Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Gender-Bending Perfumes In Grazia, Chosen By Persolaise

Well, here's a bit of excitement! The latest issue of UK's Grazia - out today - features an article by yours truly about gender-bending perfumes: ie 'feminines' which would work well on men, and vice versa. Please do pick up a copy from your nearest newsagent. As it happens, the entire issue features a gender-bending theme - amongst other articles, it contains a survey of women's views on current identity issues - so it's well worth a read. Plus, it has Beyoncé on the cover. What else do you need?


Friday, April 29, 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - January to March 2016 [part 1]

It's that time again: a round-up of my mini-reviews from Twitter. Come back soon for part 2.

Cedro Di Taormina from Acqua Di Parma (2016)*
Typically elegant AdP cologne, this time twisted with a citron note. Velvety & gentle rather than tart.

Goldea from Bulgari (Alberto Morillas; 2015)*
Familiar shampoo-sweet musk affair, lifted by a hint of citrusy jasmine. The 70s come to life in the stroke-me curvy bottle.

Be Desired from DKNY (2015)*
Effective green apple note at the top which segues into, of all things, the creepy white florals of Secretions Magnifiques.

Icon Absolute from Dunhill (2015)*
Original's neroli heart marred by a crude, pseudo-oud note. A brutish failure.

Chypre 21 from Heeley (James Heeley; 2015)*
Elegant, if overrated nouveau chypre, which replaces the requisite mosses with heavy woods in the base. Too po-faced?

Equipage Géranium from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2015)*
As it says, tactile leather of Equipage + rosy mint of geranium. Very Ellena. A charming, easy to wear delight.

White Spirit from Juliette Has A Gun (2015)*
Dilution is an apt allusion here - rough, synth sandalwoods, thinned down to ghostliness. A pale Opus V.

Luna Rossa Sport from Prada (Daniela Andrier; 2015)*
Has somebody been spraying Minotaure? Citrusy woods over subtly sugared amber. More attractive than you'd expect.

L'Eau De Paille from Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake; 2016)*
Lutens reach an unexpected low with this overly synthetic, 80s man disaster. Juniper + wood cliches. Shame.


* sample provided by the brand
** sample obtained by the author

Monday, April 25, 2016

Super Scent - The Very Best Of Chanel

Well, we couldn't put it off much longer. After having grappled with the sizeable portfolios of Dior and Lauder, Grant Osborne, the Candy Perfume Boy and I decided that there was no escape: we had to get to grips with Chanel. As you can imagine, this wasn't exactly what you'd call an easy task. The brand which, by most accounts, pioneered the concept of linking couture with fragrance has been at the forefront of mainstream scent creation for almost a century and its current line-up boasts some undisputed classics of olafctory art. So yes, we had our work cut out for us.

As ever, a few treasured gems couldn't make it onto the top 5. I agonised for hours over whether to include Cristalle (still such a wonderfully verdant chypre) or Bel Respiro (which never fails to transport me to an endless Mediterranean vista) or Bois De Iles (that sandalwood! that rose! that elegance!) or No. 22 (the scent of the clouds against which angels brush their wings). And Madame Persolaise will probably never forgive me for not finding a space for one of her personal, all-time favourites, Coco. But rules are rules, and sacrifices had to be made.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Psst... It's Super Scent Time Again

Just when you thought we'd given up on our popular series, I'm pleased to announce that the Candy Perfume BoyBasenotes and I will reveal our latest Super Scent brand on Monday... and it's going to be a big one! Here are the rules of this little project, in case some of you have forgotten them. We have to:

- 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
- refrain from sharing the list with anybody else until it's published

The list will be revealed on Monday 25th April at 12:00 pm UK time. See you then!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hunting For A New Beast - Tom Ford Private Blend Styling

Tom Ford wants us to mix things up. Literally. For the last few months, the staff at his Private Blend counters have been trying to encourage customers to indulge in what you and I would call layering, ie combining two (or more!) perfumes in the hope of creating a novel effect. But of course, Mr Ford has to give the practice his own name: Private Blend Styling. In addition, he doesn't want us to have free rein when it comes to choosing the scents; he's devised his own list of recommended pairings. And he's even worked out ideal application ratios: two sprays of Perfume X to one spray of Perfume Y, and so on. After all, Styling is a serious business.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Persolaise Review: Eau De Rhubarbe Écarlate (Christine Nagel) & Eau De Néroli Doré (Jean-Claude Ellena) from Hermès (2016)

Today's review takes the form of a conversation between the outgoing, in-house perfumer at Hermès, Jean-Claude Ellena, and his replacement, Christine Nagel. It is entirely fictional. Probably.


Christine Nagel sweeps into Jean-Claude Ellena's study. She finds him sitting in front of a 50 inch plasma screen, playing a video game.

Christine: I've just had Head Office in my ear, dahling. They want two new colognes.

Jean-Claude: [looking up from his X-Box controller] Colognes? Two of 'em?? Oh, for cryin' out loud! We got plenty of colognes in the collection!

Christine: This is exactly what I told them, sweetie, but they weren't listening. They want two new ones.

Jean-Claude: But there ain't no point in making new colognes. Everyone's just gonna keep wearing the lime one, no matter what we make.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Luca Turin Has A New Perfume Blog

I expect most of you are aware of this, but for the benefit of the few of you who aren't: Luca Turin has a new blog. It's called Perfumes I Love and although it's been around for less than a fortnight, it's already proving itself to be as much of a must-read as the rest of his work. If you're interested in reading it - which you should be! - I'd urge you to start with his first post (click here) and then go wherever your nose takes you.

Whilst I'm on the subject of Luca, I ought to mention that my transcript of the talk he gave to the Perfume Society's members in London in October 2015 has become one of the most read posts on Persolaise.com. If you haven't come across it, please click here to read it.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Persolaise Review: Maai from Bogue Profumo (2014; Antonio Gardoni)

There's been a fair amount of talk lately about the extent to which current creations from the niche world are little more than reactions to the mainstream: pious homages to retro values which satisfy the needs of nostalgic fume-geeks but do little to further the art of fragrance. I'd say that particular criticism is often justified, but when indie brands get the backward glance right, they come up with startling pieces of work. A case in point is 2014's Maai from the Italian brand, Bogue. It owes its soul to masculine chypres of yesteryear - those glorious Cary Grant compositions that are more expertly put together than an origami-folded pocket square - but it dresses its body with lean, modern finery. To put that in olfactory terms, its core is a grandiloquent, brazen mix of animalics, woods and urinous, medicinal herbs (lots of sage) whereas its external layer presents sheer, uplifting blossoms, ready to break into a smile at a moment's notice. It may lean on its niche credentials too heavily, but as a union of the assertiveness of Kouros, the sophistication of Cacharel Pour Homme and the romanticism of Fleur Du Male, it is a fascinating creature indeed. Do seek it out.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum obtained by the author in 2015.]


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Best Wishes For Easter 2016

To all of you celebrating the imminent conclusion of Lent: a very happy Easter. Forget about guilt, enjoy the feasting and permit yourselves to indulge in excess!

My warmest wishes,


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Persolaise Review: Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Essence Aromatique (Amandine Marie; 2016)

Where's the line between old-school masculines which are too... well... old-school and those which don't feel out of place in a contemporary setting? Is it somewhere near notions of transparency: do we now read 'opaque' as 'dated'? Or is it connected with legibility: do we require modern creations to present their constituents in lucid, easily-comprehensible layers? Wherever the boundary lies, I'd say Amandine Marie has found it in this latest addition to the solid Bottega Veneta range. A flanker of sorts to 2013's Pour Homme, this Essence Aromatique takes a simple accord - patchouli and pine - bolsters it with a thigh-slapping, vetivert-heavy leather, and then lightens it with a dew-laden, woodland breeze to create an endearing 'nouveau cologne'. It's diffusive and long-lasting, but it's also as weightless as a sliver of lemon zest floating on the surface of Lake Como. By the way, in case you didn't know, 2 years ago, BV also gave us an Essence Aromatique rendition of their signature women's perfume. A subtle 'skin scent', it places citrus and floral notes beneath a layer of gauze through which you can just discern the shape of full lips and alabaster cheekbones. Well worth checking out.

[Review based on a sample of eau de cologne provided by Bottega Veneta in 2016.]


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Persolaise Wins 4th Jasmine Award + Final Reminder About Aerin Event

Yesterday, I had the tremendous and unexpected honour of winning a Jasmine Award - my fourth! - for an article I wrote for the Perfume Society's Scented Letter about my favourite incense perfumes. I can't link to it here because you have to be a member of the Society to be able to read it, but for an appetite-whetting snippet, please click here. I'd like to thank the Jasmine judges for selecting my piece, the folks at the Society for publishing it and the people at Fragrance Foundation UK for putting together another memorable awards ceremony.

I'd also like to point out that my win was one of several endorsements of the talents of those involved with the Perfume Society. Kim Parker's victorious piece for Red Magazine was about the Society's popular 'smell training' sessions. Jo Fairley - who is, of course, one of the co-founders of the Society - won an award for a piece she wrote for the Telegraph. And Suzy Nightingale - a senior writer at the Society - won the literary award for an article about synaesthesia. Congrats to them all, as well as to the other winners!

On a different note, I'd like to remind you that your time is almost up if you'd like to buy a ticket for my Aerin event at Selfridges London on Monday evening. Please come along if you can! It's going to be great fun. For full details, click here.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"Treading In Funny Territory" - Rodrigo Flores-Roux At The Launch Of John Varvatos Dark Rebel

I haven't had many opportunities to meet Givaudan's Rodrigo Flores-Roux (Neroli Portofino, Anima Dulcis, Oeillet Bengale, amongst several others), but each time our paths have crossed, I've bemoaned the fact that he doesn't fly over from the States very often. Not only is he an entertaining character, but he's able to engage in discussions about perfume with equal measures of concrete detail and more abstract, conceptual input. He's also adept at being reflective about his own work, an attribute not frequently found in scent-creators. So when I interviewed him at the London launch of Dark Rebel from John Varvatos (the brand whose entire fragrance range has been created by the Mexican perfumer) I knew he wouldn't mind becoming quite technical with his descriptions of his newest baby.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Persolaise Review: Opus X from Amouage (Pierre Negrin & Annick Menardo; 2016)

If the number of comments a perfume receives is a direct measure of the distinctiveness of its personality, then Amouage's Opus X (composed by Pierre Negrin and none other than Annick Menardo) is an early contender for Most Striking Fragrance of 2016. When I took it out for its test drive, the observations that were thrown my way ranged from "Have you hidden an old lady in your office?" to "It's like a bouquet of carnations!" and "You mean you actually chose to smell of wood polish?" and, most telling of all, a low, skin-tingling, "Mmmmmmmm." In other words, with his latest release, Creative Director Christopher Chong has shown no sign of diluting the bold, polarising aesthetic which he's made the key feature of his Library Collection. In Opus X, the material he passes through his weirdness-loving sensibility is rose, a substance he tackled years ago in the well-regarded Lyric. The latter doesn't lack drama, but Opus X is like her mad sister, leonine, fiery and lethally unpredictable. Yes, the furniture polish aspect of its construction is troublesome - there are times it pushes the whole too close to the realms of the overly synthetic - but it's also the very thing which gives it an edge. In combination with pepper, an animalic amber and a disturbing paint/plastic accord (reportedly designed to evoke the varnish on a violin) it creates a memorable experience that is forever hovering somewhere between a howl and a caress.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Amouage in 2016.]


Persolaise Turns 6

If there's anything the passage of the last 12 months has taught me, it's that... well... nothing moves as relentlessly as time. However, today, I'd like to take just a few minutes out of the hectic whirlwind around me to mark the fact that Persolaise.com is now 6 years old. I know I've said this several times in the past, but it remains true: I would never have carried on publishing these posts for as long as I have if it hadn't been for the support and encouragement of my readers. So I'd like to shout out a massive THANK YOU to each and every single one of you. You make it all worthwhile!

My regular Friday review will be published later today. And please don't forget that I'm giving a talk at Selfridges London on the evening of 21st March. For more details, please click here.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Persolaise & Aerin At Selfridges On 21st March

It's the eve of the 6th anniversary of my blog, which makes me doubly excited to announce that I'll be talking about my passion for perfume, my scented writing and, most importantly, the Aerin fragrance collection at Selfridges London on National Fragrance Day, Monday 21st March. If you happen to be free on that evening, please call the number below to book your ticket. I hope you can make it. It would be great to see you there!

The official info for the event is as follows:

Love fragrance? We invite you to celebrate National Fragrance Day in Selfridges Oxford Street, London, on Monday 21st March and discover the world of AERIN Beauty.

AERIN Beauty, in partnership with Dariush Alavi, acclaimed writer, perfume critic and editor of the award-winning Persolaise.com, will be hosting this event in ‘The Corner Restaurant & Champagne Bar on 2’, Second Floor, from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

The evening will offer an exploration of fragrance and provide insight into the inspiration behind the AERIN Beauty collection. You will have the opportunity to receive a personalised consultation and speak with our fragrance experts.

Enjoy refreshments and canapés throughout the evening and receive a goodie bag on departure from the event.

Book your place by calling the Selfridges team on 0207 318 3702.

£20 booking fee applies, redeemable against purchase.

We look forward to welcoming you,

The Selfridges Team.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Best Perfumes Of 2015 In ParfumPlus

The latest edition of the Middle East's ParfumPlus magazine features my run-down of the best perfumes of last year. If you'd like to read it, please click here. For an Arabic translation of the piece, please click here.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Persolaise Review: Neroli Portofino Forte & Neroli Portofino Acqua from Tom Ford (2016)

Until now, I've been ambivalent towards Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino (2011). On the one hand, I've always felt suspicious about and appalled by its price (£145 for 50 ml as I type these words). But on the other, I've had to concede that, at a time when well-composed, citrus-focussed compositions are hard to come by, it is one of the most endearing 'pure joy' scents currently on the market. Years ago, even the humble 4711 was able to deliver that peculiar blend of the serene and the energetic - the tension-sapping sensation that a holiday is just a lemon squeeze away - which we expect from its genre. But of course, it isn't anywhere near as vivid as it used to be and the rising cost of citrus oils - as well as restrictions placed on their usage - have changed the competent cologne from a fixture in everyone's bathroom cabinet to that most dubious of beasts, the aspirational luxury scent. That said, I think my feelings towards NP are about to remove themselves from the fence, because Mr Ford has just given us two effervescent flankers to his bestseller: Neroli Portofino Acqua and Neroli Portofino Forte.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Persolaise On BBC Radio Chatting About Love Potions

A few weeks ago, I appeared on BBC Hereford & Worcester's Malcolm Boyden show to share my thoughts on some research that had just been published about that dear old chestnut: the love potion. Or, to be more precise: scientific research into the possibility of creating a love potion. If you'd like to read a summary of the research, please click here. And to listen to my interview, please press Play below or click on this link to be taken directly to YouTube. Please note the YouTube file is audio only.



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