vendredi 12 avril 2013

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire comes out top winner at the French Fifis Awards 2013, Diptyque Volutes nabs Best in Niche

The 21st award ceremony of the Fragrance Foundation France was held this evening at the Salle Wagram in Paris.

Both the professionals and the public gave top votes to Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire. It swiped every prize in its category, just like Elie Saab Le Parfum did last year: best feminine fragrance, best ad campaign, best bottle design…I’m quite glad this won, since the project originated in a limited edition authored by Delphine Jelk (Drom) and therefore, was not a huge marketing-driven project to begin with. Yves Rocher So Elixir Purple by Marie Salamagne (Firmenich) was elected Best Fragrance for Women in the “brand-owned retail channel” category.

In the masculines, things were much more spread out, with Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb nabbing Best Fragrance for Men – always glad to see Olivier Polge (IFF) get some recognition. The public voted for Diesel Only The Brave Tattoo by Alberto Morillas and Honorine Blanc (Firmenich). Kenzo Homme Sport won for its ad campaign. L’Eau de Provence Eau Universelle by Mathieu Nardin (Robertet) for L’Occitane was distinguished as the best in the « brand-owned retail channel » category.

AsI was on my way to New York this year just as the journalist, evaluator and blogger jury was convening to vote on the “Expert’s Award” for niche and exclusive fragrances, I couldn’t take part in the discussion this year, which may be just as well since Séville à l’aube was among the finalists.

Here are the Experts’ Award finalists, in no special order:

Replica: Beach Walk by Jacques Cavallier and Marie Salamagne (Firmenich) for Maison Martin Margiela
Figuier Eden by Armani Privé (couldn’t find a mention of the perfumer)
Lumière Blanche by Sidonie Lancesseur for Olfactive Studio
Amyris pour Femme by Francis Kurkdjian for Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Lys Fumé by Shyamala Maisondieu and Rodrigo Flores-Roux (Givaudan) for Tom Ford Private Blends
Ombre de Hyacinth by Calice Becker (Givaudan) for Tom Ford Private Blends
Amazingreen by Jean-Christophe Hérault (IFF) for Comme des Garçons Parfums
Volutes by Fabrice Pellegrin (Firmenich) for Diptyque
Une Voix Noire by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens
Séville à l’aube by Bertrand Duchaufour for L’Artisan Parfumeur

And the winner of the Prix des Experts 2013 is…
Volutes by Diptyque

Which I’m actually quite all right with… I’m already very honored that Séville à l’aube came out in the top 10, and I do very much like Volutes.

Olfactive Studio, I’m very happy to say, was handed the Best Concept Award: I’d argued during last year’s discussion, when the brand’s three fragrances made it into the finalists, that it should receive some sort of special recognition. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who thought so, so bravo to Céline Verleure!

A note on the voting procedure for the Experts’ Award:
Each juror selected three scents out of a list of about 100 niche and exclusive collection 2012 launches. The 10 scents awarded the most points were then smelled blind on two blotters, one fresh-dipped and the other dipped a couple of hours earlier so the drydown could be perceived. The jurors were not apprised of the result at the end of the session.

Throughout the evening, the guests of the Fragrance Foundation were invited to vote with their smartphones for "le parfum mythique" -- the Hall of Fame... Any one of the nominees would have well deserved the awards, which ultimately went to Eau Sauvage in the masculines and Shalimar in the feminines.

mardi 9 avril 2013

"Les Blogs parfums : quand les amateurs deviennent émetteurs", ma conférence du 23 avril pour la S.A.O.

La Société des Amis de l'Osmothèque m'a fait le plaisir et l'honneur de m'inviter à venir parler des blogs parfums dans le cadre de son cycle de conférences "Images et Mots au service du parfum". Voici le texte annonçant le programme...

Quand les blogs parfum sont apparus en 2005, de nombreux professionnels ont réagi par le mépris ou l’effarement. Pourtant habitués à ce que leurs produits subissent les critiques les plus cinglantes en interne, ils ont mal vécu ces jugements émis par des critiques-consommateurs ignorant en général le premier mot de leur métier, signant sous pseudo, donc incontrôlables et incontrôlés.

Aujourd’hui, la plupart des marques tiennent compte de ces nouveaux joueurs, en particulier la parfumerie alternative qui ne peut s’appuyer que sur le buzz pour se faire connaître. 

Mais cette blogosphère parfumée désormais proliférante n’est pas qu’une source de publicité gratuite. C’est aussi un formidable diffuseur de connaissances et  le laboratoire de l’élaboration d’un langage inédit sur le parfum, voire des premiers balbutiements d’un corpus critique dans un domaine de création qui en a été jusque- là dépourvu…

Qui sont ces nouveaux acteurs du parfum ? Quelles sont leurs stratégies d’écriture ? Quel impact ont-ils sur l’évolution de l’industrie ? Comment engager un dialogue fructueux avec eux ? Ce seront les thèmes abordés lors de cette conférence.

A la suite de la conférence, on offre une coupe de champagne... J'espère avoir l'occasion de vous y rencontrer!

Infos pratiques:

Quand ?  Le 23 avril de18h30 à 20h00
Où ?  Galerie Parfums de Nicolaï, 25 rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris 
Comment ?  Réservation obligatoire: contacter Sophie d'Auber (sdauber at akeonet point com ou 06 60 63 68 80). Les réservations sont confirmées par un email de confirmation d'inscription.
Combien ? Entrée gratuite pour les adhérents de la S.A.O., 20€ pour les non-adhérents

vendredi 5 avril 2013

My Top 10 perfume picks for spring

I am writing this from Montreal, where it is still minus 15°C, though the Canada geese have started flying back from the south, and I did see a few shoots popping out from the thawing soil… Not quite spring despite the calendar, but I’ve been breaking out sunlit citruses, greens and tender florals that smell of sap and moistness and petals, and repeating my mantra: “You must believe in spring”…

Here’s what I packed for my North American book tour... which Charlotte, my parents's perfumista cat, tried to break into and get high on during the Easter holiday. When I attempted to get it back, I got very seriously batted on the hand with a great big snowshoe paw!

With its grapefruity, green and magnolia/ gardenia notes, Jour d’Hermès has got enough asperities to keep it interesting, while remaining allusive enough not to grab you by the nose demanding attention. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone seeking out a quietly joyful, go-to fragrance. It just makes me smile. Still my favorite mainstream launch of the past months.

The Magnolia in Acqua di Parma’s new Acque Nobile collection (not to be confused with Magnolia Nobile) has much the same effect: it is a clean, fresh, slightly soapy floral with radiant citrus top notes and just enough petal creaminess to give it heft.

A journalist who interviewed me in Toronto mentioned the following paradox: although mainstream brands mostly go for sexiness in their ads, many people mention childhood reminiscences as reasons for being drawn to their fragrances. For the French, that would be neroli, commonly used in baby-care products.

Annick Goutal’s new Neroli eau de Cologne, set to replace the beloved eau de toilette – I know, I hate it too when they do that – is predictably brighter and more, well, cologne-like. The cuddle factor is boosted with almond-y heliotrope and musk.

This tribute to the scents of early childhood is also what guided the variation on the eau de Cologne template composed by Juliette Karagueuzoglou, who recently gave birth to her second daughter, for the Parisian 2012 of IFF Speed-Smelling. But there’s more to this untitled cologne than meets the nose. As it evolves, the galbanum-laced orange blossom gives way to the irresistible dulce de leche smell given off by breast-fed infants, underlined with slight animalic notes (mommy!) as well as a touch of incense to evoke the gifts of the three Wise Men…

Though the composition will not be commercialized, it will be available in a limited edition of 250 coffrets along with the ten other freestyle creations of IFF’s Paris-based perfumers at Quintessence sometime in April… For perfume lovers, this is really one of the events of the year, since up to then only editors and industry players had access to the scents. I’ll soon be reviewing the other half of the batch: here's a link to the first series of reviews.

Moving towards another zone of the olfactory map via the green/citrus exchanger… With its grapefruity brightness, flintiness and smoky rootiness, vetiver suits a season where rays of sun alternate with whiffs of wood fires and of thawing earth…

 Annick Goutal’s new Vétiver eau de Cologne is less salty-marine than the original, more citrusy in the overture, and the addition of iris – a natural partner for vetiver – gives it a more powdery, non-gendered (i.e. less overtly masculine) feel. It’s got sillage, long-lastingness and character, and though many will regret the original Goutal Vétiver it replaces, it is a very, very good scent in its own right.

Olfactive Studio’s fourth offering, Flashback, splices vetiver’s grapefruit top note with the green, acid raspiness of rhubarb to evoke one of Olivier Cresp’s favorite olfactory memories of childhood: rhubarb pie. A Granny Smith note adds to the mouth-watering tart juiciness. The effect is an extremely luminous, cheerful vetiver vibe.

Moving on to the galbanum-hyacinth zone of the spring spectrum: Tom Ford Private Blends Ombre de Hyacinth gave me hives when I first heard of it because of the unjustifiable way its name mashes up French and English. But when I smelled it blind, I was struck by its old-school style – it feels like a photoshopped N°19, with colors so vivid they border on the unnatural, and an added cucumber-and-earth violet leaf greenness on top.

In a completely different register, I’m still hooked on Serge Lutens’s dark animalic rose La Fille de Berlin. Somehow, the image that comes to me when I think of this scent is that of an uncut ruby, or perhaps rock candy: solid, translucent and tempting to the tongue…

And just to remind myself that despite the sub-zero temperatures and flurries in Montreal, somewhere the sun is shining, I light the new Merida candle, a joint endeavor of Arquiste and Cire Trudon. With its creamy, ripe guava note, it’s all I can do not to lick the wax.

Lastly, just as a teaser: one of my favorite scents this spring has got to be the upcoming eau de parfum by Aedes de Venustas, the second chapter in what has been conceived as a full-fledged brand, featuring a very impressive line-up of perfumers. Karl and Robert let me have a sneak preview sniff of when they hosted my Perfume Lover soirée in their boutique… and it’s majestic. I’ll review it as soon as it’s been presented to the press.

For more seasonal picks, click yourself over to Bois de Jasmin, Now Smell This, The Perfume Posse and Perfume-smellin' Things.

I will be in the plane between Montreal and New York when this is posted, then running around the city for some last appointements, so apologies in advance if I don't respond to comments as quickly as usual. I'll be back in Paris on April 7th and hope to be resuming a more normal posting pace ASAP!