I’ve mentioned a few times that I am having some trouble fully embracing the transparency that seems to be the new trend in perfume. One of the things which keeps me hopeful is there have been some which have used the effect as something which to build upon. One of those brands is Starck Paris.
Designer Philippe Starck released three perfume in 2016, Peau d’Ailleurs, Peau de Pierre, and Peau de Soie. All three shared a quality of feeling like a translucent bubble of scent. Which felt appropriate for the brand of someone who grew up in his mother’s perfume shop. The aesthetic of those first three perfumes was to create these kinds of lighter constructs out of well-known material. I enjoyed the inherent fragility of all three.
Delphine Lebeau-Krowiak and Philippe Starck
Two years later M. Starck is back with two new perfumes, Peau de Nuit Infinie and Peau de Lumiere Magique. If there was something I was not crazy about in the first collection was how hard the press copy tried to convince me these were something groundbreaking. That continues with the new releases. I’m going to cut to the chase as the perfumes represent night and day which is a better description than in the press release. I would further refine that that each perfume is meant to capture twilight and dawn. They both capture a moment when the dark or the light still has a little bit of the other present for just a moment.
Peau de Nuit Infinie is composed by Delphine Lebeau-Krowiak. The perfume opens with that dimming of the light as lemon and bergamot provide a citrus effect over a geosmin-like mineral accord. My favorite of the original three was Peau de Pierre which contained a wet river stone accord. Mme Lebeau-Krowiak goes for a drier mineral effect. The similarity comes in that it also shares the same opacity as in the previous perfume. It is wonderful to experience something as grounded as stone in an expansive bubble. The faint light of the citrus is extinguished by pepper and ginger. It leads to a leather accord which feels insubstantial until I realize it is still going strong hours later. There is some patchouli and vetiver to fully complete the transition into night.
Philippe Starck and Daphne Bugey
Peau de Lumiere Magique is composed by Daphne Bugey. In this case pepper represents the last tendrils of the night holding on as the citrus accord ascends. What it flows into is the promise of a floral morning as light airy versions of ginger flower and jasmine capture the coming day. The base is patchouli but a less earthy version which leads me to think a fractionation is being used. This is the spicy breeze of sunrise blowing across everything.
Peau de Nuit Infinie and Peau de Lumiere Magique have 10-12 hour longevity and little sillage. The entire Starck Paris collection seems to live up to the “peau” in their name as they are essentially skin scents.
I enjoy these perfumes as much as I liked the original three. I might be learning to embrace this diaphanous style of perfume if they are constructed as solidly as this collection has been.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Neiman-Marcus.
There are designer labels that just can’t seem to find their way in the fragrance world. One of those would be Fendi. As a brand they had two distinct eras of trying to become a successful perfume provider. The first era ended in 2004. That was despite producing one of the best perfumes of the last 25 years in Fendi Theorema. That it was a previous entry in this column shows the struggle Fendi had. After 2004 they pulled back and rethought their approach.
If the originality of something like Theorema was not going to draw consumers maybe there was a different tack. When the brand returned to making perfume in 2010, they put Francois Demachy in the position of fragrance creative director. Then they seemingly decided that originality was not going to be a priority. Instead they became a fragrance version of a greatest hits record. All the perfumes with Fendi on the label from 2010-2015 were made up of successful accords and tropes from other best-selling perfumes. The idea seemed to be if we can just take a little bit from the other perfumes on the perfume counter, we will find an audience. That I put a date up there to the end of this era is a giveaway to how successful it was.
Fendi is far from the only brand happy to mash-up the kind of accords which consumers desire. It is a too common way to produce perfume. The thing is if they pick the hits you like the most you will probably enjoy the tune even if it reminds you of other things. For me the right set of tunes showed up in Fan di Fendi pour Homme.
M. Demachy chose to work with a team of perfumers for all the Fendi releases in this second era; Benoist Lapouza and Delphine Lebeau-Krowiak. Usually this is my recipe for success with a consistent creative team. The strength here was they were all on the same page just figuring out how to balance the styles they were combining into something nice. For Fan di Fendi pour Homme they hit the right accords.
It opens on a mixture of herb and spice with basil and cardamom mixed with citrus. It is a sturdy opening; one which will remind you of many other perfumes. It switches to the men’s style of florals as geranium provides the heart. It picks up the green parts of the herb and the spice. It ends with a leather accord made deeper with patchouli before cedarwood provides the woodiness necessary in a “pour homme” perfume.
Fan di Fendi pour Homme has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I like Fan di Fendi because it fills in on a day when I don’t want to wear one of the many perfumes, of which I smell pieces of, within it. It has become a reliable weekend fall choice. It has just been recently discontinued so this, and any of the second era Fendi perfumes, are still out there to be found.
Fendi has now failed in two different approaches to fragrance. Will there be a third? Is there a path between originality and greatest hits? It will be interesting to see the answer if there is a return in a few years. The Dead Letter Office has two relics of the first two eras whether they are the final representatives of the Fendi fragrance output will only be seen with time.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.