New Perfume Review Prada Luna Rossa Black- Formal Sailing

I keep repeating this, but Prada is one of the best mainstream perfume collections. It has consistently released a broad spectrum of fragrance. That they have all been overseen by in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier provides an aesthetic connection which is now becoming synonymous with Prada the perfume brand.

In 2012 Mme Andrier created a new masculine pillar collection with the release of Luna Rossa. Based on the sailboats sponsored by the brand competing in the America’s Cup she would create atypical aquatics. Over the course of four flankers Mme Andrier explored the boundaries of an aquatic fougere in the mainstream sector. Upon receiving my sample of the latest flanker Luna Rossa Black I was ready to set sail on a breeze of lavender only to be met by something entirely different.

Daniela Andrier

If the previous members of the Luna Rossa collection were meant to capture the exhilaration of sailing; Luna Rossa Black is for the evening formal party after you’re back on shore. Gone are the fresh fougere beats replaced by an Oriental architecture of spice. Mme Andrier keeps it fresher then most other fragrances of this style which is as close as Luna Rossa Black comes to resembling any of its predecessors.

The perfume opens with the subtle peppery nature of angelica seed matched with the freshness of bergamot. Angelica seed carries an energetic spiciness which opens this with some gusto. The star of this perfume is Mme Andrier’s combination of patchouli and coumarin in the heart. In most Orientals the partner to patchouli is something heavier; resins or amber among a few. Mme Andrier’s choice of coumarin provides a lighter touch on an accord which is recognizably within the framework of the style.  It also allows for the angelica seeds to extend their presence into the heart where if something heftier had been used it would have been obliterated. The base is a suite of musk, again, freshened a bit by a synthetic ambergris.

Luna Rossa Black has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Sometimes you have to come ashore. Luna Rossa Black provides something for that man to wear while on shore.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Infusion de Mandarine- Watercolor of an Orange

Forrest Gump tells us that ‘life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” When it comes to my favorite perfumers that isn’t usually the case; I tend to know what I am going to get. There are a few collections which do create a Forrest Gump-ian sense of surprise. One is the Les Infusions de Prada. Some of this is due to the aesthetic in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier brings to this collection. They are meant to be gauzy opaque constructs focused on whatever the main ingredient listed on the bottle is. The line has missed for me when that transparency turns to near insubstantial-ness. I have found it frustrating chasing wisps of what I sprayed on just a few hours before looking for what I was enjoying. The ones which I own are the ones which have overcome this. I think I’m going to break that streak with the latest to be released, Infusion de Mandarine.

Daniela Andrier

Mme Andrier has spoken in the past of seeing Les Infusions as her version of perfume watercolors. Infusion de Manadarine might be her version of a still life of an orange. She has assembled all the pieces of an orange growing on a tree, translating them to a perfume.

To start she makes a top accord which accentuates the bitter nature of the rind. There is an acerbic orange nucleus around which green foliage is also present. We move inside as the juicy pulp appears through a clever neroli blended with carrot seed. This is an abstract version of the fruit itself gorgeously realized. Right next to this is the slightly indolic orange blossom reminding us of the nascent orange to come. This is the type of accord Mme Andrier excels at. She chooses the soft warmth of opoponax to provide the base note for this to rest upon.

Here is the drawback; Infusion de Mimosa has 5-6 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

As I mentioned this collection misses for me when it is so transparent it almost isn’t there. Infusion de Mandarine is one of those. If longevity is important to you then this is going to be a non-starter. For me it usually is, too. Except in this case the overall effect is so beautiful I am overlooking it. I am on the dregs of my press sample and will be going to the mall to pick up a bottle because I think when the thermometer reaches triple digits this summer Infusion de Mandarine is going to be the ideal cooler.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I received from Prada.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Candy Sugar Pop- Daniela Just Wants to Have Fun

I probably treat the concept of writing about perfume too seriously. Dissecting new releases looking for something new under the sun. There are some brands and perfumers who mange to not take it all so seriously. There are also some perfumers who find the time to let their less serious side out to play. It often becomes clear over time. With the release of Prada Candy Sugar Pop it sure seems like Prada in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier is finding some joy in making perfume.

This has been an evolution from the original Prada Candy which was the next evolution, itself, of the modern gourmand style of fragrance. That was a seriously imagined construct which I consider one of the best designer releases of the last ten years. Through three flankers Mme Andrier began to lighten the tone. By the time last year’s Prada Candy Gloss arrived the mirth was fully on display. If you needed to know if that was going to continue the name, Candy Sugar Pop, give it away. I’m thinking Ice Cream wouldn’t fit on the label.

Daniela Andrier

This is like the sugar candy Sweet Tarts. There is a lot of sweet and some tart in contrast. A beautiful floral synthetic holds the heart while a nod to the gourmand roots of the original reminds you what this is a flanker of.

