New Perfume Review Map of the Heart Black Heart v. 2-Charred Heart of Darkness

It has been seven weeks since I was in Florence for Pitti Fragranze and there is one perfume which has consumed my thoughts since trying it there. One of my favorite new lines I discovered at Pitti was Map of the Heart. Map of the Heart is a debut line from co-founders Sarah Blair and Jeffrey Darling. They have collaborated with perfumer Jacques Huclier on three perfumes. They also have brought in bottle designer Pierre Dinand to fashion heart shaped flacons. Map of the Heart Clear Heart v. 1 and Red Heart v. 3 are nicely executed aquatic and tuberose perfumes, respectively. They are good but the middle volume Black Heart v. 2 is something wholly unique, a perfumed journey into darkness that never compromises by letting in even a tiny sliver of light.

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Black Heart v. 2 has been one of those perfumes which has been difficult for me to write about because I don’t think I am going to communicate what a completely consuming sensual experience it is. The creative team wanted M. Huclier to be inspired by the Australian brushfires from where Ms. Blair and Mr. Darling live. The quote from the press release is they wanted M. Huclier to capture “the moment the flames subside and the blackened tree trunks remain smoldering in a snow of white ash- the piercing sunlight slicing through.” The first part of that inspiration is expertly re-created. The sunlight not so much as there is not any light in this composition of smoke, spice, and the hope for renewal from near-complete destruction.

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Jacques Huclier

M. Huclier uses a trio of spices, in overdose, as cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper add the black shroud to the early moments. Just to make sure the point is not missed a little bergamot and orange are consumed in the dark flames like a sorcerer’s spell of eldritch origin. Through the spices M. Huclier adds in a significant amount of eucalyptus which adds sharp green over a camphor-like effect. This is the smell of tree trunks detonated by the heat of the fire. A chilling reminder of natural immolation. Then M. Huclier begins to waft smoke first in gentle puffs and then as a pervasive fog. The smoke lies heavily on top of Australian sandalwood. I have found Australian sandalwood to have an almost ashy quality just on its own. In Black Heart v. 2 M. Huclier finds that same characteristic and enhances it so the sandalwood note feels like I am experiencing it after it has been burned through and through.

Black Heart v. 2 has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

When I spoke with Ms. Blair at Pitti she told me that there was an earlier mod she sought feedback on and one person told her it should be darker. I don’t know who that person was but I am so very happy that advice was adhered to. The best perfumes are those where the creative vision is realized without compromise. Black Heart v. 2 is a glorious paean to the art of not compromising. If you love dark smoky artistic perfumes you will find no new perfume for 2014 which delivers on all three qualities any better than Black Heart v. 2.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Map of the Heart at Pitti Fragranze.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review En Voyage Perfumes Fiore di Bellagio- Zelda’s Scent

The 1920’s and The Lost Generation make up one of my favorite eras. Not only from a historical perspective but also that of societal change. I would say that it would take until the 1960’s before society would undergo a similar change driven by the youth of the time. It seems that perfumer Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes has also become interested in this time and place. Her interest was piqued by working on her homage to Zelda Fitzgerald called Zelda which came out last year. Ms. Waddington began to delve into the perfumed history of the time and also began to wonder what Zelda might have worn. The 1920’s were great years for perfumery with Ernest Daltroff’s work at Caron right at the top of the class. Ms. Waddington came to the conclusion that Caron Bellodgia from 1927 would be Zelda’s choice.

Caron Bellodgia was M. Daltroff’s carnation-centric floral on a base of sandalwood and musk. For her re-interpretation, Fiore di Bellagio, Ms. Waddington adds some well-chosen additions to the florals from Bellodgia to create modern perfume with the inspiration of M. Daltroff’s classic. All of the ingredients present in Bellodgia are found in Fiore di Bellagio. Ms. Waddington carefully chooses some new additions like citrus on top, gardenia in the heart, and resins and vanilla in the base. All of these extra notes work very well and never disturb the 1920’s vibe Ms. Waddington is attempting.

