New Perfume Review Lancome Idole- Basic Not Bland

I love great food. Yet there are days when the best thing you can put on a plate is a perfectly toasted grilled cheese sandwich. Nothing special about two slices of bread, cheese, and butter but there are moments when the simplicity appeals. I go through this thought process when I receive samples of the new commercial releases. I think to myself is this fragrance potentially a grilled cheese sandwich. The latest to give me this thought is Lancome Idole.

Zendaya is the Face of Idole

It was hard to want to review Idole because it was one of the dreaded scents by committee. It usually means it is also a perfume of focus group testing. Which usually means lowest common denominator style of perfume. The three perfumers credited, Nadege Le Garlantezec, Shyamala Maisondieu, and Adriana Medina-Benz are not here to push boundaries. Their task was to make a musky fruity rose that would ideally appeal to the younger fragrance consumer. To their credit Idole carries a touch more weight than most of the fragrances aimed at that demographic. It is one of the reasons it appealed to me. They didn’t sacrifice their ingredients on the altar of transparency although it is still on the lighter side of the spectrum.

Idole opens with a fruity top accord of pear and citrus. The pear imparts a juiciness which the citrus adds bright tartness in contrast. It is nicely balanced between the two fruity pieces. The rose comes around to form a typical fruity floral pairing. Where Idole stands apart, a little bit, is the way the perfumers use a series of white musks from here. It is like a set of those ingredients seep through the fruity floral as if they were tendrils of fog. It adds a lightly musky tone to the overall perfume without becoming screechy. It all comes together quickly and lingers for hours.

Idole has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Idole is a basic musky fruity floral. What makes it less bland than its counterparts on the department store counter is it has an idea of what it wants to be. A great grilled cheese sandwich.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Lancome.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review L’Occitane Herbae- Blackberry Picking

The Colognoisseur Home Office is in a large agricultural area zoned to encourage farms. Ever since we moved here, I have tried to take as much advantage of the local farms as I can. One part of that which I enjoy quite a bit is berry picking season. It starts at the end of May with strawberries and ends when the raspberries appear at the end of the summer. Each time I go I enjoy the natural scent of the task. The green of the leaves. The smell of the berries on my fingers. The honest sweat of exertion. As I drive home that is the scent profile of my car. L’Occitane Herbae is reminiscent of the days I go picking blackberries.

Nadege Le Garlantezec

First let me get the misnomer on the label out of the way. When I received my sample I was looking forward to a celebration of green growing things. If you also look at that name and think that; you will be disappointed. This is a wild fruity floral that has zero to do with herbs of any kind. If that sounds good even with the silly choice of name keep reading.

Shyamala Maisondieu

Perfumers Nadege Le Garlantezec and Shyamala Maisondieu teamed up to create Herbae. I must believe they weren’t given a brief with the name attached to it. On the other hand if they were told the name they happily ignored it. Herbae is a fragrance of mid-summer in the blackberry field.

The only slight bit of herbal character comes from the early use of baie rose matched with the botanical musk of ambrette. It is an accord of a hot summer day. As I walk into the fields the blackberries ripening in the sun reach my nose. In Herbae the perfumers also bring the blackberry forward. It is given some contrast using rose and sage. When I focus, I find the rose, but the overall effect is vegetal green as a grace note to the blackberry. As I get up from having filled my containers, I have the smell of a clean sweat coming through my t-shirt. A combination of linen musks, honey, and coumarin form a nice sweaty cotton accord as the base of Herbae.

Herbae has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

While I would still like a L’Occitane fragrance which was all about herbs, Herbae was still a pleasure to wear. It makes me look at the calendar waiting to go pick some blackberries.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by L’Occitane.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Ex Nihilo Viper Green- Cold-Blooded

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I grew up around snakes in South Florida. I was fascinated with them. One thing which always kept me intrigued was that they were cold-blooded. If I was handling a non-poisonous snake the lack of warmth, as it slithered around my forearm and through my fingers, was an interesting contrast. Because of the scales it always felt like a dry kind of cold to me. Mrs. C is terribly afraid of snakes and my interactions are now limited to getting them out of her vegetable garden. Ex Nihilo Viper Green captures the serpentine chill without turning venomous.

Ex Nihilo Creative Team

Ex Nihilo has been a brand in transition over the last year or so. When the creative team of Sylvie Loday, Olivier Royere, and Benoit Verdier started the brand it was only available in a Paris boutique with a design aesthetic which allowed a consumer to add the last note to their perfume. After two years they have steadily expanded the places they can be found which makes it difficult for that bit of personalization to be added in. It has been a move for the better because it has produced perfumes which feel more complete which Viper Green benefits from. Perfumer Nadage Le Garlantezec uses a spine of cool green ingredients which allow for florals and patchouli to slither over.

Nadege Le Garlantezec

Viper Green opens on a tart green mandarin paired with angelica root. This is the beginning of the green thread which runs throughout. Galbanum intensifies that thread while Mme Le Garlantezec uses a synthetic ingredient called Rosyfolia. What that does is provide a rose tinted muguet. That bit of muguet that is green is very present in Rosyfolia which allows it to pick up the galbanum just in time for jasmine to pick up the floral baton. Some powdery iris softens the central part of the development and provides a bit of the cold-blooded nature. A very potent vetiver supported by a slightly earthy patchouli is the final part.

Viper Green has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Viper Green is not a fanged fragrance despite the name. It is the sense of a cool green snake slithering languidly over your skin. I have enjoyed handling this snake in these early days of summer.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Ex Nihilo.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Narciso Rouge- A More Typical Shade of Musk

There are brands which have picked a perfume lane to travel in. Those brands will mine every shade and nuance of the style they have chosen. This is certainly true of Narciso Rodriguez who have been doing this with musk-centric perfumes for fifteen years. Over thirty-plus releases they have kind of exhausted the variations. Now maybe it is time to try to improve on the more well-known. Narciso Rouge feels like that kind of perfume to me.

Sonia Constant

A team of perfumers, Sonia Constant and Nadege le Garlantezec, are responsible for designing Rouge. They go back and design around tropes familiar to those who love musk perfumes. Rose and iris as the floral, check. Cedar and vetiver as the base, check. Here is the difference, while the ingredients are nothing new there is an overt sultriness to Rouge that the perfumers manage to evoke I found engaging.

Nadege le Garlantezec

The opening is a lipstick rose accord of iris and rose. when this accord is done right it gives off a sense of sophistication and seduction. The perfumers do a great version here. It reminds me of lips perfectly lacquered in crimson lipstick; almost velvety in nature. The musks are titrated in over an hour or so. As the time goes on there is a classically sensual style of musk against the rose accord. It is sort of like a rough kiss on the perfect lips mussing up the perfection. The cedar comes in to try and clean things up with a greenish woody base. Vetiver accentuates the green quality of the wood finishing things off in a reliable manner.

Rouge has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I think it can be easy to dismiss new Narciso Rodriguez releases because there has been so many released. There is a bit of a sense of repetition beginning to set in. Rouge caused me to consider whether composing in a more typical style of musk isn’t still worth the effort.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Narciso Rodriguez.

Mark Behnke