Christian Dior Eau Fraiche, 1953

  (Photo, Place Blanche in the 1950s. Christer Strömholm) From 1943’s Femme through 1990’s Ocean Rain, Roudnitska’s focus was the fruity chypre. He was a classicist and one way he approached the chypre was to filter it through other genres, namely the fougère and the Eau de Cologne.  He highlighted the inherent links between the genres. The fougère placed bright aromatics on top of a mossy/woody base and the Eau de Cologne’s draped hesperidic lightness…

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Aeon 001, 2016

(Image, I Dream of Genie) Aeon 001 is the first in a new line of limited-release fragrances whose perfumers will remain unknown.  Until all the bottles are sold, that is.  Once all bottles of each perfume are sold, the perfumer is to be revealed. Schtick? Yeah, but an interesting play on the historical anonymity of the perfumer. Until recently perfumery wasn’t acknowledged as art, just an aesthetic product.  You never know who created the flavor…

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Himalaya, Scriabin in the Himalayas. 2015

Perfumer Michel Roudnitska Synesthesia has made a mark on perfumery thanks to artists like Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and Bruno Fazzolari. They experience scent as color. Their work in perfumery ranges from depiction of their experience (Chroma) to more abstract exploration. The audience can speculate as to what synesthesia ‘feels’ like, but the work doesn’t induce a synesthetic experience. The early 20th century Russian composer Alexander Scriabin apparently wanted the audience to experience the phenomenon more…

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LM Parfums Hard Leather

Perfumer not cited at LM Parfums website. The trend toward dense, smoky-woody perfumes is not particularly new. Nasomatto Black Afgano was an early example and many perfumes followed its blueprint closely.  The trend has been given new life by the abundance of synth-oud accords. Hard Leather smells like a hopped-up version of the oud accords I’ve smelled many recent perfumes. Imbalance and the extrait concentration suggest that quantity was used to define quality.  Early niche…

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Guerlain My Insolence, 2007

(image from poster for The Three Faces of Eve) Perfumers Sylvaine Delacourte and Christophe Raynaud Do you remember how much people kvetched about Insolence when it was released? It was The Death of Guerlain. There had been similar raining-cats-and-dogs wailing about a few other post-LVMH Guerlains: Champs Elysées, l’Instant, the entire Aqua Allegoria line. (Guerlain has in fact survived long enough to hear similar complaints about Idylle, Shalimar Parfum Initial and La Petite Robe Noire.) Guerlain…

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Lolita Lempicka L de Lolita, 2006

(image Cherrybomb-81, deviantart.com) Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur is the classic ‘whole lotta everything’ perfume. It’s an Aromatic Fougiental with gourmand tendencies. It doesn’t blend categories. It lumps them all together in the same bottle. Keeping the different genres at arms length from each other is a remarkable technical accomplishment. Unfortunately, it also leaves Musc Ravageur open to love/hate criticism.  Fougère fans will find too much sweetness.  Those hoping for a warm amber will find the…

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Coty Emeraude, 1921

Post-modern choreographer David Gordon gave a lecture at my university in the early 1980s.  His advice to young choreographers was to steal. Steal anything, steal often.  Acknowledge the source material or don’t. Take what you steal and do whatever you care to with it.  His point was that there is no such thing as a new idea, and if there were, so what? Citation of sources, intellectual property rights and plagiarism are irrelevant—-ideas are shared.…

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Cumming by Alan Cumming and 2nd Cumming by CB I Hate Perfume

(Image, christcenteredmall.com) Perfumer Christopher Brosius. I’m not certain how Cumming (2004) and 2nd Cumming (2010) are related. Obviously, the second followed the first. Beyond that, reformulation? Sequel? The CB I Hate Perfume website states that 2nd Cumming is, “exactly the same as the original Cumming” yet provided Brosius and actor Alan Cumming the opportunity to, “…do the scent the way [they] had originally intended.” I don’t find this bit of obscurity vague or misleading. The…

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Fruity-floral flankers: Robert Piguet Petit Fracas, 2012

Image lifted from Etsy. The range of opinions on the reformulation of classic perfumes usually alternates between a sighing, “It wain’t what it used to be, kid.” and a howling, “They’ve RUINED it!” By all accounts, Guichard is credited with saving the Piguet perfumes by reformulation and maintaining the outstanding quality of the Germaine Cellier icons.  Quite a coup.  So, who better to design the flanker to the original than the man who keeps Fracas…

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Fruity-floral flankers: Hermès Rose Amazone (2014)

Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. Rose Amazone shows how well Jean-Claude Ellena’s trademarked transparency/minimalism fits into mainstream taste.  Not a dig, just an observation. It makes sense, too. Many ongoing trends in perfumery stem his more mainstream perfumes: Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert, Cartier Déclaration, Hermès Terre d’Hermès and Kelly Calèche.  He’s one of the most influential  perfumers of his time Ellena’s approach to flanking the original Amazone is to place it somewhere between his connoisseur-admired…

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Fruity-floral flankers: Jean Patou Enjoy, 2002

(Image LindsayCookie) Enjoy was the sequel to a trio of perfumes from 2001 that launched Jean-Michel Duriez as in-house perfumer at Jean Patou. Pan Ame, Hip and Nacre were all fruity-florals centered on a pear note.  Of the three, I’ve only smelled Pan Ame, which was clearly a precursor to Enjoy. 2001 was a tough year to re-launch a traditional house and reframe it as modern and accessible.  I doubt it helped that the three…

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Hermès Bel Ami Vetiver, 2013

Image, Loretta Lux. Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. I’m split on the recent spate of note-flankers from Hermès. Rose Amazone, Bel Ami Vetiver and Equipage Geranium. Pessimistic: Hermès are stocking the cupboards with a few flankers until Christine Nagel can come up to speed. Optimistic: Contemporary versions of the classics build the past into the future, mirroring the hand-off from Ellena to Nagel. In flanking the original Bel Ami, Bel Ami Vetiver simplifies the perfume but dilutes the…

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