|Shermine & Métal Hurlant |
Wednesday, 25 November 2015
‘..And my motto is the same as ever -
I believe in the kindness of strangers.
And when I'm at war with myself - I ride. I just ride..’
(From end monologue of Ride by Lana del Rey,
lyrics & music by Elisabeth Grant & Justin Parker)
Pierre Guillaume has recently released two new stylistically different fragrances, both of which have made their way into the foxy collection. The first, Metal Hurlant is the latest addition to his alluringly complex Collection Croisière, an olfactory exploration of places and spaces, travelling by air, road, water, bike, boat, foot, imagination and wilderness dreams. The second is Shermine, the thirteenth addition to his enigmatic diffusion range Huitième Art, where the focus on purity of form and relative simplicity of materials has created a line of honed and minimal serenity.
Metal Hurlant is a gasoline patchouli of burning roads, the thrill of hot bike chrome and embraceable weary leather jackets; a fantasy of cling, heat and dissonance. It’s sexy, weird, windswept and oddly dislocated. Shermine is its polar opposite in texture, inspired by the implied cruelty of silvered fur and the aged beauty of bruised iris rhizome, spiked with piquant citrus.
Wednesday, 4 November 2015
I firstly admit this piece will be a personal one. It has to be. The perfumer Euan McCall is a dear friend and someone I have known and worked with for years. However, I would not be reviewing the two chiaroscuro reflections of Neandertal if I did not think they were worthy of consideration. Euan and I are both intensely private men with high personal standards when it comes to our work: his olfaction and my writing. I inhale his work. He reads mine. I have observed the genesis of Neandertal and sampled the various mods along the way of what eventually coalesced into the Light and Dark versions of the compositions.
Euan is voraciously self-taught, obsessed with the beauty and power of perfume from an early age thanks in part to his own clinical, acquiring nature, perfectionism and a grandmother who wore only the most beautiful classic perfumes and instilled in him the importance of scent as statement, raiment and bijou. He has acquired an astonishing amount of knowledge since I have known him, organic chemistry, reverse engineering and the nuts and bolts of assembling a multitude of differing accords, bases and mods. He has set about making himself into the perfumer I think he has always wanted to be.
|Euan + Lily|
We have worked alongside each other now for years in a small Edinburgh-based fragrance boutique, laughing lots, occasionally bickering, sulking, learning from each other, but mostly laughing so damn much. We worked together on a few olfactory projects, but to be honest my heart (and talents..) do not lie in perfume creation. I am a writer, poet and evaluator. I can sample, inhale, sniff, wear, laud, love and wax lyrical on scented assembly and emotional impact, however Euan has an innate understanding of fragrance chemistry and construction.
|Mouilettes, numbers & materials|
He has honed and deepened this skill with self-study, market research and the steady, relentless creation of accords, bases, riffs and scents. His carefully gathered collection of oils and synthetics is mightily impressive and has dramatically helped to enrich and inform my own writing and connections to the often technically demanding entourage of olfactory flim-flam and obfuscation.
|Overhead of Euan's workspace|
The only way to really understand materials, their nuances and interactions is to smell, build and experiment. And Repeat. It is a rigourous discipline, more akin to science and mathematics with the complexities and minutiae of actual material weight and the more abstract exigencies of weighing off the effects and themes against one another. The relatively clinical role of combining ingredients seems straightforward enough and yet behind the science is a powerful and dramatic assembly of knowledge; the subtlety of floral aromatic sculpture, molecular tenacity, complimentary effects and polarising flora, an awareness of skin as canvas.. dirty, seductive and alluring.
|Euan's workbench with lily|
Fragrances are composed like musical compositions, notes, flowing over, in and out each other, rising falling, pianissimo, crescendo, aubade and coda. This of course is true for contemporary niche and artisanal perfumery; high street, big budget scent creation strides a different client-led budget-controlled path which while it might have some artistic credibility and imagination glimmering behind it is essentially a big-bucks driven behemoth that must move enormous unitary in order to justify blockbuster ad campaigns, models, movie stars and mini-movies.