Perfumers to the British Royals Penhaligon's have just this year celebrated their 145th anniversary in the biz, so it can be said they know a thing or two about toiletries! With a timeline just about as vast as a Dr Who DVD box set, Penhaligon's have been perfuming people around the planet for night on a century and a half. Quercus (launched 1996) places a bookmark firmly between the pages of the 90's... it is a standout unisex scent that typifies the era; a time of genderless androgyny and simplicity. It can perhaps be said that Quercus is the CK One of the posh perfume populace (and I mean that in a good way)!
Much like the CK creation that stood iconic in the 90's, Quercus is a gratifying scent for both men and women – one built solidly on citrus. Top notes of Amalfi lemon, lime, bergamot and mandarin shimmer in a brisk, cool lagoon of jasmine and lily-of-the-valley... there is a sense of verdant greens and crisp fruits that just scream freshness and rejuvenation. But just before one begins to get the impression that Quercus is all ethereal fruit and flowers, a prickle of cardamom and a yellow-green ribbon of fragrant galbanum pull the composition earthward again. An oakmoss / santal base with musk and amber undertones gives the trail a distinctly chypre feel; all the while maintaining a sense of transparency and freshness.
Quercus may not be the most inventive Penhaligon's creation to date, but it is indeed a favourite amongst Penhaligon's aficionados who hanker for it's breezy, crisp-white-shirt appeal.
A soft, understated classic that should not be ignored.
No-one does decadence and refined excess better than Tom Ford. In years gone by, he has left his fingerprint firmly on both the Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent fashion and perfume portfolios, but in 2005 under the Estee Lauder umbrella, Ford went on to announce the creation of his very own brand. His first feminine fragrance Black Orchid was an instant hit, so Ford went on to design a male counterpart; Tom Ford for Men, along with it's deliciously intense version; Tom Ford Extreme.
Tom Ford Extreme rests at the pinnacle of Tom Ford fragrances. Much like the its female partner in crime Black Orchid, Extreme is composed of lip-smacking accords and components of the highest quality. Mysterious and captivating, this masculine scent has a flight of Persian lemon and black Italian fig, which dances over a sophisticated heart of black truffle, oriental spices, and black plum. Extreme feels incredibly rich, worldly and civilized... its dry down is a head-turning blend of vetiver, caramel, vanilla, precious woods, leather and incense. It is seductive, complex and commanding.
Tom Ford Extreme promises male glamour but without being flashy and gaudy. Perhaps the perfect fragrance to wear to black tie events, it can just as easily be worn at the office, or on electrifying nights out with your girl (or boy)!
Very few masculines these days have this much heft and presence... its definitely one to covet!
In 2003 - under the guardianship of in-house nose Jean-Claude Ellena - Hermès invited us to stroll through a garden in the Mediterrannean; Ellena's first olfactory exploration in the Jardins perfume series. Since then, we have been taken to examine the garden oases of southern Egypt; the fragrant lawns of India after the monsoon; the verdant green of a rooftop Garden in Paris, and now - in 2015 - Ellena takes us for a stroll in a perfectly manicured Chinese garden... Le Jardin de Monsieur Li.
The flight of this perfume is a bright citrus with an unusual aromatic green undercurrent... it dances between notes of bittersweet kumquat and jade-colored aquatic accords. There exists a sense of balance and refinement right from the outset... a curious symmetry between components that feels effortless and precise; Ellena's very own Chinese 'masterstock', perhaps. Jasmine is listed amongst the olfactory notes declared on the outer packaging, and indeed one can find it there, but there appears to be an assortment of flowers that are not mentioned in the accompanying pyramid; rose? peony? magnolia? Again, Ellena has woven them all into the tapestry of this perfume with such mastery, that they are difficult to distinguish. The overall feeling however, is one of tenderness, filtered light, and an accomplished marriage of the elements, earth, water and air.
Monsieur Li feels incredibly diaphanous - as thin as Chinese rice-paper lanterns, and as semi-transparent as blooms of coloured ink dropped on wet watercolour paper. Over the hours, it tapers into a fine mist of clean musk and blonde woods.
As far as the Jardins series goes, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li takes up residence comfortably amongst it's older siblings and feels very much a part of the broader picture. Collectively, Ellena's Jardins creations form an aria to genderless perfection, each with a proficient sense of lightness and harmony.