New Perfume Review Artemisia Natural Perfume Ozymandias- Look and Rejoice

One thing I have definitely noticed over the past few years has been the coalescence of the natural perfume community. For the last few years there have been collaborative projects. Shows featuring the smaller indie and natural perfumers. Facebook groups for support when you need it. One of the reasons for the vitality of natural perfume is all of this. It was one of those collaborative projects, The Mystery of Musk, where I was introduced to the perfumes of Lisa Fong under her label Artemisia Natural Perfume. That project was all about natural perfumers creating a botanical musk fragrance. Her entry Drifting Sparks was one of the most subtle compositions within the entire project. It marked her as someone to watch. Over the past four years she has only become more assured as an artist. I was delighted to receive her first attempt to create something more masculine, Ozymandias.

Ozymandias is the name of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelly. It speaks of a traveler who observes the ruins of the great statue of which all that remains standing are the two legs on a pedestal on which these words are etched, “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.” It is a poem to remind one that all things once mighty will fall to decay over time. It is an interesting inspiration to start from. Ms. Fong sees this as a journey from the brightness of an unquestioned reign which becomes sanctified with frankincense, in the heart, before crumbling to dust with a fantastic mitti attar in the base.

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Lisa Fong

Ozymandias opens with a beautiful full spectrum mandarin as both the fruit and wood add the brightness of the tree in sunshine, it is an uplifting opening. It becomes a bit sharper with Ms. Fong’s use of arnica absolute which adds green facets along with some softer hay-like qualities. Then she layers in multiple frankincense sources which build a resinous power in tiny increments. When natural perfumers get their mix right there is a crescendo which often occurs as these precious materials intermix on my skin. The frankincenses are the overture because the addition of tobacco and mitti attar cause Ozymandias to soar to the heavens. The mitti attar is sandalwood distilled from old-fashioned clay pots and it adds that earthy clayey foundation underneath the rich wood. It is the sense of the earth reaching up to reclaim even the mighty, but not quite yet.

Ozymandias has 6-8 hour longevity and modest sillage.

Every step Ms. Fong has been taking has been sure and is all about building a brand which has the ability to endure instead of ending up on a decayed pedestal of their own. Ozymandias confirms the promise I have seen building over the past four years. It is her best perfume to date and let me encourage you to look on her work and rejoice.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Artemisia Natural Perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Nasomatto Blamage- Mistaken Identity

Expectations are often unmet. That doesn’t mean disappointing but when you’re expecting Thomas Pynchon and you get Stephen King you have to recalibrate your expectations. The last perfume from perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri for his Nasomatto label is called Blamage and it definitely confounded my expectations.

These expectations came from seeing the documentary on the making of Blamage at Esxence this year. The movie chronicles Sig. Gualtieri’s attempt to allow a mistake (blamage) to guide this last Nasomatto perfume. To that end he was blindfolded with a plaster cast and lead to his organ to choose four ingredients to base Blamage on. We never see clearly which four ingredients he chooses but Sig. Gualtieri seems delighted with the difficulty. The movie is accompanied with visuals of things burning and smoking which look pungent. I left the movie looking forward to something very avant-garde. A statement on randomness leading to creativity. When I finally received my sample of Blamage it turned out to be the least avant-garde of any perfume in the entire Nasomatto line.

alessandro gualtieri

Alessandro Gualtieri

As I said I am not sure what the four keynotes Sig. Gualtieri took down off of his organ but if, as I was lead to believe, they were the kind of fractious notes difficult to blend with then Sig. Gualtieri chose to populate Blamage with every other note on the safer side. From a citrus and tuberose opening through a lily and magnolia heart down to a base which might have every synthetic wood ingredient known to perfume. It leads to a very easy to wear fragrance except for the overload of synthetics at the end which might not appeal to everyone.

