Colognoisseur 2019 Hopes and Wishes

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I close out 2018 with a look for what I am hoping and wishing for in 2019.

I’m still coming to grips with the loss of independent perfumer Vero Kern. For 2019 I am hoping that a new independent perfumer who embodies Fr. Kern’s indefatigable spirit paired with her love of perfume making appears. I’ve heard nature abhors a vacuum; let’s see if that is true.

I wish for my favorite niche brands to push the edges of their aesthetic a little bit more. It is perverse that I have asked over the last few years for an expansion of niche brands. I’ve largely seen that come true. The price seems to have been a 2018 where those brands stayed right in the center of what they do best. This produced good perfume without inspiring me. The creative teams behind all these brands have already shown they can produce wonderful innovative perfumes before. Let 2019 show that spirit again.

American Perfumer in Louisville, Kentucky

I have a very selfish wish for the success of a single store; Dave Kern’s shop dedicated to American independent perfume in Louisville, Kentucky called American Perfumer. I generally wish every small brick and mortar store which sells niche and independent perfumes in their local community success; that hasn’t changed. Mr. Kern is exclusively working with the American indies who have had one of the best years in 2018 I can remember. It seems like with that as a start supplemented with exclusive limited editions, he should hopefully have a successful 2019.

I really wish that the Arquiste Esencia de El Palacio collection could be made available outside of Mexico. The eight perfumes in this collection are examples of the best niche perfumery has to offer. It comes from a place deep within the hearts of creative director Carlos Huber and perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux. I am sure there are exclusivity contracts which prohibit this, but this is a list of wishes not business realities. In that spirit I’ll add one more; maybe they could be available in an Arquiste boutique.

My final wish is for a continuation of the exceptional creativity I saw in 2018 in the indie perfumes and young brands. I think a lot of it is because the ones I am talking about have been around long enough that they are secure in their business plan allowing for their artistic plan to flourish. If that hypothesis is correct this is probably the one wish which will definitely be realized in 2019.

As always, I want to wish all the readers of Colognoisseur a Happy New Year. My thanks for spending a little time reading my blog over the past year. Let’s see, together, what 2019 will bring.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Best of 2018: Part 3- The Top 25 New Perfumes of the Year

This year I tried 701 new perfumes. To keep that in perspective, it is about 30% of all new perfume released in 2018. The Top 25 below represents the best 3.6% of what I encountered this year

The Top 5 (Perfume of the Year Candidates)

5. Cartier Carat– The best mainstream release of 2018 it is a celebration of the skill of Cartier in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent. It is simply described as a transparent formula. What Mme Laurent put in the bottle was a faceted floral jewel which changed as you looked at each facet. A kaleidoscopic perfume that helped me embrace the potential of the transparent trend which is here to stay in perfume.

4. Providence Perfume Co. Vientiane– Independent perfumer Charna Ethier fused a jasmine rice tincture to a tower of sandalwood. It resulted in a perfume which gave me new insight into one of the most venerable notes in perfumery. It also is a testament to Ms. Ethier’s skill to shine a light into those spaces.

3. April Aromatics Irisistible– This is the culmination of all of the efforts perfumer Tanja Bochnig has produced over the years for her April Aromatics brand. Each release over the last couple of years has been better than the last. Irisistible will be a perfume Fr. Bochnig will find difficult to top. A floral rainbow with a rooty iris as the most brilliant band of color.

2. Neela Vermeire Creations NiralNeela Vermeire has successfully found the perfume place where her Indian and French sensibilities overlap. It has produced one of the best independent perfume collections on the market. Mme Vermeire has worked exclusively with perfumer Bertrnad Duchaufour. For Niral they undertook the concept of capturing Tussar silk as a perfume. It is something I think could only have been made by a creative director and perfumer who have been working together for years. Niral flows in shimmering silken waves of iris that slither through the air opulently.

1. Arquiste Esencia de El Palacio GuayabosThere is a much longer explanation in Part 2 of the Best of 2018 posts. For this list I’ll keep it short; the best Arquiste along with the best perfume by Rodrigo Flores-Roux.

The Rest of the Top 25 in Alphabetical Order

4160 Tuesdays Freeway– Sarah McCartney had an incredibly creative 2018. Her evocation of LA was the best one.

A Lab on Fire And The World Is Yours– This combination of neroli and cumin captures the morning after when the rising sun signals the end of the party.

Aftelier AlchemyMandy Aftel looked back to her beginning which allowed Alchemy to confirm her vision has never strayed.

aromaM Geisha Botan– Maria McElroy composed a spring floral featuring peony; I wish more did it like this.

Avon Velvet– Best Bang for the Buck perfume on the list. Perfumer Gabriela Chelariu proves it’s the perfumer and not the ingredients in a lush fig-rose-patchouli perfume that smells like it belongs on the top shelf.

Blackbird Y06-S– Nicole Miller produced an envelope-pushing skanky jasmine and banana fragrance which I can’t forget.

Commodity Nectar– This brand has become the most reliable economical brand by allowing perfumers the freedom to create as they wish. Mathieu Nardin used that to create a summery neroli

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz for American Perfumer Colorado Dave Kern commissioned two limited editions for his new American Perfumer store. This one by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz captures the slope of the Rockies right outside Ms. Hurwitz’s door.

DSH Perfumes Summer Cologne– Ms. Hurwitz was also equally creative for her own line as this tomato leaf twist on the classic eau de cologne was the best version of this form in 2018.

Frassai A Fuego Lento– This brand creatively directed by Natalia Outeda debuted in 2018. A Fuego Lento by Rodrigo Flores-Roux is a jasmine-leather stunner.

Hermes Hermessence Cardamusc– In-house perfumer Christine Nagel makes the Hermessence collection her own with an oil formulation of cardamom, in overdose, and musks.

Hiram Green HydeHiram Green puts together a birch tar all-natural leather perfume that grabs you and does not let go.

Jo Malone Jasmine Sambac & Marigold– Creative director Celine Roux has overseen a creative rebirth at Jo Malone. Jasmine Sambac & Marigold, by perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui, is the best example of that in 2018.

Jovoy Remember Me– If you need evidence that gourmand perfumes can be amazing this is it. Perfumer Cecile Zarokian melds delicate florals over strong black tea.

L’Iris de Fath– Creative director Rania Naim believed she could re-formulate Iris Gris. The proof of that belief is in the bottle.

Maison Rebatchi Joyeux OsmantheMohamed Rebatchi is the creative director of a new brand making a splash. Working with perfumer Maurice Roucel osmanthus stands up to tuberose; gorgeously.

Maria McElroy for American Perfumer Desert Flower The second limited edition from Dave Kern and the American Perfumer store. Maria McElroy weaves a story of youth and adulthood on the edge of the desert. All using rare Arabian oils.

Pekji Zeybek– The best new brand of 2018 goes to Pekji from Omer Ipecki. A strong debut collection of five perfumes is headed by this abstract perfume vision of the horse barn.

strangeloveNYC lostinflowers– Creative director Elizabeth Gaynes came home from a trip to India with a champaca extract called “joy oil”. When she asked perfumer Christophe Laudamiel to use it in a perfume it gave me a lot of joy.

Zoologist Tyrannosaurus Rex– There is a part of me that thinks creative director Victor Wong and perfumer Antonio Gardoni came up with the idea of a prehistoric jungle on fire as a joke. The perfume is no joke. It is a completely original perfume.

An extra 3.5%; or the 23 perfumes which just missed being on the list above

A Lab on Fire Hallucinogenic Pearl– the De Laire bases return in a violet and iris perfume.

Acqua di Parma Chinotto di Liguria– Another classic Mediterranean style cologne

Aether Arts Perfume The AI Series– A set of fiercely intelligent perfumes which invaded my thoughts

Blocki Sanrovia– Sandalwood from a heritage brand with an eye on the future.

Britney Spears Prerogative– Best celebrity perfume of 2018

Bruno Fazzolari Fontevraud– A deconstructed chypre that actually was

Chanel 1957– A gleaming glass and metal tower of white musks

Diptyque Tempo– Thoroughly modern patchouli

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Music For A While– Who knew I wanted lavender to go with pineapple.

