Thursday, November 27, 2008

Decades of Decadence Part I: Creed Acier Aluminium

The art of high perfumery has always been about creating emotions and the ability of great noses to capture different aspirations and atmospheres in their creations. From the Italian renaissance and the French courts through to distinguished British barbershops and avant-garde maverick noses, the great perfumers have always strived for their blends to evoke a certain mood or sensation.

Apart from romantic, sporty, fresh, or dreamy impressions, in this section - Decades of Decadence - I'm going to focus on debauchery and self indulgence... Or rather the fragrances from the last few decades that bring these adjectives to mind.

The French have, like in so many other facets of perfumery, always had an edge in this genre. From Guerlain's civet loaded Mouchoir de Monsieur and Jicky to Etat Libre D’Orange's entire catalog, French houses have been the masters of exploring the gritty and more sinister sides of olfactory creation. First out therefore, a ravishing blend from Parisian Creed, released in 1973 - Acier Aluminium.

In my initial review of Acier Aluminium on Basenotes ( I wrote that the visual representation of this elixir is the masked orgy scenes in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. And this truly is the type of setting that comes to mind when smelling this pagan juice.

It's very different from most contemporary offerings from Creed. Far from the safe, clean virtues of for instance Erolfa or Millesime Imperiál, Acier Aluminium projects a sinful image in an absolutely intoxicating way.

The unorthodox blend of raw ambergris, resins and sweet fruits with a slight lemony edge create a voluptuous, smouldering and massive impression. This is not one for the office... There is also a metallic edge to the scent, slightly reminiscent of the one found in Caron's Anarchiste, but without the nauseating bits of the latter.

Longevity and sillage are well above average, which is unusual for Creed to begin with and especially in the Eau de Toilette format.

To conclude, Acier Aluminium is both a testimony to the brilliance of earlier Creed creations, Ambre Canelle and Orange Spice also come to mind, but first and foremost it's one of the premier carnal fragrances of the last decades. Corruption extraordinaire.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Forgotten Gems Part IV: Decléor Un Air de Java

Decléors sadly overlooked Un Air de Java was created by the brilliant Pierre Bourdon in the year 2000. Its closest relative is without a doubt Chanel's Platinum Egoïste, both sharing a solid base of dry woods with a slightly charred character. This smoky and arid disposition firmly places the fragrance in autumn and winter wear territory.

Apart from the scorched notes there's a strong mossy and green vibe present, which can be attributed to black currant leaves and oak moss mingling in a perfect balance. There's a mild floral touch as well, with some soft violet and jasmine.

Overall a beautiful woody chypre, managing to combine pungent individual notes in an understated and elegant manner. Truly a forgotten gem.

Overall rating: 7/10

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Speed Review: Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme

Year of Launch: 2008
Gender Classification: Masculine
Perfumer: Frida Giannini
Availability: In Production
Dominant notes: Bergamot, violet, jasmine, elemi, something reminiscent of pear
Reminiscent of: Christian Dior Higher, Gant Indigo
Longevity & Sillage: Both below average
Packaging & Design: Heavy, well done rectangular flacon with horse bit detailing
5 adjectives: Fresh, redundant, synthetic, flat, fruity
Overall rating: 4/10

Friday, November 7, 2008

Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido - Un Bois Vanille

Insanely sweet, but equally eccentric and cool, this Serge Lutens perfume isn't really something I'd wear myself. At the same time it is very hard not to appreciate the fun and joy that is so evident to have been part in the making of Un Bois Vanille.

I get a carefree "resort" vibe from it, probably due to a strong accord reminiscent of coconut. The vanilla is special on it's own, kind of "toasted" and with some bitterness - like the real pods. But together with the liquorice, sandalwood and sugary notes it transcends classic vanilla interpretations into something completely different - the quintessence of opulence.

f you're an obsessive vanilla fan and can handle this extreme gourmand on your skin - then you might find a party friend for life. Hedonistic, cocky and fun.

Year of Launch:
Gender Classification: Unisex
Reminiscent of: Coty Raw Vanilla, Hugo Boss Boss Bottled
Longevity & Sillage: Both well above average
Overall Rating: 6/1o

Sunday, November 2, 2008

No More Than Meets the Eye part II - Giorgio Armani

In the second part of No More Than Meets The Eye, a closer look at the Italian maestro of casual elegance - Giorgio Armani. In many ways the trend of forcedly fresh aquatics for men was benchmarked by Armani's Acqua di Giò pour Homme in 1996. As much as I do not like the fragrance myself, it without a doubt played a central part in the development of the world of perfume. As this style now, finally, is fading and oriental and woody launches are becoming more common again, one can look back at this legacy with almost sentimental feelings. Further, in the aquatic and fresh category Acqua di Giò to this day remains a complex and well crafted fragrance at the top of its group.

Visually Armani fragrance ads have kept a resolute image throughout the decades, portraying the soft and sensual aesthetic regularly found in the designers clothes.

(All pictures courtesy of: