LM Parfums Army of Lovers

Opulent roses and animalic leather lie at the heart of Army of Lovers, the latest release from LM Parfums. Although it is ostensibly a chypre, Army of Lovers often feels more like a leather fragrance than one redolent of oakmoss. The greenness shimmers like a distant mirage, whilst all before you is musky leather that has been smeared with honey, sprinkled with spices, then nestled amongst some jammy roses in a stable. There is no getting around that last part, as this is one very dirty, raunchy leather that has a definite equine vibe for a good portion of its lifespan on my skin.

Source: Vanityfair.com  Photo lightly cropped by me horizontally.)

Jessica Chastain in Vanity Fair. Source: Vanityfair.com (Photo lightly cropped by me horizontally.)

In fact, Army of Lovers often reminded me of the old story about Camilla Parker-Bowles, now Duchess of Cornwall, who would allegedly go straight from riding her horse after a long day at the hunt to slipping on an expensive evening gown and attending a party, without a shower in-between. Yet, something about that shimmering oakmoss mirage in the background makes Army of Lovers more than dirty, horse-y leather wrapped up with rubied roses. LM Parfums’ founder, Laurent Mazzone, once told me that he loves the great vintage legends like Mitsouko, and that he seeks to bring the same sort of vibe to his fragrances, only in a more modern way.

Movie poster for Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981 version) with Sylvia Krystel. Source: movies.film-cine.com

Movie poster for Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1981 version) with Sylvia Krystel. Source: movies.film-cine.com

That sort of old-school sophistication hovers around Army of Lovers in a way that makes the Camilla Parker-Bowles story seem more apt for the characters of Downton Abbey, or some mash-up of a Ralph Lauren ad involving British aristocrats, riding, and evening gowns. There is a twist, though: these aristocrats are plucked from D.H. Lawrence‘s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and end up having a rather raunchy frolic with a musky, dirty gamekeeper in the stables.

Let’s start at the beginning. Army of Lovers is part of LM ParfumsIntimacy Collection, a stronger, more expensive range which is centered around pure parfums made from more luxurious ingredients. Hard Leather was the first in the collection, and Army of Lovers joined it on October 15th, with an official launch date of November 1st.

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Serge Lutens L’Incendiaire: Greatest Hits Redux

L’Incendiaire is a walk through an olfactory hall of mirrors, echoing the scents of Serge Lutens‘ greatest hits from amongst his darkest orientals. Fille en Aiguilles leads the charge, followed by the notorious Serge Noire, while Feminité du Bois brings up the rear. It’s a smoldering pastiche of all of the signature Lutens notes: plummy, stewed fruits that are dusted with spices, lashed with incense, patchouli, and sticky balsamic resins, then nestled in a dark forest where cedar trees drip a brown sugar sap. A little fly made out of oud buzzes around them, though it is inconsequential in the larger scheme of things. As time passes, the Lutens classics change their order in the troop formation, but the bottom line remains the same: L’Incendiaire feels like a mixed tape compilation of scents I’ve encountered before, only refined to a polished core. It’s very enjoyable, but I feel rather conflicted for reasons that I’ll get to later.

Photo by Fotografin CvdG - Carolin von der Gönna. Source: Her Fotografin CvdG Facebook page. (Website link embedded within.)

Photo by Fotografin CvdG – Carolin von der Gönna. Source: Her Fotografin CvdG Facebook page. (Website link embedded within.)

L’Incendiaire (“The Arsonist”) was created by Christopher Sheldrake and debuted about two weeks ago. It is notable as both the first pure parfum from Serge Lutens, as well as The Maestro’s first foray in oud. The extrait is part of a new prestige line called the Gold Label or Section d’Or Collection. (The regular export line has a cream label, while the Haute Concentration eau de parfums come with a black label.)

Source: legrante.com/blog

Source: legrante.com/blog

Earlier this year, Fragrantica posted the Lutens press release that explains why this collection is supposedly different from anything previously put out by the brand, as well as why it’s significantly more expensive than anything else in the line, including its bell-jars:

The launch of L’incendiaire marks the emergence of a new Serge Lutens collection, Section d’or, the brand’s most prestigious range yet. With bottles inspired by the original rectangular design and featuring the sharp angular lines so revered by Mr. Lutens, this exclusive collection is the brand’s ultimate creation. And when it comes to choosing ingredients, only the finest quality is used, no expense spared. Even the black and gold hues symbolize a breakaway from the classic collections. This is Serge Lutens at the culmination of his art.

Source: the Serge Lutens Facebook page.

Source: the Serge Lutens Facebook page.

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O’Driù Pathetique

Source: truffleharvest.com.au

Source: truffleharvest.com.au

Pathetique is the latest creation from O’Driu and Angelo Orazio Pregoni, a scent that briefly takes you to the heart of the forest floor with black truffles, singed woods, vetiver, jasmine, and mosses that are woven together with incense, before it then segues to something very different. I liked parts of Pathetique (officially spelled with an accent as “Pathétique”) quite a bit, particularly the creamy vanilla crème anglaise that acts like a bridge between its various parts, but it is not a scent that matches up to its hyperbolic description. O’Driu describes Pathetique as everything from “performance perfume” and “contemporary artwork” to wholly “unique” in all the world and a “masterpiece” whose name was chosen as an ironic finger to critics. In reality, Pathetique is an easy, very wearable scent. It’s not a mainstream fragrance but, comparatively speaking, it’s the most commercial Pregoni creation that I’ve tried thus far. I think its approachability is a good thing, but my description would probably horrify its controversial creator.

Source: Fragrantica

Source: Fragrantica

It’s hard to talk about Pathetique without talking about its creator. Mr. Pregoni’s character is part of everything, from the scent to its press release description and his interviews about it. My initial impression was that Mr. Pregoni was a progressive free-spirit who sought to work outside the lines out of genuine intellectual artistry, and whose approach was driven purely by a self-deprecating, whimsical sense of humour. I think I was mistaken.

Angelo Orazio Pregoni at Pitti. Source: Fragrantica

Angelo Orazio Pregoni at Pitti. Source: Fragrantica

Several recent reports from people within the perfume industry that were told to me privately show a very different side to Mr. Pregoni, as does a very telling Fragrantica interview with him which took place at the recent Pitti exhibition and concerned, among other things, Pathetique and “perfumed art.” None of this is helped by the self-aggrandizing way that the scent is described on the O’Driu website. Ultimately, though, it is not my place or business to talk about a perfumer as a person, only about the way a fragrance smells. So, I’ll leave it to you to read that Fragrantica interview and draw your own conclusions. I’ll move onto Pathetique.  Continue reading

Diana Vreeland Parfums Extravagance Russe

Source: rarevintage.blogspot.com

Source: rarevintage.blogspot.com

The legendary Diana Vreeland once said, “Fragrances fill the senses with the mysterious.” Extravagance Russe is meant to incorporate some of that emotion, as well as the iconic Vogue editor’s love of opulence. It is a new fragrance from a new house created by Alexander Vreeland in homage to his glamourous grandmother. Honestly, I’m not too sure what she would have thought about Extravagance Russe. Diana Vreeland stood out, and was the epitome of exuberant boldness (not to mention luxurious excess), but her fragrance is none of those things. Frankly, I find the woman far more interesting than the scent which is meant to encapsulate her.

Source: jaspergarvida.wordpress.com

Source: jaspergarvida.wordpress.com

The name may not ring a lot of bells today for the general public, but Diana Vreeland ruled fashion for decades. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue in the 1960s, after a long tenure at Harper’s Bazaar that begin the 1930s, but she partied like a rock star all the way through to the 1980s. People loved her wit, sense of humour, and charm, even more than they liked her “fabulous” personal style. In short, think of a nice version of Anna Wintour, only more influential and actually liked. She advised First Lady Jackie Kennedy on style and fashion; allegedly discovered Lauren Bacall and Twiggy; and was friends with everyone (from Wallis Simpson to Yves. St. Laurent, Valentino, Andy Warhol, Coco Chanel, Jack Nicholson, and people in-between). She lived life with exuberance, and always with a perfect witticism on her lips.

Diana Vreeland with her grandson, Alexander who created the new perfume house, as well as her son, Frederick. Source: thedailybeast.com

Diana Vreeland with her grandson, Alexander who created the new perfume house, as well as her son, Frederick. Source: thedailybeast.com

Into the Gloss has a nice piece on her, along with 50 of her famous quotes. (I was amused by the one about Coco Chanel: “Where Chanel came from in France is anyone’s guess. She said one thing one day and another thing the next. She was a peasant—and a genius. Peasants and geniuses are the only people who count and she was both.” There is also NY Magazine’s full tribute to “The Divine Mrs. V” which talks about some of the difficulties in her life and her marriage. I’ve compiled some photos from NY Magazine’s “Iconic Style” article on the new Vreeland perfume collection, Vogue Italia, Hint Magazine, Fashion’s Most Wanted blog (which has some really fantastic ones), and from the internet in general to put together a gallery of photos, all in thumbnails but which you can see in full by clicking on each tile.  Continue reading