New Perfume Review Eris Parfums Mx.- Fluid Dynamics

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I have written many times that I think the best perfumes arise from a creative dynamic between a creative director and a perfumer. A creative director with a clear vision paired with the ability to articulate it can give a perfumer the guidance they require to put together a memorable fragrance. It really is akin to a movie director getting the right emotional performance from the actors. A good perfume creative director does the same thing with the perfumer they work with. Most of the time I come to meet the creative director long after I have tried their perfumes. Except recently some of the people with whom I have shared the perfume blogosphere with have made the leap to creative direction of their own brand of perfumes. Now these are creative directors who have written many words about what perfume should be. As best as one can, I “know” them through their writing.

Barbara Herman

One who has done this is the writer of the blog “Yesterday’s Perfume” and the book “Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume”; Barbara Herman. A little over a year ago she debuted her new brand, Eris Parfums, with three extremely well-done releases. Her creative direction was integral to achieving her fragrant vision. In perfumer Antoine Lie she found a collaborator who understood it. This is an easy thing to write; this is not an easy thing to achieve. Ms. Herman and M. Lie created a diverse collection capturing many of the principles Ms. Herman had written about. One of those is the idea that “scent is subversive”.

Antoine Lie

In a recent local appearance, she read from “Scent and Subversion” focusing on one of the dynamic ways scent works beneath the surface; as a commentary on the fluidity of gender. She, like me, gets lots of questions of whether this is a “woman’s” or “man’s” perfume. The correct answer is if it smells good on you it is “your” perfume. The first artificial constraint of designing a perfume, by deciding which gender it should appeal to, is already confining. After her reading was over Ms. Herman introduced us to her fourth release Mx.

Mx. is the non-gender title created in England during the 1970’s. It is meant to impart nothing about gender. With the current social dynamic in flux the term has come back to the fore. Ms. Herman and M. Lie chose it as the inspiration, and name, because as a perfume it is meant to capture that kind of flow as things shift without ever rising to being of a specific gender.

If the first three Eris Parfums were meant to be perfume the way they used to make them; Mx. represents the idea that this is the way we should make them now. The idea that something gender neutral means neutral in composition is discarded by Ms. Herman and M. Lie. Their thesis, in the guise of Mx., is true gender neutral must stand for something. In this case it is a sandalwood-centric construct from which they can elaborate upon in ways which hew to neither side of the gender divide.

Mx. opens on an accord of spice over the sandalwood. In the very first seconds a sizzling ginger fizzes across my consciousness drawing my attention to the sandalwood. As the ginger dies down what is left behind is a plush pillow of saffron and incense. Saffron has a softening effect which is what happens here. Out of that some black pepper provides some texture in the early moments. The spices and sandalwood take their time evolving towards the base accord but eventually vetiver heralds the transition to a base of patchouli. At first it is turned slightly gourmand with cacao before growing some claws with castoreum.

Mx. has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate silage.

One of the things Ms. Herman mentioned in her reading was the concept of the inoffensive office scent. Mx. is an office scent for those who are not interested in bland inoffensive perfume. It is a scent which plays subversive commentator on the societal fluid dynamics of whether a fragrance is a “woman’s” or a “man’s”. In the case of Mx. it is “mine” and that is all that matters to me.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Eris Parfums.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Puredistance Warszawa- Warsaw Curves

I hate waiting. I was an impatient child. I’ve become better in my old age, but I still don’t like it. I am particularly bad about it when one of my favorite perfume brands makes me wait a year. Last December Puredistance released Warszawa exclusively at Quality Missala in Warsaw, Poland. When I contacted the brand about getting a sample I was told it would be released worldwide in November of 2017. Then a couple of my Polish readers told me how much they enjoyed it. None of this helped the wait go down any easier. Now that I have had the chance to try it I find Warszawa to be one of the most elegant retro nouveau perfumes I’ve tried in a long while.

Jan Ewoud Vos presenting Warszawa in Poland (November 2016)

When we say they don’t make perfumes the way they used to I also tend to couple it with the idea of what passed for beauty back then. The perfumes and the women were curvaceous. There was contour to their structure as the eye, or nose, enjoyed the sensations of swooping in and out and around those curves. Warszawa was based on the Polish society women during that Golden Age. Creative Director Jan Ewoud Vos and perfumer Antoine Lie takes us back to a time where things had curves.

Antoine Lie

One of the great things about Mr. Vos’ creative direction is that it comes from a visual perspective. For Warszawa he visited with the Missala family in Warsaw and was shown the family pictures from this period. He walked away thinking about how to turn this into perfume. Working with M. Lie for the third time there is seemingly an easy creative rapport. The model they use for Warszawa is a floral chypre where the floral part feels very Golden Age but the chypre feels very modern.

The opening is a silk glove being drawn along a sinuous arm as candied violet and grapefruit provide a smooth opening. A big green emerald flare of galbanum transforms it into something more extroverted. The floral heart accord is made up of a deep jasmine absolute paired with a rich orris butter. Just those two notes would have been spectacular, but M. Lie adds in the broom flower which provides its own twists and turns as it swirls through the more extravagant florals. The broom adds in a softness as its herbal nature inserts itself within the overall effect; it gives a slightly acerbic nip. The base is patchouli and vetiver carrying the chypre frame while styrax tries to add into a contemporary form of the classic base.

Warszawa has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Warszawa is a perfume which celebrates another time where a different aesthetic was ascendant. It is nice to have a reminder that the days of elegance can still inspire great modern perfume. Warszawa is proof that there were curves a plenty during the Golden Age in Poland.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfumes Review Trudon Parfums Bruma and Mortel (Part 1)- Solstice Twilight

As I’ve mentioned multiple times I’m not a candle guy. Although because I write about fragrances I get a few sent to me anyway. Of all the ones I’ve received there was one which even I could tell was at the pinnacle of quality; Cire Trudon. I know at the time I wondered how interesting it would be for the creative mind behind the candles, Executive Director Julien Pruvost, turned to perfumes of the liquid kind. With the release of the first five perfumes in the Trudon Parfums collection we see if the waxen brilliance can be translated to something without a wick.

Julien Pruvost

A couple of things which pleased me before I even spritzed a drop. Mr. Pruvost kept the first set of releases to five. Another positive is there is no desire to make sure they check every box on the style of perfumes checklist. These five span the deeper part of the perfumed spectrum. Finally, he chose to work with only three perfumers. Lyn Harris did three; Deux, Mortel, and Olim. Those three have an interesting coherence when taken together which is why I’ll cover them in Part 2 tomorrow. For today I’m going to look at the other two; Bruma and Mortel.

Antoine Lie

Bruma was composed by Antoine Lie. Bruma is translated as “solstice” from Latin. Solstice is also either the shortest day or night of the year; Bruma looks for the light before the darkness arrives. M. Lie embodies his daylight with beautifully rooty iris without a hint of powder. It is kept illuminated by peony, lavender, and jasmine. It is that last ray of sun expressed in iris. The darkness comes forward in a gorgeously constructed leather accord it wraps the sunny florals in a cloak of twilight. Vetiver comes along to extinguish the light leaving the earthier aspects of the orris as the remains of the day.

Bruma has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Yann Vasnier

Mortel was composed by Yann Vasnier. M. Vasnier is also playing with themes of shadow and light but Mortel is more twilight than one or the other. It has been a long time since I have tried a new incense perfume as good as Mortel. It was my first love in niche perfumery which Mortel reminded me of. Great incense has a shimmery metallic covering over the resinous core. The incense M. Vasnier chooses is all of that. He spices it up with black pepper, nutmeg, and allspice. They blend in adding shadow to the slightly monolithic nature of the incense. That solidity gets broken down even more as the sweetness of myrrh and benzoin modulate the chilly frankincense into a softer warmer resin accord as the shadows deepen.

Mortel has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Both Bruma and Mortel are excellent fragrance representatives of this most esteemed of candle brands.

I’ll return tomorrow with reviews of the other three.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Trudon Parfums.

Mark Behnke

Flanker Round-Up: Cool Water Wave and He Wood Cologne

As I work my way through giving a try to everything which makes its way to me there are times some of the flankers command a little more attention than usual. When I think they’re really good I’ll do my usual wearing of them for their own review. When I think they might be above average and worth my mentioning I do one of these Flanker Round-Ups. As I was testing the summer releases for 2017 I was intrigued that two of the original mass-market brands turned out something more than the run of the mill. A caveat to this I only wore each of these on one arm for a weekend morning making these less informed reviews than I normally write.

Cool Water Wave

I think Cool Water is one of the great perfumes ever made. When Pierre Bourdon essentially created the aquatic genre of perfume in 1988 it truly was an inflection point for the industry. Davidoff has ever since used that phenomenon to create yearly flankers of Cool Water. Most of the time they don’t present much of anything different this year’s version Cool Water Wave does.

I smelled Cool Water Wave before knowing who the perfume team was behind it. My first impression was a modern take on the classic fougere M. Bourdon originally created. When I learned the perfumers behind it were Antoine Lie, Francis Kurkdjian, and Jean Jacques it was easy to see where that modernity came from.

Cool Water Wave begins with grapefruit and Sichuan pepper. The choice to allow the spicy pepper to point towards the sulfurous undertone of grapefruit is what first caught my attention. This is followed up with the rough green of birch leaves over the chill of gin-like juniper berry. These early phases are what is worth giving Cool Water Wave a try. It ends on a generic sandalwood which does nothing but act as an ending place.

Cool Water Wave has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

He Wood Cologne

In 2007, He Wood was released and immediately became a big seller. My explanation for the popularity of this perfume is when someone wanted a woody perfume you can’t go wrong with one which has the word in the name. Perfumer Daphne Bugey combined fir, cedar, and vetiver into something for the man who wanted wood and nothing else. I was not that man. Whenever I have subsequently received other releases over the years it was almost always described on my spreadsheet as,” wood and lots of it”. Nothing wrong with a fragrance that lacks nuance; there is obviously a market for it. Which was why when I tried He Wood Cologne in celebration of the 10th anniversary I expected to do the same.

Except the strip I sprayed it on had more than wood and lots of it. There was a citrus cologne top and the violet heart has some room to make an impression. The same thing happened when it was on my skin. Mme Bugey got the opportunity to find more than woods in He Wood Cologne.

The biggest change is a snappy citrus accord of lemon, orange, and ginger which immediately provided a cologne-like feel. The fir that the original opened with is still here but the citrus is on an equal footing and both are kept at a way softer volume than the original. That is what I think allows the violet to breathe some life into this as it makes an impression before the cedar and vetiver remind you what this perfume is the cologne version of.

He Wood Cologne has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you’ve walked away when seeing a new Cool Water of He Wood on the department store counter stop and give these a try on a strip. You might be surprised, too. Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Davidoff and He Wood.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Courreges Hyperbole- Smoking Grace

As older brands find their way back in to the marketplace it has been a bit of a mixed bag so far. One brand which I would have labeled as not living up to its heritage was Courreges. This was the fashion brand started by Andre Courreges and he was responsible for the go-go boot as well as one of the designers who made the first mini skirts. These were part and parcel of his futuristic aesthetic which would flourish especially in the 1970’s when M. Courreges found his muse and his model in Grace Jones. Throughout the 1970’s he dressed the singer for many of her magazine covers. Courreges released a couple of fragrances during this time; Courreges Homme and Courreges Amerique, The brand would make another go at perfume in the 1990’s but by 2001 had given up again. M. Courreges would sell the brand in 2011 and the new owners wanted to give fragrance a third try. There have been a total of seven releases since 2012 and the first six played it safe with well-known genres done in workmanlike style. Nothing could be further from the name on the bottle. Late last year the seventh perfume was released; Courreges Hyperbole and this felt more like what a Courreges inspired perfume should smell like.

Grace Jones in Courreges circa 1969

Hyperbole reached back to have perfumers Jean Jacques and Antoine Lie be inspired by Ms. Jones and a 70’s collection of sportswear of the same name. What came out of that was a perfume that was going to take traditional masculine notes and make them feminine. As one who sees perfume as genderless I can’t speak to the success of the gender bending they were after. What they have produced is a perfume which is a sweet tobacco with real charms.

Andre Courreges (seated) surrounded by his Hyperbole Collection circa 1974

Hyperbole opens with a snappy blast of white pepper balanced against bergamot. The white pepper is more stripped down than its full-strength cousin black pepper. That makes it a nice companion for the bergamot. The tobacco source used in Hyperbole is tobacco flower. This is where I am guessing the perfumers are trying to feminize the tobacco. The problem is they use patchouli to take the flower into that more typical deeply narcotic place you find tobacco in perfume. Vanilla provides a complementary sweetness to wrap up the tobacco and push back against the patchouli.

Hyperbole has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

For the first time since Courreges has started producing perfume again Hyperbole feels like something which fits M. Courreges style. There is a 70’s feel to all of it. I can see Ms. Jones wearing Hyperbole with a cigarette drooping from her magenta colored lips.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provide by Air France.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Eris Parfums Ma Bete and Belle de Jour- Something Old, Something New

Making the transition from perfume enthusiast to brand owner and creative director is much easier to write than it is to achieve in reality. In my review of Eris Parfums Night Flower I previously recounted the story of how Barbara Herman has done this. Working with perfumer Antoine Lie she produced three debut releases. Today I am going to review the remaining two; Ma Bete and Belle de Jour.

Barbara_Herman

Barbara Herman

Ms. Herman’s passion for vintage perfume would be what eventually drive her to trying to make them like they used to. Ma Bete is the one of these first releases which wholeheartedly embraces a vintage aesthetic. If there is anything most modern perfumes shy away from it is the animalic. For a perfume which translates to “My Beast” this is not going to hold back in any way.

For a fragrance which wants to be “perfumed fur” M. Lie makes a smart choice to lead with a healthy dose of neroli lifted on the classic mix of aldehydes with a pinch of nutmeg. Neroli has become so safe in recent years. M. Lie reminds us that it has a feral nature all its own with its indigenous indoles. The neroli is here in such a concentration that the indoles provide the low growl, warning of the animal in the shadows. In the heart that stylish brute presents itself in a cloud of M. Lie’s “animal cocktail’. Pinned to its lapel is an iris which floats over the animalic nature. Patchouli and cedar provide the base accord with the patchouli in the ascendance. Ma Bete is a reminder that modern brands can still make them like they used to if they have the courage to do so. Ma Bete has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

antoine lie

Antoine Lie

If Ms. Herman and M. Lie had just decided to do two more vintage smelling perfumes to finish this first collection it would have been redundant. Night Flower was an exercise in taking the long-lost ingredients of the past and finding a contemporary way to display them. Belle de Jour displays that there is a way to create a contemporary perfume using modern ingredients which can still carry the presence of vintage perfume.

Belle de Jour begins with a lovely juxtaposition of coriander and orange blossom. Baie rose complements the pungent coriander. The unusual pairings continue in to the heart as Egyptian jasmine is matched with pimento. This is not a vintage accord but it has a faux-antique feel to it. I’m not sure if I would have necessarily gone there if I wasn’t sort of trending towards it but when I was wearing Belle de Jour it was how it felt to me. The base accord is where the present day really arrives as M. Lie uses seaweed absolute as his keynote with musk and cedar. This is a domesticated kitten compared to Ma Bete. The animalic is present but it is also given a fresh twist with the seaweed absolute. I really enjoyed the final hours of Belle de Jour as I wore it. Belle de Jour has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

These three debut scents as a collection are a laudable effort from Ms. Herman and M. Lie. It seems like the enthusiast has completed the transformation from enthusiast to creative director,

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Eris Parfums.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Eris Parfums Night Flower- The Consequence of Vintage

For those of us who get serious about acquiring perfume there are many stages. One of the later stages is after you have devoured what is current someone presents you with a discontinued vintage fragrance. What tends to happen after that is there is a lot of conversation about how they don’t make perfume like that anymore. Eventually you start scouring online and actual auctions looking for these elusive treasures. Anyone who has many bottles in their collection inevitably has a few which are older than they are.

Barbara_Herman

Barbara Herman

Barbara Herman was one who went through this phase too. Except she harnessed the fervor and expressed it in some very different ways. One of those ways was the blog she founded in 2008 called Yesterday’s Perfume. Over the last eight years she has written about the classics of the past. She would then take that drive a step further and authored a book called “Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume” which she published in 2013. One significant thesis in both her blog and her book is Ms. Herman believes the mainstream perfume industry has abandoned the pursuit of both art and commerce in favor of solely the latter. So she took it one step further if the mainstream wasn’t going to do it; she was.

antoine lie

Antoine Lie

In 2014 she got started with an Indiegogo campaign to design and produce a single scent with perfumer Antoine Lie. After making her goal she began the process of turning her design into a reality. A funny thing happened on that path the single release turned into three releases. Earlier this year she released three perfumes under her new brand Eris Parfums. I really like all of the three debut releases but the one which really dug itself deep was Night Flower.

One of the great tragedies of contemporary perfume is the cleaning up of the majority of it. The strong components that make vintage perfume so unique have been waylaid. It is a casualty of focus groups who associate those stronger notes and accords as being synonymous with their grandmother. It Is the one thing Ms. Herman and M. Lie got spot on as they dust off those powerful ingredients and bring them back into play. For Night Flower the three notes are birch tar, tuberose, and leather.

Where Night Flower captured me was from the top accord of bergamot, cardamom, and birch tar. Every time I wore Night Flower this early stage felt like the most exotic tar baby imaginable. The heart is a soft leather accord mixed with a very restrained tuberose. I wonder how many mods there were with different volumes of tuberose before deciding on a less exuberant effect. The reined in tuberose is the most contemporary part of Night Flower. An earthy effect is created in the base by patchouli, tonka, and musk.

Night Flower has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I want to comment a bit on the sillage. In most vintage perfumes they are very likely to leave a vapor trail. All of the Eris Parfums, but especially Night Flower, have a much quieter demeanor. They are not skin scents but you also won’t leave a reminder of where you’ve been walking behind you.

I have a great deal of admiration for what Ms. Herman has achieved here. Lots of people talk; few actually do. Ms. Herman has done what all of us who have fallen in love with vintage perfume say we want to do. She has made one like they used to in Night Flower.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: If you live in the Washington DC Metro Area Ms. Herman will be making a personal appearance at Arielle Shoshanna (2920 District Avenue Fairfax, VA 22031). She is having a trunk show displaying all three of the Eris Parfums line on Saturday June 11 from 1-5 Pm and Sunday June 12 from 12-4PM. It is a great opportunity to meet Ms. Herman in the intimate setting of Arielle Shoshanna.  

New Perfume Review Puredistance White- Soft Focus

I really appreciate the effort Jan Ewoud Vos puts into every new release from his luxury perfume brand Puredistance. We went all of 2014 without a new release and when I received the press package for the latest, White, there was a reason. Mr. Vos had been collaborating with perfumer Antoine Lie on White. It was due to be released contemporaneously with Black, also by M. Lie, which was the last release. What is great was instead of pushing something out to satisfy a timeline Mr. Vos and M. Lie thought they could do better and so they returned to the beginning of the creative process.

jan ewoud vos

Jan Ewoud Vos

If Black was all about introspection and inward exploration; White was meant to be all about happiness and outward joy. There is no mention about what the discarded draft of White was centered on. The version which ended up carrying the name takes one of the more common supporting notes in many perfumes and gives it a starring role.

Antione_Lie

Antoine Lie

M. Lie chooses a particularly bright bergamot to lead into a pairing of Rose de Mai and orris. M. Lie keeps this very light and slightly powdery. It has a very expansive footprint in the early moments as it seems to just suffuse itself throughout my awareness. I like a powdery floral and it did make me smile. I would guess if you are not a fan of powdery florals it might be more challenging. The star of White comes up through the powder as tonka not only arrives, it takes over. Tonka is most often used as a way of adding warmth and a slight bit of sweetness into a fragrance it is used in. M. Lie takes tonka, and using it in overdose, gives it a platform from which you can’t ignore it. The tonka used here, from Venezuela, rewards the scrutiny. By having it in high concentration the hay-like coumarin, the nutty character, and the slightly vanillic sweetness all have a more noticeable effect. If this was left in overdose it would become cloying and annoying. Instead M. Lie like an olfactory cinematographer softens the focal point by the addition of sandalwood, vetiver, and patchouli. They take that tonka and blur the edges making it just right while still retaining its starring role. A lovely cocktail of musks are the finishing touches to White.

Puredistance White has 24 hour longevity and average sillage, more than you might expect from a fragrance at 38% concentration.

White reminds me of waking up from a summer afternoon nap as the late afternoon sun flows into the room giving everything a soft glow. Mr. Vos wanted a perfume which would make one smile; I also found White to be a deeply comforting scent as well. It produced a smile of pure contentment each time I wore it.

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

Mark Behnke

Comme des Garcons 101-Five to Get You Started

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When you ask the question about where niche perfume started there are historical time-based answers. If you ask me when niche started I would answer it began in 1994 with the release of Comme des Garcons. For the last twenty-one years Comme des Garcons has continued to be the trendsetter within the niche perfume sector. A very large reason for this is the same Creative Director, Christian Astuguevieille, has over seen every fragrance with Comme des Garcons as part of its name. Part of what makes his approach so successful is he also seeks out interesting co-collaborators to add fresh new vision leading to unique perfumes. If you think about many of the long-standing trends in the independent/niche perfume area Comme des Garcons and M. Astuguevieille were there first. It is why every new release is anticipated for the possibility that the beginning of what is next has arrived. It is a huge line of nearly 100 releases. Here are five which will give you an idea of what this brand is all about.

Perfumer Mark Buxton did the original Comme des Garcons in 1994. Five years later he would compose Comme des Garcons 2, which I believe to be one of the greatest perfumes of the last 50 years. Mr. Buxton took the set of aldehydes deemed unpleasant. By placing those in a matrix of equally quirky notes he created a perfume equivalent of “Revenge of the Nerds”. The ear wax smelling aldehydes, cumin, coriander, mate, and angelica. These unloved notes came together in an accord of intense beauty. A swirl of spices as cinnamon, nutmeg, and bay leaf transition to a base of dark notes meant to convey a feeling of inkiness. In 2015 this seems like a normal set of notes. In 1999 it was an act of bravado by Messrs. Astuguevieille and Buxton. If I am right about niche starting in 1994 with Comme des Garcons it was Comme des Garcons 2 which displayed its potential to be something amazing.

Throughout the Naughts Comme des Garcons released series exploring themes and by 2007 they wanted to do an exploration of “luxe”. Luxe: Patchouli by perfumer Antoine Maisondieu is the best of this. M. Maisondieu chooses to explore every facet of patchouli. Early on a collection of vegetal notes, fenugreek and parsley, enhance the herbal nature. Oak and opoponax the slightly resinous facet. Finally a base of sandalwood and vetiver take it into the deep woods of high quality patchouli. I dare anyone to say this reminds them of Woodstock ’69.

Christian-Astuguevieille 

Christian Astuguevieille

Over the last few years M. Astuguevieille has reached out to all manner of collaborators to create perfume co-productions. Early in 2008 he collaborated with Monocle publisher Tyler Brule to oversee Commes des Garcons X Monocle Scent One: Hinoki. Perfumer Antoine Maisondieu created the perfect Japanese aesthetic of a meditative perfume. Hinoki is really a study of woods of all kinds. From freshly cut pines releasing a camphor-like scent into the air. Clean hinoki wood provides a lilting heart before a sturdy base of vetiver and incense. All of this is kept transparent and incredibly engaging for being so light. I liked it fine when I first tried it but it has risen greatly in my estimation over the years and is another huge artistic success for the brand.

As much as I like Hinoki later in the same year Commes des Garcons X Stephen Jones by Antoine Maisondieu, yet again, would be even better. The press materials described it as “a violet hit by a meteorite”. That kind of description is made for eye rolling and derision. Instead M. Maisondieu not only realizes it but he makes one of the best modern violet perfumes ever. This is a perfume of accords. A hot mineral accord to evoke the meteorite. The smell of burning plastic and wood to evoke the house it has crashed into; and a ridiculous abstract violet accord at the heart for all of this to cling to.

M. Astuguevieille wanted to make a perfume which captured the British fashion icon Daphne Guinness. Ms. Guinness was a friend of the late Alexander McQueen. M. Astuguevieille would ask perfumer Antoine Lie to capture this bigger-than-life personality as a perfume called Daphne. This was the beginning of the Retro Nouveau trend and Daphne is right there at the leading edge of it. M. Lie mixes bitter orange and incense into a heart of rich orris and tuberose. The base uses oud, patchouli and vanilla. When I first tried Daphne it felt like a perfume from 70 years ago but it also smelled like a perfume from today too. This is what Retro Nouveau means.

An exploration of the Comme des Garcons perfumes is almost a perfume education all by itself. I think it is almost required reading if you love perfume. The five above are a great place to start.

Disclosure: I purchased bottles of all the perfumes mentioned.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Comme des Garcons Pharrell Williams Girl- Celebuscent the CdG Way

There is probably nobody hotter than Pharrell Williams right now. His song “Happy” was the song of the last year. He is one of the new coaches on “The Voice”. It only seems natural that he would want to make a fragrance, too. Except he hasn’t gone to the usual suspects to collaborate with. He has chosen Comme des Garcons to be the brand which he will share his name with. From the moment this was announced I was actually looking forward to see how Comme des Garcons and their Creative Director Christian Astuguevieille would approach their first celebuscent.

First choice was to bring in perfumer Antoine Lie. M. Lie is as close as there is to an “in-house” perfumer at Comme des Garcons. He has an intimate understanding of the Comme des Garcons aesthetic and this would allow Mr. Williams to give his input to lead to the best kind of collaboration. Now that I have Comme des Garcons Pharrell Williams Girl my faith was confirmed. This is a celebuscent done the CdG way.

antoine lie

Antoine Lie

Girl opens on a fantastic duet of lavender and white pepper. Lavender is about as safe a note to use in perfume as there is. The white pepper makes it a bit less safe. What is also nice about the white pepper is it enhances the herbal quality of lavender and keeps it from being boring. This leads to a heart of iris and violet together with styrax. This is a good example of what you would not find in a typical celebuscent. The iris and violet, sure. The styrax, not likely. Just like the white pepper with the lavender on top the styrax adds a contrasting foundation to the more common notes. This is what you find in other Comme des Garcons fragrances regularly. The base of Girl is almost becoming a Comme des Garcons trademark as a woody cocktail of vetiver, cedar, and sandalwood provide the finishing touches.

Girl has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

There is nothing as pleasing as having one’s faith in creativity confirmed. M. Astuguevieille is one of only a few creative directors who could have seen this through. M. Lie was able to create something which feels modern and kinetic. Mr. Williams has something with his name on it of which he can be proud. I also need to mention the bottle by artist KAWS. When you take the whole package together this is as good as it gets for a celebuscent. It makes me clap along because I know what makes me happy and can’t nothing bring me down.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Comme des Garcons.

Mark Behnke