2018 First-Half Recap

Before I plunge into the fall releases starting to show up in my mailbox I want to recap the world of perfume for the first half of 2018. Especially here in the Poodlesville HQ of Colognoisseur.

For those who have followed my writing for the over ten years I’ve been doing reviews I am sure you’ve tired of my whining about too many spring roses. Guess what? This year I got my wish. I’m not sure what caused the change but even a perfume called Miu Miu L’eau Rosee was not a rose. That one was a very nice lily perfume. I got Bvlgari Magnolia Sensuel. I got Nest Wisteria Blue. I got the neroli of Commodity Nectar. I got the crazy blackberry of Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme. I got Jo Malone Jasmine Sambac and Marigold. Yes, there were plenty of pretty roses, but the spring of 2018 found new perfumed ways of celebrating the season.

One of those ways was the return of the classic ambrette-iris-musk so embodied by Chanel No. 18. There were many of these, most of which I liked. There were two which stood out for taking this classic accord in a modern direction; Diptyque Fleur de Peau and A Lab on Fire Hallucinogenic Pearl. Perfumers Olivier Prescheux and Emilie Coppermann, respectively, found a way to freshen this triad up. In Mme Coppermann’s case it was by incorporating the De Laire base Iriseine; which made this one of my favorites of the first half of 2018.

Christine Nagel

Christine Nagel continued her strong showings for Hermes. If there was a last question left for her it was, “How would she make the Hermessences her own?” She released five in the spring. They were all good, but it was her move towards an “essence de parfums” oil-based formulation where she confirmed her stamp on this collection. Cardamusc is another favorite of 2018, so far.

The independents also thrilled me in the first six months of the year. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz finished her Haiku Series for DSH Perfumes with Tsukimi and Shimotsuki. Among the very best work of hers I have experienced.

Hiram Green Slowdive was a textural marvel as a tobacco accord traverses a viscous mixture of honey and others.

Sarah McCartney’s 4160 Tuesdays Freeway is So Cal car culture in search of an exotic sorbet. Sounds odd but it is fabulous.

Andy Tauer provided a contemporary version of the “golden age” in Tauer Les Annees 25.

There were three other perfumes which really caught my attention so far in 2018.

A Lab on Fire And the World is Yours by perfumer Dominique Ropion is perhaps my favorite from the brand ever. The opening bergamot, neroli, and cumin accord is spectacular.

Louis Vuitton Nouveau Monde is the leather perfume which should have Louis Vuitton on its label. I may be a bit let down by the others in this collection, but Nouveau Monde, and perfumer Jacques Cavallier, gives me the leather I wanted.

The leader at the midway point of 2018 is Neela Vermeire Creations Niral. The collaborative energy between creative director Neela Vermeire and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has always produced excellent perfume. Niral is better than that. The iris shimmers over a subtle leather accord. I still haven’t got enough.

This covers what I was able to write about in the first six months. Just in the next couple of weeks I have some reviews coming which are also among the best of 2018.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review A Lab On Fire And The World Is Yours- The Morning After Success

There is something voyeuristic about photographs of celebrities. Certainly, there is a cottage industry of poorly taken “gotcha!” photographs taken by paparazzi. Those I have little interest in. The ones which capture my attention are the ones where well-known professional photographers have the opportunity to shoot during a particular time in a celebrity’s career. One of the more memorable pictures in that category was one taken by photographer Terry O’Neill in 1977. His subject was actress Faye Dunaway sitting by the pool at The Beverly Hills Hotel at 6AM the morning after she won her Best Actress Oscar for “Network”. Looking like she still hadn’t been to bed (she had) Mr. O’Neill captured the moment after you’ve won an Academy Award with the newspapers headlines of your win at your feet and your trophy on the table considering what’s next. It is an iconic picture for so many reasons; the early morning light, the Old Hollywood vibe, and a spectacular actress in her prime. I don’t know if this begged to have a perfume made from its inspiration but it has arrived; A Lab On Fire And The World Is Yours.

Faye Dunaway as photographed by Terry O'Neill (March 1977)

The perfumer hired by creative director Carlos Kusubayashi to take this on is Dominique Ropion. M. Ropion had converted a classic Hollywood photograph into a perfume two years previously with one of Douglas Kirkland’s photos of Marilyn Monroe. The opening to that was gorgeous but an overly aggressive musky gourmand base put me off. With And The World Is Yours that problem does not exist this is a stunning companion to the inspiration. What is especially pleasing about And The World Is Yours is that M. Ropion is not playing it safe which is apropos of an actress who won her Academy Award by also taking risks.

Dominique Ropion

What I so expected in the early moments of And The World Is Yours was a sparkly bergamot-y dawn sun kind of opening. M. Ropion embraces the “morning after” vibe instead. As the dawn signals the end of the night not the beginning of the day. M. Ropion deploys neroli and orange blossom in a weary evocation of daybreak. There is no sparkle but there is a banked luminosity to them maybe as you close your eyes to the rising sun. You also catch a whiff of yourself which is where M. Ropion uses cumin to cleave the floral duet. I adore when perfumers are unafraid to use cumin as an effective contrast as it is here. The cumin really deepens the sense of a long night’s day. It persists through a heart of rose and heliotrope. This ends on a mixture of tolu balsam and sandalwood sweetened by tonka bean and vanilla. The sweet smell of success.

And The World Is Yours has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is one of my favorite perfumes from A Lab On Fire ever. It is near-perfect as M. Ropion never puts a foot wrong for my tastes. That being said, if you find cumin a problem in perfume I think there is little chance you will be as enthusiastic about this as I am. If you can get past it, or embrace it, what is to be found is the smell of the morning after success.

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

Mark Behnke