New Perfume Review Etat Libre d’Orange She Was an Anomaly- Carto Killed the Perfumer?

Technology is slowly encroaching on everything. Even perfume. Givaudan has come up with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a reference for perfumers called Carto. From what I understand it is a giant database of perfume formulas matched with some sense of the style each formula represents. Givaudan perfumers can ask Carto for suggestions and go from there. It seems roughly analagous to Computer-Aided Design (CAD). I have no idea how widespread its use has been at Givaudan but for the first time we have a perfume which admits using it; Etat Libre d’Orange She Was an Anomaly.

Creative director Etienne de Swardt seems to have abdicated his duties to Carto for She Was an Anomaly. Perfumer Daniela Andrier is who will take the AI suggestion and turn it into She Was an Anomaly. When Mme Andrier fed in her input it seems Carto suggested she design a perfume around two overdosed keynotes. My guess is Carto suggested iris and musk as those.

Daniela Andrier

Mme Andrier had to take that suggestion and weave in a few other ingredients. After all iris and musk are not particularly unique even in overdose. One thing which does set them apart is Mme Andrier used the Orpur versions of both. Orpur are the highest quality natural ingredients in the Givaudan library.

She Was an Anomaly opens on tangerine as a juicy citrus to set things up for the iris and musk. Those keynotes arrive next. The iris is a powdery version with the carrot-y quality in abeyance. The musk is a refined version of ambrette. This is the replacement for that carrot-y quality from iris. It provides a solid accord which is kept on the lighter side. It goes very sweet with vanilla and sandalwood in the base. The sweetness adds to the iris and musk to find the overall place She Was an Anomaly remains in for most of the time on my skin.

She Was an Anomaly has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I can’t say I am able to see the artificial influence of Carto without being told it was used. Which means it probably isn’t going to replace the perfumer yet. If there is something I can hypothesize it is Carto will trend towards what it has the most data on. By landing on iris and musk it tells me it will always be suggesting crowd-pleasing best-selling formulae. Without the hand of a perfumer it will probably converge on something nondescript. To keep that from happening it will require the human touch.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Etat Libre d’Orange.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Maison Martin Margiela Untitled- Layers of Green

I have always been interested when a fashion designer I admire ventures into fragrance. It can be difficult to translate an aesthetic from the runway into a perfume. Some brands eschew it altogether defining a fragrance aesthetic apart from the fashion one. The ones I like best are the ones who take this problem on. This month’s Under the Radar choice did just that; Maison Martin Margiela Untitled.

Nowadays Maison Margiela, the Martin has been dropped, is known for the very good, and popular, Replica collection. This is where they divorced themselves from trying to mimic the fashion. In 2010 when they were entering the perfume sector Untitled was trying to capture the asymmetric layering of M. Margiela in a fragrance. The perfumer they chose was Daniela Andrier.

Daniela Andrier

Somewhere along the line the vision of Untitled became layers of green; focused, diffuse, and subtle. The creative team added in fascinating grace notes to each of these layers as if they were detailing a fashion design. It has always been one of my favorite spring perfumes to wear because it captures green as a concept so well.

The first layer of green is a crystalline galbanum glittering with verdant intensity. This is a powerhouse of an opening and if you are not fond of galbanum you will be put off immediately. I adore this kind of concentrated effect especially with what Mme Andrier does with it. She takes a harmonic of bitter orange to come alongside the galbanum. It focuses the green effect while softening it slightly with the citrus beneath. The second layer comes as the galbanum becomes more diffuse. The crystal matrix implodes as it is speared by an indolic jasmine. The indoles keep this from becoming a comfort scent. It retains some of the green edginess of the top accord. This then ends on a green cedar focused base accord. Mme Andrier uses the inherent greenness of cedar while swirling it among incense and white musks. It ameliorates all the early green into something subtle by the end.

Untitled has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

As mentioned above the opening moments are challenging for those who are not fond of galbanum. I can’t even advise you to wait it out because while it gets less intensely green it is still intense hours in. Untitled is a perfume for those who enjoy an unapologetic galbanum. As spring gives way to the heat of summer this is one of my favorites because the layers of green are so good. Next time you’re checking out the new Maison Margiela Replica releases at the mall give the first perfume from the brand a try.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Candy Night- Shades of the Beginning

3

If there is a recent perfume which helped to confirm the current popularity of gourmand perfumes it would be Prada Candy. In-house perfumer Daniela Andrier began the trend of transparent gourmands with the white musk, benzoin, and caramel perfume. It is also one of my favorite mainstream perfumes since its release in 2011. Mme Andrier has followed the original with flankers which explore the boundaries of this type of mouth-watering fragrance. I received the sixth flanker, Prada Candy Night, wondering where it would choose to go.

The gourmand style of perfume was created with the chocolate and caramel of Thierry Mugler Angel in 1992. It was so indelible it seems newer gourmand perfumes avoid the comparison. If there was an adjective used to describe Angel it was not light or transparent. Mme Andrier wants to take that seminal duo in this genre and see what happens when you expand them into something that is lighter.

Daniela Andrier

Prada Candy Night opens with tightly focused bitter orange. This is the smell of orange essence you cook with not the fruit.  It is then coated in twin viscous flows of caramel and chocolate. Orange dark chocolate is my favorite version of the candy. There is a moment when Prada Candy Night smells like a caramel coated orange dark chocolate bonbon. In these early moments the effect is very dense. Then Mme Andrier begins to add in white musk. This has the effect to add expansiveness from the inside. As the white musk creates an airier style of perfume it also becomes different. The chocolate and caramel separate the orange becomes much opaquer. Once it is complete it transforms from dense confection into a chocolate caramel cloud tinted orange by the sunset.

Prada Candy Night has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

There seems to be a conscious effort by Mme Andrier to claim this next iteration of gourmand perfumery. She continues to define this new aesthetic. Prada Candy Night shows this by going back to the beginning.

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

Mark Behnke

Flanker Round-Up: Dolce & Gabbana The Only One and Prada L’Homme Absolu

January is a time for me to clean up loose ends from my desk. This month’s Flanker Round-Up allows me to tie off a couple of those; Dolce & Gabbana The Only One and Prada L’Homme Absolu.

Dolce & Gabbana The Only One

I have been very critical about the number and quality of flankers of the original 2006 Dolce & Gabbana The One. Almost annually I received an example of why flankers are held in such low esteem. This year with The Only One I received something which broke that trend; mainly by following one of the prevailing fragrance trends.

Perfumer Violaine Collas was not working off the blueprint from Christine Nagel’s original. Mme Collas was designing a perfume for the current day. That meant she came up with a floral gourmand.

The Only One opens with a zippy citrus top accord. It gives way quickly to the heart accord where violet and coffee form the floral and the gourmand components. The violet is a slightly candied version which contrasts with a similarly shaded bitter coffee. It adds some vanilla cream to the mix before patchouli brings things to a close. If you are enjoying the floral gourmand style The Only One is a good addition to that genre.

Prada L’Homme Absolu

Perfumers sometimes fall in love with a set of notes or accords. You see it crop up again and again. For Prada in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier it is the triad of neroli, iris, and cedar. It has been hard to improve upon her original Infusion D’Iris. When L’Homme Prada came out in 2016 she returned to this and I wasn’t impressed. Prada L’Homme Absolu is also another interpretation but by enhancing the spices I liked it better.

The main alteration happens right at the start as cardamom and black pepper are given a more prominent place with the iris. I liked this change and it carries forward into the neroli and geranium joining in. The typical ambery cedar which is the traditional base accord is the end. I still haven’t found anything better than Infusion D’Iris but the added spiciness in Prada L’Homme Absolu will be appealing to someone looking for that.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by the manufacturers.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Etat Libre D’Orange I Am Trash- Or A Fruity Floral

3

There are a few brands which I look forward to what comes next. Etat Libre D’Orange is one of those as owner-creative director Etienne de Swardt has redefined the idea of what a perfume can be. The one perfume which has always stood for that was one of the earliest releases Secretions Magnifique. A masterpiece of perfume because it captures the smells of blood, sweat and other bodily fluids through a set of brilliant accords.

Etienne de Swardt

When I received the press release for the newest release, I Am Trash, I was excited by the name. Also, this from M. de Swardt, “Les Fleurs du Déchet represents a passage to the adulthood of Sécrétions Magnifiques. It is a counter-revolution for Etat Libre d’Orange, still noisy and disruptive, but ultimately functional.”

Daniela Andrier

What could that portend? A perfume of dumpster diving, perhaps? Working with perfumer Daniela Andrier it is not that. What they are using is a unique group of Givaudan materials which they call “upcycling”. This is a process in which the residue of a prior extraction process is re-extracted. I think of it like getting a second cup of tea out of a single tea bag. Three of these upcycled ingredients; apple, rose, and cedar form the core of I Am Trash. What I think I understand about this process is what you are going to extract is most of the heavier molecules from your natural source. That might provide a deeper scent profile. I have spent a lot of time smelling my sample trying to understand more about these upcycled materials without any degree of certainty what I just wrote is true but it is what I think is the case as I wore I Am Trash.

If you’re looking for something along the lines of a perfume which artistically interprets trash this is not it. The trash here is the re-use of the upcycled perfume materials. Despite different scent profiles they still smell like apple, rose, and cedar which makes I Am Trash a fruity floral.

The upcycled apple tilts more toward a tarter version of the ingredient. Despite that the fruity complements of tangerine and strawberry bring a typical juicy fruity top accord to lead into a floral heart. Waiting there is the upcycled rose. This is like the last day of a cut rose in a vase prior to discarding it. It has the floral quality but only the wisps of it.  There is also a greener quality as well. It forms an elegiac counterpoint to the livelier fruity accord. The base is a mixture of the upcycled cedar, sandalwood, and akigalawood. This is where I have the least feel for the difference in the upcycled material because there are so many powerful woody ingredients around it.

I Am Trash has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.

I don’t agree with M. de Swardt that I Am Trash represents the adulthood of Secretions Magnifiques. It seems to represent the opposite as a fruity floral comes off as more adolescent. The ingredients are different and provide a different experience, but this is a style of perfume which is overexposed. If you’re a fruity floral fan looking for a new perspective, I Am Trash will provide that.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Etat Libre D’Orange.

Mark Behnke

Flanker Round-Up: Miu Miu Fleur D’Argent and Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men Grey

2

One of the more typical approaches to flankers it to lighten them up. The idea being that removing the stronger ingredients might allow for someone who is not appreciative of them to find a version to their liking. This month’s Round-Up looks at two of those.

Miu Miu Fleur D’Argent

2015’s Miu Miu is a good example of why I don’t give up on mainstream fragrances. There is still space for creativity and commerce to co-exist. Miu Miu introduced most of the world to the perfume ingredient Akigalawood; an enzymatic degradation of patchouli. Perfumer Daniela Andrier has been exploring the interactions of different floral ingredients with it through each new Miu Miu flanker. With Miu Miu Fleur D’Argent we have reached the white flowers.

Fleur D’Argent opens with a lilting orange blossom. It isn’t left alone for long as tuberose and jasmine join the white flower party. There is a restrained elegance to this bouquet which Mme Andrier keeps on a tight leash. Akigalawood has a distinct peppery facet. In Fleur D’Argent it is reduced in effect because of the presence of the white flowers. That peppery part has been a deal breaker for some I’ve introduced to the original. I’ll be curious to see if they like this one better.

Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men Grey

Among the mainstream releases which I think are very well done is 2008’s Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men. When I’ve recommended something available at the mall this is one which has been well-received. Perfumer Olivier Polge composed an elegant Oriental around a spine of basil, cardamom, and tobacco. It has been such a best seller the brand hasn’t really attempted to produce multiple flankers. The same is not true for Dolce & Gabbana The One. The new flanker Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men Grey goes for a different lighter effect mainly by removing the tobacco while finding a different style of herbal top accord.

Grey opens with the familiar swoosh of grapefruit and cardamom. As I lean in waiting for the basil I get a mixture of clary sage and lavandin. The entire top accord of the original is altered as the grapefruit takes more of a leading role lifting the herbs up to a higher plane. The base is also a fresher non-Oriental accord of vetiver and ambrox. Typical masculine woody accord. If the original was too heavy I think The for Men Grey is worth giving a try as it keeps much of what I liked from the original.

While I like the more full-bodied originals, in both cases. These are good versions of fresher constructs worth giving a try if you prefer that.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by the manufacturers.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tiffany & Co. Eau de Parfum Intense- Missing the Sweet Spot

1

Of any review I have written on Colognoisseur in four and a half years the one which has garnered the most outright disappointment within the comments has been Tiffany & Co. The comments are very disappointed in another perfume called Tiffany which has replaced the original. As I pointed out in that review I believed it was Tiffany’s desire to make a perfume for a younger demographic than those who remember the original Tiffany perfume. It was much more transparent trending towards an iris soliflore. Over the year since I posted that review the lovers of the original have made their voice heard; they don’t like this new perfume. Because of that I was quite interested in the new flanker Tiffany & Co. Eau de Parfum Intense. Could this be the bridge?

Going in to trying this the press release carries this line, “A richer, deeper version of the original signature scent. Tiffany & Co. Eau de Parfum Intense echoes facets of the original composition” It does revive some of the original Tiffany ingredients, but I think this probably misses the sweet spot it was looking for.

Daniela Andrier

Perfumer Daniela Andrier is taking her iris soliflore of last year’s model and adding some character in the accords which surround the iris as the sole floral in the heart. This is the biggest difference between old and new; a single floral in the new versus a bouquet in the older version.

Mme Andrier opens with the green mandarin she used last year but this time blackcurrant buds and baie rose are added. The changes the opening into a greener more herbal citrus. It is much more complex than the soliflore. Iris is allowed to flower, again, in a rootier more earthy style; the powder is kept under control. The base is all about sweet resinous warmth as amber and benzoin are sweetened by vanilla. It is comforting like the sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver, and amber of the original.

Tiffany & Co. Eau de Parfum Intense has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Do I think Tiffany & Co. Eau de Parfum Intense is going to win over those who miss the original Tiffany? No, I think this could make the loss keener because there are more recognizable pieces but not near enough to hold a candle to that perfume. Do I think the person who liked last year’s Tiffany & Co. will be excited to wear this flanker? Probably not because this crosses the line from transparent to something heavier in effect. The marketers say those who like the transparent simplicity of Tiffany & Co. should not want anything to do with Tiffany & Co. Eau de Parfum Intense. What about me? I liked it, probably more than either of the two groups outlined above. This was less of a trifle than last year’s model. They may have missed the sweet spot they were aiming for, but they found mine.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Tiffany & Co.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Luna Rossa Black- Formal Sailing

I keep repeating this, but Prada is one of the best mainstream perfume collections. It has consistently released a broad spectrum of fragrance. That they have all been overseen by in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier provides an aesthetic connection which is now becoming synonymous with Prada the perfume brand.

In 2012 Mme Andrier created a new masculine pillar collection with the release of Luna Rossa. Based on the sailboats sponsored by the brand competing in the America’s Cup she would create atypical aquatics. Over the course of four flankers Mme Andrier explored the boundaries of an aquatic fougere in the mainstream sector. Upon receiving my sample of the latest flanker Luna Rossa Black I was ready to set sail on a breeze of lavender only to be met by something entirely different.

Daniela Andrier

If the previous members of the Luna Rossa collection were meant to capture the exhilaration of sailing; Luna Rossa Black is for the evening formal party after you’re back on shore. Gone are the fresh fougere beats replaced by an Oriental architecture of spice. Mme Andrier keeps it fresher then most other fragrances of this style which is as close as Luna Rossa Black comes to resembling any of its predecessors.

The perfume opens with the subtle peppery nature of angelica seed matched with the freshness of bergamot. Angelica seed carries an energetic spiciness which opens this with some gusto. The star of this perfume is Mme Andrier’s combination of patchouli and coumarin in the heart. In most Orientals the partner to patchouli is something heavier; resins or amber among a few. Mme Andrier’s choice of coumarin provides a lighter touch on an accord which is recognizably within the framework of the style.  It also allows for the angelica seeds to extend their presence into the heart where if something heftier had been used it would have been obliterated. The base is a suite of musk, again, freshened a bit by a synthetic ambergris.

Luna Rossa Black has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Sometimes you have to come ashore. Luna Rossa Black provides something for that man to wear while on shore.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Infusion de Mandarine- Watercolor of an Orange

Forrest Gump tells us that ‘life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” When it comes to my favorite perfumers that isn’t usually the case; I tend to know what I am going to get. There are a few collections which do create a Forrest Gump-ian sense of surprise. One is the Les Infusions de Prada. Some of this is due to the aesthetic in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier brings to this collection. They are meant to be gauzy opaque constructs focused on whatever the main ingredient listed on the bottle is. The line has missed for me when that transparency turns to near insubstantial-ness. I have found it frustrating chasing wisps of what I sprayed on just a few hours before looking for what I was enjoying. The ones which I own are the ones which have overcome this. I think I’m going to break that streak with the latest to be released, Infusion de Mandarine.

Daniela Andrier

Mme Andrier has spoken in the past of seeing Les Infusions as her version of perfume watercolors. Infusion de Manadarine might be her version of a still life of an orange. She has assembled all the pieces of an orange growing on a tree, translating them to a perfume.

To start she makes a top accord which accentuates the bitter nature of the rind. There is an acerbic orange nucleus around which green foliage is also present. We move inside as the juicy pulp appears through a clever neroli blended with carrot seed. This is an abstract version of the fruit itself gorgeously realized. Right next to this is the slightly indolic orange blossom reminding us of the nascent orange to come. This is the type of accord Mme Andrier excels at. She chooses the soft warmth of opoponax to provide the base note for this to rest upon.

Here is the drawback; Infusion de Mimosa has 5-6 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

As I mentioned this collection misses for me when it is so transparent it almost isn’t there. Infusion de Mandarine is one of those. If longevity is important to you then this is going to be a non-starter. For me it usually is, too. Except in this case the overall effect is so beautiful I am overlooking it. I am on the dregs of my press sample and will be going to the mall to pick up a bottle because I think when the thermometer reaches triple digits this summer Infusion de Mandarine is going to be the ideal cooler.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I received from Prada.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Candy Sugar Pop- Daniela Just Wants to Have Fun

I probably treat the concept of writing about perfume too seriously. Dissecting new releases looking for something new under the sun. There are some brands and perfumers who mange to not take it all so seriously. There are also some perfumers who find the time to let their less serious side out to play. It often becomes clear over time. With the release of Prada Candy Sugar Pop it sure seems like Prada in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier is finding some joy in making perfume.

This has been an evolution from the original Prada Candy which was the next evolution, itself, of the modern gourmand style of fragrance. That was a seriously imagined construct which I consider one of the best designer releases of the last ten years. Through three flankers Mme Andrier began to lighten the tone. By the time last year’s Prada Candy Gloss arrived the mirth was fully on display. If you needed to know if that was going to continue the name, Candy Sugar Pop, give it away. I’m thinking Ice Cream wouldn’t fit on the label.

Daniela Andrier

This is like the sugar candy Sweet Tarts. There is a lot of sweet and some tart in contrast. A beautiful floral synthetic holds the heart while a nod to the gourmand roots of the original reminds you what this is a flanker of.

The top accord is a mixture of three different types of fruit. A tart lime finds crisp green apple to form an acerbic fruit accord. Peach drenches that in pulpy creamy sweetness. What is particularly nice about this accord is it is formed in a transparent style. A normal volume fruity floral accord of these ingredients would’ve set my teeth on edge. Mme Andrier finds the right balance giving it a powdered sugar candy style. To add the floral component Mme Andrier use Mahonial, a lily-of-the-valley variant, which also has a significant jasmine character. This complements the sweet tart top accord by being that in floral tones. This settles onto a vanilla base ending on a sweet note.

Prada Candy Sugar Pop has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I wore this I felt like I could hear the joyful laughter of Mme Andrier behind it. Candy Sugar Pop is proof Daniela just wants to have fun.

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

Mark Behnke