Friday, February 12, 2016

Persolaise Review Showcase: Replica from Maison Martin Margiela (various perfumers; 2012-2015)

Ever since the Maison Martin Margiela brand made its perfume debut - and won considerable critical acclaim - with Daniela Andrier's Untitled, critics and commentators have appeared reluctant to write about its subsequent scent offerings. But it has plodded on regardless, starting a sub-range called Replica and building it up to what is now a portfolio of 10 fragrances. If you should ever encounter them at a department store, I'd recommend a sniff. For one thing, they've been composed by some of the world's top perfumers, including Jacques Cavallier and Alienor Massenet. More interestingly though, they occupy a space at the intersection of several practices and styles within scent-creation, in much the same way that the brand's clothing line found an intriguing territory at the point where fashion meets anti-fashion.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"You Have To Give, Give, Give" - Nathalie Lorson On Lalique, Le Labo & L'Oreal

Lalique's Encre Noire enjoys what you might call a god-like status in the perfume community. Not long after it emerged in 2006, its uncompromising, legible structure of vetivert and musks turned it into a must-have for scentusiasts hoping to add a bold, animalic, yet polished creation to their collections. It soon achieved a cult following. And it's now something of a modern classic, as seen by the fact that it made it to Number 12 on the Basenotes Top 500 last year. In 2009, the brand gave us a female version of the scent. 2013 saw the release of a 'Sport' edition. But towards the end of 2015, Lalique decided to return to the perfume's founding principles to put together an 'Extreme' flanker. The person they recruited for the task was the composer of the original, Nathalie Lorson of Firmenich, whose many credits include Cuir 28 for Le Labo, Autoportrait for Olfactive Studio and Black Opium for YSL.

When the veteran perfumer - who has worked alongside the likes of Jean-Louis Sieuzac and the "fantastic" Sophia Grojsman - popped into London for the launch of Encre Noire À L'Extrême, I took her back to the 2006 release and asked her whether its formula really is as simple as it seems.

Nathalie Lorson: Yes, it is. Vetivert and musks. But there are different facets of the vetivert. For example, natural vetivert has a grapefruit effect. So I reinforced it with some grapefruit. I played with different facets of the vetivert.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Persolaise Review: Monsieur. from Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle (Bruno Jovanovic; 2016)

My closest friend recently discovered Malle. After decades of not considering perfume to be an important factor in how he presents himself to the world, he got in touch and asked for advice on choosing his first 'serious' scent. It should come as no surprise that one of the brands to which I directed him was the red-and-black paragon of cerebral, Gallic elegance. He was horrified by the price tags - he'd had no idea quite how expensive fragrances can be - but sufficiently impressed with the products to walk away with a bottle of Vetiver Extraordinaire. Since then, he's gone back for more: French Lover is a new addition to his collection. He's got them both on regular rotation and he tells me he's delighted with them. So, as he's a recent convert, I'm intrigued to learn what he'd make of the house's latest release, Monsieur. by Bruno Jovanovic. Allow me to elaborate.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Malle, Oud & Sex - An Interview With Dominique Ropion

A few months ago, when he was in London for an IFF event, I managed to have an all-too-brief conversation with one of the undisputed masters of scent composition: Dominique Ropion, author or co-author of Dune, Pure Poison, Alien, Amarige, Jungle and, of course, several acclaimed creations for Frederic Malle, including Carnal Flower and Portrait Of A Lady. What's it like working for one of perfumery's most exacting creative directors, I asked him. Who has the ideas?

Dominique Ropion: Both of us, in fact. We've known each other since 1988, I think, which is a long time. We used to work together in Roure Bertrand Dupont. From time to time, I whisper some thoughts to him - it's all very informal - and I say, "Frederic, what do you think of this or that?" He says it's bad or he tells me to work on it more.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - October to December 2015 [part 2]

Here's part 2 of my latest compendium of Twitter mini-reviews. Please note that, this time around, we've got a part 3; it'll be published soon.

Shalimar Cologne from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser; 2015)* 
Legendary animalic amber, freshened up - and made more populist? - with sweet citrus notes. Attractive. Fleeting.

Foudre from Parfumerie Générale (Pierre Guillaume; 2015)*
Fascinating, more-ish blend of green-marine notes & electric, inky metallics. Compelling, sci-fi Dune. Must try!

Amber Empire from Atkinsons (Maurice Roucel; 2015)*
We don't need another amber, but when it balances dryness and sweetness as well as this one, we mustn't complain.

La Vie Est Belle from Lancôme (Dominique Ropion, Anne Flipo & Olivier Polge; 2012)*
Sugar sugar sugar. Yes, I suppose there are some florals in there too, but they're drowned in sweetness. Ghastly.

La Vie Est Belle Intense from Lancôme (Dominique Ropion & Anne Flipo; 2015)*
More sugar. Probably based on the premise that if you can't eat the stuff, you should bathe in it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - October to December 2015 [part 1]

Here's another digest of my Twitter mini-reviews, spanning the period October to December 2015.

Pallisandre D'Or from Aedes De Venustas (Alberto Morillas; 2015)*
Red rather than gold take on rosewood, with berries, incense & eucalyptus. Not unlike Lauder Pleasures (also by Morillas).

Ambre Cashmere from Nicolaï (Patricia De Nicolaï; 2015)*
As ever with Nicolaï, gorgeous drydown: textured, opulent amber; cocoon-like sandalwood. Well-judged citrus opening.

Eau Mage from Diptyque (Fabrice Pellegrin; 2015 reissue of 2011 original)*
Essay on salty-ambery profile of Ambroxan, with cumin for heat, sage for bitterness and, for originality, no florals.

Ôponé from Diptyque (Olivia Giacobetti; 2015 reissue of 2001 original)*
Flight. Soaring. Height. Speed. Gentle brushes with treetops. Clear-sighted, romantic blend of incense, saffron & rose.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Persolaise Shortlisted For 4 2015/16 UK Jasmine Awards

Please forgive a paragraph of immodest self-promotion. This year's Jasmine Awards shortlists were announced on Friday and I was delighted and honoured to learn that four efforts penned by me have been nominated across four different categories: 'Independent - Literary', 'Independent - Soundbite', 'Digital' and 'Practical Guide' (click on the category names to find out precisely which pieces have been selected). Out of curiosity, I decided to add up the number of my articles which have been shortlisted since I started writing about perfume... and I discovered that the total comes to a gluttonous 14! My cup runneth over. I'd like to extend warm congratulations to all the other shortlisted writers, many of whom are dear friends in the scent-writing community. To see the complete list of nominees, please click here. The winners will be announced on the 16th of March.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Super Scent - The Very Best Of Etat Libre D'Orange

Etienne De Swardt

It doesn't seem possible that Etat Libre D'Orange is only 10 years old. When it blazed its way onto the market in 2006 - in an opening salvo that contained the likes of Sécrétions Magnifiques, Rien, Jasmin & Cigarette, Vraie Blonde and Eloge Du Traitre - it cemented its reputation as a high-quality enfant terrible with such rapidity that it almost feels as though its anarchic swagger has been a part of the perfume scene for decades. It's a credit to the vision of its founder and creative director Etienne De Swardt that so many of his facetious fragrances are now considered classics of modern perfumery.

Several niche brands claim to be edgy, but at its best, ELDO has walked the walk unlike any other. Time and again, it has attached a novel concept, quirky imagery and an oddball name to the skills of fearless perfumers and produced bizarre, compelling works of olfactory art. As a result, it has become one of the most iridescent hues in today's busy perfume rainbow. Below you'll find what I consider to be its five most commendable achievements.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Persolaise Review: Eau Parfumée Au Thé Bleu from Bulgari (Daniela Andrier; 2015)

