Oh and every now and again I like to post some tattoo updates. Been working on some cool pieces recently All my own artwork I really wanted to do!
Ok, I’m late to the game with this one, I know it. Well, I ignored the review after positive review of this release, as I didn’t want to know anything about it (enter with an open mind etc.)… after all, a new gardenia release (and an all natural one after all), is a big deal to any perfume fanatic. So I finally got my nose on Cuir de Gardenia…
Cuir de Gardenia opens surprisingly astringent, a boatload of natural narcotics pushing forward a feijoa-like, nail-varnish-like harshness often found in raw tuberose… but there’s no tuberose. The powerful narcotic opening is dizzying, but quickly sinks into a more lactonic, and suede-like plush texture, the gardenia pretty much taking full force. So how accurate is the gardenia? Pretty damn good. The natural tiare/gardenia absolute smells as close to the real thing as a fragrance has got before, only lacking that earthy-mushroom quality that gardenia’s seem to produce… is that a good thing? Well, at the end of the day, that’s been done before… Jardenia… possibly the next greatest gardenia fragrance created. I’ve always thought of Jardenia as a singular portrait of a gardenia, rather than a fragrance. Here – Cuir de Gardenia is a fragrance, and the gardenia is treated that way. Whilst it smells as raw as it gets, it’s treated with clever hands.
There seems to be three kinds of gardenia fragrances… Gardenia + Tuberose, Gardenia + Fig, and the less often seen, Gardenia + Jasmine. I never really noticed how similar gardenia and jasmine can be until I smelt the all natural, and slightly garish, Tawaf by La Via Del Profumo… a jasmine so raw and untamed that it throws off a fungal, mushroom vibe, not too dissimilar to that of gardenia. So Mandy has opted for jasmine as a partnership which I was hugely thankful of. Whilst grandiflorum isn’t my favourite floral note, it is a perfect pairing. Whilst I’ve been told there is only a smidge of jasmine, my skin throws it off loudly, my skin always amplifies jasmine… It almost dominates to a point… but maybe it’s just a note I’m more familiar with? But along with this pungent, honeyed jasmine and rich gardenia is a lighter fruit accord up top, and more animal base.
The fruit I initially mistook for phenyl ethyl acetate… turns out it’s ethyl phenyl acetate. If you swap the first words around, apparently they’re different! To me anyway, this note smells like a translucent honeyed fruit, mainly pear and green apple – almost like a pear drop, slightly sugared with a light vanillic, candy-like note (in the background). The animal? Well it’s actually easy to miss until the end. A natural castoreum underneath adds the earthiness that I had missed in the gardenia note (as I said, clever hands!). It’s a rich, slightly fungal, slightly smoked accord that I can’t say I associate with leather myself. But this is my skin, other’s who I have got to try this have got a leathery, dirty, oily vibe straight away. On me, it’s the florals that are blooming throughout it’s life, with the castoreum a subtle sideline… but necessary. The indole of the jasmine adds a dirtiness that is far more present on my skin, and the whole effect is about as simple, and perfect as a gardenia fragrance can get.
There is a surprising turn in the late drydown though: as the castoreum dominates and instead of, on my skin, throwing off the impression of a fine vintage leather, I get a perfect accord of smoky bacon! No lie. Not at all foul, not as intense as the barbeque vibe of Lonestar Memories, but something that I find ridiculously playful and a hilarious partnership with the gardenia, whilst being far more photorealistic than many claim to get from the Tauer. Fantastic!
Cuir de Gardenia is beautifully balanced, handled with a deep understanding of the ingredients… Aftel always knows what she’s doing, and it never fails. A large, empty space in perfumery has been filled by this fragrance.
Cuir de Gardenia in the solid perfume is, as expected, a lighter fragrance. It hugs my skin in a more “bass” noise, the gardenia slightly waxier, the jasmine less indolic, but the castoreum more “nutty”, at times reminding me of crushed leaves and adding a quiet “green” to the fragrance. In time, they dry down to pretty much the same thing… the more restrained opening of the solid is much more appreciated if wearing this later in the evening, at home etc… I’ve found myself drawn to it to relax with more so than the more flourescent, astringent extrait. Both are beautiful, but behaving slightly different for the first hour, not drastic enough to review all over again, no I wouldn’t put you through that But worth a mention.
As always… I end feeling inspired!
Cuir de Gardenia available from Aftelier Perfumes: http://www.aftelier.com/cuir-de-gardenia-extrait-mini-perfume.html
Fille En Aiguilles starts with a big, dried fruit and spice basket atop pine. It’s jammy, dense, all-out “forest-floor”-like, with an Aziyade-style Dr.Pepper combination of apricots, dates, cumin… all that gorgeous stuff. The pine is not at all reminiscent of floor-cleaner… well, here in the UK Pinesol isn’t sold, I don’t think, so we generally don’t have that association. Still, it’s richly spiced, and reminds me more so of Chypre Rouge than Arabie with its green floral spice. I get a hint of jasmine that runs throughout (reminding me a touch of Fig by Aftelier), but it’s all pine, fir, fruit and spice dominating.
Underneath, there’s a hint of bitter resins, a little amber, and a growing incense. The incense isn’t quite churchy, but it does develop into that kind of incense in the late drydown. The transition from warm pine and spice, to cool incense is pretty beautiful. Still, this isn’t really my kind of fragrance, and whilst wearing it, I feel as though I’m reviewing it as a piece of work, rather than a perfume I’d enjoy wearing. I can totally see its appeal, but for me, it almost smells a little simplistic once the top wears off, and I’m tired of all these pine, forest floor things out these days. Sure this isn’t exactly a new fragrance, but sampling it now, I feel no need to wear it. Chypre Rouge does a similar thing with much more interest and complexity and that is the Lutens’ forest floor, fruit & spice for me.
Fille en Aiguilles from here on is pretty linear, a pine/incense, sweetened with dried fruits, cumin, pepper and bay leaf… a typical Lutenesque composition that is undoubtedly a popular fragrance in the lineup, but nothing compared to some of the hugely original standouts beside it.
Miriam is one of my greatest perfume discoveries, I adore it. Loretta was absolutely wonderful – the Tableau de Parfum line has so far been extraordinary, so I was ridiculously excited to get my nose on the final fragrance in the collection by perfumer Andy Tauer: Ingrid.
Ingrid starts sharp and overwhelmingly complicated. Spiced citrus up top, bergamot, orange, lemon, clove, cinnamon – a hit of sweet sherbert… a crowded thing, difficult to pull apart but slowly begins to fall into place. The spiced citrus dominates up top, extremely classical, slightly dated with the heavy use of clove – reminding me of the citrus in the opening of Incense Rose, and also the spiced orange of Noir Epices (although far thicker). The cinnamon in the background is almost bitter, heating up Ingrid into a less green, less cardamom-heavy version of Eau D’Epices. There seems to be a little bay leaf, and maybe even pimento berry… the sheer warmth of the spice adds such a humidity to Ingrid it is literally dizzying.
The florals begin to come in… in time. Rose shows up first and for me, dominates. It’s a mixed bag of roses, on one side, fresh, bright and citrus-y… Moroccan? With a more potent, Bulgarian style rich, red beauty. It’s deep, dark, totally lush, with the clean aspect giving an ever so slight soapiness, providing a much-needed breath of fresh air in the surrounding darkness of Ingrid. The frangipani that also dominates is bizarre. It feels totally out-of-place, or let’s say, adjusting to a new surrounding. I’ve never smelt frangipani like this, I think we’re all too used to it in the background, next to maybe some tuberose or ylang… it’s a plush, dense tropical floral with a suede-like texture, here made more abrasive by the clove and cinnamon… but overall, it manages to give this more suede-like floral feel, acting as a harmonizer (usually the roses’ job?). It’s fantastic, and hugely original. It has a subtle suggestion of peach skin to it, and just a hint of greenery. There are other florals darting around, a flash of hyacinth (before the rose and frangipani come in and take over), a mirage of mangolia (maybe a combination of the citrus in the opening and the slightly waxy frangipani), and jasmine, sharpening the more bass-like noise of Ingrid.
Vanilla in the base adds a powdered, almost sherbert-y quality, similarly to how it’s used in the base of Miriam. But the spice entwines with it, along with a sharper dose of woods (sandalwood/cedar) and a little vetiver. I get a bunch of balsams and resins, along with a splash of civet. There’s a cumin-y sweatiness to it, and the patchouli/civet combo in the base add this sticky, overly rich finale which lasts on the skin for the duration of the heart and dry down. From afar, this thing throws of a true skank vibe, but not at all human-unclean. It’s so complex… but harmonious I assure you. Oh and of course it has some signature Tauerade going on, ambergris, tonka, lovely lovely!
So, after all this, reading it back, not even I would have a single clue how Ingrid smells if I hadn’t tried it already. So, en bref?
Spiced, thick citrus>> clove and cinnamon>> rich red roses, frangipani, jasmine>> vanilla, patchouli, woods and pure animal>> Tauerade. A stunningly original, oriental composition with some totally unexpected inclusions. On paper, it sounds like it shouldn’t work… but Tauer has this way of holding things together, and only just… which makes it so much more fun on your skin. An outstanding finale to the Tableau de Parfums line.
Tableau de Parfums 50ml EDP Ingrid – £110 http://www.scent-and-sensibility.co.uk
Peety is the new fragrance by the fantastic house of O’Driu. The perfumer states that the bottle comes 49ml full, with the intention that you’re to add 1ml of your own pee to it. I’ve heard mixed things about the results of the pee, some seeing a subtle improvement, enhancing certain notes, whilst smoothing out the composition in general… others saying it “flattened” it somewhat. I haven’t tried Peety with my pee yet, as my sample is definitely not big enough, I’d have to cut a droplet of pee in half which… which I’m not doing. So… here is Peety un-contaminated… which is a perfume wonderful enough to be judged on it’s own, whether you think the pee is a ridiculous novelty or not, don’t dismiss it.
Peety opens with a mouthwatering herbal concoction of sweetened lemongrass, cinnamon, a lush rose note and a hint of smoke. This spicy beast instantly resembles (to me at least), L’Air Du Desert Marocain by Tauer… only without the sharp, tar-like note in the opening. It’s softer undoubtedly, a little sweeter and more herbal than dry.
A clove/carnation note comes in and from here on it begins to differ from LDDM, not that they were identical in the first place, but still. The clove brings in the tobacco note, which is where the initial smokiness comes from, adding a dried, fruity tobacco throughout Peety. It’s gorgeous, now reminding me a little of Mecca Balsam by La Via Del Profumo (all fragrances I love mentioned so far!).
As Peety begins to dry down, the spiced rose and tobacco sit close to the skin, softened with vanilla and tonka. There at times, on my skin, seems to be a slightly astringent, ammonia-like hair-dye smell through Peety’s heart, which whilst typing, isn’t showing up. I did a video review of this the other day and the ammonia smell came out strong. It’s not a bad note, or unsettling in the last, I’m not too sure where it comes from though. What sits in the base however next to the vanilla is a hint of castoreum – a little animalic smoke, pretty much a signature in O’Driu.
The whole fragrance is a very easy wear, and a great introduction to O’Driu’s work. It seems smarter, a little more “thought out”, well-balanced, and beautiful to wear – a departure from the hard-hitting challenging compositions of the original O’Driu line up which although fantastic, smelt more like experiments. It seems Peety is a final piece of everything learnt in the first fragrances, reminding me of numerous compositions in the line, including my beloved Leva which I own (lemongrass/olive/vanilla). A great perfume.
Peety 49ml EDP O’Driu – 150 Euros http://www.odriu.eu/store/products/1-peety.html
So La Fin Du Monde is the much anticipated release from house Etat Libre D’Orange. I was super excited about this release, until I read the notes list, describing LFdM as “a popcorn opening softening down to pale woods”. It sounded dull as shit, but the popcorn opening did intrigue me. I was hoping for a new Jeux De Peau gourmand deliciousness, whether it fitted “The End Of The World” name or not.
SO. I was lucky enough to win a full bottle of this fragrance and it couldn’t have come at a better time. How does it smell…
La Fin Du Monde starts with a semi sweet, translucent note of caramel, undercut with a subtle, sweet vegetal accord (that all together reminds me of the pumpkin/immortelle of Etat Libre D’Orange’s Like This). I get a hint of immortelle in fact, that quickly gives in to a rooty iris. The opening to me, is absolutely nothing like popcorn. There’s no sickly sweet caramel, no wheat, corn, or cereal smells whatsoever… nothing buttery or edible, just a slight sweetness.
The iris reminds me a little of that used in Honore Des Pres Love Les Carottes… paired here with “carrot seed” – it definitely gives off that slightly carroty smell, with a hint of metallics, just a touch of powder… not full on rooty, not full on floral… a soft iris that’s ridiculously easy to wear.
