Monday, May 03, 2010

Fragrance of the Moment

My fragrance of the moment doesn't come in parfum but it's a serious Perfume. I did not care for this scent when I first encountered it; I found it to be strongly feral due to the honey notes. Today, this discontinued perfume by L'Artisan Parfumeur, a niche line now owned by LVMH, is among my most admired and loved fragrances. As with great works of music and art, sometimes it just takes a few (or very many, depending on the challenge) chances to understand a perfume in order to appreciate it. Complex and classically structured, but not quite traditional in style and veering towards avant garde, Orchidée Blanche could be characterized as an Oriental fragrance (sweet-ambery), even though the labdanum base gives it a Chypre flavor. It is sweet and spicy, cool as marble (marine-rooty, like iris - compare to Iris Pallida or Heeley Iris de Nuit) yet sweet (gourmand-vanillic-tonka-ambery), a densely powdery, musky and animalic scent, but I smell through its multifaceted development grand, familiar notes and accords from various corners of my olfactive world: the goaty warmth of labdanum in Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental, the vintage floral face powder of Caron N'Aimez que Moi, the bergamot-ambery Shalimar tones of Solange Stoned and Malle Musc Ravageur. The dry down is darkly gourmand, like L de Lolita Lempicka or Dumont Tendre Madeleine, almond-spice supported by bottomheavy, resinous, animalic musk, indoles in full play. The iris gives the overall a cool, transparent lift, but Orchidée Blanche is still a substantial scent, not merely cerebral.

With so much contrapuntal space between high and low notes (iris and labdanum), I wonder if L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidée Blanche could be considered a Chypre, even though the soft, yet intense composition seems to fit in the Oriental category. In truth, like many great perfumes, it's an intricate blending of both, a unified scent impossible to neatly split down the middle. It's not quite girly (perhaps even old-fashioned-powdery, or a hair traditionally masculine (thinking Vetiver Oriental and Fumerie Turque, YSL Homme), but it's white floral-fleshy enough that my mind conjures the luminous magnolia petals of L'Instant de Guerlain. It's got it all: bonafide underground cult status, quality and unique, alternative beauty. My FOTM = my ultimate goth floral gourmand chypre powder musk. Didn't think such a crossover existed? It existed before the label did. Won't they please bring this glorious creation back? Does it have to be a bestseller to be respected as a great composition?

(Image: L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche)