New Perfume Review Dolce & Gabbana Dolce Garden- Transparent Colada

I have been enjoying watching the large perfume brands search for the styles of fragrance which will connect with the Millennials. The one piece of agreement based on what crosses my desk is more transparent. After that there seems to be less congruency. One of the styles I’ve commented on in the past which seems to be near the front of the pack is a floral gourmand. I keep rooting for this to be the one which catches hold. One main reason is this is not a style of perfume which has been done to death. Another reason is by making this as a lighter construct it keeps it from becoming cloying. My final piece of hope comes from a place that there is not a great floral gourmand, yet. Which means if it comes, that is when this style could really take off. Which makes my interest in each new one to see if it shows progress towards that goal. The latest data point came from Dolce & Gabbana Dolce Garden.

Stephane Demaison

One reason I was interested in Dolce Garden was it was new Shiseido Group Olfactory Creative Director Stephane Demaison’s first oversight on a Dolce & Gabbana release. M. Demaison has an accomplished career where he has been an active trend watcher. He chose perfumer Violaine Collas to refresh the “Dolce” collection which started in 2014 and in two subsequent flankers basically stood for fresh floral perfumes. In what has become the fate of most of the Dolce & Gabbana fragrances they are forgettable; by any audience. The previous aesthetic has been thrown out as Dolce Garden dives into being a floral gourmand; for the better.

Violaine Collas

It opens with a nicely executed neroli and mandarin top accord. This is exactly like the trend calls for, a gauzy version of the top accord. The press materials mention this is supposed to be a “Sicilian garden” the heart makes me think it is not Sicily which is where this island garden is located but somewhere in the Caribbean. A tropical floral duet of ylang-ylang and frangipani holds the heart. Then what ends up feeling like a pina colada accord Mme Collas uses coconut, almond, milk, and vanilla. Except in many other cases this comes off as too sweet. Dolce Garden works by playing to a lighter style. Sandalwood provides the base accord picking up the sweet and creamy aspects of the gourmand accord.

Dolce Garden has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I would be surprised if Dolce Garden is the floral gourmand which sets the world on fire. I do think it is better than what has come prior to it. I’m also hoping that M. Demaison’s influence might also reinvigorate the creativity of Dolce & Gabbana which could use it. For now, Dolce Garden is an excellent floral gourmand which will be nice for the summer.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Dolce & Gabbana.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jo Malone Tropical Cherimoya- Summer Beach Bag Spritz

I write often about how growing up in South Florida in the 1960’s and 70’s was such an advantage. As a melting pot of many different Latin American cultures it also was a gateway for me to experience culinary delights from the region, too. Most of that came through my friends’ mothers who would serve us different snacks when visiting. When I was at my friend Herbie’s home his mother, Sra. Lopez, brought out this hard-looking scaly fruit. I was too young to make the comparison at the time but as an adult it looked a bit like one of the dragon eggs from Game of Thrones. Sra. Lopez cut it in half and scooped out the flesh. The taste was amazing. Sweet, tart and a hint of milkiness. It is that latter quality which gives it the name of “custard apple”. Whenever they show up in my local market I always buy a couple because there is nothing like it.

Celine Roux

I was very interested when I received my sample of Jo Malone Tropical Cherimoya if they could capture the kind of multi-sensorial taste of cherimoya in a perfume. Creative director Celine Roux teams up with perfumer Sophie Labbe to make the attempt.

Sophie Labbe

The perfume opens with a very crisp and green pear. It captures the tartness of cherimoya. A set of sweet fruity notes provide the main cherimoya accord in the top. Mme Labbe uses a thread of passion flower to pick up both the green and to accentuate the tropical character. The base opens with a bit of tonka bean standing in for the “custard” although it feels more toasted on my skin. it all ends on a soothing copahu balm base.

Tropical Cherimoya has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I enjoyed this perfume interpretation of cherimoya quite a bit. I thought Mme Labbe succeeded by not trying to make a photorealistic recreation but by using a set of ingredients to form a similar set of layers as in the real thing. Tropical Cherimoya is going to be an ideal summer beach bag spritz.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Nasomatto Nudiflorum- Iced Jasmine

Perfume is bound up in its own rules of etiquette and manners. It is one of the things which can keep people from embracing fragrance as part of their life. One of the great pieces of the rise of independent perfumery was the addition of the creatives who had no patience or respect for these norms. If they wanted to join the party, they wanted to tip things over on their way inside. Some of them wanted to stand outside and moon everyone inside. One of those who stuck his tongue out at the perfume establishment was Alessandro Gualtieri.

Sig. Gualtieri started his own brand Nasomatto just so he could give perfume lovers his version of what perfume can be. From 2008-2014 he released a set of perfumes which lived up to his stated principle of, “I want my perfumes to have an intelligence of their own, not just be slaves to my meaning.” In multiple interviews he has spoken of how the process he uses is about losing control and allowing inspiration to pull him in directions. It has led to perfumes which have an active intelligence matching the one who is blending the ingredients.

Alessandro Gualtieri from the documentary "The Nose"

In 2014 we were told Blamage was going to be the final Nasomatto. In 2016 that turned out not to be correct. Sig. Gualtierei released Baraonda and it reminded me of what I was missing from not having the brand around; a gleeful pinch of anarchy. Now two years later we have a new bit of commotion; Nasomatto Nudiflorum.

When I saw the name, I thought it might be based on a variety of jasmine which carries the common name of “winter jasmine”. It turns out that the common name of Jasminum nudiflorum prepared me for what Nudiflorum was going to present as; an icy jasmine.

Nudiflorum opens with a set of icicle sharp chilly ingredients. Hard to be sure but I am guessing a mixture of aldehydes and ozonic notes. These are then tinted green with a galbanum-like ingredient. I kept thinking of these as fine frozen green needles when I wore Nudiflorum. The jasmine seems to be encased in the ice as it is kept at a distance. A set of musks swirl about the frozen accord. The final stages of Nudiflorum marry some smoke and leather as if they were trying to defrost the floral from its icy armor. It doesn’t ever really open the jasmine up fully, but it sure tries.

Nudiflorum has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Nudiflorum contains much of what makes Nasomatto a stand out even within the independent landscape. Sig. Gualtieri trusts that there are those who will enjoy following him on his journey. Nudiflorum is another opportunity to find out who is ready to join Sig. Gualtieri at blowing raspberries at the safe corporate fragrance industry. I am happy to be one who is ready to wear Nudiflorum and do just that.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bleu de Chanel Parfum- If It Ain’t Broke

Back when Bleu de Chanel Eau de Toilette was released in 2010 I wrote on CaFleureBon, “Bleu de Chanel is very likely going to be a huge commercial fragrance and make a lot of money.” It doesn’t prove any prescience on my part to state that. It has become true because then in-house perfumer Jacques Polge created a fragrance consisting of building blocks which represented the greatest hits of masculine perfume trends. As I also wrote in that review if I judged Bleu de Chanel on a scale of innovation it fails. If I judged it on the ability to be more generally pleasing to a large swath of consumers it succeeds. Time has proven that, as ever since its release it has been one of the best-selling masculine perfumes in the world.

Chanel has been protective of its brand over the past eight years only releasing one flanker, an Eau de Parfum strength version in 2014. That was also overseen by Jacques Polge in one of his last releases before retiring from Chanel. In that release it seems like the intent was to amplify the cedar heart while mellowing it a bit with amber leaving most of the rest of the architecture in place. When talking with others I facetiously call it Cedre de Chanel. I could see the appeal to those who are more attracted to clean woods over fresh citrus and ginger accords. From a consumer perspective it was successful if not quite as much as the original.

Olivier Polge

Now for 2018 we have the second flanker, Bleu de Chanel Parfum, another increase in strength. There is also another change which made me interested as Olivier Polge has taken over from his father as in-house perfumer. M. Polge’s freshening up of the Chanel aesthetic without becoming boring has been a success story I have enjoyed following. I was curious to see how he would approach Bleu de Chanel Parfum. The answer was he followed the old maxim, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

What that means about the fragrance is if the Eau de Toilette was all about the fresh opening. Followed by the Eau de Parfum’s focus on the cedar heart. Then Parfum amplifies the sandalwood in the base.

Bleu de Chanel opens with a much-attenuated fresh citrus almost like the sun setting. It is dialed way back from the original. Still enough to be recognizable. The amber heart captures that last bit of warmth before the sandalwood comes forward and dominates. The cedar is there to provide a bit of the clean contrast but this comes off more like something I could call Santal de Chanel.