The top accord is a mixture of three different types of fruit. A tart lime finds crisp green apple to form an acerbic fruit accord. Peach drenches that in pulpy creamy sweetness. What is particularly nice about this accord is it is formed in a transparent style. A normal volume fruity floral accord of these ingredients would’ve set my teeth on edge. Mme Andrier finds the right balance giving it a powdered sugar candy style. To add the floral component Mme Andrier use Mahonial, a lily-of-the-valley variant, which also has a significant jasmine character. This complements the sweet tart top accord by being that in floral tones. This settles onto a vanilla base ending on a sweet note.

Prada Candy Sugar Pop has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I wore this I felt like I could hear the joyful laughter of Mme Andrier behind it. Candy Sugar Pop is proof Daniela just wants to have fun.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bottega Veneta Knot Eau Absolue- Shoulder Season Slipknot

Designer brands which stay true to their roots are preferable to the ones where the connection gets lost completely. Tomas Maier the Creative Director of Bottega Veneta wants to have a fragrance collection which is as luxurious as the leather goods they are known for. Since they started releasing perfume in 2011 I would say the overall collection has lived up to that. Over the last few years there have been two of my favorite designer releases of their respective year; 2017’s Eau de Velours and 2014’s Knot. The latter embraced the idea of the leather weaves characteristic of the Bottega Veneta purse of the same name. Now the second flanker to Knot has arrived; Knot Eau Absolue.

Tomas Maier

Perfumer Daniela Andrier, who did the original, has returned for Knot Eau Absolue. This is a deeper style of luxury as Mme Andrier goes for luxury with only a few ingredients each of which provide a twist in this olfactive knot.

Daniela Andrier

The fragrant signature of Knot is the combination of lavender and neroli. In the previous releases they were freshened up with partners who made them lighter in style. For Knot Eau Absolue Mme Andrier decides to give them the top accord all to themselves. She also decides to use them in higher concentrations. I have always liked this floral combination and the early going here confirms why I do. The lavender is more floral than herbal while the neroli is more white flower with the green quality also in the back ground. What comes through are two florals singing lead while the herbal and green nature of each ingredient provide backing vocals. After some time, a real diva, jasmine, arrives and the floral amplitude rises. Knot Eau Absolue rests upon this trio of floral ingredients entwining in a knot of beauty. The deep leather of the purse this is named after is provided by myrrh. Mme Andrier allows it to slowly build until a noticeable warmth is simmering underneath the flowers.

Knot Eau Absolue has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I really like Knot Eau Absolue especially now with chilly mornings and warm afternoons. It seems a delightful shoulder season choice. The original will be better as things get warmer but in the months before and after those days Knot Eau Absolue will be more enjoyable.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Olfactories Dark Light- Sweet Lightning

It is a familiar complaint from me. I do not understand why Prada likes to hide their exclusive line of perfume. I used to have to go to the Prada flagship in Manhattan where I knew more about their perfume inventory than the staff. The Exclusives have evolved in to the Olfactories Collection. In the summer of 2017 a four-perfume subset called Mirages was UK only. I was told the exclusivity was for a year. I was impatient enough to get one anyway and Soleil au Zenith did not disappoint. I was willing to be patient and wait out the year. Imagine my surprise as I was flipping through the Saks Fifth Avenue website to find they were selling not only the Mirages but the entire Olfactories collection. There is a forehead sized dent in my desk after seeing this. The one which interested me second most was Dark Light which I ordered.

Daniela Andrier

The entire set of Olfactories are composed by in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier. This collection is where Mme Andrier tries some different techniques and some different ingredients. In Dark Light she is trying to capture the moment just before a large thunderstorm breaks. The early moments show her ability to create something without using the usual suspects. Her choice of ingredients to capture the deluge is totally fascinating and different from what I expected.

It starts at the top. The moments prior to a thunderstorm is a common theme for perfumers to interpret. They want to capture the tension in the air the smell of the ozone from lightning with the weight of the dark clouds coming closer. Mme Andrier uses the peppery herbal nature of angelica seeds in place of the ozonic ingredients more commonly used. What she does is to explode them with lightning strikes of aldehydes. As a thunderstorm approaches it feels like the world smells sharper. The angelica seeds and aldehydes capture that. Then the deluge comes and instead of full on aquatic or geosmin or petrichor, Mme Andrier envisions a rain of resinous vanilla as vanilla and myrrh fall from the sky. This is a release of sorts, delightfully so. The promised amber arrives in the base along with musk which is the most traditional choice in this perfume.

Dark Light has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Dark Light shows Mme Andrier’s innovative streak to its fullest. I just want to stand and let the sweet lightning strike again and again.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Miu Miu L’Eau Rosee- Fresh Lily

As you all know I am getting buried under the new spring rose releases. There are some good ones in there, but most are just so generic. When things show up in the mailbox I tend to go with a brand which I think might have a different take on it all. When I received my box from Sephora there was one in there which I thought might be that rose fragrance; Miu Miu L’Eau Rosee. If you look at that name you expect a light rose perfume. I certainly did. When I sprayed it on and didn’t get even a hint of rose I thought I picked up the wrong sample. What was incorrect were my impressions based on a name.

L’Eau Rosee is the third Miu Miu perfume all of them composed by perfumer Daniela Andrier. The original was one of the best designer releases of 2015. It was mainly focused around keynotes of lily of the valley and a new ingredient akigalawood. The first follow-up came last spring and was called L’Eau Bleue. This was that rose alternative I was looking for as the lily of the valley was given the dewy treatment. L’Eau Rosee is the simplest of the three Miu Miu fragrances which means the lily of the valley and the akigalawood have more prominence. Mme Andrier allows them to have a fresh impact and she surrounds them with cassis and musks to create the freshest of the Miu Miu collection.

Daniela Andrier

Cassis can be a tough ingredient to keep from tripping into harsh green territory. Mme Andrier uses a light hand in L’Eau Rosee. She wants there to be just enough green to lift the lily of the valley without getting sticky. That’s what happens. As the lily of the valley comes forward the cassis takes its place underneath enhancing the green freshness of the floral. Then akigalawood provides the same depth as it has in the previous two with its light spicy woodiness. The difference for L’Eau Rosee is the accord of laundry musks Mme. Andrier constructs as the base accord. I have found in the past that once you use enough of these types of synthetic musks you move past the scratchy fresh cotton to something resembling a high thread count Egyptian cotton linen. Mme Andrier takes one of those musky accords of soft sheets and envelops the entire thing in a final fresh embrace.

Miu Miu L’Eau Rosee has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

This is the kind of fresh spring fragrance I have wanted for years. Like many other perfumes released at this time of year it isn’t terribly original. What it does bring is a different look at the supposedly desired aesthetic by focusing on fresh lily instead of dewy rose. I’ll probably take L’Eau Rosee over anything which has rose in it this year.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Etat Libre d’Orange Une Amourette Roland Mouret- Sexual Fashion

The best fashion designers, like the best perfume designers, transfer a distinct aesthetic to their creations. Roland Mouret designs fashion in the “drape and shape” style. His women have silhouettes which reveal their bodies. It might drape but it also creates a distinctive shape around the wearer. It is an interesting vision which combines a laid-back casualness with a distinct sexuality. His recent Spring 2018 collection is a good example of this.

Roland Mouret Spring/Summer 2018

M. Mouret has been wanting to expand into fragrance since 2009 and when he met Etenne de Swardt of Etat Libre d’Orange he had found the partner he wanted to work with. Both men finally found the time this year to bring their casual carnality together over fragrance. They also hired one of the best perfumers working to collaborate with, Daniela Andrier. Together they made Une Amourette.

Roland Mouret

M. Mouret designs with an eye to “dressing to undress”. Fashion as come hither. M. de Swardt has worn that kind of sexuality more overtly for Etat Libre d’Orange. Their fusion seems a natural. I was very interested to see how Mme Andrier translated this sexual tension into a sensual fragrance.

Etienne de Swardt

One way is to capture the sense of the energy of a fling which is what “Une Amourette” translates to. Hopefully most reading this have been fortunate enough to have a fling at some point in their life. The moment when the energy is leaping out of your body in an arc to meet that same kineticism in your partner. Once it is released in a rush of physicality there is that delightful moment where you come back to the world only to smell that raw scent of the aftermath. That is what Une Amourette does a really good job of capturing.

Daniela Andrier

In those moments the first thing you might notice is the sweaty bodies which is where Mme Andrier starts. There is a collection of the more obstreperous spices all of which impart a sense of sweaty skin. To contrast this there is a focused green neroli which captures that glow afterward. The neroli was seemingly a late addition as it was said Mme Andrier smeared some neroli sunburn cream over a late mod. That was when the creative team realized it was the missing piece. After hearing that I imagine the opening without the neroli and it would have been very striking but not nearly as good. Iris holds the heart as Mme Andrier turns it into a white flower by adding in indole. If you think of iris as this demure powdery floral; in Une Amourette it is catching its breath covered by a sweat soaked sheet. I love this skanked up iris it is perhaps one of my favorite accords of the year because it drapes and shapes the iris into something sexy. Then Mme Andrier creates a fascinating base accord as she uses a full spectrum patchouli enhanced by the biological fraction of patchouli known as Akigalawood. I have really enjoyed the ways the spicy woody fraction of patchouli has been used but Mme Andrier cleverly uses it here to accentuate the parts which remain as the fraction adds on to the regular patchouli oil. It is all sewn together with a lilting vanilla.

Une Amourette has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Une Amourette is one of the most unabashedly sexual perfumes I have tried in a long time. While I never underestimate Mme Andrier’s abilities this is also the sexiest perfume she has ever made. I have a feeling the energy of the creative directors took her to a different creative space. One final note, at the Spring 2018 show M. Mouret had all his models wear one spritz of Une Amourette before they headed down the runway; at the pulse point where the thighs meet. For this perfume that kind of sexual fashion seems correct.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Etat Libre d’Orange.

Mark Behnke

The Expansion of the Perfumer’s Palette

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.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tiffany & Co.- Holly Golightly 2017

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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.

Daniela Andrier

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.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Olfactories Soleil au Zenith- Impatience? Thy Name is Colognoisseur

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.

Daniela Andrier

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.

Mark Behnke