There is always a heat wave, every summer. It is always a challenging time for me because I look at the perfume I want to wear to review and I know it will wilt in the heat. Another thing that happens every heat wave is I just go for the perfume which looks like it will be the most refreshing in the heat. This year that choice was Azzaro Chrome Aqua.
Azzaro has been putting out an annual summer version of Chrome under the name Chrome Summer. Those were also better than average flankers of the 1996 original. For 2019 it looks like Chrome Aqua is taking the place of Chrome Summer. Perfumer Jean-Christophe Herault composes a green tinted aquatic that was just right for midsummer.
One thing I have really appreciated about many of the modern aquatics is that they have stopped using Calone. There are many alternatives out there. In the case of Chrome Aqua M. Herault uses them.
Chrome Aqua opens with that suite of ozonic notes which form the typical sea breeze accord. It is matched with another accord to provide the surf. Things take an interesting turn from there. M. Herault pairs grapefruit with a crisp green apple. It turns the typical tart grapefruit into a fresher citrus accord. This all goes very well with the aquatic vibe of the opening moments. Chrome Aqua then uses basil supported with aniseed to give a uniquely herbal accord. There is something about basil that just feels great on a hot day. The use of the aniseed to give a licorice undercurrent is clever. It ends on that most classic of summer perfume ingredients with a green grassy vetiver.
Chrome Aqua has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Chome Aqua was just the kind of perfume I wanted to wear in the middle of a heat wave. There is not a moment while I had it on where it wasn’t a fitting companion in the heat. It made me think of amending the old saying to “only mad dogs and vetiver go out in the midday sun.”
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Azzaro.
There is a series of commercials in the US where they show one half of a married couple acting like their mother or father. I’m getting old enough it isn’t my parents I’m acting like but my grandparents. My grandmother used to always see the potential bad outcome to everything. If there were 99 ways things could go right she would make sure to mention the one which would be terrible. She always looked for the warning signs of the disaster she knew was right around the corner. I’ve watched the decay of some of the great perfume brands into happy mediocrity, or worse, over the last few years that my grandmother’s voice greets every stumble by my very favorite brands. I’ve spent a couple of months with Mugler Alien Man trying to decide what it portends.
Mugler is one of the great perfume brands ever. It is the product of consistent creative direction by Pierre Aulas and Thierry Mugler which has always gleefully gone against the grain. If I say Angel, A*Men, and Alien to you if you are a perfume fan you’ve tried them or smelled them on another person; and you are not indifferent about the way you feel about it. It has been the Mugler credo to ask perfume aficionados to come over to their way of thinking. If there was a bit of change it maybe came with last year’s release of Aura. It felt like the Mugler attempt to woo the younger perfume generation. It definitely had a presence just one lighter in character. I liked it better the more time I spent with it. Which is why it has taken me so long to write this review I expected Alien Man to win me over.
Alien Man, I think, wants to be the counterpart to Aura on the masculine side of the fragrance counter. Perfumer Jean-Christophe Herault puts together something which is so typical of the other perfumes in this sector; that was the main surprise. Except for the top accord which is where there may have been an attempt at something Mugler-like which just doesn’t come together.
The top accord is named “The Electronic Vibration”. It definitely does not shock it doesn’t even sizzle a bit. M. Herault creates an herbal dill opposite apricot and anise. This was unpleasant for me, reminding me of a refrigerator crisper door where the dill and the apricot got left together. I gritted my teeth every time to get through to the heart. There I found a refined leather accord which is great but nothing different than many others out there. Pairing it with osmanthus to bridge the apricot and leather is also as typical as it gets. If I was waiting for a surprise ending beechwood and white amber provide another reminder of many other perfumes out there.
Alien Man has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I’m not sure if Alien Man is a warning sign, or not. There were many who thought Womanity was a warning sign eight years ago; and were wrong. I also wonder if that top accord just never coalesced into that envelope pushing style Mugler is known for. Time will tell if this is the beginning of something or just a stumble.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Thierry Mugler.
As I finish clearing my desk of the spring releases of 2018 I wanted to mention a couple of the flankers which were better than most of the others released in these early days of 2018.
Marc Jacobs Daisy Love
If there has ever been a brand which has overplayed a flanker, it is Marc Jacobs and Daisy. The original released in 2007 is one of the top tier mainstream perfumes. The thirty-two flankers in the last eleven years are mostly forgettable. Some flankers even spawned their own flankers. It became easy to ignore the entire mess. I wanted to write about Daisy which made me pick up flanker thirty-two, Daisy Love. It turned out there was some connectivity back to the original which made it better than most of the other Daisy flankers.
First connection was perfumer Alberto Morillas returning to make a variation on the original he created. The original was a strawberry fruity floral; for Daisy Love M. Morillas fashions a less fulgent strawberry by using raspberry and cloudberry to result in a greener, almost unripe, strawberry. It is tart more than sweet. M. Morillas then actually uses the title floral to provide a lighter floral effect than in most of the collection. It all ends on generic synthetic woods and musks. I wouldn’t throw over the original for this but it does enough different, without throwing out the whole playbook, that it could be a nice companion for the summer.
Daisy Love has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.
Thierry Mugler Alien Flora Futura
Thierry Mugler has only been a touch less aggressive in producing flankers to 2005’s classic Alien. Thierry Mugler has delighted in producing perfume which engenders “love it-hate it” responses. Alien is an excellent example. One could even say that the 21 flankers since its release are attempts to convert the “hate it” crowd. For Alien Flora Futura it lightens up some of the heavier aspects for the set of people who found it too heavy.
Perfumers Dominique Ropion and Jean-Christoophe Herault make this lighter by switching the ingredients while still retaining the Alien vibe. It starts very un-Alien-like using a bright sparkling citron. Citron has a fuller feel to me than lemon although they are similar. The real alteration comes in the heart as the perfumers substitute jasmine with cereus flower, also known as the queen of the night. Cereus has a similarity to jasmine but also a fresher quality. It works nicely with the citron. It eventually slides into the Alien amber focused base accord but in keeping with everything else a touch lighter. If you love Alien I imagine this will feel like Diet Lemon Alien to you. If you hated Alien because it was overwhelmingly aggressive Alien Flora Futura might turn you into a lover.
Alien Flora Futura has 14-16 hour longevity an average sillage.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by the manufacturers.
When it comes to Thierry Mugler fragrances it seems that I look most forward to the flankers. It isn’t that they aren’t producing new non-flanker perfumes it is just that they have always seemed to be so straightforward without any of the verve the best of the brand has in other fragrances in the collection. A good example of what I am talking about is the Les Exceptions Collection.
Les Exceptions were released in 2014 as a set of five co-produced by perfumers Olivier Polge and Jean-Christophe Herault. They had cute names like Chyprissime, Fougere Furieuse, and Oriental Express. What was somewhat disappointing considering the talented artists was all five of the initial releases were just what they said; a chypre, a fougere, and an Oriental with no Mugler twist. Maybe it is unfair to ask a brand to always live up to that but the best Thierry Mugler fragrances have not only had a twist but one which sometimes would be influential. The subsequent two Les Exceptions also suffered with this, as well. When I received my sample of the new Hot Cologne I expected a nice cologne, which I got, but the Mugler twist was also here.
Hot Cologne was handed out at last October’s Spring 2017 Thierry Mugler Fashion runway show. Just by the name I worried it was going to suffer in comparison with the modern masterpiece Thierry Mugler Cologne. M. Herault, working on his own, wisely decides to go off in a very different direction. The only similarity is the cologne architecture. For Hot Cologne like all the other Les Exceptions it is pretty uninspiring early on but after a half an hour or so it transforms courtesy of one ingredient, green coffee.
Hot Cologne opens with a set of citrus notes led by petitgrain supported by some other citrus like lime, bergamot, and grapefruit. The lime is the most prominent of the supporting cast and it makes the tartness of the petitgrain more focused. Then a really high quality neroli comes out this is one of those full-spectrum nerolis which carries a bit of the orange, a bit of the indolic floralcy, and a bit of the green leaves. I am a big fan of this kind of neroli and it goes very well with the citrus notes that preceded it but it surely isn’t unique. What comes next does make this unique, green coffee. If you’ve ever smelled a bag of coffee beans prior to roasting this is the note being used here. There is an astringent oiliness along with the rich coffee scent. When it comes out in Hot Cologne it is as if the citrus is next to a steaming cup of coffee with a sprig of neroli in a vase nearby in some warm weather vacation destination. Hot Cologne stays perched like this for the entirety of its duration.
Hot Cologne has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
It is really amazing what a difference one well-chosen ingredient can have on a perfume. The green coffee in Hot Cologne takes this from “Meh” to “Wow” all for the simple addition of a cup of coffee.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Thierry Mugler.
It has been almost a year since I joined the Fragrance Republ!c. For those unfamiliar with the concept behind Fragrance Republ!c it is an effort to allow some of the biggest perfumers working the opportunity to work on special small batch perfumes. This time the perfumers are allowed to create their own brief and encouraged to go where their creativity takes them. The perfumes are then shared with the membership of Fragrance Republ!c and I receive a new 15mL bottle as each creation is released. I look forward to my new box every time it arrives as a perfumer who I admire gets to try out an idea they have wanted to try. Fragrance Republ!c is the subscription service for the perfume lover who already has a lot of perfume and wants to try something which goes in a different direction form the purely commercial. This review will cover the latest four released over the first part of 2014: 01/05 by Antoine Lie, 01/06 by Karine Chevallier, 01/07 by Jean Claude Delville, and 01/08 by Jean-Christophe Herault.
01/05 was given the name “Eau Verte” by M. Lie and what he wanted to accomplish was to create perfume made up of overdoses of notes used to make up the fresh fragrances so ubiquitous on the market. Now if he had just overloaded the perfume with a bunch of explosive green notes it just would’ve been a loud boisterous mess. Instead he chose to use the wormwood used in absinthe as his nucleus and then puts into orbit around it electrons of mint, star anise, oak moss, galbanum, and vetiver. These are in overdose so there is no missing these notes and they each find a place to complement the wormwood at the heart of the perfume. I found 01/05 to have an off-kilter kind of freshness and the more I wore it the more I found it to be just the right perfume for the summer.
Mme Chevallier was enchanted by a Persian lime raw material she encountered while attending the World Perfume Congress. It was this she used to make the centerpiece of 01/06. What caught her attention about this particular lime was besides the typical citric zest it also has floral facets of rose and lavender, creamy coconut, and woodiness. From when she smelled it she knew she wanted to pair it with vetiver to tease out that woody quality. She also wanted to use fig to get the creamy coconut quality. All of this rests on a base of sandalwood. This comes off very simple on a strip but it absolutely soared when I wore it. The full impact of this very special lime at the heart of 01/06 completely comes alive and each of the notes Mme Chevallier chose to go with it work seamlessly.
Jean Claude Delville
The inspiration for 01/07 was the “grace of a woman”. In M. Delville’s olfactory world this woman is wearing a sheer cotton dress edged with black, the antithesis of the little black dress. 01/07 opens on a fresh cotton accord that has been washed with mandarin blossom fabric softener. It has a softness that the best cotton gets from being used. This opening is everything I want from a Fragrance Republ!c experience. M. Delville is able to go to an extreme in creating this textured fabric based accord. Since this is a woman we are talking about orchid and freesia make up a sweetly floral heart before a soft mix of cashmere woods and white musks add that bit of sensuality. The outline of black on the figurative white dress I spoke of at the beginning of the paragraph.
Osmanthus was the ingredient M. Herault wanted to explore in 01/08. I have always loved the fantastic nature of osmanthus to be floral but also to carry distinct aspects of apricot, leather, and tea along with it. When in the hands of a skilled perfumer they can take that chameleon-like nature and play to it. M. Herault does exactly that as he first allows you to appreciate the osmanthus in its pristine glory before letting other notes start to attract your focus elsewhere. Bergamot and apricot bring you to the fruity character. Violet leaf brings forward the tea. Jasmine and orange blossom get their white flower bluster out to turn fully floral in the heart. Finally, the leathery quality forms a faux chypre with a deep patchouli. Of the eight fragrances which have been released 01/08 is my favorite so far.
If what I’ve written has made you curious a sample program is now available on the Fragrance Republ!c website where you can try any three of the releases from 01/01 through 01/07 for the cost of shipping. I would recommend checking out the three you think sound best to you. This is really one of the great new initiatives for perfume lovers.
Disclosure: This review was based on the bottles I’ve received from being a member of Fragrance Republ!c.