New Perfume Review Coolife Le Sixieme Parfum- Inward Iris

There are times when a new perfume brand arrives and it fails to make an impression on me. Over the first three releases of the brand Coolife this was my experience. Founders and creative directors Carole Beaupre and Pauline Rochas, working with perfumer Patricia Choux, made some workmanlike well-made fragrances which failed to stand out from the crowd. This initial collection is based on The Seven Chakras with one release for each Chakra. It wasn’t until the fourth release, Le Quatrieme Parfum, where their inspiration and the fragrance began to connect with me. Now we are up to the latest release, Le Sixieme Parfum, which repeated the overall experience the creators were going for.

Carole Beaupre and Pauline Rochas

The Chakra inspiration for Le Sixieme Parfum is Ajna, which “allows us to access the inner guidance which springs from the depths of our being.” I take it as that ability to look inward to find some serenity. Perfume has always been a large part of that process for me so a perfume which would enhance that form of meditation could be great. For this perfume, perfumer Luca Maffei was asked to compose this contemplative fragrance.

Luca Maffei

Sig. Maffei chose a fabulously opulent orris concrete as the key note. The best orris versions recall the fact that the fragrance is extracted from the roots and not the flowers. It can make it much less powdery than other iris fragrances while literally grounding it with the earth these roots rest in. This is the material at the heart of Le Sixieme Parfum acting as a fragrant focal point.

Le Sixieme Parfum opens with pink pepper. In this case Sig. Maffei enhances the herbal nature of this ingredient providing a citrus contrast with lemon to uplift the pink pepper somewhat. Then the orris concrete comes forward. As I mentioned above this has a different quality than the typical powdery versions more commonly encountered. The partner Sig. Maffei uses for this is an equally rich osmanthus. Early on the apricot nature of osmanthus makes this a bit of a dried fruit and root accord. Then over time the leathery nature comes forward which really enhances that rootiness. The osmanthus’ dual nature makes it an ideal companion because both sides of its nature work flawlessly with this version of orris. As Sig. Maffei moves into the base the botanical leather of osamnthus evolves into a full on soft leather accord. Concurrently patchouli in its darker earthier form also carries the orris forward into the base where a clean woody frame of cedar and musks complete this.

Le Sixieme Parfum has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

In choosing Sig. Maffei to formulate Le Sixieme Parfum I think he was an inspired choice for a “Third Eye Chakra” because he is one of the more instinctual perfumers working. He is one who I think relies on his sense of what feels right to him. It is probably one of the reasons he has stood out among this next generation of perfumers. In Le Sixieme Parfum he has created an iris which asks you to look deeply inward where you will find that fragrance can unlock your third eye.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Osswald NYC.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur 2017 Hopes and Wishes

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As we put 2016 to bed it is time to look forward to 2017. I like to end every year with some things I am anticipating and/or hoping for to happen in the next twelve months.

C'mon Vero, Pretty Please?

A new perfume from Vero Kern. It has almost been three years since the release of Rozy. Vero has teased us a little bit that the next one is going to be a tobacco focused fragrance. I know it will come out when she feels it is ready but my inner five-year old is getting ready to wail if I lead off this piece in twelve months with the same wish.

I would like new brands to put fragrance over marketing. I went back and looked; 2016 was no worse for the number of brand debuts sporting upwards of six perfumes. What did seem to be worse was the pricing for perfumes where the money did not seem to be in the bottle. Please if you’re a brand-new brand focus on the perfume; make it great. Try and only do three or four perfumes. Don’t rush to the market.

Le Labo Counter at Tyson's Corner Mall in Virginia

More Le Labo, more places. There was a lot of worry over Estee Lauder’s acquisition of Le Labo. One of the things I have thought is necessary for niche perfume to really expand is more access. In my local mall, they installed a Le Labo counter in the local Nordstrom’s. When it first opened in April it was busy on every visit but nothing like it was on my Holiday visit. Le Labo is one of the exemplars of what it means to be a niche perfume. Estee Lauder taking it to the mall shows that consumers will gravitate to quality if it is right in front of them. I am hoping that this will be rolled out across the country in places where niche is not readily available.

I want a masterpiece from Perfumers: The Next Generation…all of them. Quentin Bisch, Cristiano Canali, Luca Maffei, Julien Rasquinet, and Cecile Zarokian are this set of next generation perfumers I think of as the next set of rule-breakers. They have all consistently stepped up their game over the last couple of years. I want 2017 to have a release from each of them that makes my choice for Perfume of the Year the most difficult it has ever been. Make it so!

I hope we found the ceiling. For the first time since I’ve been writing about perfume the number of new releases were about the same in 2016 as they were in 2015. I always believed there was a number where the market could not continue to expand beyond. 2017, if it stays about the same, can be the third data point which confirms this.

Can this Spring be about something other than rose? The last two years I have been buried by fresh clean rose perfumes for Spring. I can hope that maybe a new floral can take center stage. Jasmine, perhaps?

On this final day of 2016 I want to wish every single reader the Happiest and Healthiest of New Years. Colognoisseur has grown beyond the goals I set for myself back when I started almost three years ago. For that I must thank everyone who spends a couple minutes here reading my writing. I hope 2017 brings us even more perfumed joy.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur 2016 Year-End Review Part 2- Perfume, Perfumer, Creative Director, & Brand of the Year

As I mentioned in Part 1 2016 is the beginning of a generational shift in perfumery. The winners I am going to highlight next are all emblematic of that kind of change.

Perfume of the Year: Masque Milano L’Attesa– One of the emerging initiatives over the course of 2016 has been the confidence owners and creative directors have placed in young perfumers. For a brand, it is safer to round up one of the more established names. It takes a bit of faith to place the success of your business in the hands of an emerging artist. The team behind Masque Milano, Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi, have taken on this philosophy wholeheartedly. Particularly over the last four releases since 2013; Tango by Cecile Zarokian, Russian Tea by Julien Rasquinet, and Romanza by Cristiano Canali, began the trend. This year’s release L’Attesa by Luca Maffei took it to a new level.

Riccardo Tedeschi, Luca Maffei, and Alessandro Brun (l. to r.)

I spent time with the creative team when they unveiled L’Attesa at Esxence 2016. I think when you do something creative you have a sense when you have done great work. That day in Milan all three men radiated that kind of confidence; with good reason. Sig. Maffei would combine three sources of iris to provide a strong core of the central note. Early on there is a champagne accord that is not meant to be the bubbly final product but the yeasty fermentation stage. It turns the powdery iris less elegant but more compelling for its difference. Through a white flower heart to a leathery finish L’Attesa is as good as it gets.

Cecile Zarokian with Puredistance Sheiduna

Perfumer of the Year: Cecile Zarokian– Majda Bekkali Mon Nom est Rouge, in 2012, was the first perfume by Cecile Zarokian which made me think she was something special. Over the years since then she has done some spectacular work but 2016 was an exceptional year. Mme Zarokian produced thirteen new releases for seven different brands. I chose her because of the breadth of the work she turned in over the year. I am reasonably certain that this kind of output has rarely been matched. The pinnacle of this group was her re-formulation of Faths Essentials Green Water. Mme Zarokian accomplished the near impossible by formulating a 2016 version which is as good as the original. She did this because she understood what made the original was its ridiculous concentration of neroli oil. She convinced creative director Rania Naim to spend the money for this now precious material to be replicated in the same concentration. This made Green Water amazingly true to its name.

She would recreate a Persian feast in Parfums MDCI Fetes Persanes. Picking up on some of the same themes she would infuse some of the gourmand elements into a rich oud in Making of Cannes Magie du Desert.  She modernized the oud in Hayari New Oud. In Uer Mi OR+Cashmere she creates a hazelnut rum cocktail. Laboratorio Olfattivo Nerotic goes for a more narcotic effect. Finally working with creative director Jan Ewoud Vos they conspired to reinterpret the Oriental creating a contemporary version in Puredistance Sheiduna.

Every perfume she made this year was worth smelling. As this next generation of perfumers moves into the next phase Mme Zarokian is going to be right there in the front pushing perfumery forward. For this joie de vivre about perfumery Cecile Zarokian is my Perfumer of the Year.

Runner-Ups: Luca Maffei, Quentin Bisch, Christine Nagel, Jerome Epinette, Rodrigo Flores-Roux, and Antonio Gardoni.

Creative Director of the Year: Victor Wong of Zoologist Perfumes- For the ten years plus I’ve been writing about perfume I have chanted a single mantra; embrace difference, don’t play it safe, stake out an artistic vision and stick with it. There are way too few who embrace this. Because it isn’t easy there is a graveyard of some who tried and failed. All of which makes what Victor Wong has been doing with his brand Zoologist Perfumes more admirable. Two years ago, he started Zoologist Perfumes making the transition from enthusiast to owner/creative director. He wanted to work with some of the most talented artisanal perfumers to produce his perfumes. What is so refreshing about this approach is he has been working with many of the most recognizable artisans providing them outside creative direction for one of the few times. What it has elicited from these perfumers is often among the best work they have produced. For the three 2016 releases Bat with Ellen Covey, Macaque with Sarah McCartney, and Nightingale with Tomoo Inaba this has been particularly true. Bat is one of the perfumes which was in the running for my Perfume of the Year. Macaque and Nightingale do not play it safe in any way. This makes for a perfume brand which does not look for the lowest common denominator but asks if there is something more beautiful in unfettered collaboration. For Victor Wong and Zoologist Perfumes 2016 answers this with a resounding yes which is why he is my choice for Creative Director of the Year.

Runner-Ups: Jan Ahlgren (Vilhelm Parfumerie), Ben Gorham (Byredo), Roberto Drago (Laboratorio Olfattivo), and Carlos Huber (Arquiste).

Brand of the Year: Hermes– In 2003 Hermes in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena would begin his tenure. Over the next thirteen years his overall collection for the brand has defined a modern aesthetic which now has become synonymous with the brand as much as silk scarves and fine leather goods. When it was announced two years ago, Christine Nagel would begin the transition to becoming the new in-house perfumer there was some concern. I was not one of those who had any worries. Mme Nagel felt like a natural evolution from M. Ellena. 2016 proved my surmise to be true as M. Ellena released his presumed final two fragrances for the brand, Eau de Neroli Dore and Hermessence Muguet Porcelaine while Mme Nagel released her first two, Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate and Galop D’Hermes. The passing of the torch could not have gone smoother. Hermes is in great hands as the next generation takes over. That this was accomplished so beautifully effortless is why Hermes is my Brand of the Year.

Runner-Ups: Byredo, Vilhelm Parfumerie, Tauer Perfumes/Tauerville, and Zoologist Perfumes.

Part 1 was my broad overview of the year yesterday.

Part 3 tomorrow will be my Top 25 new perfumes of 2016.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur 2016 Year-End Review Part 1- Overview

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2016 will probably go down as a pivotal year in the perfume business. As an observer of much of the field this year I have seen change in almost every place I can see. Which leads me to believe it is also taking place behind the scenes where I am not able to know the entire story. Change like this can be unsettling which has made for some worrying trends but overall I think it has contributed to another excellent year. I smelled a little less this year than last year; 680 new perfumes versus 2015’s 686. Surprisingly the amount of new releases has also plateaued with 1566 new releases in 2016 versus 1676 last year. Maybe we have defined the amount of new perfume the market can bear. Over the next three days I will share my thoughts on the year coming to an end.

We are told in Ecclesiastes, or by The Byrds if you prefer; “To every thing there is a season” and so it is in perfume as the season of the Baby Boomers has ended and the Millennials have taken over. This younger generation is now larger, has more discretionary income, and is spending more on perfume than the Boomers are per multiple sources. While the public at large was made aware of it this year the industry could see the change coming a year, or more, prior. What that meant for 2016 as far as fragrance went was every corporate perfume entity was on a fishing expedition to see if they could be the one who lured this group of consumers towards them. The drive for this is huge because lifelong brand loyalties can be formed right now within this group. Certainly, the enduring trends of the next few years in fragrance will be determined by where they spend their money. All of that has made 2016 fascinating because at the end of the year that answer is no clearer than it was at the beginning. The prevailing themes, based on what was provided to them, is they want lighter in sillage and aesthetic, gourmand, and different. That last category is the ephemeral key I think. The brand which can find them in the place where they Periscope, Snapchat, and Instagram is going to have an advantage.

Christine Nagel (l.) and Olivier Polge

There was also generational change taking place at two of the most prestigious perfume brands, Hermes and Chanel. The new in-house perfumers for both took full control in 2016. Christine Nagel released Hermes Eau du Rhubarbe Ecarlate and Galop D’Hermes. Olivier Polge released Chanel Boy and Chanel No. 5 L’Eau. This shows both talented artists know how to take an existing brand aesthetic and make it their own.

Cecile Zarokian, Quentin Bisch, Luca Maffei (l. to r.)

The next generation of perfumers exemplified by Cecile Zarokian, Quentin Bisch, and Luca Maffei loomed large this year. Mme Zarokian did thirteen new releases in 2016 all of them distinctively delightful from the re-formulation of Faths Essentials Green Water to the contemporary Oriental Puredistance Sheiduna. M. Bisch brilliantly reinvented one of the masterpieces of perfume in Thierry Mugler Angel Muse. Sig. Maffei released ten new fragrances with Masque Milano L’Attesa, Laboratorio Olfattivo MyLO, and Jul et Mad Secrets du Paradis Rouge showcasing his range. 

There were also fascinating collaborations this year. Antonio Gardoni and Bruno Fazzolari contributed Cadavre Exquis an off-beat gourmand. Josh Meyer and Sam Rader conspired to create a Northern California Holiday bonfire in Dasein Winter Nights. Victor Wong the owner and creative director of Zoologist Perfumes was able to get the most out of independent perfumers like Ellen Covey in Bat and Sarah McCartney in Macaque.

Some of the independent perfumers I look to surprisingly released perfumes which did not please me. Thankfully there were new ones who stepped up to fill in the gap. Lesli Wood Peterson of La Curie, Ludmila and Antoine Bitar of Ideo Parfumeurs, and Eugene & Emrys Au of Auphorie did that. Chritsti Meshell of House of Matriarch made an ambitious economic move into Nordstrom while producing two of my favorites from her in Albatross and Kazimi.

The mainstream sector had another strong year as the mall continues to have diamonds hidden amongst the dross. In 2016 that meant Elizabeth & James Nirvana Bourbon, Alford & Hoff No. 3, SJP Stash, Prada Infusion de Mimosa, Thierry Mugler Angel Muse, and Chanel No. 5 L’Eau were there to be found.

If the beginning of the year was all about rose the overall year was a renaissance for neroli perfumes. Jean-Claude Ellena’s swan song for Hermes; Eau de Neroli Dore. The afore mentioned Green Water along with Jo Malone Basil & Neroli and Hiram Green Dilettante showed the versatility of the note.

The acquisition of niche brands continued with Estee Lauder buying By Kilian and L’Oreal doing the same with Atelier Cologne. The acquisitions of Frederic Malle and Le Labo, two years ago, seem to have been positive steps for both brands. Especially seeing Le Labo in my local mall getting such a positive reception made me believe that if the good niche brands can become more available the consumer will appreciate the difference.

Tomorrow I will name my Perfume, Perfumer, Creative Director, and Brand of the Year

The next day I will reveal my Top 25 New Releases of 2016.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jul et Mad Secrets du Paradis Rouge- The Red Honeymoon

When I travel to a new country there is that moment on the first morning where all the new stimuli can become overwhelming for a short period. Eventually I sort it all out and begin to explore; settling in to the rhythm of the new vistas. When this experience is combined with a honeymoon it intensifies everything as these feelings are now doubled. The founders and creative directors of Jul et Mad, Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica-Blanchard have been telling the story of their relationship through their perfumes. A little over two years ago Aqua Sextius represented their wedding day. The new release Secrets du Paradis Rouge picks up the story with their honeymoon to Marrakech.

Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica-Blanchard

To compose the perfume M. Blanchard and Mme Stoica-Blanchard chose to work again with perfumer Luca Maffei. Sig. Maffei did two of the three perfumes in last year’s Les Whites collection with Nea winning a 2016 Art & Olfaction Award in the Independent Category.

For Secrets du Paradis Rouge Sig. Maffei was tasked with composing a perfume which captured the Red City and the newlyweds coming together. The choice was in the very early moments to do in a perfumed way what I described in the previous paragraph; start out fast and furious right on the edge of overload. Then pull it back as the lovers find they are falling in love with a city as they settle into their new lives.

Luca Maffei

Secrets du Paradis Rouge opens with a very green Moroccan Neroli which if Sig. Maffei had let it be the only note in the opening would have been beautiful. Except this is all about saturated senses and so here comes clove, orange, davana, almond, and honey. This arrives in an exhilarating rush which might make you think the rest of the perfume is going to be as concentrated. Now Sig. Maffei peels back many of those opening notes as a Turkish rose forms the center of the heart. The honey takes on a more prominent role along with the orange but not the pulp but the greener nature of the rind. The base accord becomes cozy as patchouli, amber, musk, and benzoin form a softer Oriental accord than usual. The final moments are a sweet kiss of vanilla over the traditional base accord.

Secrets du Paradis Rouge has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

When I first smelled the opening on a strip I was unsure about Secrets du Paradis Rouge. Once I got down to wearing it that opening works amazingly well on my skin. Over the rest of the day as the perfume settles into its quieter more studied phase it really takes off. It is a real perfumed journey which has a definitive beginning, middle, and end. I like this as much as I like Nea which should tell you how much I like it. I need a little more time with it to know if it is my favorite but it surely is in the conversation. The Red Honeymoon has carried me away.

Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample provided by Jul et Mad.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Laboratorio Olfattivo Nun- Egyptian Summer

Now that the calendar tells me we have moved into autumn I look forward to that last gasp of warmth we call Indian Summer. Usually in the first few days of October after we have had some cold days and nights the weather provides a streak of a few days in a row where the temperature rises back up to near summertime levels. It is always an interesting confluence as the sun strikes down through the leaves changing color on the trees. Instead of running on the beach in shorts I shuffle through fallen leaves. It isn’t really summer and it surely is fall but they co-exist for a few days. Perfume tends to get shuffled into categories based on what I would wear based on the temperature outside. When I received the new Laboratorio Olfattivo Nun I found it to be a perfume which also wanted to live in those in-between times, too.

Owner/ Creative Director Roberto Drago works again with perfumer Luca Maffei on Nun. Their inspiration is not Catholic sisters. Instead it is the Egyptian word which refers to primordial water. The mythology says this water gave birth to the lotus. Sigs. Drago and Maffei wanted to make a perfume which celebrated the lotus and its cycle of sleeping at night only to open at the touch of the sun in the morning. Nun does capture the lotus but it is the inclusion of fantastically rich pear which makes Nun something different.

luca-maffei-and-roberto-drago

Luca Maffei (l.) and Roberto Drago

Nun opens with a flash of citrus from both lemon and bergamot. Next comes the pear. This is not that crisp pear that so often shows up in many fragrances. Sig. Maffei has fashioned a pear which is almost overripe. It carries a lactonic undertone making the fruit softer, lusher. Then floating on top is the white lotus which seems to enter on tip-toe. It becomes more defined by jasmine and ylang-ylang. What I like is that instead of being this meditative single bloom floating on a pool of still water. This heart accord is more akin to the lotus bursting open right as the rays of the sun touch it releasing all of the pent up scent in a kinetic burst. At the end there is a bit of an inspirational air as a grouping of lighter synthetic woods and white musks form the basenotes.

Nun has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

For all that this should be a watery summer perfume it really captures my ideal of Indian Summer. The bright notes within Nun are also matched by deeper richer counterparts. Taken together it creates a hybrid which I might think of as Egyptian Summer.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Laboratorio Olfattivo.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Laboratorio Olfattivo MyLO- An O’Keeffe Lily

Lily focused perfumes have always been a problem for me. If you smell a living lily it is a wonderfully complex smell coming from the bloom. Too many perfumes go for a stripped down version which becomes a washed out version of the real thing more appropriate for the funeral home. This has become so common my eye probably begins to twitch when I start reading a description of a new lily perfume. So it was when I received the press release in advance of the new Laboratorio Olfattivo MyLO.

roberto drago 1

Roberto Drago

As I waited for the perfume to catch up to the e-mailed press release I thought that Laboratorio Olfattivo creative director Roberto Drago is not one to follow the crowd. If there is a trademark to Laboratorio Olfattivo it is that Sig. Drago asks some of the best young perfumers to work with him. This more often than not provides a fragrance that takes risks. One thing that had me excited to try MyLo was the perfumer Sig. Drago asked to compose it, Luca Maffei. Sig. Maffei has had an incredibly creative 18 months impressing me at nearly every turn. I should have been aloft with anticipation instead my eye was twitching.

Luca-Maffei-300x168

Luca Maffei

The press release told me that the name came from Sig. Drago calling the fragrance My Laboratorio Olfattivo which was shortened to MyLO. I have had the opportunity to meet Sig. Maffei quite a bit over the last year. One quality that I like is he becomes quite passionate about the perfumes he makes. Every creative director who works with him comments on his drive to produce something special. Sig. Maffei leaps fearlessly into his designs.

two-calla-lily-on-pink okeefe 1928

Two Calla Lily on Pink (1928) by Georgia O'Keeffe

When I finally smelled MyLO I was more than pleased, I was amazed. When it comes to lilies my frame of reference isn’t the chill of the funeral parlor. It is the deep colors and lines of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings of calla lilies. When I would stand in front of these in a museum I didn’t smell the wan polite lily. I would smell a lily holding the natural spice of the pollen on its pistil thrusting out from the middle of the petals. The creamy lines of those petals on the canvas don’t smell polite they promise carnality. Sig. Maffei does this with MyLO.

The early going of MyLO is pretty standard citrus and baie rose. This has become the opening to so many perfumes lately the first moments were not promising. The floral heart warms things up. The lily is there fairly quickly rising from out of the citrus. It is beautifully demure until Sig. Maffei uses three other floral notes to create something much more realistic. An indolic jasmine adds a bit of an animalic growl to things. A spicy rose provides the natural spice that the pollen of the real thing provides. Finally, a fully powdery orris acts as if that pollen has transformed to a sweet cloud. This floral accord is so accomplished and balanced. On the days I wore MyLO it was so good I stopped often throughout the day to enjoy it. In the base Sig. Maffei uses benzoin and vanilla to give a sweetly resinous foundation.

MyLO has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

MyLO is immediately one of my favorite lily perfumes. There are so few perfumes which embrace the spicy sexy quality of lily that MyLO stands out for that reason. This goes with Daimiris and Kashnoir as the best this very good brand has produced. If you are tired of cleaned up near-sterile lilies MyLO will offer a different perspective.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Laboratorio Olfattivo.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Masque Milano L’Attesa- The Long-Tailed Iris

One of the most exciting trends at Esxence 2016 was the work from the younger generation of perfumers. For any art form to remain vital there needs to be a steady flow of new visions from younger frames of reference. This has led to each of these perfumers finding their own stylistic method. With perfumer Luca Maffei I am beginning to believe he has a desire to source new raw materials and use them. He is like a painter given a new color to work with as he realizes where it might fit. In his first perfume for Masque Milano called L’Attesa this shows.

For this latest act of the ongoing perfumed opera creative directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi take us to Act III Scene I. L’Attesa is the beginning of the grand romance which will evolve into Act III Scene IV otherwise known as the previous release Tango. Tango is that moment when the passion spills over. L’Attesa is the time where that passion is born in the intense wash of first love. The concept was to make an iris perfume where the axis of iris would remain throughout the entire development. This is not an easy effect to achieve. It is costly as it takes a lot of expensive iris raw materials. Too much of any one ingredient has the possibility of overwhelming anything else. The solution they hit upon was to use three different sources of iris and to stack them upon each other. This allowed for an evolving iris effect throughout the time I wore L’Attesa emphasizing different parts of iris as a raw material. That is the clever technical effect. Sig. Maffei’s new toy is a CO2 extract of beer. He uses it as the linchpin of a fermenting champagne accord that is an ideal match for the iris in the early stages.

riccardo luca alessandro

Riccardo Tedeschi, Luca Maffei, Alessandro Brun (l. to r.)

L’Attesa opens with the very familiar powdery iris effect bolstered with some neroli. The champagne accord follows right away. When I say champagne accord you’re probably thinking fizzy aldehydes, a bit of alcoholic bite, maybe a little tonka. The finished product. Sig. Maffei instead wanted to capture the champagne at an earlier stage; when it was fermenting. While it was flat, a little sour, and yeasty. If you think that sounds unpleasant you won’t once you try L’Attesa. The beer extract provides the sourness of hops and the bread-like yeastiness. The rest of it is coming up with a flat white grape effect. The fermenting champagne accord turns out to be a compelling partner for the powdery orris. Pulling it in a less pretty direction; no less interesting for that. It then sets up the use of the more precious solid iris extracts in the heart and base. Once you move to something like orris butter the powdery is dialed way down in favor of the root and rhizome orris is actually compounded from. As L’Attesa moves into the heart this earthier iris sets up shop alongside tuberose and ylang ylang. It provides a traditional floral heart, extremely decadent, as these three blustery florals achieve a balance. The base continues the deepening of the earthiness vibe of the iris to which a refined leather accord is added. This is the beginning of the tango as the iris and leather begin to approach each other knowing they are in the early stages of love.

L'Attesa has 12-14 hour longevity with moderate sillage.

I have spent a couple of days just luxuriating in the long-tail iris that is L’Attesa. It is a perfume tailor made for those days when you want to loll around the house. Sig. Brun and Sig. Tedechi are trusting their brand to many of the best young perfumers working. L’Attesa shows that faith has been rewarded again. Sig. Maffei has created a signature perfume which exemplifies all of his best qualities as a perfumer.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from Masque Milano at Esxence 2016.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Gabriella Chiefffo Maisia- Ashy Shadows

One of the most pleasant things about writing about perfume is watching young perfumers grow. Right now in the independent niche sector there is a group of these artists I think of as Young Guns. At this stage of their career they are working with young brands which allow them to think a bit out of the box. Sometimes that thinking can lead to something unfocused. The perfumers I put in this category have all learned from those lesser efforts. Thankfully it doesn’t make them retreat into their shell thinking of playing it safe. What has most often happened is they come back ready to strike out in a new direction.

gabriella chieffo

Gabriella Chieffo

Another component of this is these young brands having a continuing relationship with a perfumer or couple of perfumers. When it comes together both the creative direction and the nose begin to form a working relationship which hopefully leads to something great. At Esxence 2016 one of those moments came to fruition with the release of Gabriella Chieffo Maisia.

maisia image

Gabriella Chieffo started her eponymous brand in 2014 with four releases. She would follow that up with two more the following year. Maisia is the first release for 2016. Through all seven fragrances she has been collaborating with perfumer Luca Maffei. Sig.ra Chieffo has a very distinctive vision which she entrusts Sig. Maffei to realize. Maisia is the first of a new series where Sig.ra Chieffo wants to create perfumes of shadow and light. That is an easy concept to articulate. Difficult to achieve. For Maisia, Sig.ra Chieffo envisioned a young woman accused of being a witch being burned at the stake. The inspiration photograph above is another interesting bit of information for Sig. Maffei to use as he went about composing Maisia.

luca maffei

Luca Maffei

Maisia is simply a fig fragrance with that fruit representing our unjustly accused sorceress. She is singed by the fire of spices. Then in the base she is redeemed as her beauty arises from the ashes as a shadow.

Maisia opens on bright lemon matched with green fig leaves. The fig leaves carry mostly green qualities but underneath it all is a bit of the creaminess of the wood of the tree itself. The lemon provides the last of the light before shadows rise. For the rest of the development the keynote is a slightly overripe fig. Early on it picks up some of the fig leaves. Then a heated spicy accord envelops the fig. It figuratively burns it as the they overwhelm the fig for a bit of time. As the spices recede the fig is left behind, a ghost of itself. Then come the moment where Maisia becomes shadowy. Sig. Maffei uses broom and narcissus to bring back to life the incinerated beauty. The difference is the broom provides a dried out dead grass quality. The narcissus provides a transitional beauty note to go along with what remains of the fig.

Maisia has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you are a fan of fig perfumes Maisia should be on your list to try. The base accord is something unique worth seeing if you like it as much as I do. If you are a fan of precocious young talent and brands Maisia needs to be embraced so more of this kind of perfumery is encouraged. Sig. Maffei has transformed the beauty of fig into ashy shadows. It is a gorgeous trip.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Gabriella Chieffo at Esxence 2016.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Jul et Mad Nea & Garuda- Ascending Star of the Ancients

I think there is no greater pleasure for me than meeting a young perfumer who is just starting to take off. I have written a lot about what I call inflection points in a perfumer’s development. It always seems that there comes a specific year when the journeyman attains a new level of sophistication. When I was at Esxence 2015 I had the opportunity to be with a perfumer who is right at that inflection point and we will look back at 2015 as the year Luca Maffei’s star rose.

While at Esxence I had Sig. Maffei next to me as he presented the two perfumes he had composed for Jul et Mad. In my review of Nin-Shar I wrote of the inspiration of creative directors Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica-Blanchard to evoke specific ancient civilizations in their new Les White collection. They assigned Sig. Maffei two of the three to realize; Nea and Garuda.

Nea was inspired by the Holy Church Nea Ekklesia built during the height of the Byzantine Empire. The word Byzantine when used as an adjective means excessively complicated. In the brief Sig. Maffei received he was asked to create a gourmand oriental. That description almost seems Byzantine in nature. Sig. Maffei avoided those pitfalls by making Nea the antithesis of Byzantine and instead kept it very simple with a straightforward progression that works incredibly well.

The opening part of Nea is deep fruit as Sig. Maffei combines dates, plum, and pomegranate into a kind of subtle opulent fruit accord. The plum is the core of the early going and it form a luscious nucleus for the other two fruit notes to orbit around. The heart is jasmine and rose imposed on top of the fruit. Sig. Maffei manages to tune this at just the right pitch as it never gets too floral or too fruity. Nea heads towards the gourmand in the base notes with a woody intermezzo of patchouli and cashmeran. They have the effect of moving the fruity floral character to the background. This sets up the gourmand finish as Sig. Maffei takes tonka bean, vanilla, and caramel to fashion an edible finish to Nea. Nea has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

luca maffei accepting iao award

Luca Maffei accepting 2015 Art & Olfaction Award

There are times that the imagery provided for a perfume doesn’t resonate for me. As Sig. Maffei spoke to me of the inspiration for Garuda I could instantly feel it in the perfume underneath my nose. Garuda was inspired by Angkor Wat. When Jul et Mad traveled to the ancient site and were in the gallery dedicated to Garuda; the sun was setting and all of the bas-relief pulsed with a golden glow. It is that they wanted Sif. Maffei to re-create. I was told he was so successful at realizing this vision that he got it right in his first mod and it is that formulation which made it in to the bottle.

Sig. Maffei used Cambodian Oud as the heart note upon which he would build this golden glow. The rest of the construction of Garuda is finding a way to encase that oud in a golden glow. The three most prominent notes used to achieve that are saffron, rum, and cashmeran. Those three notes soften the oud and also allow it to warmly radiate with a pleasant thrum over quite a few hours on my skin. It eventually gives way to a very woody base of cedar, vetiver, and the IFF aromachemical Timbersilk. The latter is a tenacious woody synthetic and it lasts for an extremely long time at the end of Garuda. Garuda has overnight longevity although the last few hours is mainly the Timbersilk and it has above average sillage.

Sig. Maffei has crafted two very excellent perfumes which manage to live up to their press release. If I needed any further evidence Sig. Maffei’s star was ascendant he would win an Art & Olfaction Award a few weeks after Esxence for his work with Acca Kappa. I have a feeling one of these new perfumes for Jul et Mad might possibly make him a two-time winner next year.

Disclosure: this review was based on a press sample provided by Jul et Mad during Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke