New Perfume Review Jul et Mad Acqua Sextius- Love Story Part IV

There are so many inspirations which turn into perfume but the story behind Jul et Mad is, I think, unique. Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica-Blanchard are the owners and Creative Directors of Jul et Mad which comes from the abbreviation of their first names. The first three fragrances followed the pair from Lexington Avenue in NYC to a café in Paris and left us with them on a palazzo in Venice. For the fourth fragrance in the Histoire D’Amour series, Acqua Sextius, our lovers travel to Aix-en-Provence where they will wed.

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The Real Jul et Mad

For Acqua Sextius perfumer Cecile Zarokian was asked to be the interpreter of chapter four.  The name comes from the original name given Aix-en-Provence by Roman consul Gaius Sextius in 123 BC. The Acqua is particularly appropriate as Aix-en-Provence is now known for its over 100 fountains and its famous thermal springs. Mme Zarokian captures the green vitality of a summer day in the South of France at the same time there is a very clever watery theme running throughout. This turns Acqua Sextius into a sort of green aquatic although it often times feels in a class of its own.

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Cecile Zarokian

Mme Zarokian wakes us up with a sparkle of sunlight streaming into our bedroom; she combines a citrus trio of lemon, orange, and grapefruit with a translucent veil of green notes as if one was looking at the sun through gauzy green curtains. This is a wonderfully executed opening which brims with the potential of the day ahead. In a nod to the thermal baths a bit of eucalyptus and mint deepen the green and an application of ozonic notes give the impression of a spa bath. A bouquet of floral notes centered on mimosa make up the heart of Acqua Sextius. Mme Zarokian keeps them light and playful and as we head outside a fig tree adds in its luscious creamy greenness. Mme Zarokian uses labdanum to deepen the green theme as we are now walking in green fields. Ambergris carries the smell of the nearby Etang de Berre. For most of the time Acqua Sextius is on my skin this is where things stay; as a pleasant mix of aquatic, floral, and green. Many hours after applying it everything turns lightly woody with cedar and gaiac mixing with a light sheer musk which is the perfect easy way to end our day in Provence.

Acqua Sextius is an Extrait de Parfum and despite its ineffable lightness it lasts overnight on my skin. The sillage is also more than one might expect from an Extrait de Parfum but you won’t be leaving a vapor trail in your wake.

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Fontaine de la Rotonde on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence

One of things I am coming to admire about the way Mme Zarokian composes her fragrances is deftness of precision which places each note in its proper place. I also admire that even though she works for many different brands her style does not impose its will upon each brand's characteristics. Acqua Sextius is clearly a Cecile Zarokian fragrance but it is even more importantly a Jul et Mad fragrance and I am sure that is due to a very close working relationship throughout the process of finishing Acqua Sextius. For me the fragrant wedding of one of my favorite perfumers and favorite creative directors is a complete success. I will be wearing Acqua Sextius throughout the upcoming summer pretending my backyard is a field in Provence.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Acqua Sextius provided by Jul et Mad at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ann Gerard Parfum Rose Cut-Brilliance & Depth

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Often when I am at an exposition like Esxence with so much to experience there is a real concern I might miss something worthwhile. For the first two days I was at the most recent version of Esxence I kept walking by Ann Gerard making a mental note to stop and try her newest release, Rose Cut, but every time I was near I was heading to an appointment. On Saturday morning I received an e-mail from Lila Das Gupta of Basenotes as she was waiting to catch a flight home. She told me she was wearing Rose Cut and she loved it. That was enough for me to make my next appointment with Mme Gerard and I duly walked over to introduce myself and have her present Rose Cut. To cut to the chase Lila was right but I’ll give you a little more detail.

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Ann Gerard

Rose Cut follows up the first three perfumes released in 2012, Ciel d’Opale, Cuir de Nacre, and Perle de Mousse. Mme Gerard worked with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour on those and she rekindled the relationship for Rose Cut. The relationship between Mme Gerard and M. Duchaufour is a bit of a mutual admiration society as M. Duchaufour was a customer of Mme Gerard’s bespoke jewelry creations before he became her perfumer. As a result there is a more dynamic relationship between creative director and perfumer as Mme Gerard speaks in abstract ideas and M. Duchaufour translates them into perfume. There is a real affection between the two of them and the perfume they produce shows that connection.

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Rose Cut Diamond Ring

The name Rose Cut refers to a particular way to cut a diamond to allow the facets to reflect in such a way that it looks like a rose. As I learned more about the rose cut I found out it is a shallow cut so that it allows a maximum amount of light to refract off the symmetrical surfaces cut in to the stone. As I was wearing Rose Cut and reading about rose cut diamonds I could see M. Duchaufour composing a fragrance which captures the essential sparkle and concurrent depth a rose cut diamond displays. I also thought you could also interpret Rose Cut as the act of removing a rose from the bush at the peak of its blooming. Rose Cut the perfume encompasses both of these descriptions as M. Duchaufour has brilliance to spare throughout and depth of design all coalesced around a lush rose focal point.

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Bertrand Duchaufour

M. Duchaufour uses a magazine of aldehydes to create that opening brilliance along with a little bit of pink pepper. Then he brings in the rum accord he has perfected in the last few years and instead of turning this boozy it adds a louche depth against which the aldehydes shimmer upon. Out of this comes a classic rose and patchouli combination which forms the heart of Rose Cut. The rum gives an interesting bit of contrast and some peony keeps the rose on the fresh side of things. The base is assembled from comfort notes of vanilla, oak, and benzoin to finish Rose Cut with a slightly sweet coda.

Rose Cut has all-day longevity and way above average sillage.

I hope I would have eventually made my way over to Mme Gerard without Lila’s prompting but I am happy for the prodding because Rose Cut was one of the star fragrances of the entire show for me. As much as I liked the original three releases Rose Cut is a cut above them and really does the best job yet at capturing the sparkle of a diamond as a perfume. It is a sophisticated lively rose perfume that is as good as it gets.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Ann Gerard Parfum at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke

All Photos by Sabine Hartl & Olaf-Daniel Meyer except for the diamond ring photograph.

New Perfume Review Olfactive Studio Ombre Indigo-Shadowy Perspectives

When I am out walking my two standard poodles on the night of a full moon; the yard is filled with shadows as the dogs and I cast shadows either from the moonlight or the electric floodlights. The size and intensity of those shadows varies depending on our respective positions in the yard. It is an interesting study of perspective. Perfumes also like to capture shadows and through them also add unique perspectives to what those shadows are representing. Creative Director Celine Verleure of Olfactive Studio was also thinking about shadows for her latest release Ombre Indigo.

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Photo by Gustavo Pellizzon

Every Olfactive Studio fragrance begins with a brief based on a photograph. For Ombre Indigo Mme Verleure chose the picture above by Brazilian photographer Gustavo Pellizzon. This picture was part of Sr. Pellizzon’s 2012 photgraphic series “Encante” inspired by Brazilian myths and legends. If you click on the link you will see the rest of the series, with the exception of one, are all bright. The inspiration piece for Ombre Indigo is unique within the collection. When I look at the picture I am struck by two things; the indeterminate nature of the person at the center. Is it male of female? Young or Old? Sr. Pellizzon has seemingly photographed a shadow made solid. The second thing is the saffron colored clothing. It is a contrasting splash of color which only deepens the reflection of the indigo water except for one echo of the saffron in the upper left corner. Mme Verleure had posted this picture on her Facebook page and it had captured my attention from the moment I saw it. I had a week to think what a fragrance from this picture would smell like until I met Mme Verleure at Esxence in Milan.

