One of the things I enjoy about music is when a song is remixed. That means the original version is newly produced by a different artist. What I have found throughout the years is my enjoyment of a musical remix is if something I like about the original is amplified and extended. Flankers are kind of the perfumery equivalent to a remix. The basic structure of the original is there as it is changed for the current year. For this summer Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Forever and Light Blue Forever pour Homme remix two of the classic mass-market perfumes of all-time.
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Forever
When Light Blue was released in 2001 it defined a summery Mediterranean scent marketed to women. Perfumer Olivier Cresp used sunny citrus and apple to a fresh floral heart of jasmine and rose down to a cedar focused woody base.
For this 2021 version M. Cresp moves the apple to a slightly more prominent position over the citrus. It creates a different Mediterranean feel. The floral heart is where the real change of rhythm occurs. He uses orange blossom to replace the original florals. By pushing the citrus back a little bit it gives this flower some room to expand. It ends on one of the dry synthetic woods.
I would suggest that if you liked the original and wanted a remix with a softer floral heart Light Blue Forever might be the right choice.
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue pour Forever Homme
Perfumer Alberto Morillas created one of the best men’s aquatics in Light Blue pour Homme in 2007. It was the apotheosis of the fresh and clean masculine style. For the 2021 version a new perfumer, Shyamala Maisondieu was brought in. She completely changes the beat from fresh and clean to summery vetiver.
It begins with a fresh air suite of ozonic notes and citrus. In the fourteen years since the original this has probably become the more common representation of fresh. Instead of an herbal green as in the original Mme Maisondieu uses a sharper vegetal green in violet leaves. This leads right into the vetiver in the base. This is a woodier version over the greener facets. Some patchouli adds hints of earthiness.
This remix is a bit fresher and dirtier as the clean part of the original is roughened up by the back half of Light Blue Forever pour Homme. I enjoyed this change, especially in the warm weather.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Dolce & Gabbana.
When I was in high school, I had a friend who was allowed to cover her bedroom in posters. These weren’t just any posters these were the ones which looked best under black light. She even had light bars with black lights replacing the typical fluorescents. We were both fans of the big synthesizer based rock bands of the time. Bands like Yes or Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. A whole side of an album would be one song. She would light some incense sticks cut the lights over to black light and we would listen to the music while watching the colors glow. I hadn’t thought about this until I received my sample of Etat Libre d’Orange Soul Of My Soul.
Etienne de Swardt
Creative director Etienne de Swardt and perfumer Shyamala Maisondieu were inspired by the Thousand and One Nights of Scheherazade. The name comes from the story where the phrase “soul of my soul” is spoken by Aladdin. Their inspiration was Hindu cosmology. For almost anyone else I am sure there is lots of parallels to find. Every time I sniffed it; I was in the dark listening to synthesizers under a black light. What was always fascinating about looking at things under that was the typical colors had an unusual shade. More vivid seeming as if they were rising from the surface of the poster. Much of what Soul Of My Soul does is similar as it takes some of the deeper notes of perfumery and gives them an alternative spin.
One more thing I must mention is each oil house has a set of top shelf ingredients which are just better. For Givaudan where Mme Shyamala works these are given the name Orpur. All the ingredients in this are Orpur level except for one accord and one synthetic woody. I think this might be the highest level of Orpur ingredients I have encountered. It is one reason I believe there is so much to uncover here.
It begins with a top accord of bergamot, baie rose, and incense. This is where the quality of the Orpur shows. The bergamot carries an extra sparkle while the fruitiness of the baie rose is livelier. The incense swirls in columns of resinous curls around and through them. This is like the opening guitar chords to Yes’ song “Roundabout”. There is a connection of chords plucked in rapid succession. It leads to a heart dominated by the Orpur version of orris. This is a gorgeous version of this ingredient. To make it even more opulent the Orpur version of rose adds depth. These are the synthesizers in response to the opening guitar strains. The accord and the synthetic wood appear now as soft suede and the dry woodiness of Georgywood act like a leather covered piece of polished wood. It ends on a base accord of sandalwood and vanilla. This is not gourmand at all. The vanilla adds in some texture to the dry Australian sandalwood. These are the vocals to bring it all together in a resounding crescendo.
