PERFUMISTA by ANATOLE LEBRETON (2019)

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What is a perfumista ?
And do I qualify as one ? ( Do you ?) Although I write primarily on perfume/scent/fragrance and have even published a book on the subject, spend most of my disposable income on perfume, essential oils and incense, and like nothing better as a present or a bargain find or even a luxurious purchase; like to keep up to date with what is new by going up to Tokyo and having a good look/sniff around ( I do miss that ), am unjaded and delighted every time a perfumed postal delivery comes to the house – even if I am quite often disappointed by the contents within; not being one who is glued to the scentnewsfeed 24/7 to find out about every new release I fear it might disqualify me from being a true rabid and addicted fragrantista.

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( three perfumisti : at the 2014 Jasmine Awards :

from left : The Black Narcissus, The Candy Perfume Boy and Persolaise ( Brian De Palma / Steven Spielberg / Martin Scorsese).

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One thing I do know is that perfumed oases/ babylons such as the lush, unobtainable vale of temptations that is Luckyscent – for any non-perfumistas reading this, a website/ online Heaven of never-ending perfumes that you could spend hours, days, forever reading, ceding your finances until credit ruin in the search for The One ( like YouTube and its inexhaustible wellsprings of the familiar and the tantalizingly obscure : always a ‘you may also like’ to click on next, more overdraft deductions, there is always another beautifully described perfume you are yearning to try, and the obsessed perfumeholic will click and flex, waiting for the arrival of the next precious elixir to be untapped from the vial ; I do know some people in real life for whom all of this expense and insatiability veers dangerously close to an actual addiction; the hunt and the splurge the main act in itself: a feeling I have empathy for, but in reality have to some extent been able to resist.)

From Luckyscent :

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From my perspective, this perfume would make quite a nice rose chypre for the budding young perfumista who wants to flash an edge of vintage while not being bogged down in the full must (that is not remotely how I see ‘old perfumes’ myself, obviously, and I will in fact be doing an interesting project with Art And Olfaction in August on the subject), .

But for the uninitiated neophyte, the full Guerlain Parure / L’Arte di Gucci, or even Sisley Soir De Lune, which in its first incarnation was a real rose patchouli chypre stunner ( I remember how amazing it smelled on you Emma, that brilliant night of karaoke) might just be too drenched, Rose-heavy; overpowering. In Perfumista, the earthier moss / spice / castoreum we might otherwise expect from a classic of the type is replaced with a more approachable, young, but for me slightly anodyne, insistent white musk that comes with the neo- mousse de saxe and the pleasant rose, making it gentler, more upbeat, but for the hardcore rose chypre lover, despite the fact that the perfume had input from some real Perfume Lovers, possibly not quite sufficiently vampish and gorgeouso for the very picky and exigent One Who Needs More.

Ironically, there are other perfumes in the House Of Lebreton that strike me as more suitable as new cravings for the discerning and extravagant niche collector – though these are quite reasonably priced – the suave abstract leather of L’Eau Scandaleuse, for exsmple, or the orris-heavy, waxen lipstick poisoned-almond that is the more fascinating Incarnata.

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Arch as an odalisque, strange and coolly moreish, for the completist who likes every available shade in their genre of fragrance selection, from Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose to Martin Margiela Lipstick On – a scent I was once on the verge of buying until I thought more carefully of my monthly bank balance – scents like these are the very essence of what makes a true perfumista – those for whom perfume goes beyond an accoutrement or commodity, a personal signature, something to just ‘wear ‘: but turns instead – sometimes dangerously – into a full blown, hedonistically consuming obsession.

26 Comments

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26 responses to “PERFUMISTA by ANATOLE LEBRETON (2019)

  1. I was intrigued by the “Mousse de Saxe” accord, but I doubt it is anywhere close to the classic Carons with the original.
    Luckyscent is a rather wonderful place, I have purchased many samples from them over the years. I just never fall in love with modern scents the way I do with vintage ones, there always seems to be something missing. The only modern scents I really enjoy are some of the original Dior Collection Privee fragrances, especially Mitzah. I don’t know if I truly classify as an “authentic” parfumista then. If that is the case then what am I actually?
    I guess I am just the queen of vintage. That works.
    Do you think any of Lebreton’s fragrances would suit me?

  2. Beau de l'Air

    Like Brielle I’m at heart a vintage lover, very rarely is a modern perfume a true love. But like you I have a pretty strong aversion to high end luxury perfume counters so I don’t get to smell as much niche and exclusive stuff as I should, there’s for sure a lot I’m missing, and then there’s the price… What Lucky is to you, ebay is to me, I avoid it and once in awhile visit and snag an affordable beauty.
    I quite liked Grimoire from Lebreton

    • I actually do like hanging out for a while at niche counters to keep up with things just as long as there aren’t too many sales assistants hovering about me like painted butterflies, (the UK is much better in that regard – here in Japan you get smothered in attentiveness).

      Grimoire is in the samples. What did you think of it?

      • Beau de l'Air

        It was a long time ago, I seem to remember a dusty aromatic with a light leather facet. I’ll try to unhearth the vial

      • ‘ a dusty aromatic ‘ tho

      • Beau de l'Air

        Found it, yes, very herbal aromatic, reminds me a bit of the great Monsieur Rochas in feel, steered away from it’s classical fougere roots. I’m possibly way off, I’m not really good at that lol Good stuff. I’ll be interested in reading your thought if you ever get to it

      • I love Monsieur Rochas and have just sprayed on some Grimoire.

  3. Unfortunately, or fortunately, for me, I discovered Luckyscent from the beginning and have purchased many, many fragrances and samples from them through the years. I even had the pleasure of visiting their store “The Scent Bar” in LA about 5 years ago. Such a tiny, narrow store with thousands and thousands of perfumes and a lovely and helpful staff. Even on-line they are great to deal with. Once when I had ordered a perfume, it arrived in pieces in a very wet box. I called them immediately and within a short period of time, a new bottle arrived at my doorstep completely intact. At this point I don’t remember which scent it was, but I will always remember how helpful and caring they were that that had happened.

    • That sounds amazing. I had a great experience with sales assistants in the US. Lucky scent is just a hypnotic rabbit hole you could get lost in if you don’t put on the brakes!

  4. Karsten

    Oh no, is SdL changed? I didn’t know this. I’m lucky I own a bottle in the white box. Thank you for the super interesting and informative blog and the masterful writing.

  5. robinw47

    I love Luckyscent and its wonderful store Scent Bar so much; the writing on the site just lures me in and I love their suggestions, both in person and on the site. I have been steered to fragrances I would’ve never thought I would like, such as Divine l’ Inspiratrice. I live in Los Angeles and have shopped at the original small location. Once the pandemic is over I would love to go to their newer downtown Los Angeles location. They also opened a New York City store, I think it’s in Greenwich Village or Soho. Neil, I am very interested in your August project with Art and Olfaction since they are in my city.

  6. Tara C

    I tried a few Anatole Lebreton scents when they first launched but nothing caught my fancy. Luckyscent has been my favourite rabbit hole since they opened, I even got to meet Andy Tauer there in person. Lovely owners and great customer service. I definitely consider myself an addicted perfumista.

    • You are !

      Do you ever have any regrets?

      Or is it a 100% pleasurable addiction?

      I literally sometimes just stare at my bottles and receive power and happiness from doing so.

      • Tara C

        Oh yes, I have regrets when I open my credit card statement, and very occasionally something doesn’t wow me once it’s had a few full wearings, but that’s part of the deal. Overall I very much enjoy the hobby.

      • It is a delicious cushion from / augmentation of ‘reality’, I think.

        Life would be so dull just plodding along the pavement without perfume.

  7. Robin

    Luckyscent is addictive to browse through and their selection and descriptions are dangerously tantalizing. Too bad — or maybe a good thing — shipping costs to Canada are so prohibitive.

    Which reminds me of a story. I remember a few years ago I was wanting to figure out how much it would actually set me back to have something shipped from Luckyscent, which involves going through the check-out procedure to very nearly the end. Yikes! It was, with the price of the bottle, just more than I could see paying. I left it in my virtual Shopping Bag. Next day, an email to me came right from the man himself, Luckyscent co-founder Adam Eastwood. He said he noticed I hadn’t gone through with the online purchase and wondered if there was any kind of problem he could help me with. The cynical side of me (a very small slice of the total me) admired him for his chutzpah in pressing a sale, but he really was very sweet and seemed genuinely helpful. I told him the truth: that once I saw what the postage would be I couldn’t justify spending $60 or whatever crazy amount it was to have a small bottle of fragrance mailed up to B.C.

    Adam wrote back right away to say that, while he obviously didn’t have much to do with the cost of postage and duties/taxes, he would be willing to give me a substantial discount on the cost of the fragrance itself. I don’t think I actually went through with the transaction — if memory serves it was Neela Vermeire Mohur extrait — because when a cooler head eventually prevailed I decided I didn’t want to risk blind-buying something that pricey, discount or no. But Adam’s helpfulness is something I still remember.

    Perfumista sounds like something I’d enjoy. (Jeez, but the name. It’s too awkward. It’s like my bottle of Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess. I’d cringe every time I saw the label.) I have had so many quarts of good vintage come under my nose over the years, though, that when I read this from you it just put a kibosh on it: “In Perfumista, the earthier moss / spice / castoreum we might otherwise expect from a classic of the type is replaced with a more approachable, young, but for me slightly anodyne, insistent white musk that comes with the neo- mousse de saxe and the pleasant rose, making it gentler, more upbeat, but for the hardcore rose chypre lover, despite the fact that the perfume had input from some real Perfume Lovers, possibly not quite sufficiently vampish and gorgeouso for the very picky and exigent One Who Needs More.” So much for Perfumista. Maybe Incarnato would be a better bet, although it sounds perhaps a bit derivative and for me, redundant: I already have Lipstick Rose, which Ric doesn’t like (and Misia, which Ric does, although not nearly as much as my other Chanel Exclusifs).

    Thank you for writing about these, Neil. Always like to hear about interesting, quality indie releases. And I especially like to hear your take on them.

    • And I yours.

      I think when it comes to chypres ( even though there was a chapter in my book, originally, on the modern take, as you know – I need that depth; the WADING through all the notes until you get to the very end : I don’t need it lite.

      One I did quite like was Zoologist Nightingale, which is heavy and overbearing in some ways but the Japanese plum / patchouli / rose combination packs a real punch; dark and deep.

      • Robin

        I quite liked Nightingale as well. Pleased to see Wong’s Zoologist has been successful. Canadian, dontcha know.

        Love that: wading through all the notes. So pleasurable, satisfying, challenging. How I love chypres. Of the modern ones, I think I am most enamoured of Diaghilev. Chypre-Siam is great. Une Rose Chypree too. Jubilation for women isn’t technically a chypre but I find it has the same effect and I adore it. Worship it actually. Again, and I know you’re no big fan, but for me 31 Rue Cambon pushes all the right buttons without requiring the classic chypre elements. Can’t think of any more really outstanding examples off the top of my head. Oh, maybe Superstitious, but I’ve put it off to one side because Ric literally feels sick when I’ve worn it. I like it myself.

      • !

        BASE NOTE :: N A U S E A

  8. Robin

    Mustn’t forget Sonoma Scent Studio Nostalgie. I must be forgetting others.

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