Perfume Review – L’Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant: Saffron Delight

Swirls of dark orange from the most expensive spice in the world combine with the rich red of candied roses, the canary-yellow of creamy, custardy vanilla, and the sweet browns of cardamom to result in an instant reaction: “Heaven!”

Safrant Troublant.Source: Olibanum WordPress Blog.

Safrant Troublant.
Source: Olibanum WordPress Blog.

Actually, at first, I just gave a faint moan upon smelling Safran Troublant from the French niche house of L’Artisan Parfumeur. That doesn’t happen often. Incoherent babblings of joy, and mutterings of “Heaven,” followed soon thereafter. The name may translate to “troubling” or “disturbing” saffron, but this is one completely comforting, absolutely delicious fragrance that is perfect for those of you who prefer your perfume to be discreet and unobtrusive. Those of you who prefer more sillage will be disappointed, however. And, all of you should take serious note of its fleeting nature.

Safran Troublant is a unisex, spicy oriental eau de toilette that was created by the famous nose, Olivia Giacobetti, and released in 2002. L’Artisan Parfumeur‘s website describes it as follows:

A potent portrayal of candied roses; alluring and just a little dangerous

Safran Troublant is an unsettling and potent portrait of a candied rose. The sensuality is heightened with the addition of sandalwood and spicy ginger notes. This makes for a seductive and unexpected fragrance, where the saffron serves to highlight the sheer opulence of the rose. Beautiful and a little dangerous to wear.

The notes are:

saffron, red rose, vanilla, ginger and sandalwood.

As a side observation, Fragrantica is flat-out incorrect in its summation of the perfume. First, they have continuously listed Bertrand Duchaufour as the nose behind its creation, despite numerous comments correcting them. They also seem off on the notes, since they insist on listing “passion fruit flower” when no-one — least of all the company itself — has given any such indication or has smelled any passion fruit.

Sholeh Zard.Source: FoodandFarsi.com

Sholeh Zard.
Source: FoodandFarsi.com

The opening of Safran Troublant will be familiar to any of you who have had Indian or Persian saffron-rice desserts. “Sholeh Zard” is a Persian rice pudding with saffron, rose, cardamom and nuts. Its Indian counterpart is “Kheer” or “Payasam.” They’re both utterly addictive, though I personally think the Persian one is significantly heavier on the saffron which is probably why its colour is bright canary-yellow, whereas the Indian version is not. For a wonderful discussion of both saffron and Sholeh Zard, as well as recipe for how to make it, check out Food & FarsiThe Spice Spoon, or the other sites linked in the photos. (But don’t do it if you’re hungry. Really, I warn you. I learnt the hard way, and now I’m famished…)

Safran Troublant’s first minutes are a swirling delight of sugared rose: deep, dark and candied, but richer than anything in mere rose water. This is no cloying, saccharine-sweet tea-rose but a darker, heavier floral. It’s sugared and spiced, making this a great perfume for those who have problems with more traditional or girly rose perfumes. The sweet, almost nutty warmth of the cardamom combines with the almost peppered, earthy sweetness of the saffron to provide a richness to the perfume’s foundation.

Sholeh Zard. Source: Foodival.com

Sholeh Zard.
Source: Foodival.com

The vanilla here is incredibly lush. This is no cupcake vanilla or, even, the vanilla of bottled extract. It evokes tapioca pudding: creamy, heavy, and utterly unctuous. And it’s thick like the brightest, yellow egg custard!

About five minutes in, there is a strong hint of cumin. However, unlike many of my other experiences with the note, it’s not really earthy and never “skanky.” It just adds another layer of earthiness and spice to counter the sweetness of the scent. The ginger starts to make a greater appearance at this time, too. It’s not sharp or bitter but, rather, almost candied.

Saffron. Source: FoodandFarsi.com

Saffron.
Source: FoodandFarsi.com

Neither note, however, is the true star of the perfume. That role is taken almost entirely by the glorious saffron which remains throughout  the duration of the scent. It’s heady, rich, compulsively sniffable, and makes Safran Troublant far more than a simple vanilla or gourmand scent. It is absolutely the best parts of this lovely perfume.

Unfortunately, one of the worst parts is Safran Troublant’s fleeting nature. On one arm, where I put on my usual number of dabs, the perfume vanished entirely within ten minutes. Yes, TEN minutes! I’d read one commentator say that the perfume disappeared on her within minutes of application, but I thought that had to be an exaggeration — even for the typically light, ephemeral L’Artisan line. Apparently, not. On my other arm, however, where I had trebled the dosage due to my utter love for the fragrance, it was a different story. The perfume’s sillage dropped by about 85% within ten minutes but, to my surprise, the perfume itself remained. I can’t quite account for the differences but, clearly, one needs a lot of the perfume for it to stay even as a discreet skin scent.

And it is most definitely discreet! Far, far too discreet for my personal preferences but, for those of you who don’t like intrusive scents or who can’t always find perfumes appropriate for a strict work-environment, it should be utterly perfect. Well, assuming it lasts on you…..

The main criticism of this much-loved scent is its fleeting nature. You all know that I have skin that is incredibly voracious when it comes to perfume, but we’re talking about normal people here! From Fragrantica to Makeupalley, there are endless comments about how Safran Troublant barely lasts. Many give four hours as the maximum, while others give significantly less. The one review I mentioned above about how it lasted mere minutes came from “Goddess Dreams” on Makeupalley who wrote:

Well, well, well, now I too know what it’s like to have a scent that now you smell and then two seconds later “poof” and it is completely GONE! Where did it go? I’d love to know! But my, I love it so much, why did it have to leave so soon? This is ridicilous, I mean I sprayed it on, no joke a good spray I gave it too, but I’m talking within minutes (I was still at the L’Artisan counter and it was GONE – not slowly withered away – GONE ALL AT ONCE WITHOUT A TRACE). But, oh while it was there, for that charming special moment that it lingered on my skin – that was wonderful. I would have paid any money had it lasted only a touch, but my chemistry made NOTHING out of this. While it was there however, magical it was!

Again, on me, the scent remained on the one arm where I splashed it on heavily but, even there, it lasted a mere four hours. And I could smell it only if I brought my nose right up to arm. Still, what a glorious few hours it was. The notes didn’t alter in any way from what they were at the start — this is hardly a complex perfume that morphs and shifts with every hour — and I’m uncertain as to whether there is sandalwood in any significant amount, but the scent was hauntingly beautiful. It’s well-blended, too, and definitely unisex — though it think it may lean a wee more towards the feminine side for men who aren’t enormous fans of rose fragrances.

If I thought Safran Troublant would last in any way on me without constant re-spritzing, I would put aside my usual issues regarding discreet perfumes that are mere skin scents, and buy it immediately. However, at $145 a bottle, it’s a little too expensive for me to be re-applying it every few hours in gallopingly great, hefty doses. Still, I urge you to try it if you can. This is a scent that should appeal to everyone from those who like spiced florals or gourmand fragrances, to those who need low sillage perfumes for the workplace. And, with Valentine’s Day on the horizon, it is a particularly good choice for those who love rose fragrances. Frankly, it may be true love for many — regardless of the date in question.

DETAILS:
You can find Safran Troublant on the L’Artisan Parfumeur website where it costs $145 for a large 3.4 oz/100 ml bottle. No other size is offered, and the perfume only comes in Eau de Toilette concentration. Elsewhere, you can find it at Barneys, Beauty Encounter, or Lucky Scent. Though Sephora now carries the L’Artisan line, this is not one of the seven L’Artisan scents they offer. The same thing applies to Harrods which carries 24 of the brands’ fragrances, but not this one for some inexplicable reason. I also couldn’t find it on Neiman Marcus, Aedes or Nordstrom’s websites where, if it was shown at all, it was listed as “out of stock” (with pricing that was clearly from years ago). However, you can easily obtain samples from Lucky Scent at the link shown above, or at Surrender to Chance where prices start at $3.99 for a 1ml vial.
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39 thoughts on “Perfume Review – L’Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant: Saffron Delight

  1. Another really good and concise review. Well done! I do love some of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s perfume a lot. And I have been lucky on the two I own that they last a goodly length of time. But this one sounds like …well not much bank for a hundred and forty-five bucks. So I think I will definitely have to take it for a test drive and see if I blows away in the wind or sticks around.
    Cheers….
    PS I want to taste some of that Persian Sholeh Zard. It sounds like the desert of the Gods!

    • Oh, Sholeh Zard is divine! The mere smell alone. Mmmm…… The Indian version of Kheer is equally lovely but much, much easier to find, I think, so next time you go to an Indian restaurant, I’d definitely order some. As for the perfume, I hope you can give it a sniff and, preferably, a test run. When people who don’t have issues with perfume longevity start saying that it lasted mere minutes on them, you know that’s a troublesome sign!

  2. Sounds great, Kafka. I first read a review of this in Lucas’ site and I was interested then but did not have a sample on hand. I must have sniffed it on paper blotter when I was in Henri Bendel in December although it must not have left much of an impression or I would have snapped it up given the super sale ($ off on anything purchased so technically it was a Henri Bendel sale and not an L’AP sale, but I digress). I will include this in my Swap Want list the next time NST or The Posse has a swap. Great review!

    • I remember that Lucas loved it too! Such a glorious, happy, rich scent but I think it would make all the difference in the world to smell it on one’s skin, if only because of the blasted longevity issues! If my vial were large and I had any decent amount left, I’d gladly send it to you but, alas, it’s bloody small and I got a bit carried away splashing it on in a frenzy of joy.

  3. I adore Safran Troublant! I find it wonderfully comforting, not troubling at all. It’s also one of my go-to fragrances when I have an important meeting or an interview precisely because it is so discreet.

    I have also noticed that it can be too discreet. A heavy-handed application is especially necessary on me because my skin can be a little dry. Either one big spray-a-palooza, or constant re-application.

    • YAY for another big fan! Yes, it’s a completely delicious, comforting scent!! I have to wonder a little at L’Artisan’s choice of names for some of their perfumes. This one is the furthest thing from troubling! And Passage d’Enfer….. well, that one was certainly a gateway to hell, but for all the wrong reasons, and I don’t think that’s quite what they had in mind.

      Does perfume generally last an average length of time to a long while on your skin, with this being a noticeable exception? Or are you one of those whose skin consumes perfume quickly? What surprised me when I was doing my research for this one is how many people who don’t normally have problems with longevity said that they did with Safran Troublant. It’s a pity because, with my skin, I would have to put on monstrous amounts every 4 hours to get anywhere, and I suspect I’d go through a whole bottle in less than 2 months.

      • I guess sometimes marketing comes up with names for these things before any fragrance is actually completed. Maybe I can do a little research to see if the name was ever explained because it does smell like a deliciously, cozy et exotic little dessert!

        As for Passage d’Enfer, doesn’t the name actually refer the name of the street address for L’Artisan’s main office in Paris and not to hell itself?

        Scent lasts an average amount of time on my skin. About when I start to get tired is when my ‘fumes are trailing off as well. Maybe that’s what makes Safran troublant troubling: you need to commit to monstrous amounts 🙂

  4. I see you already managed to talk with Hajusuuri about the fact that I really like Safran Troublant and that it’s one of those L’Artisan fragrances that work for me while almost anything else from the house is not for me.

  5. Will have to try this one. While it’s not what I’d typically go for, it sounds positively amazing. Orange, cardamom, roses? Beautiful. Just a real shame about the longevity. $145 for a large bottle isn’t too bad as far as prices can go, but not if you have to reapply after a few hours. I’m okay with scents that become very close to the skin after a few hours, but to disappear without a trace after normal application is sort of a dealbreaker for me. I think I’ve only tried one from this line and it’s been on my list to try more. I need to cultivate a bigger list of things I want to try, but I don’t know where to begin. I will need suggestions, maybe I should list my current favorites and see if people can direct me to things I may like.

    • Kevin, for the suggestions and list of things you’d want to try, are you talking about within a particular line or within lines that are new to you as a whole? From what I’ve read of your stuff, you seem to have covered a lot of the big niche players, especially for fragrances that go from unisex to faintly masculine. But you’ve skipped a few of the established old lines, it seems, as well as some other niche ones.

      Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think you’ve tried any of the following lines yet: Amouage, Heeley, L’Artisan, Bond No. 9, Etat Libre d’Orange (with the exception of Secretions Magnifiques — which really doesn’t count as it’s so out there!), many of the Guerlain niche or exclusives lines, Hermès other than the basic Terre d’Hermes, any Caron at all (Yatagan is a must!), Montale (I’m sending you my samples this week- that was supposed to be a surprise), any of the Italian lines from Acqua di Parma to more niche ones, any M. Micallef (try Guaiac, I hear it’s divine and it’s on my list too), and not a lot of the Lutens. I don’t think you’ve tried any Vera Profumo either, right? Surrender to Chance has a good 3-set sample pack for her. I’d also suggest getting what is currently in my cart there: Lubin. Try the 3-pack set with Idole, which is said to be a stronger, more potent version of Safran Troublant and created by the same nose. And, going back to more established, old-time houses, you may want to look at Dior’s Privée line. Oh, and of course, Maison Francis Kurkdjian (try their Oud, it’s supposed to be amazing) and the Arquiste line (start with Anima Dulcis. I have a sample that I was planning on doing soon, and it’s supposed to be delicious).

      • I’ve tried Jubilation XXV from Amouage (and liked it very much, so they are certainly on the must try list!), I want to try a lot of L’Artisan (although I can’t get a good feel for what people think, overall, of the line – it seems to be sort of divisive), Bond No. 9 is on the to try list, too. Admittedly, a lot of the Bond offerings aren’t very compelling to me, but I want to try them anyhow. One of these days I’m going to buy that ELdO sampler which is pretty reasonably priced. I’ve tried some Hermes offerings, but none of their Hermessence. Caron will be totally new, as will Montale (p.s. you are too kind!). Acqua di Parma doesn’t interested me, but it’s an unfounded bias because the name makes me think of Acqua di Gio! LOL. I was looking for some samples of Dior Privée on StC but couldn’t find them! Boo! Ahhhh, so many to try! So little time — well, actually, time is less the issue than cash in my wallet! 🙂 Can’t wait to flesh out my Wishlist a bit more for StC. These are awesome suggestions, thank you very much!

        • I know StC has the Dior Privée line but I can’t recall if it’s labelled as such. Bois d’Argent is a well known one, as is Oud Isphahan which Lanier did an absolutely lovely review for. I think Grand Bal may be another one.

          How weird that you have the same issues with Acqua di Parma as I do. The name is too damn similar to that blasted other (vile) thing! Hahahaha. We’re so alike! I’ve put aside my weirdness though and got a sample of Profumo, so I’ll see. It’s such an established line that it seems a shame to ignore it just because of Giorgio Armani’s monstrosity.

          Bond No. 9’s Andy Warhol Silver Factory gets quite a bit of love, in addition to New Haarlem and Chinatown. Caron is a legendary line, though more for their vintage version of things than some of the current ones. But Yatagan is always on every top perfume list for men.

          I’m trying to think of other lines that are big or well-respected but which you have skipped. There is Parfums de Nicolai. The legendary Luca Turin is on record as saying that he wore “New York” for almost a decade! The problem with the line is that a number of the things carried by StC as samples are no longer available on the company’s site. They’ve discontinued quite a few things or come out with “Intense” versions to replace it. Not New York though. Vetiver Tonka (or something to that effect) is another popular one, along with the Maharah line (which isn’t spelled that way and which you should check the website to see which versions are currently out). But the line is something to consider, and not just because the founder/nose is a Guerlain niece who was trained by Jean-Paul Guerlain.

          Oh, one more name for your list: the Scandanavian house of Byredo! Black saffron, perhaps.

          • Oh, maybe it wasn’t labeled as Privée. I didn’t actually look at names of scents, so that’s probably the case. Good to know! The Bonds you’ve listed are the ones I am most interested in trying, those ones seem to be a bit more universally liked compared to some of the rest. You have given so so much food for thought! Maybe if I accomplish things I set out to do after work, my reward will be compiling a giant wish list! I also want to explore Parfums MDCI even though I don’t love Invasion Barbare (it’s nice, but it smells like Vitamin E oil to me. I’ve always weirdly loved that smell, but I don’t need to spend 350 bucks to smell like it!). And Mona di Orio needs further exploration, since I’ve generally liked the few I’ve smelled, but wasn’t blown over. Parfums de Nicolai is one that caught my interest a while back, but I forgot to add to my list, so…yay for you reminding me! My collection is reminding me that I need to stop being such a whore for the Chanels in my collection and even explore within my own wardrobe more. I just love everything I have from them! LOL. I was operating off samples alone for a while, but then got tired of them. Speaking of which, I need to send you that ghastly Xerjoff! Seriously! I don’t wish you ill, but I need you to share the trauma of the abomination that was Zafar. *shudders thinking of it*

          • Heh, you know Byredo has one called Seven Veils, right? 🙂 Well, thanks to you, my wish list now has 50 items in it (to say NOTHING of the fact that probably 15 of those items are “sampler packs” which have at least 3 and up to 13 samples in them). Sigh, I have a lot buying and smelling to do, but I think I’ll hold off on buying a bunch of these until they have a better coupon! Hopefully those come more often than once a year at Christmas!

  6. You description and pictures made me hungry. I haven’t craved tapioca pudding in years. I have not had much luck with L’Artisan P fragrances. Mechant Loup was very disappointing and I tested Patchouli a while back and it seemed to disappear from my skin in about 30 minutes. And of course there is Seville l’Aube..everyone’s favorite but mine. It think I’ll take your word on this, but won’t be running out to test it. Great review again my dear!

          • I’m dying to try Seville based on my love for Azemour les Oranges, but your reviews, Lucas and Steve, always linger in the back of my head. I wonder if I’ll be a fan or not! P.S. Steve, you’re in the DC area — do you know which dept. store(s) carry L’Artisan? I’d like to try some but don’t necessarily want to pay for samples if I can avoid it… 🙂

          • Kevin, please bear in mind that Seville is quite far away from Pd’E Azemour. Seville has that balmy olibanum and benzoin while Azemour is pure orange joy

    • Thank you, Mr. Hound! I hadn’t had much luck with the line either, prior to this one. I was glad (in a weird way) to read that one of their perfumes disappeared from your skin in about 30 minutes. Now I feel a little less like a weirdo. I couldn’t believe all traces of Safran Troublant vanished in 10 minutes from the arm where I put on a normal amount! I think that may be a new record for me!

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  9. I acquired an almost full 100mL bottle for a song and wowee, I love it! As an aside, when I first got the bottle with the orange strip label, I had to do a double take thinking that the sender accidentally sent me a bottle of my beloved Seville a l’Aube.

    Having been warned about its lack of longevity, I applied 8 sprays the 2 times I wore it last week and it stuck to me for a good 4+ hours. I think I am a scent glue as most fragrances last a long time on me (a blessing and a curse).

    • Hurrah! I’m so glad you love it! Was it purchased after a test sample/sniff? And did you test it because of my review or had you always liked it?

      I have to say, though, needing EIGHT sprays for it to last four hours….. Good God!!! That’s a lot of sprays for an incredibly short amount of time. And you say that your skin holds perfume like glue! I think that’s a very serious downfall to a perfume — at least, for people without skin like yours. 😦 Such a shame, because it really is a fantastic scent.

      • Dear Lucas gets the lemming credit on this one but you get the runner up for making it top of mind again. One can say this was the largest “sample” I bought :-). I figured that enough people like it that if I happen to hate it, I can always swap it away.

        • Oh, of course, right! Yes, Lucas definitely deserves full-credit for it. But how utterly marvelous and what a huge compliment to him that you bought a full bottle — UNSNIFFED!!!! Even better, that you love it! I’m so glad, because it truly is a fabulous fragrance and you have no idea how much I envy your perfume-retaining skin!

  10. On my skin I get nothing but the saffron and all I want to do is eat my bony little arm 🙂 ! I don’t dislike the fragrance but it is a bit too “foody” on me!

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