lundi 22 septembre 2014

Architects Club by Yann Vasnier for Arquiste: Tipsy Vanilla

Arquiste’s second take on vanilla after Anima Dulcis, Architects Club, flies the pod out of Mexico City to land it in the Fumoir of the Claridge’s in London – an Art Deco time machine tucked behind a door designed by René Lalique.

The former explored it as a New World ingredient “discovered”, along with cocoa and chili, by the Spanish nuns who invented Mexican cuisine. Re-smelling recently, I zeroed in on a surprising twist: a spicy Prunol-type accord that runs it through with a chypre structure derived from Femme. Inspired by Arquiste founder Carlos Huber’s cocktail of choice, Architects Club also features a coup de theatre.

Vanilla’s usual drinking partner is rum, which actually picks up its vanilla facet from the oak casks it’s aged in – Bertrand Duchaufour’s late, lamented Havana Vanille played on this affinity. Here, Yann Vasnier goes against the grain by getting it tipsy on dry martini. Both gin and vermouth are blends of several botanicals also used in perfumery. Juniper, angelica, lavender, clary sage, bitter orange, lemon, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg and orris root all feature in the formula of Architects Club, embroidering the scent with green aromatic beads that fizz when you pop them.

The dry martini accord picks up on the woodiness of vanilla but cuts through its sweetness and highlights its warmth through contrast, conjuring the icy burn of the cocktail. A lash of Ambermax, a rocket-fuel-strength ambery-woody synthetic with a cedar facet, stands in for its uncompromising dryness. As the fragrance develops, the martini evaporates, giving way to a smoky, breezy vanilla.

Architects Club has a good-time, midnight-in-the-afternoon party feel to it. At a 25% concentration, its effects are as potent and long-lasting as a dry martini’s – a couple of spritzes should see you through to closing time.

Architects Club de Yann Vasnier pour Arquiste: Vanille pompette

Marque créée à New York par Carlos Huber, architecte mexicain spécialisé dans la restauration des édifices historiques, Arquiste se fonde sur l’évocation olfactive de moments et de lieux du passé.

Ainsi, Anima Dulcis évoquait le couvent de Mexico où des nonnes espagnoles inventèrent une cuisine métissée en découvrant les ingrédients du Nouveau Monde – cacao, piment, vanille… Moins gourmand qu’il n’y paraît, d’ailleurs, puisqu’en réalité, cet accord ambré-vanillé épicé est traversé par une structure chyprée dérivée de Femme.

Deuxième interprétation de la gousse méso-américaine, Architects Club l’arrache au Mexique pour l’expédier à Londres, direct dans le Fumoir de l’hôtel Claridge’s, enclave Art Déco planquée derrière une porte créée par René Lalique.

En général, quand la vanille veut s’empoivrer, c’est à coup de rhum – question d’origines géographiques, mais aussi d’affinités olfactives puisque les barriques de chêne où s’affine cet alcool de canne lui confèrent des facettes vanillées (confer le regretté Havana Vanille de Bertrand Duchaufour). Mais dans Architects Club, on a beau dire, y’a pas seulement que de la vanille. Y’a aut’chose.

Baie de genièvre, angélique, lavande, sauge sclarée ? Y’en a. Orange amère, citron, coriandre, cardamome, noix de muscade, rhizome d’iris ? Aussi. C’est que Yann Vasnier a pris la gousse exotique à rebrousse-poil en la grisant de martini dry, gin et vermouth alignant par ailleurs des ingrédients présents dans la palette du parfumeur. Ce sont eux qui rebrodent l’accord ambré-vanillé velouté d’Architects Club de perles vertes aromatiques qui pétillent lorsqu’on les croque.

Cet accord martini dry fusant booste le boisé de la vanille tout en bridant ses penchants gourmand. C’est ce contraste chaud-glacé, encore plus que les notes, qui évoque la brûlure désaltérante du cocktail, dont une rasade d’Ambermax, ambré-boisé de synthèse d’intensité nucléaire, suscite sa gifle sèche. Au fil du développement, le martini s’évapore pour céder à une vanille qui respire la fumée…

Comme le lieu qui l’a inspiré, Architects Club est un parfum festif. Et comme le cocktail dont il s’arrose, avec sa concentration à 25%, il est assez puissant et rémanent pour qu’un ou deux pschitts vous tiennent jusqu’au petit matin…

vendredi 12 septembre 2014

My Top Ten Fall 2014 Fragrance Launches

After the rainiest month of August since 1959, Paris is easing into a mild September – a slightly melancholy, elegiac period of earlier sunsets, cooler nights and snatches of warm rays between high, hazy clouds…

Is this melancholy tipping over of seasons the reason ghosts keep drifting past the corner of my eye? Or is it the invasion of moths that’s had me sorting through more than two decades’ worth of sartorial archives, deciding what to clean, what to store and what to let go? Opening up garment bags has released the host of ghosts caught in the folds of those dresses… Though no whiffs of past fragrant loves emerged (just the smell of dust and textiles), the chore has set me to thinking of perfumes in terms of hauntings, possessions and spirit-raising. Hence the theme of this fall’s top 10 fragrances: new releases touched by remembrance of time past.

Apart from Coco Noir Parfum and Cuir d’Ange which I’ve already reviewed, I’ll be dedicating full-length posts on those in coming weeks.

My first two entries are polar opposites: one is a forward-looking reinvention of old fragrance families; the other raises the dead.

Thierry Mugler Les Exceptions collection
The collection, penned by Olivier Polge and Jean-Christophe Hérault, strips down old genres to their bearing walls and reconstructs them (fougère, oriental, chypre, floral, the only modern family being musk). I had a passing sniff of this at The Bay in Canada, where it was pre-launched, and what I smell got me rather excited.

Jean Patou Que sais-je?
The prospect of acquiring a “new vintage”, old-school fruity chypre is one that would many any perfume lover slaver. Bridging the gap between Mitsouko and Femme, Que Sais-je? brings outs the underlying toughness of the genre, especially since by streamlining its formula, Thomas Fontaine has made it a little gaunter. Overall, it’s quite close to the 1980s re-edition by Jean Kerléo.

Though they don’t smell much like it, the next two entries seem to me to be haunted by a Féminité du Bois type of structure, which is in turn an offshoot of Femme.

Chanel Coco Noir Parfum
I’ve only just reviewed this much more compelling version of the 2012 Coco Noir, so just click here to read up. There can never be too many extraits.

Fragrance Republic! OI/N°08
Rosabotanica (Balenciaga), co-authored by Olivier Polge and Jean-Christophe Hérault, deconstructed rose to reveal lesser-known, aromatic-green facets. In Osmanthé (the working title of FR!OI/N°8), Jean-Christophe Hérault submits osmanthus to a similar treatment. I’ve been wearing it all summer, but its musky apricot jam tenderly rubbed in wood will segue beautifully into fall.
Please note that this is only available in the US via Fragrance Republic!

My 5th and 6th picks hint at a fougère mutation towards the feminine – something I’m also getting for the pretty-nice-for-mainstream Burberry Brit Rhythm for Her.

Serge Lutens L’Orpheline
Yet another scent haunted by Lutens’ childhood, this new addition to the “rectangular” collection turns the chilling concept of Laine de Verre  (a war between the masculine and the feminine) into a disquietingly tender, quivering charcoal sketch – an aldehyde-incense axis softened with vanilla. I’ll soon be publishing an account of my conversation with Serge Lutens at the launch.

Bottega Veneta Knot
Just as Michel Almairac twisted the fruity chypre with Bottega Veneta, Daniela Andrier revives and modernizes the feminine fougère with this ethereal, twinkling fragrance.

I’ve paired off these two because of the obvious angel/devil contrast…

Hermès Cuir d’Ange
Jean-Claude Ellena’s lovely tribute to Hermès – both the house and the wing-footed messenger of the gods – exorcises the animal out of the leather. For the full review, click here.

By Terry Rose infernale
If Ellena’s angel skin is as femme as a swansdown powder puff, Sidonie Lancesseur’s devil rose is butched up with vetiver – a structure it shares with Rosabotanica and Ylang 49 – and aromatic nutmeg, a spice more commonly found in masculines.

My last choices, though thoroughly modern, are haunted by notes that mainstream perfumery stuffed in a crypt a couple of decades ago: aromatic bitterness and animalic funk…

By Kilian Smoke for the Soul
Part of By Kilian’s new Addictive State of Mind trilogy, Fabrice Pellegrin's Smoke for the Soul conjures the smell of weed with bitter (grapefruit), camphoraceous (eucalyptus), aromatic (thyme) and smoky (birch) notes. But it also brings to mind Bandit’s fierce bitterness – this smoke is seeping from the black Piguet bottle.

Cartier La Panthère Extrait de Parfum
My first sniff of this made me coin the word « grwow » -- a portmanteau of “grrr” and “wow”. This version prods the original’s musk accord until it turns feral. I’ll be getting my claws on a sample soon for a fuller prowl. 

For more Top Tens of fall, please visit Bois de Jasmin, Now Smell This and The Non-Blonde.