New Perfume Review Bogue Douleur!2- Risk as Reward

Blessed are the risk takers. The corollary to that is “damned are the risk takers”. If you decide to create a challenging perfume you are putting yourself on a high wire without a net. I always admire the effort. Last year one set of risk takers who were blessed were perfume Antonio Gardoni who collaborated with Freddie Albrighton on Bogue Douleur! It was an edgy homage to the ingredient rose oxide. They are back to further explore that ingredient in Bogue Douleur!2.

Antonio Gardoni

Last year the first release by these two surprised me because it went in different directions than I expected. This time around some of what the two creatives enjoy most find a place in the sequel.

Freddie Albrighton

While Sig. Gardoni and Mr. Albrighton like certain ingredients some of them are problematic for me. a year ago I likened the opening of Douleur! to chewing tin foil. In Douleur!2 the opening is tough for me again. It is a mixture of a watery vegetal ingredient along with mint, tea tree oil, and something which smells like low tide. There is “oyster” listed as a note, so I am guessing this is it. This forms a miasmatic accord that was tough to work through.  This is as if the mint and tea tree oil are camouflage for decaying things. I kept thinking of a bottle of tea tree mint air freshener sprayed over the tidal flats after the sun has decayed what has left behind.

Last time I wanted something to take over from the rose oxide. This time the rose oxide was a lifeline. It is met with a synthetic white floral. Over the final phases Douleur!2 takes on the appearance of a vintage-like base with a mix of animalics and resins. The rose oxide is what keeps this from going fully in that direction. The metallic nature ensures it.

Douleur!2 has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This time around the opening accord was more difficult for me to put behind me. It colors my overall feeling about this. I do think the composition and risks taken make sense given the design. This is a perfume that I believe achieves what these two wanted. Which is why it is a fantastic artistic achievement worthy of praise. Just don’t ask me to wear it again.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Vilhelm Chicago High- Looking for the 20’s

One of the more fertile inspirations for fragrance is the era of The Roaring 20’s. It allows for a creative director to imagine a time of rapid change. When gender roles were in flux and people smoked and drank in wood paneled rooms. I’m being a bit simplistic. There is a long list of perfumes based on this. The most recent example is Vilhelm Chicago High.

Jan Ahlgren

Creative director Jan Ahlgren has always enjoyed translating the glamorous past into perfume. For this he is considering the final days of this time. The stock market crash is on the horizon. There are enough callbacks to the kind of touchstones familiar to other fragrances. At first, I went along with it too. But on the second day I wore it I wasn’t reminded of the 1920’s. I was thinking this was more a 2020 kind of perfume. Instead of smoke-filled party rooms I was thinking of a craft cocktail party in an elegant loft.

Prince of Wales Cocktail

When I received the press release here are the list of ingredients in the top: pineapple, champagne accord, tobacco, and honey. You might look at that and think effervescence over the two sweet notes. Because that was where my head was when I first tried it, I saw the trees. What happened on subsequent wears was those notes coalesced into what I now perceive as a Prince of Wales cocktail accord. That cocktail is a sweet drink of rye and pineapple juice with a top layer of champagne. The first half of Chicago High smells just like it to me. The remainder of the development is a rich leather accord with patchouli and amber around. This feels like a nice leather wingback chair in a library. That is a timeless reference.

Chicago High has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have enjoyed the renaissance of cocktail making in recent years. A part of it that draws me to it is the scents of the ingredients and the finished product. Chicago High feels like it hit the target of the 20’s just a century later than it was aiming for.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Olfactive Studio Rose Shot and Iris Shot- Two From a Dynamic Duo

I have been waiting for years to have creative director Celine Verleure and perfumer Dominique Ropion work together again. The three latest releases for Mme Verleure’s brand Olfactive Studio is that reunion. Yesterday I reviewed Violet Shot. Today I am going to cover Rose Shot and Iris Shot.

Celine Verleure

As always, the perfumes are based on a photographic brief. This time by Roberto Greco. For Rose Shot in the photo below you see a dewy rose. M. Ropion delivers a perfume of depth around this classic floral subject.

Rose Shot (photo: Roberto Greco)

The core is a rich Turkish rose. In the beginning baie rose and elemi create that freshness the drops of dew in the photo portend. Things shift with a set of creamy lactones adding to things. There is a moment when this forms an accord of the finest French milled rose soap. That transitions to something slightly woody. The light woods have an unusual focal effect. As they come forward it seems to intensify the rose. A bit of velvety moss adds the foundation.

Rose Shot has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage in extrait strength.

Dominique Ropion

Iris Shot is my favorite of the three new Sepia Collection releases. I am always drawn into a great creative take on iris. This two deliver that creative synergy I expected for this one. What makes iris an interesting perfume ingredient is it is so malleable in relation to the other ingredients. A perfumer can push and pull to realize myriad subtle shadings. Iris Shot is full of them.

Iris Shot (photo: Roberto Greco)

It begins with the powdery iris being caught up in a whirlwind of aldehydes and cardamom. That might sound vintage-like but it is the opposite. This has a clean contemporary architecture which turns the powdery part into a livelier version of itself. As we move to the heart the doughy rooty part of iris is used to make a fantastic faux-gourmand accord. Using carrot seed and almond a floral croissant is cooked up. Over the final stages the dryness of Ambroxan is leavened with vetiver to create a less stentorian woody accord than if the Amboxan was on its own.

Iris Shot has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage and is also in extrait strength.

My wait was worth it. All three of these perfumes display the creativity I expected from this Dynamic Duo.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples supplied by Olfactive Studio.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Olfactive Studio Violet Shot- Creativity Renewed

If you look at almost any piece of writing on this site it should be obvious the esteem I hold creative directors in. I think the rare ones among them are as important as the perfumer. For some brands I would say it the predominant artistic vision. Once the names of the creative directors and perfumers began to become known I searched to find out what I could find out about my favorites. It took me a long time, but I figured out the creative team behind Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant. Celine Verleure and perfumer Dominique Ropion.

Celine Verleure

Since 2011 Mme Verleure has overseen her own brand of perfume Olfactive Studio. It has become one of my favorite lines of fragrance. Her creative direction using a photograph as brief has been shown through each successive release to be outstanding. From the first perfume I kept thinking she would collaborate with M. Ropion early on. Then it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. Mme Verleure came to visit our local perfumery and she brought with her the next three releases in her Sepia Collection. When she told me M. Ropion was the perfumer for all of them I finally got my wish.

Dominique Ropion

There is an ease of creativity between these two artists. It shows in all three of the new perfumes. I am going to spend today and tomorrow reviewing all three. I begin with Violet Shot.

Violet Shot (photo: Roberto Greco)

As I mentioned each perfume is accompanied by photograph. For these three Roberto Greco took still lifes of each of the florals featured. For violet there is the bloom, but the leaf is equally prominent in the frame. M. Ropion creates something green and then floral.

That green is the scent of fresh cut grass. Perfumers have the tools to create a photorealistic version. This the path M. Ropion takes to begin. Some baie rose is used in a small quantity to further deepen the grass through its herb-like nature. A swoosh of citrus also rides across the smell of the greensward. The violet comes next and it is tilted towards the greenness of the leaf. Over some time the floral peeks out as it seems as if it sits on a leather panel. This is an exceptionally light leather which gives way to patchouli and vanilla creating a sweet earthy foundation.

Violet Shot has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage because it is at extrait strength.

Violet Shot reminds me of those times you run into an old friend you haven’t seen in years. Yet when you find yourself together it is as if no time has passed. For Mme Verleure and M. Ropion Violet Shot seems like their creativity works on the same principle.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Memo Sintra- Covert Pleasures

Near our place in the Florida Keys there was a marina with a well-kept secret. If you visited, you would be able to go into the little grill to buy a box lunch from Richard before heading out on your fishing charter. Richard was a man who had found his place in the world on the string of islands at the tip of Florida. What you had to learn was once every three months or so he would have a special invitation only dinner at the grill. Richard was a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef who wanted to occasionally exercise his skills beyond the box lunch crowd. These were nurturing community affairs where the locals would gather. It was here where I would have my first experience with all the classic French cuisine. Even after eating multiple courses I knew to always save room for dessert. Of all the dinners I attended there was one dessert which has never been matched. A delicate vanilla custard with raspberries drizzled with an orange oil, a sprig of orange blossom on top. I hadn’t thought of this in years until I tried Memo Sintra.

Clara Molloy

Sintra is the latest addition to the Art Land collection. This is the series which evokes these beautiful locales. Usually I am along for the ride. Except this time I couldn’t imagine myself in Portugal. I was in a marina grill in Florida. Creative director Clara Molloy works with perfumer Philippe Paparella-Paris on what I experience as a gourmand confection.

Philippe Paparella-Paris

If there was one part of this which took me right back to the time and place it is the petitgrain which is right on top. This has a more pronounced green to it than I am used to. It is called mandarin petitgrain in the ingredient list, so I wonder if it is just a different source which creates the different profile. The orange blossom comes next and it is like removing the sprig on top of my dessert and holding it to my nose. For a moment it is all the flower and the citrus. But now comes the gourmand accord but not all together at first. Some raspberries pave the way. Then the vanilla begins to swirl in creamy spirals as a hint of cinnamon flows through. It firms up into that custard I remember. Some patchouli adds some cocoa-like contrast in the later stages.

Sintra has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is an example of that special effect fragrance can have. When a scent jogs loose a memory. I had a big smile when I was wearing this. Mrs. C asked me what was amusing me. I told her it was the perfume I was wearing. I didn’t share the story why. Just like Richard’s dinners Sintra is a covert pleasure of memories.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Roberto Greco Porter sa Peau- Expended Pleasure

Over the years I’ve found perfume created as part of a grander artistic exhibition to be really good. One big reason is it isn’t constrained by commercial considerations. It is designed with an artistic intent. Last year photographer Roberto Greco asked for a perfume to be made to go along with his exhibition. Oeilleres was one of my favorite perfumes last year because it was meant to be a part of the overall sensory experience. M. Greco has returned with a new exhibition featuring a new perfume, Roberto Greco Porter sa Peau.

Self-Portrait by Roberto Greco

Porter sa Peau translates to “wearing one’s skin”. The photographs in the exhibit depict his life in four parts. Each piece is seen through a distorted lens as he looks to find his own reflection. He asked perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux to work with him on a perfume to accompany this.

Rodrigo Flores-Roux

Just like last year they chose a floral which is not widely appreciated by perfume lovers, narcissus. I enjoy narcissus even though I acknowledge the reason others might be put off by it. The two creatives decided to make a perfume which was a wet salty experience.

Before the narcissus appears Sr. Flores-Roux fires off a fusillade of aldehydes. It has the effect of creating a vintage vibe which runs throughout. After those aldehydes die down the narcissus is revealed. It has a sharp green aspect within an earthy indolic floral. It is usually around in judicious amounts, not here. It is given the star treatment. Sr. Flores-Roux chooses to enhance that indolic core by layering in a set of skin musks. This gives an accord of slightly dirty sweaty skin. It verges on smelling like a body after vigorous copulation. There was always a moment while wearing this where I felt someone I encountered was going to give me a look over their mask. Or maybe a knowing wink. The sense of earthiness is deepened through patchouli in the base.

Porter sa Peau has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is indelibly a perfume which is meant to be seen as part of an artistic whole. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it by itself. There is a pleasure in smelling like expended pleasure.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Amouage Ashore and Meander- The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship?

I am an advocate for a creative director to foster a long-term collaboration with a perfumer. My reasoning is as each comes to understand their strengths it leads to a fragrant synergy. I frequently think about a creative team having a good rapport based upon a string of good perfumes. At Amouage creative director Renaud Salmon asked perfumer Mackenzie Reilly to collaborate on two of the perfumes in the Renaissance Collection; Amouage Ashore and Amouage Meander.

Renaud Salmon

Ashore is inspired, like the other Renaissance Collection, by Omani geography. This time it is the beach on the eastern shore. You might think this would translate to a modern aquatic but there isn’t really any hint of the sea spray endemic to that style. Instead Ashore is more like a stroll on the sand away from the water where you’re enjoying the warmth.

Ms. Reilly begins with a fabulous sunny accord. It is composed of a set of slightly aldehydic and ozonic ingredients identified as a “solar accord”. What she uses to shade her sunlight is what makes this. Turmeric leaves have a spicy-woody scent which matches with the coolness of cardamom and the herbalness of baie rose. Ms. Reilly has a deft touch at evoking open spaces with her perfumes. This is another example. She adds in a lilting full spectrum jasmine sambac followed by sandalwood dusted with incense. As it all comes together it is like walking the beach twirling a bit of jasmine in your hand.

Ashore has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Mackenzie Reilly

Meander is my favorite of the six perfumes I’ve reviewed this week. It is inspired by a mountain fog which appears during monsoon season. This is where Ms. Reilly gets to show she is as skilled in a more compact style of composition. I’ve been caught in this kind of fog and it is easy to lose your bearings. Meander turns it into a pleasant experience.

It is the top accord which captures me again. Here she uses carrot seed as her core. She flanks it with baie rose and black pepper. This delineates the rootiness of the carrot while simultaneously intensifying its effect. A precise amount of frankincense swirls through with an insouciant wave. Then a fabulous rooty orris finds its partner in the carrot seed. This forms a harmonic off the orris that is enchanting. This is where I am happy to stumble around in this carrot, iris, and incense fog. Almost as a reminder to not get lost vetiver and sandalwood ground the later stages.

Meander has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

The last line of the classic movie “Casablanca” is, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” It is tough to make a sweeping statement with two perfumes to their names. Yet, Ashore and Meander make me wonder if this is a beginning of something between M. Salmon and Ms. Reilly.

Tomorrow I wrap up with my overview of this new direction for Amouage.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples supplied by Amouage.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Amouage Enclave and Crimson Rocks- Fjords and Honey


New creative director at Amouage Renaud Salmon makes his first impression with the new Renaissance Collection. He decided to start fresh. There is the use of perfumers who haven’t previously worked for Amouage. There is also a different approach to the perfumes which is evident within these perfumes. Today I’ll look at Amouage Enclave and Amouage Crimson Rocks.

Renaud Salmon

For Enclave M. Salmon asked perfumer Julien Rasquinet to collaborate with him. The concept was to capture the sunset over the fjords in Oman. Now I know when you think of fjords the Middle East is not where you think to find them. If you travel to Musandam you will find warm weather fjords. What this means for a perfume is steep rock walls over crystalline blue water. The perfume reflects the contrast between those two natural features.

Julien Rasquinet

It begins with a unique accord to represent the water. It isn’t an aquatic accord. It is an aromatic herbal accord expertly constructed by M. Rasquinet. Spearmint and cardamom are the primary pieces. The cardamom interacts with the herbal mint in a way which forms an exhilarating effect as if looking at the turquoise water from on high. Baie rose and cinnamon add in a sense of the warmth of the breeze. It begins to shift towards a leathery heart where the earthy fraction of patchouli, incense, and rose are present. This is where Enclave begins to display the long-standing Amouage rose and resin which is a hallmark. I kind of wished the perfume stopped here. The choice to use AmberXtreme in the base acts as the moon does to the sun in an eclipse. It blots out everything. I know this is there for longevity, but I really wish they just went with something less overwhelming. What comes before the AmberXtreme exerts its will is quite nice.

Enclave has 24 hours plus longevity but that is mostly the AmberXtreme and average sillage.

Domitille Michalon-Bertier

Crimson Rocks is also inspired by Omani geography but in this case, I don’t find the connection. Working with perfumer Domitille Michalon-Bertier they design a honey soaked rose which drips with intensity.

Before we get to that we get a concentrated blast of cinnamon and baie rose. If you are familiar with the smell of the cinnamon candies called red hots this is exactly what the first moments of this smell like. I adore the smell of this. The candied cinnamon is its own unique perspective on sweet. A more traditional sweet comes as the honey begins to flow. In its way is a sturdy Damascene rose. early on the rose is powdery before turning a lusher spicier face towards the honey. It is here where the cinnamon provides a corona to the honey and rose where Crimson Rocks sings. This time they choose to use vetiver and oak as the base accord which allows the sticky spicy confection to find a new contrast.

Crimson Rocks has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.

Tomorrow I’ll complete the overview of the Renaissance Collection with Ashore and Meander.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples supplied by Amouage.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Amouage Rose Incense and Overture Woman- Farewell Christopher, Hello Renaud

As a scientist I am always looking for patterns. Perfume is not exempt from that. As I start this series of reviews, I begin with the last perfume by the previous creative director at Amouage, Christopher Chong called Rose Incense. I also look at one of the first original perfumes be the new creative director Renaud Salmon. He chose to do Overture Woman which is the female counterpart to one of the other final creations by Mr. Chong.

Christopher Chong

Rose Incense was an exclusive until this past summer. Which is why it is only widely available now. Mr. Chong again used one of the grand inspirations for the perfume. This time it was the movie “Citizen Kane”. He asked perfumer Bruno Jovanovic to collaborate. It is his first perfume for the brand.

Bruno Jovanovic

Rose Incense is probably the most simply formulated perfume of Mr. Chong’s time at the brand. Instead of the entire movie it almost seems like it is trying to capture that moment when the dying Charles Kane utters “Rosebud”. Translated to a perfume it means what the name on the label promises a lush rose coated in resins.

It begins with that rose which is the Damask variety. This variety exists to be paired with incense because of its strength. Early on elemi provides a citrus-tinted woody opening. The incense begins to appear soon after. At first it is a lighter version which allows the rose to have the lead. As we get to the heart it flips as the incense is now in charge with the rose in support. Myrrh adds to the frankincense along with a thread of leather in between the floral and incense. It is completed with a rich sandalwood.

Rose Incense has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Rose Incense is not the best example of Mr. Chong’s tenure. It acts as a farewell as he leaves the stage. Perhaps it is meant to be his own enigmatic perfumed “Rosebud”.

Renaud Salmon

A stage as grand as Amouage abhors a vacuum. It is now time to say hello to M. Salmon. For his first act he chose to design Overture Woman. When he began his Amouage career with a flanker I urged him to lean into his new position. Not that he could have told me at the time he was doing exactly that with Overture Woman. Mr Chong’s masculine version was a boozy resinous affair which was typical of his style. M. Renaud’s feminine version also contains a boozy component the apple brandy known as Calvados on top of a spicy rose and leather. Working with perfumer Annick Menardo they create something beautiful.

Annick Menardo

Overture Woman begins with the Calvados paired with saffron. It is a fascinating opening where the alcoholic apple is given a little extra bite with cinnamon. The saffron provides a slightly leathery glow as if from the pit of the stomach after a sip of the real thing. Leather itself arrives as it adds its presence with a refined version of the accord. Myrrh and frankincense come forward to give a resinous finish to this.

Overture Woman has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

M. Salmon and Mme Menardo have made a very Amouage type of perfume without being the like Mr. Chong’s aesthetic. In Overture Woman there is a crisp enunciation of the phases but once they come together it feels like the beginning of a new aesthetic at Amouage.

I’ll delve deeper into that over the next two days as I review the four perfumes in the Renaissance Collection.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Puredistance Rubikona- A Taste for Red

When I was a semi-frequent attendee of New York Fashion Week I was always fascinated with one thing every season. Every designer would be working on their own. Keeping their designs secret. Not speaking with one another. Yet as every season unfolded there was always one fabric color which seemed to show up on every runway. One year as an exercise I kept track of the use of “firecracker red”. By the end of the shows I had seen it 168 times. How does this happen I wonder? Is there an unconscious zeitgeist among the designers?

It happens in perfumery, but it is usually around a specific ingredient. Something new which perfumers can’t wait to use. That makes sense to me. When I look back over a year it sticks out. This year there also seems to be a strong trend pointing towards a color as inspiration. Puredistance Rubikona is the most recent fragrance to add to it.

Jan Ewoud Vos

It is not a surprise that Puresdistance creative director Jan Ewoud Vos is inspired by color. He has been inspired by the connection of scent and color called synesthesia. The entire collection of perfumes by the brand are influenced by it. I do not have that kind of association. I consider myself scent color blind. When challenged with a perfume inspired by synesthetic considerations, I must perceive it from my handicapped perspective. Rubikona is meant to be a perfume of a ruby sitting on blue satin displaying the different shades of red inside the jewel.

Cecile Zarokian

Mr. Vos collaborated with perfumer Cecile Zarokian for the first time since 2016’s Sheiduna. Mr. Vos and she had begun collaborating based on a phrase “chic inside out”. Living up to that meant the color red to both of them. That was further refined to a blood red ruby as the place for Rubikona to begin from.

When you think red in perfume rose is probably where most begin. Mme Zarokian also begins with rose in Rubikona. She then accomplishes a remarkable effect of turning that floral into a cut ruby. By using orris and ylang-ylang she creates a red rose which has greater depth and subtle shadings. Mme Zarokian has made some of my favorite rose accords. The one here is as good as it gets. She uses the powder and the root of orris to go high and low. The ylang-ylang flows adding the carnal fleshiness I adore when used this way. It is a slowly rotating Calder of a rose presenting different faces as it lazily twirls. Then Mme Zarokian delights me a second time as she creates a faux-gourmand accord as the base. She begins with a deep earthy patchouli which seems appropriate to an intense rose. Then the patchouli moves towards its gourmand-like chocolaty aspect as orange blossom and a creamy vanilla meet it there. A clever twist of clove and it forms an haute cuisine dessert course for the end of this.

Rubikona has 16-18 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I said I don’t have scent-color synesthesia, but I might have discovered I have a different form. I’ve been thinking how to describe the gourmand-like phase since I first tried this. One night I went to get my favorite treat. I take a square of orange flavored dark chocolate and squirt whipped cream on it. On the second day I was wearing Rubikona it was right at this phase on my skin. As I bit down, and the flavors washed over my tongue Rubikona radiated off my skin to join in. I’ve not heard of taste-scent synesthesia but that might be my thing.

Rubikona is one of the best perfumes of the year. It is testament to the shared vision of Mr. Vos and Mme Zarokian. It feels like a natural to wear this Holiday season.

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

Mark Behnke