There are a few perfume ‘genres’ that I have never really ‘got’: green, woody and amber. Well, with time (and through this blog) I’ve learned to appreciate green and to love woods, but for the most part amber still eludes me. Amber, for those of you not familiar with it, is a blend of benzoin (a balsamic resin obtained from the bark of a number of trees within the Styrax genus), labdanum (a sticky brown resin sourced from shrubs) and vanilla that creates a warm, glowing sweetness that is soft, fluffy and gauzy in texture. It is the backbone of big oriental fragrances such as Shalimar, but it’s also used as a standalone theme in many modern perfumes.
More than being an iconic perfume genre, the amber is also the perfect scent for this cold weather. I like to think of ambers as winter warmers – those gloriously toasty and enveloping scents that get stuck in one’s winter scarf, wafting a hedonistic aura around the wearer. So as the winter draws in, it makes sense for everyone to have an amber in their wardrobe. But what happens when you don’t really like amber? Or, you think that you don’t like amber?
L’Artisan Parfumeur has been at the forefront of niche perfumery for forty years and in those four decades they have not only reshaped the landscape of perfumery, they have created a vast number of iconic and beautiful fragrances. Today, the brand continues to offer intriguing olfactory editions mixing accessibility with a strangeness that features heavily in the DNA of the brand.
The two latest launches from L’Artisan Parfumeur are Mont de Narcisse and Mandarina Corsica. They sit in ‘Les Paysages’ a collection of fragrances inspired by different regions of the brand’s native France. Here the subjects are the rustic Auvergne and the hot Corsican vistas, with two fragrances that celebrate the physical, botanical and olfactory landscapes of France.
The purpose of these olfactory deconstructions (see Iris and Vetiver) is to understand a raw material used in perfumery by dissecting it into its many facets. By experiencing the many nuances, one starts to gain an appreciation for how it is used within a wider composition and how it can be utilised to create interesting and novel effects. Such is the magic of perfumery – where one distinct material can bring so much more to a fragrance than its odour profile, shifting and changing as it tessellates with other notes to create things that are more than the sum of their parts.
Today’s deconstruction is a widely used material: patchouli. I chose patchouli because it’s a material found in so many fragrances, many of which utilise it as a supporting act as opposed to the star that takes top billing. I also picked it because it’s a tricky note to love, due largely to its associations with head shops and hippies, not to mention how abrasive it can be as a smell. But patchouli is so much more than a new age oil, it’s actually a fascinating and multifaceted material that deserves a lot of attention – and today we are going to give it that attention!
We often talk about ‘notes’ or materials in fragrances and how they come together to create a multi-faceted composition. But these materials are incredibly nuanced themselves and each one brings not one, not two, but a multitude of different things to a fragrance, meaning that there is always a lot to learn when one goes back to the source materials. I always think that the best way to understand a perfume material is to break it down into facets and that’s exactly what these olfactory deconstruction pieces are for – to dissect each material into little parts so we can really understand what makes it tick, and what makes it smell so good.
Perfume is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each fragrance is made up of specifically shaped pieces that lock together. Perfumers match up the pieces, locking them together facet-to-facet, tessellating each nuance to either enhance or contrast them, or in some cases, to create something entirely new. The great thing is that, unlike jigsaw puzzles, where there is one way of piecing things together, perfumery is open-ended and the perfumer can tie things together in whichever way they see fit. This means that the picture at the end can be whatever they dream up. There are endless possibilities and to me, that’s pretty damn exciting.
I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.
I LOVE a body product, especially a shower gel. There’s something just so luxurious about slathering on one’s favourite scent in a lotion, cream or a gel. These products are the perfect thing to layer with a beloved scent, extending and emphasising it or for mixing it up with something unexpected to create contrast. They also make perfect gifts especially if it’s a treat yo’self kind of gift (i.e. the best kind)…
L’Artisan Parfumeur recently (well, relatively recently anyway) launched a new range of Shower Gels and Body Lotions in five of their emblematic scents. Celebrating the iconic classics of the range, these products are housed in the most handsome packaging ever: sleek black pumps that are as functional as they are pleasing to look at. So what is there not to crush over? New ways to wear iconic scents: check. Beautiful packaging: check. Amazing smells: check. Consider it a Candy Crush!
It’s taken about two years of intense rose-sniffing but I have become wholly and completely obsessed with rose perfumes. I’d even go as far saying that rose is my favourite note. In fact, I’m going to say exactly that: rose is my favourite note in perfumery. I simply cannot get enough and whilst I’ve already written a guide to rose perfumes and even battled them on Fume Chat, I feel as I haven’t quite got my adoration for the note out of my system yet. So with that in mind, here’s a bit of a different approach to an article that allows me to wax lyrical about roses once more.
Roses are one of the most versatile ‘notes’ in perfumery. I say ‘note’ but there really is a vast array of rose materials used in perfumery, some to give a rosy impression and others to add complexity to other compositions. I want to celebrate this versatility of rose but instead of just compiling a guide to roses I’ve decided to showcase the many gradients of rose by creating a day of roses. The idea is very simple: these are roses for morning, noon and night and if you want, you could simply pick one for the time you need it, or if you’re adventurous you could transition through all nine during the day. Whatever you choose, I hope you’ll agree that there really is a rose for every minute, moment and mood.
L’Artisan Parfumeur has been making niche fragrance since the 1970s. They were the first niche brand, in fact and ever since their inception way back when, L’Artisan Parfumeur has continued to create fascinating fragrances that are often quirky and always beautiful. They are a cult brand who have always managed to inspire passion on perfume lovers across the globe, working at the cutting edge to create perfumes that always bring something new to the table, whether that be an entirely new style or a new perspective on something familiar. In short: L’Artisan Parfumeur rocks and I for one am always interested to see what they’re up to. Which leads me nicely on to some lovely L’Artisan newness!
Histoire d’Orangers is the brand’s latest offering and it has come just in time for summer. Created by Perfumer Marie Salamagne (Jo Malone London Mimosa & Cardamom) and is inspired by her memory of travelling through the Moroccan region of Souss, which sits in the foot hills of the Anti-Atlas. Of her trip, Salamagne says “‘my memory of the sunset on Taroudant walls remains untouched. Suddenly, the valley takes on exceptional shades, a warm light intensifies the colours of the raw land and the atmosphere gets fresher. Each time I think of this majestic landscape, I think of orange tree flower water. A delicate and delicious water, ultra-refreshing and incredibly luminous.” A rather evocative description, no? The scent plays with the contrast between the heat of the sun and the cool of the shade, creating a vibrant and incredibly sunny orange blossom that L’Artisan describes as “exquisite”. My nose is ready for it.