Colognoisseur Hoiday Perfume Buyer’s Guide 2017 Part 2- Support your Local Perfumery

I am not the biggest fan of the shopping mania that breaks out after Thanksgiving in the US. Black Friday makes me blue and Cyber Monday makes me want to unplug. Since 2010 there has been a way for me to participate in the Holiday shopping spirit. That year American Express created “Small Business Saturday”. By using Facebook and television commercials they urged shoppers to go to their local independent merchants instead of the mall. In just a short time it has become a huge success. Just in my local area several of the small city shopping districts are having special promotions. When it comes to perfume that means the locally owned and operated perfumery. For Part 2 of the Holiday Perfume Buyer’s Guide I am going to focus on some of the brands which have become widely available in these stores.

This part of the guide is going to be aimed at people who are perfume wearers already although a couple of choices I will call out as excellent entry points. Latest review of each brand will be linked. Finally, I still think you shouldn’t buy a bottle of perfume for another and instead should use my “How to Buy Perfume as a Gift” as a way to gift fragrance. The beauty of that method at these small businesses is they are all about customer service and you should have no problem following my suggestion.

New Lines Which Have Impressed

Here are four brands which have shone in 2017. All of them are well worth exploring.

Vilhelm Parfumerie– Over the past two years there has been no new brand which has impressed me more than this one. Creative Director Jan Ahlgren and perfumer Jerome Epinette started strong and in 2017 they released one good perfume after the other. My favorite was Basilico & Fellini which is an example of all this brand is getting right.

Tauerville Flash Collection– Indie perfumer Andy Tauer wanted a set of perfumes which were meant as welcome mats to the independent style of perfumery. The Flash series has been that as well as also making perfumes which still had enough for the experienced colognoisseur. The latest release, Patch Flash, turns patchouli into a soft note paired with leather.

Zoologist Perfumes– Owner and Creative Director Victor Wong has collaborated with some of the brightest lights in independent perfumery over the past two years. Zoologist is quickly becoming one of the most diverse brands on the shelf because Mr. Wong lets his heart, and nose, make the decisions. The release of Civet earlier this year is a prime example.

Shay & Blue– Creative Director Dom DeVetta and perfumer Julie Masse have been quietly putting out excellent perfumes but this year they finally received wider distribution in the US. 2017 has been a watershed year for the brand and this is best exemplified by the intelligent lily accord at the center of Scarlet Lily.

Older Brands Continuing to Impress

Just because there are brands with that “new car” smell some of the established brands have also had strong years.

Imaginary Authors– Perfumer Josh Meyer really hit his stride this year. This line of perfume based on fragrances which have an imaginary book as their inspiration is fun but not without making some serious perfume. O! Unknown is probably the best perfume in the collection as black tea, iris, and sandalwood form a meditation on the final journey.

InekeIneke Ruhland had been out of sight but this year saw her return as all her previously released fragrances began to be available again. This is one of the best collections by any independent perfumer. If we had any doubt the new Idyllwild, a contemporary fougere shot through with pine, reminded us how good she is.

Byredo– This brand has been around as creative director Ben Gorham and perfumer Jerome Epinette have created an aesthetic which is still compelling after ten years. This year’s Velvet Haze shows that style at its very best in an homage to the 1960’s viewing patchouli through a haze of memory.

The Experimental

These are three of the most eclectic brands you can find. There are less provocative entries in all of them but in 2017 my favorites are not for the faint of heart…. or nose.

Beaufort London– This could easily have fit in the first category except creative director Leo Crabtree and perfumer Julie Dunkley keep expertly capturing the smells of a battlefield. Iron Duke is inspired by the first Duke of Wellington and takes you right onto the battlefield with him complete with gunsmoke, saddle leather and sweaty steed.

D.S. & Durga– The D.S. in the brand stands for perfumer David Seth Moltz. Given some new chemical ingredients with which to play with he made one of the most memorable perfumes of the year in Vio-Volta. An electrically charged version of violet; it is compelling in its oddness.

Masque Milano– This could have easily fit in the second category as creative directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi also lead with the heart of an artist and not the bottom line of an accountant. This year’s Times Square where they work with perfumer Bruno Jovanovic displays all of that as they capture 1993 Times Square when it wasn’t so tourist friendly. The perfume reflects that hidden jeopardy around every corner, in each dark alley. A perfume of gritty florals, neon lipstick, latex, and leather before sandalwood brings you to safety.

Every independent perfume store is full of perfume different from that available at the mall. The list above is a great place to start but it never hurts to just treat the experience like an advent calendar and open as many flaps as you can.

Happy Holiday shopping to everyone.

Disclosure: All samples were provided by the brands.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ineke Idyllwild- Forget Me Not

The business of being an independent perfumer is not easy. Finding a way to get the word out while simultaneously finding places to sell it; each carrying its own degree of difficulty. Into all that the perfumer must find the space to create. Each of the ones I admire have found their path which works for them. The path Ineke Ruhland has chosen is one of small well-chosen steps. The drawback is when there are years between releases it becomes easy to forget about them. The real risk is when you do return being met with indifference. Ms. Ruhland has returned after a nearly five-year absence with her latest for her eponymous brand; Ineke Idyllwild.

Idyllwild is inspired by a park area within the southern California Mount San Jacinto area. I don’t think I’ve been to Idyllwild but I have been to the surrounding National Parks of Joshua Tree and San Bernadino Forest. These parks are the demarcation between the desert east of them and the coastal environment to the west. This natural border is constructed of tall sentinel pines reaching to the sky. Idyllwild is a fragrance celebrating these conifers.

Ms. Ruhland has made the choice to combine the pine with a fougere accord before allowing tendrils of smoke to rise throughout. It makes Idyllwild a shifting frame of reference which never seems to change gears clumsily as each phase provides something of interest before transitioning to the next.

Ineke Ruhland

Idyllwild begins with the fougere requirement of lavender and citrus. Ms. Ruhland uses grapefruit as the citrus along with the lavender. She then adds a delicate application she calls “rhubarb tea”; it brings an herbal tint to the grapefruit. This then brings the lavender to its herbal side. At this point a raw green cardamom becomes the entry point for the pine. This is one of the best uses of this more primitive version of cardamom because the citrus nuances of its more refined versions are still present with an almost sticky verdancy. That stickiness stands in for the pine sap as a distillation of pine needles takes over. Crisp sharp terpenes in all their glory sing out. As the top accord fades into the pine forest there is a balanced moment that was pure bliss for me as it all found a precise synergy. Now Ms. Ruhland lights her campfire. In less accomplished hands we would be clobbered by cade oil which would obliterate everything. Ms. Ruhland is not that kind of perfumer so she works for a more delicate effect. By using cypriol and oud she forms a transparent oud accord through which she threads sagebrush. This is not a cloud of smoke it is spirals rising to the stars above in fragrant swirling columns in betwixt the pine not over the top of it. The final transition is to a mixture of musks both the expansive white kind to represent the outdoors balanced with the skin-type versions to capture the person watching the fire burn.

Idyllwild has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I had been missing Ms. Ruhland’s style of perfumery I resorted to writing about one of her earlier creations in my Under the Radar column. I was waiting patiently to be able to write something with “new perfume review” in the header. Idyllwild has satisfied that desire in bravura fashion. I’m not sure if I’ve been missing her or having something new but Idyllwild is so pleasing to me on many levels. If people had forgotten about Ms. Ruhland Idyllwild is a potent “forget me not”.

Disclosure: this review was based upon a sample provided by Ineke Parfumeur.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Pitti Fragranze 2015 Final Wrap-Up Part 2- The Top 10 New Fragrances I Tried

I spent three days at Pitti Fragranze 2015 trying 96 new perfumes. It turns out it is very difficult to reduce that list down to ten. A year ago it felt like there were many brands vying for the same bit of olfactory space. This year as I look over the list below I am really pleased to see no obvious thread of similarity running through it. Here are the typical caveats for this list. These are all initial impressions obtained from a small patch of skin during three days where there is nothing but perfume in the air. Also these are the Top 10 which are new to me. Releases like Arquiste Nanban would have made the list but I had it before coming to Florence. I also did not mention Pitti-only perfumes like Pierre Guillaume’s Lumiere Fauve which would have also been on this list. Here is the list in alphabetical order:

ALTAIA Yu Son– Married creative directors and owners of Eau D’Italie Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena did some ancestral research and found their great great great grandfathers intersected in Argentina. It has produced an inaugural edition of three new fragrances all by perfumer Daphne Bugey. Yu Son is the orange-centric fragrance that cuts right to the heart of their story.

Essenzialmente Laura Lavanda- Perfumer Laura Tonatto has debuted a new line of fragrance with 39(!) new entries. It is overwhelming but buried within all of that new perfume is a trio of lavender fragrances which deserve to rise above the clutter. The best of them is the simplest as Sig.ra Tonatto combines five sources of lavender to create a supernatural lavender accord.

Ineke Idyllwild– Independent perfumer Ineke Ruhland had been focused on her Floral Curiosities collection over the past couple of years and her alphabet series had fallen behind. Ms. Ruhland is about to rectify that oversight with not only I but J coming out in short order. It was Idyllwild which completely mesmerized me. Ms. Ruhland took me through the building blocks which make up this gorgeous smoky rose. It left me more impressed than ever at her ability to construct a perfume.

mcg elephant and roses

Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses– Sig.ra Gentile was daydreaming at her home and she imagined an elephant walking through a field of roses crushing them as it passed. Her translation into a fragrance was to merge the animalic odor of the elephant with the floralcy of the rose. She chose a Turkish rose so that the spicy components would pick up the animalic accord it was paired with. Now when wearing it I see the pachyderm amongst the petals.

Masque Milano Romanza– Creative directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi have reached the act of their olfactory opera where the love story is told. Nose Cristiano Canali and the creative team decided on narcissus as the smell of passionate love. Romanza is a narcotic love poem written in bold floral strokes. I broke my first vial and my bedroom was filled with this narcissus swaddling me in its addictive embrace. I never slept so well.

Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendre– This was hands down the most buzzed about perfume at this year’s fair. Knowing nods were traded by those of us who had tried it. Ms. Goodsir and her creative partner Renaud Coutadier working with perfumer Julien Rasquinet created a green iris which never turns powdery on my skin. I already cannot get it out of my head and have been wearing it since my return. It is everything about perfume that I love; creativity, a twist on the familiar, and something eminently wearable.

Nomenclature Efflor_esce– I admit any perfume based on synthetic molecules and packaged in stylized Erlenmyer flasks is always going to have my attention. Creative directors Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero working with perfumer Frank Voelkl take the synthetic Paradisone, a modern successor to Hedione, and put it at the center of Efflor_esce. Surrounding it are florals osmanthus, tuberose, and neroli paired with bigarade and bergamot. Paradisone is the unquestioned star of the show but the complementary notes chosen by the creative team make it sparkle and shine.

olfactive studio selfie

Olfactive Studio Selfie– Creative director Celine Verleure usually uses a photograph as her brief. For Selfie you are faced with a mirrored surface to see your reflection within. To capture the narcissistic tendency to take one’s picture all the time Mme Verleure turned to perfumer Thomas Fontaine. Together the perfume they created has a fantastically realized heart of cinnamon, balsam, lily and an accord of maple syrup. I am not sure I get the relationship to egotism but I do know I definitely want to see my reflection in a bottle.

Olivier Durbano Chrysolithe- I mentioned this last year that M. Durbano really has grown as a perfumer. Chrysolithe confirms that assessment. M. Durbano returns to naming his fragrances after crystals. There were a number of perfumes I tried this year which contained sage. M. Durbano, by combining it with cumin on top; cedar and vetiver in the base, forms a sage which shows off all of its many attributes spectacularly.

Tauerville Rose FlashAndy Tauer working on his second line of perfumes has created a set of three flash fragrances that are all extremely good. I purposely held off trying these because I knew I could experience them for the first time with Hr. Tauer at Pitti. We saved Rose Flash for last and it just slayed me. If you like Une Rose Chypree this is Hr. Tauer showing you a different face of rose. It carries a definitive signature of the rose bush with the green of the leaves matched with the woodiness of the stems. Over it all a spicy lush rose prevails. There is nothing not to enjoy here if you like rose perfumes. Just make sure you get some before it is gone.  

That’s it for my wrap-up of Pitti Fragranze 2015. Full reviews of all of these will be forthcoming over the next few weeks plus many others which just missed making the Top 10. Thanks for following the coverage of Pitti Fragranze 2015 on Colognoisseur.

Mark Behnke