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Lalique Le Parfum - One word - Beautiful! (New Fragrance Listing, Friday, July 29th, 2011)



Do you buy perfumes unsniffed? Never? Well, I just did it again. Such impetuous, reckless, risky behaviour is kinda out of character for me. It must be a sign of boredom or repressed desire or something and if I were neurotic, I’d try to figure it out but, I figure why ruin the fun? I have to say, I’m pretty good at it. I hit another home-run with this newest gamble.

Of course, the name is a good clue that my risk is on the low side. René Lalique.  French Art Nouveau designer, jewellery, glass sculptures, bottles, museum in Paris, windows in Bendels NYC. I hold the shiny square scarlet-and-black-coloured box in my hands and take a moment to revisit Bendel’s perfume area on the second floor, and watch myself as I gaze up awestruck at the spectacular beauty of Lalique’s frosted-glass high paned windows with their intricate swirling designs. The memory is clear as day.

(It’s worth a trip to the store just to see these treasures – there’s a set at the back of the store, too. Apparently the windows were discovered during a renovation, and Jacqueline Kennedy petitioned the city to have the Bendel building preserved as a heritage site.)

The box is heavy, and looks expensive, which is another positive clue. Removing the lid, I actually gasp as I lift out the bottle. A thick-sided clear-glass cube almost as big as the palm of my hand, filled with dark honey-coloured juice, topped with an ebony and glass square, and wrapped around the neck with a red corded tassle. On the ebony top is a small glass inset, and when I look closer, I see a tiny face staring back at me. Hello! it a cherub, an angel, a woman? I think it’s a replica of one of Lalique’s frosted glass sculptures (note to self to follow up), but it doesn’t really matter. Just the fact that it’s there, such a unique little artistic detail, makes me happy.

And the perfume? Le Parfum is beautiful. One word – beautiful. It was created by Dominque Ropion, who has done several of the best Frédéric Malle scents such as Carnal Flower and Une Fleur de Cassie. His style is classic perfumery – heady, richly layered, full-bodied florals, with strong animalic undertones – big feminine scents - but with Le Parfum, he’s put the brakes on and created a quiet but elegant floral vanilla scent. Notes include bay leaf, pink pepper, bergamot, jasmine, heliotrope, vanilla, tonka bean, patchouli and sandalwood. 

The first sniff is sweet rummy vanilla, with a slight green medicinal note from bay leaf, and a sparkly pink pepper and citrus combo underneath. The soft powderiness of heliotrope comes up as the scent warms on my skin and moves into the heart notes, mixing with the boozy vanilla. This is definitely an Oriental, and as it develops further I’m amazed at how the scent deepens without any of the usual animalic notes – there’s musk but it’s soft like fine suede, with not a hint of coumarin, leather or civet. In the dry-down, the smooth sweetness  is expanded by patchouli and sandalwood, giving it wonderful depth and longevity. This is a real wrist-sniffer!

Le Parfum is sweeter than most perfumes I’m drawn to, and it’s not a game-changer, but there’s something about it which I find really appealing. To my nose, it’s a truly luxurious scent – it smells expensive and ultra-feminine - like cashmere sweaters, soft suede, silk scarves on an elegant, confident woman. It’s a smooooth scent, a silky soft olfactory sensation which seems to mimic the powdery frosted surface of Lalique’s  most famous glass creations. Maybe that’s what Dominique Ropion was trying to create in this beautiful fragrance – a perfume as smooth as glass.

Whatever the creative vision, Le Parfum is beautiful. I gambled – and won!



Today, we’re adding Lalique Le Parfum to our decant sample offering. Decants are$4.00.