New Perfume Reviews The Fragrance Kitchen A Rose with a View & Palm Fiction- Can You Smell What The Sheikh is Cooking?

When I attend the large perfume expositions I see lots of brands trying to position themselves for the Middle Eastern market. There is a seemingly insatiable desire for fragrance in that part of the world. Sheikh Majed al-Sabah decided to go a different way. As part of his retail business he decided to create his own line of fragrance. In 2012 he debuted The Fragrance Kitchen in Kuwait. I had scant opportunity to try the line but there were chances to try a couple of them here and there. It was surprising to me not to find the typical ingredients associated with Middle Eastern perfumery in the ones I tried. Since I am not a Sheikh I did not expect to be visiting Kuwait anytime soon to try more than the few I had. Turns out I didn’t have to as The Fragrance Kitchen has come to me.


Sheikh Majed al-Sabah

In April of 2016 Sheikh al-Majed opened two US stores. One in New York City inside Bergdorf-Goodman and the other inside of Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills. Along with this Sheikh al-Majed designed two city exclusive releases. A Rose with a View is the NYC one which captured his time in New York as he had a room with a view of Central Park and a vase of roses. The Beverly Hills inspired one is called Palm Fiction and is inspired by the famous Martinique wallpaper of palm leaves which decorates The Beverly Hills Hotel. I was again pleased that both of these perfumes were designed with Western tastes in mind.

A Rose with a View is a spicy rose upon a patchouli sandalwood foundation. It opens with a Turkish rose right away. The spicy nature of this kind of rose blends prettily with violet in the heart. The violet modulates the rose towards a fuller floral character. Sandalwood forms the base accord with patchouli. Some musk and amber round out the final stages. A Rose with a View has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Palm Fiction is the one which really grabbed me. In the summer I want something which is light but not necessarily the typical fresh cologne construct. Palm Fiction is that kind of fragrance as it carries a great warm-weather vibe without being insipid. A bit of pink pepper leads into a floral heart of iris, jasmine, and rose. This is a fantastically balanced accord of these three florals which can be so distinctive and overbearing most of the time. in Palm Fiction they are combined in such a way that they never outstay their welcome. It is an odd thing to write but they are refreshing in their presentation here. The base here is a mixture of white musks over more transparent sandalwood and patchouli. Palm Fiction has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Both of these first entrees for the American market have made me more interested to delve further into the brand because I am definitely interested to smell what the Sheikh is cooking.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Intertrade Europe.

Mark Behnke

Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2016 Wrap-Up- Profumo Comes to the Perfumed Apple

I attended my first Sniffapalooza in October of 2010. For this edition Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2016, my twelfth, it was the most unique of them all. The reason was in addition to the usual strong lineup of American perfume brands; Europe sent some of their best too. It made the entire weekend feel like it was a summit of perfumery.

spring fling 2016 mark eric stamatis

Mark and Team Twisted Lily (Photo: Brooklyn Fragrance Lover)

In what is starting to become a tradition Twisted Lily owners Stamatis Birsimijoglou and Eric Weiser invited the early arrivers to a party on Friday night. Inside the best smelling storefront in Brooklyn we mingled and enjoyed wine and camaraderie. Amongst hugs there was sniffing as attendees discovered the latest additions since last fall. We all headed home prepared for the next two days.

Saturday morning began on the Beauty Floor at Bergdorf-Goodman. The hot new addition to the store was The Fragrance Kitchen. Just the week before there was an SRO party to celebrate its arrival. It is an extensive line but it seems like Bergdorf’s managed to convince them to provide one of the best exclusively to them called A Rose With a View. It is a very NYC modern rose. The brand has been around since 2012 but sold exclusively in Kuwait. Now Sheikh Majed El-Sabah is looking to expand to the US and Europe.

I also got the chance to try the new Ex Nihilo Sweet Morphine and Christian Dior La Colle Noire. I liked both quite a bit. Next it was off to lunch at Brasserie 8 ½.

Stefania Squeglia sniffa

Stefania Squeglia presenting a Spring Fling 2016

The presentations began with the owners of Masque Milano Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi representing Associazione Caterina. That group is about the heritage and future of Italian perfumery. Over the next hour they took us on a journey from the Roman origins of perfume to the present day. Which turned out to be a perfect segue as Stefania Squeglia of Mendittorosa was one of the later presenters and she represents the current exciting state of Italian perfumery quite well.

Holding up the American end of things Barbara Herman introduced her new perfume brand Eris. Ms. Herman has moved from writing about perfume in her blog Yesterday’s Perfume and her book Scent and Subversion to collaborating with perfumer Antoine Lie. My first impression was they managed to find that tricky balance of vintage aesthetic with a contemporary feel.

A drizzly Sunday morning found us in the Annick Goutal store downtown. Annick Goutal is one of those early pioneer brands in the niche space and it is nice to see it continuing to thrive as the market has diversified around it. It was nice to be reminded of that.

Mary and Cecile of Puredistance

Mary Gooding (l.) and perfumer Cecile Zarokian presenting Puredistance Sheiduna

After some more wandering around downtown we arrived at lunch where I was the MC. I thought this year’s group was the strongest of all the years I have been doing this part of the weekend. It started with Sigs. Brun and Tedeschi finally representing their own brand Masque Milano. Both of the newest releases Romanza and L’Attesa were revealed. Mary Orlin of Wine Fashionista gave a fabulous presentation tying together the aromas of the wine we were drinking to perfume. A real treat was the European brand Puredistance was presented by Mary Gooding accompanied by perfumer Cecile Zarokian where they told us all about this fall’s new release Sheiduna. The first Oriental for the brand. I had it on my forearm for the ride home and kept returning to it for the rest of the day. Irina Adam presented her Art & Olfaction Finalist Phoenix Botanicals Peach Tree Garden. Paula Pulvino is translating the perfume recipes of her Italian grandmother into her new brand Villa of the Mysteries. The final presenter was mad impresario Stephen Dirkes of Euphorium Brooklyn who took us inside his creative process for Cilice.

It seemed appropriate to finish with a Brooklyn-based brand so we sort of ended where we started.

As always it was another fun, and exhausting weekend, in NYC. Thanks to Karen Adams and Karen Dubin for putting it all together.

Mark Behnke