J. Crew + Arquiste No. 31 & No. 57 ~ fragrance reviews

J. Crew + Arquiste No. 31 & No. 57

I am not a J. Crew customer. Well, I used to be, back in the early 90s when the J. Crew catalogue still catered to college students and I was still wearing baggy sweaters and oversized men’s t-shirts, but nowadays I find most of the brand’s offerings too high-priced for my wallet and too trend-driven for my taste. It took perfume to get me through the door of a J. Crew boutique last week — specifically, J. Crew’s collaboration with the niche brand Arquiste.

For this project, Arquiste recruited perfumers Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier to “conjure up the Jan. 5, 1943, opening of ‘Exhibition by 31 Women,’ the first all-female modern art show in the U.S., curated by Peggy Guggenheim and displayed at her Art of This Century Gallery on East 57th Street in New York.” The two fragrances are No. 31, named for the number of artists in the show, and No. 57, named for the street where Art of This Century was located. Naturally, I couldn’t resist a back-story like that. To my relief, the fragrances turned out to be well-crafted, affordable, and very pleasing on my skin…

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Arquiste The Architects Club ~ fragrance review

Arquiste The Architects Club

Cocktail time, March 1930, London: A group of architects gather for cocktails at Mayfair’s smartest Art Deco smoking room. As they settle in the warm interior of dark woods, leather and velvet, London’s bright young things burst in, frosted martinis in hand, surrounded by a cloud of laughter, white smoke and fine vanilla.

That’s Arquiste…talking about the inspiration for its latest perfume — The Architects Club. The fragrance was developed by one of my favorite perfumers, Yann Vasnier, who was guided in its creation by the imagined aromas of “the smoking room at Claridge’s in Mayfair” circa 1930. After smelling The Architects Club, I had to tweak the PR…

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Tom Ford Velvet Orchid ~ fragrance review

Tom Ford Velvet Orchid banner

The old saying has it that “everything old is new again.” Tom Ford Velvet Orchid, a salute to the grand oriental perfumes of the 1980s, seems to have taken that saying to heart. Lovers of Yves Saint Laurent Opium, Estée Lauder Cinnabar, Boucheron de Boucheron, and other room-permeating, spicy-woody-ambery fragrances will want to give it a try. Fans of Velvet Orchid’s older sibling, Black Orchid, will probably see no reason to switch.

Velvet Orchid’s notes include bergamot, mandarin, honey, vanilla, orange blossom, rose, jasmine, narcissus, magnolia, Cattleya leopoldii orchid, heliotrope, rum, suede, labdanum, sandalwood, and myrrh — not that any of these notes stand out distinctly. Even without the gorgeous deco bottle and “orchid” in its name, a single whiff ties Velvet Orchid to Black Orchid.

Although Velvet Orchid has the guts to take the ring with any of the big orientals, it’s billed as a floriental fragrance…

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Parfums DelRae Wit ~ perfume review & quick poll

Antonio del Pollaiolo Apollo and Daphne

When DelRae asked me to work on her new fragrance, ‘Wit’, I was charmed and very interested. First, with such a fresh, bright, fun and clever name for the perfume. Secondly, a fragrance centered around Daphne, a beautiful flower never really explored before in fragrance, and finally the story of Daphne, a mythical character full of intrigue, imagination and love.

That’s perfumer Yann Vasnier, talking about the latest from niche line Parfums DelRae. I was likewise charmed and very interested when I heard about Wit, not least because Parfums DelRae is not exactly prolific: they’ve done nine fragrances since they debuted in 2000. In comparison to some niche brands, that’s not even a snail’s pace.

But they’ve all been worth waiting for,1 and there aren’t many brands that warrant such praise. Wit, the fourth Yann Vasnier fragrance for the brand, joined my buy list almost as soon as I had it on skin, and yes, it stayed on my list even after several wearings…

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