Philippe Starck Fragrances 2016

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Greg Young from AusScents.

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Hi APJ,

Last year, designer Philippe Starck ventured into the fragrance world with three perfumes. In keeping with Starck’s minimalist design philosophy, these scents are very subtle and stick close to the skin. There is some playing with preconceptions about what a gender-specific fragrance should be like; the female fragrance morphs into something more masculine, and vice versa. And it simply would not be Starck without some unusual twists on “normal” design.

http://www.starckparfums.comStarck Parfums

Philippe Starck Fragrances

From Silk to Rock

Peau de Soie Starck FragranticaFragrantica

Peau de Soie by Dominique Ropion for Philippe Starck 2016

Skin of Silk. The most feminine fragrance in the range, Peau de Soie is as silky-smooth as the name implies. It’s a very soft, powdery scent. Peau de Soie opens with unobtrusive woody notes and then develops a mild floral note reminiscent of iris and a candy-like musk. On my skin this lasted about half the day, but it had almost zero projection. One needs to sniff one’s wrist closely to enjoy it.

Peau d`Ailleurs Starck FragranticaFragrantica

Peau d`Ailleurs by Annick Menardo for Philippe Starck 2016

Skin from Elsewhere. Yes, well this is very well-named in a sense, because it has notes that I’ve never encountered in a fragrance before. It opens earthy, with a green, vegetal whiff to it. A few close sniffs revealed an aroma of freshly cut beetroot which, once identified, became inescapable.

After a while, a transition away from earthiness begins and we get a faint lemony smell followed by musk and a little bit of wood. This also lasted about half a day on my skin.

Is beetroot a thing? Not according to the Fragrantica database. Nevertheless, I found myself quite liking this very different take on an earthy scent. I could easily see this one polarising sniffers; it’s a brave attempt from a designer renowned for his original thinking.

Peau de Pierre Starck fragranticaFragrantica

Peau de Pierre by Daphne Bugey for Philippe Starck 2016

Skin of Stone. This one represents the end of a journey from silky lightness through an indefinable greenness down to earth and woods. There is a trace of sharp citrus on the first spray with a green note that I thought might be galbanum. A dominant cedary smell takes over, with a smoky aura about it. It comes across a little bit soapy at times, so I don’t think it quite fulfils the promise of its name, but it is probably my favourite of the three. It lasted a bit less than the others; maybe about 6 hours.

The subtlety of these scents means that individual notes rarely dominate; they are designed to be appreciated as a melange of their various parts. They all last a good long time on skin and are ideal if you’re wearing a fragrance solely to please yourself, or in an intimate encounter. If you’re up for something a bit different, the Starck range may be for you.

These reviews were based on samples given to me by Marco at Mason’s Menswear Boutique in Flinders Lane which is, I believe, the sole Australian outlet for the Starck line. (Ed: These guys have only been open for 13 weeks and are already generating a lot of media interest. We will watch with interest! They were super friendly on the phone today)

Greg XX

Saturday Question: The Case Against Fragrance by Kate Grenville

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Greg Young from AusScents.

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(Ed: Taking an idea from Olfactoria’s Travels. Once a week there used to be a Question. Everyone would chime in with an answer, chat with other responders and it would be a generally fun events each week. Taking sides never meant taking offence and everyone kept it respectful and light.
Today we are joined by my mate Greg who has a book review attached to the Saturday Question)

Hi APJ,

As something of a perfume collector, I thought I owed it to myself to read this book and find out more about what is in those fragrances in the cupboard.

Kate Grenville has long known that she has an intolerance for fragrances that give her headaches. When it reached a point where she was almost totally incapacitated during a book tour, she decided to research the matter and wrote this book.

(E)-I-(2,6,6-Trimethyl-I-cyclohexa-I,3-dienyl)but-2-en-I-one
(The Name of the Rose)

Book Review: The Case Against Fragrance, by Kate Grenville

 

Book Depository

 

Grenville points out that, in modern society, fragrance is almost inescapable. It’s not just the perfumes that we wear. It’s also added to every imaginable household product from toilet paper to laundry liquid. Stores, restaurants and hotels spray fragrance in the air. It’s ubiquitous, and that’s a problem for people that are affected by it, like Grenville.

