There is nothing which makes me more pleased than to watch a perfume brand begin to hit their stride. I call this the inflection point. What it signifies is a brand has developed their core principles and aesthetics. Then they produce a perfume which shows the development phase is over as all these ingredients take it to a new place of creativity. Maison Crivelli Osmanthe Kodoshan represents that kind of transition.
Creative director-founder Thibaud Crivelli began Maison Crivelli in 2018. What made me interested in them from their beginning was M. Crivelli’s belief in creating perfume which had texture from a specific keynote. That is a difficult aesthetic to achieve. I’ve read that statement numerous times. It has been a mark of failed aspirations almost all of the time. M. Crivelli has lived up to his artistic vision admirably.
There has been a steady improvement in each succeeding release. Over the last year it really seemed to coalesce. With Citrus BatiKanga and Iris Malikhan it was right on the verge of something special. Osmanthe Kodoshan is that perfume.
Another thing to be admired about M. Crivelli is he has imparted his vision of texture and keynote to different perfumers. I would’ve thought this was a concept which would have flourished better under a single partnership of creative direction and perfumer. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Perfumer Stephanie Bakouche returns for her second collaboration with M. Crivelli.
I’ve written hundreds of words about my affection for osmanthus. It is another of those two-faced ingredients which I think is what speaks to me. it also means it is an ideal choice for the focal point of a textural type of fragrance. It brings its own with it. Here they delve into the darker parts of it finding the shadowy pockets within.
One thing which is becoming a consistent piece of a Maison Crivelli perfume is an opening accord which sets the textural table without employing the keynote. It is at its zenith in the combination of star anise and Szechuan pepper used to begin Osmanthe Kodoshan. The black licorice whip intensity of star anise lays down lashes across the fruity spiciness of the pepper. There is a graininess to this which is so appealing. The first time I tried this I wished there were a pause button on my nose so I could hold this for a few seconds longer. What was to come was even better.
The osmanthus leads the way. This is appealing to me because of the natural apricot and leather scent profile it carries. Both pieces can be turned in a direction using the supporting ingredients. Here the concept is to take it in a deeper darker direction. A back alley osmanthus. This is done with a slightly smoky black tea taking the apricot in a dried fruit direction. This concentrates the fruitiness. It is helped by the remnants of the anise and pepper top accord. An insistent swirl of frankincense brings attention to the leathery side of things. It is anchored there through a rich narcotic tobacco, earthy patchouli, and a velvet oakmoss. These recapitulate the graininess of the opening accord as you slide your fingers across a grained leather swatch. Taken together it is mesmerizing
Osmanthe Kodoshan has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is the best perfume Maison Crivelli has made to date. It achieves higher levels of everything the brand says it desires to. If you haven’t discovered them yet, you should before they really take off. Everything I could want from an osmanthus perfume with texture is found in Osmanthe Kodoshan.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
My annual grumpiness at rose being the only spring flower has been better over the last year. That isn’t to say I’m not giving a pile of samples which all have rose in their name a sidelong glance. One way this will change is for there to be alternatives. One of the releases from a new brand, Kabeah Lily Cherie, proves it can be done.
Khedija Ben Ayed
Kabeah was founded in the spring of 2018 by Khedija Ben Ayed. According to the website Mme Ben Ayed wanted to capture memories of her childhood by the Mediterranean in pastel floral tones. The perfumer she turned to is Stephanie Bakouche. Together they have lived up to their brief in the first four releases.
Belle Epine is the seemingly obligatory rose entry. It is a typical dewy spring rose with a slight twist of green. Nuit de Jasmin uses another stalwart floral as green overlays an expansive jasmine. In Secret de K the creative team lets the green free as it is built around the “green rose” of geranium. A touch of strawberry is cleverly placed. The one which engaged me most was Lily Cherie.
A couple of the reasons I was drawn to Lily Cherie was the aesthetic of weaving green notes through an opaque floral. In the other three it was a bit of the usual suspects providing that coloring. For Lily Cherie it is a combination of galbanum and green tea which threads its way through the titular lily.
Mme Bakouche likes mandarin as a place setter for the Mediterranean vibe; using it in the top of three of the four debut releases. In Lily Cherie the mandarin is matched with a precise amount of galbanum. It provides an abstract citrus accord which becomes even more as green tea becomes part of it. The lily of the valley blooms out of those green notes. Mme Bakouche softens and rounds out the lily with some honeysuckle accord. It keeps it spring fresh. A fruit accord forms a contrast to the lily. The green woodiness of cedar pulls the thread begun by the galbanum and green tea through to the base. A satisfyingly expansive cocktail of white musks are where this finishes.
Lily Cherie has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Lily Cherie is a different kind of spring floral while still retaining the freshness any spring rose brings to perfume. It is also a good start for a new brand which I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I received from Kabeah.
Mrs. C is a cross-stitcher which means she is a lover of the textile arts. Which further means I’ve spent my share of museum time looking at tapestries. It is an art form which I have come to appreciate for the subtle effect just a few strands of different colors have overall. The ability to get close and see these strands is like getting close to a color television and seeing the pixels. You have a better experience standing back and taking it in its entirety; not in its micro form. Perfumery has its own way of practicing the weaving of notes into their own olfactory tapestry. Jul et Mad Mon Seul Desir is inspired by a famous tapestry while also weaving its own magic.
"La Dame a la licorne"
The latest three perfumes from Jul et Mad have been using famous works of art as part of their brief. For Mon Seul Desir the tapestry “La Dame a la licorne” (“The Lady and the Unicorn”) in the Musee national du Moyen Age in Paris. It is the final piece in a series of six tapestries where the first five each depict a lady accompanied by a lion and a unicorn in interpretations of each of the five senses. In the final tapestry, the lady stands under a canopy with the words “mon seul desir” on it. The words mean “my sole desire”. Creative directors Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica-Blanchard collaborated with perfumer Stephanie Bakouche.
Madalina Stoica-Blanchard and Julien Blanchard
For Mon Seul Desir the perfume is primarily an osmanthus and oud construction. I have come to appreciate this pairing more than the more classical rose and oud. The dual nature of osmanthus’ fruit and leather finds a way of making oud leatherier itself which is where Mon Seul Desir spends most of its time.
Mon Seul Desir is begun by building a frame of nutmeg, baie rose, and coriander. The baie rose provides an herbal component which the nutmeg and coriander gives a kind of faux woodiness to. Then Mme Bakouche gets down to weaving as the osmanthus warps itself over the weft of oud. Always the osmanthus is on top the apricot quality floating above the leathery. The oud picks out the leather threads and attaches to them as it keeps to the background. It all evolves into a final weave of amber, benzoin, and musk; warm and comforting.
Mon Seul Desir has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
In tapestry, the warp covers the weft. It is the same effect here as the osmanthus is the focal point while the oud supports in the background. You can get close enough to pick out the threads but it as an accord that it appeals. Mme Bakouche shows she can handle the fragrant loom to get the most out of her threads making Mon Seul Desir as beautiful as its inspiration.
Disclosure: This review is based on a press sample provided by Jul et Mad.
As reliable as the first robin; when my mailbox starts to fill up with new rose perfumes it must be spring. Rose perfumes, when done well, carry a vivaciousness to them that matches the season of renewal. The other thing about rose perfumes is despite the hundreds of them out there a creative new life in a classic theme. The new L’Artisan Parfumeur Rose Privee is a lively new take on a rose fragrance.
Rose Privee is co-signed by longtime in-house perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour along with his apprentice Stephanie Bakouche. M. Duchaufour has made rose perfumes previously but I believe this is his first for L’Artisan. Also in the past it seems like he has been more partial to the Turkish rose. For Rose Privee he chooses Rose de Mai as the source of the titular note. Rose de Mai has a gorgeous gentle quality to it. M. Duchaufour and Mme Bakouche make sure that everything that is great about Rose de Mai is displayed throughout the development.
The perfumers choose an engaging grouping of top notes. They lead with a bit of fruitiness with mandarin. It doesn’t last long as it is fairly rapidly wrapped up in leaves of basil and violet as well as pierced by blackcurrant buds. That latter note has been employed a lot recently by M. Duchaufour. As always I am captivated by how he takes a specific raw material and can alter it seemingly at will to provide a specific effect. In Rose Privee the blackcurrant bud provides a bit of tart fruitiness with much less of the sticky green it often brings. As a whole the top notes provide a fresh vibe for the Rose de Mai to bloom within. The heart is that special rose given a foundation of carnation and magnolia for depth. What I like about Rose de Mai is it feels introverted at first but once it is coaxed out by other notes it flowers into power. That power sets it up to be the equal to the oakmoss-free chypre base. M. Duchaufour has been at the forefront of creating a chypre accord that will pass regulatory standards. The accord in Rose Privee shows there is no need to worry about the future of chypres plus he is teaching the skill to another perfumer. There is a bit of musk used to replace some of what the oakmoss provides but it really is its own contemporary chypre. Together with the Rose de Mai the final stages of Rose Privee are lovely.
Rose Privee has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.
Rose Privee is a perfect spring perfume. It has heft without being overwhelming. Despite it translating to Private Rose I don’t think anyone who wears it will want to keep it a secret.
Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample provided by L’Artisan Parfumeur.