Pitti Fragranze 2014 Day 1 Wrap-up- Old Friends, New Tricks, and a Mozart Ball

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Buongiorno Perfumistas!

Every perfume event I go to it seems like the first day is all about checking in with those who have become friends over the years. This began on the sidewalk outside the Stazione Leopolda in Florence, Italy the site of Pitti Fragranze 2014. Francois Duquesne emerged from his cab and I asked him if there were any new Aedes de Venustas fragrances coming. He pulled out a sample vial of Copal Azur the new release coming in the fall. This is composed by the man I call The High Priest of Resins, Bertrand Duchaufour. Copal Azur is one of the most resinous fragrances I have smelled in a long time and it is tuned expertly by a perfumer who seemingly can do this at will.

They finally let us inside and I began by walking the entire room to see what is here. After my reconnaissance was done and many hugs and handshakes exchanged I stopped to introduce myself to Andy Tauer who I met in person for the first time. We discussed the Sotto La Luna line and I asked what was next and he told me the formulas for the next two are finished. We have Sotto La Luna Hyacinth and Sotto La Luna Tuberose to look forward to. Based on our conversation I am particularly excited to see how Hyacinth is realized.

Next stop was with Jeroen Oude Sogtoen who was presenting the new bottle designs for Mona di Orio Perfumes. One thing I was delighted to see was Oud has been renamed Oudh Osmanthus. Mme di Orio used osmanthus as the perfect unusual floral foil to oud at a time when too many perfumes were just throwing it in to fragrances with no thought. Oudh Osmanthus showed there was a different, and better, way to go. The new bottles feel like they were designed to nestle in your hand perfectly. Finally I had the opportunity to try the new release Myrrh Casati by perfumer Melanie Leroux. Mme Leroux captures the shadow play Mme di Orio was known for and this looks to be a worthy continuation of the legacy. One last thing for those who were missing the original fragrances Lux and Nuit Noire are now both available again in the new packaging.

As I walked into the next room the team from Masque Milano were standing in front of a giant samovar. It will be no surprise to you that the fifth fragrance from Masque Milano is called Russian Tea. The perfumer is Julien Rasquinet who made this his last work as an independent perfumer before accepting a job at IFF. While I fully expect M. Rasquinet to produce more great fragrances Russian Tea was a great one to finish this phase of his life as a perfumer. It is smoky and it has a surprising grace note of mint which works surprisingly well. I kept returning to this strip throughout the day and the development and the way it evolved rewarded me every time. I am looking forward to wearing this on my return home.

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I then attended two presentations in the conference hall that were back to back. The first was from Mane all about their supercritical fluid extraction technique named Jungle Essence. This form of extraction gathers all a natural source has to give without having to be heated up. There is a video they used to show this process that I hope I can share with you in the future because it did the best job of showing how the process works. The best part was they passed around examples of raw materials captured via Jungle Essence and more traditional ways. It was striking how much more nuanced the Jungle Essences were, especially when comparing side by side. For me the most surprising was the difference between cardamom absolute and cardamom Jungle Essence. The absolute has a raw green quality which the Jungle Essence has but it is much softer.

The second presentation was by perfumer Maria Candida Gentile who presented the three fragrances in the “Il Volo del Calabrone” (The Flight of the Bumblebee) collection. Using three different versions of beeswax form three different countries she complemented each one with different notes. In Kitrea it is lemon. In Leuco it is tuberose. In Synconium it is fig. The different style of honey is apparent on first sniff, it really adds a dimension to a note which can be difficult to balance.

On my way down the hall I met the lovely Valerie “Cookie Queen” Sperrer. Now you would think I would say she gave me a cookie but she also had some new tricks to share and instead I got a Mozartkugel or as we call it in English a Mozart Ball. It was yummy after dinner tonight. Thanks Valerie.

Final stop of Day 1 was to meet the team at Grossmith and try the new Fortnum & Mason exclusive, Sylvan Song which is a fabulous floral fantasy as only Grossmith can do as they continue to create perfumes which feel like classics reinvigorated. I think I might have to arrange for someone to visit Fortnum & Mason for me as this is truly exclusive and will not be sold anywhere else.

It was off to dinner as I rode into a beautiful sunset over the Arno river.

I’ll be back tomorrow as I concentrate on the section of the exposition called Spring which has gathered a number of new brands.

Until then Ciao Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer Perfumes Sotto La Luna Gardenia- Gardenia Pixy-Stix

Andy Tauer has been making perfume for almost ten years. He is one of the independent perfumers who has developed a very distinct aesthetic. There is even a characteristic base of woody incense which has been dubbed Tauerade by other writers. I agree there is definitely a strong DNA running through many of Hr. Tauer’s fragrances and the Tauerade is part of it. There is also another accord he has revisited a number of times. I describe it as a Pixy-Stix accord after the flavored powdered sugar candy I ate as a child. It has also been compared to Pez candy as well. It adds a granulated kind of opaque sweetness to the perfumes Hr. Tauer employs it in. One’s tolerance for it is going to determine whether you like the latest release Sotto La Luna Gardenia.

Sotto La Luna Gardenia is the first in a series of Sotto La Luna perfumes Hr. Tauer intends on producing. For Sotto La Luna Gardenia he wanted to capture the titular bloom under the wash of a full moon as it scents the night air. Getting just the right balance with a gardenia fragrance is a tricky proposition. Too much and it is overpowering and cloying. Too little and it is wan and green. The difficulty with finding that balance is the gardenia never feels as if it is in full bloom; it can feel restrained. This is why Hr. Tauer adds in the sugar to amplify the sweet without turning it treacly.

andy tauerAndy Tauer

As one who grew up with gardenia bushes around my house in South Florida I know the vibe Hr. Tauer is attempting to create. To start with he blows a gentle zephyr of spices across your conscience. This is the smell of the night of the full moon, full of portent. The gardenia first comes in as the restrained more green gardenia I mentioned above. The greener, woodier aspects are as prominent as the floral aspect. Over about an hour that changes as the flower expands and so does the fragrance. This is where Hr. Tauer dusts all of this with his “Pixy-Stix” dust. I like the crystalline sweet quality it adds as it makes the gardenia feel like a candied version of itself. Sotto La Luna holds this position for a few hours on my skin and this is why the sugar sweet accord will make or break one’s enjoyment of this perfume. I think Hr. Tauer has used it well and I enjoy it quite a bit. The base notes are sandalwood, vanilla and a bit of tonka; no sign of Tauerade this time.

Sotto La Luna Gardenia has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I like when an indie perfumer starts to display some character with recognizable accords to define their aesthetic. In Sotto La Luna Gardenia Hr. Tauer shows how it can be used to create a special effect rendering the gardenia something supernatural in its power.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer Perfumes Cologne du Maghreb- Indie Cologne, Naturally

One of the things that sets indie perfumers apart is their willingness to interact with their customers and admirers through the use of the internet. The first to do this was Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer who started his blog Perfumery on July 12, 2005. For nearly nine years Hr. Tauer has given those who are interested a window into his world as one of the most prominent independent perfumers. One special part of Hr. Tauer’s blog is during the Holiday season he has a virtual Advent calendar where he often gives out a special one-of-a-kind fragrance.

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Andy Tauer

In 2010 the fragrance he was giving away was his attempt at an all-natural, all botanical eau de cologne. He called it Cologne du Maghreb. It was a big success and he followed it up by releasing a “test batch” to see if it would sell. Now in 2014 Hr. Tauer has decided it is time to release Cologne du Maghreb to all of the normal points of sale you find his other fragrances. I never had the pleasure of trying either of the other iterations and so my sample is like a new perfume for me.

In truth the middle of winter was not the ideal time to release a cologne-inspired fragrance. Now, as the summer is upon us, seems to be the right time and place for Cologne du Maghreb to shine. The other thing that feels right is Cologne du Maghreb is not meant to truly adapt the cologne architecture to an all-natural, all botanical palette. Instead Cologne du Maghreb feels more like an evolutionary jump from traditional cologne to something that feels wholly an Andy Tauer fragrance with cologne aspects, if that makes sense.

SUNSET

Cologne du Maghreb opens with Hr. Tauer’s creation of a “citrus chord”. The notes which make this up are lemon essential oil, bergamot, and neroli essential oil. These blaze to life with the lemon as brilliant as the sun and the bergamot and the neroli adding a corona nearly as brilliant. This then leads to an herbal intermezzo of rosemary and clary sage. Lavender pulls in rose and orange blossom to form the heart. The base is cedar and vetiver.

Cologne du Maghreb has 4-6 hour longevity and average sillage.

Due to the use of the natural ingredients cologne du Maghreb behaves like a very traditional eau de cologne which requires frequent re-application to make it through the day. I know on the days I wore it I re-applied twice during the day and each time was a like a little pick-me-up as the citrus made everything seem sunnier all of a sudden. Cologne du Maghreb is a smashing success at what Hr. Tauer wanted to do. This is where imagination meets inspiration at the intersection of a Tauer cologne. Cologne du Maghreb is the product found at those crossroads.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Tauer Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

That Unattainable Object of Desire: Andy Tauer’s Orris

There are fragrances out there that are among the best that you can get but they are limited in availability. These are the true quarry of the fragrant treasure hunters out there. Through fortune and the good graces of many in the perfume community I have been able to find many of these and have rarely been disappointed in the effort needed to procure them. While I don’t want to start a longing for something one can’t have I also want to let people know when you come across an opportunity to try one of these do not pass it up.

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I have been thinking about Andy Tauer’s 2006 limited edition release Orris as I have just received my bottle of Josh Lobb’s equally limited edition slumberhouse Zahd. There are a lot of similarities between the two. Both Hr. Tauer and Mr. Lobb are fiercely independent perfumers uncompromising when it comes to their perfume. They both communicate in sporadic pictures and words about their creative process. I would say when I discovered Hr. Tauer’s blog back in 2006 it was eye-opening in the amount of insight he would provide on his creative process. It has always been a lot of fun to read Hr. Tauer’s posts leading up to eventually wearing one of his releases. In both perfumer’s cases it is much of what fuels my passion to cover perfume because their creativity is so approachable.

Andy-Tauer

Andy Tauer

One of Hr. Tauer’s early posts in July 2006 described a limited edition he was working on called Orris. To read about it go this link and scroll down to the July 21, 2006 entry “layers and appearances”. In that post he explains that Orris is “like a facetted piece of jewelry, reflecting in all colours of the light”. It is that quality which makes Orris such a genius piece of perfumery. As he also mentions within that blog post Orris is one of the most mutable fragrances I have ever encountered as each person seems to pull their own unique version of it. Here’s what it does on my skin.

Orris opens with cinnamon, black pepper, and grapefruit which rapidly comingles with rose and orris. This is a fabulous beginning with the spices floating on top of the florals and the citrus adding some light. The orris is carried along with the cinnamon into a heart of frankincense. This is that very beautiful almost metallic frankincense and with the orris and cinnamon it is a marvelous combination and it is on this chord where Orris lingers for the longest time on my skin. Every time I wear it I realize there is nothing like it in my collection of iris fragrances. Once Orris does begin to head towards the base notes they are also a collection of rare woods: real Mysore sandalwood along with real oud and Australian sandalwood. Because of Hr. Tauer’s blog post this was one of the first times I was able to tease apart the two different varieties of sandalwood. Also remember that in 2006 oud was rarely used in fragrance so all of this added a level of uniqueness to the base of Orris. What I find interesting is even when I revisited Orris in 2014 to write this the entire composition still retains its singularity there has still been nothing like it.

Orris has all-day longevity and below average sillage.

When you are fortunate enough to find a young independent perfumer who you admire and they mention they are making a fragrance with one-of-a-kind ingredients; don’t think about it too long and buy it. I dithered over Orris and was never able to acquire a bottle. The small amounts I have are the generous gifts of fellow bloggers and perfume lovers. I have never seen an official number of how many bottles were produced but I do know Hr. Tauer is regularly asked whether he could reproduce it and he always politely replies, “No, the raw materials are unobtainable or too expensive now.” What is out there is all there is. Thankfully what is out there is a glorious fragrance experience amongst my very favorite ever from one of the very first independent perfumers.

Mark Behnke