One of the most exotic women I met as child was a young woman named Patrice. Near our house in Miami there was a kind of commune which sprang up in 1970. I hesitate to say full-fledged because in hindsight I realized it was more a place for the erstwhile hippies of South Florida to congregate. It was in bicycle riding distance and I spent many weeks riding by with my eyes on this collection of unusual adults. They sure didn’t act like any of the adults who populated the rest of my life.
Hippies in Coconut Grove in 1970
One day while having my eyes turned towards the mise-en-scene within the park my bicycle came to a sudden stop. When I looked forward Patrice had grabbed my handlebars to keep me from running into her. Before I could focus my eyes the scent of patchouli washed over me. She let go of the handlebars. Then with a laugh she hugged me and said, “I’m Patrice.” I am sure it took me a moment or two to answer, “I’m Mark.” She said she had seen me ride by previously and asked if I wanted to come meet the others. At eleven years old my mind was awash with whether it was “bad” to talk to them while my curiosity was driving me towards going with her.
Five minutes later I would meet the women Patrice shared a tepee with. Even today forty-plus years removed from it the visual cues are a jumble. The way I was spoken to not as a kid but as someone worth talking to was amazing; but I don’t distinctly remember the conversation. But the smell? That found indelible purchase in my memory. All the women wore patchouli oil. This is that accord often referred to as “head shop” patchouli. I’ve always associated it with the smell of discovery. I haven’t thought about this in years until I tried the new Tauerville Patch Flash.
Tauerville is the “simple” and/or “experimental” line of perfumes from independent perfumer Andy Tauer. It has been a year since the last release Tuberose Flash. Patch Flash falls into the “simple” side of the Tauerville equation.
Patch Flash is a mixture of 40% patchouli oil combined with a fraction of patchouli called patchoulol. The fractionating process as it exists with patchouli has produced some fascinating effects. Patchoulol is a huge sesquiterpene molecule found in the heart of patchouli. Through careful distillation it can be isolated. By itself it produces a hazy softer version of patchouli. Laid over a lot of patchouli oil it rises off it like heat shimmers off the tarmac in summer. The overall accord is patchouli but it is more like veiled memory then head shop. The patchouli is not all that is there Hr. Tauer mainly supports this with a lovely simple leather accord as hints of flowers and spices flit in and out like sprites.
Patch Flash has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I hadn’t thought about Patrice for years then with one spray of Patch Flash I was sitting on the ground listening to these women talk about things I barely understood. While their words didn’t make an impression the way they smelled clearly did. Patch Flash captures the patchouli, the flowers in their hair, and the leather of their moccasins. I didn’t know the term at the time but Patch Flash is the smell of an Earth Mother circa 1970.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tauerville.
I introduced the perfumes from famed candle maker Cire Trudon yesterday in Part 1. Today I am going to focus on three of the five done by the same perfumer. Longtime Executive Director for Cire Trudon, Julien Pruvost, must have spent some time deciding which perfumers would be best to translate the candle into perfume. The perfumer he chose to do three of them is Lyn Harris. I was surprised to see her as the signatory for these fragrances because up until now she has been the Harris part of the niche brand Miller Harris which was one of the original niche perfume brands. I own quite a few of these and her style is distinct to that brand. What I found interesting here is it seems like M. Pruvost found ways to shade that style into something more befitting a brand going from solid to liquid. The three perfumes they collaborated on form what I think of as the Earth trio of the Trudon Parfums Collection.
II or Deux is Ms. Harris’ ode to pine. When I was reading the note list this was the one I expected to smell like a candle. What I found once I wore it was this was the least like that as Deux is a pine tree with the sap oozing from its bark. A sharp green leafy accord summons the pine made more so by black pepper. This makes it seem a bit like the earth floor is rising to the pine then juniper berry provides the foundation of the “sap” accord which incense slowly tunes into you can see the amber droplets against the wood. The woodiness and the sap rise at the same pace until they fade away. I really have enjoyed this through the first few cool mornings of fall.
II (Deux) has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
There are sometimes sniffing something on paper gives me a false impression. That’s what happened with Olim. On paper this comes off a bit jumbled as if it was a pileup on the freeway. On skin this turns into a slowly developing study of spice and resins. It begins with a fougere accord of lavender and anise which is what lingers on the skin as slowly spices add to it as clove, and baie rose take their time evolving the lavender. This all becomes very earthy as equally languidly patchouli grounds all of this to the level that you feel like there are tiny grains of topsoil nestled in the sprig of lavender. The warm combination of myrrh and benzoin begin to move the patchouli out front as an earthy accord forms over the final hours.
Olim has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
If you’re going to call a perfume Revolution and you’re talking about the French Revolution while you’re known for making candles; this is where you expect to find the smoke behind the fire. Except the fire here is that from muskets. Revolution is really all about the cordite and cobblestone accord in its base. Before we get there Ms. Harris sets the scene with some elemi and angelica seeds. It is the scrubbed clean smell of the cobblestone street prior to the first shot being fired. Ms. Harris then composes an accord that captures the street material and the smoke floating above it. Cade oil, incense, and opopanax form the smell of gunpowder after its been fired. It is one of those odd real-life smells I really like. Ms. Harris has found it here. Then patchouli, papyrus, and labdanum capture the uneven pavement misted with a veil of dew to display a version of earth which is made up of stones put together to form a road.
Revolution has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
In conclusion the five perfumes making up the Trudon Parfums Collection are a quite strong debut. I am very much looking forward to what comes next from M. Pruvost and his perfume line.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Trudon Parfums.
As I’ve mentioned multiple times I’m not a candle guy. Although because I write about fragrances I get a few sent to me anyway. Of all the ones I’ve received there was one which even I could tell was at the pinnacle of quality; Cire Trudon. I know at the time I wondered how interesting it would be for the creative mind behind the candles, Executive Director Julien Pruvost, turned to perfumes of the liquid kind. With the release of the first five perfumes in the Trudon Parfums collection we see if the waxen brilliance can be translated to something without a wick.
A couple of things which pleased me before I even spritzed a drop. Mr. Pruvost kept the first set of releases to five. Another positive is there is no desire to make sure they check every box on the style of perfumes checklist. These five span the deeper part of the perfumed spectrum. Finally, he chose to work with only three perfumers. Lyn Harris did three; Deux, Mortel, and Olim. Those three have an interesting coherence when taken together which is why I’ll cover them in Part 2 tomorrow. For today I’m going to look at the other two; Bruma and Mortel.
Bruma was composed by Antoine Lie. Bruma is translated as “solstice” from Latin. Solstice is also either the shortest day or night of the year; Bruma looks for the light before the darkness arrives. M. Lie embodies his daylight with beautifully rooty iris without a hint of powder. It is kept illuminated by peony, lavender, and jasmine. It is that last ray of sun expressed in iris. The darkness comes forward in a gorgeously constructed leather accord it wraps the sunny florals in a cloak of twilight. Vetiver comes along to extinguish the light leaving the earthier aspects of the orris as the remains of the day.
Bruma has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Mortel was composed by Yann Vasnier. M. Vasnier is also playing with themes of shadow and light but Mortel is more twilight than one or the other. It has been a long time since I have tried a new incense perfume as good as Mortel. It was my first love in niche perfumery which Mortel reminded me of. Great incense has a shimmery metallic covering over the resinous core. The incense M. Vasnier chooses is all of that. He spices it up with black pepper, nutmeg, and allspice. They blend in adding shadow to the slightly monolithic nature of the incense. That solidity gets broken down even more as the sweetness of myrrh and benzoin modulate the chilly frankincense into a softer warmer resin accord as the shadows deepen.
Mortel has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Both Bruma and Mortel are excellent fragrance representatives of this most esteemed of candle brands.
I’ll return tomorrow with reviews of the other three.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Trudon Parfums.
There is something about the onset of fall which makes me turn to weightier perfumes. The cooler temperatures and ever-shorter days have something to do with it. With the end of September here; the fragrances of the summer are being rotated back until their time rolls around again. The process is always bittersweet as there are many perfume styles which only thrive in the heat. I miss my airy transparent orange blossom colognes. Which made it a nice coincidence when I received my samples of the new Eric Buterbaugh Florals Floral Oud Collection one of them was tailor-made to solve my issue.
The Floral Oud Collection is a set of three perfumes creatively directed by Eric Buterbaugh around combining a flower named on the box with oud. Floral Oud-Rose, composed by Honorine Blanc, is a rich combination of two roses and Laotian oud. This is a deeply luxurious version of a common combination. A much less common combination is displayed in Floral Oud- Lily of the Valley. Perfumer Ilias Erminidis finds a fascinating overlap between the green of muguet and blackcurrant buds with the Laotian oud and ambrette seed musky oud accord. The one which transfixed me from the first moments was Floral Oud- Orange Flower.
Floral Oud-Orange Flower is composed by perfumer Dora Baghriche. Orange blossom is a not uncommon partner to oud. What Mr. Buterbaugh was going for with all three Floral Ouds was a more opulent version of these duets. In Floral Oud-Orange Flower it succeeds. If there is something Mr. Buterbaugh’s background as florist brings to some of the best in the entire brand is when you feel like the fragrance is being constructed in the same way his floral centerpieces are. Floral Oud-Orange Flower is a bouquet enclosed in an oud vase.
Mme Baghriche pulls out three specific flowers from her perfumer’s organ; champaca, frangipani, and the central orange blossom. As she begins to form the olfactory arrangement these florals present a potent accord. Patchouli, vetiver, labdanum, and oakmoss form an oud accord which gives a precisely tuned amount of lift to the florals. As this comes together vanilla drifts across it like a lagniappe.
Floral Oud-Orange Flower has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
There has been a culinary trend for making luxurious versions of common comfort food. While wearing Floral Oud-Orange Flower I was reminded of a crazy version of a grilled cheese made of aged cheddar, fresh-baked brioche, and truffle oil infused butter. There are simpler versions but once you’ve tried the gourmet version the more pedestrian styles seem lesser than. Floral Oud- Orange Flower is one of the best versions of this combination; done in an overtly gorgeous style.
Disclosure: This review was based ona press sample from Eric Buterbaugh Florals.
In 1964, Yves Saint Laurent began the fragrance part of his business with a women’s perfume called Y. It is a crisp austere green chypre which might have represented the last days of this style of perfume. As a perfume M. St. Laurent was less interested in blazing a new path he just wanted fragrance as part of the overall collection. Over the ensuing years that would change and some of the most influential perfumes of the next forty years would have YSL on the label. Recent times has seen the brand living on their past. If they were going to begin to be part of the modern discussion of designer brands they were going to have to design some perfumes for the emerging millennial market. With a new creative director in Tom Pecheux the first attempt is for the guys given the same name as that first release; Y.
Mr. Pescheux turned to perfumer Dominique Ropion to compose Y. This is another composition of greatest hits. It is the fragrance equivalent of colorblocking as each phase of development is its own well understood accord. It is competently constructed and will remind one of many of the other perfumes sitting next to it on the department store counter. Its reason for existence is to ask the consumer if they would like their fresh floral and woody notes in this specific progression. It is hard not to feel that there were too many focus groups weighing in on the creative process. This is the antithesis of what YSL used to stand for. Can you imagine the reaction of a focus group to Opium? It would never have existed. Y becomes a perfume of lowest common denominator (LCD).
M. Ropion opens with an ozonic accord comprised of the safer aldehydes. Not the ones which conjure hair spray or wax but rather the ones which capture fresh sea air. A very overused ginger is used to provide some verve. It moves to that uber-safe men’s floral note geranium. Not so rose to be worrisome say the focus group. It finishes on a base of balsamic woods and incense. The incense is probably the most confrontational note in the whole thing and it’s not that intense.
Y has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Y is a warning light of the things I worry about when marketing to the millennials. If a brand chooses to play it safe by asking them, “is this okay?” The result becomes something full of crowd-pleasing accords which stands for nothing. I am hoping Mr. Pecheux is more interested in recapturing the boldness of the past instead of calling for more focus groups. From a brand which produced something like Kouros it is sad to see Y represent the YSL LCD.
-Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Nordstrom.
The business of being an independent perfumer is not easy. Finding a way to get the word out while simultaneously finding places to sell it; each carrying its own degree of difficulty. Into all that the perfumer must find the space to create. Each of the ones I admire have found their path which works for them. The path Ineke Ruhland has chosen is one of small well-chosen steps. The drawback is when there are years between releases it becomes easy to forget about them. The real risk is when you do return being met with indifference. Ms. Ruhland has returned after a nearly five-year absence with her latest for her eponymous brand; Ineke Idyllwild.
Idyllwild is inspired by a park area within the southern California Mount San Jacinto area. I don’t think I’ve been to Idyllwild but I have been to the surrounding National Parks of Joshua Tree and San Bernadino Forest. These parks are the demarcation between the desert east of them and the coastal environment to the west. This natural border is constructed of tall sentinel pines reaching to the sky. Idyllwild is a fragrance celebrating these conifers.
Ms. Ruhland has made the choice to combine the pine with a fougere accord before allowing tendrils of smoke to rise throughout. It makes Idyllwild a shifting frame of reference which never seems to change gears clumsily as each phase provides something of interest before transitioning to the next.
Idyllwild begins with the fougere requirement of lavender and citrus. Ms. Ruhland uses grapefruit as the citrus along with the lavender. She then adds a delicate application she calls “rhubarb tea”; it brings an herbal tint to the grapefruit. This then brings the lavender to its herbal side. At this point a raw green cardamom becomes the entry point for the pine. This is one of the best uses of this more primitive version of cardamom because the citrus nuances of its more refined versions are still present with an almost sticky verdancy. That stickiness stands in for the pine sap as a distillation of pine needles takes over. Crisp sharp terpenes in all their glory sing out. As the top accord fades into the pine forest there is a balanced moment that was pure bliss for me as it all found a precise synergy. Now Ms. Ruhland lights her campfire. In less accomplished hands we would be clobbered by cade oil which would obliterate everything. Ms. Ruhland is not that kind of perfumer so she works for a more delicate effect. By using cypriol and oud she forms a transparent oud accord through which she threads sagebrush. This is not a cloud of smoke it is spirals rising to the stars above in fragrant swirling columns in betwixt the pine not over the top of it. The final transition is to a mixture of musks both the expansive white kind to represent the outdoors balanced with the skin-type versions to capture the person watching the fire burn.
Idyllwild has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I had been missing Ms. Ruhland’s style of perfumery I resorted to writing about one of her earlier creations in my Under the Radar column. I was waiting patiently to be able to write something with “new perfume review” in the header. Idyllwild has satisfied that desire in bravura fashion. I’m not sure if I’ve been missing her or having something new but Idyllwild is so pleasing to me on many levels. If people had forgotten about Ms. Ruhland Idyllwild is a potent “forget me not”.
Disclosure: this review was based upon a sample provided by Ineke Parfumeur.
There is so much new perfume it is hard to keep up with some of the best collections out there. One which I think is getting overlooked is the Maison Martin Margiela Replica series. Since 2012 the Replica series has been a set of fragrance meant to evoke a time and place. Over the seventeen releases since it has a very high batting average; succeeding way more than it doesn’t. One thing which surprises me about this success is it comes as part of one of the large fragrance conglomerates; L’Oreal. I usually associate those with the desire to focus group a perfume to its detriment. The remarkable thing about the Replica collection is there is little sign of that. Almost like the perfumers are given a name and told to go off and bring it to life. I am reasonably sure that is not true; yet these are fragrances produced by one of the largest fragrance companies in the world in a way I don’t usually expect. There are three new additions and the one which I like best is Music Festival.
Music Festival connects with me because I spent some time in my younger days at my share. It is why I’m writing about it over the other two which I want to quickly mention. Sailing Days is a fabulous twist on the aquatic style of perfume by Violaine Collas. After the typical ozonic aldehydic opening she juxtaposes sweet salicylates against a briny seaweed and ambergris base. If you like different aquatics it is worth trying. Wicked Love by perfumer Amandine Clerc-Marie has a fun top accord of basil, watermelon and green pepper which forms a sweet vegetal herbal accord that is unique before heading down to a floral woody finish.
