Review: Essential Parfums The Musc — 4.5 points

I disliked The Musc (Essential Parfums, 2018) at first, because the combination of lavender and musk tends to remind me of fabric softeners, toilet cleaners, and soaps. My personal association is firmly entrenched, and upon detecting the first hints of lavender in it, I put the bottle down just as soon as I had picked it up. But, as the saying goes, ‘never judge a book by its cover’, I did ask for a decant in order to live with its company for some time before passing judgement on the composition. Indeed, the more I wore it, the more I came to enjoy its luminosity and complexity.

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The main theme is musk, a note that tends to be opaque and dense by nature. But in the hands of perfumer Calice Becker who also created Noir Aphrodisiaque (2016), Pure Oud (2009), Rose Oud (2010), and Amber Oud (2011) from by Kilian—compositions featuring rich, hefty notes—the musk note is rendered airy and faceted. Its sensual sweetness is foiled by the herbal edge of lavender and the spicy ginger that open the composition. A rapturous mélange of accents, including rose, peony, fruity pear, and berry-like vibrancy confer it with the brilliance, fire, and scintillation of a skilfully cut diamond.

Another aspect that I find interesting about The Musc is its excellent execution of lavender note. Ubiquitous among masculine fragrances, fabric softeners, and soaps, the raw material has acquired a somewhat negative association; one easily thinks of grandmothers and their perfumed sachets. Here, the floral facet of this note is enhanced by beeswax and pairs perfectly with the sweetness of musk, and its camphoraceous aspect softened by warm powdery note and sandalwood. The floral, fluffy result is distinctive.

In the dry down, it is enveloping with the voluptuous notes of beeswax and powdery warmth. I keep noticing the powdery and the mellow sensuality of musk accompany me from morning to night, and it feels like being wrapped in the silky comfort of a chiffon. It has a soft, airy feel, but also a clear presence and character. Its tenacity and presence also mean that a gingerly spritz suffices to create a radiant aura.

And, those who are wary of lavender and musk need not worry: The Musc possesses the complexity and vibrancy that steers it away from the potency and harshness of a fabric softener. Even the lavender note is stripped of its camphoraceous fangs and claws. The composition is about the constant presence of polish and comfort.

Source: Essential Parfums

Review: 27 87 Elixir de Bombe — 4.0 points

In this era where syrup and fruit salad dominate the market, another gourmand fragrance will have a hard time catching attention. That was exactly my thought upon the first spritz of Elixir de Bombe (2016) created by perfumer Mark Buxton for the Barcelona-based niche perfume house 27 87. But the more I wear it, the more it grows on me, as it shifts from a plain, sweet bonbon to a master’s confection with the manifold nuances and flavours.

Elixir de Bombe is one of those fragrances that needs some test wear to be certain that you love it. It is brazenly sweet; the opening already gives the impression of syrup. But the sweetness is foiled by pink pepper and ylang ylang that brightens the accord, and these are soon joined by ginger. The warm spice is an elegant solution to countering the sweetness, and its employment here is similar to that in balancing the floral sweetness of ylang ylang in Eau Mohéli (Diptyque, 2013). Still dominated by sweetness, it gets more exciting with herbal, gingery, earthy, and resinous facets that it feels like being taken on a technicolour ride with a harlequin.

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Then, dry amber takes centre stage and plays a crucial role in the dry down. It balances out the syrupy sweetness and sets a dusky tone to the composition. The resinous warmth of labdanum, the powdery touch, the leathery accent, and the spicy effect form a complex counterpoint to the sticky sweetness of toffee. This is the part that grows on me, and it lasts and lasts.

The gourmand character of sticky crème caramel that goes hand in hand with complex amber is fun and sophisticated. It is a feat to dose the caramel with such a heavy hand whilst orchestrating opposing elements skilfully to tame the sweetness. It is intensely sweet, especially in the beginning, but the effect—unlike the heft of gourmands such as Angel (Thierry Mugler, 1992) or Casmir (Chopard, 1992)—is intimate, polished, and unisex enough. So, unless you have put a ban on all perfumes sweet, give this intrepid fellow a try. Love it or hate it, a character like this does not leave you indifferent.

Source: 27 87 Perfumes

Review: Hermès Twilly — 4.5 points

When I first read the tagline ‘the scent of the Hermès girls’, I did not have much hope for Twilly (Hermès, 2017), the latest creation by in-house perfumer Christine Nagel. Clearly, it is targeted at young women in their twenties and we all know too well what sort of composition major fragrance houses tend to have in mind for this demographic. My thoughts wandered off to the theme of La vie est belle (Lancôme, 2012), sugar confection that often ends up in very cloying vanilla and musk.

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But the very first sniff simply debunked all that stereotype. In fact, at the outset, Twilly is sparkling with fresh petitgrain and this is soon joined by a beguiling white floral note at heart. It is something between orange blossom and soft tuberose; and to those who are averse to white florals, fear not: the sweetness of its white florals is foiled by a gingery accent. Even in the dry down, which also lasts well from morning into evening, its musky amber is peppered with herbal accents and sweetened only by powdery heliotrope and bitter-sweet coumarin. Nothing about Twilly betrays a hint of sugary confections.

In fact, Twilly might just be the proof that young women in their twenties do not need saccharine musks to smell good. If they want something coquettish, addictive, and quirky, this is it. Its white floral is sensual enough without being carnal. Its sweetness is just tantalising without being treacly. And, the gingery and herbal accent lends a distinctive note to the mix. It feels like a quirky, seductive eau de cologne that blends citrus, herbal florals, and musky amber. And, it remains wearable. For this reason, Twilly, much like a short, memorable melody, is easily my favourite.

Source: hermes.fr

Review: Diptyque Eau Mohéli — 4.0 points

Whilst roses and jasmines are revered as queens and kings amongst flowers, the yellow, droopy blooms of ylang ylang never enjoy such reverence they so deserve. Much has been said about the extrait de parfum of Chanel N°5 (1921) being infused with jasmine and May rose from Grasse, but what of the solar radiance provided by its ylang ylang, without which the aldehydes of Chanel N°5 cannot be overdosed to achieve such a sparkle? In fact, ylang ylang can be found to impart its solar quality to as much as forty per cent of all feminine compositions. Such is its cardinal role, and yet it is never the focus of a composition.

However, with the arrival of Eau Mohéli (Diptyque, 2013), ylang ylang takes all the limelight — and I am not only talking about the perfume. Eau Mohéli uses an ‘extra superior’ grade of ylang ylang oil, which is derived from the cultivar of ylang ylang grown on Mohéli, an island of the Union of the Comoros. Years prior, Mohéli produced a rather poor quality of ylang ylang oil because of inadequate distillation tools as well as the poor living conditions of the ylang ylang farmers. But, it would later become a successful model of ethical sourcing as Givaudan partnered with a local producer to improve harvesting techniques and livelihoods of the community. The fruit of such efforts is a very special quality of ylang ylang oil rich in all facets: crunchy, sweet, floral, fruity, spicy, and vanillic. Then, it falls to the adept hand of perfumer Olivier Péscheux that does justice to this sterling material in Eau Mohéli.

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The combination of grass-like green of hexenol and green galbanum conjures the fresh and crunchy texture of this tropical flower. Its spicy burst is accented by ginger and pink pepper. This develops into a peppery accord that contrasts beautifully with the floral and narcotic sweetness at heart. Up to this point, the rich character of ylang ylang is excellently captured right to the details with green receptacles, spicy brightness, and heady floral. If you have never smelled an actual ylang ylang flower, this development in Eau Mohéli is likely sufficient to satisfy your curiosity as to why this tropical flower is so revered.

The sweetness of ylang ylang is also enriched by vanilla, sandalwood, and musk. The vanillic facet is thereby projected to the dry down, and the milky depth of sandalwood provides a classical harmony with ylang ylang. The result is a rich, rotund character that unfurls in layers, and it lasts well.

Eau Mohéli is excellent. It highlights the rich, multi-faceted ylang ylang essence and makes it lively and wearable. It is not too sweet, thanks to the fresh, crunchy green accent. Its narcotic floral is kept vivid by the spicy, peppery accord. Sandalwood also lends its depth and softness. There are turns and accents that make the composition come alive. A simple, well-crafted ylang ylang soliflore.

Sources: diptyqueparis.eu, Scents and Chemistry The Molecular World of Odors.