The lives of perfumers have changed so much in the past twenty years. They used to be invisible entities, people who engineered liquids in bottles so that we would all be enchanted, and their work was ascribed to designers, “Bigdeal Designer, for his new perfume…” In fact Big had licensing agreements. Nowadays it’s much more civilized. We recognize that perfumes are worked out like watery equations by perfumers.
Maybe it’s naive to pay too much attention to the work of perfumers simply because they are themselves at the mercy of briefs and of the clients who present said briefs, but now and again, the fumes clear and you can see an individual at work who is clearly highly talented.
Yves Cassar strikes me as one of them. He is responsible for the newer( to many people more wearable) version of White Linen called Pure White Linen, and I have actually come to the conclusion along with a number of other people, that this is the WL I’d wear if the issue ever came up. He also did Tom Ford for Men a modernized masculine cologne that I prefer to Neroli Portofino.
Mr. Cassar has been around for some time and is now a vice President and senior perfumer at IFF, but he still seems to do some perfume writing and one of the perfumes he has composed lately is Absolutely Vital from the Diana Vreeland line.
This particular launch didn’t garner great reviews (neither The Non-Blonde nor Kafkaesque really thought that much of most of them) I was ambivalent but noticed that there were a couple of interesting fragrances in the pack and Absolutely was one of those. I smelled a better class of material and a greater effort inside it than most of the other DV releases, turns out, I wasn’t wrong.
Mr. Cassar has a particular love of raw materials. In fact he likes to obtain and work with those materials when possible and so Absolutely Vital is a bit of a throwback perfume. Although it’s described as an oriental floral, I find that AV straddles the fence that demarcates chypres from orientals, largely by the use of sandalwood. This is the same sort of situation you get with perfumes such as Bois des Isles which is usually identified as a floral aldehyde. AV’s sandalwood rose and jasmine remind me of the better releases of the 1990’s with a greater density and richness of formula than you commonly come across these days at any counter, niche ones included.
Being a fairly spoilt perfumista I don’t know if I would exchange my bottle of Nuit de Noel for one of Absolutely, but I do like this woody floral and I definitely like Pure White Linen. In fact I find myself wishing that Mr. Cassar could be let off the corporate leash a little to create some perfumes with more of the expensive materials he evidently can orchestrate so well into something floral on all its levels. This is a perfumer who really understands flowers and there are not so many of those around. How about a floral aldehyde with cyclamen, ylang ylang, white heliotrope, jasmine and white lavender? Something with no more weight to it than a whim? I know I’m not going to smell such a thing, but wouldn’t it be a kick? I’d want Yves Cassar as my perfumer please.