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Speed-Smelling IFF – Post Modern Collection 2017 - Sophie Labbé Eau de Cologne Reimagined

Post-Modern building by Frank Gehry - Dancing House, Prague 

Hot and dry. Then hot and humid. It’s summer. It’s hot no matter which way you cut it. 

It’s time for eau de cologne. 

Eau de cologne is a fragrance family that I love. EdC scents feature notes of citrus, flowers, and herbs formulated as a low concentration of aromatic compounds, about 5%, in an alcohol base, and are typically light, fresh, and  linear in character. 

This type of fragrance was not created for seduction but rather as a grooming tool in an era of formal dressing, a time when bathing and changes of clothing were much less frequent and deodorant wasn’t even a word. The most famous eau de cologne is 4711, created in 1799 in Cologne, Germany by a company named Maurer and Wirtz. 4711 is still made in Cologne today by Maurer and Wirtz, and their iconic eau de cologne continues to sell worldwide. 

Eau de Cologne scents were intended to be applied often, or as often as needed, which has now become part of their appealing charm, especially in hot weather. Keep your bottle in the fridge and recharge instantly with a quick cool spritz – works for me! Just make certain you don’t spray it in your eye, like I did the other day…

I was really truly happy to discover an Eau de Cologne by Sophie Labbé in the Speed Smelling* IFF Post-Modern Collection 2017 I bought last fall. The set contains fourteen original and rare off-the-grid fragrances, all created by professional perfumers connected to International Flavors and Fragrances, the global company which sponsors the IFF Fragrance Awards every year. Read my post which explains Speed Smelling* 2017 and the Dominique Ropion scent, Kyphi.

For the 2017 event, the creative brief was to “use irony, a characteristic of the Post-Modern movement, breaking codes to better reconstruct them.” The roots of modern perfumery go deep into history…accepted methods of matching and balancing various notes and materials haven’t changed much for decades… but with new technologies and materials, perfumers can explore new creative paths.

For over thirty years Sophie Labbé has created beautiful fragrances for luxury brands such as Bulgari, Estee Lauder, Givenchy, Giorgo Armani, Ferragamo, Guerlain, Jill Sander, Kenzo, Yves St. Laurent, and in 2017 she had creative carte blanche:  work without a brief, ignore the cost, and break the perfume rules. Using some of the newest materials developed by IFF, she chose to explore a new path for eau de cologne, revising the structure from top to bottom. 

The first big rule Sophie Labbé broke was to omit citrus, like lemon, lime, orange, etc. which she replaces with ginger, using a very modern IFF/LMR ingredient ginger oil fresh which is the scent of fresh grated ginger root. A generous spritz of the EdC on the back of my hand is definitely gingery and fresh but it also smells of lemon. What’s going on? 

Being in a Show Me kind of mood, I go into the kitchen and grate a piece of fresh ginger which I always have on hand, and hold the root under my nose for an up-close sniff. The first sensation is the sharp ginger bite, then the unique ginger aroma, and then I smell the lemon, like zesty juice or juicy zest with just a hint of pine resin.  Yup, it’s the same as the EdC opening I just experienced, only fresher and stronger. Remarkable!

In a couple of minutes the spritz on the back of my hand releases the scent of coriander (cilantro), coolly aromatic and green, which seems to add a small measure of sweetness. Underneath the opening accord, a peppery presence is developing. As EdC Reimagined dries down, bitter notes are added, such as gentian flower distillation used in Swiss and Italian aperitifs and liqueurs, and elemi, the tree resin in Angostura bitters, which strengthens the pine note and along with pink pepper maintains the fresh character and deepens the spiciness. 

Like all Eau de Cologne scents, the dry-down is quite linear but now the ginger accord softens with a warm woodiness, still fresh but moving into a chypre effect with woods and moss in the dry-down, which is the second deviation from the traditional EdC structure which focuses on herbs and flowers. Sophie Labbé achieves this through the use of another contemporary material, vetiver heart LMR. In an interview with The Perfume Society she describes why she loves the vetiver heart: “It has the gorgeous distinctive note of vetiver without its rooty smoky facet, and with a refreshing grapefruit hint.” More of the missing citrus, which is very subtle, and very lovely. 

The last big rule challenged in EdC Reimagined was the short-lived nature of eau de colognes, due to the low ratio of juice to alcohol. As modern fragrance consumers we mostly prefer our scents to be long-lasting, and Sophie Labbé solves this issue by adding musks to her formula. AmbertonicTM, AmbroxanTM  and SinfonideTM give her post-modern eau de cologne a stronger sillage and longer duration on the skin. At the end of the day the scent still wafts fresh and light, the ginger and peppery lemon notes buoyed by green vetiver and warm musks. A perfect scent for a warm evening. 

EdC Reimagined is Eau de Cologne like you’ve never imagined – it’s very modern and very fabulous! 

Sophie Labbe EdC Re-imagined is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

NOTE: The fragrances in Speed Smelling* IFF Post-Modern Collection 2017  are identified only by the name of the perfumer. I assigned the Dominique Ropion fragrance the name Kyphi, and the Sophie Labbe fragrance I named EdC Reimagined.

Don't forget that colognes are non-gendered, they'll smell great on anyone! Read about our Decant Pack “Eau! Those Colognes!”.

Image-Wikipedia - Dino Quizani, August 6, 2008