This month Puredistance has presented its latest extrait de parfum, BLACK.
Created by perfumer Antoine Lie, who is known for his subversive creations with houses such as Etat Libre d’Orange, Comme des Garcons and Nu_Be; Lie has designed a perfume for Puredistance around the concept of mystery, elegance and subtlety. BLACK has been designed to wear close to the skin. By this I mean the diffusivity of the scent throws only a short distance from its wearer. The sensual nature of this style of perfume is that others perceive it only when they enter within an intimate radius of the wearer. Adding to this sensuality, the notes are designed to unravel in layers that whisper softly instead of shouting their presence. Perhaps the most mysterious approach to sharing this new perfume with the world is Puredistance’s decision not to reveal the notes of BLACK. The company’s owner, Jan Ewoud Vos encourages his audience to “envision, smell, and feel. Don’t analyse.”
Without any olfactory roadsigns of a perfume pyramid to guide me through the experience of BLACK, I approached the scent with thoughts of what the word, and concept symbolise to me. As a word, black has many associations. Etymology suggests black is … Read More »
When vintage perfume fans discuss their favourites, names like Jicky, Fougere Royale and L’Origan regularly come up for discussion. These perfumes are natural favourites amongst vintage collectors, and originated from a time when perfumery was undergoing great change. From the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, perfumes were evolving rapidly and advances in science aided chemists with the synthesis of molecules such as coumarin and vanillin. Taken from nature, these odours gave perfumers a new lease on creativity. This modern era also guided a change in Europe’s puritanical attitude towards perfume wearing. Compared with the relaxed attitude of today, 19th century European culture was regimented. There were strict guidelines that dictated which perfumes should be worn and which ones should be avoided. In 1833, Madame Celnart wrote in her book on social etiquette: “Strong odours such as musk, amber, orange blossom, tuberose and others of this kind, are strictly forbidden.” Odours that were perceived as being ostentatious or overtly sensual were avoided by anyone concerned with upholding a good reputation in society. The body was a matter of privacy and perfume was not worn on skin. Instead, perfume was applied sparingly to personal items … Read More »
Of the four, spring is the season most symbolic of perfume. It is a time for new flowers, of rebirth and spring symbolises optimism for the future. Here in Sydney it is a season of contrasts, a seasonal precursor when summer begins to show signs of arrival and winter exerts its final power over the climate before retiring for another year. This spring has been unpredictable as ever and with its surrounding neighbours, Sydney has experienced everything from soaring heat and bushfires to this past weekend of cool winds and constant rain. Last month I escaped Sydney for a weekend spring break. I’m the first to admit I have not been an overly active blogger this past month; it has been a busy month with life’s other responsibilities, so for this weekend away, I deliberately put away my laptop and retreated to a small country cabin a few hours south of the city. I was in need of a recharge. Near the beach, I relaxed, caught up on some reading and surrounded by nature I contemplated three of my favourite spring fragrances. Instead of writing about them, I wanted to share them with you through photography. Using New South Wale’s … Read More »
There is something so perfect, yet so simple about a well-executed eau de cologne. On face value this style of fragrance may seem like a simple blend of citrus fruit, flowers and herbs, yet the precision in which these notes must be configured demands the same skill as a complex oriental or chypre perfume. With eau de cologne, there are no dark corners to hide haphazard perfume construction. Even though brands such as Roger & Gallet and 4711 have proven eau de cologne can be produced as low-cost fragrance, the beauty of an eau de cologne made from fine raw materials, costly neroli oil from Tunisia and essential oil expressed from the skin of Mediterranean citrus fruit is an entirely different experience. A quality eau de cologne is one of perfumery’s simple pleasures.
Over the past decade many of the luxury brands making perfumes have revisited this 400-year-old recipe and a classic eau de cologne now features in their collections. Chanel, Christian Dior, Tom Ford and Hermes currently have one or more, and traditional houses such as Guerlain continue to produce eau de cologne, which has been a cornerstone of the brand for the past 160 years. After Pierre-Francois Pascal Guerlain … Read More »
If a perfume label has tuberose in the title, ten times out of ten, I will not pass up the opportunity to smell the bottle’s contents. I’m yet to pinpoint when and where this love affair with tuberose began and I would need to undergo some type of regressive therapy to figure it out. I do know that my first memories of flowers were daffodils and jasmine, which grew wild on my parent’s farm. With flowers and perfumes my inclination has always been towards the white floral category and it is an interest I still have today in my search for new perfumes. As my knowledge of perfumery has grown, my attention has turned towards the way in which different perfumers have recreated the scent of tuberose. Even though the flower’s scent can be extracted, the resulting absolute does not give a complete picture of the flower in nature and requires the perfumer’s imagination to fill in the gaps. Authentic tuberose absolute is actually quite a condensed, jammy smell; the extraction process loses the light buttery quality the living flower exudes. Still, without a minute dosage of the natural absolute, a tuberose composition can appear flat and soulless. To date my … Read More »
Today Berlin stands as one of the world’s foremost production sites of contemporary art. In 2005 it became the first continental European city to be named a City of Design by UNESCO and Berlin produces one of the most popular biennials on the global arts calendar. Berlin’s creativity spans across various media from photography to music, where artists like Kraftwerk pioneered a new genre of electronic audio. In recent years, German perfumery has taken a seat of prominence in a creative field that has traditionally been dominated by the French. Perfumers such as Geza Schoen and Mark Buxton (British/German) are talked about in the media, and perfume brands such as Escentric Molecules and Biehl Parfumkunstwerke are extending their global reach. On a recent trip to New York, I discovered another German perfume line called J.F Schwarzlose Berlin, which is sold by Aedes de Venustas in Greenwich Village. Although the Schwarzlose name has existed in perfumery for well over a century, the brand has a unique position, offering contemporary perfumes that link back to Germany’s perfumed past.
The J.F. Schwarzlose Story:
The story of J.F. Schwarzlose begins in 1856 when piano-maker Joachim Friedrich Schwarzlose opens a drugstore for his four children, Max, Franz, Hedwig … Read More »
Soho and Greenwich Village are some of my favourite areas of New York City. Unlike Upper Manhattan where life takes place behind doors, dutifully guarded by doormen and concierges, downtown life is much more visible on the street. Down in Soho, life pulsates to the vibrant rhythm of clacking high heels on pavement as women of all ages and nationalities shop their way from one designer boutique to the next. Soho is the perfect place to perch in a café window and watch as life unfolds around you. North west of Soho, Greenwich Village works at a slower pace. At the turn of the 20th century the Village was a bohemian enclave and provided affordable accommodation to the city’s great writers and artists. Then came the beatniks and later, musicians and songwriters inhabited the area’s tenement buildings. The Village’s bohemian past still lingers, even if Bleeker Street has been gentrified and today’s real estate prices prevent anyone without a sizable income from calling the Village home. Sprinkled between Bleeker Street’s international designer residents you can still find the odd record store selling second hand vinyl and vintage clothing boutiques.
I started this Scent Adventure at the Magnolia Bakery on Bleeker Street. … Read More »
Akkad is my personal favourite from the trio of perfumes known as Lubin’s Talismania Collection. The perfume takes its name from the Mesopotamian city Akkad, which dates back more than 2000 years before Christ. Archaeologists are still unsure of the ancient city’s exact coordinates and place it somewhere along the banks of the Euphrates River in modern day Iraq. Akkad’s most famous sovereign was Sargon, a powerful and mythical leader who unified Mesopotamia during the 55 years he ruled (2334 to 2279 BC).
Sargon’s mother was a priestess and needed to bear her son in secret. Unable to keep the child, she placed her newborn in a basket made of bulrushes and set him adrift on the Euphrates River. The parallels between this story and the story of Moses are uncanny. Aqqi, a royal gardener found the infant amongst the river marshes and raised him as his own. Under the watchful eye of the goddess Ishtar, young Sargon succeeded the king, establishing his seat of power in Akkad.
Ishtar, the Goddess of Love and War, had a reputation for being fickle with her lovers and often treated them cruelly. The only man that was able to maintain the goddess’s affection was Sargon … Read More »
For Lubin’s Talismania Collection the house took leave from Paris and set off on three intrepid journeys, which resulted in new Lubin perfumes for 2012, Korrigan, Akkad and Galaad. The binding thread that weaved these different experiences together was not one of geography, nor were these perfumes linked by the use of a common perfume ingredient or note. Instead, each perfume had its own distinctive signature, built around the stories of ancient mystics. Korrigan was the most playful of the three. The name was borrowed from the mischievous elf-like creature passed down as ancient Celtic legend. Korrigans were mythical fairies, said to have inhabited moors and wooded areas of Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They could shape-shift and used magic to bring men under their spell. It was supposed that a Korrigan was originally a pagan druidess. Men, if you have read this far, I should reassure you that this is not a perfume designed to make you smell like a fairy! The inspiration behind the perfume came from the magical beverages Korrigans were said to have made. Their pagan festivities required many scented potions distilled from harvested spices, flowers and seeds. These potions became offerings during the Gaelic festivals … Read More »
When I began collecting perfume my main aim was to find ones that I simply enjoyed wearing. When I began writing What Men Should Smell Like I became interested in the stories behind perfumes. This helped me discover many of the historic houses and their perfumes, most of which were not no longer popular with someone of my age but I enjoyed their old-world charm. I learned that the first perfume I wore, Yves Saint Laurent’s Pour Homme, belonged to the fougere family of fragrances. This led me to discover the original 19th and 20th century fougeres and houses such as Houbigant and Guerlain. For me, perfume history was like a jig saw puzzle. Fitting one piece into the puzzle led to the discovery of the next piece. I read about the French Court of Marie Antoinette and her perfumer Jean-Louis Fargeon. This story led me to Lubin. Pierre-Francois Lubin was a student of Fargeon and I read of how the perfumer went on to establish a successful career in Paris, making Lubin one of the most prestigious names in early 19th century perfumery. The brand experienced continued success into the 20th century but was in serious decline by the … Read More »