Friday, October 28, 2016

Persolaise Review: Dark Rebel Rider from John Varvatos (Rodrigo Flores-Roux; 2016)

The soundbites
If Dark Rebel Rider were a wardrobe accessory, it would be a dark grey scarf.
If it were a time of day, it would be that moment on a Friday evening when you decide to fill your room with some soothing candlelight.
If it were a food item, it would be... well, you'll have to read the full review below...

The review
Any of you who've ever bought the 99% chocolate from Lindt may have been as amused as I was by the "tasting advice" on the back of the packet. "To fully appreciate all its flavours," it says, "we recommend that you progressively develop your palate through our range of high cocoa content chocolate bars, starting with Excellence 70%, then 85% and finally 99%." This sense of working your way up to (or should that be 'into'?) an allegedly superior dark side is, of course, frequently applied to the world of scent. I don't intend to delve into the reductive 'mainstream is bad; independent is good' debate today, but I would like to spare a thought for those compositions which are somewhere in the middle of the 'mainstream to indie' spectrum. The gateway drugs.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Persolaise Review: Portrait Of A Lady hair & body oil and shower cream from Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle - No. 5 body oil from Chanel (2016)

During the last couple of years, Frederic Malle has added several excellent ancillary products to his perfume range (a consequence of brand owner Estée Lauder's considerable skills and experience in this area?) including a blue-skied shower gel for Cologne Indelebile and a purring after-sun lotion for Carnal Flower. But his latest additions deserve to be singled out for particular praise. The shower cream for the celestial rose that is Dominique Ropion's Portrait Of A Lady is so indulgent, it's enough to make the most hardened, world-weary, office-battered person tear up their work diary and spend hours whipping up the lotion into a lather beneath a cascade of water. And as for the hair and body oil... well... 'decadent' doesn't even begin to describe it. Emphasising the berry, cedar and apricot facets of the perfume, it is a call to languorous sensuality, an invitation to stop the clocks, turn down the lights and find a willing subject for a massage. Oh, and the sleek, amphora-like bottle housing this nectar is a triumph of minimalist packaging design.

Chanel are equally adept at releasing more-ish body products to go with their scents and they too have outdone themselves with their body oil for No. 5. Relatively dry in texture (it doesn't leave an obvious sheen on skin) the scent of the oil hovers somewhere between the personalities of the eau de toilette, the Eau Premiere version and the new L'Eau iteration, which is to say that it pushes the citruses front and centre, whilst keeping them wrapped in that familiar ivory-white fur coat of aldehydes, jasmine and musks. More importantly, in much the same way as the Portrait product, it encourages slowness. You can't apply this juice with a quick spritz. The very act of covering one's body with a relatively heavy fluid requires more time and attention than we normally reserve for our perfume rituals, so kudos to Chanel and Malle for making us pause for luxurious breath.

[Reviews based on samples provided by Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle and Chanel in 2016.]


Friday, October 14, 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter: July to September 2016 [part 1]

Round-up time again. Here are some Twitter mini-reviews, covering the period July to September 2016:

Classique Essence De Parfum from Jean-Paul Gaultier (Daphne Bugey; 2016)*
The familiar mimosa/jasmine/orange blossom accord cranked up with buckets of sugar. Too much to take.

Le Male Essence De Parfum from Jean-Paul Gaultier (Quentin Bisch; 2016)*
Original's fougère structure is intact, with cardamom at top & a sweeter base. Teenage boys can rejoice.

Modern Muse Nuit from Estée Lauder (2016)*
She's all grown up! Translucent florals expertly contrasted with burnt nut notes. Genuinely intriguing work.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Persolaise Review: Galop D'Hermès from Hermès (Christine Nagel; 2016)

The soundbites
If Galop D'Hermès were a painting, it would be Two Dancers In The Studio by Degas.
If it were a piece of music, it would be Opening Titles from Michael Nyman's Carrington soundtrack.
If it were a fabric, it would be two-tone silk, reflecting either red or deep brown, depending on how it catches the light.

The review
The link between symmetry, bottles and perfume is so well established, it can justifiably be taken for granted and pushed to one side. But I was reminded of its enduring validity when faced with a flacon shaped like a stirrup. The wishbone-like structure is reminiscent of that other paragon of symmetry, the isosceles triangle, as well as a pair of scales, in perpetual balance. What's more, a stirrup doesn't convey an idea of general symmetry but, with its dual prongs, the specific symmetry that exists between two different forces.

I wonder if Christine Nagel was aware of what the bottle for the new Galop from Hermès was going to be when she composed the perfume. Or maybe the flacon was inspired by the scent? Either way, what we have here is a soul-soothing exercise in harmony: the most delicate tug-of-war between a rose and a leather, with the two supporting each other as much as trying to outdo each other. You could read all sorts of significance into the choice of the materials (my favourite theory is that represents Jean-Claude Ellena handing over the reins to Nagel: the masculine making way for the feminine) but don't let any of that navel-gazing get in the way of the composition's beauty. The florals are fully-fleshed, blushing and wind-swept (but maybe a touch too synthetic?), whilst the tannery facet is injected with the same inky, petroleum energy that fuelled Cuir D'Ange. And between them we have a bridge of luminous, green citrus, just on the edge of perception, uniting the opposite poles, like a pair of reins bringing a rider in contact with a steed. But which of the two is in control? Galop never quite lets you decide.

[Review based on a sample of extrait provided by Hermès in 2016]


Friday, September 23, 2016

Persolaise's Sexy Perfumes Revealed

Following the publication of my recent Grazia article on the latest crop of 'sexy' perfumes, I received several emails from non-UK-based readers who were disappointed that they couldn't get their hands on a copy of the magazine in their own countries. So, now that a few weeks have passed since the piece appeared, I'm able to reveal which scents made the final cut.

In brief, the idea was to recommend new (or fairly new) feminine compositions which might feasibly fall under the 'sexy' banner. The exercise proved more interesting than I thought it would, as it re-emphasised that transparency remains the primary mode of modern scent aesthetics. Even when reaching for somewhat predictable sensuous materials (ie woods, spices, white florals) most of the perfumes below stop themselves from conveying an excessively retro vibe because of a sheer, illuminated quality they share. Is this a sign that we're finally moving away from sticky fruitchoulis? We can but hope.

Here comes the list...

Friday, September 16, 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter: April to June 2016 [part 2]

Here's the second part of my latest round-up of mini-reviews:

Eau Parfumée Au Thé Noir from Bulgari (Jacques Cavallier; 2015)**
Excellent attempt to create oud cologne. The agar-rose-leather heart is recognisable, but never weighty.

Omnia Paraiba from Bulgari (Alberto Morillas; 2015)*
Milky spices beneath a well-rendered mango note. Very 'palm trees by the pool', not unlike Nicolaï Eau Corail.

McQueen from Alexander McQueen (2016)** 
Innocuous, unremarkable white floral, leaning towards fresh jasmine notes. Oh Kingdom, we could really do with you now.

Eau De Sens from Diptyque (Olivier Pescheux; 2016)*
Promising orange blossom note - linked with shampoo cedar - loses conviction and dissolves into salty nothingness.

Colonia Sandalo from Acqua Di Parma (2016)*
A fresh, sweet leather-patchouli, somewhere between YSL Rive Gauche Pour Homme and Tom Ford Tuscan Leather.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Persolaise Review: Scent Of A Dream from Charlotte Tilbury (Francois Robert; 2016)

The soundbites
If Scent Of A Dream were a song, it would be Le Freak by Chic.
If it were a colour, it would be pale yellow.
If it were a hairstyle, it would be Farrah Fawcett's Charlie's Angels look.

The review
I try not to attach too much importance to the somewhat flexible 'facts' presented in most press releases. But the marketing material for make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury's debut fragrance - Scent Of A Dream - was impossible to ignore. Apparently, her perfume "can ATTRACT others and also change the energy frequency of the people and environment around you." It has "the power to attract your magical future." It can help you "CREATE YOUR OWN DESTINY through its psycho-active, fleurotic frequency." You can use it to "create an EMOTIONAL PATHWAY with someone else's energy centres." And as if that weren't enough to make you rush out and buy every single bottle within a 20-mile radius, it also "acts as a portal that attracts LOVE, LIGHT, POWER, POSITIVITY AND SEX to the wearer." Phew! Does anyone else need a cigarette? Oh, and in case you're wondering, those capitals aren't mine; they're taken straight from the press pack.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What Was I Wearing? - Persolaise On We Wear Perfume

image: We Wear Perfume

A few weeks ago, the lovely people behind We Wear Perfume asked if I'd mind getting in the 'interviewee' seat for a change. The results of our encounter have now been posted online. If you'd like to find out why perfume is important to me and, of course, which particular scent I was wearing on the day, click here to read the piece. Oh, and while you're at it, do take the time to read some of the other interviews.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sexy Perfumes In Grazia Selected By Persolaise

Here's a word you will hardly ever find me using to describe perfume: 'sexy'. It reeks of cliches and has had pretty much all its power bludgeoned out of existence by unimaginative advertisers and marketing departments. But you know what they say: go big or go home. So the latest edition of the UK's Grazia magazine (on newsstands now) contains an article by yours truly in which I present not just one but twelve new fragrances that are part of an intriguing wave of modern olfactory sexiness. If you're based in Britain, I'd love it if you rushed out and bought a copy.


UPDATE: To find out which perfumes I chose for the article, please click here.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter: April to June 2016 [part 1]

Here we go, ladies and gents: another round-up of my mini-reviews from Twitter, spanning the months April to June.

La Petite Robe Noire eau de parfum intense from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser; 2016)*
Familiar sweet black cherry core is intact, made more mature with tannin-like blueberry note. Amiable.

Aqua Allegoria Pera Granita from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser; 2016)*
As it says, a summery pear over crushed ice. Then come the musky-fruity shampoo notes. Congenial.

L'Homme Ideal eau de parfum from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser & Delphine Jelk; 2016)*
The sweet, woody almond of the edt, made more romantic with a helping of dusky rose. The best of the Ideals.

Halfeti from Penhaligon's (Christian Provenzano; 2015)*
Another entry in the faux-Arabian genre, filled with ersatz rose, oud and spices. Has few distinguishing features.

Blue from Kenneth Cole (Mathieu Nardin; 2015)*
Apple, citrus, ambery woods, freshness, transparency. In other words: another clone of Cool Water, albeit a decent one.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Persolaise Review: No. 5 L'Eau from Chanel (Olivier Polge; 2016)

The soundbites
If No. 5 L'Eau were an item of clothing, it would be a simple, short-sleeved linen blouse.
If it were a colour, it would be ivory.
If it were a time of day, it would be 10 in the morning on a Saturday, when the weekend is still full of promise.

The review
A few days ago, at a local branch of a ye olde generic perfume departmente, I overheard two teenage girls deciding which tester to grab for a quick spritz. 'Oooh, what about Chanel No. 5,' one of them said, chuckling, 'you can't go wrong with that.' Her friend paused for a moment and frowned. 'No,' she said, 'I think I do like it. But it's a bit too grown up for me.' That sums up the issue which has almost certainly led to the brand releasing a new flanker to their icon: No. 5 L'Eau, composed by Olivier Polge.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Persolaise Review: Oud Sublime from Nicolaï (Patricia De Nicolaï; 2016)

The soundbites
If Oud Sublime were a colour, it would be deep maroon.
If it were a fabric, it would be expensive upholstery velvet.
If it were a piece of music, it would be J P Rameau's Tambourin - Pièces De Clavecin.

The review
Trust me: you want to know about this oud. For one thing, it's by Patricia De Nicolaï, which means it has 'try me' written all over it by default. But more importantly, it bucks the trend and brings something novel to the far-too-crowded-to-be-funny-any-more oud genre. What is its trick? Well, simply put, it's a green oud. With the help of a bracing, astringent artemisia note - not miles away from the wasabi accord we saw last year in Panorama - Nicolaï shakes off all but the most tenuous links between her oud and the pseudo-Arabian cliches that have blighted this style of perfumery in recent years. Indeed, she almost dispenses with the oud vibe altogether. But it never quite disappears, adding weight to the whole, grounding it and causing the accompanying rose, styrax and typically refined Nicolaï amber to appear more stately. Oud Sublime's elegance is thoroughly buttoned-up-French, but also rakish, like a vision of Versailles-dwelling aristocrats shedding their formalities, their refinement and their clothing to indulge in a spot of debauchery on the lawn. What's not to love?

[Review based on a sample of "elixir de parfum" provided by Nicolaï in 2016]


Friday, August 5, 2016

Persolaise Review: Les Exceptions (Oriental Express, Cuir Impertinent, Woodissime, Chyprissime, Supra Floral, Fougère Furieuse & Over The Musk) from Thierry Mugler

It's not often that you catch Thierry Mugler on the back foot. In fact, as far as its fragrance range is concerned, I don't think there's ever been a time that the brand has reacted to other creators' trends, as opposed to forging its own. But one of its most recent scent developments is rather surprising: a high-price-tag, 'exclusive' range. It's available only at a few outlets across the world. It comes in standard bottles. It's sold as unisex. And the names of its scents make overt references to specific perfume families or materials. In short, it's the very thing several other brands have been doing for quite a few years. And that's a description that's rarely applicable to the house that has given us Angel, Alien and Womanity.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Persolaise Review: Solar'1 from Jazmin Saraï (Dana El-Masri; 2015)

The soundbites
If Solar'1 were a colour, it would be burnished gold.
If it were a poem, it would be Ozymandias by P B Shelley.
If it were a texture, it would be dense, warm olive oil.

The review
You become a bit blasé about independent scent houses, complaining that they're re-hashing familiar ideas. But then you smell a vial of cynical crud from a 'designer' brand, and you're suddenly reminded that old ideas, if they're well-executed, are unquestionably preferable to some of the nonsense that passes for perfumery in this day and age. Enter: Solar'1, the latest release from Canada's Jazmin Saraï. Perfumer (and founder) Dana El-Masri suggests the scent ought to be paired with D'Angelo's Africa, but I sense something more primal at work here. Full of the sorts of resins and unguents one could imagine in the air at an Egyptian embalming ceremony, Solar'1 dances to the sound of an ancient drum, whirling the darkest, smokiest elements of labdanum, cocoa, osmanthus and castoreum into a moonlit brew. What's most remarkable is that none of it ever feels heavy, so although it bears more than a passing resemblance to the likes of, say, Nanban from Arquiste, it doesn't share those scents' heavy-handedness or strident insistence. Commendable work.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Jazmin Saraï in 2016]


Friday, July 22, 2016

Persolaise Review: Lonesome Rider from Tauer Perfumes (Andy Tauer; 2016)

The soundbites
If Lonesome Rider were a texture, it would be: dry, raw linen.
If it were a colour, it would be: sandy beige.
If it were a place, it would be: the crest of an Atacama dune beneath a midday sun.

The review
You can tell an independent brand has come a long way when it starts playing with its own mythology. In 2006 - a mere 10 years ago, take note - Andy Tauer released Lonestar Memories, his scented love letter to an idealised cowboy, complete with leather, coffee and a campfire. Although the fragrance's boldness dismayed many sniffers, those who fell for its charms - yours truly included - did so with complete abandon, glad to be taken on an exhilarating olfactory journey from the wildness of the outdoors to the intimacy of an end-of-the-day moment of solitude. As far as I'm aware, the brand's bestseller has always been L'Air Du Désert Marocain, but for some of us, Tauer's depiction of the virile, gentle, slightly melancholy cowboy remains his crowning achievement. And now, he's given us a sequel... or at least, a scent that many of us would like to consider a sequel: Lonesome Rider.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer Break 2016

Although the world feels as though it has lost every single one of its fragile little marbles during the last few weeks, the passage of time hasn't slowed one bit, which means we've reached the stage where I traditionally bid you farewell for a few weeks. But don't worry: several review posts have been scheduled to pop up between now and the end of August, covering the latest releases from Tauer, Jazmin Saraï and Nicolaï, as well as a new 'exclusive' range from one of perfumery's most successful brands.

Be good while I'm away... but not too good ;-)


Friday, July 15, 2016

Persolaise Review: Baptême Du Feu from Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake; 2016)

The soundbites
If Baptême Du Feu were a piece of music it would be Metamorphosis One by Philip Glass.
If it were an image, it would be a bright sari seen in the distance against the backdrop of the Rajasthani desert.
If it were a colour, it would be a rusty red, tinged with ochre.

The review
Serge Lutens has kept the register of his 'mainstream' line very quiet in the last few years (see L'Orpheline or La Religieuse). And sure enough, his latest, Baptême Du Feu, put together by Christopher Sheldrake, is in a similar vein. However, as the perfume's bombastic name suggests, a new element has entered proceedings: danger. Although its impact never reaches a level that one could call 'loud', somewhere within the deceptively simple construction of Baptême lies a hotbed of emotion, keeping itself in check beneath the inscrutable facade. This contrast manifests itself as a jammy, rosy and very convincingly gingery exterior placed over a layer of dry spices (mainly fenugreek, to my nose) and leather. The drydown may be a touch too creamy and faint, but that's a price I'm willing to pay for what comes before: a compelling statement on white-knuckled restraint, a la Phillip Glass on piano, full of intriguing shifts and subtleties. Thumbs up.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Serge Lutens in 2016.]


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Persolaise Guide To The Best Oud Perfumes In ParfumPlus

Some of you may remember that in 2014 I published my guide to the best oud perfumes (please click here to read it). An edited version of that post has now appeared in Dubai's ParfumPlus magazine: click here if you'd like to check it out.

Oh, and come back on Friday for another chapter in the endless oud narrative...



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