Reviews en Bref: Dzing! and Dzongkha by L’Artisan Parfumeur

As always, my Reviews en Bref are for perfumes that — for whatever reason — didn’t seem to warrant a full, exhaustive, detailed analysis.

DZING!

L'Artisan DzingDzing! is an eau de toilette fragrance from L’Artisan Parfumeur which seeks to evoke the circus. The woody scent was launched in 1999 and created by the highly respected perfumer, Olivia Giacobetti. The company describes it as follows:

This shockingly unique fragrance, created by Olivia Giacobetti, Dzing! is a magical evocation of a circus of dreams and imagination. Everything is soft hued and slow moving, sights and sounds rolling by in the Big Top. Everything is there, the scent of saddle leather as pretty girls on horses canter by, sawdust, the rosin on the acrobats’ hands as they arc through the air, black panther fur, fire-eaters and gasoline, the vintage canvas overhead, the caramel scent of candyfloss and toffee apples. The circus as conceived by L’Artisan Parfumeur, comforting but contrasted with the occasional roar tearing through the night.

The most complete list of notes for Dzing! (which I shall call “Dzing” for the sake of convenience) comes from Fragrantica which mentions:

leather, ginger, tonka bean, musk, white woods, caramel, saffron, toffee, candy apple and cotton candy.

Dzing opens on my skin as rubbing-alcohol, candy apple. Seconds later, it explodes into a sharply synthetic cloud of artificial notes: white cotton candy fluff; dry dust; cheap leather; cheap caramel; cloying, cheap vanilla; and amorphous, cheap, synthetic gourmand notes. I’ve smelled better things a 99 Cent Store. I cannot imagine a scenario outside of testing where I’d wear Dzing for longer than a minute without shrieking.

Surrealists' Circus. Painting by Hank Grebe, 1976

Surrealists’ Circus. Painting by Hank Grebe, 1976

The truly repellant aspect is in the revolting alcohol undertones and the cheap, pink, “Made in China” plastic aspect to all the artificial, laboratory-made notes. It’s as if the Mad Scientist infected the body of P.T. Barnum with a plan for world domination through olfactory torture. As the moments pass, the cheap Chinese, mass-produced, pink plastic note rises in prominence, as does the vanilla and the overall shrill cacophony of fakeness. This may be absolutely one of the worst things I’ve smelled in a while. I’m taken back to Tijuana, Mexico, and one of the cheap, tourist shops which sell tiny, plastic dolls, plastic shoes, and every possible hodge-podge of plastic tchotchkes. I wouldn’t object to a well-executed gourmand take on the smells of a circus, but the sheer deluge of cheap plastic and synthetics goes too far. Yes, I realise that almost every word out of my mouth includes the word “cheap” or “plastic,” but you have simply no idea how terrible Dzing smells. $145 for this? It would be easier to roll around naked on the industrial, synthetic carpeting in one of those 99 Cent stores that reek of fake vanilla, cheap apple-caramel candles, and, yes, PLASTIC.

Dzing must be a joke, right? Not a tongue-in-cheek, sweetly winking, happy, positive tease but, rather, a malicious, nefarious, completely sadistic joke created by an anti-social nihilist who intends to fumigate his victims while making a symbolic statement on the decline of Western civilisation, the corruption and decadence of capitalistic ventures like expensive perfumery, and the stupidity of those who think that the Emperor is wearing clothes. People, the Emperor is naked! NAKED! I’m not going to comment any further on this Ionesco-worthy, Absurdist, olfactory scheme to make me lose my mind.

DZONGKHA

Dzongkha is an eau de toilette fragrance created by Bertrand Duchaufour and inspired by the remote Buddhist mountain kingdom of Bhutan in the eastern Himalayas. L’Artisan describes it as follows:

Rich with aromatic influences: temple stones and incense, the sweet aroma of spiced chai tea, the heat of warm leather around fires, the heart of any temple or home in snowbound lands. Vetiver and green papyrus float through soft smoke with touches of peony, lychee and delicate iris. Dzongkha tells a special story on every skin: that of Dzongkha itself, the spiritual language of Bhutan.

l_artisan_dzongkha

On Fragrantica, Dzongkha is classified as a “woody spicy” fragrance and its notes are:

Top notes are peony, cardamom and litchi; middle notes are spices, white tea, vetiver, incense and cedar; base notes are leather, iris and papyrus.

Dzongkha opens with an unpleasant note of sharp incense. It’s not smooth, rich or soothing incense, but alcohol-like, bracing, and pungent. It is followed immediately by spices, predominantly cardamom, with what also feels like saffron, too. There are dry paper notes from the papyrus that evoke the feeling of an old book. Peony swirls in the background along with leather and tea notes.

