Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Perfume Course - Design With Scents Is Back!

image: Design With Scents

Design With Scents - which, in the words of its organisers, is "the world's only workshop about the design of places through the sense of smell" - is back for its 4th edition. Once again led by Nicola Pozzani, Jo Norman and John Ayres, the course aims to help professionals and fragrance lovers "discover how scent is a powerful communication tool at work and at home." Although I haven't attended it myself - sadly, the dates have always clashed with my day job commitments - I have spoken to several people who have, and they've all raved about the experience.

According to Jo Norman, current Chair of the Jasmine Awards, the course would be ideal for "anybody who is interested in branding or design of any sort - jewellers, architects, fashion designers, artists or general fragrance enthusiasts. It's about working with smell as inspiration. We have post-grads and school leavers, retired and young. A real mix! It's multi-sensory: we have had wine enthusiasts and there is a wine tasting session. Participants create a fragrance and keep a set of oils."

The course will run from 6th to 10th July 2015 at the London College Of Fashion. For more details, please click here; to book a place, click here.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Persolaise Review: Oud Satin Mood from Maison Francis Kurkdjian (Francis Kurkdjian; 2015)

I confess I find it extremely interesting to watch what Francis Kurkdjian does with his brand. He has made it clear that he does not wish the scents released under the MFK label to be especially outré or unusual: he wants them to find a sizeable audience... which invariably means keeping to the realms of what's been done before. However, within this entirely understandable fiscal imperative, he also does as much as he can to try to reinterpret and revitalise old forms and ideas. The new Oud Satin Mood is a case in point. It presents Kurkdjian's own rendition of oud - in other words, it contains a dry, peppery, faintly medicinal wood note - but it places it within a surprising setting: the lipstick floral.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Goldfish, Rice And Musky Teleporters - Perfume Recommendations For A Sunny Day

I’ve never fully bought into the idea that summer calls for fresh scents and winter for heavy ones. Having said that, I do concede that there is a very particular pleasure to be derived from covering one’s skin with a squirt of lemon or blood orange or tangerine on a day when the sun causes the air itself to ripple with heat. The next time a day like that comes along (those of us in the UK are not holding our breath), I shall certainly consider hunting out one of these buoyant scents from my collection...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fragrance Foundation UK 2015 Prize Winners

The UK branch of the Fragrance Foundation held its annual awards ceremony last night at London's Brewery. According to the votes of the Foundation's members, the best feminine release of last year was YSL's Black Opium; the best masculine scent was Jimmy Choo Man. The award for Best Independent Perfume (which I had the honour of presenting and for which I was one of the judges) went to Richard E Grant's Jack. The Perfume Extraordinaire prize (for which the judges - one of whom was yours truly - had to assess the entries 'blind') went to Robertet for their work on Kilian's Light My Fire. Click on this link to see the full list of winners.  If you've got a few moments to spare, you might also like to cast your eyes at the widget below and scroll through the tweets that were generated by last night's ceremony.


PS Do come back on Monday for a list of some of my favourite sunny-weather scents. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fragrance Foundation UK Awards On Thursday

Those of you who enjoy keeping track of what the industry selects as the finest examples of perfumery may be interested to learn that the UK's Fragrance Foundation Awards (formerly known as the FiFis) will be handed out on the evening of 14th May. The likes of L'Homme Ideal, Ginepro Di Sardegna and Costa Azzurra will be battling it out for the title of Best Male Fragrance; contenders for the Best Female Fragrance prize include La Panthère, Rosa Nobile and Black Opium. I was fortunate enough to be a judge in two categories this year: Best Independent Fragrance (an award which I will have the tremendous honour of presenting to its winner) and Perfume Extraordinaire (in which scents are judged 'blind'). For a full list of the nominees, please click here. Mobile phone signal (or wifi) permitting, I shall be tweeting the results as they're announced... and if I'm very clever, I'll attach a Twitter widget to the bottom of this post, just to make your lives that much easier. The hashtag for the evening will be #FragranceAwardsUK.

May the best perfumes win!


PS Here we go. This widget should show every tweet which contains the #FragranceAwardsUK hashtag, so if you'd like to join the conversation on Thursday, remember to use the hashtag.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Persolaise Review: Habit Rouge from Guerlain (Jean-Paul Guerlain; 1965)

I've never really liked the name Habit Rouge. For the two of you out there who may not already know this, it roughly translates as 'hunting red' and it is the equestrian association that has always bothered me. Perhaps I'm just being too English about this - do other countries have similar public dramas about blood sports? - but I know where I stand on the fox hunting debate and it isn't on the side that would wish to promote the activity by wearing a perfume which alludes to it. Then there's also the fact that I don't find the fragrance especially red, but more on its attributes in a moment. Fortunately, its name is the only thing I dislike about Habit Rouge; as far as I'm concerned, everything else about it is a miracle of perfume artistry. And, as a culmination of my special posts this week marking the scent's 50th anniversary, I've decided to put together a special Persolaise tribute to everything that makes it special.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thierry Wasser On Habit Rouge

For my final interview to mark the 50th anniversary of Jean-Paul Guerlain's Habit Rouge, we turn to the scent's current guardian: Thierry Wasser. In his role as the venerable fragrance house's perfumer, he not only has to produce a steady stream of new releases but also maintain the quality of the brand's classics. So with his intimate knowledge of what is widely considered to be one of the most important masculine creations of all time, why does he think it has been so successful?

