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Timeless Treasures and Newfound Gems: Editor's Selection

fragrances mixed

Everything old is new again, as they say. Creativity is a curious thing. Like all good and enduring things, the timeless proves its timelessness – as forgotten favourites returned to the fore, alongside new fragrances that have joined the range.

This is the theme of this post: a celebration of favourites whether they are old or new – because what is good must always and eternally be interesting, no matter what.

In With The New: Fragrant Discoveries

Bon Monsieur from Rogue is a steady force - a sturdy gentleman’s fragrance that draws upon distinctive yet familiar comforts: aromatic top notes and sizzling citrus fruits, warm ambers - all the hallmarks of traditional masculinity. Bon Monsieur satisfies as it works with all of these key ingredients, pulling the retro out from its confines. It is a generous fragrance that reaches out with the smiling power of lavender absolute and the crisp clean of geranium. Oakmoss in the base becomes an embrace, and the secret to the scent's tenacity, longevity, and sillage. It smoothens the point of lavender, refining its agrestic charm. Bon Monsieur is a barbershop dream.

Rogue Perfumery shares many of our values  - timeless elegance, rich with the charm of yesteryear. These are fragrances made by a lover of vintage perfumes and retro taste - and we love everything Manuel Cross is doing. 

Bois Imperial from Essential Parfums is the absolute standout of the year, which captures the essence of the woods category. A melange of woody and herbal notes becomes a potent fluid at the perfect point of adequacy, thereby able to offer everything without falling into the superfluous. From a technical perspective, it is faultless. Cedar, patchouli, and vetiver impressions are abstracted, forming a single vertical line as if painted in a dark black ink. And yet, this ink shimmers and sparkles - it is at once solid yet translucent, the near-impenetrability of its black colour hosts Thai basil, pepper, and even floral overtones. This fragrance sings and charms, and instils in me a confidence in artistic forms of perfumery that exceeds mere representation, going beyond nature, thanks to synthetics.

We're thrilled to offer a concentrated range of Bruno Fazzolari's fragrances, which is the culmination of intense creativity and considered effort - charged with the necessary force of passion. I adore every fragrance from FZOTIC: without fail, Ummagumma continues to speak to my heart - its intense dose of tobacco, tonka bean absolute, cacao, incense, and labdanum is the sticky fragrance of my dreams without falling into an oppressive or obstructive texture. It is positively dizzying and hedonistic. Feu Secret, in contrast, speaks to the brain. It is artistic contradiction, exploiting hot and cold effects thanks to the innate paradox that is iris root (orris). Feu Secret is a fire made not from wood, but roots, which is a fantasy of cool flames and clean smoke - the quiet scent of an aged and languorous earth. Mesmerising.

Our biggest project this year was Zoologist, an immense range dedicated to the art of olfactory storytelling. Creatures and critters, from the winged, hooved, furred, and the barbed becomes figures for tales told in scent. There are many favourites, from Bee, Squid, and T-Rex, but Dodo (Jackfruit Edition) was a surprise. A yellow-tinged tropical burst begins: this juxtaposition of outrageous fruit with a sober fougere base wins me over. It is properly serious, composed in a most traditional manner that almost risks the cliché, with a generosity of lavender, geranium, orange blossom, and white musks - and yet all of this is nakedly illuminated in sunlight. This creature dashes through a dusty and warm earth strewn with flowers, exotic fruits, and herbs. I look more closely and find tonka bean, its earthy and hay-like freshness the conduit between fruit and fougere - and it wins me over every time.

Finally, we turn out noses to Bouge Profumo. For the uninitiated and the unfamiliar, Bogue might present something of a shock - sturdy perfumes with long and classical drydowns. For those nostalgic about vintage perfumery, Bogue is a satisfying experience. Rich with naturals and unafraid of overdose and growl, perfume Antonio Gardo certainly operates within a unique mode. From the French, Bogue translates as ‘bug’ - like an error in a computing system - and we like to think that this comes to mean a disruption of the programmatic. A rich proportion of naturals will do this immediately, which demands patience for a rewarding wearing experience.

Consider MEM, a lavender like no other - it they mean it. Without typecast or overt precedent, MEM transforms the ingredient as it journeys it through styles and combinations seldom explored. That said, it all makes sense - lavender is exposed to the earth, to clay, metal, and humus, tweaked with fruity notes and malty notes, incense notes and animalic ones. It takes what is so familiar to us and transforms it to a point of near unrecognisability, until it falls back into something that feels perfectly right. MEM is undoubtably an experience.

Rediscovering Forgotten Favourites

Taste tends to do everything it can to keep itself from being bored - which makes rediscovery all the more satisfying.

Oud perfumes have never spoken to me in any significant way, which have always seemed to work against my character more than anything else. In this sense, I gloss over them, which never do them justice as they need time to develop on the skin. My experience with Heeley's Agarwoud was that of a trial and tribulation - its reserved and quiet nature underplayed its character, whilst the emblematic force of its oud always drew me away. How wrong I was!

The question of oud is a question of presentation: Heeley's unmistakable form does justice to the oud note, operating on the premise of negative space - in which a generosity surrounds the namesake note. Oud is unshakably the subject of this fragrance, as adornment occurs in its negative space. Heeley is respectful perfumery. This is an oud that features only the essentials. It pays attention to architectural form, guided first and foremost by the natural structure of the note. Its drydown is long and appealing.

Etat Libre d'Orange is a bona fide feature of the range, and I've been enjoying Jasmin et Cigarette on and off for a solid decade. Rediscovering this fragrance is like reuniting with a best friend - no matter how much time has passed, it's like you've never missed a beat. Its memorable personality - defined by its technical and aesthetic contrasts continues to enchant. The purest jasmine, tinged with apricot, encounters a delectably profane tobacco note. After a brief moment of hesitation, it is clear: these notes belong together.

Finally - I dive deep into the catalogue and find Duro (Nasomatto), which, after some time, I perceive with a refreshed perspective. The hard and often brutal maximalism of Alessandro Gualtieri occasionally overshadows a technical genius unafraid of overdose, producing new aesthetic results in consequence. Duro celebrates the power of the smooth yet bold cashmeran molecule, intensely dosed at ~25% and shaded with coarse cedarwood and supple-powdery musk aromatics. Cashmeran is unmistakably a wood note, a bit of everything but nothing exclusively - the density of sandalwood, the darkness of oud, the sensual curve of cedar - it has an incredibly soft feeling with balsamic qualities, all of this helped along the way with touches of incense and labdanum. Power, yes, but amongst this - surprising softness.