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

New Perfume Review Jacques Zolty Van-Ile- Transitional Vanilla

For those of us who love niche perfume we have to be hopeful that the number of people interested in it continues to grow over time. For most who fall down the rabbit hole of artistic perfumery it happens through being introduced to the world from an avid perfume lover who will share. Or you might stumble across a boutique carrying brands you’ve never heard of and fall in love with one. That way requires expansion through word of mouth or chance. Over the past few years we have seen niche brands expand outward by ingenious partnerships with other more populist brands. Sephora has begun to offer some niche brands on their fragrance shelves again. The hard thing is that sometimes making the jump to something so different, from the mainstream, is a big leap. Sometimes it seems like if there was a bit of an intermediate step offered it might help make the transition a bit easier.

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Roberto Drago

I had this exact conversation with Roberto Drago who is well-known in niche circles as the creative director of Laboratorio Olfattivo. Sig. Drago is well aware that having a line of perfumes which can be seen as transitional would be good for business. Towards that end he has a line, he also creative directs, which attempts to do that called Jacques Zolty. These are meant to be easily worn fragrances which show much of what makes niche perfume interesting without becoming so complex as to be aloof. One of the most recent releases for this line has straddled this line brilliantly and is called Van-Ile.

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Cecile Zarokian

Vanilla is an ideal focal point for a perfume trying to complete this delicate kind of balancing act. Vanilla is a comforting familiar component to most who wear mainstream perfumes. Sig. Drago asked perfumer Cecile Zarokian to be the one to realize this. Mme Zarokian does a wonderful job of balancing this so that it carries widespread appeal to the longtime niche perfume lover and the person deciding to give something new a try.

Van-Ile is a very simple structure which opens with the figurative perfume version of “once upon a time” as citrus in the form of orange is what you encounter first. As Van-ile proceeds into the heart it uses jasmine as a safe haven but here is where Mme Zarokian offers a little something more as a nutty almond adds a toasty quality to the floral notes. It also is a great note to usher in the vanilla. The vanilla here is that of the vanilla orchid. Which means besides the immediately recognizable sweet vanilla there are also green flares throughout. Some oakmoss picks up and accentuates those green moments. It all finishes in a safe patchouli foundation.

Van-Ile last 8-10 hours with average sillage.

Van-Ile does exactly what it sets out to do as Mme Zarokian mixes the common with just a bit of uncommon. It allows someone who is familiar with mainstream perfumes to take a slight step towards the world of niche. For me I enjoy it for the simple good-natured companion it can be for a day of running errands because even someone who wears as much perfume as I do likes something a little less challenging once in a while.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Jacques Zolty at Pitti Fragranze.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Hermes Hermessence Cuir D’Ange- A Flight of Fancy

There is no collection in perfumery which more fully captures my attention than the Hermessences. Composed by Hermes in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena these deceptively simple constructs have been called everything from perfumed haiku to olfactory watercolors. Without looking back I’ve probably used these terms to describe these perfumes as well. It is an unsatisfactory way to capture the beauty of the best of the Hermessence entries. When they work it provides some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful moments in all of olfactory art. The most recent release Cuir D’Ange is one of the best in the collection.

Cuir D’Ange translates to Angel’s Leather and it was inspired by a visit M. Ellena made to the vault where the leather used to make Hermes accessories is stored. This visit was made in 2004 when he first came on-board as in-house nose. He knew as he walked amidst the stacks of tanned skins he wanted to capture this essence. One of the things that makes capturing a specific leather essence is the perfumer has to create a leather accord as there is no single note which mimics leather. Most often the components of a leather accord are deep heavy things like birch tar as it was for the classic leathers of the early 20th century. For Cuir D’Ange M. Ellena found a fusion of floral notes to complement his leather accord which makes it smell as if it is a Hermes purse or wallet which has been handled by a woman wearing the most delicate floral perfume.

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Jean-Claude Ellena

M. Ellena uses hawthorn as his top note in Cuir D’Ange. Hawthorn is one of my favorite ingredients when used well as it imparts an indolic component along with the floral character. It is a great choice to start with as the indoles stick to the leather template which is also present from the first moments. The leather accord is that of a supple soft leather which smells of opulence. It is by turns dry and then voluptuous. In the early going it the dry aspect which matches up with the hawthorn. Then like the named angel unfurling its wings heliotrope arrives and Cuir D’Ange takes wing. The faux violet nature of heliotrope is perfect as it lifts the leather up and makes it feel luxurious, as a Hermes leather should feel. The final ingredient is a musk which evokes the smell of sun warmed skin. It is an especially apt finishing note as it becomes a duet of processed skin and living skin. It may sound a bit macabre but it is a fascinating study as it lingers on your skin.

Cuir D’Ange has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

One of the things which allows the Hermessence line to stand out is not just the construction but how M. Ellena is able to take a relatively few notes and be so expansive. Cuir D’Ange might be the most successful of all in this collection at providing transitional grace notes. Despite the notes I describe above each of those notes carries subtle undertones and at different points you will get a hint of iris or a suspicion of almonds. Cuir D’Ange is a perfume which allows all of my senses to soar to new heights.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by the Hermes boutique in Vienna, VA.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bottega Veneta Knot- Tying It All Together

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When it comes to designer perfumes on display in the department stores I have found that the ones with clear connections to the brand on the label are the most successful. The Italian leather luxury goods brand Bottega Veneta has flourished under the brand and creative direction of Tomas Maier. Starting in 2001 he turned Bottega Veneta into a complete luxury goods enterprise. This would finally spread to perfume with the release of 2011’s Bottega Veneta. That was one of the best designer perfumes released that year and in the five successive releases since then it has become clear that Bottega Veneta is going to make as big an impact in fragrance as they do in purses.

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The most recent release is Bottega Veneta Knot. It is inspired by the line of clutches which have a knot clasp on top. Perfumer Daniela Andrier has created an olfactory Gordian Knot in which she takes four exquisitely constructed accords and brings them together in an orange blossom focused creation that almost seems a bit too edgy for the department store.

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Daniela Andrier

The first accord from Mme Andrier is that freshly washed linen evocation. It is comprised of aldehydes and lavender. The aldehydes give that hint of the remains of the detergent used to wash the linen. The lavender adds a crispness to it all with a green tint. The orange blossom arrives on a stiff sea breeze as Mme Andrier uses mandarin to usher in the orange blossom over the top of the ozonic cascade used to mimic the sea spray. This is the cleaned up version of orange blossom. Mme Andrier lets it linger for a short while before adding what she calls a mothballs accord of cedar and indoles. The indoles in particular serve to add a lot of depth to the orange blossom and the cedar frames it. Despite the suggestion of mothballs I mostly get a full spectrum orange blossom. The remaining accord is focused on peony which is supported by a foundation of rose and tonka.

Bottega Veneta Knot has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Mme Andrier has captured the texture of the woven nature of a Bottega Veneta purse as each of the accords acts as its own strip of material to be woven tightly with the others. Most mainstream releases do not have this level of texture and intricacy to them. When I think back to the ones which do it seems like Mme Andrier has also been behind those as well. Bottega Veneta Knot is one of the finest designer releases of the year and an excellent reason to visit the department store fragrance counter.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Patchouli Absolu- Clear Patchouli

One of the first Tom Ford Private Blend perfumes released in 2007 was Amber Absolu. For many, including myself, it is one of the best entries of the Private Blend collection. By giving perfumer Christophe Laudamiel the direction to create a study in amber creative directors Tom Ford and Karen Khoury would repeat this starting with Oud Wood. The latest release, Patchouli Absolu, is another exploration of one of the most used notes in all of perfumery.

For this they turned to the same perfumer behind Oud Wood Richard Herpin. What made Oud Wood work so well was M. Herpin’s ability to surround oud with a set of notes not containing rose which allowed the full versatility of this, at the time, unusual perfume note to be displayed. With Patchouli Absolu his job is much different as he has to take a note probably every person who has any interest in fragrance is familiar with and make it different. He accomplishes this by making a refined version of patchouli. You could even say it is a patchouli which has been to a Tom Ford Men’s Store and fitted for a tux. It has the power you are familiar with but it is now refined and elegant as well.

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Richard Herpin(r.)

One of the ways M. Herpin does this is by using patchouli flower as one of his top notes. Patchouli comes from extraction of the leaves and the flower is not used very often because it is a more ephemeral version of what you get from the leaves. M. Herpin can do this because he matches it with a new aromachemical called Clearwood from Firmenich. Clearwood comes from a fermentation of sugar cane. Firmenich describes clearwood as a “Soft, clean version of patchouli without the earthy, leathery, and rubbery notes found in the natural oil.” It is this clearer version of patchouli which allows the patchouli flower to add back the parts that are missing but with a degree of subtlety. This opening sets the tone for the rest of the development as this patchouli is tamed. Even when after an herbal intermezzo of bay and rosemary the patchouli which comes from the leaves arrives it is also more controlled in every way like the man who has his name on the bottle. The base segues into a leather and woods finish surrounding the patchouli in a luxurious frame.

Patchouli Absolu has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

The funny thing about Patchouli Absolu is when you try it at first it seems very simple, maybe too simple, especially on a mouillette. I really didn’t find Patchouli Absolu compelling until I wore it. Once it was on my skin it became more expansive exponentially. On the strip is was all closed up; on my skin the very intricate opening truly comes to life. The use of Clearwood was a very smart choice by M. Herpin and it really showed once I was wearing it. Patchouli Absolu is a Tom Ford patchouli and that gives it a degree of luxury this ubiquitous note rarely finds.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tom Ford Beauty.

Mark Behnke