Séville à L’Aube (Seville at Dawn), the lastest fragrance from renegade niche house L’Artisan Parfumeur, is a fragrance like no other. It is a fragrance born from a chance encounter between fragrance writer/blogger Denyse Beaulieu (of Grain de Musc) and renegade perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour who, after hearing Denyse’s story of a hot summer night in Seville during the holy week said the magic phrase: “Now that would make a very good perfume!” . Thus Séville à L’Aube was born.
Well obviously that was after roughly 130 mods and a whole lot of to-ing-and-fro-ing between perfumer and muse. The devil, as they say, is in the detail and I would suggest that anyone interested in the creation of Sévile à L’Aube should pick up a copy of Denyse’s book The Perfume Lover (you can read my review here) and immerse yourself in the full story of Séville à L’Aube’s birth. It really is fascinating.
For Séville à L’Aube Bertrand Duchaufour had the mammoth task of capturing the sights, sounds and most importantly the smells of one of Denyse Beaulieu’s most unforgettable nights. Neither being known to shy away from a challenge they have managed to create an orange blossom soliflore that one does not hesitate in decreeing as being the absolute best of its kind. That’s right, you heard me: the best!
Petitgrain, Petitgrain Citronnier, Orange Blossom, Beeswax, Incense Resinoid, Luisieri Lavender and Siam Benzoin Resinoid
How Does it Smell?
Orange blossom, a usually heady and narcotic flower, has been tamed by Duchaufour for Séville à L’Aube and the result is a shimmering, euphoric rendition of the flower that is sweet, lush, honeyed and mineral in equal measure. I do really mean it when I say that Séville à L’Aube is the best orange blossom fragrance of all time, it completely subverts the genre and stands as proof that in perfumery there are still surprises to be had.
Following the theme of a night in Seville during the holy week, Duchaufour pairs the orange blossom with incense to represent incense burned during the ceremonies (and because it shares a similar mineral quality with the orange blossom) and beeswax to represent burning candles. Both add a rich, waxy texture to the orange blossom and elevate it to something atmospheric – a trail of floral shadows in the air.
The smell of lavender cologne, a scent prolifically worn by the Spanish, is the inspiration for one of Séville à L’Aube’s most noticeable facets. That said, it hardly screams “LAVENDER” and the focus is very much on the darker, more resinous facets of the flower as opposed to the sweeter, more caramelised qualities that one is more accustomed to.
To get this effect Duchaufour opted to use Luisieri lavender, a heavy and almost labdanum-like type that has not been used before and he describes it as the missing link that links the dense base notes with the orange blossom.
Perhaps the most interesting element of Séville à L’Aube is, despite the erotic nature of the story that inspired it, it doesn’t feel animalic, carnal or particularly sexy. There is definitely a darker side to it, especially in the base notes, but the indole and skank of the flowers never really comes to fruition, instead there feels as if there is a more human element to it, almost like the smell of unwashed human skin. This could be attributed to the use of costus, an ingredient that smells like the hair and scalp of a person. Whatever it is it gives Séville à L’Aube that little something it need to link the scent with the sensual aspects of Denyse’s story and the perfect balance between light & dark.
At the launch of Séville à L’Aube I asked Denyse how she felt now that her baby had been unleashed on the world and she said that it was never really for her, instead it was made for the story and the fun that she and Bertand had doing it. The process belongs to both perfumer and muse, the fragrance belongs to those who fall under its spell. Denyse also described Séville à L’Aube as an “open house” for “those who can live in it” and I think that it is going to find many residents to live in it and love it.
L’Artisan Parfumeur, Bertrand Duchaufour and Denyse Beaulieu have created something incredible with Séville à L’Aube. Not only is it a heartbreakingly beautiful fragrance, it is a scented picture that takes you away to that place, that time and that night under the orange tree, clutched in the arms of a handsome man. The rest, as they say, is history…
Séville à L’Aube is available in a Limited Edition 100ml Eau de Parfum for £88.
PR sample. Notes via Basenotes. Image 1 via paradiseintheworld.com. All other images and quotes via L’Artisan Parfumeur, except  which is via The Perfume Lover. D. Beaulieu. 2012. Harper Collins.