New Perfume Review Hermes Rose Amazone- Trying Not to Lose the Melody

I am a big fan of the singing competition American Idol. Every year at this part of the competition they reach the point where all those who made the initial cut at auditions come together in Hollywood so that the judges can further winnow them down to a final 24 contestants from around 200. One of the ways a contestant tries to stick out is to take a well-known song and re-interpret it. The bad ones destroy the song so it is unrecognizable and the good ones put a fresh spin on it. The judges will often remark after the performance that the singer did a good job of not losing the melody. The new re-interpretation of Hermes Amazone called Rose Amazone felt like in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena’s attempt to make a younger hipper version of the original, without losing the melody.

The original Amazone was released in 1974 and was composed by perfumer Maurice Maurin. That original version was meant to be a luxury alternative to Revlon’s Charlie for this nascent “working woman” who needed something to wear on the job. M. Maurin used the incredible green of blackcurrant buds with a healthy dose of raspberry. That it wore its fruit so unabashedly on its sleeve was different at that time. Fifteen years later M. Ellena would reformulate for a different time. Now he would really amplify the fruit throughout the design making the citrus zing and the berries boisterous. It lost some of the blackcurrant bud underneath all of that. The base notes were made creamier woody as a sandalwood played a more prominent role. These two versions are markedly different enough so that even a non-perfume lover who only wore Amazone noticed when her 1974 bottle was done and she bought a 1989 bottle. This would not be the first time I explained reformulation to a confused consumer. To maintain the singing analogy I would say the 1989 version of Amazone was sung out at the top of its lungs and if you like power ballads, it was like that.

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Jean-Claude Ellena

Even though Rose Amazone has a different name it really could be called Amazone 2015 because it definitely is constructed around the same melody. The stated objective is to appeal to a modern younger woman. The idea seems to be that this woman wants a perfume with a slower stripped down melody from the original. That is just what M. Ellena attempts to deliver.

Rose Amazone starts off with a much more pronounced citrus opening as the blackcurrant bud is moved into the heart leaving a very sparkly shiny opening. The grapefruit is the leader of this citrus pack but they’re all here. The rose comes out and this is a big change as the original has a lot more floral notes. Here M. Ellena leaves the rose to do the job by itself. The blackcurrant bud and the raspberry show up near simultaneously with the rose. This is where Rose Amazone slows the beat down so that you focus on these three keynotes of all three versions. I really liked this combination very much. The woodier base of the 1989 version of Amazone is what you finish on in Rose Amazone, as you return to the original melody.

Rose Amazone has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I think M. Ellena has done a creditable job at making a more modern younger version of Amazone with Rose Amazone. He stayed true to the melody by going unplugged and letting the keynotes in the heart sing out beautifully.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Brooklyn Perfume Company Oud, Amber, Sandalwood, and Musk- The Perfume Chemistry Set

There are so many different paths to the creation of an independent perfumer. One of the more common stories is when someone who worked with food gets the desire to make perfume. That story fits James Peterson the founder of Brooklyn Perfume Company. Mr. Peterson after years in the restaurant business rose to prominence as the author of a series of books on cooking. His first book Sauces is part of my kitchen bookshelf. Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention he has a degree in chemistry. When I read Sauces I didn’t realize this but I felt it was written as clearly as an experimental procedure I use in the lab. Last year Mr. Peterson made the leap into perfumery and created his own independent brand. The first four releases are single note studies: Oud, Amber, Sandalwood, and Musk.

james peterson

James Peterson

These first four fragrances feel like the beginning steps as Mr. Peterson keeps all four of them exceedingly simple. My overall impression of them is these are the first accords of his independent perfume career. They are simply constructed and show an understanding of raw materials but only one feels more like a real finished perfume.

Oud is made up of real oud; the new sustainable kind which has been colloquially dubbed “white oud”. It is a fascinating ingredient to use as it is real oud with all of the rich subtleties that make the real thing. What is different about it is it lacks the age of a classic oud tree. So Oud comes off like a precocious adolescent. It wants you to notice it but once you do it seems somehow callow. This is where Mr. Peterson is similar to his ingredient as both will get much better with experience. Oud needs at least one or two more contrasting notes to properly frame this unique ingredient. Instead Oud is more like one of the spices on the spice rack that will only become great when combined with the right ingredients.

Amber suffers from the same issue as Oud. Mr. Peterson has an exquisite single ingredient but he chooses to just let that ingredient carry the fragrance. For anyone who has not smelled a fossilized amber it will seem like something revelatory. Fossilized amber, like the white oud, offers a fantastic focal point for a perfumer to attach other notes to. The very nature of choosing which facets to enhance or contrast is what makes for a great perfume. Amber is a great ingredient in search of a perfume.

For Sandalwood Mr. Peterson again puts on display a contemporary source of a rare raw material as he is using the newly sustainable sources of Mysore sandalwood. As I’ve already repeated twice before it is a wonderful opportunity for someone who has never smelled pure sandalwood to have a chance. It also again is the only thing you smell. There is an excellent raw material here and I think the sustainable Mysore sandalwood is much better than I could have hoped for. Sandalwood lets you see that sandalwood on its own isn’t as sweet and creamy as it is when you usually encounter it. That requires the addition of notes to modulate it to form the desired effect.

As I tried the first three offerings of Brooklyn Perfume Company they felt like a chef assembling the ingredients for a great sauce. Or even a chemist taking down the chemicals for which he will use in his experiment. This is why Musk is the only one of the first four releases which succeeds at actually being a real composition. This time Mr. Peterson couldn’t just go get some real musk oil and put it in a bottle and go, “voila!” This time he had to take an array of synthetic musks and combine and balance them to create his desired “funky” musk. It is because that funky musk actually makes it into the bottle that I can see the potential in Mr. Peterson as a perfumer. It is easy to combine the synthetic musks and get something strongly animalic but it is also often beastly, in a bad way, to wear. Mr. Peterson had to take the time to make these notes combine in a way to create that effect while still being wearable. Musk feels like a real perfume because early on the fresh linen musks are apparent before the wilder members of the family arrive and shred the freshly cleaned sheets. Musk holds at this point for a few hours before finally shedding a lot of the funk leaving a domesticated animal in its wake. It might behave but it still has some bite.

Mr. Peterson’s experience as a chef has stood him well in assembling the best raw materials to work with. Now he has to channel that experience as a chef, and a chemist, and combine these materials into perfumes that let us in on his vision of what perfume can be. He has all the pieces to make a fantastic perfume “sauce”. Musk shows he has the patience to get it right. Now he just needs to get in the lab and show us what he is about.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Maison Francis Kurkdjian A la Rose- Rose Squared

I first became aware of perfumer Francis Kurkdjian as most did from his groundbreaking Jean-Paul Gaultier Le Male that he composed with Christopher Sheldrake in 1995. In the twenty years since M. Kurkdjian has left an impression across all sectors of fragrance. While he still works for many brands since 2009 he has also composed perfumes for his own line Maison Francis Kurkdjian. The latest A la Rose represents the 24th perfume he has made for his own brand. M Kurkdjian has one of the most distinct aesthetics in all of perfumery but when working for another brand he has to bend it to another creative director’s desire. With the perfumes he makes for Maison Francis Kurkdjian he has more freedom to make something more true to his desires. A la Rose is a good example of his sense of style.

rose harvest in grasse

Harvesting Rose de Mai in Grasse

A la Rose is a full-blooded rose soliflore. Actually that isn’t correct it is a rose fragrance made up of two rose varieties Bulgarian Damascena rose and Rose de Mai from Grasse. These are two of the most distinctive rose sources a perfumer can use. Damascena rose has a fresh quality to it as well as a significant fruity aspect. M. Kurkdjian uses it as the focal point in the early going. Rose de Mai has more of a sensuality to it with its honey-like character enhancing that feel. M. Kurkdjian not only uses these rose raw materials but he uses them in overdose. It really embellishes these raw materials making it easy to pick up the fruity and honey nuances. What also makes it easy is M. Kurkdjian doesn’t clutter up A la Rose with too much else so that the roses are always right out in front.

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Francis Kurkdjian

A la Rose does open with the Damascena rose. This rose is probably responsible for the entire fruity floral family as perfumers tried to capture its unique profile with lesser materials. M. Kurkdjian takes the Damascena rose and lets it unfurl like a rose bud. At first you get the unmistakable rose bouquet then because it is in such high concentration the pear facets are most readily apparent. Bergamot and orange are present to focus that pear character and make it crisp. It has been a while since I have enjoyed a rose opening to a perfume as much as I enjoyed this. M. Kurkdjian envelops you in the beauty of Damascena rose. As a sort of palate cleanser a heart of violet and magnolia start to temper the fruitiness. This leads to the Rose de Mai’s emergence. Rose de Mai is a sultry rose; in A la Rose it exists as counterpoint to Damascena rose’s genial quality. Rose de Mai has this gorgeous honey quality which only truly flowers when it is used at high concentrations. I am often disappointed at perfumers who will overwhelm that honeyed beauty with other heavy notes. M. Kurkdjian wants it to be front and center over the last part of A la Rose and so he provides cedar and a few musks to provide a clean frame to house the Rose de Mai.

A la Rose has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Rose perfumes are everywhere and it takes something different to make me sit up and take notice. The use of these two rose raw materials and the opportunity to let one own the early hours of wear and the other the later hours makes for a complete rose experience. If you are a lover of rose perfumes A la Rose is a must sniff.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle provided by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Atelier Cologne Pomelo Paradis- Creating a Hybrid

I met Sylvie Ganter in the spring of 2010 at Bergdorf Goodman as she presented the original five fragrances which make up the Atelier Cologne Collection Originale. Mme Ganter wanted to revolutionize cologne by taking it places cologne had never gone before. Along with her husband, Christophe Cervasel, they have made Atelier Cologne the leader in transforming the way we view cologne. All Atelier Colognes are called Cologne Absolue by upping the perfume oil in their fragrances they produce. They took the architecture that was cologne and made it recognizably cologne but also pushed the boundaries of what that design could bear. Over the last five years it has been a distinct delight to observe where Atelier Cologne would choose to go. Five years after their beginning they have chosen to return to the Collection Originale and release a new one, Pomelo Paradis.

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Ralf Schwieger, Christophe Cervasel, and Sylvie Ganter (l. to r.)

Pomelo Paradis was composed by perfumer Ralf Schwieger. Hr Schwieger was responsible for what is perhaps now considered the flagship of the brand Orange Sanguine. It was this perfume which displayed all of the, now realized, potential of Cologne Absolue. Hr Schwieger has been an integral part of the process as all of the Atelier Cologne fragrances, since the originals, have been signed by him or Jerome Epinette. I think it is this consistency of creative direction and perfumer which has made Atelier Cologne one of the best new brands of the last five years.

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Pomelo

Pomelo Paradis returns Atelier Cologne back to its citrus roots. Many are going to smell Pomelo Paradis and exclaim grapefruit and they will be right but they will also be wrong. Almost all of the more common citrus fruits are hybrids. It is a trait common to the family and it is why you can have so many different varieties of limes or lemons. Nature is its own experimentalist creating new varieties based upon what pollen can combine. Scientists now believe all citrus fruit came from four basic fruits, citron, mandarin, papeda, and pomelo. Grapefruit comes from the natural hybridization of pomelo and mandarin. It then occurred to me that Atelier Cologne is also a hybrid of its own as pure parfum and cologne have formed Cologne Absolue.

Hr. Schwieger chooses to re-create nature’s work in the top notes of Pomelo Paradis by taking pomelo and mandarin and combining them to create a grapefruit accord. This is an important distinction as Hr. Schwieger could have just chosen to take grapefruit and start this perfume with that. By combining pomelo and mandarin it creates a nuanced grapefruit accord that would not have been easily achievable otherwise. Together the two pieces give a grapefruit with real heft without being overwhelming. A very judicious use of blackcurrant bud by Hr. Schwieger tunes the grapefruit accord further. Grapefruit has a bit of a sulfurous quality. The blackcurrant bud adds that in while also adding some green sturdiness. The heart is why Ateleier Cologne has succeeded, in this re-imagining of cologne, as a floral bouquet of rose and orange blossom cut by mint take this very traditional opening and move it off in a new direction. Mint has to be used very carefully. Hr. Schwieger knows how to keep it as a participant without overwhelming. The mint in Pomelo Paradis is like a sprig of mint added to your morning grapefruit as it adds contrast but in small quantity. This all settles down onto a traditional bed of vetiver and amber.

Pomelo Paradis has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Pomelo Paradis is a delightful circling back to the very roots of Atelier Cologne and is also an equally delightful hybrid of all that the brand stands for. As much as I have been enjoying wearing Pomelo Paradis I know it will be right at the front of my summer rotation. Pomelo Paradis is everything that Atelier Cologne does right and that is almost everything.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Penhaligon’s Trade Routes Lothair- A Pirate Looks at 145

There is no perfumer for whom I have more nicknames for than Bertrand Duchaufour. His very profligacy almost demands he gets them. Because he is such perfumed gadfly moving from one project to another I have likened him to a freebooter and called him the Pirate of Perfume. The body of work he has produced for London brand Penhaligon’s has been one of his strongest collections for any brand he has worked for. The seventh perfume he has made for them is part of their Trade Routes Collection and it is called Lothair.

cutty sark

Lothair is named after the Tea Clipper ships which were the FedEx of their day even if it took more like weeks instead of days. A neat bit of synchronicity is Lothair was the last Tea Clipper ship to be built in Rotherhithe in 1870, the year Penhaligon’s was founded. M. Duchaufour wanted the perfume named after the ship to be a day at sea with a hold full of goods heading home. M. Duchaufour could have kept it simple by constructing a tea-centric fragrance. He does do that but he adds some inspired modern choices which make Lothair something similar to modern day Rotherhithe which has become part of the upscale Docklands area of London.

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Bertrand Duchaufour

As the Lothair races through the waves you look over the lip of the hold and a whiff of cardamom arises as the crewman next to you eats his grapefruit. The smell of gin comes from somewhere in the scent of juniper berries. Finally you spy the bags of dark black tea in their canvas bags adjacent to other bags filled with figs. The heart of Lothair is the green version of fig and the black version of tea. M. Duchaufour swirls them together adroitly. He creates a floral contrast with geranium and lavender to further develop the heart accord. As the ship nears port you lean on the rail taking in the smell of the wood in the sun and the brine of the sea rushing by. This is accomplished by cedar, oakmoss, ambergris, and a few musks.

Lothair has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I was thinking of the Jimmy Buffet song “A Pirate Looks at 40” while wearing Lothair. It almost feels like my modern Pirate of Perfume is looking back 145 years ago to make something relevant in 2015. Lothair is another fantastic perfume from M. Duchaufour; long may he sail the perfumed waves.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Raymond Matts Kaiwe- Unnatural Adventures

When I got my first sniff of the Raymond Matts Aura de Parfum collection at the end of November I immediately felt it was something noteworthy. I spent a good hour going from strip to strip as I began my process of understanding what Mr. Matts was after. In the never-ending debate about the concept of olfactory art there is a school of thought that goes something like this; the use of synthetics is what separates artistic endeavor from commercial enterprise. Or more prosaically unnatural versus natural. I think it is a false argument and something to consider more deeply at a different time. What the Raymond Matts Aura de Parfum collection has added to my personal consideration is that in the hands of focused creative direction a perfumer can turn out something completely unlike anything in nature but yet which calls out to the familiar. Of any perfume in the Aura de Parfum collection Kaiwe is the one which exemplifies this best.

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Raymond Matts

When I was doing my initial assessment Kaiwe was the one I kept coming back to over and over. It was because of this unconventional look at the concept of fresh and green. Kaiwe is described, at its most basic, as a citrus ozonic Ambrox fragrance. It should smell like thousands of other similar fragrances which fit that description. In some ways it was exactly that which had me returning to it over and over. It smelled so like so many but not like anything else. Perfumer Olivier Gillotin puts together three distinct accords but while they seem to tread old ground they really are a step off of the well-traveled path.

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Olivier Gillotin

M. Gillotin opens Kaiwe with a citrus accord made up of the soapy group of aldehydes which is what I detect first. This is the smell of a freshly washed body stepping out of the shower. Cocktails of green synthetics and citrus synthetics coalesce underneath the aldehydes deepening the fresh feeling. This is an example of what I’m talking about; the synthetics M. Gillotin uses provide no discernable handle to grab ahold of. It smells citrusy but not obviously one fruit or the other. The green accord is slightly aquatic and opaque. It undulates to my senses almost like a sheer green scarf rippling on a breeze. The shifting nature of the green notes creates subtle kineticism. The heart again is comprised of floral synthetics such that it is not any one floral but aspects of many florals. A hint of green lily, a bit of violet, a pinch of jasmine; but not really. To make sure you don’t spend too much time trying to dissect the bouquet M. Gillotin adds eucalyptus and juniper berry. The eucalyptus almost single-handedly forms the ozonic feel. The juniper adds an icy gin-like quality. It sets up perfectly as another note from the liquor cabinet, rum, joins in. Then in a very unique take warm milk also enters the picture. This forms a bizarre never made cocktail of gin, rum, and warm milk. It is odd but compelling. I sure don’t ever want to drink it but I really enjoyed breathing it in. Kaiwe ends on a swirl of Ambrox adding its unique character to all that has come before.

Kaiwe has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Kaiwe is one of those perfumes I just want to wear over and over because every time I wear it I find something new to admire. It is my favorite of what is an incredibly diverse collection Mr. Matts has put together. If you are someone who equates synthetic raw materials with “cheap” I think this collection might change that opinion. I know that I find what Mr. Matts is attempting here to be laudatory for boldly staking out this space as well as creating with great vision. If you give this line a chance it can change the way you think about what makes a great perfume.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Etat Libre D’Orange True Lust- Etienne de Swardt’s Mash-Up

There is a branch of music where a producer or artist takes two different styles of music and combines them into a new version; this is called a mash-up. Musical examples of this are the combination of The Beatles White Album and Jay-Z’s The Black Album by producer Danger Mouse to become The Grey Album. Or one that got a lot of radio play was the combination of Numb by Linkin Park and Encore by Jay-Z who released and performed it live. When it works it illuminates something new from both source materials. It is a reason why some people layer perfumes as they look to create a whole experience from two or three fragrances to fill in the spaces. Now we have the first perfume mash-up with the release of Etat Libre D’Orange True Lust.

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Etienne de Swardt

Creative Director Etienne de Swardt is playing the part of the producer as he takes two of his previous perfumes 2006’s Putain des Palaces by perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer and 2012’s Dangerous Complicity by perfumer Violaine Collas and combines them.  For True Lust it is a mash-up of the softly floral aspects of Dangerous Complicity, along with the rum, with Putain des Palace’s animalic dry woods. What M. de Swardt says he wanted was, “a marriage of mystery, an uneasy merger of hearts and minds and flesh.” What is surprising is True Lust works for me on that level as each of the perfumes serve to fill in the empty space the other one left which results in something both recognizable and unique.

The early going of True Lust is all Dangerous Complicity as the ginger and rum which opens that perfume opens this perfume. The violet of Putain des Palaces arrives fairly quickly. Right here is a good example of why True Lust works. The ginger and rum have a boozy kind of energy but the violet tempers it with a bit of edgy floralcy. The heart is a mix of the floral hearts of both originals as muguet, ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine, and osmanthus combine. While all of these notes are in one or the other of the perfumes in True Lust they come together in a way different than they presented themselves previously. This is the moment of the perfumed mash-up where the harmonies are overlaid to the point that you know this is something new from something old. The base is mostly the animalic leather of Putain des Palaces matched with the sandalwood of Dangerous Complicity. This time it is the leather of Putain des Palaces which ends up on top, pun intended.

True Lust has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

True Lust is a perfume for people who love smelling like they are wearing perfume. What I mean by that is by taking two different sources and bringing them together it can’t help but be very extroverted and out there. If you like your perfume well-behaved and demure this is not what True Lust is serving up. It is bringing you a Technicolor perfume experience and if you’re in the mood for it, it is awesome. I wanted an old-time broad shouldered perfume experience and True Lust delivered it.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review April Aromatics Erdenstern- Getting Botanical With It

Back in 2010 while I was working at CaFleureBon we participated in a project sponsored by the Natural Perfumers guild called The Mystery of Musk. The idea was to have natural perfumers create a botanical musk accord and then use it in a perfume created for the event. Twelve natural perfumers educated me in the myriad ways a real musk could be created using all-natural ingredients. Perfumer Tanja Bochnig of April Aromatics was just getting started in 2010 and was not part of The Mystery of Musk. When I tried her latest release Erdenstern it felt like it was a lost entry in that project.

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Tanja Bochnig

Fr. Bochnig has become one of the leading natural perfumers over the last four years. I have been an admirer for a long time but I realized this is the first time I am writing about one of her perfumes. That lack of attention is not due to anything but my inability to cover everything I like and I like Fr. Bochnig’s perfumes a lot. She states on her website, “I strongly believe that people can feel the love and energy I give into my perfumes.” Speaking for myself I have always felt the passion she has appears in the quality of her perfumes. Fr. Bochnig comes from a background of aromatherapy and yoga and that shows up in her perfumes. While they aren’t meant to speak to specific chakras per se they do attempt to evoke specific feelings.

Erdenstern translates to “Earth Star” it was inspired by Avalon, the holy place between the worlds of gods and mortals. Naming Erdenstern after a place where two worlds coincide is a perfect analogy for the perfume. Erdenstern captures a combination of damp earth and wood along with the animalic accords of what lives among the trees.

As I mentioned above Fr. Bochnig has fashioned a botanical musk accord and it is where Erdenstern opens. The advantage of a botanical musk is the ingredients themselves add a texture not available from a traditional synthetic musk. As a result I really enjoy the more natural feel of these botanical musks and Fr. Bochnig’s version is as good as I’ve encountered. She pairs it with a very strident vetiver. So often perfumers try and pull the reins in on vetiver. Fr. Bochnig allows her vetiver to gallop freely alongside the botanical musk. Together they create the smell of the damp forest floor as you walk through it. The heart transitions to tobacco and opoponax. This is a very gradual shift from woods and earth to sweet tobacco. It always took me by surprise while wearing it in a very good way. Fr. Bochnig finishes Erdenstern with another botanical version of an animal ingredient as she constructs a botanical ambergris accord in the base. There is a delicacy to this accord that is mesmerizing and Fr. Bochnig wisely leaves it pretty much by itself to finish Erdenstern.

Erdenstern has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I mentioned that I haven’t written about Fr. Bochnig much prior to this but I have tried all of her perfumes. Over time I have seen another independent perfumer come into their own as each successive release built upon what came before. In Erdenstern it culminates in the best perfume Fr. Bochnig has made, so far.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Raymond Matts Maiaday & Pashay- Chasing Dreams

As I continue my reviews of the new Raymond Matts Aura de Parfum collection I turn to a pair which are complete opposites. One celebrates all of the promise of a spring day. The other is the smell of attraction from afar traveling the paths of imagination wherein the feeling is returned. Maiaday and Pashay are those perfumes.

Annie-Buzantian

Annie Buzantian

There are instructions for how to pronounce the names in the press materials. Maiaday is supposed to be pronounced (My*a*day). Ever since wearing it I’ve been calling it May*a*day because it embodies that day in May when we acknowledge the return of green and growing things. Perfumer Annie Buzantian composes a perfume which captures that pent-up energy of the coming of spring after the long winter. Ms. Buzantian keeps it all very supple and soft as a sunny floral green haze enveloped me when I wore Maiaday. Ms. Buzantian opens with her greenery floating on a pond which she marries to a citrus grouping of notes. It adds that zing to the opening as it amplifies and complements the green accord. Maiaday moves into a floral heart with that May Day flower, muguet, at the center. Ms. Buzantian brackets it with the expected, in violet leaves, picking up the greener facets of muguet. The unexpected is saffron which adds a bit of outre´ charm. Saffron works here because it is such a softly assertive spicy note. Something a little more aggressive would have thrown off the vibe Ms. Buzantian is building. This carries through into the base as she uses a number of synthetic woods to form a translucent woody accord to evoke the trees waking up on May Day. As much as I’ve been enjoying wearing Maiaday on these winter days I am really looking forward to wearing it on a mid-summer’s day. Maiaday has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

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Christophe Laudamiel (Photo: Marcus Gaab for NY TImes)

The inspiration for Pashay came from a chance encounter on a Fifth Avenue bus Mr. Matts was riding. Also sharing his ride was “a beautiful black woman…with flawless skin and an exposed shoulder.” When Mr. Matts approached perfumer Christophe Laudamiel with this inspiration he also had an interesting request for a starting point for M. Laudamiel. By looking at this olive toned skin he wanted to use a Kalamata olive note as the focal point of Pashay. M. Laudamiel thought it a crazy idea but once he and Mr. Matts started working on Pashay they found there was some latitude to realize their vision while starting from such a different beginning. Pashay opens on a fruity flurry of citrus and pear. This leads to the heart where they chose seaweed and narcissus to join the Kalamata to form their desired salty skin accord. If you look at those ingredients on face value you might not see how this comes to be. By using the oily salty olive to build upon; the seaweed pulls out the hidden marine facets as well as a sense of clean sweaty skin. The narcissus takes this and uses its intense floralcy to frame and enhance the illusion. It really is the smell of a woman’s shoulder after she has worked up a sweat. This all fades into a woody base of sandalwood and guaiac wood. This is a cleaned up sandalwood synthetic stripped of the sweet facets and the guaiac wood provides a more versatile clean wood than something like cedar might have. The final stages of Pashay are the dream of that woman on the bus as it pulls away and you watch it move down the street. Pashay has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Disclosure: These reviews were based on samples I received from Raymond Matts.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Maison Martin Margiela Replica At the Barber’s- Shave and a Haircut

I’ve been using an old-fashioned double edge razor to shave for a little over ten years now. I finally kicked the habit of the multi-blade monstrosities and have never looked back. In truth my morning shave is where I get my first fragrance stimuli of the day. I don’t have as many shaving creams as I do perfume but there is a whole cabinet stacked high with little pots of different scented creams. I can say that before my shave I might be considering one perfume for the day and after my mood has entirely changed. The smell of shaving products and hair products remind me of my trips to the barber’s with my father to get a crew cut. I invoke the barber shop description when describing fougeres quite often. All of this had me very interested in the new Maison Martin Margiela Replica At the Barber’s.

Louise Turner

Louise Turner (Photo: Rui Camilo)

The Maison Martin Margiela Replica line is all about re-creating a specific place and time. This particular barber shop is in Madrid circa 1992. I’m not sure I get the Madrid part but the barber shop is completely realized by perfumer Louise Turner. The hot towels, the herbal shaving cream, the lavender water, and the sweet hair wax are all here. Ms. Turner captures each of the facets to create a virtual barbershop accord.

At the Barber’s assembles itself very rapidly and I would say it doesn’t really have a development so much as an assembling of the parts of the accord. Ms. Turner keeps it very simple and At the Barber’s is all the better for it. Basil and lavender are what I first notice and within minutes there is a hot cotton accord of white musks followed by the coumarin-laden sweetness of tonka bean. Each of these calls out to a specific part of the environment named but together they form a delightfully realistic accord.

At the Barber’s has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Of any of the Replica line, so far, At the Barber’s is the most straightforward replication of the name on the bottle. As I said I don’t get the Madrid and I’m not sure you couldn’t have chosen any year because this is just the smell of a classic barber shop no matter what the year. At the Barber’s is a true replica of my barber shop experience as a child and I’ll always insert Miami 1966 when I wear it. If you are a fan of old style fougeres it will cost you a bit more than two bits for this shave and a haircut but it is well worth it.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Barney’s.

Mark Behnke