If you look at almost any piece of writing on this site it should be obvious the esteem I hold creative directors in. I think the rare ones among them are as important as the perfumer. For some brands I would say it the predominant artistic vision. Once the names of the creative directors and perfumers began to become known I searched to find out what I could find out about my favorites. It took me a long time, but I figured out the creative team behind Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant. Celine Verleure and perfumer Dominique Ropion.
Since 2011 Mme Verleure has overseen her own brand of perfume Olfactive Studio. It has become one of my favorite lines of fragrance. Her creative direction using a photograph as brief has been shown through each successive release to be outstanding. From the first perfume I kept thinking she would collaborate with M. Ropion early on. Then it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. Mme Verleure came to visit our local perfumery and she brought with her the next three releases in her Sepia Collection. When she told me M. Ropion was the perfumer for all of them I finally got my wish.
There is an ease of creativity between these two artists. It shows in all three of the new perfumes. I am going to spend today and tomorrow reviewing all three. I begin with Violet Shot.
Violet Shot (photo: Roberto Greco)
As I mentioned each perfume is accompanied by photograph. For these three Roberto Greco took still lifes of each of the florals featured. For violet there is the bloom, but the leaf is equally prominent in the frame. M. Ropion creates something green and then floral.
That green is the scent of fresh cut grass. Perfumers have the tools to create a photorealistic version. This the path M. Ropion takes to begin. Some baie rose is used in a small quantity to further deepen the grass through its herb-like nature. A swoosh of citrus also rides across the smell of the greensward. The violet comes next and it is tilted towards the greenness of the leaf. Over some time the floral peeks out as it seems as if it sits on a leather panel. This is an exceptionally light leather which gives way to patchouli and vanilla creating a sweet earthy foundation.
Violet Shot has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage because it is at extrait strength.
Violet Shot reminds me of those times you run into an old friend you haven’t seen in years. Yet when you find yourself together it is as if no time has passed. For Mme Verleure and M. Ropion Violet Shot seems like their creativity works on the same principle.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Olfactive Studio.
I am a long-time admirer of Celine Verleure. Her days as Creative Director at Kenzo perfumes produced fragrances that were trendsetters. Ever since she started her own brand, Olfactive Studio, in 2011 she has reaffirmed my belief that she is one of the elite Creative Directors in all of perfumery. She has practiced a particularly interesting form of artistic direction with Olfactive Studio. Instead of a brief for the perfumer consisting of words; she has chosen a photograph. It has resulted in one of the top niche perfume collections.
At the end of last year she tried something a little bit different in overseeing the three perfume Sepia Collection. She worked with the same photographer and the same perfumer. It has been one of the things which has made the brand so vibrant that it has been a different photographer and mostly a different perfumer. For the Sepia Collection she chose the photos of Martin Hill who along with his wife, Philippa Jones, create natural temporary sculptures out of the geography and what is available nearby. His photographs are all that preserves the work.
Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour is one of the most prolific independent perfumers we have. That amount of output naturally has its ups and downs. If there has been any pattern to his better perfumes, I would posit that a strong artistic vision from the brand which doesn’t compromise is the best barometer for success. In 2017’s Woody Mood Mme Verleure showed she could bring out the best in M. Duchaufour.
Photo by Martin Hill
I will eventually review all three Sepia Collection perfumes but as usual there was one which needed to be worn first, Leather Shot. If you look at Mr. Hill’s picture, above, used as the brief you will be surprised at what you find in the bottle. Leather Shot is a spicy iris leather construct.
It is the spice and iris where Leather Shot opens. This is the high quality rooty iris with its carrot-like earthiness ascendant. M. Duchaufour uses a high-low combination of spices as cardamom cools things down while cumin heats things up. This is a compelling opening which swirls with complexity. It requires an equally intricate leather accord to stand up to it. One of the things I have lauded M. Duchaufour for is the flexibility of his building block accords. His leather accord might be his most adaptive. In Leather Shot he lets the animalic roughness come from the cumin. The actual leather accord has a supple refinement while the cumin provides the bite. It settles down into a desiccated woody accord.
Leather Shot has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
All the Sepia Collection releases are extrait strength. In the case of Leather Shot the more constricted expansiveness is a plus. This is better for it being so concentrated. This arrived just at the right time as winter turned to spring. The cool mornings felt just right for Leather Shot.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Olfactive Studio.