New Perfume Review: Rosine Rose Griotte- Cherry with a Rose on Top

I know that for most of the world the floral scent of spring is rose. I live in a place where that isn’t true. In the Washington DC area we are obsessed with the phases of the cherry blossoms. It is only after living here that I know the difference between peduncle elongation and full bloom. When peak bloom is achieved it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. There is a delicacy to the blossoms which is magnified when the entire tidal basin is covered in trees sporting them. I have become one who views the evolution of each season’s cherry blossoms as my spring fever thermometer.

Marie-Helene Rogeon

Which is why I carry my seasonal grumpiness about all the rose perfumes that come out in these early months of every year. They have a way of affecting my mood in a less positive way. I always ask for a different spring flower as keynote. Another thing I could ask for is to create a rose accord as an abstraction of the real thing. That would be appealing. When I received my samples of this year’s releases from Rosine I didn’t know that Rosine Rose Griotte was going to satisfy both wants.

Nicolas Bonneville

One thing I always undervalue with Rosine is the creative direction of Marie-Helene Rogeon. She has developed a brand which has explored everything there is about rose in perfume. It has remained a relevant brand because she never rests on the same old tired tropes. She collaborates with perfumer Nicolas Bonneville for Rose Griotte.

The keynote floral is cherry blossom. There is little chance any rose essential oil woudn’t trample the delicacy of that. So they make the clever choice to use a rose accord of three fresh florals as its balancing partner.

It begins with a juice dripping, fruity top accord around pear. There is a bit of citrus and baie rose to provide some rounding effect, but the earliest moments are a ripe pear. Then the heart finds the beautiful powdery fragility of the cherry blossom matched with an expansive rose accord of peony, jasmine, and heliotrope. The last also has a bit of cherry in its scent profile which allows it to act as complement. A clean woody base of cedar and white amber complete things.

Rose Griotte has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is not the first time Mme Rogeon has worked with a rose accord. It shows the creativity of the brand is still in good hands even after thirty years. If you want to have your rose and cherry too; Rose Griotte should be on your to-try list.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Rosine.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Obvious Un Poivre- The Way Eco-Perfume Could Be

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There is a new trend within the beauty sector to create eco-conscious products. Fragrance has not escaped this. Over the last three years there have been multiple new brands touting their green-ness and I’m not talking about the perfume. I understand the consumer’s desire to want to purchase in a more ecologically aware way. The one thing I haven’t quite figured out is why the perfume inside the bottles must be so simple, to a fault.

David Frossard

Obvious Parfums is the latest to take on this mindset. Founded by David Frossard who has been behind a few of my favorite brands. He asked two perfumers in Anne-Sophie Behaghel and Amelie Bourgeois to make the contents of his eco-conscious containers. I awaited my discovery set hoping this would be the brand to break away from the equation that green equals simple.

Anne-Sophie Behaghel

There are seven Obvious Parfums in this debut collection. They all have the name of the keynote on their label. Six of them fall into that simplicity I am not finding interesting. Une Vanille is a slug of vanilla and some musks. Une Rose a rich Bulgarian variety but little else. Un Bois is some woods and a lot of ambroxan. Which made me wonder whether a synthetic like ambroxan is eco-friendly. You’ll notice I haven’t said the entire collection is like this. The seventh, Obvious Un Poivre is delightfully different and lays out a blueprint for the future of this brand if they are willing to follow it.

Amelie Bourgeois

What sets it apart from its shelf mates is there is a real development to it leaving behind the desire to be a solitary note. The perfumers open with a nose tickling amount of black pepper. I know this is a divisive ingredient, but I enjoy it when used well. The perfumers balance it out with caraway and baie rose. It keeps the pepper from being too raw. The caraway adds its unique freshness while the baie rose smooths out much of the spikiness. Violet comes next along with more spices of cinnamon and ginger. The violet is that sharply earthy version. The spices add to the mélange already in progress. The base is a gorgeous slightly smoky Haitian vetiver and a hint of the lemon-tinted amyris wood.

Un Poivre has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am being hard on the simplicity of the other six. If you like the ingredient listed on the bottle and desire to be eco-conscious in your fragrance purchases, these are better than many of the others trying the same thing. Un Poivre is so different from the other Obvious Parfums I hope it is what consumers are drawn to. That’s because this is the type of eco-perfume I would like to see more of.

Disclosure: this review is based on a discovery set I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Yves Rocher Voile d’Ocre- One of the Cornerstones

When I look over all of the perfume I have tried over the years there are some ingredients which seem to form the cornerstones of perfumery. When it comes to flowers it would be jasmine and rose. Patchouli is certainly one. When it comes to woody notes sandalwood is definitely one of them. One of the commonalities to anything I would put in this category is it can stand on its own. It can be a perfume all by itself. I have examples in the perfume vault here at Colognoisseur HQ. Most of those are expensive. It didn’t used to be that way. There was a time not that long ago that all these foundational pieces of perfumery could be found economically. At least in the case of one Yves Rocher Voile d’Ocre is bringing that back.

Ane Ayo

It was a funny thing as I read the press release while waiting for the sample to arrive. It told me this was meant to capture a citadel on the edge of the desert using two ingredients: cedar and sandalwood. Then I was told it took two perfumers, Ane Ayo and Fabrice Pellegrin. I was thinking this sounded like two Michelin-starred chefs combining chocolate and milk into chocolate milk. Once I received the sample the need for two noses became evident because there is a third synthetic ingredient which is a little bit cedar and a little bit sandalwood. Creating the right balance using that is not as easy as it sounds.

Fabrice Pellegrin

I think the third unnamed ingredient is Iso E Super. It is because the perfume overall has that desiccated quality it brings which is also reminiscent of the desert milieu they were aiming for. It also is the kind of synthetic ingredient that can be made more vivid through the addition of judicious amounts of natural ingredients. That’s my guess of what is going on here.

Iso E Super has this inherent dusty earth quality to it which is where Voile d’Ocre opens. This sets the desert backdrop. The natural woods are added in next. The raw almost green of cedar adds some life back to the dryness of the synthetic background. The sandalwood harmonizes with that arid aspect while also adding in a woody sweetness. From one of the ingredients a spicy piquancy is there also a milkiness which I’ll attribute to the sandalwood.

Voile d’Ocre has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is probably my new “best bang for your buck” sandalwood perfume. The perfumers do an incredible job of using one of the cornerstones to create a new woody edifice at the edge of the desert.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Yves Rocher.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jo Malone Red Hibiscus- Tropical Daydreaming

I always took for granted what I had surrounding me as a kid. I took advantage of a lot, but I also didn’t appreciate it all. One of those things was having all my grandparents so close by. I could spend time with them whenever I wanted because they were all a bike ride away. My grandfather was always outside taking care of his house and garden. Where my grandmother favored gardenias, he loved the hibiscus flowers which grew in S. Florida. He had bushes growing all around his home. He taught me the patience of waiting on nature one day as we watched a bud unfurl in the late morning sunlight. I also remember thinking for as big as these flowers were, they didn’t have much of a scent. Colorful but missing an odor equal to the visual.

Celine Roux

Hibiscus is an easily found essential oil but just like the real thing it doesn’t have much of a scent profile. A pretty, subtle floral is how I would describe it. Which means when a perfume says it is a hibiscus perfume there are some other florals along to add some color. Which is what’s happening in Jo Malone Red Hibiscus.

Mathilde Bijaoui

Red Hibiscus is part of the Blossoms collection which also includes Frangipani Flower and Nashi Blossom from previous releases. There is also another hibiscus, Yellow Hibiscus. What drew me to Red Hibiscus is it was the only one of the four in Cologne Intense concentration. Creative director Celine Roux and perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui collaborate on this.

One of the things I enjoy about all the perfumes in this Blossoms collection is the sunniness with which they open. Red Hibiscus uses orange as its citrus solar surrogate. There also seem to be some other slightly ozonic ingredients adding that blue sky to the citrus brilliance. The heart is the floral accord. I am hesitant to call it hibiscus because this is not how a hibiscus really smells. Mme Bijaoui uses jasmine and ylang-ylang to form a tropical flower accord. I am sure there is some hibiscus oil in there, but it is the other two flowers you will notice. Along with the top accord this is a sunny day in S. Florida or any other tropical locale. The base is a lovely comforting warm vanilla with a bit of patchouli. It is a dreamy way to complete things.

Red Hibiscus has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

A quick word about Yellow Hibiscus. It does the same thing but uses lime as the citrus, rose and jasmine as the florals while going more transparent through white musks. They are quite similar which is why I’m only reviewing one. Although if that set of ingredients done lighter appeals then you might enjoy Yellow Hibiscus more.

