Friday, April 21, 2023

Prada Paradoxe: fragrance review

 It was a full seven years since Prada introduced an entirely new perfume for either gender, exploiting its established lines all this time. To my disappointment, the new women's pillar fragrance, Prada Paradoxe, fell short. It's a women's fragrance, yes, like periods are womanly, and it's clean like we're supposed to smell, sanitized.

But that's a pity, as it could be so much more. Especially from a pink colored bottle and box, one expects a touch of irreverence, as they did with the wonderful gourmand of Prada Candy - perfect from start to finish, the witty campaign most of all.

In her directorial debut, Emma Watson was said to embrace all her multiple dimensions – the artist, the activist, the actor, the woman – "in a dynamic, liberating film that captures the empowered spirit of Prada Paradoxe."


The usual suspect, Daniella Roche-Andrier, isn't behind this Prada creation. Three other perfumers are credited with creating Paradoxe. Usually, this fills me with trepidation. Surely one vision split in three, fixed here and there, means that rather than a collaboration of creativity, it is a project that needed multiple sessions in the drawing room to discuss faults and effects? I might be judging too harshly. The perfumers are certainly renowned and respected. I feel this is more of an odd corporate decision on the part of L'Oreal, who own the license for Prada fragrances, after taking over from Puig.


The initial olfactory impression of Paradoxe by Prada is equal parts fruity and floral, nectarous with orange blossom, with a resemblance to both My Way and Libre by YSL, oddly enough.

It then breaks apart and becomes sweeter and somewhat muskier, without abanding the shampoo cleanliness of its core message. Its creamy musk with touches of soft suede is held on the skin for a long time, but the fruit dissipates. Yet with so many floral woody muskies on the market at the moment, what is the purpose of another one in Prada Paradoxe that becomes less than the sum of its parts?

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Paco Rabanne La Nuit: fragrance review

 Naked Lady Godiva, Countess of Mercia, rides on her proud gray horse, with leather bridles and wet saddle, keeping her word as a personal wager against her husband, on the occasion of relief from her husband's excessive taxation to the residents of the county. A peeping Tom peeps despite the curfew of the residents. 

This is the image that gradually appears and disappears in my mind - and maybe Rabanne's own, as he was immersed in spirituality for the latter part of his life- as I smell this wonderful creation by Jean Guichard for Paco Rabanne, La Nuit de Paco Rabanne

 John Collier's famous painting of Lady Godiva


The glamorous image of the TV spots with the woman in an evening lamé dress and flowing long hair, coiffed in 80s style with lots of volume tell only half the tale... 


This bold leathery chypre is proud and daring. The green whiplash of artemisia is precious as it segues into honeyed notes, rich and lush. It's easy to get back because it's so horsey at this stage. The alliance of oakmoss with civet and leather in Rabanne's La Nuit raises it into the pantheon of cult classics, though and it remains an unparalleled gem in the collection by the great designer. It's a shame that this gem was discontinued so soon, yet it will always remind me of the great designer of the Space Age, of the 1960s and 1970s. It is at once so much in style with his boldness and at clash points with his overt futurism. 

La Nuit Paco Rabanne... Partout où est la nuit (Everywhere where it is nighttime).

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Roja Dove Diaghilev: fragrance review

 Much of our information on the particularities of Sergey Diaghilev the man come from the many exhibitions and press catalogues which have been relying on the lasting aftermath of Les Ballet Russes in Europe. Apparently the story of the Diaghilev by Roja Dove fragrance is more complex. 

The fragrance began as an Eau de Parfum concentration as attested by the older advertising images for the Victoria & Albert museum exhibitions and lectures. It then moved to the uniform "whiskey carafe" style of extrait de parfum bottles in a more concentrated form. It is indeed the Eau de Parfum which I had first tried years ago and proclaimed it inwardly "a Mitsouko analogue." (referencing the famous Guerlain perfume from 1919)

The reference is not lost upon those who know a thing or two about the man through the bibliography on his life and opus. Serge Diaghilev was enamoured with Guerlain's Mitsouko during the height of his career with Les Ballets Russes and used to drench his curtains with it. Drenching the curtains in perfume....sounds so decadent and eccentric, right? The impression must have been something of an autumnal twilight, just as the Guerlain scent segues into the forest floor after immersing you in a liqueur like the fuzzy skin of golden nectarous peaches ripened in the sun... Charlie Chaplin was also a fan. There's something about it that makes creative juices flow.


In a way, both Mitsouko by Guerlain and Diaghilev by Roja Dove bring a sense of awakening to the senses upon smelling them. They're both lush, fruity chypre perfumes, and they're both like a beauty coming back from a long-forgotten slumber, like the princess sleeping in the Sleeping Beauty ballet that Les Ballets Russes performed.


The transition from the citrusy top note is as smooth in Diaghilev as in the Guerlain, with the linalyl acetate of bergamot smoothing the pathway to the core of the chypre skeleton, and piquant notes of spices and herbs (cloves, peppery jolt, tarragon) give a lively burst alongside the plush. The spicy component is a counterpart to the fruity and floral aspects. It's never a flat scent; it's always bronze-y and lush.


The modern re-issue took the structure of the Eau de Parfum and gave it in Extrait de Parfum an immensity of duration that far surpasses the 24-hour mark on skin. The old bases like Persicol have tremendous tenacity and the synthetic civet feels like it opens up the best elements, attaching itself to the fruity and floral aspects and making them extend into infinity.

The process of elimination and organization: a spring ritual

 For many of us, the process of elimination is fierce and daunting. How to go about it without a sense of loss? On the other hand, the specter of chaos is looming. We tend to amass hundreds of bottles and, on top of that, thousands (it seems!) of samples and decants of things to try. One needs to take a step back, if only to fully understand and assess what one is about to write about, right? Since there are many different types of perfume users, there are also many different views on how best to proceed. Samples clutter is a persistent thing in our wardrobes and blind buys a peril strewn path.

pic sozgems/pinterest


It's a great disappointment to rampage through shoe boxes filled with scattered samples and decants to find that one elusive, old specimen that one kept for reference only to come across a battered and worn pouch with an empty vial inside... I was searching for an old decant of Les Exclusifs de Chanel Coromandel Chanel Eau de Toilette the other day to compare again with the different version of Coromandel Eau de Parfum Chanel, and it was indeed in such a state... I bet it has happened to all of us at some point! 

Rows and rows of carded samples, decants stacked one beside the other, and little notes with handwritten scribbles about what to notice and what to do next arise from such adventures into the chaos of my drawers. Not anymore. I vowed to bring order into this mess for 2023 and be better organized regarding one of the tools of the trade -the sampling process. 



Bottles of Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile mingle with Diptyque Figuier. Chanel No.5 with Izia.

To that end, I have bought fancy carton boxes with pretty prints. Stripes for contemporary brands like French Leather Memo Paris and fancy illustrations resembling Mucha for the vintages such as Monsieur Rochas Eau de Toilette Concentree by Rochas' various decants and Candide Effluve by Guerlain Ebay dregs. 


on etsy

I will make carton dividers for brands with labels on top. The perfect filing system, like Mrs.Lemon in Christie's Poirot stories used to daydream about. It's really taking over my free time, but the experience is worth it. At last, knowledge and access are at one's fingertips!

This Month's Popular Posts on Perfume Shrine