New Perfume Review Christian Dior La Collection Privee Feve Delicieuse- Tonka Harmonies

If you’re looking for the creativity in perfume you have to look no further than the very excellent Christian Dior La Collection Privee composed by Francois Demachy. Starting in 2009 with Ambre Nuit M. Demachy has curated and composed a collection which represents everything Christian Dior stands for. There is no shortage of imaginative perfume making going on throughout the fragrances in this collection. It is also seems to be relatively unknown. I know at every Sniffapalooza when I introduce some one to the line in its in-store boutique at Bergdorf Goodman they also walk away impressed and usually with a bottle in their bag.

The latest release Feve Delicieuse is the first real gourmand in La Collection Privee. Even as I type that I hesitate to call it a gourmand because while it is a vanilla fragrance it is mostly a tonka bean perfume. M. Demachy keeps it very simple but he also uses some really beautiful raw materials. This means that Feve Delicieuse relies upon the ability of those materials to all take their place in the proper order without taking over. M. Demachy ends up turning Feve Delicieuse into a vanilla that is not cloying or syrupy. It has an unusual delineation and a snap to it instead of the more typical treacly kind of vanilla more common within the gourmand family.

francois-demachy

Francois Demachy

Feve Delicieuse starts off with a patina of Calabrian bergamot. Bergamot is such a ubiquitous ingredient in the opening of perfumes it is easy to overlook it. M. Demachy found a bergamot which makes sure you pay attention. It has that lively bright citric tartness but this also has a subtle undertone of crisp apple. I’m not sure if there is another ingredient which helps focus that grace note into something crisp and green. It is almost a palate cleanser as the main course of tonka bean from Venezuela is next. Tonka is one of those versatile notes in perfumery because it has a transparent vanillic character paired with a coumarin-laden nutty hay-like quality. Usually a perfumer picks one side or the other to accentuate. Because the tonka is the star M. Demachy does both. In the early moments of the tonka appearing, there are richer sweet gourmand notes of caramel and chocolate. The nutty part of tonka sinks in to the sticky matrix and forms an abstract hazelnut accord. If that was all there was to Feve Delicieuse I would have been happy. M. Demachy had some more to show me. The vanilla side of tonka starts to become more pronounced because M. Demachy adds in Madagascar vanilla. This is where Feve Delicieuse becomes something more than gourmand. As the tonka and the vanilla combine instead of heading for full-on gourmand territory it finds a lightness of being which then turns almost golden like diffuse sunlight. It is an immensely satisfying place to spend the final hours with Feve Delicieuse.

Feve Delicieuse has 10-12 hour longevity and modest sillage.

M. Demachy on the Christian Dior website talks about how he wanted Feve Delicieuse to portray the “love of harmony” that is the Dior aesthetic. In the case of Feve Delicieuse I have to agree that the harmonies are all spot on as they sing an intricately layered song.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Cartier XI L’Heure Perdue- Embracing the Synthetic

There may be no designer collection which holds more interest for me than the Cartier Les Heures de Parfum. Starting in 2009 Cartier in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent kicked off Cartier’s exclusive perfumes with five entries on her thirteen-hour clock face. Ten of the thirteen hours have been released but there hasn’t been a new one since 2012. Mme Laurent works at her own pace and so after a nearly three year wait the latest entry has arrived, XI L’Heure Perdue.

L’Heure Perdue translates to “lost time” and this time it seems like a bit of non-sequitur for a name. Mme Laurent was very conscious of creating a specific effect with L’Heure Perdue. In an interview with Thomas Dunckley on his The Candy Perfume Boy blog Mme Laurent was quoted on the creation of L’Heure Perdue, “I wanted to create a perfume that did not rely on natural ingredients. It’s totally molecular or ‘synthetic’.” The more I talk to perfumers the more I am hearing this slight irritation with the perception that natural is better by default. For these artists natural or synthetic they are all components for them to comprise a specific effect. The effect Mme Laurent is going for here is sci-fi milk.

mathilde laurent

Mathilde Laurent

Mme Laurent, also in The Candy Perfume Boy interview, mentions that she uses vanillin as the keynote for L’Heure Perdue precisely because it has been the source of the smell of vanilla for 100 years and it is completely synthetic. By using vanillin and its familiar vanilla as her foundation she forms a kinetic kaleidoscope of other aldehydes. It makes L’Heure Perdue one of the boldest explorations of aldehydes in recent memory as Mme Laurent goes to her organ and sweeps it clear except for the shelf holding these ingredients.

