New Perfume Review Regime des Fleurs Nitesurf- A Night on Ocean Drive

When I am back in South Florida, visiting, like many who visit I usually end up on South Beach. After we stroll around, the early morning hours are often spent on a park bench in Lummus Park. There is a smell as the tropical night begins to cool, the night blooming flowers are in their glory, and the waves crash on the beach as the tide comes in. To me it the smell of where I grew up. Until recently a perfume has never completely captured that smell; Regime des Fleurs Nitesurf does.

Regime des Fleurs is a new indie brand founded in February of 2014. The owners and self-taught perfumers are Alia Raza and Ezra Woods. Ms. Raza is a filmmaker and Mr. Woods is a stylist who want to make a perfume line focused on different florals. They also want to hearken back to the brazen style aesthetic of the 1990’s. All six of the debut fragrances are based on specific florals and they all have a pretty significant presence to them. There isn’t anything introverted about these first releases. Nitesurf’s central flower is neroli. Neroli is reminiscent of Florida Water which is the classic citrus eau de cologne I smelled everywhere growing up. This floral core is placed into a matrix of beach notes to create an olfactory still life of a night by the beach.

Ezra and Alia

Alia Raza and Ezra Woods (Photo: Town and Country)

The neroli on top glows with the brightness of the neon on an Art Deco hotel. There is almost a palpable buzz. To go with that electrical hum an ozonic accord picks up on that. This is a typical aquatic neroli opening. What changes it is by adding in some supporting florals, like ginger lily, it gives a greater depth to the neroli. It feels like the neroli is on a time lapse loop as it blooms and expands rapidly. I like the expansiveness of Nitesurf at this moment in its development. To create the surf Ms. Raza and Mr. Woods make a choice of two notes to realize their vision. Ambergris is a typical choice. Distillation of crushed nautilus shells is not a typical choice. This ingredient is what separates indie perfumery from the mainstream. This is the second time I have smelled a distillate of crushed sea shells in a perfume and it adds this earthy chalky quality which in combination with the ambergris creates a fabulous beach accord. The neroli is still in place as the surf accord comes together and once they are all there Nitesurf is complete.

Nitesurf has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Nitesurf is my favorite of the original six releases and it is a perfume which makes me interested in what Ms. Raza and Mr. Woods do next. For now I just put on some Nitesurf, close my eyes, and imagine I am with my friends.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Regime des Fleurs.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Providence Perfume Co Bay Rum- A Pirate Looks at 50

As appealing as pretending to be a pirate was as a child, I have to admit the idea is even more appealing as a man in his 50’s. I am pretty sure I’m not alone in the idea of a life on the ocean living on the fringes of the law having appeal as we get older. When I was a kid with an eyepatch and a plastic sword I also nipped into my dad’s bathroom to get a bottle of rum, bay rum. My father had a humongous bottle of Pinaud’s Bay Rum. I used to sprinkle a little in my bandana to smell authentic. Bay Rum also played a large part in my haircuts as it was the spicy finish to a visit to the barber. I can honestly say I haven’t given Bay Rum a thought in twenty years, easy. Thanks to one of our most talented Natural Perfumers, Charna Ethier, who has released Bay Rum under her Providence Perfume Co. label, it has plundered my consciousness.

Ms. Ethier wanted Bay Rum to pay homage to Newport, RI which was at one time the rum capital of the world. Bay Rum is as simple a fragrance as it gets as sailors in the West Indies took bay leaf and let it soak in some rum. That has been the formula for hundreds of years. Ms. Ethier takes that most basic of formulas and adds a little bit more of the fragrant beats of a pirate’s existence. This turns her Bay Rum from something focused into a fragrance which has a much wider perspective.

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Charna Ethier

Ms. Ethier stayed true to her Rhode Island roots and contacted a local rum distiller to provide the rum. This provides a rich boozy foundation for everything else to be added to. Most importantly the other part of the name, a real West Indian bay leaf. On the top of this she adds a bit of tart lime to ward off scurvy. Her choice of allspice takes the bay leaf and transforms it into something less piquant and more elegant. I would venture she spent some time finding the right partner for the bay leaf and allspice is absolutely the right one. A pirate hides in a cove surrounded by flowers growing from the trees and in Bay Rum Ms. Ethier adds jasmine and ylang-ylang to remind you that you are in the tropics. The last addition is a wonderfully briny ozonic sea spray accord. When you are on a boat at speed and the spray is being flung up into the air as the bow cleaves through the wave, is what this accord smells like. It is what turns Bay Rum into a voyage on the high seas while wearing it.

Bay Rum has 10-12 hour longevity. Ms. Ethier has made a very long lasting version of something which is not known for its longevity in other forms. The sillage is average.

Ms. Ethier is really broadening her abilities as a perfumer as Bay Rum shows she can take something elementary and add to it without disrupting it. That is much easier than it sounds. Bay Rum is a success because every additional note she chose to add had its place within the existing structure. I am loving Bay Rum because Ms. Ethier has made a Bay Rum for this perfumista in his 50’s which allows me to let my inner child out to play; at the wheel of a ship flying the Jolly Roger. It is like finding a treasure, no ‘X’ necessary to mark the spot.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Providence Perfume Co.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review slumberhouse Sadanne- Candy Apple Red Decayed

When I was a kid one of my prized possessions was a candy apple red Hot Wheels miniature car. It had this mesmerizing sheen to it. I had the car before I ever encountered my first real candy apple. When I was holding the stick with this glossy orb on the end of it I was also entranced as I rotated it letting it catch the light. Eventually I brought it to my mouth and began to eat. Whenever I think of candy apple red I think of high gloss red paired with a sugary sweet fruity smell. I haven’t thought about the color or the confection for many years but for the last week it has been front and center in my conscience as I have been wearing the new slumberhouse Sadanne.

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Josh Lobb the creative force behind slumberhouse has been one of my favorite stories in perfumery over the last few years. He has allowed word-of-mouth to bring people to his perfumes. Mr. Lobb works with exquisite one of a kind materials and his fragrances are unique. I look forward to each new release. Sadanne is Mr. Lobb’s attempt to push himself to work with the floral notes he is not so fond of. Another thing I admire about Mr. Lobb is he experiments with ways to compose his fragrance. In an e-mail he told me he used sillage to help him decide from mod to mod what was required next. After he finished a mod he asked his friend to put some on and then to walk by while he listened to music over his headphones. It seems to me it would give a different perspective on how your modifications were working in a more expansive way. Sadanne is different from almost everything in the slumberhouse line as it has a diffusive quality to it that none of the previous perfumes have.

Usually Mr. Lobb provides a copious list of ingredients to marvel over but for Sadanne he has eschewed that. This time he is leaving it to the wearers to discover. I am going to do my best to honor that as I attempt to describe Sadanne without going into distinct notes. It is easy because there are really three distinct phases on my skin and while I can pick out some of the ingredients it really is the effect that is paramount in my enjoyment of Sadanne.

Candy-Apple-Red

The first phase smells like freshly made candy apples. There is a crisp fruity quality encased in a glistening sugary shell. It immediately returns me to the six year old clutching his tiny car in one hand with a sticky red apple in the other. Mr. Lobb has imparted olfactory lens flares throughout this opening phase as there are bright glints throughout.

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Jennifer Lawrence in "American Hustle"

The second phase is, maybe, Mr. Lobb’s commentary on florals as he takes some of the most recognizable floral notes and he makes them bitter. It reminds me of the line from the movie “American Hustle”, “It’s like that perfume that you love, that you can’t stop smelling even when there is something sour in it.” The floral accord in the middle of Sadanne has more than a few bitter things in it and just like the quote I keep returning to it even though I know it should put me off. This really is Mr. Lobb at his best as he uses the sour notes not to damage but to make the wearer recalibrate their thoughts about floral notes.

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Bootsy Collins

The third phase is a complete tonal shift into a fabulously dirty musky base. Every time I have worn Sadanne there is a moment where the bright candy apple and the florals just seem to fall apart and what you find was underneath is this funky filthy animalic beast. This is where Sadanne finishes and I love this part of the development. This is my kind of funk. It is like Bootsy Collins’ bass line on Parliament Funkadelic’s “Flashlight”. It reaches right down and grabs you in the low places.

Sadanne has overnight longevity but for those who know the brand it is the least long lived on my skin of the entire brand. The sillage is also greater than most of the other slumberhouse fragrances which makes sense considering how it was composed.

Sadanne is going to test the patience of those who think they know what slumberhouse smells like because Sadanne is like nothing else in the line. Sadanne is a perfume which requires an active wearer. I think by not releasing the note list he is forcing anyone wearing it to have to participate more fully in the experience. After four days of wearing it I have found it to be more engaging every time I wear it because I am participating more viscerally in the wearing. It is another winner from slumberhouse, for me.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Artemisia Natural Perfume Ozymandias- Look and Rejoice

One thing I have definitely noticed over the past few years has been the coalescence of the natural perfume community. For the last few years there have been collaborative projects. Shows featuring the smaller indie and natural perfumers. Facebook groups for support when you need it. One of the reasons for the vitality of natural perfume is all of this. It was one of those collaborative projects, The Mystery of Musk, where I was introduced to the perfumes of Lisa Fong under her label Artemisia Natural Perfume. That project was all about natural perfumers creating a botanical musk fragrance. Her entry Drifting Sparks was one of the most subtle compositions within the entire project. It marked her as someone to watch. Over the past four years she has only become more assured as an artist. I was delighted to receive her first attempt to create something more masculine, Ozymandias.

Ozymandias is the name of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelly. It speaks of a traveler who observes the ruins of the great statue of which all that remains standing are the two legs on a pedestal on which these words are etched, “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.” It is a poem to remind one that all things once mighty will fall to decay over time. It is an interesting inspiration to start from. Ms. Fong sees this as a journey from the brightness of an unquestioned reign which becomes sanctified with frankincense, in the heart, before crumbling to dust with a fantastic mitti attar in the base.

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Lisa Fong

Ozymandias opens with a beautiful full spectrum mandarin as both the fruit and wood add the brightness of the tree in sunshine, it is an uplifting opening. It becomes a bit sharper with Ms. Fong’s use of arnica absolute which adds green facets along with some softer hay-like qualities. Then she layers in multiple frankincense sources which build a resinous power in tiny increments. When natural perfumers get their mix right there is a crescendo which often occurs as these precious materials intermix on my skin. The frankincenses are the overture because the addition of tobacco and mitti attar cause Ozymandias to soar to the heavens. The mitti attar is sandalwood distilled from old-fashioned clay pots and it adds that earthy clayey foundation underneath the rich wood. It is the sense of the earth reaching up to reclaim even the mighty, but not quite yet.

Ozymandias has 6-8 hour longevity and modest sillage.

Every step Ms. Fong has been taking has been sure and is all about building a brand which has the ability to endure instead of ending up on a decayed pedestal of their own. Ozymandias confirms the promise I have seen building over the past four years. It is her best perfume to date and let me encourage you to look on her work and rejoice.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Artemisia Natural Perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Nasomatto Blamage- Mistaken Identity

Expectations are often unmet. That doesn’t mean disappointing but when you’re expecting Thomas Pynchon and you get Stephen King you have to recalibrate your expectations. The last perfume from perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri for his Nasomatto label is called Blamage and it definitely confounded my expectations.

These expectations came from seeing the documentary on the making of Blamage at Esxence this year. The movie chronicles Sig. Gualtieri’s attempt to allow a mistake (blamage) to guide this last Nasomatto perfume. To that end he was blindfolded with a plaster cast and lead to his organ to choose four ingredients to base Blamage on. We never see clearly which four ingredients he chooses but Sig. Gualtieri seems delighted with the difficulty. The movie is accompanied with visuals of things burning and smoking which look pungent. I left the movie looking forward to something very avant-garde. A statement on randomness leading to creativity. When I finally received my sample of Blamage it turned out to be the least avant-garde of any perfume in the entire Nasomatto line.

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Alessandro Gualtieri

As I said I am not sure what the four keynotes Sig. Gualtieri took down off of his organ but if, as I was lead to believe, they were the kind of fractious notes difficult to blend with then Sig. Gualtieri chose to populate Blamage with every other note on the safer side. From a citrus and tuberose opening through a lily and magnolia heart down to a base which might have every synthetic wood ingredient known to perfume. It leads to a very easy to wear fragrance except for the overload of synthetics at the end which might not appeal to everyone.

Blamage has a bright bergamot to go with the grapefruit. The tuberose is the deeply piquant version of the bloom. The floral parade continues with gardenia, lily of the valley, and magnolia in the heart. The source of the magnolia also has a fairly prominent woody quality and it sets up the base. In the base is where Sig. Gualtieri maybe gets a little less safe as it seems like there is a cavalcade of ambrox-like molecules, synthetic sandalwoods, and iso E super. It is all present in high concentration. If you like these notes Blamage will be amazing for you as Sig. Gualtieri does a very good job of balancing them while simultaneously turning up the volume. I can pick out many of the components and that speaks to the precision used in assembling it.

Blamage has 24-36 hour longevity, those synthetic woods are some of the most tenacious materials in perfumery. It also has explosive sillage again due to the woody synthetics.

The woody synthetics in the base are some of my least favorite materials in all of perfumery and because of that the sway they hold over Blamage colors my personal view of it. I think if you like the woody synthetics, and I know there are many out there that do, Blamage is going to be a favorite. It is a niche version of an old-fashioned woody powerhouse perfume of the 1980’s. I think it is easily the most approachable of the entire Nasomatto line and it will be where I tell people to start when first exploring the line. Maybe that is the final word on making perfume via blamage it always ends up way safer than you expect.

Disclsoure: This review was based on a sample of Blamage provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Avon Flor Alegria- Pretty Simple

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I have an old high school friend who lives in Pennsylvania and she is an Avon salesperson. She asked me if I had an opinion on the recent Avon perfumes. I told her I hadn’t given them a thought in years. As we corresponded I realized how shortsighted that view was. Many of my favorite perfumers work on briefs for Avon. Just in 2014 here is the list of perfumers who have composed perfumes for Avon: Laurent Le Guernec, Harry Fremont, Frank Voelkl, Alberto Morillas, Calice Becker, Pierre Negrin, Nathalie Lorson, and Rodrigo Flores-Roux. Pretty impressive lineup for perfume which runs about $20-30 a bottle.

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Rodrigo Flores-Roux

For that price we are not talking about perfumes which are loaded with essential oils these talented perfumers are employing the cost-efficient synthetic ingredients on their perfumer’s organ. You could make the case that these are more difficult to compose with and tease nuance out of. In response to my lack of knowledge my friend sent me a huge box of many of the current Avon perfume offerings. After spending a few weeks with them I was very pleased to find there were more than a few which rose above the others. Tomorrow in Discount Diamonds I will give a bunch of short reviews of my favorites but for today’s column I want to focus on the one which was hands down my favorite in the box Flor Alegria.

Isabel Lopes

Isabel Lopes

Flor Alegria was composed by Rodrigo Flores-Roux under the Creative Direction of Isabel Lopes. Ms. Lopes recently took over the creative direction for the fragrance division and one thing I can state assuredly Ms. Lopes has a consistent aesthetic she is asking for from the perfumers she oversees. For the women’s perfumes pretty and light. For the men’s colognes bracing and woody. Nobody should expect anything different from a mass-market brand like Avon but just as with any niche brand which has an active creative director who keeps true to the brand, Avon is no different. Just a different audience and by this point in time they should have a good idea what sells to that audience. As I tried these perfumes what I kept coming away with was simple does not have to be uninspiring. Sr. Flores-Roux puts a strong exclamation point on that thought with Flor Alegria.

Flor Alegria inhabits one of the styles of perfume I always have difficulty with, fruity floral. What I liked about it was Sr. Flores-Roux was able to balance these synthetics, which can be harsh in excess, and in the case of Flor Alegria turn them into a perfume that was pillow soft.

The top notes are citrus and passionfruit. When it comes to citrus in a perfume Sr. Flores-Roux knows how to use it to precise effect. He wants the passionfruit to be the top but if it was left alone it probably would have become cloying and overwhelming. By using citrus to curtail some of that exuberance he strikes a perfect balance. The heart is rose in all of its powdery sweet floral glory. Here he has to be careful to not let the powder get out of control because his base of iris could’ve doubled down on the powderiness. Instead the iris provides a bit of powder but it is complementary to the rose. The overall effect is a downy fruity floral that was very pleasing to wear.

Flor Alegria has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

The whole Avon collection I tried was much better than one might expect for perfumes costing $20. On the other hand talent is talent and if Sr. Flores-Roux is making a fragrance he can probably make a good one from sealing wax and twine. Flor Alegria is an example of Sr. Flores-Roux working at the top of his game to make a pretty fruity floral and sometimes pretty is all you need.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Avon.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Capsule Parfums Polis- Starched Collar Aquatic

It isn’t often on my field trips to the local mall I find something I haven’t heard of. If there is something I haven’t heard of there is usually a good reason. As I was talking to the sales associate at one of the big department stores I kept getting this great sophisticated aquatic coming off her arm as we moved through the department. I asked her what she was wearing and she pointed to this display of five non-descript bottles and said Capsule Parfums Polis. The Colognoisseur was stumped and she eagerly showed me something I hadn’t experienced previously.

There is pretty scant information on the brand. On their website they call themselves “an independent collective practicing art in the realm of olfactory expression.” There are articles which describe it as an LA-based brand and they say they work “in collaboration with some of the finest talent in modern perfumery.” I am really glad I didn’t read this text before trying the fragrances as it comes off just a bit too arch for my tastes. There are five entries in the line; Moto, Jaunt, Urbane, Byway, and Polis. There is also mention of combining them to create your own personal scent, which is something we have heard before. The price and size is fantastic as they retail for $38/15mL.

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Calone

Polis was what the sales associate was wearing and it is my favorite of the five. It is surprisingly engaging for being a simple aquatic. Aquatics as a class seem so played out to me that Polis makes it slightly different by pairing the calone and ozonic notes with clean cotton musk notes. A bit of florals with a base of vetiver and other white musks come together very nicely. It really is the smell of standing on the beach with the breeze blowing off the water while wearing a freshly ironed and starched cotton shirt.

Polis opens with the foundation of every aquatic for the last twenty years, calone. Often what makes aquatics so deadly boring is they just rely on the calone to do all the heavy lifting. The perfumer for Polis made an interesting decision to give the calone some equal running partners. The first is one of those cotton musks which adds a crisp linen underpinning. A bit of mimosa and lily tease out some of the floral facets inherent in calone. The base is vetiver and two or three white musks added for a bit of softness.

Polis has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

It has been a long time since a straightforward clean and fresh aquatic has excited me but Polis has pulled off the trick. It has become my Saturday morning companion as I run errands for the past month. It is easy to wear without being uninteresting. I am very impressed with these early offerings by Capsule Parfums and look forward to the next ones.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Blackbird Triton- The Ice of Neptune

I’m not sure what it is about the Pacific Northwest in this country but as far as independent perfume goes it seems to be fertile ground for fragrance. Latest evidence of this creative Renaissance is the newest release from the Seattle-based store Blackbird. Blackbird recently transitioned from a brick and mortar store with an online presence to exclusively online. As a big part of this vibrant scene the store was a place to have events. It was one reason that the initial seven fragrances released under the Blackbird brand were a little disappointing. They were provocatively named, Pipe Bomb as an example, but they failed to impress as they were fairly linear and simplistic. I trusted that was what their clientele wanted and didn’t really give them another thought. A couple months ago I received the latest release Blackbird Triton. Because of my previous experience I kept pushing it down the priority list until a couple weeks ago.

Triton is named after the moon of Neptune and inspired by the icy orb. It has a frozen surface populated with cryovolcanoes which erupt in jets of frozen nitrogen. The fragrance inspired by this harsh landscape is a study in the cooler notes on the perfumer’s palette. Throughout its development it carries a metaphorical frost with aldehydes and violet providing the initial chill. It stays extremely delineated through a dry heart before having its own cryovolcano which shoots out a stream of incense.

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Photo of Triton by Voyager 2 (Photo: NASA JPL)

Triton immediately goes frigid as the more metallic aldehydes are combined with violet leaf. There is also just a pinch of black pepper to simulate the tickle in one’s nose when breathing in very cold air. This has an almost sci-fi kind of metallic gleam to it, which seems appropriate. With the violet leaf continuing the icy vibe; an extremely dry cedar and very astringent vetiver form an austere heart. This is a barren set of perfume notes it almost echoes it is so punctuated. I think that this is where some will have difficulty with Triton. If you want your perfumes luscious and warm Triton is not your perfume. I really like the choice to keep it so locked into a minimalist attitude. The base allows an eruption of incense, styrax, and amber. These add a bit of contextual heat but not enough and fairly rapidly the incense recaptures the coolness.

Triton has 6-8 hour longevity and modest sillage.

I was very surprised at how assuredly Triton went through its paces. Based on the previous Blackbird releases there was no reason to expect this kind of avant-garde type of perfume. Triton really impressed me more each successive time I wore it. For something so cold it has found a warm place in my perfumed heart.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Maison Francis Kurkdjian feminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel- The New Classics

Francis Kurkdjian is one of the elite perfumers working currently. He still takes briefs from many of the more mainstream brands but his best work has been for his own line, Maison Francis Kurkdjian. M. Kurkdjian is a refreshing personality who carries an amused smile at those of us, like myself, who take perfume so seriously. He has compared the perfumes in his Maison Francis Kurkdjian collection as pieces of olfactory wardrobe. Aqua Universalis is a t-shirt and Absolue pour le Soir a pair of leather pants. The idea being one you wear every day and the other only comes out occasionally. The latest two releases are to “complete the wardrobe” and are called feminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel. If I understand the video below correctly these are supposed to be the versatile pieces of the collection the virtual Little Black Dress and Navy Blazer.

What M. Kurkdjian does as he has so many times in the past is to work within a very classic perfume architecture but to update it, to turn it into a new classic. Both versions of Pluriel have the classic part down perfectly as for the feminin Pluriel it is a chypre and for masculin Pluriel it is a fougere. Those forms are clearly present but for the feminin Pluriel he covers it in a delicate veil of florals. For the masculin Pluriel it is a really fantastic leather accord that transforms the fougere into something very special.

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Francis Kurkdjian

feminin Pluriel carries a beautiful bit of fragility despite being laden with some of my favorite floral notes. In truth as I read the note list before trying it I was having a hard time seeing how this was all going to balance out. I needn’t have worried as M. Kurkdjian has placed each floral as precisely as Calder does to make his mobiles attain the perfect position and spacing. The opening is the softness of orange blossom contrasted with the chill of violet. Muguet bridges the two notes and carries them down to the heart to mingle with orris, jasmine, and rose. You read all of those notes and you expect heavy pendulous powder. M. Kurkdjian delivers muted slightly powdery floralcy which comes to a conclusion on a base of patchouli and vetiver. Providing the chypre foundation underneath the flowers. feminin Pluriel really does feel as versatile as a Little Black Dress able to function from office to cocktail party to formal affair. It really does do exactly what M. Kurkdjian wants it to.

masculin Pluriel is even better as this note list is simplicity itself, lavender absolute, cedar, leather, patchouli, and vetiver. You have smelled that mix of ingredients in many other perfumes but you have never smelled it as it exists in masculin Pluriel. Lavender is often cleaned up so much in perfumes that it becomes insipid. The lavender that grows in my garden is a wonderful combination of herbal and woody components under the sweet floral. The lavender absolute M. Kurkdjian uses here smells more like the fresh lavender outside my front door and less like air freshener. The lavender absolute used is so full of nuance and texture M. Kurkdjian allows it to own the early development all by itself. The very dry clean cedar eventually comes along to pick up the woody aspects but it becomes an equal partner to the lavender absolute, making it just feel woodier. The leather accord is next and it is beautifully poised without getting too rambunctious or becoming a faint suggestion of the animalic. The accord M. Kurkdjian fashions here is a well-used and maintained leather strong but not forceful. masculin Pluriel ends with patchouli and vetiver as well but this time the balance is more vetiver, again picking up on the woody theme running throughout. This also has the same versatility as feminin Pluriel.

feminin Pluriel had 6-8 hour longevity and modest sillage. masculin Pluriel has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

In the press materials M. Kurkdjian says these two Plutriels should be seen as mirror images and especially in the base there is some truth to this. I see them more as brother and sister undeniably sharing some genetic similarity but equally undeniably each is true to their own aesthetic. I really like both of them but masculin Pluriel has really blown me away as it has been a pleasure to spend the last few days with. It is one of the very best of the entire Maison Francis Kurkdjian collection.

Disclosure; This review was based on samples provided by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Creed Acqua Originale Collection Aberdeen Lavender, Asian Green Tea, Cedre Blanc, Iris Tubereuse, & Vetiver Geranium

It has been a while since Creed has released a completely new perfume. Last year’s Millesime 1849 is the only new fragrance since 2011. 2014 will make up for that as Creed inaugurates a new collection, Acqua Originale, with five new releases: Aberdeen Lavender, Asian Green Tea, Cedre Blanc, Iris Tubereuse, and Vetiver Geranium. Olivier Creed is the perfumer for all five and he has created a collection of luminous perfumes which all exude a beautiful glow.

Aberdeen Lavender is a lavender but it is surrounded by a fantastic choice of notes by M. Creed. Before you get to the lavender in the heart the top notes of absinthe, rosemary, and lemon create a fascinating accord of herbal and citrus components. Once the lavender rises to prominence it is supported with orris and tuberose. The lavender and the absinthe seem like they were made to go together and I really enjoyed the moments they were both on top. This all ends with a suede leather accord along with patchouli and vetiver. Lavender is such a common perfumery note but M. Creed gives it a luxurious makeover.

Thankfully there are no truth in naming statutes for perfume. If there was Asian Green Tea would be arrested for false expectations. I have to say I was expecting another riff on jasmine tea or mate but M. Creed wanted to make an elegant citrus floral. The top notes are a brilliant collage of lemon, mandarin, petitgrain, and neroli. M. Creed lets these notes form a sunburst in the early moments of the development. Violet and sticky green blackcurrant buds form the heart. According to the note list there is supposed to be tea here but I don’t detect it at all. What is here is a dense green fruity floral heart. The base is a silky smooth mix of sandalwood and amber. The name aside this is a great fruity floral perfume among the best Creed has ever done. Just don’t look for the tea.

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Olivier Creed

Cedre Blanc is the most straightforward of the Acqua Originale Collection. It runs in a fairly straight line from a green top of galbanum and cardamom through a heart of geranium and waterliy down to a base of cedar and vetiver. It is very well composed but it really seems to me that only cedar lovers are going to want this one as it feels so boring.

Iris Tubereuse is anything but what I expected. I was ready for an olfactory tussle between iris and tuberose. Instead of conflict the purple flower escorts the white flower out in a surprising harmony. Orange and galbanum form an orthogonal pair of green and citrus into which violet is inserted. This forms a sort of iris accord which is more malleable and it expands to corral the tuberose in the heart. Very quickly this all comes together on my skin and the richness of the tuberose with the softness of the “iris” is quite pleasant. The base is a simple duo of vanilla and musk. It is that moment when the iris accord and the tuberose combine which makes this one magical.

Vetiver Geranium is my favorite of the Acqua Originales because M. Creed really gets imaginative with his composition. Lemon is on top again but it is paired with a marvelous Granny Smith apple. This makes the early moments feel crisp and tart. I enjoyed this opening so much I kept topping up on the days I wore this just to get a little more. The green tinted rose quality of geranium is front and center in the heart and here M. Creed dusts it with smoldering cinnamon. The spicy floral is dynamic and as lovely as the top notes. Patchouli and amber provide the foundation of Vetiver Geranium and it is simple and appropriately chosen.

The Acqua Originale Collection has 8-10 hour longevity and below average sillage. These are light compositions and they can seem to be gone when they are still there.

If you are interested in these perfumes I urge you to make sure you try them on skin. I sniffed them on blotters at Esxence and walked away unimpressed. Once I had the samples in hand and wore them over the last six weeks they are much better when on skin. Wearing each for a couple days completely altered my initial opinion of the collection. Particularly Asian Green Tea and Vetiver Geranium have risen very high in my estimation.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples I received at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke