New Perfume Review Chanel L’Eau Tan- It’s Two Beauty Products In One

There are new products I get which remind me of old television commercials for non-fragrance products. The most recent recollection was of a product called Certs. Certs was a mixture of a candy mint in a roll infused with a breath freshening ingredient called Retsyn. Every commercial would have two people taking up a different side; “It’s a breath mint!” “No, it’s a candy mint!” Then they would tap the rolls together and say in unison “It’s 2, 2 mints in one!” When I received my bottle of the new Chanel L’Eau Tan I felt like it was two beauty products in one.

Olivier Polge

L'Eau Tan is a combination of self-tanner and cologne. It combines two of the very talented team of people behind the Chanel beauty brands; in-house perfumer Olivier Polge and creative make-up and color director Lucia Pica. Both joined the brand in 2014-2015 replacing longtime predecessors. In their short time they have reimagined Chanel within their respective areas. The idea of creating a refreshing self-tanning body spray comes straight from the historical style influence of Coco Chanel.

Lucia Pica

When Coco cruised the Mediterranean, she tanned just from being on a boat in the sunshine. As she appeared with her sun burnished skin in each port the fashion reporters of the time noticed. Women began to spend time in the sun to emulate her skin tone. Coco never one to miss a trick would release L’Huile Tan, in 1924, the first tanning lotion for women. Other perfume brands would also join in during the late 1920’s and 30’s. That there is an attempt to add a pleasing scent to the functional product of sunscreen goes back nearly a hundred years.

In 2018 the current fashion trend is for self-tanning products which allow the wearer to minimize exposure to the UV rays. Mme Pica wanted to come forth with a Chanel version. Working with M. Polge to add a traditional cologne scent to the self-tanner produced L’Eau Tan.

I am going to review L’Eau Tan from the “It’s a cologne!” perspective with only a small nod to the “It’s a self-tanner!” part.

What M. Polge comes up with is to use a mixture of lemon and orange to form a citrus accord. From here there is a bit of floral support using the classic cologne ingredient, orange blossom. Then what really made this work is his use of tendrils of white musks winding through these traditional cologne components. It provides an effervescent expansiveness. As you should expect this is as transparent and as fleeting a fragrance as can be.

L’Eau Tan has 4-6 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

As it regards to the self-tanning aspect I wore this for four straight days on my arms when I was cooped up inside because of incessant rain. When we went out with friends one asked me if I had been down in Florida because I looked like I got some sun. I can’t speak for the accuracy of my friend’s perceptions but at least to her it was noticeable.

I am definitely going to be wearing this over the course of the summer because it is a nice light modern cologne perfect for some days. So, while I am in the “It’s a cologne!” camp I think there is something to the “It’s a self-tanner!” which means it is “2, 2 beauty products in one!”.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Roger & Gallet Feuille de Figuier- Refreshing Green

I have written many times in the past about my belief that Roger & Gallet is one of those “best bang for your buck” brands. Using some of the best perfumers available while giving them latitude to provide something different in the drugstore venue has produced a collection which should be more widely known. Until the end of last year it seemed like Roger & Gallet had given up on bringing their version of quality to the masses. After a two-year hiatus they came back with a five-fragrance collection which captured all that I praise the brand for. I was hoping this was a sign there would be more regular output. When I received my package of Feuillle de Figuier I was happy to see things were back on track.

I was particularly pleased to see the name of this new release because one of the highlights of the Roger & Gallet collection is 2013’s Fleur de Figuier. Composed by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian it is still one of the best fig perfumes I own. Feuille de Figuier seeks to interpret fig in a different more austere paradigm.

Mathilde Bijaoui

Perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui decides to focus on creating a perfume with refreshing shades of green. This befits a perfume named after fig leaves. Throughout the entirety of its development there is a consistent green spine which is delivered in a lighter style ideal for warm weather months.

The best example of Mme Bijaoui tempering some of the stronger ingredients is her use of galbanum in the top accord. Most often this is a deep green powerful effect. By pairing it with sunnier citrus and controlling the concentration there comes a refreshing quality that will be repeated throughout Feuille de Figuier’s development. The citrus gives way to neroli and its green underpinnings. The galbanum amplifies that. The orange blossom part of neroli finds itself adding some joie de vive to the fig leaves. Fig leaves a carry a creamy aspect along with the obvious leafy nature. That creaminess is enhanced by benzoin in the base while cedar brings in the raw green woodiness to keep things on the light side.

Feuille de Figuier has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Mme Bijaoui has delivered a genial transparent green perfume which is just the kind of sparkling green the days of summer call out for.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Luna Rossa Black- Formal Sailing

I keep repeating this, but Prada is one of the best mainstream perfume collections. It has consistently released a broad spectrum of fragrance. That they have all been overseen by in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier provides an aesthetic connection which is now becoming synonymous with Prada the perfume brand.

In 2012 Mme Andrier created a new masculine pillar collection with the release of Luna Rossa. Based on the sailboats sponsored by the brand competing in the America’s Cup she would create atypical aquatics. Over the course of four flankers Mme Andrier explored the boundaries of an aquatic fougere in the mainstream sector. Upon receiving my sample of the latest flanker Luna Rossa Black I was ready to set sail on a breeze of lavender only to be met by something entirely different.

Daniela Andrier

If the previous members of the Luna Rossa collection were meant to capture the exhilaration of sailing; Luna Rossa Black is for the evening formal party after you’re back on shore. Gone are the fresh fougere beats replaced by an Oriental architecture of spice. Mme Andrier keeps it fresher then most other fragrances of this style which is as close as Luna Rossa Black comes to resembling any of its predecessors.

The perfume opens with the subtle peppery nature of angelica seed matched with the freshness of bergamot. Angelica seed carries an energetic spiciness which opens this with some gusto. The star of this perfume is Mme Andrier’s combination of patchouli and coumarin in the heart. In most Orientals the partner to patchouli is something heavier; resins or amber among a few. Mme Andrier’s choice of coumarin provides a lighter touch on an accord which is recognizably within the framework of the style.  It also allows for the angelica seeds to extend their presence into the heart where if something heftier had been used it would have been obliterated. The base is a suite of musk, again, freshened a bit by a synthetic ambergris.

Luna Rossa Black has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Sometimes you have to come ashore. Luna Rossa Black provides something for that man to wear while on shore.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Prada.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Armani Prive Bleu Turquoise- Salt Tanned Skin

One of the more difficult things for me to do is to become excited for a new perfume within some of the most highly populated genres. It becomes tedious when I receive something new which reminds me of something very similar to it. One of the reasons that happens is the perfumer follows the existing recipe at the recommended concentrations. I have found that what it takes for me to lift something out of the pile is having something more than a tweak to it. The recent Armani Prive Bleu Turquoise shows how to do it.

Aurelien Guichard

In the aquatic genre I could spend a few days naming perfume with a “sea spray” accord. It is usually a focal point, but it is kept balanced. What captured my attention in Bleu Turquoise was perfumer Aurelien Guichard wasn’t interested in the sea spray but the smell of it evaporated on sun-warmed skin. M. Guichard keeps it exceedingly simple around the sea salt accord putting it forward as the keynote with only two significant supporting ingredients.

The perfume opens on a delicate frankincense drifting in soft puffs of slightly metallic beauty. Out of this comes the central accord. M. Guichard uses salt but adds in a musk or two to evoke tanned bare skin encrusted with the ocean’s brine. This is a familiar scent from many days lying on a beach towel as the sun dried off from my swim; leaving swirls of white on my chest, legs, and arms. The choice of vanilla in the base is also a nice twist as it is like applying a sweet-smelling suntan lotion over my sun-dried skin.

Bleu Turquoise has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Bleu Turquoise is a nice take on the aquatic genre. It isn’t going to change the style but if you want something different for the upcoming summer this is a good choice.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Neiman Marcus.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Juliette has a Gun Moscow Mule- Cocktails on the Deck

As I write this I’m getting ready for company here in Poodlesville for the traditional kickoff to summer, Memorial Day. One part of this is bringing out all my cocktail paraphernalia. The martini and margarita glasses are front and center. Tall julep glasses and absinthe goblets join them. Then there is my set of four copper mugs which find a place, too. I acquired those three summers ago when I discovered the cocktail known as a Moscow Mule. A mixture of lime juice, vodka and ginger beer served very cold. The copper mugs are reputed to keep it colder longer. Because of the heat capacity properties of copper. Not sure about that but I admit drinking them on the deck at Poodlesville as the sun shines down is an ideal summer cocktail. A new perfume is inspired by this refreshing cocktail Juliette has a Gun Moscow Mule.

Juliette has a Gun was founded in 2006 by Romano Ricci he began by being a hands-on creative director working with the perfumers. This was, in essence, his graduate school of perfumery as he supplemented what he had learned previously. M. Ricci has a proud name to live with as a double-edged sword as the great grandson of Nina Ricci. Like her he has forged a consistent identity for his brand. Over the past few years M. Ricci has begun to take the wheel as the perfumer for Juliette has a Gun. One set of ingredients he has a fondness for are the synthetic woody ingredients. Moscow Mule might be the most exuberant example of this aesthetic; half of the ingredients come from this class. In the case of Moscow Mule, they act as the figurative “copper cup” although it is woody instead of metallic. Inside is the cocktail.

Romano Ricci

M. Ricci squeezes a lime out at the top of Moscow Mule followed by a strong ginger. This smells very much like the cocktails I make. I smiled every time, from the memory, for the first few minutes. There is an alcoholic accord which represents the vodka which comes next. It carries a sharp focused accelerator to the ginger and lime. Then the woods begin their rise as they form the container. M. Ricci has become one of the masters at using these powerful ingredients. It reminds me a bit of being a wild animal trainer trying to get each one to behave without mauling the overall construct. For Moscow Mule it is a veritable honor roll of these ingredients; Amber Xtreme, Norlimbanol, Ambroxan, and Iso E Super. Those have been the backbone of hundreds of woody perfumes but because of their intensity they are rarely combined. M. Ricci gets them to not only behave but to form a fascinating solid woody accord I found I enjoyed. Some ambrettolide provides a bit of musk to the later stages but it is the woods which predominate.

Moscow Mule has near 24-hour longevity and average sillage.

If you are someone who is not fond of the synthetic woods in perfume stay far away from this; it is definitely not going to be a refreshing cocktail for you. If you are a fan M. Ricci has coaxed some interesting intersections within the overdose. I liked it because it reminded me of the smell of the deck I do most of my cocktail drinking on as the summer sun heats it up there is always a scent of heated wood around me. If this sounds good come join me on the deck for cocktails this summer.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle supplied by Europerfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Commodity Nectar- Fun and Sun Neroli

There has been a quiet success story taking place at the mall. The brand is called Commodity. It started when Ash Huzenlaub and Konstantin Glasmacher decided they wanted to create a fragrance line which could stand on its own without needing all the PR trappings to find its audience. One thing they did very differently was they realized they were entrepreneurs not creative directors leading to a bold decision for a mainstream perfume; we’ll leave the creativity up to the perfumers we hire. They gave the perfumers a budget along with an ideal to keep it minimalistic; then turned them loose. It has formed a collection where the perfumers are able to push at certain mainstream tropes. One of the recent successes Is Commodity Nectar.

Mathieu Nardin

The perfumer chosen for Nectar is Mathieu Nardin. M. Nardin has shown a deft touch when given latitude to explore a specific keynote. For Nectar that focal point is neroli. Neroli has an inherent scent profile of green tinted floral citrus. It is why it has been a versatile complement throughout the history of perfumery. In the past few years neroli has been stepping into the spotlight as perfumers have been using it more often as a keynote.

Nectar opens with a zippy trio of citrus; pomelo, tangerine, and bergamot. It produces a tart, pulpy top accord. It is a bit of summer sunshine right from the start. The neroli begins to take charge soon after. M. Nardin uses a decent concentration of it which allows for all the multi-faceted appeal to be displayed. To accentuate the floral, honeysuckle provides the support. For the green M. Nardin first uses the green woodiness of cedar to pick the thread out, then with vetiver develop it into something distinct down into the base. He finally swathes it in a swirl of white musks providing lift to the overall effect.

Nectar has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

As the official start of summer is rapidly approaching Nectar is the kind of perfume which could live at the beach. It provides a genial fragrant companion which shares all the fun and sun of the season.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Comodity.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Eau D’Italie Fior Fiore- Summer at La Sireneuse

Eau D’Italie was another of the early brands which helped define the broad outlines of niche perfumery. The brand is overseen by owners, co-creative directors, husband and wife; Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena. All of it inspired by their hotel La Sireneuse in Positano, Italy. Especially in the most recent releases there has been an attempt to capture the carefree style lakeside in Positano in the warmer months. The latest release Fior Fiore is that gentle companion for warm days at the shore.

