dominique ropion: 11 posts

Cacharel Amor Amor : Perfume Review

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If I were to select the best fruity floral perfume, it would be Cacharel Amor Amor. Of course, the best may be debatable, as is the true fruity-floral character–Amor Amor veers into the oriental family with its notes of vanilla, sandalwood and amber, but it’s such a good example of fun and bubbly that I find it hard to avoid overstatement. Amor Amor is both lighthearted and sophisticated, a simple shift dress made out of shocking pink fabric.

amor-amor

As a fashion brand, Cacharel is often described as French Girl chic–quirky prints and designs, minus the studied elegance of the more venerable couture houses. The perfume collection was designed to match the same spirit, but Amor Amor released in 2003 is its most successful embodiment.

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Mimosa, Cassie, and Honeyed Almonds : Perfume Note

In the depths of winter, when I begin to lose faith that spring will ever come again, the yellow pompoms of mimosa lift my spirits. No matter how rushed I am, the slender branches arranged in the florist’s windows tempt me to slow down, and I walk out of the store burying my face in a large bouquet. The fluffy flowers caress my cheeks and dust them with lemon-yellow powder, and the scent is vivid and joyful to match the explosive color–a mixture of green violet and honey soaked almonds. It’s delicate, but remarkably persistent, filling the room with the aroma of Provence within minutes.

Even if you haven’t smelled real mimosa*, chances  are you’ve encountered it in perfume. This material is one of the most intriguing and complex. The mimosa used in perfumery belongs to a related family, Acacia, with two varieties processed commercially for their fragrant oil–Acacia decurrens var. dealbata (called simply mimosa in the perfumery trade) and Acacia farnesiana (cassie). The former is the pompom like yellow mimosa in my photo, the latter is simpler and more austere but equally fragrant.

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Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire : Perfume Review

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Frédéric Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire by perfumer Dominique Ropion is said to contain 25% vetiver—the most on the market where this herbal, grassy note is a frequently the principal note in men’s fragrances. Depending on which facets the perfumer has illuminated, vetiver can be sweet, dry, smoky, bitter, fruity, peppery, and woody. In Vétiver Extraordinaire, the note is freed like a balloon by ozone, which gives it a fresh airiness in opposition to more earthbound vetivers (like Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s earthy Route du Vétiver or Serge Lutens’ root-y Vétiver Oriental).

green-leaves

Vetiver is a grass that is native to India but is also grown in Haiti, Indonesia, China, Java, and Reunion.  For perfumery purposes, oil is extracted from the roots. The damp, woody scent of vetiver is so complex that it can be a perfume on its own. The note is used as a drydown accent or it can be treated as a main theme.  It’s traditionally associated with masculine fragrances like Guerlain Vetiver, but it also appears with regularity in the bases of feminine perfumes like Chanel No 19 or Guerlain Chamade.

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Costume National So Nude : Perfume Review

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So Nude is the latest fragrance from Costume National, the design house that previously issued the popular Scent, Scent Intense, Scent Gloss, and 21.  So Nude is authored by none other than Dominique Ropion, creator for the epic Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower.  Since both So Nude and Carnal Flower trade heavily on tuberose, I was curious to see how Ropion would interpret this white-floral note for Costume National.

According to marketing copy, So Nude has quite a big mission ahead of it.  The model in the black-and-white ad is topless and has an almost confrontational gaze.  The marketing copy explains:  “The name of this new opus expresses quintessence, transparency and contours taken to their zenith, an absolute femininity. Infinitely passionate, the fragrance represents a woman who embodies total justness.”  An interesting use of the word “justness,” and I sort of wish they had said “righteousness” instead, but I’ll let it slide.  The copy goes on to say this woman is, “A modern icon, her allure is so timeless, so feminine, so natural, so chic…so nude. Nude is she, today and forever… timeless, direct, true. Her elegance and grace come from the inside.”

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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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