Even though I retain my belief that perfume is not gendered I am not blind to others who think differently. There are brands which seemingly know they are popular with one gender over the other. One I would put in that category is Parfums de Marly. For the last decade they have been producing fragrances which resonate with the guys. Creative director Julien Sprecher has leaned into this popularity. One of the things it has resulted in has been a slow drift towards the desires of that audience. In the most recent releases there are pieces which seem intentionally designed to appeal to their main demographic, the guys.
What that has meant is when they design for a female audience there is some freedom to try things. The last two releases for this audience, Delina and Cassili exemplify this. The most recent feminine release Parfums de Marly Oriana continues this creative trend.
M. Sprecher works with a team of perfumers this time. Nathalie Lorson and Hamid Merati-Kashani combine to create a fun-loving gourmand. What I have always admired about this brand is M. Sprecher understands what a mainstream perfume lover might be looking for in trying to breakaway from the mall. Oriana displays this as it captures the current trends without seeming to hew to them too strongly.
Oriana opens with a fresh citrus top accord built around mandarin and grapefruit. This is a lively attention getter for what comes next. The brief was to create a fragrance around Chantilly cream. The heart is where this begins to come together. Raspberry and blackcurrant form an array of juicy berries. Orange blossom captures the citrus from the top and swirls it in a creamy spiral. The cream accord rises to this and is further elaborated through marshmallow water. This is a fully realized gourmand as it feels like a bowl of cream and berries drizzled with marshmallow water. A subtle musk through ambrette adds the final piece.
Oriana has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Oriana once again shows the creativity at the brand when allowed to have a little more leeway. I’m happy to wear these over the men’s designed ones because they are just more interesting. I guess it’s because girls just want to have fun.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Parfums de Marly.
There needs to be brands who gently coax along a mainstream perfume consumer down the niche rabbit hole. One of the most effective ways to achieve that is to give that person something like what they find at the mall but made with more imagination. This has been what Parfums de Marly seemingly have been happy to do. Their latest, Parfums de Marly Greenley, takes fresh up a level, or two.
It has been thirty years since the fresh trend of perfume began. The desire of the mainstream customer for this style has never waned. One thing I have learned over time is what the independent and niche perfume community offers is a variation on those trite styles. Creative director Julien Sprecher has always had a good sense of how to do this. In Greenley he produces a riff on the ubiquitous “freshie”.
Most of these fragrances lean hard on the same set of ingredients to produce fresh. For Greenley the choice is to find a new source of fresh. To achieve this they take a trip to the apple orchard.
As someone who smells my share of the mainstream fresh perfumes the opening of Greenley is a refreshing change. It opens with the crisp tartness of green apples given some support through a diffuse citrus. This is just the kind of change this brand excels at. They also seem to know that their customers also want woods with their fresh. Using two synthetics, Cashmeran and Amberwood, a warm long-lasting woody accord forms the second half of Greenley.
Greenley has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I like this because it doesn’t allow the woods to obliterate the fresh green apple accord. Because of that it is going to be a great choice as we begin to transition from winter to spring. Parfums de Marly adds to their repertoire this time by letting Greenley develop a better fresh.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.
Every brand stakes out their place on the perfume spectrum. Parfums de Marly has been of interest to me because they have acted as a niche alternative to mainstream styles. I think the concept of doing department store perfumes in a slightly better version of materials with a touch more imagination works. Parfums de Marly Kalan is another on that path.
Creative director Julien Sprecher works with two perfumers, Celine Ripert and Nathalie Templer. The style they are reworking is the classic floriental. Throughout Kalan there is an extra ingredient here or a higher concentration there which results in a richer fragrance.
In the top accord the perfumers use blood orange as the citrus focal point. Blood orange provides a tart and juicy citrus component. A selection of spices adds warmth and piquancy. If you’re attempting to understand what I mean when I say the Parfums de Marly aesthetic is to do things similar, but different, this top accord is an example of that. The heart is a compelling duet of lavender and orange blossom in higher concentration. The floral quality of the lavender is more prominent as it melds with the orange blossom, as echoes of the blood orange persist. The floral duo is tilted sweeter with tonka bean. The base opens on a dry sandalwood which is given some shadows with a bit of moss snaking through the woods.
Kalan has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I know the approach by M. Sprecher is working because I have been recommending the brand often. Which has generated positive feedback when I have. Kalan will be another crowd pleaser I suspect. It will be easy to point department store floriental fans towards a better version.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Parfums de Marly.
There is a feeling among a large segment of perfume buyers that longevity is equivalent with quality. I have never shared that perspective. I’ve come to think less of that the more that I learn. Nevertheless it persists within the buying public. Over the past few years a class of synthetic woody ingredients have come into use; all with ridiculous longevity. They stay on the skin long after everything else has disappeared. At this point any perfume which uses them is indistinguishable from any other. What is left is the same ingredient. Yet brands feel constrained into this box of having to create a long-lasting perfume to please their customers. Parfums de Marly Sedley is an extreme example of this concept.
I have lauded creative director Julien Sprecher for creating a brand aesthetic which has created niche alternatives to what can be found on mainstream counters. It is a brand which I confidently point people towards who are looking for something a step up from their typical mass-market perfume. Sedley is their version of a fresh perfume; at least at the beginning. By the end it has given over to the desire for longevity.
Perfumer Olivier Cresp is behind Sedley. It really is an experience in two distinct parts. The outstanding fresh opening and the overwhelming synthetic woody base. It is a difficult task for me because that opening is fantastic. It is everything I want from a fresh perfume. The problem is it gets drowned in the woody base.
Sedley opens with a citrus mix of grapefruit, lemon, and bergamot. M. Cresp uses an ideal amount of spearmint to buoy that citrus blend. It has a gorgeous expansiveness to it that drew me in. What I found there was rosemary tinting the mint-citrus accord. Lavender and geranium provided a subtle floral contrast. Right here this is the kind of perfume I enjoy wearing on a warm day. Then the synthetic woods crash the party. According to the ingredient list it is Ambrox but it also seems like there are others. The problem is it obliterates all the wonderful work done prior. Sedley becomes more and more intensely woody over the great majority of its time on my skin.
Sedley has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.
As I said at the outset this is a difficult perfume to assess. The opening is outstanding. The problem is you can’t get it back by adding another spray once the woods take over. I’m smelling a fresh sprayed strip as I write this enjoying the heck out of the opening. The tough part is those long-lasting woods just take over and don’t let go. They get the job done but they are a monolithic effect. If you are someone for whom longevity is an important part of making a decision on what perfume to buy, Sedley is a great choice. If you are not a part of the “longevity uber alles” consumer Sedley might sacrifice quality for longevity.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Nordstrom.
It is interesting to watch a brand evolve over time. Parfums de Marly seems to be a recent example that wants to provide luxurious niche alternatives to mainstream styles. Over the past couple of years this has seemingly become a winning formula for the brand. I like it because it has become a place where I can point someone looking for a niche alternative to their favorite commercial fragrance. If there is a style where I wasn’t sure I would be as interested it would be fruity floral. With Parfums de Marly Cassili it turns out I am interested.
The Creative Director Julien Sprecher has chosen to collaborate with perfumers Calice Becker and Nanako Ogi for Cassili. Both women design a top fruity floral accord layered under a heart fruity floral accord. All of this was directed by M. Sprecher to be an “indulgent” “sweet perfume”. His perfume team delivers.
The top accord is a typical combination for the genre; berries and rose. The perfumers delve a little deeper to create a more satisfying effect. One of my main complaints about fruity florals is the perfumes just assault you with sweet notes. Cassili comes at it in a slightly different way. The berries and rose are intense but the perfumers also found a way to make them more harmonious instead of being two ingredients screaming at the top of their lungs. There is a velvet sophistication to this opening which is not often found. The heart accord is a pairing of plum and mimosa. This is not so common a duo. The perfumers use a restrained greener version of plum which dials back the sweetness. It also makes it a less lush underpinning as the mimosa takes over with its green facets picking up on the same in the plum. Once both were in place the overlap of the two accords was delightful. The base is a typical sweetly woody accord of sandalwood, benzoin and vanilla.
Cassili has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I applaud the work done here to make a more opulent fruity floral. I think it shows how a more imaginative creative direction can turn the tritest forms into something worth trying. M. Sprecher pointed the way for his perfumers to turn Cassili into a fruity floral of a different stripe.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Parfums de Marly.
Something I hope has become obvious is that I have a great appreciation for mainstream perfume when done well. Not every fragrance has to push boundaries. There must be a place for a well-constructed perfume which builds on a popular style in the conversation. I found myself in a bit of a quandary when a new niche release built upon a foundation from one of the most popular mainstream perfumes. It is particularly difficult for me when I think the mainstream perfume was a cynically conceived effort. Especially when I like the niche release while recognizing from whence it came. Parfums de Marly Percival has more than enough differences from Bleu de Chanel for me to acknowledge the comparison while admiring the new iteration.
There is a desire for a style of perfume that can be the single perfume on a man’s dresser. Something good for the workday and the weekend. That is the kind of perfume Percival is. What sets it apart from its mainstream counterparts is at every turn there is more depth and complexity. Creative director Julien Sprecher collaborates with perfumer Hamid Merati-Kashani continuing their successful partnership begun with Layton and Layton Exclusif. In writing about both of those previous releases I detected an effort towards refining crowd pleasing trends into something more niche-like. That kind of thinking appears to be in place for Percival.
At its most basic Percival is a fresh fougere. Except M. Sprecher encouraged M. Merati-Kashani to find the nooks and crannies within that style to place different notes and accords. These add texture and depth. It is what sets Percival apart.
Percival opens with an herbal citrus top accord. The citrus are the bright sunny notes often encountered but the array of herbal notes provide the kind of effect I was speaking of above. This transitions into a floral heart of violet and lavender. These are combined to form another typical masculine floral duo. M. Merati-Kashani then dusts them with the spices of baie rose, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper, and nutmeg. I could tritely say he is butching up the florals. Instead I will refer to what I see throughout Percival as a way of finding depth without changing the intent. The use of the spices does create a vibrancy to the heart. In the base M. Merati-Kashani has built a gorgeous accord of synthetic woods and musks. He has seemingly used four or five of each to create one of those drydowns to die for. All these ingredients in the base last days on a strip or clothing. When I was sitting at my desk while testing Percival I kept returning to the strips I had sprayed days ago just to revisit. When I did my laundry and got to the shirt I wore one of the days I considered not washing it. I have a special place for perfumes with outstanding drydowns and Percival is there.
Percival has 16-18 hour longevity on skin and days on clothing. It also has above average sillage.
It is because the drydown is so neglected these days I would like Percival just for that. There is more to admire than that. Percival takes something that I perceive in its mainstream inspiration as cynical and transforms it into something fantastic. If Percival was the one perfume most men had on their dresser this would be a better smelling world.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample from Parfums de Marly.
It was almost exactly a year ago that I reviewed Parfums de Marly Layton. I concluded that review with the belief this was the most accessible perfume from the brand. That has proven true as Layton has become the best seller I predicted it could be. When a brand releases something as crowd pleasing as that I wonder what they will follow-up with. Will they go for more crowd pleasers or will they return to their quirky ways. As a fan of those latter perfumes I sort of wanted that. It would turn out that the decision creative director Julien Sprecher would make is to add some of that off-beat sensibility to the skeleton of Layton and call it Layton Exclusif.
M. Sprecher retained the perfumer behind Layton, Hamid Merati-Kashani, for Layton Exclusif. I always appreciate when a brand uses the same perfumer because there should be no one with a better feel for where expansion and contraction can take place within the original. Layton Exclusif is a great example of how this hypothesis bears fruit. It shows right in the opening moments as M. Merati-Kashani trades out the crisp green apple of the original for the sulfurous citrus of grapefruit. Much of what follows in Layton is traditional fougere which for Layton Exclusif it is transformed to the Parfums de Marly strong suit of Orientals. It means it dives much deeper with some added formality to the overall aesthetic.
As mentioned the top accord is focused around grapefruit which is given a bit of leavening by mandarin. The floral heart is much lusher than the original; rose gathers geranium and gardenia to form a powerful accord. All of this is similar but different to Layton. In the final third is where things really diverge. The sandalwood remains but M. Merati-Kashati wraps it in amber, coffee, and civet. I think that latter ingredient is used to provide a faux-oud accord. It is where the animalic civet captures that same quality of oud while surrounding it in other woods allows for something less intrusive while still adding an exotic feel. The amber and coffee provide a much more pleasant harmony than I might have suspected. It ends up being my favorite drydown of any Parfums de Marly.
Layton Exclusif has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I admire what I suspect M. Sprecher is trying here with his best seller. He is asking those who love Layton to take another baby step towards Layton Exclusif’s more niche-y sensibility. If that is true I think that makes Layton Exclusif the ideal flanker. In any case I predict this is going to have as large an audience as the original. M. Sprecher keeps Layton Exclusif from being a bridge too far to those discovering niche perfumery through Parfums de Marly.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I received from Parfums de Marly.
When I was in high school and needed the car I would have to go pick up my father from his friend whom he carpooled with. On our way home was one of the big horse racing tracks in S.Florida, Calder. One of my dad’s favorite things to do was to follow the racing results in the daily sports pages. By looking at those results he would be able to pick out a couple of horses he liked. If it happened that one of those horses was running on a day I picked him up, we would make a little detour. It was some of my favorite time I spent with my father as he would explain to me his thought process behind his choices. It is something which has stuck with me ever since. The idea of looking for the pattern of performance which will lead to success. There is one perfume line which always brings back this memory to me because they are a horse-themed brand; Parfums de Marly.
I discovered Parfums de Marly at the Elements Showcase in 2013. I hadn’t realized they had been around for three years prior to that. In that first exposure, I sort of felt like I was with my dad looking over the perfumes named after horses with the perfumers as trainers. There were definite thoroughbreds in Herod and Pegasus. There was also a delightful quirkiness where creative director Julien Sprecher was not looking to play it safe. Ispazon and Shagya pushed hard on my sensibilities but over time I came around to appreciating both. As a result, I am always interested when there is a new addition to the line. For the end of 2016 Layton is the newest.
One of the things which is difficult with a brand like Parfums de Marly is while I like quite a few of the perfumes there has been no easy entry point. Until now all of them have a definitive presence that is best appreciated by those who know their perfume Racing Form. I think Layton changes all that. Perfumer Hamid Merati-Kashani has composed a perfume of charm designed to draw a new person in to the line.
The opening of Layton is a fantastic combination of lavender, mandarin orange, and green apple. When it is used correctly green apple provides a distinct focal point with crisp lines for a perfumer to elaborate upon. M. Merati-Kashani uses the lavender and orange as perfect counterbalance to the apple. It is a flat out sprint to the quarter pole as it is full of pace in the early moments. Layton settles into a steady pace over the next quarter as geranium acts as the fulcrum for jasmine and violet. The geranium is the predominant note matching the green of the apple. Now as we hit the top of the stretch the crack of black pepper applies the whip hand to sandalwood and patchouli sweetened considerably with vanilla. As Layton eases up after the finish guaiac wood and amber provide the warm down.
Layton has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.
What I like very much about Layton is it feels like M. Sprecher wanted something more approachable but still retaining a few of the quirkier bloodlines of the brand. Layton delivers this so well it immediately rises to one of the best from the entire brand for its combination of affability and difference; a real champion.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Parfums de Marly.