through Harvey Nichols on a work break, tired and vaguely peeved as I am
usually am in department stores by the miasma of scent and the slapdash approach
to perfume promotion, I was not really expecting to see or at least smell
anything interesting. I had already been utterly deflated by the latest Tom
Ford floral releases, hyped as usual and massively underwhelming. As a man
obsessed with all things lilium related
I had been looking forward to trying his LysFumé, the lily soliflore from the Jardin Noir quartet. I realised after
spraying it on, there is a facet to all of the TF fragrances that I actively dislike;
that in fact rather irritates me. Despite all the talk of high-level naturals
and absolutes etc, they all have an off-putting malaise, a breath of deoderised car, lighter fuel and smoked bug
spray that sits under the notes like a latent curse. The Lys Fumé was no exception; in fact I recoiled from my own skin. Now
if you follow my writing you will now how much I adore lily soliflores, I have
at least six or seven tremulous variations in my collection at home, but this
smelt like burnt bathroom freshener, not a good effect in a fragrance.
my wrist in a vain hope the drydown might unlock a twist in the formula and I
would perhaps marvel at the sudden majesty of lily-form lines and curves, I
noticed the new Balenciaga fragrance was being merchandised. Obviously just in,
the striking carnivorous botanical packaging caught my eye and lured me over. The
Lys Fumé at this point had withered
to a flat and unimaginative campheraceous echo of the original indolic floral
flourish. The smoked note was drawn in the air like cheap cigarette smoke in a bus
shelter. I am really beginning to wonder whether the immaculately hirsute Mr
Ford has anything to do with his scents any more, they are becoming increasingly
dull and formulaic. Pricy and glossy Dynasty concoctions for scousewives and
Beverly Hills princesses.
Florabotanica is the third fragrance from Balenciaga under
the mighty creative sweep of Nicholas Ghesquière, one of the few true
visionaries working in fashion today. The first two fragrances used the
enigmatic note of violet to create similar yet reflectively different
interpretations.I will admit to being
rather underwhelmed by the first Balenciaga
Paris, which I found bloodless and wan. It expired far too quickly on my
skin and made me shudder as if shaking the hand of someone I knew was going to
die. It was too safe, despite a coldly beautiful campaign fronted by the
mercurial and inscrutable Charlotte Gainsbourg. However the second version, Balenciaga Paris L’Essence, was divine,
poetic and fairytale-like in its dreamy interpretation of the way through the
woods. The violets glowing amethyst in hazy pockets of sunshine dappled with
glinting metallic musk tones like coins in the sunlight counterpointing the
floral elements with elegance and grace; lending an air of toughness I found
lacking in the original.
received the most wonderful gift in the post from two new friends in Lyon
recently. Fellow fragrance lovers, on holiday in Edinburgh earlier this year, we
met and bonded over olfactory passions, practiced our languages and now talk in
the electronic ether about all things fragrance related. They both have
exquisite emotional taste in perfume and are adventurous in their desires to
search out the new and unusual while remaining faithful to fragrances that
anchor them to memories of their travels, home and each other.
them some samples of fragrance, Penhaligon’s Peoneve and a spare bottle of my touchtone leather, Tom of Finland by Etat Libre D’Orange
for B to try. My gift arrived wrapped in lovely vintage Laura Ashley wallpaper,
and slightly knocked from its journey and there was a faint scent of caramelised
sugar rising from the paper. Inside the box was a bottle of L’Être Aimé by Parfums Divine, a bijou
niche house based in Dinard on the north coast of Brittany and founded by Yvon
Mouchel in 1986.
elegant and classically constructed fragrances have become quietly successful
with perfume cognoscenti and lovers of scented difference. As an independant,
Mouchel has control over his own business, releasing a limited number of
bottles a year. Instead of following trends he is free to explore his love and
passion for the drama and classicism of fine fragrance. His first creation, the
eponymous Divine, released in 1986 is
a sophisticated and truly elegant portrayal of woman as art. TO me she is
swathed in pearls and a subtle cigarette haze with the music of Mahler playing
softly around her as she stands at a window looking out in the night. It was Divine that created the scented buzz
that started Mouchel’s cult following.
from a cosmetics background, Mouchel was pretty much fragrance self taught, obsessed
with the artistic aspects of olfactory experiences. He works with renowned
noses, fellow Breton Yann Vasnier (Givaudan)and Richard Ibanez (Robertet)to
create a line of fragrances that have clarity, intent and tremendous beauty.
They seem to echo luminous creations of the past, while somehow remaining
totally unique to themselves. This is very difficult to achieve in today’s
crowded and cloned fragrance world.
a perfume is an artform…. A great perfume is a work of art’.
how Mouchel views his world. Perhaps other perfumers should listen (and take
notes….!) and we might be spared the avalanche of tedious smelling releases
that crowd around us with the monotony of elevator jazz.
to detail and commitment to quality in Divine frgrances is superb. Each of the
fragrances has soul, personality and oozes distinctive style. I have sampled
the original Divine and L’Homme de Coeur before. Then someone
passed on a decant of L’Inspiratrice,
dismissing it as too sweet for their skin. I on the other hand loved its
sweetness, it translated into chocolate fire on my skin, laced with ylang,
peony, white musks and tonka, all things I like in my fragrances. Also the rose
note floating through was rather mournful, like a cloud passing overhead on an
otherwise sunny day. Most beguiling.