Frank Voelkl: 4 posts

Le Labo Ylang 49 : Perfume Review


Andy takes Ylang 49 from Le Labo to task.  

I sprayed on Le Labo’s new Ylang 49 with many expectations. As my first introduction to the Le Labo line, I wasn’t sure what to anticipate. But surely, with a brand name that evokes scientific paraphernalia and sterile-looking packaging to match, I reasoned, this “floral chypre” had to be some kind of cleaned-up, angularly modern twist on the classic genre. As it would turn out, I was pleasantly surprised—instead of whisking me through a laboratory, Ylang 49 took me on a nostalgic walk through a shady, rain-drenched garden on a spring morning.


True to its name, Ylang 49 opens with a glimpse of its namesake note, pairing the spicy floral with a touch of rose and some cool earthiness. I am reminded of the damp scent of a garden after a rainstorm, but as the fragrance warms up on skin, the rose takes center stage, and the damp earth transforms into a hint of warm, slightly mossy patchouli.

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Le Labo Santal 33 : Perfume Review



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

My sample of Le Labo Santal 33 has been sitting on my desk alongside several samples of sandalwood oil and synthetic sandalwood materials. For a perfumer, sandalwood is what chocolate is to a pastry chef: a creamy, dark material that can give a sensual, luscious twist to any composition. Sandalwood even behaves similar to chocolate: initially crisp and dense, the warmth of the skin makes it bloom and reveal its milky, sweet richness. Yet, not all sandalwood notes are made equal. Synthetic sandalwood materials, beautiful though some are, have the roughness of raw silk at best and the screech of nylon at worst. Australian sandalwood is medicinal and pungent, missing the delicious rose petals and cream facets of Indian sandalwood.

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Le Labo Iris 39 : Perfume Review



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

Explaining why I should have liked Le Labo Iris 39 is much easier than describing why it did not appeal to me. Iris is one of the most fascinating notes in its ability to weave floral and woody elements into a fragrance with wonderful complexity and depth. Although usually incorporated as a supporting note, iris has been increasingly treated as a soliflore. The exciting results of such efforts are beautifully demonstrated by fragrances like Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist and The Different Company Bois d’Iris. Another reason to have high hopes for Iris 39 is that Frank Voelkl, the perfumer who created it, is also the nose behind Three As Four, the delicately orchestrated iris and ginger vignette.

Iris 39 is interesting in that it deviates from the conventional cold iris theme by marrying the hot dryness of patchouli with the metallic chill of orris. The floral accord is accented with orange blossom, the sweetness of which is further amplified by the rich musky base. The juxtaposition of notes is reminiscent of the classical red wine and cheese pairing. Just as the tannic dryness serves as a perfect foil for the milky sweetness, the layer of warm patchouli makes the iris note unfold smoothly. …

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Three As Four Parfum “Curated by Colette” : Perfume Review



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

Colette, a Parisian rue St. Honoré store featuring a variety of avant-garde fashion and beauty lines is about to debut its own limited edition collection of fragrances. Working with three fashion houses, As4, Hussein Chalayan, and Bless, Colette and fragrance company Symrise created three shared fragrances, which are going to debut as “Curated by Colette” in September of 2005.

Three as Four Parfum interprets iris as cold petals not unlike the iris in Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist. Frank Volkl, the nose behind the fragrance, worked with As4 to create a fragrance that had a sparkling feel, yet stayed close to the skin. Glittering notes are provided by a hesperidic accord of lime and bergamot, however iris is not obscured by dry citrus notes. On contrary, it is highlighted and rendered as lush blossoms opening slowly on a cold spring morning. The scents of wet soil, first spring buds, raindrops on the leaves are conjured when vetiver rises up to enfold iris. Ginger is another surprising touch, infusing a spicy bite into the cold slightly earthy iris. The drydown is smooth dry cedarwood and sweet sandalwood accenting the chilled notes perfectly and lending a complex base to the ethereal notes of the heart. While it is a subtle fragrance, it is hardly a typical fresh scent. In some ways, it is not unlike Parfums 06130 Yuzu Rouge, except instead of tea rose and blackcurrant, it is an iris and ginger composition. It has a reasonable tenacity on my skin, with ¼ of my sample vial being enough to last for the entire day.

There are two other fragrances that were featured as a part of the limited edition release for Colette. Design duo Désirée Heiss and Inès Kaag of Bless and Marc Buxton (the nose behind CdG Cologne, #2, #3 and Cartier Pasha) worked together to recreate the scents of Nutella, tea, shampoo, and spices of their childhood memories. The notes include: cardamom, cypress, ginger, geranium, thyme, maté absolute and a touch of “shortbread accord.”

For Hussein Chalayan, Marc Buxton created a fragrance that was an olfactory memory of a trip from London to Istanbul, with its impressionistic accords of flowers, spices and urban smells. Notes are bergamot, cardamom, tea leaves, rose, lily, birch tar, patchouli, Atlas cedar wood, fir balsam, sandalwood.

Photo: Colette store. All three fragrances, which can be ordered from Colette, will sell for 50 euros per 1.7oz bottle. Three hundred of each scent will be sold.

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