New Perfume Review DSH Perfumes Man Root- Symphony of Roots

As a perfume lover who will wear anything the term “masculine floral” seems silly to me. It is taken seriously by the large perfume purveyors. For most of the life of modern perfumery that phrase could be most descriptive of a dirty rose or a lavender fougere. Those were floral fragrances which did not challenge the traditional notions of gender. Almost ten years ago a new floral became part of this men’s floral group, iris. A set of new perfumes used the butched up rooty side of iris over the delicate powdery side. Pairing with other manly ingredients, iris has now been added to the rotation. None of this applies to the more dedicated perfume lover; we will wear any flower any time. Which brings me to DSH Perfumes Man Root which is this concept of masculine floral taken to a different level.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Man Root is the completion of independent perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Iris Trilogy. Her description on her website says she wanted to make this a celebration of all the root sources in fragrance. What that produces is a perfume of unusual earthiness centered around enhancing the rhizomal nature of iris.

It begins with iris present with its doughy carroty face turned towards the wearer. Like a time lapse video other roots begin to entwine themselves around that. Turmeric, ginseng, and a vegetal green accord. The latter is dubbed a “carrot greens accord”. It has the scent of those carrot tops with soil still clinging to it. It is a delightful complement to the symphony of roots. A floral intermezzo is spearheaded by rose. This is a literal dirty rose as it is covered in earthiness. That quality is deepened through oakmoss and ambrette.

Man Root has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

The entire composition is very dry, and I was having trouble finding a way to describe it. Mrs. C asked me what I was wearing one of the days I wore this. She said it reminded her of her grandmother’s root cellar just as everything had been put into storage for the winter. Not a lot of root cellars in Florida so I had no frame of reference. Once she said it though I thought the idea of an earthen floored cellar containing roots was probably a good description. As for the masculine floral that is here but only for those who have begun to venture outside of the offerings at the mall. For those people this will be a revelation.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by DSH Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Dia de Muertos- Tropical Trick or Treat

Growing up in South Florida always gave me a skewed perspective of the end of year Holidays. Where most Americans associate them with scents of burning leaves, spices, and warmth; I experienced something different. I was living in the tropics. The scents of October weren’t that different from the scents of August or June or April. Things bloomed and grew all year long. When kids were swishing through dead leaves on the ground in a haze of woodsmoke as they trick or treated. I was walking under fruit trees and palms with night-blooming flowers in the air. I never felt like I was missing out. I was reminded of those days with Aether Arts Perfume Dia de Muertos.

Amber Jobin

Independent perfumer Amber Jobin is inspired by the Mexican variation of Halloween. The Cuban families I grew up with didn’t celebrate this. I only became aware of it as an adult. Now it has become more well-known with its own fetishes of grinning skeletons adorned with garlands of flowers and plates of fruit in front. Ms. Jobin is focused on that combination of scents to form a different kind of fruity floral.

She uses guava as her main source of fruit. I enjoy the musky sweetness of this a lot. A spray of spices coat things. The floral accord appears, and it is made up of the acerbic marigold, powdery mimosa, spicy carnation, and that night-blooming star jasmine. The richness of the floral accord flows into the spiced guava beautifully. This reminded me a lot of the way Halloween smelled to me as a boy. A set of earthy notes including moss add in the graveyard accord. Through this part a trickle of beeswax adds a simmering animalic effect which made me think of something furry off in the distance.

Dia de Muertos has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am old enough now that going out for Halloween is not really an option. I am not old enough to not enjoy being reminded of running through a tropical night with a pillowcase of candy under the moonlight. Dia de Muertos takes me there.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Galivant Bukhara- Rhizomal Roaming

It is a thing about fragrances inspired by a place that if the wearer doesn’t know it, it just becomes perfume. That’s not a bad thing because beautiful scent isn’t tied to its name. It is tied to the creativity of the liquid. Gallivant Bukhara has that in abundance.

Nick Steward

Gallivant is the travel-inspired fragrance line begun my Nick Steward in 2017. In the eight previous releases I had some familiarity with the places in the names. I’ve found when the brand is at its best there is a connection. Bukhara is different for me. Mr. Steward spent some time in Central Asia and traveled the Silk Road ending up in Bukhara Uzbekistan. The press materials describe his experience, but I have no frame of reference to share. Which leaves me alone with what is in the bottle, ignoring what is on the label. What is there is a gorgeous iris perfume by Ralf Schwieger.

Ralf Schwieger

Iris is mostly known as a powdery floral. It has another face because the ingredient comes from the compounding of the root after it has been dried for months. The root is called a rhizome. Rich orris butter doesn’t display the powdery aspect until it is diluted. In concentration is where you find the root on top. It has an earthy doughy carroty scent profile. Hr. Schwieger takes us on a tour of all that this version of iris has to offer.

I was predisposed to like Bukhara from the start because caraway is used as the fresh top note instead of bergamot. Caraway provides the same effect with a slightly herbal tint instead of the citrus one of bergamot. It is the first ingredient to interact with the orris. In this case it gives some lift to it while embracing the earthiness. Pear appears to provide a fruit contrast which pulls forward the carroty part. Saffron and clove swirl around the earthen root in a balletic pirouette. Hr. Schwieger wraps it up in a bolt of clean linen musk. The blandness of it gives the central accord a background to shine against. Some synthetic woods provide the last touches.

Bukhara has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I may not know anything about Bukhara the place. It doesn’t mean that Bukhara the perfume didn’t take me on a journey. It was just an exploration of the rhizome that is iris.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aerin Ambrette de Noir- Vanilla in a Blanket

I spend a lot of time under a blanket at Colognoisseur HQ in the winter. It has always had an interesting effect on the perfume I am wearing. As my body heat gets trapped, I tend to add my own natural musk as a new base note. It is not always a good combo. When it does work it is with sweet or resinous notes. When I received my sample of Aerin Ambrette de Noir I was reminded of the nights I was wearing a vanilla-centric fragrance under my blanket.

Aerin Lauder

Ambrette de Noir is part of the Premier Collection where creative director Aerin Lauder features a special keynote. Working with perfumer Olivier Cresp she does use the botanical musk of ambrette seeds. But Ambrette de Noir is equally a warm vanilla to go along with that.

Olivier Cresp

Ambrette de Noir gets right down to business. There is a fleeting floral opening which lasts as long as it takes to read this. The ingredient list says it is orange blossom. It doesn’t make much of an impression. What does is the vanilla. This is that rich slightly boozy vanilla which is given some warmth through tonka bean. This is where the ambrette seeds impart their lovely muskiness. I really appreciate the way ambrette can stay on the less dirty side of animalic musk while still being there. M. Cresp uses it as a warm skin musk. I’ve mentioned a blanket it is also like the musk given off when you take your sweater off. Once they are together this is a classic comfort accord. My only quibble is that ambrox crashes the party later causing some of the delicacy of the vanilla-ambrette to get lost under its relentless woodiness.

Ambrette de Noir has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I like that if I want to experience my scent of vanilla in a blanket. I don’t have to wait for a cold night and a vanilla perfume anymore.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Neiman-Marcus.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jazmin Sarai Fayoum-Potters at the Oasis

Perfumers bring their entire bring to creating fragrance. Their childhood. Their heritage. Their appreciation of the arts. The list is long. For my favorite independent perfumers they sometimes wear it right on their atomizer. Dana El Masri shows her Arabic heritage in Jazmin Sarai Fayoum.

One of the most interesting pieces of the perfumes Ms. El Masri makes is she was trained at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery. Which tends to create a classic European fragrance sensibility taken to a new place. All her previous releases have been inspired by music. Fayoum is the first to break that trend.

Dana El Masri

Fayoum is based on the oasis of the same name west of Cairo. Unlike most oases which have their water fed by underground springs Fayoum is fed by the Nile. Along with the water comes the silt and mud which has supplied the renowned pottery business. Ms. El Masri captures the intersection of green in the desert and the creation of pots.

Violet is one of my favorite perfume ingredients, but most perfumers like to enhance the sweeter floral quality. There is another face which is astringent. That is what Ms. El Masri uses to begin Fayoum. She provides just a bit of relief through mimosa and jasmine. They seem to be there to keep it from being so cutting to be off-putting. What comes next is a wet clay accord that anyone who has ever tried to throw a pot will recognize. It is a humid density of packed earth. It sits on the wheel ready to be formed. Our potter is taking a break while contemplating the shape as twin fruits of the oasis, fig and date, appear. These are the lush versions of these fruits. They provide a compelling contrast to the clay accord. There is a stronger vegetal green which appears over the later stages while the clay accord dries out a bit.

Fayoum has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

The clay accord at the center of this is worth the price of admission by itself. It finds a scent space somewhere between geosmin and iso e super’s dusty earth. I have enjoyed it every time I put it on skin. It is easy to feel like I am looking over the shoulder of a potter at the oasis.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Pierre Guillaume Animal Mondain- Streamlined Design

As the weather cools one of my favorite comfort scents is that of tobacco. I grew up with a dad who smoked a pipe. One of my earliest scent memories was going with him to the tobacconist. The place smelled wonderful. When my dad would open his leather bag to fill his pipe the scent would slither out into the living room. I would lean in to get a good sniff. There is a lusciousness to tobacco that perfumes which feature it don’t often attempt to evoke. Pierre Guillaume Animal Mondain does go for it.

Pierre Guillaume

Animal Mondain is a member of the Black Collection which is the rebranding of the previous Huitieme Art Parfums. That group has some of my favorites by M. Guillaume because they are streamlined to feature a single ingredient. I wouldn’t describe them as soliflore-like because the supporting ingredients have more presence. They more resemble scent studies as the central note is interrogated by the others. In Animal Mondain tobacco is the one in the chair.

When tobacco is used it generally plays off the dried leaf and the mentholated narcotic quality of it. The source of tobacco in this fragrance is different. There is a humidity to it reminiscent of it being removed from the container at the tobacconist. It tamps down the addicting quality for something more inviting. The difference is evident right away as coumarin is used as the first ingredient. The hay-like quality provides a dried grass effect without going as deep as the tobacco might. To this a contrast of green pear leaves are there to add in an alternative to the missing mentholated thread. It gets even more supple as honey weaves its slightly animalic ways through this. It is a languorous effect which increases in intensity over an hour or so. At that point, the honey has displaced the coumarin. An accord of polished dark wood is where this ends.

Animal Mondain has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is that luscious tobacco I enjoy. M. Guillaume can coax that aspect from just a few well-chosen partners. By using this kind of streamlining he can create a maximum tobacco.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Chronotope Spite, Buen Camino, and Playalinda- Wrath, Pride, and Lust

Modern Perfumery is predominantly about nice, pleasant smells. That is certainly what sells. Yet if perfume is an art form it can’t solely be about the pleasant. It also must examine some of the other odors which comprise the world. This is the place where independent perfumery represents a unique opportunity to evolve an entire art form. Freed of most commercial pressures an artist who wishes to go in this direction can go there. It still doesn’t happen that frequently. Even when it does it can get out of control easily. It is why when I received my sample set of Chronotope perfumes by independent perfumer Carter Weeks Maddox I became excited.

Carter Weeks Maddox

Chronotope Spite

One thing I enjoyed about Mr. Maddox is his description of his perfumes. For Spite he says he was working on a vintage inspired rose which he couldn’t get to come together. In frustration he added high concentrations of two ingredients, one of which he says he hates.

First Spite is not a rose perfume. I don’t think there is any in the composition at all. What is there is orris and violet. These must have been the foundation of his vintage concept. The issue comes as orris has this powdery aspect and violet as used here has a watery quality. When you mix the two together you get clumps. Which is a bit how it begins. The florals cling to each other in an amorphous floral haze. The two ingredients he uses with wrath is an aromatic leather aromachemical and one of the maltol analogs for a burnt sugar effect. They break up the orris and violet into distinct parts as the leathery aromachemical wraps around the orris while the maltol picks up the violet. This creates a vibrant floral accord. It finishes on a sandalwood and incense foundation.

Spite has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Chronotope Buen Camino

Based on the description this was the perfume I expected to fall in love with. It was based on Mr. Maddox’s attempt to walk the 600-mile long Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. He would complete it but at a cost to his body of severely damaged feet. Buen Camino is based on this experience including the bandages.

It is with those damaged feet we begin. Mr. Maddox uses immortelle and lavender to recreate what the nun who treated him gave him to smell while she worked. In the perfume this is the dried-out versions of both. The herbal non-powdery lavender matched to the burnt earth immortelle. Underneath is an amtispetic accord which reminds me strongly of one called Bactine I used as a kid on my scrapes. It has a pleasant, sweet smell to go with the bite of the disinfecting alcohol. I could feel Mr. Maddox getting back on his legs to finish the journey. The late stages flatten out into a hot concrete and dusty earth accord evoking the final steps.

Buen Camino has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Chronotope Playalinda

Playalinda is the one I enjoy the most. Not because it is the easiest but because it is the best constructed. It also looks, unflinchingly so, at the scent of sweaty sex on a beach.

It opens with osmanthus and jasmine given fruity intent through peach. It begins to skew as ambrette provides that botanical musk. It is the hint of arousal. Grapefruit, vetiver, and patchouli deepen this. Beginning to play with the earthier facets of all three as the ambrette weaves its way through it all. What comes next is an abstract accord of slick skinned copulation. Mr. Maddox uses a set of ingredients including indole, seaweed, and oakmoss. What completely cinches this accord is choya nakh. That ingredient is made of crushed seashells dried and distilled. It is the climax of this accord. It is sensual in its effect while also evoking the bodily fluids from the sexual act. It can create its own mood.

Playalinda has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you’re looking for an easy introduction to Chronotope and Mr. Maddox I would suggest Spite shows off his style with a lot less provocation. If you are looking for perfume which calls into question what you think perfume should smell like then Buan Camino and Playalinda provide that. It is a memorable debut.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Chronotope.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jo Malone Midnight Musk & Amber- Holiday Party Reminder

Current events have had their impact on the fragrance industry, obviously. I was comparing my spreadsheet of perfumes I’ve tried this year to last year. The raw number is lower. Along with that many of the typical seasonal offerings were cut back. It looks like the calendar is beginning to reassert itself as I am starting to receive the Holiday releases for many of the brands. There are a few of them which have proven to be good most of the time. The latest for a brand like that is Jo Malone Midnight Musk & Amber.

Celine Roux

The Holiday offerings from Jo Malone have been consistently among the best. Under the creative direction of Celine Roux they have even stepped it up a little more. While Jo Malone doesn’t currently have an in-house perfumer Mme Roux is working with a small circle of perfumers. For this year’s Seasonal offering she tapped Anne Flipo.

Anne Flipo

When I think of the Holiday season a big part of it has been visiting friends. There is a scent to a Holiday party. A bit of alcohol, a bit of spice, a lot of warm bodies under sweaters. This is what Midnight Musk & Amber is all about.

It begins with gin-like juniper berry along with a twist of orange. Kind of like a gin and tonic with an orange wedge in place of the lime. The choice of citrus shifts the accord from summery to fall-like. A warmly spicy amber makes up the heart. This is the scent of the ingredients in Holiday baked goods. Mme Flipo adds a strand of neroli which elongates the orange from the top accord into the amber. The base is that musk on the label. There is this pleasant smell of humid humanity which fills the air at the height of a Holiday party. The musk is like that plus a little benzoin to add a sweet patina.

Midnight Musk & Amber has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I don’t know if there are going to be many Holiday parties to attend this year. If I need a reminder I can reach for my sample and close my eyes.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Estee Lauder Beautiful Absolu- Editing a Big Floral

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When I began my personal learning about perfume I asked lots of people for advice. One excellent piece I got was to go to the mall and spray a strip of all the classic perfumes. Then I would take that strip and put it in a small zip-lock bag. I was then able to take the masterpieces home with me to examine them more leisurely. I remember spraying Estee Lauder Beautiful Eau de Parfum as an afterthought one day. It turned out to be the strip I spent the most time trying to understand.

Created in 1985 Beautiful EdP was a big floral. That adjective should maybe be in all caps to accurately describe it. What fascinated me was within all that power there were distinctly recognizable strands. It was one of the earliest experiences I had in writing down what I thought I smelled. I still think of it as one of the great examples of this type of perfumery.

For it’s 35th anniversary we are getting a new flanker Estee Lauder Beautiful Absolu. When I received the press release at first, I thought this was going to be another riff on the original. Instead it was something quite different. It is as if the creative team imagined what Beautiful would be if it were being designed in 2020. That meant some editing was necessary. That all caps big had to be reduced to small caps or removed altogether. It results in a version which is just right for today.

I was unable to find out who undertook this task of editing the perfume made by Chant, Grojsman, Benaim, and Gavarry. I hope they step forward because it is a nicely done effort.

If there is a floral which stands out in the original, it is tuberose. There it is turned up to high volume. In Beautiful Absolu it is dialed way back. It enhances the creaminess of it. What is lost in bringing it back is the intense green which shows up at overdose. In this case of Beautiful Absolu lily is used as a softer surrogate. It forms a gentler tuberose accord. Then instead of the entire floral shelf of perfumer ingredients a small curated group of marigold, rose, jasmine, and ylang-ylang provide more flower power. It ends with the same sandalwood and vetiver base of the original but with the same care to keep it lighter.

Beautiful Absolu has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am fascinated to see how accepted this will be by today’s fragrance consumer. It has all the things which made the original Beautiful live up to its name. Except this version makes it much lighter. I like to think a new generation can be drawn to one of the great florals even if it has been edited a bit.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Macy’s.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Guerlain Iris Torrefie- I Still Get a Heartbeat

Guerlain is one of those decaying Great Houses of Perfume. More interested in churning out product while living off their past. Every arrival of a new insipid sample makes me sad. Yet in every year they remind me why I own so many of their classics. Last year it was the amazing Embruns D’Ylang. This year it is Guerlain Iris Torrefie.

Iris Torrefie is part of the L’Art et La Matiere collection. The same group which Embrun D’Ylang is also included. It seems like this is the last place where a creative thought can be expressed at Guerlain. Even though they are working within the current trend of floral gourmands this one has a larger presence than its competitors. Perfumer Delphine Jelk is given the reins.

Delphine Jelk

It is an interesting choice because 2007’s Iris Ganache is one of the best iris and chocolate gourmands out there. Mme Jelk moves from the chocolatier to the sidewalk café as she chooses to use coffee as the gourmand in Iris Torrefie. It is a compelling combination.

Mme Jelk places both core ingredients in place at the start. She also allows iris to display more of its dual nature of powder and root. The coffee is that bitter oily bean prior to roasting. That provides a marvelous counterweight to the two-faced iris. Squeezing between the two keynotes is green cardamom and ambrette seeds. They add an herbal tint and a soft botanical musk, respectively. They are important connective tissue to hold the main protagonists together. I am not sure how I would have wanted this to finish in my vision. In Mme Jelk’s mind it was time for the Guerlinade to come forth. I adore this in so many other Guerlains but in this case it feels like an intruder. I adore the first hours of this when the iris and coffee are percolating together. Once the Guerlinade appears it strips some of the vitality. It is not a terrible choice it just seemed to me like this deserved a more dynamic base accord.

Iris Torrefie has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Iris Torrefie is 2020’s proof there is still a heartbeat at the moribund brand Guerlain has become. I feel a bit uncharitable complaining about the signature accord of the brand not being enough. I also think I might come around to think that it works better than this first impression. Iris Torrefie is worth the price of admission for the iris and coffee on top, it is magical.

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

Mark Behnke