Gucci Guilty Absolute
November 16, 2017
What can you find in a bottle:
- On a blotter it opens with a civet-like note which is almost shocking. Something rather to expect within a niche range of perfumes than in a mainstream scent. Camels, horses and cowsheds may come into the mind, though oud is not mentioned here. But on the skin it becomes less zoo-like and brings warm and sensual depth into the fragrance.
- An intimate close to skin scent what you might smell under a worn out leather jacket on a bare male skin. The jacket seems to keep the history of its wearer. Just a few nuances like mineral notes of oil and gasoline or residues of modern fougère perfumes and woody scents ingrained into leather.
- A very comforting warm and dry woody base.
- A slightly metallic aromatic vibe recognizable from many modern masculine fougère fragrances.
Fragrant notes: Woodleather®, Goldenwood®, Nootka cypress, Patchouli, Vetiver
Perfumer: Alberto Morillas
Creative Director: Alessandro Michele
Year of creation: 2017
Face of the advertising campaign: Jared Leto (photographer – Glen Luchford).
Alberto Mirullas on his creation: “Absolute speaks to a new generation of men, his wants, needs, passions and his modernity.”
Woodleather® is a new Firmenich captive with an oud scent profile. Also used in “Original Oud” by Mizensir, the fragrance project by Alberto Morillas.
Goldenwood® is another Firmenich captive. As long as it’s under patent protection (as well as Woodleather®), not much information will be revealed.
Nootka cypress (also known as Alaskan Cedarwood) is a conifer growing in the Northwest Rainforest area. Firmenich describes the smell of Cedarwood Alaska essential oil as “sparkling with a fresh and breezy grapefruit crisp due to its Nootkatene and Nootkatone content (grapefruit odorants)”and “less camhoraceous and smoky, but stronger, longer lasting and more linear than the regular Cedarwood oil”. Also used in Penhaligon’s Blasted Heath Бертрана and Mizensir Perfect Oud (Parfumo.net gives the following list of fragrances using this note – https://www.parfumo.net/Fragrance_Note/Nootka_cypress).
Poême de Lancômе
November 6, 2017
What can you find inside the bottle?
- A bunch of sultry flowers like jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose, rose and ylang-ylang spreading their heady and suffocating aroma between the landscapes made of honey and vanilla.
- A meadow full of yellow flowers bathing under the golden sunlight.
- Daffodils. The poisonous greenish aroma along the lines of Chloé Narcisse.
- Downy powderness that recalls the fluffy mimosa flowers.
- Warm orange blossom that plays between the seductiveness of a white flower and the powdery blossom dust.
- The poisonous Angel trompet flower or datura similar to Datura Noir by Serge Lutens.
- Blue poppies from Himalaya supposed to be there. Can’t really find them, but can easily imagine the heat of orange and red poppies.
- Abundant character combined with a very strong projection and tenacity. Beware, it can be suffocating!
- An effect of a nourished skin as if it’s moisturized with a reach luxury body cream (similar orange blossom, lily, gardenia and tuberose aroma are often used to perfume luxury nourishing creams). I had a similar effect in Twilly by Hermès.
- An ancestor (one of many) of modern floral oriental perfumes.
Pyramid (a compilation from various on-line sources):
Top Notes: Blue poppy, Datura (Angel’s trumpet or thorn-appel), Bergamot, Green notes, Mandarin, Narcissus, Peach, Plum, Blackcurrant
Heart Notes: Freesia, Heliotrope, Jasmine, Leather, Mimosa, Orange blossom, Rose, Tuberose, Vanilla blossom, Ylang-ylang, Jonquil, Daffodil
Base Notes: Amber, Musk, Tonka bean, Vanilla, Cedar
Perfumer: Jacques Cavallier
Year of creation: 1995
Classification by H&R Genealogy:
Feminine, Floral, Sweet (2000 – 2001 version)
Classification by SFP (Société Française des Parfumeurs): F4f – Ambrée-Orientale (Oriental/Amber), Ambré Fleuri Boisé (Amber, floral, woody), feminine.
Fragrance Wheel (by Michael Edwards) classification: Floral Oriental, Classical/Classique, feminine
Luca Turin Guide verdict: * 1 star of 5 calling it “horrid floral”
“…combining the worst of Amarige (the hideous tuberose), the worst of Spellbound (triple-distilled oil slick), and a novel, uniquely unpleasant, peppery-floral chrysanthemum note all its own.”
The fragrance was presented as: “A rich floral-oriental parfum created by Jacques Cavallier who used two flowers that had never been used in a fragrance before, the Himalayan blue poppy and the datura, desert flower.” according to Perfume Intelligence Encyclopedia.
Bottle design: by Fabien Baron
Narcisse Noir by Caron
October 27, 2017
Narcisse Noir creates an illusion of a non-existent flower which is quite convincing. The dry green bitterness with oil-paint like nuance evokes the image of narcissus. And the animalic darkness of civet in the base does paint it black. Although reading about this fragrance makes me to think that the original version of this perfume was much heavier on civet than its modern interpretations. But to me Narcisse Noir is mostly about the orange blossom. It represents an interesting aspect of the orange flower which I perceive as a slow thickening of sunlight during a sunset. The color changes from a warm orange glow to a dark orange and almost brown before it falls into the darkness. Warm, sultry, heady and definitely fatal.
Pyramid according to H&R Fragrance Guide:
Top notes: Fresh, Flowery
Supported by: Mandarin, Petitgrain, Lemon
Heart notes: Dry, Floral
Main: Narcissus, Jasmin
Supported by: Jonquil, Orange Blossom
Base notes: Floral, Sensual
Supported by: Civet, Musk, Sandal
Perfumer: Ernest Daltroff
Year of creation: 1912 (or 1911)
Classification by H&R Genealogy:
Feminine, Oriental, Sweet (1985 version)
Feminine, Oriental (end 2000’s version)
Classification by Symrise Genealogy: Feminine, Oriental, Woody, Animalic
Classification by SFP (Société Française des Parfumeurs): B1f-09 – Floral, soliflore, Narcissus
Fragrance Wheel (by Michael Edwards) classification: Floral, Rich/Profond, orange blossom, feminine
Luca Turin Guide verdict: ** 2 stars of 5 calling it “woody jasmine”. In her review Tania Sanchez shares her regrets on reformulations of this great classic and describes the modern version as followed: “Fragrance Wheel (by Michael Edwards) classification: Floral, Rich/Profond, orange blossom, feminine.”
Smelling a modern version can raise a question about the placing this scent inside an oriental family. I guess the key here is the reformulation Tania Sanchez is complaining about. I think the animalic note of civet was much more pronounced in original and made it much closer to those animalic musk attars from the East. But it’s in the past. And nowadays Michael Edwards describes it as a floral perfume with a predominant orange blossom note.
Barbara Herman in her “Scent and Subversion” mentions that Ernest Beaux, the creator of Chanel N5 described Narcisse Noir as “a perfume of the most striking vulgarity.”
Ostrom, Lizzie in her “Perfume: A Century of Scents calls” it “a lawsuit perfume” as “Caron lawyered up against several firms, including Du Moiret for their Moon-Glo Narcissus, and Henri Muraour & Cie for their Narcisse Bleu. […]
Caron, holding the trademark for the complete phrase ‘Narcisse Noir’, argued that any use of the word ‘narcisse’ in fragrance from a competitor should be disallowed.”
The new (for the time of creation) aromachemicals para-cresol and its esters were used in Narcisse Noir for the first time (according to Perfumer&Flavorist, Vol. 15, November/December 1990). Para-cresol and its esters (like para-cresyl acetate) possess a harsh phenolic smell with heavy floral nuances (when diluted) resembling the smell of narcissus, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, lily and animalic accents.
Orange blossom studies
October 27, 2017
During a blind test of a fragrance I found myself having a problem with recognizing an orange blossom inside a heady cloud of a white flower which I thought was tuberose. So, it’s time for some olfactory training and tuning on orange blossom.
So, it’s time to get the Orange Blossom absolute from the Osmoz set (Firmenich). According to the guide the smell supposed to be jasmine-based, indole-based, honeyed, rubbery and warm. To me it’s first of all rubbery. Almost unbelievable it’s a natural raw material and not an industrial accord. Just once I smelled a very similar effect in a mandarin petitgrain (mandarin leaves) essential oil. I thought it was a smell of a shoe factory in a bottle. The bitter green freshness as I know it from petitgrain essential oil joins the show. It’s not a surprise why petitgrain oil can be widely used in adulteration and falsification of orange blossom absolute. More in the depth I can smell idolic aspect and honey. Not really sweet, but definitely raw honey. The floral jasmine-like aspect is harder to find here for me. I do smell a salty flowery note reminding me of the infusion of jasmine flowers served as tea. This orange blossom absolute is less sweet than I remember it from a perfumery palette.
Anna Zworykina, the Russian natural perfumer told be it must be a specimen of orange blossom absolute from Tunisia which appears to have less honeyed sweetness than the one from Morocco.
As you can see from the picture the following perfumes are suggested to understand the orange blossom note: Poison by Dior, Poême by Lancôme, Fleurs d’Oranger by Serge Lutens.
There is also a good article on The Best Orange Flower fragrances of 2017 on Fragrantica. They are suggesting the following orange blossom perfumes: Roberto Cavalli EDP, Narcisse Noir by Caron, Classique by Jean Paul Gaultier, J’Adore in Joy by Dior and also Fleurs d’Oranger by Serge Lutens.
Sakura by Parfum Satori
July 9, 2017
Sakura, Parfum Satori, 2004
Premium Collection by Satori Osawa
“How beautiful the cherry blossoms are, that bloom to the end of the land, as if offering itself to adorn the hair of a beautiful lady or crown an elegant gentleman.”
There are several cherry blossom trees I can admire from my window. Each year when the spring reaches its peak they celebrate the moment with a magnificent sea of pink blossoms. It doesn’t last long as those pink clouds start to fade filling the air with a rain of tender petals. And in a week or two it’s all gone…
Those Sakura blossoms do not posses any smell, so for a long time I could only imagine what they might smell like. The most suggestions from the world of perfumery were tending towards the sugar plums trying to sell their pink sugar for Sakura blossoms. But now I’ve got a chance to try a Sakura perfume made by a Japanese perfumer Satori Osawa who knows many of cherry blossom variations from her land and studied the smell of the fragrant ones.
On a blotter the perfume smells more like wet white petals giving me an impression of blossoming blackthorn falling its petals into a dark cold water during the early spring. But warmed by my skin the scent becomes much more rosy. Like young pelican birds who believed to turn pink by sucking the blood from their mother’s chest, those pale petals eagerly drink the warmth of my skin to turn into beautiful pink blossoms. A ripe and fruity but yet gentle aspect of a plum appears from a background. In contrast with its sugar babe sisters Sakura by Satori serves her cherry blossoms without added sweeteners. In fact it becomes even salty closer to its woody base like the taste of tears about the spring gone too soon.
According to Satori the aroma of Sakura perfume is similar to a traditional Japanese scented sachet called “nioi-bukuro”. That is a little paper bag filled with Japanese incense to put into furniture, the sleeves of kimono or around the neck.
efflor_esce by Nomenclature
May 20, 2016
Perfumer: Frank Voelkl
Featured aromachemical: Paradisone®
Notes: Paradisone® (citrus-floral), neroli, tuberose, bergamot, bigarade, osmanthus
Paradisone® is an aromachemical with an intensive floral smell. It’s related to cis-jasmone, a fragrant component naturally occurring in jasmine (which is also found in other aromatic plants). It’s also related to Hedione (a very popular jasmine molecule often referred as “water jasmine”). To make a long story short… Hedione is not a single molecule, but a mix of four isomers. Paradisone® is one of them. The one possessing the most intensive floral smell. It’s like Paradisone® being the floral heart of Hedione.
Among others Paradisone® is used in the following Armani perfumes – Aqua di Gio Essenza, Aqua di Gio Profumo and Ombre & Lumière as well as in Eau Océane by Biotherm and Iris Prima by Penhaligon’s.
Nomenclature describes efflor_esce as:
“The flower of angels Paradisone® is “the angelic aroma of one million flowers… a storm of delicacy and diffusion,” in the poetic words of the perfumer Arcadi Boix-Camps. In the astonishingly radiant efflor_esce, Frank Voelkl blows its heavenly breeze over an edenic Sicilian orchard. Touched by the luminous soul of jasmine, the fruit, leaves, twigs and blossoms of the orange tree unfurl their heady, sun-gorged scents. Bergamot adds its peppery sparkle; osmanthus, the yielding velvet of its apricot and suede flesh; tuberose, its narcotic sillage. This is nature, but better: Paradise found.”
My own impression of efflor_esce:
Spraying efflor_esce on my skin is like surrounding myself with a floral aura. As if I was standing in the middle of the garden where thousands of flowers warmed by the sun are saturating the air with their perfume. On the foreground my nose recognizes the lemony smell of magnolia and apricot jam scented osmanthus. And further I smell a transparent veil of jasmine and lilies-of-the-valley with fruity sweetness of tropical flowers on the background.
The light citrus aspect gives me an impression of a bright day and fresh air. Efflor_esce feels transparent and airy, but at the same time saturated or even mouth-filling.
