When I first started Colognoisseur January was a desert of new perfumes to write about. In the last few years that has changed. The last quarter of the year has been the time I receive the most new releases. It is overwhelming in a good way. I now look forward to January to allow me to backtrack and fill in some blanks. I feel strongest about doing this when I get a new collection and there is one which clearly needs to be written about first. When the others are also quite good but don’t necessarily do something so different as the one standout.
Which was where I was when receiving the three perfumes which make up Frassai’s El Sur collection. Creative director Natalia Outeda working with perfumer Irina Burlakova produced a nice set of fragrance. The thing was El Descanso immediately marked itself out as one of the best perfumes of the year. Which doesn’t mean the other two, Cuir Pampas and Rosa Sacra, also have their charms; just ones I’ve seen before. Because they are good, I don’t want them to get lost. I’m going to do short reviews of both today.
Cuir Pampas is meant to evoke the gauchos of Argentina. These are the South American counterpart to the American cowboy. They both wear leather and roam the wide-open spaces. The biggest difference which is referenced in Cuir Pampas is their hot beverage of choice. Mme Burlakova uses that difference to add a gaucho spin to the story of the trail rider.
It opens with the smell of well-worn leather and the bite of green mate tea. That is the warmth that wakes a gaucho up. It also is what wakes up the early going in Cuir Pampas. That bitterness is a compelling foil to the leather. This dynamic remains in place for a while as if it takes some time for our metaphorical gaucho to get his horse outfitted while finishing his tea. What comes next is sunrise on the grass fields known as the Pampas. The whole construct opens up through vetiver, hay, and labdanum. This is the joy of being born to ride.
Cuir Pampas has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Rosa Sacra also has some words meant to connect back to Argentina. In this case I didn’t find them to be particularly adept at describing the perfume. What Mme Burlakova creates is a tropical rose.
Using the spicy Ottoman rose as her core floral she dusts it with baie rose. The latter has an ability to accentuate many of the aspects of this rose. The herbal nature picks up the spices in the middle. It also has a fruity scent which deepens the floral quality of the rose. Also as part of this there is a humidity where I can almost hear the plink of droplets from the canopy raining on the bloom. It takes a decidedly woody turn with palo santo forming the base. The more subdued sandalwood-like nature of palo santo works especially well here. It supports and buoys the rose without overwriting it. What it leaves is a rose blooming deep in the rain forest.
Rosa Sacra has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
The entire El Sur collection is another creative triumph for Sra. Outeda. All three deserve some praise for her seeing her vision to fruition.
Disclosure: this review is based on samples provided by Frassai.
When I was in graduate school my roommate was heading to USC in Los Angeles, California. I did my first cross-country drive with him. We traveled along I-40 in the southern tier of states. We stopped for the night in the northern part of Texas near the panhandle of Oklahoma. This was a leisurely drive, so it was late afternoon in August when we got out of the car. This was my first experience of the wide-open spaces in the middle of the country. We had been noticing the farm fields on either side of the highway. Now that we were next to them the late afternoon carried the scent of wheat fields on the verge of harvest to us. This was a mixture of green and something golden but not like hay or dried grass. The best I can do is it was cereal-like. This is not a typical thing to dedicate a new perfume to. Frassai El Descanso takes its turn at it.
Creative director-owner Natalia Outeda has looked to her native Argentina for inspiration for all her perfumes. For this latest collection of three perfumes, the El Sur Collection, she is focused on the southern part of her home. Each perfume celebrates an indigenous subject; leather, rose, and in the case of El Descanso, wheat. In the accompanying description she speaks of the “golden wheat fields” of the Pampas. Based on what I smell in the perfume I think they must smell a lot like the wheat fields in this country.
For this collection Sra. Outeda collaborates with perfumer Irina Burlakova. I will review the other two perfumes because I enjoyed the entire collection, but it was El Descanso which captured my attention first. What impresses me is that they found that combination of the green and the grain so ideally.
The green is represented by an accord of the botanical musk of ambrette and watery green galbanum. If you’ve ever been in a farm field of growing things you will recognize this. It is the fulgent green of irrigated growing things. The ambrette adds the presence of the soil they are growing in. Then we shift to the crop. Mme Burlakova uses bran absolute and ombu leaves to form the field of waving stalks of tightly packed kernels of grain. This is a closed in accord which rides on top of the galbanum and ambrette top accord. A dry woody duo of cedar and sandalwood add in that sense of late afternoon under the summer sun to complete the composition.
El Descanso has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
In these days where I am spending too much time inside the house any perfume which can ameliorate that is appreciated. El Descanso takes me to a wheat field in summer. You can take your pick which country you find your open fields in.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample supplied by Frassai.
When I reviewed the three debut scents from Frassai earlier this year I stated that they all displayed the kind of style which comes from a jeweler’s eye. The two latest releases, A Fuego Lento and Teisenddu, continue to show what an asset that is.
Frassai was founded last year by Argentinian-born Natalia Outeda. She has shown her experience in fragrance by working with some of the best perfumers. Then from the perspective of an artist who sets each jewel in its place, she asks her perfumers to do the same with their ingredients.
For A Fuego Lento Sra. Outeda collaborates with perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux for the second time. The name roughly translates to simmer. Sr. Flores-Roux starts things off at a boil before getting to that state. That energy comes from a pairing of white flowers; orange blossom and jasmine sambac. Rich indolic white flowers. These are like a pair of brilliant white diamonds at the center of the setting. What is placed around them are a ring of emeralds. First Sr. Flores-Roux uses a smooth suede leather accord to take a bit of the brilliance off the florals. This is followed by flouve odorante. This is an ingredient I facetiously call CoumarinMax. It is a natural source of the hay-like sweetness of coumarin but amplified many times. It doesn’t just complement the suede it stands right next to it in the setting attracting the same attention. The base finishes with civet providing an echo of the indoles from up top and Tolu balsam adding in a sturdy woody base.
A Fuego Lento has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage, especially early on.
For Teisenddu Sra Outeda turned to the perfumer who did some of her candles, Roxanne Kirkpatrick. Ms. Kirkpatrick is just beginning her fine fragrance career and I believe Teisenddu is her first professional brief. I think the jeweler in Sra. Outeda knows when she has found a precious gem; Ms. Kirkpatrick seems to be the perfume version of that.
The inspiration for Teisenddu was the pastry the early Welsh settlers brought with them to Argentina. This translates into a modern style of gourmand where the foodie notes are the heart of things, but they don’t clobber you over the head. Teisenddu is a slow burn from top to bottom.
It begins with a waft of spice from nutmeg wrapping around bitter orange. Then in a funny twist the name of the boat the Welsh settlers sailed on was called The Mimosa so naturally mimosa is one of the ingredients in the heart. The other is a deep rum. It provides an odd boozy sweetness. This is further amplified by a “dark sugar crystals” accord. The base is a nicely constructed leather accord. Teisenddu is an impressive debut for Ms. Kirkpatrick.
Teisenddu has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
These two latest releases along with the three from earlier in this year makes Frassai the best debut perfume line of 2018.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Frassai.
For Blondine Sra. Outeda collaborated with perfumer Yann Vasnier. The name of the fragrance refers to the heroine of a 1920’s French fairytale. I’m not familiar with the story but the musky floral gourmand Sra. Outeda and M. Vasnier have created reminds me more of Hansel and Gretel. As mouth-watering food elements draw you closer.
M. Vasnier opens with a walk among the flowers and trees with ashok flower and tiger lily giving spicy floral touches while pear leaves provide some green with hints of fruit. It isn’t a forest per se, but it is an outdoors floral accord. Then from a distance caramel and cocoa entice you towards a house that exudes a fabulous gourmand accord. M. Vasnier finds a nice balance in something that could have been overwhelming. This is a recurrent theme in the entire Frassai debut collection on not going as far as the ingredients will let you. Instead Sra. Outeda goes for an opaquer aesthetic. It works to the advantage of the gourmand heart in Blondine. The musks come forward and they provide an animalic contrast which works.
Blondine has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
If there was one I was looking forward to from the press materials it was Verano Porteno by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux. Sr. Flores-Roux is one of my favorite perfumers because of his passion. The idea of having him assay a summer evening in Buenos Aires was always going to be special. The keynote is a gorgeous Imperial Jasmine around which the other notes dance with gusto.
Sr. Flores-Roux again displays his deft touch with citrus as he blends bergamot, clementine, and cedrat. The clementine carries the focal point but the tart nature of the other two keep it from being as ebullient as it could, which I liked. A very green intermezzo of mate tea and cardamom transition from the citrus to the jasmine. This is an impressive jasmine kept light but not neutered as the indoles purr underneath. The base is the botanical musk of ambrette and woody vetiver.
Verano Porteno has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I must compliment Sra. Outeda on the aesthetic she imposed upon her three perfumers. It produces a coherent collection of familiar ingredients used in a lighter way than expected. I think all three are worth sampling but I know it will be my sample of Verano Porteno which will be empty first.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Frassai.
It is common for fashion designers to branch out into perfume. It happens so frequently it seems lacking if a big fashion house doesn’t have a perfume or two with their name on it. Jewelry designers are less likely to add fragrance to their portfolio. Yet many of the lines which have jewelers as their creative director also have an innate understanding of providing settings for all their ingredients to sparkle within.
When I was contacted by Natalia Outeda the founder and creative director of Frassai I was happy to hear she was a jewelry designer as well as a perfume designer. Based in Buenos Aires and New York Sra. Outeda she also had a background in fine fragrance which made this a real fusion of her experience. She chose three of the best perfumers in the business; Olivier Gilltoin, Yann Vasnier, and Rodrigo Flores-Roux to compose her debut collection of three perfumes Tian Di, Blondine, and Verano Porteno. I liked all three enough to want to write about them over the next two days. I’ll start with Tian Di and finish tomorrow with the other two.
Tian Di was a collaboration between Sra Outeda and M, Gillotin meant to evoke a contemporary Oriental. To stretch the jewelry analogy, it was like re-setting a vintage piece in a modern way. M. Gillotin would produce an Oriental with less heaviness and more kinetic energy than the form usually provides.
That starts with a fascinating accord around ginger and peach. Both are so frequently used it is difficult to find life in the pairing, yet M. Gillotin does. It happens because the ginger can act as a wave upon which the peach floats on top of. When it crashes what arises from the spray is a compelling heart accord of orris and incense. Here M. Gillotin uses both ingredients as the central gemstones of different “colors”. The orris has a deep amethyst hue while the incense is onyx. It shades things dark but more dusky than full night. Sandalwood provides the platinum setting for these jewels to nestle in. When all put together it is recognizably Oriental but given a fresh new setting.
Tian Di has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
It might just be confirmation bias, but Tian Di does feel like the jeweler’s eye of Sra. Outeda was asking for M. Gillotin to place each ingredient just so. In Tian Di it results in a jewel of a perfume.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Frassai