Soul Of My Soul has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
There is such vitality to these deeper ingredients it really makes me see them in a new perspective. Just the way I saw colors under the black light.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
If there is a style of perfume which gets a bad rap it is the intense white flowers one. Through the middle part of the last century these were the fragrances which featured tuberose, gardenia, and jasmine. These were heady unapologetic floral powerhouses. They are also the opposite of the current trend of the transparent floral. It is natural to believe the current popularity of the opaquer style of floral is the Newtonian response to what came before. Or it could be put more simply, “I don’t want to smell like my mother/grandmother.” When I heard there was a Tom Ford Private Blend featuring tuberose, I expected their version on this lighter type. What I received when I got my sample of Tom Ford Private Blend Tubereuse Nue was a throwback to the earlier days.
One of the things I often wonder is what would a modern perfumer do with modern materials in a vintage-ish style. Tubereuse Nue perfumers Shyamala Maisondieu and Yann Vasnier design this with that in mind. The other thing which happens is they do not dumb down the skanky indoles at the heart of any white flower but especially welcome in tuberose.
That rich seductive tuberose appears right from the start. The perfumers interrogate it with a set of spices. Black pepper, the Szechuan pepper variant called Timut pepper, and coriander ask the white flower for her greener virtues. The sharpness of the black pepper along with the grapefruity heat of the Timut pepper find it through harmony. The coriander provides a woody undercurrent to the early moments. The heart is that deeply satisfying opulent white floral accord as jasmine joins the tuberose. This is what I enjoy the most about tuberose when it reaches this level. For the final stages, the modern ingredients re-appear as the perfumers from an ambered leather accord. Around the leather is the biodegraded patchouli ingredient Akigalawood, the ambery musky Sylkolide, and another animalic synthetic musk. The Sylkolide predominates but the leather and the musks find that indolic core of the white flowers and amplifies it.
Tuberuese Nue has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.
I really admire the choice to design Tubereuse Nue in this full-throated way. For those looking for a baseline this is not as overwhelming as the classic white florals of yesterday. It does take these easy-to-wear contemporary versions and jumps up three or four levels in intensity. I am not sure if the modern perfume lover is ready for a throwback tuberose. If they are Tuberuese Nue is here.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Tom Ford Beauty.
Since my desk is currently covered in new perfume releases featuring rose it must be popular. I know I’m in the minority in wanting some other floral to represent spring. It is like grabbing onto a life preserver in a sea of rose essential oil if I get a sample of a new spring floral that isn’t rose. When they are good, I feel dutybound to point out these alternatives like Coach Dreams.
Coach is one of those mass-market brands which makes solid, usually unremarkable, fragrances. They have been making perfume since 2007. They tend to discontinue their older releases fairly brutally. Allowing them to remain on the shelves for a few years before moving on. Almost all of them are created via a committee of perfumers. I would love to observe this process. I try to imagine Nathalie Gracia-Cetto, Antoine Maisondieu, Shyamala Maisondieu, and Olivier Pescheux sitting in a board room discussing what goes into Coach Dreams. I wonder if they started designing this one with the premise of a different floral than rose for spring. It is what they ended up with.
Dramatic Re-Enactment of the Design Process for Coach Dreams
Coach Dreams opens with an interesting pairing of bitter orange and pear. This is a crisp slightly unripe pear matched to a tart orange. As a citrus top accord it carries a green freshness under the fruit which is nicely realized. Instead of rose the perfumers chose gardenia as the focal point floral. This is not that narcotic indolic heady gardenia. This is a version meant to appeal to a younger demographic who want their florals cleaner. This is a gardenia which is similar to the fresh debutante rose in almost every other spring floral out there. It is a nice version of gardenia where the greener aspects have the chance to find some space. It works especially well with the fruit from the top. A fresh green ingredient deepens the gardenia a touch. It is called “Joshua tree” in the ingredient list but it comes off as a dried herbal green not anything like a Joshua tree. It ends with the typical dried woodiness of Ambrox.
Dreams has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
If you are looking for an alternative to rose as a spring floral Coach Dreams asks, “How about some gardenia?” It is a good choice if that is what you are looking for.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Ulta.
I love great food. Yet there are days when the best thing you can put on a plate is a perfectly toasted grilled cheese sandwich. Nothing special about two slices of bread, cheese, and butter but there are moments when the simplicity appeals. I go through this thought process when I receive samples of the new commercial releases. I think to myself is this fragrance potentially a grilled cheese sandwich. The latest to give me this thought is Lancome Idole.
Zendaya is the Face of Idole
It was hard to want to review Idole because it was one of the dreaded scents by committee. It usually means it is also a perfume of focus group testing. Which usually means lowest common denominator style of perfume. The three perfumers credited, Nadege Le Garlantezec, Shyamala Maisondieu, and Adriana Medina-Benz are not here to push boundaries. Their task was to make a musky fruity rose that would ideally appeal to the younger fragrance consumer. To their credit Idole carries a touch more weight than most of the fragrances aimed at that demographic. It is one of the reasons it appealed to me. They didn’t sacrifice their ingredients on the altar of transparency although it is still on the lighter side of the spectrum.
Idole opens with a fruity top accord of pear and citrus. The pear imparts a juiciness which the citrus adds bright tartness in contrast. It is nicely balanced between the two fruity pieces. The rose comes around to form a typical fruity floral pairing. Where Idole stands apart, a little bit, is the way the perfumers use a series of white musks from here. It is like a set of those ingredients seep through the fruity floral as if they were tendrils of fog. It adds a lightly musky tone to the overall perfume without becoming screechy. It all comes together quickly and lingers for hours.
Idole has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Idole is a basic musky fruity floral. What makes it less bland than its counterparts on the department store counter is it has an idea of what it wants to be. A great grilled cheese sandwich.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Lancome.
The Colognoisseur Home Office is in a large agricultural area zoned to encourage farms. Ever since we moved here, I have tried to take as much advantage of the local farms as I can. One part of that which I enjoy quite a bit is berry picking season. It starts at the end of May with strawberries and ends when the raspberries appear at the end of the summer. Each time I go I enjoy the natural scent of the task. The green of the leaves. The smell of the berries on my fingers. The honest sweat of exertion. As I drive home that is the scent profile of my car. L’Occitane Herbae is reminiscent of the days I go picking blackberries.
Nadege Le Garlantezec
First let me get the misnomer on the label out of the way. When I received my sample I was looking forward to a celebration of green growing things. If you also look at that name and think that; you will be disappointed. This is a wild fruity floral that has zero to do with herbs of any kind. If that sounds good even with the silly choice of name keep reading.
Perfumers Nadege Le Garlantezec and Shyamala Maisondieu teamed up to create Herbae. I must believe they weren’t given a brief with the name attached to it. On the other hand if they were told the name they happily ignored it. Herbae is a fragrance of mid-summer in the blackberry field.
The only slight bit of herbal character comes from the early use of baie rose matched with the botanical musk of ambrette. It is an accord of a hot summer day. As I walk into the fields the blackberries ripening in the sun reach my nose. In Herbae the perfumers also bring the blackberry forward. It is given some contrast using rose and sage. When I focus, I find the rose, but the overall effect is vegetal green as a grace note to the blackberry. As I get up from having filled my containers, I have the smell of a clean sweat coming through my t-shirt. A combination of linen musks, honey, and coumarin form a nice sweaty cotton accord as the base of Herbae.
Herbae has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
While I would still like a L’Occitane fragrance which was all about herbs, Herbae was still a pleasure to wear. It makes me look at the calendar waiting to go pick some blackberries.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by L’Occitane.
Now that the holidays are past my winter fragrance selections shift a bit. I mainly wear resins and woods with some spice. As I was rearranging the perfume shelf to bring that group of perfumes to the front, I found an ideal candidate for this column; Rouge Bunny Rouge Embers.
The readers who wear makeup will immediately recognize the brand. Rouge Bunny Rouge is a successful cosmetic brand known for its fun attitude. What is much less known is the fragrance selections that were produced from 2012-2015. Founder and creative director Alexandra de Montfort decided to add fragrances to the repertoire at that time. Mme de Montfort created two collections the “Fragrant Confections” and the “Provenance Tales”. For all the perfumes that were produced she worked with excellent perfumers.
Alexandra de Montfort
The Provenance Tales collection was meant to be a selection of elemental perfumes. Embers is meant to represent fire. Working with perfumer Shyamala Maisondieu they came up with a fragrance which glows on my skin.
Embers opens with a top accord focused on clove. This is the kind of clove which trends towards an incense-like scent profile. Baie rose and nutmeg provide some support, but the clove carries most of the early moments until a steely eyed incense arises out of it. This forms an intense accord as the clove and incense combine. Mme Maisondieu shrouds it with fresh florals of jasmine and freesia to bank the roaring fire. What remains as the base accord comes in to play is the glowing embers. They are kept pulsing a gentle orange using sandalwood, styrax, and peru balsam. By these end stages Embers lives up to its name.
Embers has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
As I mentioned in the opening this is a perfume collection which flies under the radar because it generally is only found at the Rouge Bunny Rouge cosmetic counters. It is a shame because all six of the Provenance Tales are excellent choices for men. The only way they are going to find them is to be there with a woman in their life and notice the perfume bottles. To get the Rouge Bunny Rouge on your radar it might require you to brave the land of the smoky eye to find a scent which Is definitely worth that trip.
Disclosure: this review is based on a bottle I purchased.
A year ago, designer Tom Ford began pairing a perfume with his debut of the spring/summer fashion collection. Last year’s Ombre Leather 16 was a standout within the Private Blend collection. I wore it quite a bit during the fall and winter last year. I was excited to hear the same thing was happening this year with a new Private Blend tied to last week’s debut of the spring/summer 2018 collection called Fucking Fabulous. With a name like that the first question becomes, “is it?”
Tom Ford Spring/Summer 2018
The name itself has generated the typical buzz Mr. Ford revels in as he forced every beauty publication and reporter into figuring out how they were going to mention it. I have always had mixed feelings on Mr. Ford’s marketing style. It seems to work for him and just as with other aspects of other brands I’d rather focus on the perfume.
Tom Ford Spring/Summer 2018
For Fucking Fabulous if you look at the fashion collection which accompanied it you see Mr. Ford reaching back to the 1990’s for inspiration. There were padded shoulders, the return of a maillot paired with leather cargo pants, and millennial pink just so you know he knows what year it is. That shows through with Fucking Fabulous it is a luxury version of a department store powerhouse of the 90’s. The main difference is instead of relying on the synthetic version of the ubiquitous notes of the 90’s the perfumer, Shyamala Maisondieu, chose the more expensive options. For the most part, it works.
Tom Ford Spring/Summer 2018
It opens on a bitter almond oil. This carries a bit of a sting to it which is smoothed away by using tonka resinoid. In this version, the tonka pushes its warmer toastier aspects forward. These take that sharp nutty first few minutes and cover them in a jacket with big shoulders. The leather cargo pants show up carrying some clary sage in their pockets. The sage roughs the leather accord up a bit. This is also a lighter leather than in most Private Blends. A powdery orris adds that millennial pink shading. Cashmeran is that sleek woody maillot tying it all together.
Fucking Fabulous has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Is It? Not really. Within the Private Blend collection it isn’t close to being the most fucking fabulous of the line. What it is, is another clever comingling of Mr. Ford’s fashion and fragrance aesthetic along with his provocative PR. I like the luxury take on the powerhouse perfumes of the past but it’s not what it says it is.
Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle supplied by Tom Ford Beauty.
