OlfacticsOlfactics' Perfume Reviews

Olfactics 7 years ago 6
4
Scent

Aventus by Creed
Creed’s Aventus is a temple for all fragrance pilgrims to visit.

-

What’s to say about Aventus that hasn’t already been said? Honouring the traits of the great Napoléon Bonaparte – ‘a powerhouse of dynamism’ and a commanding figure encompassing strength, power, vision and success – Aventus is described as ‘royal but never imposing’ just like the man himself. One of the most popular releases from Creed, virtually out of nowhere Aventus achieved staggering success, thus allowing the company to create a standalone boutique in New York and since then has slowly broadened their reach.

My experience with Aventus lasted a whole year before biting the bullet and considering this fragrance full-bottle worthy. For me, Aventus was never something that necessarily blew me away at the get go. In the middle of a Melbourne winter with dark roasted coffee in the air, the urban ozonic ‘funk’ of the metropolitan and in certain areas wafts of cigarette smoke – Aventus seems entirely inappropriate for cold occasions, hence was forgotten quickly. In contrast, I was also in the process of sampling Creed’s Tabarome – a true winter warmer! Spicy ginger and tobacco mingle in heavenly proportions to create a bold and endearing fragrance. Therefore, Creed’s Aventus was dismissed until a scorching summer had arrived.

A 5ml decant of Aventus served me well last summer and surprisingly lasted a long time, as I was (and arguably still am) on a cologne-centric journey of citruses and decadent splashing. The opening hits you like a neon sign of sweet and sour fruit – perfect for an Australian summer. Never cloying, never sickly. Summer came and went in a flash and my decant ran dry, yet my internal memory of the addictive and compulsive fragrance had plagued me hitherto.

The composition of Aventus is a traceable recount of Napoléon’s heroic lifestyle and his rise to power – and indeed he had fragrant life. Blackcurrant from Corsica – the birthplace of Bonaparte, famous Italian bergamot, Calville Blanc apples from France, Pineapple, Birch – the material of his crown, and last but not least Ambergris, symbolising the naval reach of Napoléon’s army.

Creed hit the nail on the head with this one, and presents a profound fragrant journey like no other. Like the great Eau Sauvage, Mitsouko, Shalimar or even Terre D’Hermes – Aventus surely belongs, or at least ought to belong in the category of fragrances proving to be ‘movers and shakers’. Of course, Aventus has a very modern appeal and very brazen approach in terms of smell. It is an undeniable compliment getter with an air of class.

Our neon fruit cocktail is an opening of crisp, sweet and sour fruits including pineapple and red apple peppered with blackcurrant, juicy bergamot and smoke hiding in the background. Giving an almost melon-like impression, the sweetness and the sourness with underlying smoke at the beginning reminds me of the scent of cut plywood. Musty yet slightly sour. The freshness is like cloudy apple juice squeezed from apples from the Farmer’s market mixed with the tantalising syrup scent of canned pineapple and grilled pineapple – hot with a hint of smoke and char.

Aventus dries down to a smokier yet still sweet mixture of pineapple, birch and patchouli creating an accord almost retro in nature, yet the eternal sweetness avoids imposition. A floral accord, which I detect is lavish rose and sensible jasmine give a sense of elegance where it otherwise may have been lost; almost watery, the sensuous rose is like watercolour – dilute and fresh, austerity through balance. However, what is almost overlooked is the use of French vanilla imparting a new level of sweetness. Totally not sweet in the same manner the fruit is, the use of vanilla bean and the luxurious seeds are not only opulent, but somewhat regal. A brooding quality in the blend, the vanilla with its tart sweetness serves as a bridge for smoke and musk to mingle with saccharine characteristics. It’s never guns blazing, but still a refined reminder that this juice is some good shit.

Due to the notes in the blend, and the rates of volatility of each note, Aventus in the end still maintains just a touch of its sweetness, with a muskiness and an element of cleanliness that is suggestive of a high quality bar of soap; and in particular the floral musk of Imperial Lather ivory soap bars. Try it for yourself, I implore you.

The final transition of notes feature ambergris and oakmoss. Ambergris is used well here as the salt and musk qualities is like some of the top and heart notes; creating the illusion of same. Light oakmoss works wonderfully with the smoke giving creaminess.

