New Perfume Review Shay & Blue Kings Wood- Szechuan Pineapple

There are many things I believe contribute to the long-term success of an independent perfume brand. I write often that a clear creative vision shared with a single perfumer creates an aesthetic that becomes as recognizable as the bottle or the label. The lines which have all of that tend to be better. There is one brand which has all of that, but I wonder if there is another factor which might be missing; distribution.

Dom De Vetta

When I was working at CaFleureBon in 2012 we heard about a new English brand called Shay & Blue. Creatively directed by Dom De Vetta who started the brand after his time with Jo Malone. He also made the decision to work with an in-house perfumer, Julie Masse. They kept their goals modest working out of a boutique in London. It was always on my list of brands I expected would do well if it was more widely available. A couple years ago that became the case. What also happened was a creative uptick from a brand which I already admired for that. The most recent release keeps that roll going.

Julie Masse

Shay & Blue Kings Wood takes two of the most popular perfume ingredients of the last couple of years; Szechuan pepper and pineapple and shows them to their best effect. Mme Masse expertly finds new aspects of both to include in a modern evolution of fougere.

When I sprayed Kings Wood on I braced myself for the pineapple. It’s not my favorite ingredient. For the first minute or so the insipid sweetness I find unappealing was out in front. Then the Szechuan pepper I have found so versatile steps up and turns the pineapple in to something much more palatable. There is a kind of green herbal character to the Szechuan pepper. Mme Masse uses that to strip away the tropical fruit juice by overwriting it with that herbal-ness. That leaves an unripe tart fruit to represent the pineapple. It went from insipid to inspired in a flash. The Szechuan pepper accentuates the part of the pineapple I do like. This opening then nestles into a soft green fougere accord. It is a beautiful setting as the plush green picks up the green threads from the top notes. Making this a contemporary version of a fougere. The base accord is made up of oak and leather. Mme Masse uses a polished version of both wood and animalic effects.

Kings Wood has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

There have been a lot of pineapple perfumes this year which have shown me that there is more to it as an ingredient than I thought. Kings Wood is right at the top of that list. I’m beginning to think it has more to do with the brand and the creative team than the ingredient. Kings Wood is ample proof of that hypothesis.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Shay & Blue Scarlet Lily- Intelligent Accord

It is a great thing when a good European-based brand finds its way to the US. I always root for the good ones to have as much coverage as they can. The English brand Shay & Blue is one of these. Started by creative director Dom De Vetta five years ago it was a UK exclusive for a long time. Mr. De Vetta founded Shay & Blue after a tenure at Jo Malone London. As he started Shay & Blue he had the freedom to be a little more creative which has become one of the brand hallmarks. He has worked exclusively with perfumer Julie Masse developing an effective partnership which also helps define the Shay & Blue aesthetic. The latest release is Scarlet Lily.

Julie Masse and Dom De Vetta

Lily is a hard note to feature in fragrance; in its most prevalent version it can have a sterility to it. What gets forgotten is there are other versions of lily instead of the white version seen at weddings and funerals. There is a tawdry pink version called the Stargazer Lily which has a spicy core to it which imparts a bit more life into things. It is that one which is featured in Scarlet Lily.

Mme Masse opens Scarlet Lily floating on a watery lotus. It is a lovely choice as the aquatic nature is burned away by the spicy lily as it rises over the lotus like the sunrise. To keep the spicy heart out in front Mme Masses uses red pepper to provide an opaque piquancy. To buff the floral parts a bit of muguet and ylang-ylang provide support. All together it forms a lively spicy lily accord which is where Scarlet Lily lingers for hours before descending into the warm embrace of amber at the end.

Scarlet Lily has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Scarlet Lily is yet another reminder of the top-notch collection Mr. De Vetta is compiling here. They are all simple constructs but each carries more heft than their simplicity would imply. Scarlet Lily is another which shines by forming a compelling accord intelligently.

Disclosure : This review was based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke