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Jean Desprez

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

Amouage Epic Woman: Made to Make Your Mouth Water

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Science & Technology
Chinese Black Dragon – Images

Anybody here remember Opal Fruits? The tagline was: “Made to make your mouth water” – and sure enough whenever an ad for those tangy, sherbet-y little suckers came on TV, my mouth would begin pumping out saliva. Like Pavlov’s dog.

Well, I just have to glance at my dark green bottle of Amouage Epic Woman for my mouth to start to water. Like pickles, umeboshi (Japanese salted plums) and sourpatch gummies, there is an almost physical pleasure to be had in their wincingly tart flavor. It is a credit to Amouage that Epic Woman contains so many piquant green notes and still manages to be so inviting. It smells like something pickled in brine! And yet sweet! KEEP ON READING

Songe d’Un Bois en Ete: The Aftermath of Sex

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Guerlain’s Songe d’Un Bois en Ete smells like the musky, animal, pungent aftermath of sex.

Putting sex in a perfume is notoriously difficult, because human sexuality is, by its very nature, a moving target – impossible to define with any accuracy. For the most part, therefore, it gets translated into perfume form through a number of abstractions – cumin, honey, cardamom, musk, leather notes, labdanum – all standing in to mimic the smells and secretions we produce during sex.

Some perfumes smell like the lead-up to sex, like Absolue Pour Le Soir, with its heavy honey and cumin mimicking sweaty arousal, or moments of unwashed intimacy, like Muscs Khoublai Khan, with its creamy, dark musk. Some use civet, like the vintage Bal a Versailles EDC I have, which is so suggestive of an entire ballroom full of horny dandies starting to get it on that it remains hidden in the darkest recesses of my wardrobe, waiting in vain for an appropriate occasion. KEEP ON READING

Ubar by Amouage: Some Other Woman’s Skin

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ubar_womanUbar by Amouage is a shimmering floral mélange so massively radiant that its heat signature can probably be picked up from outer space. Like its progenitors in the grand old French perfumery tradition, Chanel No. 5, Joy, and Arpege, the floral accords are so complex and blended to the point of abstraction that it becomes a guessing game as to what flowers exactly you are smelling. It just smells like a thousand different flowers (all of them hellishly expensive) gave up their life for a greater cause. KEEP ON READING

Mazzolari Lui: Raging Beast or Purring Pussycat?

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beast grafiti

Mazzolari Lui is crazy sexy good. Yes, ok, technically it’s a men’s perfume (“Lui” means “Him” in Italian) and if you read the often hilarious reviews for this online, you will see an awful lot of male reviewers using words such as “virile”, “masculine” and “testosterone” which is akin to putting up big, neon signs reading, “Wimmen Folk Turn Back Now!” and pissing around it to demarcate the territory.

One review in particular on Basenotes had me writing to my friend, Sjorn, at Essenza Nobile, begging for a sample of Mazzolari Lui straight away. Written by a guy called Montagne, it opens with possibly the best first sentence ever written about a perfume: KEEP ON READING

MAAI by Bogue: Bridge between the Past and the Future

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MAAI

There is a road that stretches exactly 674 kilometers from Rimini on the North-East coast of Italy up through the Alps to Zurich, in Switzerland. This journey, were you to make it by car, would take you seven hours to complete, and by the end of it, you would have taken in most of the independent and artistic perfume making that still exists in Europe today. We are talking here about small, mostly self-taught perfumers who, instead of designing according to briefs set by the big fragrance conglomerates, create perfumes that take big, bold leaps into the dark and are limited only by the outer boundaries of their imaginations. KEEP ON READING

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