Red Hibiscus was just what I needed in the last days of winter. A fragrance to let me feel like the warmer days are coming and they’re full of sun and flowers. I can do some tropical daydreaming until that happens wearing Red Hibiscus.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Jo Malone.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review DS & Durga St. Vetyver- In the Cane Fields of St. Somewhere

My version of summer camp was setting sail with one of my best friend’s family through the Caribbean. I had one of those infantile witty jokes I used to camouflage my ignorance of geography. I would call the islands we docked at Saint Somewhere. One of the great things of this life was Buddy and I would untie our bikes from the hold and go explore our new environment. Through that St. Somewhere became a real place. My ignorance would evaporate through experience. One of the consistent crops on a lot of these islands was sugar cane. I learned if I hacked a small piece off there was a sweet juice inside to quench my thirst. There was also a sticky green scent which remained on my hands. DS & Durga St. Vetyver reminds me of it.

Vetiver is also another significant crop on some of the islands. That was something I was only to identify as an adult once I started learning about perfume. Perfumer David Seth Moltz leads into his use of a specific source of vetiver through his own exploration of St. Somewhere.

David Seth (l.) and Kavi Ahuja Moltz

It opens with the bright sunshine of orange and the fresh green of grass. Baie rose uses its fruity and herbal sides to stitch the top accord together. Then we head out into the cane fields. Sugarcane grows in tall stalks which is harvested by cutting it down. Inside the stalk is the natural source of sugar. It is sweet but it is also green. Mr. Moltz finds that balance. This is not an overdosed sickly sweet but an unrefined version akin to an uncut gem. There is also a hint of the dark soil sugar cane grows in with some clove adding to the heart. So many of the cane fields are adjacent to a rum distillery there was always a scent of that overhanging the fields where that was so. An aged Haitian vetiver along with a rum accord forms the base accord. The older vetiver has a less acerbic green and a softer woodiness. The rum accord does not soak everything in a boozy glow. Instead it hangs above it all like the steam from the rum distilleries. Once all together this forms a compelling story of this part of the world.

St. Vetyver has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Even though it isn’t identified as such St. Vetyver feels like the island counterpart to last year’s Jazmin Yucatan. DS & Durga have, I think unintentionally made a set of perfumes which capture the Americas via twilight in Mexico or afternoon in the cane fields. Maybe we need morning in South America to complete a trilogy. This is as good as it gets for vetiver perfumes. The balance of the sweetness of sugar cane and the different type of that in the rum accord bring the vetiver alive. If you’re yearning to be on a Caribbean island let St. Vetyver be your destination.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample supplied by DS & Durga.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: RC Cola

If there was a red-headed stepchild to the great Cola Wars it was RC Cola. RC stands for Royal Crown but hardly anyone uses that. When I was a child in the 1960’s RC was as prevalent as Coke or Pepsi. In those days I had preferences based on the food I ate them with. Coke was the choice for a hamburger or a hot dog. Pepsi and pizza were perfect. For RC it was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

RC began its life in the early 20th century as the creation of a store owner who felt Coca-Cola wasn’t giving him a fair shake. He decided to develop his own syrup. RC would command a nearly equivalent number of sales through the 60’s. I was as likely to be offered a can of any of the three when visiting my friends’ houses.

If I was going to describe the taste it was not as sweet as Pepsi but sweeter than Coke. Which says something about the food I want to drink it with I guess.

Once the 70’s began there was an advertising war between Pepsi and Coke which was dubbed the Cola Wars. It would go on for thirty years before an uneasy truce was declared. It was fought in high profile commercials across the television era when you couldn’t fast forward through the ads. I found myself immune to it all. Which one I drank was down to what I was eating it with. It wasn’t “red is for beef white is for fish” level but I had my own pairings.

A consequence of Coke and Pepsi slugging it out was that RC found their shelf space in the market getting shrunk down. I only found they were still on sale when I was at my local store and saw them delivering cases. I walked back to the soda aisle to find it on the bottom shelf. I asked the store manager how it sold. She told me they sell a fair amount of it. Now that I know it is there, I’ll be one of those customers.

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: Tiffany and Tiffany for Men- License Expired

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If there was ever a column that was destined to be written by popular demand it is this one. Every blog has their most commented on post. Far and away the one which has the most comments is my review of 2017’s Tiffany & Co. perfume. The bulk of the 84 and counting comments is a lament for the loss of the originals done for the luxury jewelry store. I realized the reason Tiffany and Tiffany for Men are both in the Dead Letter Office is also a story of how the licensing business in fragrance worked then and now.

