New Perfume Review Bastide 1958- Cologne de Provence

One of the very first perfume styles, cologne, was inspired by one man’s walk in the Alps near his home. It is the essence of perfumery to capture the smells of the great outdoors in a liquid form. It is one of the reasons cologne is one of my favorite styles. There is an inherent openness to those who honor the original form. Of course we don’t typically walk in the Alps anymore, we drive. Bastide 1958 captures the scent of driving around in a convertible through Provence.

Frederic and Shirin Fekkai

Bastide is the brand overseen and creatively directed by couple Shirin and Frederic Fekkai. They have assembled a great collection of perfumes inspired by their home in Aix-en-Provence. In 1958 this is the memory of M. Fekkai growing up here. He and his friends would take his father’s convertible, radio on loud, through the fields and hills. This is what an Alpine walk looks like in the 20th century. Working with perfumer Mathieu Nardin they create a classic cologne structure infused with the summer scents of Provence.

Mathieu Nardin

The structure of cologne is simple citrus, herbs, flowers. 1958 hews to that recipe. It opens on a brilliantly sunny citrus accord of petitgrain. I think the focused nature of petitgrain is the ideal choice to represent the late summer sun above a cruising convertible. The herbs chosen are clary sage and rosemary. They set up a green duet which is supported by an herbal lavender. To complete the cologne triad orange blossom appears. At this point it is a perfect classic cologne composition. M. Nardin has one extra twist to add, a light skin musk. This is the scent of tanned skin with a sheen of moisture. It inserts itself into the cologne providing a hint of carefree days of youth in the final days of the summer.

1958 has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

I’m not sure why the brand shies away from calling 1958 a cologne. In every way that matters it is; which is a great thing. I really wished they has added a subtitle to 1958. If they had, Cologne de Provence would be perfect.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bastide Verveine du Sud- Twilight in Provence

I’ve noticed a pleasing trend over the last year or two. For so long there were new brands who wanted to test the limits of how luxury-minded they could be. Often with a matching price tag. There were times where it seemed there was an arms race to see who could put the most opulent perfume in an equally extravagant bottle. There were brands who held that perspective honestly. Those are the brands which are still around because there was heart over cynicism. I have no problem with that kind of perfume. My only concern is it puts up a barrier to being able to experience some of the best perfume. The trend which I am enjoying is the opposite of this.

Frederic and Shirin Fekkai

It seems like since 2017 there have been several brands which have begun not by trying to find the high-end of the market. Instead they are trying to find the balance between creativity and budget at the more affordable end.  They offer their perfumes in smaller rollerball sizes to allow for more sampling of the line. The packaging is also kept simple; you’ll find that budget inside the bottle. The final ingredient it to work with perfumers who are known for some of the best-known niche perfumes while giving them leeway to create.

Mathieu Nardin

An example of this kind of perfumery comes from husband-and-wife Shirin and Frederic Fekkai and their brand Bastide. Started in 2017 they wanted to capture the scents of Aix-en-Provence as perfumes. I discovered them a little over a year ago and have enjoyed the perfumes they have produced. The fifth perfume, Bastide Verveine du Sud, continues what has worked so far.

Perfumer Mathieu Nardin has been behind all the Bastide releases. In the first three releases I thought I detected a kind of sunny aesthetic forming. Last year’s Figure Amour was more grounded confounding my earlier thoughts. Verveine du Sud is also working in a similar direction.

The brief is to capture the scent of midsummer’s twilight in Provence. Once the sun has set in summertime there is coolness to the air which allows for the flowers and fruit to peek out from behind the heat and humidity. That is what appears in Verveine du Sud.

A really refreshing combination of grapefruit, lemon, and mint form the top accord. The mint is used to evoke that chill in the air just after the sun has disappeared for the night. It lifts the citrus with a coolness. Verbena matches its lemon-tinted green with the citrus while peony picks up on the mint adding in a cool and fresh floral. A swirl of white musks add an expansive quality to everything. The base rests on a warm mixture of amber and light woods as a metaphorical fire pit to warm your hands.

Verveine du Sud has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Bastide has now become another of these new brands looking to make perfume for a wider audience. Verveine du Sud shows there is still more to come from M. and Mme Fekkai as they translate Provence into perfume.

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

Mark Behnke