...for the Tauer Explorer set (Andy's Advent Calendar offer) is Veronica (posting at 13: 24).
Congratulations! Please email me your shipping data, using Contact, so I can forward them to the perfumer to have your prize in the mail for you soon.
Thanks everyone for the truly enthusiastic participation and till the next one!
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
...for the Tauer Explorer set (Andy's Advent Calendar offer) is Veronica (posting at 13: 24).
Coco by Chanel must be among a handful of fragrances on the market to have not only one, but two flankers without being a spectacular market success to begin with. Flankers are supporting fragrances coat-tailing on the success of the original perfume, borrowing part of the name of the original as well as the bottle mould, but differing in scent and target demographics. Coco has two: Coco Mademoiselle, an alarmingly successful best-seller for youngish women that has far eclipsed the original, and Coco Noir, a woody fragrance of recent crop with dubious presence on the market as yet. Today Coco seems old fashioned and aimed only at mature women, fading-to-market-black, but soon after it came out it profited of a marketing campaign that positioned it as a sexy debutante scent, fronted by then teenager Vanessa Paradis! Funny how perceptions change and we used to wear Ungaro Diva and the like when not yet out of high school, right?
The most astounding personal association I have with Coco has always been one that pertains to its market share, not the scent itself: In all my many years of perfume observation & appreciation I have never met in real life a person owning a bottle of Coco, a fact which had always struck me as weird considering the continued presence of the perfume on the counters. Chanel No.19 is also an undivided presence on the local counters (and a steady seller according to SAs), but I actually know people who wear it, I smell it on the street from time to time and I have seen bathroom shelves with a bottle of it proudly displayed more than once or twice. Someone must be buying Coco too, then, right?
But let's take things at the top.
Aiming to capture a more Baroque side of Chanel, taking the sobriquet given to Gabrielle Chanel by her escapee father and inspired by Gabrielle's Rue Cambon apartment with its casket-like rooms full of Venetian glass, Chinoiserie panels and leather bound books, house perfumer Jacques Polge set out to compose a true 1980s perfume following the commercial smash hit of YSL Opium: bold, brash, take no prisoners. And he succeeded in the most part.
The fragrant secrets of Coco by Chanel
One of the peculiarities of Coco is that it was among the first perfumes to be conceived not as an extrait de parfum first but rather envisioned in its diluted form of eau de parfum. The market had gone away from the more discreet, more intimate use of parfum extrait and demanded a really powerful spray that would announced the wearer before she was seen; ergo the eau de parfum (and sometimes the parfum de toilette) concentration, less expensive than extrait but rivaling its lasting power, while at the same time being extra loud thanks to the volatility boost via the spraying mechanism.
The secret ingredient in the formula of Coco by Chanel is the inclusion of the base Prunol*, a rich and dark "dried fruits & spices" mélange famously exalted in Rochas Femme by Edmond Roudnitska, which gives Coco a burnished hint of raisin. The cascade of honeyed spices immediately asserts itself: pimento, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and clove, while the overall feeling is one of amber plush and resinous warmth (with a wink of leather) with the flowers folded into a rich batter and undiscernable. The patchouli (tucked into the Prunol base) gives a whiff of chocolate, though, in the words of Susan Irvine, not even a fashion innovator of the magnitude of Chanel would have considered a note reminiscent of a bedtime drink as worthy of consideration in fine fragrance. (One would perversely wish she had lived through present fruitchouli-infested times to see how she'd chuckle under her smartly cuffed sleeve.)
A Perfume Apart
Coco by Chanel enjoys something of a revered status among perfumistas, so it's not clear whether it should be considered an "underrated perfume" in the first place, but my inclusion in the Underrated Perfume Day series isn't totally random as it would appear on first sight nevertheless. First of all it was demanded by quite a lot of readers. Secondly, this is the kind of perfume that I should be theoretically crazy about (a spicy oriental in the mold of my beloved YSL vintage Opium, Cinnabar, Feminité du Bois and Krizia Teatro alla Scala) and yet I am not. Indeed I have been trying it on and off for decades now.
However when married with a huge bottle of Coco (extrait de parfum in spray no less) I had the following peculiar problem, for something so -allegedly- admired: I could NOT swap it with other interested perfumephiles no matter what! I tried everything: stooping to suggesting I'd trade for inexpensive eaux de toilette from mainstream brands, offering to supplement with generous niche samples, pleading "please take it off my hands, it's a shame it should collect dust, just take it already". No one wanted it. I finally gifted it off to a women's shelter where its whereabouts have been lost to me. The perfume lover who had sold it to me in the first place recounted to me the exact same problem: "I spent two years trying to get this thing off my hands; when you came along and showed an interest I couldn't believe it".
Is Coco by Chanel something that perfumistas like to reference but rarely -if ever- wear? Are its wearers merely nostalgic for the 1980s, a time they were young and more optimistic, and therefore owning a little bottle is just that, a memento of carefree times? Is it, finally, past its due and not that spectacular to begin with? I think a bit of all those things. One thing however that it did magnificently well was its advertising by Jean Paul Goude: Vanessa Paradis as an exotic bird in a cage whistling to the meowing of a big greedy cat outside and "l' ésprit de Chanel" as the tag line. Coco Chanel would have been proud.
For more perfume reviews of such fragrances check out the Underrated Perfume Day feature and scroll for more musings.
*For modern takes on the Prunol type base in perfumes, look no further than Bottega Veneta eau de parfum, Chinatown by Bond no.9 and Mon Parfum Chéri by Camille (Annick Goutal).
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Best Quirky, Spicy, Anisic or Floral Vanilla Perfumes (Vanilla Series) & a Tauer Perfumes Free Perfume Giveaway
First things first and if you think you have a lucky bone in your body, do drop a comment regarding the Advent Calendar that Tauer Perfumes is organizing for the festive season. Today PerfumeShrine is proud to host a giveaway for a free Explorer Set by Tauer Perfumes (seen here) which will be sent directly by Andy from Switzerland anywhere in the world. To enter the draw do comment below with a comment on the post, stating you want to be part of it. Draw is open till Wednesday 8am (my time) and winner will be announced tomorrow.
And now on to vanillas....
The wild card vanillas are among the most unexpected perfumes of all, because they take the most universally recognized note (vanilla) and spin it in ways that you tend to lose sight of it being vanilla that is lurking beneath all the adornments. If you have exhausted the gourmand, creamy, pure vanilla fragrances and shy away from the boozy/smoky vanilla perfumes or if you find that woody vanillas are too nondescript for your liking, then you have a pleiad of suggestions to satisfy your eccentric desire below.
Des Filles à la Vanille Garçon Manqué: very peachy and though sweet & flirty its milky and cedar background almost makes the vanilla take a back seat, a "tomboy", as its name would suggest, perfect for vanilla phobics.
Diptyque Eau Duelle: for something so dry, it's surprisingly lightweight and green, good for all weather conditions.
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Ylang & Vanille: the vanilla brings forth the nectarous and powdery aspects of the ylang ylang flower, replete with an unripe green banana note in the background.
Guerlain Cuir Beluga: the softest suede oriental with a discernible vanilla note.
Hermes (Hermessence) Vanille Galante: with a delectable lily impression, airy, fluffy, incredibly refined and totally charming, for those who typically look down on vanilla scents as vulgar and cheap, this is enough to make them change their mind.
Hei Poa Vanillier eau de toilette: a tropical take on vanilla, with beach references.
Jo Malone Vanilla Anise: the note of anise with its bittersweet melancholy and savory touch contrasts with the vanilla perfectly.
Korres Vanilla Cinnamon Body Water (and body wash): discontinued as the whole Body Water line (for no good reason!!) this used to be a spicy vanilla that actually managed to not smell foody or Christmas-y, what a loss.
L'Erbolario Vanilla & Ginger: another imaginative pairing for vanilla, the citrusy aspect of ginger lightens the proceedings.
La Maison de la Vanille Fleurie de Tahiti: quite sweet and tropical smelling.
Molinard Vanilla Marine: sounds perverse and therefore demands experiencing it.
Serge Lutens Douce Amere: bittersweet, contemplative, magnificent, a personal favorite ever since it launched.
Do you like quirky vanillas? Do you have some to add?
For a comprehensive view on Vanilla Fragrances in All Their Variations, please consult our Vanilla Series.
Monday, December 9, 2013
The new 68 Champs Elysees: the Guerlain Abode Gets Re-invented & Limited Editions for Guerlain Perfume Fans
In time for the holidays the Parisian flagship of Guerlain is re-opening its gilded doors to the dedicated beauty and fragrance lover to enjoy their renovated interiors at 68 Champs-Elysées.
The Maison Guerlain has reopened 68, Champs-Elysees, its mythical place. Located on the most beautiful avenue in the world since 1913, the historical store now offers doubled surface in a masterly decor. The architect and designer Peter Marino has set his eyes on this prestigious heritage, in order to offer the most luxurious Guerlain expression of its brand. Then as now, creativity, boldness and modernity are at the rendezvous.
To awaken the nose and tantalise the taste buds, Guerlain has created a unique place, the restaurant
"Le 68 Guy Martin ", born of the encounter between two talents, excelling in both arts of perfumery and gastronomy: Thierry Wasser, Guerlain Perfumer since 2008, and Guy Martin, Michelin-starred at Grand Véfour. Reservations: + 33 1 45 62 54 10 or firstname.lastname@example.org
An indispensable addition at anyone's Parisian must-see addresses guide when visiting the city of Lights.
On the first floor, the Guerlain Institute immerses us in a world of well-being and beauty, with an entirely new personalized program. Reservations: +33 1 45 62 11 21
The heir of the perfumers who supplied the Royal Court, Guerlain is reviving this prestigious past and majestically offering a new expression of the brand. This new Guerlain boutique looks to pay a contemporary homage to the expertise of French artistic craftsmanship, a real living heritage. The 17th century saw the dazzling rise of luxury under the influence of Louis XIV in Versailles, the official residence of the King from 1682 onwards. Manufactures were created, and Louis XIV surrounded himself with the best artists and craftsmen of his time. Today, true to the Sun King's spirit, the Château de Versailles provides a stage for contemporary art during temporary exhibitions.
Like a bridge between the past and the future, this boutique aims to offer a place for all perfume lovers to meet and share.
Last but not least the classic Eau Imperiale is celebrating 160 years. For the occasion, Guerlain has issued a special edition in a specially decorated bottle and box. Feast your eyes upon it.
I conducted a really direct, honest interview with Karen Gilbert, whose recent perfume book "Perfume: the Art & Craft of Fragrances" I reviewed on Perfume Shrine the other day. [The full interview is found on Fragrantica on this link.]
During our back & forth Gibert intimated the following interesting anecdote, which if nothing else proves that fragrance development is in reality far from what the average perfumista think it is. Let's give it to Karen.
|Pic provided by Karen Gilbert for use on PerfumeShrine|
"My role at the UK [IFF] office was to service projects which often had a very short turn around time. Sometimes we would only get a week or 2 (or less) to submit fragrances for a brief and we were juggling many different projects at a time. Unless it was for a huge launch like Lynx or Unilever or for a product that had technical challenges like a new type of antiperspirant base a perfumer wouldn’t even get the project – we would submit from what we call “shelf” fragrances which are collections developed for particular trends and already tested in product bases. I remember one particular brief for a mass market eau de toilette fragrance that we had no time on and the only suitable submission I had was a showergel fragrance that was less than half of the budget price we were given. I knew it would work but the client wouldn’t pick it if it was too cheap so I just altered the price to be in line with the other submissions. It won the brief and as far as I know it’s still in the fragrance market today, which goes to show that cost doesn’t always give an indication of quality."
Now, this is what I call honesty! Thanks, Karen!