2013 launches: 55 posts

Estee Lauder Modern Muse : Perfume Review

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Elisa questions whether Estée Lauder’s Modern Muse can be her inspiration.

I am a longtime fan of the Estée Lauder lineup. The first perfume to take my breath away was White Linen – my grandmother wore it, and one day (I was 12 or 13) she let me use a dab of the lotion from her purse. The scent rushed up at me like a blast of cold air, snow blowing into a hot room from an open window. I stood there smelling my hands in awe.

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Years later, when my interest in perfume turned to full-blown obsession, Estée Lauder was one of the first lines I was drawn to return to. I bought a small bottle of White Linen, and others followed. I now own upwards of ten Lauder perfumes. With this many hits, of course I pay attention when they announce a new release, even if the marketing is suspicious. (Their first “major launch” since Beyond Paradise? What happened to Sensuous?)

From the get-go, Modern Muse smells very Estée Lauder – fresh, feminine, floral, and bright, pretty in a grown-up way, without the over-sugared sweetness of so many recent launches. There’s a crisp, leafy-green top note and a touch of juicy citrus, more like tangerine than dry, tart bergamot. These effects are layered over what the press materials call “dewy petals” – and yes, there is a petal-like feel to the floral accord, a white bouquet of lily, with its distinctive waxy, vanillic notes, plus raspy jasmine and orange blossom.

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Olfactive Studio Flashback : Perfume Review

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Olfactive Studio Flashback, a salty vetiver and rhubarb blend, is one of those rare fragrances that not only smell good but feel poignant. Olfactive Studio’s concept marries fragrances with visuals, and in the image that accompanies Flashback, a frame from a video shot by Laurent Segretier of his long-distance girlfriend, you see very few details–the delicate tilt of a girl’s head and a thick fringe framing the face. This photograph was the brief to perfumer Olivier Cresp, who tapped into his childhood memories to create Flashback. For my part, when I smell Flashback, I’m reminded of collecting shells along the beach and helping my grandmother make rhubarb jelly.

Laurent Segretier

While childhood memories are often saccharine, there is nothing cloying or precious about Flashback. When I was collecting notes for my article about salty perfumes, it quickly turned out to be one of the best recent examples of salty vetivers. It’s also polished and elegant, suited for both men and women.

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Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka : Perfume Review

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Patricia talks of emperors and leather miniskirts.

In one of my favorite comics, “Rose Is Rose,” the title character, a mild-mannered housewife and mother, has an edgy biker chick alter ego complete with big hair, thigh-high boots, a leather miniskirt, and a rose tattoo. This character pops up when Rose is stressed, conflicted, or otherwise feels the need to exert some power in her life. This kind of power is what I felt on first application of Ashoka, Neela Vermeire’s fourth fragrance, created in collaboration with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour.

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Ashoka (304-232 BCE) was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty. Through his frequent military conquests, he eventually ruled over what is present-day India. A fierce warrior and leader, he converted to Buddhism after witnessing the mass death and destruction of the Kalinga tribe, and he played an important role in making Buddhism a world religion. This perfume, which honors him, follows the same trajectory: from strong opening, to floral heart, to a quiet complexity of earthy notes.

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Hermes Epice Marine : Perfume Review

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When it comes to telling compelling stories, Hermès takes the prize. The house’s perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena, is the author of Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent and The Diary of a Nose, and he is a natural storyteller. Perfumes in the Hermessence collection are like pages from his personal journal, some inspired  by his travels, others by his native Provence. Epice Marine, introduced earlier this fall, was likewise inspired by Ellena’s adventures, but this time it’s also marked by a collaboration with another artisan.

epice marine

The fragrance came together as Ellena met and corresponded with chef Olivier Roellinger. Ellena travels the world in search of interesting scents, while Roellinger’s quest is for spices. Back in Brittany, a fog shrouded region along France’s northern shore, he composes spices into complex bouquets. If your idea of a spice blend is a Madras curry mix, then Roellinger’s delicate, harmonious blends will come as a surprise. When I sprinkle his Poudre Sérinissima over a tomato salad, I also want to dust my skin with this ginger and saffron accented powder. Who else could be a better collaborator and muse for a perfumer?

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Penhaligon’s Iris Prima : Perfume Review

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In the video for Penhaligon’s fragrance Iris Prima, artists from the English National Ballet recount the scents of ballet: sweat, tears, dusty curtains, tiger balm, more sweat. “All of the things you don’t see from the front and that we have to endure, but it’s well-worth it,” remarks one dancer.  Ballet is about an illusion, lightness, magic. When a ballerina glides across the stage on the tips of her pointe shoes, we don’t feel her pain or her strain. We aren’t meant to. For Penhaligon’s to promise us a scent of ballet is daring. Will we really get the whiff of bodies covered in makeup and sweat, rosin covering the floor, musty shoes?

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Not at all, as it turns out. Iris Prima is as prim and graceful as Princess Aurora of Sleeping Beauty. Sweat, blood, tears? There is hardly a trace. Iris Prima captures the same romantic ballet vision that makes many girls dream of white tutus and satin shoes.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Old Herbaceous in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: I’m currently enjoying Hermes’ L’Ambre des Merveilles, a gentle, warm amber with vanilla but not sweet. I like Adam Levine for Women in cooler weather, and SJP Stash, for two… October 27, 2020 at 8:25pm

  • Julia in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: Thank you for your kind suggestion! I don’t really like fragrances with oud that much. I have tried many but it just doesn’t work with me, in my personal taste.… October 27, 2020 at 7:21pm

  • Julia in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: Wow Patricia, sounds really like something I could easily pull off. It’s just a pity this brand is not easily found in Italy, where I’m based. October 27, 2020 at 7:15pm

  • Julia in Recommend Me a Perfume : October 2020: Hi Hilde, sounds like I should try them all! I have never tried the above mentioned fragrances. However, Eau de Soir is in my bucket list! October 27, 2020 at 7:12pm

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