Raunchy: 16 posts

Sultry, animalic perfumes

Charenton Macerations Christopher Street : Perfume Review

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The first thing I noticed about Charenton Macerations Christopher Street was that it was a proper, old-school chypre (a perfume based on an intricate combination of citrusy, floral and mossy notes).  At  long last, I should add. It was composed by Ralf Schwieger, author of Lipstick Rose for Frédéric Malle and lately several fragrances for Atelier Cologne and Etat Libre d’Orange.

water

Charenton Macerations is a new indie brand created by fragrance consultant Douglas Bender, and Christopher Street is the debut perfume from this indie outfit. The notes of Christopher Street are supposed to give an olfactory picture of this New York neighborhood, and to that end one might want to read the brief as given on the Charenton Macerations Web site. Early on, Bender wished to “…combine classical floral elements with more subversive tones of metals, smoke, watered down alcohol, wet woods, clove, burnt coffee, and dark tea” that would represent, well, a lot of things having to do with the history of Christopher Street and its casts of characters.

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Aftelier Perfumes Sepia : Fragrance Review

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Natural perfumer Mandy Aftel created Sepia out of an exchange with fellow California perfumer Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio.  This, the third installment of Nathan Branch’s Letters to a Fellow Perfumer project, involved each of the perfumers working with a material they had not used before.  Erickson chose black and blue hemlock spruce absolutes for a perfume that became Forest Walk.

Aftel originally selected natural alpha ionone (a violet-like smell) and a fire tree absolute for an idea she had to depict her feelings about California’s Gold Country and its ghost towns, of “the beauty of what remains after something is ravaged by time.”  Shortly into the project, Aftel abandoned both of these original materials, replacing them with flowering tobacco absolute and blond cedarwood and from this built her fragrant tone poem of both an imaginary past and a present reality.

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Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient : Fragrance Review

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During my last trip to the Middle East almost three years ago, my camera broke down, and I couldn’t take a single photo. At first, the missed opportunity to capture the blazing whiteness of marble buildings, the majestic and scary beauty of the desert, and the dazzle of gold displays made me wince with regret each time I came upon another beautiful scene. But after a while, I realized that maybe my camera wouldn’t be necessary after all; the scents surrounding me were so strong and vivid that today I have no trouble recalling either the aroma of ripe dates–caramel and honey!–or the heady fragrance of cardamom and rosewater flavored coffee. And of course, the perfumes! Both the men and women I encountered were exquisitely perfumed. Smoky roses, honeyed oud mixed with patchouli, sandalwood roughed up by smoky leather… I had to fight the urge to ask every other person in the street what they were wearing.

But out of their hot desert context, some of these perfumes felt heavy and one-dimensional when I tried wearing them back home. They were still beautiful, but they required a certain mood or an occasion, and for this reason I wore them much less often than I anticipated. Similarly, Middle Eastern inspired fragrances like Montale and SoOud were compelling in theory, but in practice I rarely craved them. When Guerlain announced its Les Déserts d’Orient collection, comprised of Rose Nacrée du Désert, Songe d’Un Bois d’Été, and Encens Mythique d’Orient, I was worried that it might be overly glitzy and flamboyant for me.

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Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune : Fragrance Review

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As far as the French language goes “Pamplelune” is a portmanteau that combines the French word for grapefruit (pamplemousse) with the French word for moon (lune). In the perfumista’s lexicon, however, Pamplelune denotes the 1999 fragrance by Mathilde Laurent for Guerlain for its original Aqua Allegoria line.  As a grapefruit scent, it is both revered and feared; whether one can wear this take on sulfuric citrus depends on whether one associates grapefruit with fruit or with funk.

Although the Aqua Allegoria line is meant to showcase lighter, less complex fragrances, Pamplelune is anything but simple.  After the explosive opening it follows through with tart/sour bergamot and twiggy petitgrain notes before morphing into a cheerful black currant-accented floral that is tethered to a sweet and vanillic patchouli base.

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Schiaparelli Shocking : Vintage and Modern Perfume Review

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Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

The Muse

Elsa Schiaparelli was a designer who set lasting trends in fashion with her richly embroidered jackets, shoe shaped hats and lobster dresses, but I discovered her whimsical side through Shocking, a perfume she released in 1937. Shocking was a dazzling collaboration between Schiap, as she was known, Jean Carles, who created the perfume, and the Surrealist artists Marcel Vertes and Salvador Dali through whose drawings the sultry fragrance came to life.

This month, the Metropolitan Museum in New York opened the exhibit “Schiaparelli & Prada, Impossible Conversations.” Running until August 19th, the collection explores the work of two designers in a compare-and-contrast setting. It was the first time I’ve seen Schiaparelli’s work close up, and I was mesmerized. The clothes weren’t simply beautiful; they offered a glimpse into the designer’s vibrant imagination.

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