Niche Fragrance Magazine

Author

Oviatt

Oviatt has 10 articles published.

A Los Angeles perfumista striving still to Truth unknown.

Atelier Cologne’s Gold Leather: Fruity Goodness

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You are slumped on a Chesterfield sofa, cradling a tumbler of Bacardi in your hands.  You have just binged your way through a whole packet of Jaffa Cakes. Life is good. How do you smell?  Even better!  Atelier Cologne’s Gold Leather summons up exactly this image, with some plum and woods thrown into the mix.

Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter, creators and founders of Atelier Cologne, met in New York in 2006 and realized that they shared a passion for classic Eau de Cologne. Together, they created the first fragrance house entirely dedicated to cologne—colognes so special that they are meant to be worn as pure perfumes. Since then, they have become darlings of the niche world, creating high quality, well-blended fragrances each centered around a core note (vetiver, vanilla, neroli, etc.).[...] KEEP ON READING

Funk, Punk and Junk

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Leather and oud are two of the most popular notes in niche and even designer/mainstream perfumery at the moment.  Of course leather has been a popular theme for fragrances for many years for both men and women—the Russian Leathers/Cuirs de Rusie, the Knize Tens and the Cabochards and Bandits all attest to that.  Oud is a little different—long used in middle eastern perfumery, oud really hit the mainstream awareness with Yves Saint Laurent’s oud-focused M7 (2002), and has been off to the races ever since.  It is now so over used—often utilizing synthetics instead of the real thing to cash in on its current popularity—that it is considered a little vieux jeu.  In other words, if you are only now getting around to putting out an oud scent, you have missed the boat.[...] KEEP ON READING

Life Well Played

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An homage to the great designer Oscar de la Renta, whose favorite game was dominoes, Gentleman encapsulates all that he loved in life which was, by all accounts, a life well played.

Born Óscar Arístides Renta Fiallo, Oscar del la Renta (1932 – 2014), was the Dominican-born American fashion designer who was the darling of the society set. Trained by Balenciaga and Castillo, he worked for Balmain and Lanvin before launching his own design house. The only thing more elegant than his fashions was the man himself—suave and charming, he understood women and made them look and feel fabulous.[...] KEEP ON READING

Voyage Extraordinaire

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Gérald Ghislain’s Histoires de Parfums—self-described as an olfactive library telling stories about famous characters, raw materials and mythical years—has sought inspiration from a fascinating array of disparate literary personages ranging from Casanova and the Marquis de Sade to George Sand and Ernest Hemmingway.   Squarely in the middle of this is my favorite offering from this range, 1828, which celebrates the year that Jules Verne, French novelist, playwright, poet and father of science fiction, was born.  Verne lived through a fascinating time in French history, his life spanning the Restoration, July Monarchy, Second Republic, Second Empire, Third Republic, the Commune and into the Belle Epoch.  His best known writings—the Voyages Extraordinaires—were penned during the Second Empire, that period of High Victorian colonialism and—in America, civil war.[...] KEEP ON READING

Sacred Cow

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Sometimes, there are fragrances that are so universally admired and revered and that cast such long shadows, that they are almost impossible to review.  Who, for example, is qualified to review and deconstruct, say, Bach’s Double Violin Concerto or Picasso’s Guernica and find them wanting?  Who would not feel presumptuous to declare them fine?

The dictionary tells us that a sacred cow is an idiom that represents an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above criticism (with reference to the Hindus’ respect for the cow as a sacred animal).   Jean Kerleo’s 1980 Patou Pour Homme is a sacred cow if ever there was one.[...] KEEP ON READING

Absolue d’Osmanthe Eau de Parfum — Perris Monte Carlo

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The Osmanthus, or Osmanthus fragrans, is a flower famously associated with the Chinese provinces of Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan as well as Taiwan and Southern Japan.  In fact, it is the city flower of Guilin, the beautiful city by the Li River, whose name actually means “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus.”   Osmanthus is famed for its fragrant flowers which have a strong, sweet fruity scent often associated with smell of peaches or apricots.

