New Perfume Review Puredistance White- Soft Focus

I really appreciate the effort Jan Ewoud Vos puts into every new release from his luxury perfume brand Puredistance. We went all of 2014 without a new release and when I received the press package for the latest, White, there was a reason. Mr. Vos had been collaborating with perfumer Antoine Lie on White. It was due to be released contemporaneously with Black, also by M. Lie, which was the last release. What is great was instead of pushing something out to satisfy a timeline Mr. Vos and M. Lie thought they could do better and so they returned to the beginning of the creative process.

jan ewoud vos

Jan Ewoud Vos

If Black was all about introspection and inward exploration; White was meant to be all about happiness and outward joy. There is no mention about what the discarded draft of White was centered on. The version which ended up carrying the name takes one of the more common supporting notes in many perfumes and gives it a starring role.

Antione_Lie

Antoine Lie

M. Lie chooses a particularly bright bergamot to lead into a pairing of Rose de Mai and orris. M. Lie keeps this very light and slightly powdery. It has a very expansive footprint in the early moments as it seems to just suffuse itself throughout my awareness. I like a powdery floral and it did make me smile. I would guess if you are not a fan of powdery florals it might be more challenging. The star of White comes up through the powder as tonka not only arrives, it takes over. Tonka is most often used as a way of adding warmth and a slight bit of sweetness into a fragrance it is used in. M. Lie takes tonka, and using it in overdose, gives it a platform from which you can’t ignore it. The tonka used here, from Venezuela, rewards the scrutiny. By having it in high concentration the hay-like coumarin, the nutty character, and the slightly vanillic sweetness all have a more noticeable effect. If this was left in overdose it would become cloying and annoying. Instead M. Lie like an olfactory cinematographer softens the focal point by the addition of sandalwood, vetiver, and patchouli. They take that tonka and blur the edges making it just right while still retaining its starring role. A lovely cocktail of musks are the finishing touches to White.

Puredistance White has 24 hour longevity and average sillage, more than you might expect from a fragrance at 38% concentration.

White reminds me of waking up from a summer afternoon nap as the late afternoon sun flows into the room giving everything a soft glow. Mr. Vos wanted a perfume which would make one smile; I also found White to be a deeply comforting scent as well. It produced a smile of pure contentment each time I wore it.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Rubini Fundamental- Faith Restored (Part2)

Every year when I attend Esxence I wait for that moment. It comes when I am introduced to a new brand and it just captivates me from the first moment I smell the strip. This year that moment occurred when I heard the first words out of the young founder’s mouth. When I stepped up to the booth at the beginning of my third day Andrea Bissoli Rubini looked me in the eye and said, “I was born into a family of perfumers.” The earnest passion with which those words were spoken let me know that something special was on the way. The perfume called Rubini Fundamental lived up to every bit of the promise in those words.

Andrea Rubini

Andrea Bissoli Rubini

As I was smelling the strip Sig. Rubini told me his story. How he wanted to assemble a “Made in Italy” team. He asked nose Cristiano Canali to help design the perfume. He asked fellow blogger Ermano Picco to help refine the brief. He asked designer Francesca Gotti to create an unforgettable package to capture the past and the future. Each member of this team executed their task brilliantly.

Sig. Picco imagined Verona in 1937 as the small perfume shop in town serves the ladies in their iris-scented face powder. The actors still wearing their greasepaint. The alluring smells of the denizens of the local house of pleasure. Finally the smell of ripening Soave grapes on the vine ready to be harvested. These are the fundamentals of Fundamental.

Sig. Canali took a mix of great natural materials and combined them with modern synthetics which creates that Retro Nouveau vibe I like so much. Many attempt this but very few pull it off as well as Sig. Canali does in Fundamental.

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Side View of the Rubini Fundamental packaging

Sig.ra Gotti has a very unique perspective when it comes to packaging. She took this new material made from recycled Fiberglas, from boats, called Glebanite. Like an olfactory Oreo she sandwiches the bottle between two slabs of Gelbanite. When I saw it, and touched it, it felt like old stone. It wasn’t until I picked it up and saw how feather light it was despite looking so solid that it struck me that again the future was inspired by the past in Sig.ra Gotti’s design.

Above it all Sig. Rubini conducted his team of impassioned Italians to realize his vision.

Fundamental opens on a Hesperidic accord of bergamot, tangerine, orange flower, and a couple of synthetic citrus notes which add nuance and texture. The orange blossom in particular carries the early moments. Then we get the powdery iris as it floats above the top notes. The Soave grape accord also comes in with the powder. Sig. Canali finds the balance between crisp fruit and slightly alcoholic. It is as light as the iris making it the right partner for the heart of Fundamental. The thicker unctuous smell of the greasepaint also comes to provide the contrast to the pretty notes with a bit of bohemian insouciance. This is made up of vetiver and another set of synthetics which adds an olfactory thickness to Fundamental. We head further into the base with sandalwood and leather providing a carnal promise if you are just willing to take a step towards it.

Fundamental has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Everything about Fundamental makes me elated, and renews my faith, at the state of independent perfumery. Sig. Rubini assembled a group of like-minded visionaries. Together they carried themselves to the heights of creativity. I could wish that this was fundamental thinking for everyone making perfume. As long as Sig. Rubini can keep using his heritage to fuel his future I am sure that Fundamental is only the beginning of something quite marvelous.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample I received at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review: Canoe Skive- Faith Restored (Part 1)

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It is so easy to become jaded at the state of perfumery. Yes there are problems galore to focus on. Yes there is too much similar product trying to live off its marketing rather than its scent. Yes the big companies, and the not-so-big companies, seem to be more concerned with their bottom line than the artistic line. Yes the regulatory agencies are slowly drawing an ever narrowing circle around what can go in our perfumes. That is why it is easy to be jaded. It is also why it so gratifying to see some new brands just shucking all of that smoke, doing something right and making a perfume that is just everything I could want in a fragrance. Today and tomorrow I am going to tell two very different stories about two very different independent perfumes. Not that it was, but if my faith was flagging these two perfumes would have been my olfactory Lourdes. The first is Canoe Skive.

jessica Hannah and Natalie Davis

Jessica Hannah (l.) and Natalie Davis

Skive is a collaboration between natural perfumer Jessica Hannah of her own J. Hannah Co. and Natalie Davis of Canoe Goods, a leather goods line in Austin, TX. Ms. Davis went to Ms. Hannah’s studio for a session to produce a private blend just for her. While there these two Texan women found they had so much in common they wanted to work together on a perfume to be sold on the Canoe website. They agreed the fragrance would have to be a leather based one. The name Skive comes from the process of thinning the backside of leather with a knife, called skiving. Ms. Hannah wanted to represent Ms. Davis’ love of the outdoors, her love of tea, and the leather she works with. Skive is a pot of tea steeping next to a campfire while you work a piece of leather in your hands with the heavens open above you.

Ms. Hannah uses clary sage, saffron, and vetiver to create her earthy foundation upon which she will lay in place the rest of the notes of Skive. Choya loban provides the campfire. Some of this smoke also is very reminiscent of a pot of Lapsang Souchong tea on the boil. It is supported with a healthy amount of cedar. This gives the smell of the freshly cut wood to add to the fire once it burns low. At this point this is a near-perfect campfire accord capturing the fire pit, the surrounding trees, and the smoke drifting up from it. Then the leather accord arrives. Ms. Hannah is a natural perfumer and so she uses ambrette and castoreum to create her leather. It has so much vitality to it I almost feel like there should be a piece of actual leather where I sprayed. The final piece of Skive is twin resinous swirls of frankincense and myrrh adding a different kind of smoke to the mix. You might think all of this is heavy but Ms. Hannah truly shows off her skill as Skive has an ability to feel as expansive as the great outdoors. I found it oddly exhilarating despite the seemingly weighty notes.

Skive has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Skive is everything I rave about when speaking of independent perfumery. It is deeply personal and individual visions that translate to a much wider audience. Skive is an artistic vision made glorious reality. It makes me fall in love with perfume all over again.

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

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: Skive has been named a Finalist for the 2015 Art & Olfaction Awards in the Independent Category.

New Perfume Review Hermes Le Jardin de Monsieur Li- Wistful Whispers

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I was just beginning to discover all that was going on behind my favorite perfumes in 2005 when I remember picking up the March issue of The New Yorker. Inside was an article by Chandler Burr on the creation of Hermes Un Jardin sur Le Nil by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. It was one of the most complete descriptions of the creation of a perfume I had ever seen. (If you’ve never read it here is the link) It was the second in the “Un Jardin” series of perfumes for Hermes and it is one of my favorites of the entire line. I have just received the fifth, and supposedly, final “Un Jardin” perfume by M. Ellena; it is called Le Jardin de Monsieur Li.

I am sure this is me projecting my own emotions at the idea of M. Ellena retiring and leaving Hermes in the hands of Christine Nagel but I found Le Jardin de Monsieur Li to have one of the most fragile architectures of any of M. Ellena’s creations in his time at Hermes. For this one he spent time in China in a tranquility garden. This fragrance has an incredible calming effect on my spirits when I wear it. I think it means M. Ellena really was finding that place of calm within while designing Le Jardin de Monsieur Li.

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Jean-Claude Ellena

M.Ellena chooses kumquat as the place to begin his final Jardin stroll. For a Chinese garden walk this is particularly apt. Many who smell this fragrance will think this is lemon. Kumquat essential oil is made up mostly of limonene and if you let it glide by without notice that is what you will experience. The special quality of M. Ellena’s perfumes is the care with which each of a very few ingredients are chosen. This kumquat is a great example. If you take the time to zero in on it you will dive beneath the lemon and find a very subtle spiciness under the tart. A pinch of Szechuan hot pepper is added by M. Ellena to make sure this does not go by unnoticed. All of this is placed on a watery bamboo matrix. The bamboo adds a transparent woody green character. All three of these top notes seem so insubstantial that my mere notice seems enough to send them scattering. They manage to stand up, barely, to my scrutiny. The heart is jasmine and rose but these are meditative focal points and not blowsy distractions. The jasmine seems as fragile as fine porcelain. Finally Le Jardin de Monsieur Li ends by a pool of water where it splashes against the slate lining the pond. An aquatic stony accord that also exudes wet wood is the final movement.

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li has 6-8 hours longevity and average sillage.

I think Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is not going to be widely loved. The delicacy to its construction is going to be seen as a significant drawback by some. For me I am so often presented with perfumes as solid as Fort Knox this was a pleasure to experience. I really found myself drawn into the meditative vibe of this perfume. To really enjoy this I think it is almost a necessity to be in this frame of mind. If this is where M. Ellena really does end his Jardin series it is an appropriately wistful farewell, spoken in whispers.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood- The Lion Sleeps Tonight

If there is one perfumer who I trust to give me something different when he chooses to work with oud it is Francis Kurkdjian. He is a perfumer who has put oud through its paces and realized specific visions not only for his own Maison Francis Kurkdjian line but for other lines as well. M. Kurkdjian reminds me a bit of a lion tamer at the circus surrounded by all of these snarling rambunctious oud notes. Like that lion tamer he summons one to the center of the ring and begins to form a perfume. In 2013 he took my favorite, Laotian Oud, and created three tactile versions of oud using it; Oud Cahmere Mood, Oud Silk Mood, and Oud Velvet Mood. Like my metaphorical animal wrangler M. Kurkdjian put that Laotian oud through its paces. The only thing that was missing was the warmth that accompanies that particular oud I wanted one which was also warm. The new Oud Satin Mood is what I was looking for.

What makes Oud Satin Mood so very different is most of the time perfumers allow oud to gallop headlong over the horizon trailing whatever can keep pace with it. In all of the Oud Mood collection M. Kurkdjian makes sure the exquisite Laotian oud does not get lost in the need for power. It takes a perfumer with an innate feel for his raw material and after four perfumes it seems pretty clear to me that when it comes to Laotian oud and M. Kurkdjian he has found his king of the perfumed jungle. Oud Satin Mood is when that royal presence wants to rest indolently in the sun as M. Kurkdjian wraps his oud up in a warm blanket of notes.

