New Perfume Review Neela Vermeire Creations Rahele- India Through French Eyes

During the 17th century the explorers were the seafaring adventurers unafraid to sail over the horizon to see what was there. I get a thrill stepping off a plane to visit a new country; imagine what that would be like after being at sea for weeks? Without a travel guide to help you translate. The concept of that kind of exploration has always been a source of wonder for me. What generally happened when they returned was the stories of their travels were told. Of course, these tales were told through the lens of their culture which meant the first glimpse of Asia and the East came through this process. The new perfume from Neela Vermeire Creations called Rahele got me thinking about that.

Neela Vermeire

Neela Vermeire has imposed an Indian vision on European-style perfumery through her first six fragrances. It was as if France was being interpreted by Indian eyes. Rahele reverses that process. It is clearly intentional because Rahele was inspired by the voyages of three French explorers; Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, Francois Bernier, and Jean Thevenot during the 17th century. They came back and translated what they saw through their French prism. Mme Vermeire working once again with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has also done this with Rahele. The keynote for Rahele is a fabulously fulgent osmanthus. It becomes the heart of this story of travel to exotic places.

Bertrand Duchaufour

The opening of Rahele is the story of spices which were brought back as proof of the voyage. M. Duchaufour uses cardamom and cinnamon as if he was offering it as verification. Handing it out among the listeners. He then uses violet leaves to begin the transition into the fantastical part of the narrative. That is where the osmanthus comes out. Boy, does it arrive. This is where India comes alive. It is wrapped up in rose, magnolia, orris, and violet. This is where the audience leans in to experience more. This heart accord is where Rahele soars. Then a leather accord appears before the patchouli, sandalwodd, and oakmoss triptych of chypre provides the French vision. The floral accord becomes enmeshed, translated, by this accord. It becomes ascendant as the French overtakes the Indian.

Rahele has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Rahele was eye opening for me because it feels like a logical evolution for Mme Vermeire’s brand. It succeeds in feeling like a first-rate tale told well.

Disclosure: this review was based on a smaple provided by Neela Vermeire Creations.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Phuong Dang Believing- One for Nine

Even when one of my favorite perfumers is involved it is still painful to receive a ten-fragrance new collection from a neophyte creative director. The new collection by Vietnamese ex-Creative Director at Elite Modeling Agency in London, Phuong Dang, has all the earmarks of the worst of these endeavors. She gave an interview to a website called “girlboss” in which she revels in her lack of knowledge of perfume. Within the interview, she says she blended oils to help her as a source of comfort. As she got her MFA degree she concluded she wanted to match her visual art with perfume. Over time she had learned enough to find the name of Bertrand Duchaufour. She wrote him a letter on a whim asking him to help her with her idea; surprisingly he agreed. A few months ago, the Phuong Dang Collection was released; all ten of them.

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Phuong Dang

M. Duchaufour was the perfumer behind nine of the ten; Marina Jung Allegret did the remaining one; Raw Secret. It is very difficult for me not to see this as the most cynical of perfumery. Liquid Red is the lipstick inspired entry. Leather Up wastes a perfumer who has made amazing leather perfumes on something where the leather is overwhelmed by almost everything else. There are two ouds, Obscure Oud and Untamed Oud, which present nothing new again from a perfumer who has produced oud perfumes much better than these. Chypre (Cryptic), Oriental (Craving), White Flowers (Raw Secret), Gourmand (The Calling), and Floriental (Vermillion Promise). Just check off the boxes as you go through the collection. It was all too easy to consign these to the forgettable file.

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Bertrand Duchaufour

Except a talented perfumer like M. Duchaufour probably can’t help but produce one out of nine which rises above. Believing was the one which hit a single for me because it was one which tried for something slightly different. It still carries some of the flaws of the rest of the collection but I found more memorable moments than not while wearing it.

