Mandarine Glaciale by Atelier Cologne

Year: 2015

Notes: Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian lemon, Calabrian mandarin, Paraguayan petitgrain, Chinese ginger, Egyptian jasmine, white amber, Haitian vetiver, Slovenian oakmoss

Comment: Mandarine Glaciale is part of the Collection Azur
Opening with a somewhat subdued array of citruses, Mandarine Glaciale comes across as a somewhat duller version of Orange Sanguine, but with a generous serving of ginger thrown in for good measure.

There's also a rooty or earthy aspect that's rather prominent in the citrus introduction, which is probably due to the ginger and (to a larger extent) vetiver. With predictable notes, such as jasmine and amber, one finds it very difficult to discern any oakmoss during the drydown. Ultimately, it's all very underwhelming.

Packaged in deep venetian blue glass bottles, with a leather label, the concept of the Collection Azur revolves around "where sea and sky become one". But, from a cynical point of view, this collection is practically a rip-off of Acqua di Parma's Blu Mediterraneo line – both conceptually and aesthetically.

It wouldn't be so terrible if the fragrances themselves were half-decent but, with the exception of Figuier Ardent, they're clearly not. When a niche house becomes more focused on increasing market share, than building up a consistently impressive portfolio, it completely betrays what 'niche' supposedly stands for. Mandarine Glaciale is further indication that Atelier Cologne is yet another niche house that values profit margins over artistry.

Both sillage and lasting power are sorely lacking.


Figuier Ardent by Atelier Cologne

Year: 2015

Notes: Calabrian bergamot, Madagascan black pepper, Guatemalan cardamom, Turkish aniseed, fig leaves from Provence, salty fig, iris from Tuscany, Brazilian tonka bean, Virginian cedar

Comment: Figuier Ardent is part of the Collection Azur
With apparent parallels to L'Artisan's Premier Figuier and Diptyque's Philosykos, Figuier Ardent comes across as more natural than these two classic niche renditions of fig.

However, once the vibrant bergamot and fig opening dissipates, the spices end up being too heavy-handed and stunt the composition's momentum (particularly the aniseed, which feels misplaced). During the mid-stage, the fig re-emerges but, this time, is creamier rather than fresh.

With a powderiness from the iris, the tonka bean and cedar drydown is disappointingly generic. Personally, one would have much preferred the verdant fig aspect to persist all the way through. Instead, any verdency recedes straight after the opening and occasionally reappears throughout the drydown. But, whenever the fig is firmly in the driver's seat, it's convincingly juicy and hyperrealistic.

While it's far from perfect, it's still a respectable addition to the slew of fig fragrances currently available. Sillage is moderate but it persists on the skin for several hours.


Cèdre Atlas by Atelier Cologne

Year: 2015

Notes: Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian lemon, apricot, blackcurrant buds from Burgundy, Egyptian jasmine, white amber, Haitian vetiver, Indian papyrus, Moroccan High Atlas cedar

Comment: Cèdre Atlas is part of the Collection Azur
It was only a matter of time before Atelier Cologne turned its attention to cedar...

With so many uninspired male fragrances possessing a derivative woody-amber base, the last thing the world really needs is Cèdre Atlas.

One has to confess an acute distaste for this dry, yet occasionally creamy, woody component because, within the world of modern perfumery, its use is excessively common (both natural and synthetic). With that said, it's a transparent amber and cedar affair, with soft fruity flourishes and a hint of jasmine. However, none of the other accords can save it from being a banal experience.

An utterly pointless release, with poor sillage and subpar longevity.


Sud Magnolia by Atelier Cologne

Year: 2015

Notes: Florida pomelo, Sevillian bitter orange, blackcurrant from Burgundy, Indian saffron, Bulgarian rose, Louisianan magnolia, Moroccan High Atlas cedar, New Caledonian sandalwood, musk

Comment: Sud Magnolia is part of the Collection Azur
Sud Magnolia commences with a sprightly citrus and blackcurrant combination, before the emergence of some saffron and rose.

But, by the time the woody-musk base reveals itself, one realises just how subdued the supposed star accord is. Overall, it's soft, slightly sweet and inoffensive, yet features a derivative cedar-infused drydown. With regards to staying power and projection, both are also underwhelming.

With the Collection Azur being the fifth line, from Atelier Cologne, one strongly believes that this house should focus exclusively on its first two collections (i.e. Collection Originale and Collection Matières Absolues), as the last two lines have been mediocre at best. With at least seven new fragrances scheduled, for 2015, this French niche house seriously needs to slow down and do some much needed culling.

An extra star awarded solely for the pleasant fruity top notes.


Pomélo Paradis by Atelier Cologne

Year: 2015

Notes: Florida pink pomelo, Calabrian mandarin, Chinese mint, blackcurrant buds from Burgundy, Moroccan orange blossom, Bulgarian rose, iris from Tuscany, amber, Haitian vetiver

Comment: Pomélo Paradis is part of the Collection Originale
Pomélo Paradis is undoubtedly one of Atelier Cologne's finest offerings to date. As a rendition of the exuberant zestiness of the grapefruit-like pomelo, it's in the same league as Orange Sanguine and Cédrat Enivrant.

The top notes are extremely realistic – with a citrus astringency, typically associated with grapefruit, enhanced by a juicy combination of mandarin and blackcurrant. The opening faithfully reproduces the olfactory sensation of tearing into a ripe pomelo, which harbours an invigorating tartness within its succulent pulp. But what makes this composition so successful is how it also manages to completely avoid the body odour pitfall, which many grapefruit-based fragrances have fallen prey to.

As it develops, the floral aspect never intrudes and the amber is never too sweet. And while the vetiver provides a light woody backdrop, one can also identify a suggestive civet-like infusion in the base, which provides a very sensual nuance – so much one that finds the drydown just as captivating as its citreous introduction. During the late-drydown, remnants of citrus still remain but it's now woodier, with the animal musk aspect being a little more discernible.

What one especially loves about Pomélo Paradis is that, from beginning to end, it's full of interesting twists and turns. It's also a beguiling effort that restores some faith in this niche house. Now, if only most of this house's other releases were just as good...

Projection is moderate but its staying power is above average for what it is.


Oud Saphir by Atelier Cologne

Year: 2015

Notes: Calabrian bergamot, Indian ambrette seeds, Chinese pink pepper, violet leaves from Grasse, Egyptian jasmine, iris, Madagascan vanilla, davana, suede, Chinese birch, dark oud accord, immortelle, sandalwood

Comment: Oud Saphir is part of the Collection Métal
While Gold Leather vaguely resembled Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather, Oud Saphir goes even further and blatantly impersonates it.

With an almost raspberry-infused rubbery darkness being the composition's backdrop, whatever oud is present is noticeably thin. Even if that wasn't the case, one is unable to relate to the so-called 'dark oud accord', within the resinous and woody context of genuine oud oil itself.

Ultimately, it ends up emulating the aroma of charred leather than oud, which makes Oud Saphir a misleading name. Furthermore, it smells very synthetic from beginning to end. As Surrati's Tom Tuskan Leather is cheaply priced, it makes the far more expensive Oud Saphir a woefully redundant release.

With minimal development, projection is moderate and longevity is at least six hours.


Rendez-Vous by Atelier Cologne

Year: 2014

Notes: Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian lemon, Chinese pink pepper, violet leaves from Grasse, Chinese osmanthus, iris from Tuscany, suede, Indonesian patchouli, white musk

Comment: Rendez-Vous is part of the Collection Les Exclusives
When one first sampled Rendez-Vous, one sensed a strong sense of deja-vu. After some pondering, one now knows the reason why, which may also explain its limited edition release.

In a nutshell, Rendez-Vous is practically a tweaked version of Silver Iris but with some suede added. A brighter array of citruses have been used, the osmanthus replaces Silver Iris' mimosa, and some white musk has been favoured over Silver Iris' tonka bean and amber base notes. Apart from these adjustments, most of the accords are pretty much the same.

And although Rendez-Vous is less syrupy than Silver Iris, it's still sweet nonetheless (and with almost identical berry-like nuances). However, in contrast, Rendez-Vous is more restrained on the skin yet still long-lasting.

With that said, one can't help but conclude that Rendez-Vous is nothing more than a lazy cash grab, primarily aimed at Atelier Cologne enthusiasts and completists.


Sous le Toit de Paris by Atelier Cologne

Year: 2012

Notes: Sicilian bergamot, African bitter orange, French violet leaves, South Africa geranium, Moroccan neroli, Brazilian tonka bean, Haitian vetiver, leather, musk

Comment: Sous le Toit de Paris is part of the Collection Les Exclusives
Sous le Toit de Paris is a sensual and rather pleasant offering, albeit not that ground-breaking.

Opening with candied orange peel and violet leaves, it's a sweet, airy and soapy affair, which rests on a clean leathery-musk base. Possessing a fleeting, yet piercing, geranium accord, there's also a subtle verdant leaning beneath all the floral sweetness. With a vanillic drydown, the tonka bean soon increases its presence but the vetiver remains largely inconspicuous.

As enchanting as it is, one would have preferred better performance on the skin. Regardless of this downside, it's certainly better than many of the non-exclusive releases from this French niche house.

With very little sillage, its lasting power is around six hours.


Incense Flash by Tauerville

Year: 2015

Notes: Boswellia Serrata frankincense, leather, ambergris, musky woods
Within less than the space of a year, Tauerville has launched four fragrances. The latest one is Incense Flash, but it seems to be a budget-priced rehash of one of Andy Tauer's earlier works, Incense Extrême. Disregarding the affordable price point, one gets the impression that it's pretty much a redundant affair.

Coming across as a pared-down version of Incense Extrême, with leather nuances and a less rich frankincense premise, Incense Flash leaves one quite underwhelmed. It's clean, vaguely resinous, and harbours a pleasantly sweet, animalic and woody muskiness in the base. With a more natural-smelling aroma, as opposed to smoky or liturgical, it's too airy and provides no new olfactory insights into this resin.

With insubstantial longevity and sillage, it's sadly a forgettable offering.


Vetiver & Petitgrain Splash by Tauerville

Year: 2015

Notes: petitgrain, orange blossom, vetiver
Vetiver & Petitgrain Splash is a water-based summer fragrance.

Marketed for use on the skin, around the home and on linen, its 2.5% concentration is less than that of an Eau de Cologne (3% being the minimum). Naturally, this begs the question as to why any house would even bother with such a product – it's such a simple composition that anyone could make their own version of it, with some decent quality essential oils and a little patience.

While the price is reasonable, it's nothing more than a pointless novelty release, primarily aimed at Andy Tauer fans, frivolous consumerists and those who aren't willing to create something similar themselves.