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Shelley Waddington

The same ylang ylang Belodgia opens with is in Fiore di Bellagio. Ms. Waddington decides to add a green shrubbery accord along with lemon. The lemon in particular adds depth and contrast to the ylang ylang. This opens onto a floral blockbuster of a heart. The carnation is front and center but it is just part of a floral fusillade of gardenia, jasmine, rose otto, orris, muguet, and violet. Ms. Waddington makes it so each of these notes can be picked out like concentrating on a single instrument in an orchestral work. While you can do that you are better served by enjoying the overall effect. Fiore di Bellagio feels like a throwback and it only becomes more pronounced in the base. Ms. Waddington trots out a beautiful aged sandalwood and civet to have the Bellodgia base notes present. She chooses to round those out with a rich vanilla to turn the sandalwood sweeter and creamier as well as a group of resinous notes which keeps the civet from being as feral as it could be.

Fiore di Bellagio has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Ms. Waddington has done a marvelous job creating a companion piece to Zelda. Both creations create a wonderful “out of time” sensation without feeling like museum pieces. If you are a fan of Zelda or Retro Nouveau perfumes Fiore di Bellagio is one to put on your sampling list.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by En Voyage Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Diana Vreeland Perfectly Marvelous- Sort Of Original

One of Diana Vreeland’s quotable quotes was, “Style, all who have it share one thing: originality.” If you’re going to do a perfume line which carries the name of Diana Vreeland, originality should be a given. The new five fragrance Diana Vreeland line of perfumes which was creatively directed by her grandson Alexander Vreeland is almost entirely devoid of originality. Four of the five fragrances are routine reworks of popular styles of perfumes. Like a box checking exercise there’s an oriental, a rose, a tuberose, and an amber. They are all so forgettable and banal that it seems almost a crime they carry Ms. Vreeland’s name. They are all so unoriginal that as I started to try the fifth one Perfectly Marvelous I was already stifling my yawn. In a true contest of diminished expectations it is by far the best of a bad lot. As I wore it for a couple of days my attitude brightened somewhat toward it.

Perfumer Celine Barel was, according to the website, inspired by another of Ms. Vreeland’s quotes, “If it isn’t a passion, it isn’t burning, it isn’t on fire, you haven’t lived.” Mme Barel does not deliver a fire with Perfectly Marvelous but she does deliver something a bit different on a basic jasmine theme. She takes a few variations on well-understood tropes and makes Perfectly Marvelous the only one of this collection I could enjoy.

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Diana Vreeland surrounded by red

Ms. Vreeland’s favorite color was red and she was known for the red décor of her home and her red nail polish. Another of the descriptors from the website was for Perfectly Marvelous to evoke red lacquered sandalwood. In that desire I think Mme Barel comes closer to the mark. She starts with a soft swirl of spices centered on pimento. The pimento is probably the most original ingredient used in all five perfumes in the collection. Mme Barel doesn’t squander it as she uses jasmine sambac as floral contrast. This version of jasmine is the kind with the indoles mostly neutered. Every time I wore this I wondered how much better this might have been with a bit of feral indole in the mix. What is here is pleasant and in place of the indole she uses cashmeran to add its very polite muskiness along with sandalwood. The cashmeran feels too proper for a trailblazer like Ms. Vreeland.

Perfectly Marvelous has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

Perfectly Marvelous suffers from a distinct desire to play it safe something which can be used to describe the other four perfumes in the line. At least in the case of Perfectly Marvelous Mme Barel was allowed one tiny moment to allow Ms. Vreeland to channel some originality her way. It makes Perfectly Marvelous sort of original which is a very sad thing to say about something which carries Diana Vreeland’s name.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples I received at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review B. Balenciaga- Alexander Wang Takes the Wheel

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One of the things that can be tough to watch is when a perfume brand loses its way. This more frequently happens within the designer mainstream sector. As creative direction at the fashion house changes direction it will eventually trickle down to the ancillary products like fragrance. Balenciaga has recently undergone one of these changes. In 2012 Alexander Wang took over from Nicolas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga. For my tastes the perfumes that were released under M. Ghesquiere’s tenure like Florabotanica and Balenciaga Paris did not live up to the heritage of a brand which produced Le Dix back in the 1950’s. I was interested to see in what direction M. Wang would choose to take the perfume side of Balenciaga. The first data point has arrived with the release of B. Balenciaga.

