Tom Ford Bitter Peach & Rose Prick

Bitter Peach and Rose Prick are the newest additions to Tom Ford‘s Private Blend collection. Bitter Peach was simultaneously exactly what I had expected it to be and, yet, also less than. You see, I had some happy expectations because I really do enjoy a good, juicy peach, but I’ve also long learnt to temper my expectations with fragrances from his house over the last five or six years. Bitter Peach essentially falls exactly where I thought it would. Rose Prick, however, surprised me a little because my expectations going in were minimal to negative, especially as I’m not a rose fan. Since I expected to hate it, it’s probably not surprising that I thought it was better than expected.

Be that as it may, there are several reasons why I don’t think either fragrance is worth buying, not unless you have money to burn and are truly obsessed with the largely simplistic bouquets that, throughout their development, are generally dominated by only a two or three notes.

Bitter Peach and Rose Prick. Collage: my own. Original photos: Tom Ford.

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January Scent Project: John Biebel, Smolderose, Selperniku & Eiderantler

There is an exciting, bright new talent on the perfume scene, John Biebel, a man who reminds me a bit of Slumberhouse‘s Josh Lobb in his creative, bold, unusual, and very modern voice, a man who has quietly released two of the most accomplished and striking fragrances of 2017 and a third pretty one. They demonstrate a remarkably deft mastery of complex fragrance structures, an eye for good quality raw materials, and an innate talent but, above all else, his fragrances feel authentically original. Like Mr. Lobb (and also Serge Lutens), Mr. Biebel has the rare ability to combine unusual notes or aromas that might sound odd on paper but, thanks to his talent and skill, come across in the most interesting ways that leave you sniffing your arm again and again, wondering why no-one had thought of the idea before. At other times, though, he takes a classical composition and manages to make it feel modern and fresh but also dramatic. In both instances, I think that the result is bound to be somewhat polarizing, but then original, thought-provoking, impactful, and sometimes challenging fragrances usually are.

John Biebel via his site, januaryscent.com

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Slumberhouse Kiste: Southern Melodies

Gone with the Wind and Light in August, Kiste takes you straight into the heart of the American deep South. It’s the latest fragrance from Josh Lobb of Slumberhouse, released today without fanfare or advance press, and it is utterly beautiful. In fact, it is my favorite creation from Slumberhouse to date, and the first one that I would buy for myself.

Gone with the Wind image. Source: wildbell.com

Gone with the Wind image. Source: wildbell.com

Kiste is a deeply evocative fragrance, but I can’t make up my mind if it evokes Gone with the Wind or one of William Faulkner’s set pieces. The meticulously balanced composition has the genteel qualities of Tara, conjuring images of Scarlett O’Hara sipping sweet tea and eating a peach cobbler on the plantation veranda, as Rhett Butler smokes a honey-laden cheroot and takes a swig of bourbon under a honeysuckle tree.

1935 photo by Walker Evans,  Library of Congress FSA/OWI Collection, via southernstudies.org

1935 photo by Walker Evans, Library of Congress FSA/OWI Collection, via southernstudies.org

Yet, Kiste also has an underlying ruggedness, a pronounced muskiness, and a tiny streak of masculine rawness as well, even though the fragrance is far too perfectly balanced for it to ever verge on brutish strength. Something about the mix creates a sense of underlying earthy darkness, subtle though it may be. But it’s enough to create a parallel image that is far removed from the sun-dappled sweetness of Gone with the Wind.

This other side of Kiste evokes the darker, grittier world of William Faulkner’s South (or Robert Flaherty’s Louisiana) where things are less pristine, less simple, less a land of sweet tea and peach pie. Here, the muskiness and earthiness that were such a big part of Light in August abound. The more animalistic strains of honey, the sensuous muskiness of a fleshy peach, the rawness of tobacco spittoon juice, and even spiced, dark earth all strain at the leash, threatening to spill over and darken Tara’s summer light like an eclipse. In the end, they don’t. What triumphs is a creamy sweetness and golden warmth that tame the musky darkness, as though the South’s gentler side had overcome. The result is so comforting, so delicious, I feel like saying, “Bless my stars,” and “Frankly, my dear, I do give a damn.”

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Von Eusersdorff: Classic Mimosa, Orange, Myrrh & Vetiver

Camille Henfling of Von Eusersdorff.

Camille Henfling of Von Eusersdorff.

Von Eusersdorff is a Dutch-based perfume house that is run by the descendents of German immigrants with roots dating back to the 15th century and who are now inspired by the vibrancy of New York City. According to the company’s website, the original Von Eusersdorffs ran an apothecary for three centuries, “dealing in rare perfume materials, spices and herbs.” The brand was reborn in 2010 as “Von Eusersdorff New York” under the direction of Camille Henfling-Von Eusersdorff, and its five eau de parfums finally became available in America a few months ago after being European exclusives.

I first tried a few of the fragrances last year at Jovoy, but didn’t have the time to give the full range a thorough assessment. Finding the scents in America turned out to be impossible, despite the “New York” part of their name. Then, several months ago, a very thoughtful, generous reader, “Petra,” kindly sent me samples of all the fragrances from German. About six weeks later, the perfumes became available in America, first at Twisted Lily and now at Indigo Perfumery. So, I thought it might be useful to briefly cover four of them — Classic Mimosa, Classic Orange, Classic Myrrh, and Classic Vetiver — leaving the fifth one, Classic Patchouli, for a comparative review with Lorenzo Villoresi‘s Patchouli.

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