The incense note is the key to much of Dzongkha’s early start. It is odd in its bracing bitterness and unbelievably desiccated. In combination with the papyrus, the overall effect is that of dust — whether a very old library or an abandoned church. Either way, it’s not enormously pleasant. Slowly, slowly, the cardamom heats up, warming the scent a little. Now, Dzongkha feels like cardamom-infused dust, atop a sharp, synthetic, incense note that burns a little. The whole thing is very airy, sheer and lightweight in feel, with low projection, and, yet, it is quite a strong scent in the beginning. I chalk it up to the synthetic undertone to the incense.

Thirty minutes in, Dzongkha has turned into cardamom dust with acrid incense, tea, spicy woods, and general earthy notes atop a growing base of leather. There is a light smattering of abstract florals flittering about in the background. The peony accord is muted and does little to alleviate the arid nature of the perfume. As time passes, the latter just gets worse and by the 90 minute mark, Dzongkha has turned into the most revoltingly bitter leather, vetiver and smoke fragrance. It is a veritable dust bowl of pungent, acrid dryness. At the same time, it also feels rancid and dark green — a bit like the moments in the legendary leather perfume, Bandit, from Robert Piguet with its deluge of sharply bitter, pungent galbanum and cold black leather. Yet, Dzongkha is a thousand times dryer, thanks to the incense note. I cannot believe how closely it replicates actual household dust, only in piles and heaps.

Dzongkha continues to change with time. By the start of the fourth hour, it is soapy, dark vetiver with bitter smoke, black leather and dust. It is still acrid and abrasively bitter — and I still can’t stand it. Midway into the fifth hour, the soapy element increases and takes on a sharply synthetic, dry, bitter incense accord. The combination smells extremely similar to that in another Bertrand Duchaufour incense creation for L’Artisan Parfumeur: Passage d’Enfer. I hated the latter, so I didn’t enjoy the overlap. In fact, my misery rose exponentially with every minute of Dzongkha’s sharply acrid, cloyingly soapy, painfully dust-like, and perpetually synthetic evolution. In its final moments, Dzongkha was just some amorphous soapy musk. All in all, it lasted 7 hours — all of them unpleasant, when they weren’t complete misery.

Testing Dzing and Dzongkha in the same day — even if the Dzing was only a few hours long — was an incredibly painful ordeal. For all that Dzing was mind-bogglingly terrible, it didn’t actually bring me down and make me feel low the way the incredibly unpleasant Dzongkha did. Really bad perfume experiences can feel almost oppressive, and Dzongkha certainly felt that way. I know it has its admirers, people who find its incense, spices and leather to be pleasant, even relaxing at times. All I can say is that I’m happy for you if it works. For myself, I’d like to forget this day entirely.

 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Dzing and Dzongkha are both eau de toilette concentrations and cost $145, €95.00, or £78.00 for a 100 ml/ 3.4 oz bottle. Dzing is available on the L’Artisan website (where you can switch currency and sites from American to European) and Luckyscent. It should be available at Barneys, but I don’t see it listed on the website. In the UK, the L’Artisan line is carried at Harrods but I don’t see Dzing listed there. In Europe, it is available at First in Fragrance for €95. As for Dzongkha, it is available at the L’Artisan website, Luckyscent, and Barneys. In the UK, it is available at Harrods which also sells the smaller 50 ml size bottle. For the rest of Europe, it is available at First in Fragrance and other retailers. You can find a list of stores from Japan to Italy carrying L’Artisan products on the company’s Store Locator site. Samples are available at Surrender to Chance starting at $3.99 for a 1 ml vial for Dzing and Dzonghka.
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Perfume Review: Seville à L’Aube by L’Artisan Parfumeur

There are perfumes that one should theoretically love but which, in reality, one simply cannot bear. Seville à L’Aube (Seville at Dawn) is one of those fragrances for me. A perfume that has sent the blogosphere into an utter tizzy, accompanied by a book of seemingly great sexiness, and a back-story of even greater romanticism, it is centered on one of my favorite notes: orange blossom. It is a perfume that would seem to be tailor-made for me. Ultimately, however, I couldn’t stand it. My personal perfume profile — and a particular note that I always struggle with — made Seville à L’Aube a very difficult experience for me.

Seville a L'Aube L'Artisan

Seville à L’Aube is a limited-edition eau de parfum released in 2012 and made for L’Artisan Parfumeur by the great Bertrand Duchaufour in conjunction with the writer and perfume blogger, Denyse Beaulieu of Grain de Musc. According to a quote from Ms. Beaulieu on Now Smell This, the perfume is supposed to represent one night in Seville and the start of a passionate affair between Ms. Beaulieu and her Spanish lover:

[Séville à l’aube] was inspired by one of the most beautiful nights in my life, in Seville during the Holy Week under an orange tree in full blossom, wrapped in incense smoke and the arms of a Spanish boy…

seville2

Fragrantica provides even more details on Ms. Beaulieu’s encounter:

I am in Seville, standing under a bitter orange tree in full bloom in the arms of Román, the black-clad Spanish boy who is not yet my lover. Since sundown, we’ve been watching the religious brotherhoods in their pointed caps and habits thread their way across the old Moorish town in the wake of gilded wood floats bearing statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary. […]

[The statue of the Madonna] is being carried into the golden whorls of a baroque chapel, smoothly manoeuvred in and out, in and out, in and out – they say the bearers get erections as they do this – while Román’s hand runs down my black lace shift and up my thigh to tangle with my garter-belt straps. […] I am in the pulsing, molten-gold heart of Seville, thrust into her fragrant flesh, and there is no need for Román to take me to bed at dawn: he’s already given me the night.

"The Perfume Lover." US Edition.

“The Perfume Lover.” US Edition.

Bravo! If the story doesn’t leave one heated and intent on trying the perfumed encapsulation of that night, then I have no idea what will. I certainly was keen to test the perfume, and the blogosphere’s gushing, often poetic reviews only strengthening that determination.

Denyse Beaulieu with her book. Source: The Perfume Magazine.

Denyse Beaulieu with her book. Source: The Perfume Magazine.

Things seemed to have reached a crescendo this week with the U.S. release of Ms. Beaulieu’s book, The Perfume Lover: A Personal History of Scent, which describes, in part, the process of creating Seville à L’Aube with Mr. Duchaufour. (Apparently, the book also covers quite a bit of Ms. Beaulieu’s sex life, according to an article in The New York Times yesterday.)

I wasn’t aware that the book’s release was this exact week (and I hadn’t intended to cover the perfume until next week), but I have been feeling unwell lately, so I thought my beloved orange blossoms would be the perfect antidote and pick-me-up. It wasn’t until I read the perfume’s notes that a flicker of worry crossed my mind. The notes as compiled from Lucky Scent and Now Smell This include:

Orange blossom, lavender, pink pepper, petitgrain, lemon tree leaves, jasmine, magnolia, beeswax, incense, Benzoin Siam, Luiseiri lavender.

lavender-550pxYou see, I really do not like lavender very much. I really, really do not. And Seville à L’Aube opens on my skin with a veritable tidal wave of dry, pungent, concentrated lavender, followed by bitter petitgrain and overwrought orange blossoms. I can tolerate lavender in small doses, but this degree of super-concentrated, intense lavender was well-nigh unbearable for me. It was akin to the most concentrated lavender oil, but with a particularly bitter, pungent, dry character. When combined with the equally bitter petitgrain (the distillation of the twigs from an orange blossom tree) and some incredibly peppery notes, the overall result passes into forcefully unpleasant territory.

The orange blossoms weren’t my salvation, either. Sometimes, orange blossoms can impart a faintly soapy undertone but — though there was just a hint of that here in the opening moments — the real issue for me was the impact of the other notes. They turned the orange blossom into something extremely dry with a definitely pungent, woody, almost herbaceous, peppery twist. There is some relief from the sweet magnolia flower which adds a soft, velvety, plush floral note with some fruity nuances — but not much. At this stage, it is predominantly lavender, bitterness, dryness, more lavender, and orange blossom.

Fifteen minutes later, the overpowering lavender has started to meld a little better with the orange blossom. The notes turn into one spicy-sweet accord with some pungent green notes, but it’s still an ordeal and I still struggle. As time passes, the lavender starts to recede a little, the orange blossom takes the lead and the perfume turns much sweeter.

Orange Blossom Syrup.

Orange Blossom Syrup.

Except now, it is too sweet. Revoltingly so. I’m having strong flashbacks to Tom Ford‘s Neroli Portofino which I found to be a similarly excessive, cloyingly sweet, orange blossom scent. It’s as though the flower has been put on steroids, in both perfumes. And, frankly, there is something very unnatural and artificial about the extremeness. I am strongly reminded of the thick, concentrated orange blossom syrup used in Middle Eastern desserts — but amped up with aromachemicals. Just as with Neroli Portofino, Seville à L’Aube makes me feel physically queasy. (Perhaps I can’t handle perfumes that are essentially orange blossom soliflores?)

My intense queasiness and nausea continue for quite a long time, leaving me wondering if I shouldn’t just save myself and scrub this off. To be honest, the first time I tried Seville à L’Aube, I completely gave up but, since I had an appointment I couldn’t miss at the vet, I simply sprayed another perfume over it to be free of it.

The second time, however, I persevered and, around the 2.5 hour benchmark, the perfume finally became less of an ordeal. That unnatural, extreme and painfully cloying sweetness starts to slowly dissipate. Somewhat. The lavender has — thank God — retreated for the most part, to be replaced by a quiet note of beeswax and vanilla benzoin. Soft touches of jasmine lurk behind the orange blossom and there is also the advent of a subtly smoky base, though the incense is never more than a faint shimmer in the background. From the start, the perfume has always been incredibly airy and lightweight in feel, though also surprisingly strong and powerful. Now, near the 3 hour mark, it finally drops in sillage and power. It is still, however, far too sweet for my liking.

For the next seven hours, the perfume is predominantly orange blossom with some light vanillic benzoin. It’s an incredibly persistent, long-lasting scent. It’s not completely terrible; there are times when I even think I may like it. Then I remember that brutal opening — and shiver. I could never go through that again, but I fully recognise that my reaction is due to my own personal discomfort with some notes. That said, I really do think that the perfume is overly sweet by more than just my standards. I made two people sniff my arm, and both thought the same thing with one actually recoiling in aversion.

We’re not alone in that conclusion, though we are in the minority. Bloggers may generally (with some exceptions) adore Seville à L’Aube, but the reaction from general commentators is distinctly more mixed. On Fragrantica, a number of people mention the “cloying” nature of the perfume or how it is “a little nauseating.” (See, it’s not just me!) On Luckyscent, some of the reviews are equally unenthused:

  • urgh, not sure how I feel about this. Lots of orange blossom. Gives an impression of orange and green. It’s somehow too much, has a weird gourmand quality, like a big too-sweet meringue covered in candied flowers and orange leaves. Also a tiny trace of celery.
  • I so eagerly awaited a decant, only to discover this smells uncannily like Fruity Pebbles. The opening (as much as I could ascertain with my sample) is smoky and sexy with the sweetness of orange blossom but the dry down is straight Fruity Pebbles. I was really hoping for smoky holy days and my garters getting tangled.
  • I get a lot if benzoin in this one, and the same rooty, astringent carrot from Nuit de Tubereuse. The orange blossom note has a burned sugariness to it, so that it isn’t airy, but syrupy. Definitely a fall perfume.
  • The opening is a lively orange blossom composition with some unusual notes. But that lasts only a few minutes. The drydown is a sweet, fairly generic orange blossom cologne. It’s gone completely in 45 minutes on my skin, according to my housemates. There is one note in common with Nuit de Tubereuse that actually sears my nose briefly. No idea what the aromachemical is, but it can be a bit painful.

Oddly, there are a number of comparisons on the Luckyscent reviews to Nuit de Tubereuse which is also from Bertrand Duchaufour and L’Artisan Parfumeur. I couldn’t stand that one, truth be told, but I can’t see the similarities unless it’s in the area of unpleasant aromachemicals. I think Seville à L’Aube is a much better scent, relatively speaking — though given my feelings about Nuit de Tubereuse, I’m not sure that’s saying much.

I should also add that I know others who do not have issues with lavender but who, nonetheless, struggled with Seville à L’Aube. Some found it painfully dry at the start. A few found it “sour,” like my friend and fellow perfume blogger, The Scented Hound, who also described the perfume as “a cross between floor cleaner and sour shampoo,” and called it “purgatory.” One blogger, Almost au Naturel, suffered entirely different notes, summing up the scent as “funky, sexed up baby powder.” Though she ended up appreciating Seville à L’Aube for what it was, she begged people not to fall for the hype.

I definitely agree with that last conclusion. Don’t let the hype lead you to unrealistic expectations. If you love lavender, orange blossom and very sweet perfumes, then Seville à L’Aube may be one for you to consider. (However, the perfume is limited-edition and, with the advent of the U.S. edition of the book, it is even hotter than it was before, so I suggest you test it out very soon if you want to try to obtain a bottle.) For those who are less than enamoured of those notes, however, it may be “purgatory” and you might want to stick with reading the book.

 

DETAILS:
Seville à L’Aube is a limited-edition Eau de Parfum that is only available in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle. At the time of this post, the perfume is temporarily sold out on L’Artisan Parfumeur’s US website where it retails for $165 but it is available on the company’s UK website and costs £88.00. (The same price is listed on the Euro version of the site.) US buyers can also purchase the perfume from Luckyscent, though it is currently back-ordered and won’t ship out until April. The perfume is carried at Aedes de Venustas (along with the book, The Perfume Lover), but they too are currently sold out of the scent. In Europe, you can find the scent available at Ausliebezumduft where it retails for €105.00. If you’d like to try a sample, you can find Seville à L’Aube on Surrender to Chance where prices start at $4.49 for 1 ml vial.

