If I was asked to name a perfume trend of the last six months I would unhesitatingly reply, “green”. Not green in the sense of being eco-friendly but green as in the combination, and dominance of, green notes and themes. It is an interesting hive mind kind of thing to think about; when perfumers working all over the world all begin to converge on a similar theme. You might easily believe in New York and Paris where there are higher numbers of perfumers some of that might form organically. How do you explain it finding its way to Montreal? Owner and perfumer of Monsillage, Isabelle Michaud, has produced one of the more unique green perfumes I’ve smelled called Eau de Celeri.
Isabelle Michaud (center) with her 2015 Art and Olfaction Award in the Artisan Category
Based on the name you might expect Eau de Celeri to evoke the vegetable crisper drawer in your refrigerator. Let me assure you right at the top that is not the case. The celery in the title is meant more to give you a sense of the hue of green Eau de Celeri represents. It isn’t a pale transparent wispy green. It also isn’t a galbanum sledgehammer either, although there is galbanum here. Mme Michaud works some of the more familiar green sources but she finds something crisp about them. If there was anything about celery this perfume reminded me of it was that snap of a fresh stalk.
Mme Michaud opens with a very fresh citrus mélange of lemon and grapefruit. This is a tart snappy beginning. It segues into a cut-grass accord but there is one additional note Mme Michaud adds which gives that cut-grass a makeover. She uses coriander leaf as a co-conspirator. The rough green quality of coriander itself is instead made diffuse placed inside a leafy matrix. It adds an herbal edge as well as subtly shading the grass slightly darker. It allows for an extremely smooth transition to a base of vetiver on top with galbanum providing support. If galbanum can clobber you like a caveman’s club; in Eau de Celeri Mme Michaud employs it more like a scalpel. She allows it to fill in the gaps that the vetiver and the cedar in the base leave for it. It makes it more of a ghost floating in and out between the other two more prominent notes. That kind of wispiness caused me to keep tuning back into Eau de Celeri on the days I was wearing it. It acted like an olfactory tap on the shoulder saying, “Hey you’re wearing a pretty nice perfume buddy.”
Eau de Celeri has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.
On the days I wore Eau de Celeri I had a few people ask me what I was wearing. It is really a very genial perfume that can be worn for almost any occasion. Mme Michaud plugged into the perfumed gestalt around green and came up with one different than all the rest.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.
Editor’s note: Eau de Celeri recently won a 2015 Art and Olfaction Award in the Artisan Category.
I spend so much effort at every edition of Esxence looking for the new and exciting I forget there are long-time steady brands which are also deserving of attention. For the latest version I finally spent some time with Prudence Kilgour the owner and creative director of Prudence Paris. Mme Kilgour and I bonded at my very first Esxence over her perfume for dogs, Polisson. My very French standard poodles can often be found wearing a spritz or two, especially on those days just before going for grooming. Ever since in my willy nilly hurry I have unknowingly not stopped to stop and smell her latest offerings. While I was making up for lost time her latest perfume for men Alexis managed to make a lasting impression.
One of the things I truly admire about Mme Kilgour’s approach to perfumery is that it has a feel of a different time. You won’t see me talking about the perfumer she works with because that’s the way they both want it. Her perfumer is from the old school where he believes his name is not important. It is more important to realize Mme Kilgour’s vision and produce a perfume that they both are pleased with. It has been the same perfumer for the nearly thirty fragrances in the line. By this point they have developed an intuitive working relationship which shows in the overall cohesiveness of the collection. As I was trying the releases from the last year and a half or so one thing struck me very strongly that one reason I like the line as much as I do is this way of working in a way that has passed for the majority of perfumery produces perfumes which have a fascinating timelessness about them. To borrow Kurt Vonnegut’s phrase they feel “unstuck in time” appropriate to whatever era they land in.
Alexis is meant to capture the combination of well-educated and adventure seeking found most often in young gentlemen of breeding. If that sounds pretentious let me assure you Alexis is not. If you think of that stereotypical globetrotting young entrepreneurial adventurer who skis the Alps one day to leading a tech firm on the bleeding edge the next day. It is that lifestyle which matches the thrill of being in a crouch schussing to the excitement of trying to do something totally new in business. Alexis captures the driven knowing smile of our hero.
