As I write this, it is 7:35 AM and I have not slept in preparation for my final university exam this year - Roman Art History. This seems like an odd way to start a blog post about perfume, however I have been noticing something strange tonight. The men's washroom on this floor has a very nice woody floral smell to it, a spicy rose. It struck me as something very familiar since hours ago, but as the context is so strange it was hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it was. Now, it is unmistakably Lancome's Tresor. I am not sure how that smell would have got there and I suppose some mysteries like this will forever remain undeciferable... but there is no question in my mind about what perfume it is!
Back to studying I guess ;)
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Its been a while since I reviewed a perfume, one reason is because lately no perfumes have been jumping out at me so much to motivate me to write about them. Lately, I have been sniffing and analyzing well-selling mainstream perfumes. However, a few days ago a friend (non-perfumista) and I were talking about perfumes. He asked me whether it was true that spicy fragrances were generally more for winter wear. I told him that this can be the case, because hot weather can cause very powerful scents to become overly diffusive, but that in modern perfumery, these rules are often broken. Then out of nowhere he blurted:
"Hey! you know what the BEST spicy cologne is?? Diesel, the white one!"
I blinked for a minute after being caught off guard... and then it hit me! I decided right then and there that I would do a blog post about it. Diesel Plus Plus masculine has been one of my favourites since I first purchased it many many years ago at a super discounted price. I still have about 50% left of my (75ml?) bottle. I've always used it sparingly as I really find it precious - it is to me a perfect balance of all the elements of a teenagers/young man's romantic daytime perfume; freshness, fruityness, woodyness, masculinity, spice and above all a large dose of je ne sais quoi. The perfect synergy of these notes is something that a fragrance such as Lacoste Pour Homme (grey bottle) can only wish it could achieve. Plus Plus' "X"factor largely comes from this fragrance's most unique "milk note" which is achieved by the use of diacetyl - combined with detergent-like citrus notes the lemon gelatto is the most apparent note right off the first spritz. Also prominent in the top are green notes which Diesel refers to as "Frozen Green Notes" in their official scent pyramid. I smell menthol and I think a bit of eucalyptus to create the "frozen" illusion in this fragrance. The top of this pyramid is certainly very complicated and well balanced, while the rest of the blogosphere goes on about Roadster's use of mint, this forgotten masterpiece goes unmentioned as possibly on of the best integrations of mint in perfume history. Plus Plus is also a fruity perfume, the selection of fruits used is one that would go well with ice (such as in a pina colada), I definitley smell allyl amyl glycomate, which is used to produce a pineapple scent, as well as the tiniest touch of aldehyde c-18 to give the coconuty aspect. Also, there is a red berry mix, mostly raspberry with just a hint of cassis rounding out the fruity top. Ethyl heptaonate helps out the "juicyness" factor if im not mistaken.
The notes of of the middle fragrance are where this fragrance really shines and proves its level of sophistication. It is intensely spicy, with prominent notes of coriander, cardamom, white sage, and my favourite: pimento berries. Any fragrance which uses pimento (such as one of my all time favs Versailles Homme) immediatley grabs my nose's attention and Diesel Plus Plus did exactly that from the first spritz many years ago. The heart of this fragrance in my opinion, is the use of Birch Bark, and it is what puts the middle layer of the fragrance into prime gourmande territory. Birch bark is also the main flavour ingredient in a soft drink that many of many American and Canadian readers will will imediatley be able to conjure up memories of - Dr. Pepper.
The middle notes are very long lasting, so one does not usually reach the base in a wearing, unless its the by next morning. Diesel's official pyramid lists the base as a blend of musk, tonka bean, sandalwood, moss, vetiver and nutmeg. The musks used here are are a combination of very clean white musks, the most prominent to my nose are galaxolide and habanolide. The sandalwood note is abstract using synthetic molecules, and a heavy dose of coumarin, isobutivan and vanillin plant this fragrance comfortable among its contemporaries of the late 90's / early 00's. The fragrance is a juxtaposition of cold against hot, like a frozen cocktail on a hot summer day. It is reminscent of hot days on the beach without using the cliched suntain lotion accord. A great fragrance to bring along on vacation, or just wear anytime your stuck in bad weather and feel like lifting your mood. At current prices hovering around 9.99-19.99 its a great buy.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
I'd like to write not so much a response , but my own opinion on a topic which has come up recently on two of my favourite blogs. Both writers have taken a different approach - Octavian at 1000fragrances and Alex @ Musicien des Odeurs (both blogs linked to the right) have recently discussed the new environment in which perfumers must work, namely the fact that many classical raw materials are now being restricted or banned. Last night while reading through Octavians post about our 2010 oakmoss doomsday, I became very disillusioned about my future in the perfume industry. My style of perfumery definitely leans towards the classical - while I love fragrances such as the never ending series of fun concept perfumes by CDG and CB IHP, the perfumes that have really spoken to me in my lifetime have been classical compositions, and perfumes which hold at their heart natural ingredients as opposed to a synthetic one. Perfumes such as Creed's Royal English Leather, Chanel's Coco / No.19, Desprez's Versailles Homme and Serge Luten's Ambre Sultan have shaped my perfume soul since I started down this journey in scent. I have always been fond of herbs, spices, woods and other natural materials since I read many stories in my childhood in which these had special properties. As I said earlier, while I find perfumes such as "bottled dry cleaning" a great and fun exercise, an unshakable part of me still feels that working with the traditional timeless raw materials is serious perfumery - for me, its where the magic lies.
So what do we do now in the wake of this inevitable paradigm shift in perfumery? Octavian first suggests stocking up on bottles (first thing I did was navigate to ebay after reading his article) while Alex suggests we must not fear the future but celebrate the restrictions, and see what new can come from the tools at our disposal. Personally, I am not as optimistic as Alex, but I think there are always ways we can overcome any situation and make the best of it. First of all, I will not stop working with any of the restricted ingredients, even if I do so only for myself, I will continue to work with them as if nothing ever happened. Fragrance is art, and if the regime demands that I stop writing my poetry I will continue to do it in secret. Second of all, once my career gets started I will make it my personal mission to seek out new naturals and put them to use. If the IFRA writes them off, then I go back in search for more - the world is a big place!
In conclusion, I must admit that I am very saddened, as this type of corporate destruction of the human experience is all around me, not only in the IFRA 43 restrictions. Our water, our air, and our food - especially here in North America - there is no longer any taste in it. It is very hard to feel alive during these times. However, many people in history have gone through worse and so the show must go on.
Friday, April 3, 2009
I think for the most part, smoking is one of the stupidest things a perfumer can do - but since we're all still human I am wondering if some of them do ? I have been an on-off smoker most of my life since my teenage years (mostly off) and I had been off cigs for two years now but somehow I picked it back up again during my last visit to Toronto (its a great stress combatant!). Since then, I have found that it is horribly to the detriment of my ability to do anything perfume related! My sense of smell is much worse in general and not only that but I am no longer able to evaluate my work on my own hand (everything seems to have a mysterious "burnt tobacco accord" to it that I swear I never put in there :P). Today I am re-sniffing a chypre that I had put away for a few weeks to try and gain some inspiration for, but I find that I am not able to smell it the way I would like. I don't plan on quitting smoking until April 15th which is the deadline for another design competition that is taking its toll on my stress levels right now - so I guess I am going to have to live with it for the time being. I am guessing most modern perfumers don't smoke but did a larger percentage of them smoke in the 50's 60's or even 20's 30's ? I wonder if the nose just acclimates eventually as I know long term smokers don't smell the smell of stale smoke on themselves anymore. It'll be interesting to see if I can find out in another two weeks!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I got a very nice email from the people @ Bond last month so I figured I'd try my hand at designing a bottle for last months Bond No.9 Brooklyn bottle competition. I'm not from BK so I had to really try and get inside the mindset of a new-yorker for inspiration for themes/images that would really represent the New York borough. I though of a design in which the bottle's background was an architectural schematic of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the BK theme was continued by the famous subway numbers which travel the area. I created a black top to mimic the iconic subway signs and placed on it some numbers of routes which travel throughout the area. These subway route markers also make up the centerpieces of the bottle as well as a Bond No.9 logo in the middle (each design submitted had the requirement of either the round logo or text logo to be prominent on the bottle). I'm certainly no graphics whiz and my background is definitley not the visual arts but heres my best shot! *fingers crossed*