Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Chypre 21 by Heeley

What is better than opening a brand new bottle of perfume? Opening a brand new bottle of perfume that you have won in a competition! 
Thanks to the excellent online magazine http://www.scentury.com and their generosity, I am the proud owner of Heeley's Chypre 21, a chypre for the modern (ish) times we live in. Heeley is a favourite brand in this Franco German household and many of his creations have been tried, tested and shared. There is an effortless elegance to the scents, a perfect combination of British and French perfumery. Understated and yet...complicated enough to be intriguing, and ever so slightly coquettish. 
Chypre 21 is no different. Sparkling, golden, shimmering, soft, powdery, woody, spicy with a hint of bitterness, and bright bright bright. I was fully prepared to share it with Mael, but he declared it too feminine for him. So much for the daring Frenchman! As for me: I will wear it happily whenever I need a bit of backbone support. It's one of those scents that make you sit straighter and give you a red carpet walk.

My visual interpretation of Chypre 21 by James Heeley

Please read the excellent review on the candyperfumeboy's blog here:

How and where to wear:
Brexit negotiations in Brussels (both sides)

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Blomma Cult

Perfumers often have interesting biographies and it's not uncommon for them to arrive at their profession after long careers in other fields, be it science or art, architecture, music, or fashion. Former experiences in other creative corners of the world are incorporated into new brands and fragrance creations and make for a fascinating fusion of ideas.  Dr. Mike is a good example of this (relatively) new indie movement. A former pharmacist/musician, he founded his perfume brand Room 1015 in an attempt to "unite his two passions into one fashion." Inspired by music and with a decidedly rock and roll aesthetic, the house has 4 scents on offer so far. When you order the sample pack you get a little promo vinyl, something I certainly haven't seen for a while, and the website is quite a feast on the eyes as well. I really like the design of the brand -  it's fresh, modern, a bit grungy, colourful and different. The focus is on creating a multi sensual experience, incorporating smell, sound, video, photography and colour. No wonder I am intrigued.

Power Ballad, Electric Wood, Atramental and Blomma Cult. After a good trying session I  really liked Electric Wood and Atramental, really disliked Power Ballad, and loved Blomma Cult. I'm undoubtedly showing my age here by falling for a scent that was inspired by the 60's and 70's, rather then one that seems to be based on whatever young people regard as music these days .... 

My visualisation for Blomma Cult, by Room 1015

As you can see, the image is not quite as abstract as usual, but for Room 1015  I wanted to base my visuals on photographs rather than digital illustrations. A bunch of tulip petals served me just right. For the perfume's 60's vibe I opted for a few solarisation filters to bring out the pinks, purples and creamy/peachy tones I wanted to feature in the image.  

Blomma Cult is a wonderfully soft violet patchouli mix, creamy and fresh and sensual. Patchouli is of course an obvious choice for a flower power perfume, but here the note is used with balance and only hints at the hippy shops of good old times. What I enjoyed most about Blomma Cult was how it rendered the violet in a modern way without losing its delicacy. It's a sweet affair, especially at the beginning, but there is a lot of light to counter any heaviness, and in the end the patchouli dances with a vanilla musk until the party is over. 

How and where to wear:

Blissfully awaiting another Age of Aquarius

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Puredistance, the sketchbook

It's not often that I focus on an entire collection for my coloured reviews. The last time I did, the range - Oriza LeGrand- was nicely "ueberschaubar" as we say in German. So many perfume houses launch new bottles at frightening speed these days, making it difficult to keep track, and impossible to find the brand's fragrant identity. 4, 5, 6 - these are good numbers for a small niche brand, at least  in my view.
Another reason for my reluctance to do combined posts is that the designer pedant in me doesn't feel comfortable with creating a blog post with 4 or 5 images without a common theme or feel to them. That would just look higgledy-piggledy. Thankfully some brands do believe in less is more, and when I received a lovely and generous sample set from Puredistance last Christmas I knew I wanted to find a way to cover the entire range in one post. 

There are currently 6 fragrances in the range, all in high pure perfume concentration, a luxurious  indulgence with the price point to match. Created by different perfumers, they nonetheless share a radiant elegance. I'm not attempting to write in depth reviews for all of the scents, but to give a sketchbook-like impression. Stepping away from my usual digital approach and playing around with watercolours seemed like the right way to achieve that.

Once I was satisfied that I had found the right colours for each perfume I used the cropping tool of the past - 2 L-shaped pieces of cardboard- to find the best possible details before finalising the images with the help of various digital filters. 


My impressions of the perfumes in order of their release dates:


Puredistance I

A green and fresh floral with a backbone. There is lot going on here: citrus, mimosa, rose, magnolia, but  blended to abstraction. An idealised bouquet, created to enhance whoever is wearing it. A very elegant, slightly aloof scent, that's never overpowering but strong in attitude. It's advertised as for women, but I think its a great floral for a man. The right type of men. As for myself : yes, I would happily wear it, although it's a bit out of my comfort zone.


Puredistance M

Hmm...this is spicy, warm and edible. Opens classically with a splash of citrus, but a hint of spice and touch of rose are coming along already. Cinnamon, coriander and cumin (not too sweaty, no fear) give way to patchouli and turn into a warm worn out leather. Unsurprisingly, I like this a lot. For a spicy oriental leather it also stays remarkably cool. I wouldn't say understated - it's pretty rich - but its opulence comes without a hint of bling and is not overpowering or cloying. Lovely.


Puredistance Antonia

A lot of green. This, in combination with white flowers and rose, makes it a very difficult experience for me. I don't mind indolic scents, but need them to be on the warm, animalic side. Combined here with a metallic freshness from the greens it gives me an immediate headache. Sorry, Antonia, you are not made for me and I can't do you any justice, so let's move on to...


Puredistance Opardu

Powder floral with a punch. Now that I can understand better. Lilac or hyacinth paired with white flowers. While the jasmine and tuberose are not exactly dirty here (far from it), it's nonetheless a sensual fragrance, if you give it the time to get there. Opardu has undeniably a strong old fashioned vibe in a No sex before marriage sort of way and while I admire the quality of the perfume, I'm not loving it. I'm ultimately not prim and proper enough to wear it and would feel like a fraud if I did. 


Puredistance Black

I had covered Black in more depth here, but of course it will also play it's part in these colour sketches. An astonishing number of perfumes are called Black, or Black this-and-that, and more often then not they contain not even a whiff of darkness. Black by Puredistance definitely deserves its name, and like I described in my original post, the black serves as a layer of mystery to hide what's really underneath and within. I detect sour cherries and booze with a hint of bitter chocolate. A whiskey based cocktail of very adult fruitiness- indulgent and intoxicating. Love it.


Puredistance White

I remember when I got a sample of this about a year ago and thought:"Oh, no, a white. That's going to be either an ultra clean musk thing, or a tuberose bomb." Fortunately it is neither. What it is instead should still be, in theory, totally not up my street, and yet... it is. It seems I have found a clean rose floral that I can enjoy, certainly helped by accompanying notes of tonka bean, orris and sandalwood. Very radiant and sparkling, super feminine, white, red, gold and purple. If it was an outfit, it would be a casual silk blouse in creamy white over a pair of white Marlene Dietrich trousers. A timeless classic, whether you're barefoot, in trainers, or sporting your 10 inch stilettos. Beautiful.

So these were my sketch like impressions of the perfumes Puredistance currently has in its range. All the scents - even my dislike Antonia - are very sophisticated and of high end quality. Not necessarily pushing the boat out in terms of innovation, but if you make things that well, you can afford not to care much for the new and the trendy. My personal favourites are Black and M, with White on a surprise 3rd rank. The idea to use watercolour to illustrate the fragrances was initially based on my wish to create sketch-like first impressions, but the longer I worked on this post the more I realised that the art of watercolour and Puredistance's approach to perfumery have a few things in common: 

Lightness of touch and clarity 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Liquid wood - Odin New York's Lacha

When I started working on this blog, I initially thought about creating very simple and plain visuals. Just a few colour blocks or stripes in a Pantone colour swatch sort of way, filtering everything down to one or two colours per scent. I liked the simplicity and felt that there was conceptual strength in keeping everything clear and uncluttered. The very first blog posts still show images that had been designed with that idea in mind. But a very strong concept can have the down side of being restricting (for the creator) and ultra boring (for the reader). Limiting myself to a couple of coloured squares to describe complex olfactory creations just didn't work in the long(er) run. Yes, this blog is about colour and perfume, and I always start working with a palette, but creating the visual means thinking about shapes, composition, light and depth, structure, and, of course: texture.
I am glad that I gave up on all that probably very German desire for conceptual purity, because from time to me I discover a scent that just screams AMAZING TEXTURE, and how frustrating would it be not to use that as a base for the design. Let's have a look at Odin New York's 2015 creation Lacha:

Odin 12 Lacha

Wood notes always add some solidity to a scent, a wonderful illusion of substance, either polished or raw. In this fragrance though, the wood is anything but solid. This wood is actually liquid. When I first smelled it I had two immediate associations: wood grain and the soft ripples of silk draped languidly over it. No surprise then that I tried to merge them into my visualisation. Lacha also carries a lot of spices, namely saffron, nutmeg and pepper and on different wearings their prominence varied quite a lot, but the mix always seemed very well balanced. According to the note list it has a strong suede leather base, but for me silk and wood describe it much better. A well rounded, softly spicy perfume that nonetheless packs a bit of a punch and comforts with a twist and a wonderful example of interesting texture in a scent. 

How and where to wear:
Fallen in love with a clarinet player? Here's the scent for you.