New Perfume Review Avon Prima Noir- A Simple Pirouette

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One of the great parts of writing about perfume is the wide variety of fragrance which is available. One of the things which particularly pleases me is that even on the lower priced end of the spectrum there are some excellent perfumes being produced. Ever since I started Colognoisseur a friend I’ve known since high school has kept me supplied with the latest offerings from Avon. The brand is undergoing a transformation within their fragrance offerings getting better while following the current trends more closely. When I was sent the new Holiday offering for 2017, Prima Noir, I kept going back to the strip it was sprayed on during the first night as I was comparing to the other samples I had received in the mail. I came to the realization that on this night the best thing in front of me was Prima Noir.

Isabel Lopes

This more forward-thinking approach to perfume has come under the stewardship of Isabel Lopes who has been overseeing this part of Avon since 2014. There has been an obvious uptick in the releases over that time. There has also been a more focused PR campaign which matches some of their department store competitors. Prima Noir is the flanker to 2015’s Prima both are represented by American Ballet Theatre dancer Courtney Lavine. Prima was a rose and patchouli representation of flowing pink silk as it ripples in the air during a grand jete. It was meant to be an everyday perfume. Prima Noir also has Ms. Levine as its face but instead of leaping through the air she is pirouetting in place concentrating the colors of her costume. Prima Noir mixes violet, jasmine, and vanilla in a dynamic rotation.

David Apel

The perfumer behind Prima Noir is David Apel who has worked this style of fragrance for some of his niche clients. I think that shows here because he finds some nice ways of presenting the three ingredients. It starts with the violet as it dances like this perfume’s sugar violet fairy. It dances with the sweeter candied version of the flower inviting you in. The jasmine is one of the expansive synthetic versions scrubbed clean of the obstreperous indoles in place of a contained effect of pure flower power. As the violet inserts itself within the bubble the jasmine provides it is like a petaled snow globe. The depth and the noir part come courtesy of a rich vanilla base note. Mr. Apel tunes this so that it never becomes cloying it instead offers a subtler shading of vanilla. What then happens is the violet, jasmine, and vanilla all combine into a cozy winter accord which lasts for hours.

Prima Noir has 12-14 hours longevity and average sillage.

Courtney Lavine

On the days I wore this I got several compliments from my co-workers. I am used to them asking me, “what are you wearing today?” Most of the time my answer is disappointing due to price or availability. This time the smiles which broke out when I answered, “Avon Prima Noir” told me my local rep was going to get some calls. If you haven’t checked out Avon in years Prima Noir is an excellent example of the changes on the fragrance side of the brand for the better.

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

Mark Behnke

Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2016 Wrap-Up- A Peek Behind the Curtain

Sniffapalooza has been putting on a biannual event in New York City for perfume lovers since 2004. This past October the aptly named Fall Ball 2016 was the twenty-fifth of these to take place. In the past editions, it has been the opportunity for attendees to be exposed to all the shopping delights NYC has to offer. For this landmark edition, the organizers Karen Dubin and Karen Adams decided to give those who would be spending the weekend the opportunity to see something special.

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It was a chance for a consumer to peek behind the curtain to see how perfume is made, which is where Saturday of Fall Ball began. Symrise invited the group up to their Park Avenue offices where the perfumes they work on are composed. Over the course of two panels we were going to go “From Idea to Shelf”.

The first panel was comprised of Symrise employees as they would talk about how Symrise worked as a company in creating fine perfume. The second panel would bring in two of their clients who would interact with some of the same panelists as they gave us the background on their brands.

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Symrise Panelists (l. to r.) Doreen Bucher, Dave Apel, Juilanne Pruett, Caroline Catherine, and Sophie Bensamou

The first panel was moderated by VP of Marketing Doreen Bucher. She introduced us to perfumer David Apel, Julianne Pruett VP of Fine Fragrance who represented sales, evaluator Caroline Catherine, and VP of Fine Fragrance Creation for North America Sophie Bensamou.

The panel was a fascinating look into how it takes an entire team to both land an account and eventually turn it into a fragrance to be sold. It starts at the beginning as all the panelists spoke about how when Ms. Pruett is vying for an account they will all learn as much as they can about that potential client. I learned that the cooperation that takes place in bringing a perfume to life occurs before the first raw material is chosen. Once the account is brought in each of the members of the panel do their jobs. Mr. Apel designs the fragrance, Ms. Bensamou and Ms. Catherine act as liaison between Mr. Apel and the client. That job of evaluator is often that of being the behind-the-scenes influencer. Hearing from both about their jobs is something rarely spoken of in the process of perfume making but it is a critical piece of the process. After the perfume is designed Ms. Bucher works on the marketing of it helping decide on the bottle.

For over 90 minutes this panel kept the entire room leaning in to absorb every word.

After the panel, we took a break to do some shopping at Bergdorf-Goodman on our way to the second panel at Brasserie 8 1/2.

Once again Ms. Bucher was moderating and was joined by Mr. Apel and Ms. Bensamou from the morning panel. The new additions were Eric Korman and Anne Serrano McClain of the brand Phlur along with Joseph Quartana of the new line Les Potions Fatales.

Throughout this panel we gained insight in to that give-and-take that happens during the creation of perfume which lives up to what the client wants. In the case of Les Potions Fatales Mr. Apel had been imaging an idea around the plant foxglove and the fairies who live in those flowers. As Mr. Quartana explained his concept Mr. Apel presented his idea to him. This would result in Digitalis becoming part of the initial collection.

I must thank the team at Symrise for being so willing to spend a Saturday with the group. For the rest of the weekend what we heard in these panels became starting points of discussions which took place as we spent our day walking around sniffing the new perfumes.

This made the twenty-fifth Sniffapalooza one of the most unique events I’ve been to.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales (Part 3)- Digitalis & Hemlock

Continuing my reviews of the new Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales collection with Digitalis and Hemlock.

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David Apel

Digitalis is well known to me in my day job in drug discovery. It is used to treat heart arrhythmias. Although patients have to be careful not to take too much or the toxic nature can overwhelm the therapeutic one. Creative director Joseph Quartana, working with perfumer David Apel, were focused on the lore around the more colloquial name for digitalis, foxglove. Foxglove is an attractant for faeries in folklore. Mr. Apel composed a perfume which captured the glittery trails left by the fairies as they flit among the trumpet-shaped blooms. When I think of fairies I think of silver winged sprites trailing fairy dust in a sparkling trail behind them. Mr. Apel pulls together a group of ozonic and metallic trending notes to create a perfume which evokes this sparkling flight.

Digitalis starts with the aromachemical floralozone as the linchpin of the ozonic accord on top. All of these notes provide lift. Matched to them is the metallic nature of violet leaf and silver iris. These provide an austere floral nature. These combine to form the wings full of dust. A very green phase comes next with galbanum, basil, cucumber, and coriander. It grounds the high flying sprites as they alight on the foxglove. The smell of the flowers are represented by a mixture of violet, rose, neroli, and jasmine. Mr. Apel lets the florals provide a contrast to the more strident ozonic and green accords which came prior to this. The base becomes a little more like damp soil as incense, fern, and moss provide that accord.

Digitalis has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

While Digitalis didn’t necessarily set my heart a-flutter it is an excellent interpretation of the brief by Mr. Apel.

Christelle Laprade

Christelle Laprade

If I asked you to name a poisonous flower chances are Hemlock would be one of the ones you named. Famous for being the method of execution of Socrates for corrupting the young men of Athens. The perfume Mr. Quartana collaborated on with perfumer Christelle Laprade is meant to carry a bit of that corruption the philosopher was imparting so long ago. Mme Laprade starts with an accord which reminded me very strongly of when I used to open a new vinyl record and the smell of the fresh-pressed plastic would arise from the sleeve. Other corrupting influences like leather and rum show up as well.

Hemlock opens with that fantastic fresh vinyl accord. I was enchanted by this from the first time I smelled it through to every time I wear it. Mme Laprade then adds a coterie of spices with clove, cinnamon, and pink pepper transforming it from synthetic plastic to something more vital. A rum accord is next which is melded with a synthetic white floral accord. There is nothing natural about the florals at the heart of Hemlock. It is an appropriate progression from the vinyl to in essence synthetic flowers. This heads into a leather and patchouli base sweetened a bit by vanilla and benzoin.

Hemlock has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Hemlock is one of my favorites in this collection, The embrace of the unnatural carries a large amount of appeal for me.

In Part 4 I will review Lily of the Valley and Poppy Soma.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Parfums Quartana.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Pinrose Gilded Fox- Two-Fisted Fireplace Drinker

Two years ago I received a package for the new brand Pinrose. Founders and Creative Directors Christine Luby and Erika Shumate wanted to create a “shop at home” experience. They debuted with ten fragrances all priced modestly. The marketing idea was a consumer would read the website and request the ones they thought sounded best to them. They would get those samples as Pinrose Petals, one-time sachets with which you could decide if you wanted a bottle. It is an interesting way to interact with the consumer. I had sort of forgot about the brand until I received my latest package from Sephora which contained two new Pinrose releases. One, Wild Child, was a fairly straightforward floral similar to my memory of the original releases. The other one, Gilded Fox, was something different; a fun loving gourmand.

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Erika Shumate and Christine Luby

In the first set of releases Ms. Luby and Ms. Shumate definitely made sure they checked all of the different styles of perfume boxes. There were two chocolate focused gourmands, Sugar Bandit and Secret Genius. I would again use the phrase straight forward to describe them. This is not criticism per se. There definitely needs to be a brand which provides straight forward modestly priced perfume. Pinrose has definitely lived up to that.

For Gilded Fox Ms. Luby and Ms. Shumate worked with perfumer David Apel. I am not sure what the brief was for this. On the website is mentions sexy come-hither looks. My experience was this smelled like sitting by the fireplace with a hot chocolate in one hand and a hot buttered rum in the other. I had fun with it throughout the days I wore it.

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David Apel

Gilded Fox opens with chocolate but Mr. Apel adds in cardamom. It makes the chocolate more exotic. It reminded me of cardamom laced coffee except this was hot chocolate. The cardamom and chocolate swirl together in a way that kept my attention without tripping over into too sweet. Then the hot buttered rum accord comes next. This is one of my favorite fireplace drinks and I spend as much time sniffing it as drinking it. Mr. Apel captures that humid sweet boozy smell melded with the richness of the butter. The cardamom and chocolate are still here and it makes for a very fun combination. This could have spiraled out of control at a moment’s notice but Mr. Apel keeps it all together. He finishes Gilded Fox on a cedar and vetiver base accord.

Gilded Fox has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am very pleased to see that Pinrose is expanding into Sephora. I think this is a solid line of perfume which will appeal to that consumer. I worry a little bit about Gilded Fox because it seems a little more adventurous than the rest of the line. If you’re up for a fun gourmand give Gilded Fox and the rest of the Pinrose line a try next time you’re at the mall.

Disclsoure: This review was based on a sample provided by Sephora.

Mark Behnke