New Perfume Review Aroma M Voluptuous Nostalgia Perfume- Get on your Vespa!

When I was a boy all of the traveling I did to Europe was in a seat at my local movie theatre. I especially liked the movies which took place in one city as at that age I treated them as documentaries. At the Miracle Theatre they used to show older movies as matinees. One of my mother’s favorite movies was “Roman Holiday”. Director William Wyler created one of the great romantic comedies of all-time. Much of that was also down to the two stars, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. If you asked the eight-year old me I would also have pointed out that the Vespa scooter they rode around on was also an important member of the cast. There was a Vespa dealer right next to the Miracle and whenever I walked by those shiny scooters lined up I would think of Rome and wayward princesses looking for freedom. I was reminded of those memories because independent perfumer Maria McElroy was inspired by those same things to create her new release Aroma M Voluptuous Nostalgia Perfume.

I believe this is the first release not inspired by Geisha and Japan for Ms. McElroy. Voluptuous Nostalgia Perfume has a combination of a 1950’s vibe along with the gentle feeling of motion as if it is its own fragrant scooter careening through the senses.

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Maria McElroy

Ms. McElroy conjures up a spring day by opening with muguet and gardenia. Muguet is a veritable symbol of that time of year. It would have worked by itself. By choosing gardenia to partner it Ms. McElroy conjures up the feel of the big floral perfumes of the mid-20th century. It is fresh and lush as the Vespa zigs and zags between them. It all turns slightly less heady as violet predominates in the heart. This is a moment where we gently pass through the cobblestoned streets enjoying the arms wrapped around my waist. Things begin to pick up speed again as a warm amber provides the rotary around which we will travel picking up ambergris and tonka before zooming off. About an hour in it is easy to still pick up all of the notes I’ve mentioned as the trip to all of them becoming apparent is fairly rapid. It isn’t linear but the development does move with alacrity. What forms is a pastiche of fragrant harmonics finding a place of equilibrium.

Voluptuous Nostalgia Perfume has 10-12 hour longevity and almost no sillage, it is very much a skin scent.

Ms. McElroy succeeded in taking me back to watching Ms. Hepburn and Mr. Peck zooming through 1953 Rome. Which has made me want to go call up Roman Holiday on Netflix. I think I’ll spray some Voluptuous Nostalgia Perfume as my scent track for that viewing.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Missoni Eau de Parfum- Slashes of Color

One of my favorite early fashion brands was Missoni. During the 1970’s the brightly colored knitwear was among the most popular fashion of the day. Angela Missoni took over from her founder mother Rosita in 1998. The brand has been extremely consistent; in some years being the only reliable splash of color and pattern on the runway. Missoni has also had a very proud perfume tradition.

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Angela Missoni

It started in 1981 with their debut fragrance named Missoni composed by Bernard Chant. It was a rich floral chypre. In 2006 perfumer Maurice Roucel would make his version of Missoni as it evolved into a floriental dunked in chocolate. Now in 2015 they are releasing the third Missoni Eau de Parfum. Angela Missoni chose to turn to one of the best young perfumers currently working Quentin Bisch. This iteration is a classic fruity floral.

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Quentin Bisch

One thing I have admired about M. Bisch, in these early days as a perfumer, as he takes on each new brief he is taking the opportunity to work with every different facet of the exclusive raw materials Givaudan has. In the case of Missoni Eau de Parfum M. Bisch has taken down Petalia and Mahonial. Petalia is an aromachemical which smells like a hybrid of rose and muguet. It has an assertive floral character with the greenness of the muguet providing a bit of counterbalance. Mahonial is the jasmine and muguet counterpart to Petalia. It is these two ingredients which make up the floral heart of Missoni Eau de Parfum.

M. Bisch opens crisply with citron and pear. The citron is tart and the pear adds a snappy fruitiness to that. Fairly rapidly the Petalia and Mahonial arrive. The overriding effect of these two in combination is the jasmine is ascendant. That might be because there is some actual jasmine presence or it might just be Mahonial is more tenacious than Petalia. In any case in Missoni Eau de Parfum it is the jasmine that you will notice at first. The rose and muguet qualities become more apparent as the citron and pear begin to become noticeable again. Once everything began to harmonize on my skin Missoni Eau de Parfum reminded me of the vertical stripes of color characteristic of a Missoni garment. The slash of yellow green for the fruit. A band of pink with a thin band of green underneath. The base note band of brown is all Ambroxan enhanced with some sandalwood and tonka to give it a sweet woody foundation.

Missoni Eau de Parfum has 18-24 hour longevity and average sillage.

I think M. Bisch has assuredly followed in the footsteps of M. Chant and M. Roucel creating a Missoni fragrance which stands as an excellent example of the current times and the fruity floral trend.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hermes Equipage Geranium- Green Rose in Focus

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When someone tells you they are retiring it usually means a slow winding down prior to their leaving. I guess it must be different in perfumery. Jean-Claude Ellena announced he would be eventually retiring, date unknown, as the in-house perfumer at Hermes in December of 2013. At the same time Christine Nagel was brought in to work with him and eventually take over. M. Ellena has been one of the singular artistic perfumers of the last few years. He would easily be one of the names in the debate over “greatest living perfumer”. As his tenure at Hermes draws to a close it feels like he wanted the opportunity to give a fresh take on some of the original Hermes releases. This starts with Bel Ami Vetiver in 2013 followed by Rose Amazone last year. For 2015 Equipage Geranium is the newest addition.

The original Equipage was released in 1970 by perfumer Guy Robert. It was a leather fragrance to pay homage to the Hermes saddles. In that original version there was birch tar and oakmoss galore creating a real feel of the tack room at a stable with all the leather hung up and oiled. Equipage would be re-formulated in 1992 by Jean-Louis Sieuzac who lacking the ability to use either the oakmoss or birch tar in the quantities M. Robert did, allowed some of the other notes to come to the foreground as the heart notes of carnation and pine follow a citrus opening. As was done for both Bel Ami and Amazone it feels like these recent versions are an attempt to update these classics for the 2010’s. I wonder if M. Ellena wants to make sure these are always relevant. Equipage Geranium is less about the tack room and more about the leather reading chair in the library next to a vase of geraniums.

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Jean-Claude Ellena

Equipage Geranium opens with a citrus flourish which is close in intensity to the 1992 Equipage reformulation. To make sure I don’t go too far down that path M. Ellena adds a sprig of mint to bring the geranium into focus. Geranium is a note I often refer to as “green rose”. For many people they would recognize geranium as just rose; as geranium is what passes for rose in almost every mass commercial product. In Equipage Geranium M. Ellena brings the geranium into hyper focus. When I want to introduce someone to geranium from now on this is the perfume I am going to use. The mint is the framing which first draws my attention to the greener subtleties under the floralcy. Some actual rose is used to deepen that floralcy. Once the focal point is assembled now the very light leather accord forms a platform for the geranium to rest upon. A swirl of gentle spices interacts to keep the geranium slightly spicy as well as fresher. After a while a sturdy sandalwood provides the final addition to Equipage Geranium.

Equipage Geranium has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

On the days I wore Equipage Geranium to work my younger co-workers asked me enthusiastically what I was wearing. I have shared my sample generously with them and I know it is on a couple of wish lists for the upcoming holidays. I brought in some 1970 Equipage and they all said that was too strong. This is the real innovation M. Ellena is achieving, intended or not, as these reworkings are attracting a different generation of perfume lovers. For those older perfume lovers, like me, the update makes it different enough, and good enough, that I want a bottle to stand next to my 1970 and 1992 bottle of Equipage.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review JF Schwarzlose Fetisch- Slap and Tickle

I know there has to be a fair amount of consideration given to the naming of new perfumes. When a perfume has a good name it can set my expectations appropriately. When it has a non sequitur kind of name it can leave me thinking more about the name than the fragrance. The new JF Schwarzlose Fetisch falls in between these two extremes.

JF Schwarzlose is another resurrected Heritage perfume brand. Creative director Lutz Hermann has partnered with perfumer Veronique Nyberg to both revive some original formulas as well as create new perfumes. My favorite Heritage brands are taking this approach as they honor the history of the brand while striking out in new directions. Hr. Hermann has been using the new compositions as ways to evoke the town where these perfumes were born, Berlin.

