Frederic Malle & Alber Elbaz Superstitious

Alber Elbaz with Yves Saint Laurent in 1999. Source: buro247.ru

Superstitious is the latest fragrance from Frédéric Malle, created in conjunction with the great couturier, Alber Elbaz. Monsieur Elbaz is perhaps best known for his stunning work at Lanvin in the 2000s, but what is less well-known is that he had his start when Yves Saint-Laurent‘s partner, Pierre Bergé, handpicked him in the late 1990s to take the helm of that august fashion house where he successfully carried on the Maestro’s style, albeit with his own twist.

Alber Elbaz’s signature, The Little Black Dress, for Lanvin. Collage: my own, from photos via Pinterest and Vogue Paris.

At first glance, this might seem to be nothing more than an irrelevant factoid or bit of biographical background, meaningful only to those of us, like myself, who continue to worship Monsieur Saint Laurent (a god, a total fashion god!) because, let’s face it, there is usually no olfactory connection between a couture house’s design style and how their perfumes actually smell.

Superstitious, however, is a rare exception. You could have knocked me over with a spoon when I tried it because the early hours of the scent reflect not only Monsieur Elbaz’s sleek, bold, streamlined, seamless, and incredibly sophisticated personal design aesthetic but also, and above all else, the Yves Saint Laurent olfactory signature as exemplified by its early floral-aldehydic fragrances like (vintage) Rive Gauche and Y. Superstitious was intentionally created to be both vintage and modern in feel, but where it stands out for me is in its early hours when it is a perfect rendition of the grand old style of the YSL classics. I’m unenthused by the fragrance’s second chapter when the Ropion olfactory signature kicks in and Superstitious dissolves into something wholly modern, structureless, and excessively clean, but those early hours were the boldest that I’ve seen from a Malle fragrance in a long, long time.

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Papillon Dryad: Polished Country Chic

“The Nymph Salmacis And Hermaphroditus” by Francois Joseph via WikiWand

I press soft flesh to bark in the evening’s gold dusk,
to breathe heavy hues of a Satyr’s musk.
My body is swelling with the oak’s root and seed
Our veins and our vines weave together with ease,
And as your chatter dispels at the shake of our leaves,
You set your ear to our chest, to hear the whisper of trees. [….]
Beneath the dark of your eyelids, our damp forest floor rises.
The lilac of lavender soothes dwindling sight.
The essence of our body’s sap stained perfume
Soars above oak beams, drenched in silk, silver light.

I press the soft suede of an apricots sheath to your lips.
The sweetness jars with narcissus’ bitter.
Head tilted, enchanted, you breathe your first breath, with the timber of touch I lead you, bereft
of sight and of sound, but with gilt dew on your skin
each of your pursed pores unravels, and the forest seeps in.

I watch moist emerald moss survive in the sun,
I catch burnished, bronze leaves that fall from each stem.
While dwelled in the canopy, I skim saplings in starlight,
And dust gilded galbanum through the dim of the glen.
From autumn to summer, from winter to spring
I glow.

The branches and bow are open.
The changing of seasons ticks with the sun.
Each colour prints petal marks to rest at your chest; it is dappled with wolf’s blood and the slick of deer’s tongue.
Roses creep at my ankles, bergamot blooms
Clary sage clouds you with billowing fumes,
and here in my tree I watch you awaken; I do not hide behind trunk or stem.
So dance with the Dryad’s, sip all you have taken
Fall blind, deaf and drunk in the pearl of the glen.

~~JASMINE MOORES~~

Dryad. Photo by Thomas Dunckley of The Candy Perfume Boy. Source: Liz Moores.

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Hiram Green Arbolé Arbolé

"In Love" (1907) by Marcus Stone. Source: Pinterest.

“In Love” (1907) by Marcus Stone. Source: Pinterest.

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.

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Hiram Green Dilettante

Photo: Jana Martish via her website. (Direct link embedded within.)

Photo: Jana Martish via her website. (Direct link embedded within.)

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.

Hiram Green. Source: Fragrantica.

Hiram Green. Source: Fragrantica.

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.

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