Bleu de Chanel Parfum has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I realize if I did call this Santal de Chanel I am forgetting one of the greatest sandalwood perfumes ever; Chanel Bois des Iles. That is a perfect counterpoint when I say there is artistry versus populism. Bleu de Chanel Parfum is the latter. It is like providing three versions of a similar perfume and allowing the consumer to choose which part they prefer. I return to my original judgement from my review of the original. This is a great choice for the man who wants a single bottle of perfume on his dresser. Now he has a choice to go Fresh (Eau de Toilette), Clean (Eau de Parfum), or Woody (Parfum). There is a reason these are greatest hits of masculine perfume and having three different strengths does nothing to change that.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Acqua di Parma Chinotto di Liguria- Another Winner

Every year as the weather gets warmer a little row of blue colored cylinders form a line at the front of a shelf. Every year I am reminded at the success of the Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo collection at producing compelling fresh, often citrus-based, colognes. Over the next six months or so all the eight bottles I own will allow me to wear something in the heat of the summer that refreshes without boring me. When I made my trip to Bloomingdale’s a month ago to pick up my samples from the fragrance counter I noticed a box with the familiar blue packaging and a new name on the label; Chinotto di Liguria.

Francois Demachy

One of the things I like about this collection is having such a Mediterranean-style focus it doesn’t lend itself to overwhelming exploration of the aesthetic. Since its inception in 1999, Chinotto di Liguria is only the ninth release in almost twenty years. They have also used one of the great perfumers for the last four, including Chinotto di Liguria, Francois Demachy. The Blu Mediterraneo perfumes he has composed all display his ability at finding two-note accords defining top, heart, and base. Chinotto di Liguria is another example.

The note being explored is a rare Mediterranean citrus called Chinotto. To be honest it smells like a greener version of bergamot. I have never encountered the fruit in real life so this might be an accurate description of it. This has more sweetness for the green to contrast. Matched to it in the top accord is a marine note capturing the crashing sea spray on the beach. This is a typical Mediterranean accord M. Demachy uses with a detectable shading on the citrus. The heart accord is a continuation of the green through cardamom and rosemary with jasmine. My favorite part of this perfume is as the cardamom and rosemary intertwine they ride on an expansive bubble of jasmine. It is airily beautiful. This is where it feels like a beach walk between ocean on one side and orange trees and jasmine vines on the other. The expansiveness remains as white musks do the same to the patchouli in the base.

Chinotto di Liguria has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I returned to Bloomingdale’s to buy a bottle after wearing through my sample. It would have been a surprise not to add to my row of blue bottles. There is nothing groundbreaking here but if you want excellently designed warm weather colognes you can’t make a bad choice within this collection including Chinotto di Liguria.

Disclosure: This review based on a sample provided by Bloomingdale’s and a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review L’Artisan Parfumeur Champ de Baies- Berry Picking

One of the pleasures of living in an agricultural preserve is coming in just a couple of weeks; berry picking season. I’ll be spending a few mornings over the next couple of months picking fresh berries right off the vine, bush, or tree. The smell of the fresh fruit mixed with the smell of equally fresh sweat is not easily replicated in perfume. Although one of the great early niche releases is known for just this.

L’Artisan Parfumeur was created forty years ago by Jean-Francois Laporte. One of the perfumes which displayed what niche perfume could be about was a fabulous combination of blackberries and musk named appropriately Mure et Musc. Whenever I need a reminder that fruity fragrances don’t need to be insipid I can reach for my bottle. This perfume is probably one of the main reasons I hold fruity florals to a high standard, I know what it can be. It also is why I hold the subsequent L’Artisan releases to an even higher standard. Champ de Baies meets those standards by finding a contemporary interpretation of berries and musk. It is one of two simultaneously released colognes interpreting sunrise in a garden (Champ de Fleurs) or berry field (Champ de Baies). Perfumer Evelyne Boulanger is responsible for bringing the berries at dawn to life.

Evelyne Boulanger

Mme Boulanger makes this contemporary by making a lighter version of a berries and musk adhering to the current popular aesthetic. When I read that I was worried this could become too transparent. Mme Boulanger finds a nice balance because when you are in a field at dawn the scent of the natural scene is a bit stronger because the cooling of the night hasn’t fully let go. Which makes Champ de Baies pitched at just the right volume.