Review en Bref: L’Artisan Parfumeur Batucada

As always, my Reviews en Bref are for perfumes that — for whatever reason — didn’t seem to warrant a full, exhaustive, detailed analysis.

L'Artisan BatucadaBatucada is a fruity-floral fragrance from L’Artisan Parfumeur which seeks to evoke the beaches of Brazil, the Caipirinha cocktail, and Batucada itself, a type of samba dance that originated in Rio. The scent was launched in 2011 and created by perfumers, Karine Vinchon and Elizabeth Maier.

I’ve seen a variety of different notes for the perfume, but the most complete list seems to be from Now Smell This which lists:

Lime, mint, davana, tiare, ylang, amber, benzoin, aquatic notes, coconut, vanilla, sandalwood, salty skin accord, patchouli, vetiver and musk.

Caipirinha

Batucada had a pretty opening. It was extremely effervescent, sparkly, fresh and bright  — lime, mint, sugar and fruity florals. The lime was the best part and very zesty. When combined with the sugar notes like those in cachaca — the sugar cane rum used the Caipirinha — it definitely evoked the cocktail (which I happen to love). In the background, there are hints of fresh coconut. It’s not unctuous, heavy or gooey, but it is a bit buttery and creamy, while still feeling light.

Soon thereafter, other notes start to appear. In addition to the lime, there are notes that are fruity, sweet, salty, rum-like, and with a flicker of subtle vetiver. The fruity notes are hard to place at first, but soon turn into the scent of apricots. I’m attributing that to the Davana, which a Google search tells me is an orange-y flower native to India and whose rich scent can apparently vary drastically from person to person. I’ve read olfactory impressions ranging from fruity-florals, peaches and apricots, to tea, raisins, rum-like accords, wine and vanilla. Here, to me, they evoke the soft, sweet scent of an apricot’s fuzzy skin.

Ninety minutes in, the perfume is all tropical notes. Buttery, rum-like, salty, and beachy with aquatic accords. The latter, unfortunately, have a distinctly metallic undertone to them which remains for much of the perfume’s development on my skin. There is also coconut which, along with the floral notes from tiaré (also known as frangipani), contribute to a buttery feel. It’s odd, the scent here is slightly indolic and, yet, extremely sheer and light. L’Artisan perfumes usually have that tendency, but it’s unusual to have an indolic, buttery scent not be heady or heavy.

Copacabana Beach in Rio. Source: The Guardian. Photograph: David Oziel/AP

The perfume doesn’t really smell of coconuts or suntan oil per se, but yet, there is definitely the impression of your body’s skin after a long day at the beach. You know that feeling of your sun-kissed skin that used to have suntan oil on it and which now just has the faint, lingering traces of salt and the sea? That’s what Batucada evokes in its middle to final stages. And, in its final hours, it’s just a musky, salty scent with a faint trace of fruity-florals.

All in all, the scent lasted approximately 6 hours on me and the sillage was incredibly low. The projection of Batucada dropped to almost nothing exactly 12 minutes into my test. For me, L’Artisan perfumes frequently take sheerness, lightness and unobtrusiveness to a whole new degree — but that may be a plus for many. This eau de toilette is no exception. The longevity, however, is not incredibly high and that doesn’t just apply to my peculiar, scent-consuming skin. Others have reported poor to moderate longevity.

To be honest, Batucada not a perfume I would ever wear. A small part of me likes the mental associations, but most of me feels as though my salty, buttery, tropical skin needs a post-beach shower. For some, that sensation may be too much and may turn this scent into just a novelty act that’s fun only for a one-time sniff. That seems to be the reaction of most reviewers: Robin at Now Smell This enjoyed it in that same way, but would never buy it; Freddie at Smelly Thoughts found it “pleasant” but struggled to “write about this as a serious fragrance;” and the Candy Perfume Boy thought there were much better cocktail and/or citrus fragrances on the market, concluding that “it is by far the most disappointing of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Les Voyages Exotiques.”

General commentators are slightly more enthusiastic about the scent. Slightly. On Fragrantica, those who didn’t feel “drunk and in desperate need of shower” liked it. But few would pay the price for a full bottle which is about $100 or $145 (depending on size) and available on the L’Artisan websiteLuckyscent and Parfum1.

I really struggle with scents from L’Artisan. I want to like them but — with the exception of the absolutely fabulous, fantastic Safran Troublant — the line simply hasn’t worked for me thus far. Batucada is no exception.

