New Perfume Reviews Maison Lancome Iris Dragees, Oranges Bigarades, and Santal Kardamon- Straightforwardly Good

One thing I try to do is not get enchanted with the new shiny object in my writing about perfume. I try to remind myself that even when I try a new release and it is a simple soliflore or duo there can still be something which is worthy of comment. This is basic perfumery which is no less enjoyable for being simple and straightforward. Back at the end of winter I received a sample set of these kinds of perfumes from Lancome. I put them aside because all three seemed like they would be better in warmer weather. That has turned out to be the case for the three new releases for the Maison Lancome Collection; Iris Dragees, Oranges Bigarades, and Santal Kardamon.

Nathalie Lorson

The Maison Lancome Collection has been in existence since 2016. It has landed on an aesthetic of two keynotes with a few modulators for each release. There is not a poor perfume in the entire bunch. They’re just straightforward what you see is what you get fragrances. The three I’ll do short takes on are not really different than the previous eight. They all are worth seeking out if you particularly enjoy the two listed keynotes on the bottle. It is certainly the case that one of the new releases fits that bill for me which led me to write about them.

Iris Dragees is composed by perfumer Nathalie Lorson. This is a combination of iris and sugared almond. One of the things that sets this collection apart is the perfumers tend to use multiple sources of the listed keynotes. In this Mme Lorson gilds orris with a more traditional iris source. As it is combined with the sweet almond it forms an odd powdery iris macaron accord. This really bloomed in the warmer weather.

Christophe Raynaud

Oranges Bigarades is composed by Christophe Raynaud. This is a combination of orange and black tea. Here M. Raynaud combines the bitterness of bigarade with a juicier sweeter orange. By adding in the black tea it provides a kind of luxurious contrast to the citrus by inserting itself betwixt the two orange sources.

Amandine Clerc-Marie

Santal Kardamon is composed by perfumer Amandine Clerc-Marie. This is the perfume which caused me to write about Maison Lancome. Sandalwood and cardamom are two of my favorite perfume ingredients. Mme Clerc-Marie uses two different sandalwood extracts which she chooses to combine with the stickier green cardamom. Together it forms my kind of simple perfume with two ingredients I can’t have enough of. It has been fantastic as a summertime perfume.

All three perfumes have 8-10 hour longevity and average silage.

If you are looking for a nicely executed perfume around two of your favorite perfume ingredients and you see them listed on a Maison Lancome bottle; give it a try. Santal Kardamon does the trick for me.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Lancome.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Thierry Mugler Aura- Romancing the Millennial

Thierry Mugler fragrances have a dear place in my fragrance library. A*Men and many of the outstanding flankers, the proto gourmand Angel, and the proto Cologne Nouveau Thierry Mugler Cologne. Any single brand which claims these kind of innovations is one to look for as the new generation of fragrance buyers look for one of the fragrances which might define them. The answer from this brand is the new pillar perfume Thierry Mugler Aura.

When I saw the bottle for the first time I was reminded of the emerald they were searching for in the 1984 movie “Romancing the Stone”. You can see them side-by-side above. Longtime Thierry Mugler fragrance creative director Pierre Aulas assembled a team of Firmenich perfumers; Daphne Bugey, Amandine Clerc-Marie, Christophe Raynaud, and Marie Salamagne.

Pierre Aulas

Aura comes off as a bit of an experimental fragrance as two Firmenich exclusive materials are used one called Wolfwood and the other given a code name of Tiger Liana. Wolfwood has little information available beyond it is a woody aromachemical. Tiger Liana on the other hand sounds much more interesting. According to Firmenich it is extracted from the root of an unidentified Chinese medicinal root. It is described as smelling “botanical, animalic, and smoky”. I was going to have to figure out what these new ingredients to me were adding in the spaces between the other listed notes I know.

I have mentioned in the past that most of the brands have made an early determination that millennials want a light floral gourmand. The Aura creative team provides exactly that. What makes it stand out is the inclusion of the new materials. I will be guessing what exactly they bring to the overall experience but they have a profound effect.

The first thing I notice is a slightly cleaned-up orange blossom. The indoles are kept to a level such that they are a background hum underneath the transparent floral quality. What is paired with it at first is a tart rhubarb. This rhubarb accentuates the green tinted citrus nature and the sulfurous quality, like the indoles, are pushed far to the background. Then a humid green note intersperses itself; based on the description I am guessing this is the Tiger Liana. It smells like damp green foliage, at first, in a good way as it adds some weight to a fragrance which has been very light to this point. Then beneath the green the promised animalic and smokiness is also simmering beneath it all right next to the indoles and sulfur. It is a clever way to add in a deep set of notes to provide detail without giving them the room to be more pervasive. The smokiness gets more pronounced which I think might be the Wolfwood. It could be how Tiger Liana develops too. A haze of smoke is what leads to the base of a rich opaque vanilla on a woody base. It is a comforting finish.

Aura has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I must give M. Aulas and the team of perfumers credit they have made a perfume that is indelibly Thierry Mugler that has a great opportunity of romancing the millennials to the brand.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Thierry Mugler.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Calvin Klein Obsessed for Men- A New Obsession?

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When I’m asked about where my interest in writing about perfume began one of the perfumes which launched my curiosity is Calvin Klein Obsession for Men. It was what I considered to be my first “grown-up” perfume. It was also the first step to discovering these other perfumes from Europe which also smelled like this. In the thirty years since I bought my first bottle I am now on my third bottle as I still find it deeply satisfying. I’ve always felt it was a generational fragrance for the men of a specific time. It was why I was very interested in the new releases from Calvin Klein; Obsessed for Women and Obsessed for Men. I was wondering if these might become the same kind of defining fragrance for this generation.

Raf Simons

One thing I learned from my press package is Calvin Klein very much wanted to make sure the connections were obvious. There are so many callbacks to the original pair of Obsessions I cynically wondered why not call it Obsession 2 and be done with it. This even includes the advertising campaign where they are recycling photos shot for a 1993 advertising effort for Obsession.

Obsession for Men Ad from 1993 featuring Kate Moss as photogrpahed by Mario Sorrenti

That campaign was to send model Kate Moss and her then boyfriend Mario Sorrenti alone to a secluded house in the Virgin Islands where just the two of them spent 10 days together while Mr. Sorrenti photographed Ms. Moss. It led to a set of provocative pictures of Ms. Moss which probably sent sales soaring.

Obsessed for Men Ad from 2017 featuring Mario Sorrenti as photographed by Kate Moss

Raf Simons who creatively oversaw the new perfumes went back through the photo files from that effort. What he saw was an opportunity to connect Obsession to Obsessed visually while also indicating something new. For Obsessed for Men Mr. Simons uses pictures of Mr. Sorrenti as shot by Ms. Moss in the inevitable turnabout which would have to happen over 10 days together.

Ilias Erminidis

Mr. Simons also wanted what he described as a role reversal in the two Obsessed fragrances. So, for Obsessed for Men he asked perfumers Christophe Raynaud and Ilias Erminidis for this as their brief. In Mr. Simons estimation, he sees vanilla as an ingredient which exhibits a “feminine melodiousness” which makes it the heart of Obsessed for Men.

Christophe Raynaud

The perfumers take that vanilla and put it in a wooden box made up of cedar and ambox. Those intensely woody notes have the effect of ameliorating much of the warm sweetness. The vanilla has much less presence than it normally does and Obsessed for Men really is much more an ambrox fragrance with some cedar and vanilla along for the ride.

Obsessed for Men has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am not the generation who will gravitate to Obsessed for Men. I have plenty of other ambrox heavy fragrances this doesn’t stand out sufficiently from those. I am more interested to see if there are twentysomething men who will be shopping and, like I did in 1986, stop in their tracks because Obsessed for Men is the scent of how they want to smell. Women’s Wear Daily is estimating upwards of $50 million in retail sales this year, for the pair. If that is prescient then Obsessed for Men will be a new Obsession for a new generation.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Calvin Klein.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Joop! Wow!- Searching for Mr. Goodscent

Every generation has their scent for the nighttime. This is the subtle olfactory undercurrent on the dance floor when most of the people are predominantly wearing a couple of perfumes. I’m convinced that if you blindfolded me and placed me next to the action in a nightclub I could tell you what decade we were in just by breathing in. With the rise of a new generation of fragrance consumers there should concurrently arise this time period’s fragrances. Of course, the perfume brands are hoping they will be the one to breakthrough. As I sit here firmly in my armchair observing what those brands are putting forward there are times when it is obvious which ones hope to be that perfume. The latest contender for masculine perfume for Millennials is Joop! Wow!

One thing that was noticeable to me when I received my package containing Wow is Joop seems to be trying to reinvent itself as a luxury brand. I can’t say for sure what the general impression of the brand is but if you asked me for a list of luxury brands Joop would not make my list. I wonder if as they reach out to a new generation they are also looking to up their profile.

Christophe Raynaud

The fragrance, composed by perfumer Christophe Raynaud, feels like a modern reinvention of the 1980’s wood and spice bombs. Except with two of the qualities the current generation seemingly wants; transparency along with a bit of gourmand sweetness. Wow delivers all of this.

Wow opens with a fresh breeze of cardamom and bergamot. Violet leaves provide a soft green undercurrent which carries to the keynote geranium in the heart. That green current is continued with vetiver and fir balsam. All of this is reminiscent of those 1980’s men’s scents. The base then takes a turn for the sweet with vanilla and tonka creating that typical comfort accord.

Wow has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

Wow is one of those fragrances which seems like it might be a big hit among its target audience. It feels blatantly designed to appeal to them. Only time will tell if this is what Mr. Goodscent will be wearing.

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

Mark Behnke