I close out 2018 with a look for what I am hoping and wishing for in 2019.
I’m still coming to grips with the loss of independent perfumer Vero Kern. For 2019 I am hoping that a new independent perfumer who embodies Fr. Kern’s indefatigable spirit paired with her love of perfume making appears. I’ve heard nature abhors a vacuum; let’s see if that is true.
I wish for my favorite niche brands to push the edges of their aesthetic a little bit more. It is perverse that I have asked over the last few years for an expansion of niche brands. I’ve largely seen that come true. The price seems to have been a 2018 where those brands stayed right in the center of what they do best. This produced good perfume without inspiring me. The creative teams behind all these brands have already shown they can produce wonderful innovative perfumes before. Let 2019 show that spirit again.
American Perfumer in Louisville, Kentucky
I have a very selfish wish for the success of a single store; Dave Kern’s shop dedicated to American independent perfume in Louisville, Kentucky called American Perfumer. I generally wish every small brick and mortar store which sells niche and independent perfumes in their local community success; that hasn’t changed. Mr. Kern is exclusively working with the American indies who have had one of the best years in 2018 I can remember. It seems like with that as a start supplemented with exclusive limited editions, he should hopefully have a successful 2019.
I really wish that the Arquiste Esencia de El Palacio collection could be made available outside of Mexico. The eight perfumes in this collection are examples of the best niche perfumery has to offer. It comes from a place deep within the hearts of creative director Carlos Huber and perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux. I am sure there are exclusivity contracts which prohibit this, but this is a list of wishes not business realities. In that spirit I’ll add one more; maybe they could be available in an Arquiste boutique.
My final wish is for a continuation of the exceptional creativity I saw in 2018 in the indie perfumes and young brands. I think a lot of it is because the ones I am talking about have been around long enough that they are secure in their business plan allowing for their artistic plan to flourish. If that hypothesis is correct this is probably the one wish which will definitely be realized in 2019.
As always, I want to wish all the readers of Colognoisseur a Happy New Year. My thanks for spending a little time reading my blog over the past year. Let’s see, together, what 2019 will bring.
When I tell people, I write about perfume the most frequent response I receive is, “Why?” My response usually takes a few seconds, maybe a minute, to say. I’ve realized there is a more succinct answer to the query, “Vero Kern”.
I would meet Vero for the first time through her perfume Rubj. Vero was at the forefront of independent perfumery. Those of you who have known Vero for longer will no doubt understand her wanting to be as independent about perfume as she was in the rest of her life. What it means when applied to fragrance making is an artist’s touch. The perfume you buy in the department store can be beautiful, but they are commerce. The kind of perfume Vero made was the expression of a creative mind who spoke in scented constructions. When I met Vero via Rubj Eau de Parfum I was greeted with the smell of passionfruit.
This is another aspect of Vero which I celebrate; the passion she gave to her work. In the form of the fruit but also in the meticulous way she designed her pieces. She didn’t release her first three perfumes until she had spent years achieving her vision. Those first three releases, Kiki. Onda, and Rubj were in the most concentrated form perfume takes, extrait. They were powerful statements of intent, of what perfume could aspire to. She dared you to see it differently.
Vero and Isi
The passionfruit arrived as she spent three years re-imagining her first three releases in a less concentrated form, eau de parfum. This is not just a process of dilution. It is a process of understanding what will happen upon making what was stronger more expansive. It opens spaces which need filling. Vero chose a little used perfume ingredient called passionfruit. The reason it was little used is it was an obstreperous material to use. No matter how much you tried to keep it down it would stubbornly get back up and persist. I think Vero might have recognized herself in that. How she would use that is she allowed the passionfruit to have those newly opened spaces in the lighter style of eau de parfum. She also made sure it wasn’t drowning out the inherent beauty.
In Rubj the passionfruit would find the outsized floral personalities of jasmine and orange blossom igniting a perfume which had all the sizzle of a huge firework exploding. This was the beauty one could only find from an independent artist like Vero.
I would come face-to-face with the outsized personality of Vero when I attended a large perfume expo in Milan. What came through in person was the mischievous glint in her eye. She had the artist’s disdain for the commercial style of perfume being displayed. I asked her what she thought. Of course, she answered that it was all dreadful. A few years later she had come to like me enough to use a more colorful term than dreadful.
Vero and I in Milan as she presented Rozy in 2014
My favorite memory of Vero happened at the same expo, three years later, in 2014. She was releasing her newest perfume Rozy. I had an appointment to meet her; allowing her to show me the new release. When I arrived, Vero was sitting in a chair sporting a black eye. My first thought was I bet the other person looks worse. When Vero told me, she had fallen I was somewhat relieved it was just an accident. There was a kind of rakish style to her one bruised eye behind her white-rimmed glasses. Despite all my concern about Vero when she handed me the strip of paper with the new perfume on it, magic happened. I was under the spell of what I consider to be the best post-modern rose perfume ever made. As I breathed in with eyes closed it was the same feeling I get when encountering artistic genius.
When I opened my eyes with a silly smile on my face the twinkle in her one bruised eye and one normal one showed she was pleased that she had one admirer of her work. Vero is the kind of artist who could only have thrived in the independent perfumery world. Her perfumes will continue to live and speak to her creativity. I have no doubt of that.
Vero’s perfumes will always carry the impact of her vision on the rest of my life. I will miss the joie de vivre of the person who enjoyed creating art via perfume.
Back on New Year’s Eve I made a wish for 2017; “A new perfume from Vero Kern”. At that point in time it had been nearly three years since her last new release, Rozy. Ms. Kern has a meticulous work ethic about her fragrances. If you love them, as I do, part of the process is to allow her to take it at her own pace. Not long after I made my wish Ms. Kern began posting on Facebook the teases on a new release called Vero Profumo Naja. It was scheduled to be released at Esxence 2017. There are many things I missed about not being in Milan this past March but not being there for the debut of Naja was top of the list.
Naturally I went in to piteous begging mode asking anyone who would listen, “Please could you send me a sample of Naja?” I am fortunate to have those who respond to my pathetic pleas and a few weeks ago a sample of Naja arrived. When I was hearing about Naja from afar it was interesting to hear from writing colleagues who seemed to be experiencing Naja as if from different perspectives. Everyone agreed that the listed notes were there but which ones were predominant seemed to differ depending on who I was talking to. It was going to be fun to see what stood out on my skin.
Naja is symbolized by a snake on the bottle. There is a stylized cobra poised with hood unfurled. Ms. Kern mentioned that the snake represents its use in numerous native mythologies around the world having to do with transformation and creativity. Naja the fragrance also has a serpentine quality itself. Tobacco provides the spine on which this perfume perches. If Rozy was about honey and rose then Naja is about tobacco. Ms. Kern uses a few other notes to interrogate her keynote exposing different facets of it.
Naja opens with the tobacco already in place but it is not what is part of the first impression. Lime blossom provides a citrusy green floral as sharp as any fang. I know this opening threw me a bit because it is so incisive. When I hear tobacco perfume I expect soft rich narcotic depth. Naja provides an alternative as the acerbic green note constricts the tobacco in the early moments. As the coils slowly release the tobacco edges its way forward. As the tobacco finds a firmer foothold and starts to equilibrate towards something more familiar Ms. Kern finds a complementary sweetness to the dried tobacco leaf in melon. Rich fruits or resins usually provide that role. By using melon Ms. Kern keeps the familiar a tiny bit unfamiliar. There is almost a Calone feeling to this phase of Naja as on a different day it could have become an aquatic tobacco. Before Naja goes too far down that path osmanthus provides its dual nature. The dried apricot part acts like the typical fruit accompaniment to tobacco while the leathery part provides a final foundation. Over many hours the tobacco and the leather is what remains.
Naja has 24-hour plus longevity and average sillage.
More than any of her creations to date Naja is the most fascinating perfume she has made. It is full of contradictions and capitulations. I wore it three times for this review and it wore differently every time. Different notes were on top at different times with the tobacco being the only constant. It makes Naja as hypnotizing as that swaying cobra drawing you in with its unceasing movement. The difference being that when Naja strikes it leaves only pleasure behind. Thank you, Ms. Kern, for granting my wish.
