I think every perfume lover comes to a similar moment. You try something in the store. You love it. It is what you want to smell like. It is perfect. Until you find out that it is one of those ultra-luxe releases with a price tag to match. The first time this happened to me was with the 2009 release of Brioni perfume. It was exactly tailored to what my taste is in perfume. I swore off buying other things, swallowed hard and paid up because it was so me.
Brioni is an Italian suit maker known for their impeccably tailored made-to-order suits. It seems unlikely I will ever own one of those but the first perfume to carry the name was made-to-order for me. It remains one of my favorites of all-time. Five years later they would release a new version. It was just as interesting as the original in a different way. It also was a celebration of the luxurious elements of an upscale menswear brand. I sometimes must think a little on which one I want to wear when I’m in the mood to wear Brioni fragrance.
Which brings us to 2021 and yet another perfume named Brioni. If the previous two perfumes were emblematic of the singular made-to-order aesthetic of the brand this newest is more ready-to-wear. Through both price and the style of perfume it seems as if the brand is looking for a broader based consumer for their fragrances.
Perfumer Michel Almairac is the one asked to tailor this more consumer-friendly perfume suit. While the earlier perfumes weren’t edgy boundary breakers, they carried a sense of luxury appropriate to the brand. This newest version is even less adventurous with less luxury.
It begins with a snappy baie rose and green apple top accord given volume through a fresh air effect. M. Almairac is an expert in these types of top accords. It stays more open as violet and ambroxan hold the floral heart. This is where the new Brioni is at its best. Out in the open air with a woody violet on its lapel. It settles on an Iso E Super base softened with coumarin from tonka bean.
Brioni has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
M. Almairac has been part of so many mass-market best sellers it can be hazardous to try and look for them in another one. If I scrunch up my nose, I can find bits and pieces of previous releases by him. Except taken as a whole this Brioni presents an entirely new profile from head to toe. Which is what you would expect when getting a suit off the rack, or a perfume.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Brioni
When I receive my samples and am prioritizing them, I’ll admit a favorite perfumer name will move it towards the front of the line. It isn’t foolproof. The marketers and focus groups can dumb down the best. Even against those powerful tides I have a trust in the perfumers I admire to push back a little bit. Which is what I experienced with Chloe Rose Tangerine.
Ever since 2018’s release of Chloe Nomade it seems like there is a new team overseeing the perfumes. They have stopped being minimal variations on rose. That history made me wonder if a perfume called Rose Tangerine was a return to that. The perfumers which had me hoping for more are Michel Almairac and Sidonie Lancesseur. What they produced was a variation on rose but something more substantial in keeping with the more recent releases.
This is a perfume where you definitely get what is advertised. The tangerine effect is that of the fruit itself. It is given lift through the precise use of blackcurrant bud. This is where the imprimatur of my perfumers I admire is probably being seen. By adding this in underneath a juicy citrus it adds a subtle fizz. Not aldehydic but kind of like a mimosa where the champagne has gone a bit flat. It provides just a bit of expansiveness to the tangerine. Which allows the very fresh rose to fill those spaces. It comes together in a lovely fruity floral accord. Some more synthetic musks and woods add more opacity over the final stages.
Rose Tangerine has 4-6 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
If you are someone who bases your fragrance buying on how long it lasts and how far it blasts, Rose Tangerine is low on both scales. This is one of the shortest lasting mainstream perfumes I’ve tried. I topped it off twice after initial application on the days I wore it. It makes it a short-term pleasure I was happy to repeat on those days.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Sephora.
As we hit August even when sheltered at home it is the time of year when watermelon is served often in Poodlesville. Because of the local lavender farm there are a lot of lavender bunches around, too. I hadn’t associated the two as the scent markers for this time of year until I tried Parle Moi de Parfum Haute Provence 89.
Perfumer Michel Almairac has produced one of the best perfumer-owned fragrance lines. Ever since he opened his store in 2016, he has been keeping to an aesthetic which has produced an outstanding collection. It is best summed up in three words “keep it simple”. M. Almairac has made an attribute of using four or five multi-faceted ingredients and allowing them to find their levels. One of the interesting aspects of the names for the perfumes is the number at the end represents the number of mods used to arrive at the final product. The collection has some single digit versions and some triple digit ones. Haute Provence is at the upper end of the collection in terms of this numerator. I have no way of knowing but it is probably because M. Almairac chose to work with Calone, or a close analog. To get the balance right here definitely took effort. Haute Provence 89 was meant to capture summer trips that M. Almairac took to this part of France. He wanted to capture the lavender and watermelon days of the end of summer.
It opens with an expansive lavender given prominence to its herbal nature. It is joined by the Calone-like ingredient. Calone is the ingredient which launched the aquatic genre. It is well-known for having a melon scent within the sea spray. The reason I think this might be a Calone analog is it seems inverted as the melon has the lead and the sea spray is found underneath. What this does is turn the ingredient to an airier sweet fruitiness reminiscent of watermelon. The lavender and the watermelon go together in a beautiful reminder of midsummer. As much as I enjoyed this M. Almairac had one last piece to add which made this perfume even better. The rich dark floral of narcissus slides underneath the lavender and watermelon. It adds an end of day sunset vibe grounding the openness of the early going.
Haute Provence 89 has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
If you are one who despises Calone because of its melon note I can tell you this is not going to be your cup of tea. If on the other hand you are curious to see a different use of it to entirely unique effect Haute Provence 89 should be on your test list. It captured the late days of summer at my house when lavender and watermelon are the indigenous scents.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
Immortelle is one of my favorite perfume ingredients. It doesn’t get used as much as I’d like because it is a tricky ingredient to use. It has a unique scent profile I compare to maple syrup. A perfumer must use care because it can become an overwhelming note. Which is why in many perfumes which feature immortelle there is a set of spices to act as a contrast. It was why Parle Moi de Parfum Mile High 38 interested me as it took an entirely different approach.
Parle Moi de Parfum is the brand owned by perfumer Michel Almairac. Ever since 2016 he has been producing perfumes which highlight a minimalist aesthetic. As part of the current transparency trend I have found the fragrances in this collection to hit the right balance of opacity and uniqueness. Mile High 38 continues that. It is especially impressive that it is achieved using a note like immortelle.
Another unique aspect to his perfume is the use of pineapple as the other keynote. When I saw that I was thinking this was going to go way too sweet. M. Almairac has proven over time that those concerns I have on paper evaporate once I have the finished product in hand.
That pineapple is what I first smell on application. This is not the kind of greener less restrained pineapple I was expecting. This was a big juicy wedge of pineapple with the liquid dripping off it. The immortelle starts combining with it rapidly. I expected this was going to spiral out of control into a sweet mess. The immortelle is held in abeyance by the pineapple. The fruitiness finds a harmony with the immortelle where they come together in a beautiful accord. The maple syrup nature goes so well I almost want to try pouring a little bit on a pineapple ring to see if it tastes as good as it smells. A dark patchouli adds in a faux-chocolate sweetness while tonka bean creates a toasty warmth in the final stages.
Mile High 38 has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I think I must quit being grumpy about pineapple as a perfume ingredient. What I need to do is enjoy what can be created in the hands of a perfumer looking to do something different with it. To that end M. Almairac showed me there is a new way for me to enjoy my immortelle; on a top of a juicy pineapple.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
Sandalwood is one of the more common ingredients in perfumery. Along with cedar it could be called the “safe wood”. The one that gets used because it is so likeable. I also think it gets used because sandalwood has multiple scent profiles to provide to the woody part of a fragrance. One type of sandalwood I enjoy is a creamier version. I like it because it is easy-going while providing a comforting scent to me. Van Cleef & Arpels Santal Blanc is a perfume designed around that.
Santal Blanc is part of the Collection Extraordinaire collection. This time perfumer Michel Almairac’s brief was in the name, white sandalwood. M. Almairac interpreted that in two ways. One is to amplify the creamy parts of sandalwood. Second it is to use a set of white musks to wrap it in crisp linen. It creates a compellingly simple woody perfume.
M. Almairac begins with fig. This is called “fig milk” in the ingredient list but fig on its own has a milky nature without creating something. That is the kind of fig M. Almairac uses here. It is joined straightaway by the sandalwood. Together this creates an opulently creamy sandalwood. A lot of times sandalwood can be dry. To prevent this from happening M. Almairac sweetens the woody accord with tonka bean. It adds a lovely roundness to the central accord. The base accord is something M. Almairac has become quite good at; a layering of white musks into a plush fabric-like accord. It all comes together in a precisely realized white accord.
Santal Blanc has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Santal Blanc fits in with the rest of the Collection Extraordinaire collection of luxurious versions of well-known perfume ingredients. In this case Santal Blanc felt less like “fig milk” and more like milk of sandalwood.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Neiman Marcus.
I would certainly plead guilty to the charge of taking perfume seriously. The defining question is whether I take it too seriously. I hope not, but a recent experience gave me pause. As readers know the whole transparency to the point that it seems like it doesn’t want to be perfume irritates me. When I received the three fragrances which make up the Azzaro Time to Shine collection I expected to feel the same. To the point that I sort of got them out of the way the night they arrived at Colognoisseur HQ. I was more interested in other things in the mail that day. As happens occasionally, one of those strips I want to ignore finds its way back to my nose. What really surprised me was it was these Azzaro ones. They are little more than single accords but every one of them caught my attention. The Time to Shine collection consists of Fun, Sea, and Shine. They are described as “feel-good” fragrances and I must admit that in the right circumstances they were.
Fun is composed by perfumer Nathalie Gracia-Cetto. It is an off-kilter citrus accord where blood orange and rhubarb form a tart vegetal citric duet which has akigalawood providing a subtly spicy foundation.
Sea is composed by Michel Almairac. It is a clever transparent take on a classic aquatic accord. Orange infuses the set of marine/ozonic ingredients with the melon quality of Calone pushed forward to make it more fruity than citrus. Regular patchouli provides the foundation here.
Shine is composed by Sidonie Lancesseur. It represents the sand of the beach with a mineralic accord. It reminded me of the scent of the sand when the sun is at its zenith. Ambroxan, used judiciously, provides a heat mirage effect off of the sand accord.
All three have 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I was testing these while we had our first concerted heat wave and they were “feel-good” companions. They provided just the right amount of fragrance in the humidity that they were welcome. As I mentioned in the opening these are little more than single accords. Maybe there are circumstances when good perfumers can please me with just that. Making me look myself in the mirror and ask, “Why so serious?”
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Azzaro.
It wasn’t that long ago that a minimalist perfume was perceived as flawed. They were considered cheap. Over the last twenty years that changed mainly because of a group of perfumers who knew how to get the most out of a few ingredients. What they produced were perfumes which found hidden accords within the overlaps. They displayed a precision of balance to find just the right amount of each ingredient. I’ve remarked in the past that this might be the most difficult type of construction to pull off. One poorly chosen ingredient or too much of one at the expense of others and it all falls apart. When a perfumer who has shown the ability to achieve this not so simple balance time and again, I look forward to their latest release; as I did with Parle Moi de Parfum Gardens of India 79.
Parle Moi de Parfum is the brand begun by perfume Michel Almairac in 2016. The entire ethos of the collection is simple minimalism. I have enjoyed the entire line so far because M. Almairac has lived up to that standard beautifully. With Gardens of India 79 he has chosen to take the three perfume ingredients emblematic of that country; jasmine, tuberose, and sandalwood. He joins them in a joyous celebration of all three.
Jasmine comes first. M. Almairac chooses an absolute of jasmine buds which impart a more innocent scent that jasmine can carry. Tuberose arrives in all its indolic glory. This is the kind of balance I speak of that is difficult to attain. The jasmine could easily be overwhelmed by the tuberose. M. Almairac uses the freshness of this version of jasmine as foil to the blowsy aspects of tuberose. It makes the familiar something to admire again. If this was a true perfume of India the sandalwood used would be Mysore. M. Almairac, or anyone else, must use the sustainable varieties. In this case the New Caledonian version. This sandalwood provides a creamy sweet woodiness which meshes perfectly with the jasmine and tuberose.
Gardens of India 79 has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Gardens of India 79 is a masterclass in balance and minimalism. At every turn these three Indian ingredients delighted me with their not so simple balance.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
One of the things I wonder about is when a perfumer moves to their own brand, do they ever revisit a previous perfume they made. They produce so many mods in pursuit of a final formula for a client is there one they liked more than what was marketed? The creative director is probably the final word but without a place to release it the discarded versions never see the light of day. One thing I know is perfumer Michel Almairac was the perfumer behind some of the greatest mainstream perfumes ever. The question is was there another version of one of those that could have also been as influential. The new release from his Parle Moi de Parfum brand, Papyrus Oud 71, might answer that.
If there was a particularly fertile creative partnership for M. Almairac it was with Tom Ford when he was overseeing the Gucci fragrances. Starting with Gucci Rush in 1999 they would make a memorable trilogy ending with Gucci pour Homme in 2003. That perfume has been discontinued for a few years but I, and many others, consider it to be one of the best. When I saw the name Papyrus Oud it was hard not to make a leap because papyrus was a keynote in that earlier fragrance. It turns out that it is less than that; which in the end makes it more.
The aesthetic M. Almairac has employed at his own brand is one of simple constructs which create their impact where they intersect. It has been one of the reasons I have enjoyed many of the releases, so far. Papyrus Oud is another piece of that continuum.
The papyrus appears right away, but rather quickly a delineated frankincense marries itself to it. This reminds me of ancient Egyptian scribes writing on papyrus scrolls as a stick of incense smolders nearby. This is a gorgeous duet. It is a dynamic match as the resinous incense slides across the lightly green papyrus. The oud appears as an accord. M. Almairac can tune that accord such that it provides a supporting role to the other two ingredients. This is finished off with a set of the more animalic musks.
Papyrus Oud 71 has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is not Gucci pour Homme Take 2. The presence of the papyrus and incense are going to lead many to make that comparison. Papyrus Oud 71 is more emblematic of current minimalistic perfume trends, thankfully so. Was this an early mod that Mr. Ford rejected? I doubt we’ll get an answer to that question although I could see this being a very early mod showing how papyrus and frankincense work together. The bottom line is Papyrus Oud 71 stands on its own upon pillars of papyrus and frankincense.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Parle Moi de Parfum.
One of the enduring perfume challenges of recent years is how to make a chypre when one of the key ingredients is no longer allowed. That ingredient, oakmoss, has a kind of low calorie substitute where the problematic ingredient has been removed. That low-atranol oakmoss always feels lesser to me. Perfumers have found ways to use other ingredients to fill in the missing character. That success is a reason the chypre has continued to thrive.
There is also a more difficult path to take. Forget about that oakmoss altogether. Instead look for another set of ingredients which create the vibe of chypre without compromise. This is a less successful endeavor at completing this high degree of difficulty maneuver. It has still produced perfumes which I have liked even though I would not call them chypres. Parle Moi de Parfum Chypre Mojo falls in this category.
Parle Moi de Parfum is perfumer Michel Almairic’s own brand. It has extolled a minimalistic aesthetic using only a few ingredients. It is this which does not allow Chypre Mojo to fully come together into something I would classify as a chypre. What it does turn out to be is a fantastic summery perfume.
The reason this is summer in a bottle is the top note of mango. M. Almairac captures the juicy, fleshy nature of the fruit as you peel the skin off to get to the good stuff underneath. We had a mango tree in the yard in my boyhood home. There were summer days where my shirt was covered in the juice which ran off my chin onto my t-shirt. The mango M. Almairac uses is that scent. Next comes the two ingredients, carnation and patchouli, M. Almairac wants to use to create his chypre accord. The carnation provides the green. My issue is carnation doesn’t have enough green to it to really rise to chypre level. The patchouli comes closer. M. Almairac seems to be using one of the fractions which is very dry with a bitter edge to it. This feels like it has some of the pieces I would describe as chypre-like. Together they produce a really beautiful contrast to the mango just not the kind advertised on the bottle.
Chypre Mojo has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
If you come here looking for a chypre I think you will not find that; unless your definition is different than mine. Which should not keep you from trying this. Chypre Mojo is a gorgeous tropical fruit perfume that is among my favorite of the year; it just needs to be renamed to Mango Magic.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
As a long-time gamer there is a concept in the roleplaying versions of gameplay called min/max. The idea is that when you design a character you put all your resources into enhancing a couple of specific traits; that’s the max. Which means many of the other traits are so low they become obvious weak spots; that’s the min. If you are part of a team that can cover for the min then your max can be extremely valuable allowing you to punch above your level. I was reminded of this gaming concept as it pertains to perfume with Parle Moi de Parfum Orris Tattoo.
Perfumer Michel Almairac founded his personal line in 2016 with a set of eight inaugural perfumes. The brand aesthetic is to keep to minimal ingredients while looking for maximum effect. Over the first eight this balance was achieved more often than it wasn’t. In Orris Tattoo it reaches an apotheosis.
If you are going to design perfume like this, you require a keynote which is multi-faceted. In the case of Orris Tattoo that is already baked into the name. Orris has so many facets it takes some skill to design, so the different facets have some time in the spotlight. M. Almairac finds ways to max out his orris butter.
Orris Tattoo first displays its carroty style. In some uses orris butter has an earthier nature. In this perfume it comes off with a sweeter tint. I suspect some carrot seed in a tiny amount was added to pick this thread out in the early moments. It then transforms into one of my favorite incarnations of orris as a yeasty scent of rising dough arrives. This is a lovely example of how orris shifts. Again, I’m not sure what is used as a supporting note to enhance this, but something is there. I was sort of expecting powder to be next but got thrown a curveball as it instead tilts towards an astringent floral quality. Much less flamboyant than I expected but it falls right in line with what came before. This heads towards a nutty final phase bolstered by a tiny amount of a synthetic woody ingredient.
Orris Tattoo has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Orris Tatto is an excellent iris perfume. If you like the note this is one worth trying. If you are put off by powdery iris I would also think you might want to try this, too. By using several min ingredients M. Almairac produces a max orris.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.