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Francis Kurkdjian

Oud Satin Mood opens with a less metallic violet accord as M. Kurkdjian puts forward the candied sweet aspects over the edgier facets. The oud begins to rise as the violet seems to sprinkle itself over it. As the oud become more prominent a rose mixture of Bulgarian and Turkish varieties also rise. Rose and oud are a classic pairing and if the rose continued to increase in intensity this might be one of those perfumes. M. Kurkdjian has a different destination in mind and for that the rose needs to lag behind the oud. The final phase of development is a cuddly warm mixture of the oud, benzoin, and vanilla. M. Kurkdjian pulls this all together into a plush slightly floral comfort perfume. That it has one of the strongest ouds out there and it can still be called comforting tells you what a good job he did in balancing this.

Oud Satin Mood has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

I’m not sure if M. Kurkdjian has more tricks to teach the Laotian member of his menagerie. I am hoping if there are more Oud Moods to come that he calls forth the Vietnamese version. The sweet and spicy nature would be very interesting to see what he would create. If you want to try one of the most comfortable oud perfumes on the market head to your local Maison Francis Kurkdjian stockist in May.

Disclsoure: This review was based on a sample provided by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Euphorium Brooklyn Usar- Komodo Mind Trick

As I mentioned in my review of the first two releases from Euphorium Brooklyn, Cilice and Wald, the backstory is as fun as the perfume. Owner and taleteller Stephen Dirkes is the mind behind all of this.

To recap, Euphorium Brooklyn is the recreation of three fragrances from the Euphorium Bile Works. Cilice and Wald were done by Etienne Chevreuill and Christian Rosenkreuz, respectively. The heart of all of these perfumes was something developed by the third perfumer Rudolph Komodo. Called, obviously, The Komodo Process it was meant to put the euphoria in Euphorium. M. Komodo was also known as the Dragon and is represented on the crest with the familiars, stag and bear, of the other two perfumers.  That is the overview but there is more when it comes to the fragrances.

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Rudolph Komodo (via Euphorium Brooklyn website)

The third release is called Usar and it carries the least amount of story to its inspiration although what is there is still mighty amusing. M. Komodo must have decamped to the islands of the South Pacific to help devise The Komodo Process. For Usar he combines many of the notes found in that area of the world.

Usar is the most assured composition of the three releases but it is still exceedingly simple. Unlike Cilice and Wald there is more of a progression and a very rudimentary pyramid. On top of that pyramid is a tart lime matched with ginger. It is fairly classic opening stanza accomplished with workmanlike efficiency. The heart is centered on raw sugar cane. I have always loved this mix of watery sweetness mixed with the crushed green and woody nature of the outside of the cane. There is a healthy dose of this in the middle of Usar and this was the closest I came to having The Komodo Effect take me over. The base is also a very traditional earthy mix of vetiver and cypriol.

Usar is a perfume oil and has 10-12 hour longevity and minimal sillage.

As I mentioned in the first review these are competently done styles of perfumes with only Usar having something approaching a recognizable development. I found the whole thing enjoyable. This is what Mr. Dirkes is attempting here and the words plus the fragrances coupled with my imagination made me chuckle with pleasure. Maybe it is all a Komodo Mind Trick but I really don’t care because I had fun.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I received with purchase.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Charenton Macerations Asphalt Rainbow- Rose Molotov

It was soon after he released the first fragrance under his Charenton Macerations line, Christopher Street, that I met Owner and Creative Director Douglas Bender. Like a demented version of Oliver Twist I was already asking him what was next. Mr. Bender has no shortage of inspirations and on that day over a year ago he said quietly to me the next release would be based on “street art”. That was something I knew I would be very interested in and my wait is over as that perfume has just been released, Asphalt Rainbow.

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Flower Thrower by Banksy- On a wall in Jerusalem 2003

The evolution from graffiti to street art has been a gradual thing but there have been a few inflection points where it has been seen as creativity over vandalism. There are two artists, among many, who have helped the public also share that opinion; Shepard Fairey and Banksy. Mr. Fairey would go from creating a stencil of wrestler Andre the Giant with the words “Obey” underneath to designing Presidential Candidate Barack Obama’s campaign poster with the word “Hope”. Banksy is the name of a British artist who has never been seen. He has traveled all over the world placing his work on different walls. He spent October of 2013 in New York City putting up a piece a day. His entire career, and a commentary on street art itself, can be seen in the brilliant 2010 documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop”. To be successful the street artist has to work in the middle of the night without getting caught by the authorities. It leads to a furtiveness but it also can lead to something with incredible visceral impact. The piece above by Banksy called “Flower Thrower” was placed on a wall in Jerusalem as a commentary on the ongoing conflict there.

