4 stars: 431 posts

4 stars means “very good,” a fragrance with enough character to be memorable, and enough tenacity and diffusion to be noticed. It may either lack that ineffable “spark” that makes a perfume truly outstanding for me or else it may simply need more time on the market to determine its staying power.

In Memory of Issey Miyake and L’Eau d’Issey

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In memory of Issey Miyake.

The legendary Japanese designer passed away on August 5th at the age of 84. He changed fashion by creating geometrical designs out of pleated fabrics, loose kaftans out of batik, and his signature Flying Saucer dresses. He also revolutionized perfumery by collaborating on a fragrance that smelled of water.

The iris-perfumed water that served as inspiration for L’Eau d’Issey is based on a custom called shoubu yu. On May 5th, Children’s Day, people in Japan take a bath with iris leaves. The leaves are sold in small bundles to be floated in an ofuro bathtub, and while the symbolism is good health, the delicate fragrance of iris leaves was one of the lasting memories for Mr. Miyake. He explained to Cavallier that he wanted to capture this specific scent in his fragrance.

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Roger & Gallet Bois d’Orange : Perfume Review

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When I was preparing the bitter orange series and researching fragrances that showcase neroli and bitter orange, Roger & Gallet’s Bois d’Orange ended up at the top of my list. I also realized that although I had written plenty about this excellent cologne, I haven’t published a proper perfume review. This is an omission, because Bois d’Orange deserves more attention.

Bois d’Orange blends orange blossom and citrus notes with herbs and the result is a dry martini of a fragrance. This genre of cologne is the most uplifting and rejuvenating on a warm day–or whenever you need a pick-up. It’s easy to wear, easy to enjoy–and at 20 euros for a bottle, easy on the wallet.

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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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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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Guerlain Eau de Cologne du Coq, Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat and Eau de Guerlain

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With the start of summer it seems natural to reach for a cologne. This style of fragrances based on citrus is uplifting and bright, and wearing a cologne is a low-commitment affair since it lasts on skin for only a few hours, leaving behind a memory of freshness. Of course, these days there are many different colognes, some promising an all-day citrus blast and others treating the most un-cologne-like notes like sandalwood, roses and musk in the style’s gossamer lightness. For my part, I recommend visiting three classics from Guerlain: Eau de Cologne du Coq, Eau de Fleurs de Cédrat and Eau de Guerlain.

Not only does the trio offer a range of styles, it gives a great overview of the house’s signature and the way it evolved over time. The fragrances were created by three perfumers representing different generations of the Guerlain family–Aimé Guerlain with his fin-de-siecle sensibilities, Jacques Guerlain renowned for his technical mastery and Jean-Paul Guerlain, the renegade. One need not have all three colognes in one’s wardrobe, but each is distinctive enough to be worth comparing.

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