Review: Etat Libre d’Orange Les Fleurs du Déchet — 4.0 points

I am all for sustainability and recycling, but the perfume must perform, or else it defeats the purpose of having a perfume. This is why I was initially apprehensive about Les Fleurs du Déchet (Etat Libre d’Orange, 2018), a fragrance that is meant to be a case in point of how waste reduction and the fragrance industry can go hand in hand. It brings attention to the fragrance ingredients derived from upcycled extractions of materials that are otherwise considered ‘spent’. It turned out that my worries were unfounded, as the strawberry accord at heart is delightful and sophisticated.

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Les Fleurs du Déchet serves up an epicure’s dream. The attributes that make strawberry attractive are accentuated and balanced skilfully. Green tartness that opens the composition contrasts with luscious sweetness. I think of a bite into Thurgau strawberries, which have been left to ripen on their own under the sun. It is complex, with jammy sweetness of rose shining through. As it develops, soft woods, with creamy and powdery notes, wrap around the rosy strawberry. A transparent peppery facet subtly reins in the sweetness throughout.

I reckon perfumer Daniela Andrier, the author of Les Fleurs du Déchet, possesses a knack for rendering bright, airy accords. A prime example is Candy (Prada, 2011), whose hefty notes of benzoin, caramel, and musk feel surprisingly weightless. And, Les Fleurs du Déchet is no exception. It eschews the typical dry down laden with vanilla and musk, as is the case for many fruity perfumes. Once the bright strawberry sweetness has dimmed, what remains is a tempting, lingering suggestion along with ambery, soft woods. It is delicate. And the softness also means that it begs one to lean in and discover the richness of strawberry.

Review: Etat Libre d’Orange Putain des Palaces — 4.0 points

I leave the English translation out of this one, as I am sure you are able to figure it out and connect the dots between the name and the perfume. I would rather stick to the more elegant sounding French name as the perfume evokes a fantasy of powder puffs, rouge, and a coquettish figure wearing them.

Putain des Palaces (Etat Libre d’Orange, 2007), at its core, is a classical cosmetic rose. It is dominated by the familiar notes of violet and rose. It starts out with the cold sugar crystals of violets and warms up to the honeyed sweetness of rose. The lambent rice powder provides the vanity table experience.

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But if it were just a well-executed cosmetic rose, Putain des Palaces would not be nearly as interesting—after all, cosmetic roses are a dime a dozen. Drôle de Rose (L’Artisan Parfumeur, 1996) and Lipstick Rose (Frédéric Malle, 2000), as examples, easily come to mind. Instead, its creator, perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer, opts for a twist that sets the story apart. The hint of soft leather is almost as if to suggest that this is the inside of a cosmetic bag, storing down powder puffs, lipsticks, and scented talcum. Then, cumin adds a subtly risqué element to it. The sweaty, animalic note of this spice is the perfect foil for the sweetness of the violet and the rose; it insinuates a delicate pleasure of the flesh.

The dry down of rosy powder puffs juxtaposed to an animalic spice is elegant yet sultry. Its powdery aspect is airy and dry, unlike many powdery accords that tend to be opaque with dense, musky finish. Putain des Palaces is classically feminine at first, but the dusky animalic vibe of cumin keeps the sweet flowers grounded enough to feel unisex, and I can imagine layering it with dark incense and woods, especially with its comparable tenacity.

Source: fineartamerica

Review: Etat Libre d’Orange Delicious Closet Queen – 3.0 points

First of all, do not dismiss a fragrance because of its name! With Delicious Closet Queen (Etat Libre d’Orange, 2007), there is nothing cheap about it—well, other than the name. In fact, the fragrance is a skilfully balanced accord of leather with rugged and soft elements. It is an interesting twist to the theme, even if I find the overall composition still a little too tame.

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Created by perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer, the main impression is leather. However, when brightened with citrusy aldehydic notes in the top and modified with a measure of violet, a dash of rose, and raspberry, it acquires a sweet, plush character. But depending on your personal association, the sweetness can be an interesting accent or a turn-off; admittedly, there are times when I find it rather pungent.

But luckily, as it develops, the composition turns warmer and acquires a rough-hewn, dusky character. The fruity sweetness belies a dense amber marked by a spicy balsamic note, perhaps of opoponax. The roughness is softened by sandalwood and cedarwood, a combination of powdery, soft woody note that courses through the composition until the dry down.

I wish that, with a name like Delicious Closet Queen, it would pack more punches. The overall impression is still a soft suede. The dry down bears resemblance of Eau de Cèdre (Armani, 2015). It is tame enough to be spritzed daily for an office and has good lasting power.

Sources: fragrantica.com

Review: by Kilian Musk Oud — 3.5 points

One of the reasons why oud is such a popular accord with which to pair lies in its character. It possesses multiple facets: leathery animalic notes of civet, castoreum, and musk; smouldering hints of vetiver; solemn frankincense; fruity raspberry sweetness; and warmth of vanillic amber. The material offers plenty of overlapping notes, which naturally harmonises and achieves synergy with other accords. And, the oud collection, I find, is an excellent study that applies a magnifying glass on the different vantage points of this complex material.

Each examines and accents the hallmarks of oud. Pure oud (by Kilian, 2009), the simplest amongst these, strikes the balance between dark woods and leathery animalic notes of civet, castoreum, and musk. Incense oud (by Kilian, 2011), of course, plays up the sober note of frankincense. Then, Rose Oud (by Kilian, 2010) accentuates the raspberry jam facet with a dollop of sumptuous rose set in the oriental style. And unexpectedly, Amber Oud (by Kilian, 2011) highlights the warm vanillic character with a weightless twist. Hence, when it comes to Musk Oud (by Kilian, 2013), one can expect a musky oud, right?

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Not quite, I reckon. Indeed, the animalic and whisky-like onset may provide a brooding tone, but this is soon supplanted by a bright outlook. Cardamom accent hints at a lemony rose that soon blossoms amidst the rough-hewn dark woods and incense. Musk Oud is not so much about musk; the more it develops, the more its rose blossoms.

As the rose fades into a silhouette, however, the musks play an important role in blurring the lines between the notes, smoothing the transition. The warmth of balsams and incense soften the dusky woods. And that is as musky as it gets.

Smelling Musk Oud, I am also reminded of Rose Oud. There is a strong resemblance, but the difference lies in the rose. In Rose Oud the opulent rose takes centre stage in contrast to the tenebrous backdrop of oud accord, whereas in Musk Oud the rose is a translucent shimmer behind an opaque folding screen. The effect is thus more of a suggestion, an invitation to peer closer amidst the dusky notes, and that is just as tempting.

Given the first-rate raw materials and execution and the fact that I relish in it, I am tempted to give it four points, but the fact that Musk Oud feels like another well-executed version of the popular rose-oud combination prevents me from doing so. Considering what its creator perfumer Alberto Morillas did with a musk accord that would, with the help of perfumer Annie Buzantian, become the trend-setting metallic freshness in White Pour Elle (Emporio Armani, 2001), I had hoped for something more exciting for the musks, and not just a beautiful variation on a theme. It is nonetheless satisfying and has excellent lasting power. So, if you are looking for a well-crafted composition of this style and are comfortable with by Kilian’s price tag, you will not be disappointed. But as a study of oud, Musk Oud falls slightly short of my expectation.

 

Review: by Kilian Rose Oud — 4.0 points

At first sniff, Rose Oud (by Kilian, 2010) was evident in its treatment of rose in the oriental style, and I was ready to label it as ‘a plump rose wrapped decently in balsamic notes’. This is because a fragrance of this style, which is a Western imagination of Middle Eastern perfumery, is a dime a dozen. Off the top of my head I can recall Portrait of A Lady (Frédéric Malle, 2009) and Sa Majesté la Rose (Serge Lutens, 2000), two excellent compositions that set the bar for this genre. Yet, I felt compelled to revisit Rose Oud time and again.

Initially, it was not obvious to me why I kept coming back to this simple rose-oud pairing, but as I continued to wear it, the nuances and facets that lend Rose Oud its distinction became more discernible. I realised then that I regularly returned to it because, like any interesting compositions, it creates a personal fantasy. And funnily enough, Rose Oud conjures for me the delectable Viennese confection, Sachertorte, which is a chocolate cake soaked in tart apricot jam and glazed with a dark couverture. I particularly revel in the opulent contrast between a sumptuous rose and a plush oud accord, as it has the allure of bright jam juxtaposed with dusky chocolate.

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Just as the bright notes of apricot lift up the hefty Viennese chocolate confection, the subtle embellishments add dimensions and depths to the rose accord. A hint of cardamom and cinnamon imparts a bright champagne-like effervescence. The overtone of ripe raspberry and musky violet confers jammy sweetness. An encounter with its scintillating rose feels like the very first bite into a moist piece of Sachertorte in which the glowing apricot note primes the palate for the ambrosial chocolate to come.

The underpinning oud accord is just as faceted as the complex notes of grand cru cocoa. From the suede note of saffron set against smoky woods to the animalic and vanillic accent peeking through, the accord possesses the same alluring inky edge of biter chocolate.

Perfumer Calice Becker, who crafted Rose Oud, is a mistress of disguise. The ostensibly simple composition belies its sublime layers. The dialogue between rose and oud remains focused throughout, with its shades and strata effectively lending polish. And whereas most oriental roses tend to have enough strength and diffusive power to perfume a dessert, this one explores the nuanced intimacy of rose and dark woods.

With its rich hues and accents secreted behind an unadorned pairing, Rose Oud possesses a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it seductive. This is all the more so with its impressive tenacity. Fans of this style will cherish the sterling essences and olfactory subtleties. Even if you find this style to be ubiquitous, at least give it a try and see whether it ignites a personal fantasy, like it does for me. Now, where is that recipe of Sachertorte?

Source: K.u.K. Hofzuckerbäcker Demel

Review: Gucci Bloom — 4.0 points

White florals seem to be back in vogue these days. Recent major launches that come immediately to my mind such as Twilly d’Hermès (2017) and Gabrielle (Chanel, 2017) were infused with such notes. With such popularity, it is easy to feel jaded of white florals. But, Bloom (Gucci, 2017), the latest launch by Gucci, makes for an exception; its vibrant interpretation breathes life into the white floral accord and makes it memorable.

Gucci Bloom

Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci, wanted a rich white floral fragrance that transports one to a thriving garden, and Bloom superbly captures that spirit. At first, it offers the promised offering of a creamy white floral set in a lush green garden. The initial green stem suggestion is followed by sweet creamy notes of tuberose and jasmine, with a hint of bright lily of the valley. However, this seemingly simple pairing of green garden and white floral belies the creative streak of perfumer Alberto Morillas, who crafted Bloom. Look underneath and one finds a rose juxtaposed to the rich white floral, lending a bright effect to lighten the creamy heft. Perhaps this effect is what the marketing at Gucci refers to Rangoon Creeper whose flowers turn from white to red as they open. And as Bloom develops, the white floral accord is also accompanied by the green contrast, which morphs from stem to fruity, musky pear. In the dry down, its creamy floral segues into powdery vanilla and musk.

Bloom offers a white floral garden with a vibrant surprise. Its floral is sensual yet possesses a radiant effect, and that makes for a highlight. While those of us lusting after a take-no-prisoner white floral will have to look elsewhere, the restrained character of Bloom makes it versatile and will suit just about any occasion and time. If you want to enjoy a daydream about a fantasy garden, a spritz of Bloom will suffice.

Source: gucci.com

Review: Chanel N°5 Eau Première – 4.0 points

Few brands do justice to the re-working of their classic creations as does Chanel. This is why I enjoy re-tracing the incarnations of Chanel N°5 (1921) to see what each interpretation has to offer. Previously, I examined the verves and radiance of a young mademoiselle in Chanel N°5 L’Eau (2016). This time, I say we look back at the modern legacy of the grand dame in Chanel N°5 Eau Première (2007).

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Its cascade of notes makes for a luscious sensation, whilst its clarity lends itself to ease of wearing. One is first greeted with heady and sunny ylang ylang, and there is a dalliance with the aldehydic note, both of which are customary to Chanel N°5. This leads over to the iconic bouquet of rose and jasmine blended into a floral mélange, but with each note still lending their nuances to the mix.

As Eau Première develops, I notice the progression from a bright, crystalline layer to a warm, round and sensual one. Its powdery iris note, in particular, gives the luminous sheen and softness of silk. And in the dry down, the warmth of its vanillic, musky base is still accompanied by a lingering hint of floral bouquet. Eau Première lasts easily a whole day and continues to persist on fabric. Its radiant, indistinctly floral sillage is also recognisable.

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From top to base, the framework of Chanel N°5 is preserved: only the emphasis has been shifted. By trimming the top and base, the composition acquires greater clarity and the focus now falls to the beloved bouquet of Chanel N°5. Here, perfumer Jacques Polge seems to have struck the perfect middle ground between classical pomp and modern clarity. In other words, Eau Première is an excellent update to the original.

Sources: chanel.com