I have an innate and continual respect for the renegades, the people who do things differently. The artists who stick to their guns. Those that refute the common banality. Give the crud of mediocrity the middle finger. Manuel Cross, the perfumer for ‘non-commercial, non-contemporary fragrance‘ house Rogue Perfumery – who does not abide by regulatory restrictions on ingredients but instead goes his own way in indulging his instinctively plush and plenary tendencies in rich, smooth, unctuous blends, ironically – despite, or because of the stubbornly rebellious pose, actually creates very relatable, legible fragrances that strike at the heart chords without extraneous pretension. I don’t find them old-fashioned in any way: just real: uncluttered and not bogged down in conceptual codswallop or visual metaphors. Created for the simple pleasure of smelling fine and hedonistic skin adornment :Flos Mortis, the wintergreen indolic tuberose I have been wearing quite a lot of in recent months – or rather, my smouldering, flamboyant monster alter-ego, Burning Bush has been draining the bottle beyond what is permissible – is now a permanent staple in my mental fragrance wardrobe. A perfume that I need. When I smell it from the bottle I feel immediate intoxication. It is like poison: indeed, a ‘flower of death’.
I will not be buying a bottle of Tuberose & Moss. But I do think that it is an excellent perfume. Feminine, warm, soft, expansive – unlike the silvery coconut exotica of Rogue’s first tuberose, Champs Lunaires – which I look forward to wearing once the weather turns to real blazing summer – and the extreme, medicinal hiss of Flos Mortis, with its mothballed elixirs of almost frightening flowers – the new Tuberose & Moss, in its ultramellow, calming accords of ‘vanilla buttercream’, oakmoss, cedar, allspice berries and amber, is a maturely erotic – and expansively American – sensual, skin-scent floral that puts me in mind, almost, of eighties’ dreaming swan seductresses such as Vanderbilt by Gloria Vanderbilt (1980); that same ‘warm thigh and negligée’ aroma that will be perfect – windows flung wide open – for the subtle arousings of mansioned ladies in the night.
A love perfume.
I will be buying a bottle of Jasmin Antique. Not for myself, but for my mother, who needs this jasmine masterpiece ASAP. I don’t know anyone who can pull off jasmine the way Judith Chapman does, whether it be in Patou Joy, Van Cleef & Arpels’ First (which this reminds me of, somewhat, just amplified and modernised without all the aldehydes and chiffonic greenery), Grandiflora’s Madagascan Jasmine: verdant, just opened flora on the rainforest floor – or even Gorilla/ Lush Perfumes’ almost grotesquely indolic jasmine, Lust, which she can easily pull off and render beautiful. The best of the jasmines on her, though, surely, is the original Rochas Lumière (1984), a sensational and not much talked about perfume that is a hallucination – a bright, solar-jasmined sillage of bright florality like the light in California; but I think that Jasmin Antique, in truth, could equally quite easily become the one. With nothing but a touch of vanilla and clove lulling somewhere in the meniscuses of the base, this is a swirling, enveloping, living jasmine that smells like our garden in England in July; a ‘simple’, but expertly blended, and hyper-realistic jasmine that is without the feral rasp of, say, Sana Jardin’s arresting-in-summertime Savage Jasmine (which I also rather like), but instead goes for smoothness: clarity, and a blatant suffusiveness that is explicitly meant for summer evenings.
The greatest jasmine soliflore of all time?