I am quicksilver, the fox in the night, emotional about the poetry, love & desire in scent, read me.
Thursday, 1 May 2014
Facets of Flawless Love: ‘Rose Cut’ by Ann Gerard
Esxence 2014 took place in
March and many of the world’s most revered niche houses and perfumers laid out
their scented wares, showcasing their latest launches or teasing us with
promises of things to come. New houses show exciting and dynamic new scents, friends
meet and mingle, and distributors carefully decide whose glorious juice they
wish to promote to the world.
Niche and artisanal perfumery
is a relatively small incestuous mix of ideas and olfactory rivalries. But the
artistic impact of what comes out of the scented cauldron should never be
underestimated. Mainstream trends will follow in two, maybe three years.
Smaller houses react more viscerally and pertinently to the zeitgeist, to the
sexuality of the now. The reportage and coverage of these niche perfume
gatherings can err a little on the fawning side from time to time, but this is
due to the familiarity of the major players and the solidarity of the scented
brethren. Woven into this is the very fluid and fruitful role of blogger and
fragrance writer. Many of these women and men have built up tremendously close
working relationships with brands, brand owners, perfumers and boutique owners, this works for everyone, providing of course there is full disclosure of source
and intent etc. It is a close community where people are proud to have access
to the things they love.
I am one of these people, a
writer whose duel passion for words and fine fragrance has allowed me to build
a strong singular network of extraordinarily gifted people whose multitudinous
skills bring me immense joy and happiness. My respect for their commitment is
reflected in the lack of negative reviews I post. I don’t believe in them.
Writing negative prose makes me enormously sad and angry. It drains my spirit.
I don’t wear fragrance I don’t like, so why should I bother writing about it.
There are lots of other bloggers prepared to put the knife in and puncture
launches. Each to their own, everyone is welcome to an opinion. I also buy the
fragrance I blog on, it honours the perfumer and the work. Sampling may be a
necessity sometimes, but when it comes to actually sitting down and writing a
piece, a committed bottle is required.
This is an expensive love
affair, this lifelong passion for scent, but the anticipation of the spend, the
allocation of funds towards something sensual, decadent, gourmand, indolic,
leathered, smoky, abstract, porny or just so damn fucking beautiful your heart
breaks as the scent floods your senses… memories rise and fall, lovers come and
go. For a moment you are lost in yourself, frozen in a world of suspended
associations, linked by a lick of golden amber, damp rolled tobacco or the
resinous plume of cathedral smoke.
I wanted to go to Esxence
this year, but a combination of work and ill health conspired against me. There
were some wonderful things being mentioned by daily Showcase reports. I
re-posted a few recently. I was intrigued by the new Blood Concept fragrances Xl (Xyelm) & PH, (Phloem) inspired by
the arterial processes trees and plants use to draw water and nutrients
upwards. The BC boys always manage to pull off the avant-garde and extreme
without seeming ridiculous. There is always a faint whiff of the emperor’s new
cloths but this is most decidedly lost amid the miasma of sensuous menace and medical
carnality the brand exudes.
I want to try Alessandro
Gualtieri’s new House Orto Parisi; they sound ego-driven and bonkers. He is a
very unpredictable Nose, his work for MariaLux, his wife Lilian Driessen’s
brand is beautifully rendered, delicate and ruthlessly chic. He was at Esxence
promoting his provocative new Orto Parisi line and also the last Nasamotto, Blamage, whose complex and somewhat
convoluted creation is the subject of a new documentary entitled: ‘The Nose, Searching for Blamage’
directed by Paul Rigter. There are also two new MariaLux scents, Aramesh and Mogadess concerned with the body after death. How typically
Sara Carner was there too;
her eponymous Barcelona inspired line is just lovely, made with passion, personal
commitment and a truly beautiful eye for a story. Each scent is intricately
linked to Sara’s beloved city and her own personal history as a direct
descendent from a family of leather workers. The packaging and bottles have
real presence. Her Rima XI is a
really unique scent that I fell in love with, as soon I smelled for the first
time in Bloom Perfumery in London. The mix of spice, mint and a really mellow
fragrant saffron note is laid gently over balms, balsams, resins, jasmine and
vanilla. The effect is mesmerising. At Esxence Sara was previewing El Born, a chocolate and licquorice gourmand
she is launching in June. This sounds very Foxy.
Anais Beguine’s Les Jardins d’Ecrivains
launched Junky, a most beguiling and
unusual sounding homage to the most controversial of the Beat writers William
Burroughs, queer, drug addict, naked luncher, loon and murderer; he famously
killed his wife when he failed to shoot an apple off her head at a party and
shot her instead. Infamous doesn’t begin to describe him. I will admit to being
a little surprised by Anais’ choice of writer for her latest scent, but she is a
bold perfumer and this inky, smoky scent sounds very intriguing.
For the Fox though there were
only a couple of perfumes I really wanted to sample, beg, steal and harvest.
The Parisian jeweller Ann Gerard’s latest Rose
Cut, by Bertrand Duchaufour who worked with Ann to create the other three
existing scents in her jewel-inspired portfolio, including the melting,
mysterious Cuir de Nacre, possibly
one of the most beautiful iris (& leather) fragrances of all time. The
other was the long-awaited Rozy duo
(eau de parfum and voile d’extrait) by the magisterial Vero Kern, force of
nature and creatrix extraordinaire, and a rosaceous homage to Anna Magnani,
Italian neo-realist actress, icon and symbol of peerless earthy sensuality.
These two fragrances will be joining Cuir
de Nacre, Onda and Kiki in my Foxy study. I actually
acquired Cuir de Nacre and Onda at the same time on a visit to
Bloom along with a bottle of Poudre de
Riz by Huitième Art. So these two remarkable and very different women are
linked in my mind. I have blogged on both queens of scent before, on the
tremulous arcane elegance of Cuir de
Nacre and the rare and sensuous handling of deeply erotic materials by Vero
Kern. There is a slight difference. Vero is an alchemist, a truly instinctual
perfumer, imagining for us how fin de siècle skin games may have smelled and
played out. Ann is an elaborate and fine tuned jeweller, working with precious
metals, opalescent stones and the wear
of stones on skin. She has chose to use an interpreter if you like, someone who
will guide her, bring her creations to life. She couldn’t have chosen better
than the self-effacing and artistic Bertrand Duchaufour, a man who loves an
olfactory challenge. His work to date for Parfums Ann Gerard has been simply
The trio of Cuir de Nacre, Ciel d’Opale and Perle de
Mousse inspired by Ann’s trademark use of opalescence, milkiness and glow
in her jewellery are sublimely executed works of olfaction. I have written
extensively before on my love for Cuir de
Nacre. You can read my previous piece by following the link below.
very interested to see what Ann and Bertrand would do next, how the jewellery
aspect of Ann’s personal vision could continue to be translated coherently
through the medium of scent without seeming forced or overtly artificial.
So now we have Rose Cut, a rose scent, a rose with
thorns and lush deluxe petals. There is danger, spindle-pricking sharpness
doused in a boozy-woozy swoon of creamy berry mantling. As the opening salvo of
rum and peppered aldehydes melt into skin, a darker earthiness of crumbling
soil and scattered storm-struck blooms rises through the composition, balancing
out any potential syrupy excess from the vanilla marrying the rum. If anything,
the vanilla is rather dirty, allied more closely to the benzoin and oakwood,
dank and a little Grimm. At the heart of this glittering scent is of course Bertrand’s
ravishing use of a rose/peony duet, the two notes revolving around one another
like famished lovers. The patchouli that shares the heart is their fire, pure
This seemingly simple floral
accord is actually incredibly difficult to pull off. The peony is halo to the
rose, illuminating the folds and nooks of the secretive bloom. Done with
urgency and understanding of floral dynamics, the scent should flare like a
fiery parure on pale skin in a flickering shadowed room.
Bertrand’s other significant
rose scent is Paestum Rose, for Eau d’Italie, the range of fragrances
made for the Sirenuse Hotel in Positano. It is a very mixed bag of perfumes,
some lovely – Paestum Rose, Bois d’Ombrie, Baume du Doge and Sienne
l’Hiver (all by Bertrand), the others all somewhat lacking in character and
finesse. In Paestum Rose, which is incredibly dry oddly, Bertrand has
counterpointed a shimmering Turkish rose against dense resins, incense and
spices such as cinnamon, pepper and coriander. The key to harmonising this
potentially over-accented brew is blackcurrant bud, used with tremendous
finesse and subtle intensity. The fruit note adds depth and a hint of sweet
moisture as the rose is sacrificed to the gods above on cloud of crackling
resins. Paestum Rose is one of
Bertrand’s best scents, often overlooked in his scentography, but skin loves
it. It takes a lot of skill to create a truly dry airy rose scent, awash with
fire yet still translucent enough to allow the wind to carry the echoes for
miles and miles.
Repeated wearing of Rose Cut reveals flickers of cruelty in
the mulch, the embers of floral fire. There is a slash in the velvet; the
thorny rose can simmer on the skin like dark sugared rhubarb and blackberries,
all jammy, aromatic and poetic. Mr E. cites Paris
Vodka as a reference, sweet creamy vodka with a hit of strawberry to it, a
singular mix of boozy excess and fin de siècle naughtiness. And it’s true, a
certain booziness holds sway throughout the drydown, but then Bertrand has
always loved a tipple in his fragrances, especially rum (Frapin’s 1697, L’Artisan Parfumeur’s VanilleAbsolument and Deliria…),
he uses it to amplify his beloved vanilla thus gilding his luscious
The latter stages of Rose Cut are defiantly beautiful, raging
against the vanishing bloom and conformity with velveteen poise and the dignity
of a single petal dropping oh so quietly to rain-torn ground. This is a rose I
will wear forever.
For more information on Parfums Ann Gerard, please follow the link below: