Perfume Review Amouage Farah Attar- Gotta Collect ‘Em All

3

When it comes to perfume I certainly have a few obsessive tendencies, which is stating the obvious. One of those is my desire to have everything in the lines I admire most. Amouage is one of those lines and I do own all of the releases most are aware of. Then in 2010 I was in a shop and noticed a much smaller bottle with the familiar Amouage logo. I asked what that was and the next words began a quest which only recently has successfully ended. What was in that bottle was Amouage Tribute Attar which I would find out was a follow-up to Homage Attar which was released the previous year. So I ended up buying both of those and erroneously thought I still had a complete Amouage collection. Then a correspondent from Oman told me about the 20 other attars in the Amouage flagship store. Now I had to try each and every one.

Over the last few years using all of the ways one can employ using the internet I have managed to collect samples, and bottles, of all but one of them. Then just after the New Year my final quarry was in sight and I captured my final Amouage Attar. The last one for me to try was, I believe, one of the first produced Farah Attar.

attars-degs

Traditional Attar Distillation Apparatus called Degs

For those unfamiliar with attars they are extremely concentrated perfumes where the distillate, usually of a flower, usually rose; is added directly to an oil base of sandalwood and/or oud. That’s it there is no alcohol or water added to dilute it. Attars are like the fine wine of perfumery as they actually age and the attar evolves over time. I’ve only owned my attars for a few years so I take that last bit on faith but it makes sense to me. What I do know through my own experience is attars are the most revelatory experiences within perfumery. Because these are combinations of unadulterated oils as close to being “fresh from the still” there is a vitality to the attars that I find nowhere else in fragrance.

modern attar distillation

Modern Attar Distillation apparatus

Farah Attar is about as traditional an attar as it gets as all of the key ingredients are here; rose, oud, and sandalwood. Even if it was just that it would be wonderful but what makes the Amouage Attars stand out is there is always a bit of a twist to add even more complexity. While this could be gilding the lily it actually works to soften the focal points and to allow the wearer the opportunity to approach them from a different perspective. In Farah the group of extra notes are saffron, amber, and a spice mélange. They add depth and grace to the traditional trio that form the spine of Farah Attar.

All attars have multi-day longevity from just a drop but they are very much skin scents. When I wear one it is one drop to the hollow of my throat and it is really only for my enjoyment for the next couple of days.

One of the reasons I wanted to write about Farah Attar was because it looks like these attars might be the first casualty of the IFRA/EU regulations. Kafkaesque covers the issues on her blog post at this link. At this moment it seems like the attar factory in Oman is not operating and all that is out there to be purchased is the remainder of the stock. I hope this turns out to have another reason behind it but Kafkaesque’s research seems to indicate otherwise.

These Amouage Attars are among the most priceless jewels in my perfume collection and the thought that other perfume lovers will not get the chance to experience them is heartbreaking to me. So if this has made you want to go exploring you will need to get moving before your quarry is extinct. I now sit with the satisfaction of having captured all of them. My little box of attars will provide pleasure for as long as I love perfume.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Amouage Farah Attar I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Etat Libre d’Orange 101- Five to Get You Started

One of the perfume lines which lives up to the ideals behind niche perfumery is Etat Libre d’Orange. There is almost no other niche brand which so fearlessly pushes the boundaries. Owner and creative director Etienne de Swardt is audacious in the perfumes he oversees for his label. Right from the first eleven fragrances released in the fall of 2006 he laid down a marker that Etat Libre d’Orange was going to be very different. In those first releases is the perfume widely regarded as the worst smelling perfume ever, Secretions Magnifiques. Just do a search and you will see videos of people pulling horrified faces and blog or forum posts plumbing new depths of verbiage trying to describe the experience. I, personally, think it is a masterpiece of perfumery but it is really only for those ready to approach it on its own terms instead of as a rite of passage.

etienne_de_swardt

Etienne de Swardt

Because of Secretions Magnifiques there are many who are wary of exploring the other fragrances in the line and that is a shame because I believe Etat Libre d’Orange is one of the best niche lines on the market. There is not a boring fragrance in the collection and many of them are exciting for the singularity of their existence. If you’ve been wanting to give Etat Libre d’Orange a try and want to sort of slowly expose yourself to the aesthetic and attitude of the line I have five suggestions which might make things a little easier.

Fat Electrician was released in 2009 and was composed by perfumer Antoine Maisondieu. M. Maisondieu created a fantastically nutty vetiver by combining chestnut cream with the vetiver. It is bracketed by fulsome olive leaves on top and sweetly resinous myrrh and opoponax in the base. This is vetiver given a new twist.

Fils de Dieu was released in 2012 by perfume Ralf Schwieger. Hr. Schwieger created a Technicolor fragrance which pays homage to all things Southeast Asian. It percolates early with a palpable humidity which contains lime, ginger, shiso, cardamom, coconut and rice. By the end it turns into a sensual accord of leather, vetiver, and castoreum. One of my top 5 new fragrances in 2012.

Tilda-Swinton-ELO

Like This was released in 2010 by perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui. Like This was Tilda Swinton’s celebuscent and she chose to collaborate with Etat Libre d’Orange. If every celebrity labeled fragrance was as good as Like This that segment of the market would be less looked down upon. Mme Bijaoui uses immortelle as the core of Like This and then proceeds to swaddle it in layers of ginger, tangerine, neroli, pumpkin, vetiver, and musk. This all comes together gloriously and Like This has been my Thanksgiving fragrance for the last three years.

Noel au Balcon was released in 2007 also by Antoine Maisondieu. Based on the name this is supposed to be for the Holiday Season but I wear it year-round because it is an easy to wear honey focused fragrance. M. Maisondieu uses the honey as a matrix to trap apricot and tangerine along with labdanum and cinnamon. It all eventually releases to vanilla, vetiver, and musk base.

Rien was released in 2006 by perfumer Antoine Lie. Of all of the very challenging Etat Libre d’Orange fragrances I think Rien is the most approachable. M. Lie created a dynamic intense fragrance which starts with the fizz of aldehydes which reveal a cumin and pepper-laced rose before ending on a leather and frankincense base. It is sharp and piquant and resinous and animalic and completely gorgeous. Of all of the first releases it was Rien which really sealed my enjoyment of the line.

M. de Swardt has a very arch sense of humor which plays itself out over the labels and names of the fragrances but if you can put aside your wariness because of Secretions Magnifiques and your raised eyebrows at the names and imagery an exploration of Etat Libre d’Orange is as good as it gets in niche perfume.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles of these perfumes that I purchased.

Mark Behnke

How Do We Honor Our Own?

Just as there is awards season for the performing arts we are smack dab in the middle of awards season for the olfactory arts. On Thursday night the French Fragrance Foundation awards were handed out and the following day in New York City The Fragrance Foundation announced their finalists and the winner of the Indie Perfume of the Year. There is an organization of French bloggers who give out the Olfactorama Awards. The new kid on the red carpet is the Los Angeles-based The Institute for Art and Olfaction Awards.

logo Fifi Awards 2014

Each of these awards have their own personality and the winners can be schizophrenic and you wonder how, in the case of the French Fragrance Foundation, Jour D’Hermes (Best Feminine Fragrance in Selective Distribution) shared a podium with Invictus by Paco Rabanne (Best Masculine Fragrance in Selective Distribution). The Expert’s Award choices, from a committee of people from throughout the industry, honored Comme des Garcons Black and Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Oud. This kind of dichotomy gave rise to the Olfactorama Awards as a group of French bloggers thought they could do better and here is the list of perfumes they honored: Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin, Hermes L’Eau de Narcisse Bleu, Vero Profumo Mito Voile D’Extrait, and Le Labo Ylang 49.

