Tag Archives: L’Artisan Parfumeur

LOVE ON A CAROUSEL: DELIRIA by L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR (2013)

 

 

 

 

Image

 

 

Image

 

 

 

Image

 

 

Image

 

 

Image

 

 

Image

 

 

Image

 

 

 

 

 

Image

 

 

 

When I was fourteen I went on a French exchange to the town of Moulins in central France. It was my first time abroad, and you might say that I was almost delirious with excitement. After a whistle stop tour of the sights and sounds of Paris, my fellow classmates and I found ourselves plunged, directly and fully, into the culture of the country I had been dreaming about for so long.  We arrived by train, and were soon paired off (a bit scarily I felt, for ones so young); shacked up with our pen pals and their families for a week. Escargots, cooked in garlic and slimy butter for dinner (yuk! I can still feel them sliding around in my mouth); petits pois, “vinaigrette”, it all just seemed so weird, slightly terrifying, and wonderful to an over-excited, easily stimulated, and very Francophile ‘budding linguist’ such as myself. Cela m’a beaucoup plu.

 

One of the highlights of that holiday, I remember, was a trip to the fairground, where my crush, a cute girl with braces called Laetitia, was all eyes, and so was I, and the sweet aromas hanging on the air, different, but familiar (is the rush of the fairground not universal?) were such a thrill. I always loved such places in England as well; the sugared clash of the cold, Yuleish wintry air and the tantalizing, caramelized steam that hung in nimbulus streams on the zingy atmosphere of Saturday night; the mischievousness of the dodgem cars, when you would deliberately bump and crash some giggling, hapless victims into hilarious mercy; that sadness – always out there, waiting in bushes – coated in pink and yellow, sugar glazed delight. And upon smelling this mood-lifting oddity by L’Artisan Parfumeur the other day ( Bertrand Duchaufour at his most playful), I was lifted out of my moment and plunged back, dreamily, into that world of fun, love, and French sweets: those rule-rubbing days when afternoons bled into evenings and the fair came to town: the cold, deep-pocketed frissons you felt at the clown-terror lurking at the concreted edges of the park; the lure of strangers; the dangers in those wild, mechanized rides.

 

“Prepare to be thrilled”, says L’Artisan. “Your senses will be shaken into a delicious blur”. Well, I  wouldn’t perhaps go quite that far, but Déliria, part of a new set of three perfumes called ‘Explosions D’Emotions’, is certainly a bit of light-hearted fun in this often po-faced world of perfumery, and it did put a smile on my face. Composed, apparently, of ‘dizzying’ accords of candy floss; toffee apple; ‘metallic notes’ and rhum, the most memorable theme of this perfume is, I would say however, the fantastically vivid top note of pineapple that bursts out at you from first go from the bottle, like one of those sticky, sugary and creamy pineapple cakes from Braggs the Bakers that my auntie Val is so addicted to.

 

Pineappled, phantasm dodgem cars scrape and spark with laughing electricity; music speakers boom with the gullible, teenage sweetness of surging, pubescent enthusiasms: love blooms, and Kia Ora – Orange & Pineapple flavour – is slurped greedily through stripey, twisty, plastic straws. L’ananas, musing with artificial flavouring, a child-loving burst of taste; of yellowy, custardish vanilla swirling before your eyes as candy floss stings, sweetly, the late November air…

 

 

 

Image

 

 

Image

 

 

 

Image

 

 

 

 

Just like the clumsy, ardent first fumblings of youth though, the stamina and performance here, are, sadly however, not awe-inspiring. Soon, once the deliria have faded (and they always do…) we find a more prosaic, uglier, tail-end of steel and santaloids, rather than the soft and cheek-pinching vanilla that we were yearning for (…. were those kisses not meant to last?) We can’t help noticing, suddenly, the rust and rudders of those ageing dodgem cars scratching the ride’s dirty floors: for the first time in a good few hours we look at our watches.

 

 

Yes, it’s a shame that it couldn’t last. As they say, after love, omne animal triste est. But who can really complain, honestly, when those first spurts – of fruits, and rum, of fairground thrills, and sweet, vanillic things –  feel so spontaneous, so joyful?

 

 

 

 

 

Image

36 Comments

Filed under Flowers

ANGELS AND INSECTS: LA CHASSE AUX PAPILLONS by L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR (1999)

Image

Image

 

 

Image

 

Image

 

 

 

Image

 

 

This uplifting, flowery delight by L’Artisan Parfumeur was recently being pushed by Yokohama Barney’s New York as a wedding scent: the window dressings, fancy as ever all swirling linden petals; pink blooms, tuberose princesses; and lepidoptera brides. I don’t know if it is especially nuptial – though that idea certainly does make sense, for the butterflies, fluttering in your stomach – but I do know that La Chasse Aux Papillons is lovely;  heady, joyous, light-winged and summery.

 

A whirl of leaves as you rush gaily past shrubs; a dizzying flourish of petals : tuberose, linden, orange blossom – the linden blossom crucial here, steering the perfume in a different direction from the majority of feverish hot house flowers and giving the perfume a slightly cooler, more mysterious edge, the whole an exuberant delight that I really like and have on occasion even considered buying – but for some, all the giddying, whirling about with the butterfly nets may leave you dizzy, s ick……..

 

 

A fragrance, then for the extovert I would say; for someone not afraid of display his or her colours, of reeling in admirers.

 

 

 

Image

 

 

 

Image

8 Comments

Filed under Flowers, Linden, Tuberose

Mon serpent, mon cygne…………… D’HUMEUR JALOUSE by L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR (1994) + L’OMBRE DANS L’EAU by DIPTYQUE (1983) + EAU DE CAMPAGNE by SISLEY (1974)

Image

 

 

 

 

Image

 

 

 

I find myself in green temperament;  in a mood, aggressive almost, for fresh, sharp, verdant scents that match the shooting growth outside; that push away the coddling winter, the comforting sloth of my recent smothering orientals and let me feel like a snake shedding its skins on brand new blades of long, budding grass.

And D’Humeur Jalouse is the snake: possibly the greenest scent ever made, almost painfully so at first – the serpent in the grass, the vivid eyes of jealousy; strident tones of stinging nettles and grasses, softened, only barely, with a sinuous touch of almond milk to temper an olfactory sketch that is bitter, unusual, and solitary: green to the point of catharsis.

 

 

 

 

Image

 

 

L’Ombre Dans L’Eau

A movement from the river bank under the shades of weeping willows; a swan glides slowly by…..

Evoking a green riverside garden, the shadows of plants rippling the waters, L’Ombre Dans L’Eau is at first intensely green  – a sharp, rush of galbanum entwined with the lush tartness of blackcurrant leaves.  From this compacted flourish then emerges, unhurriedly, the quiet dignity of the Bulgarian rose: calm, romantic, yet austere,  rather supercilious and snobbish even, and the main theme of L’Ombre Dans L’Eau (‘the shadow in the water’) is thus set. As light fades and the murmurs of evening approach, a soft base note of pot pourri-like rose, with the slightest hint of something like peachstone, finishes off a singular, enduring composition that breathes a certain air of timelessness.

 

 

 

 

Eau De Campagne

 

 

The perfect green? This scent is summer; the exhilaration of meadows; of stalks crushed underfoot, swords of sunlight infiltrating blades of grass. Chlorophyll at dusk; ladybirds….

 

 

 

Image

 

 

Wild grass oils, vetiver, bergamot, hyacinth, and a beautifully verdant, piercingly green basil/tomato leaf introductory accord begin a fragrance (Jean Claude Ellena’s first, from the time when he still went for the orchestral) that is exhilarating and refreshing, uncompromisingly strident, yet balanced and wearable at the same time, with a gentle, elegant, almost savon-like finish.

 

 

 

 

Image

11 Comments

Filed under Basil, Blackcurrant leaf, Green, Perfume Reviews, Stinging Nettles, Tomato Leaf

Some roses for winter.

