Back in 2003 there were a great number of people looking to find a way to catch a ride on the rising fragrance tide. One opportunity was for independent brands to provide alternatives to the bigger brands. Randi Shinder was one of those who took the chance on marketing her perfume which evoked the smell of being freshly showered called Clean. Clean was a big success story eventually being picked up by Sephora. Over the next twelve years the brand would make many, many variations on fragrances which matched the name on the bottle. These were perfumes for people who wanted fragrance on the down low; unobtrusive and unchallenging. Then in 2015 Ms. Shinder decided she wanted to try something different and the Clean Reserve collection was born. Over that first year there were nine Clean Reserve releases and I could feel the creative team looking to diverge from the long-time Clean fragrance formula. There seemed to me to be a hesitation to really embrace the change. Of those 2015 releases, there was always a part of the development where it would touch base with the brand DNA. There was one, Smoked Vetiver, where it tried with a very warm base of myrrh, vetiver, and amber that came close but the early moments were crisp citrus and cotton accords. At the end of 2016 two more were added to the Clean Reserve line and this time Sel Santal managed to finally break away.
One thing about the Clean Reserve collection is they are working with some excellent perfumers. For Sel Santal, Patricia Choux was the perfumer. Mme Choux was very familiar with the brand having made three previous Clean fragrances. Sel Santal is the most different perfume that has ever had Clean on the bottle. It is a gourmand heart over an Oriental base. On the bottle it calls itself a “Green Oriental”. Not sure where the green comes from because it isn’t particularly green.
Sel Santal opens on a rich nutmeg paired with mandarin leaves. The latter is the only green in the entire perfume and it is more used as a contrast to the nutmeg than a primary focal point. The heart of Sel Santal is where this gets different as hazelnut and fig combine into a ripe fig coated in Nutella. A sugared violet along with iris provide lovely floral shading. The one thing which is true to the Clean brand is even though this might sound heavy Mme Choux keeps it much lighter than that set of notes might sound like. This goes to a sandalwood base where amber, styrax, and musk complete the Oriental base accord.
Sel Santal has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
There is a place for traditionally heavy genres to be made lighter, less intrusive. In other words if Clean Reserve can Clean them up there is the early building blocks of a collection which can fill a spot in the fragrance counter spectrum. Sel Santal is a great start towards that.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Sephora.
I started the final day of Cosmoprof North America 2016 learning about the new brand i smell great. Co-founded by Randi Shinder of Clean and actress Sophia Bush. i smell great is a full-service beauty line but it was the fragrance part I was most interested in. They currently have four releases; Angel Cake, Wild Honey, Candy Crush, and Beach Babe. It is a line with Millennials in mind. They have dedicated social media channels for users to post what they’re wearing and layering daily. Ms. Bush also joins in with her scent of the day. The first three are all variations on sweetness with Wild Honey having the most balanced approach. Beach Babe is an outlier for its suntan lotion and ocean vibe. The other interesting thing is the perfume is formulated in micro encapsulated spheres which over the course of the day open up as you apply friction to where you applied. I put some on today and found I would get a surprising boost of scent throughout the day. I also got a kick how my scent strips from the morning turned in to scratch and sniff by the evening. This is another one of those Millennial targeted fragrances which I will be following.
It was great to have the opportunity to reconnect with Mark Crames of Demeter. I have always admired his straightforward sensibility when it comes to making perfume. Oh and he also has a lot of fun at the same time. Mr. Crames gave me a preview of something that will be a bit of a new direction for Demeter. In time for the Holidays they will release a Zodiac collection. One perfume for each of the astrological signs. The fun part is those signs which are supposed to be attracted to each other have been formulated so they can be ideally layered. Brings a whole new twist to the old pick-up line, “What’s your sign?”
Myself and the Karens of Sniffapalooza
My last two stops were to acquaint myself with two fragrance collections; one new and one which has been around for a few years.
Parfums Berdoues is the one which has been around. I had tried their original 1902 collection of which the Violet is still a favorite. Over the years they just sort of drifted away from my awareness. Jose Penalba of Amerikas brought me up to date. Starting last year Berdoues released a six fragrance collection which has a new entry Vanira Moorea. They also did a three fragrance Grand Cru collection focused on oud. My favorite of that line was the Oud Wa Misk. The brand has evolved significantly from the last time I checked in. The new direction and perfumes are worth taking a look at if you also let Berdoues fall off your radar.
Then new line is called Paglieri 1876 and will be launched in the fall. An Italian line Working with perfumers Henri Bergia and Eric Fracapane. Each of the first six releases is inspired by a city in Italy. Each bottle has a laser etched colorful logo to also go along with the fragrance to identify its city. It is a well-balanced collection which I enjoyed but the one which stood out for me was Romae based on Rome. It had a wonderfully sophisticated spicy core sweetened with rose and vanilla.
I had a fabulous time in Vegas covering Cosmoprof North America 2016.
For the last time Colognoisseur has left the building.