Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Very Orange Triple Bill


Possibly the most recognised fruit in the world, our little citrus friend has claimed its place in the kitchen, especially during breakfast, formed a strong partnership (and very delicious one too) with duck, and is to perfumers what rice is to the Chinese. The humble orange, thought to be the love child of pomelo and mandarin, plays such an important role in perfumes that I feel it is only fair to give it a mention. This cheap and widely available material is not only versatile, but indispensable in this delicate art of mix and smell.

Act 1 - Les Nuit d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal

Sitting under a cypress tree at night in Tuscany and inhaling the Mediterranean air is what Les Nuit d'Hadrien purport to express. This is a timeless story of indulging in the simple desires nature has to offer. There is no extravagance here, just a basic need to be comfortable.

Les Nuit d'Hadrien is charming and lightly European. She blooms with green citruses accompanied by spices and a teaspoon of brown sugar. This bitter-sweet ensemble transform into a cool temperate forest with wild cypress, basil and juniper before settling down to a gentle base of amber and vanilla. This sensual arrangement makes Les Nuit d'Hadrien a perfume you can wear forever, if you can only choose one. ****1/2

Act 2 - Solo Pop by Loewe

Recently introduced Solo Pop is a new generation flanker of the Loewe Solo family. Inspired by the pop-art movement and Andy Warhol, Solo Pop represents the modern man in his pursuit to balance work and pleasure. 

As I am typing this, I cannot help noticing how my writing style changes with each perfume I smell. With Solo Pop, I just want to get it over and done with. Solo Pop opens with citrus notes that in my opinion, smells bizarre. After pondering, my still-useful brain came up with an apt description - orange-scented air con cleaner. The aromatic heart notes featuring thyme, coriander, verbena, lavender and rosemary did nothing to make it smell less synthetic. Instead, the air con cleaner is smelling more like expensive Lysol. 

Matching the scent to the concept, I think Solo Pop is quite a synthetic success. Orange from a spray can. **

Finale - Little Italy by Bond No. 9

A neighbourhood area in lower Manhattan thriving with tourists and dozens of Italian restaurants and shops, Little Italy once housed a large population of Italians. I believe the general consensus is Italians are loud and passionate people. 

Bond No. 9's Little Italy certainly did not shy away from that. This is one loud and proud orange, and even more in your face than the juice-squirting Sunkist ad. Forget about top, middle and base notes. Little Italy is an epic linear orange story. Peel 100 oranges till your hands wrinkle, and smell them and you smell Little Italy. From the zest, to rind to juice, this perfume is a full tribute to our very humble orange. Do not be mistaken and think this smells like orange essential oil. It does not. The essential oil is too gentle and soft to be Italian. This is concentrated orange powered with a good dose of hair spray. Haute couture orange. ****

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review: High Line by Bond No. 9

If there's ever industrial art in a bottle, it has to be High Line. Making scents out of logical places like world famous cities, historical locations and beaches make sense and from a marketing pov, sells. Making scents out of a place described on as 'The High Line is a 1.45-mile (2.33 km) New York City park built on a section of the former elevated freight railroad of the West Side Line, along the lower west side of Manhattan, which has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway' makes you lift an eyebrow. I did, when I caught wind that Bond No. 9 was to put the park in the bottle. 

Being a non-New Yorker, I googled and first reaction was: rust and grass?oh dear! I've never really taken much notice to the smell around our local rail tracks and to be honest, I was a little tempted to go on my knees, crawl and attempt to sniff. Fortunately, Bond No. 9 is not one to take it literally as evident in their past creations. 

High Line is a clever composition featuring notes of nature found along the tracks such as purple love grass, Indian rhubarb, red leaf rose, tulips, grape hyacinth, sea moss, teak, bur oak and musk. Might be a good thing there is no notes of rust, smoke, tar, grease, insects. Compared to the other Bonds, High Line is delicate and soft. The opening is ozonic and green, but not chopped grass. It is the beautiful cool morning breeze passing through fluttering grass, evapourating the sweetened morning dew infused with the scent of delicate freshly bloomed flowers. Towards the heart, it becomes interestingly even more aquatic and floral before settling into a light woody trail. 

I consider this an amazing creation because High Line is very wearable with fantasy notes that do not feel a bit synthetic so kudos to perfumer Laurent LeGuernec. For you bottle lovers, you will be pleased to know that the 'High Line' on the bottle is an actual metal cut-out that is glued to the bottle!

Rating: *****

Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: L'EAU by Serge Lutens

Honestly, I do not know where to start with this review. L'EAU is a fairly recent offering by Serge Lutens and is supposedly an 'anti-perfume' for the days you want to stay away from the roses, civet and patchouli. Shocking? No. This is not the first time we are hearing 'anti-perfume' as it has been marketed over and over again by CdG, Escentric Molecules was in my opinion along the same line and not forgetting CB I Hate Perfume. How about clean, linen-inspired scents? Original? No. Niche brand CLEAN has been doing it for years, and so has Demeter. Scent wise, this fragrance is hardly shocking nor original, but coming from Serge Lutens, it is both shocking and original. Thinking of analogies, perhaps an equally scary one is trying to imagine Christian Lacroix selling soft, clean, white, cotton t-shirts. Horror.

Marketing aside, the scent is more than detergent. It is lemon-scented starch spray. L'EAU smells like a spanking new luxury hotel room in all white; it smells like freshly pressed $500 shirt; it smells like you have a lot of money to spare. Compared to the harsh and sharp quality of CLEAN's scent, L'EAU is actually rather charming and refine. The clever combination of citruses, aldehydes, clary sage and magnolia smells naturally clean and the slightly salty ozonic and musk notes evokes purity and comfort.

The longevity however is a nightmare leaving me scentless in under an hour. Maybe that is the concept of the 'anti-perfume'. Regardless, I still do think this is a charming scent and it makes a perfect room spray for my clean white bedroom walls.

Rating: ***
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