Believing is the citrus fresh floral check box and so it begins with fruit. Grapefruit, yuzu, and mandarin are all here to represent the spectrum of citrus. A mixture of red and green berries adds a bit of lushness to the citric overload. Hyacinth comes on the scene to lead you in to a floral fusillade in the heart of primarily rose but significant amounts of jasmine, champaca, and freesia also crowd in to the mixture. This is one of those flaws I am speaking of as nearly all the perfumes would have been better if at least one phase was slimmed down a bit to allow the entire composition to breathe a little bit. Instead Believing is as overstuffed as the others but in this case M. Duchaufour strikes a balance. It still has a lot of presence but I didn’t mind it as much. The base continues in the “more is better” vein with myrrh, patchouli, vetiver, musk, and sandalwood forming a gigantic foundational block which also managed to strike the right balance, surprisingly.

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

Mme Dang in that girlboss interview states her personal credo is to “Push boundaries.” This first collection of perfume is no example of that kind of thinking. It is firmly inside the lines with nothing which even flirts with coloring outside of them. As I mentioned I think it is hard for a perfumer like M. Duchaufour to go zero for nine but at least for me he only went one for nine;with Believing being that one.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Barney’s.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Grandiflora Queen of the Night- The Power of Impermanence

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One of the reasons I fell in love with hiking in the desert is despite what many might think there is so much to see. One of the things which has always drawn me is the number of things that happen for relatively short time in the desert milieu. In the spring it is the riot of color as the desert in bloom shows swathes of color on top of the barrenness. After we get through the heat of high summer there is a call back to that earlier time but it is only for the tine of one night. The Cereus cactus only blooms for one night usually from mid-September through October in the high desert. I remember one hike in the fall one year as I was stargazing with my binoculars. There was this wave of intensely vanillic smells which were coming from just outside the campsite. Interspersed with the smell of the desert at night it distracted me from the heavenly beauty above. As I got my flashlight and moved towards the smell I found a little cluster of cactus with these amazing fragile white blooms. I was amazed that it was just these few flowers that were producing this amount of scent. As I extinguished my light I leaned against a nearby boulder and went back to looking at the stars surrounded by this fantastic floral scent. These flowers, I found out later, only last for one night. I took for granted my fortune in being in the right place at the right time.

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Saskia Havekes

Because of this experience I was very interested in the fourth fragrance Owner/Creative Director Saskia Havekes was releasing for her Grandiflora brand called Queen of the Night after this Cereus cactus flower. I was also pleased to see she was collaborating with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour. M. Duchaufour has a nifty skill at creating specific accords. In Queen of the Night this is shown as it really is a dance of three accords; one for the sand and stone of the desert, another for the cooling air of the desert night, and an accord to evoke the flower itself.

Bertrand Duchaufour

Bertrand Duchaufour

Because it is all about the flower that is what makes its presence known first. The Queen of the Night accord is primarily formed around a core of orange blossom. M. Duchaufour weaves other white flowers, tuberose and gardenia, in to amplify the indolic effect. Then he adds vanilla to finish this accord which is a creditable simulation of the real thing. Now he needs to add in the vault of the desert sky at night with the grounding element of the surface. For the desert night sky accord he uses a set of the more expansive aldehydes this adds a cooling transparency which overlays the Queen of the Night accord. Then from below the sand and stone thrust their way into things. Here M. Duchaufour takes incense and clove while surrounding them with some spices a bit of galbanum, patchouli, and sandalwood. It provides a craggy foundation for the other two accords to interact with.

Queen of the Night has 10-12 hour longevity about the same as the real bloom. The sillage is average.

M. Duchaufour under the direction of Ms. Havekes has done a very nice job of capturing a rugged terrain at a moment where it shows off a more pleasant side. The desert has always been about the power impermanence has in that unforgiving climate. Queen of the Night is also about that same effect.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle provided by Grandiflora.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Project Renegades Part 2- Perfumed Supergroup (contd.)

Continuing my reviews of the three Project Renegades perfumes begun with yesterday’s post.

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Bertrand Duchaufour

Bertrand Duchaufour is one of my favorite perfumers because I feel like I can see his desire to use the ingredients on his palette in different ways. He is also the perfumer for whom I have probably given the most nicknames to from Pirate to High Priest of Incense I have always admired his way of designing perfumes. As I was thinking about his perfume he composed for Project Renegades I return to that focus of doing something different to achieve a desired effect. It turns him into The Experimentalist.

For his Project Renegades entry M. Duchaufour wanted to create a fresh marine fragrance without the usual suspects. It is particularly interesting because as Geza Schoen did with his Project Renegades fragrance M. Duchaufour uses an overdose of pink pepper in the top notes. Except this overdose gives a slightly different effect.

M. Duchaufour opens his perfume with 10% pink pepper. I am not sure how often I have smelled that concentration but at that level it effectively replaces that ozonic suite of notes which usually open this style of fragrance. At this kind of level the pink pepper has a surprisingly uplifting presence. I think I expected to get bowled over by it. Instead I was enticed into the cool pine forest as balsamic notes matched with cardamom, cassis, and juniper berries provide that accord. Once they become apparent it also brought to my attention the balsamic qualities inherent in the pink pepper at this concentration. This dries down into an amber and incense base which also carries a bit of desiccated driftwood to remind one we are on the beach.

Project Renegades Bertrand Duchaufour has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Mark Buxton

Mark Buxton

Mark Buxton is a perfumer who lives in the specific moment of creativity of a perfume. I like that he gets a concept within his imagination and then executes upon that in a matter of days. It is perfumery as practiced by only those skilled enough to trust those impulses to take you to a good place. Over his career knowing when to leave the well-trodden path has served him well. For Project Renegades he wanted to throw the saddle off of his horse and ride off at breakneck speed just to see where these notes would take him. It makes his Perfume Renegades entry the most unusual of the three as only The Instinctualist could provide.

I use the horse analogy because Mr. Buxton combines a sharp green opening of basil and galbanum with a stinky animal accord. He told me at Esxence he wanted people to go “WTF!” when they first sniffed it. With me it definitely has that effect. It reminds me of when my dog comes in from a summer rain shower after the grass is mowed and he has rolled around in it. It is weird and that quality is not relieved as we move deeper in to the development. A spicy rose is enhanced with black pepper, red pepper and clove but the stinky animal accord pushes right up against the rose corrupting it. All of this gives way to a very warm base accord of sandalwood and amber.

Project Renegades Mark Buxton has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have had a great deal of fun with these Project Renegades perfumes. Each of them feels characteristic of the perfumer behind them. I also returned often to my analogy of a music supergroup in perfumed form. When that concept succeeds it is because the musicians are tasked with taking on different tasks than they usually do. Project Renegades saw these three perfumers take the opportunity to let The Scientist, The Experimentalist and The Instinctualist take on fragrance construction in a different way helping to illuminate what independent perfumery is all about.

Disclosure: This review is based upon samples from Project Renegades I received at Esxence 2016.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Project Renegades Part 1- Perfumed Supergroup

When I was at Esxence 2013 there was an exciting announcement which was made. Three of the best perfumers were going to combine their talents and release three perfumes under their own brand. This joint effort of Geza Schoen, Bertrand Duchaufour, and Mark Buxton was one of the topics of discussion for the remainder of the expo that year.

My thoughts on it were it reminded me of the rock music supergroup where a few successful musicians would combine to do something different. Cream was the first of these supergroups in 1965. The one which most probably remember as it was a product of the MTV video years was The Traveling Wilburys which included Roy Orbison, Georege Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Jeff Lynne. I could also be said that in operatic music The Three Tenors of Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jose Carreras were also a supergroup. What makes these endeavors successful is each of the musicians finds their spot within the whole. The perfume supergroup, dubbed Project Renegades, succeeds because the three perfumers also managed to find a way for their individuality to stand out while forming a cohesive collection of three perfumes.

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Geza Schoen

Over the next two days I am going to review all three of the releases. I start with Geza Schoen’s Entry.

When I approached the booth at Esxence 2016 the first question on my lips was, “What took you so long?” One answer was the bottles which have a three dimensional head of each perfumer which was designed from laser scans of their faces. This turned out to be especially challenging when it came to production. Even without the logistical headaches of the bottle Project Renegades still would have taken over a year because Hr. Schoen told me that was how long he worked on his perfume. It is not surprising to me because as a fellow chemist he applies his scientific training as he analyzes his raw materials. For Project Renegades he wanted to work with a version of pink pepper known as Schinus Molle. He told me he spent weeks just understanding all of the facets of this raw material. He used two extractions an essential oil and a CO2 extraction. Then he loads up the early moments with the schinus molle in overdose. This is the soul of The Scientist at work.

Hr. Schoen opens his fragrance with the two versions of schinus molle. The CO2 extraction has a bit of a cassis effect which he accentuates by adding a little bit of cassis with the tart citrus notes of lemon and lime. Hr. Schoen wanted an unusual top accord and he achieves it. By going for intense layering of the schinus molle and the cassis it jumps out at you. I liked the effect but it is going to make some step back away from it. If you can hang on the heart offers an orris-based accord matched with the expansiveness of hedione and the depth of osmanthus absolute. If the top notes are a bit confrontational the heart notes are there to settle the nerves. The base notes are a balsamic mixture of woods bolstered by Iso E Super and some animalic notes. This returns to being a little less easygoing as the castoreum provides a bit of a snarl at the end.

Project Renegades Geza Schoen has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I’ll be back tomorrow with reviews of the perfumes by M. Duchaufour and Mr. Buxton plus some closing thoughts on the entire Project Renegades.

Disclosure: This review was based on sample provided by Project Renegades at Esxence 2016.

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: Penhaligon’s Amaranthine- Which Doesn’t Belong and Why?

Over the last year and a half I have often received an anguished e-mail after an entry in this series. It goes like this, “Noooo! Why did you have to send me on another quest for a bottle of perfume that will be so hard to find.” I feel your frustration so this time I am going to write about a perfume which has only recently been discontinued. I also think it is among the very best perfumes Bertrand Duchaufour has created.

Penhaligon’s Amaranthine was released in 2009 and discontinued earlier this year. When it was released the press release described it as a “corrupted floral oriental…..reminiscent of the scent of a woman’s thigh”. Right there is the reason I think this perfume was discontinued. There is a child’s game called “Which Doesn’t Belong and Why?” You show a child something like a duck, a goose, and a lifejacket. They answer the lifejacket doesn’t belong because it is not a bird. Amaranthine never belonged as part of Penhaligon’s well burnished aesthetic. Even upon its release M. Duchaufour did such a fantastic job of living up (down?) to the press release it never felt like a bottle which should read Penhaligon’s on it. The tragedy here is it is one of the most sensual perfumes on the market.

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Bertrand Duchaufour

M. Duchaufour starts this off with an exotic spicy vibe. He uses banana leaf and green tea to throw a gauzy green veil over the early moments. Then he uses a precise mix of coriander and cardamom to create a human body odor accord. What is particularly notable is he could have used cumin and I would be surprised if he didn’t in a lot of the early mods. I would also suspect that it was overpowering. The body odor he wanted here is that sweet post-coital smell of sweat beaded skin. To get that right he had to not use the easy note. Instead he had to form a different chord of spices. This woman still vibrating from the aftermath of passion gathers jasmine and orange blossom and crushes them to her bosom. This is where the corrupted floral part shows up. This is also where for the first time I really experienced ylang-ylang as a fleshy floral. Carnation and clove provide more decay around the floralcy. The base is what happens as that sweat dries on the skin leaving a salty residue. This is that accord of sun-warmed skin except M. Duchaufour adds a twist with the addition of a milk note. This turns the clean skin into something less pure and once again more carnal. It is almost like Amaranthine is looking over its shoulder, with a crooked smile, asking you if you want another round.

Amaranthine has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Amaranthine is one of the most unabashedly sexy perfumes I own. Which is why it is gone. Sexy, carnal, Penhaligon’s…..which doesn’t belong and why? Penhaligon’s seems to make a regular foray off into the truly different from the rest of their brand. What is amusing is they are often very good perfumes which the brand doesn’t know how to market next to their other more very stiff upper lip entries. As of this writing Amaranthine is still available at most stockists of Penhaligon’s. If you want a bottle it is out there to be had for its normal price. It is well worth getting it before it becomes a legend years from now.

Disclosure: this review was based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

The Different Company 101- Five To Get You Started

The primary goal of this series is to allow someone new to the fragrance world a starting place with many of the extensive lines out there. A secondary goal is to give some attention to great fragrance collections which might not be as well known, but should be. This month I am going to introduce some of you to The Different Company.

The Different Company was founded in 2000 by Thierry de Baschmakoff and Jean-Claude Ellena. In 2003 M. de Baschmakoff would work with perfumer Celine Ellena for the next year before giving way to current creative director and CEO of the brand, Luc Gabriel in 2004. Mme Ellena would continue the collaboration until 2010.  Since 2011, M. Gabriel has brought in Emilie Coppermann for the cologne collection and Bertrand Duchaufour has contributed to the Collection Excessive. These consistent partnerships between creative director and perfumer has led to a house style which has been in place from the very first perfume released. Here are the five I would suggest to get you started.

Bois D’Iris composed by Jean-Claude Ellena was one of the first releases of The Different Company. The name promises Iris Woods and that is exactly what M. Ellena delivers as orris is surrounded by cedar. With M. Ellena it is always the grace notes which make his perfumes memorable and for Bois D’Iris it is the narcissus, vetiver, and musk which make this one of the best florals ever made by M. Ellena.

TDC_90ml_Sel de Vétiver

Sel de Vetiver composed by Celine Ellena is one of my favorite vetiver perfumes. It might be the perfume I have written the most about over the ten years I’ve been writing about fragrance. The reason for that is Mme Ellena creates an accord of drying salt water on sun-warmed skin which is combined with three different vetiver sources. I have used this perfume as the introduction to vetiver for so many.Those who like it, like me, will never be without it.

De Bachmakov composed by Celine Ellena is a transparent fragrance of winter vistas. It was inspired by the tundra of M. de Baschmakoff’s Russian heritage. Mme Ellena captures the bite of winter air by using the sharply green shiso. Coriander, nutmeg, and cedar come together to form a frozen earth accord. This is one of the best examples of minimalist perfume composition that I own.

Aurore Nomade composed by Bertrand Duchaufour marked a different aesthetic at play. M. Duchaufour in contrast to Mme Ellena is not a minimalist. It could be said he is a maximalist very often as his perfumes can seem overstuffed. Aurore Nomade is one of those perfumes overflowing with ideas. To M. Duchaufour’s credit it holds together to form an accurate evocation of the Spice Islands. With spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg along with a bit of tropical fruit cocktail all with a shot of rum swirling around; M. Duchaufour uses every bit of the potential of ylang-ylang as the central note in Aurore Nomade. It is over the top in a very good way.

Une Nuit Magnetique composed by Christine Nagel is a perfume of magnetic attraction and repulsion. Mme Nagel creates a fragrance which comes together only to be forced apart. In the top ginger and bergamot have their harmony disrupted by blueberry.  In the heart she uses prune to break up a collection of floral extroverts. The way that Une Nuit Magnetique is in constant flux on my skin has always magnetically drawn me in.

If you’re new to the brand these five will give you a good introduction to The Different Company.

Disclosure: this review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

L’Artisan Parfumeur 101- Five to Get You Started

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At this point niche perfume has become a fact of life. The discussion has even moved along to whether niche has any meaning anymore. In 1978 the phrase niche perfume didn’t exist. It took the creation of the brand called L’Artisan Parfumeur by perfumer and creative director Jean Laporte to require a way to describe this collection of perfumes that were different. On that day in 1978 when M. Laporte released the initial seven perfumes, perfumery changed. L’Artisan Parfumeur has continued to thrive for the last 37 years. One of the reasons is two of our greatest perfumers, Olivia Giacobetti and Bertrand Duchaufour, produced some of their earliest and best work for the brand. One thing to admire about the brand is it covers the entire spectrum of the fragrance spectrum. There are over 50 fragrances to choose from. To help you here are the five I would start with.

Only three of the original seven releases are still available. Mure et Musc co-signed by Henri Sorsana and Jean Laporte feels as contemporary as it did back in 1978. The herbal citrus open which moves into one of the best fruity floral accords I’ve ever smelled as the perfumers combine jasmine and blackberry. This all rests on a bed of white musk supported by patchouli. Every time I wear this I think to myself this is where niche began.

Olivia Giacobetti would be the perfumer behind most of the releases between1994-2000. Her first release Premier Figuier is what most cite. I actually think her most accessible work for the brand came as she returned in 2001 with Tea for Two. It has Mme Giacobetti’s trademark transparency but the wonderful smoked tea heart makes this a classic. It opens almost boringly with neroli but it quickly heads to the tea room. In the heart smoky tea leaves are crushed with cinnamon, anise, and ginger. This is my favorite tea accord I wear. A honey and vanilla base finishes this version of olfactory tea service. Tea for Two was discontinued for a time but it was brought back in 2014.

Fou-dabsinthe

The other perfume by Mme Giacobetti is 2006’s Fou D’Absinthe. In this perfume she works with a little less opacity. Fou D’Absinthe might be one of her more strongly constructed fragrances. She chooses to take redolent wormwood and make it even greener with blackcurrant buds. The heart is a swirl of spices on top of the absinthe accord. It finishes with a resinous pine accord. When people tell me Mme Giacobetti makes her perfumes too light this is where I send them.

As Mme Giacobetti left Bertrand Duchaufour would take up the reins and be primarily responsible for the next ten years 2000-2010. M. Duchaufour’s collection within L’Artisan is impressive and at the time of this writing my favorite, Vanille Absolument, is discontinued. What is left to bring you into the L’Artisan fold is what might be perhaps M. Duchaufour’s greatest perfume, Timbuktu. M. Duchaufour wanted to capture the smells of the African bazaars. During 2004 he had become a master at working with incense. For Timbuktu he used a smoky incense as his nucleus to build the bazaar milieu around. He would add cardamom and mango to represent the spices and fruit for sale. Patchouli, vetiver, and benzoin provide the sultry warmth of the desert.

My final choice, Caligna signed by Dora Arnaud, shows M. Laporte’s vision is still as vital today as it was in the beginning. Caligna is a completely unique mix of fig, jasmine, and olive wood. Mme Arnaud turns her fig herbal by matching it with sage. This makes the fig greener and less ripe. The heart is dominated by a “jasmine marmalade” accord. This takes jasmine and suffuses it with more sweetness without sacrificing the indolic core. In the base she uses a uniquely sourced olive wood to provide an unusual woody finish.

If you love perfume and particularly the current crop of independent niche perfume brands you owe it to yourself to become familiar with L’Artisan Parfumeur. So much of what I think are the core principles of what niche perfume means to me came from this brand. Try the five suggestions above and find out why I believe this.

Disclosure: this review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review The Vagabond Prince Land of Warriors- The Four Faces of Leather

I like leather perfumes in all of their many iterations. Whether it is suede soft or raw untanned skin I find the accords perfumers come up with to evoke leather one of the more interesting aspects of this style of fragrance. One perfumer who has evolved his leather accord over the last few years is Bertrand Duchaufour.

There have been distinct stages to M. Duchaufour’s leather accord and over the last few releases it seems like he has settled on one he likes best and tunes it to whatever effect he desires. Having followed this process there were a couple of the earlier rougher iterations I also liked. For his second perfume for The Vagabond Prince, Land of Warriors, M. Duchaufour takes all of his leather accords and combines them into a leather perfume lover’s smorgasbord.

The description of the notes for Land of Warriors lists three separate leather accords; vegetal leather, mineral and spicy leather, animalic leather, and smoky leather. Each of these by themselves are quite wonderful but in Land of Warriors they overstuff it a bit as the four accords clunk a little bit through the transitions. Land of Warriors is at its best when one of those leather accords is right out front. It gets muddled when a couple of them start to tussle for attention.

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Bertrand Duchaufour

The first accord is the vegetal one. M. Duchaufour turns to three of his most-used ingredients to compose this; angelique seed, tomato leaf, and blackcurrant bud. The accord these notes form has the odor of well used leather gardening gloves as the scent of crushed green things mixes with sweaty leather. This is a very challenging accord as it has some rough edges to it. The sticky green of the blackcurrant stays just the right side of not smelling urinous but it is a close thing as the strength of the accord wants to drag it into the WC. It is a very bold choice to open with this especially when the second accord starts to appear. Again M. Duchaufour is working with some of his favorite ingredients like frankincense, davana, cistus, and saffron. The name promises mineral but I get mostly spicy on my skin. It should work better but the significant amount of oakwood absolute tilts this into woody spicy territory. My favorite of the accords is the third one the animalic accord. It is simple as M. Duchaufour uses castoreum and ambergris. The ambergris provides a neat bit of aquatic while the castoeum provides the primitive animal quality. The final accord is a typical styrax and birch tar accord. It is unctuous and I can feel the slow goopy bubbles quietly popping on the surface of the tar pot. The animalic and the smoky finish Land of Warriors on a high note.

Land of Warriors has 19-12 hour longevity and below average sillage.

I like Land of Warriors but this is a fragrance I feel like I should’ve loved. What is holding me back is the transitions are very distinct. I would have enjoyed a bit more of a nuanced transition instead of the punctuated phases. Even so there is a lot to like here for anyone who likes leather perfumes, not the least of which is the sort of Duchauforian master class on leather accords present. If you’re patient with the awkward moments the in-between moments are worth the effort.

Dsiclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by The Vagabond Prince.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Neela Vermeire Creations Pichola- White Flower Joy Club

The collaboration between Neela Vermeire, of Neela Vermeire Creations, and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has been a pretty spectacular success. Over the course of five fragrances they have explored much of Mme Vermeire’s Indian heritage. There is a lot to like about the collection but four of the first five releases definitely are on the deeper, more intense side of the perfumed spectrum. My personal favorite of the line is the one which plays against this, Bombay Bling. When I first wrote about it I described it as a Bollywood production number in a bottle. Bombay Bling wears its infectious spirit on its sleeve. I’ve been wondering when Mme Vermeire and M. Duchaufour might feel like getting a bit more playful again. The sixth release, Pichola, is that return to joy.

The name comes from the lake at the heart of city of Udaipur. There is a lot of talk, in the press release, about reflections on the lake and regal flowers. Reading that I expected to get another deep white floral like most of the rest of the collection. While the imagery is functional it does not describe the way Pichola wears on my skin. There is a moment in the very earliest going where Pichola does seem like it is going to be serious perfume. Just like every Bollywood production you’ve ever seen all of a sudden huge handful of flowers explode through the hard shell and the dance number is on. The transition from tight green opening into explosive transparent white flowers raining down is beautiful.

Bollywood_dance_show_in_Bristol

M. Duchaufour creates a hard green barrier consisting of cardamom, juniper, saffron, cinnamon, and, clementine. The early moments are wound as tight as an accountant’s nerves during tax season. This lasts a very short time before a troupe of white flowers come dancing through the stiff upper lip of Pichols forcing it to break into a smile. The winsome star of our show is a fabulous fresh tuberose absolute. Most hear tuberose and expect intensity. Of late there have been a lot of wan pretty tuberoses scrubbed clean and made insipid for the effort. The tuberose M. Duchaufour employs here has an incredible expansive quality without becoming overwhelming. You are never unaware of its presence but the other florals like orange blossom, ylang-ylang, and jasmine have plenty of space to dance happily alongside. It is in this phase of floral fandango where Pichola settles for hours. When it finally starts to move on it is time to rest from our exertions on a sweet woody bed of benzoin and sandalwood.

Pichola has 8-10 hour longevity and below average sillage.

I am so happy to see Mme Vermeire return to a lighter style of construction. There is so much positive emotion on display it is infectious. I was uplifted each day I wore Pichola. Yes I want to smell good but some days I want to also have a barely suppressed laugh to go along with that, Pichola does that for me.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Neela Vermeire Creations.

Mark Behnke