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Douglas Bender

I don’t know if Mr. Bender is a fan of Banksy, or not, but after smelling Asphalt Rainbow I was very strongly reminded of that Banksy piece. (For the actuual street art inspiration here is Mr. Bender's blog post on it) Working with perfumer Cecile Hua, Mr. Bender has created a rose disguised as a spray paint can Molotov Cocktail. They fashion a rose perfume which explodes across a concrete face and instead of burning alcohol it is replaced with the smell of the urban landscape. It has the same primal impact as a provocative piece of street art as something as pretty as a rose can be laid over something distinctly artificial and create a different form of beauty.

cecile hua

Cecile Hua

Asphalt Rainbow opens with the rose right out front. The early moments are a pretty, soft rose but then Ms. Hua lights the fuse. Fairly quickly the rose begins to fray as galbanum and cistus pry apart the rose with slashes of green. An odd vibrant saffron provides a Day-Glo aspect as other florals, most prominently magnolia, try to put the rose back together. Then like a magic trick each day I wore this Mr. Bender and Ms. Hua found an accord which captures that slightly sweet smell of aerosol paint as it leaves the nozzle. This is the transformative moment in Asphalt Rainbow as it plows headlong into a concrete wall. Mr. Bender gave me a preview of this accord and as I told him at the time he showed it to me it smells like a vast field of concrete in the morning, just when you would discover a new piece on a local wall.  Patchouli and amber go extremely well with this, grounding Asphalt Rainbow in something a little more tractable for most wearers.

Asphalt Rainbow has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am very impressed with the effort Mr. Bender and Ms. Hua have put in getting just the right vibe for this. There were so many ways this could have gone poorly and they managed to avoid all of them. Asphalt Rainbow is a more experimental fragrance than Christopher Street was. As a result it is going to be too unusual for some. For those who want a very different take on rose as if it was a piece of street art, you should grab a piece of Asphalt Rainbow.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review slumberhouse Kiste- Josh Lobb’s Garden of Good and Evil

“For me, Savannah's resistance to change was its saving grace. The city looked inward, sealed off from the noises and distractions of the world at large. It grew inward, too, and in such a way that its people flourished like hothouse plants tended by an indulgent gardener. The ordinary became extraordinary. Eccentrics thrived. Every nuance and quirk of personality achieved greater brilliance in that lush enclosure than would have been possible anywhere else in the world.”- From “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story” by John Berendt

The quote is from one of the books about the American South which only exists in a few outposts which allows eccentricity to thrive. Savannah, Georgia is a smaller more insular version of the more well-known New Orleans, Louisiana. Both cities pride themselves on their ability to march to their own beat. It is those eccentrics that allow those of us less willing to take risks the opportunity to step into their world, in these cities, and let our freak flag fly for a short time.

In the world of independent perfumery if there is a section of the world which seems to have a thriving eccentric mix of creators it would be the American Pacific Northwest. Josh Lobb of slumberhouse is one of those who has flourished like a figurative hothouse plant. Mr. Lobb approaches each of his perfumes like a man working in a hothouse as he examines and sources each material within his perfumes to find the exact right balance he is looking for. In his latest release Kiste Mr. Lobb was inspired by summer in Savannah and he has created another nuanced fragrant tale from his fertile mind.

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Savannah Home via mariontrips.typepad.com

If you’ve ever spent summer in Savannah there is a physical weight to the humidity and it is something Mr. Lobb captures perfectly within Kiste. The other effect humidity has is it makes odors linger as they just can’t escape the moisture laden air. So if you were to be sitting on the porch of a Savannah house with a fan twirling overhead, a pitcher of sweet tea, surrounded by dense foliage with a cigar as the sweat rolls down your face. Then you know what Kiste smells like.

Kiste opens on an overripe peach note next to the tea accord. This is what passes for the sweet tea portion of Kiste. It was what got my attention from the moment I first tried it. I have never smelled anything like this in a perfume before. It is so well done I can see the condensation on the pitcher and the sweat on my forehead racing to see who can reach the bottom first. The foliage accord comes next and this is also the smell of leafiness made more pungent by heat. The note which pulls this together is henna as it adds that sense of living decay to the leaves. This all leads to the star of Kiste a specific tobacco note Mr. Lobb created especially for Kiste. He commissioned a bespoke pipe tobacco which was made to his specifications and then he performed his own extraction of it. I don’t know what was in the bespoke tobacco but what shows up on my skin is what I would describe as a candied tobacco with a hint of Jack Daniels. There is a sweet syrupy quality along with the bite of good whiskey. It all comes together to make Kiste as warm as that red ball of sun setting on the horizon.

Kiste has 18-24 hour longevity and above average sillage.

For those of you who have been challenged by Mr. Lobb’s “wall of scent” aesthetic in his previous creations I think Kiste might be the easiest of his collection to approach. It is still way more intense than the average commercial release but it is the least intense of anything he has made. When I am introducing someone to slumberhouse in the future Kiste is going to be where I start. For those who have been fans you might at first think this is the least complex slumberhouse to date and at first impression I probably shared that opinion. But in the 72 hours I’ve been wearing it there are hidden depths especially around that very special tobacco in the base. It is exactly why Mr. Lobb’s “every nuance and quirk of personality achieved greater brilliance in that lush enclosure than would have been possible anywhere else in the world.”

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review The Beautiful Mind Series Vol. 2 Precision & Grace- Herr Professor Doktor Attends the Ballet

There are many things which start with volume one and you wonder when volume two will eventually arrive. One of the earliest fragrances I reviewed in my blogging career was Geza Schoen’s The Beautiful Mind Series Vol. 1 Intelligence & Beauty. Hr. Schoen spent time with Grandmaster of Memory Christiane Stenger and she was the creative director for that first perfume. Hr. Schoen wanted to create a fragrance that captured the brilliance of a brilliant mind. Of course volume one made one think there would be more but for five years there hadn’t been a follow-up. Then I received that promised volume two almost out of the blue two weeks ago.

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Polina Semionova

For The Beautiful Mind Series Vol.2 Precision & Grace, Hr. Schoen teams with ballet dancer Polina Semionova. Ms. Semionova is a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre in New York City where she has been since 2012. The inspiration for Precision & Grace comes from this quote of Ms. Semionova’s, “Without intelligent work, there is no result, even if you have a great gift. The precision only comes with hours of work in the studio. Then, when I go on stage, I don’t think anymore. I release myself to the music. I fly.” This is a great place to start designing a perfume which captures early precision only to soar with grace, and humanity, at the end. This is what Hr. Schoen and Ms. Semionova have produced with Precision & Grace.

There would be very few perfumers who I think are as precise as Hr. Schoen who also know how to fly. For Precision & Grace the early moments are delineated fruit and florals which lead to a base full of animalic abandon as the dancer soars.

geza schoen

Geza Schoen

Precision & Grace starts off with a crisp pear note. When I first wore this I thought that was all there was but the second time I wore it I detected the other notes which act as modulators for the central pear note. Mandarin, bergamot, and especially lemon form an olfactory magnifying glass and it is their presence which creates that crispness that I can almost hear the snap as I bite into this pear. The same thing happens in the heart but this time it is two notes which combine, jasmine and plum. As with the pear it is the other notes which create the desired effect. Hr. Schoen takes mimosa and osmanthus and lets the mimosa act as tulle to the weight of the jasmine. The apricot quality of the osmanthus provides the same effect to the plum. They supply the figurative ballet dancer’s tutu to the body of the perfume. All of this has a clear purpose of construction but if Precision is all about exactitude; Grace will be something a little more human. For that part Hr. Schoen goes for a base consisting of real sandalwood and castoreum. A real sandalwood has a slightly animalic quality. The castoreum is present to make sure that slight becomes prominent. This is the seemingly wild abandon of the dancer unleashed. The transition from the fruity floral to the woody animalic is really well done. Every time I wore this the tonal shift made me grin with pleasure.

Precision & Grace has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

There are many times Hr. Schoen gets very experimental in his perfumed creations. I think that is the equivalent of Ms. Semionova’s “intelligent work”. It allows Hr. Schoen to take his cues from The Beautiful Mind of Ms. Semionova and produce one of the prettiest perfumes he has made in years. While I know Beautiful Minds are few and far between I am hopeful it won’t be another five years before volume three arrives.

Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample provided by The Beautiful Mind Series.

Mark Behnke

Perfume Reviews Bruno Fazzolari Au Dela and Room 237- Dreams & Terror

Bruno Fazzolari Au Dela is a modern chypre inspired by the music of French composer Olivier Messaien. Specifically Mr. Fazzolari based it on the Fifth Movement of M. Massaien’s last work “Eclairs sur L’Au Dela” (Flashes of the Beyond). This movement is the only soft dreamy movement within the work everything else is full of percussion and flash. Only here are you expected to linger and smell the roses. The perfume based on this also asks you to let it develop in a less flashy way. It asks you to take it in as it fully forms a chypre on your skin.

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Bruno Fazzolari

Au Dela opens on an herbal shot of coriander with a bit of bergamot. For the first few minutes it is all about the coriander. The heart is all white flowers neroli, orange flowers, and jasmine. I love indoles and white flowers can have a lot or a little and usually a perfumer picks one side of the coin and works from there. Mr. Fazzolari stakes out a more difficult middle ground where he domesticates the snarling ferocity of the indoles into something docile. They have an unusual luminosity to them made even more brilliant by the floralcy that goes with them. As I wore Au Dela many times I expected the indoles to slip the leash and start growling but they never do, they stayed perfectly behaved. Mr. Fazzolari trots out the oakmoss and amber to provide the traditional chypre basics. Because he is independent this is the real stuff and it is glorious in its depth. It creates a platform upon which the white flowers rest to complete the chypre picture. Au Dela has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

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From Stanley Kubrick's The Shining

Mr. Fazzolari’s newest release is Room 237. If you are a fan of the Stanley Kubrick movie “The Shining” then you get the reference. For those who aren’t, a quick summary. A family is left to be caretaker of a Rocky Mountain summer resort over the long winter. The hotel is called The Overlook and the young son in the family, who has psychic powers, is warned by the cook before he leaves not to go into Room 237. It wouldn’t be a horror movie if everyone in the family didn’t eventually end up in Room 237 at some point. One of the hallmarks of The Shining was Mr. Kubrick’s almost glacial pace at building up to a jolt. No sawing violins to denote the impending terror here it is all seen through the eyes of the protagonists. Room 237 as a perfume is meant to capture that sense of opening doors into dangerous forbidden places. As a result Room 237 is a perfume that is going to deeply unsettle some and others are fearlessly going to turn the key and enter. Follow me as I take you inside.

As we turn the key on the door a mix of angelica, fleabane, and tarragon form a weird accord. It has a sort of miasmic shifting quality as the fleabane and the tarragon have off-center herbal characteristics and the angelica is the only normal kind of note. You can feel the hair on the back of your neck rise as we push into the room. There is a woman stepping out of bath she carries a fresh washed skin smell courtesy of oppoponax and olibanum. She also carries an aura which seems like decomposing wood along with the cleanliness which comes from costus. We should run now but we stand transfixed as she beckons us closer. In the mirror we see she has been in the water too long as flesh sloughs off her back. As we get close she wraps us up, too tightly, in the plastic shower curtain as we are enveloped in it. Mr. Fazzolari has created a powerful plastic accord reminiscent of freshly unpacked shower curtain and it dominates the final part of the development of Room 237. I know my fanciful story might make you wary of Room 237 and in less prosaic terms it really is Mr. Fazzolari working on a perfume which is meant to be emotionally provocative. If you’re willing to go along for the ride you will have a singular experience which only an independent perfumer can provide. Room 237 has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

All four of the fragrances I tried by Mr. Fazzolari show a perfumer inspired by art, music, and film. They show a perfumer who can comfort and discombobulate. They show an artist who is fearlessly exploring all that perfume can attempt to communicate. If you haven’t already look these perfumes up they are exquisite examples of one man’s vision.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Bruno Fazzolari.

Mark Behnke