Review en Bref: L’Artisan Parfumeur Mon Numero 10

As always, my Reviews en Bref are for perfumes that — for whatever reason — didn’t seem to warrant a full, exhaustive, detailed analysis.

Mon Numero 10 is part of the perfume “By The Numbers” series that legendary perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour, made for L’Artisan Parfumeur. In a nutshell, he created ten fragrances in 2009 as a one-time exclusive deal for customers, each of whom would essentially be getting a bespoke, unique fragrance. Only one bottle was ever made for each of the perfumes and at the cost of $10,000. (NST says it was $20,000 each!) Two years later, in 2011, L’Artisan came out with slight variations on eight of those bespoke perfumes for the general masses with certain numbers in the line being exclusive to a particular city and/or retailer. Mon Numero 10 is New York’s perfume and exclusive to Barney’s which sells it world-wide for $200 for 3.4 oz/100 ml.

Mon Numero 10 comes in eau de parfum concentration and is categorized on Fragrantica as an oriental. There, as elsewhere, no perfume notes are given; you see only leather and amber mentioned as a general sense of the perfume. I did manage to find a full list of notes on Perfume Niche (which also is the only place I found to sell samples of it, priced at $5 a vial). The perfume contains:

bergamot, fennel, cardamom, pink pepper, cinnamon leather, incense, rose essence, geranium, jasmine, musks, vanilla, Tonka bean, ambergris.

Mon Numero 10 opens on my skin with an incredibly strong note of what can only be described as Cherry Coca Cola. (Perhaps Cherry Dr. Pepper or cherry root beer? It’s something in that family.) Once you have that mental association in your mind, it’s hard to shake off. Immediately on the footsteps of that main note are incense and roses. There is also a strong presence of geranium, especially the fuzzy green, leafy parts. In the background, there is light musk and amber, with a faint touch of vanilla. The perfume is sheer but heady and strong.

As time passes, Mon Numero 10 turns into a very musky Cherry Coke with some animalic notes. There is leather, incense, musk and boozy amber, but still under the umbrella of Cherry Coke. Or perhaps it’s closer to root beer now? I can’t get the impression of an 1950s soda fountain out of my head. The perfume is — like all Bertrand Duchaufour creations, superbly well-blended — so different notes only occasionally rise to the foreground but there is no getting away from that initial soda impression. On me, the leather notes are very subtle; the incense and musk are far more predominant. During the final stage, Mon Numero 10 becomes quite lovely: incensed rose with amber that is just barely boozy but always rich. It’s like a sheer veil just touching my skin.

The perfume’s sillage is like that of all L’Artisan fragrances that I’ve tried: low. It’s sheer and has little projection, becoming close to my skin after thirty minutes. However, as an eau de parfum, it has much greater longevity and presence than many of the brand’s perfumes (which are often in eau de toilette concentration). All in all, Mon Numero 10 lasted about eight hours on me.

I enjoyed the dry-down, especially the incensed amber notes, but I wasn’t crazy about the scent as a whole. My experience was slightly similar to Angela from Now Smell This who found the scent to be “leather cola” or Coke over the leather seats of a Bentley. She found it to have the “forceful, stylized demeanor of Joan Crawford in the 1940s” — which I can partially see. Something definitely feels a little retro and stylized about it. In contrast, one commentator just found it to be like “horse liniment.” I’m not sure that’s better… And, the two reviews of the fragrance on Fragrantica, are definitely not passionate raves. On the positive end, Birgit from Olfactoria’s Travels gave a whiff to all the scents in the line at the store; as an initial impression, she enjoyed Numero 10 the most. I have no idea if she tried it beyond that and ended up loving the scent. [Update: I am informed that she subsequently ended up hating it.]

For $200 a bottle, this is not a fragrance that I would recommend.

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.

Review En Bref: L’Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

As always with my mini-reviews, this post will be a brief summary of my impressions of a perfume that, for whatever reason, didn’t merit one of my full, extensively detailed reviews.

With Sephora now carrying seven L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrances, I thought it might Artisan NdTbe time to review one of those: Nuit de Tubereuse. As some of you know, I love tuberose, but I’m significantly underwhelmed by this 2010 creation from the legendary nose, Bertrand Duchaufour. Actually, to be completely frank, I’m not a fan.

Nuit de Tubereuse is an eau de parfum, and Fragrantica states that its notes are as follows:

cardamom, clove, pink pepper, black pepper, citrus, green mango, angelica, tuberose, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose, broom, musks, vanilla, sandalwood, palisander, benzoin, styrax.

Nuit de Tubereuse opens green. It’s green tuberose and it’s unpleasantly medicinal. This is not the mentholated, camphor and eucalyptus green of Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle, but something much more unpleasant, like sulphur. I also have a distinct impression of aspirin, along with an astringent note that strongly calls to mind rubbing alcohol, cheap vodka or cleaning products. Some comments on Fragrantica describe a very similar experience.

