Category: “oriental”

Estée Lauder Cinnabar, 1978

Perfumer Bernard Chant? Spicy, resinous amber perfumes are a feel-good genre in perfumery. The individual components (vanilla, benzoin, labdanum…) are like prefab bases and can single-handedly provide the blueprint for an Oriental perfume. The risk is the kitchen-sink syndrome. Cinnabar’s topnotes juxtapose a bright, aldehyde/bergamot accord against a boozy amber mix, a trick learned from Youth Dew. The segue from citrus to…

digging (into) vintage: Christian Dior Dioressence 1969/1979

(What a difference a decade makes. Uncredited photos of Washington, DC from 1969 and 1979.) 2013–I’ve seen some discussions online about the merits and pathologies of vintage perfume collecting. I’m live-and-let-live on this one. If it feels good, do it. But how far will you go for vintage? Me, not far. Of course my consolation prize is all of contemporary perfumery, so…

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady, 2010

Perfumer Dominique Ropion. The rose and patchouli pairing is such a good fit that it seems like proof of fate. It’s been the basis for a range of leathery, ambery, woody and mossy perfumes spanning woody-floral, chypre and oriental genres. The Malle PR boasts that Ropion used surpassing doses of rose essence and patchouli coeur, a fractionated patchouli. Fractionated naturals…

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud, 2012

Oud perfumes are the new “orientals”.  Like their early 20th century predecessors, their fantasy/reality ratio is sky-high. They are less overtly culturally offensive, but in terms of authenticity, they are just as much a bill of goods. Francis Kurkdjian avoided the pitfall of attempting to mimic Arabic style. Instead, he treated oud like any other centerpiece note in western traditional…

Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 Khol de Bahrein, 2013

Photo of John Todd by Markus Lambert. A gourmand-cosmetic perfume might not sound like the ideal hybrid fragrance, but Khol de Bahrein is convincing. It is a candied floriental of middle-eastern extraction with iris, violet and heliotropin dipped in amber and incense. The range of resins and flowers is calibrated to create an image of sweets ranging from dragées to…

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur, 2000

  Perfumer Maurice Roucel. Wearing L de Lolita could well be a Catholic-school lesson on the sin of gluttony and the threats of eternal hell.  The anticipation draws you close, the titilation makes you give in, the satisfaction is the pleasure you’ve been denied.  Then you continue to eat, unable to control yourself, long past the point of nausea and revulsion.…

Amouage Lyric Woman, 2008

Amouage Lyric Woman, 2008.  Perfumer Daniel Maurel. Rose is a flower in the same way that sandalwood is a wood, and vanilla is a spice.  Each is so definitive of its category, that it supersedes the classification.  With this star quality rose tends to be difficult to hide.  The only reason this predicament isn’t a problem is that nobody wants to hide the…

Tom Ford Oud Wood, 2007

(Photo source unkown) Perfumer Richard Herpin Oud tends to be the gorilla in the room in a fragrance. Oud being both potent and distinctive, the challenge is how to make an oud-centric perfume fundamentally different than any other.  This is a problem for all perfume producers, not just Tom Ford.  Oud is the It-Girl still, and here lies the other problem.  The oud trend…