Papillon Artisan Perfumes Tobacco Rose, 2014

(Image, Silva-Thins ad, 1980s.) Perfumer, Liz Moores. Rose’s complex olfactory make-up gives it flexibility but expectation can get in the way of an easy range of motion. The person looking for a sunshiny soliflor won’t necessarily dig an earthy rose/patchouli or a mossy rose chypre. And there are assumptions to navigate. Dewy roses imply innocence and boozy roses seduce. A garden rose is Elizabeth Bennet but a candied rose is Lolita. A misjudged tone creates the wrong impression and drama ensues. The stakes are high…

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Bruno Fazzolari Monserrat, 2013

(Doris Day,  source unknown) Monserrat is an easy wear, but not an easy read. It is unashamedly a fruity-floral, particularly in the topnotes, which have a sunshiny, Doris Day vibe. Of course this is where a chill strikes me. Doris Days always scared the shit out of me. That blond, chirpy, starched-crinoline celluloid image was unnervingly untroubled. It’s as if she cast no shadow. Fazzolari makes a great case for the fruity-floral. It’s not an intrinsically faulty genre, just one that’s been saddled with the…

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iris

(image, illustratedetymology.com) Papillon Artisan Perfumes Angélique. Perfumer Liz Moores, 2013 Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendré. Perfume Julien Rasquinet, 2015 Masque Milano l’Attesa. Perfumer Luca Maffei, 2016 Iris was a key part of the grand ‘orchestral’ perfumes that are now considered dated if not antiquated. Old-school Guerlains like Mitsouko and l’Heure Bleue nested orris root and iris aromachemicals in complex structures. Modern iris perfumes perfumes highlight the note with less pagentry. Papillon Artisan Perfumes Angélique, Iris Cendré by Naomi Goodsir and Masque Milano’s new l’Attesa are sophisticated…

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Parfums Dusita Issara and Mélodie de l’Amour, 2015

(image, Riccardo Sabatini) Perfumer Pissara Umavijani. Buyers often identify how much they’ll spend on a perfume and then cross-shop everything in that range. Here is where Parfums Dusita finds itself at an interesting crossroads. It is the most expensive artisanal line of perfume. Cost-wise, Dusita is in the Dove, 777, Xerjoff neighborhood With its high price-tag (approx $325-450 per 50 ml bottle of extrait) Parfums Dusita provides a great opportunity to put the values of artisanal perfumery to the test. Should artisanal perfumery should be…

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Why Mainstream Perfumery?

(Image, The Secret Lives of Stepford Wives) Mainstream perfume—how and why? How? Know your enemy. Why? It has a great track record. It’s become the norm to name the perfumer, and I’m all for the practice. Until not long ago, the perfumer was in the closet. Today the perfumer might compose the formula for the perfume that winds up in the bottle, but there is still more hidden in the process than is shown. Although the perfumer was camouflaged in the past, the process seems…

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M. Micallef Royal Vintage, 2013

  (Image source American Psycho.) Perfumer Jean-Claude Astier. The ’80s were the decade of the ten-octave woody delinquent that came to be known as the Power Frag, as in power fragrance. As in power tie, power lunch, power suit. The 1980s were the 1970s with more volume, more cocaine, higher aspirations and not even a vestige of conscience. Chanel Antaeus, Puig Quorum, Krizia Uomo, Calvin Klein Obsession for Men, Patou pour Homme. They followed closely on the heels of the big aromatic fougères like Paco…

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Why niche?

    (Photo Victoria Beckham, source unknown.) Why niche? For ease of discussion, I’d say plug in your own definition of niche to whatever you read here. Myself, I think the Independent Film model, or moving quickly and unabashedly from the fringe to the mainstream, is applicable to niche perfume. Studios gobbled up any production company that was trying something new. Soon every studio was cranking out the same variety of ‘indie-style’ movies. Niche perfumery has its roots in dissatisfaction with the limits of mainstream perfumery.…

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Why vintage?

(image suzanne-vintage.com) I have two reasons for delving into vintage perfumery. First, excellence. Second, it’s ripe for excavation. ** In perfume, the word vintage is a little like the word niche. It means different things to different people and tends to cause confusion in a discussion. Here are few definitions, all of which I’ll accept: Perfumes no longer produced. Early versions of extant perfumes that that have been changed significantly from their original forms. Perfumes from ‘extinct’ genres. Fragrances from before the 2000s/1990s/1980s—you choose the cut-off…

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What interests you in perfume?

(Image, l’Osmothèque) I’m working on a thee-part piece that asks: 1) Why Vintage?  2) Why ‘niche’?  3)Why mainstream? I’ve realized looking at my perfume collection that, with the exceptions of a few particular categories that I’m drawn to, I have a fairly eclectic selection of perfumes. Do you? Or do you have 10 fruity-florals for each chypre? Or 80% fougères? How do we compile our collections and what do we hope to get from each genre/category/era of perfume that we have? Also, whom do you read?…

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Davidoff Cool Water and Mugler Angel: Built for Each Other

(Image, Hubpages.com) (Cool Water, Pierre Bourdon. Thierry Mugler Angel, Yves de Chiris and Olivier Cresp.) Cool Water was released in 1988. Angel, 1992. We’ve never really recovered. They hit the scene at different times and suited their decades slightly differently. Cool Water fit the oversized, go-go 1980s.  Popular culture was loud and crass and aspiration trumped consideration every time. Reflection was considered a character flaw. It was a miserable time for introverts. It was the perfect time for Cool Water. Angel landed 4 years later…

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Dana Ambush, 1955

(image wisconsinhistory.org) Ambush is a bit of a gender-fuck. It was a perfume for women, based on a perfume first designed for women but then marketed to men, Dana Canoe. Both were composed by perfumer Jean Carles. Canoe was a fougère initially marketed to women. It turned out that Canoe fit the masculine barbershop style that was taking shape in the USA between the World Wars, so it was repurposed for men, who bought it in droves from 1932 to the present. There’s no record…

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