Image

 

 

 

Nitobe Inazo, author of the classic (if highly supercilious) tome on Japan, Bushido, may consider the Japanese quite superior with their love for the evanescent fleetingness of the cherry blossom flower, a sweet but sorrowful bloom that symbolizes the ‘stoic’ samurai warriors’  desire to sacrifice their lives at the drop of a hat; while the gaijin, or westerner, ‘selfishly’ favours the rose that clings, with every last drop of its life, to the putrifying, stinking stem even when dead ….but I’m sorry, the rose is one of my very favourite flowers, and I imagine that I also will be clinging at my last; thorny and desperate, rather than plunging a sword into my gut and ripping out my innards, all for the sake of appearances and some dull and pointless idea of ‘honour’ (the code of the samurai is much more nuanced and spiritual than this, I realize, but you get my drift: I have never quite forgiven Nitobe for the disdain he shows the non-Japanese in that book, and the rose is an emblem I therefore adhere to even more passionately as a result.)

 

 

 

 

Unknown-2

 

 

 

 

(idiot!!!!!!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, the rose is a tricky one.

 

 

Rose oil, or its synthetic reconstitution, is a component of the vast majority of perfumes, and there are  wildly different interpretations of this flower, meaning that although you may think you hate the rose if you have been brought up on granny talcs, or else Stella, and Paul Smith, and all those uptight, irritating contemporary roses, there still might be a perfume out there that might sway you if you deign to explore the rosaceous galaxy further.

 

Though none in my opinion has ever truly captured the exquisite beauty of a living, breathing flower (surely one of the most enthralling scents in the universe), a few come close, or take the theme to newer, unexpected places.

 

 

Rose is also, my view, a floral that is perfect for winter, not clashing with that touch of patchouli oil that is still hanging on to your jacket, remaining poised and stoic……an aroma of both piercing sorrow and hope; with a dignity, poeticism, and romantic attachment that make it far superior in my (not even remotely) humble view, to the puny, and nothingy, frou -frou cherry blossom.

 

 

ROSE ABSOLUE/ ANNICK GOUTAL (1984)

Supremely expensive for an eau de toilette, Rose Absolue is a diaphanous, sense-delighting spray of real rose oils, with several of the most prized species in perfumery. The crisp, exuberant top notes are truly delightful, and come very close to smelling like a garden of roses on a summer morning. The middle and base notes lose something as the essential oils evaporate (making it a costly habit to maintain), but for a delicious rose spritz, this cannot be beaten.

 

 

NAHEMA / GUERLAIN  (1979)

The top note of the Nahéma vintage extrait is breathtaking: perhaps the most ravishingly gorgeous and complete rose absolute in perfume; a scent to make your heart swell, your diaphragm tremble. Whether you will fall for Nahéma or not though, (and it has its very faithful adherents), will depend on your liking roses romantic, full on, and sweet. Nahéma folds this stunning rose note in peach, hyacinth, aldehydes; ylang, vanilla and musk, and is deliriously rich, romantic – very Guerlain. If it is right for you, you will smell resplendent. If not, overdone.

 

 

ROSE/ CARON (1949)

If the roses in Goutal’s Rose Absolue are freshly picked, and the scent their breath, Caron’s is their blood; the enshrinement of a beauteous Bulgarian absolute (more regal, melancholy than Moroccan rose – the more ‘classic’ rose note) over a gentle bed of vanilla and musk. The extrait is beautiful; potent, emotive; a scent to be cherished. Almost painfully pure and beautiful.

For a similar, but somewhat chicer rose, try the other Caron rose perfume, Or et Noir: for sexual mystery, the house’s woody, musky incense rose, Parfum Sacré.

 

 

FLEURS DE BULGARIE / CREED (1880/1980)

A centenary reformation of an aristocratic, very strange scent from Creed, this peculiar, haunting rose perfume evokes another time and place, leagues away from brash current trends. It is at once tender, reserved, unabashedly tasteful, yet with an undeniable whiff of madness: generations of interbreeding among the loopy upper classes. A dry, high pitched, almost saline bunch of Bulgarian roses over an insinuating natural ambergris: the smell of stately homes, the fragile, yellowing pages of old books.

 

A difficult, but rather brilliant perfume, to be placed on a dresser by a window over the lawns, on which to do ‘one’s toilette.’

Beyond, the reedy river, in which perhaps to drown…

 

 

 

SA MAJESTE LA ROSE / SERGE LUTENS (2000)

 

A scornful rose. Dark swishes of crimson rose fragrance: grand, extravagant, a perfume of strength and beauty, but with ironic, opaque bitterness. Serge Luten’s rose is not romantic: his perfumer, Christopher Sheldrake, was presumably ordered to do away with such nonsense. Instead there is a stark regality here, just as the name suggests (a tart note of geranium, lychee and guaic wood sees to that), but also an elaborate heart of white roses, vanilla and honeyed Moroccan rose.  It is an effective, gorgeous perfume that will leave you feeling splendidly detached.

 

 

 

CE SOIR OU JAMAIS / ANNICK GOUTAL (1999)

 

Perhaps the most vulnerable of rose perfumes, Ce Soir Ou Jamais (‘Tonight Or Never’) is a rich, breathy Turkish rose, unfolding in a tearful desperate embrace. It is natural, supremely feminine, and one of the most romantic perfumes you could ever wear.

 

 

ROSE OPULENTE/ MAITRE PARFUMEUR ET GANTIER

 

As it says, opulent, gorgeous, red-silk Bulgarian roses, for high camp and rose adorers. Quite beautiful, with leafy green top notes gracing a subtly spiced, ambergris rose.

 

 

ROSE EN NOIR/ MILLER HARRIS (2006)

Exclusive to Barney’s New York stores, this is a mildly repugnant, dark  animalic rose with woody musk facets and top notes of jammy rhubarb.

Interesting, like someone unravelling at the seams.

 

 

 

ROSE DE NUIT / SERGE LUTENS (1994)

Paris. Had I had any money left by the time I got to the Lutens boutique at the Palais Royal (having already ‘done’ Caron, Guerlain, and Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier), this is what I would have bought from the astonishing selection of perfumes curated by the mysterious ladies hovering behind them. On myself I like darker, more menacing rose perfumes, preferably underscored by patchouli, and this really did the trick for me. Rich, effusive, and very outgoing, with a touch of jasmine, apricot, beeswax, and chypre. A rose for nighttime and adventure, to be worn with leather.

 

 

SOIR DE LUNE  / SISLEY (2006)

A gorgeous, dark, honey-drenched rose enveloped by rich notes of chypre, mimosa, and powerful patchouli, Soire De Lune is almost tailor-made to my personal olfactory tastes. It is diffusive, warm, sexy and of high quality; not dissimilar to the company’s fantastic Eau Du Soir, but in my opinion even better. A rounded, accomplished scent with presence, and a new alternative to such night time illuminaries as Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum and Voleur De Roses. I doubt I will ever be without a bottle of this.

 

 

VOLEUR DE ROSES   L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR (1993)

The rose thief is a dark figure dressed in black, moving with stealth through the undergrowth, night soil underfoot; rose bushes standing erect and waiting in the moonlight, sensing they are about to be picked. A sensous, woody patchouli is entwined with a deep, rich rose and an unusual note of black plum, resulting in a very gourmand, intriguing scent worthy of its wonderful name.

42 Comments

Filed under Flowers, Rose

BELA LUGOSI’S DEAD: D’HUMEUR A RIEN by L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR (1994) and BLACK AMBER by AGONIST (2011)

 

 

Bauhaus_-_Bela_Lugosi-s_dead_front_sm

 

 

 

 

It has been raining in the city, and you are standing on the grey wet steps of a cathedral, where the chilling, ghostly incense from the years hangs in the rafters. A cold whiff of death, both religious and nihilistic; fungal in the dark reaches of its damp earthiness, Catholic in its liturgical implications.

You shiver…

 

 

 

L’Humeur A Rien, an obscure, long-gone, once formed part of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s ‘Sautes d’Humeur’, a limited edition set of five fragrances in a red satin-lined box; and it was my first ever introduction to an incense perfume. I remember standing in the King’s Road boutique in West London when it came out; transfixed and bewildered. So along with the satanically green-eyed snake of D’humour Jalouse (one of the most interesting green creations ever made), I decided on the spot that I had to own this original selection of scents that, though highly stimulating to my imagination as curios, were clearly, to me at least, unwearable.

 

 

But as it turned out, the ‘Mood Swings’ collection, according to the lady who sold me the perfumes, was in fact intended, just as I had intuited, as a collection of scents to ‘share with yourself’. To place a drop or two on the top of your hand, and then drift, the ‘nothing’ or ‘spiritual’ void of D’Humeur A Rien a watery evocation of the sinister and sacramental: a portal – brief – to another realm that would either comfort you in the material world or compound your yearnings for the hereafter. Never did it occur to me to put this on to go out anywhere as it is far too disheartening, even for a party at Halloween. Also, the visions of rainwater on stone floors of the beginning notes – the most fascinating part of the perfume – soon shifted to a smudgy, unpleasant, bad feeling that you felt you had to wash off. But that was the idea: a momentary glimpse of another life, or death…

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

At the time, I thought that this oddity was a true original as I had never come across anything else quite like it. Several years later, however, the idea of wearing incense started to catch on, and perfumes such as the seminal Incense Series by Comme Des Garcons (2002) brought about a distinctive change of sensibilities in which these arid, evocative, often sanctified substances smelled fashionable (especially when combined with more conventional woody notes, spices, new synthetics, and ambers); an impactful, wry new kind of antidote to the sweet and the floral. At first, to some extent, there was almost a novelty value – a ‘look at me I smell like a church’ aspect that had an aspect of the humorously blasphemous (smelling exactly like the high mass at Avignon might strike the religious as somewhat disrespectful); but in time, the scents have simply come to smell of the times – a bit edgy and knowing; often contemplative, and peculiarly erotic.

 

 

 

Black Amber is an elaborate frankincense composition by Swedish house Agonist, and comes with the requisite features we expect from an exclusive niche brand. Concept – the brooding melancholia of Bergman, Garbo and other despairing Scandinavian artistes;  the sculpture as perfume bottle, and the scent, crafted to place the wearer far beyond the plebeian reaches of the hoipolloi.

 

 

 

img_1264

 

 

 

 

And Black Amber, in the scheme of the mainstream, is certainly no usual scent.  In niche terms, though, it strikes me as just another grey dirge of miseria. While it intrigues, somewhat, at first, with its strange, seaweed like-saltiness (from an unusual addition of red algae); its essence of nargarmotha, an Indian herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, and notes of tobacco blossom, artemisia and labdanum  to bolster the note of churchy olibanum, the plum-murk dinge of its centre has a bilgey corporality to it that feels like the mortar holding up the temple – an argillaceous wetness that takes some time, in the crypt, to solidify. This verging-on-unpleasant clay-feel comes from an uneasy underlayering sediment of ambergris, vanilla and sandalwood that takes away from the purity and sanctity of the frankincense (an essential oil I adore), while never sweetening or become soft enough, indeed ambered, to ever satisfy. It smells, to be honest, of ghoulish plasticine. Strangely, the perfume is billed as a walk in the forest, but to me, the frankincense, combined with other incense notes in the heart, can only be signifiers of church rites.

 

 

I know that Black Amber does have its disciples, so if you are aching for a sophisticated ‘anti-perfume’ , or an incense scent that contains no oudh (agarwood), you might want to seek this out. It is enigmatic, and of obviously high quality source materials. To me, though, these trendy black cloaks of ‘gloom’ can feel a little forced.

 

 

 

 

Gothic_girl

 

 

 

 

A GOTHIC LOVE SONG

 

 

by CURRENT 93

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m clicking your fingers

for a gothic twilight

That actually existed

just in your head

 

 

 

 

Your fingernails painted black

or blood red I forget

 

 

 

 

And your fake leather volumes jabbering on hell

Manifest decadence was what you hoped to exhale

 

 

 

 

 

Your eyes tried so hard to glitter

A star-snuffing black

 

 

 

 

And you opened your legs

And so opened your heart

 

 

 

 

And let in the badness you claimed as your friend

 

 

 

 

 

And nonetheless I still write this Gothic love song

 

 

 

 

 

A sign to myself and the memory of my past

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a way to shut out your face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

girl-dragon-tattoo

24 Comments

October 24, 2012 · 1:15 am