Xerjoff XJ 1861 Naxos

The XJ 1861 Collection. Source: xerjoff.com

The XJ 1861 Collection. Source: xerjoff.com

1861 Naxos via Xerjoff's website. [Image lightly cropped by me on the sides.]

1861 Naxos via Xerjoff’s website. [Image lightly cropped on the sides by me.]

Officially, Xerjoff‘s XJ 1861 Naxos celebrates Sicily and the richness of its hesperidic traditions. In reality, I found it to be predominantly a tobacco fragrance, and a very enjoyable one at that. Prismatically complex, opulent, powerful, and rich, it’s a unisex composition that seems to take the tobacco plant from its budding flowers to its fragrant green leaves and beyond, slathering it with dark honey, lush jasmine, and bright, sun-kissed citruses, then placing it against a multi-dimensional backdrop dominated by aromatic, fresh lavender.

Yet, that is only one part of the tale because 1861 Naxos is like a kaleidoscope where the images change and realign themselves into different shapes with every click, especially in the first half of its life. Over time, the images and the notes change faster and faster, thanks to the impact of silky vanilla, dry woods, incense-like smokiness, spicy patchouli, and even some ambered booziness. The result is a bold powerhouse that has already become a big favourite with perfumistas, chosen by Basenotes readers as one of the best niche fragrances released in 2015 and frequently sold out on places like Luckyscent or Twisted Lily.

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Al-Kimiya Kemi Tempest Attar & Layla

Al Kimiya logo via Essenza Nobile.

Al Kimiya logo via Essenza Nobile.

Al-Kimiya is the latest brand from Sergio Momo, the founder of Xerjoff, Casamorati, and Sospiro. In America, Luckyscent calls it Kemi, but that seems to be the exception to the rule. “Al-Kimiya” means “alchemy” in Arabic, and the house launched in 2014 with eight fragrances, each bearing a name derived from alchemical or Arabic traditions. (As a side note, “Al-Kimiya” is also the name of an unrelated collection from Parfums d’Orsay.) Out of Al-Kimiya or Kemi’s eight fragrances, four are eau de parfums, two are parfums, and two are attars or concentrated perfume oils (CPOs). Tempest is one of the attars, while Layla is one of the eau de parfums. I’ll take a look at each in turn.

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Super-Luxury Fragrances & The Issue of Price

Clive Christian No. 1 Imperial Majesty via bornrich.com

Clive Christian No. 1 Imperial Majesty via bornrich.com

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the price of fragrances. Specifically, the question of astronomical pricing in the super-luxury niche market, and people’s reactions to it. It is something that comes up whenever I review fragrances from certain brands or luxury collections, most recently the newest Serge Lutens Section d’Or parfums. For me, it’s not as cut-and-dry an issue as it seems to be for others. The “tl;dr” summation for those who want the bottom-line is that, for all my eye-rolling, $600, $800, $1000-and-up price tags don’t really offend me, I refuse to instantly, automatically condemn fragrances bearing them, and I think it’s important both to keep an open mind and to judge things on the particulars. The rest of this post will explain my thoughts and personal reasons why.

Source: global-customer.com

Source: global-customer.com

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Fragrance Recommendations: Leathers, Vetivers, Fougères & More

Source: mf.techbang.com

Source: mf.techbang.com

Every week, I get at least three or four emails from people seeking fragrance recommendations. The vast majority of them are men, but there are some women, too. Most of them are not long-time readers of the blog and have simply stumbled upon it, so they don’t know my long-time favorites that I talk about often, but a few are subscribers who seek specific suggestions. Sometimes, people start by giving me a brief idea of their tastes and/or names of prior fragrances they’ve worn. Typically, though, the information is insufficient for me to know what might really suit them, so I write back with a list of questions, trying to narrow down what notes they have issues with or love best, how they feel about sweetness or animalics, how their skin deals with longevity or projection, and what sort of power they want in both of those last two area.

Ralph Lauren Purple Label editorial ad via tumblr.com

Ralph Lauren Purple Label editorial ad via tumblr.com

What I’ve noticed is that I tend to make certain recommendations time and time again for particular genres or fragrance families. So, I thought I would share them with all of you. However, please keep in mind that these names are in response to some pretty set criteria given to me by the person in question, even though many of those factors end up being quite similar. For example, the men who like dark, bold, rich or spicy orientals all seem to want a certain sillage or “to be noticed in a crowd,” as several have put it. In contrast, most of those who want clean, crisp scents prefer for them to be on the discreet side and suitable for professional business environments. Men whose favorites are classical designer scents that fall firmly within the fougère, green, fresh, or aromatic categories (like Tuscany, Guerlain’s Vetiver, or vintage Eau Sauvage, for example) tend to want very traditional scents, even “old school” in vibe, and not something sweet, edgy, or with a twist. So, that is what I try to give them as recommendations, which means that there are a whole slew of fragrances that fall outside the category.

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