Back in the mid-1980’s Tiffany wanted to add an exclusive perfume for purchase at their stores. Most designer brands look for a fragrance company to license their brand to. This has been an ongoing eco-system in perfume for decades. Almost every designer fragrance you own is overseen by one of the huge beauty conglomerates. Which makes the choice made by Tiffany more remarkable. Instead of going with those proven successful entities they chose to collaborate with another exclusive luxury brand who also made fragrance, Chanel.

Francois Demachy

They chose to ask the in-house perfumer team at Chanel of Francois Demachy and Jacques Polge to design exclusive Tiffany branded perfumes. In 1987 they released Tiffany followed two years later by Tiffany for Men. I never knew they existed until I was in Tiffany with a friend and saw the bottles. Both were sophisticated styles which felt perfectly at home in the jewelry store.

Jacques Polge

Tiffany is a gorgeous, layered perfume made up of the best floral ingredients. Rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, orris and muguet form a heady central accord. Grace notes of citrus and berry flirt around the edges. It ends on that characteristically warm Chanel sandalwood and vanilla base.

Tiffany for Men is one of the greatest men’s perfume ever produced on a similar level to Patou pour Homme. The perfumers create a spicy citrus opening which turns greener through galbanum and oakmoss. It also comes to an end on a familiar Chanel accord this time it is an ambery sandalwood given some texture through black pepper.

About the time I learned that Chanel was the perfume house behind them I would learn soon after that Tiffany was not renewing the license, ending it in 2006. The remaining inventory would be depleted over the years following. Eventually the only place they lived on was in the Dead Letter Office.

The story picks up again ten years later. Tiffany wanted to get back into the fragrance game again. This time they would collaborate with one of the large beauty companies; licensing the brand to Coty. This seems to be an attempt to capture a new Tiffany audience. No more exclusivity. Sold everywhere. Looking to appeal to the current trends favored by the younger fragrance buying demographic. If you read my review of this newer version, I think they achieved what they were trying for.

This story is a tale of two different times and places for how Tiffany wanted to be interpreted as a perfume. 35 years ago it was exclusivity. Currently it is in search of a younger demographic by casting a wider net.

For all the commenters I hope this gives you some insight into why it is unlikely to ever see Tiffany or Tiffany for Men find their way out of the Dead Letter Office.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aerin Mediterranean Honeysuckle in Bloom- Small Changes, More Enjoyment

One of the things which continues to surprise me is how much small changes can alter my feeling about a fragrance. Where this usually appears to me is when I get a flanker where there have small changes all of which form a more pleasing perfume. It reminds me how just the right amount of the right ingredient can change my judgement. Aerin Mediterranean Honeysuckle in Bloom is a flanker I like much better than the original.

Aerin Lauder

Aerin Lauder has overseen the creative direction of her line since its inception in 2013. It took a few years to find a more defined aesthetic. Since 2017 Ms. Lauder has found a space in the masstige market for her particular style of floral fragrances. The original Mediterranean Honeysuckle was one of those early releases which hadn’t quite gelled into a fully realized creative direction. Its biggest flaw was an omnipresent base of ambrox and musk which obliterated the florals. The other issue I had with it was there was more gardenia than honeysuckle when the florals weren’t getting stepped on. Honorine Blanc-Hattab was the perfumer back then as well as on this flanker. All the things I didn’t care for have been changed for the better in this new composition.

Honorine Blanc-Hattab

Both perfumes share the identical top accord. Which works because it is a good one. The brightness of grapefruit is given a fruity green veneer through blackcurrant buds. This is the scent of a sunny day in the Mediterranean. The floral heart is dominated by honeysuckle this time around. Mme Blanc-Hattab uses complementary amounts of tuberose and gardenia to add depth and definition. With the top accord it feels like a trellis covered with the floral vines in the sunlight. This is all because the honeysuckle doesn’t push back as forcefully as the gardenia did in the original. I braced myself for another ambrox onslaught because it was listed as an ingredient. I got something way more interesting. One of the transparent jasmine synthetics is paired with honey. It is a subtly animalic contrast to the florals while this jasmine creates an expansiveness. The ambrox is in a much lesser amount and adds in its dry woody effect pleasurably.

Mediterranean Honeysuckle in Bloom has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is another example of the current style continuing at Aerin. It is one I hope has an appreciative audience at this point because I think they’ve worked to refine it to this. Once again, I find small moves can have big impacts on what I enjoy.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Sephora.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Kilian Love: Don’t Be Shy Extreme- Finding a New Beat

It is often a mystery why a brand chooses to start producing flankers. For the mass-market ones that I understand. That’s commercialism. I am more intrigued when an independent brand chooses to do it. I’ve hypothesized it is an opportunity to re-interpret a divisive ingredient or accord from the original. Like taking a second swing at the piñata. The creative director of By Kilian, Kilian Hennessy has seemingly been trying to find new ways to display the unique central accord in one of his first releases, By Kilian Love: Don’t Be Shy Extreme is the third try.