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One of the things I like about M. Wang is he very much wants to integrate the perfumes which carry the Balenciaga name with the couture that name represents. He used B. Balenciaga to scent the Spring 2015 runway show in Paris. The B. Balenciaga bottle is meant to remind you of the marble floor in the Balenciaga flagship store in Paris. The runway carried the same pattern. Beyond aesthetics the photo of Gisele Bundchen by photographer Steven Klein is a visual example of M. Wang’s desire to break Balenciaga free of the past. On the perfume side M. Wang partnered with perfumer Domitille Bertier to create B. Balenciaga.

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Domitille Bertier

From the first moment I sniffed B. Balenciaga I was drawn in by a steamy vegetal accord. When I saw the list of notes there it was right on the page, edamame accord. Mme Bertier has constructed a very green accord which is suffused with steam and humidity. She tempers some of the ability to feel like you are being made to figuratively eat your olfactory vegetables by using violet leaf and muguet to give a floral place to orient oneself. I found all of this quite fascinating and it lasts for a couple of hours this way on my skin. After that it proceeds pretty normally through a finish of cedar and cashmeran.

B. Balenciaga has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

After his predecessor’s habit of playing it safe with a collection of bland florals I am pleased to see M. Wang seems to be trying something different. B. Balenciaga is a floral but that edamame accord makes it anything but bland. I am looking forward to what comes next at Balenciaga.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample of B. Balenciaga I received at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review S-Perfume Musk-S- Sacre Nobi’s Second Fragrance Period Begins

One of my favorite early niche perfume lines was one called S-Perfume which came straight out of the DUMBO art collective in Brooklyn. The creative director behind the brand was Nobi Shioya who is also known as sculptor Sacre Nobi. In 2000 he became fascinated with fragrance and worked with perfumers Alberto Morillas and Thierry Wasser to add scent to his sculpture. This would lead to a one-off project where he assigned one of the Seven Deadly Sins to a perfumer. Back in 2002 this was the roster he attracted, besides Messrs. Morillas and Wasser, Annie Buzantian, Jacques Cavallier, Ilia Ermenidis, Annick Menardo, and Harry Fremont. I would say that my little sample set of these Seven Deadly Sin perfumes was one of the earliest moments where I seriously began to consider the idea of olfactory art. Each perfume was challenging and the perfumers were encouraged to push the boundaries of perfume making. I can’t say any of them are anything I crave to wear but I do pull them out from time-to-time to appreciate them as artistic statements. Sacre Nobi would go on to produce two perfumes which would be sold in stores 100% Love by Sophia Grojsman and S-ex by Christophe Laudamiel released in 2007 and 2006 respectively. These were and are amazing fragrances I do wear and they are among the very best of both perfumer’s collection.

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Nobi Shioya aka Sacre Nobi

Sacre Nobi would say in 2008 that he was phasing out of his “fragrance period” and for a while that seemed to be the case. 100% Love and S-ex continued to be produced intermittently and the brand was never completely gone. In 2011 I heard Sacre Nobi was back and working on a new fragrance line A Lab on Fire. A Lab on Fire held all of the same principles that S-Perfume had giving perfumers wide latitude to create without commercial pressure. It has been one of my favorite new niche perfume houses of the last few years. Then a few months ago I received a press release announcing the return of S-Perfume with new bottles and four new perfumes added to the original two. Of the four new perfumes there was one I was zeroed in on right from the start Musk-S.

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Carlos Beniam

One of the very first S-Perfume compositions was an attempt to create the perfect sheer skin musk. Alberto Morillas created S-Perfume to be that back in 2000. Ever since Sacre Nobi has encouraged the perfumers to tweak that original formula trying to perfect it. Perfumer Carlos Benaim is the latest hand to evolve the original formulation and the result is Musk-S. I am not sure if perfection has been reached but it is getting much closer.

 M. Benaim uses chestnut flower as the top note. In the original formulation this was around in much greater quantity as a method of discomfiture for the wearer. For those unfamiliar with the raw ingredient chestnut flower smells like semen. The higher the concentration the easier it is to make the connection. For Musk-S M. Benaim uses it in a much modulated form more as a nod to the original than anything else. A continued light mix of vanilla and bourbon add a bit of sweet booziness of the barroom. Once these preliminaries are out of the way we get down to the base note collection of synthetic musks. The original S-Perfume came off smelling more like a money shot from a pornographic movie. It was interesting but it felt miles away from where Sacre Nobi wanted it to be. This was also because M. Morillas had a lot of synthetic musks to use but not nearly the arsenal M. Benaim would have 14 years later. That is the key difference as M. Benaim has taken many of the more modern synthetic musks and layered them in to one of the most compelling synthetic musk skin accords I have smelled. There are still a few rough edges here and there which disrupt the illusion but they are slight and require attention to notice them. If I let my analytical mind take a nap they are really unnoticeable.

Musk-S has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I am thrilled that Sacre Nobi has decided to start a second “fragrance period” the freedom he grants the perfumers he works with is unrivaled in the niche perfume business. Musk-S serves as a perfect first fragrance to kick off this new era as it borrows from the past to create a current spectacular synthetic musk perfume.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Intertrade Europe at Pitti Fragranze.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews DSH Perfumes The Cannabis Culture Collection- It’s 4:20

The word collection when it comes to fragrance has been so overused that it has become meaningless. Except for the few perfume brands which actually understand the concept that a collection of perfumes should have some common theme or ingredient running through the different entries. One perfumer who continues to produce collections which are everything I could want from something called that, is Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Her latest collection The Cannabis Culture Collection examines marijuana from four very different perspectives.

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Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

As marijuana begins the long journey towards becoming legal in the United States there are two states which have voted to get ahead of the rest of the country, Washington and Colorado. Ms. Hurwitz lives in Boulder, Colorado and wanted to make a collection capturing all there is to smell about the cannabis culture which is slowly emerging into the light. The four fragrances capture different parts of the culture. The growing of it in controlled conditions in The Green House. Finding it in the wild among other growing things in Agreistic. Harvesting the buds sticky and redolent in I Love You Mary Jane. Finally smoking it up on a walk through the Colorado pine forest in Rocky Mountain High.

If you are in your mid-50’s to 60’s you came of age in an era when there were many amateur underground cannabis growers. Most of these were a rack of a few plants growing under an electronic grow-light in a small windowless room usually in a basement. Whenever I would walk into one of these I would be struck by an intensely sharp green smell paired with damp potting soil. The Green House is Ms. Hurwitz’s evocation of that accord. She uses a softly green accord to capture the sharp green quality while also evoking the humidity of the artificial growing environment. The soil accord is paired with a bit of patchouli to give it some texture. This is cannabis as it is seen by the one who grows it in secret.

I’ve also done my fair share of hiking and it was always a funny moment when I would stop for lunch among a field of wildflowers and see the distinctive seven lobed leaf waving among the color. For Agreistic Ms. Hurwitz imagines a field of lavender studded with cannabis here and there. Ms. Hurwitz chooses to use a fougere architecture for Agreistic but it has some very interesting twists. A mix of acerbic tomato leaf with juicy plum opens into a fougere heart of lavender, hay, and oakmoss. Just as you might be leaning back into the olfactory field of purple floral stalks you pillow your head on a stand of cannabis. This is a much more expansive accord than in The Green House as in Agreistic it feels like part of a natural mise en scene. This is cannabis out of the basement and in the open sunshine.

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I Love You Mary Jane is the experience of picking through tight sticky buds of cannabis. If you’ve ever done that then you know the smell your fingers have after handling the buds? That is exactly what I Love You Mary Jane smells like. Ms. Hurwitz uses a fabulous assemblage of notes to form this accord most of them fruit. Grapefruit, blackberry, mango, apricot, are matched with rhubarb and blackcurrant bud. The grapefruit, blackcurrant bud, and rhubarb comprise a narcotic sourness over the lusher fruits. A bit of floralcy comes through with osmanthus and lily before patchouli brings this home. This is cannabis as it is being prepared to be smoked.

The first three fragrances deal with the smell of the growing cannabis plant. The final entry, Rocky Mountain High, is the pungent smell of it being smoked amid the high-altitude pines of the Rockies. Ms. Hurwitz has worked with some local distillers and one of those Eric Bresselsmith supplied her with a juniper oil. This is paired with chrysanthemum and together they wrap a hemp nucleus. To get the sort of stinky smell of the smoke Ms. Hurwitz adds a bit of natural skunk to add that level of reality to it all. Around all of this is a full suite of coniferous notes. This is cannabis being enjoyed in one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular vistas.

All of The Cannabis Culture Collection have 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Once again Ms. Hurwitz has produced an intriguing collection which allows a perfume lover to explore cannabis from multiple points of view. I think many will find one of them to be their favorite. I have to say that I really like all of them but if pressed I Love You Mary Jane is my favorite. Just remember it is 4:20 somewhere.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by DSH Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Grossmith Sylvan Song- Fortnum & Mason Go Retro Nouveau

I am loath to recommend new perfumes which are exclusive to single points of sale. Then again when they are excellent perfumes I also feel it is my job to bring them to people’s attention. I have also found the ones which I am more pleased to write about are perfumes which actually have something of the exclusive store’s character within the construction. When I was at Pitti Fragranze I had the opportunity to try the new Grossmith Sylvan Song exclusive to London department store Fortnum & Mason.

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Amanda and Simon Brooke

Ever since Simon and Amanda Brooke revived the venerable British perfume house of Grossmith in 2005 they have been revisiting a tradition almost two hundred years old. In 1980 it disappeared only to have the Brookes bring it back to life 25 years later. The early releases have been reformulations of the early perfumes Mr. Brooke found and wanted to expose to a new audience. The Grossmith style has a big boisterous presence. If you like your perfumes quiet Grossmith isn’t for you. If you like your perfumes full of extroverted brilliant layers Grossmith is for you. Sylvan Song is a new composition by perfumer Celine Guivarc’h it feels like she is working off of an old recipe but it is an entirely Retro Nouveau.

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Celine Guivarc'h

Mme Guivarc’h makes an exceedingly floral heart which gives way to a smoke laden Oriental base and this is expertly balanced. One of the harder things to do when making a Retro Nouveau fragrance is not to get too caught up in the Retro so it feels “old” and not to get too modern that it loses any sense of having a vintage charm. Mme Guivarc’h lets the florals hearken back to yesteryear while letting the base and the smokiness bring a more contemporary flair to the end.

Sylvan Song opens with a brilliant point of light courtesy of bergamot. It is like a sunbeam across my senses as if to grab my attention. Once it has my focus, rose, ylang, and jasmine form a floral trio singing at the top of their olfactory lungs. This is floral power and each one of the flowers pick a part of the harmony to make beautiful music with. I love the way all of the Grossmith florals have a British stiff upper lip to them as they hold their ground almost defiantly asking the wearer to take them on their own merits. The beauty is found in its unrestrained floralcy. The base is set upon a foundation of incense smoldering and swirling smoke throughout the rest of the notes of vetiver, patchouli, benzoin, and musk. This base is the kind of smoky resinous base which has become popular over the last twenty years. Here it provides the Nouveau to the Retro of the flowers.

Sylvan Song has 12-14 hours longevity and above average sillage.

