I write a lot about what I think it takes for a perfume brand to succeed. When it comes to designer brands, I have always extolled the influence of the brand creative director on the fragrance side. If that person can give even a little bit of time to the perfume side of the business, it usually turns out for the better. If the brand just signs their name away to a big cosmetics brand, things usually turn out generic. Unfortunately an example of this for the worse is Bottega Veneta Illusione for Him and Illusione for Her.
In 2011 when Bottega Veneta entered the designer fragrance world the then creative director Tomas Maier had a direct hand in the perfumes. It had been that way until he was replaced last year by Daniel Lee. The collection under Hr. Maier was one of the best designer fragrance ones we had. There were clear through lines to the history of the brand with the releases always being among the best mainstream releases of any given year. I was wondering what part fragrance would play in Mr. Lee’s vision for Bottega Veneta. Based on these two first releases it seems like the answer is to give it over to the licensee without giving it another thought.
Illusione for Him was composed by perfumer Antoine Maisondieu. This is a perfume that is exactly what its note list promises. Citrus top accord of orange and lemon, woody heart accord of cedar and base accord of tonka bean with a dollop of vetiver. It smells like everything else on the men’s fragrance shelf which was not the case before.
Illusione for Her was a team effort by Amandine Clerc-Marie and Annick Menardo. It starts with a pedestrian bergamot and fig leaves top with orange blossom at the heart and wood sweetened by tonka bean in the base. This is what commercial perfumery smells like; pretty and bland.
Both perfumes are pitched on the more transparent side probably because that is the current trend. Inexplicably to me both perfumes have some of the worst longevity I have encountered for a mainstream release; barely 6-7 hours.
I am saddened to see this happening to a designer brand I regularly pointed to as how it can be done. It looks like that will no longer be the case as long as Mr. Lee is creative director. I just hope they don’t discontinue the previous releases.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Bloomingdale’s.
One thing I try to do is not get enchanted with the new shiny object in my writing about perfume. I try to remind myself that even when I try a new release and it is a simple soliflore or duo there can still be something which is worthy of comment. This is basic perfumery which is no less enjoyable for being simple and straightforward. Back at the end of winter I received a sample set of these kinds of perfumes from Lancome. I put them aside because all three seemed like they would be better in warmer weather. That has turned out to be the case for the three new releases for the Maison Lancome Collection; Iris Dragees, Oranges Bigarades, and Santal Kardamon.
The Maison Lancome Collection has been in existence since 2016. It has landed on an aesthetic of two keynotes with a few modulators for each release. There is not a poor perfume in the entire bunch. They’re just straightforward what you see is what you get fragrances. The three I’ll do short takes on are not really different than the previous eight. They all are worth seeking out if you particularly enjoy the two listed keynotes on the bottle. It is certainly the case that one of the new releases fits that bill for me which led me to write about them.
Iris Dragees is composed by perfumer Nathalie Lorson. This is a combination of iris and sugared almond. One of the things that sets this collection apart is the perfumers tend to use multiple sources of the listed keynotes. In this Mme Lorson gilds orris with a more traditional iris source. As it is combined with the sweet almond it forms an odd powdery iris macaron accord. This really bloomed in the warmer weather.
Oranges Bigarades is composed by Christophe Raynaud. This is a combination of orange and black tea. Here M. Raynaud combines the bitterness of bigarade with a juicier sweeter orange. By adding in the black tea it provides a kind of luxurious contrast to the citrus by inserting itself betwixt the two orange sources.
Santal Kardamon is composed by perfumer Amandine Clerc-Marie. This is the perfume which caused me to write about Maison Lancome. Sandalwood and cardamom are two of my favorite perfume ingredients. Mme Clerc-Marie uses two different sandalwood extracts which she chooses to combine with the stickier green cardamom. Together it forms my kind of simple perfume with two ingredients I can’t have enough of. It has been fantastic as a summertime perfume.
All three perfumes have 8-10 hour longevity and average silage.
If you are looking for a nicely executed perfume around two of your favorite perfume ingredients and you see them listed on a Maison Lancome bottle; give it a try. Santal Kardamon does the trick for me.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Lancome.
My taste for rose perfumes has evolved over the years. I’ve gone from the classics through all the different phases and I have favorites within all of them. Currently though I like my roses weird. I want it paired with odd contrasts or unique amplifiers. There aren’t a lot of them. I also sometimes must decide to embrace the difference. It has taken me some time to come around to liking Maisom Martin Margiela Replica Wicked Love.
The Maison Martin Margiela Replica collection has been one of the unsung successes within the mainstream sector since 2012. It has worked while maintaining an artistic aesthetic. It has become a reliable brand I look forward to trying. Which was the case when I received samples for the most recent releases at the end of the summer. Music Festival was exactly what I expected it to be. Wicked Love had such an odd top accord I wasn’t immediately drawn in. Through the busy end of the year period it got sidelined easily. I was doing some cleaning up of my desk getting ready for the spring and Wicked Love was there. I remembered it being not to my liking. I sprayed it on a strip to confirm that. This time the oddness was exactly what I needed after a few months of straightforward roses. Perfumer Amandine Clerc-Marie’s unique opening finally broke through.
That unique opening is made up of basil, green pepper, and watermelon. I imagine there are more internal expressions of disbelief in reading that than those who are thinking it sounds fab. It is the green pepper which has this slightly spicy, green vegetal quality that is fractious all by itself. Add in the strong herbal-ness of basil along with the sugar water effect of watermelon. First time I tried this I could not get past the green pepper it felt too weird. Months later it felt less so as the green pepper felt like a kind of fragrant gremlin asking me to follow it into the garden.
That green pepper is what I first encounter; it is not a typical ingredient I suspect it will never be listed as a crowd pleaser. Yet on the second look it came across as a substitute for the leafier green ingredients usually used. As the basil deepened the vegetal effect and the watermelon provides watery contrast it can be too much. The one thing I can say is after the top accord has done its thing the rest of the development is typical. A rich rose and jasmine in the heart down to vetiver and cedar in the base.
Wicked Love has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is something you must sample before considering purchasing. I think there are a segment of consumers who will enjoy this for not being a typical spring rose. If nothing else I suggest spraying this on a strip on your next visit to the mall. It might not be to your taste but there are no other top accords like this in the mainstream sector.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Maison Martin Margiela.
Thierry Mugler fragrances have a dear place in my fragrance library. A*Men and many of the outstanding flankers, the proto gourmand Angel, and the proto Cologne Nouveau Thierry Mugler Cologne. Any single brand which claims these kind of innovations is one to look for as the new generation of fragrance buyers look for one of the fragrances which might define them. The answer from this brand is the new pillar perfume Thierry Mugler Aura.
When I saw the bottle for the first time I was reminded of the emerald they were searching for in the 1984 movie “Romancing the Stone”. You can see them side-by-side above. Longtime Thierry Mugler fragrance creative director Pierre Aulas assembled a team of Firmenich perfumers; Daphne Bugey, Amandine Clerc-Marie, Christophe Raynaud, and Marie Salamagne.
Aura comes off as a bit of an experimental fragrance as two Firmenich exclusive materials are used one called Wolfwood and the other given a code name of Tiger Liana. Wolfwood has little information available beyond it is a woody aromachemical. Tiger Liana on the other hand sounds much more interesting. According to Firmenich it is extracted from the root of an unidentified Chinese medicinal root. It is described as smelling “botanical, animalic, and smoky”. I was going to have to figure out what these new ingredients to me were adding in the spaces between the other listed notes I know.
I have mentioned in the past that most of the brands have made an early determination that millennials want a light floral gourmand. The Aura creative team provides exactly that. What makes it stand out is the inclusion of the new materials. I will be guessing what exactly they bring to the overall experience but they have a profound effect.
The first thing I notice is a slightly cleaned-up orange blossom. The indoles are kept to a level such that they are a background hum underneath the transparent floral quality. What is paired with it at first is a tart rhubarb. This rhubarb accentuates the green tinted citrus nature and the sulfurous quality, like the indoles, are pushed far to the background. Then a humid green note intersperses itself; based on the description I am guessing this is the Tiger Liana. It smells like damp green foliage, at first, in a good way as it adds some weight to a fragrance which has been very light to this point. Then beneath the green the promised animalic and smokiness is also simmering beneath it all right next to the indoles and sulfur. It is a clever way to add in a deep set of notes to provide detail without giving them the room to be more pervasive. The smokiness gets more pronounced which I think might be the Wolfwood. It could be how Tiger Liana develops too. A haze of smoke is what leads to the base of a rich opaque vanilla on a woody base. It is a comforting finish.
Aura has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I must give M. Aulas and the team of perfumers credit they have made a perfume that is indelibly Thierry Mugler that has a great opportunity of romancing the millennials to the brand.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Thierry Mugler.
As gimmicks to sell soap go I am a sucker for soap on a rope. One of my earliest fragrance related gifts was a bar of Aramis scented soap with a loop of braided rope sticking out of the side. I am sure this is a product which has almost all of its sales to men. As I got older I still liked having one hanging from my shower faucet. If there was something that I would use to describe the scent of the soap was that it was a lighter more transparent version of the parent. As we would cross over in to the 2000’s transparent design of the perfume itself became more common. There were also more perfumes which actively embraced being soapy. The new Sisley Izia reminded me of a transparent soapy rose that could have been on a rope.
Sisley is not one of those brands which seems to ride the wave of trends. They have released a total of 12 fragrances since the debut of Eau de Campagne in 1976. At that pace, you have to work on more traditional structures. Which was why Izia surprised me a little bit because this was a contemporary rose fragrance from a brand where that is not one of the adjectives which springs to mind. Perfumer Amandine Clerc-Marie did a nice job at making Izia a spring rose with something different to say.
The soapiness for Izia comes from a selection of aldehydes which combine to form a fine French-milled soap accord. When I get a really fine soap and open it for the first time there is this wonderful moment as the pent-up scent rises off the cake and fills the room as if on an invisible soap bubble. The aldehydes in Izia do the same for the rose. The aldehydes serve to give a diffuse quality to the rose making it softer. To that Mme Clerc-Marie adds a pinch of pink pepper, some pear, and bergamot. These provide detail without distracting from the soapy rose. That effect gets stronger in the heart as freesia, angelica, and peony make Izia fresher but no less soapy. The base is a very clean cedary musk.
Izia has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
If you do not like your perfume soapy Izia should be avoided it is one of the more prominent soapy perfumes I have tried in some time. Prior to wearing Izia I would have numbered myself in that group. What Izia made me see was if the soap is given something on which to actively make transparent it can be a refreshing change from the other dewy spring roses on the shelf this time of year. If you have overlooked Sisley, Izia is enough of a change that you might want to give it a chance to make a new impression.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Nordstrom.