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.