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

4

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

New Perfume Review Prada Candy Gloss- Cherry Baby

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.

Daniela Andrier

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.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Miu Miu L’Eau Bleue- Spring Morning Lily

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.

Daniela Andrier

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.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Luna Rossa Carbon- A Different Tack

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.

Daniela Andrier

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.

Mark Behnke