It was my Olfiction colleague and Fume Chat co-host, the iconic Nick Gilbert, that introduced me to Maison Crivelli, and I am so glad he did. This is a brand that strikes me as being carefully considered, right from the beautiful, simplistic and luxurious aesthetics, to the intriguing, unexpected fragrances, much in the same way that Frederic Malle fragrances are. But the most intriguing thing about Maison Crivelli is the way they speak about perfume – they talk in impressions and experiences, moving us away from notes to craft a relatable olfactory language that is universal.
The fragrances in the collection are inspired by raw materials and each appears to present a new twist on the notes or ingredients that we are familiar with. It’s almost as if Maison Crivelli is inviting us to rethink our experiences of these materials – we think we know them, but Maison Crivelli shows us that there are still unexpected ways to experience the things we are so familiar with. For me, that’s incredibly exciting and makes Maison Crivelli one of the few new niche brands to watch.
Papyrus Moléculaire is the one of the latest launches from the brand and it takes inspiration from the brand founder, Thibaud Crivelli’s encounter with papyrus powder and women smoking cigarillos. The result is a subversion of the usually spicy and warm material presented as something much fresher, more transparent and powdery. As with all scents in the collection Papyrus Moléculaire is entirely genderless, with Maison Crivelli describing it as “rebellious” and “highly contrasting”.
Top: Elemi and Pepper
Heart: Papyrus, Iris, Amyris and Carrot Seed,
Base: Tonka Bean, Tobacco Leaves and Frankincense
How Does it Smell?
Pepper, powder, smooth woods and a touch of cucumber-freshness – that’s the initial impression one gets from Papyrus Moléculaire. I was expecting something intensely spicy a la Papyrus Oud / 71 by Parle Moi de Parfum (a rework of the original Gucci Pour Homme that I love) but as I said, Maison Crivelli subverts expectations. Instead, Papyrus Moléculaire presents a softer side of papryus that showcases facets of hay, cocoa powder and something mineral, all present in a texture that is both creamy and powdery.
Can we go off piste for a moment to talk packaging? Yes, yes, I know it’s all about the juice, but honestly, when you’re dropping serious dollar on a niche fragrance, you want it to be packaged nicely and Maison Crivelli’s presentation is utterly exquisite. The boxes and bottles are heavy, with beautifully high quality paper. Simple colours – white on black, contrasted by a terracotta shade that sits between red and orange – elevate everything, working with flashes of textured patterns on paper and the handsome fonts, to make for something that just feels so pleasant to look at. Honestly, I’m obsessed with the look and feel of everything.
Anyway, back to the scent. In the background there is an intense richness of wood that presents itself as an inky vein running through the overwhelming smoothness. It almost verges on leathery, but the golden quality of hay (from tonka bean) and the mineral, rooty powder or iris and carrot seed keep it in check. Papyrus Moléculaire never veers away from feeling smooth, translucent and cool.
For me, Papyrus Moléculaire exists in the same space as Le Labo’s Santal 33 and Miller Harris’ Peau Santal. Whilst it’s not a sandalwood fragrance, as these two are, it shares the same transparent, creamy woodiness that creates a distinct sense of freshness. But Papyrus Moléculaire has a depth to it – a richness that appears like a complex wood grain that sets it apart from its contemporaries. Smelling it, I imagine an artsy figure in a leather jacket and jeans, sketch pad in the one hand, cigarillo in the other. He or she is cool without even trying, with hidden depths one could only imagine.
Papyrus Moléculaire is available in 50ml and 100ml Eau de Parfum.
Images are my own. Sample (full bottle) gifted by the brand for review. I was not paid for this review and the brand had no say in the content.