New Perfume Review Tom Ford Velvet Orchid Lumiere- Yann Goes Solo

Most of the time when I see a list of many perfumers who are responsible for a new release I worry that it will be a muddled mess of competing aesthetics. One of the exceptions to this rule was 2004’s Tom Ford Violet Orchid. A group of four Givaudan perfumers, whom I called the TF All-Stars, because they had all worked on individual perfumes for the brand previously created that fragrance. I imagined them in my review as like a rock and roll supergroup all contributing their strengths to form a worthy successor to the original Tom Ford fragrance launch Black Orchid. Like all musical supergroups even the perfume ones must go out on their own. For the new Tom Ford Velvet Orchid Lumiere perfumer Yann Vasnier steps on to the stage alone to create this follow-up.

yann vasnier

Yann Vasnier

While I liked Velvet Orchid for all the subtle moments in what was a traditional floriental. I enjoyed Velvet Orchid Lumiere more because M. Vasnier took the opportunity to add some upgrades to the framework. This time the result is a gourmand floriental that doesn’t feel as recognizable.

gibson-12-string

Bergamot and mandarin have been the traditional openers to most of the Tom Ford Orchid named fragrances. For Velvet Orchid Lumiere M. Vasnier breaks out a very special version of mandarin as he uses the Givaudan Orpur version. Orpur are the crown jewel raw ingredients in the Givaudan palette. When they get used they have always added a bit of class. As if M. Vasnier puts down the electric guitar for a Gibson 12-string acoustic. The Orpur mandarin used here has subtle sparkling facets with an accompanying richness to them. The Orpur mandarin also stands up to the same mixture of honey and rum that was present in Velvet Orchid. When I compared these side-by-side there was a noticeable difference in the way the mandarin exhibited itself. M. Vasnier adds in grace notes of saffron, pimento, and ginger. They provide some contrast and begin to set up the gourmand accord to come. Before we get there the connective tissue of all the Tom Ford Orchid fragrances. The “black orchid” accord holds the center as M. Vasnier wraps it with the same rose, hyacinth, and orange blossom that was in Violet Orchid. He then replaces the jasmine with tuberose. Trading one white flower for another shouldn’t seem to have much of an effect but the tuberose has a focusing effect on the “black orchid” accord making it more distinctive while also making it a little quieter; the unplugged version of the florals in Velvet Orchid perhaps. This leads to the heavy vanilla base accord. M. Vasnier forms a rich almost custard-like accord except he supports it with some things you should never find in your dessert. Mainly tobacco, myrrh, and a suede leather accord. This is the moment when M. Vasnier picks up the electric guitar for one final high-octave solo as the vanilla looms large but the tobacco and the leather complement with the sweetness inherent in those notes. A woody foundation of sandalwood and balsam finish Velvet Orchid Lumiere.

Velvet Orchid Lumiere has near 24-hour longevity and above average sillage especially the florals and the vanilla.

I like the solo work M. Vasnier has done here quite a bit. Velvet Orchid Lumiere feels like a perfume to be worn to a semi-formal it carries a lot of class to it because of the quieter moments M. Vasnier imparts to the same construct that existed in Velvet Orchid. By starting quiet with some intelligent raw material choices, it allows for an intense coda. I will be enjoying M. Vasnier’s gourmand floriental solo a lot over these upcoming colder months.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Coolife Le Cinquieme Parfum- Herbal Kinetics

There is an inherent kinetic energy to the best herbal citrus perfumes. When they are done right the herbs provide a moving platform upon which the citrus can slide around on. As I’ve refined my personal taste over the years I have found I prefer this kind of style. I like having it carry me along with its exuberant nature throughout a day. The latest perfume to do this for me is Coolife Le Cinquieme Parfum.

Carole-Beaupre-Pauline-Rochas

Carole Beaupre and Pauline Rochas

Coolife creative directors Carole Beaupre and Pauline Rochas are exploring chakras in their debut collection. For Le Cinquieme Parfum the chakra that is being interpreted is Visuddha which represents “the search for truer knowledge, beyond time and space.” I have not bought into the mysticism behind these perfumes for the most part. What I have bought into is the work perfumer Yann Vasnier has done for the brand as Le Cinquieme is his second composition for Coolife.

M. Vasnier has done some of his best work with the herbal section of his perfumer’s palette. Le Cinquieme Parfum fits that pattern. He also uses some of the higher flying musks to provide the necessary expansiveness and lift to send this fragrance soaring.

yann vasnier 1

Yann Vasnier

Le Cinquieme Parfum opens with a brilliantly sparkling bergamot which is supported with lemongrass to provide a green vector for the herbal notes to gravitate towards. The first to show up is a leafy mint which pops against the citrus. Then we get a run of juniperberry, sage, basil, and pepper. The keynote for all of this is the synthetic musk Serenolide which provides a sheer kind of lift which gathers up all of these herbal notes expanding their presence like an inflating balloon. Just as it reaches its maximum volume M. Vasnier punctures it with incense leaving behind a set of balsamic notes combined with labdanum.

Le Cinquieme Parfum has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Le Cinquieme Parfum flits around with considerable energy for much of its first few hours. As those herbal notes begin to coalesce only to be expanded upon by the Serenolide it makes for something which has kaleidoscopic development. I’m not sure that I found “truer knowledge” but I did find a new a new fragrance to wear out during the day.

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

Mark Behnke  

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Vert D’Encens- Pine-cense

The Tom Ford Private Blend collection has been releasing a collection within the collection over the last few years. For 2016 the four new releases are called Les Extraits Verts. When I heard the name I was looking forward to a Tom Ford take on green. When I received my samples a couple weeks ago I was surprised overall it wasn’t as vert as I was expecting. Although there was one exception Vert D’Encens.

Antoine-Maisondieu

Antoine Maisondieu

Vert Boheme missed the vert boat entirely as it was mostly citrusy floral before getting a bit musky at the end. Vert de Fleur did have the green going but it didn’t feel special to me. Vert des Bois was my second favorite of the four as perfumers Olivier Gillotin and Rodrigo Flores-Roux really added in some odd versions of green in olive leaves, and marigold along with some more traditional choices. It made for a really engaging development.

shyamala-maisondieu-1

Shyamala Maisondieu

Vert D’Encens was the one I spent some time with because it, too, was an off-beat green but with two very common ingredients; pine and incense. Longtime creative director Karyn Khoury oversaw a team of perfumers consisting of Antoine Maisondieu, Shyamala Maisondieu, and Yann Vasnier. The decision to combine a full body pine tree, including sap, to a full throated frankincense turned out to be just the green I was looking for.

yann vasnier

Yann Vasnier

In the early going the perfumers bring out a very traditional pine joined by lemon and lavender. In these very first moments Vert D’Encens is a little bit a like a lot of drugstore pine fragrances. It doesn’t stay that way long as a green cardamom and sage set the stage for a pine sap accord. That accord carries a tint of the camphoraceous quality which provides a lift as the pine intensifies with the sap accord and the pine from on top becoming stronger. Right as it seems like the pine is at its zenith a fine silvery frankincense cuts across it and embeds itself in the sticky pine. Together it forms what I thought of as Pine-cense. This is where Vert D’Encens stayed at for hours. Much later on cedar and vetiver add a bit cleaner green to close things out.

Vert D’Encens has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

What drew me in to Vert D’Encens over the other Les Extraits Vert was the simple combination of the pine and incense. The perfumers found a way to find just the right balance for me. It is definitely going to be another excellent choice as the weather gets cooler as fall arrives.

Disclosure; This review was based on press samples provided by Tom Ford Beauty.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Parfums DelRae Mythique- Veils of Leather & Iris

2

One thing I want to accomplish with this series is to remind perfume lovers of brands they may have forgotten about or never even heard of. A prime example of this is Parfums DelRae. Overseen by DelRae Roth there are only nine perfumes in the entire line. The first five: Amoreuse, Bois de Paradis, Eau Illuminee, Debut, and Emotionelle were released between 2002 and 2008. All five were composed by Michel Roudnitska. I had entered my phase of discovery which included devouring all things Roudnitska when I found the brand. M. Roudnitska is a perfumer with presence. He translates his belief in the way perfume should be made into his creations. In Ms. Roth he found a kindred spirit equally devoted to doing things correctly. You need no other indicator that while niche was exploding they only released five perfumes.

DelRae Roth1

DelRae Roth

M. Roudnitska was going to take a break from perfumery in 2009 and so Ms. Roth was forced to look for a new perfumer. To her great credit she found one who had an entirely different style in Yann Vasnier. From 2009-2014 they have released four perfumes: Mythique, Coup de Foudre, Panache, and Wit. Taken as a sub collection these are some of the best perfumes ever created by M. Vasnier. I would again point to the uncompromising creative direction of Ms. Roth as a critical component in the quality. Again this was a slow and steady process while those around them were rushing to market with multiple releases per year.

yann vasnier

Yann Vasnier

My favorite perfume in a line which has nine very good to outstanding fragrances in it; is the first one M. Vasnier did, Mythique.  

Ms. Roth was inspired by the story of Diane de Poitiers who was the mistress to French King Henri II. Diane de Poitiers was known as an equestrienne, a great beauty and demanding intellect. She was famous for regularly dressing in only white and black. Ms. Roth took all of that and asked M. Vasnier to design an orris and leather centered fragrance which would encompass her inspiration. What M. Vasnier delivered in the end is what comes off as a veil of orris scented leather that is breathtaking in its seemingly fragile beauty.

delrae mythique

Mythique opens upon a flare of mandarin tinted green with a light application of vegetal ivy. This leads to a leather accord of ambrette and patchouli matched to a rich orris butter which has no powdery character. This orris butter is the rootiness of the rhizome on display. It pairs exquisitely with the leather accord to create that transparent effect that captures me every time I wear this. Sandalwood is the final ingredient in the base.

Mythique has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage. This is one of those deceptive perfumes where you might stop noticing it but others can still smell it on you.

With Mythique Ms. Roth and M. Vasnier were defining the second act of Parfums DelRae as M. Roudnitska exited stage left. Mythique is one of the first perfumes which drew me into how beautiful fragility could be.

If Parfums DelRae have flown Under the Radar for you that should be remedied by sampling all nine. It is one of the true great collection top to bottom in independent perfumery. Mythique is a great place to begin that exploration.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Coolife Le Quatrieme Parfum- Getting to the Root of Things

There are times when I receive the press materials accompanying new samples and it is hard for me not to laugh. The more magical the claims around a perfume in the text; I have usually found a lack of inspiration in the perfume itself. One brand which has particularly made me giggle has been the ongoing collection of perfumes from the brand Coolife inspired by the chakras called The Seven. The creative directors and founders Carole Beaupre and Pauline Rochas are immersed in the idea of perfume as pixie dust. I have been openly skeptical of these perfumes to perform to that level. The first three releases were perfectly decent perfumes composed by perfumer Patricia Choux. The only emotion it aroused for me was indifference. I received the fourth release, Le Quatrieme Parfum, and guess what? This time I did go along with the mysticism attached.

Carole-Beaupre-Pauline-Rochas

Carole Beaupre (l.) and Pauline Rochas

Le Quatrieme Parfum is meant to represent the root chakra, our foundation and of feeling grounded. Perfumer Yann Vasnier was tasked with making the perfume which would form this sense of being. I found Le Quatrieme Parfum to be a tremendously relaxing perfume to wear. It reminded me of putting on a well-worn denim jacket; broken in just right. It felt like something easy which also imparted depth along with familiarity. M. Vasnier has assembled a coterie of warm, golden, glowing notes to achieve this.

yann vasnier

Yann Vasnier

When it comes to being grounded a shot of rum is probably not high up on the list of things to try. For the perfume which seeks to ground oneself it turns out a shot of rum works quite nicely. Especially when M. Vasnier traps it within a matrix of golden viscous honey. The honey never threatens to tilt over to its less desirable scent profile. In conjunction with the rum it stays sweetly boozy before moving into the heart. Waiting there is a rich narcotic dried tobacco leaf for it to rest upon. The inherent sweetness of the tobacco intertwines with the honey and leaves the rum behind. It elicits a sweeter shade of tobacco. Then comes the part where my fanciful imagination takes over, and probably my upbringing in Little Havana in S. Florida. I imagine this fragrant tobacco leaf being loaded with myrrh soaked patchouli and being rolled into a perfumed cigar. As all of those notes are in play in the next phase of the development. This is where Le Quatrieme Parfum lingers for hours on my skin. It languorously allows a beautiful balsamic note to eventually arise which almost acts as a figurative cigar box for my imaginary stogie.

Le Quatrieme Parfum has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Like the other Coolife perfumes there is nothing terribly original about the ideas M. Vasnier has used. Unlike the other Coolife perfumes this time Le Quatrieme Parfum did ground me, allowing me to find an inner harmony. I wore it on a very hectic day and every time I caught a puff of my imaginary cigar it did have a centering effect. I found Le Quatrieme Parfum allowed me to get to the root of things.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Arquiste Nanban- The East Comes West

One of the more interesting periods in history was when western sailing ships discovered Japan. The very insular society was shaken to its core as evidence of other civilizations were uncovered. The resulting culture clash as Western attitudes and Eastern honor clashed is the subject of much popular culture in books and film. Even though it wasn’t as well-known there was the reverse as Japanese sailing ships made their way west. The first diplomatic mission from Japan to Europe via Mexico took place from 1611-1618. Carlos Huber the creative director behind Arquiste uses this historical trip as the inspiration for the new Arquiste Nanban.

Carlos Huber1

Carlos Huber

Nanban in its first usage in 16th century Japan referred to the visitors from Portugal and Spain. It has evolved over time to come to mean Japanese art of that time period which has obvious Western influences. This is fertile ground for Sr. Huber to mine as he has done with historical touchstones for the previous nine releases in the line. He has employed his team of perfumers in Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier to collaborate together for the third time. This is another example where the teamwork between this team leads to extraordinary results. There is a clear bond between all of them whenever I have met them. I think that shows in the perfume they produce. While all three worked on the preliminary concept it would be Sr. Huber and Sr. Flores-Roux who would carry it to the finish. The idea was to have Nanban be the view of the West this Eastern diplomatic mission would bring back home.

rodrigo flores roux

Rodrigo Flores-Roux

The story Nanban tells is of a Japanese delegation who has been away from home for too long. When they arrived in Mexico I can imagine they must have been very happy to see the familiar osmanthus flowers greeting them after the long ocean crossing. This is where Nanban starts. The perfumers then dust it with black pepper, infuse it with black tea, and cloak it in saffron. All of the Western influences are imposed on the Eastern floral. The feel of culture clash is vividly on display. In the heart sandalwood and myrrh provide a meditative core of resinous woods. That calm is shattered with the new Western influences of coffee and tanned leather. The tug of war begins in earnest as the coffee and leather are in direct opposition to the sandalwood and myrrh. This is a civilized struggle as on my skin it was a vigorous negotiation as to which would eventually have the upper hand. Over time the coffee and leather win out. By the time we get to the heart the members of the mission breathe deeply of the forest adjacent to the harbor. The woods of home embrace them upon their return. Cade wood, copahu balm, and frankincense provide the structure of the homecoming.

yann vasnier

Yann Vasnier

Nanban has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

The best Arquiste fragrances are descriptions of the everlasting change history provides. Nanban is one of the liveliest discussions to take place so far. On the days I wore Nanban I found myself engrossed in the voyage it took me on. It also made me consider what it must have been like for the crew of the Japanese ship alone in the West trying to build a bridge. I can’t ask more from a perfume than to engage my intellect as well as my emotions, The Arquiste team has once again put time in a bottle, making it beautiful.

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

Mark Behnke

Header photo by Hisao Oka and Edwin Pabon

Under the Radar: Tom Ford Private Blend London- Like A Pendulum Do

As a perfume collection matures over the years it tends to swing back and forth like a pendulum. The Tom Ford Private Blend Collection has been around since 2007, under the creative direction of Tom Ford and Karen Khoury. Most of the early fragrances had an intensity to them and that depth is what drew me to the line in the first place. Noir de Noir’s mix of chocolate, rose, oud, and patchouli is a good example. In 2010, things lightened up a bit and Jasmin Rouge is a good example of where the pendulum had swung to as the jasmine was kept cleaner and the notes surrounding it were kept in check. That kind of restraint added a sense of ephemeral beauty to those that I came to appreciate very much. But, but, but I wanted another Private Blend which swaggered with audacity. Little did I know it had been released last September.