Alexis opens up with a high-speed citrus mix of grapefruit, mandarin, and bergamot which races right into a spicy floral heart. Geranium and rose form the floral core which is combined with baie rose and black pepper. The spices accentuate those same facets within the rose. Patchouli acts as a foil to keep the rose from getting too much traction. Alexis heads into very classic base territory as oakmoss, vetiver and musk with a bit of benzoin bring home the timelessness I spoke about.
Alexis has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
If you are one who thinks they don’t make them the way they used to then you not only should give Alexis a try but the entire Prudence Paris collection. There are many joyous moments to be found in doing things the way they used to be done.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Prudence Paris at Esxence 2015.
Yesterday I reviewed three of the five new releases from Elisire. When I read the press release about Franck Salzwedel’s new line of perfume there were two out of the five which piqued my interest right away. It wasn’t because they were my favorite raw material or the note list. What intrigued me were these words, “Developed with Alberto Morillas.”
Alberto Morillas is the very definition of Living Legend when it comes to perfumery. He has made some of the greatest perfumes of all-time. For the great majority of his career that talent has been displayed on department store counters versus smaller niche perfume boutiques. In the last few years M. Morillas has begun working with a few niche brands. What separates his output when working on the niche side is a bit more freedom on budget. M. Morillas could take broccoli and crabgrass and make something which smelled amazing. M. Salzwedel allowed him some freedom to use some ingredients he might normally eschew in the name of budget. The two perfumes he has composed for Elisire, Poudre Desir and Jasmin Paradis show this to be true.
Poudre Desir is meant to evoke a flower garden after a rainstorm has passed. To achive this effect M. Morillas first uses a mix of bergamot and mandarin that shine like those first rays of sun after the dark clouds have passed. There is diffuse brightness which warms the early moments of Poudre Desir. The heart is iris in all of its promised powdery glory. If M. Morillas left it that way it would smell more of a woman’s vanity than her garden. To make sure that it is living flowers we are reminded of he partners the iris with jasmine, heliotrope, and gardenia. Those very heady narcotic blooms take the iris and make the powdery parts of it less prominent. It forms a fresh spring flower bouquet to bury your nose into. The base is a mix of musks which form a sun burnished skin accord which is framed with a bit of cedar. Poudre Desir is the smell of renewal after nature has washed it clean.
Jasmine is a supporting player in Poudre Desir but as you would expect in Jasmin Paradis it is the star. This time the citrus opening is exuberant and over-stuffed as neroli, bergamot, and grapefruit burst onto my senses with all of the energy that those notes can muster. It leads to the heart of jasmine. It is here where M. Morillas can really design a powerfully nuanced jasmine accord. He starts with the synthetic jasmine source Paradisone. If he was designing this on a budget he probably would have added in a drop or two of Jasmine essential oil and moved on. With a little more flexibility he takes two natural sources of jasmine; jasmine sambac and jasmine petals, layering them upon the synthetic. The Paradisone provides expansiveness and lift. The natural essential oils take advantage of the space and expand into them. They provide depth and texture the synthetic couldn’t provide by itself. Jasmin Paradis ends on a resinous base of incense, olibanum, and Ambrox. As in the heart the Ambrox provides a synthetic foundation for the natural sources to expand upon.
I think all five of the new Elisire perfumes are worth sampling. M. Salzwedel has produced a strong first impression with all of them. It will be these two by M. Morillas which will linger in my memory a little longer.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Osswald NYC.
I am so happy to see a new perfume brand which manages to limit their first releases to only five, I realize how much things have changed. The latest collection of only five came from a brand called Elisire. The founder Franck Salzwedel spent a large part of his childhood in Asia before attending fashion school in France. He would go on from there to work on helping fashion designers navigate the world of fragrance. He would jump to New York where his career in the visual arts as a painter would take off. Like many who share the experience of painting and fragrance together M. Salzwedel sees fragrances as colors. The desire to capture that vision in a perfume led to the founding of Elisire. All five of the first collection are worthy of mention and I will do short reviews of all five over the next two days.
One of the perfumers M. Salzwedel chose to work with was Pierre Negrin who did two of the five fragrances. The prevailing color for one of them, Eau Papaguena, is undoubtedly green. M. Negrin opens on an herbal version of the color as tarragon and basil provide the pungent start. A well-balanced use of spearmint adds a bit of lift to the herbs. It leads to a really delicate orange blossom heart which shades the green a couple hues lighter. The colors deepen in the base with vetiver, cypress, and incense heading for the center of the color wheel. I really like the shift from transparent to something which has a bit more presence by the end. If you like green fragrances this should be on your test list.
The other one by M. Negrin shares a kinship to the other but Ambre Nomade is like a glowing ember of pulsing orange. This also starts with an herbal duet of rosemary and sage but they are joined by a crisp apple, an energetic ginger, and a green lavender. This forms that glowing warmth which is banked a bit by some ylang-ylang in the heart which provides a bit of yellow shading. The base truly pulses with contained energy as M. Negrin combines patchouli, olibanum, vanilla, and musks to form the glowing ember. There are so many perfumes with amber in the base which are too timid. Amber Nomade is a bold exploration of amber as good as any I’ve tried recently.
Perfumer Ilias Erminidis has done some tremendous work on the mass-market fragrances he has contributed to. M. Salzwedel gives him the chance to work towards a more niche aesthetic. As a result M. Erminidis takes the opportunity to create an olfactory mosaic of some of the best florals in perfumery in Elixir Absolu. It all starts with a fairly usual citrusy bergamot opening. What comes next is less common as he layers floral after floral to create a heart which always seems in motion as another floral arrives. Freesia starts it, then orange blossom, tiare, magnolia, ylang ylang, jasmine, and rose. These florals form a cohesive accord that is beautifully constructed. From this fantasia M. Erminidis goes for vanilla and sandalwood forming a comforting base note. It is the collage of florals in the heart which makes this one memorable.
I’ll conclude tomorrow with the two perfumes composed by Alberto Morillas.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Osswald NYC.
Etienne de Swardt the owner and creative force behind Etat Libre D’Orange is one of my favorite people in all of perfumery. His fragrances perfectly mirror his personality. They both carry a broad pleasure in provocation while having a laugh at the absurdity of it all. The ability to not take it so seriously has led to some seriously amazing perfumes from Etat Libre D’Orange. The other thing I like about the brand is M. de Swardt has steadfastly kept from developing an identifiable olfactory trademark which represents the brand. One reason for that is he keeps working with a number of the best perfumers in the business. Inviting them to run away with him for a good time making a new perfume. For the latest release, Remarkable People, M. de Swardt convinced perfumer Cecile Matton to go for a ride with him to make an exuberant paean to those who choose to be unconventional.
Etienne de Swardt
Mme Matton is collaborating with M. de Swardt for the first time. Remarkable People is actually the re-branding of the 2010 release called Josephine Baker made exclusively for European Sephora. It was made in small quantity and has been long discontinued. I never got the chance to try it because I hadn’t quite developed my system of getting European perfumes into my hands. Now with it as a part of the permanent collection it will see a little more exposure. I can honestly say I see very little of the chanteuse in this perfume and so the name change I think is for the better. What I do get is a perfume which is a good companion to last year’s Cologne. Both carry an infectious joie de vivre throughout. Remarkable People has a bit of a cologne architecture early before turning woodier at the end.
Remarkable People opens with a fabulous mix of grapefruit and cardamom. The cardamom in particular is noteworthy for the way it melds with the slightly sulfurous quality of the grapefruit. I love cardamom in perfumes and Mme Matton has definitely found my sweet spot with the early moments of this one. Jasmine provides a floral change of pace before Mme Matton brings back the spices with a pinch of black pepper and curry as extracted via Mane’s Jungle Essence Process. This makes the curry presence less hirsute and more cleanly polite while still retaining some bite. The cardamom also remains into the heart to mix with all of this. The base is sandalwood and labdanum combined with one of Mane’s proprietary synthetics Lorenox. Lorenox is described as “woody, ambery, leathery, and aromatic.” In Remarkable People it is the leathery quality that comes out most directly.
Remarkable People has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
There have been a number of new perfumes this year which have made me smile due to their desire to be fun. I should’ve expected M. de Swardt to be one of those who could keep the party rolling. Remarkable People should put a smile on any perfume lover’s face.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Etat Libre D’Orange at Esxence 2015.
Jardins D’Ecrivains translates to Garden of Authors. Anais Biguine has collected six authors since the creation of her line in fall of 2012. I have really enjoyed her interpretation of literary figures especially the last two releases Orlando and Junky. Both of those took a very modern approach to their construction which made them stand out from the first four releases which had a bit more of a classical feeling to them which matched their literary inspiration. For the newest release Marlowe it looks like Mme Biguine wanted to find a middle ground between the two.
A Supposed Portrait of Christopher Marlowe c.1585- Artist Unknown
Christopher Marlowe was a contemporary of William Shakespeare during the Elizabethan Era. His best known play is Doctor Faustus. His life was cut short as he dies of a stabbing just after his twenty-ninth birthday. Those are the facts of his life which are broadly agreed upon. If it ended there Mme Biguine would probably not be putting his name on a bottle of perfume. Mr. Marlowe lived a life of many unconfirmed layers. He was rumored to be the actual writer of some of Shakespeare’s plays. There was talk he was a spy for the Crown. The circumstances of his death were maybe caused by a cuckolded husband or a jilted love, perhaps both. Or as an outspoken atheist perhaps the church did him in. What is speculated is much more fascinating than what is known. It is this mix of innuendo that Mme BIguine captures in Marlowe.
Marlowe opens with a scrubbed clean tuberose. I am exhausted at the amount of times this polite tuberose has found its way into the latest perfumes. Thankfully Mme Biguine doesn’t just let it sit there she pairs osmanthus and elemi with it. The osmanthus has a bit of a battle in the early going to gain some ground against the tuberose but once it does the apricot facet forms a rich fruity floral accord. Elemi provides a lightly wooded lemony nuance to the tuberose and osmanthus. This is one of the few new fragrances I’ve tried with the cheerier tuberose which doesn’t feel like it just sits there wanting to be admired. The osmanthus really provides a lively partnership for it. They are so lively that they fairly trample the bit of myrrh that shows up in the heart. It is as fleeting as a matador’s cape and there is a slow amplification of the floralcy throughout the middle stage of development. The base is where Mme Biguine returns to her mix of white musks she used so successfully in Orlando. Here it washes away the florals in preparation for a leather accord which is greatly softened by the musks. A bit of oakmoss and labdanum provide a bit more steel to the base notes leaving Marlowe on a chypre-like final act.
Marlowe has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I really enjoyed the middle ground Marlowe carved out for itself. While it reminded me of all that has come before from Mme Biguine’s literary garden it is enough of its own creation to find its own solitary patch of sunlight.
Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Marlowe provided by Jardins D’Ecrivains at Esxence 2015.
At the end of 2011 when I was first introduced to the Olfactive Studio line of perfume I was immediately drawn in. Owner and Creative Director Celine Verleure has married photography and perfumery in a striking package. Through the six fragrances that have come over the last four years there has been a consistent progression towards a more modern aesthetic. Last year’s Ombre Indigo began the transition and it is the latest release Panorama which unabashedly completes it.
Photo: Miguel Sandinha
Mme Verleure always begins with a photograph and usually it is one which already exists as part of a photographer’s collection. For Panorama she already had in mind the subject of the photographic brief, The Sheats Goldstein House in Los Angeles. The Sheats Goldstein House is an example of modern architecture from one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s students John Lautner. It is one of the finest examples of modern architecture to be found. The unique nature of the house has found it in multiple movies. Mme Verleure commissioned Miguel Sandinha to photograph the residence and she would pick one of the shots as the brief for Panorama. You can see the picture she chose above.
Next step was to enlist perfumer Clement Gavarry in turning that visual into a fragrance. One of the things to notice about that picture is the actual part of the house takes up only a small portion of the overall photo. The great majority of it is the verdant greenery which surrounds the house and far off in the distance you see the skyline of LA. If you look at that photograph and take all that in you will get an idea of what is to come in Panorama as M. Gavarry makes a fragrance of varying hues of green including some truly inspired unusual choices. All together it makes one of the boldest artistic statements this brand has ever made.
