Skip to main content

Séville à l’Aube – What a night! - January 21, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

'The Perfume Lover', cover of the Canadian edition.

What happens when a perfume writer, blogger and teacher tells her friend, who happens to be a master perfumer, about a romantic encounter she’d had as a young woman during Holy Week in Séville? Well, when the woman telling the story is Denyse Beaulieu and the friend is Bertrand Duchaufour, the result is a book, The Perfume Lover, and a perfume, Séville à l’Aube.

This is the story behind Séville à l’Aube, one of the most exciting and anticipated perfume launches of 2012.

Séville à l’Aube has gotten raves reviews since it was launched, but I wanted to wait to try it until I read Denyse’s book. Denyse, known as carmencanada on her blog, Grain de Musc, and I get together whenever I am in Paris and over time she has become a friend.

Growing up in a suburb of Montreal she tells how at age 11 she decided she’d be French one day: “Not only French but Parisian. And not only Parisian, but Left Bank Parisian: glamorous, intellectual and bohemian.” And so she is.

The Perfume Lover is subtitled “A Personal History of Scent” so while Denyse talks of her youth, her travels and some of the men in her life the focus of the book is on her own relationship with perfume. It’s  really an account of her personal perfume journey. Entertaining informative and engaging, The Perfume Lover is a must-read for anyone who loves scent. It’s full of great information about the history and development of perfume as well as the perfume industry and some of the major players in it.

And it tells the story that inspired Séville à l’Aube: I am in Seville, standing under a bitter orange tree in full bloom in the arms of Román, the black-clad Spanish boy who is not yet my lover. Since sundown, we’ve been watching the religious brotherhoods in their pointed caps and habits thread their way across the old Moorish town in the wake of gilded wood floats bearing statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary. This is the Madrugada, the longest night of Holy Week, and the whole city has poured into the streets: the processions will go on until the dawn sky is streaked with hunting swallows. In the tiny white-washed plaza in front of the church, wafts of lavender cologne rise from the tightly pressed bodies. As altar boys swing their censers, throat-stinging clouds of sizzling resins – humanity’s millennia-old message to the gods – cut through the fatty honeyed smell of the penitents’ beeswax candles.

Under the silver-embroidered velvet of her dais, the Madonna, crystal tears on her cheek, tilts her head towards the spicy white lilies and carnations tumbling from her float. She is being carried into the golden whorls of a baroque chapel, smoothly manoeuvred in and out, in and out, in and out – they say the bearers get erections as they do this – while Román’s hand runs down my black lace shift and up my thigh to tangle with my garter-belt straps. His breath on my neck smells of blond tobacco and the manzanilla wine we’ve been drinking all night – here in Seville, Holy Week is a pagan celebration: resurrection is a foregone conclusion and there is no need to mourn or repent. As the crowd shifts to catch a last sight of the float before the chapel doors shut behind it, the church exhales a cold old-stone gust. I am in the pulsing, molten-gold heart of Seville, thrust into her fragrant flesh, and there is no need for Román to take me to bed at dawn: he’s already given me the night. [Note: I have quoted from her blog rather than re-typing from the book - be thankful.]

Excuse me – I need a moment.

How does Bertrand Duchaufour put that into a bottle? Beautifully. Séville à l’Aube opens fizzy, green and zesty from lemon tree leaves and aldehydes made spicy and warm by pink pepper. There’s lavender here too, echoing the wafts of lavender cologne rise from the tightly pressed bodise. At the heart sweet orange blossom is made indolic – meaty, fleshy, succulent, erotic by jasmine and magnolia along with the fatty honeyed smell of  beeswax, all of it resting on a base of resinous incensey benzoin and ambery Luiseiri lavender. WOW! What a night that must have been!

The drydown is romantic and erotic at once so you get the full olfactory experience of that night in Seville during Holy Week and all it had to offer, and yet Séville à l’Aube is not heavy or dark, but surprisingly light - light enough to wear anytime, anywhere. And I do - with pleasure and with results.

Hmmm. I wonder if there aren’t any other stories Denyse should be sharing with M. Duchaufour? I’d sure be interested in smelling them.

Today, we’re adding Séville à l’Aube to our decant listing. Decants are $4.00.