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Lutz Hermann

Berlin is known for its vibrant fetish club scene. It is a city which wears its kink freely. This was where I expected Fetisch to venture. When I visited the JF Scharzlose stand at Pitti Fragranze there was a leather harness hanging there. I expected Fetisch to dive deep into the bite of leather and the shine of latex all tinted with a Gothic sensibility. Hr. Hermann had other less subversive things in mind. Fetisch does have an exotic leathery quality but it has an oddness rather than a kinkiness to its style overall.

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Veronique Nyberg

I love the opening of Fetisch as Mme Nyberg opens with a beautifully intense osmanthus. The leathery quality of the floral is matched by a refined leather accord. I wanted a biting birch tar leather. Mme Nyberg’s accord is much softer. Which is good because the saffron also present in the top notes has room to breathe and swirl through the osmanthus and leather duet providing exotic harmonics. The first hour of Fetisch is spent here. The heart is where Fetisch provides a little weirdness. Mme Nyberg has a milk accord she uses which is less creamy and more like raw milk with a bit of an animalic undertone. Before it gets too strange a dollop of vanilla sweetens the heart. The base is a sharply resinous incense and styrax. Here at the end I get some of the Gothic vibe I was looking for.

Fetisch has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Despite its name Fetisch does not really want to dive deep into unconventional waters. Only with the vanilla milk heart is there anything truly unusual here. Which is really good because despite the name the top accord of osmanthus, leather, and saffron is simply gorgeous. Which is the problem with the name there needs to be some danger. Instead Fetisch is all slap and tickle. If you are looking for an exceptional osmanthus and incense perfume Fetisch will fill that desire. If you have other darker desires you think a perfume called Fetisch should realize, this is not that fragrance.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from JF Schwarzlose at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Annick Goutal Les Absolus Ambre Sauvage- Vanilla Fetiche

Over the last couple of years there have been a number of well-established niche brands which wanted a share of the luxury market. To that end they launch an offshoot collection at double, or more, of the price of their regular releases. The selling point is usually that there are more expensive and precious raw materials in the fragrance. There is also an implicit promise that these hold a different aesthetic than the regular line. The latest brand to do this is Annick Goutal.

The new collection is called Les Absolus D’Annick Goutal and all three of the inaugural releases are composed by perfumers Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen. In the press materials there is a lot of talk about both women’s love of raw materials. With Les Absolus being the opportunity to work with the best of them. 1001 Ouds is a very typical rose and oud combination which does live up to the concept of good raw materials but doesn’t present anything new on this very tried and true combination. Vanille Charnelle is like 1001 Ouds very focused on the vanilla with a fleshy ylang-ylang providing some contrast. Again nothing new. Ambre Sauvage was the one of the Les Absolus which caught my attention but it did that because it strongly reminded me of a previous Annick Goutal release.

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Isabelle Doyen (l.) and Camille Goutal

If you spend any time in the fetish community they refer to those who live a conventional lifestyle as “vanilla”. This concept would come back to me as I wore Ambre Sauvage. One of my favorite ambers of all-time is Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche. It was another of those fragrances which seemed out of place from the rest of the Annick Goutal style. It was discontinued last year with a few other of the releases which also had this out-of-step style in common. Ambre Sauvage seems like this is the opportunity to make a more accessible Ambre Fetiche. The perfumers achieve this by making it more vanilla.

Ambre Sauvage opens on a mixture of pink pepper, lavender and orris. While not identical to the opening of Ambre Fetiche when smelled side-by-side they are surely close cousins. The main difference is the lavender and orris are more pronounced in Ambre Sauvage. Ambre Fetiche has a glorious frankincense and amber foundation. It is Gothic and beautiful. Amber Sauvage is much more conventional as the amber accord is tilted to be warmer. Patchouli adds a woody aspect. The vanilla provides a safety net with its crowd pleasing nature. It forms a very conventional final stage to Ambre Sauvage.

Ambre Sauvage has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

It might not seem apparent with the comparisons to Ambre Fetiche but I really enjoyed Ambre Sauvage. It has much of the same things which I enjoy in Ambre Fetiche. There are definitely days when you have to show a vanilla personality to the world. For those days Ambre Sauvage is the perfect choice.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Annick Goutal.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Heeley Chypre 21- Last Stand for Oakmoss?

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If there is any genre which gets perfume lovers wringing their hands with concern over the IFRA/EU restrictions on perfume raw materials it is the chypre. The form was created by Francois Coty in 1917 with oakmoss prominent within its formula. Oakmoss is one of the ingredients which has been significantly restricted in its use. This hurdle has only inspired some of the best perfumers out there to see if in this new age where all of M. Coty’s ingredients can’t be used if an alternative can be found. Perfumer James Heeley is the most recent to take a crack at this with Heeley Chypre 21.

The original chypres were big blustery perfumes which were full of powerful notes like patchouli, civet, musks, and vetiver. Subtle it was not. When a modern perfumer reinterprets this they naturally look to “lighten” things up. Mr. Heeley does this while still using a bit of oakmoss to provide the bite of chypre but this is more a nip on the ankles than a full-fledged chomp.

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James Heeley

Chypre 21 opens with the classic citrus provided by petit grain and bergamot. What I really liked was the inclusion of rosemary with the citrus. This was almost a nod to the Jean Marie Farina cologne opening. Every time I wore it I liked the cologne-like freshness these notes imparted to the early going. Rose is one of the more traditional floral notes chosen to accompany the chypre accord because it stands up to it. Rose is the heart of Chypre 21. Mr Heeley’s twist is to dust it with saffron adding in a beautifully exotic complement. The cologne intimations are fully banished and I am anticipating the chypre base to arrive any minute. When it does the oakmoss rides in on a flying carpet composed of some of the synthetic musks. If this was fifty years ago there would be a lot more oakmoss and the musk would be real. By having to use a lesser concentration and the synthetic musk equivalents Mr. Heeley makes a chypre which hums with precision but less powerfully. Patchouli deepens the chypre accord and sandalwood provides a dry woody foundation for it to rest upon.

Chypre 21 has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Mr. Heeley stated in the press release his aim was to create a fragrance “with a certain air of Parisian chic”. I think he has achieved this with Chypre 21. It feels like a chypre throughout with some interesting modern choices to give a more contemporary spin to it. By keeping it lighter I think Chypre 21 is more approachable by many for whom a real full-throated chypre would keep at arm’s length. Chypre 21 is enough of a chypre that I think it will still appeal to fans of those predecessors. I think what is best about Chypre 21 is it will also succeed at creating some new aficionados of chypre.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Cartier Les Heures de Parfum Oud Radieux- Westernizing Oud

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One of the best collections of exclusive perfumes is Cartier Les Heures de Parfum. In-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent has been filling in her thirteen-hour clock since 2009 and it contains some of the best perfumes of Mme Laurent’s career. We are only lacking V & IX to complete the series. Last year we got an indication that the spirit of a very luxurious artisitic collection would continue when the numbers were done. Those three releases were called Les Heures Voayageuses and were oud-focused as you can tell by their names: Oud & Rose, Oud & Musc, and Oud & Oud. These were well-made versions of these classic oud pairings but they all felt like they were Mme Laurent working on the classics before putting her own spin on it. (There is a great little interview by Mme Laurent on Persolaise where she mentions working on these first three) I was more interested in what newer companions Mme Laurent might think would be good with oud. The new release Oud Radieux answers that question.

In the interview linked above Mme Laurent is quoted as saying, “I find that going to Arabian countries with our perfumery is like selling French Coca-Cola in New York. But at the end, as I really love oud, I decided I wanted to work on it.” I understand her point but my favorite oud perfumes have come from Western perfumers who have decided to make an oud perfume which is meant to be French Coca-Cola instead of something sold in the Middle East. The first three did not reach that level for me. Oud Radieux does.

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Mathilde Laurent

When I read that quote I am much more interested in Mme Laurent truly embracing an oud that would be something different. I think Oud Radieux shows right from the start her desire to elucidate the nature of real oud with the same minimalist structure as in the first three. Here she creates something modern.

