Powder Power…..

Utter the phrase “take a powder” to a fragrance lover. Rather than an invitation to vacate the premises, you will likely bring to mind the multitude of powder-based perfumes, a subject rife with imaginary conflict and drama.

Photo  of Ricky Martin by Emilie Mori©

The word “powder” to a Perfumista elicits a varying response. More often than not people will either smile, sigh and roll their eyes back in their heads with delight, or scream and run for the hills. Powdery perfumes are the perfect example of a first class olfactive love/hate relationship. Powder perfumes are divisive. Many scent lovers, especially men, treat powder as a dismissive note and mutter about “old lady scents” or “what my musty, fusty old Aunties wore!” Dig beneath the surface a bit, and very surprising are the number of people who swear by their dislike of powdery perfumes while not realizing that some of their favorite scents are powder-centric. This may come as quite a shock to many men who treat powdery perfumes as the exclusive domain of the ladies. These men might be of the “I-never-wear-powdery-scents-they’re-only-made-for-women-not-for-me” frame of mind, while liberally dousing themselves with Royal Copenhagen, Tom Ford Noir, Dior Homme,  Burberry Brit For Men, Guerlain Habit Rouge, Mugler A*Men, and so many others which are in their own ways powder-bombs each and every one.

In this era of gender-fluidity, Gentlemen, you can comfortably embrace the power of powdery perfumes and come over to the white fluffy side; you might just be surprised how terrific it smells over here. Here are three of my favorite powder-power perfumes that are not only worth discovering, but also spot-on for the entry-level powder-curious:

Ruven Afanador for Town and Country April 2013 and Shalimar Cologne

Let’s start with one of the Shalimar fragrances by the venerable Maison Guerlain, not only for the iconic status of Shalimar itself, but because it is a perfectly constructed unisex perfume which both women and men have been wearing for decades.  Shalimar is breathtakingly beautiful; it’s vanilla, floral and powdery; women absolutely love it on a man. In 2015, Guerlain released Shalimar Cologne , and the result is a powdery perfume that is as good as it gets. Shalimar Cologne strips away much of the heaviness and “in-your-face” deep oriental notes of the original without losing that classic Shalimar feeling. What’s left is an extraordinarily lightweight and warm weather scent that you will reach for again and again. Playing up the citrus and a sheer vanilla against a beautiful backdrop of orris and musk, Shalimar Cologne is a textbook example of a stunning and easy-wearing powdery perfume.

Christian Lacroix couture, photographed at Versailles by David Sims for Vogue and Terry de Gunzberg Ombre Mercure

Terry de Gunzberg is best known for her women’s cosmetic line and her years as creative director for Yves Saint Laurent, but her own eponymous perfume range is well worth exploring, and one of my favorites is Ombre Mercure (2012). If Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue had a wild younger sister who’s never seen without wearing her Doc Marten knee-high boots, her name would be Ombre Mercure. Like a bomb going off in the dressing room chiffonier of a chateau during the French revolution, Ombre Mercure scatters dry-as-sand violet and iris mixed with deep dark woods through vanilla scented air settling on your skin as light as silk but serious as a heart attack. If you are fond of classic French perfumes with a decidedly contemporary vibe give this powdery perfume a try.

Game of Thrones Daenerys Targaryen Khaleesi (Emilia Clarke) for Entertainment Weekly and Lorenzo Villerosi Teint de Neige 

As they said in Episode 1 of Game of Thrones, “Winter is Coming”, and this is the bottle I want to be holding in my hand when it arrives. In broadcast weather parlance Lorenzo Villoresi’s Teint De Neige (2000) would be called “white out conditions”. It is the powder lovers ultimate Nirvana, the blissed-out “iron throne” of people who love powder-centric perfumes. It is all about the powdery notes, heliotrope, shot through with beautiful floral wisps of Jasmine, Rose, Ylang, and supported on a base of even more powder and creamy musk. It is nothing short of a minor miracle when these notes come together so perfectly and beautifully to deliver a powder bomb of a fragrance that is quite frankly unforgettable on both women and men. True olfactive magic.

So the next time you hear someone say “take a powder”, grab your nearest powdery perfume, sit back and let the compliments pour in.

–Robert Herrmann, Senior Editor, http://www.cafleurebon.com

3 thoughts on “Powder Power…..

  1. Hello! Loved this piece as a former hater of powdery perfumes, I am coming around and actually realise I like a lot of them. I’ve never tried the Lorenzo and will take a spray of the Gunzberg soon as the local parfumerie has this line. Do you recommend any others in that range?


    1. Hi Megan, the Gunzberg line can be kind of hit or miss for me, I love the Rouge Nocturne, it’s a great rose/patch, and the reve opulent is a good white floral. Also check out the Ombre extreme it’s a whole different ballgame. The regular Ombre Mercure is really one of my favorites though. As for the Lorenzo’s so many great scents in the line but just know that the Teint de Neige is a huge powder bomb so absolutely test first. XOXO Robert

      Liked by 1 person

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