Creed’s Aventus is a bright day at dusk. Sweet orange, purple and yellow swirls in the sky eventually turn into a tart blue and finally an inevitable midnight black. It’s a sunny bout between florals and tropicana against musk, spice and woods.

Thick, rich and manly like no other. The king of the creeds.

Olfactics 7 years ago 8

Bel Ami Vetiver by Hermes
“Without disrupting the past order – the same balance, the same confident elegance, the same classic structure – Jean-Claude Ellena created his own interpretation of Bel Ami based on a new ingredient: vetiver. From chypre leather to woody leather: now the light of warm, woody, green vetiver, with a very subtle smokiness, becomes the centrepiece, replacing the patchouli of before.” – Hermès on Bel Ami Vetiver.

Many fragrance blogs and websites are filled with stories of individuals losing their favourite fragrance. I think when you find your signature fragrance it must feel horrible to find out that it has been either discontinued or reformulated to an extent that it is no longer recognisable. The current Bel Ami on offer today in Hermès boutiques is, as you can infer, nothing like what it used to be. I am instantly reminded of Fahrenheit by Dior and Mitsouko by Guerlain in which many individuals stopped wearing these fragrances because it became and smelt nothing like what is used to be; the same runs true for Bel Ami.

Strictly speaking, Bel Ami Vetiver is a flanker of Bel Ami, however in my opinion could easily replace the Bel Ami that exists today, rather than act as a younger brother. I myself prefer Bel Ami Vetiver over the reformulated Bel Ami without a doubt. And if it wasn’t obvious, Jean-Claude Ellena is my favourite perfumer, and this fragrance showcases why he is without all the minimalist excuses. Ellena is perfectly capable of making slightly denser and less translucent fragrances. This fragrance in particular highlights new facets of Ellena’s ability in both the conservation, restoration and creation of perfume.

This fragrance is refreshing whilst being both masculine and intellectual. It takes a retrospective look at 1980’s and 1990’s powerhouse fragrances given the twenty-first century sense of modernity and restraint made very popular in niche perfumery. This fragrance reminds me of Terre D’Hermès in two ways – in that the possibility for another breakthrough is there for Bel Ami Vetiver, and that Bel Ami Vetiver seems somewhat ahead of its time, despite being a ‘vintage’ inspired fragrance.

------

Bel Ami Vetiver has a very distinctive barbershop chypre and oriental tone, calling to mind cremes emulsifying into a rich lather, scented lightly with soapy leather and musk. However, Bel Ami Vetiver still smells very modern, as if the barbershop style of leather/woody-chypre fragrance served only as the inspiration. This fragrance is neither vintage, dated, nor conforming to fragrant trends, but rather it seems like a comfortable hybrid of these features.

How? I have come to the realisation and the resultant conclusion that Bel Ami Vetiver recalls the era of heavy perfumery from the very late twentieth century (Antaeus, Egoïste, Fahrenheit, Bel Ami, Lagerfeld Photo) with an Ellena-esque set of characteristics, with these fusing wonderfully to display a neo-approach to perfumes. If we look at the Hermessence line, JCE’s ‘children’, we discover watercolours and effortless transparency, certainly without lacking gravitas or persuasion. Thus, for Bel Ami Vetiver, we get a very powerful foundation of an old school firmness, and a contrapposto of weightlessness and diffusion – a chiaroscuro of differently patterned scent profiles.

Bel Ami Vetiver begins not predominantly with vetiver, but tonka (akin to Vetiver Tonka from 2004). There’s a slight gourmand edge of roasted legumes, with emphasis on hazelnut and tonka beans. This mellow richness contrasts with a bitter orange twang riddled with lots and lots of warm gingerbread spice.

As with the original fragrance, the leathery suede used here would be a deep chocolate brown colour with an immediately tangible plushness that is soft, melting, and intimate. The leather nuances are muted against a wall of green vetiver, amongst a series of contrasting timbres stemming from amber and styrax resins, giving a really intriguing impression of strong black tea brewed with a hint of sticky and oily birch tar – the shoebox connotation exists, and it is faint. Bel Ami Vetiver hints at sweetness too, but never really is; this is most likely caused by the nutty legume notes and tonka in the composition.

Whilst notes like birch tar, suede and tonka suggest a heavy fragrance, the usage of iris and carnation keep this all in balance. Bel Ami Vetiver is still ridded with little subtleties and peculiarities – whilst the vetiver seems impossibly smooth, whilst musk gives softness and a sprinkling of cedarwood gives dustiness. There is the tiniest suggestion of civet present, adding to the masculine and animalic nature of this fragrance. And also, Bel Ami Vetiver suggests that vetiver takes centre stage in the composition, however it merely belongs in the heart accord that is simultaneously herbaceous, rowdy, meaty and nutty. This also attributes to some of its complexities and pairs wonderfully with the bitter orange laden suede/leather note, making for a wonderfully balsamic drydown.

Effortlessly dandified for today’s dandies, Bel Ami Vetiver boasts an iridescent range of spice notes like cumin and incense, with a wood note also redolent of chypre perfumes – perfect for the contemporary gentleman of today who holds onto yesteryear values, mannerisms and tradition in the cool of autumn and chill of winter.

A smooth and malted fragrance with old school written all over it. Certainly not dated!

Olfactics 7 years ago 4

L'Eau d'Hiver by Jean-Claude Ellena
In perfume, the theme of water and ‘watery’ perfumes has always interested me. Firstly, one must grasp the concept of water and its thematic odour profile. Water fragrances are fresh on the skin, and equally refreshing on the nose. These fragrances, typified by the likes of Polo Blue by Ralph Lauren and Escape from Calvin Klein are soft fragrances, pillowed with deep aromatic hums and lifted with contrapuntal additions of spice and zing. These capture the idea of a cascading waterfall, dense air during a thunderstorm, or even the salty and vegetal facets of the sea.

The smell of something ‘salty’ intrigues me. Salt doesn’t have a smell but I nevertheless effortlessly state, for example, that Épice Marine by Hermès is a salty fragrance. It is the smell of the ocean, containing oceanic connotations of seaweed, spice, driftwood, and the like. The same runs true for L’Eau D’Hiver. A contradiction between hot meets cold; where density equalises sparsity.

-----

L’Eau D’Hiver is a viscose cologne, syncopated firmly against tranquility. It begins unlike the typical cologne, calling to mind a fresh cleanliness that is simple and inexcessive. I am reminded of the understated nature of clean white bedsheets: simple, yet elegant. White because of its purity, and willowy bedsheets because of its calm comfort. This fragrance is airy and thin, attuned with a concentrated accuracy that is in turn warmed (but not heated) on the skin, with slippery honey, heliotrope and iris.

L’Eau D’Hiver is actually classified as a Woody Oriental under Michael Edwards’ Fragrances of the World, and whilst that alone doesn’t surprise me, the fact that it is in the same category as Chanel’s Égoïste does. Considering this, I explored the concept, sniffing harder trying to uncover L’Eau D’Hiver’s complexities. As a rush of anise opens, I am reminded of Guerlain’s Apres L’Ondee due to the pale almond note and the heliotrope. In comparison, this is a contemporary Apres L’Ondee, hosting a languid richness from the musk and honey notes, emphasising a delicious marmalade accord found exclusively in the coveted parfum version of Apres L’Ondee. The honey illuminates the composition, joining together its gossamer transitions and yet also adding space in-between the frigid florals.

As the opening radiates a viscous marmalade accord and a piercing anise top note, a hovering citrus note of bergamot is redolent of much of Ellena’s other works, giving his trademark steadiness through freshness. Here, the name L’Eau D’Hiver (Winter Water) is realised. Comfort can be achieved without having to emphasise oriental keynotes, which can often feature an intrusive thickness. Before the fragrance can evolve into a cloying state, peppy angelica cuts the marmalade inflection with a detectable assertiveness. It has properties like snow, romantically thin but still posing a danger in the right contexts.

On multiple wearings with much consideration, L’Eau D’Hiver showcases Ellena’s perfumery style with a cheeky ease. Chandler Burr simplified his mantra marvellously during a presentation, and stated that with an Ellena perfume, people shouldn’t go: “Your perfume smells amazing…” but rather, “…you smell amazing”. This is a dense cologne, but a spare oriental; deceptively delicate yet thick like warm milk embraced with honey, marmalade and awakened with a fresh sappy jasmine.

The balance here is pivotal, and contains many elements of a typical cologne style. I enjoy this for its second skin appeal – a ‘your skin but better’ scent. This is earthly and natural at times but then entirely abstract. Clean and somewhat soapy; obscure minimalism.

Olfactics 7 years ago 6

L'Air du Désert Marocain by Tauer
Close your eyes and breathe in. Can you catch the desert air? Can you feel the piercing sunlight hitting the round of your head and attacking the vulnerability of your shoulders? After that, look up into the cloudless sky, and the dazzling sunlight will blind you momentarily as your eyes readjust to its glaring rays. The sun is a capricious one; pleasantly mysterious in little ways. Catch the dry waterless air again as it breezes past, and recall a craving for refreshment to cure a thick tongue and a parched mouth. Despite the desert’s virtually uninhabitable nature, you can’t help but notice its natural tranquillity and textural beauty. But the smell, that’s most prominent – the taut and arid air smelling almost sweet; definitely dry and spicy. It’s unreal, and captured clearly in Andy Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marocain.

Wearing Andy Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marocain envelops the wearer in a gentle sandstorm of spices, a warm symphony of notes that achieves a particularly magical feat in perfumery: hitting the fine balance between contrasts to give a concrete thickness that hovers melodiously over the skin. The desert air plays no games, it’s vicious and matter-of-fact, but in its absence nature reaches repose. In nature this is found during the nighttime, where the smells are highlighted in the absence of the sun as the air now breathes a cool spiciness. In fragrance, and in this fragrance in particular, the gentleness is recreated through precision of blending and the cradling of pure and quality ingredients. Allow the night scenery take you away.

--------

Other than a symphony of spices humming perfectly in tune, I find a lavish floral bouquet hidden in the very heart of this fragrance. What L’Air du Desert Marocain (L’ADDM) does to florals reminds me of a particular Guerlain way of thinking, in the same style of what Nahema did to the typical rose perfume – firstly overload the rose with five essences, and then give it a surrounding structure of fruit and spice. In my view, L’ADDM takes the jasmine flower and soaks it. Rose hip is employed here, which I find is what gives me a rose impression in the style of Nahema – in which rose hip itself is conflicted between a berry and a rose. Move slightly away from the florals, and the enchanted hymn to the desert becomes more obvious, an ode through perfume, created through improvement and bolstering.

The skin warms the fragrance, and the initial smack bang of coriander seed and caraway evolve into a romantically inclined scent, warm and cuddly. During the opening, the wearer approaches a bazaar full of exotic traders selling spice and resins but never enters inside. The mystery is smelled as the distant air carries it along to you. At this stage, I realised when wearing and typing my review, this is source of this fragrance’s novelty. It smells like something in the distance, with a certain louche quality to it that never sacrifices ‘oomph’. It feels like its complexity is always coming closer, but instead of facing it you surrender to its charm. Nevertheless, the complexity is always there, but I find that L’ADDM is so tightly blended that it is almost impossible to decipher.

The opening and its spiced air departs eventually, and from this evolution the dry and resinous notes of amber and cedar wood become most prominent. Perhaps the spices have cleared the palette, preparing one for the steady trail of incense and resin smoke from now on. A delicate campfire has now ignited, titillated with rich and impressionable vanilla alongside vetiver giving a prominent smokey undertone and petitgrain adding the impression of citruses from the far background. I could almost swear I smell some sun dried Provençal lavender here too, working wonders alongside synthetic ambergris (or ambroxan) imparting addiction.

As the bonfire now smoulders, a subtle sweetness appears, and I can best describe this as something reminding me of sugar-coated almonds. Sweet and earthy. L’ADDM presents the tightness of a parfum in a more approachable toilette format, with a progression typical of a parfum reached at a much faster rate. This fragrance promotes wondrous dreams and awe-inspiring daydreams when wearing. Romantic, soothing, fierce, imaginative, reserved, powerful. For a fragrance to evoke all of these emotions at once it is no less than a masterpiece.

Breathe in … It was just a dream. As the morning air enters your bedroom window, recall the exotica of Andy Tauer’s masterpiece.

Subjective rating : 5/5

Objective rating: 5/5
1 Reply