Although the intensity of the floral impression fades quickly, the airy aura of this perfume is quite long lasting. With time I also recognize aspects of jasmine tea, which reminds me that Hedione (used in this perfume next to Paradisone®) is often used as a main component of a tea accord.
adr_ett by Nomenclature
May 13, 2016
Name: adr_ett (menas “neat” or “dapper” in German)
Perfumer: Frank Voelkl
Featured aromachemical: Helvetolide® (synthetic musk)
Notes: Helvetolide®, pink pepper, iris, amber gris, vanilla, tonka bean
Helvetolide® is a synthetic musk molecule patented by the Swiss company Firmenich in 1991 and named after Swiss Confideration (Confoederatio Helvetica in Latin) for its 700th anniversary. Helvetolide® belongs to the generation of acyclic or linear musks. For the first time it was used in 1997 in Swiss Army scent sold on Swissair planes.
Firmenich describes this molecule as: “A sophisticated, modern musky note with a fruity pear aspect. Helvetolide® brings also richness and warmth reminding Ambrette seeds.”
Helvetolide® is considered to be a “top note” musks, it is very diffusive, not heavy and doesn’t flatten the fragrance. It’s also called the Hedione of musks. It is an elegant and expensive smelling musk with aspects of ambrette seed and pear. It belongs to the most influential molecules in perfumery of the XXI century.
Helvetolide® was used in Miracle by Lancôme, Ultraviolet Woman by Paco Rabanne, Flower by Kenzo, Cologne by Thierry Mugler, Pleasures Intense by Estée Lauder, Freedom by Tommy Hilfiger, Bvlgari Omnia and many others.
Nomenclature presents adr_ett as a Zero Gravity Musk and gives it the following description:
“Helvetolide® gives off a softly enveloping, long-lasting aura; an otherworldly feeling of stillness and weightlessness. Rather than using Helvetolide® in a “classic” way to enhance other notes, Frank Voelkl boosts its ethereal vibe in a futuristic composition that seems to conjure the scent of zero gravity. A pink pepper comet brings out its fruitiness. Cool, metallic iris underlines its affinities with ambrette (which has an iris facet). A nebula of vanilla, tonka bean and ambergris underline its sensuousness. In German, adrett means “neat” or “dapper”: in this spare, smartly trimmed scent, each element is essential – as it would be in outer space.”
My own perception:
Adr_ett is quite a minimalistic scent. It’s based on Helvetolide® and other notes are just emphasizing the different aspects of the main ingredient. Being sprayed on the skin it feels rather like a personal signature smell than a perfume. But even being minimalistic adr_ett feels quite complete with its fully developed aspects.
The opening of adr_ett gives me an elegant feeling of an iris perfume with a touch of sweetness of fresh watery pear. The musky aura triggers the associations with a fresh clothes and corresponds with a “neat” or “smartly dressed” meaning of the German “adrett”. The “zero gravity” aspect of the scent appears to me as a sense of a soft cloud slowly floating above the ground. Adr_ett is subtle and transparent, stays close to the skin, but leaves an elegant aura and an impression of a groomed person which makes it a good scent for an office wear.
Vanille Tonka by Patricia de Nicolaï
April 16, 2016
The general impression of Vanille Tonka reminds me of a High Key concept where the slightest touches of shadows are creating an image on what seems to be an endlessly white background. It opens with a tingling sensation in my nose caused by the crispy lemon tickling against the fuzzy vanilla. A very similar effect I get in Habit Rouge and to a lesser extent in Shalimar by Guerlain. Then the scent almost disappears flowing out to a white canvas. The citrus brightness calms down and descends in form of an orange flower mist. The touches of warm spices are draping the fabric of canvas into a shape of an exotic flower. Incense deepens the curvy contours of the fluffy vanilla clouds spilling the bittersweet flakes of tonka.
It’s a very soft scent spreading a delicate aura of a classic vanilla and tonka accord. To my nose it’s too muted perhaps, but it’s a great skin scent for those searching for quiet perfume with an attitude. A nice light perfume for a day wear for the admirers of Habit Rouge or Shalimar.
Top notes: Basil, lemon, mandarin
Middle notes: Orange blossom, black pepper, cinnamon
Base notes: Incense, vanilla absolute, tonka bean
Perfumer: Patricia de Nicolaï
Year of creation: 1997
Fragrance Wheel (by Michael Edwards) classification: Oriental, Classical/Classique, feminine
Trying to visualize the scent I found this great picture by Pete Tombs to be very similar to my perception of Vanille Tonka:
Fougère II – the smell of fern
March 12, 2016
The olfactory family of fougères begins with Fougère Royale by Houbigant, a fragrance created by Paul Parquet in 1882 approaching the smell of ferns. It raises an interesting question: Do ferns smell?
An answer to this question can be as vague as an attempt to describe the smell of tulips for example. Some would say they don’t smell at all while others would mention a generic green smell without distinguishing notes. But as an exception one can also find a couple of very fragrant variations. The situation with ferns is similar. In general they do possess a generic green vegetal smell without distinct nuances. But there is also a hay scented fern or Dennstaedtia punctilobula, a plant releasing a haylike aroma when touched or broken. A fern from New Zeland with the name Asplenium lamprophyllum seems to contain methyl salicylate, a sweet smelling substance which is also responsible for the smell of wintergreen and sweet birch. There is also a Sweet Fern (Comptonia peregrina), a fragrant plant which looks like a fern, but is in fact a family of bayberry.
Two odorants are mentioned to be responsible for the smell of ferns – hexyl butyrate and octyl butyrate. They have a green odor with fruity and waxy nuances. But they are not used in fern fragrances. Fougères are fantasy perfumes approaching the smell of fern within its natural habitat (the nuances of forest, leaves, soil etc). The core of fougère accord is formed by lavender, coumarin and oak moss. Coumarin is responsible for the haylike herbaceous sweetness (think of hay-scented fern mentioned above). Herbs (rosemary, thyme), woody and camphor notes, salicylates (clover or wintergreen smell), mushroom nuances and iris/violet aspects can be used to adorn the fougère accord.
The earlier fern perfumes seemed to be quite floral with their hearts made of lavender, rose and jasmine with an addition of narcissus and hyacinth (with their haylike aspects). Later geranium and rose molecules, synthetic jasmine bases, clary sage and fresh floral molecules like linalool and linalyl acetate were used to accompany lavender in the heart. Three types of fragrances were considered to be fougères: complex lavender perfumes, Foin Coupe type of fragrances (perfumes approaching the smell of new mown hay) and chypres with lavender heart and spicy nuances.
Fougère Royale, the beginning of Fougère family
March 11, 2016
Name: Fougère Royale
Perfumer: Paul Parquet
Year of creation: 1882 (re-launched and re-orchestrated in 2010).
Pyramid according to H&R Fragrance Guide:
Top notes: Fresh, Herbaceous
Supported by: Clary Sage, Spike (lavender), Bergamot, Petitgrain
Heart notes: Dry, Floral
Supported by: Rose, Heliotrope, Carnation, Orchid
Base notes: Sweet, Mossy, Powdery
Main: Oakmoss, Musk
Supported by: Tonka, Hay, Vanilla
Classification by H&R Genealogy:
Masculine, Fougère, Fresh (end 80’s version),
Masculine, Fougère, Woody (end 2000’s version)
Classification by Symrise Genealogy: Masculine, Fougère, Ambery, Vanilla
Classification by SFP (Société Française des Parfumeurs): C1m (other version C1f) – Fougère, Fougère.
This fragrance is compared to: English Fern by Penhaligon’s and Wild Fern Cologne by Geo F. Trumper
Fougère Royale is a fantasy bouquet exploring the smell of fern.
Fougère Royale is often mentioned to be the first fern fragrance. But there seem to be other fern perfumes before 1882. Like Fougère Ambrée by Savonnerie Maubert and Fougère Dorée by Isnard Maubert Parfumeur both from 1870. Or Wild Fern Cologde by Geo F. Trumber from 1877, There also seem to be an earlier version a Fougère Royale made by Paul Parquet for Eugene Rimmel in 1875 for Princess Alexandra.
In fact the fern theme was popular in the time of creation of Fougère Royale, but fern scents were predominantly used for perfuming soaps. So, Fougère Royale is a rare example of a functional scent that found its way into the Fine Perfumery.
Fougère Royale is considered to be the first perfume utilizing a synthetic aromachemical coumarin. It possesses a bittersweet, herbaceous, haylike odor and is still one of the main ingredients of the fougère fragrances.
It is a milestone perfume. Its success made this fragrance to inspire many other creations and even to become an ancestor for the olfactory family of fougères.
Fougère Royale seemed to be created as a feminine scent. As also the first other fougères. Later it was marketed as an ultimate gentlemen’s fragrance as you can see on this advertisements below. The later and present fougère perfumes are exclusively men’s fragrances.