New Perfume Review Trudon Aphelie- Among the Vines

When we lived in Massachusetts, we had a trellis next to the front porch where roses grew. One of the pieces of caring for them is to prune them back after the first frost of the fall. It was not one of my favorite tasks. I always ended up with scrapes from the thorns. Many was the year that I thought about digging them up at this time. After I was done, I’d take off my gloves and apply some antiseptic to my cuts. As I would pick up the gloves the scent of rose scented vegetation came off them. I thought it was a nice natural fragrance. Trudon Aphelie seemingly is designing a perfume to mimic that memory.

Julien Pruvost

Trudon is the perfume brand of the well-known luxury candle makers Cire Trudon. Creative director Julien Pruvost guided the brand into the perfume business four years ago. What I admire about his direction is he avoids being a trend follower. He is willing to ask his perfumers to think beyond them.

Antoine Lie

For Aphelie he reunites with perfumer Antoine Lie who did Bruma in the debut collection. In this instance the name refers to the aphelion or when the earth is at its furthest point from the sun. It fits with my autumn day pruning being close to that moment. Aphelie is designed to be a very green vegetal fragrance.

This begins in a tangle of ivy. This is one of my favorite vegetal notes. It doesn’t get used enough. There is a strong leafiness attended by a slightly peppery spiciness. M. Lie cranks it up. He then laces a simple rose through his vines. They never come close to being on top. They act as an ameliorating presence. Blackcurrant bud adds a sticky sap to this. This was that smell off my gloves where the sap was stuck. Moss adds in a soft green contrast. Like a plush green upholstery. As it all clicks in place the rose sticks up among the thick vines. The whole thing is framed by a dry sandalwood.

Aphelie has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This makes the eighth Trudon perfume. M. Pruvost is assembling a formidable collection thorns and all.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Maison Sybarite Amber Gaze- Secret Formula

There are moments when I am introducing myself to a new perfume brand that I can see the potential. It doesn’t mean what is there is not enjoyable but there is room for something more. Usually that has something to do with the people behind the perfume. In the case of Maison Sybarite it had to do with their unique formulation technology.

Most of the time I get the press release and begin reading about new technologies with skepticism. In the case of Maison Sybarite they were touting their water formulation. As I read that information before receiving the samples, I wasn’t thinking there was anything new here. Once I had the fragrances in hand, I noticed the non-alcoholic blend of water, olive oil, and saponin had an effect. In those first four releases the carrier added a softer diffusive quality. The perfume didn’t leap off my skin in an alcohol cloud propelled via evaporation. I enjoyed the first four perfumes, but I was wanting for the creative team to take advantage of the formulation with some of the divas of perfume ingredients. In Maison Sybarite Amber Gaze that is what I get.

Antoine Lie

Perfumer Antoine Lie is again behind the composition. I saw a note list featuring jasmine, tuberose, patchouli, sandalwood, and vanilla. Those are five strong personalities. Amber Gaze would apply a stress test to this new formulation.

The advantages of the formulation are most apparent in the opening moments. The white flowers of tuberose and jasmine lead the way. Here they radiated off my skin in opaque waves. These are cleaned-up low-indolic versions. They have more presence because they aren’t leaping off my skin. The spreading out of these flowers is really appealing. Because of that the set of spices which come next have some new places to find traction. Cardamom breezes over it all while cinnamon provides some warmth from beneath. Nutmeg adds in the sweetness which connects to the base accord. Vanilla and sandalwood form the core while patchouli and tolu balsam provide an earthy piney counterpoint. Usually these have deep effects. I think because of the formulation they also come off much lighter in tone. It all combines to form a compelling whole.

Amber Gaze has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

One of the things I thought of while wearing Amber Gaze is how this non-alcoholic formulation adds an expansive transparency all its own. All five of the Maison Sybarite collection have a level of that currently trendy style. These are all just a notch less airy and that is where I think I find it more to my taste. Maybe the secret to transparency is the formula. Amber Gaze would imply that is the case.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I received from Maison Sybarite.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Eris Parfums Green Spell- A Gargantuan Green

I am a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. One of the reasons is the way he writes. I think he loves using words. That is probably the only thing I share with him. In the movie “Kill Bill Part 2” one of the characters has poisoned another one and is soliloquizing over her victim. The one line I always think about is this, “You know, I’ve always liked that word….’gargantuan’….so rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence.” The same is true for this perfume reviewer. At least until I tried Eris Parfums Green Spell.