Sylvan Song is an excellent example of how a brand evolves without losing its heritage. Under the care of the Brookes Grossmith will thrive for many years to come. Sylvan Song proves that the old ways can be turned into new ways without abandoning the past.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from Grossmith at Pitti Fragranze.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Byredo Mojave Ghost-Desert Sunrise

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When I was hiking in the Desert Southwest of the US my favorite time of the day was just before the sun would come up. With false dawn providing a bit of diffuse light the desert never smelled so alive. This probably has something to do with it being the coolest part of the day. Before the sun and the harsh conditions bake everything to a crisp; in the hour just before sunrise the scent on the air reminds you that there is lots of life in the seeming lifelessness. Creative Director of Byredo Ben Gorham asked perfumer Jerome Epinette to make a perfume based on one of those flowers which survive in the desert, the Ghost Flower (Mohavea Confertiflora). The perfume is fittingly called Mojave Ghost.

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Sapodilla

When I received my press materials for this perfume that I expected to be about the desert there was listed an ingredient from the tropics which really upped my anticipation. This ingredient was Jamaican Naseberry or as it is called elsewhere, Sapodilla. I loved eating Sapodilla as a kid as it had the taste of brown sugar and cinnamon on a flesh which was apple-like. I always thought it was like getting cooked cinnamon apples off of a tree. When I would split the flesh of a sapodilla that mix of spicy sweet would meet my nose as I took my first bite. M. Epinette really enjoys using the entire arsenal of natural raw materials he has access to from Robertet and in Mojave Ghost he makes this tropical ingredient fit his desert milieu.

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Jerome Epinette

If you have spent any time at all in the desert there is an indigenous slightly spicy smell to it. The closest I can compare it to is cinnamon but so ethereal as to be a ghost of it. This is where the sapodilla plays its part as the brown sugar and cinnamon quality are right on top and M. Epinette adds in ambrette seeds to give a natural muskiness underneath the spiciness. This is very close to that smell I get from the desert. The heart moves into a bit of astringent floralcy with magnolia and violet over sandalwood. M. Epinette keeps this very sheer keeping it wraith-like in nature as it almost feels insubstantial only to coalesce again and gather some more presence. The base is cedarwood, amber, and clean white musk. All of the base notes are also kept on the ethereal side as well.

Mojave Ghost has 8-10 hour longevity but it is so sheer you might think it has worn off when it hasn’t. Sillage is moderate as you might expect.

Mojave Ghost is such a transparent perfume that I think for those who aren’t fans of this kind of opaque construction it might be frustrating. I am a big fan of a perfume which acts as a ghost flitting in and out of my consciousness ever floating on the periphery. Mojave Ghost is that beautiful moment just before the sun explodes over the horizon in an orange fireball in the high desert except the perfume lasts well into the light of day.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Annick Goutal Vent de Folie- Searching For A Pulse

There seems to be a pattern that all perfume lines which have been around for years go through. At first they are new and exciting. Then they enter middle age and very often they go through a mid-life crisis of sorts looking back to former triumphs via flankers and reformulations. Then there are two tracks which follow from here; either the line fades to irrelevance or it gets a creative rejuvenation. Annick Goutal is at this cross roads right now. The last good perfume release from them was Ninfeo Mio at the beginning of 2010. In the over four years since, the nine releases have been surprisingly poor. What is more surprising is the creative team of Creative Director Camille Goutal and perfumer Isabelle Doyen have remained intact. As a result the sample of the latest release Vent de Folie was not high up on my list to test. That changed when I was at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball and sniffed it there. Maybe just maybe the grande dame still had something to show after all.

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Isabelle Doyen (l.) and Camille Goutal

I am glad I returned to the press materials after having sniffed because there is a definite attempt to appeal to a younger perfume wearer. Vent de Folie doesn’t try to break out of the sheer fruity floral mode seemingly prized among that set. If there is a bit of a quibble with Vent de Folie is it is seemingly so safely constructed. A fruity top, a floral heart, and a woody musk base. This is the recipe of hundreds of perfumes all vying for that elusive young demographic. Despite that Mme Doyen manages to make this an interesting version of well-trodden territory.

I think what grabbed me was the opening fruity fusillade. It isn’t subtle. In truth I wouldn’t disagree heartily with someone who found it to be over the top. I think it is exactly that excessive layering of the fruity notes which made me give this a second chance because when Mme Doyen works in overdose she often provides interesting insights. For the top notes of Vent de Folie that is what happens for me. She combines blood orange, blackcurrant buds, and raspberry. Each one of these is present in high concentration. The blood orange at that level shows off more of its tartness. The blackcurrant buds show off the sticky green, almost urinous, quality. The raspberry provides a saccharine foundation. All together they sing in three-part harmony which I found lovely to listen to. Unfortunately the rest of the development is very straight forward as rose and geranium provide the floral foil to the fruit and cedar and white musks provide a clean finish.

Vent de Folie has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

For at least the first hour of Vent de Folie there was a vital pulse again in Annick Goutal. I was reminded when the line used to take risks. The remainder of the time I wore Vent de Folie the patient lapsed back into the creative coma it has been mired in. When you are hoping for a recovery though you will latch on to any small sign. Which is what I’m hoping for as perhaps Vent de Folie is a sign of better days and better perfumes to come.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Vent de Folie provided by Annick Goutal.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Frapin Nevermore- A Perfumed Toast to Poe

Wherever I have lived there is always a bit of a local mythology about things that go bump in the night. Now that I live in Maryland one of its most famous sons Edgar Allan Poe is a source of pride and inspiration especially as Halloween approaches. One of the more unique celebrations of Poe’s life was practiced for over seventy years. The tradition of the Poe Toaster who would show up at the gravesite in the early morning hours of January 19, Poe’s birthday. The Poe Toaster was dressed all in black with their face covered by a scarf carrying a cane. The Poe Toaster would lay three roses on the grave and pour a glass of Martell cognac raise a silent toast and leave the unfinished bottle next to the roses. The tradition started sometime in the 1930’s and ended in 2009 on the bicentennial of Poe’s birth.

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David Frossard

David Frossard the creative director at Frapin Perfumes had heard of this tradition and wanted to make a perfume as a homage to this. The perfumer he chose to work with is Anne-Sophie Behaghel. The result is the new release Frapin Nevermore. Mme Behaghel was going to be the right choice for this because as I read her bio on the Flair website it starts with, “I was born in Paris with the all-pervasive smell of concrete and the Metro in my nostrils.” It serves her well as she evokes a chilly night in a graveyard of concrete grave markers with roses and alcohol added in.

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Anne-Sophie Behaghel

Mme Behaghel sets the stage of a January early morning as she takes a combination of ozonics, aldehydes, and black pepper to create a frozen concrete accord. This is a bit of fragrant scene setting but it might be my favorite part of Nevermore. There is an almost frozen density to the opening moments. Next the roses come out to play as she mixes Rose de Mai and Damask Rose with a rose essential oil. The figurative three roses laid on the grave. As a perfume these three rose sources are blended into a heady middle stanza. As if the rose wasn’t enough Mme Behaghel dunks them in wine. I think this is an excellent choice because if she went with the cognac I think it might not have been as well balanced. The wine adds a deep ruby foundation for the roses to float upon. Now it is time for the Poe Toaster to make his escape and they do so in a swirl of ambrox, saffron, and cedar.

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

Nevermore is a fascinating perfume which manages to straddle a line between unabashedly old fashioned and completely modern. The opening accord could be used for an urban jungle perfume and along with the ambrox in the base that makes Nevermore seem contemporary. The wine and roses in the heart seem to hearken back to a day when those ingredients were the stuff of civility and refinement. All together Mme Behaghel makes Nevermore a fascinating study in perfumed storytelling. I think Poe would approve.

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

Mark Behnke