New Perfume Review Ex Nihilo Vetiver Moloko- Viddy This!

When I received my first five samples from the new brand Ex Nihilo there was one which captured my attention straight away. It caught my attention simply by its name, Vetiver Moloko. I think Stanley Kubrick’s movie “A Clockwork Orange” based on Anthony Burgess’ novel is one of the great movies of the 1970’s. At the beginning of the film our protagonist Alex is sitting in the Korova Milkbar sipping a Moloko Vellocet, drug laced milk. The drink will lead the gang out to a night of “ultraviolence” and catalyze the rest of the movie. What was brilliant about that opening scene is visually it set the tone for everything in less than a minute. Seeing a fragrance called Vetiver Moloko made me wonder if the same could be done with a perfume.

Korova Milkbar

The Korova Milkbar as depicted in Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange"

The Ex Nihilo creative team of Olivier Royere, Sylvie Loday, and Benoit Verdier would ask perfumer Guillaume Flavigny to create something “unusual and addictive”. To not only take something as well-trodden as vetiver but to also give it a twist worthy of the name. M. Flavigny succeeds beyond my expectations. He keeps it simple but he creates milky addictive vetiver as requested.

guillaume flavigny

Guillaume Flavigny

M. Flavigny opens this with Bulgarian Rose. The slight citrus haze over a spicy core draws you in. Brilliant bergamot provides sparkle. M. Flavigny brings his milk accord forward to mix with the rose in equal parts. This is a fabulously entertaining part of the development. It is almost as if a rose has been pulled out of a glass of milk dripping white liquid off of the petals. I was sorry to see things move along but there are things left to do this night. Cypress and amyris form a woody bridge to the vetiver. M. Flavigny chooses an earthy vetiver as his source. It has the smell of the ground trod under my boots. The final nod to the Moloko is a shot of vanilla to keep it sweet and to connect back to the milk.

Vetiver Moloko has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Vetiver Moloko is easily my favorite of the first five Ex Nihilo perfumes I’ve tried. I still have four more to track down but I will be surprised if they are better. There is a real aesthetic at play in these Ex Nihilo perfumes which I really enjoy. There is a lot of interpretation of classic perfumery design and it shows this creative team carries a unified vision for the brand. My advice is to try them all but if you’re only going to try one Vetiver Moloko is the one you should get my droogies. Viddy that!

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample purchased from Surrender to Chance.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Ex Nihilo Cologne 352 & Jasmin Fauve- Architecture & Design

If you go to the Ex Nihilo website and read the bios of the three founders; Olivier Royere, Sylvie Loday, and Benoit Verdier you might notice one commonality. They all share a desire to understand the underlying design of things. The very architecture of the world around them. In two of the perfumes for their brand Ex Nihilo you can see their love of the classical with Cologne 352 and Jasmin Fauve.

Jacques-Huclier

Jacques Huclier

Cologne 352 is named after the address of the flagship store on the Rue Saint-Honore in Paris. On the website it is said that Cologne 352 is “the olfactory signature” of that address. There is another description on the website more on point, “Parisian cologne”. Cologne 352 is the sophisticated take on one of the very first perfume architectures, eau de cologne. Perfumer Jacques Huclier has taken that classic form and given it a Parisian makeover.

Cologne 352 opens in the cologne style with a brilliant lemon and petitgrain blazing like a sunbeam. M. Huclier chooses a vegetal crushed leaves accord and juniper berry to put some sunglasses on the top notes. The crushed leaves accord substitutes for the more traditional herbal component. The heart takes orange blossom, a usual component of eau de cologne, and brackets it with rose and muguet. As with the top notes the addition of the rose and muguet take Cologne 352 into different territory. The heart is more floral than a cologne is usually but M. Huclier balances it expertly so that it never gets too expansive. It stays buttoned down and compact. This is what creates an aura of floral sophistication which really drew me in when I wore Cologne 352. Those florals persist into the base where a set of clean woods and cleaner musks provide the foundation. Cologne 352 is not an eau de cologne it is at eau de parfum strength and therefore lasts 10-12 hours with average sillage.

Givaudan-Aurelien-Guichard

Aurelien Guichard

Jasmin Fauve is described as a “poisonous leather flower” on the website. Perfumer Aurelien Guichard takes one of the most interpreted florals in jasmine and wraps it in a raw leather. The love of leather is not surprising because two of the three founders of Ex Nihilo mention shoes as a passion and it’s not the woman. M. Guichard creates a fantastic soliflore presented on a swatch of fresh leather.

Before we get to the jasmine M. Guichard pulls in muguet and lily. This doubles down on the green floral quality each of those notes possess. It is an appetizer for the main course of white flowers. Jasmine is in the name and jasmine is the leader of the pack in the heart. M. Guichard adds in orange blossom and tuberose as white flower wingmen. Jasmine is in front but the other two are also present. Finally a raw new piece of unrefined leather is rolled out for these white flowers to be portrayed upon. Ambox makes sure the leather never goes supple and refined and instead stays raw and primal. This mixture of powerhouse florals over leather is a lot of fun to wear. Jasmin Fauve has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I like where the creative team has taken these early efforts to keep them recognizable but also contemporary. Both of these perfumes exemplify classic architecture and embrace modern design.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples I purchased from Surrender to Chance.

Mark Behnke  

New Perfume Reviews Ex Nihilo Fleur Narcotique & Venenum Kiss- Searching for Quentin Bisch

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In everything that I am passionate about I am always looking for the next new talent. In perfumery one of those who has caught my eye, and many others, is Quentin Bisch. I think like most people I became aware of him through the three part BBC Perfume documentary. (If you want to see his introduction here is the link to the episode https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz3_tY6Ld5I M. Bisch’s introduction happens at the 11:20 mark) What came through on the screen was this was a person who wore his passion for perfume openly. There was not a calculating bone in his body when it comes to perfume. Ever since that documentary I have waited for M. Bisch to start to produce his body of work. As a result I keep track of what he releases. Late last year I found out he had done a perfume for a new perfume brand in Paris, Ex Nihilo. At the time they did not have samples and I could only impatiently wait. Now the decant site Surrender to Chance offered five samples and two of them were the ones signed by M. Bisch, Fleur Narcotique and Venenum Kiss.

Ex-Nihilo-Team

Ex Nihilo Team (l. to r.) Olivier Royere, Sylvie Loday, Benoit Verdier

Ex Nihilo from the latin for “out of nothing” is owned and creatively directed by Olivier Royere, Sylvie Loday, and Benoit Verdier. Their backgrounds are not from classically trained beauty backgrounds. In a quote from their website they acknowledge this, “Our references come as much from perfumery as from design or architecture.” This belief allows them to take in a precocious young talent like M. Bisch and turn him loose. For his first two efforts for Ex Nihilo he has produced a fruity floral and a woody oriental.

Fleur Narcotique is described on the website as a “floral overdose” and while it is aggressively floral I am not sure if I ever felt close to an OD. I found it to be a study in subtlety as very often just when I thought I had a handle on things something new would change that opinion. Fleur Narcotique had an appealing olfactory restlessness which makes it fascinating to wear.

In the opening moments you are greeted with bergamot and peach; pretty standard fruity floral territory. Except for two things. First the fruit is not amped up to bludgeoning levels it is kept much more transparent than the typical fruity openings. The second is M. Bisch’s use of lychee to add an exotic twist to the mundane. Great lychee has a syrupy kind of musty quality. Paired with the peach, especially, it makes for an opening to a fruity floral which had me wanting to see what floral was coming. The answer was peony bolstered by orange blossom and jasmine. The fresh quality of the peony was an excellent foil to the peach and lychee. Most of the time while wearing a fruity floral I can pretty much ignore it after an hour or so because besides a few woods or musks that will be it. Fleur Narcotique has those woods and musks, along with some moss. M. Bisch brings them forward so they interact with the fruit and the florals instead of waiting for them to disappear before emerging. These base notes provide a languid transformation over the last few hours that I wore Fleur Narcotique. Fleur Narcotique has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Quentin Bisch

Quentin Bisch

Venenum Kiss is described as “opulent and poisonous” which I found appropriate. M. Bisch works the classic spicy sandalwood rose axis of Oriental perfumes and gives his own interpretation. If Fleur Narcotique was restless, Venenum Kiss is indolent. It carries a relaxed comfortable vibe which makes one just want to stay in and enjoy the smell.

