New Perfume Review April Aromatics Agartha- Serenity

Perfume has many different abilities depending on the person wearing it. I write often about how it ignites specific memories. It also has the effect of enhancing, even changing, my mood. This is the subject of many, many aromatherapy volumes. It is always something I am curious about because of the way we perceive different scents; whether it can be universal. What I can say with certainty, for myself, one independent perfumer has always produced fragrances which have a pleasantly calming effect is Tanja Bochnig of April Aromatics. When she contacted me a few weeks ago, to let me know that a new perfume was on its way to me I almost sent back a reply, “Bless you!”. This has been one of those times when a bit of perfumed serenity would go a long way. Her new release Agartha was just the prescription for my edgy nerves.

The name comes from the “hollow Earth” myth describing a city called Agartha. It is analogous to Shangri-La as a place of study awaiting a day when it can once more re-appear for it to become the dawn of a new age. Ms. Bochnig imagines all of us as our own Earth looking inward to try and re-connect with our childhood memories to provide innocent joy. This was what she was thinking of as she composed Agartha.

Tanja Bochnig

Agartha is a fragrance of glowing golden panels. Ms. Bochnig works with an all-natural palette which can really create some beautifully fragile synergies; Agartha is full of them. It is like chasing butterflies across a field never quite catching them but the pursuit is where the enjoyment is found.

Agartha opens on a fabulously burnished mimosa. I’m not sure what her source is but besides the golden sweet floral nature there is also a sturdy green leafy thread running throughout. To keep the mimosa more towards that sweeter character she buffs it with a few fruits underneath. The goldenness really gets deeper in the heart where honey forms a viscous matrix for the mimosa with complementary yet slightly competing versions of sweet. Down the middle, she runs hay and cardamom. The hay is a key piece of the early going as the dried grassiness provides a stable point for both the mimosa and the honey to bounce off of. The final throw of sweet is the slightly narcotic nature of dried tobacco leaves. It provides a third spoke on this exploration of sweet notes. The interstitial notes in the late going are patchouli and labdanum. They provide the foundation to propel the tobacco upwards into the honey and mimosa.

Agartha has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Agartha is another fantastic mimosa perfume in a year which has seen its share. What sets it apart from those others is the beauty in the spaces in between from using the natural ingredients. Plus, it provided me some moments of serenity in these final hectic days of 2016.

Disclosure; This review was based on a sample provided by April Aromatics.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfums de Marly Layton- Handicapping the Field

When I was in high school and needed the car I would have to go pick up my father from his friend whom he carpooled with. On our way home was one of the big horse racing tracks in S.Florida, Calder. One of my dad’s favorite things to do was to follow the racing results in the daily sports pages. By looking at those results he would be able to pick out a couple of horses he liked. If it happened that one of those horses was running on a day I picked him up, we would make a little detour. It was some of my favorite time I spent with my father as he would explain to me his thought process behind his choices. It is something which has stuck with me ever since. The idea of looking for the pattern of performance which will lead to success. There is one perfume line which always brings back this memory to me because they are a horse-themed brand; Parfums de Marly.


Julien Sprecher

I discovered Parfums de Marly at the Elements Showcase in 2013. I hadn’t realized they had been around for three years prior to that. In that first exposure, I sort of felt like I was with my dad looking over the perfumes named after horses with the perfumers as trainers. There were definite thoroughbreds in Herod and Pegasus. There was also a delightful quirkiness where creative director Julien Sprecher was not looking to play it safe. Ispazon and Shagya pushed hard on my sensibilities but over time I came around to appreciating both. As a result, I am always interested when there is a new addition to the line. For the end of 2016 Layton is the newest.


Hamid Merati-Kashani

One of the things which is difficult with a brand like Parfums de Marly is while I like quite a few of the perfumes there has been no easy entry point. Until now all of them have a definitive presence that is best appreciated by those who know their perfume Racing Form. I think Layton changes all that. Perfumer Hamid Merati-Kashani has composed a perfume of charm designed to draw a new person in to the line.