Fath’s Essentials Red Shoes– One of perfumer Cecile Zarokian’s best.

Gucci Bloom Nettare di Fiori– Best flanker of 2018

Heeley Blanc Poudre– The smell of laundered warm cotton

Imaginary Authors Whispered Myths– Josh Meyer tries something different.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Mont de Narcisse– A leather, narcissus, and immortelle beauty.

Louis Vuitton Nouveau Monde– The leather I wanted from LV.

Masque Milano (homage to) Hemingway– A full-spectrum vetiver

McQueen Collection Sacred Osmanthus– Transparent osmanthus soliflore

Terre d’Hermes Eau Intense Vetiver– Christine Nagel brings the vetiver forward

Molton Brown Muddled Plum– Boozy fruity gourmand

Nest Cocoa Woods– A perfume that lives up to both nouns in its name.

Providence Perfume Co. Lemon Liada– A citrus perfume where lemon is front and center with no lemon being used.

Tom Ford Private Blend Lost Cherry– First Private Blend which felt like the early days of the brand.

Zoologist Hyrax– Funkiest, in a good way, perfume of 2018.

That’s it for 2018.

Part 1 Overview of 2018

Part 2 Perfume, Perfumer, Creative Director, and Brand of the Year

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

Colognoisseur Best of 2018: Part 1- Overview

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2018 was a year in which the perfume companies more firmly tuned their fragrances towards a younger generation. I tried 701 new perfume releases this past year. If there was one dominant trend it was towards transparent styles; especially in the mainstream sector. It also meant simpler constructs using three to five ingredients. The difficulty I had with this is the great majority of these perfumes fell apart with any scrutiny. Too often transparent minimalism could be summarized succinctly as insipid. Slightly more charitable it was a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes as the brands tried to sell more and more “nothing there” product. The best (worst?) example was the twenty-five releases, at one time, from clothing brand H&M. They didn’t even disguise their attempt to push out a wave of poorly made fragrance. It was a bad joke which made me wish I had only tried 676 new perfumes this year.

Transparent New Clothes for The Emperor

I have had some problems embracing the whole trend because I believe its success requires a very skilled perfumer. Proof of that would come early in the fall with the release of Cartier Carat as in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent produced a magnificently kinetic transparent floral. It would be followed by the McQueen Collection of soliflore-like constructions employing some of the best perfumers to show the potential of this style of perfume making.

Another emerging trend is the rise of gourmand style perfumes. This might be the last genre of fragrance which has not been terribly overexposed. It means it is fertile ground for brands to make a statement. It also is a style which adapts well to the transparency. Jovoy Remember Me by perfumer Cecile Zarokian was an audacious attempt to push the form forward. I think we will see a spectacular contemporary gourmand soon.

If the perceived banality of the mainstream releases was getting me down the independent perfumers were here to rescue me. They were ready to give me the jump start I needed to throw off my malaise.

Victor Wong of Zoologist Perfumes would oversee the funk of Hyrax with perfumer Sven Pritzkoleit and the prehistoric jungle fire of Tyrannosaurus Rex by perfumer Antonio Gardoni.

Nicole Miller of Blackbird sent out the skanky banana of Y06-S and the oddly compelling plum gourmand Anemone.

Amber Jobin of Aether Arts Perfume created The AI Series which was experimental perfumery of the highest order.

Hiram Green produced a birch tar overload in Hyde a complete opposite of the enticing tobacco and honey of Slowdive.

Of course, 2018 ended with the loss of one of the great independent perfumers, Vero Kern. As that happened, I was reminded of the old saying “when a door closes a window opens”. The window might be looking toward Turkish perfumer Omer Ipecki and his Pekji brand. Mr. Ipecki like Fr. Kern took years to perfect his perfumes before releasing them. He listened to his own artistic vision while displaying an independent swagger. I know I’m laying a large burden on Mr. Ipecki’s shoulders I am hopeful he will bear it with good humor.

If there was a disappointment it was from the niche brands. Many of them safely stayed within their well-trodden lanes. I feel somewhat churlish for saying this because there were many I liked, but very few of them tried anything different. As I looked back it seemed like too many of the brands found a successful space which they continued within. As I think will become apparent over the next two days there were few which stood out.

I still retain my excitement about perfume as it exists in 2018. As I reveal my Perfume, Perfumer, Creative Director and Brand of the Year tomorrow and the Top 25 new perfumes the day after these are the reasons why I feel that way.

Mark Behnke

A Tribute to Vero Kern 1940-2018

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When I tell people, I write about perfume the most frequent response I receive is, “Why?” My response usually takes a few seconds, maybe a minute, to say. I’ve realized there is a more succinct answer to the query, “Vero Kern”.

I would meet Vero for the first time through her perfume Rubj. Vero was at the forefront of independent perfumery. Those of you who have known Vero for longer will no doubt understand her wanting to be as independent about perfume as she was in the rest of her life. What it means when applied to fragrance making is an artist’s touch. The perfume you buy in the department store can be beautiful, but they are commerce. The kind of perfume Vero made was the expression of a creative mind who spoke in scented constructions. When I met Vero via Rubj Eau de Parfum I was greeted with the smell of passionfruit.

This is another aspect of Vero which I celebrate; the passion she gave to her work. In the form of the fruit but also in the meticulous way she designed her pieces. She didn’t release her first three perfumes until she had spent years achieving her vision. Those first three releases, Kiki. Onda, and Rubj were in the most concentrated form perfume takes, extrait. They were powerful statements of intent, of what perfume could aspire to. She dared you to see it differently.

Vero and Isi

The passionfruit arrived as she spent three years re-imagining her first three releases in a less concentrated form, eau de parfum. This is not just a process of dilution. It is a process of understanding what will happen upon making what was stronger more expansive. It opens spaces which need filling. Vero chose a little used perfume ingredient called passionfruit. The reason it was little used is it was an obstreperous material to use. No matter how much you tried to keep it down it would stubbornly get back up and persist. I think Vero might have recognized herself in that. How she would use that is she allowed the passionfruit to have those newly opened spaces in the lighter style of eau de parfum. She also made sure it wasn’t drowning out the inherent beauty.

In Rubj the passionfruit would find the outsized floral personalities of jasmine and orange blossom igniting a perfume which had all the sizzle of a huge firework exploding. This was the beauty one could only find from an independent artist like Vero.

I would come face-to-face with the outsized personality of Vero when I attended a large perfume expo in Milan. What came through in person was the mischievous glint in her eye. She had the artist’s disdain for the commercial style of perfume being displayed. I asked her what she thought. Of course, she answered that it was all dreadful. A few years later she had come to like me enough to use a more colorful term than dreadful.

Vero and I in Milan as she presented Rozy in 2014

My favorite memory of Vero happened at the same expo, three years later, in 2014. She was releasing her newest perfume Rozy. I had an appointment to meet her; allowing her to show me the new release. When I arrived, Vero was sitting in a chair sporting a black eye. My first thought was I bet the other person looks worse. When Vero told me, she had fallen I was somewhat relieved it was just an accident. There was a kind of rakish style to her one bruised eye behind her white-rimmed glasses. Despite all my concern about Vero when she handed me the strip of paper with the new perfume on it, magic happened. I was under the spell of what I consider to be the best post-modern rose perfume ever made. As I breathed in with eyes closed it was the same feeling I get when encountering artistic genius.

When I opened my eyes with a silly smile on my face the twinkle in her one bruised eye and one normal one showed she was pleased that she had one admirer of her work. Vero is the kind of artist who could only have thrived in the independent perfumery world. Her perfumes will continue to live and speak to her creativity. I have no doubt of that.

Vero’s perfumes will always carry the impact of her vision on the rest of my life. I will miss the joie de vivre of the person who enjoyed creating art via perfume.

Why do I write about perfume? Vero Kern.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Holiday Buyer’s Guide 2018 Part 2- Support Your Local Perfumery

The older I get the less patience I have with the mania of holiday shopping season. Which means you won’t find me even driving by a mall this weekend. It doesn’t mean I won’t be out shopping. I prefer to support the local small businesses. Which is why my favorite day of this opening shopping weekend is Small Business Saturday.

