August 28 2014

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The Fab Five: The Nouveau Niche


With the onset of fall comes an influx of fragrances designed to woo you into sweater-wearing with a wealth of warm and cozy aromas (think: vanilla, musk, leather, woods, cinnamon, et al.). But the latest crop of scents from some of the perfumery industry’s niche stars might surprise you in their compositions. Predictably spring florals are given heady updates with new technologies and forward-thinking scent structures, while olfactory inspirations range from literature to the Ballets Russes; you gotta love the independent spirit. Here, we’ve picked our five favorites to get you through the season.

Orange Crush
L’Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l’Aube
While the French brand’s eaux are frequently inspired by travel, L’Artisan’s master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour was taken with the book The Perfume Lover, a tale of romance and fragrance by Denyse Beaulieu, this time around. Set during holy week in Seville, Andalusia, it depicts incense burners imbuing the southern Spanish city with a spicy aroma that mingles with the sweetness of orange flower tree-lined streets. Duchaufour’s spritzable version, which includes top notes of tangy green sap and rare infusions of Luiseiri lavender that are reminiscent of more classic eau de cologne, is mixed with an intoxicating jasmine accord and beeswax for an incredibly rich, fresh-tinged finish.

Green Giant
Ineke Ruhland Hothouse Flower: Gardenia
After training at Quest International, a fragrance house that was ultimately acquired by Givaudan, the Canadian Dutch-born Ruhland set up her own perfume studio in San Francisco in 2006, where she launched an alphabetical-themed lineup of botanical-based scents. She’s now up to H, for which she has released Hothouse Flower: Gardenia. “It’s really hard to get a good gardenia,” says Ruhland, pointing out that absolutes of the white flower are often blends of tuberose with green notes, which she’s done here to perfection. “Mine is super green,” she professes of the galbanum, cypress, fig, and frankincense-spiked scent.

Root for the Home Team
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Amyris for Women
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who knows fragrance ingredients like Francis Kurkdjian. The perfume phenom who churned out a series of hits for Acqua di Parma and the houses of Gaultier and Rodriguez before launching his own maison in 2009 has a knack for bottling the extraordinary. His latest offering does just that. Amyris features the pairing of an earthy resin from the Jamaican amyris tree with a complex, powdery extraction from the root of the Florentine Iris pallida, an incredibly rare raw material that gives this sophisticated elixir a surprising brightness more commonly found in spring offerings (and often longed for during those cold, long months of winter).

Deer Season
Etat Libre d’Orange Afternoon of the Faun
“I take a different approach to storytelling to get something different into the bottle,” says Etat Libre d’Orange founder Etienne de Swardt, who believes there is a certain “existentialism” to each of his creations, including his latest, Afternoon of the Faun. The rose and myrrh of Namibia-heavy chypre that is purposefully devoid of patchouli is an homage to Ballets Russes choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, whose erotic interpretation of Claude Debussy’s overture of the same name about a lustful faun trying in vain to seduce a group of nymphs sent shockwaves through Paris’ cultural establishment when it debuted in 1912. The fragrance, which also boasts notes of bergamot, cinnamon, incense, immortal flower, and benzoin, was a collaboration between the brand and transgender performance artist Mx. Justin Vivian Bond.

Flower Power
Penhaligon’s Peoneve
An ode to an exquisite English garden, brimming over with the aroma of blossoming flowers, perfumer Olivier Cresp’s latest for the British brand puts peony in the spotlight. The petal-heavy bloom’s sweet scent is tempered by hints of violet leaf absolute, Bulgarian rose, hedione, vetiver, and musk, and is the perfect complement to an endless summer mindset.

Photo: Courtesy of



  1. Citygirlinred says:

    I love floral scents, but lately I’ve been obsessed with Orange Blossoms, so fresh and clean…

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