With its strong ties to the lore of the Orient, the Osmanthus fragrance note is often paired with tea notes like Oolong (Providence Perfume Company’s Osmanthus Oolong) or Yunnan (Elléna’s Osmanthe Yunnan for Hermès).  However, given its Far East associations, Osmanthus is used in a surprisingly large number of perfumes (Basenotes lists over 400 perfumes containing the note) across a wide spectrum—it is even successfully paired with oud (Tom Ford’s Oud Fleur, Mona di Orio’s Oudh Osmanthus and Xerjoff’s Oud Stars), which, given the current craze for oud fragrances, comes as no surprise.  Given its distinctive nature, it adapts well to the soliflore category, like a The Different Company’s Osmanthus and Absolue d’Osmanthe.[...] KEEP ON READING

A Rose Is a Rose Is a… Snob.

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Flowers & Trees

By 1952, the world was getting its mojo back.   World War II was a memory, much of the world was enjoying an economic upturn and Cadillacs were rolling off the production line faster than ever.  So what if the cold war was in full swing?  Vodka sales skyrocketed.  The 1950s, especially in America, are remembered for the youth culture of sock hops, poodle skirts and drive-ins but the truly stylish women—especially in Europe– were wearing strict tailleurs and sumptuous gowns.  Pulling off a Charles James or Dior ball gown required a whole lot of attitude; proud, haughty and smug, the fashion mavens of the day were snobs.  Beautiful, soignée snobs with scents to match.[...] KEEP ON READING

Bell, Book and Candle…. and Sortilège.

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It’s such an ancient pitch
But one I wouldn’t switch
‘Cause there’s no nicer witch than you

After the monumental success of Chanel’s aldehyde-laden floral, le monstre No. 5, every French perfumer en valeur son sel rushed to put out his or her own.  Some were successful, some not.  Le Galion nose Paul Vacher knew a thing or two about this genre—he collaborated with André Fraysse to give the world Arpège in 1927.  By the 1930s, he was creating perfumes for his own house, Le Galion, and presented the world with Sortilège in 1937.  Sortilège, which means “sorcery” in French, was a huge hit for Le Galion—arguably their most famous perfume and the anchor tenant to their perfume empire which included classics like Brumes (1939), Special for Gentlemen (1947), Snob (1952) and Whip (1953).[...] KEEP ON READING

When the Whip Comes Down

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Perfumery has long had a (sometimes prurient) fascination with flagellation.  Fragrances with names like Coup de Fouet (Caron), Cravache (Robert Piguet), and Riding Crop (Demeter) all suggest the menacing danger and pain of the lash.  There are no less than three called whip—Whip (Black Phoenix Alchemy), Whips and Roses (Kerosene) and Whip (Le Galion).

The act of whipping evokes images of cruelty: slavery, abuse and sadism.  From Jesus Christ to Kunta Kinte the whip has inflicted punishment.  Pleasure, too, is associated with its sting, as illustrated by the character of Séverine in Luis Buñuel’s 1967 film Belle de Jour.  The riding crop—a whip in miniature—has been wielded by villains and equestrians in equal measure and in fact is used in advertisements for Guerlain’s Habit Rouge.[...] KEEP ON READING

Harmony and Me–We’re Pretty Good Company

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Parisian Niche House The Harmonist Opens Doors in Feng Shui-Compliant Los Angeles

It was with some trepidation—and excitement—that I entered the beautiful Los Angeles boutique of The Harmonist, a Paris-based niche perfume house using the ancient Asian concept of Feng Shui as its creative brief.  I mean, I am a middle-aged Aries with a penchant for powerhouse masculines and an inability to tolerate Bikram yoga—just how harmonious am I going to get?

The boutique is in trendy Melrose Place (the only other location besides their Avenue George V flagship) and is truly beautiful.  Sleek, pared down luxury completely realized in black and white (the Yin and Yang about which much more is to come) only relieved by the green of counter tops in precious malachite and plants growing in hanging glass terraria.  The Paris-trained staff, led by the amiable and knowledgeable Erasmo and Bobbi (also in pared down, luxurious black and white attire), patiently take you through the complex, yet simple, inspiring world that is The Harmonist.[...] KEEP ON READING

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