Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bond No.9 - Andy Warhol Lexington Avenue

exington Avenue
from Bond No.9 is the third collaboration with the Andy Warhol foundation, the previous two releases being Silver Factory and Union Square. This most recent fragrant instalment continues in the fun and hedonistic spirit associated with Warhol's art and lifestyle.

Lexington Avenue opens with an initial blast of fennel making the first impression a bit opaque. From its liquorice-like, spicy and considerably woody top, the fragrance progresses smoothly trough several phases. In the end the overall impression is quite suede-like. No harsh leather, but delicate suede with subtle floral elements - almost abstract.

There's a resemblance to Serge Lutens's Daim Blond, especially in the heart notes. The suede accord mingling with cardamom and something reminiscent of apricot kernels can be found in both. However Lexington Avenue takes a more gourmand route, albeit a moderate one. Roasted almonds add a coffee like touch, Italian orris root provides depth while créme brulee sweetens the deal and adds some edge.

However, the drydown is where this fragrance really shines. The use of patchouli is brilliant. Removed of all it's naturally earthy sharpness it beautifully anchors the composition along with a more traditional rendition of sandalwood. The end result - contemporary and unique. The official pyramid further includes notes of blue cypress, pink peony and pimento berry.

The eye catching flacon with its colourful stilettos - a reference to Warhol's early days as an illustrator of among other things vibrant shoes - only partly represents the content. Although vivacious and somewhat playful, Lexington Avenue is a very soft and tender perfume, even sensual. Like many L'Artisan Parfumeur fragrances, it stays close to the skin, but with very good longevity. To conclude, Bond No. 9 has created a modern and well behaved gourmand perfect for romantic occasions.

Year of Launch: 2008
Gender Classification: Feminine, but wearable for basically anyone
Reminiscent of: Serge Lutens Daim Blond, Caron Eau de Reglisse
Longevity & Sillage: Above average longevity, subtle sillage
Overall rating: 7/10

Rawhide! The Great Leathers Part I: Santa Maria Novella - Nostalgia

The ability to recreate the pungent and characteristic aroma of leather in perfumery dates back several centuries and involves many great houses and perfumers. In this section Rawhide! The Great Leathers I'll be taking a closer look at some of the most important contributions in the genre.

Leather fragrances diverge hugely, one of the reasons being that leather itself can't be distilled but needs to be recreated in an abstract way through other components. Therefore there are as disparate renditions as Truefitt & Hill's Spanish Leather from 1830 which sports a soapy and sweet tone, Helmut Lang's contemporary Cuiron with its slightly fruity approach and Chanel's very animalic Cuir de Russie.

But first out a more modern take from ancient Italian monastery, herbarium and fragrance maker Santa Maria Novella. Nostalgia is a tribute to automobiles and the aesthetics of early 20th century motoring. The overall impression is however something very avant-garde, especially due to the turbulent opening notes of motor grease and sharp petroleum. This weird bit fades pretty rapidly, making way for something conjuring up images of the majestic leather interior of a Roll's Royce Phantom or vintage Bentley.

In some ways it resembles the old leathers like Knize Ten and even Caron's Tabac Blond, it's closest relative though has to be Bulgari Black, but Nostalgia is even more progressive. Something very untypical for being a Santa Maria Novella fragrance - after all we're talking about a house with several centuries of heritage. In no way does Nostalgia put that legacy to shame, quite on the contrary- this is probably their best launch so far and a great addition to the field.
Overall Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Citrus Anatomy Part II - Floris Pink Grapefruit

In the further exploration of this great category of fragrances time has come to esteemed British house Floris.

heir Pink Grapefruit from 2004 is brilliant in its naive simplicity. A super clean, fizzy cologne based on the lovely aroma of freshly squeezed pink grapefruits. The juicy pulp accord is nicely supplemented by a light touch of the white grapefruit blossom. Minimalism at it's finest.

Regarding it's longevity I don't find it half as bad as many say, easily lasts 4-6 hours, which is a lot considering it's carefree citrus anatomy. One of the best, effortless feelgood juices out there - sparkling and playful ingenuity. I don't see how anyone could dislike this.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Monday, September 15, 2008

Montale - Aoud Lime

Aoud Lime is one of those fragrances that hardly leaves anyone neutral. This Montale, like most others from this French house, is a intense and somewhat aggressive fragrance with an exuberant personality. For the record, my experience with oud or agarwood was somewhat limited before trying this line, but I certainly enjoyed it in Yves Saint Laurent's M7.

After sampling a few of the oud based Montales, M7 seems to be true enough to the nature of this pungent wood. But despite their slight resemblance, Aoud Lime, is something completely different. The heady, oily citrus combined with saffron and the charred, smoky and semi-sweet wood create a dry, herbaceous and medicinal aura. The dryness is further accentuated by iris and aromatic sandalwood. The effect of the notes mingling together make for a dusty, romantic impression, but one that smells very clean at the same time - puzzling and dissonant in a good way. Also the sillage is a killer - this will take over a small room in no time, so be gentle on the trigger.

he main difference compared to other Montale agarwood fragrances is that Aoud Lime lacks the eccentric floral elements that make so many of the others unwearable for me. There is some rose lurking in there, but that strong middle eastern floral sensation is not present at all. Therefore Aoud Lime is by far my favourite in this range. A sharp, dense and unique perfume.

Year of Launch: 2006
Gender Classification: Unisex
Reminiscent of: Yves Saint Laurent M7, L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses
Longevity & Sillage: Both nuclear
Overall rating: 7/10

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Paco Rabanne - 1 Million

Paco Rabanne fragrances have had a certain edge compared to other mainstream designer offerings during the last two decades: from the excellent XS pour Homme - which many consider Creed's Himalaya to be a copy of, the milky, avant-garde but disappointing Ultraviolet Man to the overlooked but decent crisp lavender of Eau de Paco Rabanne pour Homme. Not always with completely successful results, this house at least has made an effort to put out original stuff.

The most recent masculine launch, 1 million, is no exception. Apparently the perfume - and obviously the flacon, was inspired by Paco Rabanne's famous metallic fashions. The fragrance is however not particularly metallic. Instead, 1 Million is a very modern take on leather.

he composition strikes me as very simple, but quite effective and interesting - not something I remember to really have experienced before. The topnotes are dominated by a beautiful blood orange that makes way for some cinnamon, mint and subtle rose. The drydown, which arrives way too quickly, is an attractive light leather - more suede cloth than biker jacket. The overall impression of 1 Million is very positive, intensely wearable and just right in its contemporary vision.

However there are two slight problems... First of all: the bottle... What were they thinking? The thing looks like a bar of gold from Uncle Scrooges Duckburg mansion. The reference to Mr. Rabannes love for incorporating metal in his designs was perfectly done in 1969's Calandre, this packaging is just beyond tacky.

The bigger issue though is the extremely short longevity of the fragrance. Fading from the skin in less than two hours ruins a bit of an otherwise great experience. Hopefully a concentrated version will follow. Either way 1 Million is a very nice surprise and will hopefully do well.

Year of Launch: 2008
Gender Classification: Masculine
Reminiscent of: Jean Luc Amsler Privé, Hugo Boss Baldessarini
Longevity & Sillage: Both unfortunately below average
Overall rating: 7/10

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Forgotten Gems Part II - Joop! Nightflight

In the continuing quest for forgotten gems it's time to turn our eyes to German designer Wolfgang Joop and his excellent sophomore effort in the masculine fragrance department. Decadent, original and still readily available, Nightflight from 1992 never really achieved major success - especially compared to it's big bad predecessor in the red bottle...

It's a pleasure to wear this fresh but powerful blend that is full with the confidence of the early nineties. Launched before the grunge era and recession, Nightflight definitely has more in common with Wall Streets' Gordon Gekko than Nirvana or Soundgarden.

omposition wise it's a predecessor to Chanel's Allure Pour Homme - both with strong tonka basenotes, but Nightflight sports plenty of character of it's own. There's a strong tropical theme throughout the development, mainly attributable to pineapple mingling with sweet vanilla. A pungent coriander, reminiscent of the one found in Rochas Aquaman, together with breezy floral notes add some eccentricity before the slightly synthetic but smooth and pleasant sandalwood takes over the final hours of the drydown.

ightflight is a great alternative to the original Joop! Homme, with the same innovative and extroverted vibe, but without all the cloying bits.
Overall rating: 7/10

Friday, September 5, 2008

Speed Review: Dsquared2 - He Wood

Year of Launch: 2007
Gender Classification: Masculine
Availability: In Production
Dominant notes: Musk, violet leaves, vetiver, cedarwood.
Reminiscent of: Geoffrey Beane Grey Flannel, Narcisso Rodriguez For Him, Kenzo Air
Longevity & Sillage: Both slightly below average
Packaging & Design: Well made smoked glass flacon with wooden frame
5 adjectives: Minimalist, cedar heavy, contemporary, clean, ozonic
Overall rating: 6/10

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Guerlain - Homme

Thierry Wasser, Guerlains new in house perfumer, surely has a daunting challenge ahead of him. To succesfully take this ancient bastion of traditional perfumery into the new millenium while respecting the rich heritage and at the same time branching out into the mainstream with more modern and accessible products will be very hard. To say the least. Hopefully Mr Wassers surname isn't indicative of what we can expect fragrance wise.

Thankfully watered down is not in any way a main characteristic of the brand new Homme. Unfortunately original isn't either. Upon application it immediately reminded me of Thierry Mugler's B*Men. A similarity that remains troughout much of progression of the scent. Rhubarb is a common note in both, but they also share a strong and sweet woody base with accents of licorice. However Homme is significantly fresher with some pleasant fizziness and mint - something described by Guerlain as a Mojito Accord.

Overall Homme is a well crafted modern fragrance that will probably do well. But as always, it is impossible not to employ a relativistic approach in this type of evaluations. And in the light of Guerlains proud history this will be remembered as just an okay but redundant try of adapting to the times. Which in my mind should be handled more responsibly than with this release. Minus points also for the flacon that feels a bit cheap in reality...

Year of Launch:
Gender Classification: Masculine
Reminiscent of: Thierry Mugler B*Men, Caron Eau de Reglisse
Longevity & Sillage: Good longevity, subtle sillage
Overall rating: 6/10