When I spent my youth attending rock festivals they were interesting affairs from a scent perspective. In the afternoon, it was the smells of a summer day and a lot of sun-warmed skin with a haze of smoke over it all. After the sun went down it was the combined warmth of the crowd as things became cooler which formed a kind of different group scent. Perfumer Honorine Blanc has spent some time in a field listening to music for a day too as she captures this completely.
Mme Blanc first sets the pastoral scene with the green of violet leaves and the apple trees ringing the stage. The apple and violet leaves provide that crisp sunshine. The next part of this music festival are the haze hanging above as tobacco, cannabis, and incense form what so reminds me of the persistent cloud it could be called a “Woodstock accord”. The base accord is getting right down into the crowd as patchouli has a musky skin accord paired with it. As the evening cools, it gets warmer and some cedar becomes evident.
Music Festival has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Music Festival is one of the best of what I have already mentioned is one of the best overall collections out there. Cue up your favorite live performances on your music player, get your lighter out and hold it aloft for Mme Blanc’s performance.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Maison Martin Margiela.
Tuberose has been having a moment in perfumery over the last eighteen months. Most of those fragrances have concentrated on reining in the most boisterous of the white flowers. Finding ways to make it less extroverted to appeal to a wider swath of fragrance consumers. Thankfully Amouage operates under a different set of principles. Under the creative direction of Christopher Chong, the perfumes under his guidance do not want to be introverted. The ethos of the brand has almost been, “Where’s the line? Okay let me take one step over it.” It makes Amouage near the top as a brand which stands for a specific aesthetic. Figment Woman displays this using tuberose.
I was surprised that Figment Woman is only the fourth Amouage perfume to contain tuberose. The others are: Ubar, Opus I, and Honour Woman. In those tuberose is but a contributor. Figment Woman is all about the tuberose. Collaborating with perfumers Dorothee Piot and Karine Vinchon-Spehner; Mr. Chong has realized an aria in the key of tuberose.
Using an opera term for known aficionado Mr. Chong is easy but when I wore Figment Woman it was the strong voice of tuberose which sings throughout the day. The perfumers have sourced a full spectrum tuberose allowing it all the room in the world to fill up. It is so overbearing if you spray it on paper that is all you will think is here. It isn’t until it was on my skin that I realized there were some supporting singers for that tuberose diva.
Upon first applying Figment Woman it is another white flower which provides the warm-up; gardenia. The perfumers choose to take the strong green thread within the gardenia and bracket it with saffron and Szechuan pepper. It provides an entry point for the diva to take the stage and with a deep breath she begins to sing; right from the top of her range. This is a gorgeous tuberose absolute that ripples with indolic energy. An array of other florals tune the effect as jasmine, orange blossom, and ylang-ylang provide some background vocals. Then the sticky green blackcurrant bud latches on to the green of the tuberose and elevates it. What is waiting to meet it is iris and papyrus. The orris makes it earthier while the papyrus provides a veil of green in a higher octave. It all ends as patchouli and incense provide a foundation.
Figment Woman has 24-hour longevity and above average sillage.
I had forgotten how much I enjoy the unfettered power of tuberose mainly because everyone seems to be running away from it. Thankfully Mr. Chong’s Amouage would rather provide a stage for tuberose to perform upon.
Disclosure: This review is based on a press sample provided by Amouage.
When I first got to New York City in the mid 1980’s it was the heyday of the exclusive clubs. Clubs like The Palladium or Area were where you went to be seen. If you were a known NYC scenester you were on the guest list. If you weren’t you lined up behind a velvet rope hoping for the doorman to look at you and say the magic words, “You’re In.” As you approached the door the expectation of magic present behind it would give way to the fact that it was another club with some more famous people in attendance then the one closest to you. It still was a lot of fun to share the dance floor with a celebrity.
"You're In" by Andy Warhol (1967)
If you were to look for the beginning of this velvet rope segregation you might look back fifteen years or so to the world Andy Warhol created in NYC. That was another scene where your entry was predicated on adding something to the overall milieu. As with so many things from Mr. Warhol he was eerily prescient on where these nascent trends would end up. One piece of art he did, in 1967, was called “You’re In” where he painted a case of iconic glass Coca-Cola bottles silver and supposedly filled each bottle with toilet water. That’s water from the toilet not eau de toilette. The idea to poke fun with the homophone of the name of the piece. The soda maker was not amused and hit Mr. Warhol with a cease and desist. It also was revealed that it wasn’t toilet water but a cheap drugstore cologne the color of urine inside. Exactly what made Mr. Warhol interesting.
Fifty years later Comme des Garcons wanted to re-visit this in their own homage to it. Lead by Creative Director Christian Astuguevieille they created a set of six silver cylinders each with its own Warhol quote on it encased in a carboard facsimile of the yellow wooden crate of the original piece of art. One thing I was sure of was M. Astuguevieille was not going to be putting toile water inside. What is inside Andy Warhol’s You’re In is a clever twist on the ubiquitous cheap citrus eau de toilette of the 1960’s. This is a citrus eau de toilette given a Comme des Garcons twist.
The top accord is bitter orange within a cloud of aldehydes. I laughed a bit because where aldehydes often remind people of hairspray these aldehydes reminded me of the smell of the fog machines at those velvet rope clubs of the 80’s. It is an odd set of aldehydes also containing a metallic edge as well. Pittosporum with its hybrid scent of orange blossom and jasmine bridges the citrus to a fuller jasmine. It is a classic floral citrus accord adequately achieved. Coriander bridges this into a synthetic woody base. Later on, the metallic effect from the top accord returns along with a bit of white musk.
Andy Warhol’s You’re In has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is a project where the Comme des Garcons style was a perfect match for looking back at Mr. Warhol to synthesize a 2017 interpretation. I felt like I was allowed past the velvet rope of creativity both brands stand for with Andy Warhol’s You’re In.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Comme des Garcons.
Mrs. C is a cross-stitcher which means she is a lover of the textile arts. Which further means I’ve spent my share of museum time looking at tapestries. It is an art form which I have come to appreciate for the subtle effect just a few strands of different colors have overall. The ability to get close and see these strands is like getting close to a color television and seeing the pixels. You have a better experience standing back and taking it in its entirety; not in its micro form. Perfumery has its own way of practicing the weaving of notes into their own olfactory tapestry. Jul et Mad Mon Seul Desir is inspired by a famous tapestry while also weaving its own magic.
"La Dame a la licorne"
The latest three perfumes from Jul et Mad have been using famous works of art as part of their brief. For Mon Seul Desir the tapestry “La Dame a la licorne” (“The Lady and the Unicorn”) in the Musee national du Moyen Age in Paris. It is the final piece in a series of six tapestries where the first five each depict a lady accompanied by a lion and a unicorn in interpretations of each of the five senses. In the final tapestry, the lady stands under a canopy with the words “mon seul desir” on it. The words mean “my sole desire”. Creative directors Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica-Blanchard collaborated with perfumer Stephanie Bakouche.
Madalina Stoica-Blanchard and Julien Blanchard
For Mon Seul Desir the perfume is primarily an osmanthus and oud construction. I have come to appreciate this pairing more than the more classical rose and oud. The dual nature of osmanthus’ fruit and leather finds a way of making oud leatherier itself which is where Mon Seul Desir spends most of its time.
Mon Seul Desir is begun by building a frame of nutmeg, baie rose, and coriander. The baie rose provides an herbal component which the nutmeg and coriander gives a kind of faux woodiness to. Then Mme Bakouche gets down to weaving as the osmanthus warps itself over the weft of oud. Always the osmanthus is on top the apricot quality floating above the leathery. The oud picks out the leather threads and attaches to them as it keeps to the background. It all evolves into a final weave of amber, benzoin, and musk; warm and comforting.
Mon Seul Desir has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
In tapestry, the warp covers the weft. It is the same effect here as the osmanthus is the focal point while the oud supports in the background. You can get close enough to pick out the threads but it as an accord that it appeals. Mme Bakouche shows she can handle the fragrant loom to get the most out of her threads making Mon Seul Desir as beautiful as its inspiration.
Disclosure: This review is based on a press sample provided by Jul et Mad.