Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2015 Wrap-Up- Its My Party and I’ll Sniff If I Want To


This year Sniffapalooza Fall Ball coincided with my birthday weekend; which made the whole weekend one long celebration for me. Fall Ball 2015 began with a pre-event on Friday night at Brooklyn boutique Twisted Lily. 60 people made it out to enjoy the atmosphere and to get the party started early. I had written about the new Blocki perfumes just before the event and was interested to see the reaction of those in attendance. Everyone headed home so they could be up bright and early on Saturday morning.

Norell presentation

Norell New York Presentation at BG

Saturday morning was the official start at the café downstairs at Bergdorf-Goodman. We were treated to short presentations on over fifteen brands. One of the nice coincidences was the Tom Ford presentation announced the return of previously discontinued Amber Absolute back in the Private Blend collection. The fun was Christophe Laudamiel the perfumer behind Amber Absolute was also in the room. It was gratifying to see him smile when he got one of the strips being passed around. The standouts for me were the relaunch of Norell which was one of the original American designer perfumes. Called Norell New York it is a different fragrance but it retains much of what made the original a trendsetter. Another brand making a triumphant return is Shalini. This is one of perfumer Maurice Roucel’s best perfumes; I am happy to see it back in its gorgeous Lalique flacon emulating a butterfly wing. The final presentation is the one which excited me most. The new French brand Ex Nihilo has created a small shop in Bergdorf-Goodman where their eight perfumes can be purchased in the US for the first time. The unique aspect of the brand is in conjunction with the perfumer each perfume can have one of three additional notes added in the boutique to personalize every bottle. The shop was a week away from opening but it is going to be one of the newest stars in the Bergdorf-Goodman fragrance universe.

Christophe decanting Chypre de Coty

Christophe Laudamiel decanting from a 1921 bottle of Chypre de Coty

Lunch was full of camaraderie as everyone at each table compared purchases while waiting for the program to start. Paula and Teresa of Beautyhabit gave us a preview of the pop-up we would end the night at. Lyn Leigh and Mary Ellen Lapsansky told us about The Perfumed Plume awards for fragrance writing. Sarah Horowitz-Thran presented her Biography Scents of Self perfume set which she is selling on QVC. It is a complete set of four perfumes which can be worn individually or layered. The absolute highlight of Saturday was Christophe Laudamiel who first introduced us to the new educational kit on fragrance called “A Sense of Scents”. This is a fantastic innovation and I will have more on this in a full article. After that he said because it was my birthday he had a surprise. It was a 1921 bottle of Chypre de Coty as perfectly preserved as a bottle of that age could be. Generously coated mouillettes were handed out. You could hear the collected gasp of pleasure of everyone in the room when he announced what the bottle was. This is exactly what makes Sniffapalooza what it is as there are very few events where one can smell the original chypre perfume.

After a stop at the beautiful new Rockefeller Center Penhaligon’s boutique we all headed downtown to the Beautyhabit pop-up shop at Black Label Wine Merchants. Paula and Teresa curated a collection to thrill with new releases from Olfactive Studio, Raw Spirit, and Lubin on display. They are also the first seller of the new ALTAIA brand I am aware of. It was a delightful way to end Day 1.

Day 2 began at Birchbox with Karthik from Harvey Prince presenting the line. After that we were free to explore the downtown Fragrance District as we strolled between Atelier Cologne, Le Labo, Rituals, and Red Flower. Le Labo treated us to a sneak preview of their next new fragrance The Noir 29.

Beckie and Katy at lunch

Katy Knuth and Beckie Sheloskie present Rebel Intuitive

Lunch had presentations from Jennifer McKay Newton who introduced us to her Define Me Fragrance line. The team of Beckie Sheloskie and Katy Knuth told us all about their indie line Rebel Intuitive. Will Yin introduced us to Scent Trunk the monthly subscription service which introduces each member to three new fragrances a month based on their profile.

One more stop for this party and that was the newest addition to the Fragrance District the Byredo store. It is mostly displaying the leather goods from the brand. For this crowd we clustered around the two counters with the fragrance collection. We finished the day sipping champagne and sniffing Byredo perfumes.

As always my thanks to Karen Dubin and Karen Adams for their considerable effort in organizing this event. It was the perfect way to spend my birthday.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Pitti Fragranze 2015 Final Wrap-Up Part 2- The Top 10 New Fragrances I Tried

I spent three days at Pitti Fragranze 2015 trying 96 new perfumes. It turns out it is very difficult to reduce that list down to ten. A year ago it felt like there were many brands vying for the same bit of olfactory space. This year as I look over the list below I am really pleased to see no obvious thread of similarity running through it. Here are the typical caveats for this list. These are all initial impressions obtained from a small patch of skin during three days where there is nothing but perfume in the air. Also these are the Top 10 which are new to me. Releases like Arquiste Nanban would have made the list but I had it before coming to Florence. I also did not mention Pitti-only perfumes like Pierre Guillaume’s Lumiere Fauve which would have also been on this list. Here is the list in alphabetical order:

ALTAIA Yu Son– Married creative directors and owners of Eau D’Italie Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena did some ancestral research and found their great great great grandfathers intersected in Argentina. It has produced an inaugural edition of three new fragrances all by perfumer Daphne Bugey. Yu Son is the orange-centric fragrance that cuts right to the heart of their story.

Essenzialmente Laura Lavanda- Perfumer Laura Tonatto has debuted a new line of fragrance with 39(!) new entries. It is overwhelming but buried within all of that new perfume is a trio of lavender fragrances which deserve to rise above the clutter. The best of them is the simplest as Sig.ra Tonatto combines five sources of lavender to create a supernatural lavender accord.

Ineke Idyllwild– Independent perfumer Ineke Ruhland had been focused on her Floral Curiosities collection over the past couple of years and her alphabet series had fallen behind. Ms. Ruhland is about to rectify that oversight with not only I but J coming out in short order. It was Idyllwild which completely mesmerized me. Ms. Ruhland took me through the building blocks which make up this gorgeous smoky rose. It left me more impressed than ever at her ability to construct a perfume.

mcg elephant and roses

Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses– Sig.ra Gentile was daydreaming at her home and she imagined an elephant walking through a field of roses crushing them as it passed. Her translation into a fragrance was to merge the animalic odor of the elephant with the floralcy of the rose. She chose a Turkish rose so that the spicy components would pick up the animalic accord it was paired with. Now when wearing it I see the pachyderm amongst the petals.

Masque Milano Romanza– Creative directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi have reached the act of their olfactory opera where the love story is told. Nose Cristiano Canali and the creative team decided on narcissus as the smell of passionate love. Romanza is a narcotic love poem written in bold floral strokes. I broke my first vial and my bedroom was filled with this narcissus swaddling me in its addictive embrace. I never slept so well.

Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendre– This was hands down the most buzzed about perfume at this year’s fair. Knowing nods were traded by those of us who had tried it. Ms. Goodsir and her creative partner Renaud Coutadier working with perfumer Julien Rasquinet created a green iris which never turns powdery on my skin. I already cannot get it out of my head and have been wearing it since my return. It is everything about perfume that I love; creativity, a twist on the familiar, and something eminently wearable.

Nomenclature Efflor_esce– I admit any perfume based on synthetic molecules and packaged in stylized Erlenmyer flasks is always going to have my attention. Creative directors Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero working with perfumer Frank Voelkl take the synthetic Paradisone, a modern successor to Hedione, and put it at the center of Efflor_esce. Surrounding it are florals osmanthus, tuberose, and neroli paired with bigarade and bergamot. Paradisone is the unquestioned star of the show but the complementary notes chosen by the creative team make it sparkle and shine.

olfactive studio selfie

Olfactive Studio Selfie– Creative director Celine Verleure usually uses a photograph as her brief. For Selfie you are faced with a mirrored surface to see your reflection within. To capture the narcissistic tendency to take one’s picture all the time Mme Verleure turned to perfumer Thomas Fontaine. Together the perfume they created has a fantastically realized heart of cinnamon, balsam, lily and an accord of maple syrup. I am not sure I get the relationship to egotism but I do know I definitely want to see my reflection in a bottle.

