I am usually interested when a perfume chooses to push towards the extreme of something. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes it just illuminates why you don’t take things that far. For lovers of those ingredients it can be a nose saturating smorgasbord of pleasure. The brand founded by perfumer Andrea Casotti has been doing that recently. The latest is to see how fruity you can get in The House of Oud Keep Glazed.
For their latest fragrances Sig. Casotti has been looking for creative directors from other disciplines. For Keep Glazed he asked Vancouver-based cake boss Ksenia Penkina of Canadian Patisserie. If you look at the picture of Ms. Penkina’s cake, above, and compare it to the picture in the header it is not too difficult to see why Sig. Casotti felt he found a kindred spirit. They mentioned they wanted to create a gourmand style perfume which smelled like the patisserie. I don’t think it gets the entire milieu but it sure does find a case full of exotic fruit tarts to emulate.
Sig. Casotti co-creates Keep Glazed with perfumer Cristian Calabro. They make a smart choice to avoid all the typical berries finding a different assortment for Keep Glazed.
It opens with a bright lemon and mango painting. Mango has become one of my favorite perfume fruits. In this case the perfumers take the tropical juiciness of it and allow the lemon to provide a tart contrast. The only thing resembling a berry is their use of strawberry leaf in this top accord. It adds a green veneer to the fruits. Ginger arrives giving a boost to the lemon and mango without overwhelming them. If this is the fruit tart case I’m smelling; the filling underneath the lemon and mango is made of sweet coconut cream. A set of musks with a fruity scent profile add to the fruitiness while also beginning to ground the composition. Some wood finishes Keep Glazed off.
Keep Glazed has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
As much as the description above might make you think this is a sillage monster; it is not. It wears quite close. Mrs. C only noticed it on the days I tested it when I sat right next to her. It really is like leaning into the fruit tart case and breathing deep.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.
Ever since creative director at Gucci, Alessandro Michele, has taken a hand in the fragrance side of the brand it has been, mostly, a good thing. Outside of a couple of missteps I have believed Gucci perfumes have been on an upward trajectory because of Sig. Michele’s involvement. For the most part that success has come through giving typical fragrance styles clever twists through ingredient choice. What I have been hoping for is for Sig. Michele to make a fragrance which is different than those typical mass-market styles. It was what set Gucci apart when Tom Ford was the last overall creative director to get involved with the perfume side. It seems like Gucci Memoire d’une Odeur is an attempt to do that.
Sig. Michele has been working almost exclusively with perfumer Alberto Morillas since he got to Gucci. That partnership remains for Memoire d’une Odeur. I have to comment that the press release is a touch irritating because it claims that this is the first perfume to feature chamomile as a keynote. Any quick search of any perfume database will show that is a bit of exaggeration. They are making a point, though. Chamomile has a different scent profile than most things featured in mass-market perfumes. It carries a strong green herbal-like foundation which also carries a fruity component. For Memoire d’une Odeur they are using Roman chamomile which has a granny smith apple to match with the green herbal-ness. This is a challenging ingredient to put on top of a new commercial release.
Yet when you spray on Memoire d’une Odeur that is what you first notice. M. Morillas adds a bit of soft lift with a white musk, or two, but it doesn’t blunt the sharper edges of the chamomile. This is a vegetal green given some texture though the apple quality within. This is the kind of opening which is often seen in a niche perfume. not so often at the mall. With all of that in play for the top accord the remainder of the development spools out in a more recognizable fashion. Jasmine holds the heart with a more traditional floral scent. The base is even more recognizable as a series of white musks wrap around a clean cedar.
Memoire d’une Odeur has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I am really looking to my next field trip to the local mall to observe how consumers are reacting to Memoire d’une Odeur. I think it is going to be a tiny step too far as the top accord provides a prickly character that will be difficult to embrace. Although if you are a more experienced perfume fan that prickliness is what might get you to take a second sniff. I am happy that Sig. Michele is willing to take some commercial risks as he continues to breathe life back into Gucci perfumes.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Gucci.
As the days of summer begin to dwindle there is a desire to make the most out of them. Make sure you get in those last things which make this time of year fun in the sun. When it comes to fragrance I still want to find some light-hearted fun in a bottle too. Thankfully Moschino Toy Boy showed up just in time to extend the party for awhile.
Back in February I found the same fun in the earlier release of Moschino Toy 2. That fragrance embodied the aesthetic Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott wants to create. Toy 2 was a trifle of a citrus fresh floral which just wanted to be a scent you could hang out with; leaving expectations behind. Toy Boy does the same thing from a more masculine perspective.
