New Perfume Review Kiori Perfume Oil- The Long and Fragrant Road

Every time I host the Sniffapalooza Sunday Emerging Artisans Uncorked lunch I seem to meet a new independent perfumer. This past edition at Fall Ball 2014 was no different as I met Lisa Wallos and David Cantor the brother and sister behind Kiori Perfume Oil.

Their story has come to be a typical story for someone who comes to making perfumes later in life. Ms. Wallos found her introduction to fragrance came while she was studying at the School of American Ballet in New York City. As she watched the senior dancers powder themselves in preparation for performances she loved the smell of each ballerina who seemed to carry her own signature scent. After her dance studies she went on to become a special education teacher and a mother. Throughout this time she would obtain and work with natural ingredients to make her own personal fragrance. As she had settled on a mixture she felt was hers she also started to be asked what she was wearing and where could it be bought. Her brother Mr. Cantor had built a career in the health and wellness industry and he encouraged her to try and market her perfume. Together they have produced Kiori Perfume Oil.

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David Cantor and Lisa Wallos presenting Kiori at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2014

Kiori is a Japanese word meaning “inner strength” and it is an appropriate description for the fragrance itself. Kiori contains a tenacious core which shows strength but because it is a perfume oil it also seems very personal and introverted. Having had Ms. Wallos tell me about her dance history I definitely smell a hint of the iris scented powders of the prima ballerinas in Kiori but it is primarily a vanilla perfume with florals and resins.

That bit of iris I mentioned is where Kiori starts. It is the powdery version of that note and it is subtle. There are some other delicate florals like neroli all floating around like a cloud of powder as the corps de ballet rushes on stage. The vanilla shows up next and it is the keynote for Kiori. The remains of the florals are still around but the vanilla is matched with patchouli. This turns Kiori into a darker earthy vanilla. This could be an abrupt change in a more traditional alcohol composition but because Kiori is an oil this transition happens in smaller increments. The base notes are a mix of incenses and they add a bit of chill austerity to the grounded sweetness of the vanilla and patchouli.

Kiori has 12-14 hour longevity with almost no sillage.

Kiori is an impressive debut by Ms. Wallos and she hopes to have a new release sometime in 2015. Kiori shows the patience of getting to know the materials really paid off as it allowed Ms. Wallos to have a comprehensive feel for using them. Kiori has summarized the long and fragrant road Ms. Wallos traveled until she could share her perfume with us.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Kiori I received at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2014.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Amouage Sunshine Woman- The Rainbow after the Storm

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Where I am living now we get these very intense thunderstorms throughout the summer. The sky is covered in angry dark clouds and the rain lashes down punctuated by bolts of lightning and the rumble of thunder. Then after about twenty minutes of this it passes through and quite often leaves behind the most brilliant blue sky and a vivid rainbow in its wake. I have always been enchanted with the sudden change from dark to light within minutes. The new Amouage Sunshine Woman has me thinking that this is very much a perfume like those moments after a thunderstorm has passed.

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Christopher Chong (Photo: arabia.style.com)

My admiration for Amouage Creative Director Christopher Chong is well-known. He has always imparted a clear artistic vision to Amouage which has led to a consistency which is unmatched in perfumery over the last five years. I have also admired the slow evolution of Amouage from thunderous powerhouse perfumes prior to Mr. Chong’s creative stewardship to one of the most complex collections of fragrance on the market. It has been like watching that figurative thunderstorm move on and now with Sunshine Woman the sun shines on a crystal blue sky with an arc of prismatic color through the middle of it. The perfumer Mr. Chong chose to work with was Sidonie Lancesseur who is signing her first perfume for Amouage. These are two of my very favorite people in all of perfume and the perfume they collaborated on creating is simply amazing.

When I use words like sparkling, bright, sunshine, or brilliance; that usually means citrus, bergamot, maybe some of the higher register florals. What Mme Lancesseur has accomplished with this composition is to create something which lives up to all those adjectives I mentioned without using any of those notes I mentioned. Sunshine Woman is an expansively bright young thing in liquid form. It is also brilliant in the way that word means when used to describe creativity.