The idea of the American Express company, in 2010, using social media and television commercials they have turned the Saturday after Black Friday into something which feels more personal. Less about doorbusters and more about opening small doors to see what is behind them.

For perfume lovers if you are fortunate enough to have a small brick and mortar perfume shop nearby this is when you should support them. They can be as diverse as the offerings from Perfumarie in New York City to American Perfumer in Louisville, Kentucky to my own local shop Arielle Shoshana in Arlington, Virginia. Each individual perfume shop is curated by the owner to reflect their community and their ability to support small brands. They are the place where our love of perfume can be expressed most openly.

Because of that diversity I am going to suggest some of the independent brands you will find in many of these stores which have had memorable releases in 2018.

The New Kid on the Block

Every year presents me with new brands which always remind me that there are still new passionate creative people who want to express that through perfume. 2018 has seen less of that although there was one which caught my nose.

Gallivant– Last year creative director Nick Steward asked us to journey through the world with our sense of smell. Amsterdam was the one which brought me to the travel agent, but it was this year’s Tokyo which had me book a trip to future destinations.

The Old Kids on the Porch

There are brands which continue to do great work year after year. They shouldn’t get lost in the rush to capture the newest trend. These are among what makes independent perfumery stand apart.

aroma M– Brooklyn-based perfumer Maria McElroy has been making perfume for years based upon the Japanese Geisha. This year’s Geisha Botan is an example of an independent perfumer who becomes better with each release.

Masque MilanoAlessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi are usually pushing the envelope of independent perfumery. This year they went traditional by working with perfumer Fanny Bal on (homage to) Hemingway. It is a lush exploration of vetiver that is unforgettable.

Mona di Orio– Creative director Jeroen Oude Sogtoen has faithfully kept the fire burning on a style of perfume making exemplified by the late Mona di Orio. Working with Fredric Dalman this year’s Santal Nabataea is an homage to Mysore Sandalwood.

Neela Vermeire Creations– Creative director Neela Vermeire has worked exclusively with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour for all her perfumes. The perfumes of Indian and French influences have always impressed. The depth of the collaboration was never as evident as it was in this year’s release, Niral.

Providence Perfume Co.- Perfumer Charna Ethier is one of the treasures of the independent perfume world. 2018 has seen three outstanding releases in Vientiane, Lemon Liada, and Sedona Sweetgrass. Rarely do three perfumes show this breadth of creativity. This is on top of a collection of quiet excellence throughout.

The Strange Kids

The other great thing about independent perfumery is the ability to freely experiment. Gone are focus groups, replaced by individual vision. The perfumes here will have you reassessing what perfume is all about.

Zoologist Perfumes– The brand created by Victor Wong has been one of the great stories of the last couple of years. In 2018 there was a bold choice to strike out toward perfumes which provided more individual effect. Working with perfumer Sven Pritzkoleit, Hyrax explored what kind of perfume you can make from hyraceum. With perfumer Antonio Gardoni they asked what a prehistoric jungle smelled like just after the meteor set it on fire in Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Blackbird– Seattle-based Nicole Miller has overseen one of my favorite experimental brands; Blackbird. She is just the right kind of strange for my tastes. Nowhere was that more evident in the skanky banana that was Y06-S. although it reminded me of my organic chemistry lab. Par for the course on the odd side of the street.

DSH Perfumes– You might think adding the brand from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz to this category doesn’t fit. I chose to add her here because hers is one of those minds which can’t stop when it comes to perfume. she is the experimentalist always trying to find new ways to say perfume things. In 2018 Summer Cologne is as good an example of that as any of the rest of her excellent releases this year.

Hopefully the weather is nice enough this year for you to take a walk away from the mall and through the door of your local perfumery on Small Business Saturday.

If you missed Part 1 on the best new choices at the mall here is the link.

Disclosure: this review is based on samples provided by the brands mentioned.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Holiday Perfume Buyer’s Guide 2018 Part 1- At The Mall

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As we approach Thanksgiving in the US it is the demarcation of the beginning of the Holiday shopping season. As soon as the last bite of pie and the last dish is loaded in the dishwasher on Thanksgiving; shopping begins. It starts with overnight bargain hunting into what is known as Black Friday.

Fragrance is a popular gift. There is even a beautiful commercial for a department store about a blind husband knowing his wife by her perfume. I think buying a perfume for someone is a big risk because it is such an intimate gift. I do have a suggestion on how to do it in a more intimate way at this link.

Even so I know many will still be buying fragrance this Holiday season. For my Buyer’s Guide I do Part 1 with a list of perfume you will most likely find at any mall or department store. Tomorrow, before Small Business Saturday, Part 2 will focus on independent brands found at local brick and mortar perfume store.

The list of perfumes below is meant to give a breadth of choice to anyone looking for a specific style. Links to the full review are in the names.

Atelier Cologne Iris Rebelle– This is a transparent rooty iris instead of the usual powdery version. If you ever wanted to see the other face of iris, here it is.

Britney Spears Prerogative– Britney Spears was one of the early successes of the celebuscent wave of the last few years. Leave it to her, as the trend has diminished, to remind me that it still can be quite good. Perfumer Honorine Blanc produces a fruity gourmand perfume.

Buberry Her– Of all the transparent style of perfume I encountered in 2018 perfumer Francis Kurkdjian created a crowd-pleaser. A fruity airy bubble that you float in happily.

Cartier Carat– This is what I consider to be the best mainstream perfume of 2018. Perfumer Mathilde Laurent composes a kinetic prismatic transparent floral. It is like a constant motion machine of floral jewels.

Commodity Velvet– The entire brand is a great choice and 2018 was a great year for it. The reason they have been so good is they allow a perfumer to bring a niche aesthetic to the mall. It results in some stunning efforts. Velvet is Jerome Epinette’s rose floating on top of a pool of vanilla. Simple and gorgeous.

Gucci Bloom Nettare Di Fiore– Gucci is making a fragrant statement again. Both of this year’s flankers of Gucci Bloom were excellent but it is the spicing up of the core accord of Bloom which is what makes Nettare Di Fiore ideal for fall and winter.

Jo Malone Jasmine Sambac & Marigold– Jo Malone is another brand which had an outstanding 2018. Jasmine Sambac & Marigold was the bellwether for that. This is an unusual pairing for jasmine as the green of marigold creates a unique floral harmonic.

Nest Cocoa Woods– Is an austere dry mixture of sandalwood and sequoia coated in cocoa powder. If you enjoy woody perfume this adds a gourmand style on top of that.

Terre D’Hermes Eau Intense VetiverChristine Nagel produces her version of the classic Terre D’Hermes. Her choice is to take vetiver from the background of the original and move it out in front of the dry synthetic woods. It is a perfume which I think more of the longer I spend time with it.

I wish all my US readers a Happy Thanksgiving and let me be the first to wish all my readers a Happy Holidays. Now…..Ready……Set……Shop!

Disclosure: I received samples of all of the perfumes mentioned in this article from the manufacturers.

Mark Behnke

2018 First-Half Recap

Before I plunge into the fall releases starting to show up in my mailbox I want to recap the world of perfume for the first half of 2018. Especially here in the Poodlesville HQ of Colognoisseur.

For those who have followed my writing for the over ten years I’ve been doing reviews I am sure you’ve tired of my whining about too many spring roses. Guess what? This year I got my wish. I’m not sure what caused the change but even a perfume called Miu Miu L’eau Rosee was not a rose. That one was a very nice lily perfume. I got Bvlgari Magnolia Sensuel. I got Nest Wisteria Blue. I got the neroli of Commodity Nectar. I got the crazy blackberry of Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme. I got Jo Malone Jasmine Sambac and Marigold. Yes, there were plenty of pretty roses, but the spring of 2018 found new perfumed ways of celebrating the season.

One of those ways was the return of the classic ambrette-iris-musk so embodied by Chanel No. 18. There were many of these, most of which I liked. There were two which stood out for taking this classic accord in a modern direction; Diptyque Fleur de Peau and A Lab on Fire Hallucinogenic Pearl. Perfumers Olivier Prescheux and Emilie Coppermann, respectively, found a way to freshen this triad up. In Mme Coppermann’s case it was by incorporating the De Laire base Iriseine; which made this one of my favorites of the first half of 2018.

Christine Nagel

Christine Nagel continued her strong showings for Hermes. If there was a last question left for her it was, “How would she make the Hermessences her own?” She released five in the spring. They were all good, but it was her move towards an “essence de parfums” oil-based formulation where she confirmed her stamp on this collection. Cardamusc is another favorite of 2018, so far.

The independents also thrilled me in the first six months of the year. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz finished her Haiku Series for DSH Perfumes with Tsukimi and Shimotsuki. Among the very best work of hers I have experienced.

Hiram Green Slowdive was a textural marvel as a tobacco accord traverses a viscous mixture of honey and others.

Sarah McCartney’s 4160 Tuesdays Freeway is So Cal car culture in search of an exotic sorbet. Sounds odd but it is fabulous.

Andy Tauer provided a contemporary version of the “golden age” in Tauer Les Annees 25.

There were three other perfumes which really caught my attention so far in 2018.

A Lab on Fire And the World is Yours by perfumer Dominique Ropion is perhaps my favorite from the brand ever. The opening bergamot, neroli, and cumin accord is spectacular.

Louis Vuitton Nouveau Monde is the leather perfume which should have Louis Vuitton on its label. I may be a bit let down by the others in this collection, but Nouveau Monde, and perfumer Jacques Cavallier, gives me the leather I wanted.

The leader at the midway point of 2018 is Neela Vermeire Creations Niral. The collaborative energy between creative director Neela Vermeire and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has always produced excellent perfume. Niral is better than that. The iris shimmers over a subtle leather accord. I still haven’t got enough.

This covers what I was able to write about in the first six months. Just in the next couple of weeks I have some reviews coming which are also among the best of 2018.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur vs. The Bachelorette’s Colognoisseur

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Now that I’ve been writing at Colognoisseur for over four years my readership has settled at a number I am happy to have. Which means starting two weeks ago I woke up to an alert on Tuesday morning telling me that daily traffic had spiked. Usually I know when something I’ve written might provoke interest but there wasn’t anything I thought could’ve done that. I stayed mystified for a week and then it happened again on Tuesday morning. This time my readers clued me in to what was going on.

I got a couple dozen e-mails asking if I had seen the contestant on ABC’s The Bachelorette who was identified as a Colognoisseur. I hadn’t but you bet I called it up on my cable box and watched. What I found was Jean-Blanc, 31, Colognoisseur displayed under a stylish young guy. To say I was curious is an understatement. Who is this other Colognoisseur? And does he deserve the title. In the run-up to last week’s first episode Glamour magazine posted a video asking questions of what a few of the men were taking with them. True to being a Colognoisseur Jean-Blanc showed off the four perfumes he was taking with him. He has some cologne cred but his choices were so typical of what guys his age wear I have to wonder in his over 250+ bottle collection if he couldn’t have made some different choices. For fun I’m going to take on the now more famous Colognoisseur in an analysis and my opinion on other choices he might have made based on things I suspect are in his collection.

As Michael Buffer would say “Let’s Get Ready to Ruuuuumble!”

Tale of the Tape

Age: Jean-Blanc 31- Mark 58 (Hipster Charm vs. Experience)

Weight: Jean-Blanc, slim athletic build- Mark: Old and fat (You aren’t seeing me on TV)

Size of collection: Jean-Blanc 250+- Mark 1000+ (Mine’s bigger)

The first fragrance Jean-Blanc chose for his time on The Bachelorette is Creed Aventus. Ever since its release it has become akin to the mythical love potion no. 9 among those who use fragrance as part of their wardrobe. I love Aventus, too. While I believe The Bachelorette probably has not encountered many guys wearing Aventus there are some alternatives this Colognoisseur thinks might have been better choices. I have to believe Jean-Blanc has some Tom Ford Private Blends and as you’ll see in the other three choices all of them tilt towards the fresh. I think something like Tobacco Vanille or Tuscan Leather would have added both variety without reducing the seduction value.

Fragrance number two is Bleu de Chanel. This is a really solid choice because it is so versatile. It can be used in all situations which Jean-Blanc is likely to find himself in on his time in the show. The only drawback is this is something I am betting The Bachelorette has smelled on a few guys. Bleu de Chanel is the best-selling men’s perfume in the US since its release. It’s like saying you love music and then put on Taylor Swift. C’mon a Colognoisseur should be able to do better. This is where the Creed should have shown up in Green Irish Tweed. Every bit as versatile and less common.

Fragrance number three Dior Homme. My favorite of his four choices going with one of the best mainstream floral masculine perfumes available. This is the one I think has the best chance to make an impression of Jean-Blanc as someone who has something more to him. Even so I still have an alternative Caron pour Un Homme. This is also another masculine floral classic trading lavender for the iris of Dior Homme.

Fragrance number four was where I felt like Jean-Blanc let me down with L’Homme de Yves Saint Laurent. It is so generic. I know any Colognoisseur like Jean-Blanc has to have some of the Thierry Mugler A-Men flankers in his wardrobe. I would think the recent A-Men Pure Tonka could have had The Bachelorette asking, “something smells good!” and Jean-Blanc smiling in response.

I am rooting for my fellow Colognoisseur to go far and win the heart and nose of The Bachelorette. If he doesn’t I at least have to thank him for sending new readers my way.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur 2018 Hopes and Wishes

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As always, on this last day of 2017 I look forward to some things I hope happen next year.

Who is ready for Perfumer Two-in-One?

Can I get two for one?- Last year I started out asking for Vero Kern to release something new. (She did) 2017 was a bumper crop from my favorite indie perfumers. One thing I have noticed is when they infrequently collaborate there has been some real magic. Bruno Fazzolari and Antonio Gardoni on Cadavre Exquis or Sam Rader and Josh Meyer on Dasein Winter Nights are my best examples of how this works. Both of those were 2016. For 2018 I’d like to see a couple new collaborations as creative as the 2016 ones.

Mosaic by Carl and Sandra Bryant of Showcase Mosaics

A Masterpiece of Deconstruction– 2017 saw deconstruction become all the rage except I felt it mostly missed the potential. With all the isolates of the most familiar perfume ingredients available. There is a perfumer who can produce something which adds the figurative olfactory grout within the deconstructed note to create something we haven’t seen before. There has been some tiptoeing up to this, but I need a few of the resident risk takers to embrace this. As much to make deconstructed meaningful; not just a synonym for transparent and safe.

The Pied Piper of Niche?

Keep expanding niche….everywhere– I have been excited to see consumers reacting to the difference between niche and mainstream perfumes. Much of this is happening because Sephora has steadily been increasing their offerings. Paired with this they have been featuring smaller brands which maybe aren’t niche but which are different than the big brands near them on the shelf. It seemed to me just in my local malls Sephora displayed a lot of niche brands for Holiday shopping season. If the sales bear it out this could be my long hoped-for bridge to the mainstream consumer. I’ve always believed if they are side-by-side a consumer can decide if they see a difference. I hope 2018 gives more consumers the chance to do this.

If just a couple beauty editors would do this

I want a crossover indie perfume– There are times I wonder if I am just part of a perfume lovers’ echo chamber. When I get that way an e-mail or two from someone who tried something new shows up to remind me that the word sometimes escapes the chamber. Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain was the perfume which shone the big media spotlight on the independent perfumers. Since then the number of people doing it has skyrocketed but none of the perfumes themselves have found the same celebrity. The perfumers can just keep doing the great work they continue to do. This wish is up to a beauty editor, or two, at a big magazine to look outside the samples from the big brands and open their eyes.

As we enter 2018 I want to wish everyone who spends a little of their time reading Colognoisseur a Healthy and Happy New Year. I’m ready to see what surprises and perfumes 2018 will bring.

Mark Behnke