New Perfume Review Nest Cocoa Woods- Pleasant Surprise

It always happens I get a new release that seems like it would be better in a different season than when I received it. It makes it challenging for me to assess it because I always wonder if it will get better in the season it seems made for. This was my mindset when I received my sample of Nest Cocoa Woods. Everything in the press release made me think cold-weather perfume. Except as I wore it in the withering heat of a Maryland summer it was also pretty good right now.

Laura Slatkin

Creative Director-Owner of Nest Fragrances Laura Slatkin has quietly produced a nice collection of simple perfumes. Cocoa Woods is the twelfth release for the brand. She collaborates with perfumer Jerome Epinette. If there is one thing I like about the brand is the names are accurately descriptive. If it says Cocoa Woods I’m going to be getting some cocoa and some woods; which I do. What I like here is that it is cocoa and not chocolate which is what makes it more amenable to wear in the warmer temperatures.

Jerome Epinette

M. Epinette opens with that cocoa in place. What makes it difference is this smells like the Dutch-processed cocoa powder I bake with. It is kind of dusty but still has a strong presence of chocolate without becoming viscous. It is provided some zingy energy via tiare flower and ginger in the early moments. They only make a fleeting appearance before the woods come forward. M. Epinette uses sandalwood and sequoia. It is a nice combination because the rougher-edged sequoia provides some texture to the smoother sandalwood. In the same way that I described the cocoa they provide an austere woody accord which matches the cocoa. Once the full accord comes together I kept thinking of a serving board made up of alternating strips of sequoia and sandalwood liberally coated in cocoa powder.

Cocoa Woods has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

It is this spare style M. Epinette uses for Cocoa Woods that makes this wearable in the summer. I was worried that the cocoa would become problematic later in the day but that never happened. Once it was in place it was a delightful companion both hot days I wore it. I’m still going to give it a spin once there’s some frost on the pumpkin. That I’ve enjoyed it in the season its probably not ideal for means it is more versatile than I first thought. It was a pleasant surprise.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tory Burch Just Like Heaven- Putting My Inner Snob in Time Out

I am a horrible perfume snob; I admit it. Especially when it comes to mainstream releases. There are brands which I know can break out of the ocean of mediocrity that exists in this sector. I was on a recent trip to the mall to pick up samples of things to try from those. I have come to trust the different people I associate with to acquire my samples one of them asked me if I had tried the new Tory Burch. I must have made a face because without saying a word she said, “I’ll take that as a no.” She then followed up with “I think its pretty good probably the best of the tory Burch perfumes.” The snob was in full obsequious mode in my head, “Oh wow the best of Troy Burch perfume it must be faaaantastic….not!” This time I kept a better poker face as she handed me the blotter. Then I sniffed it and the snob in my head was being told to sit down and be quiet for a while.

Alexis Dadier

If I had to give a short description to the previous nine Tory Burch perfume releases since 2013 it would be “fresh florals”. Sometimes there was some fruit for “fresh fruity florals” but it was consistent. It has always felt like a missed opportunity since the fragrance part of the brand has been under the creative direction of Karyn Khoury since it started. But there has been kind of creeping sameness about the output. What sets Tory Burch Just Like Heaven apart is it has an off-kilter green around a single floral. Perfumer Alexis Dadier was seemingly given some latitude to color outside the lines of the previous Tory Burch aesthetic.

It shows right away with rhubarb the core of the top accord. Rhubarb has been used more lately for the vegetal green paired with a kind of grapefruit character. M. Dadier uses petitgrain to focus the citrus part of the rhubarb and mandarin to provide a bit of juicy sweetness in contrast. The keynote floral is heliotrope which is given some depth by ylang-ylang and hyacinth. M. Dadier uses the hyacinth as the “fresh” component so as not to scare off previous Tory Burch enthusiasts. But then he threads the peppery earthy angelica root through the florals extending the effect of the rhubarb from the top accord. To provide a comforting finish, tonka and ambrox give a sweet woody hug.

Just Like Heaven has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Just Like Heaven should be a nice addition to someone’s summer floral rotation. If you’re having trouble trying a Tory Burch fragrance just do like I did and put your inner perfume snob in time out. I think he might be looking over his shoulder wondering what smells so good.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Bloomingdale’s.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Zoologist Hyrax- Hyraceum Happens

One of the reasons I find perfume so fascinating is it makes what you might think should smell bad something that smells good. Most of those smells originate from the anal region of different animals. One of the most unique is the ingredient hyraceum, or Africa Stone. Hyraceum is the petrified form of the excrement of a small rodent-like creature known as a Cape hyrax. It has been a seldom used ingredient, but I have generally enjoyed it. It provides a funky animalic aspect that the various musks do not.

Hyraxes!

My most memorable experience with the raw ingredient was at Pitti Fragranze in Florence a couple years ago. There I was given the opportunity to smell it in its unadulterated form. I gagged. It smelled like…um…excrement; concentrated excrement. Then I was shown how, as you dilute it, the gag-inducing turns into a rough leathery ingredient. It is this which gets used most often. When I received my sample of Zoologist Hyrax I had a feeling I would be smelling some hyraceum.

Victor Wong

The owner and creative director of Zoologist, Victor Wong, has been working with different independent perfumers ever since the beginning of his brand. For Hyrax he chose to collaborate with perfumer Sven Pritzkoleit. Mr. Pritzkoleit has his own brand, SP Perfumes, which has been in existence since 2016. I’ve tried most of his releases for that brand. The best is when he uses the animalic ingredients. Those are what he seems to have the keenest intuition about. With some creative direction I expected Hyrax would be pretty good. I was correct. The reason I like it so much is it embraces the animalic in a boozy embrace of whisky.

Sven Prtizkoleit

Hyrax opens with a huge shot of hyraceum. If you aren’t expecting it, you might be wanting to get your arm as far away as you can. It is like turning on the amplifier without noticing someone has pegged the volume. It is so strong it almost carries its own kind of distortion wave. Mr. Pritzkoleit goes to work turning the volume down. At first saffron and pink pepper start to tame the hyraceum. Then a fabulous shot of whisky does the job. Like the hyraceum is soaked in a glass of Jack Daniels. I fell for this each day I wore it. So much so that when the more pedestrian patchouli and amber arrive to finish this off I had a slight twinge of disappointment.

Hyrax has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Hyrax is the most animalic perfume released by Zoologist. It is a couple of levels stronger than Civet. For those who enjoy the brand you can use that as guidance for what your personal affinity might be for Hyrax. I have a special place in my perfumed heart for fragrances like Hyrax; always have. Which means I’m happy to shrug my shoulders and say “hyraceum happens” while spraying myself with more Hyrax.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Zoologist.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Di Ser Tsuki- Six Years Later

Back in January 2012 I was attending the Elements Showcase in New York City. Behind a stand manned by a number of Japanese people was one of my favorite finds at any perfume exposition I have attended. When I met the founder and perfumer, Yasuyuki Shinohara, of Di Ser on the first day I would keep returning to the stand to try more of the perfumes. The fragrances were so unique and beautiful I expected a deal for US distribution to arrive soon enough. I was so confident I used up my samples over the rest of the year. Then there was nothing. Because I wrote a review on Kaze at CaFleureBon I would get the occasional e-mail asking where it was available. My answer until recently was a trip to Hokkaido Island in Japan where Shinohara-san was based. It has taken six years but finally a set of Di Ser are available in the US. I ordered a sample set and was pleased to see that little had changed.

Yasuyuki Shinohara (photo from CaFleureBon at Esxence 2018)

When it came to this set I decided to see how my memory had fared as Tsuki was one of the perfumes I tried back then. It was part of a collection capturing the four traditional Japanese elements; of which Kaze was a part of. Tsuki is the Moon and it was one of the greenest geranium perfumes I had encountered. In my notes after the exposition I wrote to myself “Herbal geranium” in my spreadsheet description. Having a new sample to experience reminded me why that description is accurate but incomplete.

What is remarkable about Di Ser as a brand is the way their raw materials are made. All hand-made botanical materials. This means the time is allowed for tinctures to gain appropriate strength. Hard to extract materials will have the time taken to achieve enough to use. This makes it among one of the best natural perfume lines in the world. Not only reconnecting with Tsuki but the other six available in the US reaffirm that statement. Over the course of the year I will review all of them, they are that good, but first let’s see how I feel six years later about Tsuki.

One thing I say often when I’m called an “expert”; I counter with the way I think of myself “experienced enthusiast”. My experience with the nuances of naturally produced ingredients has expanded tremendously in these six years. Which is why Tsuki is so enchanting to me. I can smell that authenticity more clearly now. Tsuki shows it off.

That geranium I remembered was right there as soon as I sprayed Tsuki on. The herbal part was also there as coriander and mint flank it. The coriander is extracted in such a way that the lemony nuance is amplified while the mint provides an expansiveness to the natural green of the geranium. I use the sobriquet “green rose” to describe geranium nowhere is that more evident than in the geranium in Tsuki. Then in a fabulous different turn Shinohara-san adds in juniper berry and fennel. The juniper berry combines with the coriander to form a gin accord but that is subtext. The fennel is what is writ large over the heart of Tsuki. The vegetal licorice scent of the herb provides a contrast to the floral green of geranium. Over time the geranium fades and the fennel is left to take root in a gentle earthy patchouli.

Tsuki has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I mentioned this in my previous review of Kaze. If you think you know what a Japanese perfume will smell like based on European interpretation of that aesthetic, Di Ser will prove you wrong. What stood out then and now is there is a Japanese precise arrangement which more accurately describes the Di Ser aesthetic. Every ingredient in its specific place for a specific effect. I could wish that was a more universal aspiration when designing fragrance. I am happy to see it still thrills me the same six years later.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review L’Iris de Fath- The Right Way

Almost every time I hear of one of the great perfumes of the past being re-made today, I groan inwardly. It can be especially painful when it is one of my personal favorites. In the spring of 2017, the Creative Director behind the current revival of Jacques Fath perfumes, Rania Naim, contacted me. As soon as she told me she was interested in making a new version of Iris Gris I am sure I made a face; which she couldn’t see because we were internet chatting. The main reason she was contacting me was she was looking for sources of the original to use as reference for making the new version. We would chat about the process she wanted to undertake and that she was reaching out to many people to get advice. By the time we were done I was feeling like this was being approached correctly if you were going to do it.

Rania Naim

As I thought about it I was reminded that Mme Naim had presided over another of my favorite re-creations in the 2016 release of Fath’s Essentials Green Water. What was important in that one was she didn’t skimp on the neroli. Even though it was expensive she didn’t supplement natural neroli with some synthetics and call it the same. It is why I love the new version as much as I do. This was going to be a concern in re-creating Iris Gris. The cost of materials was going to be high if it was going to be done right. From that perspective I wasn’t worried.

What was left was to choose the perfumer to work with. This was done in a way which had me back to worrying. I have been derisive in the extreme about perfumery by focus group. If perfume is art it should be a personal expression. Iris Gris is the apex of original perfumer Vincent Roubert’s career. It is a masterpiece of perfumery. By asking five different perfumers to individually produce a set of mods to a judging panel. Well luxury perfume via focus group didn’t sound like it was going to produce anything memorable either.

Patrice Revillard

By the time it was announced the new L’Iris de Fath would be debuted at Esxence 2018 I was waiting to see what this produced. I must have sent a hundred texts asking if my friends had tried it. I got a mixed response which trended to the positive. Mme Naim informed me my sample was on its way and I’ve had it since the end of April. In the past two months I’ve been my own one-man panel comparing to my samples of vintage Iris Gris. Looking at my notes after experiencing the Osmotheque version. All while wearing a bit of L’Iris de Fath. Because you’ve already waded through a lot of intro I’m going to cut to the chase before diving a bit deeper into my experience with the perfume. L’Iris de Fath is a fantastic perfume inspired by Iris Gris, it isn’t perfect, but it is close enough for me not to care.

Yohan Cervi

The perfumer chosen by the judges is Patrice Revillard. If you’re saying “Who?” you have a right to as M. Revillard is 25 and founder of his own independent perfume company, Maelstrom. Working with his in-house evaluator Yohan Cervi they would form their entry. This was a unanimous choice of the judging panel as the best version considering everything they had to compare it to.

Before I begin my description, there are a couple things I want to mention ahead of that. When we talk about vintage materials we spend a lot of time discussing what is no longer allowed to be used. One thing which isn’t mentioned is the efficiency of new processes of extraction of natural materials. Which means the modern version has a different scent profile than the same ingredient compared to the past. The other thing is when we smell vintage perfumes today the high percentage natural materials continue to evolve, or macerate, which provides a softening effect overall. This was very apparent to me when I tried the fresh Osmotheque version compared to my vintage sample. There is a clearer demarcation of ingredients in the Osmotheque version which is lost in any vintage bottle you will find. Both of these play a significant role in L’Iris de Fath.

For all that I’ve prattled on about natural materials and maceration one of the most important ingredients in Iris Gris and L’Iris de Fath is Peach Lactone aka aldehyde c-14. What has always drawn me to Iris Gris is the gauzy peach overlaying the strong rooty orris. The first moments of L’Iris de Fath is just that as if the perfume is showing me a beautiful piece of orris concrete wrapped in a peach-colored sheer silk scarf scented with the hue. There is no skimping on orris butter in here. This is the smell of high-concentration orris. The effect is critical to my enjoyment and it is here. It is also like a more vital version compared to my vintage samples. There is a verve to the orris not mellowed over time. This is a younger livelier version of the same ingredient that hasn’t aged for decades. As the perfume unfolds here is the main point of departure for me. In the original there is a lily of the valley green vein which threads its way through the orris and peach. In L’Iris de Fath M. Revillard uses violet leaf to provide the green. Violet leaf can have a scalpel sharp green effect and M. Revillard uses that to dramatic effect. It is also bolstered by a modern isolation of carnation which is rich and doesn’t carry as much of the proscribed materials of older isolates of carnation. This is where I found the alteration more pleasant. The bite of the carnation was attenuated. The overall effect gave more space to the iris and peach which I enjoyed. In the base all of the animalic musks of the original had to be replaced but that has not become an impediment anymore. The base does what the original base did and provide a foundation for the heart of the perfume to rest upon.

L’Iris de Fath has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Despite my reservation outlined above I must commend Mme Naim on the care taken to produce L’Iris de Fath. I do not think there are many who would have been willing to make the decisions necessary to succeed; Mme Naim did.

In my final analysis L’Iris de Fath is capable of being compared side-by-side with Iris Gris without complaint. I am happy to have a fresh version to wear with more abandon instead of marshaling my precious drops of the vintage. L’Iris de Fath succeeds because Mme Naim insisted on things being done The Right Way.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Jacques Fath.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Strangelove NYC silencethesea- Advanced Aquatic

From its inception in 1988 with Davidoff Cool Water and for twenty years after the aquatic style of perfume has become a cliché. It was caused by the desire for consumers for more of this fresh and clean style along with the desire of brands to give it to them. For a couple decades that was good enough. I was bored with the genre long before that with only a few continuing to be found in my consistent rotation.

Then as we crossed in to the 2010’s there seemed to be a re-thinking of the aquatic aesthetic. It wasn’t all beach milieu there were other kinds of scenes which could inspire a fragrance. In the last few years there has been a conscious transfer to more rocky coasts for the metaphorical waves to crash upon. These kinds of aquatics have reinvigorated my enjoyment of the style. When I received Strangelove NYC silencethesea I had another one to add.

Elizabeth Gaynes (l.) and Helena Christensen

In previous reviews of Strangelove NYC releases I have lauded the creative team and the vision behind it. Co-Creative Directors Elizabeth Gaynes and Helena Christensen have collaborated with perfumer Christophe Laudamiel. One of the things which allows the brand to stand out is they are only produced by using the best natural raw materials as their keynotes. Every release has one at its heart. For silencethesea that ingredient is ambergris.

Christophe Laudamiel

Any perfume lover is familiar with ambergris because it is part of the base accord of too many to count perfumes. Except as it is with oud, ambergris is often a clever manipulation of other ingredients to form a facsimile. When you smell real ambergris there are nuances which never appear in a constructed accord. It is a challenge because with an accord a perfumer can tune for a specific effect. When dealing with the actual version you have to find a way to allow the odd-smelling aspects to also have their part to play. M. Laudamiel does just this with the ambergris in silencethesea.

From the moment I sprayed silencethesea the ambergris was there. It is apparent throughout the time it exists on my skin. M. Laudamiel then spends the rest of the development adorning it with specific ingredients. First is angelica which as it interacts with the ambergris provides a flinty accord. The earthiness comes from a truffle accord. It reminds me of particularly rich loamy soil for a bit. Three florals, narcissus, jasmine, and tuberose provide deep indolic complement to the briny quality of ambergris. It works better than I thought it would on paper. The tuberose and its slightly mentholated green vein was the big surprise in how well it fit in. A rough leather accord of oud and frankincense is the last part of silencethesea.

Silencethesea has 12-14 hour longevity in the Eau de Parfum concentration and moderate sillage.

It is funny how the boy who grew up in South Florida has left that kind of beachy perfume behind in preference for a rocky strand where the waves crash instead. Silencethesea is that kind of advanced aquatic.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Strangelove NYC.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel Paris-Venise, Paris-Deauville & Paris-Biarritz- Traveling with Coco

Just as it has been over at Hermes watching the changeover from a long-time in-house perfumer to a new artist is fascinating. When Olivier Polge took over he has presided over a lightening up of Chanel. What he has excelled at has been achieving it without losing the Chanel fragrance aesthetic. One thing left to show is whether M. Polge would bring this to the Les Exclusif line. His first release was the Les Exclusif Boy. It heralded the lighter direction, but it has been the releases since which solidified that. With the announcement of the Les Eaux de Chanel collection of three perfumes we would get a better idea of where the exclusive fragrance line at Chanel was going.

Olivier Polge

There are three new perfumes within Les Eaux de Chanel; they are meant to represent the ties between Coco Chanel and three different cities. I am going to write about all three because I have found them to be a coherent collection which is Chanel but also M. Polge’s modern vision of what that means.

Paris-Venise is described as being inspired by traveling on the Orient Express from Paris to Venice. That description makes you think a full-on Oriental is on its way. Here is where M. Polge chooses to go towards something less obvious by using the more transparent aesthetic to his advantage.

It starts with playful citrus and neroli top accord. This is that laugh of starting off a trip. The floral heart of iris modulated by geranium is also kept opaque although a bit of powder sneaks in. The base is M. Polge’s version of an Oriental base done with insouciance. Using cedar, amber, and vanilla these are the components of Oriental of the past. In Paris-Venise they are pitched at whisper level as it hints at the end of the trip.

Paris-Venise has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Paris-Deauville is meant to be a trip to the country for the weekend. What that meant for M. Polge was to imagine a cologne style which captures that vibe.

To do that there is what becomes the theme for this collection a joyful citrus accord. Comprised of orange zest and petitgrain there is a green undercurrent which is picked out with basil. Using rose and jasmine it turns floral but a lighter version of that. A patchouli fraction which is stripped of much of the heavier qualities is the base note.

Paris-Deauville has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

The last one Paris-Biarritz captures Coco’s love of the beach. Which translates to M. Polge’s aquatic interpretation.

This opens with a classic sea salt accord matched with the citrus of grapefruit and mandarin. This is not particularly interesting to start. It becomes more so as muguet begins to transform the heart into a greener effect. Vetiver provides a grassy kind of effect which makes a “dunes accord”. A set of white musks recapitulate the airiness of the opening sea salt accord.

Paris-Biarritz has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

These are not going to be my favorite perfumes of M. Polge’s time at Chanel. For the first time he has gone a little too light for my taste. That being said there is a consistent thought which shows up in all three, of the joy of heading out of the city towards something else. I think that will mean if you really like one you’re going to also like the others. At least for me it felt like taking a Trip with Coco on the days I wore each of the Les Eaux.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Commodity Bois- Warm Weather Woods

I don’t know if others have the same kind of perfume preferences as I do during the summer months. I’m reasonably sure colognes and light florals are constants. One of the things I have found over time that I really enjoy when the heat is at its most oppressive is a simple clean light woody perfume. As summer 2018 arrives I think Commodity Bois is going to be this year’s addition to my rotation.

It is also another example of why Commodity has been consistently succeeding. It is a mainstream brand where the owners are allowing the perfumers a freer hand to design. Their only limitations are budget and aligning with the minimalist aesthetic the brand wants to be known for. What this produces are simple constructs where the perfumer’s choices can have a maximal impact on a minimalist aesthetic.

Frank Voelkl

For Bois the perfumer is Frank Voelkl. Since Bois translates to “wood” he started with a duo of cedar and sandalwood. The ingredient which helps turn that from generic to something more than that is baie rose.

Bois opens with that baie rose out front. Baie rose is a versatile top note because it has many facets for a perfumer to tease out. What M. Voelkl chooses to accentuate is the peppery nature of the ingredient which is also known as pink pepper. To do this angelica is used which also has a peppery character. Together they form a textural piquant accord. It acts as a kind of figurative perfumer’s sandpaper as it roughs up the cedar and sandalwood by adding a peppery overlay on the woods. The baie rose is what really sealed the deal on my enjoyment of Bois. Some vanilla comes in without becoming cloying as I wore Bois on days where it was in the high 90’s on the thermometer.

Bois has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I can’t know who shares my summer affection for woody perfume. If you do, Bois is one you should add to fill that space.  I think there are few better warm weather woods out there especially in mainstream.

Disclosure: This review is based ona sample provided by Commodity.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bvlgari Veridia- Sparkling Emerald

It happens that there are just some brands that never breakthrough to my wanting to wear them, so I can review them. I’ll receive a sample set. Think somewhat positively of them. Put the sample in the “maybe” box but over time it just gets passed over. That is the story of the exclusive collection from Bvlgari called La Gemme.

Alberto Morillas

La Gemme was started in 2014 as Bvlgari’s attempt to make an ultra-luxe collection. They had Daniela Andrier behind the first dozen releases until 2016. Jacques Cavallier would do the next five through the end of last year. The simple concept was to use gemstones as inspiration. The simple result was nice perfumes. If there was a consistent nit I had to pick it was these never glittered like a gemstone does under light. When I look at a beautifully cut gem it is like peering into a kaleidoscope without the tube. The interior refraction of light feels like it is drawing me inside. A perfume based on that inspiration I’ve always felt should do the same thing. Until the recent releases La Gemme had not done that for me.

I received the latest three releases noticing a new perfumer behind all of them; Alberto Morillas. These were meant to capture sapphire, ruby, and emerald. As I tried them Nylaia which is the sapphire one had a nice duet of iris and jasmine warmed by benzoin. Rubinia which is the ruby is an interesting interpretation using sandalwood as the keynote. As with all of the previous La Gemme releases I liked them and they were heading into the “maybe” box. Then I got to the one which was inspired by the emerald, Veridia, that was not going into the “maybe” box.

Mrs. C laughs at me when I get a sample of something I like. I end up sniffing a strip and whatever patch of skin it occupies over the later parts of the evening. Veridia was right in the center of my forearm and I had my nose there for as long as it lasted. What captured me is M. Morillas uses a high concentration of galbanum as green but finds a unique ingredient to add the sparkle within.

Veridia lives up to its colorful name as it opens with an uppercut of galbanum. M. Morillas adds a bit of angelica seeds to provide a bit of texture to the impenetrable green ingredient. Then like a faceted gemstone held up to light a metallic-tinted incense infuses the galbanum. The shiny resin draws me in as it interacts with the galbanum; each intersection a point of verdant sparkle. I know how much I enjoyed this opening accord because the base accord of vanilla and patchouli form a nicely comforting contrast but I wanted more of the galbanum and incense.

Veridia has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Veridia is unlike any of the previous La Gemme releases because M. Morillas didn’t just create a gemstone perfume he produced a sparkling emerald.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer Les Annees 25- Where Did the Retro Go?

Press releases are cursed things; at least for me. When I read them, it causes me to anticipate what I will eventually experience. They can be particularly troublesome when it comes to fragrance. I can imagine what a list of ingredients might smell like given the inspiration. Which is why Tauer Les Annees 25 threw me with what was in the bottle.

Independent perfumer Andy Tauer wrote that Les Annees 25 was inspired by the “Golden Age of Humanity” represented by the 1920’s. That decade was also a time where the real foundations of modern perfumery were beginning to aspire to artistry. When I read that I thought to myself, “Oh goody! A Retro Nouveau perfume from Andy Tauer.” Then I found out it was a limited edition which means Hr. Tauer tends to employ higher quality and harder to source versions of the ingredients. I was expecting something amazing capturing the past and the present. Most of that sentence came true but for one part. This supposed Retro Nouveau perfume was all Nouveau.

Andy Tauer

I should’ve focused on the things which Hr. Tauer had separated from that era which inspired him; “the fundamental change towards liberalism” and the “optimism of an era”. Which means Les Annees 25 is one of our best independent perfumers creating his own path full of optimism.

The contemporary aspects appear right away with a combination of petitgrain, orange oil, and ginger. The citrus components are focused into a narrow beam of sunlight. The ginger provides energy. Ginger is spoken of as this kind of kinetic ingredient within perfumery. It most often is not. Not here. The ginger provides a near manic level of energy to the brilliant citrus. A swift floral intermezzo of rose and iris softly powders the overall effect. This leads to a mixture of benzoin and sandalwood. The benzoin pulls out the sweet facets of a modern sandalwood source. Oakmoss and ambergris provide contrast at the high and the low. It all ends on a comfort accord of vanilla, tonka, and patchouli.

Les Annees 25 has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I may have thought I wanted a Tauer Retro Nouveau creation except I came to realize the Nouveau was all I needed in Les Annees 25.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke