New Perfume Review DSH Perfumes Seve de Pin Extrait- Sappy Sticky Bliss

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For many years I was quite a hiker. I have hiked a large amount of the Appalachian Trail as well as through some of the great National Parks out west. For someone who loves fragrance the smells of the woods while hiking was one of the joys of walking in the woods. Particularly in the US if there is a consistent base note to the smell of the great outdoors it would be pine. It seems there are pines no matter what trail I am following. Just breathing in the smell of a Christmas tree lot reminds me of being on the trail. Perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz also shares my love of the woods and her new release DSH Perfumes Seve de Pin reflects that.

Ms. Hurwitz has been working for years on a pine scent which would capture “the smell of the night air on my first overnight trip away from my parents…in pre-school summer camp. The trees were speaking to me all night long” I knew what she was talking about as there is a comfort of setting up camp inside a circle of sentinel pines. The smell of the wood, the soft bed of needles on the ground, and the glorious viscous sap oozing out of rents in the trunk. This is the smell of the forest’s bosom on which to rest one’s head on in peace. This is also an extremely hard smell to get right in a perfume. All too often pine fragrances smell like cleaning products or, worse, the cardboard air freshener hanging from way too many rearview mirrors. To get this right Ms. Hurwitz was going to have to find a special material with which to build her Seve de Pin around, for this she turned to Eric Bresselsmith of House of Aromatics.

DSHDawn Spencer Hurwitz

Mr. Bresselsmith travels the inter-mountain region of Utah searching for conifers damaged by weather or the depredations of humans. He co-distills many of the fruits of his labor. For Seve de Pin Ms. Hurwitz used a combination of 50-year old resin crystals dissolved in pure pinion oil. When I wax rhapsodically about the glory of independent perfumery and their tendency to use some of the most exquisite materials to build a fragrance upon; this essential oil is exactly what I am talking about. This is the heart of a pine forest, vibrant and resinous.

Having the greatest raw material in the world does not a perfume make. Ms. Hurwitz had some work in front of her to find the right set of complementary notes to display this fantastic raw ingredient in the best way. She keeps it simple by adding green facets on top and a full house of resin notes to provide the foundation upon which to build Seve de Pin.

The green accord Ms. Hurwitz employs on the top is like the wind soughing through the branches of the pine trees. It is always the first thing I smell before the rest of the pine forest milieu catches up. In Seve de Pin the same is true as after the green has made its presence known the pinion oil arises and Ms. Hurwitz uses two important grace notes to help focus this, in amyris and rose. Amyris with its slightly lemony woodiness and rose with its spicy floral aspect add an intoxicating depth as they smooth out any rough edges the pinion oil might have. It is a perfect choice. Olibanum, oppopanax, and labdanum form the resinous base on which Seve de Pin rests. These resins in combination with the pinion oil really create the smell of dried droplets of sap clinging to the trunk. When I wore Seve de Pin and it reached this part I almost felt like my fingers should’ve been sticky with sap it is so photorealistic.

I tested Seve de Pin as an extrait and it is amazingly gorgeous in this concentration. As a result it has overnight longevity and minimal sillage. This forest walk is for the wearer exclusively.

There are a group of pine perfume aficionados who have named themselves “Coneheads” and I have to imagine Seve de Pin will be as close to a Holy Grail fragrance for them as there could be. I know I will treasure my sample of extrait because it is as near and dear to me as my time walking in the woods. Seve de Pin is tonic for the forested soul.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review A Lab on Fire Oxymusc-White Musk Redux

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There are perfumers I just enjoy seeing what they will do next. Alberto Morillas is one of those who straddles every aspect of perfume making. He has been creating perfume since 1983 and he has seen trends come and go all while adapting and innovating with the times. M. Morillas has been so prolific he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Fragrance Foundation. His body of work is so broad it is difficult to say he is known for a single thing. One thing he is known for is the first use of the so-called white musks in 2001. Over the last thirteen years he has continually shown that he has an ability to make these very ubiquitous materials seem less common. A Lab on Fire Oxymusc shows there is still something new to discover from the white musks.

A Lab on Fire is becoming one of the most consistent niche brands on the market. For the last three years they have taken some of the most elite perfumers working and given them a platform to explore freely. What that has produced is a line of perfumes from recognizable perfumers who have taken their distinguishable aesthetic and pushed it. This has made the entire collection something which has always been nothing less than interesting. For Oxymusc M. Morillas is not only revisiting the white musks he pioneered but also the aquatic genre he helped create. In Oxymusc he has turned both genres into a fragrance that is as soft and ethereal as a cloud floating over an expanse of ocean.

albertomorrilasAlberto Morillas

M. Morillas knows how to construct an aquatic accord. In Oxymusc he is going for an aquatic accord similar to a watercolor. The contrast and texture is all about subtlety. When taken together it has a maximal impact. This aquatic accord is held up by three tentpoles of muguet, lavender, and thyme. Underneath the tent made by those notes is a couple of white musks. This creates a sea spray accord as when the wind carries the spray to you from afar. It is never strong but it persists at a very consistently pleasant level. The typical freshly ironed white musk vibe is present in the base. M. Morillas turns it into a set of well-loved sheets which are soft to the senses. Often these kind of mixtures of the larger macrocyclic musks can have a bit of bite to them. In Oxymusc M. Morillas has removed any hint of a rough edge. It goes perfectly with the sea spray accord and at the same intensity.

Oxymusc has 10-12 hour longevity but it is going to be a deceptive longevity on most. You will think it is gone after a few hours but find yourself smelling it again. When I say this is light, it is light but it is a fabulously fragile fragrance. Obviously the sillage is moderate on something as light as this.

We so often laud the perfumes that have the loudest voices. Oxymusc speaks to me in wisps of water vapor and whispers of the sea. Leaning in to experience it completely is well worth the effort.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Comme des Garcons Pharrell Williams Girl- Celebuscent the CdG Way

There is probably nobody hotter than Pharrell Williams right now. His song “Happy” was the song of the last year. He is one of the new coaches on “The Voice”. It only seems natural that he would want to make a fragrance, too. Except he hasn’t gone to the usual suspects to collaborate with. He has chosen Comme des Garcons to be the brand which he will share his name with. From the moment this was announced I was actually looking forward to see how Comme des Garcons and their Creative Director Christian Astuguevieille would approach their first celebuscent.

First choice was to bring in perfumer Antoine Lie. M. Lie is as close as there is to an “in-house” perfumer at Comme des Garcons. He has an intimate understanding of the Comme des Garcons aesthetic and this would allow Mr. Williams to give his input to lead to the best kind of collaboration. Now that I have Comme des Garcons Pharrell Williams Girl my faith was confirmed. This is a celebuscent done the CdG way.

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Antoine Lie

Girl opens on a fantastic duet of lavender and white pepper. Lavender is about as safe a note to use in perfume as there is. The white pepper makes it a bit less safe. What is also nice about the white pepper is it enhances the herbal quality of lavender and keeps it from being boring. This leads to a heart of iris and violet together with styrax. This is a good example of what you would not find in a typical celebuscent. The iris and violet, sure. The styrax, not likely. Just like the white pepper with the lavender on top the styrax adds a contrasting foundation to the more common notes. This is what you find in other Comme des Garcons fragrances regularly. The base of Girl is almost becoming a Comme des Garcons trademark as a woody cocktail of vetiver, cedar, and sandalwood provide the finishing touches.

Girl has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

There is nothing as pleasing as having one’s faith in creativity confirmed. M. Astuguevieille is one of only a few creative directors who could have seen this through. M. Lie was able to create something which feels modern and kinetic. Mr. Williams has something with his name on it of which he can be proud. I also need to mention the bottle by artist KAWS. When you take the whole package together this is as good as it gets for a celebuscent. It makes me clap along because I know what makes me happy and can’t nothing bring me down.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Comme des Garcons.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Arquiste for J. Crew No. 31 and No. 57- This Way to Niche

There has been a very interesting trend over the last few years as niche brands reach out to work with mid-level prestige brands. This is a bit more refined version of the capsule collections by haute couture fashion designers at mass-market department stores. The most recent partnership is between J. Crew, a clothing line with a very recognizable aesthetic. The same can be said about Arquiste. Both of these brands are successful because of the creative direction at the top. Jenna Lyons is the President and Creative Director for J. Crew. Carlos Huber holds the same positions for Arquiste. Both of these talented visionaries have combined to create Arquiste for J. Crew No. 31 and No. 47.

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Jenna Lyons of J. Crew

When doing a project of this kind both of the brands who have their name on the label have to come through without overwhelming the other. It very much has to be a true partnership. Sr. Huber as he does with all of his fragrances found a setting he wanted these fragrances to represent. For this he looked back to the 1943 exhibition, the first featuring art exclusively by women, curated by Peggy Guggenheim called “Exhibition by 31 Women” and held in her gallery, Art of this Century, on W. 57th Street in New York. These are the source of the numbers in the perfumes No. 31 for the number of artists and No. 57 for the location. Sr. Huber felt that he wanted these perfumes to be “as stimulating as the art, drawing on the scents of the strong cocktails and bold perfumes that filled the night.” He then turned to his two longtime collaborators Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier to create the fragrances.

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Carlos Huber of Arquiste

No. 31 is the one of the pair meant to evoke the mise en scene of opening night at the gallery. It is really working to pick up the drinks and perfume as the crowd mixes and mingles. When I wore No. 31 for the first time there was part of me that felt like it was very reminiscent of some older vintage perfume. I realized instead this is the smell of many perfumes overlapping in close quarters not so much one as a virtual collage of many. Sr. Flores-Roux and M. Vasnier do this by using plum, rose, and an eau de vie accord. All of these are classic perfume ingredients of the past and together they create a vintage feel. A bit of booziness courtesy of sweet vermouth is joined by oakmoss and patchouli. All together this truly achieves the desired effect of creating a 1940’s night in the gallery.

The exhibition was of modern art and No. 57 is meant to have a bit more modern feel to it than No. 31. I also think Sr. Huber really likes the idea of the drinking going on as No. 57 features a potent whiskey. No. 57 opens with that whiskey but it is paired with a vibrant cinnamon to create a spicy cocktail. This is all framed in with clean cedarwood. It all heads towards a base of vanilla and labdanum which is warm and comforting.

Both No. 31 and No. 57 are eau de toilette strength and have 6-8 hour longevity with moderate sillage.

Both of these perfumes fir right in with the J. Crew aesthetic of clothing and accessories for the modern woman. The Arquiste half is a bit of an introduction to the idea of niche perfumery as neither fragrance probably goes quite as far as It might if it was a full-on Arquiste release. I think that is probably for the best because I’d like to see these perfumes succeed in showing the J. Crew customer that there is a world of perfume beyond the department store counter if they can just be shown the way. Ms. Lyons and Sr. Huber are to be congratulated for constructing a pair of signposts which do just this.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Regime des Fleurs Nitesurf- A Night on Ocean Drive

When I am back in South Florida, visiting, like many who visit I usually end up on South Beach. After we stroll around, the early morning hours are often spent on a park bench in Lummus Park. There is a smell as the tropical night begins to cool, the night blooming flowers are in their glory, and the waves crash on the beach as the tide comes in. To me it the smell of where I grew up. Until recently a perfume has never completely captured that smell; Regime des Fleurs Nitesurf does.

Regime des Fleurs is a new indie brand founded in February of 2014. The owners and self-taught perfumers are Alia Raza and Ezra Woods. Ms. Raza is a filmmaker and Mr. Woods is a stylist who want to make a perfume line focused on different florals. They also want to hearken back to the brazen style aesthetic of the 1990’s. All six of the debut fragrances are based on specific florals and they all have a pretty significant presence to them. There isn’t anything introverted about these first releases. Nitesurf’s central flower is neroli. Neroli is reminiscent of Florida Water which is the classic citrus eau de cologne I smelled everywhere growing up. This floral core is placed into a matrix of beach notes to create an olfactory still life of a night by the beach.

Ezra and Alia

Alia Raza and Ezra Woods (Photo: Town and Country)

The neroli on top glows with the brightness of the neon on an Art Deco hotel. There is almost a palpable buzz. To go with that electrical hum an ozonic accord picks up on that. This is a typical aquatic neroli opening. What changes it is by adding in some supporting florals, like ginger lily, it gives a greater depth to the neroli. It feels like the neroli is on a time lapse loop as it blooms and expands rapidly. I like the expansiveness of Nitesurf at this moment in its development. To create the surf Ms. Raza and Mr. Woods make a choice of two notes to realize their vision. Ambergris is a typical choice. Distillation of crushed nautilus shells is not a typical choice. This ingredient is what separates indie perfumery from the mainstream. This is the second time I have smelled a distillate of crushed sea shells in a perfume and it adds this earthy chalky quality which in combination with the ambergris creates a fabulous beach accord. The neroli is still in place as the surf accord comes together and once they are all there Nitesurf is complete.

Nitesurf has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Nitesurf is my favorite of the original six releases and it is a perfume which makes me interested in what Ms. Raza and Mr. Woods do next. For now I just put on some Nitesurf, close my eyes, and imagine I am with my friends.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Regime des Fleurs.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Providence Perfume Co Bay Rum- A Pirate Looks at 50

As appealing as pretending to be a pirate was as a child, I have to admit the idea is even more appealing as a man in his 50’s. I am pretty sure I’m not alone in the idea of a life on the ocean living on the fringes of the law having appeal as we get older. When I was a kid with an eyepatch and a plastic sword I also nipped into my dad’s bathroom to get a bottle of rum, bay rum. My father had a humongous bottle of Pinaud’s Bay Rum. I used to sprinkle a little in my bandana to smell authentic. Bay Rum also played a large part in my haircuts as it was the spicy finish to a visit to the barber. I can honestly say I haven’t given Bay Rum a thought in twenty years, easy. Thanks to one of our most talented Natural Perfumers, Charna Ethier, who has released Bay Rum under her Providence Perfume Co. label, it has plundered my consciousness.

Ms. Ethier wanted Bay Rum to pay homage to Newport, RI which was at one time the rum capital of the world. Bay Rum is as simple a fragrance as it gets as sailors in the West Indies took bay leaf and let it soak in some rum. That has been the formula for hundreds of years. Ms. Ethier takes that most basic of formulas and adds a little bit more of the fragrant beats of a pirate’s existence. This turns her Bay Rum from something focused into a fragrance which has a much wider perspective.

charna ethier

Charna Ethier

Ms. Ethier stayed true to her Rhode Island roots and contacted a local rum distiller to provide the rum. This provides a rich boozy foundation for everything else to be added to. Most importantly the other part of the name, a real West Indian bay leaf. On the top of this she adds a bit of tart lime to ward off scurvy. Her choice of allspice takes the bay leaf and transforms it into something less piquant and more elegant. I would venture she spent some time finding the right partner for the bay leaf and allspice is absolutely the right one. A pirate hides in a cove surrounded by flowers growing from the trees and in Bay Rum Ms. Ethier adds jasmine and ylang-ylang to remind you that you are in the tropics. The last addition is a wonderfully briny ozonic sea spray accord. When you are on a boat at speed and the spray is being flung up into the air as the bow cleaves through the wave, is what this accord smells like. It is what turns Bay Rum into a voyage on the high seas while wearing it.

Bay Rum has 10-12 hour longevity. Ms. Ethier has made a very long lasting version of something which is not known for its longevity in other forms. The sillage is average.