Thierry Wasser: Because of its originality and quality. In 1965, when it came out, it didn't do well at all. But the family was really stubborn about it. There was no marketing at that time. They started small. And it grew and grew. And at least in France, it's still in the top 10.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mathilde Laurent On Habit Rouge

As soon as she graduated from ISIPCA, Cartier's current in-house perfumer, Mathilde Laurent, started working at Guerlain. So when I met up with her in Paris a few weeks ago, I had to ask for her take on Habit Rouge. Why does she think the scent has been as successful as it has?

"Really, I don't know. I like it a lot, but I don't know what, precisely, made it so successful. Jean-Paul used to say that he had to create a masculine Shalimar. So maybe it was the first real masculine fragrance for Guerlain. They had Mouchoir De Monsieur and Vetiver, but Habit Rouge was their first abstract fragrance for men. It's a wonderful fragrance. When you wear it, it has a wonderful aura. Maybe what makes it work is the shock between the really hesperidic notes - really acidic notes, and I mean acidic in a positive sense - and the very sweet, modern leathery notes. The leathery note is very specific. I cannot tell its name, but it's a very specific note. It's not birch tar, it's not cade, it's not opoponax. It has something in common with horses. And it's really surprising."

Tomorrow, my series of special posts on Habit Rouge's 50th anniversary continues with an exclusive interview with Guerlain's current in-house 'nose', Thierry Wasser, in which he sheds some light on the mysterious leather note alluded to above.


PS There'll be more from Mathilde Laurent soon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bertrand Duchaufour On Habit Rouge

One of the most prolific and highly-respected perfumers of our time, Bertrand Duchaufour has never concealed his admiration for the work of Guerlain. Here's his contribution to my series of posts marking the 50th anniversary of Habit Rouge:

"What I can say about Habit Rouge except that it is still a very classical, beautiful Guerlain-style fragrance. Fresh, very citrusy on the top, based, for me, on a sparkling petitgrain, neroli, bergamot (and citron?) accord, with a touch of tarragon or basil and some spices. The rest seems to be made on a Shalimar shape (oriental, leather, animalic...) It's still made in the old-fashioned mood of Guerlain fragrances. Beautiful, elegant, rich in naturals, but with a certain lack of long-lasting-ness, characteristic of old fragrances."

Tomorrow, find out what Cartier's perfumer, Mathilde Laurent - who used to work at Guerlain - has to say about the scent.


Sylvaine Delacourte On Habit Rouge

Here's another one of my 'soundbite posts' as part of Habit Rouge Week. This time, the focus is on Guerlain's Creative Director, Sylvaine Delacourte, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in 2014. She had a fascinating insight into the scent...

"You know, Jean-Paul Guerlain doesn't like Habit Rouge. He hates it. For him, it's a bad memory. It was the first oriental for men and when he launched it, his uncle, the boss, said to him, 'What have you done? What you've created is a fragrance for women, not for men! Men don't wear perfumes like Habit Rouge.' So Jean-Paul Guerlain was obliged to make something less sweet: Habit Rouge Dry. It was a disaster. He had a lot of problems with it, because at the beginning, it was not successful. Little by little, it became successful. But at the beginning, he had so many complaints from his uncle, that for him, 'Habit Rouge' equals 'problems'. He used to wear Vetiver, which is the opposite of Habit Rouge. If you wear Vetiver, then you don't wear Habit Rouge. It's rare to wear both."

Stay tuned for more on Habit Rouge...


Monday, May 4, 2015

Michael Edwards on Habit Rouge

If there's anything Michael Edwards doesn't know about perfume, then it probably isn't worth knowing: the author of Fragrances Of The World is a walking, talking database of all things scented. So, of course, I had to turn to him when I was putting together my special Habit Rouge posts. Here's what he had to say about the scent...

"You could not have chosen a more personal fragrance. I discovered Habit Rouge in 1968, when I first visited Paris. I’ve worn it ever since. For me, it is liquid memories and a scentual companion. It moves me still."

More on Habit Rouge in the days to come...


Patricia De Nicolaï On Habit Rouge

Patricia De Nicolaï has Guerlain flowing through her veins: she is the great-granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain and the niece of Jean-Paul Guerlain. So it's fitting that I begin my week-long tribute to Habit Rouge with her. This is what she had to say when I asked for her thoughts on the fragrance.

