss.

One of the things I’ve learned about honey is it has a strong scent of the source of flower nectar that the bees have been harvesting. It is fabulous as the floral quality leaps out of the sticky liquid. The honey that is in your local supermarket is blended from many sources and so this quality is diminished. When you get honey directly from the hive you know where most of the nectar has come from.

Laurie Erickson

Laurie Erickson the perfumer behind Sonoma Scent Studio must have also had the same opportunity living out in Sonoma Valley in California. In California, orange blossom or mimosa are going to be one of the main sources of nectar for the bees meaning the raw honey Ms. Erickson might be familiar with should carry those floral scents within. That is where Ms. Erickson starts with Bee’s Bliss keeping it very simple.

It is the mixture of mimosa and orange blossom that comes first. Then as if the bees are carrying the nectar back to the hive it slowly is subsumed in a sweet honey matrix. In this early phase Bee’s Bliss is a soft sweetly floral ride. Another thing I’ve learned form the local hives is there is a substance called Propolis which the bees use as caulk for the gaps in the hive. That comes from the sap of the local trees and smells very green. Ms. Erickson’s fragrance equivalent is vetiver modulated with oakmoss. This is where the smell of harvesting honey comes through to me. For the base Ms. Erickson takes inspiration from the color of fresh honey as waves of amber and benzoin finish Bee’s Bliss.

Bee’s Bliss has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Living in the country I have come to appreciate the simple pleasures; Bee’s Bliss is one of those with its sunny personality. Despite that it is simple it is an excellently realized perfume of the hive. As I wore it the best phrase I could think of to describe it is an old one from the 1920’s; Bee’s Bliss is the bee’s knees.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sonoma Scent Studio.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Fulton & Roark Limited Reserve No. 4- A Solid Leathery Tobacco

As I’ve mentioned in the past I am an avid wetshaver. That means I use an old-fashioned double-edged blade along with a shaving cream and brush in the morning when I shave. No multi-blade monstrosities for me. I have done this for over ten years and I have never looked back. It is a serene meditative moment at the beginning of my day. It is also a place where fragrance enters my day as the different shave creams all have some of my favorite scents. One problem is this is not a very portable morning ritual to travel with. Especially the brush and a pot of shaving cream. A little over a year ago I was introduced to a fantastic tube of shaving cream from a Winston-Salem, North Carolina brand Fulton & Roark. Now I can take my wetshaving on the road with aplomb.

Kevin Keller (l.) and Allen Shafer

Of course, when I went to order another tube of the shaving cream I started poking around the website and found they carried a line of solid perfumes. I added a sample set to my order. When I received the samples, I found the perfumes to all be excellently composed classic riffs on masculine motifs of cologne. My favorite was one called Captiva which was a typical citrus, labdanum, and aquatic accord construct. What made it different was applying it as a solid. Smearing on a film of wax where I usually spray created a more personal style of fragrance. Which is a nice effect when you want to keep your perfume wearing on the down low. I was thinking that it would be nice if there was a warm version which would be great underneath a sweater or scarf. The latest release Limited Reserve No. 4 is that.

Mount Sterling, North Carolina

All the Fulton & Roark perfumes are based on a place where one, or both, of the founders; Kevin Keller and Allen Shafer has been. Limited Reserve No.4 is based on the hike to an abandoned fire tower atop Mount Sterling in Western North Carolina. Not sure about this place but it must be near some large tobacco fields because this is a perfume about tobacco.

Tobacco has many ways of being presented in perfume for Limited Edition No. 4 the decision is to go with the very sweet version of tobacco. This carries an inherent warmth which is picked up by the leather which comes next. Vanilla keeps the leather from washing away the sweet and amber finishes this with more warmth.

Limited Edition No. 4 has 8-10 hour longevity and very little sillage.

Limited Edition No. 4 is far and away the best of the Fulton & Roark solid perfumes it is not groundbreaking in any way but if you want a solid sweet leathery tobacco perfume that only you can smell on a given day; this is the one.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Fulton & Roark

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ex Nihilo French Affair- The Maltese Chypre

The first time I became aware of the word “chypre” came while I was reading the classic detective novel “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett. One of the habits I had when reading was if I ran across a word that I didn’t know I’d try to infer it from context followed by opening the paperback dictionary I carried with me. The very last sentence in the paragraph which described the character Joel Cairo was, “The fragrance of chypre came with him.” In my mind I pronounced it ki-per while the context made me think it was perfume. The entry in the dictionary said it was “a non-alcoholic perfume containing oils and resins”. While the pronunciation instructed me to say sheep-ra. Years later as I truly became fascinated with perfume I would think back to how inadequate that definition is.

