New Perfume Review Diptyque Eau Plurielle- Master of None

As the circle of societal and regulatory pressures increase at a steady pace you can’t fault a fragrance brand for looking for ways to prosper in this atmosphere. One of the obvious ways is to stop calling it perfume or cologne. If people don’t hear those words perhaps they will see things differently. Maybe the brand doesn’t want to call it perfume anymore and are looking for semantic alternatives. Diptyque is a perfume brand which has been one of the most influential for over 40 years now. Which is why I have such mixed emotions at their first release of 2015, Eau Plurielle. Diptyque is calling it a “multi-use fragrance”.

In the press materials I received announcing this at the beginning of the year they say, “It is the link, the connection that delicately perfumes both skin and fabric, the body and all the materials that encompass it.” That is a worthy goal but at least for me the perfume I wear and the fragrance I spray on bed linens or scarves have very different constructions. There is an old proverb which I think describes Eau Plurielle, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” In trying to please two very different masters there was no way it could succeed unless it chose to hew to one or the other. Instead Eau Plurielle charts a middle course which satisfies neither.


Eau Plurielle opens on that citrus and geranium green-tinged fruity floral that Diptyque does so well. This by itself would do well as a room spray it has a lift to it and a diffusion that would make a room feel less claustrophobic, especially in the winter months. The heart of ivy and rose does almost the opposite as it is pitched at a very intense concentration and it made me feel as if the walls were closing in on me. It flips back to the lighter side of things using a cocktail of musks to produce a linen accord of its own paired with sandalwood. This has become so common now that it feels like it is Eau Plurielle’s attempt to be inoffensive so as to forget the over exuberant heart.

Eau Plurielle has 12-14 hour longevity on skin with above average sillage and on fabric it has 24-36 hour longevity with above average sillage.

When I spray room fragrances I want something which helps me feel like the four walls of the room have expanded. When I wear perfume on a scarf I want it to be a hint of fragrance, transparent and distant. When I wear perfume on my skin I mostly want it to have a presence which comes from a complete composition containing development. Eau Plurielle never rises to the level of any of those desires. It is funny that one of Diptyque’s earliest home fragrances Essence of John Galliano is one of my favorite perfumes to wear. That fails as a home fragrance because it is too complex for its own good. Eau Plurielle fails as a home fragrance because it was irritating when I had it on a scarf and sprayed it in the room. The rose and ivy were too much. As a perfume that I wore I liked the rose and ivy but for all intents and purposes that is all there is. The top and base notes barely have any presence. There might be a great “multi-use fragrance” out there which can be all things to all fragrance lovers. Eau Plurielle is not that because it tried to be a jack of all trades and mastered nothing.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Atelier Cologne Cedre Atlas & Figuier Ardent- Atelier Cologne 2.0 (Part 2)

Continuing my reviews of the new Atelier Cologne Collection Azur I take a look at Cedre Atlas and Figuier Ardent. One of these has become one of my favorites in the entire line.

cedre atlas picture

Cedre Atlas is composed by perfumer Jerome Epinette and it is going to be a personal litmus test on how much you like cedar. M. Epinette uses an overdose of cedar in the heart of Cedre Atlas making me feel like I was standing in a lumber mill slicing up cedar planks. Before I got to that heart a fleeting application of citrus flies by as quick as a matador’s cape evading the onrushing wooded bull. The note list claims lemon and blackcurrant but all I really detect is lemon and it is in a hurry to get out of the way. In what seems like seconds the cedar lands with an all-encompassing thud. The first time I wore this it was too much. Cedar has a distinctive profile most often described as pencil shavings. This felt like being trapped in a pencil sharpener. It was aggressive and borderline irritating. After about four hours I started noticing there was this beautiful fruity floral woody fragrance coming from the places where the cedar had previously been pushing me away from. That accord would further improve as vetiver and papyrus added a watery green tint to the final stages. The last few hours of Cedre Atlas were a real joy to wear. The first couple of hours taught me how much I like cedar; not as much as I thought. Cedre Atlas has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

figuier ardent picture

Figuier Ardent is composed by perfumer Ralf Schwieger and is one of the best fig perfumes of the last five years. Fig is one of those ingredients which has been interpreted in so many ways and I wasn’t expecting to find Hr. Schwieger’s version to be so compelling. He focuses on a green fig hanging on the tree not yet ripe enough to be picked. He places that fig in the center of a sirocco of spices chosen to enhance the central note. Bergamot and anise form the early moments of Figuier Ardent. Within an hour a fig leaf note carrying vegetal facets announces the arrival of the fig itself. This is a fig which is greener and a lot less pulpy than the riper version many perfumers tend to prefer. Cardamom is used to enhance the un-ripened nature of the fig as it complements the green. Black pepper is used as contrast to the almost salty character this young fig has. Then like a time lapse photo as Figuier Ardent moves into the base the green fig ripens into a mature fig. Hr. Schwieger uses iris and tonka bean as ripening agents. They transform the immature into the experienced over the course of hours. It is a fabulous olfactory illusion and it all finishes on a very lightly woody cedar foundation. Every day I have worn Figuier Aredent I have been more and more impressed at the effect Hr. Schwieger has accomplished here. This is a great fig perfume. Figuier Ardent has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

As I said in Part 1 yesterday the whole Collection Azur feels like the culmination of five years of experience by the Creative Directors/Owners Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel. They have applied that knowledge and are still taking Atelier Cologne in new directions. Figuier Ardent is proof that those journeys can end in paradise.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Atelier Cologne.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Atelier Cologne Mandarine Glaciale & Sud Magnolia- Atelier Cologne 2.0 (Part 1)


As Atelier Cologne celebrates the end of its fifth year with the release of Pomelo Paradis to the original collection of colognes. They open the future with a brand new collection dubbed Collection Azur. As I experienced these new cologne absolues over the last few days I was struck that it feels a bit like Atelier Cologne 2.0. Five years ago Creative Directors and owners Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel knew what they wanted to achieve by exploring the boundaries of cologne. Over the last five years they have produced a collection which has hewed to that vision. Now just like when computer software gets updated the new four fragrance Collection Azur feels like the next evolution of Atelier Cologne. It also reminded me of the day five years ago when Mme Ganter introduced me to the line for the first time. I looked forward to seeing this line succeed and they have. I am going to review all four of the new colognes over the next two days. Today I’ll start with Manadarine Glaciale and Sud Magnolia.

mandarine glaciale picture

One of the unifying themes of the Collection Azur is that of citrus as all four have it featured in their development. Manadarine Glaciale, by perfumer Jerome Epinette, is the citrusiest of them all. Mandarine Glaciale opens with the mandarin along with lemon and bergamot. It is a snappy beginning but it also lives up to the second part of the name. There is a feeling like this is frozen citrus almost encased in a chilly block of ice. That effect is produced by M. Epinette using ginger and petitgrain. Often citrus colognes feel like a gentle slap on the cheek. The early going of Mandarine Glaciale feels like it has been hidden behind an opaque material as it works to break free. After a couple of hours when it finally sheds some of the chill jasmine emerges along with it. M. Epinette uses a well-behaved jasmine which adds a floral vector without getting too floral or feral. The base slides into vetiver over amber and white musk. As with the jasmine the vetiver is kept from being too influential and the citrus stays throughout the development. Manadarine Glaciale has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

sud magnolia picture

Sud Magnolia, also by perfumer Jerome Epinette, pins a flower to its citrus lapel. Over the last six months there have been a number of magnolia perfumes which have made it in front of my nose. I am not sure why the sudden increase but Sud Magnolia is one of the better ones, of this recent group. M. Epinette goes for a lip-puckering sour citrus top combining bitter orange and pomelo. He marries them to lush blackcurrant to further add some depth. This opening is all about getting your attention and it is hard to ignore when wearing it. I really like the enhancement of the sour over the sweet during the early going. This time the citrus is swept away by the magnolia and M. Epinette has found a really striking source of magnolia to use as a focal point. It is at turns creamy and woody while maintaining its floralcy. He supports this beauty by adding in rose and saffron. Together they make a floral accord that is just made for a garden party in the spring. It all finishes upon a foundation of sandalwood and cedar wood, more of the latter than the former. That makes the finish a bit more austerely woody than warm. Sud Magnolia has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I will conclude these reviews with Cedre Atlas and Figuier Ardent tomorrow.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Atelier Cologne.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Carmenere 2012

When it comes to wine I have the same tendencies as I do for perfume, I am not monogamous. I want to find what is newest and what is best. I prefer the smaller off-the-beaten-path producers. I’ve even found myself liking wine far from the traditional wine growing regions. The more I have tried wines from relatively young vinicultural regions the more I am convinced that modern wine making techniques can overcome a lot. The only thing it can’t overcome is the terroir, the place the wine is grown.

You can grow grapes almost anywhere and you can take those grapes and turn them into wine. It will unlikely be very good. In the great regions around the world it is the nature of the totality of the environment which leads to exceptional grapes capable of making great wine. One of those newer regions is in Chile south of Santiago. It is the Colchagua Valley and it, along with the neighboring Maipo Valley, have become one of the best New World vinicultural regions in the world.

alexandra lapostolle and cyril

Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle and Cyril de Bournet

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s a number of French vineyards came over to Chile and figured out that this region was perfect for winemaking. One of the reasons for that is Colchagua sits in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. The snowmelt every year carries down a degree of silt and clay which creates a unique blend of soil to grow grapes in. One of the earliest to commit to this area was Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle and her husband Cyril de Bournet. The middle name of Mme Lapostolle should clue you in to her heritage as part of the family which produces Grand Marnier. In 1994 Mme Lapostolle bought her first vineyards in the region and over the past 21 years has significantly expanded their acreage.

Most of the time New World wine regions start by importing modern rootstocks to start their vineyards. One thing that makes Chile a special wine region is that in the middle of the 1800’s they imported rootstocks from France. In just a few years those French vines would be destroyed by an outbreak of a parasite, phylloxera, which required the destruction of all of the grapes. Chile’s vineyards were spared the plague and the grapes grown today are direct descendants of those original beginnings.

Casa Lapostolle CA Carmenere

Mme Lapostolle started in the Colchagua Valley with a small winery in the Clos Apalta. The winery was called Casa Lapostolle and that first wine Clos Apalta has become the standard bearer for Chilean wine and how good it can be. It also carries a hefty price tag of around $100. If you love great red wine it is worth it but most people ask me to recommend wines that are less than $20. For that I point them, very often, to Casa Lapostolle and the Cuvee Alexandre labels which are all under $20 a bottle.

Cuvee Alexandre produces eight varietal wines, six reds and two whites. I can wholeheartedly recommend all of them but if you’re only going to try one you should find the 2012 Carmenere. The Carmenere grape is what especially was lost in France when the phylloxera led to the destruction of the vines. It has thrived in the Colchagua and it has been the foundation for something wholly unique to this region. Carmenere falls close to a merlot-like red but has a bit more of a Cabernet Sauvignon spine. It is a perfect mid-weight red. The 2012 Carmenere has a deep spicy nose as you swirl it in the glass. That prepares you for the intense red fruit and chocolate taste as it hits your tongue. As you savor it hints of spices make their presence known. One thing about this wine is it lingers on the palate long after you have swallowed. This is not a wine to be quaffed it is one to savor at an easy pace. It will reward you every time.

The Colchagua is becoming another of those wine regions that I just tell people to go to the wine store and buy because the quality across all of the producers is consistently above average. Casa Lapostolle was one of the first to realize the potential of the region and their wines exemplify the special qualities the best.

Disclosure: this review was based on a bottle of Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Carmenere 2012 I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds Azzaro pour Homme- The Many Fathers of Success

If a perfume is still relevant after 37 years that probably speaks a little bit to how good it is. In our need, of which I am guilty of, to name things “new classics” or “modern masterpieces” you might miss the real classic right in front of you. The extra bonus is these perfumes have been around so long that you can easily find them in the discount bins. No matter when I go shopping at the discounters I have always found what I consider to be one of the greatest aromatic fougeres ever for $9.99. That perfume is Azzaro pour Homme.

azzaro ph ad

Azzaro pour Homme was released in 1978 and it was meant to be competition for Paco Rabanne pour Homme. It is not easy to determine who the perfumer on it was. In the Fragrances of the World reference Gerard Anthony is listed as the only perfumer. In numerous other places both Richard Wirtz and Martin Heiddenreich are credited with having a hand in composing it. It was evidently a tortured process. I have always mentioned the proverb, “success has many parents but failure is an orphan” when writing about Azzaro pour Homme because besides the three names listed above there are at least three other perfumers who have claimed to work on it. I can only go with what is on record but especially in the heart it feels like there were many hands at work. It succeeds because the density of those heart notes is what makes Azzaro pour Homme so memorable.

The opening of Azzaro pour Homme is a combination of lavender, citrus, and anise. The anise really stands out in the early moments and the citrus and lavender are bracing. Then we get to the heart and it is reminiscent of looking through a kaleidoscope and rotating it. The colors and components are the same but they keep rearranging into new patterns. What I can detect is a strong herbal presence of sage, basil, rosemary, and cardamom. There are hints of more and the anise lingers down into the heart. A very green geranium is also part of the heart. This is the aromatic part of this fougere. It is a wonderfully complex heart and it lasts for hours like this. When Azzaro pour Homme moves towards its base notes it goes for that very typically 1970’s musk and amber finish. This seemed to be the default finish to a lot of masculine perfumes at this time. It is less prevalent today and so if you are new to the perfume game it may come off as something fresher. For those of us who grew up during this time period it has a bit of the dated “ladies man” vibe a lot of men’s perfumes of the time went for. There is so much good before getting to this that it doesn’t change the way I feel about it but others might feel differently.

Azzaro pour Homme has 18-20 hour longevity and above average sillage.

As I mentioned earlier you can find Azzaro pour Homme at most of the big discount stores in the US. I have seen it as low as $9.99 for a 1oz. bottle. I have also seen 5mL minis in these stores for $5.00 or less. I don’t know if there is a better perfume you can find for this price. If you love fougeres this is one you must have in your collection.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review D.S. & Durga Debaser- The Pixies-lated Surrealism

When I was at Pitti David Seth Moltz the perfumer behind D.S. & Durga handed me a preview of the next release. As we were spraying it on strips he told me the name was Debaser. There are times that something as simple as a name can tell you when two people share some common ground. I looked quizzically at him and said, “Is it named after….” Before I could complete the words Mr. Moltz finished for me, “Yeah, it’s named after The Pixies song.” Now there are many things which might inspire a perfume but this particular song would not be high up on anyone’s list, except Mr. Moltz’s.

david seth moltz

David Seth Moltz

The Pixies were part of that late 1980’s wave of alternative rock bands. What set them apart were the lyrics of singer/guitarist Black Francis. The band covered a myriad of subjects but for the song “Debaser” Mr. Francis chose a particularly obscure bit of surrealism to sing about, the film Un Chien Andalou. That film was co-directed by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali. Over the running time of 21 minutes each chapter is a tableau separated by time-based title cards, like “sixteen years ago”. There is much to chew on for any fan of surrealism. The one thing most everyone speaks about is the opening scene which opens on a title card of “once upon a time”. In it a man sharpens a razor walks over to a woman holds her eye open and approaches her eyeball with a razor. After a cut to clouds moving across the moon in the night sky it returns to an eyeball being slit, not the woman’s but that of a dead calf. Mr. Francis was also fascinated by this imagery and one of the verses in the song is this:

Got me a movie

Ha ha ha ho

Slicing up eyeballs

Ha ha ha ho

He goes on to sing, “I am Un Chien Andalusia” purposefully mangling the name. As I said not the kind of stuff you would look for to make a perfume. Mr. Moltz is inspired nonetheless as he turns out an alternative version of a fig-based summer scent.


Simone Mareuil and a razor from "Un Chien Andalou"

Debaser opens on a very Morticia Addams pruning roses and placing the thorny stems back into vases vibe. Mr. Moltz plays with the idea of what is left of a fruity beginning if you remove the fruit. A green leafy accord and a pear stem accord are where things start. There are hints of what is growing but they have been excised from the scent via an olfactory straight razor. The heart starts to move into something more relatable as a rich fig arises through the stemmy top notes. Just as it seems this might normalize a veritable torrent of coconut milk arrives and swamps the fig. Just as I start to process that, iris appears. This is a weirdly satisfying, completely discordant, heart. These notes collide and recede for hours while wearing Debaser. It is definitely one of the more interesting heart note combinations I’ve tried so far this year. Debaser stays at this point for quite a while before taking a turn toward a dry woody finish that is almost too normal compared to what has come earlier.

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

Debaser is a fragrance which revels in its unusualness. I also think Mr. Moltz had a ton of fun composing this combining all of the competing elements into a perfume. This succeeds so well I think it is the best perfume in the entire D.S. & Durga line. I know I’ve emphasized the point that it is a bit weird. Debaser is different but if you are looking for a fig perfume which has a sly intelligence at play look no further than Debaser.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by D.S. & Durga.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Strange Invisible Perfumes Emerald Moss- Temples in the Jungle

On a trip to Central America in the late 1980’s I spent a week following the very nascent La Ruta Maya which was meant to connect up all of the Mayan ruins. Nowadays the route is marked out and all of the sites have been refurbished to look their best. When I did this there were few road signs and when I would ask for directions I was most often met with “No se” (I don’t know). It made it a bit more of an adventure than I had planned. The one site I was looking most forward to seeing were the ruins at Tikal. You might think it was the historical significance that drew me to this amazing site. You would be wrong. I wanted to go because this was where they filmed the final scenes in Star Wars, the first film. While I had geeky reasons for wanting to see it the effort was worth it. There was a long trek through the jungle from the closest place I could park the jeep. This was as close to being Indiana Jones as I would ever get as I followed the trail markers until I emerged onto the plain that houses the temples. What I will never forget about that day was the smell of the jungle and the plain. When I received my sample of the new Strange Invisible Perfumes Emerald Moss and dabbed some on I was immediately standing on the edge of the jungle overlooking the temple plain.


Alexandra Balahoutis

When I read what inspired natural perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis to compose Emerald Moss it turns out it was a similar experience. She visited an old yerba mate plantation in the jungles of Argentina. Years later she would source a mate extract which she would use to build Emerald Moss around. Ms. Balahoutis was fascinated by the deep green color of the mate extract and she has kept the color of Emerald Moss an eye-catching emerald green. One of the things which always separates independent perfumers is their dedication to unique and precious materials. The materials in Emerald Moss are in such small quantities that it is part of a new Reserve Series and as such are limited editions and will only be produced intermittently. If you look at the name and are expecting oakmoss and such you should recalibrate your thinking. Emerald Moss is the heat and humidity of the jungle canopy with trees covered in lichens growing on their trunks. It is a perfume of the wild places.


"Tikal12". Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –

Emerald Moss opens with a blast of mandarin and ginger. For my taste orange and ginger are a great pairing as the lushness of the mandarin is energized by the zing of ginger. It is the anticipation of exploration. The mate comes next and because this is a hydro-distilled mate it carries a lot less of the rough edges that mate often has when used in other fragrances. In Emerald Moss it insets itself in between the mandarin and ginger growing in presence. Over about an hour the mate finally takes complete control. Once that happens you will understand why Ms. Balahoutis wanted to work with this raw material. It has an incredible depth as if you look around into the jungle and all you see are trees. Then like my trip all of a sudden it blossoms into this brilliant open magnificent presence as you encounter majesty. I would dearly love to smell some of this mate extract on its own because it is just not like any other mate I have encountered. Ms. Balahoutis realizes she is working with a special ingredient and as such uses a light hand for the final stages of Emerald Moss’ development. A bit of rose and lavender pulled my focus to these sweeter characteristics of the mate. In the base she uses the Indian vetiver distillation called khus rus to take the mate and turn it into something more familiar as some of those rough edges come out. It leaves me standing on an open verdant plain surrounded by soaring temples and I smile.

Emerald Moss has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

When an independent perfumer like Ms. Balahoutis gets ahold of a one-of-a-kind ingredient like this mate extract this defines the soul of niche perfumery. There are no other perfumes that smell like Emerald Moss because there are no other perfumes that have this mate extract in them. It is a Mayan temple in the jungle exemplifying the past in the present.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Strange Invisible Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar Dita von Teese Erotique- Channel Surfing Burlesque


It probably doesn’t get much more under the radar than Home Shopping Network (HSN). I would imagine most of you reading this skip past that channel as you are flipping through all of the offerings of your cable service. I’m no better I can’t say that HSN gets much airtime in the Colognoisseur household. If your timing is right though you might be surprised to find that HSN is the home of one of the best celebrity perfume collections I know. Dita von Teese has produced four perfumes for the shopping channel and they are all very good. The price is also very good at $30/0.7oz. I like all four but it was the fourth one, Erotique, which I think is the best of the bunch.


For those unfamiliar with Dita von Teese she has been called the “Queen of Burlesque”. She has made sure that true burlesque will not disappear as long as she can perform. Burlesque has long been associated with stripping and those two activities are far apart. Burlesque is all about the style behind a sexy striptease which emphasizes the second part of that compound word. You think you see more than you really see. To be an accomplished burlesque performer a woman needs a personality that keeps the audience engaged all while she moves and seduces without showing you everything. Ms. von Teese has become the face of this modern version. The perfumes that she has leant her name to are also meant to be inspired by aspects of this personality. Erotique is the culmination of that performance as it is meant to seduce and beguile.

dita von teese erotique

Erotique opens on a spicy accord of pepper and coriander. This is much more pepper than coriander. This is also a bit of slap and tickle pepper as it generates a bit of heat along with nose-wrinkling energy. Erotique then holds out a rose as enticement in the heart. This is kept simple with just the rose and the pepper holding the stage for a little while. This transitions to a leather and sandalwood base. The leather seems appropriate as there might be a sense of something dangerous underneath it all. The sandalwood has a bit of cedar to keep it on the drier side and keep it from getting too creamy.

Erotique has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

Most of the time the celebrity name on the bottle has had nothing to do with the fragrance inside. Ms. von Teese participated fully in producing the perfumes. That she also chose to do it for an economical price is also to be lauded. So if you’re channel surfing one night and you see an HSN host holding up a perfume bottle stop and check it out. You might find something surprisingly good.

Disclsoure: this review is based upon a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Mark Buxton Perfumes Message in a Bottle- Sending Out an SOS

There is no perfumer I admire more than Mark Buxton. He would be on my very short list of greatest perfumers of the last 50 years. One of the reasons he is so esteemed, by me, is because his compositions most often have a way of making me see something about perfume differently. In 2008 he finally struck out on his own to create a line of perfume under his own name, Mark Buxton Perfumes. The perfumes in the line all have names which refer to different rock songs. The latest release, Message in a Bottle, is inspired by the song of the same name by The Police, from 1979.

I think The Police are my favorite rock band of all-time. They certainly cemented their place in my affections when they played a concert in South Florida in May of 1979 just after they had released their first album Outlandos D’Amour. They were playing in a hole-in-the-wall bar called Fat Cat’s which would be hosting the finest cover bands in the area the next night. That night there were twenty people waiting to see The Police. I don’t know how discouraging it had to be to look out and see twenty people who paid to see you. What I do know is the band came out and rocked the house. All twenty of us were dancing in front of the stage and singing at the top of our lungs. You know how you go to a movie theatre and you’re the only one in the theatre on a weekday matinee. This was the same thing but with a band. On their next album Message in a Bottle would be released and it wasn’t much of a big hit in the US. Over time it has become the signature song of the band. I saw them on their reunion tour and they had Fenway Park singing out the chorus of “sending out an SOS”. There were a lot more than 20 people there this time. But it still felt like that night almost exactly thirty years earlier. Mr. Buxton captures that early feel of The Police as they fused punk and ska together to form their sound. Mr. Buxton takes a traditional white floral and sets it adrift as a message in a bottle floating upon the ocean.


Mark Buxton

Message in a Bottle opens on a bright guitar riff of ylang-ylang and magnolia upon a bass line of neroli. This is a gentle slightly translucent white floral effect. It shimmers almost like floral pulses over the first moments on the skin. A truly fantastic jasmine sambac takes the composition deep into white flower territory as the guitar riffs turn into driving slashes across the strings. This is unadulterated jasmine full of indolic goodness sweeping away the opacity of the opening with an imperious gesture. The base is the driving drum beat of the surf as ambergris, sandalwood, labdanum, and civet form the ocean accord upon which the white floral message bobs upon looking for a recipient. The civet in conjunction with the indoles from the jasmine makes for a particularly sublime mixture of the castaway looking on the horizon for an answer.

Message in a Bottle has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Message in a Bottle is the best of the new Mark Buxton Perfumes collection. Its combination of the aquatic and the floral is accomplished in a uniquely engaging way. A perfume full of big bold notes should be a bit too boisterous. In the hands of Mr. Buxton it is the yearning of that solitary figure sending out an SOS only to be rewarded by finding “a hundred million bottles washed up on the shore”. I really hope a lot of people get Mark Buxton Perfumes Message in a Bottle.

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

Mark Behnke

Interview with AbdesSalaam Attar on His Return to Teaching


AbdesSalaam Attar has been one of the leading lights of natural perfumery. For many years he taught other aspiring perfumers as he shared his knowledge and philosophy behind natural perfume making. Six years ago he stopped teaching and focused on making perfume for his La Via del Profumo line. A couple of weeks ago I learned he was thinking of teaching again followed up a few days ago by a press release announcing his return to the classroom. A six-day course is being offered from June 10-15, 2015 in Rimini, Italy. For anyone wanting to learn more about natural perfumery it is an opportunity to learn from one of the very best in the field. I wanted a little more detail than the press release delivered and through a series of e-mails AbdesSalaam Attar and I had a discussion about the course.

Mark Behnke: Why are you returning to teaching after a six-year break?

AbdesSalaam Attar: The number of requests that I kept receiving made me change my mind about not wanting to teach again.  I decided for a new formula that would take all the stress of the intense knowledge transfer away from me and from the students. Enough time to do everything and relax. 


Rimini, Italy (via press release)

MB: The class is being taught in Rimini during June. Is there a reason you chose that place and time?

AbdesSalaam Attar: May and June are the best months in Italy. The weather, the vegetation, the mood of the people, everything is propitious to “la dolce vita” in this period.
The location of the seminar is only 10 minutes away from my own place, it is on the top of the hills and you can see from afar the whole area of the Adriatic Coast. It is secluded from the hectic atmosphere of the summer “Riviera”.  It also has all the comforts for a peaceful retreat, including tennis, a swimming pool and bicycles.  The place is ideal for our program which is to work with tranquility and serenity.

MB: You say it is a crucial issue for a perfumer to be able to understand and evaluate raw materials, why? How will this course explore that?

AbdesSalaam Attar: Natural essences are widely adulterated, suppliers battle with each other on the price by lowering the quality. Essential oils, unlike single molecule ingredients are to be explored and understood like wines.
Also for a diamond dealer, being able to evaluate the raw stones is of crucial importance in his trade.
The quality and beauty of natural perfumes depends directly on the quality and beauty of their ingredients. 

MB: Can you give me an example of one of these ingredients and explain a little further?

AbdesSalaam Attar: There is no natural essence immune from adulteration, because the cheapest of them is still more expensive that it’s chemical surrogate, and exists in a much more limited quantity.

Bergamot, for example, grows only in a small patch of territory of Calabria. The production is very limited, and every year it is more so; because growers of the fruits make no living with their harvest, since a single person in nearby Sicily controls the market for his own interest. So every year more trees are pulled down.
Nevertheless the world is full of bergamot essence, every wholesaler and retailer has it and it goes by tons in Earl Grey teas and in other products. How is it possible?
Most of these essences are not pure or are not Bergamot at all.
Bergamot essences smell different in their various qualities, which depends on the maturity of the fruits, and accordingly on the month of production. I prefer the more mature December essence. Before that it is more green and citrusy.
Unless you know how the essences of Bergamot should smell and unless you know personally the producer, you will not get your nose near the best Bergamot essence.   

MB: What rare essences are you considering exposing the class to?

AbdesSalaam Attar: Some scents can be smelled only with me, such as an antique infusion of Kashmiri Muskdeer in Mysore Sandalwood, an infusion of Italian Saffron in Mysore Sandalwood and a tincture of Baltic amber. Among the rare ones Karo Karoundé, sustainable wild civet musk picked up from the ground, the real Mysore Sandalwood, Iris absolute, Hay, seaweed and more.
Discovering new smells is like learning new words, they add to your knowledge.

MB: Ethical sourcing is a big issue for many of the most sought after raw materials will that be a part of the course?
AbdesSalaam Attar: Certainly. In Italy we have invented the Ethical Complete List of Ingredients in Perfumes. The ECLIP list.   Ethics and philosophy must be the first things to be taught when learning any craft. Ethics and philosophy of perfumery are the foundation of my teaching. There is must be an overall ethic in sourcing, in producing and in selling perfumes.

il germano reale

Il Germano Reale-Site for the Course (via press release)

MB: What other areas will the course touch upon?

AbdesSalaam Attar: The course is all about blending perfumes. The nose is not even necessary for blending, it is at best of secondary importance.
Natural smells are a language that is imprinted in our genes, in our cultures and in our personal life experience. In order to make perfumes with a meaning you have to learn this archetypal language which is the foundation of olfactory psychology. I will teach the students its principles and how they can learn it by making perfumes for people.
Pheromones are a mysterious part of olfactory psychology, many botanical essences mimic human pheromones and have a similar effect on us.
All the knowledge of the different fields that I shall offer to the students is necessary but not sufficient for making good perfumes. I want to teach them a mental attitude. Some of them will find out they have it innately, some others will have to acquire it and I shall show them a way to do it.

MB: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions about the course. If you are interested in attending the course e-mail for further information.

Mark Behnke