I look at those winners and can say that each list of winners represents its organization’s view point and as it is with the performing arts I am happy there are writer’s awards as there are industry-based awards. In my opinion the French Fragrance Foundation Expert’s Award is the one I respect the most because they really go the extra kilometer to gather a representative panel who all work very hard to come to consensus. The last two years has seen them honor fragrances I think would not have received any accolades at all.

cropped-bird_mainlogo_left_330pxwide2

Which comes to the independent perfume movement particularly in the US. Ever since I have published a yearly Top 25 new perfumes list there have never been less than five indie perfumers represented on that list. The Fragrance Foundation made an attempt to recognize that community but through three iterations of that award it has gone, respectively, to Odin 06 Amanu, By Kilian Amber Oud, and this year to By Kilian Playing with the Devil. I like all of these perfumes but The Fragrance Foundation and I have very different ideas about what an indie perfume is. Which is why I am excited about the new The Institute for Art and Olfaction Awards which will name their winners on April 25, 2014. They have two categories with ten finalists in each. The Independent Category which honors privately-owned brands operated with the owner’s direct oversight and often employing professional perfumers.  Included in this year’s nominees are brands: Neela Vermeire Creations, Charenton Macerations, Friedemodin, and Yosh. The Artisan Category honors a perfumer-led business where the perfumer does everything from A-to-Z. The nominees are again another fine list which include Olympic Orchids, April Aromatics, Aether Arts, Imaginary Authors, and Mikmoi. All of the nominees are finally going to receive some attention that has been a long time in coming. The entire list of nominees can be found here.

If I was comparing these awards to those given out for motion pictures I would do it this way. The US Fragrance Foundation Awards are the Oscars. The French Fragrance Foundation Awards are the BAFTA’s. The Olfactorama Awards are The Golden Globes. The Institute of Art and Olfaction Awards are the Spirit Awards. What I believe is this kind of breadth of attention paid to the best of olfactory art Is a good thing and every perfume on any of the nomination lists as well as the winners should bask in the glow of the recognition of a jury of aficionados finding their perfume to be among the best of 2013. Just as it is with the movie awards I have my favorites I am rooting for but 2014 is the first year where every perfume I think was award worthy had a place where that could actually come true. That makes the entire perfume community winners.

Mark Behnke

That Unattainable Object of Desire: L’Air de Panache by Mark Buxton

After writing about the Wes Anderson movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel” in this week’s The Sunday Magazine I got a lot of questions about the fragrance inspired by the movie. To answer those questions not only have I smelled it but perfumer Mark Buxton gave me enough of a sample of it to wear. After wearing L’Air de Panache and seeing the movie I have to say that Mr. Buxton given the freedom of composing what amounts to a bespoke perfume delivered a true fragrance experience every bit as indie as the movie it is based upon.

lairde panache gustave h.

Gustave H''s Wardrobe

L’Air de Panache is the signature scent of the protagonist of the movie Gustave H., the concierge at The Grand Budapest Hotel. As played by Ralph Fiennes, Gustave H. is a consummate concierge and the master of his universe. L’Air de Panache is how people know Gustave H. and it consistently keeps appearing throughout the film.

air-de-panache-nose-nicolas-mark

Mark Buxton (l.) and Nicolas Cloutier (Photo: makemylemonade.com)

When they were filming they, of course, used water. For the World Premiere Mr. Anderson wanted to turn L’Air de Panache into a reality to be given as a present to the cast and crew. For this very special project he would turn to the Paris fragrance boutique Nose to bring the fictional fragrance to life, in six weeks! Nicolas Cloutier would act as creative director to perfumer Mark Buxton as they sought to make a perfume which would live up to what we saw in the movie. Because this was a very small batch release, not intended for sale, it freed Mr. Buxton to use any ingredient on his perfumer’s palette. I would also comment that the short time frame forced Messrs. Cloutier and Buxton to trust their instincts and I think the end result is all the better for that. L’Air de Panache is a definite throwback cologne but, cleverly, throughout its development there are nods to the events of the film.

boy with apple

Boy with Apple

Gustave H. is known for his excellent personal service to the aging, blonde they must be blonde, women who come to the hotel. The beginning of L’Air de Panache pays homage to them with a fleeting aldehyde opening which is the hairspray version of those ingredients. They dissipate as quickly as a cloud of Aqua Net to reveal underneath a rich citrus opening made modern by the addition of basil, instead of the more traditional rosemary. The other note is green apple and that nods to the McGuffin which propels the caper part of the film, a painting simply named “Boy with Apple”.  A stunningly complex jasmine sambac holds the heart of L’Air de Panache it is as elegant as Gustave H. as he strides the halls. This all gives way to a well-mannered jungle cat of a base as Mr. Buxton lets L’Air de Panache off the leash to growl with musk, castoreum, amber, oakmoss, and patchouli. This is Gustave H. behind a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the room of one of his paramours.

L’Air de Panache has 4-6 hour longevity and prodigious sillage. Which is why Gustave H. is always topping it up and everyone knows where he’s been.

For this series the fragrance I am writing about will truly be nearly impossible to find. In the case of L’Air de Panache I am hopeful this might not always be the case. To be clear right this moment there are only a few bottles of it in existence and they are all in the hands of the people who made the movie. Except if you find yourself in Paris and visit Nose they have a bottle for you to experience this quite amazing fragrance. Because of the top shelf ingredients used I suspect a bottle would carry a fairly hefty price tag but if it does come to pass that it is for sale one day I’ll be first in line to buy it. For now I have enough left to allow myself to feel like the master of my own universe for one day of my choosing; it is enough.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided to me by Mark Buxton.

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds: Juicy Couture Dirty English-Claude Dir Brings Niche to Mainstream

1

There are times I need a lot of encouragement to overcome an erroneous snap judgment I have made. One of those instances was back in 2008. On Basenotes there was a lively discussion about this new mainstream fragrance from Juicy Couture called Dirty English. Now this, at the time, nearly 50-year old man was not going to wear any perfume from Juicy Couture. I remember being quite vocal about it on the forum, too. All of this was without ever having tried it. Then I was in my local department store and a sales associate approaches me with a bunch of strips in her hand and hands one to me. As I sniff the strip picking out caraway, cardamom, leather, sandalwood, and oud. I was running through which niche house this could have come from. Then the rep told me what it was. Yes you guessed it this was Juicy Couture Dirty English and my jaw had disengaged itself from my face and was dusting the floor.

There have been a few valiant attempts to bring a niche aesthetic to the department store counter, Dirty English was the attempt for 2008. So far there has not really been a breakout success for any of these and this is why Dirty English is easy to find at the discount fragrance purchase points. I have regularly found it for less than $30 for a 3.4 oz. bottle.

claude dir

Claude Dir

Claude Dir was the perfumer behind Dirty English and this was in keeping with his very mainstream career to this point in 2008. He had made one of my favorite mainstream fragrances, Zaharoff pour Homme a few years earlier. Later on in 2008 he would start working on the niche side of the street when he composed Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Lexington Avenue (now just called Lexington Avenue). With hindsight one can look back at Dirty English as the real start of M. Dir’s niche values.

Dirty-English-Juicy-Couture

Dirty English mixes pepper, cardamom, and caraway. The caraway adds an exotic tenderness to the spices and again I wonder out loud why this isn’t used as a substitute for bergamot more as a top note. All of the spice dusts the light woodiness of cypress. M. Dir then uses a leather accord called Santal Fatal which uses sandalwood, vetiver, and cedar to form the leather accord. M. Dir makes a fascinating choice of using marjoram as an herbal contrast to the Santal Fatal. He then uses the combination of nagarmotha and patchouli to make an oud accord and right here with the combination of all of these components you would be hard pressed not to feel this was a top of the line niche fragrance. In the end a very close-wearing musk finishes this one off.

Dirty English has about 4-6 hour longevity and above average sillage. This makes it an ideal evening out scent.

I was, and continue to be, impressed with the choices M. Dir made for Dirty English. If he was less disciplined with the choices he made this could have easily turned into a mess. Instead he turned out a fragrance I still look to wear for an evening out. I still can’t believe there is a Juicy Couture anything I like as much as this.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle of Juicy Couture Dirty English I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Welcome to the Colognaissance!

2

One of my favorite pop culture terms is the one used to refer to actor Matthew McConaughey’s reinvention of his acting career which lead to him winning the Best Actor Oscar, for Dallas Buyer’s Club, a month ago. The term for the winning streak he has been on is “McConaissance”. I like it because it succinctly describes how this lightly regarded romantic comedy actor more known for being People’s Sexiest Man alive in 2005 has become this respected dramatic actor without really changing much of anything but the acting roles he has chosen.

As I was walking around Esxence 2014 I began to realize there is a sort of a fragrance equivalent going on. It started to hit me after spending time with Luc Gabriel of The Different Company talking about the seven fragrances which make up the L’Esprit Cologne Series. It became a little more solid while chatting with Jean-Christophe Le Greves of Thirdman. It finally became a fully formed idea when Etienne de Swardt of Etat Libre D’Orange showed me his new release titled simply Cologne. Yes I’m going there; we are in the midst of a Colognaissance.

matthew mcconaughey stetson

For far too many years cologne was seen as the perfume equivalent of wine in a box. No discerning lover of fragrance would be caught wearing a cologne. Those were the out-dated smells of our fathers who likely wore too much of something like Faberge Brut or Dana English Leather. The cologne was turned into a trifle and a punchline and it pretty much stayed that way for forty years in the US. Even Mr. McConaughey was enlisted as the celebrity face behind Stetson Cologne. This devaluing of cologne never seemed to take place anywhere else in the world. Things got so bad that cologne became synonymous with cheap fragrance. What was needed was a group of creative minds to turn this around.

Sylvie-Ganter-Christophe-Cervasel

Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter

Just as Mr. McConaughey found a way to be cast in roles with more heft Creative Directors and owners of Atelier Cologne, Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, created a “new” version called cologne absolue. The cologne absolue was a higher concentration version, pushing 20% perfume oil. What this addressed was one of the perceived issues around colognes, their lack of longevity on the wearer’s skin. By upping the oil percentage and finding a way to retain the cologne architecture and balance Atelier Cologne rapidly began to pick up converts. Atelier Cologne has continued to push the envelope on what a cologne can be, even choosing heavier keynotes like leather or amber and still managing to make a fragrance identifiably a cologne.

eau-by-thirdman

Thirdman Cologne

Perfumer Emilie Coppermann working under Luc Gabriel’s creative direction took some of the finest ingredients never found in colognes previously and throughout the seven L’Esprit Cologne Series showed they could be turned into luxurious luminous compositions. Jean-Claude Ellena at Hermes has added four new Eau de Colognes to the original Eau de Orange Verte. Each of these explore a specific duality of two notes and are among some of the best work M. Ellena has done while at Hermes. One of the most recent lines to join the Colognaissance has been Thirdman, under the creative direction M. Le Greves, which has made completely modern colognes meant to be splashed on liberally and often. I kept my bottle of Eau Monumentale in the refrigerator so I could catch a cool splash in the summer.

All of these lines are worth exploring if you have not tried them up until now. I have all of them on permanent rotation once the mercury soars as they all refresh the spirit as a good cologne should do. What is nice is that along with the refreshment there is also a wonderful spread of styles and aesthetics to choose from. As we finally leave winter behind start thinking about joining the Colognaissance the choices have never been better.

Mark Behnke

Perfume Mythbusters Love Potion No. 9?

One of the more pervasive fallacies when it comes to fragrance is the idea that there is a magic elixir that when worn will cause the object of your desire to fall madly in love with you, or in lust with you. I can’t say I am immune to the sentiment as the first bottle of perfume I owned was Jovan Musk. Why? Because at the age of thirteen the ads intimated that women were crazy about men who wore musk. Of course Hai Karate intimated I would need a black belt to fend off the women if I wore that. What I found out pretty quickly was it wasn’t the way I smelled that lead to success with women it was a lot of other things of which fragrance was just a component.

lepremierparfum

For many years this always seemed like a concept held exclusively by men, and women were above this kind of simplistic thinking but the recent release of Le Premier Parfum changes that. Le Premier Parfum allows the chakra associated with sex to open and in their press materials they flat out say, “Le Premier Parfum is not merely a fragrance, but an aphrodisiac.” So much for the more evolved gender. The two women behind the brand have been giving interviews urging women to, “wear it responsibly.” I guess that is their version of safe sex. This is as nonsensical as the idea of Creed Aventus causing women to lose their senses and drape themselves on the man wearing it.

control-male-pheromones

The truth of this is there is not one scientific study which has ever shown any particular scent to immediately cause the object of one’s desire to go weak in the knees and let their chakras do the talking. A lot of the confusion comes from the idea of pheromones. In the insect world pheromones have been well studied and proven to exist. These substances are used to convey a lot of specific primal information from alarm, to a trail to follow back to food, and yes, sex. So because the bees do it the suggestion is so should we humans. Except there has never been any human pheromone identified to do what it does in the insect kingdom. Of course that doesn’t stop perfumes from claiming they have the magical non-existent pheromone in their fragrance. The bottom line is there has been no unequivocal scientific proof that a human pheromone exists and there are certainly none in the fragrances which claim to have them in them.

When it comes to scent and how we perceive others there have been some interesting studies which show when a woman wears grapefruit fragrances she is perceived as much younger. A very recent study has shown the smell of cedar has the opposite effect when it comes to men with people seeing a man as older than his age when wearing a cedar fragrance. The real point is that fragrance does have the ability to shape our opinion of others but not to cause them to go all googly eyed and become one’s fawning acolyte for a night. That is why when searching for the mythical Love Potion No. 9 instead look for the fragrance which complements your personal style. It is the complete package which is the real attraction between people and your fragrance is part of that package but most of the rest of the work is up to you.

Mark Behnke

Boot or Reboot: Yohji Homme 1999 & 2013

It seems like some of the greatest discontinued fragrances have been reformulated in the last twelve months. Much like the reformulation of Patou pour Homme I approached the new version of Yohji Homme with some concern.

yohji homme

The original Yohji Homme was released in 1999; it was signed by Jean-Michel Duriez just at the moment Proctor & Gamble had acquired Jean Patou. When I smelled Yohji Homme I was swept away with this spicy licorice and lavender concoction. It was clearly not a success as it would disappear from shelves within three years. In that endless internal conversation about the best masculine perfumes ever Yohji Homme is right there in the mix. Late in 2013 the newly reformulated Yohji Homme was released with perfumer Olivier Pescheux taking on the task. He consulted with M. Duriez but this was a difficult task because a few of the ingredients had been restricted by IFRA regulations and a couple others were from the resources M. Duriez had while at Patou.

jean michel duriez

Jean-Michel Duriez

The 1999 version of Yohji Homme started with one of the best lavenders I have ever encountered in a fragrance it is so close to the real lavender that grows outside my house. It pushes right to the edge of being unpleasant because of its strength. M. Duriez then wraps this intense lavender in strands of black licorice. It is a bold beginning and it becomes even bolder as coriander and cinnamon are joined by geranium and carnation to form a spicy floral heart which slithers underneath the lavender and licorice insinuating itself within the slight olfactory space available to it. After about an hour on my skin these notes combine to produce a singular accord like nothing else in my experience. If that was all there was Yohji Homme would have been great but the base adds in a rum-soaked leather and things take a quantum leap forward. It never fails to be a fascinating ride and a perfume which delivers time and again.

olivier pescheux

Olivier Pescheux

M. Pescheux in the 2013 version of Yohji Homme is really trying to do this with one hand tied behind his back while jumping on one foot. Because of the lack of availability of the restricted and proprietary ingredients M. Duriez used in the original, M Pescheux was forced into Hobson ’s choice time and again. When it comes to the lavender used it is in no way close to the quality from the original, the same goes for the licorice. The leather is tamed instead of wild. The cinnamon lacks the same bite. The same progression as the original is there but the new version sort of lurches through its transitions. I almost smell an audible clunk as the less strident lavender and licorice seem to just get out of the way of the spice and florals in the heart. By the time the base notes of leather and rum show up they seem too polite. This new version feels like recreating the Eiffel Tower in wood. It looks like the same thing but it lacks in majesty and power.

It is obvious that the Reboot comes nowhere near the Boot and that’s a shame because it feels like in 1999 the perfume world was not ready for Yohji Homme but in 2013 it is less of an outlier. If you had never tried the original I think many will be enchanted by the new version as all of the important beats are there and it is still a unique fragrance. M. Pescheux did a great job considering the straitjacket he was bound in. One other difference between the two is the original is a powerhouse which lasts all-day the new one barely made it through the workday. The new Yohji Homme has been exclusive to Selfridge’s in the UK and is expected to be released wider by the end of 2014.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles of both versions of Yohji Homme I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Creed 101- Five To Get You Started

The House of Creed is one of those perfume producers which elicits strong opinions for and against. What is not up for debate is it is one of the best-selling niche fragrance houses in the world. Creed is many perfumista’s entrée to the world of niche perfume and it instills an unusual loyalty to those who admire the brand. One of the things detractors point to is the reliance on the celebrated history of the Creed brand and unashamedly talking about the trendsetters who have supposedly worn the brand over the years. Olivier Creed is the current head perfumer the sixth generation to have that position. He is also currently training his son, Erwin, to become the seventh generation, assuring the continuance of the brand for years to come.  Creed perfumes are easy to find but because of their popularity there are many counterfeits out there. If you are going to dip your nose into Creed it is best to start by trying from a reputable source.

olivier and erwin creed

Olivier and Erwin Creed

Green Irish Tweed was released in 1985 and could be said to be the fragrance which would begin this current phase of popularity Creed enjoys. It really lives up to the green in its name especially in the early phases of development as lemon, verbena, and violet leaves combine to form a clover soft accord. The heart is a much understated orris which is more opulent than floral. This leads to what is pretty much a signature base note accord to many Creed fragrances with ambergris and sandalwood. Green Irish Tweed is a quiet fragrance and often when wearing it I will think it is gone only to have someone comment on how nice I smell. Of anything I own Green Irish Tweed is one of those few which elicits spontaneous compliments.

In 1987 Bois du Portugal was released and it is one of my very favorite woody lavender perfumes I own. Creed says in their press release that this was Frank Sinatra’s signature fragrance. Whenever I wear it I always get a very 60’s vibe to it. In my imagination this is the fragrance I expect Don Draper of “Mad Men” to be wearing. It is simple as bergamot and lavender are the opening notes and the Creed ambergris and sandalwood base is tweaked with a healthy addition of vetiver. Bois du Portugal is a great perfume and very close to my favorite in the line.

Love in White was released in 2005 and the very first bottle was gifted to then-First Lady Laura Bush; the current occupant of the White House, Michele Obama, is also said to wear this. This is a fresh bouquet of three of the best floral ingredients of orris, jasmine, and rose. They are kept light and not as bold as they can be in other fragrances. The base is, again, the Creed ambergris/sandalwood signature with a bit of vanilla and cedar to complete this variation.

Millesime-Imperial-Creed-For-Men-EDP-120ML

Millesime Imperial was released in 1995 as aquatic perfumes were ascendant. Millesime Imperial shows a pedestrian genre like aquatics can be infused with a bit of class. The citrus opening of Millesime Imperial is lemon and orange and each of these notes is distinct in the way they display themselves. The overplayed ozonic notes, which exemplify the aquatic, is swathed in a decadent orris. It could have come off like putting designer lipstick on a pig; instead it is like draping a tuxedo jacket over a t-shirt elevating the common to something less so. The base is the same as the others before but with a bit of musk to add a bit of animalic growl to the signature sandalwood and ambergris.

In my opinion Creed has been on a bit of a roll over the last three years or so. With the release of Aventus in 2010 that roll was just beginning. Meant to evoke the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Aventus has a unique progression of notes. An unusual fruity opening of blackcurrant, apple and surprisingly prominent pineapple are combined in a very pleasant olfactory fruit salad without ever getting out of control. The heart of jasmine rose, birch, and patchouli twist the floral stalwarts with traditional woody contrast. The base is not the Creed signature as ambergris is there but this time oakmoss and musk round out the final phase. Aventus breaks the Creed mold in every way and that has continued over the last few releases.

Creed is such a popular house becase the great majority of their perfumes smell great and whether you buy the PR or not I know I always feel a little more elegant when I’m wearing Creed.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles of these perfumes I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Wetshaving: The Three T’s

2

Every morning I go through three levels of fragrance. The first is the soap or shower gel I use. Knowing what perfume I am planning to wear influences what I choose in the shower as I try to match one of the base notes of my upcoming scent of the day. The second level of fragrance comes between my shower and applying my perfume.

Around ten years ago I made switch away from the commercial multi-blade shavers and returned to the traditional double-edge shaver my dad taught me to shave with. As I discovered the joys of what is called wetshaving I also embraced the joy of adding a new fragrant phase to my morning routine with the shaving cream I would use.

shaving1.png

Part of what I like about wetshaving is the reminder to slow down a bit in the morning and take care of yourself. Even though I can go pretty fast now it still takes longer to make four passes with my single edged blade than it would to do one pass with a multi-blade razor. I have learned to relax and breathe in the scent of my shaving cream and enjoy the feel of the brush lathering up my face.

When it comes to which shaving creams to use there is a simple rule to start with, “go with the three T’s”. Just like midtown New York perfume shoppers know the three B’s; Bergdorf’s, Barney’s, and Bendel’s; wetshavers usually start with the creams of Geo F. Trumper, Taylor of Old Bond St., and Truefitt & Hill. I have three that I use in heavy rotation although all of the creams from these three producers are great places to add a bit of extra fragrance to your day.

geo f trumper voiolet

Geo F. Trumper Violet Shaving Cream is probably my favorite of all the creams I own. It is a deep purple solid in the pot which lathers to the very faintest tinge of lavender as I apply it to my skin. The smell of violets surround me and it is as good as any violet fragrance in a perfume bottle. It wasn’t until Atelier Cologne Sous le toit de Paris that I found a fragrance which matched this perfectly. When I want to have a violet day it is this pair which is my go to combo.

tailor_of_old_bondstreet-avocado-shaving_cream-o_copy

Taylor of Old Bond Street Avocado Shaving Cream is one of the most uniquely smelling shave creams I own. One characteristic of all Taylor’s shaving creams is their exceptional lathering ability. With the Avocado version it is so rich I often think I’m slathering white guacamole on my face. I use this as a companion to a lot of my lighter fragrances and as a base to slumberhouse Pear + Olive, the connection is sublime.

sandalwood-brush-dip

Truefitt & Hill Sandalwood Shaving Cream is the most fragrant of the three T’s especially the Sandalwood version. The creamy sweet woodiness feels like it seeps into my pores. Even when I’m rinsing it off I feel like it has lingered longer than most of the other shave creams I own. I always shave with this before wearing Diptyque Tam Dao or Chanel Bois des Iles. It lays down a bit of sandalwood foundation for those fragrances to build upon.

Even if you don’t want to go full wetshave and still want to use your modern multi-blade definitely meet the movement halfway by adding a tub of one of the three T’s and a shaving brush to your shaving routine. If you love fragrance it truly adds an extra bit of it to every morning.

Mark Behnke