A-Line Spotlight: Parsing Exquisite Fragrance Lines


September marks the debut of A-Line, a new monthly feature that highlights one special perfume among a roster of lauded fragrance collections. The perfume houses chosen for the A-Line column represent the very best in perfume manufacturers: quality, innovation, experimentation, expertise and a certain elusive, mysterious élan that sets them apart. Each month, a different fragrance in the lines will be presented.

If you have a favorite perfume house or perfume within a fragrance line, send an email explaining why you love it so much for inclusion in future A-Line columns at [email protected]. Included in next month’s A-Line: Chanel, Maitre Perfumeur et Gantier, Floris of London, Frederic Malle, L’Artisan Parfumeur and, of course, Guerlain.

Annick Goutal Parfums’ Mandragore: This entire line is a lovely paean to perfume, and Mandragore is the most mysterious of the lot. A unisex scent, Mandragore is the exotic, spicy essence of the mandrake plant. Drawing inspiration from the mandrake, Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen created an enchanting and enduring fragrance, equally compelling for both genders. The mandrake plant is largely unsung, and its praise is due. This rare and subtly vibrant scent mingles bergamot, black pepper, spearmint and star anis oil for a heady, fresh sensual delight. Top notes create an immediate impression of strength and vitality, enhanced by boxwood, ginger and mandrake. Mandragore comes in the brand’s emblematic gadroon bottle in dark purple, capped with a golden illumination. ($95, Nordstrom)

Caron’s Miss Rocaille: The elegant Caron line dates back seven decades, and there are plenty of good reasons why it still thrives, Miss Rocaille being one of them. This balanced bouquet has sweet top notes of mandarin, basil and orange blossom, fresh middle notes of lily-of-the-valley, and a warm base of white musk and absolute pistachio. You’ll absolutely want to visit the Caron Boutique at 675 Madison Avenue and try everything, but this in particular. Available there for $70 for 1.7 oz, $90 for 3.3 oz, or by calling 877-88CARON; also available at http://www.parfums-caron.com.

Hermes 24 Faubourg: A timeless fragrance with a warm floral scent, evocative of soft femininity yet retaining an edge of sophistication. This was named after the address of the Hermes flagship store, at 24, Rue De Faubourg Saint Honore, which happens to be one of the most fashionable streets in Paris. The creator of 24, Faubourg, is Hermes perfumer, Bernard Bourjois, who wanted to capture the vibrancy, radiance, and intensity of women and describes this scent as a floral, amber, sun drenched scent. It’s recommended for evening wear, and combines orange blossom, amber, vanilla, jasmine, and ambergris. The bottle designed as a sculpted falcon, with softly curved sides, and the etching of a Hermes scarf on the bottle adds a dash of elegance. $80, Hermes, 691 Madison Avenue and http://www.hermes.com or 1-800-441-4488.

Santa Maria Novella: Everything is lovely in Italy’s Florence, including this line of fragrance that began there and the city’s piazza of the same name. The Santa Maria Novella colognes made in the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica are as precious as you would want your perfume to be, and go off the beaten track for scent inspiration. This month, consider Pomegranate Cologne if you want something sweet, light, and gratifyingly unusual. Men or women can wear it, and the solid, square glass bottle with an antique-inspired label is beyond gender – it’s simply impressive, period. Start the fall off with something new and original; visit the Santa Maria Novella Store at 285 Lafayette Street in Soho, 212-925-0001. Also available at Aedes in New York (http://www.aedes.com).

This introduction to the A-Line should get you started nicely for fall. Also read “Smashing Fall Fragrance Lineup” in this bubble for perfumes which are not part of a major fragrance house.

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