The first aldehyde which comes out is heliotropin. Heliotropin besides smelling like heliotrope also carries with it a slightly sweet almond-like nuttiness and a vanillic undertone. This is where I would tell anyone who tries L’Heure Perdue to stop and really experience the first moments. It is almost a heliotropin solo act. If you stop and smell the heliotropin I think you will see there is incredible depth and nuance in this synthetic component. It doesn’t take long for a sirocco of many aldehydes to sweep in and lift the heliotropin up on their shoulders and carry it toward the vanillin in the base. This middle phase has all of the kineticism I associate with aldehydes as they fizz and pop around the heliotropin. Eventually they arrive where the vanillin is waiting. Once L’Heure Perdue comes together it is like a digital version of milk. It definitely has the smooth creaminess of milk but the other aldehydes twist it into something a 3-D printer would produce. I have spent days trying to find a way to describe this and still words fail me.

L’Heure Perdue has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

L’Heure Perdue’s embrace of the synthetic over the natural feels a bit like a statement from one of our best perfumers that you ignore the synthetics at the peril of your own creativity. What L’Heure Perdue displays is if you embrace the right synthetics you will produce something as breathtaking as anything nature can produce.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Juliette Has a Gun Gentlewoman- The Neo-Dandy’s Fragrance

It can be difficult to have a recognizable surname and yet forge your own path, especially when you choose to work in the same field. It is why since 2006 when Romano Ricci started his own fragrance line called Juliette Has a Gun it took some time for him to create his own brand DNA. By 2015 that aesthetic has been refined and perfected. I think it is an important component of success to create a recognizable brand identity in the ever more crowded niche perfume sector.

jhag gentlewoman 1

M. Ricci has always presented his fragrances as chapters in a story following his contemporary version of Shakespeare’s Juliette. In this fragrant story Juliette has never been demure about inserting herself into the action and shunting Romeo, or anyone else for that matter, to the stage apron. Assertiveness in a heroine is often confused with masculinity. For this thirteenth chapter of Juliette’s story, Gentlewoman, she has embraced the characterization and re-cast herself as the “neo-dandy”. What would a neo dandy wear? Why a neo-cologne of course.

jhag gentlewoman 2

Gentlewoman is M. Ricci’s exploration of that most classical of perfume architectures, eau de cologne. Like his Juliette it is also a modern re-telling of something deemed classical. It also takes eau de cologne and makes it softer around its more traditional spine. There has always been a visual component to M. Ricci’s releases. For Gentlewoman he chose photographer Sonia Sieff to lend some pictures of this thirteenth version of Juliette. The three I’ve chosen to illustrate this show her as she slowly transforms from tuxedoed neo-dandy into seductress. Gentlewoman also does the same kind of deconstruction from classically appointed to musky enticement.

jhag gentlewoman 3

Gentlewoman opens on the typical eau de cologne ingredients of bergamot, petitgrain and neroli. There are many colognes which start this way but in the case of Gentlewoman I think the neroli is a little more opaque which forms a less percussive cologne opening than is expected. The person in the tuxedo looks like a woman, is she? The heart of this is where the lavender which often makes up the heart of a cologne is now surrounded by different choices. For Gentlewoman it is the twin choices of coumarin and almond which turn this cologne onto a different path. The almond provides a slightly sweet nutty quality. The coumarin adds a slightly sweet hay-like quality. Together the subtle sweetness over the more substantial nutty and hay qualities is really enticing. Again as in the top notes orange blossom is added to soften the potential rough edges. This is when the bow tie is loosed. The jacket thrown over the top of a chair. Juliette looks appraisingly at you, are you game? The base notes answer that question with a mix of three synthetic musks: ambroxan, muscenone, and ambretolide. Together these form that very sexy skin accord with a bead of sweat rolling tantalizingly down it. Juliette has made her choice clear and you will be forever lost to her charms.

