Mitsouko is the 1919 creation of Jacques Guerlain – composed at a time straddling both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras. This perfume was inspired by a romantic novel of the age describing the forbidden love between the wife of Japanese Admiral Togo and an officer from the British army. It has endured the decades for almost a century, and remains to this day one of the paradigms of classical perfumery.
Mitsouko is a classic chypre... it is the scent of maturity and gentility and is loved by many the world over. It's flight is one of dewy peaches, bergamot, jasmine and spices which simmer over a heart of rose, ylang ylang, cinnamon and vetiver. The trail is a lingering swathe of woods and mosses. Those who love her, say she smells like money - “old money”. An olfactory hommage to an time of opulence, decadence and considered fortune. She reads like a perfumed diary from the pen of a woman in love, but whose husband is always absent. A deeply personal torment, when one has all the riches in the world.
Mitsouko has bold presence, excellent persistence, and generates impressive sillage. One of the masterpieces from the revered house of Guerlain.
Nina Ricci's grandson Romano Ricci sits at the helm of the Juliette Has a Gun brand, so a passion and a flair for exquisite perfume is hard-wired into his DNA!
When launching his house in 2005, Ricci initially promised 5 women's fragrances focusing on rose, as the rose is a traditional gift given by a man, to the lady of his heart. Vengeance Extreme - launched in 2011 - is a wickedly good floral chypre, and proof positive that Ricci is true to his word.
Vengeance Extreme is all about the union between rose and patchouli. These notes seem to be universally joined, as they are drawn upon in many perfumes of today and yesterday. However Vengeance Extreme turns the volume up to 10 as it develops on skin. The top notes provide a short blast of bergamot and lavender which furnish a sharp, aromatic opening to the composition. Moments later, a delicious velvety Bulgarian rose emerges... it feels rich and creamy, with supporting vanilla and tonka accords. As the scent evolves further, a chocolatey, earthy patchouli note becomes apparent... the marriage between the two is rich, sensual and lip-smacking. Many hours later, a lingering musky / chypre trail of white musk, patchouli and labdanum continue to cavort on skin.
Vengeance Extreme feels vampish and provocative. Her voluptuous curves sway and beckon. This is a sexy, lavish perfume that is definitely worn with purpose.
Issey Miyake is now a name synonymous with style, elegance and refinement. Miyake's fashion and mastery of pleating fabric has won him global acclaim... as have a handful of his scents. L'Eau d'Issey for Him and for Her remain to this day amongst the best-sellers of our time. In 2009 he launched a crisp, herbaceous green fragrance, simply titled A Scent, and in 2010, followed it up with a beautiful floral version; A Scent Eau de Parfum Florale.
Whilst its predecessor focused chiefly on crisp greens, citruses and a floral heart of hyacinth and jasmine, the 2010 addition to the line worked with the original, but embellished the formula with beautiful blossoms of blushing peony, galbanum and ylang-ylang. The juice is now a pretty flushed pink hue, and the fragrance itself is very much the younger sibling of the original. It's soft floral notes round out some of the sharpness present in the first. A Scent Florale offers a slightly different facet for the wearer which feels infinitely more tender and endearing.
This perfume is perhaps best suited to springtime, as it embodies the prettiness and blossoming exhuberance of the season.
It has to be a special scent that holds the all-encompassing, illustrious “Homme” title, particularly when coming from a house as revered as Guerlain. Fortunately, Guerlain's archetypal masculine doesn't disappoint.
Guerlain Homme was one of the first fragrances created for the house by new in-house nose Thierry Wasser. Launched in 2008, this fragrance is a woody aromatic eau de toilette that marks a new age in the house's vast timeline.
Homme is a modern scent that pays little hommage to the Guerlain masculines of decades past... it opens with a sharp bergamot / lime accord, crisp mint, and it's now-famous “mojito accord”. It speaks of refreshing vitality, however a warmer , earthier heart of geranium, vetiver, cedar and rum furnish the fragrance with depth and uniqueness. This scent feels best suited to a man who is very social and extroverted... it begs to be worn during the day by busy professionals, or in the evening to parties and fun gathering with friends. Perhaps a million miles removed from Guerlain's other signature masculines such as Habit Rouge and L'Instant Pour Homme, Guerlain Homme is a snapshot of a modern man standing right in the here and now.
French perfume house Annick Goutal stands head and shoulders above many Parisian brands that have emerged in the latter part of the 20th century. There is a deep fondness and affection for Goutal's scents, and with good reason! The woman who lent her name to the brand has sadly passed, but her legacy is continued by her daughter Camille, and renowned nose Isabelle Doyen.
Presented in a dreamy ribbed flacon of pearl-white glass, Un Matin d'Orage (One Morning of the Storm) is a scent that came to market in 2009. This fragrance is a perfumed rendering of a Japanese flower garden... it features the essence of gardenia flower after a morning storm – when it's perfume is purest. This milk-white floral accord is married to tender notes of jasmine, magnolia and champaca... the result is a delicately refined bouquet of blooms that are both sensual and hypnotizing. There is a creamy, mist-like veil that rests beneath the composition … a foundation of fragrant sandalwood.
Un Matin d'Orage is just one perfumed poem from the pen of Annick Goutal. It is a mature scent that begs to be explored and appreciated. When applied generously, it leaves a delicate perfumed wake where you've walked.
Having just celebrated its 140th birthday in 2012, Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido is the 4th largest, and one of the oldest cosmetics companies in the world. Their reputation has been built on remarkable skincare, cosmetics and fragrances since the company was founded in 1872.
Shiseido perfumes are uniquely japanese in style... minimalist and understated. In 1997, they marketed their “Relaxing Fragrance” - a beautiful study in calming aromatic floral greens. Just two years later, they launched its olfactory antithesis; the “Energising Fragrance” - a scent which was masterfully created to adhere to Shiseido's clean, edited oeuvre.
Energising fragrance is an unconventional floral, marketed to women. An unusual opening of spicy carnation and peppercorns prickle at the back of the nose and enliven the senses. A sheer floral heart of iris, jasmine, lily of the valley, anise and rose provide a delicate softness... these accords dance over a slightly powdery, musky base.
Uplifting and sophisticated - but not brash - Energising Fragrance is still an overture to unassuming Japanese beauty. It is hushed and diaphanous, and its botanical complex feels grounded and earthy. For an “Eau Aromatique” (Aromatic water), it lasts reasonably well on skin. This is the ideal choice for a person looking for a revitalizing scent that is both unorthodox and individual.
A luminous, sensual floral, Jour d'Hermes is the latest feminine fragrance release from the revered Hermes perfume stable. A profusion of flowers, this scent is a narcotizing rhapsody of resolute femininity.
Master perfumer and in-house nose Jean-Claude Ellena created this perfume that embodies the dawn of a new day – when first light breaks, and a million flowers release their rousing perfume onto the air. Ellena wanted to bring the wearer “armfuls” of flowers... boundless beautiful blossoms in all their colors and forms... hence there not being any “official” perfume pyramid to accompany the launch. He intended for the wearer to identify the flowers she (or he) loves to smell the most. Jour d'Hermes opens with a crisp floral sweetness... citruses and greens, which are briskly followed by warmer summery blossoms (my nose thinks jasmine, rose, ylan-ylang?).
There is a beautiful transparency present – the vibrant floral facets wear like a striking multi-coloured Hermes carré. As the scent evolves, a unique musky, slightly bitter facet reveals itself, which works to diminish the saccharine nature of the florals.
Jour d'Hermes feels like sunshine and dew in a bottle. It is a sensual scent that has remarkably good longevity. One for those who appreciate relaxed, unpretentious elegance. Beautiful.
March 2013 saw the launch of the newest Gaultier masculine: Le Beau Male. The flacon shaped like the male torso has become instantly recognizable the world over, and this time, it comes in clear frosted glass with teal stripes. Not only has inspiration been taken for the bottle from the original “Le Male” flacon, but also from the scent... perfumer Francis Kurkdjian has created a fragrance that tips its hat to the original, but introduces some interesting new ingredients.
Kurkdjian wanted to produce a scent that focused on different aspects of the original. There is a shift in olfactory temperature as he unifies cool mint, lavender and absynthe with rousing neroli, sage and musk. Le Beau Male feels more transparent – less focus on the heavy vanilla present in it's older sibling, and more emphasis on the stirring aromatic accords. Whilst the original Le Male DNA is present, Le Beau Male does take a different trajectory.
This scent will appeal to young men as a sport-style scent. It is perhaps best suited to warm weather or after-gym use.
GO BIG or GO HOME!
One who has followed Gianni Versace's career knows the success of his fashion house was built on the marriage of impeccable Italian styling with bold, ornamental prints and embellishments. It can be argued that Versace designs often border on the kitsch, but their success lies in the fact that they always manage to just pull it back! Versace Blonde follows suit – she's brash, beautiful and “all eyes on me!”
Blonde is a feisty feminine floral released in 1995 to honor Gianni's sister – the perma-tanned, platinum-haired Donatella. A seductive floral of titanic proportions, Blonde is teeming with opulent white blossoms heavily featuring gardenia and neroli. Complexity is added with spicy tuberose, ylang ylang and carnation, and a delicate facet of daffodil and violets. An ode to femininity in its most dominant form, Blondeis incredibly tenacious and will last the best part of an entire day. It is presented in a beautiful glass balloon molded with the iconic Versace Medusa head, with bejeweled cap.
Blonde is the ideal scent if you like to leave a perfumed trail in your wake. When you wear Blonde, men know you mean business!
In the early noughties, French fragrance titans Hermes conjured a series of scents “Les Jardins” - a lineup of four fragrances (to date) exploring perfumed gardens in different far-flung locations from Tunisia to Egypt to Paris. Each perfume is the creation of Jean Claude Ellena, and each has been rendered like a watercolour painting: diaphanous and airy.
Un Jardin Apres la Mousson (A Garden After the Monsoon) takes us to unexpected India where the drought has quenched by the deluge. The rebirth of nature after the monsoon is deftly recorded with opening notes of ginger and vetiver... there is a dewy, verdant quality present. A melon-like accord brings a huff of sweetness to the scent. This evocation of damp vitality spreads over an earthier blend of cardamom, pepper and coriander – all scents tied to mother earth, and – incidentally - to regional cuisine.
Ellena's watercolour is an abstract – sweeping flourishes of bright green and light strokes of rich khaki. The fragrance has definite presence, but remarkably, remains transparent and weightless. Un Jardin Apres la Mousson is perfect for warmer weather, and is appreciated by both sexes. One to be spritzed with abandon!