Quentin Bisch

Chypres have been one of the most interesting style of fragrance from the moment I began to care about understanding more. They have evolved, and every great perfumer has their version of it. The new generation has been working with material restrictions while creating innovative new chypre accords. Occasionally the young guns get the chance to go back and try and make a chypre like they used to. For Ex Nihilo French Affair perfumer Quentin Bisch takes his opportunity.

Ex Nihilo Team (l. to r.) Olivier Royere, Sylvie Loday, Benoit Verdier

M. Bisch wears his love of perfumery out in the open. There is no doubt that he adores everything about its history and his part in the future of it. I would have enjoyed hearing the conversation when creative directors Sylvie Loday, Olivier Royere, and Benoit Verdier asked him for an old-fashioned chypre for the “new Dandies” of the 21st century. Which is what the brief for French Affair seems to be. M. Bisch decided the base was going to be as traditional a chypre accord as he could produce. Where he would innovate is in the top and heart accords leading to that base.

If there is an ingredient which is becoming a bit of a M. Bisch fingerprint it might be lychee which he uses to add some off-kilter sweetness to the more typical bergamot. It still has that lens flare kind of quality but through a kind of musty sweet. I like it a lot as it is a contemporary twist on that most pedestrian citrus opening. Slicing through the sweetness like a razor is violet leaves which cut straight through to a lush rose in the heart. Its dewy floral depths hold the focus until the patchouli, oakmoss, and vetiver which form M. Bisch’s chypre accord rise up. The rose and violet leaves fall right in line as the earthy patchouli, the bitter oakmoss, and the sharp woody green of vetiver combine into a classic chypre accord. This is perfume classicism at its best.

French Affair has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage. It could get you a line in a novel if you wear too much.

M. Bisch’s enthusiasm is contagious and given the opportunity with French Affair he delivered his version of classic chypre brilliantly. So much so that if there is a remake of The Maltese Falcon in 2018 San Francisco this is the perfume that Joel Cairo should be wearing.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Ex Nihilo.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: A Universal Translator for the Holidays

As anyone who reads this column knows we have now entered my favorite time of the year. Starting on Thanksgiving and lasting until the New Year everything about these next few weeks are what makes me happiest.
As I have mentioned in the past beginning from from the day after Thanksgiving I wear a Santa hat and a different Holiday themed earring until January 2nd. Dressed up like that I receive many smiles followed by “Merry Christmas!” Because anyone wearing that hat and that earring “Merry Christmas!” is the thing to say. It has also been a great way to start conversation while waiting in lines or attending tree lighting ceremonies or The Nutcracker. When I say this time of the year makes me happiest it is because it is when I feel like we are more connected to each other. Which is why the few who insist on policing the way we greet each other during this joyous time put some frost in this jolly old gentleman’s beard.

Last year I saw more than I ever have of people correcting others when they wished some one a “Merry Christmas!”. “I’m not a Christian.” “We’re Jewish!” We don’t celebrate that!” were among the answers I heard. I was wondering why there was a need to correct someone who was clearly wishing you the Joy of the Season. Which then got me to thinking about Star Trek.

One of the great things about Star Trek from the very beginning was creator Gene Roddenberry realized if different races and species couldn’t communicate living peacefully would be nearly impossible. The whole concept of trying to communicate with another intelligent life form and the difficulties inherent in it were displayed beautifully in last year’s movie “Arrival”. So, Mr. Roddenberry’s version of the future included a device known as a “Universal Translator”. This allowed any race to speak to any other race in their own language translating to the listener’s language simultaneously. Throughout the series in all its incarnations the ability to speak to someone else in their own frame of reference while using your own words is what leads to a wide universe where words can rule over phasers. Which brings me back to Holiday greetings.