It opens with a compelling rhubarb and pear top accord. Mme Boulanger allows some of the sulfurous aspects of rhubarb to contrast with the crisp pear. This flows into a duet of blackberries and raspberries. The latter have been one of my least favorite berry notes in perfume. One of the reasons is the raspberry usually runs riot within compositions. Here it is excellently balanced with the blackberry in an odd way freshening it up. Then Mme Boulanger provides a cool morning breeze of white musks carrying along some patchouli to represent the earth the berries are growing in.

Champ de Baies has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

L’Artisan has been one of the standard bearers for niche perfumery. Champ de Baies shows it can still be found in the vanguard; perhaps berry picking at dawn.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review: DSH Perfumes Lilas de Minuit- May Lilacs

One of my favorite things to do on a spring evening is to sit among the lilacs. It was not by design but happenstance that lilac has become my spring harbinger. When we bought our first house in the Boston-area it came with fully mature lilac bushes. It also came with a blizzard in the first month which had the effect of pruning them via nature. Over the eighteen years we lived in that house I would sit on our little patio in the spring and enjoy watching the lilacs once again regain their fully-grown glory. I knew our current house was the right choice when I found a similar growth of lilacs. The lilacs have provided me multiple moments of Zen for over twenty-five years now. One of the great things about perfume is it allows me to extend the May lilacs into the rest of the year; DSH Perfumes Lilas de Minuit does a great job of capturing my lilacs of spring.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz groups her perfumes in different series. Lilas de Minuit is part of her “Flowers for Men” collection. It is the follow-up to last year’s Il Marinaio Da Capri which was honeysuckle focused. For Lilas de Minuit Ms. Hurwitz must find a careful balance with lilac. Lilac is used in so many air fresheners and detergents it can unintentionally communicate “cheap”. By pitching this as a masculine floral Ms. Hurwitz has a bit more license to turn the floral more butch. It is those choices which make Lilas de Minuit a fully rounded perfume.

There is a smell of the early spring as the newly defrosted top soil carries a kind of peppery scent. Ms. Hurwitz picks up on that along with a sunny flare of citrus. That grounded-ness is reinforced through a nucleus of oakmoss. From this the lilac can bloom unfettered. Ms. Hurwitz uses a set of other florals to tune her lilac accord to blend with the oakmoss. This combines into a wet soil and lilac accord which was lovely. A set of resinous and animalic notes provide the base accord. Incense swirls up through the heart accord. Civet and musks give an animalic heartbeat which livens the final stage up.

Lilas de Minuit has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Lilas de Minuit is an exceptional lilac perfume for spring. I had held off reviewing this until I could compare it to my lilacs at home. On one of the first days where I could sit out well into the evening Lilas de Minuit provided harmony to nature’s natural lilacs. When it gets to be July and I want the cool of my May lilacs I know which bottle to pull off the shelf.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Narciso Rouge- A More Typical Shade of Musk

There are brands which have picked a perfume lane to travel in. Those brands will mine every shade and nuance of the style they have chosen. This is certainly true of Narciso Rodriguez who have been doing this with musk-centric perfumes for fifteen years. Over thirty-plus releases they have kind of exhausted the variations. Now maybe it is time to try to improve on the more well-known. Narciso Rouge feels like that kind of perfume to me.

Sonia Constant

A team of perfumers, Sonia Constant and Nadege le Garlantezec, are responsible for designing Rouge. They go back and design around tropes familiar to those who love musk perfumes. Rose and iris as the floral, check. Cedar and vetiver as the base, check. Here is the difference, while the ingredients are nothing new there is an overt sultriness to Rouge that the perfumers manage to evoke I found engaging.

Nadege le Garlantezec

The opening is a lipstick rose accord of iris and rose. when this accord is done right it gives off a sense of sophistication and seduction. The perfumers do a great version here. It reminds me of lips perfectly lacquered in crimson lipstick; almost velvety in nature. The musks are titrated in over an hour or so. As the time goes on there is a classically sensual style of musk against the rose accord. It is sort of like a rough kiss on the perfect lips mussing up the perfection. The cedar comes in to try and clean things up with a greenish woody base. Vetiver accentuates the green quality of the wood finishing things off in a reliable manner.

Rouge has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I think it can be easy to dismiss new Narciso Rodriguez releases because there has been so many released. There is a bit of a sense of repetition beginning to set in. Rouge caused me to consider whether composing in a more typical style of musk isn’t still worth the effort.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Carthusia Terra Mia- Morning on a Mediterranean Balcony

There are a few brands which seem to preternaturally stay out of the limelight. Brands which make some nice perfumes. One of those is the Italian brand Carthusia. Carthusia Uomo has been a summer staple for me since I first discovered it over a decade ago. There is a consistent Mediterranean aesthetic which defines the brand. There is also a kind of vintage-like feel to many of the perfumes as they have been reformulated. They have not consistently released new perfumes preferring to rest on the collection of timeless standards. I was interested to hear about a year ago that was going to change.

I received a press release announcing the pending release of two new perfumes working with perfumer Luca Maffei. One, Gelsomini di Capri was a re-formulation of an original 2009 release. If you want a prime example of what I am talking about with the Mediterranean aesthetic Gelsomini di Capri is a good one. It is It is sunny citrus, sultry florals led by jasmine, finishing on a musky woody base. I like it, but I admit I was much more curious to see what Sig. Maffei could do if he brought his innovative style to a brand like Carthusia. The second new release, Terra Mia, is what I was looking for.

Luca Maffei

If you’ve ever traveled in this part of the world and are fortunate enough to have a balcony with a water view you might remember the scent of the morning. On the only occasion I had to experience this there was an orange grove in the distance and a rose garden right below. I would breathe in while my latte was sitting on the small breakfast table. It was just right. Sig. Maffei captures that as he delicately mixes in a couple of gourmand ingredients into the Mediterranean formula.

Sig. Maffei opens with a high concentration of bergamot matched with baie rose. This is like a “dawn accord” with the bergamot sparkling off the water far below. The baie rose captures the greenery waking up to the sun. It moves into a floral heart of neroli, orange blossom and rose. This captures the green of the baie rose and intensifies it through the neroli. The orange blossom provides a lilting contrast to the slightly dewy rose. From here is where we take a gourmand turn. Sig. Maffei pours a cup of coffee next to a sweet hazelnut-flavored pastry. This slides in under the florals as if serving them up on its own platter. It heads to an ambroxan focused base which captures a bit of the ocean off in the distance right at the end.

Terra Mia has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Sig. Maffei has done a fantastic job finding the space within the Mediterranean to insert the gourmand accords. It makes everything richer and deeper. On the days I wore Terra Mia I was on a Mediterranean balcony in the morning.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review L’Occitane Fleurs de Cerisier Eau Fraiche- Peak Blossom Days

I live in the Washington DC metro area which means we take cherry blossoms seriously. There is a month-long festival. The local news keeps us updated on the state of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin letting us know when peak bloom will arrive. It is the spring version of determining peak leaf color in the fall. Mrs. C and I visit every year but to avoid the crowds we go at night when there is moonlight to enjoy them by. I find this a magical moment stolen in the urban landscape. For me there is a delicacy to the cherry blossoms which is rarely captured in fragrance; L’Occitane Fleurs de Cerisier Eau Fraiche does a nice job of it.

The Fleurs de Cerisier collection began in 2007 and has been followed up with annual flankers. I have never warmed to any of the releases because I’ve always felt they miss the natural transparency of the cherry blossoms in real life. It was why I had to do a double take to make sure I had sprayed on a strip what I thought I did. I expected an intense fruity floral and instead found a feather light version.

I may like seeing the cherry blossoms by moonlight, but the unnamed perfumer was channeling a sunny spring day. The perfume opens with lemon and grassy notes providing sunlight on the sward. Then as if I am walking up to the grove; a breeze brings the cherry blossom scent from afar. Over time it grows in intensity but never crossing the line into too-sweet floral. A set of florals provide fresh support as peony, heliotrope, and jasmine keep the heart accord opaque. There is also a slight aquatic shimmer underneath it all; which fits my sense of taking a walk in the local grove. The freshness becomes expansive as a set of white musks provide that effect. Cedar keeps it slightly green as a spring scent should.

Fleurs de Cerisier Eau Fraiche has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

It looks like I won’t have to rely on my local news to determine the peak cherry blossom days anymore. All I will have to do is spray some Fleurs de Cerisier Eau Fraiche.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from L’Occitane.

Mark Behnke