Ms. Ethier is really broadening her abilities as a perfumer as Bay Rum shows she can take something elementary and add to it without disrupting it. That is much easier than it sounds. Bay Rum is a success because every additional note she chose to add had its place within the existing structure. I am loving Bay Rum because Ms. Ethier has made a Bay Rum for this perfumista in his 50’s which allows me to let my inner child out to play; at the wheel of a ship flying the Jolly Roger. It is like finding a treasure, no ‘X’ necessary to mark the spot.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Providence Perfume Co.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review slumberhouse Sadanne- Candy Apple Red Decayed

When I was a kid one of my prized possessions was a candy apple red Hot Wheels miniature car. It had this mesmerizing sheen to it. I had the car before I ever encountered my first real candy apple. When I was holding the stick with this glossy orb on the end of it I was also entranced as I rotated it letting it catch the light. Eventually I brought it to my mouth and began to eat. Whenever I think of candy apple red I think of high gloss red paired with a sugary sweet fruity smell. I haven’t thought about the color or the confection for many years but for the last week it has been front and center in my conscience as I have been wearing the new slumberhouse Sadanne.

hot_wheels_candy_apple_red_gold_street_rod

Josh Lobb the creative force behind slumberhouse has been one of my favorite stories in perfumery over the last few years. He has allowed word-of-mouth to bring people to his perfumes. Mr. Lobb works with exquisite one of a kind materials and his fragrances are unique. I look forward to each new release. Sadanne is Mr. Lobb’s attempt to push himself to work with the floral notes he is not so fond of. Another thing I admire about Mr. Lobb is he experiments with ways to compose his fragrance. In an e-mail he told me he used sillage to help him decide from mod to mod what was required next. After he finished a mod he asked his friend to put some on and then to walk by while he listened to music over his headphones. It seems to me it would give a different perspective on how your modifications were working in a more expansive way. Sadanne is different from almost everything in the slumberhouse line as it has a diffusive quality to it that none of the previous perfumes have.

Usually Mr. Lobb provides a copious list of ingredients to marvel over but for Sadanne he has eschewed that. This time he is leaving it to the wearers to discover. I am going to do my best to honor that as I attempt to describe Sadanne without going into distinct notes. It is easy because there are really three distinct phases on my skin and while I can pick out some of the ingredients it really is the effect that is paramount in my enjoyment of Sadanne.

Candy-Apple-Red

The first phase smells like freshly made candy apples. There is a crisp fruity quality encased in a glistening sugary shell. It immediately returns me to the six year old clutching his tiny car in one hand with a sticky red apple in the other. Mr. Lobb has imparted olfactory lens flares throughout this opening phase as there are bright glints throughout.

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Jennifer Lawrence in "American Hustle"

The second phase is, maybe, Mr. Lobb’s commentary on florals as he takes some of the most recognizable floral notes and he makes them bitter. It reminds me of the line from the movie “American Hustle”, “It’s like that perfume that you love, that you can’t stop smelling even when there is something sour in it.” The floral accord in the middle of Sadanne has more than a few bitter things in it and just like the quote I keep returning to it even though I know it should put me off. This really is Mr. Lobb at his best as he uses the sour notes not to damage but to make the wearer recalibrate their thoughts about floral notes.

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Bootsy Collins

The third phase is a complete tonal shift into a fabulously dirty musky base. Every time I have worn Sadanne there is a moment where the bright candy apple and the florals just seem to fall apart and what you find was underneath is this funky filthy animalic beast. This is where Sadanne finishes and I love this part of the development. This is my kind of funk. It is like Bootsy Collins’ bass line on Parliament Funkadelic’s “Flashlight”. It reaches right down and grabs you in the low places.

Sadanne has overnight longevity but for those who know the brand it is the least long lived on my skin of the entire brand. The sillage is also greater than most of the other slumberhouse fragrances which makes sense considering how it was composed.

Sadanne is going to test the patience of those who think they know what slumberhouse smells like because Sadanne is like nothing else in the line. Sadanne is a perfume which requires an active wearer. I think by not releasing the note list he is forcing anyone wearing it to have to participate more fully in the experience. After four days of wearing it I have found it to be more engaging every time I wear it because I am participating more viscerally in the wearing. It is another winner from slumberhouse, for me.

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

Mark Behnke

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.

LisaFong

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