One of the more famous unicorns in perfumery is 1998’s Le Feu d’Issey. It is such an original fragrant statement it has become mythological in its reputation. I think it is one of the great perfumes because it used coconut milk and milk as accords to build upon. There has been nothing like it since it was discontinued. That doesn’t mean those of us who admire it aren’t hoping for another audacious attempt at something different. Which puts an unrealistic burden on each new release from Issey Miyake especially if one of the ingredients says “milk”. The new A Drop d’Issey tries to live up to the past.
Another thing I want to mention is Issey Miyake has been a brand which has regularly taken more risks with their spring floral releases. In 2009 A Scent by Issey Miyake was a great green perfume around jasmine. All of this is introduction to another perfume which chooses to take an alternative path than either of these.
Perfumer Ane Ayo builds A Drop d’Issey around lilac. It is one of my favorite spring florals which does not get used enough. Ms. Ayo works on a transparent palette creating an exceptional example of the floral gourmand style.
It opens with that powdery delicate green of lilac. It flits in and out as other pieces form around it. A creamy almond is given some sweetness through orange blossom. An equally creamy jasmine finds star anise providing an herbal licorice contrast. Through the early going it is that anise which is the linchpin to everything. It melds the creaminess and the flowers in licorice whip stitching. Vanilla now is carried in on a carpet of ambrox. The latter could have been just a little lighter because it does overwrite some of the early nuances once it shows up. What is left is still good but you lose some of the fine detail.
A Drop d’Issey has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is the best of the mainstream spring florals I’ve tried this year. It is going to be great for anyone looking for something new for the upcoming warmer days. It also shows Issey Miyake is still taking bold chances on its own path. What is left for people like me is to stop making comparisons and get the Feu out of town.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Macy’s.
When I look over all of the perfume I have tried over the years there are some ingredients which seem to form the cornerstones of perfumery. When it comes to flowers it would be jasmine and rose. Patchouli is certainly one. When it comes to woody notes sandalwood is definitely one of them. One of the commonalities to anything I would put in this category is it can stand on its own. It can be a perfume all by itself. I have examples in the perfume vault here at Colognoisseur HQ. Most of those are expensive. It didn’t used to be that way. There was a time not that long ago that all these foundational pieces of perfumery could be found economically. At least in the case of one Yves Rocher Voile d’Ocre is bringing that back.
It was a funny thing as I read the press release while waiting for the sample to arrive. It told me this was meant to capture a citadel on the edge of the desert using two ingredients: cedar and sandalwood. Then I was told it took two perfumers, Ane Ayo and Fabrice Pellegrin. I was thinking this sounded like two Michelin-starred chefs combining chocolate and milk into chocolate milk. Once I received the sample the need for two noses became evident because there is a third synthetic ingredient which is a little bit cedar and a little bit sandalwood. Creating the right balance using that is not as easy as it sounds.
I think the third unnamed ingredient is Iso E Super. It is because the perfume overall has that desiccated quality it brings which is also reminiscent of the desert milieu they were aiming for. It also is the kind of synthetic ingredient that can be made more vivid through the addition of judicious amounts of natural ingredients. That’s my guess of what is going on here.
Iso E Super has this inherent dusty earth quality to it which is where Voile d’Ocre opens. This sets the desert backdrop. The natural woods are added in next. The raw almost green of cedar adds some life back to the dryness of the synthetic background. The sandalwood harmonizes with that arid aspect while also adding in a woody sweetness. From one of the ingredients a spicy piquancy is there also a milkiness which I’ll attribute to the sandalwood.
Voile d’Ocre has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is probably my new “best bang for your buck” sandalwood perfume. The perfumers do an incredible job of using one of the cornerstones to create a new woody edifice at the edge of the desert.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Yves Rocher.
I was fortunate as a child to be able to visit almost all the Caribbean Islands. I am probably stretching a point but one of the great things about arriving on a different island was each had its own scent. There were things which grew more abundantly on each different destination. There was some significant overlap but when I smell certain ingredients I have a specific memory of an island come to mind. The latest reminder is one which combines three specific ingredients into a kind of all-star perfume, Berdoues Hoja de Cuba.
Hoja de Cuba is part of the Grand Cru collection which is all about capturing the scent of a place. They have tended to be simple styles of three or four ingredients. As I’ve mentioned in the past if one of those ingredients doesn’t work well it tends to cause the entire perfume to fall apart. In the case of Hoja de Cuba perfumer Ane Ayo spent some time in Cuba taking in the smells of the tobacco fields which is one of the three notes in the fragrance. She also must have been based in Santiago de Cuba on the southeast shore of the island because the other two ingredients come from Jamaica to the southwest and Haiti to the east.
The Jamaican contributor is allspice. For those who cook with a jerk seasoning this is one of the ingredients. In perfume it has a warm nutty quality along with the spice mélange promised in the name. Mme Ayo pushes the allspice out in the early moments and allows it to display its style. Haiti adds in the well-known vetiver as the woody character matches to the nutty part of the allspice. It also provides the vegetal greenery indigenous to every tropical island. When the tobacco arrives as the final note it provides a dried sweet narcotic wrapper to embrace everything into a lovely perfume cigar.
Hoja de Cuba has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I know the middle of February is the time of year many of us wish we were in the Caribbean for a long weekend. Hoja de Cuba can at least provide the scent of a mid-winter trip to the islands.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.