New Perfume Review Frassai Cuir Pampas and Rosa Sacra- Open Spaces and Rain Forests

When I first started Colognoisseur January was a desert of new perfumes to write about. In the last few years that has changed. The last quarter of the year has been the time I receive the most new releases. It is overwhelming in a good way. I now look forward to January to allow me to backtrack and fill in some blanks. I feel strongest about doing this when I get a new collection and there is one which clearly needs to be written about first. When the others are also quite good but don’t necessarily do something so different as the one standout.

Which was where I was when receiving the three perfumes which make up Frassai’s El Sur collection. Creative director Natalia Outeda working with perfumer Irina Burlakova produced a nice set of fragrance. The thing was El Descanso immediately marked itself out as one of the best perfumes of the year. Which doesn’t mean the other two, Cuir Pampas and Rosa Sacra, also have their charms; just ones I’ve seen before. Because they are good, I don’t want them to get lost. I’m going to do short reviews of both today.

Natalia Outeda

Cuir Pampas is meant to evoke the gauchos of Argentina. These are the South American counterpart to the American cowboy. They both wear leather and roam the wide-open spaces. The biggest difference which is referenced in Cuir Pampas is their hot beverage of choice. Mme Burlakova uses that difference to add a gaucho spin to the story of the trail rider.

It opens with the smell of well-worn leather and the bite of green mate tea. That is the warmth that wakes a gaucho up. It also is what wakes up the early going in Cuir Pampas. That bitterness is a compelling foil to the leather. This dynamic remains in place for a while as if it takes some time for our metaphorical gaucho to get his horse outfitted while finishing his tea. What comes next is sunrise on the grass fields known as the Pampas. The whole construct opens up through vetiver, hay, and labdanum. This is the joy of being born to ride.

Cuir Pampas has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Irina Burlakova

Rosa Sacra also has some words meant to connect back to Argentina. In this case I didn’t find them to be particularly adept at describing the perfume. What Mme Burlakova creates is a tropical rose.

Using the spicy Ottoman rose as her core floral she dusts it with baie rose. The latter has an ability to accentuate many of the aspects of this rose. The herbal nature picks up the spices in the middle. It also has a fruity scent which deepens the floral quality of the rose. Also as part of this there is a humidity where I can almost hear the plink of droplets from the canopy raining on the bloom. It takes a decidedly woody turn with palo santo forming the base. The more subdued sandalwood-like nature of palo santo works especially well here. It supports and buoys the rose without overwriting it. What it leaves is a rose blooming deep in the rain forest.

Rosa Sacra has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

The entire El Sur collection is another creative triumph for Sra. Outeda. All three deserve some praise for her seeing her vision to fruition.

Disclosure: this review is based on samples provided by Frassai.

Mark Behnke

The Perfumers Who Saved Christmas

Back in March when I wrote an editorial on “Perfume in the Time of Coronavirus” I was enjoying the quarantine. I expected it to end in a few months. I was taking the opportunity to enjoy my favorite perfumes with abandon. Each one gave me a shot of needed joy.

As we got to the summer and I was still inside I needed a different kind of booster through fragrance. That came as I spent ten days participating in the Pierre Benard Challenge. This was a big change in perspective for me as I hadn’t examined my connection to scent as deeply. I’m always looking for new things to try. For two weeks I stopped and smelled the world.

Then we got to the fall and the end was not in sight. It was wearing on my mental state. I felt like things would never return to normal. Then a magical thing happened courtesy of some of my favorite independent perfumers. They got me out of my funk because their new releases connected with great memories of my past. I was no longer hemmed in by the four walls of my house.

Frassai El Descanso reminded me of my first cross-country drive as I experienced the wheat fields of the prairie.

DSH Perfumes Tea and Charcoal brought me back to when I discovered a coping mechanism as a child.

Aether Arts Perfume Dia de Muerto had me trick or treating on a tropical S. Florida night.

Maher Olfactive Orris Forest had me hopping over rocks on a hike through the forest.

DSH Perfumes Adrenaline and Scorched Earth put me back on the hiking trail in Yellowstone.

Maher Olfactive Tempo Rubato reminded me of a music lesson in a St. Louis jazz club.

Masque Milano Le Donne di Masque Madeleine had me sitting at a tearoom with cakes and hot chocolate.

Imaginary Authors A Whiff of Wafflecone had me in a specialty ice cream shoppe

DSH Perfumes Couverture d’Hiver had the Florida boy remembering his first New England snowstorm.

All of these and more took me out of my quarantine and into the world through the trigger of perfume. It isn’t the design of a perfumer to make their customer find joy through memory. Although it isn’t an undesired side effect.

Now that we do see the beginning of the end, I am full of hope for the next year. If it weren’t for Irina Burlakova, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Amber Jobin, Shawn Maher, Fanny Bal, and Josh Meyer this would have been a dreary Holiday season. They were the perfumers who saved Christmas for me.

I extend my wishes to all my readers for a Merry Christmas. That I have you is another reason this Season remains merry for me.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Frassai El Descanso- Open Fields

When I was in graduate school my roommate was heading to USC in Los Angeles, California. I did my first cross-country drive with him. We traveled along I-40 in the southern tier of states. We stopped for the night in the northern part of Texas near the panhandle of Oklahoma. This was a leisurely drive, so it was late afternoon in August when we got out of the car. This was my first experience of the wide-open spaces in the middle of the country. We had been noticing the farm fields on either side of the highway. Now that we were next to them the late afternoon carried the scent of wheat fields on the verge of harvest to us. This was a mixture of green and something golden but not like hay or dried grass. The best I can do is it was cereal-like. This is not a typical thing to dedicate a new perfume to. Frassai El Descanso takes its turn at it.

Natalia Outeda

Creative director-owner Natalia Outeda has looked to her native Argentina for inspiration for all her perfumes. For this latest collection of three perfumes, the El Sur Collection, she is focused on the southern part of her home. Each perfume celebrates an indigenous subject; leather, rose, and in the case of El Descanso, wheat. In the accompanying description she speaks of the “golden wheat fields” of the Pampas. Based on what I smell in the perfume I think they must smell a lot like the wheat fields in this country.

Irina Burlakova

For this collection Sra. Outeda collaborates with perfumer Irina Burlakova. I will review the other two perfumes because I enjoyed the entire collection, but it was El Descanso which captured my attention first. What impresses me is that they found that combination of the green and the grain so ideally.

The green is represented by an accord of the botanical musk of ambrette and watery green galbanum. If you’ve ever been in a farm field of growing things you will recognize this. It is the fulgent green of irrigated growing things. The ambrette adds the presence of the soil they are growing in. Then we shift to the crop. Mme Burlakova uses bran absolute and ombu leaves to form the field of waving stalks of tightly packed kernels of grain. This is a closed in accord which rides on top of the galbanum and ambrette top accord. A dry woody duo of cedar and sandalwood add in that sense of late afternoon under the summer sun to complete the composition.

El Descanso has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

In these days where I am spending too much time inside the house any perfume which can ameliorate that is appreciated. El Descanso takes me to a wheat field in summer. You can take your pick which country you find your open fields in.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample supplied by Frassai.

Mark Behnke