Over the past year or so some of my favorite perfumers have decided to take on one of the most tired perfume tropes there is; the aquatic. What has made this particular fragrance genre so banal is the overuse of the aromachemical Calone. The great majority of aquatics start and finish with a huge quantity of this and no matter what you try and put around it the Calone is most of what you experience. The aquatics which have made me sit up and notice again have been largely a “Calone-Free” zone.
Prior to seeing Pierre Guillaume in Milan at Esxence 2015 he had told me he was working on a collection of aquatics. I didn’t hide my disappointment very well and he promised me he would do it without Calone. In what will eventually be a collection of eight fragrances I have the first four. The collection is called Pierre Guillaume Collection Croisiere. M. Guillaume did what he had asserted he could do he has created an entirely Calone-Free set of perfumes which take a very tired style of fragrance and re-invigorate it. I like all four of these and I am going to split my review up into two parts. I will start with Entre Ciel et Mer and Paris Seychelles.
As one who grew up next to the ocean I think one of the things which bores me to tears is that perfumers and creative directors don’t realize there are so many different natural fragrances to the seashore. M. Guillaume does understand this and in Entre Ciel et Mer captures one of the key odors I connect with the ocean; the slightly iodine-like smell of the sea spray. M. Guillaume employs a new molecular distillation of sea algae from the Pacific. When you hear algae I imagine you are thinking “low tide” and the pungency which goes with that. Scrub that from your mind and instead think of the spray as the waves crash and you breathe it in fresh and damp. It really is a remarkable evocation of the crashing surf that M. Guillaume has achieved. He adds in a bit of thyme and ambergris but the star of this show is the algae. It all eventually ends on a sandalwood finish.
Paris Seychelles is all about the smell of the person sunning themselves on the beach. M. Guillaume wants the smell of sun warmed skin coated with suntan lotion on top of the milieu of the beach and the tropical flowers growing at the ocean’s edge. The bite of black pepper grabs my attention before we dive into his skin accord. He starts with the mixture of salicylates that form the typical suntan lotion accord. A bit of lily picks up the floral facets. Some coconut milk finds the creamy parts. Monoi oil brings in the tiare and completes the foundation of the skin underneath. All of this is accomplished while it is clear the sand and the surf are still around but off in the distance. It is the memory of beach vacation as it lingers for days after your return.
On Monday I’ll cover the remaining two perfumes, Jangala and Long Courrier.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Pierre Guillaume at Esxence 2015.