DemonHeadDemonHead's Perfume Reviews

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DemonHead 8 years ago 6
9
Scent
Ethereal leather
This October, we are honoured to receive more prose from the perfumed pen of Hermès nose Jean-Claude Ellena, as the house gives flight to Cuir d'Ange, the twelfth creation in its exclusive Hermessence line.

In 2014, Jean-Claude has found his muse between the pages of a book - one that has touched his life profoundly. Twentieth century French writer Jean Giono refers to 'angel leather' in a passage from the book "Jean le Bleu", and it was from there that Ellena's inspiration took seed.

"Two words, two smells: the smell of angels, the smell of leather, and already the name of a perfume".

In keeping with strong House traditions, Cuir d'Ange is devoutly Hermès through and through... it tips its hat to the historic Hermès scents of the 1950's, whilst in the same breath feels strikingly contemporary. If one were asked to trace its ancestry, one could not look past the cardamom-laiden citrus flight of Eau d'Hermès, and the delectable bittersweet leathery qualities of Doblis. Moving forward along the timeline, the floral/leather treatment of Kelly Caleche springs to mind, though Cuir d'Ange feels a little more mature and sophisticated. I wonder too, if Ellena has borrowed from his recent creation Épice Marine, perhaps with a rearrangement of it's salty ozonic accords included here to suggest vast and infinite space overhead. After all, is that not where angels reside?

Cuir d'Ange darts between the ethereal and the earthbound. It's enchanting florals - heliotrope, iris, violet and daffodil - steal glances through a more grounded leather/musky veil. The sandy pink calfskin lid and nude blush hue of the flacon communicate a certain tenderness... the napped suede caress of an angel, maybe.

Two words is all it took for Ellena to make tangible a scent that is genderless and appealing, and observes the traditions of the House. As an author of perfume, his words are his smells, and here he has written a poem of unearthly beauty and the sublime.
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DemonHead 8 years ago 6 1
7
Scent
Bending to the Middle Eastern Market
This year Guerlain introduce a new scent intended for the Middle Eastern market; Santal Royal. With exclusivity limited to the new Salon de Parfums at Harrods in London (for the time being), Santal Royal is an ode to one of perfumery's highly regarded ingredients; sandalwood.

Presented in a handsome black glass flacon normally usually reserved for the "Les Eaux de Rituels" collection, and with a label design appended from early Shalimar powder boxes, Santal Royal cuts a striking new figure, whilst still acknowledging the House's prodigious heritage.

Santal Royal surprises with its opening which features (quite obviously) sandalwood, but if in these fleeting opening moments one can avoid being seduced by the darker, woodier aspects of the fragrance, the flight has something of a signature Guerlain treatment: wafts of bergamot and lavender tippy-toe over an aromatic slant of geranium and coriander. These nuances keep the scent uplifting and bright before - mere moments later - richer, more complex notes emerge. Cinnamon and clove-like spices give rise to a thicker core of florals... rose, ylang-ylang and jasmine seem tickle my receptors. They are imbued with an off-the-rack oud accord (which, if I'm to be honest, I've smelled before in Armani's Cuir Noir and Puredistance Black), but it's earthiness does work well against the precious santal. A biting tartness is also present, suggestive of tanned leather, but it only makes its presence felt from time to time. A warmer foundation of amber, tonka and musks steer the scent back to a more familiar 'Guerlain' stable, before the fragrance vanishes from skin altogether a generous 8 -10 hours later.
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DemonHead 8 years ago 4
8
Scent
Dessert and Delights
New to the Guerlain "Les Elixirs Charnels" lineup in 2014 is the super-sexy French Kiss. Quintessentially French and quintessentially Guerlain, 'French Kiss' is a mouth-watering délice created by the hand of Thierry Wasser that typifies the series' fondness for confection-like sweetness.

French Kiss opens with an ambosial flight... jammy, pulpy raspberries meet the nose beneath an initial sparkle of citrus. The berries are deep red in hue, and their olfactory profile borders on that of sour cherry. An enchanting blend of violet and orris lend a faint lipstick vibe (no surprise really, given the scent was created to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Guerlain's Kiss Kiss lipstick line). These accords also lend a sense of powdery dryness, which calls to mind a baked meringue dusted with confectioner's sugar... fluffy and chewy on the inside, and chalky and brittle on the outside. A caramel-brown ribbon of heliotrope and vanilla add a creamy sweetness to the trail - the effect something like a ganache or melted French vanilla ice-cream. (Anyone who has smelled Guerlain's exclusive "180 Ans de Creation" perfume will recognise it in the drydown here).

A Fruity Floral with strong gourmand characteristics, French Kiss veers away from the pedestrian and feels very much the sequential successor in the Elixirs Charnels series. On paper, it may appear to have certain nuances plucked from the mega-successful commercial release La Petite Robe Noire, but the quality here speaks for itself. And lets face it, who here doesn't find glacé desserts and candied trappings kind of sexy?
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DemonHead 9 years ago 6 2
8
Scent
7.5
Longevity
7.5
Sillage
10
Bottle
A unique change of tact on the "Smoke" theme
To date, Riccardo Goti is a name largely absent from the mind of many a perfumisto. After studying design at the State Institute of Art in Firenze, Goti first stepped into the limelight with his unique fashions and use of unorthodox materials; mixing fabric with cut leather and metal hardware. With a more recent shift in focus towards jewellery design, Goti found his fame in the accessories market... his universe still utilizing raw leathers, tarnished metals, semi-polished stones and pliable materials like tin. In 2008, motivated by a desire to create unique, multi-faceted, multi-layered perfumes to accompany his accessories Goti recruited one of the oldest cosmetics manufacturers / pharmacies in the world - Santa Maria Novella. Together, they produced three GOTI ESSENZE fragrances composed of wholly natural ingredients: Black, White and Earth. Their very select distribution rendered them virtually invisible on the radars of devout perfumisti, but they created a distinct 'blip' on the screen of the fashionisti that had followed Goti's journey from the very beginning.

In 2013, Riccardo Goti has recently added two new scents to his portfolio: Gray and Smoke. But before I go on, I feel it is worth noting that the previously-launched trio have been completely reformulated to coincide with the 2013 new product launch and re-packaging of the brand. (There is no indication given as to why the previous scents are now largely unrecognisable today, but I have discovered that Santa Maria Novella are no longer producing the Goti Essences. That assignment has now been turned over to Laboratorio Therapeutico M.R., a Florentine pharmaceutical / neutroceutical firm founded in 1930, which - since the early 80's - has diversified its business by creating cosmetics and food supplements). Whilst this might have had something of an impact on the first three fragrances, we can gladly approach Gray and Smoke as Goti Essenze newcomers and take them at face value. In this blog piece I will be turning my attention to Smoke, which in my eyes, is the more interesting of the pair.

Smoke – contrary to that which its name might suggest – is not a run-of-the-mill olfactory study of charred woods and ashen embers that we perfume lovers have seen time and again. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Smoke – at least by the hand of Goti - feels more fluid, colourful, and transparent. Absent are the dark plumes of oud, birch tar and black tea that one might expect of such a scent, and in their place, a fascinating arrangement of notes that lend a curious translucency. A jewel-coloured opening of pomegranate startles with its bittersweet piquancy. This purple-red fire dances on a soft bed of cedar... a scattering of fragrant woodchips that provide a sense of combustable warmth. Moments into it's flight, there is a slightly bewildering camphorous quality that hints at the presence of blue eucalyptus or green menthol, but no such elements exist. I grasp for answers, only to realise I've discovered a penetrating yellow note of zesty ginger pooling below the surface. This ginger imbues the scent from top to bottom with an almost petroleum-like quality... it is sharp, aqueous and feels somewhat volatile and incendiary.

The foundation upon which Smoke was built includes ebony, incense and resins. The citric-orange presence of frankincense is very clear in this composition and partners well with the ginger, only amplifying it's abundance. It adds colour and dimension and lingers long into the drydown.

Riccardo Goti's interpretation of Smoke makes for an imaginative change of tact as far as smoke-themed perfumes are concerned. It feels infinitely more modern and avant garde than the majority of those that have gone before it. This genderless scent will captivate and mystify many with it's vivid colour and unique composition.

The new Goti Essences now appear in stunning, lightweight 50ml and 100ml polished metal flacons. The smaller of the two is perfect for travel, and the luxurious 100ml comes with a detachable leather bulb atomiser. A small screw cap and metal cover for the flacon are included with the larger size. Both are packaged in exquisite sturdy black boxes with tooled leather buckles.
Very 'Goti' indeed.
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DemonHead 9 years ago 3
9
Scent
7.5
Longevity
5
Sillage
5
Bottle
Fantasy & Alchemy
In 2009, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Olivier Durbano at his home atelier in the Marais in Paris. In those few hours of my time there, I recognised Olivier to be a man driven by his dreams; a man to whom spiritualism and symbolism play an important role in all that he does and all that he is. On this occasion, I asked this accomplished jeweller / perfumer what it was that sparked his very first interest in stones. With a smile, he took from a shelf a baseball-sized rock that was the colour of ash, and placed it in my hands. It was heavy, and largely dull, save for a few scattered facets that reflected the light of the lamps in his room. "This stone" he said. "I saw it when I was five, and I had to have it. It is an uninteresting stone, but to me, it possessed some magic".
And there it was... a boy - now a man - who has treasured this childhood relic because it fired his imagination. Because in the wildest fantasies of that boy, it might have been anything: a dragon's egg, a stone age-tool, or maybe something that fell from the sky. Now, many years later, Monsieur Durbano has launched the ninth in his series of perfumed stone poems - one based on the fictitious Lapis Philosophorum (The Philosopher's Stone)... a rock of legend, said to possess the power to turn base metals into gold.

References to the "Philosopher's Stone" date back to biblical times, but was perhaps popularised most in the Middle Ages in alchemist folklore that asserted that substances like stone, could be transmuted into alloys like gold. As science has advanced, we now recognise that this concept is a myth, but old texts repeatedly cite the existence of such a stone. Naturally, to a man whose imagination is rife with a love of lore and fantasy, what better subject matter is there to transform into a scent?

As per Olivier's history of olfactory releases, he has approached the creation of this fragrance with a great measure of sensitivity. It possesses his now-recognisable DNA, in that it has a unique flinty, mineralic quality that other perfumers fail to grasp (or at least, fail to translate as effectively). Lapis Philosophorum strikes a balance between the base stone itself, and the alchemic processes that have resulted in its metamorphosis.

This scent opens with a sparkle of grapefruit, and a sappy/boozy shot of juniper... it feels sharp and elemental, right out of the bottle. A huff of menthol is apparent somewhere beneath, and it imbues the topnotes with a medicinal / camphorous quality. (The resulting sensation is not too dissimilar to the unique use of a 'turpentine' accord in Durbano's Turquoise). A whisper of white truffle brings with it a slightly earthy, almost buttery feel, which diminishes the camphorous aspects by half. The heartnotes of frankincense and mesquite (a woody tree native to the America's with a meaty, charred scent profile) hint at a raging furnace, fanned with a primitive foot pump... one can almost glean a sense of sulphurous steam swelling on the air - an olfactory snapshot of the whole alchemic process as it unfolds. Warm resins (opoponax and myrrh) and musk support the idea of unrelenting warmth, sweat and toil; an oakmoss base brings with it a feeling of antiquity. Lapis Philosophorum is an olfactory rendering of the alchemist's workshop - the bubbling, the hissing and the crackling embers... but through the plumes there is even a hint of gold - a flash of precious metal; the final prize!

This scent - unlike any of Olivier Durbano's other creations, is the only fragrance fashioned on a non-existent stone. His previous perfumes each represent a literal and metaphysical translation of a semi precious gem, whilst Lapis Philosophorum is a striking scent born out of pure fantasy. It embraces mythical lore, poetry, fantasy, and perhaps a little of that magic that a young Durbano dreamed about when holding his unexciting grey rock.

This is arguably Monsieur Durbano's most mature and consummate creation yet.
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