This month’s Flanker Round-Up I look at new releases from two masculine fragrance lines. One which has become a big seller and another which I consider to be an underappreciated mass-market gem.
Dior Sauvage Parfum
The original Dior Sauvage Eau de Toilette was released in the fall of 2015. It has become one of the perennial men’s fragrance best sellers ever since. Its appeal lies in the way perfumer Francois Demachy smooshed together most of the popular masculine perfume tropes into a monolithic whole. It works because there is something to appeal to everyone. The only thing I didn’t care for was the wall of Ambrox at the end of it all. With Sauvage Parfum M. Demachy remedies that.
Sauvage Parfum is a much sweeter fragrance without having that sledgehammer of Ambrox waiting at the end. A juicy mandarin and cardamom comprise a citrus top accord which moves toward a creamy sandalwood heart. This finishes with vanilla and cedar providing twin amplifiers of the sweet and woody aspects of the sandalwood. I can see Sauvage Parfum becoming an excellent winter alternative for fans of the original. It isn’t exactly the same, but it is recognizable as a kissing cousin.
Kenneth Cole Mankind Legacy
I think the Kenneth Cole Mankind series of perfumes is better than most of what is found on the men’s fragrance counter in the mall. In 2014 perfumer Claude Dir was ahead of the curve using some of the more contemporary men’s trends before they became trends. For Mankind Legacy perfumer Stephen Nilsen creates an herbal green woody fragrance.
It opens with a pairing of nutmeg and clary sage. The sweetness of the nutmeg is a nice contrast to the dry green of the sage. Baie rose and rosemary shade the herbal quality a bit deeper. A rich fir and cedar provide the woody foundation for a bridging vetiver to unite the herbs and the woods. I like Mankind Legacy as a weekend hiking kind of perfume. Almost feels like a flannel shirt should come as a gift with purchase.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by the manufacturers.
I am a sucker for a good bergamot focused perfume. I probably smell no ingredient more that bergamot. It is a staple of top accords of a huge amount of various fragrances. It is so common it is easy to forget it can be beautiful when given an opportunity to shine. Allowing the forgotten ingredient some time in the spotlight.
The most recent example of a fun bergamot perfume has come from a brand I sort of forget about, too. I receive a box of samples from Sephora quarterly. The brand Commodity has been a part of these boxes since their inception in 2014. The overall brand aesthetic is one of creating a minimalistic style of fragrance which reflects strongly whatever is on the label. For the most part I have found this stripped-down style to not have engaged me enough to wear one for a couple days so I could review it. This is not to say that I tossed the strips to the side. Most of the perfumes are done by some of my favorite perfumers and they deliver what is asked of them. When it came to Commodity Bergamot, perfumer Stephen Nilsen turns this style to his advantage.
The reason there are not many bergamot perfumes is because it doesn’t last very long. Even if a perfumer empties their bag of tricks the bergamot will be gone in a few short hours. Mr. Nilsen does his best to keep the bergamot around. Which is why there are only two other ingredients to note; amber and violet leaf.
The fragrance opens with a giant shot of bergamot. Every time I experience bergamot in this quantity I am reminded of the way light moves on silk fabric with flow and presence. Bergamot is a fast-moving ingredient. To extend its stay Mr. Nilsen uses some mandarin oil to extend the citrus feel although there is nothing like the first half-an-hour as the bergamot shines by itself. As the mandarin begins to become more present violet leaf gives a green platform from which amber eventually warms things up in the end.
Commodity Bergamot has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.
There is a shiny fabric called brilliantine that was used in fashion. As I wore Commodity Bergamot I kept thinking this was a perfume of sparkle given flow. It is a brilliant choice for midsummer because its simplicity makes it a refreshing unobtrusive companion.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.
That the Dead Letter Office is full of celebrity perfumes is not surprising. Most of the time the reason is the scent and the celebrity bear no relationship to each other. The few successes usually have a perfume loving star who does want to make a fragrance which does represent something about them. Even in those cases timing is also a large part of eventual commercial success. If the process of designing the perfume causes it to be released as the supernova begins to cool it can miss its window of opportunity. The first perfume by Madonna had a celebrity who loved perfume but she was so determined to get what she wanted it took a long time; perhaps too long before Madonna Truth or Dare was released to the world.
Madonna had spoken often of her fascination with Robert Piguet Fracas and going in she wanted Truth or Dare to be a modern take on Fracas. What she meant was a thinning out of the boisterous tuberose to something more accessible. She also wanted all of the skank that was in Fracas, indoles and musk, to not be present in Truth or Dare. Over eighteen months she would work with perfumer Stephen Nilsen on her vision.
First Mr. Nilsen had to come up with a base accord which would not become obliterated by the tuberose. His choice was to go with a gourmand accord of caramel and amber. It was the first thing Madonna and Mr. Nilsen agreed upon. From there it was the typical give and take of perfumer and creative director as they tried to find this modern tuberose accord. This was where the bulk of the process was stuck for months until they were happy. In the spring of 2012 Truth or Dare was released.
Truth or Dare opens with the tuberose matched with its white flower cousins, gardenia and jasmine. As she apparently desired these are white flowers scrubbed clean of their dirtier components. It does allow for it to feel a bit greener at the expense of the creaminess that the mixture of these florals usually provide. As the white flowers move towards that caramel and amber base the gourmand nature turns it into an exotic dessert perfume.
Truth or Dare has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.
Truth or Dare was discontinued as of the end of 2016; it never gained much of a foot hold. One of the reasons was despite the promise to be exclusive to specific department stores by Memorial Day 2012 it was on sale at Walmart and Target in the US. That was a remarkable lack of faith in the fragrance to move it onto those shelves in a matter of weeks. As I was reacquainting myself with it I was thinking if the tuberose was made even more transparent it would fit in the current day trend of light gourmand florals.
The basic reason Truth or Dare is in the Dead Letter Office is trying to make a modern version of a classic perfume is not easy no matter how dedicated to the task you are. It ends up pleasing nobody. While she might be a Material Girl; Truth or Dare showed she was not a Fragrance Girl.
Disclosure: this review was based on a bottle I purchased.