Tag Archives: Alexander Lee

Two from Masque to Indulge in This Winter

In 2020 due to growing pandemic situation across the world the activity of perfume brands was drastically reduced. I don’t know any numbers or statistics but I have a feeling that the drop could even reach 80%. The biggest loss and saddest thing to accept was the cancelation of Pitti and Esxence, two biggest niche perfume shows. The latter one was rescheduled to April 2021 only to be rescheduled again to June. If you were smart and tech-savvy, you’d move to online promotion. That’s what Masque Milano did and their 2 new perfumes were launched via Google Meet platform.

Ray-Flection begins with a moderately sweet yet delightfully juicy & mouth-watering scent of mandarin orange. Very shortly some aldehydic tones join and lift up the composition making it feel more airy and effervescent. You do feel a little bit of fattiness from these molecules, even a hint of something waxy & slippery but their aerial aspect is prevailing here. Cardamom introduces a bit of a crunchy, roasty spiciness to the backbone of the perfume. Heart of Ray-Flection reveals a floral bouquet in which a pollen sweetness of mimosa flowers whispers tenderly in your ear and gently caresses your face. It’s a pretty smell, a very happy & optimistic one. It is paired with violet leaf – its green color contrasts with the yellowness of the pom-poms. The smell it has is dewy, slightly ozonic and aromatic. Both are wrapped together, almost like a ribbon that ties a bouquet, with a solar accord. On my skin it feels a bit crystalline, lactonic and with a delicate impression of jasmine. While I don’t consider this new creation from Masque to be a challenging scent, the base is the hardest for me to bear. Beeswax becomes quite prominent on my skin and I am not very fond of it. It adds an impression of something too synthetic and artificial, at least to my nose. Then there’s some cedarwood and musk to help the perfume last longer on skin. I believe mimosa lovers should try Ray-Flection, even if only just out of curiosity. To me it stands few steps behind my favorite.

Last year Masque branched out of their main line by introducing Le Donne di Masque, a series of more feminine fragrances composed by female perfumers. I believe first two, Dolceacqua and Petra were already on preview in 2019. This line celebrate 10th anniversary of the brand and the aforementioned two are reinterpretations of Masque first releases. Late in 2020 a third persona was added. Maceleine is a gourmand perfume that goes straight to the point. The wearer is welcomed by a powerful accord of chestnut. The complex identity of the note hides in the fact that it captures the multiple facets of this Parisian delicacy. It’s nutty and at the same time caramelized. A little bit burnt on the outside but soft & perfectly cooked inside. Combined with a generous spoonfull of heavy cream that has been whipped to add some lightness to the concoction. Cumin… there’s not much of it but I get a bit of a specific stench in the background and I associate it with the smell of some of the streets in Paris. Then there’s a lactonic, creamy tuberose that doesn’t overwhelm but rather melts into nut-n-cream feeling. Cypress and geranium add a tad of crunchiness but their verdancy doesn’t stand out in this foody fragrance. Tonka bean amplifies the creamy vibe that Madeleine creates but at least now it’s got that aromatic, rich (yet mild) spiciness that feels like some sprinkles on top of this dessert. The sweetness of vanilla and fluffy clouds of musk complete the perfume. I know it’s got zero calories but how much sugar can your nose take? I think this perfume can be either love or hate, it smells polarizing if you ask me.

I like the idea of an online launch in times of covid. Where the brand founders along with respective perfumer explain the perfume to a selected group of attendees who were sent the samples prior to the event (mine didn’t make it on time so I didn’t attend) but in case of Ray-Flection and Madeleine as much as I have no doubts about quality of both fragrances, because in this field Masque always delivers, neither of them feels a special to me as L’Attesa or Kintsugi. However I am convinced that many fans of the brand will enjoy using one or both of these new scents. Fingers crossed!

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Defining Undefined at Pitti Fragranze 2018 – part 3

My second day at Pitti Fragranze was full of interesting and unexpected events. I tried many perfume on that day, met some new people & listened to some interesting conversations and panel discussions that broadened my horizons and taught me new things about scent culture in different parts of the world. In the evening some spontaneous actions resulted in having the most amazing dinner in Florence ever. Surrounded by 4 perfumers, 2 brand owners, fellow blogger and few more people by the table we enjoyed food, drinks and conversations. It was a good day.

Normally at the end of my 2nd day at the fair I would’ve been cautious to not stay out too long. It’s because I always had to pack all my stuff beforehand so that I could leave my rented room early in the morning to arrive at the airport on time. But not this year. Return flights were not in my favor either and Aeroporto di Bologna was closed for a few days including the weekend when I was in Florence. In the end I decided to stay in Italy for a bit longer and fly back home on Tuesday.

Used to having two days to discover things I wanted, this extra day that I got for the first time since I started going to Fragranze was very calm for me. I indeed tried most of the things on Friday and Saturday. In fact I dedicated Sunday to spending more time with people, since it’s them who create the entire atmosphere.After a few years people become more important than perfume. Also for the first time the show wasn’t open to public on final day which was clearly visible in the corridors that were not as crowded as usual. Weird choice to not allow potential costumers to enter.

I didn’t smell so much on that day, only a couple of perfume I missed earlier. For example Jasmagonda, a new proposal from Pierre Guillaume – a Collection Rework composition for Drama Nuui. It was a beautifully clear magnolia & jasmine scent with transparent and delicate facets. I also tested two scents from Parco 1923. Concept of this brand is to use ingredients obtained from plants that only grow in the region of Abruzzo. Fragrances were ok but didn’t stay in my memory. Another new try for me was 401 E. Amatrice. Their only perfume is bearing the same name as the brand and apparently contains 140 ingredients! I’m immune to such talk, how would I smell all that?

After having longer and insightful talks with many people around the fair, especially with Nick from Gallivant came the time to do some commemorative photos with them as well. Luckily nobody opposed. I also stopped by the booth of Map of the Heart, mostly because the other day we were walking down the street in Florence, next to each other and we didn’t recognize each other… They were launching White Heart dedicated to love – with aldehydes, white flowers, lavender and bit of spice. It smelled very unusual. And after recommendation from Alex I also smelled Antonio Alessandria Fara, a sparkling lemonade perfume but with a sweaty cumin undertone in the background. We also tried a range of Abel together. It’s an affordable line of all natural fragrances.

I had a great lunch with Alex Lee at a nearby cafe and a great chat with Stephanie Bakouche regarding my current position at work and how I can make a change. In chat with Cecile Zarokian I tried to find out about her recent work but her lips were sealed. That’s how Fragranze 16 was drawing towards its end. Even though it was open until 6 PM, many brands started packing around 4 PM. Everyone wanted to make it back home as soon as possible after these 3 tiring days.

Observation I (and not just me) made during this edition of Pitti Fragranze was that there was overally less brands exhibiting, fewer people visiting, many people looked tired. Some brands even stated that it’s probably their last time at the Florentine fair. Why? Because TFWA Exhibition (Tax Free World Association) in Cannes was happening only few weeks later. For most there was no reason to exhibit in both places and they opted for Cannes. There’s something else that disturbs me.

The fact is that none of the niche brands is big and rich enough to be able to actually have a stand in the main area at TFWA – this place is dominated by Dior, Guerlain, Chanel and tens of other brands you can see at the airport duty-free. So what niche does? Niche rents hotel suites or yahts to organize little showrooms where you can visit them by appointment. Surely a great way to scoop some audience, especially that masses of people visit Cannes for that exhibition.

I wonder if in next years Pitti Fragranze will slowly start to deteriorate… I sure hope not.

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