It is difficult to find some new way to present oud in fragrance. It was with some interest when I received my press sample and press packet for the new Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Minerale that they promised me something never been done before. It is a bit of classic PR overreach to say this is the first to graft oud on to a marine style fragrance in all of perfumery. As far as mainstream releases go it might be more accurate. It is certainly not a style done to death and it has not produced a memorable incarnation either.
Tom Ford Private Blend creative director Karyn Khoury collaborates with perfumer Shyamala Maisondieu on Oud Minerale; the fourth in the Private Blend Oud collection. One of the most interesting aspects of the four Oud collection releases is all of them rely upon an oud accord to provide the titular note. Oud Minerale almost has to employ an oud accord because anything approaching the real stuff would have run roughshod over the rest of the fragrance. You can even say that this is why there are not a lot of oud marine perfumes because that balance would be very difficult to achieve using the real thing. Mme Maisondieu is able to take the flexibility using an accord gives her to find a place for oud to insert itself without being overwhelming.
The opening of Oud Minerale is one of the more accurate marine accords I’ve tried in quite a while. Mme Maisondieu uses a mixture of baie rose and seaweed. It evokes the clean smell of low tide in the early morning or twilight. There is a damp green vegetal note sharpened by the herbal focus of the baie rose. I found it natural as it grabbed in all of the seaside milieu. A bit of fir captures seaside pines while ambergris accord provides the briny ocean as it recedes. The entire marine effect is now assembled for Mme Maisondieu to take a mixture of salicylates, the synthetic aromachemical Pepperwood, and cypriol to form her oud accord. It uses the spiciness of the pepperwood to imitate the bite of real oud without it turning into something threatening. Once everything is in place the combination is expansive as being outside; it fills up all the space in a transparent overall effect. It rests on a base of vetiver, cedar, patchouli, and ambroxan which provide some depth to the oud as it lets go of the marine accord over time.
Oud Minerale has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Oud Minerale is a departure from the other members within the entire Tom Ford collection. It is a fresh take on oud which is perfect for the remaining summer months.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Tom Ford Beauty.
The Tom Ford Private Blend collection has been releasing a collection within the collection over the last few years. For 2016 the four new releases are called Les Extraits Verts. When I heard the name I was looking forward to a Tom Ford take on green. When I received my samples a couple weeks ago I was surprised overall it wasn’t as vert as I was expecting. Although there was one exception Vert D’Encens.
Vert Boheme missed the vert boat entirely as it was mostly citrusy floral before getting a bit musky at the end. Vert de Fleur did have the green going but it didn’t feel special to me. Vert des Bois was my second favorite of the four as perfumers Olivier Gillotin and Rodrigo Flores-Roux really added in some odd versions of green in olive leaves, and marigold along with some more traditional choices. It made for a really engaging development.
Vert D’Encens was the one I spent some time with because it, too, was an off-beat green but with two very common ingredients; pine and incense. Longtime creative director Karyn Khoury oversaw a team of perfumers consisting of Antoine Maisondieu, Shyamala Maisondieu, and Yann Vasnier. The decision to combine a full body pine tree, including sap, to a full throated frankincense turned out to be just the green I was looking for.
In the early going the perfumers bring out a very traditional pine joined by lemon and lavender. In these very first moments Vert D’Encens is a little bit a like a lot of drugstore pine fragrances. It doesn’t stay that way long as a green cardamom and sage set the stage for a pine sap accord. That accord carries a tint of the camphoraceous quality which provides a lift as the pine intensifies with the sap accord and the pine from on top becoming stronger. Right as it seems like the pine is at its zenith a fine silvery frankincense cuts across it and embeds itself in the sticky pine. Together it forms what I thought of as Pine-cense. This is where Vert D’Encens stayed at for hours. Much later on cedar and vetiver add a bit cleaner green to close things out.
Vert D’Encens has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
What drew me in to Vert D’Encens over the other Les Extraits Vert was the simple combination of the pine and incense. The perfumers found a way to find just the right balance for me. It is definitely going to be another excellent choice as the weather gets cooler as fall arrives.
Disclosure; This review was based on press samples provided by Tom Ford Beauty.