Category: A Scented Blog
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 »
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 »
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 »
Last month I spent two weeks in New York. It was my first visit since I began writing my blog, What Men Should Smell Like and I wanted to retrace my steps to a number of perfumeries I had previously experienced. I also came armed with a long list of new addresses I planned on visiting.
My New York story began on the iconic Fifth Avenue. It was a surreal feeling to come with a sense of familiarity towards a place I knew almost entirely through television, movies and the Internet. The New York subway has an unforgettable odour, which is redolent of concrete, rubber and hot metal. From the bowels of the subway I exited onto Fifth Avenue joining thousands of other tourists shuffling along the pavement at a shoppers pace. Blended into this crowd was the odd local. You could tell he was a New Yorker, an Upper East Sider to be more precise. His uniform was a pair of beige chinos, a light blue button down shirt and a sports coat in navy, preferably with golden buttons. Neck or bow tie was optional. I wondered if this was the man Patricia de Nicolai had in mind when she … Read More »
Last month I invited New York perfumer Kevin Verspoor to join me for lunch at Soho’s Balthazar Bistro. Perfume expert, Michael Edwards had generously connected the two of us via email and after an hour of introductions over the phone, I found myself, the following day, sitting across the table from Kevin, discussing the secrets of Guerlain’s Mitsouko between spoonfuls of chilled avocado soup. I of course had no Mitsouko secrets to offer, it was all Kevin. Like many perfumers of his experience, Kevin is filled with all kinds of stories you will not find written in any book.
With more than 20 years of experience working for perfume companies such as IFF, Symrise and Drom Fragrances, Kevin recently set out on a new journey in his career. He joins a small but growing number of perfumers leaving the major fragrance companies in search of independence. Having created fragrance for everything from Victoria’s Secret to Jennifer Lopez, not to mention collecting a Fifi Award along the way for a niche fragrance signed to Odin New York; as an independent, Kevin is now working on a commercial line of fragrances that will for the first time, carry his own name.
After lunch our … Read More »
New York is home to some of the world’s most influential designers and artists. This is also true of the perfume world and last month I met with one of the city’s premier olfactory artists, Senior Perfumer at Givaudan, Rodrigo Flores-Roux.
Researching his background, it seemed fateful that Mexican-born Rodrigo would become a perfumer. In previous interviews he has spoken about the rich olfactory experiences his Mexican childhood provided. By the age of 13 he was already collecting perfumes and 7 years later, he made the journey from Mexico to Paris, studying at one of the world’s most prestigious perfume schools, ISIPCA in Versailles.
Fast forward more than 20 years and Rodrigo has refined a unique skill set that has made him one of the most sought-after perfumers in the world. His portfolio is expansive, proving he knows how to make multi-million dollar best sellers in the mass-market and he can create luxurious fragrances for the likes of Tom Ford. Rodrigo also has experienced success creating for niche houses. In short, he does it all.
I visited the perfumer in his office, high above West 57th Street at Givaudan’s Fine Fragrance Studio. Rodrigo had literally just returned from Paris and on top of … Read More »
Described as the last story in the house’s first chapter, Amouage present their latest perfumes Fate Man and Fate Woman. Storytelling is one of the threads that bind the Amouage collection together and once again; the characters in this finale are well developed and rich with personality. Amouage’s Creative Director, Christopher Chong says, “the philosophy of fate remains wrapped in obscurity. I wanted to celebrate the power of mystery and end the narrative without a defined conclusion.” One could take a fatalist approach and propose the idle argument that the character’s of Chong’s latest opus have pre-ordained destinies they must fulfil. Christopher Chong does not dwell so much on this, instead he sets them free and relishes in the unknown that directs any form of universal truth.
It’s heavy subject matter and without getting too bogged down in philosophical thought one simply asks, what does fate smell like? The old saying, in order to know your future you must know your past, is relevant here. Viewing Fate Man and Fate Woman within the context of the collection thus far helps to understand Christopher Chong’s closing statement in this first chapter of Amouage.
Fate Man seamlessly begins where other Amouage masculines conclude. There … Read More »