New Perfume Review Armani Prive Orangerie Venise- Not Your Typical Neroli

Ever since its beginning in 2004 the exclusive line for Giorgio Armani fragrance, Armani Prive, has been a love it or yawn at it proposition. I have some of my favorites in the distinct bottles with the faux-stone top on them. There are others I couldn’t remember their name unless I looked it up. It does make for an interesting time whenever I receive a new sample. Turns out the latest, Armani Prive Orangerie Venise, is a love it one.

Someone is going to have to explain to me why there have been so many good neroli perfumes over the last couple of years. I wonder if there has been a new source or just a general drift towards similar themes. Whatever the explanation I have greatly increased the neroli section of my perfume collection. One of my favorites was last year’s neroli and cumin combination in A Lab on Fire And The World Is Yours. Perfumer Dominique Ropion has made one of the most indelible neroli perfumes I own. When I discovered he was the perfumer for Orangerie Venise I suspected I would get the flip side of that earlier perfume, something more genteel. Orangerie Venise does fit that description but it does not mean it doesn’t contain its own compelling moments.

Dominique Ropion

M. Ropion uses bitter orange to focus the top accord with hints of other citrus, grapefruit and lemon mostly, to provide a rounder top accord. The neroli arises out of that with a gorgeous luminescence that M. Ropion amplifies with the remnants of the citrus. Then instead of using cumin M. Ropion contrasts the neroli with the sticky green of buchu leaves. Buchu has a deeply verdant scent profile which adheres to the green quality inherent in the neroli. It offers significant push against the floral beauty of the neroli. M. Ropion further tunes this green by using moss to add shadows to this accord. All together this is a vibrant neroli accord which is where Orangerie Venise spends most of its time. It eventually moves on to a base of cedar and ambrox.

Orangerie Venise has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

The joy of this perfume is that M. Ropion has taken another difficult ingredient, buchu, and made it find a place with the neroli. It makes it not your typical neroli.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Neiman Marcus.

Mark Behnke

Flanker Round-Up: Givenchy Live Irresistible Rosy Crush and Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey Pure Petale de Nectar

This is the time of year when I receive an overwhelming amount of rose perfumes. In the minds of the brands rose equals spring. It is seemingly such a lucrative market that if there isn’t something new to go that means finding a flanker to be ready. Most of what I receive are flankers. I could tell even if I didn’t know the original. When the name starts to get longer by a few words it almost inevitably is a flanker. For this month’s Round-Up these are the two rose flankers I liked the best out of this year’s crop.

Givenchy Live Irresistible Rosy Crush

Last year’s Givenchy Live Irresistible Blossom Crush was one of my top spring rose flankers. Perfumer Dominique Ropion follows a year later with Givenchy Live Irresistible Rosy Crush. This one is more in keeping with the other Live Irresistible releases as it goes back to being very sweet. M. Ropion hews more to the previous formula of opulent fruity floral. What set it apart was a very earthy base.

It opens with the classic fruity floral of berries and rose. It says it is goji berry in the ingredient list but that has always been  tarter in other fragrances I’ve encountered it. This is a full-on sweet berry accord poised to accentuate the rose in the heart. This is that dewy spring rose with the berries teasing out a bit of the jamminess which is buried deep in these types of rose fragrances. The base is a rich earthy patchouli which feels like it wants to be a chypre but is just darkness to tint the bright berries and rose. Based on the last two years maybe Givenchy has this spring rose flanker thing figured out.

Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey Pure Petale de Nectar

I’ve lost count of how many flankers the classic 1992 perfume L’Eau D’Issey has launched. I couldn’t bring myself to count. What does happen is when you make so many a few manage to stand out. That’s the case for Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey Pure Petale de Nectar. The original defined the fresh aquatic floral. This current iteration honors that by finding a way of nodding back to the L’Eau D’Issey formula without being shackled to it.

Perfumer Dominique Ropion reprises the pear-honey-rose triad from last year’s L’Eau D’Issey Pure Nectar. This latest version has a much lighter overall effect which allows for synthetic woods and ambergris the opportunity to add in the “L’Eau” to the recipe. The use of the honey is what captured my attention as the way it is used as a thin film with the spring rose is really appealing on a spring day.

Disclosure: These reviews were based on samples provided by the manufacturers.

Mark Behnke

Dominique Ropion 201

One of my favorite columns to write during my first five years was Perfume 101. By looking at a brand while trying to pick five perfumes which represent it was most often illuminating. The only problem was there was a finite list which deserved that kind of scrutiny. After 41 editions of Perfume 101 I thought it was time to matriculate to a more advanced level. For the foreseeable future I am going to focus on the career of a perfumer in what I’m calling Perfumer 201.

One of the perfumers who has most benefited from the niche perfume expansion is Dominique Ropion. M. Ropion was there at the beginning of it; allying him to Editions de Parfum Frederic Malle right at the start. If I wanted to be lazy, I could just list the perfumes he has done for that brand; modern masterpieces like Carnal Flower or Portrait of a Lady among them. As you’ll see I chose something different. M. Ropion excels within the Oriental genre of perfumery. Many of his best fragrances fall within that category. He isn’t a one-trick pony especially more recently as my choices will reflect. Here are five perfumes by Dominique Ropion which are worth seeking out.

Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant (1996)- M. Ropion collaborated with perfumer Jean-Louis Sieuzac and creative director Celine Verleure at the cusp of niche perfumery. This is where M. Ropion would develop a style of soft Oriental which would show up time and again over the next twenty-plus years. He would take some of the most difficult to tame ingredients and find a nonabrasive application. It shows in the opening of L’Elephant where cumin and cardamom set the stage for clove, licorice, ylang-ylang, and mango to set up a vanilla amber base. This is still one of the very best vanilla and spice perfumes I own.

Editions de Parfum Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire (2002)- One of the innovations of niche perfumery was to encourage overdose of ingredients. This was done to find something unique in that kind of concentration. Creative director Frederic Malle encouraged M. Ropion to do that with one of the stalwart ingredients of modern perfumery, vetiver. Choosing to make it 25% of the composition. M. Ropion would frame it in woods and smoke. This is the best modern vetiver perfume ever. It is why this was the choice from M. Ropion’s incredible portfolio for this brand.

Costume National Homme (2009)- Lots of brands wanted to stake out the space of “avant-garde”. Costume National creative director Ennio Capasa was one of them. When he asked M. Ropion to make a masculine perfume he got the twist he was looking for. What this means is M. Ropion’s by-now signature sandalwood, spices, and resins become coated in a synthetic oily accord which is a slightly sweet oleaginous effect. It smells much better than it sounds.

Starck Paris Peau de Soie (2016)- There is a point in every perfumer’s career where I want them to speak to me with a whisper. Working with Philippe Starck, M. Ropion has made a perfume which feels like a bubble which should pop at any moment. Instead Peau de Soie takes iris which encloses synthetic musks and woods. They expand the iris to a powdery translucent globe which enthralls with its fragility.

A Lab on Fire And The World Is Yours (2018)- If there is an abiding theme of the five perfumes I’ve chosen it is creative directors who know how to give a perfumer space to be creative. Creative director Carlos Kusubayashi is another who has found this leeway is a recipe for success. And The World Is Yours brings this list full circle as cumin plays an important role in the top accord. This time there is no softening instead it is used as divider between orange blossom and neroli. As the florals shift to rose and hyacinth the pungent cumin persists until splashdown in a balsamic pool of vanilla and sandalwood. Over the past year I have come to see And The World Is Yours as the spiritual flip side to Kenzo Jengle L’Elephant. Which makes it the right place to end this list.

Disclosure: I purchased bottles of each perfume mentioned.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Best of 2018: Part 2- Perfume, Perfumer, Creative Director, and Brand of the Year

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Part 1, yesterday, was my look back at the year in broad terms. Today in Part 2 I get specific naming the best of the year in four categories.

Perfume of the Year: Arquiste Esencia de El Palacio GuayabosArquiste Creative Director Carlos Huber and perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux began their exclusive collection for luxury Mexican department store El Palacio de El Hierro in 2016. As of the end of 2018 they have released eight perfumes exploring the botany of Mexico in a set of “tree stories”. Both creative minds behind this collection have always put a little bit of their homeland of Mexico in every Arquiste release they have collaborated on. Saying that, this collection feels like there is heart and soul, along with the country, within each of these excellent perfumes.

Rodrigo Flores-Roux (l.) and Carlos Huber

During the summer I received Guayabos which immediately connected with me. I have worn this weekly since I received it. I’ve sprayed my bed with it. The poodles have inadvertently ended up smelling like it. It is one of the very best perfumes ever made by Sr. Flores-Roux.

I scheduled a call with him at Givaudan to find out how this came together. The concept was to create a guava perfume which captured the ripe guava in his house as child. As an adult the perfumer had to undertake headspace analysis of green guava, ripe guava, and guava blossom. This would lead to a layered effect which captured the esencia of guava. Jasmine and osmanthus provide the perfect floral companions over a clean woody base accord.

Guayabos is my perfume of the year because it was an obra de amor (labor of love) for Srs. Flores-Roux and Huber.

Charna Ethier

Perfumer of the Year: Charna Ethier– 2018 is going to be memorable for the excellent independent perfumer releases. The independent perfumer who had the strongest year was Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume Co. She has been one of the most consistently innovative perfumers I encounter. 2018 is the year where that quality overflowed in three spectacular releases. The first was Vientiane a study in sandalwood which was elevated by a jasmine rice tincture. Next came Lemon Liada an abstraction of lemon eau de cologne with no lemon used as an ingredient. Sedona Sweetgrass captures the scent of the American desert southwest in a photorealistic manner.

The breadth of these three perfumes is not only testament to why the indies rocked 2018 but more specifically why Charna Ethier is my Perfumer of the Year.  

Runner-Ups: Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Maria McElroy, Cecile Zarokian, and Sarah McCartney

Rania Naim

Creative Director of the Year: Rania Naim– How about this for a to-do list for 2018? Take on the reformulation of one of the great historic perfumes. While doing that create four new contemporary perfumes honoring that history. That would sink most creative directors. That Rania Naim succeeded makes her the easy choice as Creative Director of the Year.

The first part of the year was given over to completing the new formulation of Jacques Fath Iris Gris. Mme Naim oversaw a painstaking effort to achieve something amazing in L’Iris de Fath. She would end up trusting a young creative team to accomplish this; which succeeded spectacularly. The decision to trust in young creative perfumers extends to the Fath’s Essentials releases where perfumers Cecile Zarokian and Luca Maffei produced two perfumes each under Mme Naim’s direction. All four exemplify the creativity still able to be found in the niche sector.

Capturing the past while living in the present means the future is all that is left to Rania Naim; my choice for Creative Director of the Year.

Runner-Ups: Carlos Huber (Arquiste), Victor Wong (Zoologist Perfumes), and Celine Roux (Jo Malone)

Brand of the Year: A Lab on Fire– If other brands weren’t going to show me something different Carlos Kusubayashi allowed perfumer Dominique Ropion to capture “The Morning After” winning an Academy award in And The World Is Yours. A long night into day encapsulated by neroli and cumin. This was followed up by perfumer Emilie Coppermann combining violet along with the De Laire base of Iriseine in a gorgeous purple flower melody called Hallucinogenic Pearl. Mr. Kusubayashi has never been afraid to release what comes of giving perfumers the space to create freely. In 2018 it makes A Lab on Fire my Brand of the Year.

Runner-Ups: DSH Perfumes, 4160 Tuesdays, Arquiste, Jacques Fath, and Jo Malone

Part 1 was my broad overview of 2018

Part 3 is my Top 25 New Perfumes of 2018.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Maison Margiela Mutiny- The Hand of a Creative Director

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As the ideas of niche perfumery took hold in the first years of the 2000’s the designer houses were determined not to be left behind. What that meant were the imaginative creative directors of the designer houses took an active hand in the perfumes which bore the logo. In hindsight we look back and see that was a time where some of the best designer perfumes were produced.

John Galliano

I’ve never understood entirely why the brands seemed to step away from this after five or six years of making it an extension of the brand aesthetic. This turned into a concentration of safe trend following fragrance which felt engineered to elicit a response rather than inspired by emotion. In the last couple of years, the pendulum seems to be swinging back with the creative directors taking the reins of the fragrance side again. For Maison Margiela creative director John Galliano has stepped into the perfume game again with Mutiny.

Dominique Ropion

To show how this becomes more intricately entwined with the brand aesthetic Mutiny was debuted along with the Spring/Summer 2019 clothing collection at Paris Fashion Week at the end of September. Mr. Galliano spoke in an interview with Vogue about how he designed Mutiny in the same way he designs his clothing collections with distinct layers. Working with perfumer Dominique Ropion the idea was to make a transparent version of tuberose and leather to form the core.

What seems to have occurred is M. Ropion put together a tuberose accord from a number of modern sources. What it allows for is the chance to pick out the parts of tuberose you want to enhance while removing those you don’t. What M. Ropion chooses is an indole-free and menthol-free tuberose accord. If you are not fond of those aspects but really enjoy the fruity floralcy along with the creamy oleaginous quality, then M. Ropion chose the right ones.

Mutiny opens with a very wispy version of tuberose supported by citrus and orange blossom. M. Ropion is teasing out the fruit chewing gum character of tuberose. As it deepens with more layers of tuberose added it skips the things are missing to get to the fatty creamy nature also characteristic of this white flower. Also coming together is a fine leather accord using saffron, oud, and vanilla. This is also stripped of the more animalic aspects of a leather accord in favor of something refined. No rough edges here. Once both accords are in place that is where Mutiny lingers.

Mutiny has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Mutiny is done in the transparent style which seemingly is what younger perfume lovers desire. Under that qualification Mutiny is a complete success. I also like it more than others trying similar techniques because there is much more of a spine here instead of wisps of fragrance on the breeze. I also believe this isn’t a perfume that is trying to straddle the middle. They chose to go transparent and they succeeded. If you’re a fan of full spectrum white flower perfumes I suspect Mutiny is not for you. If you want a cleaner version of tuberose and leather Mutiny is a great version of that. As a beginning I see the hand of more creative direction from Mr. Galliano. I am hopeful for more because I think it is where something amazing might come.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Givenchy L’Interdit- Forget the Name

Someday I’m going to be able to sit down with a fragrance marketing person and get an explanation to a burning question. Why do big perfume brands use the name of a classic perfume for something that smells nothing like it? On one hand it is their own brand they are cannibalizing. At least they aren’t buying some other company and stealing a name form them. On the other they want to keep the name because they believe there is some recognition to it but when the perfume doesn’t match the memory isn’t that an issue? Clearly there isn’t an issue because it keeps happening. These are the times I wish I didn’t have knowledge of the vintage version because it is difficult to divorce the past from the present. It is also irritating when I think the new version is good but nothing like the old version. The 2018 version of Givenchy L’Interdit checks off everything I’ve just mentioned.

Fanny Bal

The original version of L’Interdit was released in 1957 in celebration of the relationship between fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy and actress Audrey Hepburn. Ms. Hepburn wore Givenchy clothing with most of her most iconic looks coming while wearing those designs. Perfumer Francis Fabron designed a stylish aldehydic floral. It was as elegant as its muse. For some bizarre reason in 2002 they released a version in celebration of the Givenchy 50th anniversary which smelled nothing like the original. No aldehydes. Different floral. No sandalwood in the base. This would be followed five years later with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of L’Interdit. This was better as perfumer Olivier Gillotin did a creditable effort with the thankless job replacing materials which were no longer allowed to be used.

Anne Flipo

We now come to 2018 and the creative forces at Givenchy think its time for another L’Interdit. They’ve assembled three perfumers to co-produce, Fanny Bal, Anne Flipo, and Dominique Ropion. They’ve again decided to make an entirely different perfume. Out of the five listed ingredients only one was in the original. If you’re looking for Audrey Hepburn or a floral aldehydic retro nouveau version; look away. Nothing to see here. What is here is a stripped down straightforward white flower perfume which is one of the better versions of this style.

Dominique Ropion

The perfumers open with orange blossom trailing a lightly indolic core along with it. Jasmine and tuberose join in for the rest of the white flower chorus. There is a nice balance here especially where the intersection of the florals forms a kind of fruity accord running underneath. Makes it a floral fruity kind of perfume without using any fruit. A lighter version of patchouli provides an earthy piece of the base accord while vetiver stands in as an alternative to the woods.

L’interdit has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I said above if the name has you hearkening back to a perfume you remember from your past; keep on walking. This will probably just annoy you at how different it is. If you never heard anything about the history and this is the first version of L’Interdit you’ve encountered, you will find a very good mainstream white floral. When I can forget the name, I focus on that.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Elie Saab Girl of Now Shine- Floral Gourmand Balance

Floral gourmands are one of the styles brands have decided will be popular with a younger perfume consumer. Particularly over the last two years there have been an increase in these kinds of fragrances. For the most part they have been on the lighter, more transparent side of the spectrum. One of the outliers was last year’s Elie Saab Girl of Now. That chose to leave the transparency behind, going for a fuller gourmand accord. In that case I felt like a groom whom the bride had smushed a particularly fine pistachio vanilla cake up his nose. It was a case I wondered if it would benefit from some of that opacity so many others were using. I guess the same idea occurred to the people at the brand because we now have Elie Saab Girl of Now Shine.

Sophie Labbe

Most of the time I am going to complain when a flanker rehashes an original with a couple of changes. This is one of those infrequent cases where that all worked to the better along with a lighter tone overall. Perfumers Sophie Labbe and Dominique Ropion re-team, after composing the original, for Girl of Now Shine.

Dominique Ropion

What I didn’t care for in the original was it was so aggressively cake-like. It was cloying in every bad definition of that word. Girl of Now Shine captures the earlier iteration of that cake as it is being baked. It is much airier, and that expansiveness allows more room for the florals to find some balance; all for the better.

The note added to Girl of Now Shine is pineapple. Despite my antipathy to the note in general the perfumers use it as an alternative sweetener. Like using fruit juice in an actual cake recipe. It underpins a crisp pear. If there was one thing I really liked about the original it was the use of pistachio. It adds an unusual roasted nutty quality. It is again given a prominent place in Girl of Now Shine. As it begins to combine with the fruit the florals in the presence of jasmine and orange blossom provide a lilting white flower duet. Vanilla provides the finishing amount of traditional gourmand sweet. It is used in a much lower amount than in the original. It closes out a perfume which is much the better for the restraint.

Girl of Now Shine has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is the aesthetic I prefer when it comes to floral gourmands. It allows for the florals to shine alongside the gourmand aspects. Finding the right balance means this is a better perfume than the original.

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

Mark Behnke

Flanker Round-Up: Marc Jacobs Daisy Love and Thierry Mugler Alien Flora Futura

As I finish clearing my desk of the spring releases of 2018 I wanted to mention a couple of the flankers which were better than most of the others released in these early days of 2018.

Marc Jacobs Daisy Love

If there has ever been a brand which has overplayed a flanker, it is Marc Jacobs and Daisy. The original released in 2007 is one of the top tier mainstream perfumes. The thirty-two flankers in the last eleven years are mostly forgettable. Some flankers even spawned their own flankers. It became easy to ignore the entire mess. I wanted to write about Daisy which made me pick up flanker thirty-two, Daisy Love. It turned out there was some connectivity back to the original which made it better than most of the other Daisy flankers.

First connection was perfumer Alberto Morillas returning to make a variation on the original he created. The original was a strawberry fruity floral; for Daisy Love M. Morillas fashions a less fulgent strawberry by using raspberry and cloudberry to result in a greener, almost unripe, strawberry. It is tart more than sweet. M. Morillas then actually uses the title floral to provide a lighter floral effect than in most of the collection. It all ends on generic synthetic woods and musks. I wouldn’t throw over the original for this but it does enough different, without throwing out the whole playbook, that it could be a nice companion for the summer.

Daisy Love has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

Thierry Mugler Alien Flora Futura

Thierry Mugler has only been a touch less aggressive in producing flankers to 2005’s classic Alien. Thierry Mugler has delighted in producing perfume which engenders “love it-hate it” responses. Alien is an excellent example. One could even say that the 21 flankers since its release are attempts to convert the “hate it” crowd. For Alien Flora Futura it lightens up some of the heavier aspects for the set of people who found it too heavy.

Perfumers Dominique Ropion and Jean-Christoophe Herault make this lighter by switching the ingredients while still retaining the Alien vibe. It starts very un-Alien-like using a bright sparkling citron. Citron has a fuller feel to me than lemon although they are similar. The real alteration comes in the heart as the perfumers substitute jasmine with cereus flower, also known as the queen of the night. Cereus has a similarity to jasmine but also a fresher quality. It works nicely with the citron. It eventually slides into the Alien amber focused base accord but in keeping with everything else a touch lighter. If you love Alien I imagine this will feel like Diet Lemon Alien to you. If you hated Alien because it was overwhelmingly aggressive Alien Flora Futura might turn you into a lover.

Alien Flora Futura has 14-16 hour longevity an average sillage.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by the manufacturers.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Givenchy Live Irresistible Blossom Crush- Bitter Rose

I must say that as I’ve now received most of the spring releases it looks like one of my wishes has come to be; less rose perfumes for the beginning of the year. I have reviewed several mass-market releases which have left rose on the shelf without leaving behind the seasonal vibe. It just means there are alternatives to rose not that they stopped making rose perfumes for spring. For me to find a rose, at this time of year, of any interest I have to see something a bit different; Givenchy Live Irresistible Blossom Crush manages to achieve this.

Givenchy started the Live Irresistible in 2015 with an Eau de Parfum composed by perfumer Dominique Ropion. That was a fall-themed pineapple, rose, amber grating megaphone of all three notes. Almost a year later M. Ropion did enter the spring rose sweepstakes with, Eau de Toilette, another grating fruity floral where pear and raspberry accentuated the debutante rose. Then last year with Delicieuse M. Ropion thought we’d like some cake with our rose in a misguided gourmand. My expectation that Blossom Crush would be enjoyable was near zero. Except M. Ropion puts his bullhorn away in favor of something much less aggressive along with a modulating note cleverly chosen.

Dominique Ropion

In the ever lightening of fragrance overall and especially at the department store Blossom Crush is an example of where it is an asset. M. Ropion keeps it completely simple with a dewy rose matched to a mid-weight musk. That is common, this time M. Ropion chooses to use a gourmand note in a precise way to give an unusual effect to the rose which allows for the musk to pick it up in a different way.

In the first moment and for a few minutes beyond that this is that dewy rose that crowds the fragrance counters. In this case it is made a bit fresher with peony. Then the use of cocoa is what sets this apart. Like a needle slowly entering within the floral accord a subtle bitterness tunes the floral sweetness. If there was a common complaint from me on the earlier Live Irresistible releases, they were way too sweet. In Blossom Crush the cocoa works to remove some of the natural floral sweetness. What I found really smart was to never allow the cocoa to become gourmand-level strength. It acts as only as a background effect. It also bridges the floral to musk which is not so fresh but one which also has a few bitter facets for the cocoa to attach to.

Live Irresistible Blossom Crush has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

At the end of the day Blossom Crush is mostly a typical spring rose but if you’re looking for a new one for 2018 there are much more banal choices. Give the bitter rose of Blossom Crush a chance.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Macy’s.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review A Lab On Fire And The World Is Yours- The Morning After Success

There is something voyeuristic about photographs of celebrities. Certainly, there is a cottage industry of poorly taken “gotcha!” photographs taken by paparazzi. Those I have little interest in. The ones which capture my attention are the ones where well-known professional photographers have the opportunity to shoot during a particular time in a celebrity’s career. One of the more memorable pictures in that category was one taken by photographer Terry O’Neill in 1977. His subject was actress Faye Dunaway sitting by the pool at The Beverly Hills Hotel at 6AM the morning after she won her Best Actress Oscar for “Network”. Looking like she still hadn’t been to bed (she had) Mr. O’Neill captured the moment after you’ve won an Academy Award with the newspapers headlines of your win at your feet and your trophy on the table considering what’s next. It is an iconic picture for so many reasons; the early morning light, the Old Hollywood vibe, and a spectacular actress in her prime. I don’t know if this begged to have a perfume made from its inspiration but it has arrived; A Lab On Fire And The World Is Yours.

Faye Dunaway as photographed by Terry O'Neill (March 1977)

The perfumer hired by creative director Carlos Kusubayashi to take this on is Dominique Ropion. M. Ropion had converted a classic Hollywood photograph into a perfume two years previously with one of Douglas Kirkland’s photos of Marilyn Monroe. The opening to that was gorgeous but an overly aggressive musky gourmand base put me off. With And The World Is Yours that problem does not exist this is a stunning companion to the inspiration. What is especially pleasing about And The World Is Yours is that M. Ropion is not playing it safe which is apropos of an actress who won her Academy Award by also taking risks.

Dominique Ropion

What I so expected in the early moments of And The World Is Yours was a sparkly bergamot-y dawn sun kind of opening. M. Ropion embraces the “morning after” vibe instead. As the dawn signals the end of the night not the beginning of the day. M. Ropion deploys neroli and orange blossom in a weary evocation of daybreak. There is no sparkle but there is a banked luminosity to them maybe as you close your eyes to the rising sun. You also catch a whiff of yourself which is where M. Ropion uses cumin to cleave the floral duet. I adore when perfumers are unafraid to use cumin as an effective contrast as it is here. The cumin really deepens the sense of a long night’s day. It persists through a heart of rose and heliotrope. This ends on a mixture of tolu balsam and sandalwood sweetened by tonka bean and vanilla. The sweet smell of success.

And The World Is Yours has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is one of my favorite perfumes from A Lab On Fire ever. It is near-perfect as M. Ropion never puts a foot wrong for my tastes. That being said, if you find cumin a problem in perfume I think there is little chance you will be as enthusiastic about this as I am. If you can get past it, or embrace it, what is to be found is the smell of the morning after success.

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

Mark Behnke