July 22 2014

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A Men’s Scent That Smells Even Better on Women


montblanc-emblem-fragranceTo spritz or not to spritz, that is the question. critic and perfume industry legend Luca Turin reviews the latest fragrance launches and answers this age-old question.

Name: Montblanc Emblem Notes: Cardamom, violet leaf, wood

When I was a student, on the “try everything once” principle I went spelunking with the university club, a truly miserable experience. I remember only two things: how good it was to see the damp grass and leaden sky of Yorkshire upon climbing out, and the wonderful smell of the old-fashioned acetylene lamps we carried that were strapped to our foreheads.

One of the great wonders of smell is that we can infer the composition of a molecule by smell alone. Acetylene has an unusual triple carbon-carbon bond and it—and all derived compounds—smells, well, acetylenic. In polite fragrance language, the smell is referred to as “violet leaf” so as not to offend sensibilities. Unfortunately, triple bonds are quite chemically reactive, and most have been banned or severely restricted by the ever-watchful authorities. Grey Flannel [1975] and the Original Fahrenheit [1988] made great use of the sharp, metallic tang of triple bonds.

It appears either that one of the violet leaf compounds has escaped regulation or that a perfumer has figured out a way to get the same effect without using them, because the violet leaf note in Emblem is both intense and durable. This is a masculine fragrance, of course, and it comes in a beautiful black bottle that looks like the cap of a titanic fountain pen. On a guy, it would probably be a little too Porsche Design “black is the new black” for my taste. But it will work great on a woman, as a chaser for the nauseating meringues everyone else is doing, and to advertise an unrepentantly dry-eyed disposition.


For another review from Turin’s bimonthly column, click here.

Orange Crush: Cool Down and Lather Up With These Beach-House-Worthy Bath Products


atlelier-cologneNo one does elegant citrus scents quite like Atelier Cologne. The Paris-based fragrance company conceived in New York is forever re-imagining traditional zesty colognes with modern, quirky ingredients, such as basil and rum. The resulting blends are so completely hypnotic that you might want to bathe in them…and now you can. The maison recently introduced its Orange Sanguine Treatment Line composed of a Body and Hair Shower Gel, Moisturizing Body Lotion, and soap. Scented with the same luscious assortment of notes found in its cult favorite Orange Sanguine Cologne—Italian blood orange and red mandarin, Egyptian jasmine, and sandalwood among them—the nourishing range contains natural botanical glycerin to hydrate the skin, while the lotion is further boosted with vitamin-rich apricot kernel oil to defend against free-radical damage. As temperatures soar, consider these refreshing, fruity creations the sensory equivalent of hiking the Amalfi Coast—minus the backpack and blisters.

Photo: Courtesy of

The Most Glamorous Bug Spray, Well, Ever



Denim cutoffs? Check. Patriotic manicure? Check. Bug spray? Ugh…check. Fourth of July is just around the corner, and before heading out to celebrate around the barbecue, a generous misting of mosquito repellent is essential—lest you’re OK with waking up the next morning covered in millions of bites. (Hi, me last year.) And when I didn’t think there could be anything glamorous or luxe about lacing myself liberally with pest poison, Aromaflage, a botanical (read: completely DEET-free) fragrance that doubles as insect repellent, arrived on my desk. With notes of vanilla, citrus, and warm cedarwood, the scent smells fresh and sweet—ideal for cozying up next to your summer fling for some fireworks-gazing. I know what you’re thinking: But doesn’t a fruity fragrance actually attract bloodsucking vermin? Not this one. The essential oils, native to Southeast Asia, are derived from plants and fruits that naturally fend off insects. Bonus: The purse-sized, gold-capped vial looks just like a luxurious eau de parfum—no bulky, bold-lettered bottle here. Needless to say, I’ll be toting around this dual-action eau long after the stars-and-stripes action is over.


Dior’s Art of Perfume Arrives in Shanghai



The Miss Dior exhibit that opened last November at the Grand Palais in Paris has found its way East—flinging open its doors once again, this time at the Sculpture Palace in Shanghai. Inspired by the house’s fragrance of the same name, the installation, open through July 20, features fifteen female artists who interpreted the iconic eau through various mediums (including jewelry and sculpture). And in addition to the original set of contributors, Chinese photographer Liu Lijie created a triptych titled Fan Fan specifically for the Shanghai expo that mimics the gust of wind and three subsequent moments a fan would create, as well as interprets the structure of the Miss Dior blend (top, heart, and base accords).


Similar to how all the artists were given carte blanche to let their creativity run wild, the same can be said for house nose François Demachy and the newly launched range of Les Extraits comprised of five signature scents (Poison, Miss Dior, J’adore, Diorissimo, and Miss Dior Original). This is the “highest level of perfume,” explained Demachy, as the extraits are more “powerful, rich, and extreme” than your typical eau de toilette or parfum (hence the reason the bottles are shrunken in size). Though each fragrance is undoubtedly distinctive, Demachy revisited each classic and infused it with the Rose de Mai note. And for such a precious range of perfumes, no ordinary bloom would do. The rare roses found in the extraits (300,000 flowers are required to produce one kilo of absolute) are grown exclusively for Dior by two farms in Grasse, with the harvest overseen by Demachy himself. “It’s like wine. For instance, you have many different and many good wines, but you only have one Château d’Éclépens. And the same goes for the rose. You can have a rose from Turkey, Bulgaria, and Morocco, but the place where Rose de Mai is [grown] is very, very special because first it’s rosa di centifolia—it’s different than the others.” The same attention to detail and craftsmanship is extended to the flacon, where the “Dior Atelier Ladies” seal each by hand using the traditional baudruche technique. We like to think of these mini masterpieces as olfactory couture—minus the six-figure price tag.

$175 each or $1,100 for a coffret of five;


Photos: Courtesy of Dior

The Ultimate French Combo: Perfume and Ballet Flats



In an effort to infuse our quotidian lives with the elegance of the ballet, Repetto—a Parisian brand known for being the premier maker of pointe shoes (traditionally for the danseuses of the Paris Opera Ballet) and ballet flats (for the rest of us)—is launching its very first fragrance. The über-feminine eau, fronted by Dorothée Gilbert (a prominent French prima ballerina), features a delicate mélange of rose and vanilla, along with pear and cherry-blossom accords. “I sought to achieve a hand-sown effect by combining a selection of luxurious and authentic raw ingredients,” says perfumer Olivier Polge. The blush-colored bottle—tied at the neck with the same satin ribbon that wraps around many dancers’ ankles—perfectly echoes the wall of La Carlotta pointe shoes in Repetto’s Paris flagship boutique. If you haven’t yet mastered an arabesque or perfected your plié, don’t sweat it, simply spritz to bring out your inner danseuse étoile…then buy a ticket for a night at the ballet.

Repetto Eau de Toilette, $75;