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.

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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 creamy sandalwood. The floral, fluffy result is distinctive.

In the dry down, it is enveloping with the voluptuous notes of beeswax and sandalwood. I keep noticing the creamy soft woods 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: by Kilian Noir Aphrodisiaque — 4.5 points

Chocolate is a challenging note. The sweet chocolate with which we are familiar is created with the help of vanillin, a principle odorant of vanilla that is used to flavour chocolate, but tuning that up alone would make for an intensely sweet milky bar. The rich overtones of fruits, flowers, spices, and woods are needed to bring out a grand cru chocolate, but the dense note of cocoa can also mask these, leaving the composition flat. For this reason, I am amazed by the sumptuous chocolate accord in Noir Aphrodisiaque (by Kilian, 2016) replete with complexity and glow.

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The subtle layers of notes add to the nuances of dark chocolate, making it rich and decadent. Bergamot, juicy lemon, and citron provide a bright prelude that quickly makes way for the confection. Chilly iris lends its cool, dusty texture of chocolate, whilst fruity jasmine bestows its voluptuous, narcotic scent.  A dusting of cinnamon serves as a spicy contrast that balances the languorous richness. It feels as though I had just had a bite into Choc-Abricot of Sprüngli: the dried apricots reveal their intense fruity and floral notes wrapped in bitter-sweet chocolate from Santo Domingo cacao.

These largely confer refinements to the chocolate, but the secret to a bitter chocolate impression lies in patchouli. Its warm, woody, balsamic facet is the perfect foil for the chilly, dusty iris, and its diffusiveness helps lift the composition. The effect is similarly observed in Dior Homme (2005), Coromandel (Chanel, 2007), and Borneo 1834 (Serge Lutens, 2005).

As it develops, it furthers explores the nuances and becomes most addictive. The bitter chocolate impression led by patchouli is softened by creamy and tantalising smoky notes. Here, sandalwood provides the milky chocolat chaud fantasy and tonka bean lends the sweetness and warmth of toasted almonds. The dark woody tang contrasted by a mellow baked good suggestion keeps the dry down engaging and airy.

Perfumer Calice Becker authored Noir Aphrodisiaque, and her signature luminosity and layered complexity are telltale.  It is chocolate from beginning to end, but it does not feel dense and flat. Instead, it peels away in layers to reveal nuances of citrus, floralcy, spice, wood, and vanillic sweetness. It is polished and each transition seamless. I can imagine wearing it at just about any occasion; it is just as alluring and elegant.

Sources: fragrantica.com

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: 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: Chanel Gabrielle — 3.5 points

I find it difficult to write about Gabrielle (2017), the latest major launch in fifteen years by Chanel Creative Team and perfumer Olivier Polge. This is because it does not evoke anything beyond the propriety of a nice, likeable launch. I have but few adjectives and words with which to work.

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Perhaps, I should start by describing all the notes of Gabrielle with the few vocabularies that come to mind: lovely and bright. The vivacious debut of grapefruit and mandarin segues into a bright white floral heart. Although Chanel purports that this is a quartet of orange blossom, ylang ylang, jasmine, and tuberose from Grasse, what I smell is mostly a fresh lemony jasmine with a creamy accent, which is cushioned in the dry down by soft sandalwood and musk. Whilst a fresh white floral such as this is a dime a dozen, there is an accent reminiscent of dried fruits and prunes to it that lends Gabrielle its lasting luminosity — that is probably just about the only aspect that I find interesting. Other than that, Gabrielle seems to have borrowed its bright white floral from Jour d’Hermès (2013) and diluted the fruit syrup of Coco Mademoiselle (2001), arguably its more daring chypre-esque sister.

Still, I am quite willing to forgive Gabrielle. Its well-mannered white floral intended to appeal to the market at large is hardly distinctive, but at the same time it is not entirely without ploy. It also smells of quality, from the zest of its citrus to the creamy accent of white florals and the soft musk. This is rare by today’s standard. Hence, for its purpose and intent, Gabrielle makes the cut for a decent launch. Everything about Gabrielle is intended to hook, and it did me, but it does not arouse any feeling beyond mere satisfaction and fleeting delight.

Source: chanel.fr

Review: Diptyque Tam Dao — 4.0 points

Sometimes a beautiful composition is simple. It might not have a thousand layers to unfold, but its signature  character and quality more than make up for those. Tam Dao (Diptyque, 2003), the eau de toilette, by perfumer Daniel Molière is a case in point. It is focused. It is about dry, sensual woods – and a precious one at that.

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Indeed, the terpenic opening is kept to a minimal without much fanfare. Cypress gives the impression of an aromatic resin and woods with a leafy touch. From then on, it is sandalwood galore with as much as 17% of sandalwood oil. Its milky note embraces and calms, yet cedarwood imparts a distinct woody texture. A quirky description I could give is ‘a creamy pencil’.

The monolithic sandalwood character of Tam Dao can be dense and opaque, but the subtle ambery shades and woody dryness of 7.5% Texas cedarwood oil render it tangible and wearable. In fact, once Tam Dao reaches its musky dry down, it wears like a creamy second skin.

That said, those who prefer a trail in their perfumer will likely be disappointed by the intimate nature of Tam Dao. It is the kind of perfume that asks one to lean in and experience. Tam Dao lasts well, but its quiet character means that I often forget about it only to wonder later what that cosy creamy scent is.

Tam Dao is simply all about the beauty of sandalwood.

Source: diptyqueparis.com, Scent and Chemistry The Molecular World of Odors