Sven Pritzkoleit’s disarming house style is unique in the industry. His packaging is a mix of Roger & Gallet and organic-store Reformhaus, the goofy mugshots on his website are as remote from Tom Ford bedroom eyes as it is possible to be, and the whole thing fairly fizzes with unpretentious enthusiasm. Even the box the perfume samples came in was in character: large, with a fat piece of tape top left bearing […]
In my post about MDCI I yesterday I mentioned that niche firms, guided by the Unseen Hand of market forces, may end up repopulating a vast empty space abandoned by most mainstream outfits, the Land of Nice Fragrance. Neela Vermeire is a perfect illustration of this. I have always thought of her as the Douanier Rousseau of perfume, composing an imagined Subcontinent refracted through French eyes, a sort of contemporary Indes Galantes. […]
MDCI earned its place as a fixed first-magnitude star in the perfume heavens with its first batch of fragrances, released between 2000 and 2003, which included definitive masterpieces like Invasion Barbare, Promesse de l’Aube and Enlèvement au Sérail. That is a very hard act to follow. The trickiest moment for a niche company is the transition from novelty to continuity, when a brand hits its stride, acquires customers that are not necessarily aficionados, […]
If you look up Antonio Alessandria’s fragrances in Michael Edwards indispensable database, you will encounter an apt word used again and again to describe them: opulent. If I were —heaven forfend— an aromatherapist, I would prescribe them all, taken twice daily in rotation on a smelling strip, as a cure for melancholia. When the world seems drained of color and light, call AA and all will be well. Many artisan firms are (knowingly or not) […]
I have admired Mathilde Laurent’s work for years, to be precise since she did Pamplelune in 1999, still in my opinion the best Aqua Allegoria of all. She then composed Shalimar Eau Légère and Attrape-Coeur, both perfect exemplars of the neoclassical Guerlain tradition. I had not smelled much of her recent work, but was alerted to L’Heure Perdue by Dali Nimer, a reader of this blog who described it as “one of […]
I was delighted to see that Miyako and Incendo, two of my favorites from the AOA finalists, had won the top prize for artisan fragrances. Congratulations to Auphorie and La Curie. It shows that 1] The judging system devised by Saskia Wilson-Brown works 2] The judges all have impeccable taste and 3] Niche perfumery is producing masterpieces. I hope those two small outfits get snowed under with orders. They deserve it.
This is a brand I had heard of many times over the years and smelled distractedly one or twice. Now a big sample set came, all individually wrapped like candies. The natural color of the fragrances, indicative of a high percentage of non-decolorised naturals, is already a sight for sore noses. I was planning to smell then four by four, to give me time to rest, but they were sufficiently interesting that […]
Originality can enter fragrance at various levels. A fragrance can be original because it uses a novel raw material, because it combines raw materials in a novel accord, or, rarest of all, because it uses a distinctive stylistic voice that is independent of the exact accord and carries over from one perfume to another. There was definitely a Jacques Guerlain voice, a Roudnitska voice, more recently a Chris Sheldrake/Serge Lutens one and definitely an Elléna voice. […]
On October 20-24 I will be taking part in an exciting 3-day science/art event in France’s beautiful Lubéron region. Victoria Frolova of Boisdejasmin and I will cover the chemistry, art, and neuroscience of smell in its different contexts from fragrance to food. There will be plenty of time set aside for discussion, smelling and general enjoyment. Reservations can be made here.