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Avant-garde - No straight cut angles - January 25, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Wikimedia - Bronze Perfumeur, Grasse, France

Avant-garde: from French, “advance guard” – refers to people or works that are unorthodox or daring, radical, experimental or innovative with respect to art, culture and politics. (Wikipedia)

Avant-garde is the name of a fragrance by M. Micallef, the luxury perfume company located in Grasse, France. Launched in the men’s category in 2006, it seems to have flown since then under the blogosphere radar – not many posts, and no appearances on “Best of” lists, partly because of the restrictive ‘male’ tag which belies its non-gendered appeal, but also because of its avant-garde-ness, its strangeness that sets it apart from the pack. It is outside-the-box.

The opening is citrus, but I don’t know if I’m smelling lime, lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, or orange – it’s citrus salad, fresh and juicy, but as soon as I lock down that image, someone close by starts tamping sweet tobacco into their pipe, and spooning dark cocoa powder into the fruit bowl. The sensation is on the edge of gourmand, a sharp fruitiness hovering over dark smoky powder, which balances for a minute or two – reminding me of the unconventional opening of Mon Patchouly by Ramón Monegal - and then begins to soften into buttery sueded leather as the dry-down begins.

The effect becomes one of darkness and softness, which expands as the heart of Avant-garde reveals incense, edged with the subtle aromatics of the tobacco and cocoa. It’s an enticing accord, which in the base becomes powdery from amber, with the faintest hint of dark almondy vanilla from tonka bean. In the end, Avant-garde is a sensual skin-scent which delivers a lovely balanced and charismatic sillage, still tinged with its initial strange citrus  smokiness. I’ve always admired my Micallef frag in its solid black bottle, and now after really wearing it, l’ve decided I love it.

M.Micallef is an interesting company. Started by Martine Micallef and Geoffrey Nejman in 1997, the husband and wife team has created an exceptional, trend-setting line of artisanal luxury perfumes from a shared love of each other, and the desire to create art. They were one of the first to use real oud in their scents perfumes –they were way ahead of the pack with Aoud in 1997.  In a cafleurebon interview, Jan 12, 2012, Martine says:

“When I met Geoffrey, it felt like it was written across the sky that we would always be together. You cannot avoid your destiny. And if I had to do it again, nothing would be different….We are complementary ….I create and design bottles, packagings; I am the 'idea' person and Geoffrey helps develop the fragrances together with famous Jean Claude Astier…. We use the finest ingredients and we do not skimp on ingredients and pay premium costs. It is always a mix of the best natural ingredients and some synthetics which are at highest quality….There is a signature to all our fragrances; always there is sensuality, warmth and a softness.  I don't like straight cut angles."

Is Avant-garde radical or experimental? No, it’s not that “in-your-face” kind of avant-garde. It’s the more subtle  “innovative and unorthodox” variety, with its balance of citrus and smoky, gourmand and powdery, cool and warm, fresh and dark. It feels very contemporary and on-trend compared to many new “big’ frags I’ve recently sniffed, and it smells expensive, like a well-made perfume should!

Avant-garde is subtle, smooth, sensual, and elegant, and has no "straight cut angles". Not one.

Today, we’re adding Avant-garde to our decant offering. Decants are $5.00.