I am hoping that more people will employ their own Universal Translator when people wish them a happy greeting. When I say, “Merry Christmas!” Please translate that to Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Season’s Greetings, Happy Holidays, Happy Festivus or what ever you celebrate over the next month or so; because that’s what I mean.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Perris Monte Carlo Cacao Azteque Eau de Parfum- Mulled Rum

One of the characteristic smells of the Holidays in my environment is spices. The potpourri and candles all seem to be spice laden. The mulled wine is full of spice. The baking is nothing but non-stop spice. Most people like to wear a perfume which might provide something different. I turn into a glutton and pull out my heaviest spicy perfumes, so I can wallow in it. There are samples I receive during the year that I know are going to be added to my Holiday rotation. At the beginning of the fall as soon as I took my first sniff of Perris Monte Carlo Cacao Azteque I knew this was going to be added to that shelf.

Gian-Luca Perris

For 2017 creative director Gian-Luca Perris wanted to make a pair of perfumes celebrating the Aztec society. Working with perfumer Mathieu Nardin they produced Cacao Azteque and Tubereuse Absolue. They were originally envisioned as Eau de Parfum (EdP) strength but after they began the process they also decided to release both in an extrait concentration. Two releases became four. The two versions of Tubereuse  Absolue are nicely executed tuberose soliflores with the extrait having a more intense white floral central accord as M. Nardin adds in a couple more than are in the EdP. When I tried the EdP version of Cacao Azteque M. Nardin creates a spicy perfume which floats on a surface of rum, tuberose, sandalwood, and leather.

Mathieu Nardin

Cacao Azteque opens with one of my favorite raw ingredients, cardamom. M. Nardin is using a very arid version of it in Cacao Azteque. To it he adds black and pink pepper, both of which keep the early moments on the dry side. This is so dry it might be difficult for some who are not fond of this style. It is right in my wheelhouse which meant I couldn’t get enough. Eventually it moves on to the heart as an unusual ingredient, pittosporum, is used as the connective note. Pittosporum has a slightly indolic citrus blossom character. It links up with the slightly lemony facets of the cardamom bringing it into the heart where rum and tuberose are waiting. The rum is sweetly boozy, with a bit of smokiness, while the tuberose picks up where the pittosporum leaves off. There are moments in the middle part of the development while the spiced tuberose is in ascendency that I felt this was the one which should have been called Tubereuse Absolue. It isn’t until after the transition to the base is made where a leather accord and sandalwood provide the foundation that the titular cacao finally makes a cameo appearance as dusty cocoa powder ghosting over it all.

Cacao Azteque EdP has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

The extrait version of Cacao Azteque focuses more on the leather and that is enhanced in that version. If you’re fonder of leather over spices that might be the concentration for you to try. If you like the spices, then it is the EdP version which has more of that. I expect both to have their fans. For me it is the mulled rum effect of Cacao Azteque Eau de Parfum that will be getting some use this Holiday season.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Perris Monte Carlo.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Hoiday Perfume Buyer’s Guide 2017 Part 2- Support your Local Perfumery

I am not the biggest fan of the shopping mania that breaks out after Thanksgiving in the US. Black Friday makes me blue and Cyber Monday makes me want to unplug. Since 2010 there has been a way for me to participate in the Holiday shopping spirit. That year American Express created “Small Business Saturday”. By using Facebook and television commercials they urged shoppers to go to their local independent merchants instead of the mall. In just a short time it has become a huge success. Just in my local area several of the small city shopping districts are having special promotions. When it comes to perfume that means the locally owned and operated perfumery. For Part 2 of the Holiday Perfume Buyer’s Guide I am going to focus on some of the brands which have become widely available in these stores.

This part of the guide is going to be aimed at people who are perfume wearers already although a couple of choices I will call out as excellent entry points. Latest review of each brand will be linked. Finally, I still think you shouldn’t buy a bottle of perfume for another and instead should use my “How to Buy Perfume as a Gift” as a way to gift fragrance. The beauty of that method at these small businesses is they are all about customer service and you should have no problem following my suggestion.

New Lines Which Have Impressed

Here are four brands which have shone in 2017. All of them are well worth exploring.

Vilhelm Parfumerie– Over the past two years there has been no new brand which has impressed me more than this one. Creative Director Jan Ahlgren and perfumer Jerome Epinette started strong and in 2017 they released one good perfume after the other. My favorite was Basilico & Fellini which is an example of all this brand is getting right.

Tauerville Flash Collection– Indie perfumer Andy Tauer wanted a set of perfumes which were meant as welcome mats to the independent style of perfumery. The Flash series has been that as well as also making perfumes which still had enough for the experienced colognoisseur. The latest release, Patch Flash, turns patchouli into a soft note paired with leather.

Zoologist Perfumes– Owner and Creative Director Victor Wong has collaborated with some of the brightest lights in independent perfumery over the past two years. Zoologist is quickly becoming one of the most diverse brands on the shelf because Mr. Wong lets his heart, and nose, make the decisions. The release of Civet earlier this year is a prime example.

Shay & Blue– Creative Director Dom DeVetta and perfumer Julie Masse have been quietly putting out excellent perfumes but this year they finally received wider distribution in the US. 2017 has been a watershed year for the brand and this is best exemplified by the intelligent lily accord at the center of Scarlet Lily.

Older Brands Continuing to Impress

Just because there are brands with that “new car” smell some of the established brands have also had strong years.

Imaginary Authors– Perfumer Josh Meyer really hit his stride this year. This line of perfume based on fragrances which have an imaginary book as their inspiration is fun but not without making some serious perfume. O! Unknown is probably the best perfume in the collection as black tea, iris, and sandalwood form a meditation on the final journey.

InekeIneke Ruhland had been out of sight but this year saw her return as all her previously released fragrances began to be available again. This is one of the best collections by any independent perfumer. If we had any doubt the new Idyllwild, a contemporary fougere shot through with pine, reminded us how good she is.

Byredo– This brand has been around as creative director Ben Gorham and perfumer Jerome Epinette have created an aesthetic which is still compelling after ten years. This year’s Velvet Haze shows that style at its very best in an homage to the 1960’s viewing patchouli through a haze of memory.

The Experimental

These are three of the most eclectic brands you can find. There are less provocative entries in all of them but in 2017 my favorites are not for the faint of heart…. or nose.

Beaufort London– This could easily have fit in the first category except creative director Leo Crabtree and perfumer Julie Dunkley keep expertly capturing the smells of a battlefield. Iron Duke is inspired by the first Duke of Wellington and takes you right onto the battlefield with him complete with gunsmoke, saddle leather and sweaty steed.

D.S. & Durga– The D.S. in the brand stands for perfumer David Seth Moltz. Given some new chemical ingredients with which to play with he made one of the most memorable perfumes of the year in Vio-Volta. An electrically charged version of violet; it is compelling in its oddness.

Masque Milano– This could have easily fit in the second category as creative directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi also lead with the heart of an artist and not the bottom line of an accountant. This year’s Times Square where they work with perfumer Bruno Jovanovic displays all of that as they capture 1993 Times Square when it wasn’t so tourist friendly. The perfume reflects that hidden jeopardy around every corner, in each dark alley. A perfume of gritty florals, neon lipstick, latex, and leather before sandalwood brings you to safety.

Every independent perfume store is full of perfume different from that available at the mall. The list above is a great place to start but it never hurts to just treat the experience like an advent calendar and open as many flaps as you can.

Happy Holiday shopping to everyone.

Disclosure: All samples were provided by the brands.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Holiday Perfume Buyer’s Guide 2017 Part 1- At The Mall

The Holiday shopping season is about to begin in earnest. In the US it is signaled by the day after Thanksgiving dubbed Black Friday. Every mall in North America will be filled with shoppers. I thought I’d help those who are out shopping with a checklist of the new mass-market perfumes which have come out this year. This all comes with the caveat that I think buying perfume for someone else is a very difficult task. My "How to Give Perfume as a Gift" can be found in this link. If you want to buy a bottle for someone here are thirteen you will probably find at the mall this weekend and throughout the Holiday shopping season. All are linked to the original review earlier this year.

In the Department Stores

At the fragrance counters of the bigger stores you will find these four:

Bottega Veneta Eau de Velours– A fruity floral leather ideal for the colder temperatures

Jason Wu– A transparent jasmine for someone who doesn’t want something “too perfume-y”.