Olivier Durbano Chrysolithe- I mentioned this last year that M. Durbano really has grown as a perfumer. Chrysolithe confirms that assessment. M. Durbano returns to naming his fragrances after crystals. There were a number of perfumes I tried this year which contained sage. M. Durbano, by combining it with cumin on top; cedar and vetiver in the base, forms a sage which shows off all of its many attributes spectacularly.

Tauerville Rose FlashAndy Tauer working on his second line of perfumes has created a set of three flash fragrances that are all extremely good. I purposely held off trying these because I knew I could experience them for the first time with Hr. Tauer at Pitti. We saved Rose Flash for last and it just slayed me. If you like Une Rose Chypree this is Hr. Tauer showing you a different face of rose. It carries a definitive signature of the rose bush with the green of the leaves matched with the woodiness of the stems. Over it all a spicy lush rose prevails. There is nothing not to enjoy here if you like rose perfumes. Just make sure you get some before it is gone.  

That’s it for my wrap-up of Pitti Fragranze 2015. Full reviews of all of these will be forthcoming over the next few weeks plus many others which just missed making the Top 10. Thanks for following the coverage of Pitti Fragranze 2015 on Colognoisseur.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Pitti Fragranze 2015 Wrap-Up Part 1- People, Trends, and Teases

Every time I attend a perfume fair like Pitti Fragranze in Florence I value the concentration of new perfume it presents. The amount of different brands easily allows me to see if there any prevalent trends. It also allows me to spend some time with some of my favorite people in perfumery. This year there were a couple of those who really stood out for me.

First was Andy Tauer who was as gracious as ever. What impressed me was his new Tauerville brand which comes in at a price point about half of his regular Tauer Perfumes releases. The three perfumes Rose Flash, Vanilla Flash and Incense Flash are a reminder that Hr. Tauer was one of the first successful independent perfumers. The Tauerville line feels like he is returning to those early days in the lab creating for the sheer joy of it. I am looking forward to seeing what new denizens of Tauerville the future holds. I am hopeful that others will pick up this initiative and repeat it with their brand.  The entire package deserves some imitation.

It has been a few years since I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Ineke Ruhland of Ineke Perfumes. It had been two years since her last alphabet perfume Hothouse Flower. Making up for lost time she is adding two new letters; Idyllwild and Jack & Jackie. I spent a delightful hour with her as she displayed the raw ingredients used to create both of these new perfumes. When smelling some of the materials she employed I am left to admire her skill in toning down some of the louder ones and making some of the softer ones more noticeable.


I would go through the same experience a day earlier at the MANE panel where they handed the audience strips of every ingredient in the new JF Schwarzlose Altruism. What struck me between the two similar presentations was how precise a balancing act a perfumer needs to achieve a desired effect.

If there was one trend which stood out for me it was the resurgence of leather. It has always been around but the fall and winter new releases are heavily upholstered in fine leather. Last year it was a bland pretty tuberose which was the prevailing note. This year the leathers showed an admirable array of effects. One reason for this is leather is an accord and each perfumer has their own version of it. Because it is an accord it also can be tuned more specifically which makes it more varied in effect.

The other smaller trend I noticed was green tuberose is going to make a big statement over the next few months. Two of the sneak previews I received used the greener less boisterous version of tuberose as the central note. It is a much better alternative to full-spectrum tuberose which retains some of the indoles and the green keeps the more effusive nature under wraps. It gives room for brands to find something different under the tuberose sun.

Finally I end with some “blind items” where I share some of the confidential previews I obtained with some key information missing.

It may be spring of 2016 before the eau de cucumber perfume I’ve been teased with twice finally sees the light of day. I can wait because as it exists right now it should be perfect for that time of year.

Another brand is making a fragrant bridge between the creative director’s home country and the perfumer’s home country. The early version I tried of that needs a little more work but the heart accord I smelled was perfect. It just needs some equally impressive running mates.

I smelled three new perfumes from an independent perfumer for three different brands. I think all three are among the best work this perfumer has done. The gourmand coffee one is the one I am having the hardest time trying to forget.

Pierre Guillaume had one of the filthiest skankiest scents I’ve smelled in a while. That was an experiment made especially for Pitti Fragranze. A different perfumer displayed something almost as dirty with the desire to release it. I hope they do.

That’s it for Part 1. I’ll be back for Part 2 tomorrow where I name the Top 10 New Perfumes I tried at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2015 Day 3 Wrap-Up- Molecules, Ancestry and Boxing

Buongiorno Perfumistas!

It should be no surprise to anyone that if there is a perfume line which is going to excite me it will be one that wears its molecules on its sleeve. In the case of the new brand Nomenclature it wears its molecules on its stylized Erlenmeyer flask bottles. This is the brainchild of creative directors Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero. There are four synthetics ingredients which are the star of each of the four inaugural releases by perfumers Franck Voelkl or Patricia Choux. My favorite was efflur_esce which features the “Hedione on steroids” synthetic Paradisone. If you are a fan of the Escentric Molecules series Nomenclature is another set of fragrances in that theme.


There is a television show called “Who Do You Think You Are?” where a celebrity uncovers their ancestry. The perfume world has its own version courtesy of Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena. The married owners of Eau de Italie did some comparing of their ancestry and found out two of their great great great grandfathers intersected in mid 19th century Argentina. The line is called ALTAIA which is an acronym for A Long Time Ago In Argentina. Each of the three perfumes tell a part of the story of the life and times of Marina and Sebastian’s ancestors. I really fell for the tart orange of Yu Son. All three were composed by perfumer Daphne Bugey.

I love narcissus but it seems like it is never used to good effect. The new Masque Milano Romanza is a narcissus extravaganza. Perfumer Cristiano Canali collaborating with creative directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi have created a narcotic ode to first love.

For the next hour or so I received sneak peeks of upcoming perfumes from Nishane Istanbul, Neela Vermeire Creations, and Etat Libre D’Orange. One is by Quentin Bisch. One is a modern chypre and the other is A Rummy Delight. Which is which? Time will tell.

I had two final stops to make. One was at Frapin for the new release The Orchid Man by perfumer Jerome Epinette. Despite what the name infers this is inspired by the world of boxing as it was practiced in the 1930’s. M. Epinette has made a light spicy leather which still packs a bit of punch.

My last stop was at Essenzialmente Laura where I had heard great things about the lavender trio of perfumes. Perfumer Laura Tonatto has combined five different sources of lavender into La Lavanda. They came from two places in France, one in Torino, one in Morocco and one in England. Mme Tonatto combines all of them into a knot of lavender which has a mesmerizing fullness to it. The other two Lavambra and La Lavanda di Leonardo are also worth seeking out if you like lavender.

I spent the last hour saying my farewells hugging my perfumed friends. I am always sad to leave everyone even though my feet are killing me.

Until the next time we all meet; Ciao Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2015 Day 2 Wrap-Up-From a Flash Mob to a Frozen Daiquiri


Buongiorno Perfumistas!

The beginning of Day 2 at Pitti Fragranze began with a Flash Mob. Okay not really it began with me talking with Andy Tauer about his new collection of Tauerville Flash fragrances. There are three in the collection and I knew I would be seeing him here so I stayed away from trying them. The three perfumes I tried were Incense Flash, Vanilla Flash, and Rose Flash. There is so much to admire from this concept, including the modest prices for these simply packaged perfumes. That being said my presumption was the one which was going to slay me was Rose Flash and it definitely did. If you are a fan of Une Rose Chypree then you simply must try Rose Flash. It is what I am wearing on one arm while I write this.

What’s on the other arm you ask? Unfortunately it is nothing which is for sale. Pierre Guillaume creates a special capsule collection only for Pitti every year. This year, after the success of the Collection Croisiere, he needed to stretch his artistic skills at the other end of the spectrum. The two Pitti only releases were called Lumiere Fauve and Leathermore. The creation of Lumiere Fauve is a funny story as M. Guillaume was particularly irritated by a review of one of the Collection Croisiere. The reviewer intimated it was a piece of crap. His thought was you want to see crap I’ll give it to you but I’ll make it 24K Gold crap. Before I got to try Lumiere Fauve I got to smell the unadulterated version of Hyraceum which would form the crappy core. At 100% strength it nearly made me gag. At 4.7% strength in Lumiere Fauve it was the dirty nucleus to be gilded. I loved both of these purely experimental non-commercial scents. They are the soul of spontaneous creativity. I also tried the new Huitieme Art Shermire and it is a fabulous floral iris done the Huitieme way.

After that I went over to Richard Luscher Britos who were debuting a new sixth terroir fragrance. The only problem was in a bit of fun they placed it behind a locked cabinet. The idea was to send keys to their distributors to come unlock the new release. When I showed up the Keymaster was having lunch but he returned to let me in to try the new release based on the welcome tea you receive when visiting a family in Marrakech. It is another all-natural triumph for the line.


I finally had the time to catch up with two of my favorite people in perfume. First was Olivier Durbano who was debuting his eleventh perfume release Chrysolithe. After last year’s Prometheus he has returned to naming his stone poems after crystals. Chrysolithe is a symbol of purity in gemstone form. The opening salvo of herbal and spice notes draws you in until jasmine and woods provide the foundation. It is another step forward for a perfume brand which has been on a consistent upward trajectory.

I have waited patiently for two years for Ineke Ruhland to release a new alphabet fragrance as we have been stuck on H for a while. I was doubly delighted to find I will get not only I but J too in a few months. As part of the preview of both perfumes Ms. Ruhland sat down with me and, much like the Mane panel yesterday, let me smell the finished product but then also let me try the raw materials which went into it. Idyllwild starts with a green rhubarb which then segues in to a perfectly created pine accord before finishing on an intense woody note. Ms. Ruhland uses sage particularly well to add a veil of smoke. Jack and Jackie is a chilled daiquiri as lime and rum open it up. It proceeds through cedar and a new synthetic called Pyroprunet which is a slow building note which adds a dried fruit aspect reminiscent of raisins. It is a perfume re-telling of that comfort food Rum Raisin ice cream. Now that she had made me hungry and thirsty it was time to close out Day 2.

Tomorrow I am heading to see my chemist’s dream collection Nomenclature to start. Being the last day I will be moving fast as I can to see the last brands I want to see.

Until then Ciao Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

Pitti Fragranze 2015 Day 1 Wrap-Up- A Party in Perfumeland


Buongiorno Perfumistas!

Day 1 of any perfume exposition is a time for hugs, kisses, and handshakes as I renew my acquaintance with the best smelling people I know. The first moments of Pitti Fragranze 2015 were spent with one of those friends as I walked in with perfumer Vero Kern. I would finish my day with her but at this point we headed our separate ways.

My first stop was with Naomi Goodsir to try the new release Iris Cendre. This was as good a start to this year’s fair as I could have hoped for. Working with perfumer Julien Rasquinet, Mme Goodsir has developed an iris which has a distinctly green tint matching the color of the juice. It got the honor of being the first perfume sprayed on my skin. I am still enjoying the final stages as I write this.

Next up was Carlos Huber of Arquiste to learn about the room fragrance he did for the St. Regis Hotel chain. It is based on the fabulous parties the founding patroness of the St. Regis hotel, Caroline Aster, used to throw. It is called Caroline’s Four Hundred to represent the guest who would attend these soirees. The room scent captures the flowers present throughout the party and the wood of the ballroom while holding a flute of champagne. I was imagining how nice it would be to experience this as I walked up to check-in after a long day’s travel. I think it would have the desired pick-me-up effect.

I went to visit with Niclas Lydeen of Agonist where he showed me the new Blue North. This is a perfume which captures the dichotomy of the deep cold of his native Sweden in winter coupled with the ability to come inside and snuggle in the warmth of the home. After having done collectible glass sculptural bottles for the previous Agonist releases; for Blue North it will be a collectible piece of fabric with the star-filled sky of the Swedish night upon it. It also represents the cocooning one does in the depth of winter as you draw it close around you.


In between all of this I attended two panels. The first was from Mane. Last year’s exploration of their Jungle Essence process was one of the highlights. This year’s panel was a different introduction to the raw materials Mane produces. Lutz Hermann the creative director and owner of J.F. Schwarzlose worked together with artist Paul de Florian and nose Veronique Nyberg to create the new perfume Altruist. The panel then proceeded to breakdown Altruist into all of the raw materials that went into it. Cyril Gallardo explained the processes which produced each one followed by Mme Nyberg explaining the effect it produced in the fragrance. We were given a strip of Altruist to start with and that was followed by each of the twelve raw materials used. The ones which made the biggest impressions upon me were the fractionation of lemon where the citral was removed. It took that familiar note and turned it significantly greener and tarter. The Jungle Essence process was used on black pepper and it turned that material distinctly woody. Without knowing I would have thought it was some exotic new hardwood. The synthetic Aqual is a powerhouse new aldehyde. On the strip at 0.01% it still packed a punch.

The second panel was a discussion moderated by Chandler Burr between Francois Henin of Jovoy Paris and Franco Wright & Adam Eastwood of Los Angeles’ Scent Bar and online Luckyscent. It was a very lively discussion as the two businesses discussed the difference of selling fragrance in Europe and the US. One surprising takeaway for me was that the US business was primarily done online while Jovoy’s business was mainly done in-store. It definitively pointed out the difference in the willingness of the two sets of consumers to use the internet as their shopping space. I was also surprised that of the top selling fragrances at both there was not one American perfume brand to be found. Both have found a steadily growing trend of male customers visiting their stores. In LA it was noted the guys were more likely to be the ones who spent a couple hours in the store. The hour flew by with the exchanges.

I finally ended my day with Ms. Kern as she gave me a sneak peek at her new releases. All I will say is she has tobacco on her mind this time. What she is doing with that is something to be told another day.

On Day 2 I am starting it out with Andy Tauer to get my first sniff of Incense Flash. Until tomorrow, Ciao Perfumistas!

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Attends Pitti Fragranze 13

Buongiorno Perfumistas! I am heading to Florence, Italy to cover the thirteenth version of Pitti Fragranze.

The theme for this year’s edition is A Kaleidoscope of Scents as the Stazione Leopolda will be turned into a celebration of scent and color designed by Alessandro Moradei.

Chandler Burr is curating an installation of fifteen pieces of visual art paired with fifteen pieces of olfactory art. Each pairing is going to be dispersed throughout the exhibit hall allowing for each one to be a surprise as you stroll the fair.

Two panels I am looking forward to are the one by Mane on the opening day, Friday, as they present a comparison between natural and synthetic raw materials. Also on Friday, Mr. Burr moderates a panel where the owners of Luckyscent in Los Angeles, Franco Wright and Adam Eastwood, compare and contrast their retail experience with Francois Henin of Jovoy in Paris.

This is all in addition to over 250 brands being displayed on the show floor.

I will be posting daily reports of all I encounter each day of the exposition. Followed by my wrap-up upon my return home.

Colognoisseur will be your eyes and nose in Florence.

Mark Behnke