Monday, November 23, 2015

Annick Goutal Les Absolus Vanille Charnelle: fragrance review

The problem with the term "charnelle" (carnal in French) for Anglo-speaking audiences persists after the online mocking of Guerlain's analogous fragrances (Les Elixirs Charnels or better known as Carnal Elixirs). Of course one might argue it's hard to beat Poupée (doll in French) by Rochas... Nevertheless don't let that distract you from the creamy goodness of the latest Annick Goutal vanilla fragrance, Vanille Charnelle, part of Les Absolus d'Annick Goutal luxury perfumes trio.

Vanilla fragrances can come in various guises and heaven knows one more vanilla is not what is missing from the market, especially at this point. However the polished touch of perfumer Isabelle Doyen and art director Camille Goutal promises a milk bath preceding a lovers' tryst Popaea (Sabena) style.

The butyric note in Vanille Charnelle is held down by two interesting elements making the fluffy base more playful; one is a peppery note that tingles the sinuses with the anticipation of a session of light spanking, the other a nectarous ylang ylang which brings the floralcy of vanilla into focus. Dark vanillas exhibit boozy, dark, whiskey and rum facets, but Vanille Charnelle is more reminiscent of almonds than of booze and has that goose down feel that white musk has when done right.

For Goutal, who had already offered the moderately priced Vanille Exquise, which many vanilla lovers counted among the ones they love, the decision to offer a disproportionately elevated in the posh stakes vanilla sounds rather odd. But vanilla is a known aphrodisiac, as per pop culture (and who can forget the Guerlain claims to Shalimar being cat nip thanks to its rich, dark, leathery vanilla) and it seems one can't have too many in one line. It also ensures a steady interest at the counter...

The luxurious presentation by Annick Goutal in the Les Absolus line, that opens like the scene of a theatre production to reveal a performance by good actors, merits the asking price more than the innovation of the formula. Still...pas mal du tout.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: 
Annick Goutal news & reviews
Top Vanilla Fragrances: a Series

Friday, November 13, 2015

Malle and Benaim Lecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design

Harvard Graduate School of Design organizes a lecture in their Fall Public Lecture Series featuring perfume editor Frédéric Malle and perfumer Carlos Benaïm.

Frédéric Malle of Editions de Parfums with Perfumer Carlos Benaïm
Thursday, November 19 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm in Piper Auditorium, Gund Hall, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Frédéric Malle will speak about design, the creative process, the fragrances themselves, and their ingredients and history, joined in conversation by perfumer Carlos Benaïm.

Carlos Benaïm (left image) spent his childhood in Tangier, close to natural ingredients that gave him a taste for beauty. He later trained under legendary American perfumer Ernest Shiftan, where he instilled a boldness and bravado into his creations.

Frédéric Malle (right image) was born in Paris into a family deeply involved in perfume and the arts, including his grandfather, who worked closely with Dior to create Parfums Christian Dior; his mother, who was art director of the Dior house of fragrance; and his uncle, the film director Louis Malle. After studying art history at NYU, seeking to master every aspect of the perfume trade, Frédéric Malle worked at French ad agency Havas International and at fragrance lab Roure under master perfumer Jean Amic before establishing Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle in Paris in 2000, which soon expanded to department stores and stand-alone boutiques in New York, Rome, and London.

Rejecting the norms of mass produced fragrance, seeking a return to luxury and creativity, Malle has kept his company on a carefully controlled scale in order to empower the fragrance creators while offering the customer an exceptional experience. He has developed his fragrances through collaborations with well-known master perfumers of today, including Dominique Ropion, Jean-Claude Ellena, Maurice Roucel, Olivia Giacobetti, Pierre Bourdon, Edmond Roudnitska, and (son) Michel Roudnitska.

Malle regards fragrance creation as analogous to publishing a book, with the nose as the author, the name of the fragrance as the title, and himself as editor in chief. This metaphor inspired the sophisticated yet restrained brand identity of Editions de Parfums. His shop interiors—including the Greenwich Village store designed with architect Steven Holl—include Malle's own invention: the "smelling column" that first appeared in the boutique in Barney's New York, which allow a customer to experience the scent and appreciate its complexity in isolation from the surrounding air.

Supported by the Rouse Visiting Artist Fund.

For accessibility accommodations, please contact the events office in advance at events AT gsd.harvard.edu or call (617) 496-2414.

There is also a live stream link.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Oohing and Aahhing Together on my Favorite Chypres Fragrances

Chypre perfumes are what I grew up with. They form part of my heritage because I practically grew up in the greater part of the world where they were conceived originally, the Eastern Mediterranean. Coty's version was a re-imagining. They also smell familiar because practically all the women in my family (and a few men) favored them. For us Southern Europeans the scents of powder, of dryness, of bitter-like scents, and associatively of lack of perspiration, indicate grooming and an immaculately polished appearance. Despite or perhaps because of the region's cultural preponderance to both a groomed rigidity and a carnal sexuality that oozes through every sweaty pore, chypres with darker, animalic elements have seemed both right and alluring. It's a paradox since high temperatures also favor a lighter scent; yet chypre fragrances have the added advantage to not only cut through the heat but almost alleviate it a bit to both the wearer's and the sniffer's mind thanks to their highly volatile citrusy top notes and their starched, mossy undertone.
In short they fit like a glove.

I like them all. Tailored chypres, classic chypres, nouveau chypres and patchouli florals too!

Initially my concept into sharing some of my personal favorite fragrances, as requested by readers, was to highlight less well known specimens. And in part that's what I did with my rather eclectic mix presented in my previous post on A few of my favorite less celebrated fragrances where I also matched them with some of my favorite verse. Chypres however for the reasons I have explained in that previous post have gained a status of rarefied "against the grain" chicness amidst the market selection.

Mossy fragrances can sometimes appear out of step too, dragging the "old lady perfume" stigma with them. I'm brushing that thought away with an assured "hell no care" shrug of the shoulders and I suggest you do the same. The truth is this fragrance family has included some of the most masterful perfumes in modern perfumery. And we can collectively sigh with pleasure at unapologetically liking them.

Here a few of my favorite chypre fragrances in alphabetical order.
NB. I did not include true leather scents though because technically these are a breed apart (though sometimes conflated with chypres). For leather scents please consult the Leather Series. Also discounted green florals, such as Chanel No.19 (which I love in summer heat) or Cristalle for similar reasons.

Armani original eau de parfum pour femme
I wore this in high school. A girl was so inspired she copied me relentlessly. Needless to say I'm heartbroken it got discontinued.

Aromatics Elixir by Clinique
Practically my very definition of a true chypre. Huge patchouli beast with rose, an enchanted forest. I first fell with love it in junior high. Almost every woman in Athens has worn it at some point or other. Huge best-seller and the most delicious trail on any passerby.

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum by Bottega Veneta
Rich prune fruity compote with a troubling under torrent. Delightful.

Cabochard by Madame Gres
My mother's beloved in its original formula and for that reason a poignant and sweet

Bandit eau de parfum by Robert Piguet
The scent of a dominatrix is also a fiercely green mossy one.

Deneuve by Catherine Deneuve (distributed by Avon in the US market)
What would you have expected from perfumista-celebrity La Deneuve? All that and more.

Diorella, Dioressence and Miss Dior (original) by Dior
I have covered all these in my Dior series. Linked above are detailed reviews & historical snippets.

Diorling by Dior
Cusp between leathery and chypre. Smooth as sin, beautiful like an angel.

Doblis by Hermes
La douleur exquise. Don't get me started. It's criminal that this smoothest of chypre -suede compositions isn't (and isn't going to be) re-issued.

Femme by Rochas
As feminine as its name suggests, as streamlined as a tailleur. I love the modern re-edition by Cresp where the note of cumin boosts the sexiness hundred-fold.

Jean Louis Scherrer I (original) by Jean Louis Scherrer
Liquid emeralds. This.

Jubilation 25 by Amouage
Proof that modern fruity chypres can be made to perfection.

Mitsouko by Guerlain
The reference fruity chypre with a mouthwatering (to me at least) cinnamon-clove addition, especially perceptible in the lighter concentrations such as the eau de toilette and eau de cologne.

Paloma Picasso (Mon Parfum) by Paloma Picasso
This is one of the loveliest, dense yet wearable chypre in existence. I don't know why people don't wear it more. It also lasts for eons.

Une Rose Chypree by Tauer Perfumes
Another modern fragrance that proves one can do a fabulous chypre with today's materials. My bottle has run out.

Y by Yves Saint Laurent
The most polished chypre gem. From the most elegant couturier to walk this earth. Deep love.

Concluding, it's not a coincidence I have reviewed in detail and referenced all of these perfumes many times. They resonate.

Feel free to add your own (or your own experiences with them) in the comments!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A few of my favorite less celebrated fragrances

Since almost every perfumephile agrees on the trancedental character of Bois des Iles (Chanel) or the easy swagger of Tabac Blond (Caron) and the quirkiness of Bulgari Black or Bandit (Piguet) there would be no point to regurgitate a list of "sign me up as a parfumista" fumes. Yes I do happen to love all of these celebrated perfumes. To prove one's mettle is the game of the novice and here at Perfume Shrine we're 10 years old.

But readers kindly suggested I share with them which are my favorite fragrances; at least some of them. 

So without further ado below find a list of personal favorites. They may not be the most obscure nuggets in Fragoland but they do not get the praise they deserve. I wonder why. Maybe for those still in production this highly personal list might be the kick off to encourage more people to buy them and therefore actually keep them in production for awhile longer...At any rate I frequently use these and enjoy them.
I decided to match them each to a line of poetry I particularly enjoy. See if you do as well.

Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Ginepro di Sardegna
All the white horses are still in bed

Annick Goutal Myrrhe Ardente
And then she would smile to show me how and it was the saddest smile I ever saw.

Annick Goutal Musc Nomade 
But we loved with a love that was more than love.

Apivita Earth
Moss circled; female; promised land.

Boucheron Femme 
Rage rage against the dying of the light.

Chanel Antaeus 
(They've aged us prematurely Yorgos do you realize?)

Crazy Libellule and the Poppies Musc & Patchouli
I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.

Frederic Malle Lys Mediterranee
Hope is the thing with feathers.


Guerlain Parure
For a moment you waved your bolero and your orange petticoat like banners. 

Guerlain Vetiver pour Elle
She seems celestial songs to hear.

Hermes Equipage
And I who longed to be buried one day in some deep sea of the distant Indies shall come to a dull and common death. 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Passage d'Enfer
A gloomy line of snuffed out candles.

L'Artisan Parfumeur Oillet Sauvage
But I shall write a sorrowful ballad for the forgotten poets

Lancome Miracle So Magic 
He kisses those adored lips; excites himself on that exquisite body.

Le Labo Gaiac 10 
And in a way I'm yearning to be done with this measuring of truth

Ormonde Jayne Tolu
Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert.

Oriflame Amber Elixir Night 
Towards these isles of yours that await for me.

Paco Rabanne La Nuit
Misted the flowers weep as light dies.

Ramon Monegal Mon Cuir
Oh there is thunder in our hearts.

Serge Lutens La Myrrhe
You will not read the riddle though you do the best you can do.

Sonia Rykiel Woman Not for Men
Oh it's hard on the man. Now his part is over.

Valeur Absolue Sensualite 
My face became all eyes and my eyes all hands.

Zara White Jasmine 
Thy hair soft lifted by the winnowing wind.

BTW I noticed an interesting phenomenon by going through the list. There are almost no chypres there. [edit to add: I just thought that La Nuit could be classified as a quirky leathery chypre and Parure is a fruity chypre.] That's very odd because I ADORE chypres and I wear chypres quite a bit in my everyday existence! So what gives?

I came to realize that there are no "favorite less celebreated" chypres because all chypres have become celebrated in online perfumedom; even "chypres" that are not technically speaking chypres (Chanel No.19 I'm talking to you)!

This is what an avalanche of sweet tutti fruti scents does to the average perfumista; they retaliate by embracing the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Companies please take note. Therefore I couldn't include "less celebrated chypres". These will need to wait for a subsequent post of "favorite celebrated chypres" so we can all oooh and aaaah together in awed rapture...

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