Review: Jacques Fath Curaçao Bay — 2.5 points

The idea of sun-warmed frangipanis and beaches is a summer dream, and Curaçao Bay (Jacques Fath, 2015), created by perfumer Cécile Zarokian, is intended to evoke that experience. The eclectic idea of marine notes and white flowers is promising, and I am game for such a twist. The result seems like a novelty at first, but ultimately is unconvincing.

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To be fair, one is offered the tropical flower and the sea tang as promised. It opens with bright citrusy notes and green blackcurrant buds that restrain the growing richness of frangipani. Creamy coconut and narcotic ylang ylang dominate the floral accord. Its white floral sweetness is contrasted with an ambery, marine note. Indeed, I can relate to a scene of frangipani trees lining a beach. And, as it develops, it turns muskier and the marine note becomes more pronounced.  A touch of bitter almond and tonka bean lends extra warmth to the frangipani. I could simply like its quirky character, a twist of frangipani.

But it goes awry after an hour. The marine tang can be somewhat penetrative, and rather than a bay in the tropics, I start to imagine being stuck in a lift with the intense marine note left behind by someone who has oversprayed himself with Invictus (Paco Rabanne, 2013). Not quite like the advertised sun-warmed beaches. However interesting the idea to convey might be, you are out of luck if the fragrance annoys.

I bore with it till the dry down of vetiver and salty woods a few times, as I really wanted to make sure I can overcome the harsh marine tang and partake in the promised fantasy. Still, I remain unmoved. The opaque musk note in tandem with a persistent ambery note eventually make for a nuisance. The frangipani possesses some nuances, but there are plenty of more complex and luxurious frangipani accords out there that do a better job of evoking a summer paradise. Curious though its sketch may be, the resultant juice is literal, plain, and unmemorable.

Source: Jacques Fath Parfums

Review: Guerlain Pamplelune — 5.0 points

All this time I had viewed the slightly tinted juices of the Aqua Allegoria series packaged in simple bottles as variations on a theme of flowers and fruits. That they were no more than pleasant eaux de cologne had been my impression all along, and I had not been curious about them. But when I first tried Pamplelune (Guerlain, 1999) by perfumer Mathilde Laurent, such prejudice was quickly banished. Already, its perverse opening of sulphurous acridity and wonderfully tart bergamot makes a clear statement: Pamplelune is not your typical sweet and pleasant tutti-frutti.

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At its heart is one-of-a-kind grapefruit accord replete with furious pungency, citrusy tang, and bubbly delight. It is built around 20% lemon oil and 14% orange oil. Neroli and petitgrain lend their spicy and floral accent. But what I find most intriguing is the tart blackcurrant buds. Its green, fruity-leafy note and lasting power imbue Pamplelune with a unique character. The fresh tartness of its citrus never seems to fade.

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As the effervescence calms, Pamplelune turns woody and sensual with patchouli and vanilla. The camphoraceous woods and sweetness provide diffusion and a nice contrasting aspect. The lasting dry down of tart citrus versus earthy woods is an interesting change from the more typical musky finish. And, more importantly, there is no fruit syrup here.

I admire Pamplelune for its distinctive bites in the top and the powerful refreshing effect of blackcurrant buds. To top that off, its vats of citrus oils give Pamplelune a natural complexity. Its grapefruit is simply inimitable.

Sources: guerlain.fr, Scent and Chemistry The Molecular World of Odors

Review: Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte — 5.0 points

The classical eau de cologne revolves around essences of citrus and herbs. It is a popular style of perfume because it is bright, fresh, and vivacious. Its ebullience is imminently attractive, and I would be hard-pressed to find one who dislikes such a jovial personality. But when the next perfume of this style is just another happy citrus, it is somewhat anti-climactic. It may smell good, but the excitement or the unexpected is no longer there because the character of its classical citrusy blend has been diluted.

Therefore, it is a challenge to execute an original composition of this genre. It must possess the simplicity of freshness, but also be compelling. Such combination is what gives Eau d’Orange Verte (Hermès, 1979) a strong character.

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Created by perfumer Françoise Caron, it had been known as ‘Eau de Cologne d’Hermès’ before being re-named in 1997. Its classical freshness is a well-blended mélange of citrus: bergamot, lemon, and petitgrain. Its verdant accent recalls citrus leaves and twigs. The cooling touch of crushed mint and the fruity blackcurrant buds give a chic twist to what would otherwise be an astringent eau de cologne.

Towards the dry down, Eau d’Orange Verte is still fresh with lasting green and fruity notes. It leaves a fresh trace on skin, keeping me entertained throughout. And when set against the dusky notes of oakmoss and slightly powdery musk, the composition acquires a vivid contrast. Such bold pairing of citrus and woods is reminiscent of Pour Monsieur (Chanel, 1955), another classic citrus chypre, but the character here is marked by a crisp green accent.

With such a distinctive personality, Eau d’Orange Verte stands out amongst the brethren of citrus blends. Its marriage of green citrus and mossy woods creates a fresh and vibrant original composition. A citrus cologne par excellence, it is simple, yet memorable.

A note on reformulation: The current version, which is a re-formulation by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, also preserves the green citrus, but softens the contrast by tuning down the mossy notes. The result is more rounded but still excellent. It feels spontaneous and elegant.

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A note on the deodorant and shower gel: For a more prolonged experience, there is the shower gel and deodorant stick. Both have the same bitter-green impression that leaves residual freshness, but without the mossy chypre. I think they would make a nice gift together with the eau de cologne.

Source: usa.hermes.com