Yann Vasnier is the perfumer behind Toy Boy and he does present an interesting thought for a perfume marketed to men by making a spiced up fruity floral. I found it to be an entertaining twist on the typical men’s fragrance tropes.
Toy Boy opens with a common pear and berries top accord. In the first few seconds you wouldn’t be off base to be expecting a typical fruity floral accord. M. Vasnier helps rough it up a bit by using elemi as a citrus surrogate to attenuate the fruits. A set of spices in nutmeg and clove also keep those fruits in check while also providing a spice-laden partner to the rose in the heart. Through to this part of the development I really was taken with what M. Vasnier was up to. Unfortunately it all goes away as a tide of Ambermax and Sylkolide crush it in a monolith of woods and white musk. It isn’t surprising to see a mass-market release end on this kind of base accord but it is frustrating to see it destroy what came before.
Toy Boy has 14-16 hour longevity, mainly due to the synthetics in the base, and average sillage.
Toy Boy is another perfume which loses all its originality when the synthetics take over. If you are one who enjoys these kinds of synthetics then the early part of Toy Boy will allow you to have some new fun on the way to that base accord. I would’ve liked to keep that early party going but just like summer it ends, too.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.
If there is a red-headed stepchild of perfume ingredients, geranium would be in the running. Used for the most part as a supporting element to rose it rarely gets a spotlight all its own. Which is a shame because some of my favorite perfumes are the ones which do feature it. Which was why I was excited to receive my sample of Molton Brown Geranium Nefertum.
One of the reasons I have been enjoying the recent releases from Molton Brown has been perfumer Carla Chabert. She has been consistently producing interesting perfumes based on the bath products the brand is most known for. Mme Chabert was the perfumer for Geranium Nefertum.
When I saw the name, I thought it was a variety of geranium. There are hundreds. Turns out Nefertum is the Egyptian god of perfume. The myth goes he was born from the blue lotus to rise with a wreath of those flowers upon his head. Mme Chabert modernizes that by thinking of a contemporary version who would be wreathed in geranium.
Geranium Nefertum opens on a fig accord comprised of leaf and fruit. The leaf adds a creamy green to the depth of the sweet fruit. As this is an eau de toilete it is an opaquer style. The geranium comes next with its minty rose-like scent which gives it the nickname “green rose”. When it is used in the perfume I like best the perfumer uses that green to create a different type of floral. Mme Chabert does just that as labdanum and oakmoss tease out the green and deepen it. This coalesces around a creamy sandalwood, recapitulating the fig accord from the beginning. It also creates a beautifully transparent chypre accord that was amazing in the hot weather.
Geranium Nefertum has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Mme Chabert has continued to impress me as she makes each new release a reason worth seeking out the fragrance section in Molton Brown. If you’re looking for a summer chypre search out Geranium Nefertum.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Molton Brown.
As long as I’ve been writing about perfume I have general impressions of brands. When I see a new release I kind of know what will be in the sample. There is nothing wrong with creating a brand aesthetic and sticking to it. It allows your consumers to know what they are getting when they pick up your fragrance. This was true for Tory Burch fragrances. The first nine released since 2013 were all “fresh florals”. They were typical for that style without standing apart in any way. Then with last year’s release, Just Like Heaven, that formula was thrown away. An off-kilter green floral greeted me and impressed me. It left me with a question. Was this a one off or was this the beginning of change for the brand? Tory Burch Knock On Wood is here to answer that.
Knock on Wood is composed by perfumer Yves Cassar. It is also the first woody perfume for the brand, thus the name. What really sets it apart is the use of a lot of vetiver to go with the floral component. This blurs that “fresh floral” aesthetic in good ways.
From the start the vetiver is present as a green grassy presence. M. Cassar uses the tartness of blood orange to give a different citrus partner to the vetiver. A swoosh of cardamom breezes over the top accord. Rose provides the central floral part of Knock On Wood. It is a spicy rose which pairs with those similar facets of vetiver nicely. The sweetness of carrot and the sticky green of blackcurrant buds provide some contrast and texture to the heart accord. The deep woodiness of vetiver is made even more prominent by clean cedarwood in the base.
Knock On Wood has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is marketed as a women’s fragrance but if you are a fan of vetiver masculine fragrances and like rose you might want to walk over to women’s fragrance on your next trip to the mall. As far as my question up top. Knock On Wood is another successful departure for the Tory Burch brand with another excellent perfume. I know change can be scary but in this case change is good.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample supplied by Bloomingdale’s.