The overall feel at this point is a slightly golden hue of translucent and sweet iris. I can’t say I get any cumin, or pepper for that matter… the listed “gunpowder”? A non existent novelty note. Is it nice? It is nice, but nothing more. I got others to try this today, and everyone said “yeh it’s nice”… it’s totally harmless. This kind of minimalistic, translucent fragrance worked a little better in Tilda’s Like This (which I found pretty boring too), because of the slightly more interesting texture and that sweet/spiciness of the immortelle… although the overall effect is near identical… which is bizarre considering they are from different perfumers. It feels very “ELdO”, if you know what I mean? And it fits into the line nicely, although unnecessary IMO. I totally think they should have gone all out with this one and released a massive powerhouse like Rien. They needed it. What they didn’t need was another excuse for people to say “A nice fragrance that doesn’t fit the name” but that’s unfortunately what they’ve done.
Ok so it sounds like I hate this. I don’t, I’m sure I’ll wear it a lot because it is so easy to. Whilst it’s super soft, translucent and almost “not there”, it has a half decent throw for a fair few hours, radiating in a soft, synthetic caramel sweetness atop iris and pale woods. But it is definitely not an earth shattering release, and not a standout, instead it is “nice”…
This video was posted on CaFleureBon recently. I have to admit, despite the ridiculous attempt to push a narrative behind the fragrance and talk about how “popcorn is the olfactory note of escapism, the cumin and pepper is the ignition…” etc… it got me SLIGHTLY more excited to try it. However watching it back it just makes me laugh… La Fin Du Monde is a sweetened iris and little else. Still, I’ll wear it regularly and I DO appreciate my bottle, having dealt with a big family loss recently the generosity couldn’t have come at a better time… but hey, you guys read this because I’m honest right?! I recommend it, if you’re not on the hunt for something revolutionary… it could quite easily become a comfort scent, I’m just not sure whether that was the aim or not.
Bas de Soie tricks you into thinking it’ll be an iris not too dissimilar to Iris Silver Mist on first spritz. There’s the iris right up top, doughy and earthy that within seconds, gets a little green and a little spicy, until it falls into a whole new category of iris. Bitter galbanum – a dense greenery partners with one of the best hyacinth notes I’ve smelt. It’s slightly spiced, green, almost vegetal… I find that natural hyacinth almost smells “swampy” – and that’s exactly what it does here. It’s not dirty however, handled with the slightly powdered, almost starched-clean iris to create something that smells extremely classical and restrained.
The iris smells bright white, amplified by some clean musk to create something that borders on laundry, tinged with a metallic vibe for a few fleeting minutes – with the naturally spiced greenery cutting through the density of the still-present doughy quality underneath. There seems at times a hint of violet, but it comes in and out of focus. What the heart is made up of, is a straight forward but bold structure of iris/hyacinth and galbanum - melding together in a crisp green floral that doesn’t smell like a natural spring scent, but a definite perfume. The bitterness of the florals and the cleanliness of the whole composition means that to my nose at least, it smells almost gentlemanly, or a stern feminine that doesn’t crack a smile… something many say about Chanel No.19.
It’s a little sharp for the first half an hour, that metallic note popping in and out, a little jarring but not uncomfortable, no where near as much as it was in Iris Silver Mist for me. At times there are hints of clove, pepper, I even get nutmeg… whether it is just the hyacinth, I don’t know – but it adds a warm quality to Bas de Soie which increases as it lives on your skin, the fragrance transitioning from cold to warm.
I guess I understand the comparisons to Secretions Magnifique… but it’s a long shot. In the drydown the memory of the metallic notes, the iris and the woods and muskiness, does bring to mind a broken down version of SM, but there’s none of that horrific “turned” milk, and the subtlety here results in a completely different experience. It shouldn’t be something to put you off… or come on, no one would wear this.
It’s long lasting, although in time, close to the skin. Remaining slightly sharp, formal, but easy enough to wear whenever. It is a scent that comfortable fits next to Stephen Jones by Comme Des Garcons in my collection. It makes me feel smart and is desperately classy
Fusion Sacree Elle starts with a creamy bergamot/lemon citrus combo, with a hint of pepper, on top of a ton of creamy white florals (mainly tuberose). There’s a faux gardenia underneath which is nice enough, not at all earthy, fungal or green – but all sweet floral butter instead. There’s hints of jasmine, and an overall slightly tropical feel, not too dissimilar to the initial suntan-lotion opening of Datura Noir without the coconut. There’s other fruity hints up top, a slight acidity from blackcurrant, oranges, a little soft honeyed peach… it’s really nice.
If anything, the overall feel seems like a cross between Datura Noir and Fracas… the dominating tuberose is all pink, bubblegum tuberose – slightly candied, buttery – almost chewy in texture. I do however find it more interesting than Fracas, it’s definitely a little cleaner (I’ve never found the florals in Fracas dirty but something about it’s damp texture on my skin makes me a little uncomfortable).
The most interesting part of Fusion Sacree Elle, is as it leads into the main phase and the drydown… the creamy lactonics and sweetness is backed up by a hefty dose of vanilla and a hint of patchouli, but then there’s the coffee. The coffee note isn’t harsh, it’s more like the foam on a cappuccino :’) subtle definitely, but a much needed bitterness, and the single note that pushes Fusion Sacree from “nice but predictable” into something a little more unexpected… but only just. It could have definitely been turned up in volume, but maybe that’s not the point. Still, the tuberose/coffee dominates the heart leading into a surprisingly comfortable musky vanilla. Overall, it’s a very nice tuberose fragrance, not quite how I like mine I will say, but definitely recommended for fans of Datura Noir, Fracas, Mahora….
Fusion Sacree Elle 120ml EDP Majda Bekkali – $175 Luckyscent
So Vero Kern released her Voile D’Extrait concentration of her four fragrances. These compositions are identical to her extrait/parfum’s, only here they are diluted to spray lavishly. They are described generally as lighter, with more room for each note to be experienced… maybe easier to wear for some?
I have used many of my extrait samples so I can’t compare I’m afraid, so i’ll be writing these reviews for what they are, with any comparisons I can remember off the top of my head
Rubj Voile D’Extrait opens as beautifully as ever – each time I smell any variation, I can’t help but fall madly back in love with it again. It is an astonishing floral. Sweet, indolic jasmine, orange blossom with a bite, warm cumin spice and a sweet, raspberry-like tartness. There’s just a subtle hint of soap here that I don’t remember from the extrait (neroli?) – it’s floral, and weirdly mouthwatering.
Up close, there seems to be hints of almond-y heliotrope and a herbal accord that seems new… mint? It’s like a candied spearmint that is an extraordinary inclusion… well, a new dimension we’ll say! Whether this mint illusion is a narcotic floral accent, I have no idea… but it smells like mint.
The florals so spaced out seem cooler, slightly mentholated, with a candle wax texture (and scent to an extent). There’s less sweetness, only the merest backdrop of hard-boiled candy. A musk laden base with a pinch of rich civet wraps up the Rubj Voile D’Extrait into a whole new beauty of a fragrance. Otherworldly.
Onda Voile D’Extrait opens as the smokebomb I expected. However, the birch and bonfire is lifted slightly, allowing the more translucent honey underneath to shine. From afar, the honey is the lead, throwing off the skin in a burnt night. Hints of earthy salt from the vetiver is spiked with sharp spice, nutmeg, pepper, ginger - and a little astringent lemon, hitting the back of the throat like medicine. The smoked citrus and spice have the feel of a gentleman’s cologne, only muddled with honey and leather. This version of Onda seems to (in time), totally wipe out the heaviness of the original, leaving a softly sweet, smoky fragrance that is still as challenging as ever, but undoubtedly “airier” and just as wonderful for it. The muted texture leaves a stern, touch leather on the skin, with a bitter cardboard-like scent, the spice just tickling up top, the vetiver surrounding the whole thing almost invisibly. I’ve always been a mad fan of the EDP more so than the extrait, but this is such an animal of a fragrance, it’s impossible to ignore and not hugely admire.
Kiki Voile D’Extrait throws it’s caramel off my skin quicker than I’ve smelt it in any concentration before. The lavender of course dominates, but the sweetness is highlighted – it’s golden and almost tooth-achingly sharp for a few seconds – beautiful! The astringent lavender, all herbaceous and literally squeaking-clean, is a huge juxtaposition to the translucent caramel – something I’ve read many times but never picked up in Kiki. It seems to battle a bit more in this dilution, throwing around on the skin in a bizarrely sharp composition of sweet, soapy, herbal and cool. It does sort itself out though, a now subtly caramelized lavender, a little burnt up top – with the fizziness of an aldehydic-like white musk bubbling off the skin in a sudsy layer… it literally reminds me of bath bubbles <3
It’s a shapeshifter that’s for sure, and for me, an easier way to appreciate Kiki which has always been the fragrance I’ve toyed with loving and dismissing. This simply reinforces what a creative composition it is, and a lavender unlike any other. Hugely wearable and subtly spectacular once you “get” it.
Mito Voile D’Extrait opens green! Initially a bitter, vegetal blast, transforming into its signature lemongrass. The florals erupting quickly, the no-holds-barred green tuberose - narcotics galore, the most exceptional magnolia/champaca combo, cypress, galbanum, all the glory of the extrait that again, seems brighter, and a little sharper. I say sharper, I guess what I mean is the more vegetal/acrid aspects of the green accords are let loose here… Mito has never been sharp – in fact the opposite. And unlike the extrait, it takes just a touch longer before the plush base of oakmoss, resins and civet show up. In the extrait, this chypre drydown is one of the most incredible things in perfumery I’ve experienced, and whilst I prefer the weight of it in the extrait, the lactonics of the florals here are highlighted, and last that touch longer. All lemon-y, floral cream, wax, bitter greens and moss. Just as wonderful.
OK I’m a fan boy :$
Numerous bloggers have been invited to submit their short list of questions to Chandler Burr. The subject: The Untitled Project & The Art of Scent Exhibition. I’m sure if you’re reading this, by now you know all about both of these, and I of course don’t need to explain to you who Chandler Burr is.
The plan was for this to be a webcam interview, but schedule’s and all that meant it had to be written – I was meant to submit this ages ago!
Oh and also, my questions were a bit long, so there’s a lot of text and I didn’t fancy posting random bottle pictures for the sake of it… To break it up a bit – I put a little picture of Chandler’s face as I imagine the progression of this interview
Freddie: There’s been a lot of debate on the blogs about whether fragrance is art or design… personally, I think everyone is overthinking it and the actual answer hardly matters – it is what it is. It’s a craft after all, a craft that can be applied with a design mind-set or an artistic one… but with that in mind, do you consider your choices for the Art of Scent exhibition pieces of art, or great pieces of design? Or are certain choices one or the other?”
Chandler: “If by overthinking it you mean that the answer is obvious, I agree with you completely. I’m not aware of a single art medium in which design doesn’t play a role— the works must all be designed— and in which aesthetics don’t play a role and which can be a craft and an art both. I also don’t believe that craft and art are different. The creation of a corporate logo is as much art as the creation of a painting, in particularly now that post-modernism has eliminated the necessity of an actual physical object of art. The work of art is now, often, purely a concept. I consider the 13 works—counting Tresor in the Salon portion of the exhibition—great works of design and of art and of concept.”
Freddie: “We spoke briefly about how the term “art” is a way of, let’s say, “categorizing” fine fragrance to the general public, who most likely assume all fragrance is purely a cosmetic product. Yet some of the choices may be almost a challenge for even the most avid fragrance lovers to connect with… Untitled by Martin Margiela is a perfect example. Would it have seemed like too much of a novelty and missed the point to yourself, and maybe to the fragrance-loving community, if you’d simply chosen the most obvious – Secretions Magnifique by Etat Libre D’Orange, Revolution by Lisa Kirk, M/Mink by Byredo… It would surely have been the easiest way to get the public to understand how fragrance can be “art”?”
Chandler: “When I read this question I thought Really? You think some of the choices could be a challenge for fragrance lovers to connect with? But in fact it’s certainly true, and, yes, Daniela Andrier’s Untitled demands that the public stretch its concept of pleasure and, more, acceptance—but Francis Bacon’s work is hideous and intentionally repellent—it SEEKS to repel the viewer—and those who love Bacon (admiring his mastery as an artist is, it seems to me, unavoidable) get pleasure from his mastery, from being compelled to love this horror. Hell, some horror movies—I loathe horror movies, but they operate in the same way that Bacon operates. We dislike bitter, but many people learn to like tonic water, which again is naturally repellent.
I put it in intentionally to provoke the general public, who as you say assume fragrance is a cosmetic product because that’s the ways it’s universally presented. But can you explain what you mean by your question, “Would it have seemed like too much of a novelty and missed the point to yourself, and maybe to the fragrance-loving community, if you’d simply chosen the most obvious – Secretions Magnifique by Etat Libre D’Orange, Revolution by Lisa Kirk, M/Mink by Byredo… It would surely have been the easiest way to get the public to understand how fragrance can be “art”?”
Secretions Magnifiques and Revolution are, of course, intentionally revolting, fascinatingly so. (I personally find M/Mink to be a pleasure; I wouldn’t describe it that way myself.) Why do you think those would more easily get the public to understand that fragrance is art?”
Freddie: “I found Untitled really disappointing personally, a very “easy” wear, something that I could easily see appeal to the public in a mass market fragrance – by mentioning the others (Secretions etc. – I love M/Mink too but it’s definitely not for everyone!), I meant do you think with fragrances that have say, “shock” value, it may be easier to interpret them as art to the general public? After all, an inexperienced nose I doubt could tell the difference between a great jasmine/rose blend and a poor one (to put it super blunt!). The Bacon reference is really interesting too, and that’s kind of what I mean. To say “here is fragrance as art, Revolution has composed a fragrance about war, using accords of tear gas, urine, blood, gunpowder” blah blah, is much more direct and obvious to the public than saying “Here is a revolutionary use of aldehydes and an exceptional floral heart”. Do you agree? I don’t even know if that was any clearer sorry :’) ”
Chandler: “I very strongly believe that shock value does not at all make art better or more interesting. Of course shock value in any aspect of anything makes people pay attention, and it makes them talk, And yeah, I have to admit that people might find it easier to say, “Oh, this is art.” But inexperienced eyes and ears and noses by definition are less able to find meaning in works of art of all mediums. I agree that saying “Here is a revolutionary use of aldehydes” is more difficult for the public to appreciate than “Here is a work of scent art about violence” and then show them a pile of olfactory images of tear gas, urine, gunpowder.” But again, this is true of movies. “Pacific Rim,” a god-awful and ludicrously hackneyed series of explosions and violence, is easier to understand than “The Way Way Back,” a subtle, wonderfully perceptive work of art. “Pacific Rim” vanishes the instant the lights come on. If you’re masochistic and insist on thinking about it, it just gets worse. “The Way Way Back” remains inside you, and the more you think about its details and subtleties, the greater a work of art it becomes to you. As a curator, I’m only interested in presenting the great works—and, to underline it, the Chinese film “Drug War” is a movie with explosions and violence, and it is brilliant. “Dans Tes Bras” is shocking; “Yuzu Rouge” is subtle and almost soundless. The commonality is that both are great. Shock per se attracts attention; greatness keeps it.”
Freddie: “Carrying on from the last question a little bit, did you feel that in your position in the fragrance world, you had to stay true to the classic fragrances rather than divulge into the modern and abstract niche… would it have been too heavy hitting for the public or more of a wake up into fragrance as art? For example, Jicky under the category “Romanticism”, to an in-experienced nose, it’s a simple lavender fragrance and little else – but with an explanatory history lesson (essay) next to it, it becomes something else… does it make Jicky smell any different to them? Not really. For Photorealism – Pleasures (pink peppercorn Co2 used as the “photorealistic” aspect) – was it really thought of as “photorealistic” to the public before reading the essay? The Art of Scent almost seems like a history lesson in fragrance… do you think of it like that too?”
Chandler: “I absolutely don’t feel that I have to exhibit the “classic fragrances,” those works that were seminal and advanced the state of the art any more than every museum exhibition must always include Rembrandt. N exhibition of Ruscha is just Ruscha. Obviously he is incapable of not having been influenced by Rembrandt and the other classic greats. But I’m creating a proposal for an exhibition that would consist only of contemporary works. So, no, I don’t think it would have been too heavy hitting for the public. Exactly the opposite; I think including works they knew—even if they’d only ever thought of them as product—made it easier, not harder, for them to say, “Huh, actually, yeah, I can see why this would be art.” I’m quite certain that Pleasures with, to quote you, “pink peppercorn Co2 used as the “photorealistic” aspect,” was ever thought of as “photorealistic” to the public OR to, consciously, to perfumers before my presentation of it as such. (I feel it’s necessary to write, at this point, the grossly obvious but, for many, necessary caveat: “This is just my personal view, there’s no right or wrong here, although there is good argument and bad argument, it’s subjective etc. etc.”) The Art of Scent, as my first exhibition, simply established my position, my thesis. I absolutely, categorically, didn’t intend it to be a history lesson in fragrance. To the degree it was one, it’s a function of being the best way to go about organizing curatorially my position.”
Freddie: “When the Untitled Project first started, I remember following a few posts on Basenotes of participants. It popped up a few times that your taste seemed to be for the “minimal”, “clean”, “translucent”… do you agree with that? If so do you feel that this also came through in your Art of Scent exhibition where choices like Untitled by Margiela to describe Post-Brutalism, or Osmanthe Yunnan for Luminism, are very subtle examples of both?”
Chandler: “I’m not sure why I have a reputation for liking, personally, linear works. I don’t think that’s true at all, and I could cite any number of contradictory examples. Even going on the works in TAOS I think that’s clear. No [Freddie, can you please elevate the o in No] 5, Prada Amber, Angel. Seriously? Minimalism? In the Untitled Series, Eau de Lierre, Bal d’Afrique, Isle Ryder. What’s up with this “Burr is biased in favour of minimalism”?”
Freddie: “The descriptive categories you used in The Art of Scent are not particularly familiar; did you pick these words (Luminism, Industrialism, Post-Brutalism, Kinetic Sculpture etc.) first? And then choose the fitting fragrances? Or the other way around? If you picked the fragrances first, out of the many wonderful examples of fragrance as “art”, how and why did you narrow it down to such a select few, including popular fragrances like Angel, Pleasures, Light Blue, fragrances which many of the visitors would have most likely smelt before? To give it a new dimension? “
Chandler: “Well, first, with all due respect the categories of Luminism, Industrialism, Kinetic Sculpture are absolutely part of the linguistic currency of art criticism. I suppose “mobile” is much better known than Kinetic Sculpture, but when people explain what a mobile is or Calder’s work, that’s the description they use. Post-Brutalism was my own, but I was very specific about why I think it fits. As for which I chose categories or works first, the answer, as it so often is, is both. I needed a certain amount of historical perspective, I needed important movements in art in all mediums from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Drakkar Noir was an ineluctable choice; it’s the greatest work of industrialism, in all art mediums, ever created. I was very clear in my own mind that I needed to include some commercial hits like Angel that are also great, great works of olfactory art as well as, to use the French term, masterworks that were “confidential” like Osmanthe Yunnan in exactly the way that, if one were doing a show arguing that film is a major art medium one would include commercial successes like “Michael Clayton” (brilliant) and small films like the unutterably wonderful “The Way, Way Back” (Jim Rush is astonishing).”
Freddie: “In the Untitled Series, I’m curious about your target audience? After following it briefly (when I was active on Basenotes), I found myself reading along, and waiting until the reveal to then decide whether I wanted to go and try the fragrance, rather than buying 30ml of the unlabelled fragrance. I’m sure you’ve been asked over and over again about why not reducing the amount of fragrance so it’s not about that, I just wonder what’s in it for us out there? I can’t help but feel like I can judge a fragrance blind even if the bottle, brand, and perfumer’s name is staring me in the face – maybe I’m wrong until I try something like this?”
Chandler: “With as much certainty as one can have, I categorically do not believe anyone can judge a fragrance blind with the bottle, brand, and/or perfumer’s name staring them in the face. I believe every psychological study ever done has demonstrated this to one degree or another. In fact it would be evolutionarily abnormal if you were able to. You know the sketch to your left is by Jo Baer and the one on your right is by your cousin, the accountant. That won’t influence you? Please. You do and you must instantly and inexorably characterize and value these differently. It’s human nature, and that’s that. The Untitled Series—the one hundred bottles of each episode—is, as far as I know, essentially the only place people not inside the industry can have a pure experience of the work. If you listen to a work of music without knowing the composer, the conductor, the orchestra, the style applied to it by critics, all the backstory and the baggage, that’s the pure work. If someone shows you a painting and tells you it’s by Caravaggio you will feel differently about it when that same person one minute or one year later clarifies that no, no, it’s by a *student of Caravaggio’s. We are a relentlessly social species, status and stature and hierarchy are in our genes, they are what make sense and order of our world, and it will never, ever, in any circumstance in our lives, be possible not to apply every datum we have to a thing before us.
I don’t want to do anything less than 30ml because 30ml is like buying a real bottle of perfume, albeit a very small one. A 10ml is like a movie preview. 30ml is plausibly a movie. Yes, of course I realize that a single spray of .5ml is all you need, but I suppose that’s the one place in which I want to give a cue that is not the experience of the work itself. It’s a purchase. It’s a commitment. I do an insane amount of work getting these to you. I want you to commit to me.”
Freddie: “Similarly to the essay question above, in the Untitled series do you think it’s easy to maybe convince someone a fragrance which may be easy to dismiss, is better than they think it is? Of course that’s not the point, but I admit it made me doubt my own taste when I read your thoughts on Sel De Vetiver, Infusion D’Iris etc… but on a repeated sniff, they still go straight over my head. Is the project challenging people’s tastes or attempting to mould it? Or is that just overthinking the fun of it all?”
Other bloggers participating in the interviews:
Another Perfume Blog: http://anotherperfumeblog.com/
Australian Perfume Junkies: http://australianperfumejunkies.com/
Scents Memory: https://sentsmemory.wordpress.com/
The Fragrant Man: http://thefragrantman.com/
The Perfumed Dandy: http://theperfumeddandy.com
The Scented Hound: http://thescentedhound.wordpress.com/
What Men Should Smell Like: http://whatmenshouldsmelllike.com/