Amouage’s Library Collection is Christopher Chong at his most experimental. When I interviewed him in Sydney last year he described the collection as being his “couture.” As Amouage’s Creative Director of nine years, Christopher recently adjusted the brand’s compass and all new perfumes now include a more personal narrative. The next “cycle” emerged last year with the release of Journey Man and Journey Woman, and Opus IX is the first Library Collection perfume to imbibe the brand’s new spirit. Naturally my interest was piqued to smell Amouage couture reborn.
To create Opus IX, Christopher collaborated with Firmenich perfumers Nathalie Lorson and Pierre Negrin. Both perfumers come with impressive resumes and Negrin is no stranger to the brand having engineered a number of Amouage perfumes prior to Opus IX. This ninth Opus draws from Christopher’s passion for Opera. It is an art form that influenced Christopher’s perfumes before the Journey duo; the former student of opera dedicated Honour Woman to Madama Butterfly. The way Amouage perfumes are constructed could also be described as operatic with their rhythmic olfactory punctuation that separates notes into clearly defined scenes. Linear is not part of the Amouage vocabulary. The story of Opus IX is told in three scenes that form classic head, heart … Read More »
In April 2013 I published my first post about Arquiste perfumes, which was a review of L’Etrog, a perfume from the brand’s initial collection. Arquiste’s founder, Carlos Huber, was in Australia at the time and we talked about his brand’s story. Story telling is one of the elements I love about what Carlos does. Through the medium of modern perfumery, each Arquiste perfume takes its wearer on a journey through space and time. L’Etrog was set in the Mediterranean amongst the citron groves of medieval Calabria. The year was 1175. Collaborating with Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier, two of Givaudan’s leading perfumers, Carlos made a perfume about the annual harvest of Calabrese citron fruit. It is a region of Italy that is famous for the quality of citrus fruit it produces. Bergamot from Calabria is of particular importance to the perfume industry. Using a number of Italian citrus oils, Arquiste’s L’Etrog showcased the natural beauty of this region. During these medieval harvests, farmers built temporary cabins out of branches and palm fronds. Here they slept before rising early in the morning to collect the harvest fruit. L’Etrog used woody notes to reference the palm frond cabins and a novel date fruit accord referenced a … Read More »
A decade on, Jean-Claude Ellena continues his work as Perfumer of Hermes. His mandate from the luxury French brand has always been to launch a new scent when he feels ready. In the time-pressured world of fashion and beauty, it is unusual for perfumers to have this level of freedom in their work. Cuir d’Ange is the 11th Hermessence perfume. Speaking with press last year when the perfume launched, Jean-Claude Ellena spoke about it being an idea he developed over a period of 10 years. When he was recruited in 2004, he visited a room in the Hermes atelier where leather is laid out in storage. It is a place where precious hides, tanned by master tanners, are stored in a controlled environment. Here they await transformation into some of the world’s finest leathergoods. He was enamoured by the scent of the tanned leather, which to his surprise smelled of flowers. Ellena often draws parallels between his work and the work of other artists. On this occasion, he drew a link to the world of literature and the words of writer Jean Giono, who in his autobiography, described his father working in his cobbler’s workshop, “making shoes in angel leather … Read More »
Launching this weekend at Esxence, Milan’s annual niche fragrance event, Pichola is the sixth perfume from Neela Vermeire Creations. Last year I interviewed Paris-based Neela. We talked about the perfume house she founded in 2012 that is an olfactory celebration of her Indian heritage and culture. Working with French perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, Neela tells India’s rich and complex story by dedicating each fragrance to a particular time or place that has inspired her. For this latest perfume, the inspiration came to Neela when she attended a wedding anniversary in Udaipur nearly two years ago. I didn’t attend Esxence this year, so Neela kindly sent me a sample of Pichola and we exchanged some words so that I could delve deeper into the story behind her latest creation.
Pichola is everything I expect from Neela Vermeire Creations. Working with Bertrand, the pair has created a strong olfactory identity for Neela’s brand. When I interviewed Bertrand about his work as L’Artisan Parfumeur’s resident perfumer, he told me that he does not accept design requests from clients if they impose budget restrictions on the formula. Although Bertrand uses synthetic ingredients in all of his work, an aesthetic necessity of modern perfumery, I smell a lot of … Read More »
Last week I published an interview with B. Kristian Malbrum, the Norwegian founder of a new line of niche perfumes called Malbrum Parfums. Of the three extrait de parfums I discussed with Kristian, Tigre du Bengale was my favourite and I was grateful to add a bottle of it to my personal perfume collection. Aside from simply liking the way it smells, I was intrigued by the unconventional process Kristian followed to create these fragrances with French perfumer Delphine Thierry. Kristian told me that his starting point for a new perfume was the raw materials. He began without a concept, design brief or story. The perfume’s title and story came after the fragrance took form. For Tigre du Bengale, he wanted to explore the boundaries between spices and leather in a fragrance. Within that journey, the idea of a Bengal tiger’s skin and what that would smell like began to interest him. The spices he had selected for his composition related to the Bengal tiger’s homeland given they were all spices used to flavour Bengali cuisine. As the formula evolved, Kristian sensed the erogenous aspect of the fragrance. When I spoke with him he laughed and said, “The first thing that came to my mind … Read More »