"perfume is the art that makes memory speak" - Francis Kurkdjian


Guerlain – Mouchoir de Monsieur

Posted on July 12th, by What Men Should Smell Like in G - L, My Collection, Woods. 8 comments

Mouchoir de Monsieur (Gentleman’s Handkerchief) is one of the many chapters that form the fascinating story of French perfume house Guerlain. While the house’s most significant competitors have dwindled with age or they are no longer recognisable having changed ownership many times, Guerlain is a rare case, producing perfumes that have histories spanning a period of nearly two hundred years. Before 2008, the position of House Perfumer was always occupied by a Guerlain descendant and through this careful guardianship, a family style was established, namely the eponymous Guerlinade – a secret melange of tonka bean, resins, vanilla, bergamot, orris and flower extracts. It is a signature that can be found in almost every Guerlain perfume since Jicky (1889). In addition to this, each generation of Guerlain perfumer had his own individual style and Mouchoir de Monsieur comes from the house’s Belle Epoque era. It was created in 1904 by third generation perfumer, Jacques Guerlain. Although different in terms of olfactory structure, Mouchoir de Monsieur shares a similar dreamy, pastel-tone quality found in Apres L’Ondee (1906) and L’Heure Bleue (1912), which is characteristic of the perfumer’s style before World War I. Mouchoir de Monsieur elaborates on the structure of Jicky, a perfume … Read More »


Aedes de Venustas – Iris Nazarena

Posted on June 18th, by What Men Should Smell Like in A - F, My Collection, Woods. 2 comments

I am hopelessly sentimental at the best of times and my interest in perfume provides me with endless opportunities to bath in this gooey sentiment. For me, travel is also a passion and often when I smell a fragrance purchased abroad, it has the power to take me back to the places I visited. Experience has taught me that this type of olfactory connection can be unpredictable. I intended Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino to be my “Moroccan holiday scent” but for whatever reason, images of that trip do not flash before my eyes when I smell this opulent Eau de Cologne-inspired scent. Unintentionally I purchased a bottle of Chanel’s Sycomore during my first trip to New York, 6 years ago. To this day, the smell of Sycomore takes my mind back to that summer holiday. Like the days before digital photography when you never knew what your holiday snaps had captured until the roll of film came back from the developer, it’s after the arrival home when it dawns on me which of the fragrances I was travelling with has made a permanent impression. Last year I was again in New York and interestingly, despite buying numerous bottles of perfume, … Read More »


Penhaligon’s – Iris Prima

Posted on June 5th, by What Men Should Smell Like in M - R, My Collection, Woods. 2 comments

Iris Prima is the scent of the ballet as imagined by Penhaligon’s. The British perfume house worked with Master Perfumer and last year’s recipient of The Fragrance Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Alberto Morillas, to recreate the ballet in olfactory form. Conceptual perfumes are often interesting, particularly when the source of inspiration is experienced through one of the human senses other than smell. Such a fragrance can sometimes be too literal, like a garden-inspired fragrance that smells of roses, which wins no merit points for imagination. At the opposite extreme, over-ambitious ideas sometimes translate poorly, resulting in a sense of disconnection. Since Sarah Rotheram took over the role of Penhaligon’s CEO, the brand has developed a knack for storytelling. Whether it is creating an Indian travel story (Vaara -2013) or collaborating with so-hip-right-now London fashion designers Meadham Kirchhoff (Tralala – 2014), Penhaligon’s is telling new stories that reach out to a more diverse audience, breaking its slightly dusty and traditional mould. Another innovation is the slickly produced videos featured on the brand’s Youtube channel. Why rely on traditional media to convey your story when today’s social media puts you in direct contact with potential customers all over the world? I’m enjoying … Read More »


Mona di Orio – Tubereuse

Posted on May 19th, by What Men Should Smell Like in Floral, M - R. 2 comments

During the past three years that I have been writing about the perfumes I have collected, one of things I enjoy about the process of writing a review is the search for perfume notes that go unmentioned. When perfumes are launched, an olfactory pyramid is released by the perfume house or its marketing department. This is designed to guide the nose through the experience of the new scent’s prominent top, middle and base notes but the triangular diagram omits any mention of the perfume’s minor notes, perhaps to maintain a simple description and to avoid creating confusion. Beyond the pyramid, perfumers use additional notes that discretely shape the more prominent ones. A rose might be given radiance with an overdose of Hedione or given sparkle with a miniature cocktail of aliphatic aldehydes. These less perceivable “modifiers”, in turn, create uniqueness, making one perfumer’s interpretation of a flower, fruit or wood, different from another’s. When it comes to soliflores – French perfumery jargon for a perfume composed around a singular floral theme, I find that close inspection of the minor notes will often reveal a complex structure that parallels the complexity of any other multi-note perfume, debunking the myth that soliflores are simple … Read More »


Hermes – Epice Marine

Posted on May 7th, by What Men Should Smell Like in Fresh, G - L. No Comments

Marine is an adjective that found its way into our perfume vocabulary during the early 1990s when it was used to describe the era’s refreshing watery, outdoorsy fragrances such as Cool Water and L’Eau d’Issey. Today the term has the same effect on perfume cognoscenti as throwing garlic onto vampires. Expect facial contortions and hissing noises. Why vampires have this reaction to garlic, I do not know, but the reason why many of today’s perfume obsessed are so adverse to this aquatic genre of perfumery is because most of us are still recovering from the thousands of Dihydromercenol and Calone laden fragrances that were launched over the past 15 years. On a side note, I’m curious to see if in another 15 years time, we will have the same seething reaction towards the popular men’s fragrances of today, which rely heavily on molecules such as Norlimbanol, Karanal and Boisambrene Forte for their woody-amber signature? But back to the marine theme- last year my curiosity was tweaked when Hermes announced the launch of a new fragrance called Epice Marine. Jean-Claude Ellena is one of my favourite perfumers and I had all confidence that the Nose of Hermes would not be presenting … Read More »




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