Acqua di Scandola
A master of epic, saturated scents in the manner of Delacroix, Marc-Antoine Corticchiato delivered a delicate, quivering pastel with Le Cri de la Lumière. Acqua di Scandola sees him turn to watercolor, or rather, to an intensely personal, original take on marine notes. This tribute to a secluded UNESCO-heritage site in his native Corsica smells like the taste of sea-spray on your lips, with an underlying ochre animalic thrum that feels like sun-heated skin. Limpid and masterful.
Naja, Vero Profumo
There’s always been something archaic about Vero Kern’s style – a hint of the witch’s brew, or of ancient times when spices were macerated in wine and honey to make scent, in Egypt or Imperial Rome... But if anything, though it is based on tobacco, Naja reminds me of Moroccan maâjoune, hashish candy made of honey, dried fruit, almonds and spices. But the vision revealed well into the sticky gingerbread drydown is a twisted skein of vetiver, radiant in its flint and citrus glow against the earth and smoke.
Pourpre d’automne, Violet
Launched by the young-old Maison Violet (founded in 1827, revived by a trio of enterprising perfumery school graduates), Pourpre d’Automne has the bone structure of a proper fruity chypre, cross-pollinated with Coty’s Rose Jacqueminot. Nathalie Lorson keeps it streamlined, breathable, stopping it short enough of pretty to make it moving and wistful, rather than lipstick-like. Can’t keep my nose off my arm, as one says.
Electric Purple, Lalique
Nathalie Lorson has a singular talent for composing berry and musk fragrances – descendants of L’Artisan’s Mûre et Musc – that turn the cheerful genre into an elegant statement. With Electric Purple, in Lalique’s exclusive Les Compositions Parfumées collection, she matches a mouthwatering Boysenberry accord with the deeper, bitter green of Artemisia against a light chypre background. This is a delight, and never fails to make me smile.
Between Ella (Arquiste) and L’Ame Perdue (Le Galion), Rodrigo Flores Roux’s scents are in heavy rotation on my skin: I find his intensely emotional, baroque style moves me, and always keeps me interested. With Monstera, for the new Mexican brand Xinu, he grows a rainforest on my skin, from the humus-rich ground to the dayglow sap-oozing leaves of the canopy. This is green, raspy and wild: an olfactory fugue from Northern latitudes.
Fleurs et flammes, Antonio Alessandria
How can I have left out Il Bel’Antonio’s Fleurs et Flammes from these seasonal round-ups? I am remiss. I will atone. Because lilies. Carnations. My two favorite, flamboyant floral notes. And galbanum – there can never be enough. If you’ve ever missed Floris Malmaison, give it a try.
Among the tumbrels of florals that have been tumbling since last year – a trend that shows no sign of abating, Carat is that rare jewel: a bouquet not planted in a pot of sweet vanilla and tonka. In interpreting the spectrum of light as diamonds diffract it, Mathilde Laurent raises the specter of aldehydic florals. Not so much the smell as the effect; the glimmer and glamour, in the original meaning of the Scots term – enchantment, spell. A swirl of delicately detailed flowers (violet, iris, hyacinth, tulip, honeysuckle, daffodil, ylang), Carat is very lovely fairy dance of gossamer-light, frost-edged pastel petals.
Rose Rouge N°19058NH, Van Cleef & Arpels
What gal doesn’t love roses and chocolates? And, if you’re anything like me, a good rose vetiver chypre. In Julien Rasquinet’s first fragrance for the always impeccable Collection extraordinaire, he matches petal and bean – the former an arrestingly natural fruity rose, the latter a slightly animalic cocoa extract – for a mouthwatering, yet amazingly light-textured effect. Exquisite work by the young perfumer-poet who signed Naomi Goodsir's wistful Iris Cendré.
Club Design, The Zoo
A winner of the 2018 Art & Olfaction Awards in the Artisan category – which I had the pleasure of handing to Christophe Laudamiel in London – Club Design offers a laser-sharp take on leather. Smoky saffron-dusted lily; burnt styrax; a yielding almond facet adds a touch of stretch to the kinky catsuit. The Zoo’s website recommends wearing this on clothes rather than skin, since it’s not quite IFRA-compliant for leave-on fragrance. But we’re all adults here. Do with Club Design as you damn well please – I have.
Orage, Louis Vuitton
Crackling citrus followed by a flint and petrichor accord… Orage could be a less alien(ating) version of Annick Menardo’s mesmerizing Peau d’Ailleurs for Philippe Starck. Simple, but it works.
Dark Lord, By Kilian
During my ISIPCA Summer School session this summer, I asked students to blind-smell three of Alberto Morillas’ fragrances and define his style. “This must be a very happy person”, they all agreed, and anyone who’s met the ever-smiling, genial Morillas would concur. So it’s kind of hilarious to see him do a fragrance called Dark Lord, in a Damien-Hirst-y, Goth box with a skull – it’s like casting Tom Hanks as Alistair Crowley. That said, Dark Lord brings his trademark fuzzy style to bear on everything that’s (deliciously) unholy in the perfumer’s palette. A delicately smoky vetiver, edging on the burnt, skewering booze-splashed leather, hides an unexpected puff of jasmine… The Devil is a smooth operator.
Illustration: Burning Flowers by Matt Collishaw