The Sniff Box – Perfume In Plain English

Tagged With ‘2009’

Frédéric Malle

Géranium pour Monsieur

rsz_20161128_152202_1The world is full of fresh smells, but only a few of them are widely used in perfumery – mainly the sharp but fruity smells of citrus, which give eau-de-colognes their uplifting zing. The scents of mint or pine-needles are equally fresh and invigorating, yet few people want to smell of either, for the simple reason that mint is so strongly associated with toothpaste, and pine with household cleaning products. It’s a brave perfumer who attempts to use either of them in a fragrance, but Géranium pour Monsieur is a brilliant demonstration of how it can be done.

Created by Dominique Ropion for Frédéric Malle in 2009, this is a wonderful alternative to classic colognes, and it also offers something that colognes don’t have: a freshness that lasts not just for a few minutes or an hour or so, but almost all day long. Ropion has cleverly extended the refreshing scent of mint by mixing it with geranium (or rather pelargonium) oil, which has a minty side to it but lasts much longer than mint alone, and a spicy side that is emphasised here with the addition of aniseed, clove oil and cinnamon.

Like all the perfumes that Malle has commissioned for his Editions de Parfums range, this is a rich, complex scent, and its freshness is underlaid with smooth but luxurious ingredients like sandalwood, long-lasting synthetic white musks, and smaller amounts of incense and resinous benzoin. I think it’s a masterpiece, and a fine addition to the wardrobe of any well-dressed man.

Annick Goutal

Ninfeo Mio

Ninfeo MioThis is the second time I’ve stumbled across a delicious perfume in, of all places, TK Maxx. I know I should be saving up and buying beautifully wrapped bottles from expensive boutiques, but for a start I don’t earn much and, second, I rather like the occasional gamble on a discounted scent that might just turn out to be fab.

That’s certainly the case with Ninfeo Mio, a small bottle of which I picked up for a song a little while ago. I’m a bit of an Annick Goutal fan, mainly for the powerful, love-it-or-hate-it Sables, but also for the better-known Eau d’Hadrien, so Ninfeo Mio seemed worth a bet – and I’m glad I took a punt.

This unisex perfume was launched in 2009 and created by Isabelle Doyen, who was Annick Goutal’s assistant, and took over the development of new perfumes after Goutal’s death in 1999. The first thing you smell is fig, and actually that’s pretty much the last thing you smell too, and that would be just fine and dandy with me, since fig is a scent I love – both the natural thing and figtastic perfumes like Premier Figuier from L’Artisan Parfumeur and Philosykos from Diptyque.

But the fig in Ninfeo Mio is mixed with lemon and lavender, musk and hedione, the chemical that gives Eau Sauvage much of its particular magic. These add to the character of the scent, but I think they also accentuate the figginess of the fig, which is fresh and green and slightly sweet but also a little bit dirty, with something of the sexiness of fresh sweat. It’s not, perhaps, as refined a perfume as Premier Figuier, but I love its in-your-face earthiness.

As is so often the case, the name and the marketing ‘story’ came after the scent, or at least after it was begun. It refers to the much mooned-over gardens of Ninfa in the once-malarial marshlands south-east of Rome, which (luckily for Isbelle Doyen) turned out to be full of lemon-trees, lavender and figs. The perfume would probably have been called Ninfa Mia except that the name ‘Ninfa’ had already been copyrighted, so the more masculine Ninfeo Mio it is.

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