Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Dr. Vranjes Terra Review

As the global air care market continues to grow (scented candle sales in the UK alone are now said to exceed £90 million p/a), fragrance companies are ever looking for new opportunities to expand their reach. Whilst niche houses such as Diptyque have long offered their customers the opportunity to match their own perfume to their home’s, the recent announcement by Thierry Mugler of a new line of scented candles, including their most iconic perfume Angel, marks a new era. 
At £39 for the 6.4 oz wax version of Angel and Alien and £49 for the others, Mugler have positioned themselves at the lower end of the premium candle market. Yet, for all my admiration for Angel, it would have to be the sole surviving candle in the wake of a power grid collapse for me to put flame to its wick.
Which brings me to Dr. Vranjes’ home fragrance Terra. The company describes Terra’s scent as including notes of ‘Syberian (sic) Pine, green brush musk, Occitan lavender, vanilla, wild mint leaves’. I however, experience the fragrance as a mix of bright, terpy incense with woody, green accents and warm, oriental balsams and vanilla.
Available as a room spray and as a reed-diffuser, the blend works exceptionally well: in its diffuser form, throw is sufficient to comfortably scent an average-sized living room; the evaporation rate is very acceptable: a 250mL bottle lasts me around five months; and the supplied bamboo reeds do not clog with resins. The faceted, clear glass bottle with white labelling meanwhile, makes an elegant addition to the mantelpiece.
Price is also £49.
Sorry, Mugler.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Boy Review

If asked five years ago which perfume line I most admire, I’d have unhesitatingly said Chanel’s Les Exclusifs. In it, classical masterpieces like Cuir de Russie and Bois des Iles sat, reformulated but recognisable, alongside creative success stories such as Coromandel. Recent releases however, have given me pause for thought: Jersey, I felt, was too apologetic (and for all the wrong reasons); 1932 too self-referential (as a Chanel perfume). Now with Boy, it seems that the very polished aesthetic Chanel has come to define itself by may well be undermining its potential for future greatness.
As openings go, Boy’s strikes me as actually somewhat unpleasant and includes a mix of fresh, methyl pamplemousse-type grapefruit and waxy, green, lower-numbered aliphatic aldehydes. The latter  help introduce the geranium themed floral heart that complements a classical fougère accord. Rather than being a glossy, bright geranium however, the one offered here comes in a powdery, pastel hue and is supported by a host of musks, sweet heliotrope and vanilla, a little, grainy Evernyl-like oakmoss replacer and light, sandalwood-ish woods. Advertised as an EdP, I found Boy to wear fairly close to the skin and have only average longevity; once the lavender notes faded, it was rather a linear, sweet-powdery-floral affair. 

Nose: Olivier Polge
House: Chanel
Release date: 2016
Notes (per Fragrantica): lavender, lemon, grapefruit, rose, geranium, orange-blossom, sandalwood, heliotrope, vanilla, musk. 

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Lentisque Review

A woody-green composition, Lentisque starts off with the crisp, verdant tones of galbanum allied with some weedy, balsamic notes courtesy of mastic oil. To the perfume’s (and perfumer’s) credit, it transitions smoothly to a lightly smoky vetiver fragrance that’s underscored by some dessicated, pale, cedary woods. Overall however, there’s little here to excite.

Nose: Pierre Guillaume
House: Phaedon
Release date: 2013
Notes (per Fragrantica): lentisque, galbanum, labdanum, woody notes, cedar, vetiver.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Allure Homme Sport Cologne Review

Confusingly named flankers and re-launches aside, Chanel’s Allure Homme Sport Cologne 2016 is a nice take on the genre that opens with a mandarin fronted citrus accord which has a pleasantly tart, pithy, green and lightly spicy quality as well as a natural freshness that avoids several ‘sport’ clichés. With no distinct heart-notes to speak of, what’s left of the fragrance after the above disappears is a monolithic, Iso E Supery- powdery- hot iron- starchy musk base that smells modern, clean and fresh. 

Nose: Olivier Polge
House: Chanel
Release date: 2016
Notes (per Parfumo): sicilian mandarin, lovage, elemi, cedarwood, amber, white musk.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Sultan Leather Review

The problem (it seems to me) with complex smelling materials such as Safraleine is that they can all too easily become a vehicle for laziness. Underline the saffron-tobacco-hot pleather notes with some synthy woods, a little vanilla like sweetness and musks et voilà! A dark ‘leather’ perfume ready to sell to the next niche brand that comes a knocking. 

Nose: Unknown (From Mavive Fragrance House)
House: The Merchant of Venice
Release date: 2015
Notes (per Fragrantica): saffron, pepper, nutmeg, geranium, floral notes, white sandalwood, cedar, leather, black musk.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Costarela Review

Launched in anticipation of the northern Summer, Costarela is Carner Barcelona’s deft take on the (already well explored) beach theme.
Bergamot dominates the opening and as the note’s evaporation curve tails off, its Linalooly- agrestic character segues neatly into a much gentler, herbal-balsamic accord of suntan lotion like salicylates. The coastal scene is completed by some nicely judged marine notes, pale woods, Ambrox(an) and musks that together, create a fine impression of driftwood afloat the warm ocean.
Overall, Costarela is less innovative than Pierre Guillaume’s recent riffs (Entre Ciel et Mer and Paris Seychelles), but it is a nicely composed perfume that’s none-too-taxing to wear.

Nose: Shyamala Maisondieu
House: Carner Barcelona
Release date: 2016
Notes (per Fragrantica): bergamot, saffron, sea notes, sand, Virginian cedar, Ambroxan, amber.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Lignum Vitae Review

To attempt an analytical evaluation of Beaufort London’s latest release would be to entirely miss the proverbial forest for the trees.
Lignum Vitae presents a singular olfactive portrait whose subject I could never have imagined judging by its name. Equally surprising is just how uncannily realistic its interpretation of this theme is.
Want a hint?
Ok: Proust.
Got it?
Yup; Lignum Vitae offers a remarkable simulacrum of the smell of petites madeleines – those small, scallop-shell shaped sponge cakes that have become a virtual by-word for involuntary reminiscence (parenthetically, it was only in Proust’s third draft of À la recherche…that he decided upon madeleines; previous drafts attest to biscotti and honey on toast). From accurately capturing the zestiness of lemon and lime drizzle to the sweet breadiness of the cake itself, the un-named perfumer (shame) has achieved something very clever indeed.
All of this though, rather leaves me scratching my head:
Firstly, I just cannot reconcile the perfume with the brand’s nautical aesthetic, nor the début trio in the ‘Come Hell or High Water’ line which Lignum Vitae apparently joins. Secondly, the name. Lignum Vitae is synonymous with Guaiacwood, and while this oil does have a sweet milky quality that can work very well in gourmands, one is here effectively led to expect a soliwood (cf. Carner Barcelona’s Palo Santo), not an afternoon accompaniment to tea. Thirdly, the mental gymnastics required to get from the brand’s own description of the perfume as being ‘inspired by the innovative use of materials that allowed 18th Century clockmakers to construct the first accurate marine chronometers’ and combining ‘elements of wood, metal and salt’ to what emerges from the bottle is just too exhausting (lignum vitae > chronomoter > time > À la recherche du temps perdu > petites madeleines). It’s almost as if the formula existed before the brief.

Nose: Unknown
House: Beaufort London
Release date: 2016
Notes (per Fragrantica): this perfume has no entry at the time of posting.