I tend to inwardly groan when I read press copy which mentions using energizing ginger as a top note. There are very few times I find it energizing. Mostly because it is way too often muddled up with other citrus or spice notes. In Oud Radieux Mme Laurent provides as distinct a ginger note as I’ve encountered. It has a sharply spicy rootiness which smells like the way I taste the pickled ginger which accompanies my sashimi. Paired with this is Szechuan pepper. Ever since smelling this at Pitti Fragranze in 2014 it has shown up in some of the most interesting places in the new perfumes of 2015. It is an excellent choice to go with ginger as it adds a shimmering spicy heat to contrast the more savory spiciness of the ginger. The other facet is this sort of musty quality it has underneath. Mme Laurent uses that as the connection to the oud. When you encounter real oud it also has a similar mustiness to it which is much more pronounced. This pulls the ginger along with it and the moment when they mix with the oud is fascinating. Real oud also carries what some describe as a medicinal or Band-Aid smell. The ginger and Szechuan pepper turn that into an accord which takes those less desirable elements and finds a place of zesty beauty within it. From here the oud really takes over. I am not sure if it is the oud Mme Laurent is using or if she accentuates it with some other animalic notes but it really gets a little more animalic than I usually encounter with real oud. It is definitely the most animalic of these four perfumes even more so than Oud & Oud. It feels like a natural progression down to something which carries a bit of ferocity in the end.

Oud Radieux has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

There has not been any of the numbered entries of the Les Heures de Parfum which have used oud. If there was going to be one Oud Radieux would be among the best within that collection. I have really enjoyed Mme Laurent’s version of French Coca-Cola and hope if there are more to come they are in the style of Oud Radieux. Maybe a macaron next time?

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Saks Fifth Avenue.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Nomenclature orb_ital- A Tale of Two Woody Aromachemicals

Perfume is a timeline of unique materials being used. Many of the trends within perfumery start with the introduction of a new tool for the perfumer to use. Easily one of the most influential of these since 2000 is Iso E Super. Iso E Super is actually a mixture of three closely related molecules called isomers. Depending on the concentration of the isomers the overall scent profile can be tweaked. As a result each aromachemical producer has their own version. For Takasago theirs is called Orbitone and it was the starting point for one of the inaugural new releases for the brand Nomenclature called orb_ital.

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Patricia Choux

Orbitone provides a slightly more floral aspect along with the transparent dry woodiness. Perfumer Patricia Choux, working with creative directors Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero, would take that nature and pair it with another Takasago ingredient Hindinol. Hindinol provides a sandalwood with the creamier attributes enhanced. Mme Choux makes a few smart choices on what to use which complements, and contrasts, each of the synthetics on display.

For the Orbitone Mme Choux brings out black pepper and it shows that at least in Orbitone the more mineralic aspect of this aromachemical family has been tamped down a bit. By using pepper to bring it back to life it sets the stage for violet and rhubarb to provide an appropriate vegetal floral contrast. The sharp green of the rhubarb and the silvery floralcy of violet almost set the Orbitone apart as something not natural. The Hindinol comes in about this point and it is like a fractionation of sandalwood as it carries most of the creamy rich qualities of sandalwood. The pepper now acts as the contrast with its nose-tickling nature. The complement is a cool resinous olibanum providing a very nice partner for the Hindinol.

Orb_ital has >24 hour longevity as the Orbitone and Hindinol will still be present after a long night’s sleep. The sillage is deceptive as these large molecules sometime seem to be close to the skin on the wearer but are more projecting than you think.

Orb_ital is a really beautifully interpretation of a pair of modern synthetic woody notes. Mme Choux has combined them in such a way that it is easy to understand their popularity. If you have love Iso E Super fragrances orb_ital provides a nice new alternative. If you are anosmic to Iso E Super or are one of those who find it unpleasant then this is a perfume to avoid. I like orb_ital quite a bit because I feel Mme Choux has given a well-known molecule a makeover for the better.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfum D’Empire Tabac Tabou- The Price of Expectations

If there is anything which can make something good seem bad it is expectations. I can tell you my expectations for Star Wars The Force Awakens have me looking forward to it with off the charts exuberance. Every so often there is that voice which asks me, “What if it is just good?” My response should be good Star Wars is still good. Unfortunately because of my expectations good will be bad. I just had a similar experience with the new Parfum D’Empire Tabac Tabou.

These perfumed expectations come about when perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato releases his new Parfum D’Empire for the year, usually in the fall. I receive the press release prior to the perfume and this year for Tabac Tabou was no different. Within that text I was told to expect tobacco, hay, “a green, fresh narcissus”, immortelle, “rough-hewn leather”, and “fur-like animalic notes”. This is like my perfumed version of the return of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca. From a brand and perfumer who has used some of these notes in brilliant ways previously the expectation meter was pegged. Then I received the sample and it wasn’t enough of these things. My wife watched the confused frown on my face and asked me what was wrong. That was the question there wasn’t anything wrong it just wasn’t what I expected. This was well-constructed and contained some really nice versions of the raw materials used. What was wrong with me? This was where some time helped as I stepped away. When I wore it for the first time it was an impulse as I changed my mind on what to wear on the day which I think was a good thing. What happened during that first day I finally started paying attention to what was there instead of what I hoped would be there.  What is there is something not quite as feral as I wanted. Tabac Tabou is more interested in the potential for untamed feelings than actually provoking them.

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Marc-Antoine Corticchiato

M. Corticchiato opens with hay. I should write that hay in bold text because this is one of the biggest hay notes I’ve smelled in a long time. The tobacco joins it straight away and instead of the heady narcotic quality of the tobacco taking charge it is the dried grassy sweetness of the hay which is what I primarily encounter. There is a bit of some fruit underneath to accentuate the sweeter facets of both of the top notes. The green acerbic nature of narcissus arises out of the warmth of the hay and tobacco. M. Corticchiato uses a grassy herbal accord, horsetail maybe, to sharpen the green lines. The final bit of the heart is a mélange of the white flowers. This is the part which I think initially threw me. It is also the part I have come to appreciate. The deep floralcy that the white flowers add full of indolic charm take the lead and then immortelle provides a different aspect of sweetness. The base is the promised rough-hewn leather with an accord high in birch tar providing the leathery nature. Muskiness is present in support and never rises to the level of the previous release Musc Tonkin.

Tabac Tabou has 10-12 hour longevity and initially very above average sillage for the first five hours before becoming a skin scent for the last half of the days I wore it.

My expectations definitely tempered my enthusiasm for Tabac Tabou. I think it is very good and if you like hay this is absolutely a must try. I have a feeling that in a year or two Tabac Tabou is going to become one of my favorites but for right now my expectations are getting in the way of that.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Parfum D’Empire.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review John Varvatos Dark Rebel- With a Rebel Yell

When I am asked to name a mainstream perfume brand I admire one of my answers for the last couple of years has been John Varvatos. There are a couple of very good reasons for this. One of these is consistency. Since the very first release of John Varvatos in 2004 every perfume has been composed by the same perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux. That kind of long-term relationship is common in the niche sector but far less likely to happen in the mainstream perfume market. It is why flankers are usually so bland compared to their original. From the first John Varvatos straight through to the newest, and twelfth, release Dark Rebel this has been a brand which has thrived on being an outlier in the department store.

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John Varvatos (Photo: Richard Phibbs)

In reading eleven years of press notes, as I receive each release, it is evident that Mr. Varvatos is not an absentee creative director. As a result I think it allows for Sr. Flores-Roux to develop a deeper understanding of what a John Varvatos fragrance should smell like. Many of these press releases of the past have mentioned rock and roll; Dark Rebel is no different. What is different is this one is the closest to capturing that experience of wearing my leather jacket to hear a band at my favorite club. Sr. Flores-Roux captures the bar, the leather jacket, and the cigarettes as I wait for the music to begin.

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Rodrigo Flores-Roux

Sr. Flores-Roux opens with a very boozy rum sweetened with sugarcane. It has a bit of a kinship to a daiquiri. The spices which come next keep it from being overly sweet. Cardamom and clary sage, especially the latter, add a real edge to this rum cocktail. More spices continue this direction as black pepper and a beautiful nutmeg provide the transition to the leather accord at the heart. Every black leather jacket I have owned has had the same smell; animalic with a bit of oiliness. Sr. Flores-Roux captures this perfectly with fir and styrax providing the enhancement to the excellent leather accord. The base opens on a lovely golden tobacco which is roughened up with cade wood. The foundation is the new Akigalawood which is the biologically obtained fraction of patchouli which has stripped away the earthiness leaving the herbal and spicy facets. In Dark Rebel it closes the loop from the spices earlier to the leather in the heart. I think we are going to see a lot of Akigalawood especially in men’s designer releases over the next year.

Dark Rebel has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

From a line I have liked a lot over the past ten years Dark Rebel is easily my favorite as it finally gets the rock and roll vibe right. Both days I wore this I was channeling my inner Billy Idol curling my lip and singing “With a Rebel Yell more, more, more”. Please Mr. Varvatos and Sr. Flores-Roux; more, more more.

Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample provided by John Varvatos.

Mark Behnke