MARCH 2014 - The General Aesthete



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National Fragrance Day

Today is National Fragrance Day, which is just another one of those not-really-a-holiday holidays. Nonetheless, as has been hinted here before, I’m a serious fragrance lover myself. I am the crazy person that, in a state of perfume-induced inebriation, wanders out of Aedes de Venustas to the streets of New York City, like a drunk straight from the bar. My endless fascination with the sense of smell, the evocations of fragrance, and how perfume works with an individual’s body chemistry, have resulted in a collection that could adequetely perfume a few lifetimes. I thought it might be fun to introduce you to a couple of my favorites that are well-suited to this time of year, and also look good on the shelf (this is The General Aesthete, after all).

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The Infidels by AGONIST

AGONIST is one of my favorite fragrance houses; based in Sweden, their scents are inspired by the Nordic climate and culture, and their raw but nuanced approach to perfume and tone is really in its own league.

The Infidels is an unusual and strangely faceted perfume that I consider on the masculine side of unisex. At first spray, you get a strong, surprisingly fresh smell, which, with a little time, develops into something rich and mysterious, but still quietly underlined by sharpness. The concentrated jammy base, combined with a good dose of cumin, evokes something carnal but not overbearing. During its dark phase, The Infidels offers woody florals, aforementioned cumin that progresses through its own chapters, and an interesting powder note, something I’d typically shy away from, but that is not off-putting or flat. The Infidels is not so unusual as to be distracting, but its references to brooding anger and sex are interesting to experience as it develops on your skin. Strangely, it seems that after this low-on-the-skin heaviness passes, the perfume returns to a palatable (albeit very discreet) freshness, almost like it never happened in the first place, making The Infidels one of those perfumes that is even more for the wearer than for those you encounter. As AGONIST describes the fragrance as “inspired by the exact moment when the bud is about to burst,” The Infidels is perfect for those still-cold spring nights.

 

 

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Geranium pour Monsieur by Frédéric Malle

On a fresher note, Geranium pour Monsieur by Frédéric Malle is a genius composition by perfumer Dominique Ropion. On paper, the clean sharpness of this fragrance would make for something I’d be hesitant to even consider, but it turns out Geranium pour Monsieur is a bit of a perfume Trojan horse. The bitter mint and menthol opening is structured in a way that isn’t comparable to the mint quality you might be used to in other men’s fragrance (read: chewing gum), but it isn’t really wearable at that pitch. Luckily, in short time, it develops into a perfectly elegant, very clean, but distinctive scent. The inclusion of interesting synthetic additives (an across-the-industry norm, but something the Malle house seems to excel in) provides odd notes of anise and floral that you can’t quite pinpoint, but don’t have a chemical tone, making for the perfect dry down, where a discreet note of incense also makes an appearance. Simple, but thoughtfully composed without even a single floral note, Geranium pour Monsieur is a fragrance that is decidedly spring.

More at: AGONIST, Frédéric Malle

“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”
― Patrick Süskind, Perfume

Lighting by Lukas Peet

Lukas Peet is a Canadian designer who received his industrial design training at the prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. This year’s winner of Canada’s The Design Exchange Emerging Designer competition, Peet practices in several fields, receiving much recognition for his elegantly minimalist lighting designs.

Lukas Peet, Rudi

One of Peet’s most iconic designs is the Rudi series. Produced in collaboration with New York City-based manufacturer Roll & Hill, Rudi consists of bent metal tubes holding dimmable cold cathode lamps. The form resembles fine jewelry, and the light is suspended by its own cord, simply knotted at the top.

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A couple of Peet’s latest designs include Slab, a flat LED pendant, produced in a variety of surfaces (shown in felt), as well as Button, a tiltable LED pendant that hangs from a nylon rope through holes in the lamp itself, just like a button.

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While Peet’s striking table lamps are only prototypes, their studied, timeless designs are certainly worth mentioning. Specular and Diffuse merge beauty and function; Specular, inspired by specular reflections and rays of light, illuminates both table surface and ceiling, without the blinding effect of a bare bulb. Diffuse, a smaller-scale lamp, is composed of a ceramic base and a simple mirrored bulb to produce a warm table or desktop glow.

With many outstanding lighting designers emerging of late, Lukas Peet is certainly one to keep an eye on. Though this is just a brief introduction to one facet of his work, Peet’s imaginative, but practical designs have a stamp and direction all their own.

More at: Lukas Peet Design

Light Interventions by Javier Riera

Jaiver Riera

Javier Riera

Jaiver Riera

Jaiver Riera

Spanish artist Javier Riera’s light “interventions” are created by projecting geometric shapes onto natural vegetation. The play of light and shape manipulates our perception of the organic design and edges of nature we are so accustomed to, resulting in an impressive sight that is also sometimes strangely sci-fi.

Riera’s ongoing investigation into the relationship between landscape and geometry includes  realtime projections in public spaces, including a highly regarded installation at the Turia Gardens in Valencia, where 11 light projections were situated throughout a path of 200 meters.

Describing his work, Riera states: “My intervention is ephemeral, it does not leave a trace in nature. It comes and leaves.”

More at: Javier Riera

3.1 Phillip Lim FW14

3.1 Phillip Lim Menswear F/W 2014

Phillip Lim’s version of the western man is a cool one; not the Marlboro Man and definitely not in the Ralph Lauren realm, his look is city smart, but on an American West canvas. This cowboy inspiration in Lim’s 3.1 Fall 2014 collection made use of the expected: leather and denim, but Lim also made a good effort to work in a bit of the future, with metallics and textural combinations that keep the collection from looking too calculated.

The simpler pieces really carry the presentation, where the clothes don’t read as having an agenda (the horse motif might be a bit literal). The fits aren’t always traditional, and it is a good thing; tops are flowy, but fall perfectly, and the layering doesn’t come off baggy, instead clean and just a notch below “too much.” Oversized sweaters could not be more effortlessly hip, and my favorite homage to the cowboy, Lim’s interpretation of the classic silk range scarf, is surprising in that it actually works.

See the complete collection at: 3.1 Phillip Lim

Photos: Marcus Tondo

Revolution Glassware by FFerrone Design

Revolution Glassware by FFerrone Design

Revolution Glassware by FFerrone Design

Though Chicago-based designer Felicia Ferrone’s Revolution glassware collection has been out for a few years, there is nothing trendy or dated about these thoughtfully minimalist designs. The glasses may look delicate, but the hand-blown borosilicate is safe for extreme temperatures, an excellent vehicle for experiments in molecular mixology. The suspended-in-air design is not only striking, but clever in that the glasses can be inverted to serve as a different size.

Available at: FFerrone Design

An excellent companion: Molecule-R’s Cocktail R-Evolution Kit

Opening Ceremony SS14: Into the Light

Opening Ceremony features their Spring/Summer 2014, street racing-inspired collection in this short film, Into the Light, directed by Maryam L’Ange. Alongside model Martin Cohn, you might recognize Olympic fencer Race Imboden as one of the leads in a narrative the director describes as “a glimpse into a New York love story.”