The opening of Layton is a fantastic combination of lavender, mandarin orange, and green apple. When it is used correctly green apple provides a distinct focal point with crisp lines for a perfumer to elaborate upon. M. Merati-Kashani uses the lavender and orange as perfect counterbalance to the apple. It is a flat out sprint to the quarter pole as it is full of pace in the early moments. Layton settles into a steady pace over the next quarter as geranium acts as the fulcrum for jasmine and violet. The geranium is the predominant note matching the green of the apple. Now as we hit the top of the stretch the crack of black pepper applies the whip hand to sandalwood and patchouli sweetened considerably with vanilla. As Layton eases up after the finish guaiac wood and amber provide the warm down.

Layton has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.

What I like very much about Layton is it feels like M. Sprecher wanted something more approachable but still retaining a few of the quirkier bloodlines of the brand. Layton delivers this so well it immediately rises to one of the best from the entire brand for its combination of affability and difference; a real champion.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Parfums de Marly.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Christian Louboutin Trouble in Heaven- A Single Spark

When an iconic designer attempts the jump to fragrance I think it looks easier than it is. When you see the name of a designer you admire on a bottle of perfume you should expect some of the creativity of that designer to find its way into the bottle. What becomes consistently frustrating is even when these designers work with some of the best perfumers they end up playing it safe. This year has seen several these projects come to fruition only to leave me wondering where the creativity went. The latest come from Christian Louboutin.


Christian Louboutin

M. Louboutin is one of the premiere shoe designers in the world. He is one of a few who transformed the women’s shoe industry into an ultra-luxury enterprise. The brilliant piece of branding he achieved was all of his shoes have a signature red lacquered sole. When you see that you know she’s wearing a “Loubie”. The shoes are exquisite objects of beautiful design.

Now 25-years after opening his store in Paris he is expanding into fragrance. He employed two excellent perfumers to compose his debut collection of three perfumes. Olivier Cresp did one, Tornade Blonde. Pierre Negrin was responsible for the remaining two; Bikini Questa Sera and Trouble in Heaven. Two of the three play it extremely safe. Bikini Questa Sera is a big jasmine and tuberose over sandalwood and vetiver. Tornade Blonde is a slightly different floral riff as a bit of fruit leads in to gardenia, rose, and jasmine before going to a typical cedar and patchouli base. These are nice scents but they lack any flair or innovation. I have to admit as I tried the last one I was expecting more of the same utilitarian perfumery. Thankfully M. Negrin and M. Louboutin were willing to go for something different in Trouble in Heaven.


Pierre Negrin

If there is an overriding design aesthetic to M. Louboutin it is his delight in taking the stiletto and embellishing it with unusual things. Trouble in Heaven takes a floriental construct and pierces it with an ozonic aquatic synthetic as embellishment.

That ozonic note, Cascalone is where Trouble in Heaven begins. Cascalone is a relative to Calone; very close in chemical structure. The difference is Cascalone removes the slightly low tide character of Calone. What remains is a chilly mist of sea spray expansive and briny. When I smelled the opening I expected the typical aquatic progression. Instead an earthy orris replaces the sea shore with the dual nature of powdery and rhizome. This orris is quite powdery and it flows nicely out of the Cascalone. Rose comes along to transform the heart into a fully floral accord. The base is a typical amber, patchouli, and tonka Oriental accord.

Trouble in Heaven has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This was a collection I was hoping would fire on all creative cylinders. At least in the case of Trouble in Heaven M. Louboutin and M. Negrin found the beginning of a spark which I am hopeful will translate to even better future releases.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Christian Louboutin Beaute.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Penhaligon’s Portraits Much Ado About the Duke- The Reset Button

For as long as I have been following perfume one of the most confounding brands has been Penhaligon’s. I learned of them early on in my perfume exploration days. My first impression was they were a heritage British brand with perfumes like Hammam Bouquet and Belnheim Bouquet. Then in the late 1990’s they seemed to be going for fun and sassy with LP No. 9. They shifted gears again in 2008-2013 as they collaborated with some of the best perfumers working to make some of the best perfumes of those years. Releases like Elixir by Olivia Giacobetti, Amaranthine, Sartorial and Vaara by Bertrand Duchaufour and Iris Prima by Alberto Morillas. They made a truly tragic foray into hipster fashion with Tralala working with fashion designers Meadham Kirchoff. I adore many perfumes with the name Penhaligon’s on the bottle but this is a brand which hits the reset button early and often. And so, we are again entering a new evolution of the brand this time embracing its heritage of the past as shown on television.


Daphne Bugey

The latest releases are a four-fragrance collection known as Penhaligon’s Portraits. Each of the perfumes represents a character in an interlocking story. Starting with the patriarch in The Tragedy of Lord George perfumer Alberto Morillas composes a boozy homage to the wood paneled drawing room. The scheming matriarch is represented by The Revenge of Lady Blanche composed by Daphne Bugey as a very green floral. Their daughter is the Coveted Duchess Rose composed by Christophe Reynaud who is a woody rose. For these three perfumes, they hearken back to the heritage of the brand while each of them has a contemporary twist worthy of Downton Abbey. They are straightforward representations of what they are meant to do. There was only one which I felt took a bit of a different tack and that one was the one which represented the ambiguously sexual husband of the Duchess called Much Ado About the Duke also composed by Mme Bugey.

What set this apart was Mme Bugey captures the foppish nature of the Duke and his apparently loveless marriage. What this kind of parlor room literature usually imparts is a man who drinks too much while hiding his secret. All the while the flower in his lapel and the slightly off-kilter mannerisms make it no secret at all. What this means in a perfume is a rich floral married to an alcoholic heart all twisted up in an unexpected spice.

Much Ado About the Duke opens with that rose in his lapel which he brings to his nose to smell. Except while doing that the strong smell of his sweaty underarms also comes forward. For that Mme Bugey uses cumin. Because she is using a Turkish rose the cumin slides over the top of the inherent spicy core of the rose itself. I like Much Ado About the Duke because Mme Bugey pulls off this difficult duet so nicely. The cumin gives way and the rose becomes fresher in nature before a chilly juniper and coriander form the gin accord of the drink in the Duke’s hand. This goes with the rose extremely well and much later the cumin makes a faint return like an echo.

Much Ado About the Duke has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

It is my understanding that these first four perfumes are but Episode 1 in the Portraits story. Like all good serials, I tend to have a favorite character and at the end of the first stanza it is the Duke I want to spend the most time with.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Penhaligon’s.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Rogue One- A Star Wars Story

I think it is almost human nature to be suspicious of big corporations. Especially when those business behemoths gobble up something we are quite fond of. The perfume industry is full of these stories with results both good and bad. Most of the time I hope for the best and brace for the worst. This was my attitude when Disney acquired Lucasfilm in October of 2012. Disney had done the same with another company beloved to me Marvel Comics three years earlier but by 2012 it seemed to be something where hope for the best was coming true. Lucasfilm was another thing entirely because Star Wars might just be the most beloved franchise on the planet. There was so much which could go wrong.

Disney announced fairly quickly after the deal was signed that we were going to get new Star Wars movies. First a new trilogy of Episodes 7-9. Hope for the best was again rewarded with last year’s release of Episode 7 The Force Awakens. Disney wasn’t done though they also announced an ambitious slate of movies that were going to come out in the years in between the main Episodes. They were calling these Star Wars Anthology movies.

Star Wars Anthology movies were meant to be standalone movies exploring a side story within the Star Wars universe. This was where my brace for the worst instincts kicked in. This was where it felt like maybe the Mouse Machine was trying to enact a cash grab on the affection of the fans.


The first of these Anthology movies was released this weekend called Rogue One-A Star Wars Story. The plot is to visually explain everything we read in the opening crawl of the very first Star Wars movie released. If you need a reminder here is what the first thing anyone who viewed Star Wars saw.

“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy…."

Rogue One tells the story of how those plans were acquired. Director Gareth Edwards promised a war movie and Rogue One is the Star Wars version of The Dirty Dozen who are assembled to chase down the plans. The movie has a typical structure for these kinds of plots. We meet the fringe characters who have endured tragedy. The specialists who bring their specific skills to the job. The comic relief. All of those are here. I loved movies like Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare, and The Great Escape when I was a kid. Rogue One fits in that tradition except it is also a full-blooded Star Wars movie too. What that means is it ties in to the other seven movies we have seen in ways big and small. This is where the difference really laid for me because at the end of Rogue One I really understood what it took for the Rebellion to win that first victory along with the importance of the plans.

I am not going to go much deeper into the plot and spoil any of the surprises in the movie but I do want to comment on one thing which was just spectacularly done. In the original Star Wars, George Lucas told how he was inspired by the old World War 2 dogfight movies. How he wanted the battles between Rebel X-Wings and Empire TIE Fighters to feel like that. The final battle of Rogue One has evolved that to the ultimate space dogfight footage in the entire series. The battle above the surface of the planet is as mesmerizing as the one going on below. It is this sequence that you want to see in IMAX 3-D.

As much as I dread prequels because as a viewer you know where it has to end; Rogue One foils that by letting you see the effort needed to reach that goal spoken of in the Episode IV opening crawl. I came home and watched Episode IV after seeing Rogue One opening night and it changed the way I saw that movie now. If Disney can commit to this kind of filmmaking hope for the best is just the beginning.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Frank No. 2- The Quiet Christmas Moment

As we enter the final mad dash of parties, lunches, and shopping which mark the final sprint to Christmas it is hard to catch a breath. Not that I really want to but there always comes a moment where all of the madness pauses before gathering speed again headed for the New Year. For me that happens late on Christmas Eve. The prep for the next day’s big meal is done. Everything has quieted down as Mrs. C and the poodle snuggle in warm as we can be. The lights are twinkling on the tree as the ornaments catch the reflection of the fireplace. The house smells of fruit as the pies are cooling. Usually at this point I treat myself to a drink most often cognac. I lean back taking all of this in and breathe deep with satisfaction; while scratching a poodle ear. Two years ago, I discovered a perfume which captures the scent of this moment; Frank No. 2.


Frank No. 2 comes as the second perfume from Frank Los Angeles. The perfumes were overseen by Elizabeth Wright who also founded the perfume brand Costamor. The perfumer behind Frank No. 2 is unclear although it is most likely Bertrand Duchaufour who did Frank No. 1. For Frank No. 2 Ms. Wright does collect many of the smells of Christmas together to form that moment of quietude right in the middle of the Season.

Frank No. 2 opens with a spark of brilliant bergamot matched with an herbal lavender. That aspect of lavender is kept in place by using coriander to accentuate it. The heart is a juicy plum afloat on a boozy accord. This is one of the reasons I like this perfume because the plum stands up to the booze not by melding with it but by floating above it. What comes next is the woods. Fir balsam is the core with maplewood adding a sweetness for the plum to work with. Teak provides a more austere wood for the booze to soak. Right here is the scent of my interlude as all of this comes together. The final development is a bit of coffee and white musks as I grind the coffee to be brewed in the morning.

Frank No. 2 has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have liked Ms. Wright’s style through both of her brands. As an FYI if you were a fan of Costamor Tabacca it has returned under the name of Frank No. 3. These are very much Under the Radar brands because they didn’t get a very wide distribution. They are worth seeking out to try especially if you need a breather in the midst of the Season.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review MAC Shadescents Ruby Woo- The Red Leather Diaries

I know for many who love perfume they have an equivalent passion for makeup. I am obviously not one who falls in to that particular categorization. I am not so clueless that I don’t know most of the major brands plus if they decide to expand in to fragrance I become even better acquainted with the brand. I knew about MAC cosmetics because they always seem to have a lot of space in the department store beauty aisles. I can figure out that to have that much square footage must translate to a passionate consumer. MAC had tried to branch out into perfume from 1999-2009 but for some reason I haven’t been able to determine why; they gave up on it. Especially because the 2002 releases MV1, MV2, and MV3 were very well-done department store releases. For the end of 2016 MAC is re-entering the perfume market with a collection of six new releases called Shadescents.

Karyn Khoury

The inspiration behind Shadescents are the six-current best-selling MAC lipstick shades. The color of the bottle cap matches the shade of lipstick in the name. What especially got my attention was the collaboration between creative director Karyn Khoury and perfumer Jerome Epinette who were the team behind all six. The concept was to create a perfume version of lipstick. What that meant was not to smell like lipstick but instead for each perfume to be one distinct note or accord which best represented the color. I will confess that I am not one of those synesthetes who sees color when I smell perfume which means I will not comment on whether I think the perfumes succeed on that level. Where I do think they achieve their goals is to take a bold single note and treat it as a soliflore which M. Epinette can surround with some complimentary notes.


Jerome Epinette

Candy Yum-Yum is a candy floss blast of ethyl maltol with vanilla cut with a set of interesting fruit notes. Crème D’Nude also is based around vanilla but in this case a set of botanical and synthetic musks wrap themselves around the sweet core. Velvet Teddy is also musky but matched with honey. Lady Danger uses cherry as the focal point. My Heroine was the one which did not seem to belong because it is a smoky resinous leather. The one I liked best is the one based on the most popular MAC lipstick shade Ruby Woo.


