My Favorite Things: Smoke

One of the things I like about autumn mornings is the smell of smoke which hangs in the air in a visible haze. Smoke is a longtime part of fragrance. It can often be used poorly overbalancing a composition. Yet when it is used in balance it provides one of the more unique chords in perfumery. Here are five of my favorite smoky perfumes.

The perfume which made me fall in love with fragrant smoke was Tauer Lonestar Memories. It was the third fragrance by Swiss independent perfumer Andy Tauer. It was also after he had become the first independent perfume star due to receiving a 5-star review from Chandler Burr in the NY Times for L’Air du Desert Marocain. Hr. Tauer did what has always made me enjoy independent perfumers he set this anticipated release on fire. This is the figurative campfire scent of the American West. The early moments are the herbal slightly spicy greenness of the prairie. Then the campfire accord is formed around birch tar, labdanum, and leather. This smolders enchantingly before giving way to woody embers of sandalwood, myrrh, vetiver, and cedar. Hr. Tauer has always shown the admirable quality of following his muse; Lonestar Memories laid down an early marker to the truth of that.

My introduction to another independent perfumer was also shrouded in smoke. Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline was a perfume with a smoky charcoal-like color to the juice. M. Durbano would layer on multiple versions of swirling clouds of smoke. Starting with skirling curls of frankincense swathed in cumin and cardamom. Leading to an intensely smoky heart accord of leather and oud before grounding it all with an earthy patchouli and musk. It was M. Durbano’s third release but it has always been near the top of my personal chart.

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One of the few celebrity fragrances which rises to be able to be included on this list is 2nd Cumming. A collaboration between actor Alan Cumming and perfumer Christopher Brosius. Together they made a fragrance of whisky and cigars on the Scottish heath which has a fantastic haze of the peat fires burning. There are amazing fun grace notes to be found throughout like rubber, truffle, and mud but it is the burning peat which makes 2nd Cumming a smoky stunner.

Most smoky perfumes are either cade or leather. Perfumer Mona di Orio chose to use both in her Les Nombres D’Or Cuir. She wisely keeps it simple with a mix of cardamom and wormwood on top providing a twisted absinthe accord. The cade and leather could have become incredibly boisterous but Mme di Orio keeps it all controlled. The animalic is accentuated with castoreum and opoponax in the base. One of Mme di Orio’s best.

Australian designer Naomi Goodsir and her partner Renaud Coutaudier started the Naomi Goodsir brand in 2012 with an example of how to use cade for the smoke effect in Bois D’Ascese. Perfumer Julien Rasquinet leads you to it with a progression of mandarin, tobacco, labdanum, and incense. Then mixing cade with oak he provides a forest fire of charred wood which is gorgeous in its simplicity.

If you want to surround yourself in a smoky veil here are five of my favorite things.

Disclosure: this review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Mint

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Every perfume lover has one or two problematic notes. One reason can be a strong association with something unpleasant. For me mint is that note. When I smell it I think of dental floss, mouthwash, and toothpaste; none of which conjure up particularly interesting images. I will find myself taking extra time when I receive a new fragrance with a strong mint presence because I don’t want this inherent bias to keep me from missing something good. What has probably been a positive by-product of writing about perfume is I felt the need to give some of these mint perfumes a chance. Over the years there have been a few which have managed to leave the dental behind while making a lasting impression. Here are five which have done that.

Heeley Menthe Fraiche was probably the last of the brand I tried because there was “menthe” on the label. I expected to not like it but I should have remembered James Heeley’s way of finding unique combinations of notes. In Menthe Fraiche before it can start getting too minty he cuts it with sharp mate, lotus leaf, and green tea. This is what mint needed; something to shred it a bit. A very pure cedar provides a greenish woodiness. This is as close as I get to a straight mint fragrance.

One of the great underrated collection is the Comme des Garcons Series collections from 2000-2005. Over seven Series they explored great accords using some of the very best emerging perfumers. Series 5 Sherbet had three entries all done by Bertrand Duchaufour. Comme des Garcons Series 5 Sherbet: Peppermint nailed the chill of the frozen dessert best. By applying sheerer applications of both peppermint and spearmint over similarly light versions of cardamom, and white pepper. The real linchpin is a floral note, daphne odora, which provides a light floral core which is similar to neroli but lemon-tinted while also being sweet like vanilla. A cocktail of white musks provide the chill as it curls away from the scoop.

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In 2008 Cartier in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent wanted to design a modern masculine perfume. Roadster was going to be that fragrance built upon an axis of mint, patchouli, and woods. It helps that she keeps the mint tilted slightly towards the herbal side. Roadster has been one of those perfumes I have gone back and forth upon, because of the mint, until I wore it one blazing hot day. In that heat it all of a sudden shifted in to fifth gear with a roar. Now it is a shank of summer staple for me.

If there was a single fragrance which turned around my thinking on mint it is probably Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Geranium pour Homme. Perfumer Dominique Ropion had been one of the select group of early perfumers putting their names on the bottles for the brand. In 2009, I was excited to see what he would do with geranium. What he did was coat it in spearmint oil. This was a mint which was viscous and oozed over the geranium picking up green facets as it flowed over the flower. Underneath it all M. Ropion used ambrox and sandalwood to form a woody base. The oiliness of the mint won me over and Geranium pour Homme is one of my favorites within the brand.

By now I am a tiny bit more open to mint. When Pierre Guillaume showed me an early version of Mojito Chypre for his Parfumerie Generale Collection Croisiere I was caught up in the boozy revelry. The mint was there but so were all the sweet parts of a strawberry mojito. Sometimes perfume needs to just be fun. In the case of Mojito Chypre the mint is just part of an all-day party.

Even for me I’ve managed to find some pleasure in a note I find difficult. The above five mint perfumes are my favorite things.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Neroli

As we head to the final weekend of summer I always find that I turn to neroli to help me keep the lessening of the sunlight at bay. Neroli the blossom that eventually will turn into bergamot is more thought of as a spring fragrance ingredient. Of course I wear it as the warmth is on its way out. I like neroli perfumes at this time of the year because they have a vitality to them I need with that eventual turn of the season just around the corner. Here are five of my favorites.

The new version of Jacques Fath Green Water has been a constant companion since trying it at Esxence in March of this year. Perfumer Cecile Zarokian held her ground on the high concentration of neroli oil in this reformulation. It is why it is not an embarrassment to compare it to the Green Water of the past. As the spices and oakmoss make their presence known it is the neroli which never gives up the spotlight.

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Vero Profumo Rubj reminds me that neroli is a white flower too. Independent perfumer Vero Kern makes this crystal clear by matching it with the queen of white flowers tuberose. This is a throwback floral full of snarling indoles and feral musks. In other words, a lovely untamed beast; give yourself over to it.

My favorite neroli straight no chaser version is Annick Goutal Neroli. As part of the Les Colognes collection perfumer Isabelle Doyen takes her neroli and supports it with pettigrain, heliotrope, and white musks. It is simple and compelling in that simplicity.

One of the more unique uses of neroli I have is Le Labo Neroli 26. Perfumer Daphne Bugey gives you a tidal basin with neroli blossoms floating on top of the water. Mme Bugey uses an over-the-top aquatic accord of calone and salt which accentuates the melon-y parts of calone which the neroli plays off of nicely. As the neroli gains more of a foothold a swirl of white musks and driftwood capture the floral again. I love this for the mixture of sea and floral.

When Atelier Cologne was introducing the world to their concept of Cologne Absolue in 2010 the poster child might have been Grand Neroli. Most neroli perfumes have short lifetimes on the skin. Grand Neroli not only had longevity it also took the neroli into deeper places. Perfumer Cecile Krakower turns her neroli richer by surrounding it with galbanum, vanilla, and musks. This taking of traditional lighter cologne ingredients deep into the shadows has become a bit of the brand DNA of Atelier Cologne this was the alpha to that.

If you’re looking for a way to push back the encroaching night these five neroli perfumes might allow for you to keep the light close a little bit longer.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things-Hay

I once had a colleague who owned a horse farm. Every year about this time he would be waiting for the moment that it was time to go harvest the hay that would feed the horses through the winter. I went to visit during the harvest one year. The smell of the dried sweet grass was beautiful in the midsummer heat. Because of that experience I always think of hay as a summer style of perfume. Most others see it as something to be worn in the fall. Because it is the right time of year I thought I’d share my five favorite hay perfumes.

My first perfume encounter with hay came from Serge Lutens Chergui. Named after a desert wind that blows through Morocco, perfumer Christopher Sheldrake would set the table for most hay perfumes to come. He chose immortelle and tobacco as the companions for the hay to replicate the hot wind. On that stiff breeze is also carried sage, orris, sandalwood, leather, and honey. It is one of the best of the entire Serge Lutens collection.

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Parfumerie Generale Bois Blond was inspired by the smell of the hay harvest in summer. Perfumer Pierre Guillaume comes the closest to capturing the smell of that harvest. He cleverly marries a green grass accord which as it develops dries out to the hay with tobacco providing more sweetness. It all rests on a desiccated cedar base. This is usually my yearly reminder perfume of the hay harvest.

Santa Maria Novela Fieno is named after hay but doesn’t contain any hay absolute. Instead the heart is a hay accord which is a bit of an abstraction as hawthorn, jasmine, myrtle, and coumarin combine to form this olfactory illusion. When I wear Fieno I always notice the pieces at first. It is only when I stop focusing that I get this beautifully composed facsimile of hay.

Diptyque Volutes is a perfume which has continued to impress me more every time I wear it. Perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin uses the same immortelle, hay, and tobacco nucleus as Chergui. The difference is he infuses his with resins and spices namely black pepper and myrrh most prominently. It is a perfectly balanced perfume that is nearly flawless.

I have only had my sample of the last choice for a few months but Cognoscenti No. 30 Hay Incense has imprinted itself on me. Independent perfumer Dannielle Sergent keeps it simple. Hay absolute and frankincense intertwine. Immortelle also makes a late appearance as well as birch leaf and vetiver. It is a gorgeous perfume.

I will not be standing in a field this summer but any of the five perfumes above can transport me there if I breathe deep and close my eyes.

Disclosure: I have purchased bottles of everything except Cognoscenti No. 30 Hay Incense which is courtesy of a sample from Cognoscenti.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Caraway

I have a secret crusade in perfumery. I want caraway to stage a coup d’etat on bergamot in the top notes of perfume. Caraway has the same bitter citrus feel as bergamot except this is more akin to bitter lemon. Because it is a spice there are also subtler aspects that go with the obvious bitter citrus. Caraway is one of the least used ingredients within perfumery. In Michael Edwards’ Fragrances of the World there are only 92 entries which contain caraway. I’ve asked and learned it is not too expensive, difficult to obtain, or fractious to work with. As part of my campaign I am going to give you my five favorite caraway containing fragrances.

Van Cleef & Arpels Tsar was the first place I ever smelled caraway but I was too unsophisticated to know what the different note was I was smelling. Released in 1989 by perfumer Philippe Bousseton it is a powerful fougere which uses bergamot with the traditional lavender and rosemary to start. The turning point comes in the heart as cinnamon and caraway brush aside the bergamot and rosemary to transform Tsar into something much more opulent before ending on a super sandalwood base. In this case the caraway shows all of the depth and subtlety it has available to it.

It was when I first tried Parfumerie General Querelle by Pierre Guillaume which has fueled my caraway enthusiasm. Querelle opens with one of the most beautiful openings of anything M. Guillaume has composed as he combines caraway with cinnamon and myrrh. The bitter lemon against the fire of the cinnamon juxtaposed on the sweet resinous quality of the myrrh is gorgeous. It sets up the vetiver, incense, and oakmoss finish perfectly. Caraway dominates the very early moments. It when I wear this that I most often ask why it isn’t used more.

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Juicy Couture Dirty English is one of my favorite best buy perfumes. Perfumer Claude Dir created an overstuffed smorgasbord of masculine ingredients. Right at the top he sets up a title fight between bergamot and caraway which my guy wins by pairing best with the cypress and cardamom also present. Dirty English is fantastic for the price and it is caraway which starts it all off.

Byredo Baudelaire by perfumer Jerome Epinette is perhaps the most creative use of caraway. From a black pepper and juniper berry opening the caraway provides the citrus pivot to the gin-like character of the juniper berry. Like an exotic gin and tonic with caraway acting as the lime Baudelaire becomes this watery patchouli and incense fragrance. I can’t imagine bergamot being able to pull off the same effect.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Cologne pour le Soir shows caraway can stand up to even the heaviest spicy notes. Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian uses caraway as the foil to the cumin within the honeyed top accord. When I tried the first debut collection of this brand it was this single accord which made me swoon hardest. Even as it deepens with ylang-ylang, incense, and vanilla it is the opening which sticks with me longest.

If you need a crash course in caraway here are five which can provide you a full profile of the note I most want to see used more often.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Cedar

Where I live we have received the first signs of the upcoming heated days of summer. When it comes to perfume wearing you have to choose wisely. This is the season when the cleaner less complicated fragrances are the ones I choose. For this time of year when I want something woody I begin to look in the area of my perfume collection which holds the cedar-based fragrances. Cedar is often described as smelling like “pencil shavings” or a “hamster cage”. While these are accurate they turn a woody note which provides structure to so many perfumes into something unappealing. Cedar is what I think of as the unobtrusive frame around the more flamboyant perfume raw materials. When it comes to summer though I mostly want my cedar unadulterated. For that here are five I turn to.

Serge Lutens (Shiseido) Feminite du Bois was the perfume which not only put Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake on the map it would also set the stage for many “Bois” perfumes to come from M. Lutens. Collaborating with perfumer Pierre Bourdon the bois here is cedar throughout. What Messrs. Sheldrake and Bourdon do is to dress it up with rose, honey, and spices. This is one of the great masterpieces of perfumery and it all starts with the very plebian cedar.

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Armani Prive Bois D’Encens is one of the only incense perfumes I can wear in the heat of summer. That is because perfumer Michel Almairic keeps the incense very transparent. When it does become recognizable it is that cool slightly metallic church incense. M. Alamiric chooses cedar as the wood because it can also be pitched at the same level. What remains is a sotto voce duet of cedar and incense that never overstays its welcome, especially in the heat.

IUNX L’Eau Sento is Olivia Giacobetti’s perfume of a steamy sauna with its cedar lined walls. There is a palpable humidity as water droplets form on the planks. The same effect occurs with L’Eau Sento as Mme Giacobetti is able to add a watery sheen to the clean woodiness of the cedar. This is one of the perfumes I keep in the refrigerator during the summer. Not for any preservation effect but because spraying this on chilled is one of my favorite ways to beat the heat.

Les Nez Let Me Play the Lion is the flip side to L’Eau Sento. Perfumer Isabelle Doyen has created a dry sauna with a brazier of lava rocks releasing their heat into the surrounding wood. The effect is meant to make you feel like a lion prowling the savannah. Every time I wear it I am meditating in a small overheated cedar room.

Byredo Super Cedar has rapidly risen to inclusion on this list. Perfumer Jerome Epinette layers so many different sources of cedar it forms a woody palimpsest. This has been the cedar perfume I’ve sought out for these first few scorching days. My recent review of it can be found here.

If you’re looking for clean uncomplicated woody fragrances for the summer these are five of My Favorite Things.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased except for Byredo Super Cedar which is a press sample supplied by Byredo.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Licorice

Licorice shares a similarity with lavender. In both cases there is a more common version which is very sweet. Then there is a version with the herbal nature of both raw materials kept intact. The very first licorice perfume was released in 1997, Lolita Lempicka. Since then there have not been a deluge of releases but there are five which I think are worth seeking out.

I have to start with the alpha licorice perfume Lolita Lempicka by perfumer Annick Menardo. Mme Menardo takes licorice through all of its various faces. It moves through stages from herbal lozenge to red licorice whips. It was the answer to those who thought Thierry Mugler Angel was too sweet back in the 1990’s.

Christian Dior La Collection Privee Eau Noire by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. Eau Noire is primarily an immortelle perfume but licorice plays a vital part in the final moments. M. Kurkdjian wanted an herbal beginning which he uses clary sage and thyme for. In the base he uses a very herbal licorice as the bookend around which to wrap the immortelle. It is these choices which make Eau Noire the excellent perfume it is.

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Hermes Hermessence Brin de Reglisse by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. This fragrance is a study in the herbal nature of licorice and lavender together. It is all accomplished in M. Ellena’s characteristic transparent style. It is a marvel that this never becomes oppressively sweet or overtly cloying; it stays right in the pocket all the way through.

Serge Lutens Boxeuses is one of the best perfumes in the entire collection. Rich plum, animalic castoreum, refined leather and a fabulously intense licorice. Perfumer Christopher Sheldrake creates a brooding snarling masterpiece with these four notes. Not for the timid to be sure.

I met independent perfumer Jessica September Buchanan at Sniffapalooza six years ago when she debuted her perfume 1000 Flowers Reglisse Noire. It was love at first sniff. Revisiting it again for this piece it is amazing what Ms. Buchanan elicits from her keynote with a judiciously chosen set of supporting cast. Pepper and shiso capture the greener aspects. Ginger and cacao provide contrast. The base is a gorgeous melding of the licorice into an earthy woody base of cedar, vetiver, and patchouli. It still remains one of the most impressive first releases I’ve smelled from an independent perfumer.

Hopefully these choices have you craving a bit of herbal-tinged candy. Try these five of my favorites.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things- Lilac

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While reviewing the exquisite all-botanical impressionistic lilac of DSH Perfumes La Belle Saison I ended up pulling out my favorite lilac perfumes to compare to it. As I looked at my desk I realized I had the makings of a My Favorite Things right in front of me.

When I lived in Massachusetts our home was surrounded by lilacs and it was the sure sign that winter had passed when the house filled with their smell. When it comes to perfume lilac is a tricky thing to get right as an accord has to be constructed. The other hazard is that one of the earliest spray air fresheners was “French lilac” and no fragrance wants to be compared to that. Here are five of my favorite lilacs.

Highland Lilac of Rochester was created in 1967. I bet you didn’t know Rochester, NY was the Lilac Capitol of the World. The story on the website claims they harvest these lilacs every spring and create each year’s limited bottling. I think there is some natural lilac in here but the great majority is an accord centered around hyacinth, which is probably the most used floral alternative to create a lilac accord. This is a green unctuous floral that is everything that cloud of air freshener was not.

Pacifica French Lilac is another lilac accord coalescing around heliotrope. The perfumer uses ylang ylang and hyacinth to complete the effect. Magnolia leaves provide the green but French Lilac is a full-blown lilac soliflore.

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The next two are examples of perfumers capturing that spring milieu of the lilacs in full bloom.

Independent perfumer Ineke Ruhland’s Ineke After My Own Heart captures a garden with raspberries growing along with the lilacs. Ms. Ruhland finds a balance between the sweet juicy berry and the fulsome lilac. This is my kind of fruity floral.

Probably the greatest lilac perfume is Editions de Parfum Frederic Malle En Passant. It is definitely among the best perfumes composed by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti and that is not faint praise as her portfolio is amazing. In En Passant she captures that moment after a spring rain storm as the sun has returned and is drying things out. The dewy green of the leaves the transparent floralcy as the blooms shake off their cloak of water. The damp soil everything grows in. En Passant somehow manages to be photorealistic and impressionistic at the same time. I always wear it in the spring. It is still one of the perfumes which reminds me of the heights of what perfume can achieve.

My last choice is JAR Jarling. The entire JAR line of perfumes can best be described as quirky. Jarling fits the description better than most as it is a gourmand lilac. In the early going it is a treacly vanilla and almond mixture out of which arises a heliotrope focused lilac accord. What is fascinating about Jarling is after some time the sweet almond and lilac form a plush partnership which I can’t stop admiring when I wear it.

If you need a little bit of spring before it has fully taken hold these five lilac perfumes might help chase the last winter blues away.

Disclosure: this review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Absinthe

I detest the end of February. Almost done with winter surrounded by gray skies, dead tees, and brown grass; it’s enough to drive a man to drink. One of my favorite drinks at this time of year is absinthe. I do the whole ceremony with the spoon and the sugar cube. Absinthe fits my melancholic mood. Absinthe in perfume contains some of my favorite perfumes in my collection. There are many which are discontinued but here are five with which you can encounter the Green Fairy sans hangover.

My friend and colleague Ida Meister introduced me to the independent perfumer Serena Ava Franco. Ms. Franco’s brand is called Ava Luxe and has one of the more distinct aesthetics in all of indie perfumery. Her Absinthe is a perfect example as she uses wormwood essence as her nucleus around which is wrapped lemon, angelica, star anise, and hyssop incense. It is that last ingredient which elevates Absinthe. The herbal incense is pitched perfectly with the wormwood to form a mystical perfume worthy of the name Absinthe.

Absolument Absinthe has the best pedigree of all as it is owned by a company which makes the liquor. Perfumer Pascal Rolland creates a symphony of illicit mood enhancers. He opens with a bit of cannabis before adding some absinthe among a floral heart. It ends on a very sensual mix of musks. It is a wild night in a bottle.

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By Kilian A Taste of Heaven: Absinthe Verte is a completely decadent fragrance composed by Calice Becker. The absinthe ignites the rest of the development as it moves into a fabulous lavender and rose heart. The base made of costus, patchouli, and oakmoss carries a different kind of green bite before softening with some ambered vanilla. This is the absinthe for the refined tastes.

All of the perfumes Alessandro Gualtieri created for his Nasomatto brand had challenging aspects. Absinth didn’t thrill me at first because Sig. Gualtieri was interested in exploring the woody part of the wormwood. To do that he added in artemesia, pine, licorice, and a lot of white musk. This does bring the woodiness out but it also creates a camphor-like accord which feels as if your sinuses are being cleared. This Absinth takes you into the dark woods.

Cartier III L’Heure Verteuse is the one where absinthe is used to artistic effect. Cartier in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent is not going for mystery or mysticism. She just wants to create a memorable lavender perfume. The absinthe is used in the top accord and it is matched with verbena. Mme Laurent fashions a green floral accord where the absinthe again tilts towards the woody. Rosemary and thyme bring it back to the herbal side of things just in time for the lavender to insert itself. Some mastic resin finishes it off.

I’m going to go prepare a drink and maybe give myself a spritz of one of these as I close my eyes and dream of spring.

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

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Lavender

As we head into the days of the year when spring is close enough to hope for but winter still holds sway I turn to perfume for my jolt of the coming warmer weather. Lavender is a quintessential warm weather fragrance. Conjuring up purple fields at the height of summer just prior to harvest. Lavender in perfumery has been around since the very beginning. My favorites are the ones which show off both the sweet floralcy and the herbal nature. Here are five of my favorites.

Guerlain Jicky was one of the first modern perfumes, created in 1889, and lavender provided the focal point. Aime Guerlain would lay down the formula for the fougere that would last the next one hundred or so years. He married lavender with rosemary in the top. The rosemary is the key as it brings out the herbal almost medicinal nature of lavender. It heads to a heart of geranium before settling on a vanilla base characteristic of Guerlain. That you can still buy this, 127 years after it was created, tells you what a classic it is.

In 1934 perfumer Ernest Daltroff would create the template for the masculine lavender in Caron pour Un Homme. The concept of men wearing floral perfumes was a tough sell. M. Daltroff makes it work by taking a large amount of vanilla to go along with the lavender. This one almost entirely hides the non-floral character. A bit of amber and musk butch things up so any man can be caught wearing this.

The last of the traditional lavenders is Caldey Island Lavender by perfumer Hugo Collumbien, released in 1959. This is the version where the herbal character is displayed at the expense of the floral. That is done by using a mix of amber and musk. With no vanilla around to tilt one’s senses towards the sweet this is the most like the smell you get from picking actual lavender and smelling your hands afterward.

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There are two modern interpretations of lavender by two of the best modern perfumers which show how far perfumery has come since Jicky was released.

Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande was released in 1996 composed by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake. Opening on a rosemary and juniperberry top accord it is the heart where the name comes to life. Lavender is buttressed by clary sage and an austere silvery frankincense. They provide a chilly effect that carries an icy beauty. A healthy amount of amber thaws things out. Incense and lavender go together like peas and carrots.

Hermes Hermessence Brin de Reglisse is what happens when you take the herbal side of lavender to its fullest effect. Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena uses licorice as lavender’s partner. This is one of the most unique lavender perfumes out there because with all of the intensity of these two notes it is the addition of orange blossom and hay which round things out into an opaque masterpiece.

If you have never tried any of these lavenders because you think lavender is boring give it a second look I think these five will change that opinion.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke