If there are silver linings to things one of 2021’s was the early months gave me a chance to catch-up. The last few months of 2020 was a whirlwind of perfume activity with new samples arriving every day. It felt like it was a make good on the early part of the year when everyone held their breath to see what would happen. There were a lot of interesting brands which launched which didn’t receive the attention I would have liked to give to them. One of those was Maison Tahite.
Maison Tahite is the first collection from a project called Officine Creative Profumi. The concept is to explore a raw material through a few different perfumers. At the end of last year I received the sample set of the first five releases exploring vanilla under the name Maison Tahite. I reviewed Sel_Vanille soon after because it was fitting what I see as an emerging trend. I returned to spend some time with the others last month. I found them all to be nicely done fragrances living up to the idea they were birthed under. The one which has become my favorite, Maison Tahite Vanillade has found a richer harmony in vanilla than I had experienced previously.
Vanillade is one of two perfumes Marie Duchene composed for Maison Tahite. For this one it seems that her brief was to create a sophisticated version. To achieve this she uses a dark patchouli as the contrasting keynote. Going in seeing this ingredient list I was expecting a chocolate-vanilla gourmand. Mme Duchene changes that expectation in the way she uses these two ingredients.
Befitting the name it opens on an almost tropical accord of sunny citrus infused coconut. This is a light amuse bouche rapidly passed through on our way to the entrée. The greener vanilla orchid type of vanilla is what is used. This keeps it from moving so firmly into gourmand territory. The patchouli also has a restraining bolt keeping it from doing the same in benzoin. What remains are facets which usually don’t get prominence. The vanilla has a more botanical scent while the patchouli is earthier like the floor of the jungle where the vanilla orchid grows. Together there is a resinous harmonic I have not noticed before. A wave of slightly dark musk adds some shading and depth to this over the final stages.
Vanillade has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
If you are a vanilla fan the discovery set of Maison Tahite will be a fun exploration of something you already enjoy. If you stay away from vanilla because of its too sweet reputation both Sel_Vanille and Vanillade might find you seeing it differently. I’m not dressing up at all these days but when the opportunity arises Vanillade will be something I might consider wearing out to an elegant occasion.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample set I purchased.
One thing perfume can do is to illuminate ingredients through fragrances which use a large amount of them. Referred to as overdose; it is not one of my favorite descriptors because it sounds like it is negative. When it is done with imagination having an ingredient at high concentration allows you to see some of the subtle undercurrents. Laboratorio Olfattivo Tonkade reveals tonka bean’s hidden facets.
Tonka bean is one of the most used ingredients in perfumery. It is rich in coumarin which is the ingredient which launched modern perfumery. That is why it is added to so many formulas. In the hands of a perfumer it can be the exact shading necessary to achieve an effect. In Tonkade perfumer Marie Duchene turns this around. By making tonka the focal point she has to find a series of ingredients which illuminate all that is there.
It starts as that recognizable coumarin quality meshes with a soft neroli over which cardamom breezes. There is strong citrus character which is given a hay-like sweetness to interact with. A clever choice of a precise amount of dried fruits is used to make that sweetgrass nature stand out. This flips the script of tonka in support of fruity top accords. In the heart tonka finds its usual partner of vanilla. Usually the tonka is used to attenuate the sweetness of vanilla. Here Mme Duchene allows the vanilla to amplify the inherent vanillic parts. This is another reversal of roles which works. The most interesting pairing comes as steely incense skirls through the tonka. There is a toasty quality of tonka which flits around the edges. Here it is much more prevalent. The austerity of the resin as contrast is compelling in the way of opposites. Over time Tonkade settles into a very warm comforting experience.
Tonkade has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I know you think you’ve smelled tonka. Tonkade might show you something you haven’t experienced before. One thing is certain Mme Duchene gave tonka its due.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
I am not sure what it is about the Caribbean island of St. Barth’s but there are a number of creative directors who want to capture the smell of it. One of those is former 1970’s model Jacques Zolty. M. Zolty after his modeling and acting career had cooled down decided to retreat to St. Barth’s as his permanent home. He has lived there for over 25 years now and is as much a native as those who were born there. In 2006 he decided he wanted to start a perfume which captures the smells of his island. He would partner with Roberto Drago to create the line.
Sig. Drago’s vision for the Jacques Zolty line was to create an intermediate line between mainstream and niche. The line would represent something different from what you could find at your local mall but not so unusual as to create a barrier for a consumer to have to leap over. I have admired the restraint of the perfumes in this line. I think Sig. Drago’s vision is clear and the perfumes execute them more than capably. Last year’s release Van-ile was a good example of this aesthetic. For 2015 the latest release Flowersea jumps on the revival of the aquatic fragrance ongoing.
For the previous five releases in the Jacques Zolty line they purposefully stayed away from going for the sea and sand vibe. In Flowersea Sig. Drago asks perfumer Marie Duchene to finally go for it with a suntan lotion component thrown in for good measure.
Flowersea opens with a calone-based marine accord but it is also fortified with a healthy dose of ozonic notes to give the freshness a more open air quality. Together this is like looking at the horizon over an expanse of turquoise water. So there is the sea. For the flower part Mme Duchene uses frangipani, jasmine, and peony to create a rich tropical flower accord. The rougher edges of the indoles are removed leaving only the prettiness of the flowers to mix with the sea part. As you’re walking this flower laden beach you need some sunscreen and Mme Duchene uses coconut flower and a whole lot of white musk to create the oiled sun warmed skin accord. It all ends on clean woods of cedar and sandalwood.
Flowersea has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
Flowersea is the most niche-like of the Jacques Zolty fragrances so far. I wonder if Sig. Drago has just decided to start transitioning the line a little more towards niche. Time will tell on that. What I like about Flowersea is that it is yet another modern aquatic that is grabbing my interest in a perfume sector I thought was tapped out. Maybe it just needed some new perspective from somewhere in-between mainstream and niche.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Jacques Zolty at Esxence 2015.