Over the last year or so I have been fortunate to be given a bit of a crash course in new perfume ingredients. The chemist in me is fascinated with the structure of the molecules and the difference in effect moving bonds and atoms around has on a scent profile. Equally as fascinating is the way natural materials are extracted and then further separated via different physical techniques.
It is fun to meet a perfumer who is using a new raw material as they build a new perfume. There is a palpable enthusiasm at using something different. I wonder if the same kind of enthusiasm was present when new pigments expanded the options for the painters. I suspect any artist when given something new to consider they immediately begin to think of the places this could fit into their current imaginings.
I’ve also begun thinking about this because of the new wave of transparent minimal fragrances being released to appeal to the younger generation of perfume buyers. Since there is seemingly a market for minimalist constructions it provides an outlet for the different isolates of the cornerstones of perfumery to provide a different perspective.
What has been trending particularly this year is to use a particular isolate which is missing a characteristic part of the full-spectrum ingredient. For instance, the sandalwood used by perfumer Nicolas Beaulieu in Comme des Garcons Concrete is missing some of the austere woody character. The white flowers at the heart of Chanel Gabrielle can be dialed to a desired indole level by perfumer Olivier Polge. Daniela Andrier uses a specific less rooty version of iris in Tiffany & Co.
What is interesting is each perfumer adds in what is missing with a different ingredient providing an opaque abstraction of the keynote. M. Beaulieu uses rose oxide and its metallic nature to replace the desiccated wood. M. Polge uses a set of white musks to set off the small amount of indoles present. Mme Andrier lets patchouli provide a different earthiness.
This is what will drive this current generational shift in perfume styles. By having more options, the perfumers can more precisely find a desired effect. It is the definition of modern perfumery to take nature and interpret it through our sense of smell. With the cornucopia of new options, the expansion of the perfumer’s palette promises a creativity that fragrance has not seen before.
Tiffany’s has always stood as one of those cultural touchstones where the name is synonymous with luxurious things. Very few brands can be identified by just the color of the container but Tiffany blue indicates something beautiful, and expensive, inside. There are many other references spread throughout pop culture. One of the most famous is the 1961 movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” based on the short story by Truman Capote. The film is much more beloved because it contains a happy ending for the central character Holly Golightly who is portrayed by Audrey Hepburn. I was reminded of all of this as I received my press sample of the new Tiffany & Co. eau de parfum.
Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly looking in Tiffany's in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961)
This is not Tiffany’s first foray into the fragrance sector. Back in 1987 they would work with the Chanel creative team for six fragrances until 2003. Of those six, Tiffany and Tiffany for Men, were the stars. Perfumers Francois Demachy and Jacques Polge would design two classic fragrances which embraced the fragrance equivalent of the little blue box.
After 2003 they seemed to lose interest in fragrance and it was just those two first perfumes which were readily available for many years. I’m not sure when those disappeared from the stores but Tiffany has been without a branded fragrance for a few years, at least. When I received the press release in advance of the fragrance I was intrigued because this was going to be something very different from what had come before.
One consistency was working with one of the best perfumers available; for Tiffany & Co. Daniela Andrier would begin the second phase of Tiffany fragrance. The major difference was for this to be a soliflore around iris. I have frequently described soliflores as perfume solitaires with that central note the radiant jewel. It seems appropriate for Tiffany and Mme Andrier to follow through on this analogy. Finally, this is part of the overall lightening of fragrance to appeal to a younger consumer. Tiffany & Co. is brilliant and sparkling in an opaque style.
Mme Andrier uses iris as her core note. This is not an iris which displays its rootier, earthy qualities. It instead is more focused on its higher register character with the powdery style more evident. Mme Andrier clearly wants to keep a firm hand on the powder quotient and so she surrounds the iris with a set of notes to hem that in. Early on it is an acerbic green mandarin providing a citrusy green contrast. To replace the earthiness lost, patchouli replaces a little bit of it providing a type of abstract iris accord. The rest is all fresh white musks providing lift and volume making the whole construct airy and light.
Tiffany & Co. has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
As I wore Tiffany & Co. I easily imagined a current day Holly Golightly wafting this. Mme Andrier has captured the Tiffany style in a different way than what came before. Probably a more contemporary way which will appeal to this generation who dream of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Disclosure: This review is based on a press sample provided by Tiffany & Co.
If there was a word cloud about how I am described by other people; impatient would be one of the larger words. That quality has sent me chasing after so many perfume blind buys with a low percentage hit rate you would think I might have found a way to make that word shrink some as I’ve aged. That is, of course, an incorrect statement. It rears its head most often, recently, when there is a European release that is months off, or never, in the US. When the service I use to buy for me lets me know a trip is in the offing I start looking. For the trip in March I noticed that there were four new additions to the Prada Olfactories collection being sold in the UK exclusively. Despite my internal voice howling at me to “get it now!” I managed to pass. Then I made a phone call to the Prada flagship boutique in New York and got the typical lack of knowledge about their own exclusive luxury perfume line. My little voice was saying, “told you so!” The June trip approached and I was asked again; this time I decided to allow my impatience to win and asked for a bottle of Prada Olfactories Soleil au Zenith.
This group of four Olfactories are given the subheading of Mirages. In-house perfumer Daniela Andrier has described this overall collection as “potent concoctions of the unexpected”. The Mirages are meant to be explorations of the themes of the Orient within fragrance. Each perfume is given a name and a style parenthetically. The names are Dark Light (Amber), Midnight Train (Patchouli), Miracle of the Rose (Oud Rose), and Soleil au Zenith (Spices). Of those four it was always going to be the one labeled “spices” which would entice me to take the plunge.
Through the original nine releases the Olfactories seem to have broadened Mme Andrier’s experimental nature. It is a collection where I would be surprised to find that there is a person who is in love with all nine but for the ones which connect it is a real love affair. It is that way for Double Dare and Pink Flamingos for me. It is exactly Mme Andrier’s hand at using spice notes which makes Double Dare the reason I dared to get Soleil au Zenith based on a list of spice ingredients.
Soleil au Zenith opens on a cloud of peach aldehydes which are coated with allspice. If there was any doubt the opening moments washed them away. One of the concepts Mme Andries seems to be exploring within the Olfactories is the duality of expansiveness and density. In Soleil au Zenith, the heart accord coalesces around a very full ylang-ylang which is first combined with nutmeg. That combination is a neat transition from airy to grounded. To further tether it cinnamon and cumin add to the nutmeg providing some heat to the effect. The base is a luscious sandalwood and vanilla really amplifying the sweet creamy nature of the wood.
Soleil au Zenith has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Soleil au Zenith is so good it seems like a reward for a character flaw. It has become a fast favorite of any of the discontinued Exclusives and the Olfactories. The only upside is it will definitely hold me over until the Mirages make it Stateside. Although that little voice is talking to me again.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.
When it was released in 2011 I thought Prada Candy was one of the best mainstream fragrances released in a few years. In-house perfumer Daniela Andrier composed a perfectly pitched gourmand fragrance for the masses. It continues to be a big success and that of course means flankers must surely follow. The first couple kept the caramel core in place but last year’s Candy Kiss signaled a move away from that as vanilla was the gourmand note. The 2017 flanker, Candy Gloss, finishes the move towards a more transparent gourmand; which is only part of the story of what Candy Gloss provides.
This lightening up of perceived heavy accords is presumably to lure younger perfume lovers to the brand. What is particularly interesting in Candy Gloss is that the path to that is also inspired by notes and accord also seemingly favored by the young. It comes together in one of the best mainstream releases of this year, so far.
The simple description of Candy Gloss is cherry, orange blossom, and vanilla; which is accurate. If you read that note list and think giggly thoughts you might be surprised at what unfolds once you wear Candy Gloss. One of my favorite soda drinks is a Cherry Lime Rickey. It is made with cherry syrup which is what Mme Andrier evokes here. It also has the effervescence of that drink in the early stages before the floral and gourmand phases arrive.
The cherry syrup is apparent in the first seconds. What Mme Andrier does with that is to take the slightly sour green of blackcurrant buds with a tiny amount of peach lactone to give it much more structure than just sticky fruit syrup. The choice of the blackcurrant twists the cherry into a near sour cherry accord and probably would have if not for the peach lactone pushing back. The orange blossom comes in and it reminds me a bit of the orange blossom water used in European versions of marshmallow. That is confirmed as the vanilla-almond-cherry nature of heliotropin mixes in with the orange blossom. Using heliotropin allows for the cherry to return in the later stages with a lighter presence. The warm benzoin which has been the connective tissue of all the Prada Candy fragrances is combined with a few musks to provide a warm embrace at the end.
Candy Gloss has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
If you get the impression I think Candy Gloss is a fun fragrance you would be correct. I don’t want to lose the fact that Mme Andrier has done a fantastic job at choosing her notes in-between to make this a fragrance of fun but one also constructed as solid as they come. It also brought back my memory of an old song of the 1970’s “Cherry Baby” by Starz. On the days, I wore this I couldn’t help myself humming the chorus of that classic while jonesing for a Cherry Lime Rickey.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Prada.
In my yearly diatribe against rose as the be-all end-all spring floral fragrance I think of all the other possibilities. One which is high on my list is lily of the valley/ muguet. The European celebration of May Day is celebrated with sprigs of muguet. One of the reasons I think lily has not become more of a possibility is it can have a funeral home-like old lady vibe to it. Which is true in the hands of a mediocre perfumers. When the talented take a hold of it they turn it from a symbol of death into something which represents the rebirth of spring. Which is why I was so pleased to receive the new Miu Miu L’Eau Bleue.
In the fall of 2015 perfumer Daniela Andrier was the perfumer behind the debut for the brand, Miu Miu. For that fragrance I was excited to see the use of a new ingredient called akigalawood. Mme Andrier highlighted the new ingredient as part of a floral duet of muguet and rose with some of Mme Andrier’s signature green notes opening the fragrance. It was one of my favorite releases of 2015. I wasn’t sure what to think of this spring flanker to that very original fragrance. What Mme Andrier chooses to do here is to mostly strip out the rose while making the green opening waterier. It comes together as a very nice spring floral that is not rose.
In Miu Miu the green has sharp edges. In Miu Miu L’Eau Bleue the green is there but she sprinkles dewy water droplets all over it which has the effect of softening some of the blunt verdancy. It sets the stage for the green quality of muguet to ascend over it. In Miu Miu the muguet was more an equal; in this new iteration it is like the dew something which gets burned off as the radiance of the central muguet begins to shine. There is a tiny amount of jasmine and rose as distant support but Miu Miu L’Eau Bleue is a lily through and through. As the akigalawood comes forward it has a peppery aspect which provides a nice contrast to the lily.
Miu Miu L’Eau Bleue has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.
It does take a creative perfumer like Mme Andrier to make a vital lily fragrance. With Miu Miu L’Eau Bleue she has delivered a dewy spring morning lily fragrance which stands out in the sea of roses on the counter next to it.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Sephora.
Prada has become one of the more reliable designer perfume offerings in the mainstream sector. I can even go further and say the overall collection is the most coherent and best at the department store. I would chalk that up to the fact that Daniela Andrier has translated the same style and creativity that she uses on the more expensive creations for the brand to the general audience releases. I have unhesitatingly steered people to the brand because it has something good to great for everyone. Even the flankers are well-thought out. Except the latest release, Luna Rossa Carbon, is less a flanker than something which stands all on its own.
Luna Rossa Catamaran from America's Cup 2013 (Photo:Carlo Borlenghi via Luna Rossa website)
I have always felt an attachment to the Luna Rossa series because it is inspired by the Italian effort in the America’s Cup sailing competition. The boats have competed since 1997 and Prada has always been the team sponsor with their name prominently featured on the boats. The team has always been one of the innovators in design which is a significant piece of the America’s Cup. The team which marries superior engineering and sailing usually takes home the trophy. Luna Rossa has a desire to show off Italian design in every way. Prada finally took this partnership and used it in 2012 to release Luna Rossa. Mme Andrier served up a fougere anchored by clary sage. Through three subsequent flankers she would refine this idea of a fresh fougere which are all well done. Which was why when I received my sample of Luna Rossa Carbon I expected more of the same, only to be surprised that Mme Andrier took a different tack this time.
The previous Luna Rossa incarnations were Mme Andrier finding ways to capture that sense of being propelled through the ocean by the wind. She found clever ways to introduce fresh without relying on the typical aldehydes, ozonic notes, and Calone. For Luna Rossa Carbon the lavender is still present to create the fougere but the overall effect is more industrial and obviously synthetic. Carbon fiber is the construction material for these racing boats and I wonder if that was what she was trying for. I enjoy fragrances which unabashedly embrace the synthetic which seems to be the case here.
Luna Rossa Carbon opens with lavender and bergamot. I believe Mme Andrier chooses the more austere lavandin with its higher percentage of camphor. In the past that camphor has been used as the foundation for Mme Andrier to splice the other choices for fresh notes on top of. In Luna Rossa Carbon she uses the camphor to set off the green rose quality of geraniol in the heart. It has a deepening effect which Mme Andrier modulates a bit by using heliotropin which grounds it with a bit of the vanilla cherry nature it is known for. This doesn’t get gourmand-like it comes off more like the sweet smell of freshly extruded plastic; in a good way. A suite of woody aromachemicals provide part of the base accord which are combined with patchouli creating a solidly darker base than ever before in a Luna Rossa fragrance.
Luna Rossa Carbon has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
There is a moment in every sailing race when a captain and the tactical team must make a strategic decision to chart a different course. It is done based on the knowledge of the waters being sailed in and the conditions learned over sailing them for weeks and weeks. At the moment of making the decision to take a different tack you are hoping for the wind to fill the sails as you expected. Mme Andrier is performing a perfume version of this maneuver. For those who have enjoyed the past Luna Rossa releases this one is enough of a departure that you should try it before expecting a continuation. For those who want to try something delightfully different in the department store I suggest setting course for the bottle of Luna Rossa Carbon.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Prada.
An emerging trend for 2016 has been the return of the soliflore collection. In particular for the upcoming fall releases I have two other soliflore collections which will be released soon. One thing that I always value is when I get a lot of the same thing is it allows me to clarify my thoughts on what it takes to make something compelling in these most simply constructed of fragrances. The new Bottega Veneta Parco Palladiano collection really brought home one lesson very clearly; your focal note needs support to carry interest for an entire day.
The Bottega Veneta designer line of perfumes has been one of the better collections in the department store category. Creative director Tomas Maier has managed to carry the luxury leather goods aesthetic successfully into fragrance. For Parco Palladiano he was inspired by the Palladian style of architecture. Andrea Palladio was a 16th century architect who did most of his work in and around Vicenza, Italy. In Vicenza one of his most famous is the Villa Capra aka La Rotonda. Sig. Palladio designed his structures to harmonize with the surrounding landscape. To that end specific styles of gardens were designed to surround his designs. Hr. Maier visited La Rotonda and was taken with the different plants and flowers growing there which in turn lead to a collection of perfumes based on those plants. The result is the six fragrance Parco Palladiano collection.
Each of these perfumes are meant to be a single scent representing one of the growing things around La Rotonda. Working with four different perfumers the choices were: Parco Palladiano I is magnolia. Parco Palladiano II is cypress. Parco Palladiano III is pear. Parco Palladiano IV is azalea. Parco Palladiano V is sage. Parco Palladiano VI is rose. After smelling these together with the other soliflore collections I have I realized that this collection took the term too literally. Most of the Parco Palladiano fragrances are just what I wrote above. There is little to no other notes present which means that central note needs to be able to be enchanting throughout an entire day of wearing it. This is where all but one of the Parco Palladiano releases fell apart for me. They were just simply azalea or rose with no addition of notes to help enhance or contrast except for Parco Palladiano V.
Parco Palladiano V was composed by Daniela Andrier. Mme Andrier uses sage as her focal point but there are two other near equal intensity notes in laurel and rosemary which allow the sage to interact off of them creating a much richer effect. These kind of perfumes usually go on with everything in them to be detected right from the start and that is true here. A very green clary sage is matched with a lively rosemary and a stolid laurel. I have a little herb garden which smells of stem and aromatics so does Parco Palladiano V. The laurel provides that stemmy quality to allow the sage to attach to. The rosemary acts as green modulator adding intensity early on and then as it fades it allows the sage to be more on its own. Over the course of hours these three ingredients present different facets of the sage which is what sets it apart from the rest of the Parco Palladiano perfumes.
Parco Palladiano V has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I am not sure why the sudden interest in soliflores but if there is one critical component to making a successful one is the choice of a few well-chosen supporting notes is critical for it standing out as something other than just the single note. Which means these simplest of constructs are not that easy to do successfully. When it is done well as in Parco Palladiano V it can be beautiful.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples from Bottega Veneta.
Prada has released a new pair of his and hers fragrances. Called La Femme Prada and L’Homme Prada. Both were produced by in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier. I wasn’t expecting much from L’Homme Prada because in the press materials it was mentioned it was Mme Andrier returning to that neroli/iris/cedar axis she believes makes up a men’s perfume. In trying it this is more like a flanker of Infusion D’Iris which had its own sort of flanker in Infusion D’Homme and now L’Homme Prada completes the trilogy. I am not sure why Mme Andrier keeps tilling the same soil for L’Hommes while finding new things to say for La Femmes. La Femme Prada has a nod to the Prada past while finding some new things to say.
La Femme Prada and L’Homme Prada are meant to be mirror images. If you own both bottles they go together to form a circle with the men’s side having a black leather coating and the women’s a white leather coating. Because I had tried L’Homme Prada first the mirror image part worried me. There is no mirror here these two fragrances are distinctly different. It seems lately Mme Andrier has found having a little more presence in her compositions to be a desirable thing. Most of the Olfactories and Candy are examples of this. La Femme Prada also has a heightened floral presence. Mme Andrier uses a mixture of notes to tune that floralcy into something quite nice.
La Femme Prada opens with a very expansive frangipani which provides a tropical garland accord. She supports the frangipani with tuberose mainly along with a little ylang-ylang to enhance the tropical facets. At this point I liked the nice floral accord. Mme Andrier then begins to transform it first with spice and beeswax. The spices provide contrast to the very sweet florals. The beeswax provides a lightly honeyed nature which is quite appealing underneath the flowers. The base uses the push and pull of vetiver and vanilla as the latter turns the sweetness of the florals into something more confectionary while the vetiver provides a sturdy foundation.
La Femme Prada has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
La Femme Prada is the better of these two releases simply by virtue of Mme Andrier finding a new voice to her compositions. I would really like for her to find the same inspiration when it comes to her next perfume for the L’Hommes.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Prada.
If you came of age in the US in the 1970’s you probably went to a midnight movie or two. The one thing the offerings had in common is they were loud, garish, over the top examples of trash cinema; and we loved them. There is no better example of all of these qualities than the 1972 movie Pink Flamingos directed by John Waters. It was why we went to the movies in the middle of the night. Because of my affection for the movie I was a little leery of the new Prada Olfactories Pink Flamingos. Was perfumer Daniela Andrier going to go all trashy on me? Not quite.
The Olfactories collection has replaced the old Exclusives collection. The one thing that remains the same is the concept that they are the best kept secret at Prada. Since their initial launch they have again been relegated to the basement of the Prada flagship in NYC. Mme Andrier wanted this collection to be “potent concoctions of the unexpected”. The potency of these will be what makes wearers love some and not be so enthused by others. Pink Flamingos is one I think is a good example of one people will love or dislike. In the description on the website it says, “A cloud of pink bubbles floating through the heart of Tokyo. The joyful embrace of nature and the synthetic animates the familiar to produce a heightened form of beauty. Pink Flamingos is the scent of fluorescent pink blossoms, stylized and innocent.” That didn’t sound like my trashy movie I enjoy so much. Once I wore Pink Flamingos I realized I was incorrect because this perfume is loud to the point of near garishness making it over the top fun.
Pink Flamingos opens on a super sweet fizz of mandarin, neroli, and some aldehydes. This is not champagne it is orange soda bubbling out of the bottle. Where it spills all over the Ginza during the height of cherry blossom season. As the heart accord of rose, cherry, and iris provide a neon-lit version of the festival. The topper to this is the use of the fruity flavored white musk Serenolide which does nothing but add to the intensity of all of this.
Pink Flamingos has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
What I think is particularly appealing to me is Mme Andrier adds a midnight movie sheen to a Tokyo aesthetic written large. There is a concept that Asian tastes are minimal. I think any Japanese would see this as midnight in Ginza and enjoy it for that. I know I do.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.
There is nothing so frustrating as inconsistency. When it comes to Prada the line which causes some of this is the Les Infusions. Launched in 2007 with Infusion D’Iris it was one of the best perfume releases of that year. Perfumer Daniela Andrier had seemingly translated one of the Prada Exclusives into something similar but different in its opacity. By making Infusion D’Iris lighter she was showing even the deeper perfumes have a lighter side. At the time it was expected that all of the Exclusives would get this treatment. Over the years that has been mostly correct. Ever since that initial release there has been a steady stream of product. Except some of them were just so ethereal they didn’t feel like they were even there. Others were good but not as good as Infusion D’Iris. A few others, Infusion de Vetiver, were as good. I look forward to most of what Mme Andrier does at Prada but Les Infusions had struck out for me. When I received my sample of the latest release Infusion de Mimosa I was surprised to find a strong entry in the collection.
One of the reasons for my dissatisfaction for some of the previous releases might have more to do with timing. This is a line which seems designed to be worn in the summer. A great many of the releases showed up when there was snow on my doorstep. Infusion de Mimosa appeared just as the temperature began to rise. Mimosa is a perfect summer companion in many perfumes I own. Infusion de Mimosa proves to be another.
Mme Andrier opens with the mimosa out in front. The press materials define it as “yellow velvet”. For once I agree with the PR. The mimosa has a soft plush feel. The promo picture in the header gets it just right as the mimosa glows with a warm fuzziness that is tremendously appealing. This is the part where things either get better or worse in many of the previous Les Infusions. This time Mme Andrier adds star anise. It adds a contrasting licorice-like effect to the sweet transparency of the mimosa. Soon after a lilting rose joins in. This is where Infusion de Mimosa lingers for many hours. There are an assembly of clean dry woody notes in the base but they take a long time to gain much traction.
Infusion de Mimosa has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Infusion de Mimosa is my favorite of the Les Infusions since the original Infusion D’Iris. It achieves much of the same effect as that debut release by creating a veil of the titular note. That veil is then shaded with a judicious use of well-chosen notes completing an affable companion for the midsummer day and night. I have to say it is nice to have another hit among the misses with Infusion de Mimosa.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from Prada.