What's commendable about Bulgari's tea scents isn't so much that they offer a literal representation of the smell of the drink - which, to varying degrees, they all do - but that they evoke the air of world-shunning refinement - the sense of pausing all activities for a biscuit and a brew - that ought to mark every tea-drinking ritual. Even though, so far, each of the fragrances in the series has brought a slightly different sensibility to the table - the original, trend-setting Vert (1993) is friendly, Blanc (2003) is romantic and Rouge (2005) is energising - they all know the correct way to hold a cup and saucer. I'm pleased to report that the latest colour to be invited to the soirée - Daniela Andrier's Bleu - also performed well at its finishing school. Here, alongside the much-copied green tea accord, lapsang and iris contribute a dry, but not haughty elegance, an unforced murmur of sophistication. The requisite citruses are present, but they never attract undue attention to themselves. And the woods in the base are as cool as they are subtle. The result is the most tranquil member of the set, a quiet, gentle conversationalist, preferring the occasional, sage interjection rather than a steady patter. And even if, towards the end, it starts projecting a thinness that makes you question whether it might have skipped the 'never overstay your welcome' classes at Villa Pierrefeu, it doesn't slips into being offensive. Somewhere, on a plush liner, Mrs Moore is passing a slice of lemon to Professor Godbole, and the scent surrounding them is not unlike that of Thé Bleu.

[Review based on a sample of eau de cologne provided by Bulgari in 2015.]


Super Scent Is Back

After turning our attention to Lauder and Dior, the Candy Perfume Boy, Basenotes and I have decided to give the Super Scent treatment to what might still legitimately be called a niche brand. To find out exactly which one it is, you'll have to come back on Monday 18th January at 12:00 pm UK time. Until then, a quick reminder of the rules of the Super Scent game:

- come up with a list of the best perfumes from a particular brand's current line-up (ie no discontinued scents)
- ensure the list is based on the perfumes' current formulations
- don't share the list with anybody else until it's published

See you on Monday!


PS Do come back in a few hours for today's review post.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"I Don't Actually Wear Anything" - An Audience With Luca Turin At The Perfume Society [part 2]

No event involving Luca Turin would have been complete without a sniff of some perfume. So once both speaker and audience were warmed up, Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society began spraying blotters with a few, pre-selected scents. Needless to say, they all elicited strong reactions, as you'll discover below. First up was Heeley's Sel Marin...

Friday, January 8, 2016

"Perfume Is Such An Irrelevant Thing" - An Audience With Luca Turin At The Perfume Society [part 1]

I know, I know, it's a new year and I should be looking forward. But living in the past doesn't always have to be a sin, so I'd like to begin my posts for 2016 by turning back to an afternoon in October when Luca Turin - you don't really need me to tell you who he is, do you? - popped into London's Les Senteurs and spent some time chatting to members of The Perfume Society, which had organised the get-together. Various scent-related topics were covered. Several perfumes were sniffed. Controversies were stirred with good humour: at one point, Turin claimed that awarding 5 stars to Secretions Magnifiques in the influential A-Z Guide he wrote with Tania Sanchez may have been "a lapse of judgement"! What follows is a record of his responses to some of the questions posed by the Society's Jo Fairley, as well as members of the audience. Enjoy!

Remind us how you got into writing about perfume. Had you always been interested in it?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best Perfumes Of 2015 - Flankers, Musks & Lots Of Calories

In a year that saw the release of a film about the evils of sugar, mainstream scent compositions seemed to keep getting sweeter and sweeter. Perhaps that's not surprising: I guess if people can't eat the stuff, they want to walk around in a permanent fog of it. Jokes aside, the increased calorie content of our perfumes served as a useful symbol of the fragrance industry's behaviour across the whole of 2015. In a nutshell, it continued to play it safe and pander to the lowest common denominator.

A few other details and near-trends rose up from the sticky syrup of the last 12 months. One of these was the greater prominence of musks in mainstream scents. It goes without saying that they've been present in perfumes for decades (and that, surprise surprise, they're getting more sugary too). However, in several pieces of work (notably Clinique's Aromatics In White) they were pushed to the foreground with an insistence we hadn't seen for a while. In most western cultures their odour profile denotes safety and comfort, so perhaps their heightened presence is an artistic response to a political climate that's even more uncertain than it was a couple of years ago. Having said that, I'd love to know the socio-cultural reason for the interminable (and depressing!) use of synthetic sandalwoods and ambers in so many masculine scents. Maybe that's also about safety: the safety of keeping in with the crowd.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Wishes 2015

The following is a list of the culinary delights I'm trying to make right now, at the same time: marzipan; cranberry sauce; turkey stock; a Yule log; vodka cheesecake; orange mousse; lemon curd. The result is that things have gone a bit hectic at Cuisine Persolaise... which is why I decided it was time to step away from the action and wish you the very best for the festive season. Peace, happiness and calm kitchens to all! May the festive season be full of joy and laughter for you.

Please do come back on the 30th for my run-down of the best perfumes of the year.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Persolaise Review: Métal Hurlant from Parfumerie Générale (Pierre Guillaume; 2015)

One man's tiger is another man's kitten, so it's with some hesitation that I type the word 'animalic' today. In recent months, it's been used in relation to a few releases (Liquides Imaginaires' Peau De Bête and Escentric Molecule's Kinski come to mind) with a fervour I don't find justifiable. But although I'm well aware that scent criticism becomes even more subjective when it enters the realms of what constitutes chaste or raunchy, it would be churlish of me not to announce that Pierre Guillaume's new Métal Hurlant is one of the most bottom-spankingly naughty scents to have made a pass at my nostrils all year.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Persolaise Review: Sotto La Luna Tuberose from Tauer Perfumes (Andy Tauer; 2015)

Wearing Andy Tauer's Tuberose - the latest addition to his Sotto La Luna range - made me wonder whether his success has, in part, stemmed from his ability to straddle two perfumery worlds. His most endearing creations have managed to take the best from what might loosely be called the realms of niche (largesse, boldness, a certain roughness around the edges) and combine them with features more commonly associated with the mainstream (approachability, wearability, cohesiveness). When he's tipped too far into the former, he's come unstuck, as in the case of the underrated (but, admittedly, challenging) Carillon Pour Un Ange. When he's flirted too freely with the latter (Noontide Petals) he has compromised his identity. His particular skill lies in finding a balance between the safe and the dangerous.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tauerville Advent 2015 Give-Away Winner

I can't thank you enough for the comments all of you left on yesterday's give-away post. Honestly, if ever I'm feeling down, I shall scroll through your generous, warm-hearted words and realise that things are never as bleak as they seem.

Now, on to the day's main business. According to, the lucky reader is


Congratulations! Please send your postal details and your choice of Flash perfume (Vanilla, Rose, Incense or Amber) to persolaise at gmail dot com.

Commiserations to everyone else. Please do keep visiting Andy's Advent calendar for more opportunities to win.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Advent 2015 Give-Away - Win A Flash Perfume From Tauerville

We're more than half-way through Advent, which means that those of us who haven't yet ticked off all the names on our gift list had better get a move on. For various personal reasons, the last few months haven't been especially easy at Maison Persolaise, so we're all looking forward to an opportunity to shut the door on the outside world, take our time over a hearty meal and enjoy each other's company. In anticipation of this festive cheer, I'm pleased to host one of Andy Tauer's traditional Advent draws here on once again. This time, the prize is a 30 ml bottle of a Tauerville Flash perfume: the winner will get to choose one from Rose, Amber, Incense and Vanilla.

To enter, please read the terms and conditions below and then leave a comment on the subject of counting our blessings. One line will do. Did anything happen to you in 2015 for which you're particularly grateful? [Please note this draw is open only to readers in the UK, USA, Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria.]

Some of you may be aware that this year, in addition to his prize draws, Andy has marked Advent by making donations to various charities. I'd like to extend the gesture by making a donation to a local hospice - The Rowans Hospice - the staff of which were extremely helpful to my family recently. If you'd like to find out about their work, please click here, and to make a donation to them, please click here.

My thanks to Andy Tauer for including me in his Advent celebrations.


Terms & Conditions

i) the draw will be closed at 6 am (UK time) on Wednesday 16th December; ii) the winner will be selected at random; iii) the winner will be announced on on Wednesday 16th December; iv) if the winner has not made contact with by Monday 21st December, an alternative winner may be selected; v) the winner's address will be shared only with Tauer Perfumes, who will post the prize to the winner; vi) only readers from the United Kingdom, United States Of America, Switzerland, Germany, France & Austria are eligible to enter; vii) by entering this competition, you indicate that you are able to receive alcohol-based perfume products in your country of residence; viii) the prize will be shipped for free from Switzerland; local taxes, VAT and import fees may apply; these will not be covered by Tauer Perfumes; ix) takes no responsibility for the contents of the perfumes, particularly as regards potential allergens and/or harmful components; x) if the prize is lost in transit, it will not be possible for a replacement to be posted; xi) relatives of anyone associated with are not permitted to enter.


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