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Mme Lancesseur opens Sunshine Woman with a trio of notes davana, almond, and blackcurrant liqueur. The woody nuttiness of the almond forms the core for the herbal fruity quality of the davana and the straight up syrupy fruity of the blackcurrant liqueur to converge upon. You read that and you think, how can that be light? It can be because the almond is the lead in the early moments and the davana and blackcurrant are used in such restrained quality that they add contrast and texture more than a distinct fruity presence. The almond segues into a floral heart of magnolia supported by jasmine and osmanthus. If the top notes were mainly almond with some support. The heart notes are a meeting of equals although the magnolia is a little more out front. Osmanthus and jasmine are becoming a favorite combination among florals as they complement each other almost perfectly. Here the magnolia adds a slightly woody aspect. Together this is crystal blue sky in vivid crisp tones. The figurative rainbow is supplied by an arc composed of papyrus, patchouli, tobacco, and cade wood. Mme Lancesseur uses these notes to etch a bold slash of olfactory color across the sky of Amouage Sunshine Woman. Her use of cade especially in this grouping is amazing. Cade usually adds smoke and deep black facets to a fragrance. Mme Lancesseur has used it in such a way to have it seem like it comes from a far distance as if you see the back edge of that line of thunderstorms as it moves away. The papyrus is an opaque green which is misted in smoke from the cade and given roots in the earth by patchouli. Finally a vanilla and tobacco accord add a bit of sweet narcotic air after the maelstrom has passed.

Amoauge Sunshine Woman has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

It is rare that I say this but my description of this perfume does not do it justice. As you can see by the list of notes up there this should not be a fragrance which gets compared to a sunbeam. Except it is and I have spent days trying to dig deeply inside of it to find a way to communicate this. I finally have to admit failure and tell you of any new perfume release in 2014 you simply have to try Amouage Sunshine Woman and then you will understand.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Amouage Sunshine Woman provided by Amouage.

Editor’s note: Currently Amouage Sunshine Woman is only available at the 17 stand-alone Amouage boutiques around the world. As of February 2015 it will be available elsewhere.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Providence Perfume Co. Natural Perfume Oils- The Quiet Storm

In October the New York Times published an article about the proliferation of perfume oils. The article extolled the convenience, the more close wearing nature, and as an economical alternative to their alcoholic cousins. Natural Perfumer Charna Ethier came to this conclusion through paying attention to the customers in her retail store in Providence, RI. She came to realize through watching customers at her in-store custom perfume bar that as many customers were choosing to base their creations in oil as alcohol. Along with this realization she was getting requests from customers for something more “wearable”. She wanted to “highlight the most beautiful aspects of natural essences”. All of this thinking has led to the creation of a collection of six natural perfume oils under her Providence Perfume Co. brand: Rose 802, Orange Blossom Honey, Summer Yuzu, Ivy Tower, Sweet Jasmine Brown, and Violet Beauregarde.

A few things I noticed when wearing these perfume oils was the very nature of them wearing so close to the skin made them feel much more personal in nature. I often felt like it was my little perfumed secret for the days I wore them. I would have to test this next observation a little more blindly but while I was testing the oils in between other fragrance I was testing it seemed the oils had a more diffuse quiet and softer feeling. It was like these were gauzy dreamlike versions of perfume. When I would wear one of these after wearing a more traditional formulation from another perfumer these has a degree of comforting calm to them.

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Charna Ethier

Rose 802 is a tribute to mid-summer in Vermont, 802 is the Vermont area code, as the wild roses and blackberries scent the air. Ms. Ethier takes rose and black currant to form that core and adds in cedar and fir to bring forth the woods of Vermont. A bit of myrtle modulates the rose to keep it from being as boisterous. This was a good example of how the perfume oil formulation can take something like rose and currant which is the very loud opening to many fruity florals and by keeping it close and hazy turns it contemplative and calming.