The debut set of seven perfumes by Carine Roitfeld is quite good. She calls it her “7 Lovers” collection giving each perfume a name to represent a place. Many of them have engaged me by using interesting sets of keynotes. None represents that more than Carine Roitfeld Kar-Wai.
Mme Roitfeld tapped three perfumers to make her fragrances. For Kar-Wai it is perfumer Pascal Gaurin she collaborates with. I knew this was going to be the next I reviewed because of the vetiver in it. Vetiver is one of those perfume ingredients which is a summer standard. What intrigued me so much about Kar-Wai are the two ingredients which lead to that vetiver; tea and osmanthus. Those two are what seem to be the nod to Hong Kong which is the city Kar-Wai is meant to represent.
Kar-Wai opens on a smoky tea note with cardamom breezing over the top. This is a tea note which at turns seems opaque and then more solid. As the osmanthus pairs up with it the tea recedes a little. The osmanthus used here is that leathery version with a hint of fruit underneath. In Kar-Wai that effect serves to create a peach tea underpinning. Almost as if the osmanthus was dyed with peach tea. M. Gaurin gives it all a golden glow with saffron providing a halo. Now the stage is set for the vetiver to arrive. This is a high-quality vetiver which leads with its cooler green grassy character. Then it intensifies further as the woody depth becomes more apparent. The osmanthus and tea accord lays on top of it all, serenely floating on the breeze. Some white musks add a starched collar crispness to the final composition.
Kar-Wai has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Kar-Wai is an exceptional vetiver perfume because of the osmanthus and tea along with it. I have worn out my sample this summer because it is so good.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample set supplied by Carine Roitfeld.
When the restrictions on oakmoss absolute were announced a few years ago I thought to myself that was the end of the chypre. It has turned out to be as inaccurate a prediction as I could have made. What the loss of full spectrum oakmoss has done is to give a few perfumers the challenge of making a modern chypre without the oakmoss. They have some help because there is a version of oakmoss where the problematic component, atranol, has been greatly reduced. This low-atranol version caries much of the mossy softness of oakmoss. The only thing I find lacking is the bite. Of course it is that bite which defines a good chypre to me. Which means if you’re going to make a modern chypre for my tastes you need to find a way of restoring that. If there is one perfumer who has excelled at this, it is Bertrand Duchaufour. His collaboration with creative director Celine Verleure adds another chypre to his portfolio with Olfactive Studio Chypre Shot.
Chypre Shot is part of the three fragrance Sepia Collection which was released at the end of the winter this year. Having a collection of three perfumes all at once is a departure for Olfactive Studio. It is even more difficult when all three are good. Chypre Shot captures everything that is great about M. Duchaufour’s examination of creating modern chypres.
Chypre Shot opens with a strong cardamom gust flanked by the golden aura of saffron. It leads to a fascinating interlude of black tea, coffee, and peony. This is like floating a fresh floral on top of a cup of half tea half coffee. The coffee begins to provide some of the bite I want with an oily bitterness. The real purveyor of that comes as the oakmoss arrives. Black pepper infuses itself throughout the low-atranol oakmoss. It sets up the last part of the chypre accord, patchouli, to come forward and complete the effect. Some amber warms things up in the late going but it is that modern chypre accord which holds the focus for most of the time.
Chypre Shot has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage. All the Sepia Collection releases are extrait strength making them closer wearing.
One of the reasons Chypre Shot delights me so is M. Duchaufour continues to show he will not be limited by ingredient restrictions. He has continued to lead the way in making sure chypres remain a vital perfume style, no matter what.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Olfactive Studio.
In my day job as a drug discovery scientist I am fascinated by the placebo effect. It is amazing what the power of suggestion can achieve even with health care conditions. The placebo effect is seen in clinical trials where some patients are getting the drug being investigated and others are getting a placebo which has no drug. While the group getting the drug sees the effect; quite interestingly the group getting the placebo also sees a percentage of patients respond because they believe they are getting a treatment. That is the serious side of it. On the more plebian side most products in the beauty department thrive on the placebo effect. Telling consumers that snake venom, gold flakes, cayenne pepper, yada yada yada; has some effect. For the percentage who buy into the hype and see a change they have a customer for life. I hadn’t thought there would be a perfume equivalent until I received my sample of Panah Icy Citrus.
Panah was founded in London in 2016. They say their goal is to combine “valuable aroma chemicals” with “high quality natural oils”. The spend a lot of time on that “valuable aroma chemicals” part of the equation. To date I have found their perfumes to be credibly designed gourmand, floral, or citrus style perfumes. Icy Citrus caught my attention because they claim the icy part comes from a new technology, “skin friendly cooling micro spheres”. I was quite curious to see what this was all about. As has been the case with all the previous Panah releases perfumer Kedra Hart is the nose.