Ruby Woo actually picks up on the themes from Lady Danger and My Heroine as there is cherry and what M. Epinette calls a “red leather accord”. It opens with a kind of patent leather accord which is pierced with a strong cherry which I think is what is meant to give it its crimson shade. M. Epinette then uses as highlighting notes; saffron, iris, rose, and sandalwood. These four notes take the red leather jacket on a lively journey by the time all is said and done.

Ruby Woo has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

If one of the reasons for MAC getting out of the perfume business seven years ago, was they took too many chances. I believe Shadescents is an attempt to rectify that perceived error. All six have identifiable aesthetics similar to many of their mass-market brethren. The collection as a whole provides enough difference that I think it will resonate with the MAC consumer. I’m not a MAC consumer but I would happily wear Ruby Woo.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Macy’s.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauerville Tuberose Flash- Magnifying Glass Tuberose

I have been an admirer of the Tauerville line ever since independent perfumer Andy Tauer started it two years ago. Hr. Tauer’s concept of simple “flash” fragrances highlighting a particular note or accord has been very successful through the first five releases. It has become something I look forward to because Hr. Tauer has used the opportunity of simpler architecture to take the titular notes to some different places. The newest release Tuberose Flash does this for one of the most boisterous ingredients in all of perfumery.

Tuberose is a raw material which can take over a composition. A perfumer must either let it have free rein or alternatively use other powerful notes to try and tame it. It is a tricky balance; too much freedom and things just become a miasmic haze. Leash it too much and domesticated tuberose can just lay flat. Hr. Tauer took a third approach which was to use specific notes to amplify and examine specific facets throughout the time Tuberose Flash spends on the skin. It reminded me of an investigator using a magnifying glass to look closely at a part of the flower before moving on.

andy tauer 1

Andy Tauer

The close-up examination begins right away as the tuberose is in place from the first moments. Hr. Tauer then uses citrus and mint as the first magnifiers. What these notes in tandem do is to tease out the mentholated underpinning that tuberose has. It is obvious when tuberose is in high quantity. For Tuberose Flash Hr. Tauer didn’t want the tuberose to be that loud early on. By using the citrus and mint it draws attention to the mentholated nature without going all flowery. That is saved for the heart where two other white flowers, jasmine and orange blossom, bring out the typical tuberose most are familiar with. This is a typical white flower bouquet with indolic grace notes and narcotic floralcy. The base returns to using a note to magnify an aspect. In the late going it is patchouli attracting the indoles. They combine to form a slightly dirty patchouli. Amber and benzoin are also in the base and they are there to balance the indoles with more typical sweetness; not allowing Tuberose Flash to go too far into the darkness.

Tuberose Flash has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Tuberose Flash is an interesting companion piece to the perfume he did last year for his Tauer line called Sotto La Luna Tuberose. It also shares a very distinctive progression through the phases. What I found particularly interesting is that Hr. Tauer found two different explorations of tuberose within a year. I like Tuberose Flash more because that opening where the mentholated character is displayed stands apart from most tuberose fragrances. With Tuberose Flash Tauerville and Hr. Tauer have created a six-pack of excellent “simple” perfumes.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tokyo Milk Dark: Novocaine No. 85- The Evil Queen

I receive my sample box from Sephora and I usually gravitate towards the perfumes I am most interested in. One brand which falls in that category might surprise you is Tokyo Milk. Ever since its debut in 2009 I have often found something to admire about the brand that perfumer Margot Elena founded. These are perfumes you have probably picked up while standing in line at Sephora as they can be found in one of the displays adjoining the checkout line. Mme Elena turned out over thirty releases from 2009-2011. With that kind of prodigious output, they aren’t all winners but within all of that perfume I found some which I have enjoyed. One of the more successful subsets within the Tokyo Milk collection was one labeled Dark. Of the first eight that were released there was one Bulletproof No. 45 which has been a longtime favorite. A mixture of lapsang souchong, coconut milk, and cedar; Bulletproof was where Mme Elena showed a fine sensibility which could go in some interesting directions.


Margot Elena

I hadn’t seen a new Tokyo Milk release for years until the spring of this year when she released three new fragrances as part of the Light collection. They were the first releases not to carry a number and the one I liked best was called And You. Mme Elena made a more traditional tea centered fragrance matching her oolong tea with bamboo, orchid, and musk. I have to admit I was sort of hoping for some more Dark to follow Light; which is what I received. In my fall box from Sephora there were two new Dark releases; Pretty Rotten No. 33 and Novocaine No. 85. Pretty Rotten felt like Mme Elena was attempting to recreate the poison apple but it tilted a little too sweet for my taste. Novocaine also felt like it was trying for fairy tale land too but this felt like The Evil Queen’s scent and I liked it a lot.


Lana Parrilla as Regina The Evil Queen in "Once Upon a Time"

Novocaine is a three-layered treat of spice, sugar, and incense. It closely matches my impression of The Evil Queen from the TV series “Once Upon A Time”. When we see her in her arcane glory she often has a fireball in her hand with a wicked grin on her face. Yet we know she wants to be the fairest of them all while employing dark magic. Novocaine’s three distinct layers capture all of that.

Novocaine opens with a near overdose of ginger which means Mme Elena uses a significant amount of pepper to keep it from becoming all about the ginger. This is that fireball glowing with energy ready to be released. The desire to be the sweet young thing comes from a green vanilla which captured the aspects of the flower the pod is harvested from. It is gourmand level sweet but the green facets that go with it keep it modulated while adding texture. Incense provides the base note and it is a clean metallic version of incense as if it was burning on a censer next to The Evil Queen’s spellbook.

Novocaine No. 85 has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you find yourself stuck in a long checkout line this holiday season and Novocaine is in the display give it a chance. It may give you a reason to look forward to waiting.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Sephora.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Laboratorio Olfativo Nerotic- Lucky Thirteen

Back in 2010 when I discovered the new perfume line Laboratorio Olfattivo I got the impression that the man who was behind the brand also loved perfume. When I met that creative director for the brand, Roberto Drago, my suspicion was confirmed. The time I spend speaking with Sig. Drago when I travel to the Italian perfume expositions is never the typical blogger trying to get more information on new releases. We have spoken at length about ways to broaden the audience for niche perfumery, the crowded marketplace, and our favorite new releases. Sig. Drago believes in the potential of perfume as much as I do.

roberto drago 1

Roberto Drago

Throughout the ten years that Laboratorio Olfattivo has been releasing fragrances it has also become a place where independent perfumers can create a little more freely. One perfumer for whom this freedom has been very good for is Cecile Zarokian. Mme Zarokian is another with whom I have spent many hours talking about perfume making. Nerotic is the third fragrance Mme Zarokian has collaborated with Sig. Drago on. Nerotic is the first release in a new sub-collection named “Laboratorio in Nero” where the clear bottle is replaced with a black one. This collection is going to be characterized by more “complex formula(s)”.


Cecile Zarokian

Nerotic is meant to be a portmanteau of neurotic and narcotic. What I found interesting about the way Mme Zarokian interpreted that combination was to create deep accords around which a textural note flits in and out making a wearer wonder if it is truly there. The hide and seek nature of these notes didn’t necessarily make me neurotic but it was interesting to experience.

Mme Zarokian opens Nerotic with berries and citrus. A sweetly tart opening which seemed to settle in except saffron kept showing up and then leaving. I like saffron as a foil to fruity openings and when it holds itself in check it makes that common fruity opening more exotic. Mme Zarokian seemingly uses a smaller amount to give that in and out effect I am enjoying. The green rose of geranium is matched with a leather accord in the heart. The leather accord is the black leather version which the geranium contrasts nicely. The neurotic note here is a very green coriander which when it shows up it causes the geranium to pulse with vitality within the leather. It forms a fantastic heart accord. The base is sandalwood and one of the woody-amber aromachemicals. There is a nice bit of tension between the sweeter nature of sandalwood up against the sharp edges of the synthetic. The final touch is a lazy curl of smoke which wends its way through the woods as if they were warm enough to burst into flame.

Nerotic has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is the thirteenth new release composed by Mme Zarokian in 2016. It is testament to her ever-developing skills that each of these thirteen perfumes stand distinctly on their own. Sig. Drago’s freedom to create has allowed her to cap the year with Nerotic as lucky thirteen.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Laboratorio Olfattivo.

Mark Behnke