Kilian Hennessy

Love: Don’t Be Shy was part of the original set of releases in 2007. From a purely conceptual perspective it was also probably the most realized. Working with perfumer Calice Becker they created one of the first gourmands to push into new territory. Their focal point was to create a marshmallow accord as the keynote. This wasn’t just the sugary sweet puff. It was also the rose water laced syrup to go with it. That accord was a love it/hate it kind of experience. I was in the former category. Those in the latter found it too sweet and reminiscent of bubble gum in an unpleasant way. It was always a fun experiment to be with sniff groups at the Boston Saks and watch to see a first impression to it.

Calice Becker

In the last couple of years there were two attempts at flankers. All done by Mme Becker. One was Love: Don’t Be Shy Eau Fraiche which chose to make the entire thing more transparent. That left me wanting more. A more successful rendition was Love: Don’t Be Shy Rose and Oud. I still experience it as a mash-up of the original Love and another Kilian, Rose Oud. What I want to comment on is the rose in that gave the marshmallow accord a more sophisticated style. Love: Don’t Be Shy Extreme seems to be driving down the middle between both previous flankers.

Extreme begins with the marshmallow water accord and neroli together. This is part of the way the original began, too. A rich jammy Bulgarian rose comes next. Just as I experienced in the Rose and Oud flanker the rose transforms the marshmallow accord. That accord has a rose water component. When this opulent rose shows up it supercharges that part of the confectionary accord. Instead of feeling childish it feels like the choice of an iconoclast. The marshmallow gets sweeter as time goes by, but the rose stands right next to it all the way to the end.

Love: Don’t Be Shy Extreme has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

It will always be hard for any flanker to seem better to me than the original. I think it is one of the great perfumes in the entire collection. What I like about Extreme is it chooses to ask the marshmallow accord to find a little more maturity. Not enough that the echoes of the childish giggle aren’t still noticeable. Just enough to allow you to wear it and walk to your own beat.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample supplied by By Kilian.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Shiseido Ginza- Wake Up the Echoes

There are beauty brands associated with fragrance in what seems like an intermittent fashion. It is like they can’t fully commit to it. The Japan-based brand Shiseido is an example of this. There are moments in their history where they are among the groundbreaking fragrance producer they should be. More recently they have become a flanker house pumping out lithographs of their last two pillars 2000’s Zen and 2016’s Ever Bloom. Neither of the originals was that memorable. Yet I always find that I want to check in because you never know when another 1992 will come along.

Karine Dubreuil-Sereni

That year would see Shiseido produce a collection of five perfumes that would stand against any perfume line’s best creative year. Feminite du Bois began its life as a Shiseido fragrance under the creative direction of Serge Lutens. Chant de Coeur by perfumer Edouard Flechier and a trio by Jean Martel are what Shiseido can be if they want to. When I received my sample of Shiseido Ginza I wondered where the brand would choose to go now.

Maia Lernout

I must start with a super confusing thing Shiseido is doing. This review is on the Shiseido Ginza fragrance in the bottle seen in the header. At the exact same time there is another Shiseido perfume called The Ginza. This is part of a new cosmetics collection. I have no idea why they thought this was a good idea. I haven’t tried The Ginza, but the article-less Ginza is charming. It is composed by perfumers Karine Dubreuil-Sereni and Maia Lernout. They conform to current trends with a transparent fruity floral.

The fruit used is the tart juicy pomegranate. Baie rose is used to turn the fruitiness down a notch or two. Which allows for a spring-fresh bouquet of magnolia, jasmine, and freesia to create the floral accord in the middle. This is also a stripped-down opaque version of these flowers. Layered together it gives them a tiny bit more heft but not a lot more. The overwhelming effect is fresh flowers. Cypress and sandalwood provide a meditative woody foundation. It is the only place where the Japanese aesthetic peeks through.

Ginza has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Ginza is another beautiful spring floral choice if you’re looking for something other than a rose. The perfumers impart a seasonal freshness without resorting to the usual suspects. Ginza feels more like a brand trying to find some of those echoes of 1992. I hope that comes to be.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Shiseido.

Mark Behnke