Gentlewoman has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage. This might be a modern eau de cologne but it definitely is at a much higher oil concentration than the typical eau de cologne and as a result lasts much longer.

M. Ricci has continued to evolve his brand while staying true to his titular heroine. Gentlewoman takes her into a new place; one which any lover of cologne should enter.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by the US distributor Europerfumes.

Mark Behnke

All photographs, except package shot, are copyright Sonia Sieff for Juliette Has a Gun.

New Perfume Review Monsillage Eau de Celeri- Green But Not Vegetal

If I was asked to name a perfume trend of the last six months I would unhesitatingly reply, “green”. Not green in the sense of being eco-friendly but green as in the combination, and dominance of, green notes and themes. It is an interesting hive mind kind of thing to think about; when perfumers working all over the world all begin to converge on a similar theme. You might easily believe in New York and Paris where there are higher numbers of perfumers some of that might form organically. How do you explain it finding its way to Montreal? Owner and perfumer of Monsillage, Isabelle Michaud, has produced one of the more unique green perfumes I’ve smelled called Eau de Celeri.

isabelle michaud award winner

Isabelle Michaud (center) with her 2015 Art and Olfaction Award in the Artisan Category

Based on the name you might expect Eau de Celeri to evoke the vegetable crisper drawer in your refrigerator. Let me assure you right at the top that is not the case. The celery in the title is meant more to give you a sense of the hue of green Eau de Celeri represents. It isn’t a pale transparent wispy green. It also isn’t a galbanum sledgehammer either, although there is galbanum here. Mme Michaud works some of the more familiar green sources but she finds something crisp about them. If there was anything about celery this perfume reminded me of it was that snap of a fresh stalk.

Mme Michaud opens with a very fresh citrus mélange of lemon and grapefruit. This is a tart snappy beginning. It segues into a cut-grass accord but there is one additional note Mme Michaud adds which gives that cut-grass a makeover. She uses coriander leaf as a co-conspirator. The rough green quality of coriander itself is instead made diffuse placed inside a leafy matrix. It adds an herbal edge as well as subtly shading the grass slightly darker. It allows for an extremely smooth transition to a base of vetiver on top with galbanum providing support. If galbanum can clobber you like a caveman’s club; in Eau de Celeri Mme Michaud employs it more like a scalpel. She allows it to fill in the gaps that the vetiver and the cedar in the base leave for it. It makes it more of a ghost floating in and out between the other two more prominent notes. That kind of wispiness caused me to keep tuning back into Eau de Celeri on the days I was wearing it. It acted like an olfactory tap on the shoulder saying, “Hey you’re wearing a pretty nice perfume buddy.”

Eau de Celeri has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

On the days I wore Eau de Celeri I had a few people ask me what I was wearing. It is really a very genial perfume that can be worn for almost any occasion. Mme Michaud plugged into the perfumed gestalt around green and came up with one different than all the rest.

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

Mark Behnke

Editor’s note: Eau de Celeri recently won a 2015 Art and Olfaction Award in the Artisan Category.

New Perfume Review Prudence Paris Alexis- The Way It Used To Be

1

I spend so much effort at every edition of Esxence looking for the new and exciting I forget there are long-time steady brands which are also deserving of attention. For the latest version I finally spent some time with Prudence Kilgour the owner and creative director of Prudence Paris. Mme Kilgour and I bonded at my very first Esxence over her perfume for dogs, Polisson. My very French standard poodles can often be found wearing a spritz or two, especially on those days just before going for grooming. Ever since in my willy nilly hurry I have unknowingly not stopped to stop and smell her latest offerings. While I was making up for lost time her latest perfume for men Alexis managed to make a lasting impression.