Barbara Hermann

Eris Parfums is the brand of perfume begun by Barbara Herman in 2016. Ms. Herman made the leap from writer on perfume to maker of perfume successfully. Her preferred subject when she was blogging was vintage perfumes. Through the previous five perfumes she has shown an aesthetic which is diametrically opposite of the current transparency trend. Influenced by the great perfumes of the past Ms. Hermann has produced a collection which nods to that without becoming mawkish. Another reason for that coherence is she has exclusively worked with perfumer Antoine Lie. This partnership is renewed for Green Spell.

Antoine Lie

I have come to enjoy galbanum in a perfume ever since I got a vintage bottle of Balmain Vent Vert. The genius of that perfume is the galbanum which appears in the opening. I have always wanted a perfume that didn’t pull the green in favor of florals. I wanted one which just kept getting greener and greener. Y’know a gargantuan green. Green Spell is what I wanted.

It begins with a blast of galbanum I luxuriated in. There is a duality of raw vegetation and emerald-like verdancy which is what appeals. M. Lie then piles on more. An acerbic tomato leaf follows a metallic violet leaf. Fig leaf assuages some of the intensity of narcissus. It leads to a base of rich vetiver. At every turn, another source of green adding a new layer. At the end, a bit of ambroxan provides a woody frame for this green olfactory tapestry.

Green Spell has 16-18 hour longevity and above average sillage.

This is a fantastic perfume for anyone who wants more green. Ms. Herman and M. Lie don’t even think about letting up. Which is exactly what a gargantuan green perfume should be. There I got to use it twice.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Maison Sybarite 720- Seeking the Pleasure of Softness

While the ongoing pandemic affected the flow of new perfume samples through the summer. Once we hit the fall it was as if brands were making up for lost time. I think I’ve received more new perfume at a higher rate than ever before. Which means a new brand landing in my mailbox ends up not getting much attention. Especially when it comes with beauty buzzword pr about new formulations. Late one night I gave it a try and was hooked right away be Maison Sybarite 720.

Antoine Lie

My interest in Maison Sybarite sprang from the participation of perfumer Antoine Lie. After I requested my samples I went through their website. They tout their new non-alcoholic carrier of the perfume oil. Their technology is a “microemulsion” of olive oil, water, and saponin. The latter is what allows the formulation to spread on your skin. Because of this new formulation they had to rethink the proportions that go into their perfumes. M. Lie mentions that he used higher concentrations in his work for the brand. Usually I find this stuff to be salesmanship instead of something which really makes a difference. After trying the first four perfumes from the brand I can detect a softer diffusiveness to the way the fragrance is released. It is most apparent in the first few minutes as the scent isn’t propelled off the skin by evaporating alcohol. It stays closer to the skin with a gentler introduction to the perfume. Of this first collection while they were daring with the new technology that did not spread to the perfume.

The inspiration for the line comes from the ancient land of Sybaris. 720 takes its name from the year, 720 BC, it was founded. It is the only one of the first four releases which captures the sensual quality of a sybarite.

It opens with a powdery cinnamon supported by cardamom and nutmeg. This is a place where the formulation is an advantage. I suspect in a traditional alcohol base this would have smelled like a blast of red-hot candies. Because it is more spread out the cinnamon gets more room to evolve. Which also provides more traction to the other two spices. This also happens in the heart as birch tar and lavender form a fantastic accord. M. Lie uses the herbal green floral lavender and coats it with strands of birch tar. Beyond what ever challenges he faced with the new formulation the balance of the rich birch tar and the lavender is amazing. It takes an animalic turn as patchouli and tonka bean inserts itself. It moves from asphalt road in summer to sensual bedchamber. It is a fascinating evolution. In the end cedar and ambrox add that sturdy woody base accord familiar to many.

720 has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

The perfumes of Maison Sybarite are not skin scents, but they also don’t have as much presence as traditional formulas. I appreciate the lowering of the volume. I found it gave more space for all the perfumes to fill. 720 is a trip in which I find the softness of pleasure.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample set I received from Maison Sybarite.

Mark Behnke

Pierre Benard Challenge Day 5- Etat Libre d’Orange Secretions Magnifiques

Art has many reasons for being. One of them is to provoke. There are pieces of art which cause the viewer to confront their beliefs. In every form of art you can name a critical piece which has provocation as one of its aims. Through the emotional response generated it allows for the person to ask themselves where their boundaries lie for the art form. It can also ask you to look more closely at something you would normally avoid.

Etienne de Swardt

If you believe perfume is an art form, then it can’t just be about smelling pretty. It must be about more than that. When Creative Director Etienne de Swardt created his brand Etat Libre d’Orange he decided to give modern perfumery that opportunity.

Antoine Lie

The perfume is called Secretions Magnifiques. M. de Swardt and perfumer Antoine Lie set out to make a perfume few would like. That doesn’t mean this is a poorly made chaotic mess. It is the opposite. Secretions Magnifique is one of the most precisely created perfumes I own. What makes it potentially unlikeable is what it chooses to focus on, bodily fluids. Not just bodily fluids but the ones which do not smell pretty. As all perfume it was meant to mimic something real. It succeeds brilliantly even if you might want to avoid it.

The perfume opens with a mixture of aldehydes, iodine, and seaweed. This is a harsh opening which asks the wearer from the first second to evaluate their idea of perfume. This turns out to represent the salty base which exists at the foundation of all the fluids they want to capture. Combined with some ozonic notes you get the spine-chilling buzz of adrenaline. Copper scents the blood oozing out. A sour milk accord is followed by a stale sperm. It all is regurgitated in a spill of bile. It is as if you have been accosted by your perfume. You ask yourself questions about fragrance you never thought you would ask. Brilliantly over the final stages powdery iris and sandalwood bring you back to where many other perfumes end. This time the journey asked more of you.

Trying Secretions Magnifiques is a ritual for many. There are numerous online videos full of people making faces as they try it for the first time. I was no different. Except I realized I needed to own a bottle because this was perfume which asked me to look beyond smelling good. It asked me to consider the potential of perfume to exist in the same way as any other art form.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Eris Parfums Mxxx.- Genuine Triple-X


In 1968 when the American movie rating system was introduced there was an adults-only rating, “X”. In those early years it was a badge of honor. It would contain movies as diverse as “Midnight Cowboy”, “A Clockwork Orange”, and “Last Tango in Paris”. All movies which have stood the test of time, created to appeal to adults. For some reason unknown the X-rating was not protected by trademark. It allowed it to be co-opted by the makers of pornography. It first became X but as those movies wanted you to believe they were even more outrageous there was soon “XX” followed soon by “XXX”. I have no idea how we never ended up with “X to the nth power” but they stopped at three. Three “X”’s to mean the most provocative, at least at the beginning. I was thinking about the meaning of triple-X a lot as I wore Eris Parfums Mxxx.

Barbara Herman

Eris Parfums is the brand of Barbara Herman which she began in 2016. Ms. Herman was one of the early perfume bloggers whose specialty was vintage perfumes. As she made the transition to creative director of her own brand the style of those perfumes was something she wanted to show had not gone out of style. They were perfumes for a more discerning customer who, perhaps, appreciated a different fragrance experience. Something not for everyone. Something for an adult lover of fine perfume. Something like the original meaning of the X-rating.

Antoine Lie

The first three Eris Parfums were a trio of past, present, and future interpretations of this concept. A year later in 2017 Ms. Hermann followed up with Mx. It was a perfume which was designed to be gender fluid not “women’s” or “men’s” fragrance just really good fragrance. It has become my favorite of the first four releases. When I was told there was a limited edition coming called Mxxx. I eagerly awaited my sample.

Ms. Herman continues her collaboration with perfumer Antoine Lie whom she has worked with on the previous four Eris Parfums. In the press release the naming of Mxxx. embraced the extra “x”’s they wanted something a little more carnal without crossing the line into garish carnival. To that end they sourced three new ingredients they wanted to add to the existing structure of Mx. The first is an authentic tincture of ambergris. 95% of the time when you see ambergris listed in a perfume it is synthetic. They worked with an oil house in France that created ambergris tinctures from the real stuff. They also added African Stone. This is the excrement of an animal called a Cape Hyrax. I’ve smelled the unadultered stuff; it smells awful. In the hands of a master perfumer like M. Lie it can be something much different. The third is a single source of Trinidad Cacao which is being used for the first time in this perfume. There was cacao in the original this is something else entirely. I think of each of these as an “x” combining to form the “xxx”.

The opening of Mxxx. is the same as the opening of Mx. for a few moments before the first “x” shows up; Africa Stone. M. Lie uses it to provide the beginning of an animalic depth that is waiting to be deepened later. As the underpinning of the saffron, ginger, olibanum top accord from before it gives it all a slinkier feel like going from linen to silk. The depth is greatly increased as the sandalwood and cedar of the original meet this Trinidad Cacao. This version retains the fattiness of the cocoa butter during its extraction. This is a gorgeous chocolate ingredient which has the dustiness of fine cocoa captured in a sweetly oily matrix. I keep thinking of a fondant that flows when I wear this. The original base of Mx. was plenty animalic with birch tar holding down the base accord. For Mxxx. the birch tar is replaced with the ambergris tincture. It gives that rich foundation for the patchouli, vetiver, benzoin, and castoreum to form an opulent throwback finish.

Mxxx. has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage

I’ve probably tortured my analogy enough but Mxxx. captures what I would consider a genuine triple-x effect. It uses unique ingredients which add a sensuality to what was already a great perfume in Mx. For Mxxx. it is an opportunity to embrace a creative team interested in making something for the true perfume aficionado; one “x” at a time.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Puredistance Gold- A Persistent Glow

Whenever I see a pile of gold in the movies it always seems to be kissed by flames somewhere in the vicinity. There is a reason for that because flame seems to make the cold metal glow. The flicker causes shadow to flit across the metallic surface. It takes something static and turns it into something languorously kinetic. I hold my wedding ring up to the fireplace to be caught by the same effect. Puredistance Gold does the same thing as a perfume.

Jan Ewoud Vos

Puredistance creative director Jan Ewoud Vos has always been inspired by art for his perfumes. M. Vos was captivated by a black, white, and gold Mondrian-like visual. He had previously released Black and White. Now it is time for Gold to complete the picture. He collaborates with the same perfumer behind the previous two, Antoine Lie. This is the larger squares of gold as the perfume has a large presence. It uses big keynotes given shadow by the complementary ingredients surrounding them.

Antoine Lie

Gold starts with the tart citrus of green mandarin. This is a powerful fruity start which M. Lie uses three spices to give texture to. The herbal floral quality of baie rose, the green rosemary and the piecing scent of clove. It forms an elegant version of the Holiday staple of a cloved orange. This is a dynamic opening. It shifts to a floral heart dominated by jasmine. For this M. Lie dusts the white flower with cinnamon and swirls of labdanum. This is those flickers of heat atop the floral foundation. The base gets green at first as vetiver and patchouli form the nucleus. M. Lie then adds in shadows of sweet with vanilla and myrrh contrasted with styrax and benzoin. This forms a simmering Oriental base which gets more animalic as castoreum becomes apparent.

Gold has 24-hour plus longevity and moderate sillage due to being at extrait strength.

Gold combines the tobacco warmth of Black with the exuberant floral quality of White to provide the large space in between with a persistent golden glow.

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

Mark Behnke

Antoine Lie 201

There are only a few perfumers who ask those of us who wear perfume whether it must smell nice. As one who believes perfume is an art form my answer is obviously no. One perfumer who has asked that question more than most is Antoine Lie. From his first perfume for niche brand Etat Libre D’Orange he has made perfumes which color outside the lines.

When Etienne de Swadt was creating his niche line Etat Libre D’Orange, in 2006, he wanted the first perfume for the brand to be one only a few would like. He turned to M. Lie to create Secretions Magnifiques. The resulting perfume captures a panoply of human fluids none of which are pleasant smelling. What it does is also challenge the notion of perfumery. M. Lie makes a fragrance which has stood the test of time as one of the great masterpieces of perfume.

In 2010’s Comme des Garcons Wonderwood M. Lie, under Christian Astuguevieille’s creative direction, would ask the question, “can there be too much wood?”. M. Lie would describe Wonderwood as a mixture of five real woods, two woody notes, and three synthetic woods. This came out at the height of the popularity of the synthetic wood. M. Lie showed that even pushed to the extreme there was wonder to be found within that much wood.

Nu_Be (One of Those) Oxygen was part of the debut collection of this elemental line. M. Lie chose to interpret oxygen in its supercooled liquid form. For Oxygen he blended many of the ingredients within perfumery one would describe as “sharp” to create that chilliness. The mixture of aldehydes, vetiver, and white musks can be too cool for many. I find it one of M. Lie’s most compelling creations.

Jan Ewoud Vos wanted Puredistance Black to convey a mysterious effect. Asking M. Lie to create it turns out to be a brilliant choice. Black is a perfume of darkness with tendrils of fog swirling throughout. M. Lie combines accords to form that stygian depth. I get lost in its enveloping effects every time I wear it.

Barbara Herman went from blogger to creative director for Eris Parfums Night Flower. When Ms. Herman wanted to create a line of perfume which re-captured vintage ingredients in contemporary ways M. Lie was her choice as the perfumer she wanted to do that with. Night Flower is the most successful at doing that by taking three ingredients of classic perfumery; birch tar, leather, and tuberose. Together they make Night Flower one of the best Retro Nouveau perfumes to be made.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Puredistance Aenotus- Engineering a Signature Scent

There are a few creative directors of independent perfume brands who have shared their personal bespoke fragrance with the wider public. I enjoy these expressions of how those creative directors desire to experience fragrance in their daily life. It informs how that translates to the rest of the brand. I had heard that Jan Ewoud Vos of Puredistance was going to be sharing his own perfume. When I finally received my sample and heard the story of Puredistance Aenotus it turned out to be slightly different.

Jan Ewoud Vos

The briefs for many of the Puredistance perfumes have been so interesting. For Aenotus it is perhaps the simplest brief as Mr. Vos asked perfumer Antoine Lie to create “my signature scent”. Mr. Vos had an idea a “perfume that would first refresh (then) transform into a sensual but subtle skin scent.” It presented many challenges not the least of which is defining the concept of refreshing from Mr. Vos’ perspective. I bet if I asked a hundred readers to define “refreshing” in a perfume I’d find little consensus. I find refreshing to be a mixture of citrus and herbs if I was directing someone to make this style of perfume that would be where I started. With Aenotus it seems like Mr. Vos and I have a similar, but not exact, vision of refreshing. The other part of that brief, to simmer down to a skin scent, is another tricky piece of engineering. M. Lie employs a set of heavier green notes to achieve that.

Antoine Lie

Aenotus opens with a fantastic flair of citrus notes, mandarin, yuzu, and petitgrain. It feels like a cool mist on a hot day. M. Lie then uses mint in its most herbal form to add a green aspect of freshness. I usually don’t like mint in perfume; that’s not the case here because the herbal is as present as the sweet. The linchpin ingredient of Aenotus is blackcurrant bud. This is one of those difficult to work with ingredients. If you go too high in concentration you get a urine-like effect. If you go too low, you get an insipid vegetal component. A perfumer must find the way the other ingredients can be guardrails preventing either extreme. In the first moments the blackcurrant bud appears it is complementing the mint with a sticky green quality. Over time as the citrus and mint fades it is the entry to the skin scent side of Aenotus. That skin scent accord is made up of oakmoss, patchouli, and a mix of synthetic woods. That sticky green finds the oakmoss; together they sing of green in a lower key. The patchouli adds depth and grounding. The synthetic woods provide a dry finish to it all.

Aenotus has 18-24 hour longevity and low sillage. This is 48% perfume oil it will last forever on fabric as well as skin.

The evolution of Aenotus has been enjoyable on the two very warm days I wore it. The refreshing part energizes me through the first part of the day before it settles into a pleasant skin scent. I don’t often get unsolicited compliments but one day I wore this was my weekly day of errands. The cashier at the grocery store, the clerk at the county office, and the waitress where I had lunch all remarked on how good I smelled. Aenotus might be Mr. Vos’ signature scent but I suspect there are going to be a lot of other people who find it to be theirs, too.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Eris Parfums Mx.- Fluid Dynamics


I have written many times that I think the best perfumes arise from a creative dynamic between a creative director and a perfumer. A creative director with a clear vision paired with the ability to articulate it can give a perfumer the guidance they require to put together a memorable fragrance. It really is akin to a movie director getting the right emotional performance from the actors. A good perfume creative director does the same thing with the perfumer they work with. Most of the time I come to meet the creative director long after I have tried their perfumes. Except recently some of the people with whom I have shared the perfume blogosphere with have made the leap to creative direction of their own brand of perfumes. Now these are creative directors who have written many words about what perfume should be. As best as one can, I “know” them through their writing.

Barbara Herman

One who has done this is the writer of the blog “Yesterday’s Perfume” and the book “Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume”; Barbara Herman. A little over a year ago she debuted her new brand, Eris Parfums, with three extremely well-done releases. Her creative direction was integral to achieving her fragrant vision. In perfumer Antoine Lie she found a collaborator who understood it. This is an easy thing to write; this is not an easy thing to achieve. Ms. Herman and M. Lie created a diverse collection capturing many of the principles Ms. Herman had written about. One of those is the idea that “scent is subversive”.

Antoine Lie

In a recent local appearance, she read from “Scent and Subversion” focusing on one of the dynamic ways scent works beneath the surface; as a commentary on the fluidity of gender. She, like me, gets lots of questions of whether this is a “woman’s” or “man’s” perfume. The correct answer is if it smells good on you it is “your” perfume. The first artificial constraint of designing a perfume, by deciding which gender it should appeal to, is already confining. After her reading was over Ms. Herman introduced us to her fourth release Mx.

Mx. is the non-gender title created in England during the 1970’s. It is meant to impart nothing about gender. With the current social dynamic in flux the term has come back to the fore. Ms. Herman and M. Lie chose it as the inspiration, and name, because as a perfume it is meant to capture that kind of flow as things shift without ever rising to being of a specific gender.

If the first three Eris Parfums were meant to be perfume the way they used to make them; Mx. represents the idea that this is the way we should make them now. The idea that something gender neutral means neutral in composition is discarded by Ms. Herman and M. Lie. Their thesis, in the guise of Mx., is true gender neutral must stand for something. In this case it is a sandalwood-centric construct from which they can elaborate upon in ways which hew to neither side of the gender divide.

Mx. opens on an accord of spice over the sandalwood. In the very first seconds a sizzling ginger fizzes across my consciousness drawing my attention to the sandalwood. As the ginger dies down what is left behind is a plush pillow of saffron and incense. Saffron has a softening effect which is what happens here. Out of that some black pepper provides some texture in the early moments. The spices and sandalwood take their time evolving towards the base accord but eventually vetiver heralds the transition to a base of patchouli. At first it is turned slightly gourmand with cacao before growing some claws with castoreum.

Mx. has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate silage.

One of the things Ms. Herman mentioned in her reading was the concept of the inoffensive office scent. Mx. is an office scent for those who are not interested in bland inoffensive perfume. It is a scent which plays subversive commentator on the societal fluid dynamics of whether a fragrance is a “woman’s” or a “man’s”. In the case of Mx. it is “mine” and that is all that matters to me.

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

Mark Behnke