Something I hope has become obvious is that I have a great appreciation for mainstream perfume when done well. Not every fragrance has to push boundaries. There must be a place for a well-constructed perfume which builds on a popular style in the conversation. I found myself in a bit of a quandary when a new niche release built upon a foundation from one of the most popular mainstream perfumes. It is particularly difficult for me when I think the mainstream perfume was a cynically conceived effort. Especially when I like the niche release while recognizing from whence it came. Parfums de Marly Percival has more than enough differences from Bleu de Chanel for me to acknowledge the comparison while admiring the new iteration.
There is a desire for a style of perfume that can be the single perfume on a man’s dresser. Something good for the workday and the weekend. That is the kind of perfume Percival is. What sets it apart from its mainstream counterparts is at every turn there is more depth and complexity. Creative director Julien Sprecher collaborates with perfumer Hamid Merati-Kashani continuing their successful partnership begun with Layton and Layton Exclusif. In writing about both of those previous releases I detected an effort towards refining crowd pleasing trends into something more niche-like. That kind of thinking appears to be in place for Percival.
At its most basic Percival is a fresh fougere. Except M. Sprecher encouraged M. Merati-Kashani to find the nooks and crannies within that style to place different notes and accords. These add texture and depth. It is what sets Percival apart.
Percival opens with an herbal citrus top accord. The citrus are the bright sunny notes often encountered but the array of herbal notes provide the kind of effect I was speaking of above. This transitions into a floral heart of violet and lavender. These are combined to form another typical masculine floral duo. M. Merati-Kashani then dusts them with the spices of baie rose, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper, and nutmeg. I could tritely say he is butching up the florals. Instead I will refer to what I see throughout Percival as a way of finding depth without changing the intent. The use of the spices does create a vibrancy to the heart. In the base M. Merati-Kashani has built a gorgeous accord of synthetic woods and musks. He has seemingly used four or five of each to create one of those drydowns to die for. All these ingredients in the base last days on a strip or clothing. When I was sitting at my desk while testing Percival I kept returning to the strips I had sprayed days ago just to revisit. When I did my laundry and got to the shirt I wore one of the days I considered not washing it. I have a special place for perfumes with outstanding drydowns and Percival is there.
Percival has 16-18 hour longevity on skin and days on clothing. It also has above average sillage.
It is because the drydown is so neglected these days I would like Percival just for that. There is more to admire than that. Percival takes something that I perceive in its mainstream inspiration as cynical and transforms it into something fantastic. If Percival was the one perfume most men had on their dresser this would be a better smelling world.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample from Parfums de Marly.
It was almost exactly a year ago that I reviewed Parfums de Marly Layton. I concluded that review with the belief this was the most accessible perfume from the brand. That has proven true as Layton has become the best seller I predicted it could be. When a brand releases something as crowd pleasing as that I wonder what they will follow-up with. Will they go for more crowd pleasers or will they return to their quirky ways. As a fan of those latter perfumes I sort of wanted that. It would turn out that the decision creative director Julien Sprecher would make is to add some of that off-beat sensibility to the skeleton of Layton and call it Layton Exclusif.
M. Sprecher retained the perfumer behind Layton, Hamid Merati-Kashani, for Layton Exclusif. I always appreciate when a brand uses the same perfumer because there should be no one with a better feel for where expansion and contraction can take place within the original. Layton Exclusif is a great example of how this hypothesis bears fruit. It shows right in the opening moments as M. Merati-Kashani trades out the crisp green apple of the original for the sulfurous citrus of grapefruit. Much of what follows in Layton is traditional fougere which for Layton Exclusif it is transformed to the Parfums de Marly strong suit of Orientals. It means it dives much deeper with some added formality to the overall aesthetic.
As mentioned the top accord is focused around grapefruit which is given a bit of leavening by mandarin. The floral heart is much lusher than the original; rose gathers geranium and gardenia to form a powerful accord. All of this is similar but different to Layton. In the final third is where things really diverge. The sandalwood remains but M. Merati-Kashati wraps it in amber, coffee, and civet. I think that latter ingredient is used to provide a faux-oud accord. It is where the animalic civet captures that same quality of oud while surrounding it in other woods allows for something less intrusive while still adding an exotic feel. The amber and coffee provide a much more pleasant harmony than I might have suspected. It ends up being my favorite drydown of any Parfums de Marly.
Layton Exclusif has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I admire what I suspect M. Sprecher is trying here with his best seller. He is asking those who love Layton to take another baby step towards Layton Exclusif’s more niche-y sensibility. If that is true I think that makes Layton Exclusif the ideal flanker. In any case I predict this is going to have as large an audience as the original. M. Sprecher keeps Layton Exclusif from being a bridge too far to those discovering niche perfumery through Parfums de Marly.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I received from Parfums de Marly.
When I was in high school and needed the car I would have to go pick up my father from his friend whom he carpooled with. On our way home was one of the big horse racing tracks in S.Florida, Calder. One of my dad’s favorite things to do was to follow the racing results in the daily sports pages. By looking at those results he would be able to pick out a couple of horses he liked. If it happened that one of those horses was running on a day I picked him up, we would make a little detour. It was some of my favorite time I spent with my father as he would explain to me his thought process behind his choices. It is something which has stuck with me ever since. The idea of looking for the pattern of performance which will lead to success. There is one perfume line which always brings back this memory to me because they are a horse-themed brand; Parfums de Marly.
I discovered Parfums de Marly at the Elements Showcase in 2013. I hadn’t realized they had been around for three years prior to that. In that first exposure, I sort of felt like I was with my dad looking over the perfumes named after horses with the perfumers as trainers. There were definite thoroughbreds in Herod and Pegasus. There was also a delightful quirkiness where creative director Julien Sprecher was not looking to play it safe. Ispazon and Shagya pushed hard on my sensibilities but over time I came around to appreciating both. As a result, I am always interested when there is a new addition to the line. For the end of 2016 Layton is the newest.
One of the things which is difficult with a brand like Parfums de Marly is while I like quite a few of the perfumes there has been no easy entry point. Until now all of them have a definitive presence that is best appreciated by those who know their perfume Racing Form. I think Layton changes all that. Perfumer Hamid Merati-Kashani has composed a perfume of charm designed to draw a new person in to the line.
The opening of Layton is a fantastic combination of lavender, mandarin orange, and green apple. When it is used correctly green apple provides a distinct focal point with crisp lines for a perfumer to elaborate upon. M. Merati-Kashani uses the lavender and orange as perfect counterbalance to the apple. It is a flat out sprint to the quarter pole as it is full of pace in the early moments. Layton settles into a steady pace over the next quarter as geranium acts as the fulcrum for jasmine and violet. The geranium is the predominant note matching the green of the apple. Now as we hit the top of the stretch the crack of black pepper applies the whip hand to sandalwood and patchouli sweetened considerably with vanilla. As Layton eases up after the finish guaiac wood and amber provide the warm down.
Layton has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.
What I like very much about Layton is it feels like M. Sprecher wanted something more approachable but still retaining a few of the quirkier bloodlines of the brand. Layton delivers this so well it immediately rises to one of the best from the entire brand for its combination of affability and difference; a real champion.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Parfums de Marly.