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En Passant – Just passing through… – Monday, September 17, 2012 New Fragrance Listing

Photo: Wikipedia, Detail of white lilac Syringa vulgaris head by Arpingstone

In his book “On Perfume Making”, Frédéric Malle talks about the making of En Passant by nose Olivia Giacobetti. He writes: “Olivia explained to me that as a child, she had been taken with the wind-filled scent of lilacs. This was also one of my first olfactory shocks when I was at boarding school.” Reading this passage reminded me of my own childhood memories of lilac.

When I was a little girl, we used to take a shortcut to school through the back lanes that ran behind houses, gardens and garages. It shaved a few minutes off the walk and added a feeling of adventure to the whole journey. There were interesting bugs to see, fascinating discarded household items that were destined for the garbage and that rickety old garage that we were all convinced was haunted.

Spring time brought the most activity to these walks through the lanes. There was no school in summer, winter was too cold to linger and in fall the back-to-school blues meant you just wanted to get to school and back as quickly as possible. But there was always something going on in the lanes in spring – releasing the water from large puddles by stomping out irrigation troughs to the drains in the street, filling abandoned appliances with mud that we made or found, and gathering flowers that grew, neglected and unwanted beyond backyard fences. The most prized of all were lilacs. The lanes were lined with lilacs – so many of them that when they were in bloom we would smell them before we turned into the lane and saw them. And when we saw them, we would pick the flowers and suck the sweet juice out of the back of them and then eat them.

Reading that passage from Malle’s book brought back memories of the halcyon days of my childhood, but En Passant brought those memories to life.

En Passant opens with a bracing aquatic note that leads to a lush note of lilac – floral, green (from orange leaf) and animalic (from white musk). I catch a note of wheat here which shines through for a moment and then gets deeper at the drydown. A note of cucumber contributes to the ‘watery’ feel and adds another green dimension while at the same time giving En Passant a lightness and a radiance.

It’s a linear fragrance that doesn’t progress much on the skin, so you get the experience of lilacs in the rain all at once – just the way I would catch their scent in the wind as a child -  rather than through the development of  top, middle and base notes.

En Passant means’ passing through’ - what Malle refers to as a ’floral wind’ -  and Giacobetti has interpreted rather than replicated lilac’s fleeting essence in this refined swooner making it the scent expression of a moment frozen in time.

Imagine that. Now, imagine walking around with that moment on your skin – that’s what I’m talking about.

En Passant is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

Thanks to C.H. in Oshawa, ON for requesting we write about En Passant. As a 'thank you' for participating in our ‘We Take Requests’ event, we’re sending her a free decant of En Passant.