New Perfume Review Fath’s Essentials Lilas Exquis- Lilac Haze

I have mentioned this in previous reviews of heritage brands. They can’t just stick to reformulations of the past. At some point, they must apply the brand aesthetic to the present day. It is daunting when the reformulations have met with praise. Moving to the new holds pitfalls of a different kind. One brand which arrived a year ago has successfully negotiated the obstacles, Fath’s Essentials.

Creative director Rania Naim used perfumer Cecile Zarokian to reformulate Green Water and simultaneously release three new ones. This was a good collection overall and I had hope the brand could continue in this direction. Mme Naim wanted an equal set of fragrances which trended more feminine which you should read as more floral. She turned to another of the younger star perfumers, Luca Maffei, to achieve her vision.

Rania Naim (l.) and Luca Maffei

All four of the new perfumes are quite good and I will review all of them over the following weeks. The one which grabbed me from the first moment I tried it was Lilas Exquis. One of the more interesting aspects of the four new releases is all of them are deeply colored liquids. Lilas Exquis is said to represent Sig. Maffei’s favorite color and flower; lilac. I too am partial to the color and the bloom which piqued my interest how Sig. Maffei would approach Lilas Exquis. What he chooses to do is form a typical late spring milieu after a rain shower. He takes all the components of that and floats it on top of a sturdy base of musk and woods.

Lilas Exquis opens with a fascinating transparent fruity floral accord of hyacinth and blueberry. When hyacinth is kept at a lower concentration it imparts a watery effect along with its floral lift. The blueberry is almost like having it growing in the same flower bed as the lilac. Because the lilac accord is what comes next. Sig. Maffei coalesces it around a nucleus of violet. Wrapped tightly to it are lily, magnolia, and angelica. It forms a lilac accord as it comes in my window after a spring rain. This floats like a lilac tinted cloud. Tethering it to the ground is the base combination of Timbersilk and Ambrox as they keep the cloud from drifting away. As time moves on the woods become progressively muskier as ambrette seeds and other musks give some development from woods to animalic over the final hours.

Lilas Exquis has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Lilas Exquis is my favorite of these new Fath’s Essentials because of the transparency with which Sig. Maffei manages here. Lilac has always been something which comes over my window on the wind expanding to naturally perfume my office. Lilas Exquis also has that expansiveness which is what draws me to it. I have already had the opportunity to be wearing Lilas Exquis after the rain has activated the lilacs outside my office window. Lilas Exquis turned that evening into the most beautiful lilac haze.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Fath’s Essentials.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Molecule 04 and Escentric 04- Herr Professor Doktor Returns

There are a few perfumers who are also trained chemists. Obviously when I am with them we geek out about molecules that smell good. What has always occurred to me during those discussions is we are able to take them a level deeper because we understand the chemistry as well as the perfumery of it all. It seems like there should be a way for those of you who are not chemists to have a way to enter the discussion too. Enter chemist and perfumer Geza Schoen and his Escentric Molecules brand.

"Herr Professor Doktor" Schoen

In 2005 Hr. Schoen introduced the perfume world to an interesting concept in releasing a pair of perfumes. Molecule 01 would feature one aromachemical only diluted in alcohol; for the first one it was Iso E Super. Escentric 01 would be a perfume in which the featured aromachemical was present in high concentrations. It has turned out to be a winning combination allowing consumers to experience a single building block and then see it as part of a structure. It has been followed up by 02 which featured Ambroxan and 03 which featured Vetiveryl Acetate. Now we have arrived at a new pair of Molecule 04 and Escentric 04 around the aromachemical Javanol.

Javanol

As with all the previous pairs Javanol is being used because it has become used in many new releases. It is a cost effective sandalwood replacement. Focused more on the creamy sweetly woody nature of real sandalwood while removing some of the drier more astringent character. It is that kind of crowd-pleasing ingredient which goes a long way and lasts a long time. Things consumers seem to conflate with quality. When you smell Molecule 04 that creamy woody quality is front and center. Hr. Schoen in the press materials mentions he detects a grapefruit aspect. I’ve smelled Javanol many times and I must say I have never experienced it and don’t when I wear Molecule 04. Another thing about a fragrance like Molecule 04 if you choose to use it as a perfume you wear often you will likely stop smelling it on yourself but almost everyone else around you will still be able to. It is because Molecule 04 as a single ingredient leads to you filtering it out because you become habituated to the smell. It’s like working in a garage and not smelling the motor oil because it is just part of your environment. Same concept with Molecule 04 you won’t notice it but it isn’t gone.

While the Molecule half of the equation is of interest it is always the Escentric side which generally puts a smile on my face. In Escentric 04 Hr. Schoen puts a really big grin on my face.

What has made the Escentric series stand out is Hr. Schoen takes these materials which are base notes and moves them up the pyramid so that they aren’t the finish line they are there right from the start. In Escentric 04 he uses grapefruit in the early going. Presumably to accentuate the grapefruit character I miss in Javanol itself. What does stand out is Hr. Schoen’s use of baie rose. I know he spent a lot of time with this ingredient recently and in Escentric 04 he uses it in a very kinetic manner adding fresh herbal counterpoints to the grapefruit while underneath the Javanol lifts it all up. Orris and rose provide an almost traditional woody floral accord in the heart. The biggest difference is that Hr. Schoen has doubled down on his sandalwood aromachemicals adding Polysantol. This other sandalwood aromachemical amplifies the sweet woodiness and the creaminess. I am guessing just upping the Javanol level didn’t create the effect Hr. Schoen wanted as well as combining the two molecules. Whatever the structural reason is the aesthetic result is like a detonation of sandalwood with orris, grapefruit, and rose shrapnel flung in all directions. In the base, he brings back his original two molecules Iso E Super and Ambroxan to form a molecular quartet of synthetic woods which last for well over 24 hours on my skin.

Molecule 01 and Escentric 04 have overnight longevity and average sillage but remember once they settle into the synthetic ingredients it alters your perception of this.

When Hr. Schoen releases these pairs of perfume I call him Herr Professor Doktor as he seeks to educate and delight at the same time. With his fourth lecture, he has outdone himself. Escentric 04 is one of the best perfumes he has ever produced.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Escentric Molecules.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Arquiste Esencia de el Palacio Magnolios- Cinco de Magnolia

Arquiste owner-creative director Carlos Huber and perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux are men for whom their heritage is reflected within their artform. Nowhere has this been reflected as potently to me as it has been while experiencing the Esencia de el Palacio collection they produced for the Mexican upscale department store El Palacio de Hierro. The three perfumes produced were meant to provide interpretations of modern Mexico, Azahares; the future of Mexico, Vetiveres; and the Mexican past, Magnolios. I’ve gone about this in a very random order starting with Azahares followed by Vetiveres and now finishing with Magnolios. Yet ending with Magnolios is a contrast to what had come before.

Carlos Huber

Most Americans will associate magnolia with the South. It has been a symbol of that part of the country since the beginning. The blooming of the magnolia trees is the harbinger of spring for US Southerners. In Mexico, the magnolia grows throughout the country. It is thought by some botanists to be the first indigenous flowering plant in North America. When Sr. Huber and Sr. Flores-Roux say they are going back they probably don’t mean that far back. Magnolia by itself tends to carry with it a sense of history because it defines its geography.

Rodrigo Flores-Roux

For Magnolios Sr. Flores- Roux creates a floral celebration of Mexican history around a central keynote of magnolia. Magnolia works as the centerpiece of any fragrance because it also carries a noticeable citrus character along with the creamy floralcy. Magnolios explores all aspects of the magnolia throughout its development.

The magnolia core is supported using the magnolia leaves to provide a full-spectrum effect. In the early moments, the flower, the woody bark of the tree, and the green of the leaves are like watching a magnolia develop via time-lapse. Then sweet orange teases out the citrus within the bloom. Early on it smells like fresh orange juice. Cardamom begins the transition into the next phase with its lemony and green duality. This evolves into something greener as the magnolia leaves are emphasized by galbanum. Sr. Flores-Roux then adds in something which takes the breath away, eucalyptus. The mentholated scent of it adds a lung-filling vibrancy while also hewing to the green effect. Cedar is the woody foundation upon which Magnolios rests.

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

They will have to speak for themselves but I feel a passion, from Sr. Huber and Sr. Flores-Roux, underneath all three Esencia de el Palacio fragrances. Which is understandable when these were designed to be sold exclusively in Mexico maybe they felt they could allow their heritage a little more room to express itself. I do have a wish that at some point all three of these excellent perfumes are added to the main Arquiste collection. Magnolios as well as the other two deserve to be celebrated around the world.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Nomenclature Shi_so- Japanese Green

There are certain inspirations which seem to resonate with specific perfumers. It is not necessarily the only thing which get them excited but it seems when they can match that inspiration to a project it often produces something worthwhile. In numerous interviews perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has mentioned his fascination with Japan. The creative team behind Nomenclature, Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero, give him the opportunity to explore green from a Japanese perspective in Shi_so.

Carlos Quintero (l.) and Karl Bradl

The place where Mr. Bradl and Mr. Quintero start every Nomenclature perfume with, is a specific aromachemical. For Shi_so the choice is Glycolierral. The most predominant use of Glycolierral has been as a green vegetal component reminiscent of ivy. It has the colloquial name of “ivy dioxolane”. By itself it reminds me of crushed sharp green leaves. I have never found it reminiscent of ivy so much. When I saw, it was being used as the focal point in Shi_so I realized I found it closer to the shiso leaves I use to cook with. By itself Glycolierral is probably too sharply green to be pleasant. M. Duchaufour’s task is then to surround it with modulators to enhance the shiso vibe while making it wearable. What comes out is an evolutionary interpretation of Eau de Cologne where the traditional citrus-floral-herbal tripod is replaced with green, greener, greenest.

Bertrand Duchaufour

Shi_so opens with a combination I didn’t expect to work well when I saw it listed, cardamom and spearmint. The green cardamom here is becoming my favorite version of the ingredient because it adds this significant green character to the freshness inherent to it. Spearmint often adds an oily fresh sweetness that I thought would obliterate the subtlety. M. Duchaufour enhances that green in the cardamom I like so much by keeping the spearmint on the herbal side of its spectrum. The spearmint provides only a hint of its cool minty face. That hint is the way Glycolierral is drawn into the mix. There is a chilly component of the aromachemical which the spearmint bridges to. The base accord is the sticky green of blackcurrant bud matched with verbena. These amplify the Glycolierral into a sparkling emerald jewel.

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

It has been a while since M. Duchaufour has produced a perfume which pushes the envelope as much as Shi_so does. It feels like he is offering his interpretation of Japanese green as a new style of cologne. It is a gorgeous summertime fragrance.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Nomenclature.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Arquiste Esencia de el Palacio Vetiveres- Mexican Summer

I have been a soccer fan for many years. It is funny to think how far things have come. Now I can watch and follow my favorite players and teams effortlessly. In 1986, I couldn’t know this future was coming. With the World Cup in Mexico that summer I decided to go follow the whole tournament since I believed it was the best chance I would have to see the players I had only read about for real. For nearly a month I traveled from stadium to stadium trying to see all 24 teams. I spent many nights sleeping outside. Most mornings the scent of the air which woke me had this great vegetal tang. There are many perfumes which have had a passing resemblance to that but it was only recently that one absolutely captured what I remember; Arquiste Esencia de el Palacio Vetiveres.

Creative Director Carlos Huber and perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux have collaborated on a collection of fragrances exclusively for an upscale Mexican department store; El Palacio de Hierro. Both men have roots in Mexico and all three of these perfumes feel like perfume love letters to what the country means to them. Vetiveres is meant to be representative of the future. The perfume that has resulted is a fantastic interpretation of vetiver where the greener aspects are amplified.

Rodrigo Flores-Roux (l.) and Carlos Huber

In the last few years vetiver-centric perfumes have become much more versatile because there have been more versions of this raw material to use.  Sr. Flores-Roux now has such an array of choices it allows him to create almost any shade of vetiver. What he does for Vetiveres is form a dense vegetation accord. There is a smell to the dense jungle in the tropics when the summer sun is high in the sky. The nucleus of Vetiveres is the mixture of dense growing green things with a bit of the woods way underneath.

In the early moments, I think the vetiver used is a fraction where the woodiness is very attenuated. To combine with that Sr. Flores-Roux caresses the vetiver with myrtle and artemesia. This forms that scent of the morning I spoke of in the first paragraph. It is recognizably vetiver but it is different in presence, pleasingly so. In the heart the vetiver begins to deepen. Here Sr. Flores-Roux chooses to bracket it with incense and labdanum. It elongates the green in what I found surprising. The resins almost step in for the typical woody underpinning of vetiver. Cedar and guaiac provides the woods that have been missing and patchouli bring the earthy aspect. The longer Vetiveres goes on the vetiver expands its presence until at the end it is beautifully displayed.

Vetiveres has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I believe that Vetiveres not only represents the future of Mexico as much as it represents the future of what a vetiver perfume can be. As I wore Vetiveres I realized it had been a while since I wore a vetiver perfume which engaged me as much as Vetiveres has. Maybe it is because it is a scent memory of my summer of 1986. More likely it is because Sr. Flores-Roux has found something new within vetiver.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Vero Profumo Naja- Wish Fulfillment

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Back on New Year’s Eve I made a wish for 2017; “A new perfume from Vero Kern”. At that point in time it had been nearly three years since her last new release, Rozy. Ms. Kern has a meticulous work ethic about her fragrances. If you love them, as I do, part of the process is to allow her to take it at her own pace. Not long after I made my wish Ms. Kern began posting on Facebook the teases on a new release called Vero Profumo Naja. It was scheduled to be released at Esxence 2017. There are many things I missed about not being in Milan this past March but not being there for the debut of Naja was top of the list.

Vero Kern

Naturally I went in to piteous begging mode asking anyone who would listen, “Please could you send me a sample of Naja?” I am fortunate to have those who respond to my pathetic pleas and a few weeks ago a sample of Naja arrived. When I was hearing about Naja from afar it was interesting to hear from writing colleagues who seemed to be experiencing Naja as if from different perspectives. Everyone agreed that the listed notes were there but which ones were predominant seemed to differ depending on who I was talking to. It was going to be fun to see what stood out on my skin.

Naja is symbolized by a snake on the bottle. There is a stylized cobra poised with hood unfurled. Ms. Kern mentioned that the snake represents its use in numerous native mythologies around the world having to do with transformation and creativity. Naja the fragrance also has a serpentine quality itself. Tobacco provides the spine on which this perfume perches. If Rozy was about honey and rose then Naja is about tobacco. Ms. Kern uses a few other notes to interrogate her keynote exposing different facets of it.

Naja opens with the tobacco already in place but it is not what is part of the first impression. Lime blossom provides a citrusy green floral as sharp as any fang. I know this opening threw me a bit because it is so incisive. When I hear tobacco perfume I expect soft rich narcotic depth. Naja provides an alternative as the acerbic green note constricts the tobacco in the early moments. As the coils slowly release the tobacco edges its way forward. As the tobacco finds a firmer foothold and starts to equilibrate towards something more familiar Ms. Kern finds a complementary sweetness to the dried tobacco leaf in melon. Rich fruits or resins usually provide that role. By using melon Ms. Kern keeps the familiar a tiny bit unfamiliar. There is almost a Calone feeling to this phase of Naja as on a different day it could have become an aquatic tobacco. Before Naja goes too far down that path osmanthus provides its dual nature. The dried apricot part acts like the typical fruit accompaniment to tobacco while the leathery part provides a final foundation. Over many hours the tobacco and the leather is what remains.

Naja has 24-hour plus longevity and average sillage.

More than any of her creations to date Naja is the most fascinating perfume she has made. It is full of contradictions and capitulations. I wore it three times for this review and it wore differently every time. Different notes were on top at different times with the tobacco being the only constant. It makes Naja as hypnotizing as that swaying cobra drawing you in with its unceasing movement. The difference being that when Naja strikes it leaves only pleasure behind. Thank you, Ms. Kern, for granting my wish.

Disclosure: My sample provided by Vero Profumo via Val The Cookie Queen. (Read Val’s review of Naja here)

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Vilhelm Do Not Disturb- Bungalow Nights

In the 1920’s the bright young things were writers, artists, and designers. After a Great Depression followed by a Great War those bright young things were up on the silver screen. The Hollywood Dream Factory was humming as the 1950’s dawned. Those movie stars were what the public wanted to hear about. As this new-found celebrity was thrust upon these pretty people there weren’t really any rules. So, they made up their own.

If you were of a mind to go catch the new celebrities one place you would end up is The Beverly Hills Hotel. More specifically it was the bungalows spread throughout the property which was where the action was. Bungalow No. 7 is Marilyn’s. La Liz and Dick loved, lost, loved, and lost in Bungalow No. 5. The bad boys were in Bachelor’s Row; Bungalows No. 14-21. Even Howard Hughes had his own which nobody knew whether he was there except for select hotel staff. It is fascinating to look back and think about anything like that happening in this TMZ world. Owner-creative director of Vilhelm Parfumerie Jan Ahlgren also shares my affection for this time.

Jerome Epinette (l.) and Jan Ahlgren

Mr. Ahlgren tasked perfumer Jerome Epinette to create a perfume which was all about that time but modern enough to be worn by a contemporary Liz or Marilyn. One thing I admire about the way M. Epinette interprets a brief like that is to keep it relatively simple. There are other perfumers that would have gone for shoulder strutting power. M. Epinette goes the opposite way looking for something more intimate. That moment when the door of the bungalow is closed and the persona can be dropped, a little bit. Just make sure there is a Do Not Disturb sign on the door which is also the name of this new perfume from Vilhelm.

I am not sure many would have thought of carnation as the core of a perfume like this but because M. Epinette was going for intimacy it works. Also, carnation is a key component of some of the great classic vintage perfumes so it provides that vintage vibe without overpowering.

Do Not Disturb opens with that carnation displaying its spicy floralcy. It has a classic feel which is deepened by the addition of clove to amplify the piquant nature of the carnation. Ylang-ylang is used to give a bit of a boost to the floral side of the carnation. Blackcurrant bud provides that sticky green effect which completes the vintage part. Do Not Disturb would have gone even deeper if this was a scent of the 1950’s. Because it is of the 2010’s M. Epinette uses a Haitian vetiver and papyrus as a way of drawing out the green thread begun with the cassis while adding in some expansiveness over the last part of the development.

Do Not Disturb has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

These kind of story perfumes from this era seem to be a strength of Vilhelm in these early days of the brand. Do Not Disturb is another strong fragrance born from Mr. Ahlgren’s desire for his brand to be something a little vintage and a little modern when looking back. I know it’s impossible but I can imagine smelling a trail of Do Not Disturb somewhere along Bachelor’s Row or just behind a feminine figure with Marilyn’s laugh. This is an excellent evocation of the time and place.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Memo Moon Leather- The Secret Menu

I eat too much fast food, so my cardiologist informs me. I am intimately familiar with the offerings on the menu. A few years ago, I learned of the secret menu that exists off the board. While standing in line at McDonalds I heard the patron in front of me order a McKinley Mac. As I scanned the board above our head looking for this burger. It wasn’t there. When I got to the cash register I asked what the McKinley Mac was and was told it was a Big Mac but the regular all-beef patties were replaced with quarter pounder patties. Mmmm bigger, better more to love. My cardiologist is now yelling at his computer screen. I learned every fast food restaurant offers these kind of off the board variations.

It was only recently that I learned Memo Paris has their own secret menu. Every fall they release a kind of mash-up of one of their previous fragrances transformed by the addition of a new ingredient or tweaking of the existing pyramid. It has been going on since 2013 but I only tried them this past fall. Creative director Clara Molloy as always working in collaboration with perfume Alienor Massenet are the designers of these combinations. For 2016, the perfume was called Moon Leather.

Clara Molloy

One of the current collections within the brand is the Cuirs Nomades where more earthly locations are used to form different kind of interpretations of leather. Moon Safari was released in 2009 to commemorate the moon landing forty years earlier. That fragrance was a sharply green citrus vetiver on top of a rough market leather. For Moon Leather, it feels like Mme Massenet is imagining an interplanetary Cuirs Nomades as she modifies the citrus and vetiver components of Moon Safari and adds in a much more refined leather accord.

Alienor Massenet

The very early moments of Moon Leather are all sunlight and citrus as lemon, grapefruit and bitter orange provide a tart beginning. This time the green is much less aggressive as Mme Massenet uses lemon verbena and neroli as a floral interstitial stage to a clary sage note which picks up and amplifies the green undercurrents from both the verbena and neroli. Vetiver shades the green a deeper hue before the leather arrives. This is an expensive briefcase leather accord with elegance out front and the animalic hiding behind that civilized veneer. Tonka provides a soft sweetness in the later stages. Mmmm bigger, better more to love.

Moon Leather has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

When I tried all the previous secret Memo mash-ups there wasn’t one which I liked more than the original. Moon Leather breaks that streak because I like the smoother evolution from top to bottom than in the original Moon Safari. Even though this came out in the fall it is a fabulous spring citrus choice which really blossomed in the cool mornings and warm afternoons. Secret menus can take some effort to discover but Moon Leather is worth it to find at your local Memo stockiest.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Memo Paris.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Monsillage Pays Dogon- Green Stone

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There are some independent perfumers working in places where the nearest colleague is far away. I have written that having a supportive community of other independent perfumers can be beneficial. While I believe that; there are a group of these same perfumers who being in isolation leads to unique beauty. One of those is Montreal Canada-based Isabelle Michaud.

Mme Michaud’s brand is called Monsillage. I was introduced to the brand in 2011 when a reader at CaFleureBon, where I was Managing Editor, sent me samples of her first four releases. What immediately grabbed me was Mme Michaud’s ability to successfully tweak traditional perfume architectures. Aviation Club was my favorite of those early releases which reminded me of 1960’s powerhouse masculine leather colognes. Her next release Vol 870 YUL-CDG showed she can take off on her own, creating her own style. It took a few years but in 2015 she continued to impress with Eau de Celeri which won last year’s Art & Olfaction Award in the Artisan Category. When she contacted me after the New Year to let me know a new release was on its way I was ready for the next evolution of Mme Michaud.

Isabelle Michaud

That new perfume is called Pays Dogon. Mme Michaud was inspired by a visit to the Bandiagara cliffs in Mali, Africa. The people who live there are called the Dogon and the area around Bandiagara is called “Pays Dogon” (Dogon Country). What allows the Dogon to thrive in their dwellings built into the sandstone cliffs is the microclimate which allows vegetation to thrive on the surrounding plain. It provides a transitional zone of green and mineral. That dichotomy is what Mme Michaud is inspired by for Pays Dogon.

Mme Michaud begins on the plain as green dominates the early moments. A vegetal green accord she calls “green oasis” is an evocation of dense jungle canopy, slightly humid, along with the leafiness. Threaded throughout are notes of pepper, baie rose, and ginger. The ginger works especially well in the early moments as it adds a sizzle to the early moments. To make the transition to the cliff dwellings Mme Michaud uses the hibiscus as this note; it carries a subtle muskiness along with a green floralcy. It is now that she composes a mineralic accord. Using, cypriol, vetiver, patchouli, guaic and sandalwood it coalesces into a sun-warmed stony accord. As this accord forms, there are elements of the green from the top still around as the breeze perhaps brings those scents up from the plain.

Pays Dogon has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Pays Dogon is Mme Michaud’s most unique composition to date. She is becoming a more assured perfumer by taking her time up there in her Montreal atelier. The compounding of green and stone in Pays Dogon exemplifies why this is the right way for her.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Monsillage.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Guerlain Mon Guerlain- Move Over! Coming Through!

Every one of the great perfume brands is going to react in their own way to the current generational shift in perfume consumer. One of the greatest houses of fragrance, Guerlain, seemed to be sitting back to observe which way the wind was blowing. With the release of Mon Guerlain it seems they have laid down their first marker.

Thierry Wasser

The release of Mon Guerlain is being surrounded with all the surrounding accoutrements a future tentpole Guerlain would need. Perfumers Thierry Wasser and Delphine Jelk were said to be inspired by actress-philanthropist Angelina Jolie when designing the perfume. Ms. Jolie is the face of the new advertising campaign and there is a video directed by famed motion picture director Terrence Malick. Guerlain must feel like they have a hit on their hands. The resulting perfume is another of these opaque floral gourmands which is what most of the big brands have decided Millennials crave in fragrance.

Dephine Jelk

The perfume itself is so deceptively simple it is a departure from almost everything Guerlain has stood for. Powdery iris opens things up lilting softly above it all. The heart is a combination of actual jasmine with a very slight hint of indoles coating the expansive bubble of the jasmine synthetic Paradisone. This all combines with a vanilla note made more toasty by the addition of coumarin. The hay-like nature of coumarin also adds a different facet of sweet to this accord. The foundation is a very transparent sandalwood over a selection of white musks.

Mon Guerlain has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

First thing I noticed while wearing Mon Guerlain is there is no trademark Guerlinade to be found. As a longtime fan, I kept waiting it to appear like a phantom accord. Only to find its absence punctuated with the cocktail of laundry musks. Time will tell the truth of this next statement but I wonder if the powers at Guerlain believe that venerable base has now become passé for this new generation. Is Mon Guerlain the first signal of a real change? The other grand maisons of perfume have made this transition without excising their brand DNA. Mon Guerlain might be the first example of it happening.

This change has made it seem like Mon Guerlain, like the generation it is meant to appeal to, is ready to put the past in the rear-view mirror. In my mind’s eye, I see it shouldering bottles of Shalimar, Mitsouko, and Jicky aside as it says, “Move Over! Coming Through!” Within the genre, and consumer, it is trying to be part of Mon Guerlain is as good as any of them. As part of the modern history of Guerlain is where it fails to stand up. Depending on which of the last two sentences means more to you will color how you feel about Mon Guerlain.

Disclosure: This review based on a sample provided by Guerlain.

Mark Behnke