1990s perfumes: 7 posts

Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant : Perfume Review

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I love those moments when I catch a whiff of something beautiful and it turns out to be my own perfume. Kenzo Jungle L’Éléphant doesn’t unroll like a neat scroll; it undulates like ripples on water. Suddenly you find yourself catching a wave of scent–cardamom stewed plums,  smoky woods and dried orange peel, and it feels so unexpected and delightful.

Those who know Kenzo from their latest tame releases–Amour, Madly, and the like, will be surprised by Jungle L’Éléphant. It smells like something that should be called “Noir,” “niche”, and “exclusive”. Instead, Jungle L’Éléphant is available at Sephora* and online discounters. In 1996 when Jungle L’Éléphant was launched, Kenzo wasn’t the dull mainstream house that it is today, and this perfume is a great example of their previously bold and exotic aesthetic.

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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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Rochas Alchimie : Perfume Review

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The curious part about sampling a lot of fragrances is that contrary to my expectations, my tastes have gotten more eclectic, rather than more constrained. When I started writing articles here at Bois de Jasmin, I had very strong opinions on what I liked—jasmine (hence, the name of my blog!), iris, sandalwood and what I avoided—vanilla, fruit, anise. Well, seven years later, I realize that I like vanilla sweetened perfumes as much as I enjoy heady jasmine and cold iris perfumes. When I first tried Rochas Alchimie a few years ago, I didn’t even give it much chance. It contained every single thing I thought I disliked—rich vanilla, sweet caramel, juicy red berries and a sprinkling of sugared anise seeds. I thought it would be best as a dessert, not as a perfume.

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Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle : Perfume Review

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Riza_abbasi_sensual_painting

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

While tuberose can be restrained by a masterful blending, its sensual dark side reigned in, the true beauty of the flower is best evident in the dark fragrances. One such example is Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle, a lush, unusual creation. It includes notes of tuberose, orange blossom, hyacinth, jasmine, musk, vanilla, styrax, nutmeg, and clove.

If one tries it on expecting sweet creamy tuberose, the reaction will be that of pure shock since the top notes are not unlike a mix of menthol and gasoline. It is completely unexpected and almost disconcerting. And then cutting through the icy veil, tuberose grows brighter and hotter. It is a rather representative rendition of tuberose, complete with its unique unpredictability, sweet creamy layers, rubbery accord and warmth of human skin.

If one judges fragrances by the top notes, this is a perfect example of the need to rectify that practice. Weathering the initial opening is worthwhile, since the ugly duckling can turn into a beautiful swan. Personally, I find the petrol redolent opening accords beautiful, much like I enjoy atonal compositions by Schoenberg. They provide a cool backdrop, against which the tuberose unfolds its dark sensual beauty. If I were forced to have only one tuberose, Tubéreuse Criminelle would be that selection.

Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle is at Les Salons du Palais Royal in Paris, at sergelutens.com, Aedes, Barneys and Luckyscent.

Painting: Two lovers by Riza ‘Abbasi, Isfahan, 1630. An examplary piece of Safavid dynasty art, featuring a favorite subject of the time–human body and its sensual expression.

L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse Aux Papillons and Extreme Version: Perfume Review

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Renoir garden at fontenay L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons is a mist of bright floral notes, underpinned by the coconut sweetness of tuberose.  Created by perfumer Anne Flipo in 1999, it is still the company’s top seller. The citrus notes set the stage for the floral adagio dominated by orange blossom. It is an uplifting, cheerful fragrance, and although I have been wearing on and off for several years, it still thrills me whenever I smell it. I cannot sulk wearing La Chasse Aux Papillons, just like I cannot feel blue looking at Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s works. Both are full of light and serenity. La Chasse aux Papillons is far from a fragrance masterpiece and it does not last long enough on skin to score full five points, but it is such an effervescent, happy scent that I forgive it its poor tenacity.

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