New Perfume Review Frapin If by R.K.- To Dream and Think

I am not one who says prayers. Yet there is a piece of poetry which has spoken to me from the time I first read it as a teenager; “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It is a poem of couplets each of which are meant to inspire a boy to be a man. My favorite is “If you can dream-and not make dreams your master; If you can think- but not make thoughts your aim”. This is taped over my computer monitor where I write for this blog. As I said I don’t formally pray but I regularly recite couplets from “If” when life presents situations which fit. My esteem for “If” made me very wary of a perfume attempting to use it as a brief. Despite those misgivings Frapin If by R.K. wants to try.

David Frossard

Those of you who have followed me know that Frapin is one of my very favorite perfume brands. Creative director David Frossard releases new product sporadically. It has been two years since there was last a new Frapin fragrance. I have always found that slower pace of production has produced perfumes which have spoken so strongly to me that it is one of the few brands I own a bottle of everything. If there was a brand I would want to turn my mantra into perfume this would be one of them.

Anne-Sophie Behaghel

M. Frossard collaborated with perfumer Anne-Sophie Behaghel. They had previously worked together on the only other poetry inspired fragrance in the collection, 2014’s Nevermore. For If by R.K. their vision was to capture the India of Rudyard Kipling by using perhaps its most famous perfume ingredient Mysore sandalwood.

The opening of If by R.K. is a spice-laden affair of ginger, pepper, and cinnamon. Mme Behaghel balances the kinetic heat of these ingredients into something which adds verve without taking over. She figuratively attenuates the spiciness with the creaminess of fig. I have long enjoyed a mixture of spice and fig. The accord here is as good as it gets. Underneath it all is the Mysore sandalwood. There is a quality to this source of the ubiquitous wood which is hard to match. Mme Behaghel wants to not step on the beauty of this. She adds in an earthy patchouli and allows this to form a container for the spicy fig accord from earlier. The final piece is a teasing out of the inherent sweetness of Mysore sandalwood as tonka and vanilla do such a good job it almost turns into a figgy custard gourmand in the later stages.

If by R.K. has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is a gorgeous perfume that I will be wearing throughout the next few months. It is the ideal choice for my favorite scarves. I think it is among the best Frapin has ever produced. Clearly M. Frossard knows both how to dream and think.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Frapin The Orchid Man- The Sweet Science

When I am referring to the “sweet science” if you’re reading this blog you might expect that I am talking about perfumery. The phrase actually is more commonly used to describe boxing. After a series of articles in The New Yorker by AJ Liebling with that title, it stuck. Those articles were meant to show that boxing was not about just bludgeoning your opponent. There was distinct strategy involved which would unfold over the course of a fight. If you executed; the path to eventually winning was through strategy as much as strength.


David Frossard

David Frossard the creative director at Frapin is a student of boxing. For the new release The Orchid Man he wanted a perfume to tell the tale of Georges Carpentier who carried that nickname into the ring. M. Carpentier would at the height of his career take on Jack Dempsey in Jersey City on July 2, 1921. This is widely regarded as boxing’s first million dollar gate. M. Carpentier would lose that bout and eventually retire from boxing to run the cocktail bar he opened in Paris.


Jerome Epinette

For The Orchid Man M. Frossard collaborated with perfumer Jerome Epinette to design the fragrance that would capture the sweet science of M. Carpentier’s career. The centerpiece of any fragrance of boxing will obviously be leather but the choices of what surrounds it are very well thought out.

The Orchid Man opens with the bright lights of bergamot. Then M. Epinette begins to throw short spicy jabs of black pepper. Each one tickles the nose as it sets you up for the big punch. M. Carpentier was known for his “frog punch”. It was a straight right hand to the head that he would leap into to add more momentum. The heart of The Orchid Man is that punch made perfume. M. Epinette’s version of a leather accord is the smell of refined and used leather. The unexpected momentum which provides power to the leather is a healthy amount of jasmine. This is a knockout of a heart. Each time I wore it I was surprised at how well designed it was. The base tints all of this a shade darker as the lights are off and patchouli, oakmoss, and amber provide the grounding effect of a boxer on his way out of the ring.

The Orchid Man has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Frapin continues to come up with unique inspirations for their fragrances. The Orchid Man stands out as one of their best. M. Carpentier may not have brought home the title that July day in 1921. Messrs. Frossard and Epinette have found a way for The Orchid Man to win in a different arena almost one hundred years later.

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

Mark Behnke