Any attempt to identify what is causing these problems founders on a few issues. First, trade secrets legislation means that the contents of “fragrance” ingredients don’t have to be revealed. Second, there are thousands of ingredients commonly used in fragrance, and only a subset of these have ever been tested for safety. Finally, nearly all the testing and certification is done by the fragrance industry itself, so conflict of interest issues apply. It’s not hard to see why a manufacturer might prefer to declare that a rose fragrance contains “parfum” rather than the chemical formula above.

Even what we do know is somewhat alarming. Grenville provides an extensive list of compounds known or suspected to be carcinogenic that are either used in fragrances or can form when fragrance ingredients interact with the air (as they unavoidably will). Chief among these is formaldehyde, although there are others.

Another concern is the prevalence of synthetic musk compounds that have proven to be almost indestructible. These compounds bioaccumulate so that they become more prevalent the higher up the food chain you go. That means that the very highest levels are seen in the most vulnerable: breastfeeding babies and foetuses in utero. These musk compounds can mimic the action of hormones such as oestrogen, creating over-supply which can lead to birth defects, genetic abnormalities and cancer.

Grenville is quick to point out that it is impossible to pin this on fragrance specifically, because there are so many other potential triggers for such conditions to emerge over a lifetime. Indeed “the case against fragrance” is largely a circumstantial one. Grenville shows that there are potentially harmful chemicals in fragrances, they have reached a point of ubiquity in the environment, and people are having adverse reactions. But there is no smoking gun; it is impossible to say for sure that there is causality here, and no scientific study would draw the kinds of conclusions that Grenville invites us to make here.

So what to do? The author’s solution is a bit simplistic. For one, she advocates embracing fragrance-free versions of products. That’s fine, except she does not apply anything like the same scrutiny to those alternatives. Just as decaffeinated coffee is not necessarily better for you due to the added chemicals, how does one know whether a fragrance-free detergent contains no harmful chemicals either?

More interesting is Grenville’s suggestion that fragrance-free workplaces may become the norm. ¬If a scientific institute such as the US Centres for Disease Control can adopt a policy that says “Fragrance is not appropriate for a professional work environment”, then it’s possible to imagine that this may one day become more widespread particularly if, as in the US, there are OH&S lawsuits decided in favour of people with fragrance intolerances.

Decades ago the idea of passive smoking was seen as cranky, now it is enshrined in law. We do not have the right to deprive others of a healthy and safe work environment; that is a very clear legal precedent. So maybe one day people who wear perfume will be like the smokers of today, skulking out the back giving themselves a shot of Shalimar before washing it off and heading back inside.

Food for thought? What do you think?
Greg x

Chanel Pour Monsieur by Henri Robert for CHANEL 1955

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Greg Young

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Hello APJers,

Released in 1955 Chanel Pour Monsieur is the venerable grand-daddy of Chanel’s line of male fragrances. I was lucky enough to find some vintage bottles of this gem.

Chanel Pour Monsieur by CHANEL 1955

Chanel Pour Monsieur by Henri Robert

Pour Monsieur Chanel FragranticaFragrantica

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Lemon, Verbena, Neroli, Orange
Heart: Cardamom, Coriander, Basil, Ginger
Base: Oakmoss, Vetiver, Cedarwood

The three bottles here are a large splash bottle of vintage Pour Monsieur EdT, a bottle of Pour Monsieur After Shave, and a large splash bottle labelled A Gentleman’s Cologne. Pour Monsieur was marketed to the English-speaking world as A Gentleman’s Cologne during the 60s, so this is probably the same fragrance, despite the clear colour difference.

I took these bottles into the Chadstone Chanel store, and the staff there told me that they had never seen PM in those bottles, and did not think that it had ever been sold in Australia in those forms. We did some sniff tests on cards, comparing to the latest EdT. Only the after shave held up; the splash bottles had a bit of a plonky smell, suggesting that both had turned.

I decided to take one for the team, and decanted each of them into atomisers for some skin testing. I often find that, like with vintage wine, decanting old perfume can liven it up a bit.

The AGC is most likely the oldest of the three. The bottle is a different shape and has a different spout and cap to the PM bottle. My best dating puts this at 1962-1969, so it is about 50 years old. The colour looks fine, but the real test is the smell. From the first spray, this one is dominated by cardamom, with a touch of ginger. It sticks very close to the skin, and has almost no sillage. After an hour or so, the cedar has taken over, with a bit of oakmoss. I can’t make out any florals or vetiver. It is still there 5 hours later, so not too bad. As a woody aromatic, this AGC still stands up although it is clearly only a shadow of its former self.

The PM EdT probably dates to either 1985 or 1993, going by the batch code. The years have not been kind to this one, as the dark brown colour attests. On skin, it goes straight to the base notes of cedar and vetiver, and all but disappeared within a couple of hours.

The After Shave is in better shape than the other two. Some of the top notes are still present, notably petitgrain. It softens quickly though and, again, sticks very close to the skin. It’s a bit linear, and doesn’t develop the spices and woods that should be present before it disappears. Presumably this is due to the lighter concentration; perhaps more copious spraying might turn this one into a winner.

This was an interesting experiment. It was almost like being able to separate out the layers of a classic fragrance and smell them concurrently: the aftershave giving the top notes, the Cologne the middle notes and the EdT the base notes. Unfortunately, none of these three delivers as a standalone fragrance, and each is probably only good for collecting rather than wearing. It did make me keen to go full bottle on some Chanel Pour Monsieur though, if I can find a vintage bottle in better shape than these three.

(My thanks to Ali at Chanel Chadstone for her help).

See you soon,
Greg

(ED: This piece was first run on Greg’s new blog AusScents. Please zip over and have a squiz.)

Ode by Guerlain 1955

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Greg Young

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Bienvenue treasure-seekers.

Over summer I was in Canberra and visited the Treasures of Versailles exhibition. There were a few nice things in the exhibition, but nothing I could afford.

I was inspired to go hunt for a few treasures of my own. The suburb of Fyshwick has a cluster of antiques warehouses and markets that are always good for a trawl. In the stinking heat of New Year’s Eve, we headed up there and had a look around. I got lucky at the second market that we visited. My eye was drawn to a cabinet with a few little bottles in it. I particularly noticed a little bottle of Joy, but I thought the price was risible. Lurking behind it was this unopened gem, still in its original box.

(It wasn’t until later – too late to take a photo of it – that I got the musical pun, and am still wondering if it was intentional).

Ode by Guerlain 1955

Treasures from Australia’s Capital City

Fragrantica

 

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Aldehydes, jasmine, rose, iris, sandalwood and musk

Ode was launched by Guerlain in 1955. The pun was intentional for Guerlain; Ode was a response to Patou’s Joy, a floral aldehyde built on jasmine and rose.

Ode was quite a stepping stone in Guerlain’s history, for a few reasons. It marked the changing of the guard, being the last fragrance of Jacques Guerlain’s career and the first by the then 18 years old Jean-Paul Guerlain. Monsieur Guerlain notes that it was also the first ever Guerlain fragrance to have a one syllable name (the house has strongly preferred three syllable names such as Shalimar, Vol de Nuit, Nahema, etc.) and was also the first to have a bottle designed specifically for that fragrance.

And what a bottle that was; a Baccarat design showing a single rosebud in a sculptured vase. Sadly, my find was not that bottle, being the EDC and not the extract.

Even the Ode EDC was a ground-breaker, introducing the “travel bottle”, a solid rectangular design also used for Habit Rouge and Vetiver. Sadly, I didn’t get lucky with that historic find either.

Greg. XXOXOO

(Ed: All photos supplied by Greg un less specified. Thanks buddy)

Heatwave Fragrances for Summer 2015

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Post by Greg Young

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Hey APJ,

South-east Australia has been sweltering in a heat wave for days on end. Going outside has been like walking into a brickmaker’s kiln, and staying inside hasn’t been much fun either. Conservative businessmen such as myself are dispensing with their ties and looking fondly at the pub over the road from work, dreaming of a cold craft beer.

Choosing the right fragrance for temperatures like this can be tough. I feel the need for something that picks me up in the morning and sends me out feeling at least a little bit chipper. For me, that usually means something with a citrus hit. It also needs to defy the evaporative force of baking Melbourne heat, so classic EdCs are off the list. Here is how I dealt with the heat this week.

Heatwave Fragrances for Summer 2015

Orange Star Tauer Perfumes FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Thursday: the wave begins
The CBD baked in 36 degree heat. Tauer’s Orange Star has a sharp citrus juice opening that is very refreshing on a hot morning. It’s not really my idea of a summer fragrance; the vanilla and tonka bean give it a sweetness that I think is more appropriate for cooler days. The fact that Orange Star lasted the distance in this heat is impressive; I could still smell its amber drydown 12 hours later at home, in the cooling blast of A/C.

Blenheim Bouquet Penhaligon`s FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Friday: the swelling wave
When the thermometer climbs to 39 and it’s accompanied by a northerly wind Melbourne becomes positively beastly. I chose Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet for my Friday fragrance. This very traditional fragrance was designed for Winston Churchill’s father – Blenheim Palace is the Churchill family seat. It’s lemon and lime scent was just what I needed, bolstered by a refreshing pine. This was a perfect pick. While not exactly fighting on the beaches, it never surrendered.

Italian Citrus D.S. & Durga FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Saturday: the wave crests – and a special occasion.
It was 41C (106F) on Saturday. We planned to travel for a weekend away to celebrate our wedding anniversary. This meant we had to go out in blinding heat, sit in a car where the seats set fire to you when you climbed in, and moan to one another about how hot it was.

We went to dinner at a rural Italian restaurant of considerable note and I chose D.S. & Durga’s Italian Citrus, with its powerful, complex, almost bitter citrus note that really stays with you. It developed a sweeter musk as the night wore on, but the citrus remained until the end rather than giving way to the base notes. It lasted a good four hours.

Masque Terralba FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Sunday: the wave breaks
Only by comparison to the furnace of Saturday could the 39 degrees we reached on Sunday be considered cooler. We were in the car again travelling home. At the outset we could feel every one of those 39 degrees, cutting short our trip to get into the car and just leave.

I wore Masque Terralba. There is a cedary opening to this, but it’s cut by a little bit of lemon. It has an oceanic note that I can’t quite place, which reduces the woodsiness. Some herbal green notes emerge later as well.

Shortly after arriving home, the heat wave broke. Intermittent showers of rain brought relief from the fearsome dry, and the temperature tumbled ten degrees in just a few hours. The heat wave was over – until the next one.

Surrender To Chance is a great place to sample most of these.

How do you cope with heat?
Greg Young

Good Girl Gone Bad from by Kilian 2012

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Post by Greg Young

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What does a man have to do to please his beloved? He selflessly enters a competition for a girly white floral, knowing that is his lady love’s favourite style. Lady luck smiles on him (thanks APJ & Libertine Parfumerie), but sadly lady wife does not; Good Girl Gone Bad is Bad in my Good Girl’s opinion.

Good Girl Gone Bad from by Kilian 2012

Good Girl Gone Bad By Kilian FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Jasmine, osmanthus, may rose
Heart: Indian tuberose, narcissus
Base: Amber, cedar

Well of course, I wore it myself; as you do.

I chose a sunny Spring Saturday to try it; a couple of spritzes to the wrist that wafted jasmine around me, slip on some Italian jeans, my Cucinelli polo, and some Common Projects sneakers and I feel like a millionaire. Ten minutes later, and my effervescent mood has soured a bit. My Good Girl Gone Bad has run away on me, faithless hussy that she is. I worked it out soon enough; I’d smothered my arms in sunscreen prior to going outside, and killed it. A couple of more spritzes does the trick. I go out shopping in the Melbourne sun, wandering around my local for a coffee then down to Chadstone for a bit of retail therapy.

Good Girl Gone Bad by Kilian Melbourne Jorge Lascar FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

The whole time, I am sneaking sniffs at my wrist. (I always feel very self-conscious doing that; it seems something only women have license to do). This is a seriously good floral, with excellent lasting power. It’s heady and creamy like the smell of a Hawaiian night. It’s not a ravening monster like my HdP Tubereuse 3. This one is more refined and less animalic.

It’s now almost 9 hours since I applied it, and it’s still going strong. It remains all florals on me still, and is yet to get to the amber and cedar drydown, so I think it has plenty of development yet to go. Best of all, my wife actually likes this when I wear it, even if she won’t wear it herself!

My preference is for fragrances that are civilised enough to wear in a professional office environment, and last the full working day, and this one fits the bill. I have little hesitation in recommending Good Girl Gone Bad to guys who are OK with wearing florals, particularly in the coming sunny weather.

Good Girl Gone Bad by Kilian  The Painter of Sunflowers Paul_Gauguin WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

Further reading: AustralianPerfumeJunkies and EauMG
Available in Australia exclusively in store at Harrold’s Sydney & Melbourne
LuckyScent has $160/50ml
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $4/.5ml

Thanks to Portia and Nick at Libertine Parfumerie for the opportunity to discover something that I might never have picked up and tried of my own accord.

Vintage Fragrance Finds: How To Traipse the Treasure Trail

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Post by Greg Young

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Hi fragrance fans.

Some time ago, I decided to become a fragrance treasure hunter.

One day in a suburban op shop, I noticed a couple of bottles of men’s after-shave on the counter.

 Greg Young OpShopFindDonated by Greg Young

Although not familiar with either, I picked up these two on a whim. When I mentioned my find to some fragrance friends, they went crazy. I concluded that I’d better keep an eye out for perfume in op shops in future!

Treasure Trail Animal_Welfare_charity_shop WikiCommonsPhoto Stolen WikiCommons

With op shopping, the joy is in the hunt. Most days you will find nothing, but just occasionally you will spot something that makes your heart leap. That is the adrenaline rush of the big find; it happens very rarely, but it is wonderful when it comes.

The secret is to do a lot of searching. Lee Trevino once said, “The more I practice the luckier I get”; this is very true of op shopping. If I have time to spare and I’m near an op shop, I nearly always take a look. You never know.

Of course Trevino didn’t practice by swinging wildly at a ball. You have to give yourself a chance by being a bit smart: Here are a few tips:

• Ask yourself which localities are likely to have people nearby donating luxury items. It’s not universally true, but well-heeled suburbs are a good place to start.

• Check any locked cabinets in the shop, and the shelves behind the counter, where the upmarket stuff is displayed.

• Most op shops have baskets of soaps and make-up. Find them and check for samples, minis, etc.

• Look for bottles; there may be some that still have a bit of juice left.

• Look for pretty things – fragrances may be put next to such displays.

• When you have a big find, go back a week or so later. That treasure you found may have had some friends out the back.

• Ask the sales attendants if they have any perfume or cologne. They may know what is lurking out the back. It always helps to make friends with the staff.

Treasure Trail  CarBootSale GeographPhoto Stolen Geograph

The same tips apply pretty much to markets. In markets, I tend to look out for:

• Stalls selling bric-a-brac, pretty things, vintage items and so on.

• Stalls being run by young girls who are essentially selling their old stuff. As well as their clothes racks, they will often have celebrity or designer scents

• Stores selling old bottles.

Many of you will be able to recognise bottle shapes instinctively. I once spotted a Bond No 9 bottle from 5 metres away. So always glance around as you wander, and give your subconscious a chance to work.

Check how any scents that you find have been displayed. Buying vintage fragrances that sat in sunlight for hours on end is not likely to end well.

Treasure Trail  antique Skitterphoto PixabayjpgPhoto Stolen Pixabay

Antique shops need a different approach. Be up-front about what you are looking for. They welcome you coming back often, and don’t mind if you don’t buy; they understand that they may not have what you collect. I just tend to go straight up to the counter and ask if they have any vintage perfumes in. That’s normally enough, but I always check the displays anyway, just in case.

So what has this treasure hunting got me? Well, that’s a subject for a whole different article.

Have you any tips for spotting vintage treasures?