Star Scents

15.07.2011 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

As with gourmands (edible fragrances), I can now admit that I have been somewhat prejudiced towards celebrity fragrances. This wasn’t without reason;  a lot of them genuinely were cheap, formulaic, derivative, overtly saccharine and obvious. Like gourmands, I reasoned they were often created with a  young, uninformed, unsophisticated demographic in mind. There was very little artistry involved in the creation of these perfumes. But of course the minute you dismiss a genre of fragrance (or well anything in life really) something comes along and narkily disproves you. In this case it was Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely – which is really such a classy fragrance that it could be Chanel – and that’s a compliment indeed.

Anyway that was a few years ago now and hundreds of celebrity offerings have debuted since then. I can now admit there are one or two that I quite like – they are not all execrable. Namely Kate Moss’s Vintage Muse, which came out last winter. If you look at the notes on paper it does not bode well: plum, rhubarb and chocolate. It sounds like another sugary confection aimed at impressionable pre-teens. However when you actually smell it it’s really quite sophisticated – you get the tart, sour facets of rhubarb and plum rather than the juicy plumpness and it’s actually quite recherche.

It actually reminds me of how a stylist friend of mine used to smell – she blended her own oils – in other words not obvious and sweet but something a fashion insider might like. The other perfume that landed on my desk recently and that’s really okay, but maybe not great is Kim Kardashian’s debut. Now I had expected to hate this, not being  afan of Kardashian herself (another fake tanned talentless wannabe famous for no reason) but it’s actually quite nice. What you get is  a huge dose of tuberose – reminiscent of Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower or Michael Kors’ eponymous offering. I love tuberose as much as the next person – what I’m slightly ambivalent about is the chocolate note used to underscore it which make it a very rich, dense sweet tuberose. I might have preferred a more translucent take on the tuberose, but then that might have been a  bit too derivative or Kors and Malle.

Words by Bethan Cole

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Beauty by the book

08.12.2010 | Blog , Culture , Twin Life | BY:

The interface between literature and perfume has never been exploited fully by perfumers until very recently. Perhaps it was only natural that Frederic Malle, who has always described himself as a perfume ‘publisher’ and his noses as authors, would be one of the first to exploit the connection. His latest fragrance ‘Portrait of a Lady’ (nose: Dominique Ropion) is just the sort of elevated, elegant and cultivated oriental that the heroine of Henry James’ 1881 novel, Isabel Archer, might have worn as she undertook her grand tour of Paris, Florence and Rome. Malle describes the smell, a composition including rose essence, cinnamon, clove, patchouli and incense as, ‘aristocratic’. And it certainly has an archness, a transcendence, a haute couture poise about it.

Compare and contrast with Byredo’s ‘Baudelaire’, inspired directly by the olfactive ambience of Les Fleurs Du Mal, which has juniper berry, black pepper, incense, leather, patchouli and black amber in its saturnine pasticcio. Like Malle, Byredo’s Ben Gorham comes across as something of a bibliophile – he has a scented candle in his collection called ‘Bibliotheque’ with peach plum, violet, leather and vanilla numbered in its accord. A gorgeous scent to waft around in the environs of your old books.

Frederic Malle ‘Portrait Of A Lady’ is £115.00/50ml from Les Senteurs (020 7730 2322), lessenteurs.com and Byredo ‘Baudelaire’ is £115.00/100ml from Liberty (020 7734 1234), liberty.co.uk

Words by Bethan Cole.

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