Friday, September 24, 2010

Sample Winner Euterpe

Hey guys! The winner of last week's draw for the sample of Euterpe is Tarleisio! Apologies for not having the time to post a screenshot of the randomizer I always use with the results, or any post this week - it's been CRAZY! I started an assistanship in research next to my master and I have to understand the project. I also started Japanese classes. Will I have time to do everything? I hope so! Anyway, that's a quick note from me this week. Hopefully more next week as I have more things to review waiting in my samples bags!

Tarleisio please mail me your details and I'll get the sample out to you by Wednesday or so!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Euterpe by Herr von Eden : Perfume Review & Sample Draw

I promised you something special for today and I just know you will be as enthusiastic about this amazing perfume as I have been to discover it! Essenza Nobile surprises me with three different samples each month. If I like any of them, I review them, if I don't, I simply don't write about them. So far, since this relationship started, there've been some months when I haven't had anything to write about, once or twice when two of the perfumes grabbed my attention and some months when one of the three was the winner. Never so far however have I been so impressed with all three perfumes. While I hope to find the time to review all three of this month's perfumes soon, I am starting with my absolute favorite of the three, Euterpe by Herr von Eden.

It is easy to get disillusioned as a perfume reviewer: trying to keep up with the countless perfumes out there as well as the legions of new releases each year means that for every rose you dip your nose in, four dozen piles of trash make their way to the same olfactory receptors to get your spirits down. After a while you end up having to think twice even for perfumes that are actually worth something. Every once in a while however something comes your way that is so amazingly good that it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Something that electrifies you, something that makes you think "Yes, this is what perfume is all about, God yes, this is why I love smelling perfumes so much, this is why I chase after that high everywhere I go, every chance I get!". Sound familiar? These are the gems, and let's admit it while we're at it, these are the shining slivers of beauty that drive our addiction. Euterpe is one such beacon of beauty and hope for me.

I'd never heard of Herr von Eden, but a little search revealed that it is the brand of Hamburg-based Bent Angelo Jenson, a German who started his business not with perfume, but with clothes - suits in particular. Originally catering to men, his company has now extended to female clientele with modern women's collections, edgy eyewear and jewelry. The brand now includes three different perfumes in simple, chunky, masculine, slate-grey flacons bearing elegant Greek names: Euterpe, the muse of lyrical poetry, literally meaning "the pleasure giver", Eros, the son of Aphrodite and god of sexual love and beauty, and Eclipse, which aside from the obvious astronomical event it refers to, literally means "absence", a ceasing to exist.

Now, will you also, like me, find it thrilling if I tell you that Euterpe, with the delightfully feminine name smells like an archetypical masculine perfume? Yes, on the Essenza Nobile website it is listed as a unisex fragrance, while the Herr von Eden website itself assumes a Sphinx-like silence and refuses to comment on either a gender or scent description of the perfume. The Essenza Nobile website also lists it as a "true fougere". Believe none of it! Euterpe is the paragon of oriental masculinity and not even a modern one at that: it already smells like a classic. And it does a fantastic job of it too. Intensely, yes, intensely virile from the first moment you spray it courtesy of a strong, naughtily dirty animalic undertone that refuses to subside until the moment the perfume fully expires from the skin, Euterpe smells of retro brashness, hunger for sex and power. It smells of a man that'd make you feel like the world would come to an end (but who cares...) if he locked you in an erotic embrace. In other words, it smells totally unfashionable. And so very me.

The listing of the perfume as a fougere, if not correct, becomes comprehendible when one attends to the top notes: bergamot, lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, coriander and grapefruit, especially in combination with the patchouli in the basenotes draw a typical chypre canvas (even as there is no moss to be found). Yes, this is a strong impression, but not the only one. Let me explain - this side, the masculine side if you will, provides the sharp toothed, sexy bite of the perfume, something you can appreciate entirely when you consider exactly what the combination of rosemary, pissy coriander, dirty patchouli and animalic base do... They are the aggressive seducers. Add to this the oudh (yes!) which plays both fields from the base and you get a pretty good idea. But that's not all... The other side of Euterpe blossoms and seduces with a mouth drenched in sweetness, using orange blossom (honeyed, tender, in this instance) as a driving engine and carnation (a million kudos for respecting the past), ylang ylang (ditto), rose (again) and cinnamon as catalysts. But as powerful a composition as this already is, it would be nothing without its gooey, warm, nay, smoldering center: Tonka bean, sandalwood, Siam benzoin and vanilla kiss the perfume with soft sweetness from the base. As it dries down the now ambery, vanillic Euterpe smells more and more like a comforting cashmere hug. Imagine Ormonde Jayne's Tolu, but more complex and multifaceted. This comparison should also make clear that the intense masculine edge slowly dies down with the dry-down, even as the animalic edge doesn't. Finally, this amazing oriental gains its wings as a unisex. But who gives a damn about gender distinctions when a perfume is this good?

I know you'll want to have a whiff of this amazing, complex, involved gem so I'm holding a draw! Simply leaving a comment means you automatically enter. Winner will be announced in a week's time, next Friday.
Have a good weekend!

Official Notes:
Head: Bergamot, Lavender, Rosemary, Lemongrass, Coriander, Orange Blossom, Grapefruit
Heart: Rose of Palma, Cinnamon, Rose, Carnation, Ylang Ylang, Clyclamen
Base: Sandalwood, Bezoe Siam, Patchouli, Vetiver grass, Cedar wood, Tonkabean, Vanilla, Oud

Price: 119€ for 100ml or 89€ for 50ml via Essenza Nobile's webshop.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Smelly Facts: The First Celebrity Scent?

Hello everyone! I've been busy getting into my new program (I've just started my Research Master and it's full on statistics all the way to June!) but I am preparing a review for an AMAZING fragrance I'd never heard of before for Friday (including contest for a sample)! For today though, I present you with another installment of Fragrance Bouquet's Smelly Facts, this time with a story I've been wanting to share with you ever since I came back from my vacation.

Celebrity scents are currently so very ubiquitous that new ones have come to elicit no more than an eye-roll and perhaps a tired, snide comment (deservedly so, might I add). The Celebuscent Phenomenon might truly only have come into its own in the past decade, but at the same time perfume enthusiasts are well aware of the fact that it is, after all, nothing new. One point of contention however is which was the celebrity scent that started it all. Blogs as well as fashion glossies have attributed the honor (?!) to various celebrities over the years: was it Michael Jackson? No, no, it was Cher! Was it Deneuve? No, Sophia Loren came before that, didn't she? Well, I've come across a particular excerpt that indicates that the first celebrity scent might have come much, much earlier that we all imagined after all. The year would be 1932; the celebrity in question, Colette.

Judith Thurman's astoundingly detailed biography of Colette (which made for a fabulous summer companion by the way) devotes only a few pages to Colette's entrepreneurial venture into the beauty world. However short though, the piece allows us to draw powerful comparisons between then and now: was such a celebrity venture regarded differently back then? The answer is no. Would the primary admirers of the brand then, as now, be the hardcore fans? The answer is a definite yes. Colette did not just launch a single scent, she went the whole proverbial hog and created a brand which she installed into an elegant, Art Deco decorated shop on the rue de Miromesnil, all against the worries of her loved ones (such as those of her last husband, Maurice) that it would "tarnish her image" as Thurman eloquently describes (Thurman, 1999, p. 394). The first products to be ready were a perfume and two tonics. Make-up and creams followed. From Thurman's writing, it transpires that Colette's venture in turn was inspired by the duchess Sforza, who owned an "elegant apothecary" from where she sold perfumes using her name and the prestige of her title to attract clientele. Similar tactics were used by Colette: her own profile decorated the labels of her products while her signature was used as the brand's logo. What followed after the launch of her brand was eerily similar to what happens today: the press, eagerly lapping up the story generated "50.000 francs worth of publicity" (idem, p. 395) for the new entrepreneur, while fans flooded the shop for a chance to sit in her beautician's chair and, of course, to have one of their books signed. At the same time, there was an enormous backlash and outrage, both from the press as well as from fans: Had Colette sold out? Yet more parallels between then and now: Other celebrities of the time would endorse her makeovers, which would in turn lead to appreciation from Colette herself who knew her fortune depended highly on the publicity she would get were the pretty young things of Parisian society to be seen entering or emerging from her shop. Whether it was due to the economic depression however, the fact that you should stick to what you know, the fact that the famous author expanded too fast (she opened two more branches in the same year, one in Saint-Tropez and another in Nantes), or perhaps a combination of all of the above, the enterprise failed by the middle of 1933, ending the prolific writer's break from her books.

Thurman, J. (1999). Secrets of the flesh; A life of Colette. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc