AFRICA, ABSINTHE & A MISNAMED TEA-PARTY. In time for the holidays L' Artisan Parfumeur presented two beautifully composed gift sets of 3 x 15 ml of some of their finest fragrances. The feminine box contains Nuit de Tubéreuse, Mûre et Musc and La Chasse aux Papillons while the men's collection features Fou d’Absinthe, Coeur de Vétiver Sacré and Timbuktu.
The latter gift set conveniently found it´s way to my Christmas tree and I have been enjoying it immensely the last couple of days. The selection is perfectly put together balancing both dry woods, fougere soapiness and oriental smoothness. A little something for many different moods.
Timbuktu (2004): Perhaps perfumer Bertrand Douchafours' finest work. Timbuktu, inspired by ancient Mali perfume rituals, is a bone dry, woody blend with great depth and character. Spicy cardamom, austere papyrus and dense frankincense together make for a heady and natural accord. Ripe mango and fresh pink pepper beautifully balance the scorching impact of the arid spices.
There is a subtle presence of vetiver throughout the evolution of the fragrance, no doubt enhancing the slightly earthy, bitter and smoky impression. Myrrh, patchouli and benzoin eventually seal the deal with a smooth and lasting drydown.
Exotic, evocative and complex.
Fou d'Absinthe (2006): The incredibly talented Olivia Giacobbetis' contribution to the world of fougeres is actually somewhat of a contemporary bench mark of said genre. Fou d'Absinthe is not as much a tribute to the "green fairy" as it is a strongly coniferous pine fragrance. The opening is a sharp blast of astringent angelica - boozy and bold. Heart notes appear quickly though, developing the composition into more well behaved territory with creamy pepper, candied ginger and smooth patchouli.
Clove and cistus create a very strong barbershop-vibe, something further accentuated by the pine needles and fir balsam in the basenotes. The references to classic fougeres like Penhaligon´s English Fern, Dunhill Edition and Brut are evident, yet Fou d'Absinthe has a distinct contemporary personality of it´s own - learning from history without living in it. Eau de parfum strength that really does last the whole day, unfortunately a rare characteristic of this house.
Soapy, elegant and masculine.
Coeur de Vétiver Sacré (2010): Karine Vinchon-Spehners' terribly underrated Coeur de Vétiver Sacré is most of all a victim of unfortunate naming. The vetiver in here is after all kept at a minimum - something that has caused disappointment within the community of afficionados of this pungent root. Quite a vocal crowd in the world of perfume lovers...
Forget about the name though, this is a gem of a black tea fragrance with pleasant fruitiness and a gentle apricotish suede like character not unlike the one found in Serge Lutens fragrances like Daim Blond and Santal Blanc. Rose petals and fresh dates rest alongside this cup of steaming ginger infused bergamot and osmanthus tea.
Incense and birch tar add smokiness which makes the overall impression somewhat reminiscent of Knize´s rough Ten and Santa Maria Novella´s Nostalgia but with the leather and petrol accord way turned down. Pepper and coriander contribute some sting while subtle saffron, dry iris and clean musk anchor the fragrance smoothly.
A modern, delicate and cozy oriental.
Overall rating: 9/10 for the gift collection as a whole.