One of the things I truly admire about Mme Kilgour’s approach to perfumery is that it has a feel of a different time. You won’t see me talking about the perfumer she works with because that’s the way they both want it. Her perfumer is from the old school where he believes his name is not important. It is more important to realize Mme Kilgour’s vision and produce a perfume that they both are pleased with. It has been the same perfumer for the nearly thirty fragrances in the line. By this point they have developed an intuitive working relationship which shows in the overall cohesiveness of the collection. As I was trying the releases from the last year and a half or so one thing struck me very strongly that one reason I like the line as much as I do is this way of working in a way that has passed for the majority of perfumery produces perfumes which have a fascinating timelessness about them. To borrow Kurt Vonnegut’s phrase they feel “unstuck in time” appropriate to whatever era they land in.

prudence kilgour

Prudence Kilgour

Alexis is meant to capture the combination of well-educated and adventure seeking found most often in young gentlemen of breeding. If that sounds pretentious let me assure you Alexis is not. If you think of that stereotypical globetrotting young entrepreneurial adventurer who skis the Alps one day to leading a tech firm on the bleeding edge the next day. It is that lifestyle which matches the thrill of being in a crouch schussing to the excitement of trying to do something totally new in business. Alexis captures the driven knowing smile of our hero.

Alexis opens up with a high-speed citrus mix of grapefruit, mandarin, and bergamot which races right into a spicy floral heart. Geranium and rose form the floral core which is combined with baie rose and black pepper. The spices accentuate those same facets within the rose. Patchouli acts as a foil to keep the rose from getting too much traction. Alexis heads into very classic base territory as oakmoss, vetiver and musk with a bit of benzoin bring home the timelessness I spoke about.

Alexis has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you are one who thinks they don’t make them the way they used to then you not only should give Alexis a try but the entire Prudence Paris collection. There are many joyous moments to be found in doing things the way they used to be done.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Prudence Paris at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Elisire Poudre Desir and Jasmin Paradis

1

Yesterday I reviewed three of the five new releases from Elisire. When I read the press release about Franck Salzwedel’s new line of perfume there were two out of the five which piqued my interest right away. It wasn’t because they were my favorite raw material or the note list. What intrigued me were these words, “Developed with Alberto Morillas.”

Alberto Morillas is the very definition of Living Legend when it comes to perfumery. He has made some of the greatest perfumes of all-time. For the great majority of his career that talent has been displayed on department store counters versus smaller niche perfume boutiques. In the last few years M. Morillas has begun working with a few niche brands. What separates his output when working on the niche side is a bit more freedom on budget. M. Morillas could take broccoli and crabgrass and make something which smelled amazing. M. Salzwedel allowed him some freedom to use some ingredients he might normally eschew in the name of budget. The two perfumes he has composed for Elisire, Poudre Desir and Jasmin Paradis show this to be true.

alberto-morillas

Alberto Morillas

Poudre Desir is meant to evoke a flower garden after a rainstorm has passed. To achive this effect M. Morillas first uses a mix of bergamot and mandarin that shine like those first rays of sun after the dark clouds have passed. There is diffuse brightness which warms the early moments of Poudre Desir. The heart is iris in all of its promised powdery glory. If M. Morillas left it that way it would smell more of a woman’s vanity than her garden. To make sure that it is living flowers we are reminded of he partners the iris with jasmine, heliotrope, and gardenia. Those very heady narcotic blooms take the iris and make the powdery parts of it less prominent. It forms a fresh spring flower bouquet to bury your nose into. The base is a mix of musks which form a sun burnished skin accord which is framed with a bit of cedar. Poudre Desir is the smell of renewal after nature has washed it clean.

Jasmine is a supporting player in Poudre Desir but as you would expect in Jasmin Paradis it is the star. This time the citrus opening is exuberant and over-stuffed as neroli, bergamot, and grapefruit burst onto my senses with all of the energy that those notes can muster. It leads to the heart of jasmine. It is here where M. Morillas can really design a powerfully nuanced jasmine accord. He starts with the synthetic jasmine source Paradisone. If he was designing this on a budget he probably would have added in a drop or two of Jasmine essential oil and moved on. With a little more flexibility he takes two natural sources of jasmine; jasmine sambac and jasmine petals, layering them upon the synthetic. The Paradisone provides expansiveness and lift. The natural essential oils take advantage of the space and expand into them. They provide depth and texture the synthetic couldn’t provide by itself. Jasmin Paradis ends on a resinous base of incense, olibanum, and Ambrox. As in the heart the Ambrox provides a synthetic foundation for the natural sources to expand upon.

I think all five of the new Elisire perfumes are worth sampling. M. Salzwedel has produced a strong first impression with all of them. It will be these two by M. Morillas which will linger in my memory a little longer.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Osswald NYC.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Elisire Elixir Absolu, Eau Papaguena, and Ambre Nomade

I am so happy to see a new perfume brand which manages to limit their first releases to only five, I realize how much things have changed. The latest collection of only five came from a brand called Elisire. The founder Franck Salzwedel spent a large part of his childhood in Asia before attending fashion school in France. He would go on from there to work on helping fashion designers navigate the world of fragrance. He would jump to New York where his career in the visual arts as a painter would take off. Like many who share the experience of painting and fragrance together M. Salzwedel sees fragrances as colors. The desire to capture that vision in a perfume led to the founding of Elisire. All five of the first collection are worthy of mention and I will do short reviews of all five over the next two days.

 PierreNegrin

Pierre Negrin

One of the perfumers M. Salzwedel chose to work with was Pierre Negrin who did two of the five fragrances. The prevailing color for one of them, Eau Papaguena, is undoubtedly green. M. Negrin opens on an herbal version of the color as tarragon and basil provide the pungent start. A well-balanced use of spearmint adds a bit of lift to the herbs. It leads to a really delicate orange blossom heart which shades the green a couple hues lighter. The colors deepen in the base with vetiver, cypress, and incense heading for the center of the color wheel. I really like the shift from transparent to something which has a bit more presence by the end. If you like green fragrances this should be on your test list.

The other one by M. Negrin shares a kinship to the other but Ambre Nomade is like a glowing ember of pulsing orange. This also starts with an herbal duet of rosemary and sage but they are joined by a crisp apple, an energetic ginger, and a green lavender. This forms that glowing warmth which is banked a bit by some ylang-ylang in the heart which provides a bit of yellow shading. The base truly pulses with contained energy as M. Negrin combines patchouli, olibanum, vanilla, and musks to form the glowing ember. There are so many perfumes with amber in the base which are too timid. Amber Nomade is a bold exploration of amber as good as any I’ve tried recently.

ilias_erminidis

Ilias Erminidis

Perfumer Ilias Erminidis has done some tremendous work on the mass-market fragrances he has contributed to. M. Salzwedel gives him the chance to work towards a more niche aesthetic. As a result M. Erminidis takes the opportunity to create an olfactory mosaic of some of the best florals in perfumery in Elixir Absolu. It all starts with a fairly usual citrusy bergamot opening. What comes next is less common as he layers floral after floral to create a heart which always seems in motion as another floral arrives. Freesia starts it, then orange blossom, tiare, magnolia, ylang ylang, jasmine, and rose. These florals form a cohesive accord that is beautifully constructed. From this fantasia M. Erminidis goes for vanilla and sandalwood forming a comforting base note. It is the collage of florals in the heart which makes this one memorable.

I’ll conclude tomorrow with the two perfumes composed by Alberto Morillas.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Osswald NYC.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Etat Libre D’Orange Remarkable People- The Joy of Cardamom

3

Etienne de Swardt the owner and creative force behind Etat Libre D’Orange is one of my favorite people in all of perfumery. His fragrances perfectly mirror his personality. They both carry a broad pleasure in provocation while having a laugh at the absurdity of it all. The ability to not take it so seriously has led to some seriously amazing perfumes from Etat Libre D’Orange. The other thing I like about the brand is M. de Swardt has steadfastly kept from developing an identifiable olfactory trademark which represents the brand. One reason for that is he keeps working with a number of the best perfumers in the business. Inviting them to run away with him for a good time making a new perfume. For the latest release, Remarkable People, M. de Swardt convinced perfumer Cecile Matton to go for a ride with him to make an exuberant paean to those who choose to be unconventional.

etienne_de_swardt1

Etienne de Swardt

Mme Matton is collaborating with M. de Swardt for the first time. Remarkable People is actually the re-branding of the 2010 release called Josephine Baker made exclusively for European Sephora. It was made in small quantity and has been long discontinued. I never got the chance to try it because I hadn’t quite developed my system of getting European perfumes into my hands. Now with it as a part of the permanent collection it will see a little more exposure. I can honestly say I see very little of the chanteuse in this perfume and so the name change I think is for the better. What I do get is a perfume which is a good companion to last year’s Cologne. Both carry an infectious joie de vivre throughout. Remarkable People has a bit of a cologne architecture early before turning woodier at the end.

 cecile matton

Cecile Matton

Remarkable People opens with a fabulous mix of grapefruit and cardamom. The cardamom in particular is noteworthy for the way it melds with the slightly sulfurous quality of the grapefruit. I love cardamom in perfumes and Mme Matton has definitely found my sweet spot with the early moments of this one. Jasmine provides a floral change of pace before Mme Matton brings back the spices with a pinch of black pepper and curry as extracted via Mane’s Jungle Essence Process. This makes the curry presence less hirsute and more cleanly polite while still retaining some bite. The cardamom also remains into the heart to mix with all of this. The base is sandalwood and labdanum combined with one of Mane’s proprietary synthetics Lorenox. Lorenox is described as “woody, ambery, leathery, and aromatic.” In Remarkable People it is the leathery quality that comes out most directly.

Remarkable People has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

There have been a number of new perfumes this year which have made me smile due to their desire to be fun. I should’ve expected M. de Swardt to be one of those who could keep the party rolling. Remarkable People should put a smile on any perfume lover’s face.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Etat Libre D’Orange at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jardins D’Ecrivains Marlowe- The Scent of Innuendo

Jardins D’Ecrivains translates to Garden of Authors. Anais Biguine has collected six authors since the creation of her line in fall of 2012. I have really enjoyed her interpretation of literary figures especially the last two releases Orlando and Junky. Both of those took a very modern approach to their construction which made them stand out from the first four releases which had a bit more of a classical feeling to them which matched their literary inspiration. For the newest release Marlowe it looks like Mme Biguine wanted to find a middle ground between the two.

Marlowe-Portrait-1585

A Supposed Portrait of Christopher Marlowe c.1585- Artist Unknown

Christopher Marlowe was a contemporary of William Shakespeare during the Elizabethan Era. His best known play is Doctor Faustus. His life was cut short as he dies of a stabbing just after his twenty-ninth birthday. Those are the facts of his life which are broadly agreed upon. If it ended there Mme Biguine would probably not be putting his name on a bottle of perfume. Mr. Marlowe lived a life of many unconfirmed layers. He was rumored to be the actual writer of some of Shakespeare’s plays. There was talk he was a spy for the Crown. The circumstances of his death were maybe caused by a cuckolded husband or a jilted love, perhaps both. Or as an outspoken atheist perhaps the church did him in. What is speculated is much more fascinating than what is known. It is this mix of innuendo that Mme BIguine captures in Marlowe.

anais-biguine

Anais Biguine

Marlowe opens with a scrubbed clean tuberose. I am exhausted at the amount of times this polite tuberose has found its way into the latest perfumes. Thankfully Mme Biguine doesn’t just let it sit there she pairs osmanthus and elemi with it. The osmanthus has a bit of a battle in the early going to gain some ground against the tuberose but once it does the apricot facet forms a rich fruity floral accord. Elemi provides a lightly wooded lemony nuance to the tuberose and osmanthus. This is one of the few new fragrances I’ve tried with the cheerier tuberose which doesn’t feel like it just sits there wanting to be admired. The osmanthus really provides a lively partnership for it. They are so lively that they fairly trample the bit of myrrh that shows up in the heart. It is as fleeting as a matador’s cape and there is a slow amplification of the floralcy throughout the middle stage of development. The base is where Mme Biguine returns to her mix of white musks she used so successfully in Orlando. Here it washes away the florals in preparation for a leather accord which is greatly softened by the musks. A bit of oakmoss and labdanum provide a bit more steel to the base notes leaving Marlowe on a chypre-like final act.

