It’s not often that a fragrance leaves me utterly befuddled and almost at a loss for words. The new Akowa from M. Micallef is one of those rare scents. Thanks to a secret mystery ingredient from Africa, its opening bears an alien strangeness that is riveting and peculiar, particularly when juxtaposed next to contradictory elements. I honestly don’t know what to make of it sometimes, let alone know if I can describe it. It dominates Akowa from start to finish, emits a wide range of unusual facets, and has an otherworldly strangeness that can be quite fascinating. Yet, other parts of Akowa verge on the repellant and nauseating, often being loud to the point of almost being garish. Wearing Akowa was one of the most perplexing scent experiences I can recall, leading me to feel as though I were practically stuttering in confusion and beset by a push-pull set of opposing, contradictory forces. It’s wildly original, probably unique, but… but… Well, I’m bewildered.
“Fascinating. Brilliant.” That was my immediate reaction to the opening of Iris Cendré, the newest fragrance from Naomi Goodsir. It begins as a swirling cloud of olfactory and symbolic contrasts, cleverly juxtaposed one upon another in a fragrance that feels like cool, modernistic minimalism with so much more. Elegant, sophisticated, restrained, with deceptive simplicity that masks great depth and an astonishing range of contrasts, Iris Cendré (“Ashed Iris” or “Iris Ash”) had one of the most intriguing debuts that I’ve come across in a while. And I say this as someone who is not an iris lover! I just wish the rest of the fragrance had lived up to that captivating beginning.
Nanban is the latest release from Arquiste, and a fragrance that seeks to transport you back in time to 1618 when a Japanese galleon sailed on “the ancient commercial trade between Asia, Europe and the Americas,” filled with a cargo of spices, coffee, leather, incense, and woods. To some extent, it succeeds in its endeavour, at least initially….
A journey to the golden comforts of amber that travels through dessert and confectionary treats at afternoon tea — that is the essence of Ambre Cashmere Intense, the latest release from Parfums de Nicolaï. From lemon chiffon cakes layered with iris butter and served with lemony black tea to cupcakes and vanilla creme brulée laced with hints of spices, the scent unfurls in sweetness before ending with the golden strains of darkened labdanum and soft vanilla.
Ambre Cashmere Intense marks the start of a new direction and perhaps even a new era for the company. It is the first collaboration between Patricia de Nicolaï and her son, Axel de Nicolaï, who will undoubtedly be her successor down the line. (For the sake of speed and convenience, I’ll spell the family’s last name from this point as “Nicolai,” sans the dotted “i,” and simply call the fragrance “Ambre Cashmere.”) His voice played a large role in shaping the character of the scent, according to the press release that I was sent which says he sought to give a “feminine” quality to the classical pairing of labdanum and vanilla. Personally, I’d call it “gourmand” more than “feminine,” since I think the resulting creation could be worn by either gender if they loved a lot of sweetness in their perfumes.