Balmain‘s vintage Jolie Madame — an exquisite chypre that turns into a softly animalic floral leather then into a suede-like floral — was created by the legendary Germaine Cellier but it is not one of her creations that I hear people commonly talk about, unlike Bandit, Fracas or, to a comparatively lesser extent, Vent Vert. That’s a shame because I think that Jolie Madame has a heartbreaking tenderness and delicacy which I find largely missing in those bolder, more operatic masterpieces. In essence, Jolie Madame is like Chopin or Vivaldi, not Wagner or Beethoven.
Aquilaria Blossom is a collaboration between two of the top masters of oud fragrances and oud distillation, Russian Adam of Areej Le Doré (“ALD”) and Taha Syed of Agar Aura. It is a much lighter, more resinous, less oud-y, more amber-scentric fragrance (on my skin) than many of the things that I’ve tried from either brilliant auteur. That makes it a more approachable, easy-to-wear, and versatile scent in many ways, even if it comes across as more simplistic, linear, and less operatic in character on an olfactory level. I enjoyed it, particularly during its cozy, snuggalicious drydown phase.
Roses and oud are a combination tried a million-fold before, but Agar Aura sought to surpass all prior standards with Al-Jazzab, an extrait described as having even more indulgent, extravagant, wildly sumptuous roses than even Layali, his parfum that stunned me blind despite my not being keen on roses in perfumery.
Bortnikoff‘s Chypre du Nord is a modern twist on the traditional chypre formulation and structure. While it contains oakmoss, amber, and citrus, it lacks the floral and patchouli components which are also standard technical parts of the classical style established in the early 1900s by Coty and Guerlain. Instead, Siberian deer musk, nutmeg, birch tar leather, and Mitsouko-style peach abound. Let’s take a deeper look.