25 August 2012
08 June 2012
05 April 2012
03 February 2012
*UPDATE, February 6, 2012: I've received a nice e-mail from Neela Vermeire clarifying that her budget was not, in fact, all that extravagant, and the woman I mistook for her "PR" person was actually a close friend from her university years. Clearly this has been a very personal project from the beginning.
31 January 2012
(image via dillongallery.com)
|(image via dillongallery.com)|
10 November 2011
26 October 2011
I was expecting Daniela Andrier’s latest to be as big a departure from the rest of her Prada portfolio as the bottle is from the rest of Prada’s severe, square-edged collection -- like L’Eau Ambrée’s younger cousin with bigger hair and brighter teeth. Turns out, while Candy is indeed awfully sweet, it’s just as limpid as many of its predecessors. A dry, toasty note (which Dane at Pere de Pierre less charitably likens to a ‘dusty cardboard box’) chaperones the synthetic caramel accord into the world, and for me is the only point of interest. It vanishes all too quickly. From there on, it’s all smooth caramel and very soft musk. The tone that Andrier set years ago with Infusion d’Iris (which, incidentally, I own and wear frequently) doesn’t translate nearly as well here as it did with L’Eau Ambrée, so it’s a good thing the packaging alone will likely be enough to move a few million units.
Balenciaga Paris L’Essence
Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum
18 August 2011
I confess to being self-conscious about how legitimately I can call myself a blogger, what with my whopping nine followers (and yes, I know it’s not helping things that I would rather die than join Facebook), so I was only half-serious when I RSVP’d as “press” for the Elements Showcase, a New York trade show focused on niche fragrance and beauty brands. But in the end it didn’t matter that I’ve never garnered more than a few dozen unique views in any 24-hour period; everyone I spoke to seemed intrigued that I was even there. Oh, you’re a perfume blogger? Cool! No questions asked.
One of my first stops was the display for the New York-based Joya perfume and home fragrance line, run by Elements Showcase co-founder Frederick Bouchardy. Joya places a lot of significance on containers – most notably the gorgeous matte ceramics by Sarah Cihat that enclose many of their candles and their perfume duo Composition No .1 and Composition No. 6. One of the coolest examples of this appreciation for containers was a double-candle housed in a WWII-era British military soap tin (a clamshell design, thus accomodating one candle poured into each side of the tin; the scents are “Amber Absolute” and “Bitter Orange Leaf”).
But the most fascinating thing on display at Joya was their new limited-run collaboration with indie perfume darlings D.S. & Durga called “Staghorn Sumac” , which complements the sharp and lemony namesake plant with accords of lily and bison grass (heavy on the coumarin). I love the way D.S. & Durga translate arcane Americana into scent (i.e. Mississippi Medicine, based on the rituals of a “proto-Mississippian death cult” from the 1200s), and this bright but earthy and bone-dry homage to the American plains fits right in with their oeuvre. I will definitely be pre-ordering one of the 100 bottles they plan to produce.
I got to shoot the shit a bit with Anne McClain, fellow Brooklynite and founder/perfumer of MCMC Fragrances. I’d never smelled the scents in her ‘stories’ collection (each inspired by a personal experience) and I took a real liking to Maine, with its beautifully oddball pairing of Bulgarian rose and seaweed absolutes, and the super-resinous Hunter , loaded with fir balsam and tobacco.
I had an equally fun chat with Annie and Therese Gibbons, the sisters behind Alora Ambiance, the first home fragrance company to bring reed diffusers to the U.S. We disagreed on the virtues of vetiver (one of them, like me, adores it; the other not so much) while passing around a scent strip of their interpretation of that note - a pure and wild vetiver, inspired by the woven vetiver mats found just about everywhere in Indonesia.
The display of Williamsburg salon/apothecary Woodley & Bunny featured Andy Tauer’s new Pentachords series (so named because each fragrance is composed of only five components), which I’ve been eager to sniff. After being sold exclusively in Italy for the past few months, the limited-run Pentachords are going global this fall. Verdant , as suggested, is green, wet, leafy and earthy. Auburn  is warm, dry and woody, with an emphasis on the lovely cinnamon note. While obviously quite different from each other, both were striking and successfully communicated the minimalist intention behind the collection, as opposed to White, a meek, anonymously sweet and utterly non-threatening iris.
I also got to sample two independent European brands that haven’t yet arrived on the U.S. market. The first was Spanish line Carner Barcelona, which launched two perfumes in Europe last year: D600, inspired by Barcelona nightlife; and Tardes , a woody floral by Daniela Andrier (I just can’t stay away!) that alludes to wheat fields, almond groves, wild roses and geraniums and the dwindling light of late afternoon. This is a particularly romantic work for Andrier, but – like many of her other works – includes an unexpected element, in this case a fresh, barely salty celery note that keeps the cedar, tonka and Heliotrope in the base from turning too sweet. Fall brings the launch of their third perfume: a great smoky leather simply called Cuirs, surely a nod to the long line of leather artisans from whom founder Sara Carner is descended.
