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 Hallucinogenic Pearl- Bringing Back De Laire Bases

One of the more exciting things to a perfume nerd like me has been the final acquisition of the De Laire perfume bases by Symrise. Unless you read a lot of history that sentence probably underwhelms you. Let me see if I can get you interested. De Laire was a producer of perfume bases in the first half of the 20th Century. The concept was to take the new synthetic fragrance molecules and make them into pleasant accords meant to provide the foundation for a perfume to be built upon. Edmond Roudnitska began his career at De Laire making bases. One of the most famous De Laire bases, Prunol, is married to his use of it. Others you might have heard of are Mousse de Saxe, Amber 83, or Coroliane. These are the foundations of many of the most famous vintage perfumes. Now that Symrise has cleared all the legal hurdles to put these bases back into their perfumers’ rotation I was waiting for someone to use it in a modern perfume. A Lab on Fire Hallucinogenic Pearl is the first I am aware of to do this.

One of the great things about A Lab on Fire is the creative freedom granted their perfumers. Creative Director Carlos Kusubayashi has elicited some of the most innovative work from some of our best-known perfumers. Hallucinogenic Pearl freed Symrise Master Perfumer Emilie Coppermann to look for one of the classic De Laire bases to incorporate. She decided to use Iriseine.

Emilie Coppermann

Mme Coppermann opens with the botanical musk of ambrette paired with baie rose. The gentle herbal nature of the baie rose provides just the right amount of texture to the light musk. One of the things about ambrette is it can be so light as to be too fleeting. By adding in the baie rose it adds more presence. Then the heart begins with a fabulous violet which is everything I enjoy about this in a fragrance. This is where Iriseine comes forward providing iris as the leading edge of the base. What is also here is gorgeous depth courtesy of using a base instead of the iris by itself. For those familiar with the vintage perfumes like L’Heure Bleue which feature the same duo of violet and Iriseine this is many levels softer. It is what I mean when I say I want to see what a modern perfumer can do with a classic base like Iriseine. It is a modern evolution of what a De Laire base can achieve. It finishes with light woods and some synthetic musks recapitulating the ambrette from on top.

Hallucinogenic Pearl has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

The use of this historical base in a modern composition delighted me on every level. Just the shading of the Iriseine and violet would have made the perfume nerd happy. What really made me happy was in the hands of our most talented perfumers it seems like the De Laire bases are back to be used.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by A Lab on Fire.

Mark Behnke