12/14/13

pc01 (Biehl Parfumkunstwerke)



Last summer I had the displeasure of smelling a disgusting and disgustingly over-priced fruity-floral by Keiko Mecheri called Grenats. It was supposed to be a fresh, apple-centric summer spritz, but instead turned out to be a grating, metallic mess. The one thing that sticks in my memory about it is its awful peach note, which smelled quite literally like syrupy fruit slices struggling to get their odor past the overwhelming smell of a dirty tin can. That was the first of two terrible peach notes I experienced this year, the other being in none other than Guerlain's Mitsouko, which is up for additional review, pending the right weather conditions. I expect to like Mitsouko more the second time around, in freezing temps. Still, its peach note was decidedly not peach, but some strange, plasticky analog of dried fruit. It didn't smell fresh or natural in the least.

I loosely compared Grenats to Creed's Spring Flower, namely because of its acidic Hedione note, which I suppose one could liken to Spring Flower's biting greenness. Thus far in my olfactory travels, Spring Flower has proven to be the best of the unisex fruity-floral perfumes out there, sporting a magnificent lemon/apple/pear/melon accord, backed with the gentlest, sweetest little bouquet of dewy jasmine and rosebuds. Its fruit notes aren't candied and trite. It smells sharp, bitter, mouthwatering, and then grassy, cool, and moistly floral. It's a fragrance that takes you on a little journey. Thus it is the standard to which I hold any and all fruity florals I presently encounter. Because Creed's structure is so unlike your standard designer "sneaker juice," and because its notes are clear representations of natural materials (despite being synthetically replicated), I expect all higher-end fruity-florals to match its deftness of construct and cheerful scent profile. PC01 by Biehl Parfumkunstwerke does an admirable job in meeting the standard.

This one is perfumer Patricia Choux's first perfume for the line, and I admit I'm not familiar with Ms. Choux's portfolio. The word on the street says she's worked for Jo Malone and Marc Jacobs, but I don't know to what extent. The official press release for PC01 succinctly describes the scent as, "sun, finally. a breath of wind. the soul smiles." Using all lowercase letters is part of Biehl's style, and only they can explain why. One of the chief complaints regarding Biehl is that their fragrance titles, with the perfumer's initials preceding the line entry number, are confusing and forgettable. Some have written that they feel it's "homework" trying to remember which perfume is which, or that these names dissuade them from even bothering to approach the brand. I can understand their beef. When someone asks what you're wearing, you want to be able to say, "Sunlit Petals" or something like that, not "PC01." There's no romance in strings of letters and numbers, and Biehl's names are definitely hard to remember and keep track of. God knows there are now thousands of niche scents, and keeping track of them all is difficult, to say the least.

What can I say about how PC01 smells? It's fruity, and a little floral. There are three fruits that greet my nose on the initial spray - a tart lemon, sweet mandarin, and juicy peach, and I feel the peach is miles better than Grenats' and Mitsy's. Peach is like violet and gardenia: there is no accurate synthetic representation of it, but merely olfactory "ideas" of peach, typically rendered in a candied or creamed style. Grenats smelled candied; Mitsy smelled creamy (at best). PC01 actually smells like peach. It smells of peach skin, fresh peach juice, with even a bit of green peach stem. Peaches, like bananas, have a dry, fibrous aroma that mingles with the fruity sweetness, and exhibits slightly metallic off-notes. Patricia Choux avoided the off-notes and went for the best aspect of peach, using a few simple synthetics in total harmony.

After the stunning fruit melange of the first five minutes, PC01 slides into a brief artemisia accord, with accents of bay leaf and thyme. Then the mango note arrives, plush, sweet, smooth, and a wee bit under-cooked, as if the fruit were just a little unripe. I'm not a huge mango fan, but I can appreciate that this smells like mango, very much like it in fact, and it smells good. That it's bolstered by a pleasant neroli and peony accord does not hurt. PC01 hums along nicely with the mango and light floral notes for a solid six hours, before gently fading to a woody musk. Fragrantica cites iris in the pyramid, but I smell not a single hint of it in there.

I heartily suggest to any bonafide lover of fruity-florals that you try PC01 with an open mind, and expect the unexpected when it comes to the lucidity of its fruit notes. There is likely a subset of fragrance connoisseurs who appreciate good mango notes in their perfumes, and if you happen to be a mango fan, this could be your Holy Grail. From thirty minutes into the drydown, to the base several hours later, eighty to ninety percent of what you'll smell is mango, with some softly green floral notes accenting it.

The greenness in PC01 is reminiscent of the angelica note in Grenats, but I can't say there's angelica in Biehl's composition because the loud mango overpowers my ability to discern all of its subtler green underpinnings. Given a choice between this and Spring Flower, I'd still go for the Creed, but barring that option I would happily wear Ms. Choux's creation. Note to Biehl: you need to temporarily discontinue the entire Biehl line and re-release these fragrances with new names. Lose the initials-followed-by-numbers approach, because people hate it, and it's hurting your bottom line. Your fragrances are too good to be held back by something as silly as that.







2 comments:

  1. I preferred the 02 by her (hey, I remembered which one was which!), and found this scent a little strange - its various elements didn't mesh well on me, or maybe I don't like herbal notes and fruit in a scent. I don't much care for peach in fact, though it is somewhat veiled in Mitsouko at least!

    Speaking of which, I had an option on a 30ml tester of the extrait of Mitsouko for £90. I don't love the scent enough to spring for that, but it is quite a good deal if someone was in the market for the parfum.

    Going back to the Biehl range, I am still working up to a review of another scent in this line, and had made up my mind - quite independently - to have a pop at the numbering system, which is a major reason why I have tuned out to this entire line for as long as I can remember, despite often being in Germany and passing entire fixtures with it on!

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    1. I wonder if Spring Flower would work better on you? Although strangely enough I think this type of fragrance works better on men than women. Push it a little further "butch" into Chanel 19 territory and yeah, perfect for both women and men, but with that little bit of extra sweetness/fruitiness, it's steering toward the guys' zone imo.

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