Fragrance Finds: The Smell of Confidence

by Mark Thompson

EDGE Style & Travel Editor

Thursday July 26, 2012

What's more sexy than confidence? You can smell it across the room, pulling you closer like a subliminal aphrodisiac.

Confidence lets you forge your own way. Confidence is wearing a purple pocket square with Prince of Wales plaid. Confidence is a pair of fuchsia socks.

Confidence combined with a good fragrance seals the deal. Some people know just what to wear to bring out their conquering hero.

And confidence is knowing that fragrance is non-gendered - no matter what the marketers want you to believe. Confidence is wearing what smells good on you. Let your nose lead the way and follow your intuition.

Because confidence trusts.

By Kilian: Bamboo Harmony

On a recent visit to the South of France, we spent an afternoon at Chateau de Flaugergues, one of Montpellier's more spectacular "folies," those summer homes built for the city's elite during the 17th and 18th centuries. Count Henri de Colbert, the chateau's owner, toured us through the ten-acre parks and gardens, including a forest of bamboo that was as still and pristine as a temple in Kyoto. Later, we sipped wine from the chateau's vineyard.

Kilian Hennessy, cognac heir and scion to the LVMH Group, would have been completely at home in this setting - and, in fact, such a setting might well have inspired him (and perfumer Calice Becker) to create their latest collaboration: Bamboo Harmony.

Released alongside Water Calligraphy as part of By Kilian's new Asian Tales collection, Bamboo Harmony is as lovely as a summer afternoon in the south of France. The light fragrance is a reflection of the quiet encountered in a forest of bamboo after a morning rain. Subtle citrus notes of bergamot, bigarade, and neroli segue into an ethereal trio of heartnotes comprised of white tea, bamboo, and mimosa.

The sensation is not unlike a sip of Champagne in the midsummer sun: you feel elevated and buoyant, as if you're riding a breeze. Bamboo Harmony's clean finish is marked by green notes of maté and oak moss.

In traditional Chinese culture, bamboo (alongside orchid, plum blossom, and chrysanthemum) is considered one of the "four gentlemen," serving as a guide for the behavior of gentlemen.

Unlike several of Becker's more exuberant creations for By Kilian, Bamboo Harmony is a model of restraint and decorum. This is the scent of inspired confidence: there's no horn blowing here, no fragrance trumpets. Instead, Bamboo Harmony reflects the integrity of a person at peace in the world - not unlike a forest of bamboo: upright and elegant.

PRICE: $225.00 (refill $125.00) / 1.7 oz.
LINK: By Kilian


Strange Invisible Perfumes: Eau de Parfum

What do you remember of Peloponnesus save for the war that brought an end to the golden age of Greece? Heroic, perhaps - but there's no question that the Peloponnesian War was fought in one of the most beautiful and fragrant parts of the ancient world. Hence the name of Strange Invisible Perfumes' potent elixir of cypress and citrus that evokes a Greek island paradise.

High above the Aegean, the air is close and warm. The scent of orange and lime is heavy in the summer air. You've lost the others, left them behind as you wander through the gardens outside the palace. Below you is the beach, where you yearn to swim in the deep blue sea. You've discovered the tortuous path down the rugged terrain; you've seen the men coming and going. Heroic Greek soldiers from another time, the musky scent of masculinity lingering in the undergrowth.

Founded in 2000 by botanical perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis, Strange Invisible Perfumes is dedicated to creating fragrances from real botanical essences. Balahoutis utilizes 100% certified organic, beverage-grade grape alcohol alongside her proprietary blends of ethically sourced essential oils.

Strange Invisible Perfumes are certified organic, wildcrafted, biodynamic, and pesticide-free. The company's fragrances are designed, hand-blended, and bottled in Venice, California, which is also where the Strange Invisible Perfumes boutique is located.

Magnetic and romantic, Peloponnesian returns you to the glories of ancient Greece.

PRICE: $160.00 / 1.7. fl. oz.
LINK: Peloponnesian


Ormonde Jayne: Ta’if

Gertrude Stein knew: a rose is a rose is a rose. What Gertrude didn't know is what happens when perfumer Linda Pilkington of Ormonde Jayne gets hold of a rose, specifically the Ta'if damask rose grown 5,000 feet above the Red Sea along the Arabian desert.

Ta'if roses are harvested only during the month of April - and handpicked early each morning. A rose this rarefied begs for exceptionality.

Ormonde Jayne's Ta'if is nothing less than the Lawrence of Arabia of fragrance: a sophisticated and audacious floral oriental blend that opens with pink pepper and saffron. The sweet smell of dates and white peaches wafts in from the bazaar, with a hint of cedar and resin.

Like a desert wind, T.E. Lawrence sweeps through the market, leaving a trail of orange flower and amber. As charismatic as the man portrayed by Peter O'Toole, Ta'if is dynamic and daring - the scent of a person unmistakably in control.

Riveting to witness, intoxicating to smell, you might easily follow a man wearing Ta'if clear across the desert.

PRICE: $125 / 50 ml. spray
LINK: Ta'if


Hugo Boss: Bottled Night

On a recent trip to Vegas, we met a charismatic businessman, not yet thirty and in charge of a brand-new $500 million redevelopment project in the middle of the Strip. His youthful confidence and savoir faire charged the air around him and charmed those who met him.

That's who we thought of as soon as we spritzed Hugo Boss's Bottled Night. A deep, masculine fragrance, with a sensual heart, Bottled Night opens with top notes of lavender and birch leaves. What gives Bottled Night its heft, however, are the aromatic middle notes of African violet and jasmine mixed with cardamom.

Introduced by an advertising campaign that features Ryan Reynolds, Bottled Night is bottled in midnight blue in the signature Boss flacon. An extension of Hugo Boss Bottled, one of the world's most popular fragrances with more than 60 million flacons sold, Bottled Night evokes the sensual intensity of a night in Vegas. Everything is available; anything can happen. It's all within reach - if you've got the confidence.

Bottled Night's basenotes are Brazilian louro amarelo, complemented by sandalwood and musk: a sensual combination of woody nuances that linger on the sofa in the living room of your Vegas suite. In the morning, you might breathe in Bottled Night when you find his rep tie hanging over the armchair. A bit of the Vegas night - and his sultry confidence - still hovering in the air. Confident enough to leave his card, you know you're going to call him.

PRICE: $65.00 / 3.4 oz.
LINK: Bottled Night


A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.