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Mylene Alran

I had also seen a picture of the bottle and knew the juice was colored blue but it is as blue as the water in the photograph and the depth of the color creates another visual shadow to complete the eye candy prior to smelling the perfume. Mme Verleure tapped Robertet perfume Mylene Alran to produce the perfume. Mme Alran chose tuberose and vetiver as the central themes but she carefully turns them from the powerhouse notes that often overwhelm fragrances into dancing shadows. By using notes like bigarade, leather, or incense to provide the more intense floodlight variety of shadow. Or saffron, plum, and papyrus to shine a little diffuse moonlight on the central notes; Ombre Indigo leaves me delightedly pursuing these shadows while I wear it.

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Celine Verleure

Ombre Indigo opens with a fully realized bigarade oozing its slightly sulfurous nature and then the tuberose comes next but accompanied by saffron and plum. If you’re used to tuberose knocking you off your feet Mme Alran gives you a tuberose that is a shadow of that incarnation. This is delightfully precise perfumery of the highest order to keep the tuberose in check. The vetiver then arrives and together the tuberose and vetiver form the central accord for the remainder of Ombre Indigo’s development. Papyrus slides a veil of green over the vetiver and tuberose drawing one’s attention to that facet lurking in the background of both core notes. A very animalic leather accord comes next and that enhances the indolic nature of the tuberose and turns the vetiver more deeply woody. The final stages are a sturdy amber and musk drydown to allow the tuberose and vetiver a final point of reflection.

Ombre Indigo lasts all-day on me and has above average sillage.

Ombre Indigo is the most complete package of visual and olfactory treat that Olfactive Studio has produced, so far. There is nothing out of place as every piece of the puzzle fits together to form a fascinating experience. With each new release Mme Verleure’s consistent vision continues to produce perfume of the highest quality which deserves to be displayed in the brightest light. This has become my favorite Olfactive Studio fragrance to date for the completeness of vision produced by Mme Verleure, Sr. Pellizzon, and Mme Alran. I think the only shadows one will find Ombre Indigo in are those of its own making.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Ombre Indigo provided by Olfactive Studio at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfum D’Empire Corsica Furiosa- A Flash of Green

Growing up in South Florida I spent many sunsets on a boat in the water. Watching those sunsets I saw a distinct phenomenon called a “green flash”. As the last sliver of sun starts to drop below the horizon you can see a green halo form right at the top of the curve which grows in intensity as the sun drops and just as the sun disappears the sky will light up with a flash of green. I used to love watching this from the bow of my boat as it felt like the sun was building up a verdant charge before letting it flare across the sky. It wasn’t something I would expect a fragrance to remind me of but ever since I sniffed the new Parfum D’Empire Corsica Furiosa it is the image which keeps coming to my mind.

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Marc-Antoine Corticchiato hasn’t had a new release for Parfum D’Empire since 2012’s Musc Tonkin. For me that was going to be hard act to follow as I named Musc Tonkin my best new fragrance of 2012. Oftentimes when following up something as good as that perfumers can fall into a number of traps. For his follow-up to Musc Tonkin M. Corticchiato chooses to go away from the deeply animalic and instead explore the nature of green in perfume. Corsica Furiosa is built around a spine of lentiscus, otherwise known as mastic resin, which gives a lemon tinged viscous green nucleus to start from. M. Corticchiato then swirls in all kind of shades of green to interact with the resin and just as it builds in intensity it releases in an olfactory flash of green that fills the senses before finally settling into a leather base to relax.

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Marc-Antoine Corticchiato

There is a lime component in the top notes which is perfect to pick up on the lemon tinge of the lentiscus. It makes the early going tarter and I see tart as green so this is where the first layer of green appears. A bit of balsam adds a woody facet of green and turns this more forest glade before another turn and a cut-grass accord turns it into open field. Then here is where a particularly beautiful transition takes place as the green grass dries out into a sweet hay accord where some honey is used to amplify the sweet dried grass aspect of the hay. This is where Corsica Furiosa all of a sudden releases a ball of energy as moss and labdanum seem to cause this perfume to go from tightly focused intensity to diffuse sheerness. It is an arresting transition on my skin and in my mind’s eye the olfactory sky has just gone entirely green. A leather accord forms the base notes and the lentiscus is still very present but now it seems as if it has spent all of its energy and needs to sit down in a leather armchair for a rest.

Corsica Furiosa has all-day longevity and above average sillage.

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Corsica Fruriosa is a more than worthy sequel to Musc Tonkin it captivates me in an entirely different way. Corsica Furiosa leaves me on the bow of my boat waiting for the moment of breathtaking beauty to come and knowing it will be there every time.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Parfum D’Empire at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfums DelRae Wit- The Truth of Nature

I admire a Creative Director who takes their time and won’t release a new fragrance until they consider it done. Since 2010 I would infrequently inquire of DelRae Roth of Parfums DelRae if there was something new coming soon. The answer I received was that she and perfumer Yann Vasnier were working very hard to make this next fragrance perfect. When I would press a little further she would let me know it was based around a flower which is a harbinger of spring and that’s it. It was with a lot of joy I received my sample of the new release, Wit, because this winter has left me wanting something to get me through these last few days of cold. Wit absolutely fits the bill as Ms. Roth and M. Vanier’s labor has paid off in an extraordinary green floral based on the flower Daphne.

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DelRae Roth

Ms. Roth tells how she came to want to use Daphne as the core note of Wit in the press materials, “I have always loved to walk. Regardless of where I am, I love to be able to walk from place to place. I discovered the gorgeous, beguilingly fresh Daphne on one such stroll many years ago. It was late February and I was stunned and captivated by the small, intensely fragrant flowers. Daphne is one of the first flowers to bloom in early spring. Its delicious lemony, neroli scent is such a surprise and delight in the chill and gray of winter.”

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Daphne

I had never encountered Daphne before but I was able to get a sniff of it after trying Wit for the first time and Ms. Roth accurately describes it as a hybrid of neroli and lemon. There are some indoles around and there is a tingly tartness to the bloom. M. Vasnier turned to the Givaudan proprietary ScentTrek technology to acquire an extract of Daphne Cneorum and he also employed a ScentTrek Meyer Lemon note on top. What is special about these raw materials is they are extracted in the wild and when they are used properly they are the familiar rendered as something more vital.

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Yann Vasnier

The beginning of Wit is that ScentTrek Meyer Lemon acting as a ray of sunshine banishing the early morning chill. M. Vasnier allows the lemon to own the early going and supports it with mandarin and angelica. The lemon remains as the flowers start to respond to the light as a bit of laurel begins the floral ascendency. The Daphne arrives next and because it is a ScentTrek version it feels very much like a simulacrum of the real bloom. There is the bit of waxy lemony quality which is complemented by the remains of the Meyer Lemon. The indolic nature is slightly amplified by using narcissus and jasmine. Mimosa and ylang ylang accentuate the neroli quality. All of these notes serve as the figurative black velvet for the ScentTrek Daphne jewel to shimmer and sparkle against. What I like about Wit, as a spring floral, is this almost photorealistic heart as it never gets too flowery or fresh as the lemon and the indoles keep this from being that common over the top floral perfume. The base notes add a bit of midday warmth with amber, vanilla, and musk providing the glow at the end.

Wit has all day longevity and average sillage.

If you need an example of what uncompromising principles and hard work can produce Wit is a fine Exhibit A. I can definitely tell there were a lot of mods that were close but just missing something. I am very thankful that Ms. Roth and M. Vasnier stuck to their guns and after four years produced a beautiful new floral fragrance which will easily take its place among the best of Parfums DelRae’s collection.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Jo Malone London Rain Collection

I was of mixed emotions when the news was released about perfumer Christine Nagel heading to Hermes, to join Jean-Claude Ellena. I have been very impressed with her tenure as de facto in-house perfumer at Jo Malone since she began producing fragrances there in 2010. It is these releases that convince me that Mme Nagel will be an easy successor to whatever legacy M. Ellena leaves when he retires. Before Mme Nagel headed over to Hermes she released three new fragrances for Jo Malone called the London Rain Collection; Rain & Angelica, Wisteria & Violet, and Black Cedarwood & Juniper. They are all excellent examples of what Mme Nagel has brought to Jo Malone for the past four years and what she will bring to her future.

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Christine Nagel

Rain & Angelica is the one which most evokes the idea of a springtime rain. It has that clean freshness that an April shower brings to the world. Mme Nagel opens it with an ozonic rain accord matched with a cocktail of aldehydes. A bit of lime and pink pepper add some of that earthy spiciness that also seems to accompany the smell of a spring thunderstorm. The florals in the heart are the angelica but there is also a dewy rose and a pretty straightforward iris. All of this ends on a wet greenery accord courtesy of vetiver and amber, but mostly vetiver.

Wisteria & Violet is the garden after the rain and as the sun has returned to warm the day back up. The beginning is a watery accord of lemon, melon, and waterlily. Thankfully the waterlily is the more prominent note over the melon. The waterlily adds a watery green floralcy that is intensified with the addition of wisteria and violet. The titular notes really take over at this point and for a good while this fragrance is wisteria and violet by themselves. Over time the patchouli does come to the foreground but it is a greener more herbal patchouli. A bit of white musk adds a final sheer layer to the end of this.

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Black Cedarwood & Juniper is the one that totally surprised me. If I handed this to you in an unmarked vial and asked you to name what perfume house it came from I think you would be guessing a long while until you said Jo Malone. Black Cedarwood & Juniper is very modern in its construction as Mme Nagel goes for a feel of the midnight streets of London after you’ve been out to the clubs or a late dinner. It opens with a fascinating combination of cumin and chili leaves. I am pretty sure this is the first time cumin has found its way into a Jo Malone fragrance and I don’t think I’ve ever smelled chili leaves before. What this does is take the very sweaty nature of cumin and cover it over with a green heat from the chili leaves. The result is a, very Jo Malone, non-confrontational cumin. It is greener and the cumin’s more rambunctious edges are blunted by the slight chili pepper spiciness of the chili leaves. These top notes remain as the cedarwood and juniper arrive. I would say it is the cumin and chili leaves which turn the cedarwood dark. There is a hint of nutmeg along with the juniper berry. It makes this feel like a very dry exotic martini for a while. The base notes add in some leather and moss to finish off this very unique, for Jo Malone, fragrance.

All three London Rain fragrances have 8-10 hour longevity on me and average sillage.

There is a fourth London Rain fragrance but it is a re-labelled version of 2007’s White Jasmine & Mint which was composed by David Apel and Pierre Negrin. The three new ones by Mme Nagel are all very good but it is Black Cedarwood & Juniper which is clearly my favorite. I have worn out my sample and will be buying a bottle very soon. I’m not sure if these are the last compositions we will see from Mme Nagel for Jo Malone but if they are she is leaving on a high note and displaying the potential for her future.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples of the Jo Malone London Rain Collection I purchased from Surrender to Chance and I received from the Jo Malone Counter at Nordstroms.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Yosh Konig- King Me!

Yosh Han is one of those people in perfumery who seems to be in constant motion. Whenever I see a post from her on Facebook I play a mental game of “Where in the World is Yosh Han?” All of this travel is as a consistent proselytizer for independent perfume. Ms. Han believes in the indie perfume community and always is available to promote it. She is so good in this role I sometimes forget she is a damn good perfumer, as well. Then I received a sample of her latest release Konig and I am immediately reminded that Ms. Han has got skills.

Konig is the German word for king and Ms. Han wanted to create a fragrance fit for a medieval king of the Schwarzwald. Certainly the woods and the smoke of the fireplace are on display but the inclusion of an excitingly unusual red apple note really allows Konig to feel less medieval and more modern.

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Yosh Han

Konig opens with those apples as the crown on this king. Because of the apples I kept thinking about princesses and poison apples but Ms. Han has some more masculine ideas as vetiver shows up to joust with those apples. The greener facets of vetiver are supported by papyrus and sage early on and they add tartness to the apple. The woodier aspects of vetiver come forward and so too do the smokier accords accompanied by leather and amber. At this point ‘dem apples have been jettisoned and the ending stage is a smoky leathery vetiver, the epitome of the swaggering medieval king at play, or war.

Konig lasts all-day on me and has above average sillage.

Konig is the second in the “M” Series by Ms. Han which are meant to explore our “deepest nature”. Sombra Negra was the first and in tandem both of these are distinct departures from the earlier collection Ms. Han produced. What they also show is that Ms. Han knows how to span an aesthetic spectrum when making her perfumes. Konig shows this excursion into the “M” series will be every bit as fascinating as her previous fragrances.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Konig provided by Yosh Han.

Mark Behnke

Editor's Note: Yosh Konig has been named a finalist for the 1st "The Art and Olfaction Awards" in the Independent Category.

New Perfume Review Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur Extrait- Love the One You’re With

One of the things that can be very difficult for a writer on perfume is when you get a sample and you are told to wait until it is released before writing about it. Last March, at Esxence in Milan, Neela Vermeire of Neela Vermeire Creations, spritzed a little of her more concentrated version of Mohur, simply called Mohur Extrait on the back of my hand. I was a big fan of the “rose in a fisted glove” intensity of the original Mohur Eau de Parfum where perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour took us through a spicy opening before rose and leather combined for that incongruous connection. As it goes with the best of extrait level versions M. Duchaufour doesn’t just up the volume with higher concentration he also varies the tune so Mohur Extrait is a much more intimate experience.

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Neela Vermeire

In the original EDP formulation the numerous ingredients all seemed very distinct and played their role to create a fantastic whole. In Mohur Extrait that is not the case. Now the carrot note is more prominent but as a modifier for the three rose sources used. In the EDP the spices breeze across the top leading to the rose. In the Extrait the rose is out in front with the carrot and it is very steadily changing on the periphery. The violet and the orris eventually take over turning things slightly powdery.

One of my favorite parts of the EDP was this almond milk accord M. Duchaufour uses which is sort of creamy and nutty at once. As in the EDP it is the bellwether to the arrival of the leather accord. One of the things about M. Duchaufour that has been fantastic to watch over the years has been his evolution of an accord. This leather accord he has been using recently is one of those where he has achieved a near perfect balance by itself and now depending on what it is paired with it feels like something new. If any single accord can be said to be a Bertrand Duchaufour signature this leather accord would have to be in the discussion. For Mohur Extrait it is very prominent and together the “rose in a fisted glove” is more nuanced while having greater depth. This is what I want in an extrait version and Mohur Extrait gives me all I could ask for.

Bertrand Duchaufour

Bertrand Duchaufour

The final phase of Mohur Extrait is where you find some of the spices that were up front in the EDP paired with some amber and other resins along with a tiny pinch of oud. The backloading of the spices works very well in this extrait version because the Turkish rose used has a prominent spicy character which is more pronounced later in this extrait version. All together it adds an extraordinary amount of warmth to the final stages of Mohur Extrait.

Mohur Extrait has overnight longevity and very little sillage. It is very much a skin scent and only you and those you allow to get close are going to notice it.

Mohur Extrait is a limited edition of 450 bottles that are sadly only available to those in the EU. If you want a bottle you need to contact Neela Vermeire through her e-mail found at her website and request a bottle. The price is 340Euros for 50mL.

Mohur Extrait is another example of the pleasures a higher concentration can reveal about a fragrance you thought you knew well. I wore Mohur EDP a lot and while it is still a wonderful fragrance I am all about “loving the one you’re with” and when I want Mohur these days it is always the Mohur Extrait I reach for. It is a fantastic perfume and easily my favorite of all of the Neela Vermeire Creations to date.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample of Mohur Extrait provided by Neela Vermeire Creations.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka is a finalist in the 1st “The Art and Olfaction Awards” in the Independent Category.

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Nude Moderne, Ginger Rose, Electrum

In the middle of 2013 I received the first three perfumes from independent perfumer Amber Jobin; A Roll in the Grass, Aether Argent, and Inuus. These were surprisingly assured fragrances for a first-time perfumer. One of the reasons that they are as finished as they are is Ms. Jobin has worked for, and with, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz as she learned the techniques of making perfume. These fragrances stood out from the many indie perfumes I receive in a year in the way they seemed polished to me. A downfall of many indie perfumers is to think they are finished without trying to improve the transitions from top to base. All three of the initial fragrances showed a sense of completeness to them. Ms. Jobin would follow this up with one of my top 50 new fragrances for all of 2013, No. 4 John Frum. With that she took an unusual note, Kava Kava, and created a tropical jungle milieu that combined intense florals, juicy fruits and the woods and foliage all with a palpable humidity. I was eagerly waiting for more. About a month ago I received the three latest Aether Arts Perfumes, Nude Moderne, Ginger Rose, and Electrum. Three more examples of a new star in the world of indie perfumes.

Amber Jobin

Amber Jobin

Nude Moderne is Ms. Jobin’s take on a skin scent in both meanings of that word. Nude Moderne is meant to evoke warm skin and it is also meant to wear very close to the skin of the person wearing it. Ms. Jobin shows her skill in balancing a number of synthetic musks to realize her warm skin effect. What she also does is to quite presciently add a bit of labdanum to ground this effect. Without that inclusion Nude Moderne would come off like a one-trick pony. With its inclusion it gives a bit of a spine for the musks to adhere to and to endure for a long time. While Nude Moderne may have very little sillage it persisted on my skin for well over 24 hours and through a shower. Because of the nature of the synthetic musks Ms. Jobin used there is an almost glacial kind of evolution to Nude Moderne allowing it to become sweeter as it lingers on. All of this is not an easy feat to realize and I am quite impressed at the surety with which Ms. Jobin produced it.

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Geraldine Doyle (The model for Rosie the Riveter)

Ginger Rose is meant to be a Nouveau Retro take on aldehydic florientals from the 1940’s-1950’s and Ms. Jobin shows the research she put into designing her modern version of a vintage perfume. She said she made up a personality, Miss Ginger Rose, as she composed this fragrance. In her mind’s eye Miss Ginger Rose was an up-and-coming starlet or a debutante. When I was letting my imagination run away with the same idea I saw Miss Ginger Rose as a woman who had taken over many of the traditional male roles during World War II and as the boys have returned home a bit of her favorite perfume reminded her of being a woman again but one who discovered a little power underneath the surface femininity. Ginger Rose the fragrance is like that as it starts off with a fusillade of aldehydes fizzing off the skin along with the energy of ginger. Often ginger adds the effervescence to a fragrance but here with the aldehydes adding the carbonation the ginger is a little more refined. This all leads to a fabulously dense floral heart of rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, and heliotrope. It is pretty and multi-faceted throughout. The base is where a bit of the steel of Miss Ginger Rose arrives as Ms. Jobin adds indoles and beeswax to bring out the animalic heart of jasmine and add a bit of growl to the florals. The growl becomes a knowing resinous smile as frankincense, myrrh, and sandalwood provide a sensual end to Miss Ginger Rose’s olfactory journey.

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Ancient Greek Electrum Coins

Electrum is the classical name for amber which according to myth came into being when Phaeton’s, son of Helios, sisters turned into poplar trees and cried tears of amber. Electrum is also a naturally occurring alloy of silver and gold used in ancient coins. Ms. Jobin wanted to capture both meanings as she fuses the silvery scent of pine needles with the golden glow of amber. Those silvery pine needles are right there at the top but they are joined with an inspired choice of rosewood. The rosewood adds a subtle bit of odd woodiness underneath the sharper facets of the pine needles. As the amber begins to intensify the needles still retain their edge and that edge keeps the amber from being too warm to start. Once the tobacco arises the more traditional warmth of amber also comes to the foreground. The mix of tobacco and amber along with some vanilla turns this sweet until a bit of Africa Stone turns the amber towards the animalic.

All three of these have incredible longevity and moderate sillage except for Nude Moderne which as mentioned above almost has none.

Ms. Jobin has been deliberately putting together a very worthy collection of perfume which I am finding belie her relative newness to perfumery. These first seven fragrances and especially these last three show a combination of technical skill and aesthetic vision that is all too rare in the indie community. I can’t wait to see what is next.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke

Editor's Note: Aether Arts Perfume No. 4 John Frum has been named a finalist in the 1st "The Art and Olfaction Awards" in the Artisan Category.

New Perfume Review Amouage Opus VIII- The Light’s Winning

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The Library Collection from Amouage started in 2010 with the release of Opus I-IV and has released a new volume every year since. 2013’s Opus VII was an excursion into darkness which asked a wearer to gaze into the equivalent of an olfactory abyss. It was one of the more fascinating releases of last year because of the introspective nature of going for that level of depth. One of the hallmarks of the Library Collection is that it is a more experimental creative process than the paired “Man & Woman” annual releases of the main Amouage line. Creative Director Christopher Chong has urged the perfumers he has hired to realize his visions to push the limits in their designs. I imagine working for Mr. Chong has to be a fantastic experience as I’m sure there are few creative directors who believe enough in their customers that they will follow anywhere they are taken. Opus VII challenged that with its downward spiral of the heaviest notes in perfumery. For 2014, Opus VIII is the opposite as it glows with a gauzy sunlight although that gauziness is the remnants of some of those dark notes from Opus VII.

CHRISTOPHER_CHONG

Christopher Chong

The perfumers for Opus VIII are Pierre Negrin who participated with Alberto Morillas on Opus VII and Richard Herpin who is composing his first fragrance for Amouage. M. Negrin also did the exquisitely constructed Interlude Man in 2012. M.Herpin, like M. Morillas, has spent much of his time working on the more commercial side of the business. This sets up an interesting dynamic as these two come together to realize the brief that Mr. Chong asked of them, “an evocative exploration of the subconscious dialogue between illusion and reality.” What this translates to is an incandescent opening of jasmine followed by a transition of light and dark in the heart before the darker notes bring down fragrant twilight.

The opening of Opus VIII is jasmine sambac, ylang ylang, and orange flower. The early going is all about the jasmine, it floats off my skin like a heat mirage. The ylang ylang and orange flower shimmer as energetically but from a more distant perspective. Each is used to enhance a different part of the jasmine, the ylang pulls the sweetness to the foreground while the orange flower adds a slight bump to the indolic heart. Messrs. Negrin and Herpin make this glow like a golden halo. The florals are then subsumed by a wave of saffron, ginger, and incense. The lighter notes of ginger and saffron have a more prominent part of the heart but the incense slowly increases in character until the base notes start to arrive. Bay, benzoin, and balsam signal the lessening of the light. As I said earlier this is a gauzy kind of darkness as it sort of lays a film of these notes over the jasmine, which is still going strong, and its light can’t be put out by these intruders. A solid application of vetiver turns the later phases of Opus VIII distinctly woody but the jasmine still refuses to give way as its glow remains even as darkness threatens to descend.

Opus VIII has overnight, and then some, longevity and above average sillage.

cohle light winning

As I wore Opus VIII over the last week I was reminded of the final line from the recently completed HBO series “True Detective”. After one of the main characters has survived his encounters he talks about the night sky and how there is an awful lot of dark between the light. The other detective replies that everything used to be all black and the existence of the stars show that the light is winning. This is what I thought of as I wore Opus VIII the light at the heart of this fragrance continues to shine even though the black attempts to overwhelm it. Opus VIII is another bright star for both Amouage and The Library Collection.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Opus VIII provided by Amouage.

Mark Behnke