After that I was introduced to Technique Indiscrète, a refined but quirky fragrance line by Belgian-born fashion designer Libertin Louison. Standouts from his collection of eight eaux de parfum include: Paname Paname , a chypre re-interpretation that kicks off with an audacious cumin-citrus pairing and sweetens with an “apple cake” note; Safran Nobile, inspired by a wedding in India, a heady swirl of sweet spice, saffron, vanillic benzoin, patchouli and dirty jasmine; and Délivre Moi, a modest but comforting better-than-skin scent focused on honey, accented with almond and heliotrope on a mild woody-musky base. Technique Indiscrète also produce three eaux de cologne and a line of hydrosols.
Last but not least, I marveled at sculptor Niho Kozuru’s gorgeous beeswax candles, which she casts in molds made from reclaimed turned-wood architectural details from traditional New England homes. The molds are so accurate that you can often see the woodgrain on the candles’ surfaces. We bonded over our love of the smell of beeswax (“it won’t overpower your dinner party” being one of the benefits I hadn’t previously considered). You can find her candles, appropriately, at the Noguchi Museum gift shop.
11 August 2011
Fall is sadly nowhere near, but happily, there’s more to look forward to than just a merciful drop in temperature.
As I've confessed before, I’m fascinated by Daniela Andrier’s steadily expanding portfolio for Prada. Her latest, the upcoming Candy, is positioned as a signature fragrance (not part of the Infusions series) and appears to be a departure from her typically diaphanous style towards something much bolder and more saturated: the press release uses the phrase “overdose of benzoin.” Musks and a “modern” caramel accord round out the cast. I'm hoping that Candy is as good as it sounds, and not merely an attempt to translate Love, Chloé into Prada-ese.
Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum
I covet Bottega Veneta's anony-chic clothes, accessories and $40,000 luggage sets like vampires long for sunlight: quite simply never going to happen. But - lo and behold! - the ultra luxe brand has teamed up with no less than Coty, purveyors of the illustrious David and Victoria Beckam
Parfumerie Générale No. 25 Indochine
I'm planning to write soon about Fareb, the only scent from Pierre Guillaume's new Huitième Art line that I've sampled, but I'm also happy to see PG returning to his signature numbered Parfumerie Générale collection. Like Prada Candy, PG's No. 25 Indochine has benzoin at its core, but augments it in typical PG fashion with exotic supporting ingredients: Kampot pepper, Laotian honey and thanaka, a traditional Burmese cosmetic paste that smells something akin to sandalwood. This one I know will be good.
09 August 2011
Heeley Hippie Rose
So it goes for Heeley’s latest, the sweetly named Hippie Rose, inspired by Antonioni's dusty, sun-bathed imagining of hippies in the American West in Zabriskie Point. Hippie-chic is nothing new, nor are fragrances centered on rose and patchouli. Yet Heeley somehow makes these ideas new by conforming them to the house’s ultra-smooth style – putting a nice green bergamot up front, sweeping away the patchouli’s dirtier facets, smoothing over the rose’s harsher edges with mellow incense and vetiver, wrapping it all up in a sheer woody-amber accord. The rose in this case is Bulgarian rosa damascena – a wise choice because it’s always struck me as the ‘wildest’ smelling rose; plays well with others, so to speak; and avoids both the unflinching, cold perfection of Turkish rosa damascena and the ultra-femme, honeyed sweetness of the Grasse rosa centifolia.
Hippie Rose is an extremely fine execution of an idea that, frankly, never really got me going. Unfortunately, another feature of the Heeley line is frustratingly short longevity, and like a pretty flower (or pretty hippie) in the California desert, this one’s prone to withering in the heat.
I ditched the sassy open letter idea because, truthfully, that skyrocketing reputation isn’t undeserved: most of the perfumes I listed above are expertly crafted, if not everyone’s cup of tea. Perfect proportion and complexity of development are what I see as Duchaufour’s signature strengths, and Jardin du Poete is no exception, despite being less overtly ‘daring’ than his other perfumes for Eau d’Italie. Bracing citrus (primarily green orange) and a green bouquet of mint and basil give way to a cold spice mix of cardamom, pink pepper, and angelica, and some ‘wet’-feeling floral notes. The scent quickly moves on to a drier, warmer and sweeter phase, with a remarkably light immortelle note that manages not to wipe out the freshness of the opening, buttressed by moss and hay.
There is a lot going on in this production ‒ perhaps too much. As impressed as I am by the scent’s rendering of a Mediterranean garden, I don’t know that a scent for the stickiest days of summer needs to be all that complex or cleverly referential.