Blamage has a bright bergamot to go with the grapefruit. The tuberose is the deeply piquant version of the bloom. The floral parade continues with gardenia, lily of the valley, and magnolia in the heart. The source of the magnolia also has a fairly prominent woody quality and it sets up the base. In the base is where Sig. Gualtieri maybe gets a little less safe as it seems like there is a cavalcade of ambrox-like molecules, synthetic sandalwoods, and iso E super. It is all present in high concentration. If you like these notes Blamage will be amazing for you as Sig. Gualtieri does a very good job of balancing them while simultaneously turning up the volume. I can pick out many of the components and that speaks to the precision used in assembling it.

Blamage has 24-36 hour longevity, those synthetic woods are some of the most tenacious materials in perfumery. It also has explosive sillage again due to the woody synthetics.

The woody synthetics in the base are some of my least favorite materials in all of perfumery and because of that the sway they hold over Blamage colors my personal view of it. I think if you like the woody synthetics, and I know there are many out there that do, Blamage is going to be a favorite. It is a niche version of an old-fashioned woody powerhouse perfume of the 1980’s. I think it is easily the most approachable of the entire Nasomatto line and it will be where I tell people to start when first exploring the line. Maybe that is the final word on making perfume via blamage it always ends up way safer than you expect.

Disclsoure: This review was based on a sample of Blamage provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Avon Flor Alegria- Pretty Simple

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I have an old high school friend who lives in Pennsylvania and she is an Avon salesperson. She asked me if I had an opinion on the recent Avon perfumes. I told her I hadn’t given them a thought in years. As we corresponded I realized how shortsighted that view was. Many of my favorite perfumers work on briefs for Avon. Just in 2014 here is the list of perfumers who have composed perfumes for Avon: Laurent Le Guernec, Harry Fremont, Frank Voelkl, Alberto Morillas, Calice Becker, Pierre Negrin, Nathalie Lorson, and Rodrigo Flores-Roux. Pretty impressive lineup for perfume which runs about $20-30 a bottle.

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Rodrigo Flores-Roux

For that price we are not talking about perfumes which are loaded with essential oils these talented perfumers are employing the cost-efficient synthetic ingredients on their perfumer’s organ. You could make the case that these are more difficult to compose with and tease nuance out of. In response to my lack of knowledge my friend sent me a huge box of many of the current Avon perfume offerings. After spending a few weeks with them I was very pleased to find there were more than a few which rose above the others. Tomorrow in Discount Diamonds I will give a bunch of short reviews of my favorites but for today’s column I want to focus on the one which was hands down my favorite in the box Flor Alegria.

Isabel Lopes

Isabel Lopes

Flor Alegria was composed by Rodrigo Flores-Roux under the Creative Direction of Isabel Lopes. Ms. Lopes recently took over the creative direction for the fragrance division and one thing I can state assuredly Ms. Lopes has a consistent aesthetic she is asking for from the perfumers she oversees. For the women’s perfumes pretty and light. For the men’s colognes bracing and woody. Nobody should expect anything different from a mass-market brand like Avon but just as with any niche brand which has an active creative director who keeps true to the brand, Avon is no different. Just a different audience and by this point in time they should have a good idea what sells to that audience. As I tried these perfumes what I kept coming away with was simple does not have to be uninspiring. Sr. Flores-Roux puts a strong exclamation point on that thought with Flor Alegria.

Flor Alegria inhabits one of the styles of perfume I always have difficulty with, fruity floral. What I liked about it was Sr. Flores-Roux was able to balance these synthetics, which can be harsh in excess, and in the case of Flor Alegria turn them into a perfume that was pillow soft.

The top notes are citrus and passionfruit. When it comes to citrus in a perfume Sr. Flores-Roux knows how to use it to precise effect. He wants the passionfruit to be the top but if it was left alone it probably would have become cloying and overwhelming. By using citrus to curtail some of that exuberance he strikes a perfect balance. The heart is rose in all of its powdery sweet floral glory. Here he has to be careful to not let the powder get out of control because his base of iris could’ve doubled down on the powderiness. Instead the iris provides a bit of powder but it is complementary to the rose. The overall effect is a downy fruity floral that was very pleasing to wear.

Flor Alegria has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

The whole Avon collection I tried was much better than one might expect for perfumes costing $20. On the other hand talent is talent and if Sr. Flores-Roux is making a fragrance he can probably make a good one from sealing wax and twine. Flor Alegria is an example of Sr. Flores-Roux working at the top of his game to make a pretty fruity floral and sometimes pretty is all you need.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Avon.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Capsule Parfums Polis- Starched Collar Aquatic

It isn’t often on my field trips to the local mall I find something I haven’t heard of. If there is something I haven’t heard of there is usually a good reason. As I was talking to the sales associate at one of the big department stores I kept getting this great sophisticated aquatic coming off her arm as we moved through the department. I asked her what she was wearing and she pointed to this display of five non-descript bottles and said Capsule Parfums Polis. The Colognoisseur was stumped and she eagerly showed me something I hadn’t experienced previously.

There is pretty scant information on the brand. On their website they call themselves “an independent collective practicing art in the realm of olfactory expression.” There are articles which describe it as an LA-based brand and they say they work “in collaboration with some of the finest talent in modern perfumery.” I am really glad I didn’t read this text before trying the fragrances as it comes off just a bit too arch for my tastes. There are five entries in the line; Moto, Jaunt, Urbane, Byway, and Polis. There is also mention of combining them to create your own personal scent, which is something we have heard before. The price and size is fantastic as they retail for $38/15mL.

Calone

Calone

Polis was what the sales associate was wearing and it is my favorite of the five. It is surprisingly engaging for being a simple aquatic. Aquatics as a class seem so played out to me that Polis makes it slightly different by pairing the calone and ozonic notes with clean cotton musk notes. A bit of florals with a base of vetiver and other white musks come together very nicely. It really is the smell of standing on the beach with the breeze blowing off the water while wearing a freshly ironed and starched cotton shirt.

Polis opens with the foundation of every aquatic for the last twenty years, calone. Often what makes aquatics so deadly boring is they just rely on the calone to do all the heavy lifting. The perfumer for Polis made an interesting decision to give the calone some equal running partners. The first is one of those cotton musks which adds a crisp linen underpinning. A bit of mimosa and lily tease out some of the floral facets inherent in calone. The base is vetiver and two or three white musks added for a bit of softness.

Polis has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

It has been a long time since a straightforward clean and fresh aquatic has excited me but Polis has pulled off the trick. It has become my Saturday morning companion as I run errands for the past month. It is easy to wear without being uninteresting. I am very impressed with these early offerings by Capsule Parfums and look forward to the next ones.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Polis I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Blackbird Triton- The Ice of Neptune

I’m not sure what it is about the Pacific Northwest in this country but as far as independent perfume goes it seems to be fertile ground for fragrance. Latest evidence of this creative Renaissance is the newest release from the Seattle-based store Blackbird. Blackbird recently transitioned from a brick and mortar store with an online presence to exclusively online. As a big part of this vibrant scene the store was a place to have events. It was one reason that the initial seven fragrances released under the Blackbird brand were a little disappointing. They were provocatively named, Pipe Bomb as an example, but they failed to impress as they were fairly linear and simplistic. I trusted that was what their clientele wanted and didn’t really give them another thought. A couple months ago I received the latest release Blackbird Triton. Because of my previous experience I kept pushing it down the priority list until a couple weeks ago.

Triton is named after the moon of Neptune and inspired by the icy orb. It has a frozen surface populated with cryovolcanoes which erupt in jets of frozen nitrogen. The fragrance inspired by this harsh landscape is a study in the cooler notes on the perfumer’s palette. Throughout its development it carries a metaphorical frost with aldehydes and violet providing the initial chill. It stays extremely delineated through a dry heart before having its own cryovolcano which shoots out a stream of incense.

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Photo of Triton by Voyager 2 (Photo: NASA JPL)

Triton immediately goes frigid as the more metallic aldehydes are combined with violet leaf. There is also just a pinch of black pepper to simulate the tickle in one’s nose when breathing in very cold air. This has an almost sci-fi kind of metallic gleam to it, which seems appropriate. With the violet leaf continuing the icy vibe; an extremely dry cedar and very astringent vetiver form an austere heart. This is a barren set of perfume notes it almost echoes it is so punctuated. I think that this is where some will have difficulty with Triton. If you want your perfumes luscious and warm Triton is not your perfume. I really like the choice to keep it so locked into a minimalist attitude. The base allows an eruption of incense, styrax, and amber. These add a bit of contextual heat but not enough and fairly rapidly the incense recaptures the coolness.

Triton has 6-8 hour longevity and modest sillage.

I was very surprised at how assuredly Triton went through its paces. Based on the previous Blackbird releases there was no reason to expect this kind of avant-garde type of perfume. Triton really impressed me more each successive time I wore it. For something so cold it has found a warm place in my perfumed heart.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Maison Francis Kurkdjian feminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel- The New Classics

Francis Kurkdjian is one of the elite perfumers working currently. He still takes briefs from many of the more mainstream brands but his best work has been for his own line, Maison Francis Kurkdjian. M. Kurkdjian is a refreshing personality who carries an amused smile at those of us, like myself, who take perfume so seriously. He has compared the perfumes in his Maison Francis Kurkdjian collection as pieces of olfactory wardrobe. Aqua Universalis is a t-shirt and Absolue pour le Soir a pair of leather pants. The idea being one you wear every day and the other only comes out occasionally. The latest two releases are to “complete the wardrobe” and are called feminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel. If I understand the video below correctly these are supposed to be the versatile pieces of the collection the virtual Little Black Dress and Navy Blazer.

What M. Kurkdjian does as he has so many times in the past is to work within a very classic perfume architecture but to update it, to turn it into a new classic. Both versions of Pluriel have the classic part down perfectly as for the feminin Pluriel it is a chypre and for masculin Pluriel it is a fougere. Those forms are clearly present but for the feminin Pluriel he covers it in a delicate veil of florals. For the masculin Pluriel it is a really fantastic leather accord that transforms the fougere into something very special.

francis kurkdjian

Francis Kurkdjian

feminin Pluriel carries a beautiful bit of fragility despite being laden with some of my favorite floral notes. In truth as I read the note list before trying it I was having a hard time seeing how this was all going to balance out. I needn’t have worried as M. Kurkdjian has placed each floral as precisely as Calder does to make his mobiles attain the perfect position and spacing. The opening is the softness of orange blossom contrasted with the chill of violet. Muguet bridges the two notes and carries them down to the heart to mingle with orris, jasmine, and rose. You read all of those notes and you expect heavy pendulous powder. M. Kurkdjian delivers muted slightly powdery floralcy which comes to a conclusion on a base of patchouli and vetiver. Providing the chypre foundation underneath the flowers. feminin Pluriel really does feel as versatile as a Little Black Dress able to function from office to cocktail party to formal affair. It really does do exactly what M. Kurkdjian wants it to.

masculin Pluriel is even better as this note list is simplicity itself, lavender absolute, cedar, leather, patchouli, and vetiver. You have smelled that mix of ingredients in many other perfumes but you have never smelled it as it exists in masculin Pluriel. Lavender is often cleaned up so much in perfumes that it becomes insipid. The lavender that grows in my garden is a wonderful combination of herbal and woody components under the sweet floral. The lavender absolute M. Kurkdjian uses here smells more like the fresh lavender outside my front door and less like air freshener. The lavender absolute used is so full of nuance and texture M. Kurkdjian allows it to own the early development all by itself. The very dry clean cedar eventually comes along to pick up the woody aspects but it becomes an equal partner to the lavender absolute, making it just feel woodier. The leather accord is next and it is beautifully poised without getting too rambunctious or becoming a faint suggestion of the animalic. The accord M. Kurkdjian fashions here is a well-used and maintained leather strong but not forceful. masculin Pluriel ends with patchouli and vetiver as well but this time the balance is more vetiver, again picking up on the woody theme running throughout. This also has the same versatility as feminin Pluriel.

feminin Pluriel had 6-8 hour longevity and modest sillage. masculin Pluriel has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

In the press materials M. Kurkdjian says these two Plutriels should be seen as mirror images and especially in the base there is some truth to this. I see them more as brother and sister undeniably sharing some genetic similarity but equally undeniably each is true to their own aesthetic. I really like both of them but masculin Pluriel has really blown me away as it has been a pleasure to spend the last few days with. It is one of the very best of the entire Maison Francis Kurkdjian collection.

Disclosure; This review was based on samples provided by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Creed Acqua Originale Collection Aberdeen Lavender, Asian Green Tea, Cedre Blanc, Iris Tubereuse, & Vetiver Geranium

It has been a while since Creed has released a completely new perfume. Last year’s Millesime 1849 is the only new fragrance since 2011. 2014 will make up for that as Creed inaugurates a new collection, Acqua Originale, with five new releases: Aberdeen Lavender, Asian Green Tea, Cedre Blanc, Iris Tubereuse, and Vetiver Geranium. Olivier Creed is the perfumer for all five and he has created a collection of luminous perfumes which all exude a beautiful glow.

Aberdeen Lavender is a lavender but it is surrounded by a fantastic choice of notes by M. Creed. Before you get to the lavender in the heart the top notes of absinthe, rosemary, and lemon create a fascinating accord of herbal and citrus components. Once the lavender rises to prominence it is supported with orris and tuberose. The lavender and the absinthe seem like they were made to go together and I really enjoyed the moments they were both on top. This all ends with a suede leather accord along with patchouli and vetiver. Lavender is such a common perfumery note but M. Creed gives it a luxurious makeover.

Thankfully there are no truth in naming statutes for perfume. If there was Asian Green Tea would be arrested for false expectations. I have to say I was expecting another riff on jasmine tea or mate but M. Creed wanted to make an elegant citrus floral. The top notes are a brilliant collage of lemon, mandarin, petitgrain, and neroli. M. Creed lets these notes form a sunburst in the early moments of the development. Violet and sticky green blackcurrant buds form the heart. According to the note list there is supposed to be tea here but I don’t detect it at all. What is here is a dense green fruity floral heart. The base is a silky smooth mix of sandalwood and amber. The name aside this is a great fruity floral perfume among the best Creed has ever done. Just don’t look for the tea.

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Olivier Creed

Cedre Blanc is the most straightforward of the Acqua Originale Collection. It runs in a fairly straight line from a green top of galbanum and cardamom through a heart of geranium and waterliy down to a base of cedar and vetiver. It is very well composed but it really seems to me that only cedar lovers are going to want this one as it feels so boring.

Iris Tubereuse is anything but what I expected. I was ready for an olfactory tussle between iris and tuberose. Instead of conflict the purple flower escorts the white flower out in a surprising harmony. Orange and galbanum form an orthogonal pair of green and citrus into which violet is inserted. This forms a sort of iris accord which is more malleable and it expands to corral the tuberose in the heart. Very quickly this all comes together on my skin and the richness of the tuberose with the softness of the “iris” is quite pleasant. The base is a simple duo of vanilla and musk. It is that moment when the iris accord and the tuberose combine which makes this one magical.

Vetiver Geranium is my favorite of the Acqua Originales because M. Creed really gets imaginative with his composition. Lemon is on top again but it is paired with a marvelous Granny Smith apple. This makes the early moments feel crisp and tart. I enjoyed this opening so much I kept topping up on the days I wore this just to get a little more. The green tinted rose quality of geranium is front and center in the heart and here M. Creed dusts it with smoldering cinnamon. The spicy floral is dynamic and as lovely as the top notes. Patchouli and amber provide the foundation of Vetiver Geranium and it is simple and appropriately chosen.

The Acqua Originale Collection has 8-10 hour longevity and below average sillage. These are light compositions and they can seem to be gone when they are still there.

If you are interested in these perfumes I urge you to make sure you try them on skin. I sniffed them on blotters at Esxence and walked away unimpressed. Once I had the samples in hand and wore them over the last six weeks they are much better when on skin. Wearing each for a couple days completely altered my initial opinion of the collection. Particularly Asian Green Tea and Vetiver Geranium have risen very high in my estimation.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples I received at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Agonist Solaris- Midnight Sun

My only experience with the Midnight Sun came on my honeymoon when we cruised to Alaska, followed by a tour of the state. It was an experience which illuminated the effect daylight has on one’s emotional state. I would be happily moving along and would look at my watch to see it was 11PM when it felt like 4PM. The light was almost magical in the way it energized and sustained me. In conjunction with the extended daylight there was a great crispness to the air we were breathing which also seemed especially rejuvenating. I hadn’t considered the idea of a fragrance attempting to evoke the Midnight Sun. If I did give it some thought I would’ve imagined Niclas and Christine Lydeen, owners and creative directors, of Agonist to be capable of doing it. The ninth release Solaris is exactly this.

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Christine and Niclas Lydeen

The Lydeens have forged a durable partnership with perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin and through the eight previous perfumes created a very Nordic aesthetic for the Agonist line. This aesthetic has a bit of an aloof personality and many find Agonist to be a perfume line which requires too much effort to get close to. I have always found that slightly chilly antipathy the perfumes tend to wear defiantly something which perversely makes me want to give them an extra spritz when wearing them. If you have found this style one you have had issues with in the past Solaris might be a great perfume to give it a try again. M. Pellegrin has made the easiest to wear Agonist to date by turning Solaris into an unnaturally long lasting citrus fragrance whose sun finally sets on the woods in the distance.

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Fabrice Pellegrin

M. Pellegrin uses a veritable olfactory produce section of citrus notes with pink grapefruit, mandarin, lemon, and petitgrain combining to make a mega-citrus accord. To add some variation black pepper adds spice and black currant adds dark berry features. The pepper and currant have the effect of turning all that citrus into something less bracing and more diffuse in effect. It is a really beautiful combination. Galbanum anchors the heart with a green focal point. M. Pellegrin then uses peach, ginger, an ozonic accord, and litsea cubeba. That last note is an evergreen shrub found in Southeast Asia. Its essential oil is mostly the lemon scented molecule Citral. The rest of it is as you would expect from an evergreen, lighter greens and a very subtle floral component somewhere between iris and violet. It isn’t often used but based on Solaris I would like to see it used a little more. It is what extends the citrus vibe from the top notes. The peach and ginger balance it out with fruit and spice. The ozonic accord is that of a lungful of clear cool crisp air inhaled with gusto. The base notes are centered on labdanum. Tonka and benzoin add sweetness, patchouli and amber add depth. As befits a fragrance inspired by the Midnight Sun the base notes don’t show up for a long time and when they do they are there for a shorter time than normal.

Solaris has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I didn’t know I wanted a Midnight Sun perfume. Solaris has shown me the fallacy of that thinking. M. Pellegrin has made a fragrance of opaque strength which captures a feeling, a place, and the light just right

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Rouge Bunny Rouge Silhouette & Tundra- Tales Told Well

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Rouge Bunny Rouge the English beauty line overseen by Alexandra de Montfort has two fragrance collections that they offer. The Fragrant Confections Collection has not really resonated with me although I think they are well-done. The other collection Provenance Tales has been a complete success for me. I really enjoyed the three initial releases and now they have been followed up by two new releases, Silhouette and Tundra.

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Nathalie Lorson

Both perfumes were composed by Nathalie Lorson under Mme de Montfort’s creative direction. Both fragrances share a spicy opening but then head in different directions. Silhouette is a rose leather fragrance; Tundra is woods and vetiver. Mme Lorson has done a really nice job with both of these.

Silhouette opens with a nice coriander and nutmeg pairing. The greener aspects of coriander are enhanced by the sweeter aspects of nutmeg. From here the rose really takes a hold and it is a delicate fragile rose. The note is called rose petals in the press release and it does feel like a gentle wash of petals flowing over my consciousness. Sandalwood provides a sweetly woody foundation to the rose. The leather accord comes next and this is modern refined leather, like the kind you smell in the leather department at a store. A touch industrial, a touch animalic. Ambergris and musk provide the final touches.  Silhouette has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

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Alexandra de Montfort

Tundra is a fabulous woody fantasia which also begins in the spice cabinet. Here Mme Lorson takes pink pepper along with nutmeg, as well. Just as with Silhouette they form a spicy harmonic which is then enhanced with juniper. The juniper adds a superb bit of sharpness from a different vector. Patchouli holds the heart along with violet and elemi. The early moments of the patchouli seems sort of common. That changes as vetiver insinuates itself within the patchouli and eventually overwhelms it. Mme Lorson has a particularly dexterous hand when it comes to using vetiver. In Tundra she turns it into an unusually soft presence which tames the patchouli leaving a velvety green effect behind. Moss keeps the green beat going before cedar adds its deeply clean woody individuality. It really adds a distinct frame to all that has come before. Tundra has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Rouge Bunny Rouge has really made a splash in the overall beauty sector over the last year. That they are not leaving their fragrances to secondary afterthoughts is to be admired. The Provenance Tales Collection is just getting better and Tundra and Silhouette continue the trend.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples from Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review D.S. & Durga HYLNDS Foxglove- Oisin’s Grave

Brooklyn-based Independent perfume brand D.S. & Durga branched out in 2013 by producing the HYLNDS collection. The first four fragrances were evocations of the Highlands myths and folklore. The fifth release Foxglove continues that tradition as it is focused on the man who was considered the greatest poet of Ireland, Oisin. Perfumer David Seth Moltz was inspired by a visit to the gravesite. He says, “When I walked up to Oisin’s grave, I found one foxglove flower facing it 20 feet from the site. It was if Nieve was sitting watch over her lost love.”

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One of the characteristics of the HYLNDS collection of perfumes is they all have a distinctive sense of place within their composition. When I smell all of these fragrances I feel very much aware of the inspiration surrounding me. Foxglove does a fantastic job of fusing the legend of Oisin with the idea of standing near his grave on a damp moor with a single bloom in front of you. Mr. Moltz has chosen a slightly vegetal citrus top. Champaca absolute centers the heart. Leather combined with immortelle makes up the base. It is a fragrance of open green spaces.

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David Seth Moltz

Mr. Moltz uses citron peel, rosewood, and Queen Anne’s lace as his opening trio. One should always remember that Queen Anne’s lace is a member of the carrot family and as such while floral it also carries a significant vegetal quality. The citron is well-chosen contrast for that with the rosewood adding gentle woody aspects underneath it all. Champaca rises to the foreground next and it is buttressed with orris and neroli. The two supporting notes help the champaca from being overwhelming as they temper the more boisterous qualities of the absolute. We are standing near a grave and should show some respect. The base is my favorite part of Foxglove as Mr. Moltz starts with a smooth leather. This is the leather of a saddle ridden upon often, well-oiled, and taken care of. The leather accord has a wonderfully broken in feeling to it. The choice of immortelle is also a great decision and it blends well with the leather accord. The final two ingredients in the base are ambergris and peach. These shouldn’t be as good with the leather and immortelle as they are. Together this carries a hint of the sea, the dampness of the highlands, and the leather of a warrior poet. This last phase of Foxglove is what I look forward to whenever I wear it.

Foxglove has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I really believe this HYLNDS collection is the best most cohesive set of fragrances D.S. & Durga has produced. I am not sure if Mr. Moltz is just especially inspired by the subject matter or if this is just the evolution of his skills as an independent perfumer. Foxglove is my favorite of the five and it is because of that leather and immortelle base as it conjures up its location as well as a perfume possibly can.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by D.S. & Durga.

Mark Behnke