New Perfume Launches: 157 posts

Reviews of new fragrance launches

Penhaligon’s The Favourite : Perfume Review

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I try not to read the marketing material before testing a perfume–and with good reason. If I had learned that Penhaligon’s The Favourite was inspired by Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, I wouldn’t have described it as soft, ethereal and tender. It’s hard to imagine those adjectives applied to the favorite of Queen Anne and a prominent personality of 18th century Britain. A strong-willed woman who wielded power behind the throne, she evokes for me something more assertive than a musky floral. That being said, The Favourite is a lovely thing, and however mismatched its character and its story might be, I’m reaching for it whenever I want something comforting and elegant.

The appealing aspect of The Favourite is how it combines floral and fruity notes with a hint of powder. It starts with a bright and sweet citrus and immediately plunges into a floral accord combining soft, rose-like notes with violet. The effect is delicate, but once the musk becomes more prominent, The Favourite gains more richness.

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L’Artisan Parfumeur Couleur Vanille : Perfume Review

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The combination of salt and vanilla is not common in perfumery, despite the ubiquity of these ingredients in modern patisserie. For one thing, salt is a fantasy impression created by certain marine and dry woody notes in fragrances, and its effect is cancelled out by the sweetness of vanilla. Also, when a perfume promises vanilla, we expect warm, creamy and cuddly–a bowl of custard, if you will. L’Artisan Parfumeur Couleur Vanille, however, dares to be different.

While retaining the creaminess and dark sweetness of vanilla, perfumer Aliénor Massenet, who worked with L’Artisan Parfumeur on this launch, blended fresh floral and salty notes to balance out the richness. The sweet and salt facets give Couleur Vanille its personality, right from the top notes.

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Best of 2019 in Perfume

When it comes to  fragrances, 2019 has been a good year. There have been the usual commercial releases, but innovative launches were also numerous. I particularly liked the collection by L’Officine Universelle Buly 1803 created in collaboration with the Louvre that gave scent to some of the museum’s famous works. Carine Roitfeld’s line was likewise interesting, with a number of memorable perfumes.

As always, my list is personal and idiosyncratic. I didn’t aim to include everything, but rather the perfumes that caught my attention the most this year and the ones I wore. These are the fragrances that will accompany me into 2020. I look forward to hearing about your 2019 favorites.

Carine Roitfeld Parfums George

Carine Roitfeld Parfums was created by the former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris. The line includes seven unisex fragrances, AurélienGeorgeKar-WaiLawrenceOrsonSebastian and Vladimir, inspired by fictional love stories. I ended up with a travel set, which I found excellent given that the premise of the collection is travel. Each lover takes his paramour to a different city, from Paris to Hong Kong. My choice was George, effervescent but with a suave finish. I also liked Lawrence, who comes bearing jasmine garlands.

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Carine Roitfeld Parfums George : Perfume Review

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In a memorable scene in Joris-Karl Huysman’s novel Against Nature, his character Des Esseintes is so inspired by reading Dickens that he decides to visit London. Yet, having traveled only as far as grey and rainy Paris, he feels that he has experienced London’s atmosphere enough in his imagination and abandons the whole idea. No doubt, Des Esseintes would have been sympathetic to the efforts of perfumers who attempt to satisfy the wanderlust of armchair travelers. One such venture is Carine Roitfeld Parfums, created by the former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris. The line includes seven unisex fragrances, Aurélien, George, Kar-Wai, Lawrence, Orson, Sebastian and Vladimir, inspired by travel and by fictional lovers.

My ideal lover is George. He is elegant, suave, and soft-spoken, yet whatever he says keeps my interest piqued. (He has certainly read Huysmans, although decadence is not his favorite art current; he is more into realism.) I travel to Tokyo with George, where we stroll through autumnal temple gardens, take baths with iris petals and visit painting exhibits in those typically Japanese galleries filled with silence, soft light and a whiff of wood polish. With George on my arm, everything smells of violet leaves, moss and crushed green leaves. He doesn’t smoke, but the leather jacket that he wears so well is redolent of ashes and fine tobacco.

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Hermès un Jardin sur la Lagune : Perfume Review

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How could something smell salty? It’s true that salt has its own rather mild scent, and depending on its processing and provenance, it ranges from bitter and iodine to flinty and flowery. However, perfumery is about creating an illusion, and many perfumers are masters at making us think that we smell salt. My teacher Sophia Grojsman used to play tricks on me by giving me accords to smell and then laugh seeing me lick my lips. Some of her combinations were so salty that I could almost taste the salt crystals. More typically, however, perfumers approach salty accords by relying on marine effects, as does perfumer Christine Nagel in Hermès Un Jardin sur la Lagune.

Of course, should one search for salt in perfume, one can do no better than to explore the whole Hermès collection. Eau des Merveilles is one of the best salted ambers. Un Jardin sur le Nil salts green mangoes. Voyage d’Hermès starts pickling bergamot and leaves a salt trail well into its drydown. Hermès Un Jardin sur la Lagune is very much in the same tradition. It’s a cologne based on citrusy flowers and finished with a briny accord. The place is Venice, the flowers are magnolia and Madonna lilies, the effect is salt and sunlight.

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