Sebastian Alvarez Murena and Marina Sersale

The past twelve months has seen a revival of the use of ambrette. Many of them have gone for a classical vibe by using the botanical musk along with a floral or two to provide a soft effect overall. Working with perfumer Olivier Cresp the creative directors have made a kind of sequel to 2015’s Morn to Dusk. In that one it displayed lily-of-the-valley dew covered in the morning. M. Cresp captures the same floral but at twilight as the jasmine begins to unfurl under the moonlight. It is a soft gentle study of three ingredients.

Olivier Cresp

Fior Fiore opens with the lily-of-the valley front and center. M. Cresp uses the ambrette to blunt many of the sharper green aspects of the floral. For the first hour or so it is just these two notes like a gentle floral breeze. The jasmine languidly inserts itself in between. Using jasmine sambac, M. Cresp allows the indoles to take the ambrette into a deeper phase. The sweeter floral component raises up the lily-of-the-valley as the sun begins to set. Once all three notes are present Fior Fiore shimmers with facile beauty.

Fior Fiore has 10-12 hour longevity.

As I mentioned above over the last couple of years there has been a noticeable lightening of the Eau D’Italie aesthetic. Fior Fiore is the lightest perfume in the line. That is not a drawback by any means. I still find the same cheerful “lake life” smiling back at me. This is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a floral summer perfume which isn’t just stuffed with flowers and aquatic notes. Fior Fiore offers you a refreshing change of pace.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Olfactive Studio Flash Back in New York- A Study in Contrasts

There are people in perfume who I want to see work together. It arises from the same impulse to see your favorite actors or other artists combine their talents into something you hope will be special. One of my favorite examples was when two of my favorite horror authors, Peter Straub and Stephen King, co-wrote “The Talisman”. It was a story which accentuated what both authors did in a memorable way. It was a case of two of the most popular genre authors combining into a kind of super duo. The latest release from Olfactive Studio, Flash Back in New York, brings together two of my favorite creatives in perfumery; Celine Verleure and Jerome Epinette.

Celine Verleure

Mme Verleure has been one of the best creative directors from the moment she launched Olfactive Studio in September of 2011. Her process of using a photograph as a brief for the perfumer she collaborates with has proven time and again to produce excellent perfumes. One reason is by using a visual instead of a written brief it accesses different ideas of what a new perfume might smell like.

Jerome Epinette

M. Epinette has become the man who can launch a brand. He has helped to define the aesthetic for no less than four brands. That they can be distinct yet different speaks to his skill. Yet, in its way once that aesthetic is defined it can keep you hemmed in by what you created. M. Epinette isn’t going to cut loose with something dramatically different he is going to find the edges of the frame he created and subtly push against it. The opportunity given to M. Epinette, by Mme Verleure, is to not have that frame to push against but a freedom to explore a theme.

Flash Back in New York photo by Vivienne Gucwa

That theme comes from a photo by New York-based photographer Vivienne Gucwa. I have followed Ms. Gucwa through her Instagram feed “travelinglens” and her website “New York Through the Lens”. If you look through her photos online, you will be unsurprised to find she just released a book called “New York in the Snow” which is a frequent topic of her photography. Mme Verleure chose one which captured New York in a blizzard.

The perfume which comes from this is a set of contrasts mirroring the view of the snow falling while warm inside. M. Epinette uses each phase to develop this effect in three parts.

Flash Back in New York opens on a pungent mixture of cumin and clary sage. I imagine if you are not a fan of these ingredients this will not be an ideal start. Hang in there because M. Epinette uses a couple of the linen musks to provide a cleaner contrast to the less clean cumin and sage. It works beautifully especially as saffron rounds it off after a few minutes more. The heart moves towards the floral as violet and jasmine provide that. The top accord begins to combine with a leather accord to set up the contrast of animalic and floral. The remains of the cumin evoke a bit of a sweaty leather jacket just after you’ve taken it off. Birch smoke swirls off the leather in lazy ascending spirals. A green accord first of papyrus but later joined by vetiver increases in intensity. As the saffron did in the top accord tonka bean provides the finishing touch to the base accord.

Flash Back in New York has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

While all the snow themed imagery is liable to induce PTSD rather than a flashback to my New York City readers that isn’t what the perfume is really about. It is a study in contrasts where at the crossroads the artists find beauty. That is what Flash Back in New York is all about.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle provided by Olfactive Studio.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Histoires de Parfums Prolixe- Gourmand-Not-Gourmand

There are a lot of brands which come to mind as the standard bearers of the niche perfume movement. I would bet that if I asked most of you to list the ones which were there from the beginning Histoires de Parfums wouldn’t be on a lot of them. Starting in 2000 founder Gerald Ghislain has quietly put together a solid collection of fragrance which exemplifies what it means to be a niche perfume brand.

Gerald Ghislain

In the early days the risks were more profoundly evident; there wasn’t much to lose. As time moved on and Histoires de Parfums established itself as one of the brands which succeeded there was a bit less experimentation. The one exception was the occasional release under the Editions Rare collection. These are the perfumes which I think represent the high point of the last 18 years. At the end of 2017 M. Ghislain announced a new smaller collection called En Aparte. En Aparte translates to “an aside”. This collection feels like that, something which sprang from the previous Editions Rare into something else. There are three perfumes in the collection and I will eventually review them all but as with any collection there is always one which captures my attention first. For this group that was Prolixe.

Julien Rasquinet

Prolixe according to the press release is defined as “that which is widely diffused”. I have no idea why that was chosen as the name because this perfume is anything but diffuse. M. Ghislain collaborated with perfumer Julien Rasquinet to create a spicy full-throated Oriental which in the overlap of non-gourmand ingredients finds a gourmand accord deep within.

M. Rasquinet opens with the sticky green blackcurrant bud. It is a prickly choice to open this perfume with that note. In this strength it verges on unpleasant, not quite but close. The heart accord improves things immensely. M. Rasquinet uses an indolic orange blossom which is coated in saffron and cardamom. This is where things begin to transition to a gourmand style of perfume. The heart accord reminds me of an abstract version of a spiced orange. I can concentrate and pick apart the pieces but when just wearing it I always smelled spiced orange. A deep patchouli and sandalwood combine into a milk chocolate accord. This is set upon a black leather accord to finish things.

Prolixe has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

M. Rasquinet has put together a fascinating perfume of gourmand-not-gourmand ingredients to form a gourmand style of Oriental. It was one of those cases where when I was focused I saw every piece, but it was better when I just let it flow without intricate analysis.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Guerlain Meteorites Le Parfum- Violet Bubbles

My conflicted feelings towards Guerlain have been enumerated a lot over the past couple of years. I believe they have settled for a sustained level of mediocrity which allows for the name on the bottle to do more of the heavy lifting than the liquid in the bottle. Considering how much my love of perfume stems from the classic pillars of this Grand Maison de Parfum it is always with a sense of apprehension I approach receiving a new sample. I expect to feel aggravated at yet another fragrance living off a reputation.

Thierry Wasser

There have been some exceptions. One of my favorite Guerlain releases of the past five years was Terracotta Le Parfum. In-house perfumer Thierry Wasser interpreted the well-loved makeup collection as a perfume. It was one of my favorite perfumes of 2014. One recent release which piqued my interest was Mon Guerlain. It felt like M. Wasser was throwing off some of the shackles of the past eschewing with the brand DNA Guerlinade; fashioning something lighter. The latest exception turns out to be a combination of both; Meteorites Le Parfum.

Guerlain Meteorites Powder Pearls (via rachelnicole.co.uk)

Meteorites Le Parfum is also based on a famous Guerlain cosmetics product. Meteorites are little pastel colored pearls of powder which carry a delicate violet scent. M. Wasser adapts the transparent style of Mon Guerlain to that fragile violet to create something delicate. Before I get started describing the new perfume if you are a fan of the discontinued Meteorites; move along. This is a completely different perfume in texture and intensity. The only real intersection is the violet.

Meteorites Le Parfum opens on a crisp fruity flare of citrus and apple. The apple makes it focused while also making it a bit tarter. This carries a shimmery veil-like quality which sets the stage for the violet to arrive in a similar opaque way trailing a powdery effect in its wake. This is a compelling transparent fruity floral effect. The final stage is to allow this accord to settle upon a soap bubble of white musks which expands over the length of time it spends on my skin. As you look on the surface of the bubble you see the violet and citrus swirling there. It eventually pops leaving behind a lightly woody base accord.

Meteorites Le Parfum has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is a gorgeous summer-weight floral which feels uplifting to wear in the heat. I also note the absence of the Guerlinade which again makes me wonder if for fragrance marketed to a younger generation that is the future of Guerlain. If you want a transparent fragile violet spritz for the summer, you cant go wrong blowing violet bubbles in Meteorites Le Parfum.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Guerlain.

Mark Behnke