As you know by now Jean-Claude Ellena is a very significant person in my life. 🙂 This man embodies so much of what fascinates me about perfume and my favorites among his creations are olfactory milestones in my life. A couple of weeks ago Chandler Burr talked about Jean-Claude Ellena at this year’s Pitti Fragranze. How much I wish I had been there. I now wait impatiently to hear Clayton’s reflections on What Men Should Smell Like. He was there.
|JCE for president.
September has been a hectic month. I have great adventures going on. Some writing, a couple of little perfume development projects, an extremely inspiring signature scent consultation process going on and traveling. And then actually for most of the time – my day job at a PR company. 🙂 With all this adventurama the scents that accompany me become quite significant. So I have been wearing Neroli Portofino and Bigarade Concentrée at work to keep my mind alert, and Vaniglia del Madagascar from Farmacia SS Annunziata in weekends to relax. But now I need some new stimulation. So I have decided to spend a week with Hermès Hermessence line, one perfume per day. This kind of scent odyssey is an interesting way to discover a nose, in this case, Jean-Claude Ellena. The way the perfumes are composed, the clarity of the scent and the immaculate Ellenesque way of making strong notes feel light and undemanding.
I inaugurated this journey today with Poivre Samarcande, a perfume that is an excellent example precisely of Jean-Claude Ellena’s sensitive ability to play with the volume of notes if you permit the music reference. It starts out strong, not heavy, but strong with a direct presence that makes you very aware of the perfume you just applied. On me this last about an hour, not more. Then it just exhales, and lies down on your skin and the incense-like sharp woodiness becomes a soft spice veil. I imagine that lying in a big room a few blocks away from a spice market…a few hundred years ago…this is the scent that the transparent floating flowing curtains would reveal as the wind carried the air over the market to my house. But with only the nicest spices… I love this fragrance. It is so elegant and so clean. Slightly severe. No sweetness, no trying to please. Intellectual. And warm skin that smells of travel to places far away.
Samarkand, or Samarqand, is a city in Uzbekistan. It is on the Silk Road between China and the West. In 2001 it was added to UNESCO:s Wold Heritage List. Samarkand is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.
|The Registan in Samarqand.
Tomorrow is Rose Ikebana day.
PS: You can order your own Hermessence or other Jean-Claude Ellena creations for Hermès directly from Hermès via their beautiful web.
CREED, or House of CREED to be correct, was founded in London by perfumer James Henry Creed in 1760. Throughout it’s long history this house of perfume has had many royal clients. The first royal commission came already in 1781 from King George III, for whom CREED made the scent Royal English Leather. When it was time for CREED’s 100th anniversary the company moved to Paris at the request of client Empress Eugénie for whom CREED created Jasmine Impératice, a fragrance that the company to this day continues to make and sell. (Top notes: bergamot, middle notes: Bulgarian rose, ambergris and Italian jasmine, base notes: vanilla and sandalwood). Eugénies husband, a certain Napoleon III, was also one of CREED’s clients.
In 1885, Queen Victoria appointed CREED “official supplier” to the British royal court. For her majesty, CREED created the scent Fleurs de Bulgarie by commission. This engaging scent, rich with roses, is available today
. (Top note: bergamot, middle note: Bulgarian rose, base notes: ambergris infusion and musk).
The list of famous persons who have not left their home without their favorite CREED on their skin is as endless as diverse. Queen Maria Cristina of Spain was a client, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor wore CREED, for some time Sir Winston Churchill’s favorite perfume was Tabarome. In 1933 CREED created Angelique Encens, for the Bishop of Paris. And in 1956, CREED created Grace Kelly’s wedding scent, Fleurissimo
, by order of her fiancé Prince Rainier.
The brand had a powerful revival in the 1980’s with the fougère Green Irish Tweed
, created by Olivier Creed and Pierre Bourdon. I cannot really go in without mentioning something more about fougère… A fougère is a classification. These perfumes belongs to a family with a top note of lavender and base note of oak moss and coumarin and are more common in fragrances pour les hommes. There are also aromatic fougères which then also have spices and wood in them. You often find vetiver and bergamot in a fougère. The name comes from the paradigmatic perfume Fougère Royale for Houbigant
created by Paul Parquet in 1882. It was relaunched in an updated version in the late 1980’s, then production was not produced anymore but I heard that it has just been relaunched again? Epic however regardless.
Back to CREED. CREED is a rare fragrance company, not only for it’s respect for the traditions of perfume making but also because it is the world’s only privately held fragrance dynasty. It was founded by a CREED and it is still 250 years later passionately developed by the same family. This also makes it one of the world’s oldest family businesses in general. Today, the company is based in Paris and led by Olivier Creed. His son Erwin works with him and is likely to be the seventh generation of CREED perfume makers. I find this aspect of the company immensely admirable and fascinating.
CREED perfumes are created using the techniques of maceration and filtration. The house is famous for being a strong proponent for natural ingredients.
As you can imagine there is quite a range of CREED fragrances to choose between. I have yet to find a favorite but wouldn’t mind owning a selection of bottles with magic from this house. Especially Sublime Vanille from 2009. You can find a complete list of CREED fragrances and information about them here.
Another great feature of CREEDs homepage is their scent finder form which is sent to their staff who will help you find the right fragrance, you find it here. (Penhaligons also has this kind of service and it is actually a good exercise in itself to think about the questions in the form as this will help you define your fragrance preferences for yourself regardless of where you then go looking for them).
For US citizens, I am happy to tell you that you can order samples from this admirable brand. There is also the store at 794 Madison Avenue in Manhattan which was opened when CREED celebrated its 250th year in 2010.
, black pepper
Bvlgari released Omnia in 2003. I was at that time a young woman taking the first steps in my career and hadn’t really even thought about perfumes that much at all. I suppose in a way I was more into discovering myself than defining myself. But it was winter and I was buying Christmas gifts and wanted to buy something for myself. To commemorate this time in my life. I went to the perfume section of Stockholm department store NK.
The first time I tried Omnia it felt sort of self-evident but not in a sensational way. Just, ”yes, there it is”. I adored the unusal bottle however. Since then I have bought many perfumes, some have been perfect for a while, for specific situations or for more. But the only fragrance that has stayed with me, and by far the one that I get most comments about is this one. I have noticed that for one, not many people know it at all, and then those who do either love it or hate it. Actually more often the latter. Thus, when I go to get a new bottle it is never easy to find. I have to order it or wait while someone goes to see if they have one ”in the back”.
Omnia was created by nose Alberto Morillas
. The fragrance was said to have been inspired by the spices discovered by Marco Polo on his voyages. The notes include black pepper, mandarin, masala tea, saffron, ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond, chocolate, lotus blossom, and sandalwood. The lotus is discrete which I am happy about and the Christmas dessert feeling only lasts for a brief moment. Then it lands in this soft saffron, cardamon embrace. Sometimes you feel the clove just briefly.
I love this fragrance. It is a non-choice for me, I don’t have to be in a particular mood to carry it off, not wear anything special. It is never ”too much”. It just blends with me. I always return to it at some point even after longer periods of infedility. It’s is a sort of default fragrance for me. And the nostalgia of it makes it special. Also, the fact that I rarely, if ever, meet someone else who has it makes it feel even more ”mine”.
There have been new versions of Omnia since the original first one. These however I do not get along with at all.