As we put 2016 to bed it is time to look forward to 2017. I like to end every year with some things I am anticipating and/or hoping for to happen in the next twelve months.
C'mon Vero, Pretty Please?
A new perfume from Vero Kern. It has almost been three years since the release of Rozy. Vero has teased us a little bit that the next one is going to be a tobacco focused fragrance. I know it will come out when she feels it is ready but my inner five-year old is getting ready to wail if I lead off this piece in twelve months with the same wish.
I would like new brands to put fragrance over marketing. I went back and looked; 2016 was no worse for the number of brand debuts sporting upwards of six perfumes. What did seem to be worse was the pricing for perfumes where the money did not seem to be in the bottle. Please if you’re a brand-new brand focus on the perfume; make it great. Try and only do three or four perfumes. Don’t rush to the market.
Le Labo Counter at Tyson's Corner Mall in Virginia
More Le Labo, more places. There was a lot of worry over Estee Lauder’s acquisition of Le Labo. One of the things I have thought is necessary for niche perfume to really expand is more access. In my local mall, they installed a Le Labo counter in the local Nordstrom’s. When it first opened in April it was busy on every visit but nothing like it was on my Holiday visit. Le Labo is one of the exemplars of what it means to be a niche perfume. Estee Lauder taking it to the mall shows that consumers will gravitate to quality if it is right in front of them. I am hoping that this will be rolled out across the country in places where niche is not readily available.
I want a masterpiece from Perfumers: The Next Generation…all of them.Quentin Bisch, Cristiano Canali, Luca Maffei, Julien Rasquinet, and Cecile Zarokian are this set of next generation perfumers I think of as the next set of rule-breakers. They have all consistently stepped up their game over the last couple of years. I want 2017 to have a release from each of them that makes my choice for Perfume of the Year the most difficult it has ever been. Make it so!
I hope we found the ceiling. For the first time since I’ve been writing about perfume the number of new releases were about the same in 2016 as they were in 2015. I always believed there was a number where the market could not continue to expand beyond. 2017, if it stays about the same, can be the third data point which confirms this.
Can this Spring be about something other than rose? The last two years I have been buried by fresh clean rose perfumes for Spring. I can hope that maybe a new floral can take center stage. Jasmine, perhaps?
On this final day of 2016 I want to wish every single reader the Happiest and Healthiest of New Years. Colognoisseur has grown beyond the goals I set for myself back when I started almost three years ago. For that I must thank everyone who spends a couple minutes here reading my writing. I hope 2017 brings us even more perfumed joy.
As we reach the last day of 2015 it is time to look forward to 2016. Here are some things I am anticipating and/or hoping for.
The first fragrance from Christine Nagel for Hermes. This is a holdover from last year. I expected this to happen in 2015 but I will be very surprised if I am typing this for the third time at the end of next year. I firmly believe she is the right successor to Jean-Claude Ellena. I just want to see what she does first.
I want another great Guerlain. Over the last two years Guerlain has fallen into that pitfall of complacency. They have made solid perfume which has been so safe. It has been three years since the release of Rose Nacree du Desert, which was the last one to slay me. Surely when you are releasing over a dozen new releases per year there is a spot for something less safe and more different.
I still want that big crossover success for an independent perfumer. This has been a hope for as long as I’ve been blogging. It hasn’t quite come true yet. Although the move of Christi Meshell of House of Matriarch and Raymond Matts taking their perfumes into Nordstrom is one element that will be needed to make this come true.
I want the inaugural edition of The Perfumed Plume to be a big success. For too long as a US writer I’ve been envious of my European colleagues who have yearly awards for their writing. Lyn Leigh and Mary Ellen Lapsansky have established The Perfumed Plume to be the American version. I think there is a lot of great writing happening in the fragrant blogosphere and I want to see it recognized appropriately.
I wish for new brands to start with no more than three to five debut releases. 2015 saw more new brands coming to the market with ten or more entries. This kind of business plan is unsustainable because the little boutiques which are the life blood for a new niche brand can’t just give over shelf space for ten new perfumes with no audience. If you have ten great ideas please pick your three best and build an audience; for the other seven.
I am hoping for a new Vero Kern release. After taking 2015 off I suspect that 2016 will bring us the follow-up to Rozy. Please don’t make me wait too long Vero.
I hope for the continued success of initiatives like Tauerville. Andy Tauer’s Tauerville line is a great introduction to independent perfumery at an attractive price point paired with perfumes which display that indie ethos. I would like to see some others make an effort to try something similar.
I ended last year’s column with this:
One non-perfume hope is for the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens to be the Star Wars movie I’ve been waiting thirty years for. I think JJ Abrams is the man who can actually pull that off.
Sometimes wishes do come true.
On this New Year’s Eve I convey to all the readers of Colognoisseur the Happiest of New Year’s wishes. May all of them come true in 2016.
One of the things that makes independent perfumer Vero Kern so interesting is that she releases three different versions of each of her perfumes. What is special about this way of composing perfume is it is very similar to a visual artist or musician doing variations on a theme. If you have the skill you can give the person an experience with similar signposts but a different destination.
Last year Ms. Kern released the Eau de Parfum and Voile D’Extrait versions of Rozy. Her muse for this perfume was Italian neorealist actress Anna Magnani. The Eau de Parfum was an intense version befitting the screen persona of Sig.ra Magnani. The Voile D’Extrait was the opposite as it captured a joyous explosion of an intelligent woman laughing. I thought the Voile D’Extrait was the best perfume I tried in all of 2014. When I attended Esxence I met with Ms. Kern and she pressed into my hand the final version of Rozy the Extrait de Parfum.
I have to admit I think Rozy Voile D’Extrait is such an amazing piece of perfumery it was difficult to start my process of getting to know Rozy Extrait de Parfum. If I am going to continue with my version of the olfactory Three Faces of Anna the Extrait de Parfum is the pensive one. This is a perfume which is full of complicated interiors. As I would wear it and follow one set of notes to another I often found myself taking a very different path as it seemingly changed its internal architecture like an Escher lithograph. Nothing exemplifies this more than the supporting amount of tuberose she uses in the heart. As I am continually circling the central rose a bit of indolic funk would cause my focus to waver. Drawing me in a different direction. There were days where I felt the tuberose was a figment of my imagination. There were other days it let me catch it and enjoy the skanky rose accord it formed. The entire Extrait de Parfum has pleasures like this to discover.
The Extrait de Parfum opens on the same notes that the Voile D’Extrait does but instead of bursting to life this time they are kept deeper and more focused. That means the peach and cassis, leavened with a bit of melon provide a core from which the central rose can flower upon. The peach in particular stays around a little bit longer and it provides a rich fruity contrast to the rose. Honey again provides texture but as less of a provocateur and more of an enabler for the rose. It is during this part of the development that the indoles played mind games with me. This all closes out with sandalwood, labdanum, and vanilla providing a final destination after a variable trip.
Rozy Extrait de Parfum has 14-16 hour longevity and very modest sillage.
I have been home from Milan for almost six weeks and I’ve spent at least one day a week examining Rozy Extrait de Parfum. I finally had to write all of this down because I feel that I will never cease discovering something new each time I wear it. There are very few perfumes which reward this kind of scrutiny. That Ms. Kern has finished off what is probably her strongest set of fragrances with this perfumed brain teaser is why I consider her one of the very best perfumers working in the world right now.
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Vero Profumo.
One of the reasons I think 2014 was a very good perfume year was I had so many candidates to choose from for what I think are the best perfume, perfumer, creative director, and brand of the year. I have changed my mind numerous times, revisited the perfumes all had created this year, and considered other metrics. In the end I finally settled on a list I think shows off why this year has produced some great perfume.
Perfume of the Year: Vero Profumo Rozy Voile d’Extrait– When I sat down with independent perfumer Vero Kern in Milan she had had a bad fall and was sporting a black eye hidden behind, her always stylish, trademark eyeglasses. As she handed me the strips of her newest creation my mind was not on sniffing but concern for one of the truly great people I have met in perfume. I was still asking her if she was okay as I lifted the strip to my nose. From the moment I inhaled my focus shifted immediately to what I was smelling.
The Very Moment I Describe in the Paragraph Above (Photo: Sarah Colton)
There have been a lot of perfumes which have professed to be a post-modern rose. Rozy Voile d’Extrait lives up to that description better than any other which has made that particular claim. By using honey as a sticky bit of texture to pull in all of the other notes it creates unbelievable expansiveness at the same time. Rozy VdE also has some rough edges courtesy of a brilliant addition of labdanum. This rose has not been stripped of all of its thorns. Inspired by Italian actress Anna Magnani, Rozy VdE reminded me of the throaty laugh of a beautiful intelligent woman much like the perfumer who made it.
Perfumer of the Year: Vero Kern– Yeah it seems obvious if Vero Kern made the perfume of the year she should be perfumer of the year. That’s generally not the way I work as I look for a body of work when making this particular decision. One of the things I admire about Ms. Kern is she takes her time perfecting her creations and that has resulted in what I consider to be one of the greatest overall collections by an independent perfumer. Which usually means one release per year and heading into the final part of the year I did not have Ms. Kern on my short-list.
Then I received my sample set of the Richard Luscher Britos Terroir Perfumes. Ms. Kern was responsible for the one called 14oS48oEwhich were the coordinates of an ylang-ylang plantation in Madagascar. For the second time in 2014 a perfume demanded every bit of my attention as the heart of this perfume has what I would consider a near perfect heart accord consisting of ylang-ylang, evergreen, pink pepper, and mimosa. I had an inkling that Ms. Kern had a bit of a challenge working with an entirely natural palette and in some correspondence after I reviewed it she confirmed that to me. This is exactly what does comprise a perfumer of the year one who is willing to work outside of their comfort zone and still be able to produce something instantly gorgeous. For Rozy Voile d’Extrait and Richard Luscher Britos 14oS48oE Vero Kern is my Perfumer of the Year for 2014.
Runner-ups: Maria Candida Gentile, Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Josh Lobb (slumberhouse), Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, and Cecile Zarokian.
Creative Director of the Year: Carlos Huber of Arquiste– I was given the opportunity to introduce Carlos Huber on Sunday of Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2014 in October. Part of that introduction was my lauding Mr. Huber at creating a distinctive brand identity for his perfume line Arquiste. I believe that too many new brands skip this step to their detriment. From the beginning Mr. Huber has had a clear vision on what he wanted his brand to be. He has worked exclusively with perfumers Yann Vasnier and Rodrigo Flores-Roux on putting this vision into a perfume bottle. That process resulted in two outstanding additions to the Arquiste line in L’Etrog Acqua and The Architects Club. Lots of Creative Directors had multiple good releases.
What elevated Mr. Huber to Creative Director of the Year was the collaboration he did with J. Crew. He created two perfumes for J. Crew which also carries the Arquiste brand; Arquiste for J. Crew No. 31 and No. 47. By working with J. Crew’s Creative Director Jenna Lyons they made two perfumes which were not wholly of either brand but an excellent introduction to each brand to those who like one or the other. Only a Creative Director confident in the concept of his brand can easily do that. Confident and assured describes Carlos Huber my Creative Director of the Year for 2014.
Runner-ups: Christian Astuguevieille (Comme des Garcons), Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner (Aedes de Venustas), Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi (Masque Milano), Christopher Chong (Amouage), Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel (Atelier Cologne).
Brand of the Year: DSH Perfumes– As I was looking back over the list of things I reviewed this year there was one brand which kept popping up time and again, DSH Perfumes. Independent perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz had a prolific year as she released two collections The Cannabis Culture Collection and The Brilliant Collection. A very personal re-interpretation of Jacques Fath Iris Gris called Scent of Peace. A masculine perfume, Metropolis. Her Holiday release, Vanilla Bourbon Intense. Three perfumes for The PLP Project. Finally, my favorite of all of these Seve de Pin. There was so much here that reviews of The PLP Project and The Brilliant Collection will be coming early in the New Year. Normally this kind of profligacy leads to less than thrilling results. One of the things I have come to realize about Ms. Hurwitz is when she is inspired she is a force of nature. I think 2014 saw her as inspired as she has ever been. She is also inspired by so many different influences but yet manages to make each new release another brick that fits in the entire DSH Perfumes brand pantheon. For all of that DSH Perfumes is my Brand of the Year for 2014.
Runner-ups: Aedes de Venustas, Arquiste, Comme des Garcons, Etat Libre d’Orange, and Masque Milano.
Andy Tauer takes us to the south of France in the Midi-Pyrenees to St. Rome de Cernon with 44oN03oE. This area of France is known for its wild mountain lavender. Hr. Tauer takes this mountain lavender and forms a singular lavender essential oil which carries with it all of the beautiful floralcy of lavender. There is also a bit of a citrus aspect and of course the herbal nature all of the best lavender essential oils have. This one has that herbaceous quality in abundance. Also growing around the lavender fields are majestic black pines and juniper. Hr. Tauer takes a fantastic pine resin and uses the very astringent juniper berry to create a craggy mountainside accord. The lavender has not fallen by the wayside as it still is present in and among the pines and juniper. This is one of the best lavender accords I have smelled in a very long time. There are times when I often think I am “over” a note. Thankfully talented perfumers like Hr. Tauer are there to show me new things. 44oN03oE finishes with smooth nutty sweetness courtesy of chestnut and vanilla. 44oN03oE is one of Hr. Tauer’s best compositions of the last few years and he has had a very good last few years so that is saying something. 44oN03oE lives up to exactly what the idea of Terroir Perfume should do by sweeping you to a mountainside in France via perfume.
Vero Kern whisks us away to the ylang-ylang plantations of Ambunja, Madagascar in 14oS48oE. Fr. Kern’s plantation is right on the edge of the tropical rainforest ringed by evergreens. By using those evergreens to blunt the usually extroverted ylang-ylang. It sets up a delightful tension between the woods and the flowers. As we move deeper in the forest pink peppercorn and mimosa add to the evergreen and ylang-ylang. As with the other perfumes in this collection there is a real moment in the heart of each which is breathtaking. The one which Fr. Kern has constructed for 14oS48oE is the most mesmerizing of all of them. Every time I’ve worn this about an hour and a half in it nearly stops me in my tracks with its beauty. The base evokes the harvest and distillation of vanilla and vetiver as they provide the foundation for this perfume. The press release mentions a roasted corn note but I have not found it to be present on my skin. The base is green acerbic vetiver leavened by rich vanilla. It is so rare to find a perfect accord which demands your attention but Fr. Kern has accomplished that and more with 14oS48oE.
Jean-Claude Gigodot takes us to 46oN08oE which is in the Parco Naturale dell’Alta Valle Antrona on the Italian-Swiss border just east of Zermatt. We find ourselves among the windswept pines on the Val d’Anniviers at 2000m of altitude. M. Gigodot has also found and sourced a fantastic pine essential oil to open 46oN08oE. All three of these perfumes I am reviewing today have significant coniferous contributions but the one M. Gigadot uses has the most depth and nuance to it. Because of that he lets it have the opening moments all to itself. Also because of the quality of this pine oil he wisely adds in only a few complementary notes. A bit of oakmoss to capture the lichems growing on these woody sentinels. A dollop of woodsmoke like a fireplace in the distance is hanging among the pines. M. Gigadot keeps this simple because all of his natural ingredients are so good they bring their own inherent complexity without needing extraneous notes to draw you to them. 46oN08oE is the most linear of the five Terroir Perfumes but it is also probably the single best ingredient of all five, too.
44oN03oE, 14oS48oE & 46oN08oE have 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
The three perfumes today show how the creative team at Richard Luscher Britos is ready to invite other perfumers into their family adventures. Like the best of guests on an adventure they only add to the story in extraordinary ways; Hr. Tauer, Fr. Kern, and M. Gigadot have advanced the concept of Terroir Perfume brilliantly.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples I purchased.
