B Balenciaga ~ perfume review

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Since we last heard from Balenciaga, fragrance-wise, Nicolas Ghesquière has left the brand.1 Alexander Wang reportedly started working on the new B Balenciaga as soon as he became the house designer in late 2012 (Rosabotanica came out in the interim, but was apparently outside of Mr. Wang’s purview). Wang said he wanted his fragrance to be timeless, and he picked lily of the valley because it wasn’t overpowering, and an edamame accord because he likes green notes.2

The opening is bright and citrusy, and it is green, but it’s a very soft, dewy and pale sort of green (it reminded me a bit of the Martin Margiela Untitled scent) with plenty of violet leaf (which reminds me of too many fragrances to list). On paper, the green opening lasts for ages…

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Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Scent of Hope ~ fragrance review, with an aside on Jacques Fath Iris Gris

Iris

I can’t think of another fragrance that matches the mystique of Jacques Fath Iris Gris. Sure, perfume lovers scramble for vintage Mitsouko and study its qualities by the batch number, but Mitsouko is still on the market, and vintage bottles are relatively easy to find. Jacques Fath, perhaps Dior’s closest competition in the New Look years, died in 1954 at the stupidly young age of 42, and Iris Gris — even the name is mysterious and moody — disappeared soon after. Scent of Hope is a recreation of Iris Gris that indie perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz originally made for a private client.

Perfumer Vincent Roubert developed Iris Gris in 1946, just as France was shaking free of World War II.1 Thanks to Denyse Beaulieu of Grain de Musc, I’ve been lucky enough to smell a sample strip dipped in a bottle she bought unopened. I was surprised at how clean it smelled, and how rich the iris was, but of course that bottle was at least 60 years old. I cherish the amber-stained but now-scentless strip as a talisman. But how would Iris Gris smell fresh…

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Maria Christofilis Fleur 09 ~ fragrance review

Maria Christofilis Fleur 09

In 2012, Maria Christofilis (formerly of Anthousa) launched the feminine fragrance Fleur 09; it was limited to an edition of 80 bottles, and I somehow missed it both coming and going. Just this month, however, Christofilis has re-released the fragrance. Its formula remains unchanged: it is a white floral composition with notes of mandarin, bergamot, bitter orange, orange blossom, tuberose, vanilla and benzoin, originally developed privately for Christofilis by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux.

Fleur 09 is described as “a symphonic poem, exquisitely balanced and using only the finest and rarest oils—including best of the best elements from Givaudan’s Orpur® portfolio.” The Orpur range is reportedly a top-of-the-line collection of raw materials (all of them may be natural, or not — you know how hard it can be to determine this sort of thing!). I normally take this sort of “finest and rarest” claim with a grain of salt, but Fleur09 actually smells like a high-quality perfume…

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Tauer Perfumes Sotto La Luna Gardenia ~ perfume review

Tauer Perfumes Sotta La Luna Gardenia, label

There are a few flowers that should arguably never appear in the name of a perfume. Jasmine doesn’t matter so much — you can call a fragrance Jasmin de Nuit or Jasminora or Ikat Jasmine or whatever and it’s no big deal if it’s something other than a realistic jasmine soliflore — after all, there are plenty of realistic jasmine soliflores already. If you’re developing a new jasmine fragrance, going for interesting over realistic might be the better approach.

Magnolia is more problematic. The smell, in nature, is incredible, yet really lovely (and realistic) magnolia soliflores are as hard to find as leprechauns. Some perfumistas will automatically resent a fragrance called Magnolia-something-or-another that doesn’t, in fact, smell much like magnolias. Gardenia, ditto. The first thing a perfumista wants to know is: does it really smell like gardenia? And if the answer is yes, the next question is: for how long? Gardenia perfumes that smell like real gardenia for more than say, 10 or 15 minutes, are rare indeed…

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