Orange Blossom Honey exemplifies that the oils can allow the wearer to go beneath the surface and find something different in notes as well-known as orange blossom and honey. Ms. Ethier goes for a bit of transparent golden viscosity as the neroli is encased within a thick matrix of honey. Grace notes of ginger and vanilla add a bit of olfactory lens flares but this is an indolent lazy day as a perfume.

Summer Yuzu shows that just because these perfume oils are kept on the quiet side that doesn’t have to mean they lack energy. Summer Yuzu has energy to burn as Ms. Ethier takes a brilliant sparkling yuzu as her nucleus and sends a fantastic array of notes like, sunflower, aglaia, tomato, frankincense, and tomato spinning madly around it. This was the most fun of these six to wear because it just felt like a perpetual motion machine in perfumed form.

Ivy Tower is a photorealistic version of ivy growing among a selection of spring flowers. Ms. Ethier captures the deeply vegetal green of the ivy growing in rain-soaked earth by combining geranium, narcissus, blue tansy, jonquil, and lily. All together these floral create the ivy accord but then as you focus it is like finding a bunch of flowers growing within the vines.

Sweet Jasmine Brown is Ms. Ethier’s riff on the jazz standard “Sweet Georgia Brown”. Ms. Ethier wanted a sassy and sweet construction. To bring this dichotomy together she chose pink pepper, jasmine and musk ambrette to represent sassy and cocoa nib, ylang-ylang, and vanilla to hold up the sweet side. It sets up a bit of a see-sawing development as it moves from the sassy to sweet and back to the sassy again. Like watching Miss Georgia Brown sashaying down the street.

Just from the name I suspected that Violet Beauregarde was going to be my favorite. It seems like we both share an affection for the gum snapping child of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who would eventually expand into a human blueberry. Ms. Ethier eschews going the blueberry route and instead focuses on violet. The violet is transparent but like the namesake Ms. Ethier expands the transparent violet by inflating it with ylang-ylang, jasmine, and mimosa. It makes it feel like a purple balloon blown up to its limit with the sun shining through it. I loved the delicacy of this one which always seemed to be on the verge of popping like that overinflated balloon in my mind’s eye.

All of the perfume oils had 6-8 hour longevity and about as close to zero sillage as you can get.

Ms. Ethier wanted something “beautiful and wearable” and with all six of these perfume oils she has achieved her goal.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Providence Perfume Co.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Heeley Vetiver Veritas- In Vetiver, Truth

British perfume maker James Heeley has excelled in creating perfumes which capture a basic truth in their composition. Cardinal is the Catholic Church Mass incense. Sel Merin is the sea spray in your face. Hippie Rose is one of my favorite rose and patchouli fragrances ever for the depth of both of those notes. Mr. Heeley has worked in mixed media using synthetic raw materials along with high quality naturals. With the release of Vetiver Veritas he is moving into the world of botanical all-natural perfume.

When someone like Mr. Heeley embraces natural perfumery it helps to broaden the appeal. His starting point for Vetiver Veritas was to use the natural Haitian Vetiver he had been wearing as a straight dilution for years. For Vetiver Veritas he takes that vetiver and makes it 90% of the composition. Then to keep it completely simple he only adds four other notes two of them to comprise a leather accord. This kind of perfumery really allows for maximum appreciation of the central note. It allows for the truth of that Haitian vetiver to radiate.

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James Heeley

That Haitian vetiver is where Vetiver Veritas begins. By using it in such a high concentration it allows for nuances that are not usually detected to show up. The vetiver mainly comes forward with an intense green quality, very vegetal in nature. There is also a deep rooty and earthy quality which matches the green. All of this is familiar territory. What I also detected was a bit of sugar cane-like sweetness lurking underneath. At the level of vetiver it could have been very standoffish. But as it grows in power this unusually natural sweet leavens the harshness and reveals an undiscovered truth about vetiver. Mr. Heeley adds a bit of grapefruit and mint to help define the green. Together they provide an astringent framework for the vetiver to be displayed in. Finally a smoky leather accord appears to sweep away the green and allow the roots and earth to have the final say.

Vetive Veritas has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I know I’ve smelled Hatian Vetiver as a raw material but that sweetness never presented itself until I had Vetiver Veritas on my skin. This is what Mr. Heeley does so well he takes something and allows the wearer to discover their own truth within the perfume. With Vetiver Veritas I found there was an all-natural truth about vetiver I had never experienced. If you are a fan of vetiver especially in its smokier darker variety I think there will be some truth to be found in Vetiver Veritas.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review House of Cherry Bomb Pink Haze- Peace Love Perfume & Brooklyn

The Brooklyn section known as DUMBO (Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass) has become a vibrant creative nexus in Brooklyn. There have been a couple of perfumers who have gotten their start in this section. Maria McElroy of Aroma M perfumes and Alexis Karl of Scent by Alexis work on their own creations in their ateliers in Brooklyn. What has come to be special is when Ms. McElroy and Ms. Karl decide to collaborate for their shared brand House of Cherry Bomb. While their first two releases Truth or Dare and Rebel Angel were constructed for a different perfumista than I there was a great energy in those compositions. Last year’s Cardamom Rose and Tobacco Cognac were very much constructed for a perfumista like me. That energy I detected in the first two fragrances was even more assured here. It seemed like Ms. McElroy and Ms. Karl had really found a collaborative harmonic from which more perfumes would come. That next perfume has come and it is called House of Cherry Bomb Pink Haze.plp project

Pink Haze is part of The PLP Project. PLP stands for the Facebook perfume group Peace-Love-Perfume started by Carlos J Powell, also known as YouTube reviewer Brooklyn Fragrance Lover, three years ago. For this third anniversary Mr. Powell has reached out to the perfumers who are part of the community to help celebrate by making perfumes in celebration of PLP. Pink Haze is more about Brooklyn than the Facebook group but that seems right as that is where Mr. Powell calls home, too. On the House of Cherry Bomb website Pink Haze is described as “the scent of tree lined Brooklyn streets, of stone buildings, both old and new, and of the hot metal of subway cars.” Pink Haze is the smell of midsummer twilight in DUMBO as the sun hits the horizon. The stone of the bridge and the smell of the sun charged aluminum on the side of the subway train roaring past all the while the summer flowers release their natural fragrance into the cooling air. Pink Haze paints a perfect Brooklyn still life on a summer evening.

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Maria McElroy (l.) and Alexis Karl

Pink Haze opens underneath the Manhattan Bridge as the smell of the stone is juxtaposed with the smell of hot aluminum. Ms. McElroy and Ms. Karl have created an authentic city accord as the stone has the feel of seeing the heat shimmer in waves off of it. The same holds true for the hot aluminum which also feels like it is radiating its scent in heated pulses off of its surface. I was drawn in by this opening and I think it takes a city dweller to get this just right and the Brooklynites nail this. As the stone and aluminum cools in the night the florals begin to come out and on this street lilac, muguet, and gardenia are what is growing. The muguet leads the way and the lilac and gardenia come a bit later. The strength of these are kept well-modulated and that help keeps Pink Haze more true to its name. A bit of cedar provides the base note for the end of Pink Haze.

Pink Haze has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

Pink Haze is the best perfume by House of Cherry Bomb to date. I think that is because this was a very personal project. Not only to evoke the place where they create but to also celebrate the online place where they congregate. Taken all together Pink Haze is a celebration of Peace-Love-Perfume and Brooklyn.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Carlos J Powell.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: For more information on all of the perfumes that are part of The PLP Project check out the Facebook link here.

New Perfume Review Guerlain Shalimar Souffle de Parfum- Getting Fluffy

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When it comes to the great houses of perfume Guerlain never fears alienating their core audience. I would say that the opposite is truer in that Guerlain has been the most active in trying to snare the younger perfume wearer. Because of this penchant for luring in younger perfumistas it can sometime clash with those of us who have loved Guerlain for years. I sit somewhere in the middle of this. As long as the great older Guerlains are still around in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser can put out as many figurative olfactory honey pots as he would like to capture his desired demographic.

