There are actors who become so identified with their roles it becomes part of their name. For the last third of his life it was so for Anthony “Zorba the Greek” Quinn. It is testament to the actor’s skill that they portray a character so vividly that it becomes part of who they are. Although few remember the tragic events, in the 1964 film which lead to the final scene of Zorba dancing on a beach in Crete. Upon his passing in 2001 it was the picture of this moment in the film which accompanied his obituary most often. I have never read the book the movie is based upon by author Nikos Kazantzakis. If I ever do it will be Mr. Quinn who I see in my mind’s eye as Zorba. Which is how I approached Jardins D’Ecrivains Zorba.
Anthony Quinn as Zorba the Greek (1964)
In the movie the location of the Greek island of Crete was as much a character as any of the humans. Captured in black-and-white by cinematographer Walter Lassally. He would win the Oscar for it. He made every craggy outcrop and the sand of the beach seem to leap off the screen. It stands fifty years later as one of the great cinematographic efforts of all time.
Owner of Jardins D’Ecrivains, Anais Biguine was probably more influenced by the novel. The name of the brand is after all garden of authors. It seems as if the literary and the cinematic coincide to imagine a craggy aquatic.
It begins with a fresh sea air accord, ozonic and expansive. A set of herbs led by sage and a scrubby wood accord are the things growing out of the rocks on the shoreline. The sweat of the dancing Zorba comes through castoreum. Fresh floral notes of cyclamen and iris dance over a carpet of moss. It was hard for me not to hear the indelible mandolin music and see Mr. Quinn’s face while wearing this.
Zorba has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is a rough-hewn version of the Mediterranean style of perfume. I like it because it loosely follows the rules of that style. In my head I thought of this as Aquatic the Greek. If you want a different type of aquatic for the upcoming summer take a spin on the beach with Zorba.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
Back in October when I tried the first release for Chapel Factory, Heresy I liked the church incense style of it. That isn’t a unique genre within fragrance. But independent perfumer Anais Biguine designed a nice riff. Based on that I was told there were two more from the brand coming. I was interested to see how Mme Biguine would continue to explore the area of incense perfumes. The choices she made in Chapel Factory Holy Stick are nice.
The Holy Stick of the name is meant to refer to the palo santo incense used by the shamans and priests of the Americas. In the Cuban-American community I grew up in palo santo was used in various rituals. I always registered it as different than the frankincense I smelled from the censers at Sunday Mass. Both are incense but if I regularly describe frankincense as metallic, palo santo is softer and woodier. Mme Biguine uses that as part of her design for Holy Stick. The perfume is essentially a trio of different resins; elemi, palo santo, and frankincense. The palo santo represents the core but it has some help from the others.
The top accord is the slightly citrus tinted elemi resin paired with a high concentration of cardamom. I don’t usually get enough cardamom in my perfumes. In this case I get all that I could want. The citrus side of the spice blends well with the elemi. What it really does is also bring out the woodiness of cardamom which is what connects to the palo santo. This is one of the best uses of palo santo in a perfume I’ve run into. Mme Biguine uses all of the scent profile as it interacts with the cardamom and elemi. It becomes especially compelling when a judicious amount of frankincense adds a yet to be burned quality to the palo santo. The base accord is an earthy patchouli and amber.
Holy Stick has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I’ve said in the past I am not a candle guy. It I do get my fragrance through flame it is through burning incense. Holy Stick didn’t remind me of the act of burning it. It more brought to mind that moment I open a brand-new box with the unburned cones all lined up in the box. Mme Biguine has made an incense fragrance which comes before the burn.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
Perfumers all have their unique trajectories. The best can travel between genres and styles. It makes it especially interesting when I think they up their level of difficulty as they do that. Independent perfumer Anais Biguine is doing that with Chapel Factory Heresy.
Mme Biguine first came to my attention with her first collection under the brand name Jardins d’Ecrivains. It took its name seriously as she created a perfume garden of writers. These are complex kinetic constructs. I own my favorites which make up a little bookshelf of perfume. For her new brand Chapel Factory she is moving towards a much more focused inspiration. As the name kind of gives away she is all about incense. At this point in time most of the products are room fragrances, incense, diffusers, and candles. Heresy is the only perfume in the line.
Heresy is that scent of church incense. The austere silvery frankincense which seemingly impregnates the bricks and timbers of an old church. I adore that scent when visiting a historical church. There is a sense of time extending backwards. Heresy isn’t a photorealistic close-up of incense. Instead it is that reminder of when it was burned the day before. Mme Biguine seems to be moving towards simpler but no less compelling fragrances.
She begins with that frankincense out front. It isn’t as sharp as it can be nor as metallic. It has a mellowness. To add a bit of that back she uses black pepper. It is used in a subtle way more reminiscent of the scent of old wood. It forms an old church accord. It is deepened through sandalwood while the incense rises to a gentle swirl of resin. It finishes with patchouli and vetiver adding in an accord of the church walls.
Heresy has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Heresy is built to keep you at arm’s length. Mme Biguine has chosen to let her incense whisper. It allows it to float in beautiful spirals in the air. There are two more perfumes coming soon. Based on Heresy I am looking forward to both.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
For most people their perfume choices are split into warm-weather and cold-weather fragrances. A perfume dork like me has to create more categories than that. One part of the year I look forward to is what I call “shoulder season”. This comprises the transition between summer-fall and winter-spring. More practically it means days which start out cool become pleasantly warm at midday to return to cool after sunset. I have a group of perfumes which have a dynamic evolution on my skin which makes them ideal shoulder season perfumes. One of those is Jardins D’Ecrivains Orlando.
In 2013 Anais Biguine debuted her new brand Jardins D’Ecrivains, garden of writers, with five singular perfumes based on famous authors, or their works. The original debut collection of five is exceptional in the way Mme Biguine successfully realized her vision. This wasn’t a brand which played it safe as each fragrance had a few twists and turns to them which made them stand out. Orlando was perhaps the twistiest of the original releases.
Based on the novel by Virginia Woolf and further made familiar by the 1992 movie starring Tilda Swinton it tells a story of gender roles. Elizabethan Lord Orlando falls asleep only to wake up as Lady Orlando a century later. Book and movie have lots to say about the fluidity of gender which seems particularly apt today. Mme Biguine produced a perfume which captures her subject matter in three accords.
The top accord is a vibrant concoction of ginger, baie rose, and orange. This is an unsettled opening much like the protagonist it is meant to portray. The perfume leans into its inspiration as each ingredient pinballs off the other not finding a harmony. It is something I find unusually beautiful when I wear Orlando. The heart is amber and patchouli containing a touch of clove which represents our Elizabethan Lord in act two. The final act of lighter woods transforms it into something more contemporary with gaiac, musk, and peru balsam. As our heroine wakes up in a new time.
Orlando has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
Orlando is a bit of an acquired taste, but it is my favorite of the Jardins D’Ecrivains perfumes. Especially in my shoulder season. If Orlando sounds a bit too challenging for you there are others within the collection worth exploring that are less experimental. In any case this is a brand that deserves to be on any perfume fan’s radar.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.
Jardins D’Ecrivains translates to Garden of Authors. Anais Biguine has collected six authors since the creation of her line in fall of 2012. I have really enjoyed her interpretation of literary figures especially the last two releases Orlando and Junky. Both of those took a very modern approach to their construction which made them stand out from the first four releases which had a bit more of a classical feeling to them which matched their literary inspiration. For the newest release Marlowe it looks like Mme Biguine wanted to find a middle ground between the two.
A Supposed Portrait of Christopher Marlowe c.1585- Artist Unknown
Christopher Marlowe was a contemporary of William Shakespeare during the Elizabethan Era. His best known play is Doctor Faustus. His life was cut short as he dies of a stabbing just after his twenty-ninth birthday. Those are the facts of his life which are broadly agreed upon. If it ended there Mme Biguine would probably not be putting his name on a bottle of perfume. Mr. Marlowe lived a life of many unconfirmed layers. He was rumored to be the actual writer of some of Shakespeare’s plays. There was talk he was a spy for the Crown. The circumstances of his death were maybe caused by a cuckolded husband or a jilted love, perhaps both. Or as an outspoken atheist perhaps the church did him in. What is speculated is much more fascinating than what is known. It is this mix of innuendo that Mme BIguine captures in Marlowe.
Marlowe opens with a scrubbed clean tuberose. I am exhausted at the amount of times this polite tuberose has found its way into the latest perfumes. Thankfully Mme Biguine doesn’t just let it sit there she pairs osmanthus and elemi with it. The osmanthus has a bit of a battle in the early going to gain some ground against the tuberose but once it does the apricot facet forms a rich fruity floral accord. Elemi provides a lightly wooded lemony nuance to the tuberose and osmanthus. This is one of the few new fragrances I’ve tried with the cheerier tuberose which doesn’t feel like it just sits there wanting to be admired. The osmanthus really provides a lively partnership for it. They are so lively that they fairly trample the bit of myrrh that shows up in the heart. It is as fleeting as a matador’s cape and there is a slow amplification of the floralcy throughout the middle stage of development. The base is where Mme Biguine returns to her mix of white musks she used so successfully in Orlando. Here it washes away the florals in preparation for a leather accord which is greatly softened by the musks. A bit of oakmoss and labdanum provide a bit more steel to the base notes leaving Marlowe on a chypre-like final act.
Marlowe has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I really enjoyed the middle ground Marlowe carved out for itself. While it reminded me of all that has come before from Mme Biguine’s literary garden it is enough of its own creation to find its own solitary patch of sunlight.
Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle of Marlowe provided by Jardins D’Ecrivains at Esxence 2015.
In the 1950’s America was coming to grips with its status in a post-war world and most were buying into the American Dream. The goal of this was to get a 9-to-5 job, a house in the new housing developments growing around the major cities, and to start a family. This drive to have all of these things has persisted to this day even though it is more difficult to achieve presently. Right from the beginning there was a group of artists who rebelled at this nascent straitjacket of conformity. One of the earliest groups of non-conformists was called The Beat Generation and one of its prominent members was author William S. Burroughs. His 1959 novel “The Naked Lunch” along with Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and Alan Ginsberg’s “Howl” are the exemplars most cited as the works which capture this desire to break free of the confines of The American Dream. Perfumer Anais Biguine of Jardins D’Ecrivains has been releasing perfumes based on literary inspirations and she chose Mr. Burroughs’ earlier work Junky as the name of her newest release.
William S. Burroughs (Photo: Evening Standard/Getty Images)
As a piece of literature Junky was an unflinching view of the life of an addict who in the most powerful passage in the book compares heroin addiction to “an inoculation of death”. This was a vivid contrast to the early hysteria over drug use typified by movies like “Reefer Madness”. Junky was succinct prose describing something unknowable to a non-addict. Mme Biguine when composing the fragrance named after this source material also chose to go for a spare construction with a burst of floral pleasure around slightly edgy and narcotic top and base notes.
Junky opens on a fantastic combination of galbanum and hemp. The hemp gives the intense green quality of galbanum a viscous coating and creates an edgy nervous feeling to the early moments of Junky. The heart is the moment of euphoria as iris, violet, and gardenia form a heady triptych that shed the nervy opening for a moment of floral pleasure. I am partial to all three of these notes and Mme Biguine weaves them into a purely pleasurable moment of joy. That joy decays into a base of darker notes as vetiver, frankincense, myrrh, and cade bring you back to reality. I especially like the use of the cade here for recapitulating the green edginess of the top notes in an alternative way.
Junky has 8-10 hour longevity on my skin with modest sillage.
Mme Biguine has not shied away from interpreting some of literature’s renegades in fragrant form. I have been impressed with all the fragrances she has produced to date but Junky has done the best at capturing the source material. Using a beloved and cherished source material like Junky sets it up to be disappointing to some if it fails to capture what each person believes is important about that work. I admit of all the things Mme Biguine has translated to fragrance this was the one I had the most personal feeling about. At least for me she nailed the feel of the book with a laconically slightly dangerous fragrance. Junky is everything I could’ve asked for in a fragrance with this name on the bottle.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.