"As you may imagine, Habit Rouge is very particular to me. It reminds me of my childhood with my grandfather and father who both used to wear it. It was – and it still is! – very powerful for an eau de toilette, easily identifiable, with a warm and overwhelming sweet, leather-amber facet. A facet which was very modern at the time, which created a real olfactory style, inspiring loads of different fragrances which followed. As the first, very strong and long lasting eau de toilette for men, we could even say that Habit Rouge was the oud of the sixties!"

Stay tuned for more Habit Rouge quotes...


Habit Rouge 50th Anniversary On Persolaise.com

One of my favourite perfumes of all time, Guerlain's Habit Rouge, turns 50 this year. To mark the occasion, this week will see the publication of a series of special posts here on Persolaise.com, including insights into the scent from key figures in the fragrance world, an interview with Guerlain's current in-house perfumer, Thierry Wasser, and finally, my own review of what is one of the most successful olfactory creations of all time.

We kick off proceedings in a few hours with some thoughts from a person who has very close family ties to the perfume...


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

'Fake It Till You Make It' - An Interview With Papillon's Liz Moores

image: Liz Moores

When Papillon's debut trio emerged last year, it immediately caused a stir amongst scentusiasts in the UK. Tobacco Rose was the crowd pleaser, but the deadly Anubis and the more contemplative Angélique found fans too. As all three have just been shortlisted for a Fragrance Foundation award, the time is right for me to publish an account of my meeting with the brand's founder and 'nose', Liz Moores. We chatted several months ago at Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays, covering issues both personal - she's the mother of children whose ages range from 20+ to below 2 - and perfume-related. But we began at the beginning, with the topic of how she slipped into her current role as perfumer and brand owner.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Persolaise Review: Fève Délicieuse from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2015)

François Demachy still seems to be in something of a retro mood, at least while working on Dior's Collection Privée. Last year, his gorgeous Cuir Cannage was an olfactory teleporter to an era of dense, old-school leathers. And now Fève Délicieuse pulls us back to the opulence of the 1920s and the seductive souls of Habanita and Shalimar. Interestingly, it does so by employing that somewhat more recent sub-genre of oriental perfumes: the gourmand. But if the thought of another Angel is enough to make you renew your Weight Watchers membership, then relax. There's something far more sophisticated at play in Demachy's effort. Yes, he bases his composition heavily on vanilla - and all its lip-smacking associations - but the inclusion of tonka bean (the 'fève' of the name) adds a singular twist, lining the sugar with a welcome edge of sharp bitterness. Each time the powderiness of the vanilla threatens to overwhelm the whole, the hay-like facets of the tonka redress the balance. And whenever the praline notes feel like they're going to drag everything into a glutinous sundae dish, the woodiness pulls them back up again. Finally, cinnamon and what I read as a particularly balmy myrrh heighten the sense of decorum even further. This is no hurried gulp of a chocolate bar grabbed at the corner shop. It's a long-planned pilgrimage to your favourite patisserie, where the light from the crystal chandeliers blankets the tablecloths, the cutlery and the china with a glow of sensuous warmth. An experience to be savoured.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Christian Dior in 2015.]


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"Our Job Is To Listen" - Antoine Maisondieu At The Launch Of Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Extreme

It's always dangerous to draw conclusions about an artist from their work. By most accounts, T S Eliot wasn't a grey-faced depressive, Charlie Chaplin wasn't exactly child-like and Toni Morrison is possessed of a cheeky sense of humour. But even so, we can't help trying to connect certain facets of interesting artworks to the personalities of those who brought them to life. It was with these thoughts in mind that I headed to London's Rosewood hotel to meet Antoine Maisondieu.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Persolaise Review: Smoke For The Soul from Kilian (Fabrice Pellegrin; 2014)

I've always thought there was something hollow at the heart of the Kilian brand. It goes without saying that it certainly isn't the only perfume house which tries to seduce people with style rather than substance, but its attempts have always struck me as particularly unsavoury, reeking of the worst sort of cynicism. Give people a bit of bling and they won't realise that the product you're selling them is, at best, passable. That seems to have been the company's motto for a few years now. But it reaches a new, problematic level with the release of Fabrice Pellegrin's Smoke For The Soul.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"I Try To Take You By The Hand" - An Interview With Jean-Claude Ellena, Perfumer At Hermès

image: Hermès
"My perfumes are sensual like the women of Hitchcock. I love Kim Novak. I can watch the same Kim Novak movie several times. And Grace Kelly too. There's an extraordinary scene in Rear Window where she leans over James Stewart and kisses him. But if you watch it carefully - because it must be watched carefully - James Stewart isn't there. She actually kisses the camera. You get the impression of being kissed yourself. That's very powerful. All the men watching the movie are being kissed at the same time. But anyway... Christine Nagel's perfumes are joyful, exuberant, full of fantasy. I'm more rational, reflective, intellectual. She's more Monica Bellucci."
To read my recent interview with Jean-Claude Ellena - in which he talks about Le Jardin De Monsieur Li, Hermès and the possibility of making perfumes for other brands - please click on this link to Now Smell This. The article marks my debut on the venerable site. Cue: major excitement on my part!

To find out what's going on here, you'll have to read the article...



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