Marlowe has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I really enjoyed the middle ground Marlowe carved out for itself. While it reminded me of all that has come before from Mme Biguine’s literary garden it is enough of its own creation to find its own solitary patch of sunlight.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Marlowe provided by Jardins D’Ecrivains at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Olfactive Studio Panorama- Contemporary Green Architecture

At the end of 2011 when I was first introduced to the Olfactive Studio line of perfume I was immediately drawn in. Owner and Creative Director Celine Verleure has married photography and perfumery in a striking package. Through the six fragrances that have come over the last four years there has been a consistent progression towards a more modern aesthetic. Last year’s Ombre Indigo began the transition and it is the latest release Panorama which unabashedly completes it.

panorama-olfactive-studio-miguel-sandinha

Photo: Miguel Sandinha

Mme Verleure always begins with a photograph and usually it is one which already exists as part of a photographer’s collection. For Panorama she already had in mind the subject of the photographic brief, The Sheats Goldstein House in Los Angeles. The Sheats Goldstein House is an example of modern architecture from one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s students John Lautner. It is one of the finest examples of modern architecture to be found. The unique nature of the house has found it in multiple movies. Mme Verleure commissioned Miguel Sandinha to photograph the residence and she would pick one of the shots as the brief for Panorama. You can see the picture she chose above.

Clement_Gavarry

Clement Gavarry

Next step was to enlist perfumer Clement Gavarry in turning that visual into a fragrance. One of the things to notice about that picture is the actual part of the house takes up only a small portion of the overall photo. The great majority of it is the verdant greenery which surrounds the house and far off in the distance you see the skyline of LA. If you look at that photograph and take all that in you will get an idea of what is to come in Panorama as M. Gavarry makes a fragrance of varying hues of green including some truly inspired unusual choices. All together it makes one of the boldest artistic statements this brand has ever made.

CELINE_VERLEURE

Celine Verleure

The accord that many will be talking about when trying Panorama appears in the first moments. M. Gavarry has constructed a wasabi accord and like that dried horseradish paste which accompanies sushi it captures your attention. When Mme Verleure told me about this being one of the components of Panorama I had to admit I was skeptical. That concern remained right up until I sprayed some on my skin. M. Gavarry has indeed created a recognizable wasabi accord, it has a cold spiciness with an accompanying desiccated quality. It is weird. It is also wonderful. Oft times something weird can be interesting but when you wear it all day it continually begins to rub you in the wrong way. On the days I wore Panorama it was exactly the opposite as I spent much of my time wanting more. One of the reasons that I think it doesn’t become irritating is because M. Gavarry uses bamboo and fig leaves to keep the oddness under control. Over an hour or so like a light show the bright vivid green of the wasabi changes hues and gets a few shades deeper. A freshly-cut grass accord leads down to a pairing of galbanum and green cardamom with violet leaves. This is where you get the clean lines of the glass and concrete structure of The Sheats Goldstein House. It is still green but it is a sleek metallic green like the reflection of the plants in the glass of the house. The final shade of green comes through a deeply coniferous fir balsam. It is given even more depth by the skillful use of myrrh, labdanum, and vanilla. Like the bamboo and fig on top these alter the fir balsam into something completely modern.

Panorama has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Panorama is the most experimental fragrance release from Olfactive Studio. I applaud Mme Verleure for being willing to move the brand in this direction. Panorama smells like nothing else in the collection and it is all the more fascinating for that. I have found it to be one of the few fragrances I have tried recently which has me completely intellectually engaged throughout its development. It is as architecturally unique in its construction as the edifice which inspired it.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Panorama provided by Olfactive Studio at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke