Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Lostmarc'h Laan-Ael, Aod, Atao and Iroaz
For this week, cats and kiddies, I am afraid that we're going to have what amounts to reviewlets from me, since A) it's hot, B) it's month end bill-paying at home and at work and C) I'm lazy.
I was happy to get notice that Laan Ael had arrived at LuckyScent with three siblings, since I had gone through about three decants from the Perfumed Court. I was also thrilled to see the price: $75 for 100 mls. I suggest stocking up before they realise their mistake.
Laan-Ael, as you all know is written of as buckwheat, milk and honey. I get Froot Loops and milk. Normally after having typed that sentence, you would think that I would write that I scrubbed my arm with a dremel tool and iced borax, but no: it's literally the most comforting thing you could possible smell and I am in hopeless thrall to it. It does become more than just the special effect of breakfast in footie pajamas; there's something pixelated to it that isn't quite musk, but less homogenized than the milky cereal opening would lead you to believe. But
never, ever sly or winking. I can imagine that after (or during) a difficult day that a spritz of two of this would be better that an rum and atavan smoothie.
Aod apparently means "Seashore" and I can't say that it smells exactly like any seashore that I've been near. No bad thing: there's a whisper of grapefruit, a scintilla of gardenia, a bare hint of that clean sheet/sea spray accord that we've all smelled about a bazillion times. There's also the rounded smell of coconut. I wore this today while at my friends house in Pasadena while wiping her work MacBook Pro in preparation for it's return, doing laundry and feeding her cats while she's in Texas: in the wilting heat this was joyously refreshing. Just enough of each ingredient to be refreshing without being overwhelming and for once the "sea" part of it isn't amped up to 11. Did I mention that it's $75? PS: if the seashore really smells like this in Brittany, I'm moving...
Atao starts with rosemary, and lots of it. Those of you who have made something with rosemary know that it's only fault in cooking is that too much of it makes a soapy taste. The first sniff of this frankly goes there, and just when it does, the bergamot and lemon jump in to wrestle the whole thing to the ground. LuckyScent lists orange and mandarin in there, but I don't get those two distinctly, I do get a nice spicy wood. I can see this being a lovely, no-fault, no-brainer that you grab when you don't want to think about it, don't want to smell challenging or weird or perhaps have to meet with a prospective boss. Or are applying for a loan. Or are being sentenced. It reads "dependable, well-travelled, well-bred, (and on a guy) and smart enough to know that I should smell good but not in a way that's in your face". On a girl it would make that Jennifer O'Neill in jeans and a boys button-down statement- and yes, that is sexy as all get-out.
Iroaz was quite frankly the only miss for me: I understand the idea of roses at the seashore and the juxtaposition of the creamy rose and the salty marine notes but the whole seemed muddled: I am not going to cast aspersions on the quality of the ingredients, but the rose versus marine in this one seemed to me to each make the other seem, well, kind of cheap smelling. Having typed that, it's $75.00 so if it shows up in a Christmas stocking I'd happily spray the curtains with it. It's refreshing; I just like my roses more threatening than these.
So there you have it: three big hits and one near miss. I REALLY hope that both Lostmarc'h and Luckyscent are making a comfortable profit at this price point: I am so thrilled that there's something out there that is this good for under a Benjamin I could plotz!
Now where are the soaps and candles? So far, only at their website. The rest are at LuckyScent,
(for $75.00, I mentioned that, right?) including the Lann-Ael body milk and shower gel.
Image source, maion.com.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Love In the Afternoon: Demi-Jour by Houbigant
Monday, July 28, 2008
Citruses that pack a punch: Parfums Delrae Eau Illuminee and Jo Malone Grapefruit
This has been a cruel, cruel summer and not just because of the heat. It forced me to turn at night to hardcore comfort scents like Habanita, Fahrenheit, Tabac Blond, Coromandel and L'Ombre Fauve. To cope with the days, noli me tangere kinds of scents are required, cool, collected, poker-faced, the ones that would put an icy sort of armor around me. I needed very cold, very dry citruses, kick-ass citruses that would help me "walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer." I found them in Delrae's Eau Illuminee and Jo Malone's Grapefruit.
Eau Illuminee was love born out of acute need for icy protection that I described above. Before this summer hit me like a ton of hot bricks, I actually found this sharp fragrance rather disagreeable. These days, I consider its blend of bergamot, basil and lavender to be my holy water. Very urbane, very sophisticated, very modern, Eau Illuminee is the most unlikely magical potion one can think of, but the fact remains that when I wear this chilly concoction, I feel protected, calm, confident and a little dangerous. I also want to note for the benefit of those who, like me, might have never given the scent enough time to develop on their skin, because they were put off by the aggressively fresh, uncompromisingly dry beginning, that the composition warms up somewhat, when the notes of tonka and vanilla appear in the base.
Jo Malone's Grapefruit is another recent addition to my fragrance wardrobe. It is brisk, dry and cold. A citrus with attitude. The latter manifests in the form of slight spiciness that compliments very well the resolutely non-sweet, punch-packing tanginess of grapefruits. The earthy vetiver in the base plants the fragrance's feet, so to say, firmly on the ground, making Grapefruit a no-nonsense ally during dramatic times. When I feel, like Kissinger, that there cannot be a crisis next week because my schedule is already full, I turn to Grapefruit.
Eau Illuminee can be found at luckyscent.com, $135.00. Grapefruit is available at jomalone.com, $50.00-$95.00.
Image source, krasivoefoto.ru.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Chandler Burr Scent Notes Direct Link
For those having trouble finding Chandler Burr's Scent Notes online, The Times has now created a direct link. It features every Scent Notes blog column ever published, in
chronological order starting with the most recent column:
Last week's Scent Notes express Burr's bafflement with Un Jardin Après la Mousson by Hermès.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Parfumerie Generale L'eau Guerriere, Cuir d’Iris, L’oiseau de Nuit and L'Ombre Fauve
Parfumerie Generale is one of the less heralded purveyors of Niche scents out there and I am not quite sure why; we all tend to quiver with an (minor "Rocky Horror" moment) ticipation at the arrival of a new Lutens or a Malle and a new Creed with cause skywriting and rockets red glare. PG tends to just show up with something, usually brilliant even if I can't personally see my way to wearing it.
L'eau Guerriere falls into that latter category. Luckyscent describes it as a "full-on woody, blatantly sexy" musk scent and yes, on me it will get there eventually. Sadly, the prequel to that was one that it took me a good deal of time to actually identify, but when I did, it was unmistakable: the smell of really good pot. So much so that the nice girl at ScentBar suggested that it would be best not to wear this and drive; much like Ambre Russe's overt boooziness, the "Dude, Where's My Car" aspect of it could lead to one standing on one foot and touching one's nose while pleading "Really, Officer, it's my COLOGNE!"..
Cuir d’Iris is one of the few PG scents that I could accuse of false advertising. Iris is in there but so far down in this particular parade it's the perfume equivalent of Janet Lee in "Psycho": there for the fist 20 minutes but done in by the leather and amber. Incense comes in later to mourn the iris' passing while vetiver adds a bit of a grounding buzz to the whole affair. This would have been my favorite had I not spritzed on:
L’Oiseau de Nuit (night bird) lists cistus labdanum, liqueur of davana, benzoin, and leather as it's ingredients, and I think it's the cistus (according tot he description) that gives the leather that earthy but sweet buzz to it that I also find in Knize Ten (yes, that bit of Miel de Bois). It's certainly not enough to scare the horses; it's just enough to make an interestingly sweet and clean contrapuntal interest to the earthy leather. It's like having your bouquet handed to you in the gardeners glove, in the best, most Lady Chatterly-like way.
L'Ombre Fauve mentions amber, musk, woods, incense, patchouli as the listed notes. Colombina wrote of it as "'thick' and luscious" later writing that it's "a demanding perfume that scares and excites me". On me it is intense and luscious and somewhat wild, balancing the earthy patch and the feline (the only way to describe it) musk with the smooth woods and incense. It manages the feat of being both feral and incredibly suave: if they had made a werewolf movie starring Bond-era Timothy Dalton, this is what he would have worn. (or, if you wish, Irena in Cat People)
All of these are $135 for 50ML, at LuckyScent and the PG website
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Dark Tuberoses: Heroine, Narcotic and Trapeze by Strange Invisible Perfumes
I reached the stage in my relationship with perfumes which Angela of NowSmellThis once called that of a connoisseur and which I rather less positively call jaded. My nose believes that it has smelled it all and my brain is in the state of ennui. For a perfume to register on my radar, it has to be Great. To excite my jaded senses it has to be Exceptional. The words of the Red Queen come to mind, "If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" In regards to perfume, "twice as fast" means either being absolutely sublime in its "realism" (Malle Une Rose) or absolutely unlike anything else I have ever encountered (Aftelier Tango). There are some sublimely "realistic" tuberoses... I am using quotation marks, because there is always a necessary degree of stylization in perfume, a degree of creative interpretation of the material, which is what makes it a perfume and not an aromatherapy oil... Malle Carnal Flower and Caron's and L'Artisan's Tubereuses are among them. Lutens' Tubereuse Criminelle inhabits the twilight zone between the territory of "realism" and that of boldly taken poetic license. I will talk about the sublimely "real" at some later point. Today I am focusing on the strange.
Strange Invisible Perfumes' take on tuberose, to be precise. And a word to other jaded, if you somehow until now overlooked this brand (I know, unlikely!), do try their creations. They do imaginative things that step close to but never overstep the mark of unwearable. Their descriptions, in which vetivers sleepwalk through bright and textured corridors of lemon verbena, do overstep the mark of ridiculous, but I digress. Three of the perfumes in their collection put emphasis on tuberose. Heroine blends the note with sweetly balsamic opoponax and slightly charred cedarwood. The creaminess of tuberose is enhanced by the presence of frangipane, and you would think that two such heady flowers would dominate the composition, but they let the resinous accord to be always in the forefront. That accord makes tuberose smell smoky and husky and, to me, just irresistible. I find the base, which smells of frying shelled sunflower seeds, strangely comforting.
Narcotic uses orange blossom instead of frangipane to enhance tuberose and adds freshness to the blend by making vetiver sleepwalk through the aforementioned corridor of lemon verbena. In other words, the blend starts fresh and a little earthy, the citrusy accord finds its logical continuation in orange blossom, which in turn draws in sweeter and heavier tuberose enriched in the base by vanilla and sandalwood. Simple, right? Not really. You'd think that breezy citruses would turn the usually not at all innocent tuberose into a blushing bride, but here orange blossom has such a pronounced indolic undertone that it makes tuberose smell frankly indecent. Add to that the earthiness of vetiver and the booziness of vanilla, and you have got yourself a perfume that is X Rated.
In Trapeze, the killer queen tuberose walks a tight rope flung between the red spiciness of carnation and the icy freshness of spearmint, and the rope is weaved out of vetiver roots...And no more reading of the SIP website for me, as their style is apparently infectious. Anyhow, whereas I have smelled tuberose paired with a mentholated accord before, the addition of carnation is fairly unexpected. I love the piquancy and the slight powderiness that the note brings to the mix and even a certain retro quality. It would be a huge stretch to say that Trapeze smells classic...but not as long of a stretch as from here to the galaxy far, far away, in which dwell other SIP creations. The galaxy to which the jaded should take regular tours just to be reminded that there are scents out that can still surprise and excite us.
Narcotic and Trapeze are available at strangeinvisibleperfumes.com (which has been made a little more use-friendly since the last time I attempted to look), $185.00 for 1/4oz. I was unable to find Heroine, perhaps it was discontinued.
Many thanks to Alyssa for the poem and for also seeing the darkness of white flowers. The image is by Ellen Von Unwerth.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Anise and Licorice- Love It or Loathe It, Some Gotta Have It
Anise and licorice are notes that are either adored or loathed, one’s scent muse or nemesis. I have yet to hear of someone who feels “meh” over either ingredient. I love anise and my mother hates it for the same reason- those little Russian aniseed cookies that babushkas love to press on children that come their way- they are popular throughout Eastern Europe and Italy but my mother feels nauseated whenever she smells them (too many bad memories of raiding grandma’s cookie jar, then feeling ill afterwards). Licorice candies are a real cult fetish these days- if you’ve been to Philly’s Reading Terminal Market, you know what I mean. The line is never less than 40 people at the licorice shop. The Dutch and the Australians seem to have lots of yummy varieties of the sticky, bittersweet black goop, too. I just love it.
I have a sub-collection of anise and licorice scents. Its cool, ethereal weirdness just makes me open my wallet every time I smell a new one. Some of them are too strange to wear, but I keep them anyway. Here are a few of my favorites. Perhaps you can add to this list:
L’Heure Bleue- the 1912 Guerlain classic- cold and contemplative. It’s so unfashionable with its bitter and powdery notes, so lacking in the fresh and the fruity, that it’s actually avant-garde. And talk about sillage and lasting power- wow!
Lolita Lempicka- seems like a sweet girly gourmand with all that vanilla and amarena but then that bitter anise hits and it’s just delightfully quirky. Very popular in Europe, I smell it everywhere in Italy. A freaky gourmand, and a fun bottle, too. This was apparently designed to be an Angel clone, but took off and established its own unique territory. I wear it about 5 times more often than I wear Angel, mostly because of the licorice.
Guerlain Anisia Bella- just plain bitter anise and woods. So austere that on a truly hot, humid day in the tropics, nothing can cool one as well. Beautiful smell for a library full of antique books. If the Amish could wear perfume, this would be the one. A Basenotes perfumista uses it to scent her shop. Smells really good on men, particularly the thin, intellectual kind. The new AA Laurier Reglisse is a greener, sweeter take on Anisia Bella, but that bitter anise note is still marked in the drydown, so I pronounce Laurier Reglisse bottleworthy for anise lovers also.
Caron Eau de Reglisse- I didn’t like this at first- the ginger just screams like a banshee. But it settles down beautifully and works wonders in hot climates. After a year of sniffing the sample I finally bought one of the huge, fragile bottles. It’s a bargain on the Internet, and there really isn’t anything else like it out there.
Etro Anice is a sweeter, lighter Anisia Bella so I didn’t feel the need to buy it, but it’s lovely nevertheless.
There are many other licorice and anise scents lurking out there. Let me know your favorites!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Perfume Review: CB I Hate Perfume Wild Hunt
I love the handful of the earth you are. Pablo Neruda
Christopher Brosius is the master of earthy accords. Think of the terrifyingly realistic smell of cold, wet soil and despair, Black March. Or the poignant and strangely comforting aroma of tomato vines and clean earth, Memory of Kindness. The Earthy Triumvirate is completed with Wild Hunt.
Brosius describes the perfume as "the scent of an ancient forest in the heat of a summer afternoon". Of all the earthy fragrances created by CB, this one is the least melancholy. Joyously robust and bucolic, it takes me to a forest glade surrounded by tall trees, which, in the bright sunlight do not look in the least menacing. It leaves me there lying in tall grass, inhaling the sharp aromas of earth, leaves and moss, staring in the azure abyss of the sky, feeling relaxed and a little unnerved by the magnificence and immortality of nature and by my own insignificance and transience. An existentialist perfume, one might say.
As for what exactly it smells like...it is green and earthy and, although not complicated, actually impossible to describe. Try it for yourself, I highly recommend it.
Available at cbihateperfume.com, $17.00-$85.00.
The winner of the Top 10 of Summer
...is the oblitterati. Please send me your address using the contact me link on the right. Thank you, everybody, for sharing your summer favorites!
Friday, July 18, 2008
Top 10 Summer Fragrances. And a Prize Draw
No season should be allowed to go by without being commemorated and summed up in a Top 10 list. Least of all my favorite season. Without further ado I present to you the scents we at Perfume-Smellin' Things are enjoying this summer.
Les Nez Let Me Play the Lion
Balmain Balmain de Balmain
Monyette Paris Monyette
(Since we’re dealing with a recession in the US and inflation in all nations, I put together a list of summer bargains, some good frags that are kind to your bank account.)
Vero Perfume Kiki
Please share your summer favorites.
Bois de Jasmin
Now Smell This
Labels: Best of
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Perfume Review: Jean Patou Forever
Ever since Tom mentioned macaroons in his review of Kiki, I have been on a hunt for something elegantly sweet to eat and something sophisticatedly sweet to wear. I have yet to find the former but I happily recognized the latter in Patou's fairly obscure gem of a scent, Forever. With its leisurely, indolent, joyous vibe, the perfume also hit the right spot in that it reminded me that vacation is just around the corner.
The fruity accord of pineapple, raspberry and melon is creamy, ripe, with a distinct boozy undertone. These are fruits gone bad, i.e into the liquor territory. And when fruits go bad, I go right after them. A very subtle floral undertone attempts to create a ladylike appearance but fails. Vetiver prevents the fragrance from being too sweet and adds a certain breezy feel to the blend, a certain salty freshness. Forever makes me think of sun reflected on the dazzling blue surface of an ocean, of barely-there bikinis, of white sand, of exotic cocktails, of skin smelling faintly of sea water and sunscreen ...it makes me long for the state of happy oblivion that is a perfect vacation.
This escapist fragrance can be found online for as cheaply as $19.99 for EDT. Parfum, which is what I reviewed, is harder to find but is very much worth the effort.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Vero Perfume kiki and rubj
As you know from last weeks post, lovely and generous Gaia, the Non-Blonde sent me a sampler of Vero Perfumes wares. I've already covered onda, this week the two others in the line.
Lavender is an accord in perfumes that is second only to Rose in it's beauty when done well, and utter horrific trashiness when done ill: for every scent like Tauer's Reverie Au Jardin or Lutens Encens et Lavande there's some godawful Love's Lavendery LustBat or worse yet, Renuzit Lavender Glade.
Thank goodness not only is the lavender in kiki not only first rate, but it's paired with a creamy sweetness that for all the world reminds me of Macarons, those fantastic French wonders made from egg whites and filled with buttercream. There's a fresh fruitiness to it as well, that makes me think of ripe mango, but never gets even slightly overpowering. At the base of it is that tanned-flesh sort of musk that I am hopelessly in thrall to, not only because the only tan I can ever achieve still falls under the heading "ghostly pale" (those of you who've seen me: that's 20 years in LA, mostly without sunblock). All of this reads as horrific, and if it were put out by
98% of the companies out there that are stocking your local Sephora, it easily could be. As it is kiki is an absolute delight from beginning to end.
rubj is clearly after bigger game: white flower lovers take note. Orange blossoms open the scent, seemingly spiked with a bit of the peel. Soft jasmine and sweet tuberose join in and an earthy musk grounds it, but the whole thing never gets to that in-your-face stage that other tuberose scents can go to. There's something blameless to it thats both innocent and shockingly sensual at the same time. Fracas for instance walks right up and grabs you by the.... lapels. rubj (I am using lower-case since the packaging does) seems more content to let you come to it, and come you shall.
These are available at the Vero Perfume website
Vero herself was kind enough to write me to let me know that indeed there isn't mint in onda, even if that was the way it came out on my skin, and also to tell that her perfumes will soon be released in the US, perhaps in September. Wonderful news indeed!
Image source, laduree.fr.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Perfume Review: Montale Aoud Red Flowers
If Lipstick Rose had a fling with an aoud scent, the result of the fling would have been a scent with its papa's exotic coloring and its mama's very French, very feminine and very chic disposition. This Beauty-and-the-Beast offspring would have been named Aoud Red Flowers.
Montale have already (successfully) attempted to marry Europe and Orient in Aoud Flowers, which blended aoud with tuberose. Aoud Red Flowers mixes aoud with marigolds (I am assuming, red marigolds and, inevitably, roses, also red). For the life of me I cannot remember the smell of marigolds, I can only say that in this particular fragrance the floral accord seems to be bright, not particularly sweet, with just enough powderiness to evoke lipsticks and foundations and all things classically feminine, retro and refined. I cannot smell the declared saffron at all, but it might be this golden spice that contributes to the dazzling brightness of the floral accord and enhances the broody exoticism of the aoud.
This is a non-aggressive aoud for those who are still a little scared of aouds and a moderately powdery floral for those who want some but not too much powder. Or a great new scent for those who like their exotic scents to have a classic feel and for their classics to have an exotic twist.
Available at Luckyscent and Aedes, $150.00-$210.00
The image is by Annie Leibovitz.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Perfume Review - Creed Royal English Leather
I love my husband. To me he is one of the sexiest men alive and I’ve always felt that way about him even after 28 years. He’s quite attractive in what my mother calls a “British sort of way” and he looks marvelous in a kilt. He doesn’t wear his kilt with all of the pomp and nonsense, he wears it with a blue Irish wool sweater and looks as if he’s walked right out of the Highlands. He is quite formal about his tux though and it must be double breasted. His very thick hair is gray in all of the right places and long enough for me to play with. There’s always been something about him that seemed timeless, of another place where men were a bit more dignified and by contrast much more bawdy, when men wore their hair long and wavy and they weren’t at all afraid to wear velvet and a bit of lace with their leather. He used to ride my stallion bareback with only a halter for control. I can easily picture him with a saber and a pistol although now the only weapons that he brandishes are purely raw courage, a rich and sarcastic sense of humor and his lightning quick intellect. On the softer side, he cried the day that I married him and has been a perfect father to our son. He got down on one knee and asked me to remarry him in front of my whole family and our friends two Christmases ago. He is loyal to the point of obsession and very passionate. He is warm in the autumn and always smells to me like fresh windfall apples and very good cigars. He never kisses and tells. He is the perfect gentleman, quiet and powerful in the boardroom and........
He has never worn a fragrance because we have never found one that suited such a spectacular sort of man. But, one day about a month ago I found myself standing at the Creed counter at Saks Fifth Avenue, looking for yet another Lily of the Valley fragrance. Tia, the absolutely fabulous Creed SA was trying in vain to find one for me and was generously proffering me with lots of samples in the hopes that I might yet again fall in love. It was then that I noticed an absolutely gorgeous amber vial filled with a golden elixir, understated yet intriguing, coolly beckoning me closer. I read the label, Royal English Leather. “Hmm” , I thought, “maybe I could love this”, being one that has had more indecent fantasies of romps with royalty then you could even begin to imagine. Then , I sniffed. When they picked me up off of the floor, they told me that I had fainted dead away in something like an orgasmic swoon, whispering Byronic inspired prose.
What I remembered when I came to was a beautiful meadow , gorgeous dappled bay horses with ribbons in their manes, beautiful, naked young men clothed only in flowing long hair with lutes and the soft strands of Scarborough Fair playing through my memory. My husband was there, quite naked as well. I won’t go any further, I told you that I have very indecent fantasies!
Yet, through the haze of my all too vivid imagination there was something familiar stirring. My cell phone was ringing, bringing me sadly back to this century. Fortunately, it was Jim inviting me to meet him for lunch at Nordstrom's. I quickly sprayed some of the Royal English Leather on my wrists, steadied myself and went to meet him. After commenting on my pale and wanton visage, he cocked his head and asked to smell my wrist. He took a deep breath and kissed it as if he would have liked to bite. “Hmm” he said, “I want you to go buy that right now”.
Royal English Leather is one of the oldest fragrances still being produced having been commissioned by King Charles III. It is a romantic fragrance filled with leather, mandarin and ambergris. It smells of tobacco and the sweat of a magnificent horse. It is totally classy yet filled with skank. Every time my husband wears it I become weak in the knees which he must not mind because he’s been wearing it everyday. Such pleasure from such a simple little thing. The one time I tried to wear it I was informed that I wasn’t allowed to touch it. Torture.
Creed Royal English Leather can be found easily online, definitely at Saks Fifth Avenue and many other wonderful stores. Try it and see if you don’t enjoy the Jacobean fantasies it produces, but please be sure to not let go of the counter!
Photo from the Creed US Homepage.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Vero Perfume Onda
Review by Tom
My dear scent twin Gaia, the Non-Blonde sent me a sample of these for my birthday, lovely creature that she is. Vero is the perfumer that no less than Andy Tauer describes as his muse, and I can see why. The scents are startlingly simple while managing to seem incredibly complex.
On me Onda starts with a minted tobacco, the smokiness perfectly balanced with the brightness of the mint. It later becomes more complex as the vetiver comes in, seemingly ripped fresh from the earth and torn joyfully asunder. Colombina describes it as "an urban person's vision of bucolic utopia" while Gaia writes that it is "beautiful, dramatic and romantic". They are of course both correct: it's earthy yet glamorous. It's Garbo joyfully tearing a root from the ground with her manicured fingers, brushing the dirt and laughing, biting in heedless of the juice that may stain her Adrian gown. It's earthy, it's glamorous, it's gorgeous.... it's not me. I might be an old man, but I think that there are a few scents that should be ladies only, and although I could wear this, I really think it's best served by being worn by you ladies.
Onda is available at her website; it's well worth checking out.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Interview with Bertrand Duchaufour
Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, he of Avignon, Jubilation XXV, Paestum Rose and Timbuktu, does not need an introduction. Not in our perfume-maniacal circles anyway. Non-perfume people treat rock-stars and actors with the kind of excitement I felt when meeting Bertrand. Have you seen videos of girls squealing and fainting at Elvis' and Beatles' concerts? Well, I did have to fight an urge to squeal and faint. Cutting to the chase, here are Bertrand's answers to our questions, some of them asked by you and some mine.
M: What career would you have chosen if you had not become a perfumer?
BD: Photography, painting.
Bertrand Duchaufour has been paiting for many years, landscapes as well as portraits. He compares his earlier art to that of Francis Bacon, powerful and violet. He believes that his creations became softer, although they still possess strength and emotion.
M: For which of any of your creation do you feel most affection?
BD: One of the favorite ones might be Dzongkha, because of its story, of its connection with Buddhist world, with Himalayas, Tibet and Nepal. I feel an affinity with Buddhism, with its spirituality. I also feel close to Africa, to its art, to a special way of thinking that is closer to truth than ours, and so I feel connection to Timbuktu. But the best perfume that I did so far is Sienne d'Hiver for Eau d'Italie. It is a story of Tuscany during winter. Its complex accords and harmonies are the apotheosis of sophistication. Its creation represented the perfect dialog between brand owners and a perfumer.
M: Are there notes that you are always drawn to, like to explore?
BD: Yes. Davana, patchouli, tuberose. I like karo karounde, but it is rare. I like woods, cypriol. I like flowers, narcissus, rose and jasmine. I recently re-discovered mimosa, it is amazing.
Having his own lab (L'Atelier de L'Artisan Parfumeur) became a turning point for Duchaufour, a re-birth of sorts. His experience at Symprise was that of working with concepts; as a perfumer, he did not touch the ingredients, he created formulas, and assistants measured and mixed for him. He admits to having felt a loss of connection to his ingredients. These days he has a hands-on approach and feels that he is back in touch with raw materials and perhaps his craft in general.
M: Related to the question of notes... do you believe in signature accords, that perfumers have signatures? A reader noted that she have picked up your signature accord, which reminds her of freshly cut chilly peppers, spicy hot yet coolly green. And perhaps when Luca Turin wrote about you having created a new transparent floral-woody accord, he meant the same thing. Can you comment on that?
BD: Yes! There are signatures. There are a couple of chemicals that I put in my perfumes, one rooty and earthy, another green and peppery, which very few perfumers use, they could be considered my signature.
Duchaufour notes that having a signature has its down side. It is convenient to have a couple of signature accords to fall back upon. That makes one's life easy but also a little boring. He thinks that time has come for him to look for new ways of expression, for new accords. That is his challenge, the one he appears eager to accept. With his newly found connection to ingredients, in search for new materials and styles, Duchaufour seems to me to be a perfumer re-born, a perfumer on a brink of something new and exciting.
A bonus question, asked by Masha:
What brief were you given for Lalique's Flora Bella and what were your inspirations for the scent?
BD: A concept of pure solar flower, of sun. It represents the island way of living, an easy way of living, sea, beaches, tiare, frangipane, sensuality. A perfect flower.
And a parting snippet of trivia. When asked if he wears perfume, Duchaufour replied that mostly he has to be perfume-free, but that there are some perfumes that he likes, and sometimes he enjoys wearing Dior Homme, which has a nice orris accord.
Images are mine. The first pictures Bertrand Duchaufour with Pamela Roberts, L'Artisan Parfumeur's Creative Director.