New Perfume Review 4160 Tuesdays Dark Queen- The Snake Inside

One of the many interests Michelyn Camen and I share is the genre of fiction called urban fantasy. When we needed to take a break from talking about CaFleureBon things we would spend some time sharing our favorites. One series she made me aware of is written by author Faith Hunter featuring Jane Yellowrock. Jane is a Cherokee vampire hunter who hides the secret that she is a skin walker. That is a supernatural who can shift into any creature. What I enjoy about Ms. Hunter’s mythos is for Jane to turn she requires the bones of the creature she will turn into. By aligning her powers with the DNA within, she shifts. Her Cherokee ancestors called finding the DNA “the inner snake”. Throughout the series Jane shifts into many animals all by finding that coiled strand of genetic material.

Michelyn Camen

Ms. Camen commissioned four perfumes to celebrate the 10th anniversary of CaFleureBon. Of all the ones I read about there was one which interested me most, 4160 Tuesdays Dark Queen. Because it was based on Ms. Camen asking perfumer Sarah McCartney to use Jane Yellowrock as the titular dark queen which she becomes later in the series. In the CaFleureBon post announcing the perfume Ms. McCartney writes about how making a perfume focused on animalics was different for her. This is where creative direction for an independent perfumer can be so valuable. Ms. Camen knew what she wanted in a skin walker animalic. By nudging Ms. McCartney into a different style of perfume composition than she is used to, she had to find her own “inner snake”.  Dark Queen allows for her to shift into a different style while staying wholly true to who she has always been as a perfumer.

Sarah McCartney

The setting for most of the novels is New Orleans which meant this was a perfume which had to capture humid bayou nights. That is when the vampires, werewolves, witches, and skin walkers play their games. As you walk the Vieux Carre you sense the creatures around you. Your own change begins as you search for the “inner snake” of the beast within. To wear Dark Queen is to be right there.

Ms. McCartney first sets the New Orleans milieu. If you have ever spent time in the city there is a weight to the air. It amplifies the indigenous scents. Ms. McCartney evokes that as the smell of a fruity cocktail in the hand of a tourist is contrasted by the smell of the old stone of the street. Incense swirls from someplace, or someone, unseen. There is something out there you sense it. Inside you react, the beast within warns of danger. A sense of fur begins to slide through your skin. Ms. McCartney forms a brilliant accord of styrax, leather, a pinch of oud, and musks to signal this. This is where Dark Queen grabs me every time I wear it. Ms. Camen and Ms. McCartney bring the literary source into olfactory life. It’s alive! The sense of transformation into something which growls is complete. The remainder of Dark Queen stalks through an ambery woody resinous base accord. Another predator prowls the bayou.

4160 Tuesdays Dark Queen has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

In the announcement of Dark Queen Ms. McCartney writes, “it’s a fragrance that made me dig down into areas that I didn’t want to explore. I developed it reluctantly, but I’m so glad I did.” This only happens through the creative direction of Ms. Camen. I am hopeful that now that Ms. McCartney has discovered her “inner snake” for animalic styles of perfume she might choose to shift again in the future. Dark Queen is everything I could have desired from a perfume based on one of my favorite urban fantasy heroines.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review DSH Perfumes BIWA- A Legacy of Love and Passion for Perfume

In ten years of CaFleureBon Editor-in-Chief Michelyn Camen has had an uncanny ability to find perfume lovers who want to communicate that via the written word. The colleagues I had for the first four years when I was Managing Editor through to the current roster of singular voices bringing Ms. Camen’s vision of “scented salon” to life. Different voices creating a site which celebrates the diversity of perspective about perfume.

Robert Herrmann

One of those writers she brought into her salon was Robert Herrmann. Mr. Herrmann started writing for the blog in 2016. Every writer expresses themselves differently. One of the things about Mr. Herrmann’s columns was his sense of joy. Some perfumes he wrote about reminded him of places and people from his past. He elegantly wove that into his description. I never met Mr. Herrmann but his was the kind of writing which allowed me to come to know him.

Tragically his voice would be stilled in October of 2019; succumbing to a long-term health battle. His words will live on, but Mr. Herrmann had another idea. He wanted to creatively direct a perfume to live on after him. He called Ms. Camen in the last weeks of his life. In his final days he had a specific formula along with a specified perfumer he wanted to achieve it. He would leave all of it in Ms. Camen’s capable hands.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Ms. Camen is a determined artist on any given day. When given a task for a friend like Mr. Herrmann she is exactly the person to see it through. It helped immensely that the perfumer Mr. Herrmann wanted to compose his perfume was Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Ms. Hurwitz is one of many things I cherish from my days of working at CaFleureBon. She has been a friend to Ms. Camen for years. The same was true for Mr. Herrmann. When she learned of this request, she was honored to take it up. The more complete story can be found in this article at CaFleureBon.

This is the genius of Ms. Camen’s vision. She created a community where this kind of request wasn’t a bridge too far. It was the natural extension of those who share love and passion for perfume. DSH Perfumes BIWA is the result of that.

BIWA refers to a lake in Japan where a variety of freshwater pearls are harvested. Mr. Herrmann wanted to evoke the rarity and pearlescence of these tiny jewels into fragrance. Ms. Hurwitz is one of my favorite perfumers, but it is when she is given an Asian theme, like BIWA, where her work reaches a new level. This continues that. Following the instructions given by Mr. Herrmann under the eye of Ms. Camen, Ms. Hurwitz would deliver.

Mr. Hermann was a lover of aldehydes in perfume. It is no surprise that he wanted those to be where BIWA begins. The shading he had asked for was a bit of mint. This is the herbal version of mint given a more vegetal quality. It makes the mist of aldehydes glow like the reflection of the vegetation off the early morning fog rising off the lake. Ms. Hurwitz is one of the very few perfumers who has perfected a rice accord. It appears here as if it is the breakfast of one of the pearl harvesters as they stand on the shoreline. Jasmine and vanilla scent the steam off the rice with differing vectors of sweetness. Breakfast finished, our harvester looks through the hinoki and evergreens on the shore. The first breeze of the day brings the transparent scent of the woods while removing the mist from off the lake.

BIWA has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

The best things in perfume seem to work when all concerned are on the same page. BIWA is a classic extension of the other Asian inspired perfumes by Ms. Hurwitz. There is a serenity to most all of them. It speaks to place in my perfumed center where I am most calm. Mr. Herrmann seemed to know instinctually that BIWA was right in her wheelhouse. This is a gorgeous paean to beauty of purpose filled with heart and soul.

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

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: All proceeds from BIWA will be donated to Mr. Herrmann’s husband to defray the significant medical costs incurred. It can be found at Indigo Perfumery or DSH Perfumes.

New Perfume Review Montale Pure Love- Super Sandalwood

There are brands which deliver over and over on their aesthetic. One of the most prolific, and consistent, Is Montale. The entire collection is made up of powerful perfumes. This is not the place to come if transparency is your thing. If powerhouse motifs using well-blended ingredients is your cup of tea, this is your brand. Montale Pure Love is another example of what they do well.

Sandalwood

Most perfume lovers know Montale for their oud-containing perfumes. My favorites are the ones which have no oud in them. Pure Love is in this category. What usually draws me to them is the use of an overdose of a favorite ingredient. Unlike a soliflore-like construct where that overdosed ingredient would be supported with small bits of other ingredients, that is not the Montale Way. It is adding other complementary notes also at high concentration. The focal point for Pure Love is a gorgeous sandalwood.

The press release touts the sandalwood as the prized Mysore variety. I think I’ve grown a feel for detecting that variety of sandalwood and it doesn’t seem like that is the majority of what is here. What I think is here is the New Caledonia variety of sustainable sandalwood which I think comes closest to Mysore. There might be a small bit of Mysore mixed in, but this seems more likely to be a modern sustainable version. It takes nothing away from Pure Love because whatever the provenance of the sandalwood there is a ton of it here.

The sandalwood is out in front as citrus and cardamom provide a bright fanfare. A great woody vetiver provides the first harmony. At this concentration the overlap between these two stalwarts of modern perfumery shows off their versatility. The grassier nature of vetiver feels like dune grass over a hunk of desiccated driftwood. It is a classic for a reason, which shows. Vanilla comes to find the sweet creamy core of sandalwood. This is the base of many fragrances. Here, with the volume turned up, it finds a more comforting effect. A hint of ambergris and leather provide some well-chosen depth to the later stages.

Pure Love has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

This is probably my favorite straight-forward sandalwood perfume I’ve tried in a few years. Montale may not be subtle but, they sure can make great perfume. Pure Love proves it.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Montale.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review BDK Parfums Tabac Rose- Another Grilled Cheese Please

In these days of being home bound one of my only outlets for experimentation is in the kitchen. For all the options available I’ve been trying to make the best grilled cheese sandwich ever. It has been my lunch of the last couple of weeks. I’ve gone through many versions. All of them still basically the ingredients of toasted bread and cheese. Perfume has what I think of as their version of grilled cheese perfumes. It is where two well-matched ingredients are given a slightly new interpretation. The latest is BDK Parfums Tabac Rose.

David Benedek

David Benedek founded BDK Parfums four years ago. He had extensive family connections to the fragrance business. It gave him a perspective for his brand where he seemed to want to explore many of the classic perfume pairings throughout history with contemporary twists. I’ve tried all of them. Mr. Benedek has succeeded in that endeavor if that was what he was attempting. It isn’t a collection which surprises you with the focal point ingredients. It does offer pleasures in the way Mr. Benedek and the perfumer he works with choose to augment them. Tabac Rose does this the best of all the ones I’ve tried.

Julien Rasquinet

Mr. Benedek asked perfumer Julien Rasquinet to create a variation on the tobacco-rose combination. This is one of my favorite fragrant pairings because when a deep rose is matched to an equally narcotic tobacco it becomes luxurious. M. Rasquinet produces one which seems especially so.

It begins with the Turkish rose. This is the rose which has a prominent spicy core. M. Rasquinet will use that throughout. Baie rose first adds a green stem to this rose. A fascinating set of plum and lemon provide sweet and tart fruit to go with the floral. The sweetness takes a different turn as patchouli and chocolate add a candy shell to the rose. This is where the tobacco comes into play. It flows in waves of dried leafiness which reminds me of the cigar shops in Little Havana. A sizzle of cinnamon brings the titular notes together. This adds a kinetic quality to the rose and tobacco I enjoyed. Labdanum adds the final resinous ingredient to give the tobacco even more depth.

Tabac Rose has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have a bunch of tobacco rose perfumes. Like my grilled cheese sandwiches there’s always room for one more if it is good. Tabac Rose is.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review L’Artisan Parfumeur Couleur Vanille – Sea Spray Gourmand

I’ve done this long enough to not really experience anything truly different. Over a hundred years of modern perfumery has left little space for unique. As I’ve mentioned in the past if there is a place where some empty space remains it is around the gourmand style of perfume. As perfumers are given the chance to explore within that area it has resulted in my smelling something I haven’t before. When I received my sample of L’Artisan Parfumeur Couleur Vanille it was something new to my nose.

Alienor Massenet

Current trends have seen the rise of the floral gourmand which I have enjoyed. What makes Couleur Vanille different is it goes for a style I’ve rarely encountered by meshing the aquatic with gourmand. Perfumer Alienor Massenet wanted to capture the duality of the Madagascar source of the vanilla through the strong sea-breezes which blow through the plantation. It is achieved with a remarkable contrast of two styles which shouldn’t play well together. Mme Massenet finds the beauty within these olfactory opposites that I wouldn’t have expected were there.

This contrast blossoms right away. Mme Massenet marries her fleur de sel accord with the sustainably harvested vanilla orchid. By using the botanical source in place of the synthetic there is a vegetal tint to the sweetness. One of the things Mme Massenet does all the way through it to use the other ingredients to keep the vanilla from spiraling out into a confectionary tooth ache. The salty accord takes the first shift. I used to enjoy standing next to a stand of jasmine growing near the beach as a storm was coming. The waves were crashing with chilly spray catching the jasmine up in the sea spray. Mme Massenet does the same with the vanilla. The salt acts like an ingredient which adds expansiveness. It makes the vanilla opaquer in effect thus holding it back. It is a precise unique push and pull between the salt and vanilla. It gets better as immortelle gives the salt an assist. This is immortelle at its rugged best. I don’t know if it grows indigenously in Madagascar, but it is easy to imagine it does. These three ingredients form the heart of Vanille Couleur. It lingers like this for hours before eventually allowing the vanilla to slip its leash. It becomes a warm creamy version as benzoin and tolu balsam are present to give it its more typical scent profile for the final moments.

Couleur Vanille has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Couleur Vanille succeeds in its combination of aquatic and gourmand. It should have been a mess. It should have been unwearable. Instead it is one of the best perfumes of this year.

Disclosure: this review is based on a press sample provided by L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Molecule 05 and Escentric 05- Synthetic Mediterranean

I am lucky to have so much opportunity to experience the chemistry side of perfume. As a chemist and perfume lover it is one of the reasons I enjoy it. Thankfully for the public at large there is an opportunity for them to share my experience. For the last fifteen years perfumer, and chemist, Geza Schoen has released pairs of perfumes. Molecule where he features a single aromachemical paired with Escentric where he uses that aromachemical in overdose as part of a composition. He has featured some of the biggest synthetic molecules in all of perfumery. Starting with Iso E Super as 01, Ambroxan as 02, Vetiveryl Acetate as 03 and Javanol as 04. It is a fantastic concept which has been executed ideally. Now we are up to Molecule 05 and Escentric 05.

Geza Schoen

For 05 the choice is Cashmeran. It has featured in numerous fragrances because of its dual nature of woods and musk. What has always been a signature of this series is the chosen molecule has to be multi-faceted. Cashmeran was designed to be that. Along with the woods and musk what appears when you spray on Molecule 05 is a noticeable pine. I had always chalked that up to another ingredient in other perfumes which feature Cashmeran. That discovery made wearing Molecule 05 a more pleasant experience than I had anticipated.

Cashmeran

Hr. Schoen has also wanted to enhance that pine thread as he turned to designing Escentric 05. His idea was to evoke a late-summer Mediterranean style without the usual aquatic components. He wanted to focus on the green of that time of year with herbal and terpenic notes. It is what primarily interacts with the high concentration of Cashmeran.

Escentric 05 opens on citrusy brightness banking off the woodiness of the Cashmeran. This is the smell of an orange tree, trunk and fruit. It is then placed in the middle of an herb garden growing rosemary, juniper, and basil. This set of green notes locate the pine amidst the woods and musk. It is given lift using Hedione to provide a jasmine veil. The pine really gets amplified by labdanum and mastic resins. These have a similar terpenic quality which harmonizes with the synthetic version in the Cashmeran. The musky part finally gets its chance to shine as molecules 01 and 02, Iso E super and Ambroxan join in for the base accord.

Molecule 05 and Escentric 05 have 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Even when I think I know a perfume ingredient well Hr. Schoen has something to show me. The pine character in the Cashmeran took me by surprise. As part of a non-aquatic Mediterranean perfume in Escentric 05 it feels like the apotheosis of modern perfumery as abstraction of nature. A summer synthetic Mediterranean.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples supplied by Escentric Molecules.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Costume National J- Sakura Shoji

1

There are a set of perfume brands which seem to have stopped making perfume only to surprise me after a long hiatus. This happened last year when I realized the fashion brand Costume National was releasing two new perfumes after having gone five years since their last new release. Costume National J is the one which caught my attention.

Fanny Bal

The two new fragrances were given the initials I and J. They stood for the two countries which influence the clothing, Italy and Japan. Creative director Ennio Capasa wanted to make a set of perfumes which captured the different senses of style. For I he turned to perfumer Julien Rasquinet who produced an ambrox-heavy powerhouse which overwhelmed me on testing. With J he asked perfumer Fanny Bal for something much lighter in tone. This is the canard of perfume for the Japanese market needing to be minimal and transparent. I have enough evidence to know that isn’t as true as it is taken to be. I also have found perfumes which do take that hypothesis as basis for design to make something great. Which is what happens with J.

Mme Bal chooses to work with the most iconic perfume ingredients associated with Japan, cherry blossom (sakura) and rice. What she fashions out of this is a perfume of delicate opacity like a scented sheet of rice paper in a shoji.

It begins with a delicate neroli and lime top accord. The citrus is feathered in with the neroli such that it picks up the green aspect of the neroli. This is isn’t that bright sunlight kind of citrus accord. It is the sun as shining through a pane of rice paper. The delicate sweetness of cherry blossom appears next. Mme Bal has fashioned a gorgeously delicate accord. It lilts in a soft breeze with puffs of fragile floralcy. The base provides the starchy contrast of rice. I giggled to myself it was a bit like cherry blossom sushi roll occasionally. It works to provide some structure to a fragrance which has been so transparent. Cashmeran adds in the woody crosspieces to this cherry blossom scented shoji.

J has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I have been enthralled with J since I got my sample a few weeks ago. It allowed me to experience the local cherry blossoms even though I couldn’t. I sat cross-legged on my tatami breathing in my sakura scented shoji.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Mancera Amber Fever- Whiskey Is Gourmand

The gourmand style of perfume is the place where there is the most opportunity for something new. It is because it is the most recent genre of perfume. It is also because the set of foodie ingredients has been expanding rapidly. Perfumers are finding new ways to create unique accords based on edibles. It wasn’t until I tried Mancera Amber Fever that I began to consider the boozy ingredients gourmand, too.

Mancera has been one of the more adventurous brands pushing at the edges of gourmand types of fragrance. They have decided to work on variations of powerfully sweet versions. Amber Fever falls right into that continuum. The tweak to the formula this time is featuring whisky.

Boozy notes have been a part of perfumery longer than there have been gourmand perfumes. It is probably why I don’t think of them as part of the palette for these perfumes. Not sure why because I certainly include coffee and it has the same pedigree. Maybe it is because there hasn’t been a perfume which has pulled whisky apart into its gourmand-like facets as well as Amber Fever does.

It starts right away as hazelnut and whisky appear. Whisky has that barrel-aged scent. Hazelnut takes that thread while turning it into a nutty feel instead of wood. Tonka reinforces the trend. A thick treacly caramel coats all of it. Whisky has this inherent alcoholic sweet warmth. That finds the harmony with the sugary sweet viscosity of the caramel. This is where the whisky stands dissected by nut and caramel, transformed into a gourmand focal point. A lilting floral contrast around jasmine is followed by a base of white musks and amber. These later pieces add small incremental changes to the intense accord created at the beginning.

Amber Fever has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have enjoyed being given a new perspective on the way whisky is used in perfume. Thanks to Amber Fever I now believe it is a gourmand ingredient.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Be Boulder- Finding Center

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I am using perfume to help get through these days of coronavirus. I have learned that my shelves are full of beautiful perfumes which allow me to take some time to just sit and enjoy them as I search for some inner peace. It has been a silver lining of being at home. I wouldn’t have thought I would want a new fragrance to achieve the same thing. Aether Arts Perfume Be Boulder allowed me to find my center.

Amber Jobin

When I say I wouldn’t want a new contemplative perfume. I mean I wouldn’t want one from just anybody. Independent perfumer Amber Jobin is definitely one who I would want one from. One big reason is I connect with Ms. Jobin’s creations on multiple levels. She is one of my favorites because she engages heart and mind. I spend as much time going to the place she wants to take me as I do thinking about how she does it. My package of Be Boulder arrived just before we were all asked to stay at home.

Ms. Jobin’s intent was to use a botanical construct to form a fragrance which would take you to a positive place. She lives in Boulder, Colorado because she can just walk outdoors and find that positivity in the Rocky Mountains surrounding the town. The perfume is meant to take those of us who live hundreds of miles away to the same place.

Be Boulder opens with an accord of high-altitude sunlight. Every sunny day we have I go and turn my face towards the sun. This opening of yuzu, lime, petitgrain, and black pepper does the same. I breathe in the brilliance of the day including the impending sun sneeze through the black pepper. I adore that last ingredient for that. The heart accord is one of green growing things in the early days of spring. Tomato leaf, sage, and cannabis all provide different shades of verdancy; vegetal, herbal, and different herbal. It is the extra ingredient that adds the dollop of joy as rose is mixed within the green. It flows naturally as if the spring has turned to the blooms of summer. The final bit is the scent of the evergreens on the slopes of the mountains. A suite of terpenic woods give that refreshing pine scent you find in the woods.

Be Boulder has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have worn Be Boulder on three different days as I sat on my back porch. I was practicing my breathing looking for peace. Be Boulder provided a perfect focal point to find it.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Laboratorio Olfattivo Tonkade- Giving Tonka Its Due

1

One thing perfume can do is to illuminate ingredients through fragrances which use a large amount of them. Referred to as overdose; it is not one of my favorite descriptors because it sounds like it is negative. When it is done with imagination having an ingredient at high concentration allows you to see some of the subtle undercurrents. Laboratorio Olfattivo Tonkade reveals tonka bean’s hidden facets.

Marie Duchene

Tonka bean is one of the most used ingredients in perfumery. It is rich in coumarin which is the ingredient which launched modern perfumery. That is why it is added to so many formulas. In the hands of a perfumer it can be the exact shading necessary to achieve an effect. In Tonkade perfumer Marie Duchene turns this around. By making tonka the focal point she has to find a series of ingredients which illuminate all that is there.

It starts as that recognizable coumarin quality meshes with a soft neroli over which cardamom breezes. There is strong citrus character which is given a hay-like sweetness to interact with. A clever choice of a precise amount of dried fruits is used to make that sweetgrass nature stand out. This flips the script of tonka in support of fruity top accords. In the heart tonka finds its usual partner of vanilla. Usually the tonka is used to attenuate the sweetness of vanilla. Here Mme Duchene allows the vanilla to amplify the inherent vanillic parts. This is another reversal of roles which works. The most interesting pairing comes as steely incense skirls through the tonka. There is a toasty quality of tonka which flits around the edges. Here it is much more prevalent. The austerity of the resin as contrast is compelling in the way of opposites. Over time Tonkade settles into a very warm comforting experience.

Tonkade has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I know you think you’ve smelled tonka. Tonkade might show you something you haven’t experienced before. One thing is certain Mme Duchene gave tonka its due.

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

Mark Behnke