M. Bisch chooses nutmeg and saffron as the spices. I like the way these two spices interact with each other as the familiarity of the nutmeg is crossed with the exoticness of saffron. The heart is rose which is partnered with neroli. The neroli is really the bridging note between the spices on top and the rose in the heart. Sandalwood comes to the fore and it is joined by davana which picks up the rose and carries it down into the base. A bit of styrax and vanilla add a bit of sweetness to the late stages. Venenum kiss has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

These two perfumes show two different sides of M. Bisch’s style and what I can see and smell makes me want more.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples I purchased from Surrender to Chance.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Serge Lutens Le Religieuse- Freezer Burn

There are times when a perfume creative team gets too focused on a theme and in their endless variations on it keep missing the mark by a larger margin each successive attempt. I am thinking a lot about this as I have been wearing the latest from Serge Lutens, Le Reilgieuse.

Since 2010 M. Lutens in his role as creative director, along with perfumer Christopher Sheldrake, have been working on the theme of ice. Like a perfumer’s version of “Frozen” everything M. Lutens touches these days he seemingly wants to freeze. I have found little joy in these creations. Le Religieuse translates to “nun” and the press picture seems to confirm that with an abstract nun’s habit unfurling like wings behind the bottle. The note list is much abbreviated calling out only four ingredients; jasmine, civet, musk, incense. Now there is no official list but that list of ingredients sounded wonderful except I was wary of the ice that was also mentioned. Imagine my surprise when I received my sample and I spent the better part of three days trying to find any of those four notes. The ice and snow that I found and what was buried underneath seemingly suffered from the cold.

serge-lutens

Serge Lutens

There is definitely a floral in the opening moments and there is definitely a mix of synthetics encasing that floral in a block of ice. The only thing I am sure of is it doesn’t smell like jasmine to me. There are no indoles it has a high pitched fresh floral quality but it never seems like anything natural. The ice gets in the way so I feel like I am getting fragments of something which should come together. It is almost like a jigsaw puzzle of different florals. If the plan was to have them come together in the heart over incense that would have been great except there is no incense. There is something almost like elemi but again it is hazed over with frost which obscures what might be here. When I saw the note list and it said civet I was really looking forward to that. When M. Sheldrake unleashes civet in one of M. Lutens concepts something special happens. Except I don’t detect any civet. White musks? Oh yes a lot of them; all imparting that chill M. Lutens so desires.

Le Religieuse has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

La Religieuse reminded me of when I clean out my freezer and way in the back I find a frost encrusted foil wrapped object. There is a label on the outside which identifies what is inside but the prolonged exposure to the cold has had a deleterious effect on the contents; making them unrecognizable. That is exactly how I feel about Le Religieuse it seems like M. Lutens left it out in the cold too long. M. Lutens in the press release ends the text with the following, “I have told the youth within me that the white which clouded my vision was “snow”.” Right there is the truth about the recent output by Serge Lutens it is clouded by snow and it doesn’t look like there is a forecast for a thaw any time soon.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review eSENSielle In the Woods- Pine in Three Acts

The smell of pine is one of my favorite comfort scents. It evokes Christmas trees and walks through stands of sentinel pines reaching to the sky. There is something uplifting about standing amidst them and breathing deep. Perfumers have always worked to make memorable versions of pine fragrances. Over the past year the ones which have stood out have come from small independent perfume brands where they are using uniquely sourced raw materials to realize a specific vision. The latest to do this is eSENSielle In the Woods.

eSENSielle is headed by Heike Jeannette Hegmann who also acts as creative director. Fr. Hegmann collaborated with perfumer Clement Salva for In the Woods. She wanted In the Woods not to be just a pine centered perfume she instead wanted top, heart, and base to all have a specific evergreen character. Working with M. Salva they chose three specific sources of coniferous raw materials to use for each phase of the perfume’s development. It is not only these materials but the choices M. Salva makes to enhance each focal point as In the Woods evolves on my skin.

hegmann

Heike Jeannette Hegmann

The focal point for the early moments is Canadian Hemlock. Nearly every time I try a perfume with a significant hemlock note in it I wonder why it is not used more. In this case M. Salva uses galbanum to provide depth to the natural green quality this hemlock possesses. Juniper and pink pepper allow for some of the rough edges to stay that way. The early moments carry a roughhewn rustic quality that really works for me. The heart is Siberian Pine from the taiga. M. Salva again uses a set of complementary notes to coax the most out of the pine. By using the lighter green floralcy of geranium along with black pepper it calls up the smell of the forest floor covered in pine needles. The truly smart choice here is to include a bit of mint. When you smell a fresh cut pine tree there is a camphor-like smell which rises from the wood. By using mint M. Salva makes that connection. The final ingredient in the base is Fir Balsam harvested in New England. This material is so good M. Salva wisely leaves it on its own with only a very transparent use of labdanum and cedar to provide a baseline.

