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]

Persolaise

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]

Persolaise

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 ;-)

Persolaise 

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.]

Persolaise

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...

Persolaise 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Persolaise Review Angel Muse (Quentin Bisch; 2016) & A*Men Pure Tonka (Jacques Huclier; 2016) from Thierry Mugler

 

The soundbites
If A*Men Pure Tonka were a colour, it would be a near-black purple.
If it were a piece of music it would be In Da Club by 50 Cent.
If it were a fashion accessory, it would be a wide, heavy, bronze-coloured bracelet.

If Angel Muse were a texture, it would be the softness of caster sugar.
If it were an item of clothing, it would be a baby pink, backless t-shirt.
If it were a place, it would be a spot a few yards away from the entrance to Charbonnel & Walker on Bond Street.

The reviews
Mugler's flankers tend to fall into one of two camps: they either add an entirely novel twist to the original perfume or they exaggerate one of its existing facets. Last year's A*Men Ultra Zest was an example of the former, so it's not surprising that this year, for their masculine release, they've opted for the latter. A*Men Pure Tonka (put together by Jacques Huclier) is our familiar, fuzzy-chested demon from 1996 - with his coffee, cocoa and patchouli - except that here, he's grown an equally fuzzy beard. The patchouli, although still present, has been trumped by an oversized coumarin note (the substance being one of the main constituents of both the lavender and tonka beans cited on the official notes list), creating an effect that is literally bittersweet. Even as it tries to win you over with a coating of sugar, it delights in giving you the odd nip. He's playfully cynical, this chap: the kind of guy who parties harder than anyone else because deep down he knows the end of the world is just another Nicolashka away. In other words, he's entertaining company.

--

Equally worthy of your time is Angel Muse, Mugler's latest addition to their unstoppable bestseller, this time composed by Givaudan's Quentin Bisch. In the 20+ years since the original Angel sugared its way into our bloodstreams, tastes and fashions have changed, so it's fascinating to ponder exactly why Muse works so well as a more modern Angel. My theory's simple: the sweetness has been tempered with a sprinkling of 'healthier' notes. Yes, the syrup is still very much present, but it's now paired with a saltiness (hazelnut), a sharper citrus facet (grapefruit) and a more prominent dose of spices (pepper). This beautiful assortment rests not so much on patchouli - as in the original - but on vetivert, a material which, with its combo of smoke and liqorice aspects, has always balanced the syrupy and the savoury. In other words, Angel has gone all super-food on us. And she smells very attractive for it.

[Reviews based on samples of eau de toilette and eau de parfum provided by Thierry Mugler in 2016]

Persolaise

Monday, July 4, 2016

Super Scent - The Very Best Of Hermès

Hermès founder, Thierry Hermès

Guess what: I found this Super Scent list very difficult to compile. But for an unexpected reason. As I explained to Candy Perfume Boy when I had the pleasure of bumping into him recently, what made our Dior and Chanel lists challenging for me wasn't working out which scents ought to occupy the top spot - that was always clear in my head - but what to select for the other positions. In the case of today's subject - the eternally classy Hermès - it was well nigh impossible to place the fragrances in a definitive rank order. The brand has several perfumes which I consider worthy of high praise, but pitting them against each other was agonising.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Time For Another Super Scent Teaser


Here we go again, folks. On Monday, the Candy Perfume Boy and I will reveal the latest brand to be added to our Super Scent collection.

The rules of our little enterprise:

- come up with a list of the best perfumes from a particular brand's current line-up (ie no discontinued scents)
- ensure the list is based on the perfumes' current formulations
- refrain from sharing the list with anybody else until it's published

The list will be revealed on Monday 4th July at 12:00 pm UK time... so don't miss it!

Persolaise

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Persolaise Review: Boy from Chanel (Olivier Polge; 2016)


The soundbites
If Boy were a fictional character, it would be: Sydney Carton from A Tale Of Two Cities.
If it were an item of clothing, it would be: a double-breasted, beige jacket.
If it were an image, it would be: Bathers (aka Divers) by George Hoyningen-Huene.

The review
I get the feeling Olivier Polge is having fun at Chanel. His Eau Vive flanker to Chance fizzed with more exuberance than we'd seen from the brand for a while. And the well-regarded Misia saw him enjoy a carefree romp through violet fields taken straight from perfumery's golden years. His latest creation, Boy - part of the limited-distribution Exclusif range - suggests that he remains in a liberated mode, even if, in terms of its olfactory profile, it isn't anywhere near as attention-grabbing as its predecessors.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Non-Perfume Post: Looking For Hope Beyond The Broken Facade


Please note the subject of today's post is not perfume. Scented service resumes tomorrow with a review of Chanel's new Boy.

---

I realise no-one visiting this site during their commute to work or their mid-morning cappuccino break expects to come across views on political matters. I also realise that most of my readers are based outside the UK. However, the events that have taken place in Great Britain over the last few days are so monumental and so far-reaching, that I have allowed myself to publish this very brief post about my reaction to the recent EU Referendum. In the past, several colleagues in the 'critical community' have made similar diversions and written pieces about situations in Paris or Eastern Europe or the USA. I take my cue from their boldness.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Persolaise's Scents For Summer 2016 In Parfum Plus


Please click here to read my latest piece for the Middle East's ParfumPlus magazine, featuring a travel-inspired selection of perfumes for the summer*. You may be interested to learn that this issue of ParfumPlus also contains an interview with Camille Goutal.

Persolaise

* The article is an amended version of a recent piece which appeared on Persolaise.com; click here to read it.  

Friday, June 17, 2016

Persolaise Review: White Luminous Gold from Michael Kors (2015)


The soundbites
If White Luminous Gold were a colour, it would be an easy-on-the-eye yellow.
If it were a texture, it would be the softness of mimosa blossoms.
If it were an item of clothing, it would be a wide-brimmed straw hat, ready for the summer.

The review
You don't see much written about the Michael Kors scent collection on the blogosphere. But since the beginning of the century, the Lauder-owned brand has been releasing a stream of competent fragrances: largely pleasant, by-the-numbers creations, of the sort beloved by people who buy only one or two bottles per year, usually at a duty free store. Then, a few months ago, they gave us the Gold trio. Granted, two of the scents in the set - Rose Radiant Gold and 24K Brilliant Gold - aren't notable for their inventiveness: the former is a relaxed, sunset-cocktail-sipping tuberose/ylang and the latter is a breezy, light-salad-at-lunchtime floral which, if you sniff hard enough, presents a sedate sweet pea facet. However, White Luminous Gold is an altogether more intriguing prospect. Fizzing to life with convincing citrus notes (an allusion to the luminosity in the name?) it then presents a cascade of white chocolate shavings as well as a shimmer of dessert-like green notes before settling on restrained woods and musks. In perfume-geek-speak, it's 'Habit Rouge meets Coromandel meets Dune', with a dash of grapefruit and plum for originality. All of which makes it one of the most welcome fresh orientals we've had for a while. Do seek it out.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Michael Kors in 2015.]

Persolaise 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New Perfume Space At Selfridges & London Perfume Shopping Guide Updates

image: Selfridges

As it's been almost a year since I posted my all-new London Perfume Shopping Guide, I thought I ought to give it a bit of a plug. I've been updating it regularly, so please do take a moment to check out its current version (click here). Its most significant recent development is the inclusion of a brand new fragrance and home scent space on the ground floor of Selfridges. It replaces the niche-like counters they had on the lower ground floor (which stocked Diptyque and L'Artisan Parfumeur) and it brings several new brands onto the store's roster, including - surprise surprise - Frederic Malle, which is clearly going through an expansion following its acquisition by Estée Lauder. Selfridges have also managed to get nationwide exclusivity for L'Artisan Parfumeur, which means that their London store is now the only place in the city where you can sample the Puig-owned brand's wares and check out their new, rather beautiful packaging. Other names you'll find in this elegant enclosure are: Penhaligon's, Ormonde Jayne, The Fragrance Kitchen, Miller Harris, Cire Trudon and Jusbox.

Happy shopping!

Persolaise

Friday, June 10, 2016

Persolaise Review: Myths Woman (Nathalie Lorson) & Myths Man (Karine Vinchon, Dorothée Piot & Daniel Visentin) from Amouage (2016)


The soundbites
Myths Man
If it were a colour, it would be: metallic grey
If it were a piece of music, it would be: Holst's Mars
If it were a texture, it would be: baked carbon 

Myths Woman
If it were a colour, it would be: livid green, with facets of earthy brown
If it were a piece of clothing, it would be: a long, high-collared cape
If it were a texture, it would be: parchment

Friday, June 3, 2016

Gift Recommendations For Father's Day 2016


It's that time of year again when dads get their own share of the shopping spotlight. So if you're looking for gift ideas, please take a moment to scroll through my Father's Day recommendations; they were all posted on Twitter at some point over the course of the last fortnight.


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