Frederic Malle & Alber Elbaz Superstitious

Alber Elbaz with Yves Saint Laurent in 1999. Source:

Superstitious is the latest fragrance from Frédéric Malle, created in conjunction with the great couturier, Alber Elbaz. Monsieur Elbaz is perhaps best known for his stunning work at Lanvin in the 2000s, but what is less well-known is that he had his start when Yves Saint-Laurent‘s partner, Pierre Bergé, handpicked him in the late 1990s to take the helm of that august fashion house where he successfully carried on the Maestro’s style, albeit with his own twist.

Alber Elbaz’s signature, The Little Black Dress, for Lanvin. Collage: my own, from photos via Pinterest and Vogue Paris.

At first glance, this might seem to be nothing more than an irrelevant factoid or bit of biographical background, meaningful only to those of us, like myself, who continue to worship Monsieur Saint Laurent (a god, a total fashion god!) because, let’s face it, there is usually no olfactory connection between a couture house’s design style and how their perfumes actually smell.

Superstitious, however, is a rare exception. You could have knocked me over with a spoon when I tried it because the early hours of the scent reflect not only Monsieur Elbaz’s sleek, bold, streamlined, seamless, and incredibly sophisticated personal design aesthetic but also, and above all else, the Yves Saint Laurent olfactory signature as exemplified by its early floral-aldehydic fragrances like (vintage) Rive Gauche and Y. Superstitious was intentionally created to be both vintage and modern in feel, but where it stands out for me is in its early hours when it is a perfect rendition of the grand old style of the YSL classics. I’m unenthused by the fragrance’s second chapter when the Ropion olfactory signature kicks in and Superstitious dissolves into something wholly modern, structureless, and excessively clean, but those early hours were the boldest that I’ve seen from a Malle fragrance in a long, long time.

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Orlov Paris Orlov & Flame of Gold

In the second part of my look at Orlov Paris‘ debut collection, I thought we’d look at Dominique Ropion‘s woody oriental parfum, Flame of Gold, and the floral, Orlov. The latter was not a success on my skin, so let’s start there.


Orlov Orlov via Luckyscent.

Orlov’s Orlov via Luckyscent.

According to Luckyscent, Orlov’s namesake fragrance is built around:

Bergamot, jasmine, tuberose, orange blossom, vanilla, white musk

Orlov opens on my skin with clean, fresh, green-white flowers drizzled with crisp bergamot, sweet vanilla, and lemony musk. The flowers are faceless at first but rapidly turn into gauzy, non-indolic, syrupy orange blossoms. Within moments, their bright, sweet juices swirl around the lemony accords, making me think of a fruit salad, but in a good way. It’s a fresh, almost summery brightness that takes the edge off any acidity from the various lemony notes. But what really captures my attention is the vanilla accord. It rapidly takes on a very custardy quality that is appealing and works well with the bright fruit.

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Orlov Paris Star of The Season & Cross of Asia

The Star of the Season diamond. Souce:

The Star of the Season diamond. Source:

The most famous gems in the world are the inspiration behind a relatively new perfume house, Orlov Paris, and its debut collection. Unlike many other brands that use jewels as marketing hyperbole, the link here is a personal and logical one. As Orlov’s website explains, its founder, Ruth Séry, comes from a family that has been in the diamond business for generations, and she herself seems to be both a diamond cutter and diamond dealer in Antwerp.

But she is also a perfume lover, and, when she learnt that all her favourite fragrances were made by the same man, she “told herself that if ever she founded her own fragrance house, she would work with Dominique Ropion. No one else would do.” He agreed to create five fragrances for her, each inspired by a different legendary gem, like the 100.10-carat “Star of the Season” or the 29-carat canary-yellow diamond called “Flame of Gold,” once owned by the Hollywood star, Greer Garson. All five are pure parfums (extrait de parfums), and were released in the fall of 2015.

Orlov fragrances. Photo source: Fragrantica.

Orlov fragrances. Photo source: Fragrantica.

Today, I’ll look at two of the five fragrances, Star of the Season and Cross of Gold, with Orlov and Flame of Gold to follow in the next post. In order to keep this review at a manageable length, I won’t provide the company’s official description for each scent in full as I usually do, merely the relevant portions regarding to the note list. I also won’t quote comparative reviews, but I will give you the general gist of people’s opinions on Fragrantica and a link for you to read their comments in full if you’re interested. So, let’s begin.

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Diptyque, Al Haramain, A Lab on Fire & Etat Libre d’Orange



The end of the year is always a crazy time, particularly in terms of new releases. I’m starting to have visions of a Leaning Tower of Pisa composed of sample vials toppling over and squashing me to death. I simply can’t keep up. It’s almost entirely my own fault because of the detailed, verbose way I approach my reviews, but there are also more and more fragrances being launched every year. According to Michael Edwards, author of Fragrances of the World, there were 1620 releases in 2014 as compared to 38 back in 1984. I’m sure there are even more this year — and it all seems to reach a crescendo during the holidays. I’m exhausted, both mentally and physically, and my stack of notes (some going back months and months) exceeds the number of proper, full reviews I can write before it’s time to do the year-end “Best of” lists.

As a result, for much of this week, I’ll be posting rapid-fire mini reviews, starting today with Diptyque‘s new Oud Palao and Essences Insensées 2015Al Haramain‘s Najm Gold and Atifa Blanche attars, A Lab on Fire‘s new Mon Musc à Moi by Dominique Ropion, and Etat Libre d’Orange‘s Remarkable People. They are all 2015 releases except for the Al Haramain attars. I’ll provide only the most basic information: note lists, and links to the company, a vendor, and/or Fragrantica for you to pursue later if you’re interested. The “reviews” themselves will be generalised overviews or nutshells. So, let’s get to it.

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