It has taken awhile but I finally had to scrape some ice off the windshield earlier this week. The warmer weather has kept me from reaching for my fall stalwarts. I always notice as I perform my autumnal perfume rotation how many are ambers. There is something about the sense of warmth and comfort I get from amber which makes it the right choice for me this time of year. My favorites are the ones which wear close to my skin so they scent my sweater allowing them to gently accompany me throughout my day. It was with some interest I received a sample of Jeroboam Ambra.
Jeroboam is a collaboration between creative director Francois Henin and perfumer Vanina Murraciole. I tried the debut collection of four at Esxence 2015. The connective tissue of the Jeroboam releases is they feature musk. All the Jeroboam fragrances are at extrait strength which means they wear close to the skin. This can sometimes lead to a perfume feeling less exuberant. An extrait done well though is like riding on a fragrant cloud. It wasn’t until the Holiday release of Origino at the end of 2015 where Jeroboam came together as a concept for me. A warmly enveloping nutmeg and sandalwood fragrance on a musky foundation; it was made for the festive time of year. It took almost two years for M. Henin and Mme Murraciole to release two more. Vespero is a nice geranium, cedar, patchouli and musk perfume. Ambra is the one which caught my attention.
Amber as the ingredient in an Oriental construction is an accord. Mme Murraciole constructs a compellingly dense one for Ambra. It plays into the advantages the extrait concentration brings by keeping it banked like embers in a fireplace.
Geranium is where Ambra opens and this is becoming a consistent characteristic of Jeroboam as a single ingredient puts the welcome mat out only to be left behind. In Ambra it is the four legs upon which Mme Murraciole builds her amber accord; incense, patchouli, peru balsam, and musk. The musk provides a nice complementary roundness to the overall amber accord. This is so restrained but it has hidden depths which I could feel myself chasing down on the days I wore Ambra. It is the pulsing heart which beats for hours. Over time vetiver finds a way into the spaces within to add the finishing touch.
Ambra has 12-14 hour longevity and little sillage.
I have a hard time believing I need another amber perfume but Ambra gives me something different from my other favorites. I think it is the concentration which imparts an intimacy. In any case it looks like I’ll be making room to add one more to my group of amber fragrances.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples I purchased.
There are so many leather perfumes out there it is a challenge to stand out among them. Unlike single floral notes though leather perfumes have a bit of an advantage because the smell of leather in a perfume is an accord. An accord is as close as we get to an olfactory signature from a perfumer. I really like having the opportunity to compare the use of a leather accord by a perfumer when I can get a couple of new releases within a few months of each other. In the case of perfumer Vanina Murraciole it was her two recent releases for Le Galion which gave me an opportunity to examine her perfumed John Hancock.
Le Galion has begun to evolve away from being a heritage perfumery by moving away from re-creating Paul Vacher’s original releases into creating new perfumes based on the style of those early releases. Owner and creative director Nicolas Chabot has made a wise decision to do this. In Mme Murraciole he has found a perfumer who can capture that retro vibe and splice it onto something more modern. In my review of Aesthete I felt that one skewed so contemporary that it is the most modern of the line. For the other new one composed by Mme Murraciole, Cuir, this feels more akin to the originals with a very retro feeling to it. Both perfumes have Mme Murraciole’s leather accord in use. In Aesthete it is used as foundation for the other notes. It has a supple quality by being used at a lower concentration. In Cuir, as the name suggests, it is not part of the ensemble it is the star of the show with its name up in lights, or at least on the bottle. This transforms the leather into something less soft, more intriguing, and much more present.
Cuir opens up with bergamot and elemi. Mme Murraciole uses a lot of elemi and the lemon-tinted resin complements the bergamot. The opening is very reminiscent of many of the classic men’s fragrances of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The leather accord comes next and it does nothing to break Cuir out of that time period. The leather accord smells like that well-worn biker jacket lovingly oiled and cared for. What I like about this leather accord is there is a strong oily character within which really makes it different for me. That aspect adds a slightly funky quality which might not be to everyone’s taste. I found myself drawn to it each time I wore Cuir. Mme Murraciole takes her accord and drapes it over a chair made of sandalwood where you can smell the sweaty body that had it on. The final notes of musk and sandalwood again return to feeling like they are directly from a perfume fifty years older.
Cuir has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
I found it interesting how well Mme Murraciole’s leather accord was able to be soft when used in support and to roar when it was the keynote. If you like your leather loud and uncomplicated Le Galion Cuir is one to add to your list.
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Le Galion at Esxence 2015.
There have been a number of older brands which have been revived, especially over the last two or three years. The early days of these brands is a gradual re-formulation and re-release of the originals. Most of these brands, so far, have had no ambition to be more than a nod to the past. It was why I was so pleased to sit down with the owner and creative director of Le Galion, Nicolas Chabot, at Esxence 2015. The follow-up to last year’s re-release of Le Galion’s original founder Paul Vacher’s perfumes was for the brand to create new perfumes. There are three entirely new perfumes to be released in 2015. Two of them are by perfumer Vanina Murraciole and both are leather focused fragrances. Of the two there is one of them which is my favorite of the new compositions, Aesthete.
Nicolas Chabot (Photo: Sylvie Mafray)
Aesthete is defined as, “a person who has or affects to have a special appreciation of art and beauty”. That is an elegant definition for someone who might be, under other circumstances, called a snob. There is a nice bit of symmetry here as one of the original Le Galion perfumes by M. Vacher was called Snob. As M. Chabot looks to find a modern place for the venerable line Aesthete conjures up a more contemporary version of Snob. Where Snob was fruity floral focused on white florals; Aesthete is all about the leather.
Mme Murraciole opens Aesthete on a bold bit of percussion with an overdose of incense matched with saffron. There is probably no better way to capture my attention than to use those notes. Mme Murraciole takes advantage of the intense incense concentration to bring the focus to the slightly metallic background great incense contains. This allows the saffron to coat over that and give it an even more exotic feel. Mme Murraciole’s leather accord is meant to evoke refined Persian Leather. I found it to be extremely soft and supple on my skin. Especially after the incense and saffron from the top notes. The leather gets some company with an extremely well-behaved jasmine. This is a nod to the white floral heart of Snob, I think. Mme Murraciole returns to something a bit more untamed as she uses castoreum and oud next. This is, exactly as you would expect it is, as animalic as it can get. It is like the leather is growing hair again. It has a fabulous development arc from the refined to the raw. It might even be a little too raw for some because it does offer a bit of a tonal shift. The base notes offer a shift back to something less provocative as Mme Murraciole uses sandalwood, vanilla, and a mix of white musks to provide a familiar foundation.
Aesthete has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
When I reviewed Snob I mentioned that it felt the most modern of the line which had been created 62 years previously. Aesthete reinforces the notion that Le Galion is not satisfied with re-interpreting the past but charting a brand new course. M. Chabot provides a steady hand and vision. Aesthete is the product of that and it shows. Le Galion is now ready to set sail on the modern olfactory ocean and I can’t wait to see where it lands next.
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample I received at Esxence 2015 from Le Galion.