New Perfume Review Ex Nihilo Viper Green- Cold-Blooded

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I grew up around snakes in South Florida. I was fascinated with them. One thing which always kept me intrigued was that they were cold-blooded. If I was handling a non-poisonous snake the lack of warmth, as it slithered around my forearm and through my fingers, was an interesting contrast. Because of the scales it always felt like a dry kind of cold to me. Mrs. C is terribly afraid of snakes and my interactions are now limited to getting them out of her vegetable garden. Ex Nihilo Viper Green captures the serpentine chill without turning venomous.

Ex Nihilo Creative Team

Ex Nihilo has been a brand in transition over the last year or so. When the creative team of Sylvie Loday, Olivier Royere, and Benoit Verdier started the brand it was only available in a Paris boutique with a design aesthetic which allowed a consumer to add the last note to their perfume. After two years they have steadily expanded the places they can be found which makes it difficult for that bit of personalization to be added in. It has been a move for the better because it has produced perfumes which feel more complete which Viper Green benefits from. Perfumer Nadage Le Garlantezec uses a spine of cool green ingredients which allow for florals and patchouli to slither over.

Nadege Le Garlantezec

Viper Green opens on a tart green mandarin paired with angelica root. This is the beginning of the green thread which runs throughout. Galbanum intensifies that thread while Mme Le Garlantezec uses a synthetic ingredient called Rosyfolia. What that does is provide a rose tinted muguet. That bit of muguet that is green is very present in Rosyfolia which allows it to pick up the galbanum just in time for jasmine to pick up the floral baton. Some powdery iris softens the central part of the development and provides a bit of the cold-blooded nature. A very potent vetiver supported by a slightly earthy patchouli is the final part.

Viper Green has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Viper Green is not a fanged fragrance despite the name. It is the sense of a cool green snake slithering languidly over your skin. I have enjoyed handling this snake in these early days of summer.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Ex Nihilo.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ex Nihilo French Affair- The Maltese Chypre

The first time I became aware of the word “chypre” came while I was reading the classic detective novel “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett. One of the habits I had when reading was if I ran across a word that I didn’t know I’d try to infer it from context followed by opening the paperback dictionary I carried with me. The very last sentence in the paragraph which described the character Joel Cairo was, “The fragrance of chypre came with him.” In my mind I pronounced it ki-per while the context made me think it was perfume. The entry in the dictionary said it was “a non-alcoholic perfume containing oils and resins”. While the pronunciation instructed me to say sheep-ra. Years later as I truly became fascinated with perfume I would think back to how inadequate that definition is.

Quentin Bisch

Chypres have been one of the most interesting style of fragrance from the moment I began to care about understanding more. They have evolved, and every great perfumer has their version of it. The new generation has been working with material restrictions while creating innovative new chypre accords. Occasionally the young guns get the chance to go back and try and make a chypre like they used to. For Ex Nihilo French Affair perfumer Quentin Bisch takes his opportunity.

Ex Nihilo Team (l. to r.) Olivier Royere, Sylvie Loday, Benoit Verdier

M. Bisch wears his love of perfumery out in the open. There is no doubt that he adores everything about its history and his part in the future of it. I would have enjoyed hearing the conversation when creative directors Sylvie Loday, Olivier Royere, and Benoit Verdier asked him for an old-fashioned chypre for the “new Dandies” of the 21st century. Which is what the brief for French Affair seems to be. M. Bisch decided the base was going to be as traditional a chypre accord as he could produce. Where he would innovate is in the top and heart accords leading to that base.

If there is an ingredient which is becoming a bit of a M. Bisch fingerprint it might be lychee which he uses to add some off-kilter sweetness to the more typical bergamot. It still has that lens flare kind of quality but through a kind of musty sweet. I like it a lot as it is a contemporary twist on that most pedestrian citrus opening. Slicing through the sweetness like a razor is violet leaves which cut straight through to a lush rose in the heart. Its dewy floral depths hold the focus until the patchouli, oakmoss, and vetiver which form M. Bisch’s chypre accord rise up. The rose and violet leaves fall right in line as the earthy patchouli, the bitter oakmoss, and the sharp woody green of vetiver combine into a classic chypre accord. This is perfume classicism at its best.

French Affair has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage. It could get you a line in a novel if you wear too much.

M. Bisch’s enthusiasm is contagious and given the opportunity with French Affair he delivered his version of classic chypre brilliantly. So much so that if there is a remake of The Maltese Falcon in 2018 San Francisco this is the perfume that Joel Cairo should be wearing.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Ex Nihilo.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ex Nihilo Citizen X- Brand Expansion

Just over two years ago I became aware of the Paris perfume brand Ex Nihilo. It has become a brand for whom I look forward to their new releases because the creative direction of the three founders of the brand; Sylvie Loday, Olivier Royere, and Benoit Verdier. They began with a well-thought out brand vision and for the last two years have stuck to that. Starting this past April, they announced a new collection called Iconoclaste meant to celebrate the free thinkers among us. The first release is called Citizen X.

Ex Nihilo Creative Team

The group of perfumers the Ex Nihilo creative team has worked with so far have fit the brand concept. For the first Iconoclaste they chose one of the best perfumers working who has always impressed me with his ability to work creatively when given that freedom, Yann Vasnier. With Citizen X it seems like M. Vasnier has found a place to stretch his ingenuity. Citizen X is a resinous iris perfume. M. Vasnier uses a couple different resins to sandwich the heart of iris.

Yann Vasnier

The resin on top of Citizen X is mastic. Mastic is a lighter version of the green galbanum usually provides to perfumes. By using it for Citizen X M. Vasnier uses that brighter verdancy to good effect as he boosts it with white pepper. The pepper adds a clean piquancy to the lemony woody nature of the mastic. Next come the iris. This iris has some powdery parts but they are mostly background as the earthier character is enhanced by the mastic. The second half of the resins arrive with incense. This is typical incense and it provides both complement and contrast to the mastic. It also helps to keep the powder well in the background. This is where Citizen X spends most of its development. Over hours some musk provides the final roundness to Citizen X.

Citizen X has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Citizen X is a good start to the Iconoclaste collection. M. Vasnier’s use of resins and iris is creatively done while expanding the Ex Nihilo brand overall.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ex Nihilo Amber Sky- Do Robots Dream of Amber Skies?

I have been interested in the brand Ex Nihilo from when I first became aware of them a little over a year ago. The concept is they make a perfume and through the use of an instrument they call an Osmologue they add in a specific note of the buyer’s request. It creates a personalization similar to having a bespoke perfume made. As I tried all of the perfumes in the line I have always enjoyed the baseline perfume so much that the idea of adding something to it was not appealing. Even when visiting the brand outpost in Bergdorf-Goodman in NYC I tried the variations on some of my favorites in the line; always preferring the basic model. When I received my sample of the twelfth release Amber Sky I think I’ve found one that I might want to try adding something to it.

Ex-Nihilo-Team

Ex Nihilo Creative Team

Amber Sky is the third perfume by Olivier Pescheux under the Ex Nihilo creative team of Benoit Verdiere, Sylvie Loday, and Olivier Royere. It must be an interesting process to create a perfume made to be tailored at the final step to a personal taste. One of the reasons I haven’t been interested in changing from the perfume as bottled is all of the previous releases have distinct top, heart, and base accords I liked. Amber Sky is the first one which seems to have a missing top accord opening up the opportunity to add something in. The heart and base are lovely and so the opportunity to tune this perfume to taste really explores the entire Ex Nihilo hypothesis.

olivier pescheux

Olivier Pescheux

Amber Sky opens with a full geranium showing its greener qualities to their fullest. M. Pescheux support it with a couple of spices in coriander seeds and nutmeg. The nutmeg does a nice job of making the geranium softer; it adds a definite presence. The advertised amber arrives in the base lifted up by a duet of woods in cedar and sandalwood. This starts very dry until tonka and vanilla act, as the nutmeg did previously, as a softener of the amber-centric base accord.

Amber Sky has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I enjoyed what was here but I did really want more of a floral presence in the early going. This is where the Osmologue might be able to help me out. Of the choices that are available I would really like to see Amber Sky with orange blossom, rose, and jasmine added. When I visit NYC at the end of the month I am going to try it out and see. Amber Sky on its own is a simple amber perfume well-executed and if that is appealing you might not need anything added. I am interested in allowing the robot to dream of amber skies.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ex Nihilo Sweet Morphine- Addicting Floral

The new perfume brand Ex Nihilo definitely likes exploring the field of powerhouse florals. In the first set of releases three of them explored some of the more common florals; Rose Hubris and Jasmine Fauve along with Fleur Narcotique. The naming of the last one might give you to think founders and creative directors Benoit Verdier, Olivier Royere, and Sylvie Loday see florals as something which are happily habit-forming. With one of their two newest releases, Sweet Morphine, this belief has further confirmation.

One of the other interesting aspects of Ex Nihilo is that they are choosing different perfumers to achieve the floral effect they desire. For Sweet Morphine they asked perfumer Nathalie Gracia-Cetto to create a fragrance with iris as that nucleus to build around. Mme Gracia-Cetto uses orris butter as the keynote. Surrounding the fantastic raw material are variations on green.

Nathalie Gracia-Cetto

Nathalie Gracia-Cetto

Mme Gracia-Cetto chooses lily as the top note. This version of lily has much of the greener qualities pushed forward. It keeps the lily from being cloying. Then the orris arrives. This is a richer iris effect with much of the lighter powderiness overridden by the concentration and the lily. This is the iris source I like best because it eschews the powder for the rooty earthiness of the rhizome. To keep that beat going patchouli supports it. Vetiver bookends the green from the lily in the top but this time in a sharper way. Any tiny trace of delicacy gets pushed aside by the vetiver. The final note is vanilla to provide the promised sweet in the name. Its presence is a nice way to change things up over the last phase of the development.

Sweet Morphine has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

In a perfume market where lighter and fresher seems to be the prevailing trend it is nice to see a brand going in a different direction. Sweet Morphine makes it a fourth addition to the cabinet of addicting florals being produced by Ex Nihilo.

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

Mark Behnke