Monday, February 12, 2024

Dior Dolce Vita: fragrance review of a perfumery classic

Photo by Bianca Czarnock on behance, borrowed for educational purposes


Dior's Dolce Vita fetes its 30th anniversary this year, being launched in 1994, when Dior was very careful with its new launches and the firm was creating mega-hits that shattered antagonism in one fell swoop. The promise of happiness, exuberance and confidence in Dolce Vita, in its flamboyant and optimistic package, looked smashing. A drop of sunshine, dropped magically in your lap, for special moments and for making it your own.

The scent of Dolce Vita by Dior indeed smells as voluptuous and sensuous as Anita Ekberg looks in the classic Fellini film La Dolce Vita. It was under the direction of legendary director Maurice Roger that Dolce Vita came to be, composed by Pierre Bourdon.

Under Roger's direction Dior's iconic perfume, Poison, was born in 1984, launched with much aplomb, as well as Fahrenheit in 1988 and later in 1994 the subject of our story, Dolce Vita. The fuzzy peach fruitiness in Dolce Vita is part of its succes. The effect, possible since at least Mitsouko by Guerlain in 1917, is mainly accountable to γ-undecalactone and despite many other molecular options today, it is still used by perfumers. The scent thus becomes wondrously sensual, with a fuzzy feel akin to caressing the skin of a peach or a smooth epidermis still with vellus hair, all tactile contours. Just beautiful. With the addition of baked goods cinnamon, the pleasantry in the fragrance is exponentially increased. The inclusion of palissander, commonly known as rosewood, is what ties the comfortable woody backdrop with the gourmand impression of the more delectable notes and makes for a soft, pliable, squishy feminine woody. 

Happiness in Dolce Vita lies in sweet accords that immediately seize you by the taste buds: warm cinnamon, spicy cardamom adding a middle-eastern touch, and the juicy lushness of soft apricots and lush peaches. An accent of juicy citrus puts a welcome dash of sharpness so as not to lose the bones amidst the plush. The magnolia, key within the floral bouquet, puts a spin on the citrusy fruitiness and almost lends air to the molecules. It feels expansive and melodious in the air at this stage. Finally the composition renders woody and soft notes: as the scent of Dolce Vita dries down the notes of palissander with heliotrope and vanilla beckon you even closer. It's a come hither of a scent, yet exuberant and confident too. 

I have dedicated an anniversary article to Dolce Vita on Fragrantica, if you care to read in its entirety.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Chanel No.5 Eau Première 2015 edition: fragrance review

Chanel often comes to mind when we talk about festive occasion drenched in champagne, if only because of the reputation of aldehydes being fizzy and sparkling materials (the aldehyde sequence in No.5 is mostly citrusy and waxy, to be honest, though). 


Chanel's perfumer, Olivier Polge, taking the baton from his father Jacques, had stated clearly that the legendary perfume of Chanel No 5 Eau de Toilette has no age, yet the newer edition Chanel Eau Première No.5 from 2008 would "effortlessly outshine the original without denying its relevance." The choice of words was not random, it seems. Effortless seems to comprise the very essence (no pun intended) of the bright insouciance of the newer interpretation of the venerable classic.

However great Eau Première from 2008 was, nevertheless, the advancement of tastes meant that it wasn't really appreciated by mass consumers, but only by us, perfumephiles. Logical enough, it followed the well-known formula rather closely. Therefore in 2015, the company revamped it in No.5 Eau Première 2015, in the process liquefying it according to the IFRA regulations, which made an impact around 2012. 

One perfume lover once said, "No5 Eau Première is a gateway perfume to the aldehydic genre. This is a beautiful mix of soft, bright, fizzy, and powdery. Eau Première is Diet No5, about 60% the flavor but still highly pleasing." 

I find myself flirting with a bottle for a long time now because it brings on that girly, lovely, fizzy quality to the fore, most of all. It's not the aliphatic aldehydes' cluster of perfumery materials that made the older versions waxy and clean-soapy; it's the brightness of its facade that belies its being born with a silver spoon in its mouth. It reminds me of New Year's Day mornings sipping champagne and eating eggs Benedict at a posh hotel dining room after a night out dancing. It's festive, dazzlingly bright, ethereal, and with its hopes for the best risen to their apex. The balancing act of the fragrance lies in judging how the citrusy freshness extends and rejuvenates the rose in the heart; there's a delicate, wisp-like chord of citrus and rose. What has kept me then from owning a bottle? Poor performance, mostly, as I have mentioned in an article I wrote "Eau Couture for Chanel No.5 L'Eau". Yet it smells good and puts good-natured charm in one's mien. 

There's a time and place for that, too, and champagne bubbly for January of a new year could not meet with a more reliable ally. 


Careful: the 2008 edition had a tall architectural bottle resembling that of Elixir Sensuel, while the 2015 edition has the classic squared shouldered bottle of No.5. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Guerlain Encens Mythique: Reformulation Done Right

Encens Mythique by Guerlain is a great choice for mid-season as well as wintertime in the north hemisphere, because it adapts so well to a multitude of requisites. I'm talking of the revamped edition in the cylindrical bottle with the gold spherical cap and the cute ribbons on the neck, as the scent originally launched among a trio of Middle Eastern exclusives (later brought into international counters of Guerlain) as Encens Mythique d'Orient. (Reviews of the trio are published on Perfume Shrine as well.) 

The Guerlain perfume bottles of Les Deserts d'Orient were adorned with Arab-cript calligraphy down one side, the French names down the other side. They were the tall, architectural style of the collection L'Art et la Matière with the antique gold overlay on the sides holding 75ml of perfume. The concentration of the fragrances is Eau de Parfum for tenacity.

Encens Mythique i airy and ethereal, yet spiritual and mysterious too, thanks to incense and ambergris which form the base of its alluring aura. It's lush thanks to rose; not the "grandma" version of tea rose, nor the too-engulfed-by-patchouli-middle-eastern-variety, it's just right and delectable. Encens Mythique is only lightly spicy (a hint of rosy pepperiness, a soupcon of medicinal). And finally it's clean no matter how you wear it. I revel in thinking I'm incarnating a medieval monk, a spy from the beginning of the 20th century and someone on a high-seas adventure. Marvelous.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Boss Bottled Elixir: fragrance review

Although we tend to overlook Boss fragrances, if only because of their ubiquitousness and confusing names, apparently, they still possess the power to surprise us. Color me impressed, then, upon discovering that Boss Bottled Elixir is nothing short of an anomaly in the usual Boss range.
It's exciting, atypical in the roster, certainly night-time material, and with a dark streak that defies the 'fitting in' average guy profile we tend to associate with the brand. Call it a prejudice, but it's nice demolishing these with the hammer of Thor sometimes, isn't it? Boss Bottled Elixir was conceived by Annick Menardo, a beloved perfumer of cult hits, and Suzy le Helley, and that explains some things. The intersection of incense and cedar is a direct quote from the niche segment, while cardamom, with its cooling aura, lifts the darker elements of the labdanum base. Yet the dark base is unmistakably there throughout. It's booming like a bass coming from a car's sound system far away. The resinous-patchouli-turned-soil chord is dominant and deliciously done. Its smoky elements come through via the smokey facet of patchouli and vetiver coupled and reflected by the smoky aspect of incense. Perfect for nights out and great overall.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Givenchy L'Interdit Eau de Parfum Rouge: fragrance review

 Glamour fragrances go hand in hand with the celebrities who endorsed them. No myth is stronger than the tie of Marylin Monroe with Chanel No 5 Parfum or Audrey Hepburn with L'Interdit by her preferred couturier Givenchy from the 1950s. Whereas No.5 has retained its core formula to the best of the brothers Wertheimers' ability, rendering the contemporary versions recognizably No.5, the same cannot be said for L'Interdit Eau de Parfum by Givenchy from 2018 and its subsequent editions - especially L'Interdit Eau de Parfum Rouge Givenchy (2021).

Rouney Mara for Givenchy Interdit perfume

That does not mean at all that it is not worthwhile or that it does not reflect some semblance of a vintage advantage. Although vintage fragrances belonging to specific genres suffer from a sort of incompatibility with the modern tastes of the market nowadays, such as the aldehydic floral, the mossy chypre, or the spicy oriental, there are elements that can salvage a core idea into a timeless quality. Despite an embarrassment of riches in having three top perfumers vying to make it worthy (usually a sign of despair in my personal books), L'Interdit Eau de Parfum Rouge by Givenchy is excellent because it retains that precarious balance between a contemporary fragrance, yet with vintage elements, making it a recurring theme from the past extended into four dimensions, like it's traveling interstellar mode.

The classic combination of the amber-floral chord, a sweet hesperide, a white floral, and a woody base of sandalwood with ambery tonalities, is lifted through two or three specific jarring points, which provide the interlocutor suspense.
First, a cherry note that is oh-so-modern. Cherry scent molecules have trickled down to floor cleaners by now because the trajectory of the industry from top to bottom of the ladder has increased so rapidly, but two years back, it was still kind of novel and ground-breaking.

Secondly, there is a spicy component, but not just any spice. Beyond the dated cloves references (which recall the best days of Ernest Daltroff for Caron), there is ginger which, via its Asian reference, is very contemporary and sort of multi-culti too. Thirdly, there is a pimento leaf note, which adds to the green-spicy garlands but tends to withhold the headache-y allusions to the oriental spicy fragrances from the 1980s.

The end result is a contemporary fragrance with a very satisfying tie to the past. There is no direct reference in glossy publications and influencer videos on social media that Audrey Hepburn actually wore this version of L'Interdit Eau de Parfum Rouge like they often -still!- do with the revamped version from 2018 (L'Interdit Eau de Parfum Givenchy), but it is a fragrance that reflects glamour, elegance, plush and a true sense of chic.

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