Private-Blend-by-Tom-Ford-London

Tom Ford Private Blend London was an exclusive to the new Sloane Square Tom Ford boutique which opened in 2013 in London. There was little enthusiasm for it among the London contingent of perfumistas and as a result without an attendant buzz I had a very difficult time getting a sample. I did finally get one from online decanting site Surrender to Chance. What I was greeted with was a fragrance which seemed to encompass something more than trying to assay London as a fragrance. This was a fragrance of the East; exotic spices, opulent florals, and deep woods. This was the London of the Royal Geographic Society as their members brought back things seen for the first time from all over the globe. In a wood paneled drawing room, furnished in leather, one explorer shows off the cinnamon and cardamom he acquired. On another table a species of jasmine from the Himalayas scented the room. Raw vanilla pods from the West Indies mixed with these very intense smelling oud wood chips from Egypt smoking in a censer. This is the smell of Tom Ford Private Blend London.

yann vasnier

Yann Vasnier

Perfumer Yann Vasnier opens London up with a spicy mélange centered on cinnamon but heavily influenced with cardamom, ginger, and black pepper. This captured my attention immediately as M. Vasnier swirls all of this up into a spicy sirocco which blows with an airy potency. The jasmine in the heart is full on indolic jasmine and it has to be to make any headway against the spices. This skanky jasmine fits in perfectly with the spices and it is heady stuff. It gets even deeper as oud over leather makes up the key notes of the base. It is sweetened with a bit of vanilla and amber but this is drawing room leather and oud mostly.

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

My wish has been answered as London feels like it belongs to the original collection more than the more recent releases. It seems appropriate if London is the signal that the pendulum is swinging back because y’know; London swings like the pendulum do.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample purchased form Surrender to Chance

Mark Behnke

Editor’s note: I expect London will be available worldwide sooner than later as the previous exclusive fragrance to a boutique, Lavender Palm, became widely available about a year later. As of this writing it is still only available in London.

New Perfume Reviews Tom Ford Private Blend Mandarino di Amalfi & Costa Azzurra- Summer Tableaux

The Tom Ford Private Blend collection is one of the more successful luxury collections on the market. One thing about it though is the fragrances which make it up would hardly be described as light. Outside of 2007’s Neroli Portofino and 2010’s Azure Lime this is not a collection I reach for during the summer. The two newest additions to the Private Blend line, Mandarino di Amalfi and Costa Azzurra, are going to change that.

As they did last year with the Oud Collection, Creative Directors Tom Ford and Karen Khoury are creating another collection of three by adding two new partners to an existing entry. This time the prior release is Neroli Portofino and the two new ones are packaged in the same blue glass bottle to signal they belong together. Both of them are being released at the perfect time as these are warm weather fragrances made for summer fun.

calice and mark

Calice Becker (l.) and the Author

Mandarino di Amalfi is composed by Calice Becker and it is Mme Becker at her absolute finest. When Mme Becker really hits a home run with me is when she takes what seems an almost impossible number of raw materials and fashions something subtle and complex. Mandarino di Amalfi takes the very common trope of a citrus fragrance and by adding in herbs, spice, flowers, resins and musk she twists the normal into something almost paranormal as some of these notes flit through like fast moving poltergeists.

Mme Becker places her luminous mandarin in place and then like an olfactory version of a clove orange she pierces it with all manner of herbs and spices. A spear of tarragon, a javelin of blackcurrant bud, a lance of coriander, an arrow of spearmint, and a stiletto of basil stab through the citrus each adding a particular kind of energetic contrast. By the end of the early going you have well spiced herbal mandarin standing by itself. This wonderfully aromatic phase is caressed by a floral touch of jasmine and orange blossom. The jasmine is the smell of humid summer nights and a bit of shiso adds a green foundation to the florals. Vetiver and labdanum make things a little greener but not overwhelmingly so. Finally a bit of civet and musk end with a flash of animalic sensuality. On its surface Mandarino di Amalfi is an orange perfume but underneath Mme Becker adds in layers of pleasures to discover as the day unfolds.

Mandarino di Amalfi has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage, it is pitched perfect for a summer fragrance.

yann vasnier 1

Yann Vasnier

Yann Vasnier takes Costa Azzurra in a completely different direction. Costa Azzurra is the perfume of the beachcomber walking the beach at midday among the driftwood and the seaweed with the waves crashing nearby. I grew up in South Florida and spent many afternoons looking to see what the ocean left behind as the tide receded. M. Vasnier captures all of that in Costa Azzurra.

Costa Azzurra opens with a fresh cologne top note trio of lemon, lavender, and basil. The first sniff feels so familiar only to have a wave crash and the marine setting comes alive. M. Vasnier uses a bit of ambrette seed, myrtle, and algae to create his ebb tide tableau. This leads to a heart of woody notes to create his driftwood accord. Cypress, cedar, oak, and a pinch of oud all combine to create that unique sun-bleached wood accord which also shimmers with the heat of the sun beating down on it. This all lays over the marine accord from the top to truly create the beach landscape in fragrant form. The base takes us back to the comfort of incense, vanilla, and labdanum in a green tinted resinous finish. It is the driftwood at the heart of Costa Azzurra which is the star here as M. Vasnier captures it perfectly.

Costa Azzurra has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Neroli Portofino was never my favorite of the Private Blends but these two new companions are much more interesting to me and already they have proven to be good summer company. I will be wearing my samples down to their last drops over the next few months.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Velvet Orchid- The TF All-Stars Make a Fragrance

I’ve always wondered how a perfume with multiple perfumers attached to it actually comes to be. I’m not talking about a collaboration of two that I think I understand. There are a number of fragrances which seemingly take a village to create. The latest fragrance to have me considering this is the new addition to the Tom Ford Signature Collection, Velvet Orchid.

2013 best of pics20

The TF All-Stars (Clockwise from upper left: M. Vasnier, Mme Becker, Mme Maisondieu, M. Maisondieu)

Karyn Khoury is in her accustomed position as creative director and she decided to convene a supergroup of perfumers to compose this flanker to the original Tom Ford Signature Fragrance, Black Orchid. My weird imagination even sees them on a stage, as The TF All-Stars, introducing themselves. On top notes we have Calice Becker, holding down the heart notes it’s Yann Vasnier and covering the base notes we have The Maisondieus, Shyamala and Antoine. I am pretty sure this kind of perfume by committee is not accomplished by doling out phases but I do wonder how all of these very competent perfumers managed to come together and make pretty darn good perfume worthy of being added to the Tom Ford Signature Collection.

The original Black Orchid is one of those fragrances that, when it was released in 2006, was a true gender bender as there were many men who wore it even though it was primarily marketed to women. I am one of those men as the central orchid accord in Black Orchid is surrounded by a very restrained floral followed by patchouli and sandalwood in the base. For Velvet Orchid The TF All-Stars were asked to create a “corporeal flower accord” to complement the original orchid accord. This group doesn’t just stop there as on top a fantastic rum and in the base vanilla take on prominent roles with the familiar notes from Black Orchid. It makes Velvet Orchid a traditionally pretty floral fragrance which is very good.

The same mandarin that was present in the original is on top in Velvet Orchid but now it is drizzled with honey and doused with a rum note called succan absolute. This makes for a sweetly boozy opening and one I really enjoyed. It leads to the same orchid accord that made up the heart of Black Orchid. Here is where The TF All-Stars decided to really turn this Velvet Orchid into a power ballad of florals as on top of the orchid comes a series of floral duets starting with Moroccan and Turkish rose, hyacinth and heliotrope, jasmine and jonquil. Throughout the heart of Velvet Orchid it is like trying to follow three simultaneous guitar solos which are miraculously also harmonizing. For much of Velvet Orchid it remains in this powerful floral refrain. Over a few hours a very subtle sweetness begins to swirl into the melody. First myrrh and sandalwood start off; a very refined suede and peru balsam rough it up a little but it sets the stage for a perfect vanilla note to provide the finish. It adds up to a decadent sweetness to leave one wanting more.

Velvet Orchid has all-day longevity and above average sillage.

I have always admired the Tom Ford Signature Collection for pushing the envelope in the mainstream fragrance space. It is why Velvet Orchid is a bit surprising in how it displays itself as very traditionally floriental. It isn’t groundbreaking or unusual but in its nod to the traditional The TF All-Stars manage to find a way to leave their very talented impressions in all the small moments throughout. Even though you might have heard this tune before this supergroup of perfumers have found a way to make it feel new again.  

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Arquiste L’Etrog Acqua & The Architects Club- Italian Orchards & Art Deco Club Kids

One of my very favorite recent new perfume lines is Arquiste. In 2011 there were six debut releases and one year later a seventh was added. What I like so much about Arquiste is it is a tight knit team behind all of the fragrances. It starts with owner and Creative Director Carlos Huber who has taken his training as an architectural historian and restorer and applied that to the world of fragrance. So far for all of the Arquiste line he has exclusively used two perfumers, Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier, separately or in tandem. Arquiste is an example of passionate creativity and friendship leading to a collection which is excellent from top to bottom. Because of this admiration I was really looking forward to seeing Sr. Huber at Esxence because I was hoping for something new after over a year. I wasn’t disappointed as he presented two new fragrances, L’Etrog Acqua and The Architects Club.

3153-766326

L’Etrog Acqua is a continuation of the story begun by one of the original six, L’Etrog and how it came to be is a funny story. Sr. Huber was visiting with Sr. Flores-Roux and as he got near he realized he sort of smelled L’Etrog but it was different. When he asked about it, Sr. Flores-Roux said he wanted a more “summer” version and so he ditched most of the notes in the heart and base and what was left was a very Mediterranean cologne. Sr. Huber agreed and now we can all enjoy the summer version of L’Etrog.

L’Etrog Acqua has exactly the same opening notes as in L’Etrog but they are more pronounced without as much underneath to start pushing them to the side. For almost the entire time I wore L’Etrog Acqua these were the notes which were on display; cedrat, lemon, mandarin, petitgrain, and myrtle. With the original those would give way to an intense dried fruit accord down to the vetiver, orris and patchouli base. All of that is gone and all that remains in L’Etrog Acqua is cedar, vetiver, and labdanum. Without the darker contrasts the top notes get to frolic more freely and the base notes really just sort of join in. For a straightforward citrus fragrance L’Etrog Acqua kept going strong for over 8 hours. Sr. Flores-Roux does capture the flip side to L'Etrog, a summer morning in an Italian citrus orchard. I know this will be worn a lot this summer by me.

brightyoungthings

The Architects Club is a more typical Arquiste fragrance complete with appropriate scene setting by Sr. Huber. All of the fragrances have a time and place assigned to them as a brief. For The Architects Club it is Dusk, March, 1930, Mayfair, London inside an Art Deco smoking room. A group of architects settle into the warm interior of dark woods, leather, and velvet. A group of London’s bright young things burst in to the room frosted martinis in hand, surrounded by a cloud of laughter, white smoke, and fine vanilla.

I love the whole Lost Generation era and I was excited to see what M. Vasnier came up with as a perfume to match the described tableau. What he did was make a group of architects’ notes; woods, vetiver, amber, and spices. A group of notes representing the flappers; citrus, gin, and vanilla. Let them crash together and watch the interaction. This turns out to have all of the attributes of an impromptu party in fragrant form.

The Architects Club starts with the spice and woods of the boys out in front and then very quickly the gin and citrus energy of the girls destroy the serenity. M. Vasnier has produced as quickly a developing first few moments of perfume that I have encountered in recent memory. When Sr. Huber gave me the strip after hearing the brief I immediately got the men’s club vibe and just as I was about to say, “nice”, the ladies had started a party on my mouillette. Wearing this for a couple of days this animated opening is even more appealing on my skin. Once everyone is in the midst of having a good time the gin accord and the spices really dominate the early going and they are also having a good time getting to know each other. As this party rages on the vetiver and vanilla make sure the shank of the evening still holds some interest. I can’t remember when an opening of a fragrance has made me say “wow” as much as The Architects Club did. The rest of the fragrance is also very good but there is a wonderful rush I get from the first few moments of this one each time I’ve worn it and it is intoxicating. The Architects Club has all-day longevity and modest sillage as it is at 25% perfume extract concentration. There may be a party going on but only those you let close will know about it.

I’ll be wearing both of these for the next few months but once fall comes The Architects Club party will continue to play on because, as you know, nothing stops a great show.

L'Etrog Acqua will be available in June and The Architects Club will be released in the fall wherever you find Arquiste for sale.

Disclosure: This review was based on press samples provided by Arquiste at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke