New Perfume Review Zoologist Koala- A New Tree to Climb

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I have always enjoyed anthologies and compilation albums. I am usually drawn in by an author or musician only to discover something entirely new. Some extra books and music to download. It hasn’t really happened to me in perfume until I received my sample of Zoologist Koala.

Victor Wong

When I received the press release in advance of my sample of Koala from Creative director-owner Victor Wong I realized I was going to be experiencing a perfumer new to me. After I got to know more about perfumer Spyros Drosopoulos I felt like I should have known of him before this. He came to perfume from a career as a neuroscientist. Even though I have no interest in making perfume when a fellow scientist does, I am usually interested. Dr. Drosopoulos has founded his own line Baruti. As has become routine for Mr. Wong he finds the most interesting perfumers to produce stellar work for him.

Spyros Drosopoulos

One of the other hallmarks of Mr. Wong’s creative direction is he tends to take what we know about the animal on the label. In the case of Koala they take the mental image of one languidly chewing eucalyptus leaves turning it in a delightful direction.

Dr. Drosopoulos opens with that expected ingredient by placing it inside a sticky honey matrix. You might look at that and think of a home remedy for the sniffles of honeyed tea and Vicks Vap-o-Rub. This is not as simple as that. The eucalyptus has a more vegetal presence the honey captures in that slightly animalic embrace which is sweetened through the addition of mimosa. This is a soft soothing top accord. Over the heart a set of spices insert themselves into that. I was expecting them to add more zing, but they add even more softness. It is a remarkably snuggly perfume for much of the early development. It switches into the base as vetiver, oakmoss, and sandalwood evoke the wood and leaves of the tree our fuzzy narrator is perched in.

Koala has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

You might look at that ingredient list and think this is a cold weather scent. I wore it on two hot and humid days, and it was delightfully cooling through the mentholated effect of the eucalyptus. I think there won’t be much of my sample left by the time there is frost on the pumpkin. Mr. Wong has been on quite a creative trajectory over the last two years. He has a vision and an audience he wants to share it with. He has regularly produced perfumes which are among the best of the perfumer he hires. I can’t say where Koala falls in Dr. Drosopoulos’ career because it is my first exposure. It is like those anthologies and compilations I mentioned I can’t wait to climb this new tree for myself.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Reminiscence Mandarine Fraiche- Skin-Deep Citrus

There are a lot of brands which I don’t connect with. The perfume is adequately put together it just doesn’t do anything for me. There are a few of those brands that seem to surprise me every couple of years with one that does. Reminiscence Mandarine Fraiche is the most recent to do this.

Reminiscence has been around for fifty years. Their first perfume Patchouli remains one of the best patchouli fragrances I own. Over the following half a century they have never come close to that. They have mostly played it safe without innovation. It is a valid business model and that they are still around after so much time indicates its success. It also means even when I like something it is because it hits all the right notes without being challenging. Mandarine Fraiche falls right into that categorization.

Zoe Coste, Nino Amaddeo, Lilla Amaddeo, and Sebastien Coste (clockwise from l.)

Nino Amaddeo and Zoe Coste were there on day one. They have enticed a second generation to join them. It ensures a unanimity of aesthetic which is noticeable. It is why the ones I like tend to depart just a bit from that. In the case of Manadairne Fraiche it stays much more focused as a citrus-centric style. It does this without using some of the typical ingredients.

It begins with a fantastic top accord of the rind of mandarin and lime combined with baie rose. The last ingredient has an herbal and fruity facet which the rind of the citrus amplifies. It gets even greener with verbena adding in its lemon tinted presence. It leads to a base accord that is also excellent. Powdery iris and white tea give off a tearoom vibe before they are expanded via a set of white musks. It creates a fresh effect through adding volume.

Mandarine Fraiche has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Mandarine Fraiche is an ideal choice for warm weather. It works for me because it doesn’t go for the pulp inside. By being a skin-deep citrus it finds its way to something better.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review By Rosie Jane Madie- Transparent Sunscreen

From the first time I went to the beach and my mother covered me in Coppertone the scent of these products has appealed to me. Fragrances have been built around the popular sunscreens since the earliest days of modern perfumery. If there is a secret to their appeal is it reminds me of a day playing in the ocean. Even now a trip to the beach is accompanied by the smell of sunscreen. By Rosie Jane Madie is the latest to take me there.

Rosie Jane Johnston

By Rosie Jane is the eco-friendly line overseen by Rosie Jane Johnston. Over the last couple of years she has broadened her distribution to make her fragrances more widely available. Ms. Johnston is growing a rapidly expanding category of independent perfumers who are designing within the transparent style. This is the current trend which makes it smart to make perfume to cater to it. What sets Ms. Johnston apart is while her perfumes are opaque and simple, they remain interesting. The recent releases have found this balance.

Madie is named for Ms. Johnston’s daughter Matilda. She is described as “a carefree headstrong beach bunny”. The perfume named after her is what I imagine Madie smells like as she heads out the door to the beach.

There have been a lot of perfumes I’ve received in the first part of this year which have started with this ozonic salty accord. I don’t know what has caused it to become so popular, but this is where Madie begins. The heart of the fragrance is that sunscreen duo of jasmine and coconut. It is lifted in an expansive way by that top accord. It gives a lightness of effect that real sunscreen usually does not. It is what makes Madie different from other sunscreen inspired fragrances. Some vanilla and white musks complete things.

Madie has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you are not fond of sunscreen style perfumes Madie is so light it might be worth revisiting the genre. It is one of the rare examples of where I have found the transparency to be a large reason why I liked it. Ms. Johnston continues to impress with what she is doing. Madie is another step along the way.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Juliette Has a Gun Lipstick Fever- Raspberry Cosmetics Bag

If you’re a Baby Boomer I suspect you share a similar scent memory with me. The mothers, and their friends of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s wore lipstick. There was also a distinctive scent to those cosmetics. When a woman would unzip her cosmetics bag the scent of iris and violet would inevitably float out. It is a scent associated with Coty lipsticks. I joke that my first Coty perfume was Eau de Cosmetics Bag. It is a compelling pairing of floral ingredients which has been interpreted many times through the years. Juliette Has a Gun Lipstick Fever transports that distinctive lipstick accord a few decades later.

Romano Ricci

As lipstick evolved into the 1970’s and 80’s they became fruity. My first kiss was with a girl wearing strawberry scented lipstick. Romano Ricci decides to take that fruity style and fuse it with the classic scent of lipstick. By the end he offers a delectable edible version

The fruit comes first as a juicy raspberry burst to life. This is so playful I almost hear a giggle in the background. Violet imposes itself adding a more crystalline candied effect. A deep iris comes next. The iris used in the lipstick formula is not the powdery version. Instead it is deeper. Not quite the yeasty style of full orris. This finds the floral quality at the heart. It also finds its running mate violet. Together they reach back to those cosmetic cases of the past. The base is a gourmand-like accord of patchouli and vanilla which smells like a candy confection. It recapitulates the raspberry from the top with a different type of sweetness. Some synth woods and musks provide the finishing touch.

Lipstick Fever has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is not the first perfume to revolve around the lipstick accord, nor will it likely be the last. It does have just enough different delights to recommend to those who find this sub-genre of fragrance enjoyable. I liked the raspberry cosmetics bag I found in Lipstick Fever.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Van Cleef & Arpels Bois D’Amande- The Faces of Almond

As perfumery continues to define the boundaries of gourmand perfumes, I am finding the ones which center around nuts are becoming a favorite. It is probably because the perfume versions of nuts come with a woody background as part of the package. It allows for perfumers to blend them with actual versions to create new accords which have an edible streak. Van Cleef & Arpels Bois D’Amande states its purpose on the label.

Sidonie Lancesseur

Bois D’Amande is another addition to the Collection Extraordinaire. For the most part this has been a fragrance collection which hits the mark. When it works it is because it is kept simple. Usually by accentuating the ingredients in the name. In this case the bois is cedar to go with almond. Perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur uses the overlap between the two to ideal effect.

The first almond tree I ever saw was in the middle of a lemon grove. The opening moments of Bois D’Amande bring back that memory. Almond has slightly sweet nuttiness which contrasts the tart sunniness of the lemon. It keeps that aspect more forward until the cedar shows up. This cedar is the slightly green clean wood as if it were cut down a touch too soon. This is the version I enjoy most in warm weather. The woody facet of almond adds back a more mature woodiness while also retaining the sweeter nature. There were moments during this part that smelled like a sandalwood accord of these two ingredients. Vanilla comes along to add a creamy swirl while a suite of musks add some depth. It all flows together into a woody gourmand.

Bois D’Amande has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Almond is becoming one of those gourmand ingredients which will come to delineate a certain style. It has the versatility to interact with many other ingredients. Mme Lancesseur puts it through its paces in this perfume. By the end it shows just how interesting it can be.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Unum Notre-Dame 15.4.2019- Hope Shines Through

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There are events which bind us as a planet. Last April the world watched as the fire which consumed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was one of those. The heroic efforts of the firefighters kept it from being a total tragedy. The building stood at the end of the day. On the day it welcomes people back through its doors will be a moment of completely overcoming adversity. That day is far off with much effort to be put into achieving that end. A year after the fire I was expecting to get a progress report though a news outlet. It turns out perfume provided the best version in Unum Notre-Dame 15.4.2019.

Filippo Sorcinelli

Unum is the brand of independent perfumer Filippo Sorcinelli. The scent of churches has been a recurrent theme ever since his first release Lavs. Sig. Sorcinelli has connections which allowed him to tour Notre Dame more thoroughly than a normal tourist. After the visit he decided to report on it via perfume. He has composed a fragrance of hope among the wreckage.

If you’ve ever gone someplace after a fire the early moments of Notre-Dame will reach that memory. It is the scent of charred wood which has been water-logged. What Sig. Sorcinelli adds to this is the stone of the cathedral. Impervious to the flames with water impregnated in the porous surface. I am not entirely sure how he achieves this but the wood smells old in this accord. Maybe its my imagination but it feels as if I am looking up though the open roof and a sunbeam shines down as a citrus and ginger accord provides the purity of sunlight where it hadn’t touched for centuries. It provides a hopeful contrast to the charred wood. What comes next reminds me of the photo of the altar cross which survived the fire; sticking up above the timbers which fell from the roof. A blessed floral trinity of muguet, iris, and geranium provide a garland for the resilient altarpiece. It ends with a reminder of the incense as if from afar atop the crystalline green of galbanum and the earthiness of patchouli. They promise that the future will eventually see the cathedral rise anew.

Notre-Dame 15.4.2019 has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is one of Sig. Sorcinelli’s most emotional compositions. In the past when we ventured into the church through his perfumes, it was as a penitent. In this one we are pilgrims looking for resurrection and better days ahead. A perfect message for these days.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Atelier des Ors Rouge Saray- Caravanserai Nights

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One reason I am drawn to the Oriental style of perfumes is because the region fascinated me as a child. When I would see depictions of the nomads leading their goods-laden camels across the Sahara it felt romantic. The reality was probably much different. Brutally hot days moving recalcitrant animals across an unforgiving landscape. While acknowledging the probable reality I retain my fanciful thoughts of my youth. One part of my early learning was of the caravanserai. These were the waystations that a caravan would spend the night at. My imagination saw it as a crossroads of rogues complete with scimitars through sashes. A sandy version of pirates. I was reminded of this childish fantasy when I tried Atelier des Ors Rouge Saray.

Jean-Philippe Clermont

Over the last five years creative director Jean-Philippe Clermont has assembled an impressive collection. He has worked exclusively with perfumer Marie Salamagne since beginning. It is another of those creative director-perfumer pairings which finds a harmony within the artistic vision of both people. It has been at its best within the lush parameters of the Oriental style of perfume. Rouge Saray adds to that.

Marie Salamagne

M. Clermont wants this perfume to capture an imaginary night in a caravanserai. Imagining the different goods scent the air in equal amounts as the flowers in the trellises lining the central courtyard. It is a moment of stolen rest in between strenuous days.

This evening begins with those night-blooming flowers, jasmine. Mme Salamagne freshens them up a touch with heliotrope. Although that latter floral seems to be added for just the hint of almond it carries. It sets up a gourmand heart as an indigenous dessert is passed around. It is centered around the dried fruit quality of dates. It is spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with vanilla. My imagination sees a date infused custard with cinnamon dusted over the top. As you lean back to enjoy dessert the scent of the woods of the structure surround you as sandalwood and balsam provide a pillowing effect to rest until morning.

Rouge Saray has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I don’t know if the days of the caravanserai have become an anachronism. I do know the nights can be found in a bottle of Rouge Saray.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Courreges 2060 Cedar Pulp- Cologne of Tomorrow

Colognes are one of my favorite fragrance forms. Over the last ten years they have been rescued from the poor reputation they had from the last decades of the previous century. Even now “too much cologne” isn’t a reflection on the genre but the person who is wearing too much fragrance.

What has revitalized colognes has been brands’ willingness to take the simple citrus-herb-floral recipe and tinker with it. Which was why when I received a press release for a new collection from Courreges called Colognes Imaginaires before I read another word, I wanted to try them. Especially because the stated purpose was to imagine the colognes of the future. I have had the collection for a short time and will write about all of them. But there is always one which stands out on first sniff. In this group it is Courreges 2060 Cedar Pulp.

Fanny Bal

Each of the four fragrances in the collection gets their own perfumer. For 2060 Cedar Pulp it is Fanny Bal. 2060 is the latest of the dates in the collection. I don’t know if that means Mme Bal was given more encouragement to explore the alternatives. The result is a traditional cologne which provides the foundation for something which feels like an evolution.

At the opening a sheer citrus accord is met by a strong herbal basil. Most traditional colognes have classic herbs. Mme Bal unleashes the basil in an aggressively green way. To add to that a pinch of cumin adds its pungency to it. To flesh out this accord green almond comes along. I mentioned this a year or so ago when this ingredient began showing up it reminds me of a nutty cedar. Here it inserts itself into the cumin tinted basil which is where the rawer green quality of it becomes more apparent to me. The floral part of the recipe comes through another sheer accord of neroli. A raw cedar is the keynote to the base. It fits in with the earlier accord ideally. There is an outré refreshing quality to all of it.

2060 Cedar Pulp has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I am engaged by this interpretation of cologne by Mme Bal. By using the herbal piece of the traditional construction, and blowing it up, she creates something different. I would be thrilled to think this is the cologne of tomorrow.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Courreges.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Cra-Yon Sand Service- Breaking Out of Their Niche

Three years ago when I wrote my review of Agonist White Lies I had an inkling that creative directors Christine and Niclas Lydeen had tired of being the odd artistic perfume. From the moment they created Agonist it was a perfume line which stood for some of the edgiest fragrances I would try. They would even be housed in equally imaginative containers. Everything about Agonist was out on the edges of what artistic perfumery stood for. I adored the line and the Lydeens. Their vision was engagingly off-kilter. Which leads back to White Lies. That perfume was the most normal they had done. I noted that in the review even wondering whether they wanted to try for something more mainstream. I just got my answer in Cra-Yon Sand Service.

Christine and Niclas Lydeen

The Lydeens have released three perfumes in their debut collection for Cra-Yon. This is the antithesis of the fragrances they did for Agonist. All three are versions of well-known genres. Passport Amour is a rose, oud, amber perfume. Vanilla CEO is a citric vanilla amber. The bottles are not objets d’art. They are utilitarian containers. When I tried the first two, I was a little sad to see these creative people take such a hard turn towards the generic. Even Sand Service is not that far away from other recognizable styles. It is the only one of the three where a bit of the Agonist heritage shows for just a tiny moment.

When you go to the Cra-Yon website there is a different vibe to the way the perfumes are presented. This line has no pretensions. It wants to be a crowd-pleasing type of fragrance. Sand Service achieves it through a central axis of violet leaves, papyrus, and leather.

It is in the early stages where that previous niche aesthetic peeks out. it comes through the sharpness of the violet leaf. Supported by cardamom this is an extroverted green which is bolder than anything else I encountered in these debut releases. It is rapidly controlled via the watery green of papyrus and the powder of iris. A soft leather accord given some woody partners in sandalwood and cedar is where this closes.

Sand Service has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Sand Service and the rest of the first Cra-Yon releases are simple fragrances at their core. The Lydeens have successfully broken out of their niche they previously inhabited. Time will tell if they can find the same pleasures in the pedestrian. Sand Service is a decent start.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Parfumerie Generale 11.2 Spicematic- Cedar for Summer

In my to be reviewed box there are two slots for perfumes I am waiting for a specific condition to wear. One has a drawing of a snowflake and the other a thermometer popping its top. I save perfumes that I think will be better in extremes of cold or heat. One I was waiting for a typical high heat high humidity day to wear again was Parfumerie Generale 11.2 Spicematic.

Independent perfume Pierre Guillaume’s Parfumerie Generale brand has been one of my favorites. It is mostly because of M. Guillaume’s ability to challenge my thinking about perfume ingredients I know little of or don’t care for. In 2006 Parfumerie Generale 11 Harmatan Noir is one of the first times I enjoyed mint in my perfume. Most of the time it is an unwelcome intruder.

Pierre Guillaume

Since 2013 M. Guillaume has been revisiting some of his original Parfumerie Generale as part of his “Rework” collection. It has been an interesting exercise where I’ve found myself usually enjoying the new version. One of the exceptions was Parfumerie Generale 11.1 Indian Wood because the mint was so integral it got in the way of my enjoying it. Now in the first of the reworks to get a second version 11.2 Spicematic gives me a new opportunity to experience mint in M. Guillaume’s hands.

One of the reasons I wanted to save Spicematic for a hot day was, it has a prominent cedar note. That is one of my favorite warm weather perfume ingredients. The mint and spices from the previous versions remain along with the addition of perfectly chosen complements.

The mint is there right from the start. What makes it much more palatable is it is paired with an equal amount of saffron. It makes all the difference as it gives the mint a pulsating glow which draws me in. What comes next is a fraction of frankincense this is not the church incense you are used to. It is the stone of the church as it smells like the cold granite walls. Ginger wends its way through spicing things up. It ends on a glorious woody base of pine and red cedar. This is where the terpenic nature of the pine finds the clean green cedar.

Spicematic has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Spicematic is one of my favorites within the Rework series because it has a dynamic core courtesy of the ginger. That provides a lively woody perfume which is at its best when the thermometer is about to pop its top.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Parfumerie Generale.

Mark Behnke