Elegant: 177 posts

Versatile and polished blends

Brand Spotlight: Serge Lutens and 5 Favorite Perfumes

Niche perfumery is synonymous with originality, boldness and surprise, and Serge Lutens deserves much of the credit for shaping it and giving it a set of codes and accords. Lutens was born in France and became successful as a photographer and artist, and his first sojourn in Morocco in the ’60s inspired him to experiment with new media and styles. When he eventually came to perfumery, he already had a concept that was revolutionary at the time–the scent of woods for women. Inspired by Moroccan cedarwood, it became Féminité du Bois, and it launched a new era in perfumery.

Féminité du Bois was created in collaboration between Serge Lutens and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake (who also creates perfumes for Chanel these days.) While it remains an iconic fragrance, Serge Lutens’s collection is full of other gems. In my new series spotlighting different brands, I talk about Serge Lutens and five of his best fragrances.

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Blending History and Architecture : Arquiste Parfumeur

I first came across Arquiste Parfumeur when I was looking for an original gourmand fragrance. Most of the dessert-inspired blends crossing my path were of the cotton candy and crème brûlée variety, and I wanted bitter chocolate. “Why not try Anima Dulcis?” suggested a friend, and gave me a small sample of cognac-colored liquid. It turned out to be the treat I was craving—dark, smoky, spicy, and properly indulgent.

Arquiste Parfumeur is a niche line conceived by architect Carlos Huber in 2012. In his original métier Huber specialized in the historical preservation of buildings, and his proclivities are obvious in the way he interprets history through scents. In Fleur de Louis, a graceful blend of jasmine, orange blossom and iris, he paints a picture of the engagement between Louis XIV and Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain. The citrusy L’Etrog promises to show me the 12th century Calabria, while my favorite Anima Dulcis is a glimpse of the Royal Convent of Jesus Maria in Mexico. Helping to realize Huber’s vision are perfumers Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier. Flores-Roux and Vasnier teamed up on Anima Dulcis and L’Etrog, while Fleur de Louis is a solo project by Flores-Roux, a perfumer who shares Mexican origins with Arquiste’s founder.

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Why Violet Perfumes Retain Their Timeless Appeal

Swan down puffs, lace camisoles, ivory fans, tulle skirts, satin shoes… If these words evoke an appealing vision for you, then you’re the right candidate for a Victorian violet perfume. While the 19th century under the reign of Queen Victoria is often described as conventional and stuffy, the favorite aromas of the period might likewise be seen as uninspiring. Nothing could be further from truth. Despite its reputation for being overly dainty and demure, violet has a complex aroma with a fascinating history–and it retains its timeless appeal.

The Victorian era was a period of great changes in society, and the simple example of a violet cologne is a good illustration for the dynamics of the time. Violet waters became popular long before Victoria was crowned a queen, and they were highly sought after for their sweet scent with nuances of raspberry and rose.  At first, fragrances based on this flower were derived from Parma violets via the painstaking process of collecting tiny blossoms and extracting their essence.  It made violet a costly and luxurious perfume available only to the select few.

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Sultry Perfumes and Hollywood Glamour Fragrances

What is the hallmark of the ultimate bombshell perfume? I wonder this as I’m enraptured by the first glimpse of Ava Gardner in The Killers, a 1946 film noir. She sits at the piano, wearing a black satin gown that elegantly drapes over her curvy figure. She gives Burt Lancaster one look, and he is ready to follow her anywhere, even it will all lead to trouble. Such is the power of a bombshell.

My average day is more about routine than glamour, but perfume is my way to pretend otherwise. When I wear Etat Libre d’Orange Jasmin et Cigarette, a smoldering potion reminiscent of a smoky jazz bar straight from a film noir set, I feel like a femme fatale.  It seems like bombshell material to me, but to find out for sure I turn to a couple of experts on the subject of the temptress—Farran Smith Nehme and Laren Stover, who also happen to be perfume connoisseurs.

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Gallivant Bukhara : Perfume Review

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Gallivant is an indie perfume house that wants to make us travel via its scents. Its journeys have previously included well-trodden places such as London, Amsterdam and Istanbul, but however popular the destination might have been, the route was anything but. Gallivant’s creator,  Nick Steward, likes to surprise, and all of his compositions treat their journeys as adventures. Bukhara is easily my favorite for its originality and intriguing complexity.

Let me say that nothing is easier for a perfumer than to take a city on the Silk Road as inspiration and load the composition with enough amber to break a camel’s back. Steward didn’t do that. He worked with perfumer Ralf Schwieger to create a fragrance that is radiant, luminous and modern. It has warm, dark elements, but they’re woven as seamlessly into the composition as the complementary colors of Bukhara’s famous blue mosaics.

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