In May of 1897 writer Mark Twain was in London he had a hospital stay which lead to reports that he died while there. When contacted by a reporter friend he was said to respond, “the rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.” I’ve been thinking about this in relation to perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. It seems like the reports of him having retired after he left as in-house perfumer at Hermes have also been greatly exaggerated, too. M. Ellena certainly could’ve never made another perfume. Except I think creative director at Perris Monte Carlo, Gian-Luca Perris, offered him an opportunity to come full circle.
M. Ellena is one of those perfumers we know a lot about. One of the things we know is he was born in the town of Grasse. He spent his childhood surrounded by the flowers made famous from that town, rose and jasmine. He has remarked how he spent his youth harvesting the flowers. Sig. Perris wanted a collection celebrating the rose and jasmine of Grasse. He also wanted M. Ellena to be the perfumer. The perfumes they produced are Perris Monte Carlo Rose de Mai and Perris Monte Carlo Jasmin de Pays. Both are remarkable but as readers know if given a choice I’m going to chose the jasmine over rose, every time. Which is why Jasmin de Pays gets reviewed first.
As part of the press materials M. Ellena reminisced on his days harvesting the jasmine. He would remark how over the course of the day the scent of the petals would change. From a transparent green while on the vine to a more floral scent in the middle of the day to its animalic essence by nightfall. M. Ellena weaves those three phases though this jasmine soliflore.
M. Ellena uses jasmine absolute as the jewel at the center of Jasmin de Pays. He then uses three ingredients to tease out the inherent scent profile of his jasmine absolute. To get the transparent green he uses tagetes to find that green vein running through the jasmine and isolate it. To capture the more floral aspect he uses clove as a spicy contrast. It has the effect of dampening down the indoles, so the floral quality rises more strongly. As the clove gives way a set of gentle animalic musks find the indoles and invite them to provide the finish.
Jasmin de Pays has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Jasmin de Pays feels more emotional than other perfumes by M. Ellena. There is a feeling of looking back to his youth from his current age to find a scent memory. I’m not sure if he succeeded to his satisfaction but I can imagine the fields of jasmine in Grasse every time I wear it.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Perris Monte Carlo.
I believe over time perfumers develop a style. That is not a provocative statement. What it means for me as a reviewer is when I receive a new perfume, from a known perfumer, I have an idea of what is to come. There are a group of perfumers I consider incredible technicians. Particularly skilled at finding ways to construct perfume with remarkable balance. Part of that is taking a keynote and finding ways to accentuate and shade the natural characteristic of that ingredient. One of those perfumers is Luca Maffei and Perris Monte Carlo Mandarino di Sicilia is a showcase of his skill.
Mandarino di Sicilia is part of the “Italian Citrus Collection” from creative director Gian-Luca Perris. This is a collection which really shows off Sig. Maffei’s talent especially within the citrus style of fragrance. For Mandarino di Sicilia Sig. Maffei works with four different citrus components; green manadarin, bitter orange, and Sicilian mandarin along with petitgrain. How he blends them is what makes this so good.
The green mandarin takes its place early on. It seems to represent the rind of the fruit. The pulp is fashioned from the combination of Sicilain mandarin and bitter orange. The latter ingredient has an elongating effect upon the green mandarin. Petitgrain puts it all in a band of sunlight. Then with the subtlest of touches it all becomes expanded as a floral wreath of geranium, orange blossom, and jasmine surround the citrus accord. It is gently supported by a cedar foundation.
Mandarino di Sicilia has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
As I wore Manadrino di Sicilia this reminded me of a still life painted in perfumed brushstrokes. The shading of everything as this develops is fun to experience especially in the summer. I look forward to more from Sig. Maffei.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Neiman-Marcus.
One of the debates I remembered having with my friends who liked jazz was over trumpet player Wynton Marsalis. There was general disdain among some over the precision of his playing. The thesis was jazz needs to be more spontaneous. Wynton was so precise it couldn’t be contemporaneous at the same time. I was always on the other side of this argument. I appreciated the ability to pick out each piece of a greater whole as it was being put together. When you attempt to be as close to perfect as you can be in any artistic effort it can come off as cold. I find this kind of effort exhilarating because a single flaw can cause it to fall apart. There are perfume equivalents as Perris Monte Carlo Cedro di Diamante shows.
At the end of the summer Perris Monte Carlo released the “Italian Citrus Collection”. Creative director Gian-Luca Perris collaborated with perfumer Luca Maffei on all three perfumes in the collection. Two of the three, Bergamotto di Calabria and Mandarino di Sicilia, were surprisingly good. The third, Cedro di Diamante was amazing. One reason was Sig. Maffei worked with some of the more modern ingredients to create a citrus perfume which comes together into a brilliantly precise tower of perfume.
It starts with a CO2 extraction of the titular Italian version of citron. It enhances the floral spicy nature under the tart lemon. Sig. Maffei uses another CO2 extraction of lemon verbena. This provides a shimmering green-citrus effect over the early accord. The spicy part of the cedro is enhanced with ginger, cardamom, Szechuan pepper, and CO2 extraction of baie rose. When I speak of precision this heart accord and the way it interacts with the top accord is Exhibit A. I have spoken of how mutable Szechuan pepper is. Sig. Maffei wanted it to behave in a specific way. To get that, it is the other three spices which essentially tune it to what he wants. The ginger pulls the fresh aspect. The baie rose finds the green herbal-ness. The cardamom, particularly, finds the thread of citrus and uses it to attach to the top accord. This continues in the base as cedar, oakmoss, and white musks form a solid foundation for this tower to rest upon.
Cedro di Diamante has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
There may be some who find Cedro di Diamante such a shiny surface it is hard to embrace. I’m not there. It is easy for me to swoon over the beauty in precision this perfume exemplifies.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I received from Bloomingdale’s.
One of the characteristic smells of the Holidays in my environment is spices. The potpourri and candles all seem to be spice laden. The mulled wine is full of spice. The baking is nothing but non-stop spice. Most people like to wear a perfume which might provide something different. I turn into a glutton and pull out my heaviest spicy perfumes, so I can wallow in it. There are samples I receive during the year that I know are going to be added to my Holiday rotation. At the beginning of the fall as soon as I took my first sniff of Perris Monte Carlo Cacao Azteque I knew this was going to be added to that shelf.
For 2017 creative director Gian-Luca Perris wanted to make a pair of perfumes celebrating the Aztec society. Working with perfumer Mathieu Nardin they produced Cacao Azteque and Tubereuse Absolue. They were originally envisioned as Eau de Parfum (EdP) strength but after they began the process they also decided to release both in an extrait concentration. Two releases became four. The two versions of Tubereuse Absolue are nicely executed tuberose soliflores with the extrait having a more intense white floral central accord as M. Nardin adds in a couple more than are in the EdP. When I tried the EdP version of Cacao Azteque M. Nardin creates a spicy perfume which floats on a surface of rum, tuberose, sandalwood, and leather.
Cacao Azteque opens with one of my favorite raw ingredients, cardamom. M. Nardin is using a very arid version of it in Cacao Azteque. To it he adds black and pink pepper, both of which keep the early moments on the dry side. This is so dry it might be difficult for some who are not fond of this style. It is right in my wheelhouse which meant I couldn’t get enough. Eventually it moves on to the heart as an unusual ingredient, pittosporum, is used as the connective note. Pittosporum has a slightly indolic citrus blossom character. It links up with the slightly lemony facets of the cardamom bringing it into the heart where rum and tuberose are waiting. The rum is sweetly boozy, with a bit of smokiness, while the tuberose picks up where the pittosporum leaves off. There are moments in the middle part of the development while the spiced tuberose is in ascendency that I felt this was the one which should have been called Tubereuse Absolue. It isn’t until after the transition to the base is made where a leather accord and sandalwood provide the foundation that the titular cacao finally makes a cameo appearance as dusty cocoa powder ghosting over it all.
Cacao Azteque EdP has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
The extrait version of Cacao Azteque focuses more on the leather and that is enhanced in that version. If you’re fonder of leather over spices that might be the concentration for you to try. If you like the spices, then it is the EdP version which has more of that. I expect both to have their fans. For me it is the mulled rum effect of Cacao Azteque Eau de Parfum that will be getting some use this Holiday season.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Perris Monte Carlo.
As the calendar reaches the end of October I’m looking back over the year to find overall trends. One of the trends I noticed this year is that osmanthus has been part of several amazing perfumes. I have long been a fan of this biphasic bloom which shows its twin nature as apricot and leather. As a perfumer approaches using it a decision is usually made to either go big on both faces or pick one while fading the other. The latest release from Perris Monte Carlo; Absolue D’Osmanthe chooses the latter method.
Perris Monte Carlo under the creative direction of Gian-Luca Perris has been all about the deep end of the perfumed pool. Oud, musk and patchouli are the main players for much of the brand. If you didn’t pay attention you wouldn’t notice that there are a few florals. Sig. Perris chooses to treat the florals the same way he treats an oud or patchouli. Up the concentration to a level where you become surrounded by the keynote. It is because of this house style and my love of osmanthus I expected to like Absolue D’Osmanthe.
Perfumer Jean-Michel Santorini chooses to use a set of notes meant to accentuate the leathery nature of osmanthus; particularly by using a couple of specific ingredients to make that happen.
M. Santorini takes his jewel of an osmanthus and presents it right off the bat. If you like the apricot nature make sure to enjoy the first fleeting moments when it makes its appearance. Rapidly M. Santorini adds a dry sandalwood which pulls the osmanthus towards its leather personality. It stays firmly there as tolu balsam helps deepen the effect while subtly modifying it. Over the time on my skin there are some other notes which try and find some traction to allow the apricot to come out and play but jasmine, labdabum, and vanilla don’t prove formidable enough to pull that off. They end up being sweet complements to the leatheriness.
Absolue D’Osmanthe has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
The sample I had was for the Eau de Parfum and that is what is reviewed above. There is also an Extract version available but I found that gilded the osmanthus by adding in a set of extra notes which had conflicting impact. I found the simpler EdP to be much more enjoyable. If you’ve been feeling like 2016 has been the year of osmanthus try this one out it adds to an already great year for this floral note.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Perris Monte Carlo.