Stéphane Humbert Lucas Mortal Skin

Woods and herbaceous fields, spices and sweetness, incense and leathery smoke — those are some of the various strands of Mortal Skin, the latest release from Stéphane Humbert Lucas. It is a scent that echoes some of his other fragrances for me, but it is ultimately its own creation, and one which I think will appeal to lovers of spicy, smoky, woody orientals.

Source: Stephane Humbert Lucas.

“Collection” is written under the snake. Source: Stephane Humbert Lucas.

Source: Stephane Humbert Lucas.

“Collection” is written under the 777. Source: Stephane Humbert Lucas.

Mortal Skin is a new parfum or extrait that initially looked as though it were being released under Stéphane Humbert Lucas’ own name, unlike the 777 fragrances. That confused me at first, so I asked Monsieur Lucas about it and about the significance of the “777” being omitted from the packaging. He explained that “777” is merely one collection within his overall brand, which should officially be considered as “Stephane Humbert Lucas” as a whole. The Snake Collection is a separate line altogether and has its own signature aesthetic. He provided the images above to underscore how the packaging emphasizes that “777” is merely a collection, not part of his brand name. He also brought up Kilian, who has various unrelated lines, like the Arabian Nights, the Addictive State of Mind, or the Asian Tales.

Photo: Roberto Greco for Stephane Humbert Lucas. Source: Roberto.

Photo: Roberto Greco for Stephane Humbert Lucas. Source: Roberto.

Mortal Skin is the debut release in The Snake Collection, along with the new Harrods Exclusive, and it will be slowly rolled out at all regular SHL retailers over the next 6 weeks. Luckyscent already has it, with Osswald NYC to follow in a few weeks. In Europe, I’ve been told that it is already out at Harrods. The fragrance originally debuted at the Esxence perfume show in March, but that was an earlier version that has been substantially altered since then. Monsieur Lucas told me that, in total, Mortal Skin has gone through roughly 200 or so modifications before being finalised after Esxence with the version that will be hitting stores shortly. I’ll explain the specific changes in a moment.

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2014 In Review: 30 Personal Favorites

Source: designzzz.com

Source: designzzz.com

My list of favorite fragrances that I’ve tried this year is quite different from yesterday’s list of the best new releases of 2014. The latter centered largely on scents that I thought were good, very elegant or interesting representations of their genre, regardless of whether they were my personal cup of tea, and they were only things that debuted in 2014. Today’s list is purely about what I really enjoyed and does not consider the date in release at all. So, this time around, there are very few qualifications and caveats, and the vast majority of these fragrances are things that I bought for myself, am thinking about buying, or would love to buy were their price not a consideration.

You will notice that a good number of the fragrances are not complex masterpieces at all, but quite simple in nature. One reason for that is that I love cozy, comfort scents, and they are generally not very nuanced or multifaceted to begin with. Plus, mindlessly simple but really well-done fragrances that combine richness with soothing warmth are, in all honesty, a huge relief to me after a long day where I do nothing but analyse every nuance and change in a scent for hours (upon hours) on end.

Ferdinand Leeke,  "The Last Farewell of Wotan and Brunhilde," (1875). Source: Wikipedia.com

Ferdinand Leeke, “The Last Farewell of Wotan and Brunhilde,” (1875). Source: Wikipedia.com

A few other points. As always, I have to repeat my mantra regarding the subjective, personal nature of reviewing in general, and how a list like this is even doubly so. With regard to the rankings, it’s always an utter nightmare, but the Top Ten chosen here are generally quite firm in order. There is a bit more leeway with the next 10 names, as a tiny handful could go up or down one to two places of where they are at the present time. I’m most undecided about the placement of the last 10 which are the most subject to fluctuations in order. One reason why is because perfumistas are a fickle bunch who can change their mind from one month to the next, and I’m no exception. The other reason is that I’ve gone back and forth on a few scents, switching their places repeatedly until I just gave up in the end. So, for now, this is where things are, for the most part. Finally, you will notice that some of my summary descriptions are verbatim from my list of best, new releases of 2014 or from my mid-2014 best or favorites list. My apologies in advance. Covering almost 60 fragrances in two days is rather an exhausting process, so I hope you will forgive me.

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Best New Releases of 2014

Source: 1ms.net

Source: 1ms.net

This has been a good year for perfume releases. For all that I sometimes grumble about the generic nature of fragrances put out these days, 2014 actually had a number of scents that really impressed me. Last year, I could not find a full 10 new releases for my list, and refused to simply include things for the sake of round numbers. This year, I have 15 scents that I actually think are good representations of their genre and were done very well, along with a few Honourable Mentions.

Violettes du Czar. Photo: Roberto Greco for Oriza L. Legrand.

Violettes du Czar. Photo: Roberto Greco for Oriza L. Legrand.

As I always emphasize, perfume reviewing is subjective and personal by its very nature, so winnowing fragrances down to some favorites is even more so. My criteria for selection varied. A number of the fragrances were not really for me, personally, for various reasons (a particular note or genre that I struggle with, discreet sillage, or something else), but were chosen nevertheless because something about the particular scent was either interesting, luxurious, evocative, complex and/or, as noted above, an extremely good example of its genre that also happened to be done in a very elegant manner. A handful of perfumes are on the list for the most subjective reason of all: I either bought full bottles for myself, plan to get them, or would love to do so if their price were not a consideration.

Ranking things is an utter nightmare, but the Top Five are firmly placed in accordance with my feelings. The remainder of the scents are ranked within one to three slots, plus or minus, of where they are in my estimation at the present time, though keep in mind that perfumistas are a fickle bunch who can change their mind from one month to the next, and I’m no exception. All of these fragrances were released in 2014. The problem is that some of the names that I would love to have on this list (like SHL 777‘s O Hira and Black Gemstone) technically debuted in very limited fashion in 2013, before being released globally this year. As a result, what I’ve decided to do is to write a separate list of my 30 personal favorites of 2014, things that I’ve covered this year but without regard to their official launch date. I’ll update this post with a link when I do. There is some overlap between the two lists, but not a lot.

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Favorite Florals: Listed by Flower

Source: designzzz.com

Source: designzzz.com

I’ve been thinking lately of the fragrances I enjoy within specific floral categories. It started, in part, because a friend of mine is slowly expanding beyond his comfort zone, and tipping his toe into a whole genre of fragrances that he had previously avoided. In general, though, I’m frequently asked, “what’s your favorite _____?” amongst the vast selection of rose, gardenia, orange blossom, and other florals out there. So, I thought I’d do a list, based primarily on one criteria: what I personally adore and reach for, own as a full bottle, or want to buy for myself. In several instances, however, I’ve included what I think is a good example of a fragrance within that floral genre, even if it doesn’t work for me personally.

Jasmine peacock created from jasmine flowers. Source: Hdwallpaperes.com

A peacock created from jasmine flowers. Source: Hdwallpaperes.com

As always, I have to emphasize that perfume reviewing is subjective and personal by its very nature, so winnowing fragrances down to a personal favorites list like this is even more so. A few other things to note: I’m not going to cover every possible category of floral (or else, this list would be endless), and, to the extent possible, I’m going to stick to soliflores (or fragrances centered predominantly around one flower). As a result, many scents that I love are omitted solely by virtue of being very mixed in focus. (For example, my beloved Alahine from Teo Cabanel; Puredistance‘s delicate Opardu; Amouage‘s stunning chypre-oriental hybrid, Fate Woman, or its Ubar, a larger-than-life, yellow and gold, 3D floriental powerhouse.) Also, I should emphasize that perfume lovers can be very fickle creatures. What I’ve listed is what comes to mind today, and it might not be the same next week or even next month.

Finally, because this is all so personal and subjective, there will be omissions from the list that might surprise people. For example, I simply do not think much of Portrait of a Lady or Carnal Flower, period. It is heresy, I know, but neither one impresses me, so I’m not including them in their respective categories of rose or tuberose. After all, this really is about what I like or think is good, right? Finally, the fragrances within each category are not ranked by order (so it mean nothing if a scent is put at #1 or #4), and I’ve also tried to avoid the vintage category wherever possible.

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