Hiram Green‘s latest release, Slowdive, is a rich, thick oriental whose warmth and sweetness are rather lovely on icy, frigid winter days. It’s described as a “tobacco-themed” fragrance and has additional notes of honey, resins, citrus, dried fruits, and florals. On my skin, however, it was primarily a honey fragrance, albeit one given great full-bodied, molten depth through finely painted brush-strokes of other elements.
Arbolé Arbolé, the latest fragrance from Hiram Green, weds spicy woods and powdery, sweet, floral-vanillic elements in holy matrimony with rings of dark resins. It was interesting to observe how the relationships at the core of the scent unfolded like a musical piece where the courtship took place during an unexpected overture or prelude, followed by a march up the aisle, a post-wedding reception dance where everyone joins in, and then, finally, the couple retires to cuddle in a cozy haze on the first night of their honeymoon.
Arbolé Arbolé (hereinafter spelled without the accent or just called “Arbole”) wasn’t my thing despite my love for many of the notes at the center of the composition, but it’s also one of those fragrances that seems to manifest itself quite differently from one person to the next. How it turns out on your skin, particularly in its opening, is likely to shape how you view the scent.
Hiram Green‘s latest release, Dilettante, is rather deceiving at first glance. You’d think it was a simple, sunny soliflore, capturing the essence of an orange tree, from the sunshine gleaming around its lush floral petals to the unripened, green (neroli) fruits hanging on the spicy, bitter petitgrain of its branches, down its trunk to the earth in which it grows. If you thought that, you’d be right because that is partially what the fragrance is about. At least initially…. You see, Dilettante had a surprise in store for me, moving beyond its initial “sunshine, Vitamin C, and orange blossom tree captured in a bottle,” to turn into something molten later on. Truth be told, I’m not sure the version I experienced is the normal one for Dilettante, rather than an atypical oddity due to some strange interaction with my skin, but I was smitten anyway. Irrespective of how the later stages turned out, though, all of it feels like another solid, well-crafted, wonderfully appealing release from this small artisanal house.
I have a lot of respect for Mr. Green, a shy, humble, and gifted perfumer who deserves a lot more attention than he gets, in my opinion. In fact, I think he should be applauded for a really rare trait, one that the best chefs aspire to but not enough perfume houses, if you ask me. Namely, being good to great on consistent basis. Again and again and again, Mr. Green produces solid, good, and sometimes great perfumes that are rich, polished, seamlessly blended, easy to wear, and extremely high-quality for a moderate, reasonable price. There is zero pretension or over-the-top marketing hyperbole; no ever-increasing prices that don’t match the scents in question; and no interest in following the latest hot trend. Just one perfume a year, worked on carefully and quietly with the simple aim of making it the best he can. That’s it.
As another year draws to a close, it’s time to look back at the best of 2015. For me, this was an iffy year for brand new releases because there weren’t a huge number of fragrances that stood out from start to finish. The exceptions to the rule were impressive or lovely but, when I went back over all the fragrances that I covered, I found the vast majority fell woefully short.
One reason stems from the hot new trends of the year. Leather was a major compositional note in 2015 or, to be more precise, the tarry, woody, forest-fire smokiness that purports to recreate the sense of “leather.” Another hot trend seemed to be a deluge of black pepper. Neither one is appealing to me, particularly since their chemical nature was usually so intrusive as to be front-and-center. Yet, that sort of excessive darkness was, in and of itself, the most common stylistic approach, one that was frequently juxtaposed next to shapeless white florals, amorphous spiciness, or some sort of limp “freshness.” The end result was that a lot of new releases smelt far too similar for me to find them distinctive, interesting, or compelling. In addition, many of them lacked the quality to warrant the higher prices that we’ve been seeing across the board.