Category: resinous/balsamic

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…

Slumberhouse Sova, 2012

Slumberhouse perfumer Josh Lobb has said that he doesn’t work with topnotes. Most of his perfumes smell layered, as if materials with similar consistencies or densities were creating a ‘wall of scent.’ Materials meet each other head to head on a level playing field. The democracy of materials urges you to find your own understanding of the perfumes without being…

digging (into) vintage: Jean Patou Sublime, 1992

Perfumer Jean Kerléo. Somewhere in the ’90s the chypre fell off the radar. Blame the IFRA, blame Angel (also 1992), blame whoever you like. It went quietly from the pinnacle of chic to over-the-hill faster than you can say ‘mousse de chêne.’ Why and how to restrict perfume materials is a popular if confusing debate today, but in the 70s-90s the…

Papillon Artisan Perfumes Anubis, 2014

Perfumer Liz Moores The genre of woody/smoky perfumes is having a moment these days. Unfortunately, many of these perfumes start with a disadvantage. A glut of aromachemicals hastily produced to fill the oud-gap that manufacturers are trying to convince us exists has lead to perfumes overdosed with ear-splitting synth-oud bases.  Characteristics of these perfumes include density, a lack of topnotes,…

Slumberhouse Rume, 2011/2015

Perfumer Josh Lobb. Slumberhouse recently re-released a couple of previously discontinued perfumes in a limited run. The two were Grev and Rume. They make an interesting set of bookends to the spicy, resinous, woody olfactory terrain that the Slumberhouse line has mapped out. Grev is cold and spiced, as if a slice of Norne’s panoramic portrait of a Northwestern forest…

Duchaufour’s Duet: l’Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu and Dzongkha

Bertrand Duchaufour lead the trend of woody-smoky perfumes in the late 90s and the 00s, particularly with his perfumes for l’Artisan Parfumeur and Comme des Garçons. He became known for the genres that his work redefined: translucent incenses, sheer vetiver, weightless woods. Seen from the present, the significance of Duchaufour’s work is better understood by looking at his style and…

digging (into) vintage: Oscar by Oscar de la Renta, 1977

  (Left: Oscar de la Renta  early 1970s. Right: Yves Saint Laurent 1974) Perfumer Jean-Louis Sieuzac made some of the most memorable and influential perfumes of the 1970s-1990s. Yves Saint Laurent’s era-defining Opium (1977) smothered the oriental genre in spice, making the previous big-girls like Shalimar and Youth Dew seem quaint.  In the 1980s Sieuzac skipped the match, but piled…

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Couture, 2014

Image Coming of Age by Elena Montemurro.    Perfumer Thierry Wasser. Guerlain have long followed the rule that it’s better to be good than to be first. Or at least it’s better to be the last one standing.  Coty Chypre created the genre that defined perfumery in the 20th century. Mitsouko copied the formula, improved it and is now the standard-bearer. Shalimar…