Jo Malone Green Almond & Redcurrant– A fragrance equivalent of fruit cake; in a very good way.

Tiffany & Co.- An iris soliflore as brilliant as an amethyst solitaire.

The New Ones from the Big Names

2017 saw three mainstream releases from three of the biggest brands in perfume all of them seem to be aiming for the younger demographic. These should also be available widely at anyplace which generally carries these brands.

Twilly D’Hermes– A simple ginger, tuberose, and sandalwood fragrance meant to be someone’s first perfume.

Chanel Gabrielle– A slightly more complex white flower accord sandwiched between citrus and sandalwood.

Thierry Mugler Aura– Here the white flowers are found in a humid green jungle brimming with vanilla.

The Flankers

There have been some good flankers released this year here are three to consider:

Tom Ford Noir Anthracite– This is a very different version of Noir than the previous releases. More spicy and much darker.

Prada Candy Gloss– The cherry, orange blossom, and vanilla perfume is one of the most fun releases and one of the best of 2017.

Valentino Uomo Noir Absolu– A perfume for scarves and sweaters with spices, incense, iris, and sandalwood.

Bang for the Buck

These three are excellent choices at the lower end of the price spectrum

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Amethyst A gorgeous tobacco fragrance. Honestly the entire Elizabeth and James brand is a best buy.

Commodity Bergamot– A shaft of summer sunlight in a bottle glowing with citrus.

Ellis Brooklyn Rives– A fougere framed with petitgrain, neroli, cashmeran, and leather.

If you must buy perfume as a gift these are all good choices. In Part 2 tomorrow I’ll highlight the brands you might find in the small independent perfume sellers for Small Business Saturday.

Disclosure: All perfumes mentioned had samples sent to me from the brand except for Chanel Gabrielle which I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Gallivant Amsterdam- Getting Gezellig With It

It is hard to start your own perfume brand. To find your own space within the niche perfume sector at this point is but one of the roadblocks. One of those spaces is the area of geographical perfume. To create a brand identity around the concept that a spritz or two will take you to the place on the label. Which leads to another difficulty if the named places are cities the wearer knows well; then there are expectations. Which is how I came to the first four releases earlier this year from Gallivant.

Nick Steward

Gallivant was founded by Nick Steward who had spent his career previously at L’Artisan Parfumeur. He also chose to work exclusively with two perfumers for the early releases Giorgia Navarra and Karine Chevallier. With that creative team along with the idea of having them focus on evoking the great cities of the world I approached it with hope only to find it a group of perfumes which zigged when I wanted them to zag. Each one had a moment of olfactory dissonance which kept me from wanting to write about them. When the latest two releases showed up, Berlin and Amsterdam, I was a little more cautious but my belief in the talent behind the bottle had me opening the vials. Berlin was a repeat of the things I didn’t care for from the first four. As I reached for Amsterdam I was losing my mojo, only to be met with the kind of perfume I was expecting from Gallivant.

Giorgia Navarra

The description on the Gallivant website describes Amsterdam as a perfume of “Autumn going into winter.” Sig.ra Navarra is asked to capture the Dutch word “gezellig” which is an all-over feeling of contentedness and coziness. What this means in fragrance terms is an early phase of spices and flowers before finding the warmth of an Oriental base.

Amsterdam opens with one of the most genial pepper top accords I’ve tried in years. Most perfumers take black pepper and serve it up in all its nose-tickling character. Sig.ra Navarra works to dial that way back using pink pepper, elemi, and saffron to wrap it up in a gauzy scarf. This forms a peppery accord which diffuses in waves across the early moments. The floral heart is described as a “black tulip” accord. What it seems to be is tulip made deeper with rose. For a perfume which wants to capture autumn, this does it well; especially with a flower like tulip which is so emblematic of spring. In Amsterdam the tulip is holding on against its eventual final wilting. The rose, which I think is Turkish, picks up on the spices from the top accord while providing a bit of elegiac charm to the tulip. The Oriental base is constructed of sandalwood and cedar along with amber and musk. In keeping with the tone of the perfume this is a soft Oriental and really where Amsterdam truly gets gezellig.

Amsterdam has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Amsterdam is a bulky sweater of a perfume. It is something which expertly captures the effect of gezellig.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Gallivant.

Mark Behnke