For fairness sake, however, I should add that a number of people on Fragrantica seem to like this perfume, in part because it is nothing like traditional tuberose scents like Fracas. There is none of that warm, buttery smell that one finds in the more traditional tuberose scents like Fracas. They find it much lighter and more manageable, though some think that it can be quite masculine. I don’t think it is masculine, but I do find it surprisingly strong for a L’Artisan perfume which — in my experiences thus far — have been rather light, sheer, gauzy and without great projection.

As moments pass, the astringent green tuberose and aspirin is joined by a lot of pink peppercorns, some clove, soapy musk, and a faintly sour, green edge that most reviewers attribute to the mango. If so, it’s definitely green mango. The whole combination sounds a lot more unpleasant than it actually is — but it’s still not a particular joy. The tuberose is cold. Stone cold. About 30 minutes, I smell something that calls to mind fruity bubble gum. In slight disbelief, I look up some other reviews and, yes, reviewers like Now Smell This and a few others commentators have noted “Juicy Fruit.” I sigh, and start to wonder if I actually like Bertrand Duchafour fragrances.

After an hour, Nuit de Tubereuse turns into a jasmine and ylang-ylang fragrance on me. Mostly, it is just plain jasmine, even though that is not actually listed as a note. Yes, there is a faintly earthy edge to the jasmine, but it is nothing like the earthiness mentioned in a number of comments, both on Fragrantica and Basenotes. I had expected quite a bit of it due to the inclusion of angelica. I have a bag of angelica powder for cooking, and its earthy pungency always makes me reel and re-evaluate making that recipe. (Angelica is in Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan and it is, I am convinced, why some find that scent so unpalatable.) In any event, I expected a lot more earthiness in Nuit de Tubereuse due to the angelica and the various online comments. But, no. It’s just plain jasmine with ylang-ylang. It’s nice, but I’m utterly bored to tears. So much so that I’m relieved its sillage is moderate to low (about 30-40 minutes at strength, then close to the skin), and that the longevity is about 4 hours on me, though most report far greater length. I can’t wait to get this off and try something that is actually faintly exciting or enjoyable.

A lot of reviewers have stated that this is not really a tuberose scent as much as it is a floral and spiced fruit scent that just happens to have tuberose in it. I agree. And some perfume bloggers, like The Candy Perfume Boy, have done “a big 180” on this scent and have ended up really liking it. That will never be me, I fear. I’m far too turned off and bored to want to give this umpteen chances until it finally sways or bullies me into submission. In fact, I’m starting to think that I simply do not like green tuberose, or modern twists on tuberose. (Perhaps I was too imprinted in my childhood with Fracas, and can’t move on?)

I can’t decide if I would recommend Nuit de Tubereuse as a starter tuberose to those terrified of the more traditional indolic, buttery, overpowering tuberose scents on the market. Some commentators on Fragrantica think it would be a great way to tiptoe into this floral sub-category. But, after some thought, I don’t think it would be a good idea. That opening is simply too unpleasant; and the rest of the time, Nuit de Tubereuse is merely a linear fragrance that is quite boring. If I had experienced some of the earthly, woody base notes, perhaps I would feel differently.

That said, body chemistry is a funny thing and enough people have liked Nuit de Tubereuse or noted the earthy, woody dry-down for me to suggest that you may want to give this a potential sniff if you happen to pass by a bottle at Sephora. After all, it’s not completely hideous or revolting. But I would certainly never recommend that you blindly spend $120 on a 1.7 oz/50 ml or $165 on a 3.4 oz/100 ml on an impulse purchase just because you think you like tuberose. Please, don’t do it.

 

Reviews En Bref: L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer & Serge Lutens A La Nuit

As with last week’s rundown, this post will be a brief summary of my impressions of several perfumes that I didn’t think warranted one of my full, extensively detailed reviews.

Passage d’Enfer by L’Artisan Parfumeur needs another name. Badly. Alternatively Passage d'Etranslated as “the passage to Hell,” or the “gateway to Hell,” the name would lead you to think this is a scent that is fiery, smoky, and the gateway drug to all sorts of dark things. Instead, it is light, soapy, extremely short in duration, and a floral musk. Apparently, the name really refers to the street on which L’Artisan’s offices were located which is fine and dandy, but then give this name to another perfume! NST provides the following details: “Passage d’Enfer was launched in 1999; the perfumer was Olivia Giacobetti and the notes include white lily, aloe wood, frankincense, benzoin and white musk.”