The accord that many will be talking about when trying Panorama appears in the first moments. M. Gavarry has constructed a wasabi accord and like that dried horseradish paste which accompanies sushi it captures your attention. When Mme Verleure told me about this being one of the components of Panorama I had to admit I was skeptical. That concern remained right up until I sprayed some on my skin. M. Gavarry has indeed created a recognizable wasabi accord, it has a cold spiciness with an accompanying desiccated quality. It is weird. It is also wonderful. Oft times something weird can be interesting but when you wear it all day it continually begins to rub you in the wrong way. On the days I wore Panorama it was exactly the opposite as I spent much of my time wanting more. One of the reasons that I think it doesn’t become irritating is because M. Gavarry uses bamboo and fig leaves to keep the oddness under control. Over an hour or so like a light show the bright vivid green of the wasabi changes hues and gets a few shades deeper. A freshly-cut grass accord leads down to a pairing of galbanum and green cardamom with violet leaves. This is where you get the clean lines of the glass and concrete structure of The Sheats Goldstein House. It is still green but it is a sleek metallic green like the reflection of the plants in the glass of the house. The final shade of green comes through a deeply coniferous fir balsam. It is given even more depth by the skillful use of myrrh, labdanum, and vanilla. Like the bamboo and fig on top these alter the fir balsam into something completely modern.
Panorama has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Panorama is the most experimental fragrance release from Olfactive Studio. I applaud Mme Verleure for being willing to move the brand in this direction. Panorama smells like nothing else in the collection and it is all the more fascinating for that. I have found it to be one of the few fragrances I have tried recently which has me completely intellectually engaged throughout its development. It is as architecturally unique in its construction as the edifice which inspired it.
Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Panorama provided by Olfactive Studio at Esxence 2015.
The word classic, when used to describe something, can be a double-edged sword. On the one side of the sword it can mean old or outdated. On the other side of the sword it can mean timeless. In perfumery it also holds the same double-edged impact. It can mean an old style of perfume which seems like something only people of an older generation would wear. On the other side it is a perfume that transcends trends and is relevant no matter the time period. One line which I think understands how to always stay on the positive side of the classic conundrum is Von Eusersdorff. The latest release Classic Opoponax is an example of a prototypical Oriental perfume.
Camille Henfling began the Von Eusersdorff line in 2010 and Classic Opoponax is the sixth release to date. Each release is centered on a single note around which a perfume is built. All five of the previous releases have represented one of the more common styles of perfume. Classic Opoponax returns to the same Oriental ground Classic Patchouli did back in 2010 as the first Von Eusersdorff release. Five years on Classic Opoponax shows the evolution of the brand as it has a much more assured sense of itself. When I think of what I consider an Oriental perfume this one checks off all of the boxes I need to like it very much.
Classic Opoponax opens with a shimmering floral layer of rose and jasmine. Typicaly those florals present themselves in a very extroverted way. In this case they form a floral layer with an opacity that draws you further in. what you find when you get to the heart is the promised opoponax. Opoponax is one of those notes which almost defines what I think of when I think of Oriental perfume. It is also called sweet myrrh and it is exactly that as it carries a sweet resinous glow. To make sure that glow is well stoked a very creamy sandalwood and a rich benzoin form the heart. As it slowly develops the rest of the Oriental mise en scene arrives as amber, castoreum, black patchouli, and vanilla form the base. This is really where classic steps forward in an excellent way as these are the bones of the typical Oriental base.
Classic Opoponax has 10-12 hour longevity and modest sillage.
Mr. Henfling clearly understands how to use the word classic in the most appropriate way. Classic Opoponax is a fabulous example of an opulent Oriental perfume that will carry you away to a different time and place. A classic time and place.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Von Eusersdorff.
The collaboration between Neela Vermeire, of Neela Vermeire Creations, and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has been a pretty spectacular success. Over the course of five fragrances they have explored much of Mme Vermeire’s Indian heritage. There is a lot to like about the collection but four of the first five releases definitely are on the deeper, more intense side of the perfumed spectrum. My personal favorite of the line is the one which plays against this, Bombay Bling. When I first wrote about it I described it as a Bollywood production number in a bottle. Bombay Bling wears its infectious spirit on its sleeve. I’ve been wondering when Mme Vermeire and M. Duchaufour might feel like getting a bit more playful again. The sixth release, Pichola, is that return to joy.
The name comes from the lake at the heart of city of Udaipur. There is a lot of talk, in the press release, about reflections on the lake and regal flowers. Reading that I expected to get another deep white floral like most of the rest of the collection. While the imagery is functional it does not describe the way Pichola wears on my skin. There is a moment in the very earliest going where Pichola does seem like it is going to be serious perfume. Just like every Bollywood production you’ve ever seen all of a sudden huge handful of flowers explode through the hard shell and the dance number is on. The transition from tight green opening into explosive transparent white flowers raining down is beautiful.
M. Duchaufour creates a hard green barrier consisting of cardamom, juniper, saffron, cinnamon, and, clementine. The early moments are wound as tight as an accountant’s nerves during tax season. This lasts a very short time before a troupe of white flowers come dancing through the stiff upper lip of Pichols forcing it to break into a smile. The winsome star of our show is a fabulous fresh tuberose absolute. Most hear tuberose and expect intensity. Of late there have been a lot of wan pretty tuberoses scrubbed clean and made insipid for the effort. The tuberose M. Duchaufour employs here has an incredible expansive quality without becoming overwhelming. You are never unaware of its presence but the other florals like orange blossom, ylang-ylang, and jasmine have plenty of space to dance happily alongside. It is in this phase of floral fandango where Pichola settles for hours. When it finally starts to move on it is time to rest from our exertions on a sweet woody bed of benzoin and sandalwood.
Pichola has 8-10 hour longevity and below average sillage.
I am so happy to see Mme Vermeire return to a lighter style of construction. There is so much positive emotion on display it is infectious. I was uplifted each day I wore Pichola. Yes I want to smell good but some days I want to also have a barely suppressed laugh to go along with that, Pichola does that for me.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Neela Vermeire Creations.
Violet is one of my favorite floral notes in perfumery. Bertrand Duchaufour is one of my favorite perfumers. Over the years M. Duchaufour has been using a set of accords which he employs like a maestro calling forth the desired effect from a section of the olfactory symphony. Most recently he has perfected a leather accord, a vegetal green accord, and a violet accord. In the new I miss Violet for The Different Company he uses all of them in very different ways than he has in the past. It is another example, in a career full of them, of how he uses these proprietary constructs as the spine of many of his perfumes.
Creative Director Luc Gabriel envisioned the titular Violet as a woman forever in motion as she moves from place to place. As she leaves her temporary paramours behind she gives them a scent to remember her by and to miss her. M. Duchaufour imagines this scent to be a floral leather and he designed Violet’s parting gift to reflect our heroine’s wanderlust and her femininity. What is great about I miss Violet is the leather and the violet are present from beginning to end almost as a constant. The rest of the supporting cast is there to provide context.
The soft supple leather accord and the violet accord slip into place from the very first moment. That vegetal green accord I mentioned is what compliments them early on. It makes the violet more alive by giving it an earthy foundation. That is no surprise. What I did find surprising was it took the softness of the leather and give it a bit of an unrefined roughness. Maybe a reminder that Violet will trample your heart eventually. M. Duchaufour creates a floral heart with osmanthus giving a floral which carries both a leather and fruity character making it a perfect connecting note between the top notes and the heart. The rest of the florals, mimosa, cyclamen, and iris combine with the violet. Underneath all of this is a healthy dose of Calone providing a bit of the open ocean for the flowers to float upon. This all settles on a soft kiss of musk, mahogany, and vanilla pulling the leather to the foreground in the end.
I miss Violet has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
M. Duchaufour has aptly drawn the fictional Violet out in three unique acts from heartbreaker, to ocean traveler, to the woman who enchants the next admirer in the new port of call. It is a great example of a very modern floral leather by M. Duchaufour.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I received at Esxence 2015.