Today, I’ll look at three of the new fragrances, Matière Noire, Turbulences, and Contre Moi. In the next post, I’ll cover Mille Feux and Dans La Peau. So, let’s get straight to it.
Tom Ford‘s Orchid Soleil is meant to be a new sibling to his popular Black Orchid and Velvet Orchid series of fragrances, but it doesn’t feel like it to me. The choice of the word “Soleil” in the new fragrance’s title is no mere coincidence, in my opinion, because Orchid Soleil has far more in common with Tom Ford’s recent Soleil Blanc for much of the first half of its life than anything redolent of Black Orchid. There is a token nod to the latter when a highly modified, toned-down version of its black truffle and chocolate accord appears via “chestnut cream” (or, to be precise, patchouli vanilla) late in Orchid Soleil’s development, but the connection between the two fragrances is attenuated. If that’s the reason why you’re interested in Orchid Soleil, you’d do better to lower your expectations, if not put it out of your mind entirely. Actually, I don’t think you should have high expectations for Orchid Soleil at all.
A song of fire and ice, to use George R.R. Martin’s words, is one way to describe Sarrasins, Serge Lutens‘ legendary animalic jasmine bell jar fragrance, but it is only the start. White flowers are stained purple, then given a fiery (carnation) bite that is also icy at the same time. Sweetness and a touch of girlie femininity come with a snarled lip and haughty contempt, cloaked in tough black (castoreum) leather. Delicate powder is juxtaposed with feral civet. Thick purple grapes and pink bubblegum that evoke an almost Andy Warhol-style of Pop Art run through flowers that bear a gothic feel at times. All of it, somehow, unexpectedly, works well together, and all of it repeatedly makes me think of Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones and the progression of her character.
Amouage‘s new Myths for Women was not what I had expected. There was the welcome, happy surprise of carnation as its driving focus, instead of the litany of white florals that have dominated so many of the brand’s recent releases. Red but drenched with greenness, hot but chilly, the carnation was a beautiful note that took me even further off guard with the way its companions — my ultimate green nemeses, violet leaf and galbanum — somehow recreated a passing impression of one of my favourites, hyacinth, from its liquid floralcy to the venomous bitterness of its sap. It’s a brief and wholly impressionistic touch, but I was delighted. Equally unexpected, but far less welcome, was Myths’ persistent dryness and diffuse sheerness, two things which I think characterize the Opus Collection’s aesthetic as opposed to the regular line whose women’s fragrances exemplified oriental opulence and full-bodied richness, or at least they did, once upon a time. As a whole, both Myths, the Women’s and the Men’s (which I’ll cover in the next review) feel like the continuation of Christopher Chong’s style of perfumery, moving Amouage away from its Franco-Arabian and vintage-style roots into something purely Western and modern. How you feel about that will depend on your tastes and expectations.