New Perfume Review Van Cleef & Arpels Ambre Imperial- Crème Brulee for the Soul

There is a popular series of books called “Chicken Soup for the Soul” where editors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen collect inspirational essays. The title is obvious as chicken soup is a well-known curative straight from a family recipe. In my family we had nobody who was adept at making chicken soup. What I had was dessert makers and when I needed something from the kitchen to pick me up it was a dessert. One of my favorites was, and is, crème brulee. It is still how I judge a great restaurant; if they can’t cap off my dinner with an exceptional version then it will always be lacking in my book. There are not a lot of perfume versions of the dessert but the new Van Cleef & Arpels Ambre Imperial might be the best.


Ambre Imperial is part of the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire and is the tenth release for this exclusive collection. If I have had an issue with this collection it is that it has played it a bit too safe. The quality of ingredients has been there but they are often put to very standard uses. Orchidee Vanille was my favorite because it was a perfect evocation of freshly made vanilla ice cream straight from the churn. The sheer beauty of the vanilla matched with the floralcy of the orchid it comes from is what I wanted from a collection labeled extraordinary. Amber Imperial asks perfumer Quentin Bisch to create a different type of vanilla, something classic. Ambre Imperial is that crème brulee with a solid shell of amber lying on top of it.

Quentin Bisch

Quentin Bisch

M. Bisch opens Ambre Imperial with a typical flourish of bergamot made piquant by the presence of baie rose. It is nothing more than a momentary fillip towards the real business of Ambre Imperial which comes with a warm deeply satisfying amber accord. M. Bisch then uses benzoin to turn it into that hard fluid shell which coats the top of any good version of crème brulee. The vanilla comes to the foreground and while the amber and benzoin still have the floor it creates a caramel accord which eventually transitions into a solid vanilla base. The vanilla is supported by the toasty quality of tonka bean. The tonka reminds me of the black flecks of real vanilla pods I see in the best things featuring vanilla. It adds a sense of depth with its presence.

Ambre Imperial has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Amber Imperial is probably the most straight forward composition of M. Bisch’s career so far. Which is a good thing because while I appreciate his sense of adventure there is a point at the end of the day that I want my favorite sense-based artists to soothe me with something simple but rich. With Ambre Imperial M. Bisch has crafted crème brulee for my soul.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Serge Lutens Section D’Or- When the Music Stops


As a music fan there is a moment when my favorite acts eventually stop being relevant. There is that moment when you listen to the new music and realize it is not as good as what came before. Eventually the musician realizes it and goes on tour playing the hits. At that point I usually content myself with the music which captivated me in the beginning. There hasn’t been a perfume equivalent until I received samples of the five new perfumes which make up the Serge Lutens Section D’Or.

Serge Lutens was the brand of niche perfumery which represented everything I loved about that phrase. The creative direction of M. Lutens. His partnership with perfumer Christopher Sheldrake is one of the greatest in the niche sector. There are so many amazing perfumes which have come from them it is all the more disappointing to see where the brand is now. I received samples of the five new Section D’Or fragrances; Cannibale, Cracheuse de Flammes, L’Haleine des Deux, Renard Constrictor, and Sidi Bel-Abbes. For the first time I just wasn’t moved to wear any of them. I kept hoping that over time I would decide one was worth spending a couple days with but after many weeks I think the answer is no. I usually review things after wearing them for two days so these impressions are not like my normal review. I have smelled them extensively on strips and they each have claimed a small part of my forearm for a few hours. Any of them might get better if I was to bite the bullet and wear one. The truth is there isn’t one of these I want to do that with.


Christopher Sheldrake

Cannibale is perhaps the one with the most promise as it has its moments. Most of those are around a heart of myrrh, cistus, and rose. This leads to a base of incense but also intrusive woodsmoke. There is a fleeting reminder of the trademark Lutens stewed fruit but even that can’t make this more interesting.

When I reviewed the first Section D’Or L’Incendiaire I said this was perfume where it had been done before and done better by another brand. Cracheuses de Flammes is an amber rose which has been done by many before and I would say most of them are better. This is simple Turkish rose and warm amber. There is nothing special about this perfume.

L’Haleine des Dieux was so unbearable I couldn’t even bear to revisit it on the strip and I used an alcohol wipe to remove it minutes after I put a bit on my skin. Pine sap and sage provide an unpleasantly acerbic opening which falls into an unbalanced jasmine and balsam heart. Too much styrax and vanilla makes this oh for three. If I was handed this blind there is no way I would have guessed this was a Serge Lutens scent.

Renard Constrictor was the only one I actually considered wearing. The pine and the styrax are back but this time surrounding a pretty gardenia on a bed of amber and musk. As with the other Section D’Or releases there is not one iota of a new idea here just something seen many times in other brands.

Sidi Bel-Abbes should have been the one which lifted my mood. With notes of cumin, tobacco, leather, honey as the focal points this should have soared. It never leaves the ground as the cumin acts like a battering ram bowling over everything in its way not allowing for even a moment of beauty. The name comes from a French Foreign Legion outpost. This made me feel like I was in battle with it all the time.

When I can’t even bring myself to do a proper review of five new Serge Lutens releases it is sad confirmation that the music has died in the Palais Royale.

I can’t remember if I cried/ when I read about Section D’Or/ Something touched me deep inside/ The day the perfume died/ So Bye Bye Mister Serge Lutens/ drove my Fiat to the Palais but the Palais was closed/ and Chris and Serge were drinking absinthe and rye/ singing this will be the day that I die.

Adieu! It was fun while it lasted.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Barney’s New York.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Olfactories Double Dare- Hazy Spices & Refined Leather

My first stop in NYC when I was in for Sniffapalooza weekend was a trip to the Prada boutique on Broadway. Prada introduced a new 10-fragrance collection to replace the now discontinued Exclusive Collection. The new collection will have the same semi-secret distribution pattern as it will only be available in select Prada boutiques and only if you know to ask for it. When I arrived at the Prada boutique I was surprised to see displays for all 10 of the new Olfactories showing the silk bags they come in, the inspiration piece, and the bottles. I was told they would only be up for another few days and then they would be moved to the same out of the way downstairs counter where the Exclusive Collection resided previously. Meaning if you don’t know they exist good luck in stumbling across them.

Daniela Andrier

Daniela Andrier

I own all of the perfumes in the Exclusive Collection and they are some of my favorites by perfumer Daniela Andrier. Mme Andrier has defined a Prada style which she has further executed at all levels within the Prada fragrance section. For the Olfactories Mme Andrier wanted to create “potent concotions of the unexpected”. What I found in sniffing the entire collection on strips and putting a few on my skin was that description was not uniformly applied throughout the collection. There were four which stood out on this initial visit. Cargo de Nuit was a mix of aldehydes, cedar, and musks that gave off an interesting aquatic vibe. There was a little bit too much ambroxan for my taste to make me want to buy it, but it is “potent”. Pink Flamingos seems like a Japanese aesthetic as viewed by John Waters. Mme Andrier takes a heart of orris, cherry, and rose and makes it seem garish but not cheap. Nue au Soleil surprised me as Mme Andrier produces a simple construct of orange blossom, patchouli, and musk. Except this was the strip which changed the most over the twenty-four hours I kept trying it. This is a gilded orange blossom which feels decadent. Both Pink Flamingos and Nue au Soleil will definitely find their way into my grasp over time. The one which I bought on the day was Double Dare.

prada olfactories silk purses

The silk pouches for each of the Olfactories

In the store Double Dare was simply described as “leather and suede”. Which is true but where many of the Olfactories are exactly what the small phrase promises Double Dare had more to offer than just leather. It is the journey to that leather in the base which made it my favorite. If you go to the Prada Olfactories website for Double Dare you will find this description, “Creatures roam in a warm haze of spices and leather”. It is those spices along with a couple of other choices which made Double Dare my choice on the day.

Double Dare opens on the promised “spicy haze” made up of cardamom and saffron. These are two of my favorite spice notes in perfumery and Mme Andrier balances them perfectly as they do feel like a diaphanous spicy veil. A lovely transparent jasmine joins this after a few minutes. All of this is introduction for the suede accord to come. This is not hazy, diaphanous, or transparent. This is leather. This is the creature underneath the haze. It is very refined leather as it has all the rough edges removed but it carries power. Enough to impose itself over the spices and jasmine. Vetiver and patchouli provide some contrast to the refined nature of the suede accord. At the very end a warm amber and vanilla come out to bring back the refinement.

Double Dare has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

At least on first impression I do not think the overall Olfactories are as good as the Exclusives Collection was. There are some which I think are every bit as good. I bought Double Dare because I believe it forms a trilogy with No. 3 Cuir Ambre and No. 11 Cuir Styrax of Mme Andrier’s exploration of leather. Double Dare could easily have been named No. 15 Cuir Epices. If you find yourself near a Prada boutique it is worth the effort to try the collection. It may all eventually grow on me over time. In the meantime Double Dare will do a fine job representing the other nine for the time being.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ralph Lauren Polo Supreme Leather- Hold the Woods, Add the Suede

The first step on my fragrant path was getting Jovan Musk for my thirteenth birthday. The second step was moving up to Ralph Lauren Polo when I was in college. While I really only look at my bottle of Jovan Musk these days there is always some time when I want to wear Polo. That affection has always made me interested when a new flanker of Polo is released. It has been an uneven experience over the years but there is a nice little collection of similarly shaped bottles on a shelf in my closet which indicates there have been some hits. What I have found when I look closer is that most of those were composed by Carlos Benaim who did the original Polo. Which now makes me look forward to any new Polo he produces.

2015 has seen the Polo flankers move into something called a “Supreme” series where they feature a specific note. The first release, in the beginning of the year, was Polo Supreme Oud. M. Benaim along with Clement Gavarry were responsible and they used the cypriol oud accord but nothing about that felt like Polo to me. It had the name but it didn’t have the essence. For the last part of the year the second release is Polo Supreme Leather. This one feels like it has both the name and the essence.


Carlos Benaim

Two of my favorite versions of Polo are Crest and Modern Reserve. One of the reasons I like them is M. Benaim tweaks the spices on top in both cases. Basil is in Polo, rosemary in Crest, and cardamom in Modern Reserve. The entry spice for Polo Supreme Leather is nutmeg and even though it is different it is somehow similar enough to make it feel like a Polo. The rest of the construction is also made up of very different notes from Polo. Because the leather is being featured M. Benaim can particularly get away with changing things up in the foundation.

Polo Supreme Leather opens with a soft breath of cardamom and bergamot before the nutmeg steals that breath away. Saffron and sage provide the next additions to the nutmeg. It provides a nicely constructed triangle as all three notes form a lively accord. Rose is the floral at the heart of Polo Supreme Leather and it fills up the space within that triangle beautifully. By having it framed in those spices it keeps it from becoming too rosy. It does a fine job of butching up the rose but it is the next note which really takes care of that. Suderal is a synthetic leather aromachemical which smells like the most expensive suede leather. The leather in the traditional Polo base is fused to woods. In Polo Supreme Leather there are no woods. It is just the supple sweet leathery smell of Suderal. M. Benaim uses Tonka and a honey accord to amp up the sweeter refined quality of the Suderal. This is where Polo Supreme Leather remains for hours and hours.

Polo Supreme Leather has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.

This was a much more successful attempt to feature an ingredient than the first Supreme. Polo Supreme Leather gets all of the things right that I want in a Polo flanker. A spicy opening, an herbal floral heart, and a leathery base. The suede is so interesting I never noticed that the woods weren’t there until the second time I wore it. I believe my Polo bottles will be getting a new addition very soon.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Bloomingdale’s.

 –Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Rebel Intuitive Grace at 67th- The Moments In-Between


There are many fragrances inspired by rock and roll. Many of them try and capture the music or the artist. The new independent brand Rebel Intuitive took a different tack. Art director Katy Knuth and perfumer Beckie Sheloske were inspired by the story of model Anita Pallenberg and her time with the Rolling Stones. This would be the seed from which the perfume Grace at 67th would spring.

katy knuth becky sheloske

Katy Knuth (l.) and Becky Sheloske (Photo: Heather Gray)

Ms. Pallenberg was the companion for The Rolling Stones from 1967-1980. She started off as the girlfriend of Brian Jones before moving on to become the partner of Keith Richards. This is not the story of a groupie as Ms. Pallenberg was much more than that. She was the muse for the band as her opinion was valued and sought out. Grace at 67th is meant to capture the moments when the lights are off and inspiration comes from each other.

grace at 67th inspiration

Photographic Inspiration for Grace at 67th (Photo: Heather Gray; Models: Maggie Lenz-McQuilken and Ben Roy)

Ms. Knuth and Ms. Sheloske spoke at the recent Sniffapalooza Fall Ball and their creative process is quite interesting. The two of them have the typical give and take between a creative director and perfumer but then instead of evaluators they invite their friends to a session they call “Rebel Smells”. Here they give a perfume they are working on to friends and ask them to describe it in any way they would like. This gives the creatives the opportunity to see if they are achieving the desired effect. For Grace at 67th that effect seemed to be to capture the moment where inspiration and creativity result in something real.

To capture the moment of all-consuming effort Ms. Sheloske uses a couple of florals to capture the beauty and the razor’s edge of entropy occurring at once. Narcissus is that heady moment of success. Costus provides the decay of the genesis of an idea perhaps getting away from you. In the end Grace at 67th is the result of a concept made concrete matched with the satisfaction that goes with it.

As the session begins Ms. Sheloske opens with an herbal triad of basil, sage, and tarragon. These notes radiate a spiky kinetic vibe. That moment when you just have to get that concept out in the open. Neroli represents the muse in the room. The soft floral strolls through capturing the wearer’s attention. Violet leaf reminds you that the creative juices are flowing as it adds a sharper green counterpoint. It all coalesces into the eureka moment as narcotic narcissus rides over it all in a pleasant wave. The base is trying to pull it all together but the sweetly decaying floralcy of costus is a warning of the precarious nature of creation. Ms. Sheloske’s choice to use costus here is very interesting. It works as the slightly dirty nature inherent within provides the humanity underneath it all. It gets reinforced with the botanical musk of ambrette seed. Myrrh provides the satisfied hum of a successful collaboration.

Grace at 67th has 6-8 hour longevity and very little sillage.

I like the decisions made by Ms. Knuth and Ms. Sheloskie to look for the moments in-between for their rock and roll inspiration. Grace at 67th evokes the moments between the spotlights where the music really lives.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Rebel Intuitive at sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Strangelove NYC meltmyheart- Beauty Beheld

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is a truism. In the Early 1990’s I beheld supermodel Helena Christensen when she was at the height of her fame. In a room full of other professional models it was apparent to me why super was attached to her. She carried a special quality which ran from the top of her head to her toes. When having any discussion on beauty she is one of my prime examples. I have always followed her career. Last year she stepped into the niche perfumery world as the creative director on Strangelove NYC (nee ERH1012) deadofnight. It has been eighteen months since that release and the second perfume has recently arrived Strangelove NYC meltmyheart.


Helena Christensen

Helena Christensen

Ms. Christensen worked with perfumer Christophe Laudamiel who also was responsible for deadofnight. Ms. Christensen says she wanted meltmyheart to be “tender and poetic”. M. Laudamiel has taken some of the more powerhouse notes in the perfumer’s palette and made them live up to that description. When I tell you that the heart of meltmyheart is dark chocolate, oud, and orris I suspect tender and poetic does not rise to the top of the adjectives you might expect to use for that mixture. If there is one thing I have learned while following M. Laudamiel over the years is he is one of the few who can make the most obstreperous notes behave like they never deserved that reputation. For meltmyheart he has achieved that as he does make those notes tender and poetic as the core of this perfume.


Christophe Laudamiel

M. Laudamiel uses a zingy opening of ginger and bergamot. If meltmyheart is all about falling in love this is the frisson of meeting someone special for the first time. Nutmeg provides the transition into the heart. The chocolate comes out first as it picks up the sweetness of the nutmeg. The oud comes next and I am struck once again by what a perfect partner chocolate is for oud. It doesn’t get used as much as I would like even though in meltmyheart it is an excellent choice. For a short while I begin to wonder where the orris is. As the chocolate and oud have my attention. The orris is there but it takes a little time to find its position as it catches some of the bitter components of the chocolate and powders over some of the more intense facets of oud. What the orris does is provide the harmonic to allow the best qualities of the chocolate and oud to predominate. The skill of M. Laudamiel to pull this off and to keep it almost transparent in its effect is fabulous. When I wore meltmyheart I expected this phase to just expand and evolve into something overpowering. It never does. Instead it is a relationship of equals which has an unusual fragility I never expected. Many hours later a bit of smoky sage absolute winds its way through the orris/oud/chocolate making it seem like it is all melting away in a cloud of smoke.

Meltmyheart is a perfume oil and has 24-hour longevity with no appreciable sillage.

Ms. Christensen and M. Laudamiel have made a perfume around a perfectly executed central accord. I spent an entire weekend wearing this. Like Ms. Chritensen when I saw her back in the 1990’s meltmyheart is a perfume of beauty to behold.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Strangelove NYC

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aftelier Perfumes Vanilla Smoke- Modern Oriental


There are times when I hear a new vanilla perfume is coming from one of my favorite brands I get a nervous feeling. What I should remember when this happens again is these perfumers and brands are my favorites because they don’t do what is expected. Even so when I received an e-mail from perfumer Mandy Aftel announcing her new release Aftelier Perfumes Vanilla Smoke that nervous feeling returned unbidden.

What it is that I worry about is that especially in the case of vanilla there is a tendency to use vanillin as the source. This ingredient is where most of the vanilla focused perfumes go over the top in overdose and leave me wanting something more, or more correctly less. Ms. Aftel gives me that extra something I am looking for as she eschews vanillin for a Madagascar vanilla absolute as one of two keynotes in Vanilla Smoke. I will admit I am also tiring of perfumes which layer on the woodsmoke and incense. As with the vanilla source Ms. Aftel shows she is not a perfumer who trods the expected path. The source of the smoke here is Lapsang Souchong tea. Together they form the titular notes for this perfume.


Mandy Aftel

Vanilla Smoke opens with a wry knowing smile as Ms. Aftel brandishes many of the components of a more pedestrian construction in the early moments. A bit of sunny mandarin, a touch of light wood and some vanillin. The first couple of minutes had me worried but like a trickster Ms. Aftel rapidly shifts gears into her very clever version of vanilla and smoke. The interstitial note is saffron absolute as it imposes itself on the top notes and immediately makes them more interesting. It provides a bit of camouflage for the keynotes as they begin to rise up in prominence. Real vanilla absolute has the sweet you are familiar with but it also contains much more. There is much more complexity as gentle facets of spiciness and woods make this something more easily found in a jungle than on a baker’s sheet.  I say it every time I review a fantastic independent perfume that the ingredients they use are what set them apart. Ms. Aftel’s Lapsang Souchong is an extract of the tea leaves that were further smoked over pinewood. This allows for this Lapsang Souchong extract to have the heft necessary to stand up to the vanilla absolute as an equal. This ingredient captures the strong black tea and the smokiness inherent within it without ever smelling like a campfire. It is an exotic source of smoke. The final ingredients are coumarin to help accentuate the sweet vanilla qualities and ambergris which adds its unique foundation forming an incandescent veil over the final stages.

Vanilla Smoke in the Eau de Parfum concentration had 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage. In the Perfume concentration it had 16-18 hour longevity and almost no sillage.

Ms. Aftel sent me both of the concentrations available: the Eau de Parfum and the Perfume versions. The Eau de Parfum is much more expansive and the notes which particularly shine in that are things like the saffron and the coumarin as they have more obvious effects. The Perfume concentration is much more contained in its development and it is the keynotes which are mostly in evidence throughout. I thoroughly enjoy both concentrations as I could say the Eau de Parfum is more smoke as it expands to fill up the space around it. The Perfume is more vanilla as the absolute has more influence over the Lapsang Souchong. I think it will all be personal preference which to choose as both are spectacularly good.

I had to laugh when I was looking on Ms. Aftel’s website to see how she categorized Vanilla Smoke. Right at the top of the page it says “gourmand”. I could not disagree more with that as I think of gourmands as something entirely different than what I experience in Vanilla Smoke. If I was categorizing this I would call it a Modern Oriental. Ms. Aftel has taken the traditional Oriental tropes and transformed them into something that feels like an update to that family. It is as satisfying as anything I own in that genre.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Aftelier Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Grandiflora Madagascan Jasmine- Examination of Jasmine

The axiom “absence makes the heart grow fonder” rarely gets a workout when it comes to my favorite perfumers. Only in a very few cases do I wait very long for something new to be produced. One of those perfumers who by his absence does make my heart pick up a few beats when he decides to turn to perfume again is Michel Roudnitska. M. Roudnitska has made a grand total of twelve perfumes since 2000. Number twelve is the second fragrance by him for the new brand Grandiflora called Madagascan Jasmine.

Grandiflora_Saskia_Havekes photo by nikki to for The Design files

Saskia Havekes outside her store Grandiflora (Photo: Nikki To for The Design Files)

Grandiflora is the brand owned and creatively directed by Sydney, Austalia florist Saskia Havekes. Ms. Havekes’ experience with artistic floral arrangements has led to her wanting to design fragrances every bit as original. The first two perfumes released in 2013 examined magnolia from the viewpoint of two different perfumers; M. Roudnitska and Sandrine Videault. M. Roudnitska’s version, Magnolia Grandiflora Michel, had a very expansive quality to it which I compared to Gauguin’s paintings while in Tahiti. Madagascan Jasmine is the opposite as it is a very tightly controlled experience. While it has its moments where it is big; it spends most of its time in an introspective place. It is here where M. Roudnitska passes a few different influences past the central jasmine followed by observation at what happens. This is a probing technique full of precise movements as together we use these interactions to explore the nature of jasmine.

michel roudnitska

Michel Roudnitska

Madagascan Jasmine does not have a traditional three phases of development. M. Roudnitska places his source of jasmine front and center. This is full spectrum jasmine, very heady showing off its narcotic floralcy along with its skanky heartbeat. This is the kind of jasmine I live for in perfume as I don’t want it civilized I want it full of life. That is what M. Roudnitska delivers. Over the next few hours the very few other notes interact with this jasmine. First up is a translucent green accord. Jasmine is night blooming and I associate it with the latest part of the evening as the mist begins to settle on its petals and the grass below has a muted feel. This is the early moments of Madagascan Jasmine as if you’ve discovered a vine of fully bloomed jasmine growing just outside your window at 4AM. This is as good as a jasmine soliflore gets and if it stayed here it would have been enough. M. Roudnitska has something else in mind as he begins to add a series of musks to the proceedings. A clean laundry musk provides a foil for the indoles. By adding in freshness it almost seems like it provokes a response from the indoles. Next comes one of the more animalic musks and this accentuates the floralcy while it harmonizes with the indoles. The musk here provides a thrumming backbeat for the incredibly sweet nature to rise up on top of it. Finally there is a sweet honeyed musk which provides the final bit of perspective as it pulls together all that has come before into a complete accord which captures a complex whole.

Madagascan Jasmine has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

It would be fair to say I wish M. Roudnitska was more prolific. On the other hand it is the time he spends away from perfumery pursuing the other passions in his life which I believe makes his perfumes so special. M. Roudnitska spends his life observing as much of it as he can from differing points of view. When that is applied to designing a perfume the result is something as wonderful as Madagascan Jasmine. It is among the finest jasmine soliflores I have tried.

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

-Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Euphorium Brooklyn 100 Tweeds- Sometimes You Get the Bear….

I continue to be enchanted with Creative Stephenr Dirkes as he adds to the story being told with perfume for his Euphorium Brooklyn brand. In this version of a perfumed penny dreadful chapter six entitled 100 Tweeds has just been released.

Mr. Dirkes has been telling the fanciful tale of the men who founded the Euphorium Bile Works in Brooklyn circa 1860. The three men; Etienne Chevreuil, Rudolph Komodo and Christian Rosenkreuz are our protagonists. The first four perfumes released were stories of them together. Now the next three are clearly going to be the “backstory” of each of the Bile Works boys. 100 Tweeds is the story of how Hr. Rosenkreuz needed to leave his native Bavaria and find a new life in the New World.

The story is told in much more enjoyable detail on the website but here is the Cliff’s Notes version. While working in his study on the edge of the Schwarzwald he sends his only daughter out to walk in the forest. He insists she wears her tweed hunting jacket. Not knowing tweed was a natural attractant for bears the obvious tragedy was set into motion. After the death of his daughter Hr. Rosenkreuz was obsessed with making a tincture of tweed. Not just one tweed but all tweeds. 100 Tweeds is that story.

100 tweeds milieu

100 Tweeds is the most challenging of the six Euphorium Brooklyn releases to date. Mr. Dirkes really does capture the smell of a cedar chest with 100 versions of tweed jackets hanging within. For the first time a Euphorium Brooklyn release is tilted much more towards an avant-garde edge. The previous five had their moments but 100 Tweeds is unusual from beginning to end.

The early moments of 100 Tweeds is that musty sort of closet smell overcrowded with woolens. This accord hangs very heavily over the first half an hour or so. I’ve never had a cedar lined closet full of clothes but this accord is much of what I imagine it would smell like. The heart is an evocation of the Bavarian countryside in the Schwarzwald. Calamus is chosen as the nucleus of the heart and it is surrounded by all sorts of herbal and green effects. Hemlock, ivy, celery seed, and parsley seed create a very pungent heart note which again will push many who try this right to the edge of their tolerances. The base starts off slightly contemplative with a honeyed tobacco which is trampled in short order by cypriol, cade and a peat accord. Here is the heath brought to life in all of its peaty glory.

100 Tweeds has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage. This is also an alcohol formulation as was Suedois and Petales.

100 Tweeds is going to be a chapter to get through that I won’t be eager to return to. Mr. Dirkes makes 100 Tweeds challenging at every turn. For a project such as Euphorium Brooklyn it is a little surprising it took six releases to finally fully embrace the odd perfume notes and fold them into the story. If you’ve been following along 100 Tweeds should be experienced just so you don’t skip Hr. Rosenkreuz’s chapter. Under no circumstances should 100 Tweeds be the one used to introduce the line as it stands outside on its own. Waiting to see if the bear is on its way.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Nomad Two Worlds Raw Spirit Summer Rain- Canoeing on the River of Grass

Growing up in South Florida some of my favorite moments were in my canoe paddling through the Everglades. When you are on the water the sobriquet of the “river of Grass” is never more apparent as there are long moments where you are paddling through a green field of sawgrass waving above your head. It was easy to lose your direction when surrounded by the fronds taller than my head in the boat. There was a specific combination of water and green; which was the smell of those canoe trips.

Joyce Lanigan the creative director behind Nomad Two Worlds handed me a sample of the latest release Raw Spirit Summer Rain and I was struck by that mix of water and green I was so familiar with from the back of my canoe. When she told me perfumer Harry Fremont was attempting to make a fragrance which captures summer in the Everglades it carried me right back there, via scent, from New York City.

Harry Fremont

Harry Fremont

Summer Rain is a consistent meditation on green floating on top of water. M. Fremont slowly turns up the intensity of his green components as Summer Rain develops. He adds in other indigenous qualities of the South Florida milieu like citrus and orange blossom but in the end this is a watery green perfume.

Summer Rain opens on a citrus burst of grapefruit, bergamot, mandarin, and lime. That covers most of the citrus notes. M. Fremont then lays down the first layer of green as he uses basil and lime leaves to form a fairly transparent green accord. In a nod to the Florida Water sold in the area orange blossom and jasmine open the heart. Very quickly galbanum now adds a sterner green quality. A tiny bit of mint is used to tune the strident green of galbanum into something more fresh. M. Fremont get this balance right as the mint never becomes intrusive. The base is vetiver and moss over cedar. As I would paddle under trees covered in tendrils of Spanish Moss the smell of green alive on the air is what the base of Summer Rain smells like to me.

Summer Rain has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Perfume has the ability to unlock memories like a fragrant time machine. Summer Rain is a spot on olfactory evocation of the smells I associate with canoeing in the Everglades. On the days I wore this it was hard to believe I was hundreds of miles away from where my mind was. The Nomad Two World Raw Spirit collection has been very adept at creating this sense of place by using indigenous raw materials. Summer Rain is a day on the water surrounded by the green stalks with the sun shining overhead.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Nomad Two Worlds.

Mark Behnke