Icy Citrus is mainly a classically designed citrus. Ms. Hart combines a group of citrus notes in the early going to give that typical bright opening. Then I detect a set of the sea breeze ozonic notes which provide some lift to the citrus. Is this what is meant by the cooling effect? There are some herbs and spices of which it seems mint is part of. That also provides a cooling effect. It transitions rapidly to a solid woody base sweetened with some vanilla.
Icy Citrus has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I can’t say I experienced the technological cooling breakthrough promised in the press release. I instead found a combination of expansive ingredients paired with mint providing the icy part I detected. Icy Citrus is a nice citrus as all the others in the Panah collection are. As for new icy tech; that might be a placebo effect.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
I am a fan of the musical form known as the mash-up. It is where they take two disparate songs and combine them into something entirely new. It turns pop songs I think banal into something I play over and over. When it comes to perfume those who layer their fragrances are essentially doing the same thing. I don’t think a brand has consciously done it until I received my sample of By Kilian Love: Don’t Be Shy Rose & Oud.
When Kilian Hennessy made his entrance on the fragrance shelves in 2007 he was selling a unique luxurious version of perfume. Especially his first set of releases which were all memorable. One of those was Love: Don’t Be Shy which was a wonderful floral gourmand based around a fantastic accord of marshmallow water. I think of it as one of the forerunners of this style becoming the current trend. Three years later M. Hennessy would branch out with the first of his oud focused fragrances, Rose Oud. This is still one of my very favorite uses of oud in perfume. Both perfumes were composed by perfumer Calice Becker.
Working with Mme Becker, M. Hennessy seemingly wanted the marshmallow water accord of the original Love and the titular notes of Rose Oud to come together in a perfume mash-up. It does give me new thoughts on these accords.
This perfume opens with the fabulous marshmallow accord Mme Becker thrilled me with twelve years ago. It has a sugary floral quality underpinned by a watery orange blossom. All that returns. In the original Love that became sweeter over time. In this case Mme Becker slowly brings the rose and oud into play. She has a careful balancing act here because the marshmallow accord is way opaquer than either rose or oud. In the early moments of detecting the rose and oud is where this fragrance is at its most intriguing. Over time the rose and oud do take over but there is a decent amount of time where the three components are beautifully singing in harmony.
Love: Don’t be Shy Rose & Oud has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
One thing I thought, and proved to myself, you can’t get the same effect by layering the two scents which are brought together here. This is a purer attempt to find the places where these three things can co-exist. Especially in the middle as the marshmallow accord holds its own with the rose and oud, I find this to be a decadent floral gourmand. I would’ve like that to hold on for longer. But just as in musical mash-ups they have to give both songs the time to shine. Love: Don’t Be Shy Rose & Oud does this very well.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Kilian.
I am not sure what has caused this coincidence within the perfumed universe but 2019 has seen several good new Mediterranean style fragrances. It has always been one of my favorite summer types of perfume to wear in the heat. It has as simple an architecture as classic cologne with many of the same simple pleasures when done well. The latest is Maison Lancome Figues & Agrumes.
Maison Lancome has been a collection which celebrates those simple pleasures of a couple well-chosen keynotes interacting in harmony. I have enjoyed all the releases since this collection started in 2016. I don’t think there is a poor perfume in the entire fifteen bottle collection. This isn’t where I turn for deep kaleidoscopic development. It is where I turn when I want to smell good.
Figues & Agrumes fits in with its collection mates. As advertised, it is a fig and citrus scent composed by perfumers Alex Lee and Patricia Choux. It is a time-tested orange, fig, and jasmine Mediterranean construct. The perfumers do have a couple tiny frills up their sleeves, but this is a perfume predominantly about those three notes I mentioned.
Figues and Agrumes opens with the juicy citrus of mandarin. One of those frills I mentioned is the use of the sticky green of blackcurrant buds to provide some texture. It keeps it from being just orange. Orange blossom begins the floral connection to the jasmine sambac in the heart. It forms a summer floral water type of accord with the mandarin. The creamy fig inserts itself here providing a bridge down to the woods in the base. In this case a clean cedar leavened by some white musks and made a bit less austere with tonka.
Figues & Agrumes has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I’m not sure how many Mediterranean style perfumes are too many to own. I do know I’m starting to test where that limit might be. I will be adding Figues & Agrumes because I still have room for one more good Mediterranean.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Saks.