vendredi 22 septembre 2017

Red October: 10 scents that are shaking my world this fall

Without Lenin, there would be no Chanel N°5.
The absurd thought occurred to me as I was reading China Miéville’s meticulously researched and brilliantly written October: The Story of the Russian Revolution. Conflating the Ten Days that Shook the World[i] with Ernest Beaux’s fifth proposal to Gabrielle Chanel may seem like a bit of a jump. But Beaux wouldn’t have immigrated to France if it hadn’t been for the Bolsheviks. And his contribution to perfumery was, if not an actual revolution, a definite game-changer (unlike the house’s latest offering). Playing with blotters and vials might seem like strumming the balalaika while the world burns, drowns and quakes (has anybody else who grew up during the Cold War been having atomic mushroom nightmares again?). For what it’s worth, this fall I’ll salute the 100th anniversary of Red October with the ten scents that are shaking my world these days.

Nuit de Bakélite
by Isabelle Doyen for Naomi Goodsir

For all the delicate, poetic fragrances she composed for Annick Goutal, it’s easy to forget that Isabelle Doyen can also be a badass avant-gardist (as she demonstrates in her nearly impossible to find Les Nez creations). In Nuit de Bakélite, she turns the tuberose -- or rather, the “peduncle that connects the stem to the flower” -- into a mutant plant exuding radioactive sap; a scent-track for Day of the Triffids. Milky-thick at the heart, day-glo green at the edges with an opalescent splash of iris, this non-linear composition has one of the most distinctive signatures I’ve smelled of late.

The Zoo
by Christophe Laudamiel
You say you want a revolution? The maverick Laudamiel has gone and done it. After authoring a manifesto like any proper avant-garde artist, he is now offering non-IFRA compliant perfumes, to be sprayed on clothes (or wherever: you’re an adult) in his own brand, The Zoo. He even specifies which materials go over authorized concentrations. Other scents are suitable for skin wear. As an added twist, each is offered with a choice of two names and labels: it’s up to you, for instance, to choose whether you’re more of a Club Design or Scent Tattoo critter.

Le Cri de la lumière 
by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato for Parfum d’Empire
With a name like “The Scream”, you’d expect Corticchiato, never one to shy away from intense, saturated notes, to come up with an olfactory banshee. But the Corsican perfumer has undergone his own cultural revolution. Presented as a “rebirth”, his crystalline Le Cri is a limpid, dawn-tinged aura of ambrette, iris and rose. Radiant, but a nose-teaser. Wearing it, more than once I sniffed at people around me before realizing I was the one who smelled so good…

Eau de Velours
 by Michel Almairac & Mylène Alran for Bottega Veneta
My crush of the season in the mainstream: a wine-rich, suede-petaled rose that feels utterly right -- Almairac’s great gift being what the Renaissance Italians called sprezzatura, defined by Castiglione as “an easy facility in accomplishing difficult actions which hides the conscious effort that went into them”.

Infusion d’Oeillet
 by Daniela Andrier for Prada
No commemoration of the Russian Revolution would be complete without a carnation, the flower of the Workers’ Movement since the Second International in 1889 and the iconic blossom of the Soviets. As I’ve already listed my favorite new carnations in my summer round-up, I’ll go for Infusion d’Oeillet’s chic, spice-whipped soapy froth.  

by Antoine Lie for Trudon
The cult French candle maker has ditched the “Cires” from its name and branched out into fine fragrance with a lovely, soulful collection. Lyn Harris’s smoky Révolution would have been more relevant to the theme, but the aromatic Bruma -- the name of the winter solstice in Latin -- radiates a melancholy palette of violet, lavender and iris that suits the waning light of the season.

Memory Motel 
by Annick Menardo for Une Nuit Nomade
It was already in this summer’s list, but its funky smokiness is like a preview of chilly nights by the fireplace with a lash of Laphroaig aged in a sherry cask.

Noir Anthracite 
Tom Ford
Ford often gives out references to 70s perfumes in his briefs. Noir Anthracite smells as though, back in the day, young Tom had spray-painted himself with some dark aromatic leather brew like Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme after spending quality time with a doobie, just before sneaking back into his parents’ house. What’s not to love?

Attaquer le Soleil
  by Quentin Bisch for État Libre d’Orange
Though it’s a tribute to the Marquis de Sade -- its author Quentin Bisch decided to “sadize” himself by confronting an ingredient that somehow freaks him out --, “Attack the Sun” sounds like the slogan of a particularly ambitious super-villain. This is cistus from mask to boots, with kinky facets of heated skin and the mineral glint of incense for a faint whiff of sacrilege.

by Nicolas Beaulieu for Comme des Garçons
A rubescent, milky sandalwood set ablaze with ginger, Concrete (as in the building material) trades the traditional powder note for the concrete dust of the Berlin Wall brought down with hammers (but no sickles).

For more round-ups of fall fragrances, pop over to Bois de Jasmin, and Now Smell This

[i] The book the American journalist John Reed wrote about the October Revolution in Russia.

Image: Portrait with flacon by Alexander Rodtchenko

27 commentaires:

  1. Thanks for continuing to find time to let us know your favourites, Denyse, there's always something interesting to investigate from your lists. I bought Memory Motel from the Summer list and love it. Also nice to know which of the Trudon's you rate.

    1. So glad you love Memory Motel! Too many Menardos are stuck in limbo (Miss Me for Stella Cadente, the original Bulgari Black) or damaged by IFRA (Bois d'Arménie, Patchouli 24). As for the Trudons, I also love Yann Vasnier's Mortel. He's such a subtle perfumer, and his take on incense is beautiful.

    2. Oh good, Mortel is the one I am thinking of purchasing, nice to know that you think it's beautiful.

  2. "Trudons" of course - rogue apostrophe.

  3. Gosh, I love your theme. This is a really different - and inspiring - list and now I crave Eau de Velours and Infusion d’Oeillet.

    Yes, I am having flashbacks to my childhood when not a day went by without me thinking about the "four minute warning" and whether I could get home to my parents before The Bomb. It's terrible to be experiencing those feelings once more. Perfume provides a welcome escape from gloomy thoughts.


    1. Eau de Velours and Le Cri are my default settings this season. Lots of character, but cashmere-easy. As for the times... somehow David Lynch and Mark Frost captured the nightmare logic but also the capacity of humans for decency in Twin Peaks, the return. The atomic cloud vs. the kindness in Harry Dean Stanton's eyes...

    2. Ah, Harry Dean Stanton ... he will be missed.

  4. Hi Denyse! We've missed you!

    How funny that you mention VC&A pour Homme, of which I have a gigantic vintage splash bottle. This stuff is big and very handsome, though a bit boxy like a 3 button suit. Funny enough, my bottle doesn't say pour Homme (it definitely is) and the first time I tried it I thought it was an esoteric green chypre. The masculine aromachemical gut punch didn't get me with that first tiny trial. I have to try the TF though I always roll my eyes at his prices.

    My fall (in Texas. It's still 90° F) is mostly Jeux de Peau, of which I bought another back up while I can. Also Poison Esprit de Parfum, Sarah Jessica Parker Stash, vintage Y EdT, Tauer Patch Flash, and Roucel's Missoni from 2007. I've eyed several on your list and can't wait to try them.

  5. Hi Eric. That's the black Art Deco bottle right? The first masculine? It's so like Bandit. I used to wear it in my late teens, as did all my post-punk friends. Gut-punch is the word... Later I found out that it was Serge Gainsbourg's fragrance. How chic is that?
    I should really check out that Missoni, Roucel is really one of the best. And I am very envious of your Poison Esprit de Parfum!

    1. Yes, that's the one. I love the idea of punks wearing VC&A, even if it was an inky green masculine!

      I loved the missoni when it came out and breezed through a bottle but I know not everyone loved it. Sadly the secondary market prices are crazy because of Turin's five star review. I'd send you a sample if you weren't so far!

      I got lucky as heck with the Poison. I hope some of that luck breezes your way. :)

    2. Well, the VC&A was leather, tobacco and black, what's not punk about that?
      As for the Missoni, guess I'll have to ask Roucel about it when he comes back to Paris -- who knows, maybe there's a lab sample in some drawer at Symrise!

    3. I actually gave a bottle to an old school punk friend for Christmas. I told him your story. He was delighted, and I was able to unload a bottle that I considered to be "The Wrong Vintage" with no harm done. 😂

  6. Thanks for this gorgeous list. I need to get my mitts on some of that Doyen tuberose, Bruma and Eau de Velours

  7. Glad to have supplied some inspiration! Eau de Velours is my go-to right now.

  8. What did you think of Serge Lutens Bourreau des fleurs? I haven't bought perfumes in a long time so I bought this one. I've been wearing vintage Vivienne Westwood Boudoir this year which lasts 24 hours compared to half an hour for the current formula, vintage Tabac Blond and original A la nuit, here again what a difference between the old vintage from 2001-2005 and today's version. No wonder why I don't buy anything anymore !!

    I think Bourreau des fleurs is the best perfume of Lutens exclusive gold line, it's a sensual gourmand licorice but not sweet or woodsy and NO AWFUL OUD in it! I feel perfumers use oud for everything because it's not regulated by IFRA and easy to use to create orientalist fragrances. Quite frankly my dear I think oud scents stink!
    Bourreau des fleurs' longevity is pretty good, and I love its name, so subversive of course, very Lutens! Very Jean Genet!


    1. Hi Emma! Yes, of course, I did think of Jean Genet when I saw the name. And it's just like L's perverse sense of humor to use an immortelle note in a scent about condemning his mother to death...Not a huge oud fan either, essentially because I feel it's not being used imaginatively.

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  10. Great list. Bruma has been my go-to lately: a perfect balance of melancholy aloofness and warmth for the weather transition. Eau de velours really is lovely: I prefer it to the original in fact. I've also been wearing Mirabilis by Daphné Bugey for l'artisan a lot: a wonderful abstract incense-ambroxan-whitemusk accord that feels like a monochrome of white given a beautiful raspiness by the incense.Have you tried the Natura Fabulis collection by L'artisan? There's some beautiful pieces there (I'd given up on l'artisan before that after Duchaufour leaving), Glacialis terra being another favorite

    1. Hi Dali. No, haven't tried the L'Artisan line. They don't send samples to journalists, and there are so many things to catch up with I'd rather deal with brands that make an effort. I'm sure I'm missing a great many beautiful things that way, but a gal's only got so much skin real estate!

  11. Denyse, yes, it is all such a nightmare. I'm rather glad to be old, actually. Perhaps in the spirit of "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first," I've already opened my Christmas present: the Ciré Trudon coffret, with its elegantly festive packaging.

    So far, I like Mortel best (haven't tried Revolution yet) and find them all lovely and eminently wearable.

    I'm especially curious about the Parfum d'Empire, since I loved his Tabac Tabou. nozknoz

    1. Mortel is my favorite too... Even Yann Vasnier wears it (perfumers seldom wear their stuff unless it's work in progress). And while extremely different from TT, Le Cri is very beautiful, so well worth trying.

  12. Noir Anthracite is still nice scent with me. Thanks for the list

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