Bertrand Duchaufour is one of my favorite perfumers because I feel like I can see his desire to use the ingredients on his palette in different ways. He is also the perfumer for whom I have probably given the most nicknames to from Pirate to High Priest of Incense I have always admired his way of designing perfumes. As I was thinking about his perfume he composed for Project Renegades I return to that focus of doing something different to achieve a desired effect. It turns him into The Experimentalist.
For his Project Renegades entry M. Duchaufour wanted to create a fresh marine fragrance without the usual suspects. It is particularly interesting because as Geza Schoen did with his Project Renegades fragrance M. Duchaufour uses an overdose of pink pepper in the top notes. Except this overdose gives a slightly different effect.
M. Duchaufour opens his perfume with 10% pink pepper. I am not sure how often I have smelled that concentration but at that level it effectively replaces that ozonic suite of notes which usually open this style of fragrance. At this kind of level the pink pepper has a surprisingly uplifting presence. I think I expected to get bowled over by it. Instead I was enticed into the cool pine forest as balsamic notes matched with cardamom, cassis, and juniper berries provide that accord. Once they become apparent it also brought to my attention the balsamic qualities inherent in the pink pepper at this concentration. This dries down into an amber and incense base which also carries a bit of desiccated driftwood to remind one we are on the beach.
Project Renegades Bertrand Duchaufour has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Mark Buxton is a perfumer who lives in the specific moment of creativity of a perfume. I like that he gets a concept within his imagination and then executes upon that in a matter of days. It is perfumery as practiced by only those skilled enough to trust those impulses to take you to a good place. Over his career knowing when to leave the well-trodden path has served him well. For Project Renegades he wanted to throw the saddle off of his horse and ride off at breakneck speed just to see where these notes would take him. It makes his Perfume Renegades entry the most unusual of the three as only The Instinctualist could provide.
I use the horse analogy because Mr. Buxton combines a sharp green opening of basil and galbanum with a stinky animal accord. He told me at Esxence he wanted people to go “WTF!” when they first sniffed it. With me it definitely has that effect. It reminds me of when my dog comes in from a summer rain shower after the grass is mowed and he has rolled around in it. It is weird and that quality is not relieved as we move deeper in to the development. A spicy rose is enhanced with black pepper, red pepper and clove but the stinky animal accord pushes right up against the rose corrupting it. All of this gives way to a very warm base accord of sandalwood and amber.
Project Renegades Mark Buxton has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I have had a great deal of fun with these Project Renegades perfumes. Each of them feels characteristic of the perfumer behind them. I also returned often to my analogy of a music supergroup in perfumed form. When that concept succeeds it is because the musicians are tasked with taking on different tasks than they usually do. Project Renegades saw these three perfumers take the opportunity to let The Scientist, The Experimentalist and The Instinctualist take on fragrance construction in a different way helping to illuminate what independent perfumery is all about.
Disclosure: This review is based upon samples from Project Renegades I received at Esxence 2016.
When I was at Esxence 2013 there was an exciting announcement which was made. Three of the best perfumers were going to combine their talents and release three perfumes under their own brand. This joint effort of Geza Schoen, Bertrand Duchaufour, and Mark Buxton was one of the topics of discussion for the remainder of the expo that year.
My thoughts on it were it reminded me of the rock music supergroup where a few successful musicians would combine to do something different. Cream was the first of these supergroups in 1965. The one which most probably remember as it was a product of the MTV video years was The Traveling Wilburys which included Roy Orbison, Georege Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Jeff Lynne. I could also be said that in operatic music The Three Tenors of Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jose Carreras were also a supergroup. What makes these endeavors successful is each of the musicians finds their spot within the whole. The perfume supergroup, dubbed Project Renegades, succeeds because the three perfumers also managed to find a way for their individuality to stand out while forming a cohesive collection of three perfumes.
Over the next two days I am going to review all three of the releases. I start with Geza Schoen’s Entry.
When I approached the booth at Esxence 2016 the first question on my lips was, “What took you so long?” One answer was the bottles which have a three dimensional head of each perfumer which was designed from laser scans of their faces. This turned out to be especially challenging when it came to production. Even without the logistical headaches of the bottle Project Renegades still would have taken over a year because Hr. Schoen told me that was how long he worked on his perfume. It is not surprising to me because as a fellow chemist he applies his scientific training as he analyzes his raw materials. For Project Renegades he wanted to work with a version of pink pepper known as Schinus Molle. He told me he spent weeks just understanding all of the facets of this raw material. He used two extractions an essential oil and a CO2 extraction. Then he loads up the early moments with the schinus molle in overdose. This is the soul of The Scientist at work.
Hr. Schoen opens his fragrance with the two versions of schinus molle. The CO2 extraction has a bit of a cassis effect which he accentuates by adding a little bit of cassis with the tart citrus notes of lemon and lime. Hr. Schoen wanted an unusual top accord and he achieves it. By going for intense layering of the schinus molle and the cassis it jumps out at you. I liked the effect but it is going to make some step back away from it. If you can hang on the heart offers an orris-based accord matched with the expansiveness of hedione and the depth of osmanthus absolute. If the top notes are a bit confrontational the heart notes are there to settle the nerves. The base notes are a balsamic mixture of woods bolstered by Iso E Super and some animalic notes. This returns to being a little less easygoing as the castoreum provides a bit of a snarl at the end.
Project Renegades Geza Schoen has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Day 3 began with a lecture by Michael Edwards of Fragrances of the World capturing the last ten years of the Artisanal Fragrance sector. I knew the market had really taken off over the last ten years. In 2006 there were 261 new artisanal releases. In 2016 there were 874 new releases. That’s not total that’s added to what was already there. Mr. Edwards challenged the brands who were in the room to look for opportunities to strike out in different places. He illustrated the point by showing that over a third of these new releases are florals. There is room for artistic expression in this sector and Mr. Edwards is one of the few who can show the hard numbers. It was a fantastic way to begin the day.
Michael Edwards Speaking at Esxence 2016
The next stop of Esxence 2016 was three years in the making. At Esxence 2013 perfumers Mark Buxton, Bertrand Duchaufour, and Geza Schoen announced they were teaming up for a project together. Finally Project Renegades has arrived where each of these gifted perfumers created a personal fragrance of their own. When I asked them what took so long the answer were those magnetic heads on the front of the bottles you see below. Each of them had their face scanned in 3-D to replicate their features as renegades. They were worth waiting for because I will never not see these three without a cowboy hat from now on. The perfumes are pretty great too.
Project Renegades Bottles
Next I visited with Sophie Gabriel and perfumer Alexandra Monet of The Different Company. The new release Adjutay comes from creative director Luc Gabriel’s life. On a trip he left some fresh tuberose in his leather suitcase. When he took it down again he was greeted with a mix of tuberose and leather. Mme Monet has recreated that visual spectacularly. The leather accord encases the rich tuberose. Easily one of my favorites.
Last year Maria Candida Gentile put a rose with elephants on Africa. For 2016 she takes inspiration from Marcel Duchamp for Rrose Selavy. This version of a rose by Sig.ra Gentile is nothing but rose as every part of the plant and no less than five different extracts of the flower itself are combined into a rose worthy of its inspiration.
Nishane Isatanbul had two new releases but the Shisha bar in a bottle called Fan Your Flames did just that for me. Tobacco, rum, and spices made me feel like I was relaxing in an easy chair, hookah next to me.
It was getting late and I had had a couple of my fellow bloggers tell me not to miss the new brand Homoelegans. I was greeted by the owners and creative directors Francesco Gini and Mauricio Piazzi. They have started their effort with two releases Tadzio and Quality of Flesh. The latter is inspired by Francis Bacon and how much of his artistic work was done in triptych. Of course perfume is also done in triptych with a top, heart, and base. Quality of Flesh represents that with three well-built accords focused around juniper berry, narcissus, and leather.
I was at the end of the day and as always it was difficult to say arrivaderci to my perfumed family. After making one final round of the exposition to get my final hugs I walked out into the evening sunlight. Arrivaderci Esxence, see you next year.