The most difficult part of this equation is M. Wasser want to use Shalimar as the gateway to the Guerlain kingdom. M. Wasser has taken to heart the criticism by the young that Shalimar smells too “old lady”. This isn’t a new idea as perfumer Mathilde Laurent was responsible for three “light” versions of Shalimar a little over ten years ago. M. Wasser would also try to go the lighter route as well. The last two years saw two variations around adding vanilla to Shalimar and Ode a la Vanille in 2010 and Ode a la Vanille Sur la Route du Mexique in 2013 went with making it sweeter. It looks like that experiment has also not produced the desired result. This year for the latest flanker to Shalimar M. Wasser has returned to making Shalimar lighter. The new releases is called Shalimar Souffle de Parfum.

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Thierry Wasser

As the name portends this is meant to be an airy version of Shalimar meant to be served up quickly without having it linger. The way M. Wasser chooses to achieve this is to largely neuter the base notes leaving behind only the vanilla.

The opening of Souffle de Parfum is the traditional bergamot and lemon with a bit of mandarin added for additional sweetness. Jasmine is present in the soufflé but instead of rose M. Wasser goes with the much lighter orange blossom. This is where the soufflé begins to fall down for me. The combination of rose de mai and jasmine is what creates the essential beauty of Shalimar. With the Souffle de Parfum M. Wasser doesn’t want even the hint of heft to appear thus the choice of orange blossom. The same applies to the base as out goes the orris and opopanax leaving only the vanilla matched with white musk and patchouli.

Shalimar Souffle de Parfum has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am not sure there is ever going to be a light version of Shalimar which does justice to the name, certainly Souffle de Parfum is not that fragrance. In his attempt to make Shalimar lighter and more accessible M. Wasser succeeds; as taken on its own merits Souffle de Parfum is a perfectly easy to wear floral. It is no way related to Shalimar and has none of the character and depth of that. I am not sure this would even bring new consumers over to the brand because it doesn’t feel like it is part of the rest of the flacons which share the name Guerlain. For me this Souffle de Parfum has fallen flat but perhaps there are others who will delight in a fluffy simulation of a perfume called Shalimar.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Lady Gaga Eau de Gaga- I Live For the Applause

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Pop stars and perfume are a combination which usually leads to something which rarely reflects well on the singer or perfumery. I have even come to believe that the bigger the celebrity name on the label the more likely the perfume is going to be insipid. It can be a huge disappointment if I like the musician and a bit of rough karma if they are someone I don’t care for. The common thread is the perfume is boring and safe. In 2012 Lady Gaga released the first fragrance with her name on it called Fame. It promised “blood and semen” and, of course, delivered a safe floral. It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t as innovative as the name on the bottle. Fame sold extremely well and there was no doubt there would be a follow-up. That perfume has just been released Lady Gaga Eau de Gaga. This time it is a much simpler construction and also a much better perfume.

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Ursula Wandel

Lady Gaga worked with perfumer Ursula Wandel for Eau de Gaga. Fame was a team of three perfumers and I believe Eau de Gaga is better for less cooks in the kitchen. Ms. Wandel chooses simple ingredients and blends them adeptly into something way above the normal celebuscent dreck. Reduced to terms Eau de Gaga is a citrus-floral-leather and that might seem common but Mme Wandel turns in something very uncommon in this space.

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The citrus chosen for Eau de Gaga is primarily lime and it is a very synthetic lime. For a woman who changes the color of her hair as often as Lady Gaga does I see this as a green wash over her blond locks. It is striking and the artificial quality works to its advantage. The heart is violet and violet leaf together. The lime persists to combine with the violet. Every so often during the day while I was wearing it I thought I got a bit of green tea but almost like an olfactory illusion once I tuned in it was violet and lime. Ms. Wandel has created an excellent harmony between the lime and violet and after a couple of hours her leather accord starts to come through and provide a bit of animalic foundation. This is fine leather processed until it is soft as butter and consequently it is a whisper of leather throughout the later stages of Eau de Gaga.

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

For all that the first fragrance, Fame, was meant to be an edgy evocation of Lady Gaga I think Eau de Gaga captures the artist better. It is a bold synthetic composition made up of modern molecules placed over a classic soft leather accord. I was thinking of a line from Lady Gaga’s song Applause, “To crash the critic saying “Is it right or is it wrong?” In the case of Eau de Gaga this critic thinks it is very right.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle provided by Coty Beauty.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: Eau de Gaga is available in Europe right now. It is due for an early January 2015 debut in the US.

New Perfume Review Map of the Heart Black Heart v. 2-Charred Heart of Darkness

It has been seven weeks since I was in Florence for Pitti Fragranze and there is one perfume which has consumed my thoughts since trying it there. One of my favorite new lines I discovered at Pitti was Map of the Heart. Map of the Heart is a debut line from co-founders Sarah Blair and Jeffrey Darling. They have collaborated with perfumer Jacques Huclier on three perfumes. They also have brought in bottle designer Pierre Dinand to fashion heart shaped flacons. Map of the Heart Clear Heart v. 1 and Red Heart v. 3 are nicely executed aquatic and tuberose perfumes, respectively. They are good but the middle volume Black Heart v. 2 is something wholly unique, a perfumed journey into darkness that never compromises by letting in even a tiny sliver of light.

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Black Heart v. 2 has been one of those perfumes which has been difficult for me to write about because I don’t think I am going to communicate what a completely consuming sensual experience it is. The creative team wanted M. Huclier to be inspired by the Australian brushfires from where Ms. Blair and Mr. Darling live. The quote from the press release is they wanted M. Huclier to capture “the moment the flames subside and the blackened tree trunks remain smoldering in a snow of white ash- the piercing sunlight slicing through.” The first part of that inspiration is expertly re-created. The sunlight not so much as there is not any light in this composition of smoke, spice, and the hope for renewal from near-complete destruction.

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Jacques Huclier

M. Huclier uses a trio of spices, in overdose, as cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper add the black shroud to the early moments. Just to make sure the point is not missed a little bergamot and orange are consumed in the dark flames like a sorcerer’s spell of eldritch origin. Through the spices M. Huclier adds in a significant amount of eucalyptus which adds sharp green over a camphor-like effect. This is the smell of tree trunks detonated by the heat of the fire. A chilling reminder of natural immolation. Then M. Huclier begins to waft smoke first in gentle puffs and then as a pervasive fog. The smoke lies heavily on top of Australian sandalwood. I have found Australian sandalwood to have an almost ashy quality just on its own. In Black Heart v. 2 M. Huclier finds that same characteristic and enhances it so the sandalwood note feels like I am experiencing it after it has been burned through and through.

Black Heart v. 2 has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

When I spoke with Ms. Blair at Pitti she told me that there was an earlier mod she sought feedback on and one person told her it should be darker. I don’t know who that person was but I am so very happy that advice was adhered to. The best perfumes are those where the creative vision is realized without compromise. Black Heart v. 2 is a glorious paean to the art of not compromising. If you love dark smoky artistic perfumes you will find no new perfume for 2014 which delivers on all three qualities any better than Black Heart v. 2.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Map of the Heart at Pitti Fragranze.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review En Voyage Perfumes Fiore di Bellagio- Zelda’s Scent

The 1920’s and The Lost Generation make up one of my favorite eras. Not only from a historical perspective but also that of societal change. I would say that it would take until the 1960’s before society would undergo a similar change driven by the youth of the time. It seems that perfumer Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes has also become interested in this time and place. Her interest was piqued by working on her homage to Zelda Fitzgerald called Zelda which came out last year. Ms. Waddington began to delve into the perfumed history of the time and also began to wonder what Zelda might have worn. The 1920’s were great years for perfumery with Ernest Daltroff’s work at Caron right at the top of the class. Ms. Waddington came to the conclusion that Caron Bellodgia from 1927 would be Zelda’s choice.

Caron Bellodgia was M. Daltroff’s carnation-centric floral on a base of sandalwood and musk. For her re-interpretation, Fiore di Bellagio, Ms. Waddington adds some well-chosen additions to the florals from Bellodgia to create modern perfume with the inspiration of M. Daltroff’s classic. All of the ingredients present in Bellodgia are found in Fiore di Bellagio. Ms. Waddington carefully chooses some new additions like citrus on top, gardenia in the heart, and resins and vanilla in the base. All of these extra notes work very well and never disturb the 1920’s vibe Ms. Waddington is attempting.

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Shelley Waddington

The same ylang ylang Belodgia opens with is in Fiore di Bellagio. Ms. Waddington decides to add a green shrubbery accord along with lemon. The lemon in particular adds depth and contrast to the ylang ylang. This opens onto a floral blockbuster of a heart. The carnation is front and center but it is just part of a floral fusillade of gardenia, jasmine, rose otto, orris, muguet, and violet. Ms. Waddington makes it so each of these notes can be picked out like concentrating on a single instrument in an orchestral work. While you can do that you are better served by enjoying the overall effect. Fiore di Bellagio feels like a throwback and it only becomes more pronounced in the base. Ms. Waddington trots out a beautiful aged sandalwood and civet to have the Bellodgia base notes present. She chooses to round those out with a rich vanilla to turn the sandalwood sweeter and creamier as well as a group of resinous notes which keeps the civet from being as feral as it could be.

Fiore di Bellagio has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Ms. Waddington has done a marvelous job creating a companion piece to Zelda. Both creations create a wonderful “out of time” sensation without feeling like museum pieces. If you are a fan of Zelda or Retro Nouveau perfumes Fiore di Bellagio is one to put on your sampling list.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by En Voyage Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Diana Vreeland Perfectly Marvelous- Sort Of Original

One of Diana Vreeland’s quotable quotes was, “Style, all who have it share one thing: originality.” If you’re going to do a perfume line which carries the name of Diana Vreeland, originality should be a given. The new five fragrance Diana Vreeland line of perfumes which was creatively directed by her grandson Alexander Vreeland is almost entirely devoid of originality. Four of the five fragrances are routine reworks of popular styles of perfumes. Like a box checking exercise there’s an oriental, a rose, a tuberose, and an amber. They are all so forgettable and banal that it seems almost a crime they carry Ms. Vreeland’s name. They are all so unoriginal that as I started to try the fifth one Perfectly Marvelous I was already stifling my yawn. In a true contest of diminished expectations it is by far the best of a bad lot. As I wore it for a couple of days my attitude brightened somewhat toward it.

Perfumer Celine Barel was, according to the website, inspired by another of Ms. Vreeland’s quotes, “If it isn’t a passion, it isn’t burning, it isn’t on fire, you haven’t lived.” Mme Barel does not deliver a fire with Perfectly Marvelous but she does deliver something a bit different on a basic jasmine theme. She takes a few variations on well-understood tropes and makes Perfectly Marvelous the only one of this collection I could enjoy.

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Diana Vreeland surrounded by red

Ms. Vreeland’s favorite color was red and she was known for the red décor of her home and her red nail polish. Another of the descriptors from the website was for Perfectly Marvelous to evoke red lacquered sandalwood. In that desire I think Mme Barel comes closer to the mark. She starts with a soft swirl of spices centered on pimento. The pimento is probably the most original ingredient used in all five perfumes in the collection. Mme Barel doesn’t squander it as she uses jasmine sambac as floral contrast. This version of jasmine is the kind with the indoles mostly neutered. Every time I wore this I wondered how much better this might have been with a bit of feral indole in the mix. What is here is pleasant and in place of the indole she uses cashmeran to add its very polite muskiness along with sandalwood. The cashmeran feels too proper for a trailblazer like Ms. Vreeland.

Perfectly Marvelous has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

Perfectly Marvelous suffers from a distinct desire to play it safe something which can be used to describe the other four perfumes in the line. At least in the case of Perfectly Marvelous Mme Barel was allowed one tiny moment to allow Ms. Vreeland to channel some originality her way. It makes Perfectly Marvelous sort of original which is a very sad thing to say about something which carries Diana Vreeland’s name.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples I received at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball.

Mark Behnke