I have mentioned previously that discovering Andy Tauer’s blog back in 2006 was one of those informational turning points for me. I absorbed everything he had to say and one of the perfumers he spoke of was a Swiss perfumer by the name of Vero Kern. It took me a little while but I eventually acquired her first three perfumes Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj. At this point I was considering relocating to Switzerland because it must be a hotbed of independent perfumery. Those first three fragrances are, to this day, very near the pinnacle of what it means to create an independent perfume. I finally had the opportunity to meet her in 2011 when I attended Esxence for the first time. I think I might have been a little overenthusiastic in my enjoyment at the encounter. I had the chance to renew the acquaintance this year and I also had the opportunity to ask her about her new fragrance Rozy.
Rozy was inspired by Italian actress Anna Magnani who is best known as the winner of the Oscar for Best Actress for the 1955 movie “The Rose Tattoo”. Sig.ra Maganai was known for her intensity onscreen as one of the leading artists in the Italian Neorealism movement. She was also one of those handful of foreign actresses that didn’t rely on her looks to make an impact, she was known for her performances on screen and not elsewhere. Ms. Kern is also an intense perfumer who works in an unhurried exacting manner until she is ready to release something new. It is why there is so much anticipation among those who know her work as Rozy is only the second new fragrance since the original three following up 2012’s Mito.
Vero Kern (r.) and I trying Rozy
While Ms. Kern hasn’t produced new fragrances on a regular basis she has explored the differences concentration makes in her basic architecture and that is why all of her perfumes are available in three versions. The extrait is sort of the baseline version, the Eau de Parfum is a different take altogether usually with a slight tweak to the notes. Just last year she introduced a third version called Voile D’Extraits. I was captivated by the versions of the previous four and when we spoke in Milan she explained she wanted a way to make her perfumes more expansive. They fall in between the EDP and extrait in terms of concentration but they feel like something more original in concept than a simple concentration change could account for. For Rozy I was given a sample each of the EDP and Voile D’Extrait.
Anna Magnani (Photo: Bob Collins)
Rozy Eau de Parfum is the intensity of Sig.ra Magnani’s stare, full of intelligence and potential. Rozy is Ms. Kern’s take on a rose-centric fragrance but this is not your mother’s, or your grandmother’s, rose perfume. She told me that she didn’t want this to be a “typical” rose. One sniff of the EDP and I knew what she was going for. The rose is there right at the heart but Ms. Kern brackets it with peach, honey, and passion fruit. The passion fruit is becoming Ms. Kern’s signature note. When you try all of her fragrances she has an ability to modulate it to seemingly do anything she wants it to. In Rozy EDP she uses it as a way of adding in a bit of foundation to the peach to keep it from tilting too primly sweet and keeping it a little earthier in nature. The honey is here to add a bit of complementary sweetness and textural viscosity. Rozy EDP ends up mostly a genteel honey covered rose very late in its drydown.
Rozy Voile D’Extrait is just simply a genius piece of perfume making. The Voile D’Extrait is a full throated laugh from Sig.ra Magnani full of the enjoyment of life. For the Volie D’Extrait Ms. Kern adds cassis and tuberose to the early going and then she drenches it in honey, dusts it with spice, and adds the final bit of inspiration, labdanum, to turn this more jagged in nature but the honey holds it all together in a sticky matrix where it all unifies. When Ms. Kern said she didn’t want a “typical” rose Rozy Voile D’Extrait is the one that delivers that promise best.
Rozy EDP has overnight longevity and average sillage. Rozy Voile D’Extrait has similar longevity and below average sillage.
There have been many perfumers who have presented their version of a post-modern rose fragrance. With Rozy EDP, and Voile D’Extrait, Ms. Kern has set my personal standard for that category for the foreseeable future. Rozy Voile D’Extrait is the best perfume Ms. Kern has ever made. It is the best new perfume I have tried so far this year.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Campomarzio 70.