Passage d’Enfer is a unisex fragrance whose opening is light, fresh, clean and soapy. There is lily and a faint musk. I love lily and its soft touch here, but it’s too soft. Too ethereal for me. It’s also of too short a duration. I also love frankincense in perfumes, but I smell none of it here. I do, however, smell pencil shavings?! I had read that that was a frequent impression of the dry down, but I hadn’t believed it. I do now. And it didn’t require the dry-down for it to appear it, either. I smelled it within the first five minutes! (Just how fast does my body burn through the pyramid notes anyway?!) If forced, I would call Passage d’Enfer an elegantly austere perfume. I suppose.

If I were to be frank, however, I’d call it linear, boring, and redolent of hotel soap. (Definite hotel soap — without question — and not the expensive kind either.) I should probably bite my tongue, but I cannot. The almost antiseptically clean, synthetically soapy scent conjures up the soap bars with their slightly brown, plastic paper wrappings that are so common in cheap, tacky and faintly seedy hotels. And the combination of floral musk with that soap is rendered me faintly nauseous. I know I have a bias against the clean, fresh soapy category of perfumes but, nonetheless, I find this one to be a particularly revolting version of it. So, I take back what I said about the perfume’s name being a misnomer. No, this really is the gateway to hell, and it calls to mind things that are probably better left unsaid.

A La Nuit by Serge Lutens is a lovely jasmine soliflore for women that evokes the bright green of spring.A La Nuit Created by Lutens’ favorite perfumer, Christopher Sheldrake, it was launched in 2007 and contains several different types of jasmine along with green notes and musk. Fragrantica describes it as follows:

Several variances of jasmine are combined in the composition: Indian, Egyptian and Moroccan. The jasmine blend is accompanied by green branches, honey, clove, benzoin, and musk. The composition starts with intensive jasmine notes, warmed and deepened by benzoin in the base. The base notes are surprising here because they are greener and lighter than the central notes, and thus they emphasize the spring-time floral character of this fragrance.

A La Nuit’s opening made me go “Mmmmm” out loud from the sheer pleasure of that lovely, gorgeous jasmine. It’s heady, but it’s not a ripe, overblown jasmine. The green notes give it a lightness and freshness. There is almost a milky element to the greenness that is hard to explain. It’s as if the fresh lightness of the green branches have combined with the honey and faintly musky feel to create a sweetly milky green note. The scent brings to mind a green bamboo candle I have and love it.

I love A La Nuit’s jasmine and I keep putting more on. Mostly, because the bloody scent doesn’t last on me! Within 10 minutes, it starts to fade and become close to the skin. That has to be a new record, both for me and for niche fragrances on me. If I remember correctly, A La Nuit was the third Lutens fragrance I ever tried; its incredibly brief shelf-life was what cemented the impression in my mind that Lutens perfumes were a dubious proposition for my skin chemistry.

I’m obviously a bit of an oddity when it comes to perfume duration and projection but, nonetheless, I was amazed to read the NST review in which the jasmine-loving writer Jasminefound it too strong and too sweet. In fact, her reviewing notes flatly state “your basic death by jasmine.” Her comments may prove useful to anyone considering the perfume:

the top notes […] are as close to being buried alive in flower petals as anything else I can think of. If you don’t like jasmine, it will seem like an awfully long wait for it to calm, assuming you bother to wait at all — I should think a true jasmine hater would find A La Nuit a scrubber. If you adore jasmine, you might find it heavenly. I do love jasmine, but the top notes are SWEET and STRONG, and I find it nearly unbearable sprayed. A little dab here and there is plenty enough heaven for me.

A La Nuit does calm — and doesn’t really take all that long — and then it is even more heavenly: a sumptuous jasmine, ripe but no longer heady. […] The longer it is on skin, the more the lushness fades, and eventually, it nearly qualifies as fresh, but there is fresh and then there is fresh. A La Nuit isn’t at all clean, in fact, it is more than a bit indolic (several reviews mention dirty diapers, or even cat urine).

It is the prettiest jasmine I know, although it isn’t girly-pretty in the least. It is jasmine with attitude, and while I don’t tend to classify my fragrances as for day or evening wear, in this case the name suits. I find that it just doesn’t feel right during the day.

I agree that it is definitely one of the prettiest jasmine fragrances. (I, for one, certainly do not smell cat urine or dirty diapers.) It’s an absolutely gorgeous fragrance that any jasmine lover should try. I don’t think this is a night-time only scent, either. The freshness and the greenness counter that, but I realise that it depends on a person’s individual style. For me, it wouldn’t be an issue for one single reason: A La Nuit wouldn’t last 30 minutes on me, day or night! If it lasted a good few hours, I would be very tempted to buy a full bottle.