In the Woods has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

While I was wearing In the Woods I felt like I was on my own journey from Canada to Siberia to New England. Each phase of development has a distinct presence before the next appears. This is a well done first effort for Fr. Hegmann. I would be willing to follow her wherever she wants to take her next scented journey.

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

Mark Behnke

Photos taken from Beauty-Mekka.de

New Perfume Review Mancera Wild Leather- Patent Leather Pleasure

The use of leather in perfumery is one that seems to have multiple variations. It spans a spectrum from raw untreated animal hide at one end to refined buttery suede at the other. Because leather is an accord and not a specific raw material it allows a perfumer to adjust to fit their vision. There are many brands for which their leather accord has become a signature. One of those brands is Mancera which has seemingly perfected a patent leather accord which I like quite a bit. Their latest release to feature it is called Wild Leather.

Mancera, like its sister brand Montale, is notoriously difficult to find out anything about the perfumes as they are released. I generally get my information from their Facebook and Twitter feeds. When Wild Leather was released late in 2014 there was a Tweet which showed the picture of model Vivien Solari taken by photographer Txema Yeste as the inspiration for the fragrance. I liked the sort of stylish dominatrix look of the photograph and hoped for a leather which would live up to the adjective on the label.

mancera-wild-leather-inspiration

Vivien Solani; Photo by Txema Yeste

If I was hoping for Wild Leather to be something dangerous that was not what I received when I finally got my sample. The pictorial inspiration should not have been seen as something dangerous. Instead it should have been seen as a fashion forward kind of perfume. Viewed through that lens Wild Leather is not wild because it is illicit; it is wild because it dares to be very modern in construction and style. It is so modern that I think it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Once I settled into wearing it for a few days I really enjoyed the risks the perfumer took.

The opening of Wild Leather is a really beautiful bergamot which sticks around a little longer than the usual bergamot. As the perfume develops the heart forms around Bulgarian rose, violet and patchouli. The use of the patchouli works extremely well as underpinning for the rose and violet. I really like the effect that patchouli provides when used in modest quantities especially with heavy hitter florals. In this case it complements the spicy nature of the Bulgarian rose and brings it more forward. With the violet it acts as a softener to the sharp edges violet can have. From here that patent leather accord comes bubbling up. What I like so much about this accord is it reminds me of the smell of opening the box of patent leather loafers I got prior to each school year. It smells like equal parts leather and plastic. That accord is what is present in Wild Leather. It is so well done I can almost see the gloss on the leather as I wear it. The base of Wild Leather is oakmoss and white musks to give a green and clean finish to it all.

Mancera Wild Leather lasts 24 hours with prodigious sillage.

How much you like Wild Leather will depend on how much you like this patent leather accord. If you like the modernistic quality it brings I think you will like Wild Leather a lot. If the smell of patent leather is equivalent to cheap in your mind you might have a hard time getting past that. I am in the first camp and I think Mancera does this accord as well as any perfume brand does. Which makes Wild Leather a winner for me.

Diisclosure: This review was based on a sample I received from Babalu.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Dasein Spring- The Cure for Cabin Fever

In my part of the world the past week has been filled with arctic cold and frozen precipitation. That combination keeps me house bound for way too long for my own good. As we enter the final days of winter I just want it to be over and fast forward to spring. Alas I have no more magical powers than the groundhog does at speeding up the approach of spring and just have to wait it out. Thankfully a lot of the spring releases I’ve been receiving have helped me create a little spring in my office. The new Dasein Spring has been a great companion over the last week as it immerses me in the wet dirt of green and growing things.

Sam Rader

Sam Rader

Spring is the second release from Dasein following up last year’s Winter. On the website perfumer and owner Sam Rader promises Summer and Autumn will appear before year’s end. She has even put up note lists to give us something to look forward to. In her description of Spring Ms. Rader states, “The blend evokes a sunny spring morning, with a gentle breeze carrying the scent of wet earth, budding flowers and green things to your cute little nose.” Just reading that made me look forward to it because I really love the smell of fresh-turned earth. It has been addressed in perfume but it is rarely done well. Dasein Spring is one of those which succeeds at creating that early spring milieu where the damp earth sticks to your hands as you dig in the garden in the morning.

 GARDENING Gardening Column 5

Ms. Rader starts with sunrise as yuzu adds a citrusy brilliance to the first moments. Then as you kneel down to dig in the dirt you get that subtle spicy earthy smell which in the case of Spring is represented by black pepper. Ms. Rader balances this just right; it is more than a pinch but not enough to tickle your nose. As you take another breath the violets and roses on the other side of the garden make their presence known. As with the black pepper Ms. Rader keeps it transparent enough so that it has presence but that it stays at arm’s length. Finally you plunge the spade into the ground and dig. Ms. Rader uses a fabulously complex vetiver equal parts green and woody. Very often a perfumer tilts the use of vetiver one way or the other. Ms. Rader amplifies both and it is that enhanced vetiver that forms the dirt accord. The pepper and florals have lingered to combine with the vetiver and sandalwood provides a bit more foundation for the woody character.

Dasein Spring has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have to say that in these last few days where I felt the walls were closing in on me Ms. Rader’s perfume was the cure. It made me feel surer that all of the cold will eventually recede and let me outside again. Dasein Spring has been my cure for cabin fever.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Penhaligon’s As Sawira- A Proper English Oud

It is nice when brands have an identifiable aesthetic that mostly rings true. It allows for me as a consumer to have an idea of what I’m getting if it is consistent. One perfume brand which has this kind of consistency is Penhaligon’s. It has always stood as the epitome of British style. The great majority of the collection possesses a refinement that somehow seems very English to me. It might be the same infatuation many Americans have for things from Britain but I just like the style. When it works it really works. The latest release in the Trade Routes Collection, As Sawira, applies this aesthetic to one of the more recalcitrant notes out there; oud.

As Sawira is inspired, as are all of the Trade Routes collection are, by the old shipping trade when it was transported by tall ships. For As Sawira perfumer Christian Provenzano was asked to interpret the city of Essaoiura which was the first seaport in Morocco. M. Provenzano assembles many of the more exotic Eastern ingredients in perfumery; saffron, davana, cardamom, myrrh, and oud. At the time of these great ships crossing the oceans these provided an interpretation of the rest of the world most would never see. M. Provenzano takes As Sawira and provides a very British re-telling of a trip to Morocco.

christian provenzano

Christian Provenzano

Before M. Provenzano gets down to his tale he pours himself a glass of absinthe and the boozy licorice starts things off. In fairly short order the darkly woody davana and saffron join it. It immediately sets this as coming from the East. The saffron really does a nice job at taking the wood and licorice and making it seem alien. The heart is centered on a beautifully poised jasmine. M. Provenzano has used a source which has only a trace of indoles, sort of cleaning up his story for English audiences. The three notes which surround this jasmine are clove, cardamom, and peach. The cardamom adds a spicy green effect to the jasmine while the peach makes it creamier. Clove is almost a stand-in for the missing indoles from the jasmine. This all leads to a base of oud and myrrh. M. Provenzano uses the myrrh as a foil to the rougher edges of oud. He has done a fine job as he dresses up the oud in bow tie and blazer before unleashing it on society. The first time I wore As Sawira I kept expecting the oud to tear the tie off and throw the jacket on the ground as it would eventually take over the final stages of development. Instead, M. Provenzano keeps it completely well-behaved allowing it to interact with sandalwood, and amber for the very end stages.

As Sawira has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage. One of the least projecting oud fragrances I have tried.

When a perfumer undertakes the effort to modulate the effect oud has in a perfume very often it leads to one of the better oud creations. In As Sawira M. Provenzano has done an excellent job of making oud behave like a gentleman and the perfume is much the better for it.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Diptyque Eau Plurielle- Master of None

As the circle of societal and regulatory pressures increase at a steady pace you can’t fault a fragrance brand for looking for ways to prosper in this atmosphere. One of the obvious ways is to stop calling it perfume or cologne. If people don’t hear those words perhaps they will see things differently. Maybe the brand doesn’t want to call it perfume anymore and are looking for semantic alternatives. Diptyque is a perfume brand which has been one of the most influential for over 40 years now. Which is why I have such mixed emotions at their first release of 2015, Eau Plurielle. Diptyque is calling it a “multi-use fragrance”.

In the press materials I received announcing this at the beginning of the year they say, “It is the link, the connection that delicately perfumes both skin and fabric, the body and all the materials that encompass it.” That is a worthy goal but at least for me the perfume I wear and the fragrance I spray on bed linens or scarves have very different constructions. There is an old proverb which I think describes Eau Plurielle, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” In trying to please two very different masters there was no way it could succeed unless it chose to hew to one or the other. Instead Eau Plurielle charts a middle course which satisfies neither.

jack-of-all-trades

Eau Plurielle opens on that citrus and geranium green-tinged fruity floral that Diptyque does so well. This by itself would do well as a room spray it has a lift to it and a diffusion that would make a room feel less claustrophobic, especially in the winter months. The heart of ivy and rose does almost the opposite as it is pitched at a very intense concentration and it made me feel as if the walls were closing in on me. It flips back to the lighter side of things using a cocktail of musks to produce a linen accord of its own paired with sandalwood. This has become so common now that it feels like it is Eau Plurielle’s attempt to be inoffensive so as to forget the over exuberant heart.

Eau Plurielle has 12-14 hour longevity on skin with above average sillage and on fabric it has 24-36 hour longevity with above average sillage.

When I spray room fragrances I want something which helps me feel like the four walls of the room have expanded. When I wear perfume on a scarf I want it to be a hint of fragrance, transparent and distant. When I wear perfume on my skin I mostly want it to have a presence which comes from a complete composition containing development. Eau Plurielle never rises to the level of any of those desires. It is funny that one of Diptyque’s earliest home fragrances Essence of John Galliano is one of my favorite perfumes to wear. That fails as a home fragrance because it is too complex for its own good. Eau Plurielle fails as a home fragrance because it was irritating when I had it on a scarf and sprayed it in the room. The rose and ivy were too much. As a perfume that I wore I liked the rose and ivy but for all intents and purposes that is all there is. The top and base notes barely have any presence. There might be a great “multi-use fragrance” out there which can be all things to all fragrance lovers. Eau Plurielle is not that because it tried to be a jack of all trades and mastered nothing.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Atelier Cologne Cedre Atlas & Figuier Ardent- Atelier Cologne 2.0 (Part 2)

Continuing my reviews of the new Atelier Cologne Collection Azur I take a look at Cedre Atlas and Figuier Ardent. One of these has become one of my favorites in the entire line.

cedre atlas picture

Cedre Atlas is composed by perfumer Jerome Epinette and it is going to be a personal litmus test on how much you like cedar. M. Epinette uses an overdose of cedar in the heart of Cedre Atlas making me feel like I was standing in a lumber mill slicing up cedar planks. Before I got to that heart a fleeting application of citrus flies by as quick as a matador’s cape evading the onrushing wooded bull. The note list claims lemon and blackcurrant but all I really detect is lemon and it is in a hurry to get out of the way. In what seems like seconds the cedar lands with an all-encompassing thud. The first time I wore this it was too much. Cedar has a distinctive profile most often described as pencil shavings. This felt like being trapped in a pencil sharpener. It was aggressive and borderline irritating. After about four hours I started noticing there was this beautiful fruity floral woody fragrance coming from the places where the cedar had previously been pushing me away from. That accord would further improve as vetiver and papyrus added a watery green tint to the final stages. The last few hours of Cedre Atlas were a real joy to wear. The first couple of hours taught me how much I like cedar; not as much as I thought. Cedre Atlas has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

figuier ardent picture

Figuier Ardent is composed by perfumer Ralf Schwieger and is one of the best fig perfumes of the last five years. Fig is one of those ingredients which has been interpreted in so many ways and I wasn’t expecting to find Hr. Schwieger’s version to be so compelling. He focuses on a green fig hanging on the tree not yet ripe enough to be picked. He places that fig in the center of a sirocco of spices chosen to enhance the central note. Bergamot and anise form the early moments of Figuier Ardent. Within an hour a fig leaf note carrying vegetal facets announces the arrival of the fig itself. This is a fig which is greener and a lot less pulpy than the riper version many perfumers tend to prefer. Cardamom is used to enhance the un-ripened nature of the fig as it complements the green. Black pepper is used as contrast to the almost salty character this young fig has. Then like a time lapse photo as Figuier Ardent moves into the base the green fig ripens into a mature fig. Hr. Schwieger uses iris and tonka bean as ripening agents. They transform the immature into the experienced over the course of hours. It is a fabulous olfactory illusion and it all finishes on a very lightly woody cedar foundation. Every day I have worn Figuier Aredent I have been more and more impressed at the effect Hr. Schwieger has accomplished here. This is a great fig perfume. Figuier Ardent has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

As I said in Part 1 yesterday the whole Collection Azur feels like the culmination of five years of experience by the Creative Directors/Owners Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel. They have applied that knowledge and are still taking Atelier Cologne in new directions. Figuier Ardent is proof that those journeys can end in paradise.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Atelier Cologne.

Mark Behnke