Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Persolaise At London's Science Museum - Book Tickets Now!

On Friday 21st November, I'll be giving a talk at the Dana Centre at London's Science Museum on the subject of writing about perfume and smell. The event will part of a series entitled The Hidden Senses, which comes under the banner of a project called Being Human, put together by the Arts & Humanities Research Council. If you're free on that day, it would be great if you could come along and support what sounds like a very interesting venture. In addition to my talk, the event will feature contributions from Ophelia Deroy, who'll be talking about the plating of foods, and John Silas, who'll explore the topic of smell and memory.

Attendance is free, but tickets have to be booked in advance, as the venue has limited capacity. To book tickets, please click on this link to Eventbrite. You should find a listing for two sets of events: one taking place between 3:30 and 5:00; the other taking place between 5:30 and 7:00. I'll be taking part in the second slot (5:30-7:00).

You may also be interested in this Eventbrite listing (click here). It's for a lecture being given by Professor Charles Spence, author of The Perfect Meal: The Multisensory Science Of Food And Dining. Spence will deliver the lecture twice, so you're free to choose which of the two times suits you best.

Finally, for general information about these events and their purpose, please click here.

I do hope to see some of you on the 21st!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

30th Anniversary Of London's Les Senteurs - Interview with Betty Hawksley, Claire Hawksley & James Craven

It's almost 100% safe to assume that if you're the sort of person who has made the effort to come to this site and read these words, then you've heard of Les Senteurs. It may be based in London, but thanks to its mail-order service, the shop's reputation reaches far beyond the British Isles, to the extent that it can probably justify calling itself an institution. Its shelves have displayed the wares of some of the world's finest brands. Its walls have echoed the voices of countless prominent industry figures. And its sales assistants have earned public praise and recognition for their expertise and helpfulness. That's why its 30th birthday cannot pass unmentioned on this blog.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Persolaise Review: L'Homme Ideal from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser; 2014)

It's probably fair to say that Guerlain is in a tricky position. On the one hand, it has to satisfy its owners by churning out a steady stream of till-friendly products. But on the other, it's under pressure to uphold its reputation as one of the most revered perfume houses, an obligation which, these days, doesn't often square up with creating the sorts of scents that attract Sephora-worthy commercial success. Thierry Wasser, the brand's current in-house perfumer, has been extremely candid when describing the tensions which exist between his impulses as a scent-maker and the motivations of the brand's marketeers. For instance, in a recent interview (please click here to read it) he questioned the wisdom behind the Shalimar Parfum Initial concept and he went so far as to state that the policy of releasing endless flankers of popular scents is nothing less than a "sickness".

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bring On The Bling - The Salon De Parfums At Harrods

I'm reliably informed that mere hours before its official opening, a few sections of Harrods' Salon De Parfums didn't even have a floor yet. Well, someone must have worked their socks off right through the night, because the newly-created space at the very top of the store looked nothing short of stunning when I popped in for a wander a few days after it commenced trading. In the UK, nowhere does bling quite like Harrods, so even though the Salon's marble floors and crystal chandeliers would probably seem penny-pinchingly restrained in Dubai, here in London, they scream extravagance.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Persolaise Review: Rose Flash from Tauer Perfumes (Andy Tauer; 2014)

Roses are always an easy sell for me - the result of a youth spent in the Middle East? - but when they're touched by the hand of Andy Tauer, they're especially irresistible. For some reason, the Swiss perfumer seems to know exactly how to bottle the multi-layered magic of the flower. Maybe he's just lucky in the lab. Maybe he doesn't shy away from using high-quality natural rose oils by the gallon. Or maybe he just adores the flowers and can't help his passion from flowing into his bottles. Who knows? The fact is that he's given us some of the niche world's most impassioned rose compositions, from the haunting Une Rose Chyprée, to the masterfully meditative Incense Rosé and the facetious Une Rose Vermeille.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Salon De Parfums Opens At Harrods

In 2010, the site of the year's most exciting perfumery event in the UK - the Perfume Diaries exhibition - was Harrods. And now, in 2014, it looks like the Green Palace is going to steal the show again: the Salon De Parfums has finally opened its doors on the sixth floor. Those of you who read my post about it in July will be aware that the newly-designed space was conceived to house exclusive scents from the likes of Dior, Chanel, Guerlain and several other brands. It is also the home of the revamped Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie; indeed, Roja Parfums is officially being labelled the Salon's 'anchor brand'. I hope to see the new enclosure for myself within the next few days and I will, of course, report back on my findings. For now, I invite you to feast your eyes on the Instagram images of the Salon which have already started circulating online. They certainly seem to suggest that the design people have done a stunning job!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Persolaise Review: L'Incendiaire from Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake; 2014)

I don't often pass comment on the price of new perfume releases, but sometimes it's hard not to. The latest scent from Serge Lutens - the first in what is being presented as a new range of exclusive, gold-label bottles - is selling at £380 for 50 ml. That's right: £380. Or $600 for my American readers. Before anyone accuses me of being unjustifiably hysterical about this, yes, I realise that L'Incendiaire is an extrait, which means that, per millilitre, it falls within the same bracket as extraits from Guerlain, Chanel or Dior. And sure, I'm aware that we live in a world where prices rise rather than fall: most brands, both niche and mainstream, hike up their prices in small increments on a regular basis, and many of them now offer products which are well above the £200 margin. But even so, £380 for a single bottle of scent (which cannot be purchased in a smaller, less expensive form and comes from a company that isn't known for pushing exclusivity to silly extremes) is pretty shocking. That's why I'm inclined to give free rein to my hysteria and view L'Incendiaire as something of a watershed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Very Full Day - Olivier Cresp on Angel, Penhaligon's And The Manic Pace Of Perfumery

If Olivier Cresp is fed up with talking about Angel, he doesn't show it. Since the fragrance was launched in 1992, he's probably spent a frightening proportion of his life entertaining journalists and fans with stories of its creation. But when he discusses the perfume at London's Sanderson Hotel, during an event to mark the start of Georgia May Jagger's reign as the official Face Of Angel (see below), he is full of enthusiasm, acting as though he's never before been asked to explain how one of the most successful fragrances of all time came into existence.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Persolaise Review: La Panthère extrait from Cartier (Mathilde Laurent; 2014)

Cartier's menagerie is growing. Less than a year since the eau de parfum of La Panthère was released, the brand has just revealed the extrait version - in an equally gorgeous bottle - and this time, they haven't held back on the zoo vibe. If the edp placed most of its emphasis on the floral, the parfum pounces on the feline. Mathilde Laurent has retained the sticky, honeyed gardenia core, but she's framed it with an unmistakably cat-like muskiness and finished it off with a purring sandalwood. The result may be less enigmatic and less impressionistic than the edp, but it's ballsier, more compelling and much more unsettling. The ferns have parted and the panther stands in the clearing, no longer wishing to conceal itself. Those susceptible to its charms are in for a thrilling encounter. And if they shout loud enough about the experience, mainstream perfumery may become sufficiently brave to move away from endless fruity florals.

[Review based on a sample of extrait provided by Cartier in 2014; for my review of the eau de parfum, please click here.]


Friday, September 26, 2014

What We Really Wore This Summer - 2014

Guess what, I think we have a regular feature on our hands. About a year ago, I posted an article about the scents which Madame Persolaise and I actually wore over the summer, as opposed to those I sprayed upon my person for the purposes of a review. Then, last winter, I published a similar piece on our favourite fragrances of the cold season. So now - given that both articles were well received - I've decided to dig out my diary notes and compile a list of the juices which we took with us on our recent travels around Europe.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Persolaise's Tropical Perfumes In ParfumPlus

A few of you may remember that a little while ago, I gave in to football fever and I published a piece on my favourite tropical perfumes. A tweaked version of that post has now appeared in the latest issue of the Middle East's ParfumPlus magazine. If you'd like to read it - either in English or Arabic - please click on this link.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Persolaise Review: Rien Intense Incense from Etat Libre D'Orange (Antoine Lie; 2014)

Could Rien possibly get any bigger? Yes and no. Soon after it bulldozed its way onto the market in 2006, the scent became the very definition of a perfumery juggernaut. Tickled by the idea of making an enormous fragrance and calling it 'Nothing' (partly so as to confuse any hapless passersby asking, "What are you wearing??!!?") Etienne De Swardt and Antoine Lie put together one of the most fiendish, most ostentatious, most unsweetened green-mossy-woody-spicy-aldehydic leathers of all time. As many of you will no doubt be aware, the stuff is lethal. It fires its heat across a 3-mile radius. It contains a warehouse-load of some of the fragrance world's most heavy-hitting ingredients. And it has a half-life to rival that of uranium. Once it latches onto its prey, it never lets go. It resists sweat, wind, rain... and even frantic scrubbing beneath steaming showers. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I adore it, but I don't wear it as often as I'd like to, because it is very much the signature scent of Persolaise Junior #3, who is positively gaga about it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Everything Is Personal - An Interview With Antoine Maisondieu

Anyone who's a fan of the output of Etat Libre D'Orange owes a debt of gratitude to Antoine Maisondieu: working either on his own or with Antoine Lie, he has been responsible for some of the brand's most admired creations, including Jasmin Et Cigarette, Vierges Et Toreros and Eau De Protection. Despite his niche leanings, he's more than capable of putting together unashamedly mainstream creations (Gucci Rush For Men; Burberry Brit For Men; Armani Code Ultimate) which may explain why he was selected to compose a few of the scents in Van Cleef & Arpels' Collection Extraordinaire.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Essence Of Perfume Give-Away Winner

A big Thank you to everyone who entered last week's draw for a copy of the new edition of Roja Dove's The Essence Of Perfume. I'm pleased to announce that the winner is


Congratulations! Please send your postal details to persolaise at gmail dot com so that I can forward them to Roja Parfums.

Many thanks once again to Roja Parfums for making this give-away possible.

UPDATE 21st September 2014: As the original winner did not get in touch with me within the deadline specified in the Terms & Conditions of the draw, a new winner has been selected.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Persolaise Review: Oeillet Bengale from Aedes De Venustas (Rodrigo Flores-Roux; 2014)

Wearing Oeillet Bengale makes it clear why the collective noun for a group of carnations is usually 'spray'. Rodrigo Flores-Roux has put together this new release from Aedes De Venustas with such delicious precision, you can picture the individual flowers - some red, some white - rising out of a vase in a fan shape, threatening to dart out of their enclosure like slender arrows. In itself, this is a commendable achievement. As is well known, current restrictions on certain raw materials make it extremely difficult to reproduce a convincing carnation note in modern perfumery. That's why the likes of Poivre, Bellodgia and even Opium no longer have the charming snappiness which once won them so many admirers. But as an employee of Givaudan, Flores-Roux has access to one of the most advanced fragrance labs in the business, a position which has enabled him to identify and use a substance that gives the heart of Oeillet Bengale its edgy identity.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Give-Away: Win Roja Dove's The Essence Of Perfume

image: Roja Dove / Black Dog Publishing

Roja Dove's much-loved coffee-table tome, The Essence Of Perfume, has just been re-printed in an extensively updated form. I haven't yet seen its reincarnated version - I'll have to wait till October for the opportunity to do so - but the folks at Roja Parfums have kindly offered an advance copy to one lucky reader of According to the press release, the new book largely follows the structure of the original, but the chapters on classic perfumes have been expanded and they now feature masculine scents (which were conspicuous by their absence in the first edition). I gather the photography has been spruced up too, and I expect greater prominence has been given to Dove's own fragrance range, which comprised only three creations when the book first emerged in 2010. I often find myself dipping into the original version, so I welcome the arrival of this new rendition very warmly. Coupled with the publication of Jo Fairley and Lorna McKay's The Perfume Bible (on which more in the weeks to come), it'll doubtless provide hours of thought-provoking scent reading.

To enter this draw, please read the terms and conditions below and leave a comment on this post on the subject of the perfumes which you are most looking forward to trying between now and the end of the year.

My thanks to Roja Parfums for making this give-away possible.

Good luck to one and all!

Terms & Conditions

i) the draw will be closed at 10 pm (UK time) on Sunday 14th September 2014; ii) the winner will be selected at random; iii) the winner will be announced on on Monday 15th September 2014; iv) if the winner has not made contact with by Saturday 20th September 2014, an alternative winner may be selected; v) the winner's addresses will be shared only with Roja Parfums, who will post the prize to the winner; vi) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter; vii) by entering this competition, you indicate that you are able to receive books and printed matter in your country of residence; viii) takes no responsibility for the contents of the prize; ix) if the prize is lost in transit, it will not be possible for a replacement to be posted; x) relatives of anyone associated with are not permitted to enter.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Persolaise Review: Sotto La Luna Gardenia from Tauer Perfumes (Andy Tauer; 2014)

Even though it was published just last week, my review of Cartier's new gardenia scent, La Panthèrewas written quite some time ago, whilst I was in the process of getting this blog ready for its summer break. But by a curious temporal twist, as I sit down to put together the first of my post-holiday reviews, I find myself faced with yet another gardenia composition, Andy Tauer's Gardenia, the first release in a new line the Zurich-based perfumer has sub-titled Sotto La Luna*.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Suddenly It's There" - An Interview With Andy Tauer (part 3)

image: Andy Tauer

In the third and final instalment of this exclusive interview, Andy Tauer talks about innovation, the blogosphere and formal perfumery training. For part 1, please click here and for part 2, click here.

Persolaise: I'm fascinated by the fact that the perfume was finished a long time ago. What's it like talking about something which, for you, was concluded and completed two years ago? Do you feel sufficiently distanced from the project to be objective about it? Or is it actually difficult to put yourself in the mind-set of the person who made that perfume?

Andy Tauer: A good question. Yes, I feels sometimes strangely disconnected when working on the launch activities for a scent that was finished years ago. I usually go back to the scent, wear it for a while to connect again. It is even more strange when years after a launch perfume lovers get in touch with me about a particular scent, asking me how I did it and why I did it the way I did it. They might have just discovered it. For me, it has become a logistics issue, but it is a thing of the past. Lucky me, I write my blog. There, you and me find a lot of information. But I guess, the same is true for an author, an actor or a painter. You move on, leaving your creation behind you and start worrying about your next venture and projects...


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