Blog post by Gwen
I was checking the L’Artisan Parfumeur website one day and saw that they had introduced a new collection called the Grasse Collection, inspired by the Provençal town of Grasse, that contained a new fragrance called Caligna. Provence is known to perfume lovers for its unique climate that forces its indigenous plants to concentrate their oils as protection against the summer heat. And, Grasse, sheltered from the sea, and situated in the hills, is perfectly located for flower farming, making it the centre of the perfume industry.
But Provence also has a distinct cultural and linguistic identity as well as. Courtly love was born in Provence in the 11th century when Provençal poets wrote works idealizing love between a knight and a married noblewoman. These poems were set to music by troubadours or minstrels and
Caligna translates as ‘to court’ in the Provençal dialect, and who better to create a fragrance representative of this distinctive area than wildly talented perfumer Dora Baghriche-Arnaud who grew up in Nice. Her familiarity with the region’s culture, plants and geography is really the secret ingredient in the fragrance.
Caligna opens with aromatic, herbaceous clary sage, the iconic herb of Provence, along with a note of creamy, lush fig. There’s rose here too, and it softens the clary sage so that it doesn’t dominate the fig. Mandarin orange leaves add a gentle, sweet, greenness to the opening. As it blooms, there is the smell of jasmine – introduced to Provence in by the Moors in the 16th century – sweet but jammy and not at all indolic. This isn’t jasmine, but a jasmine marmalade accord created by Baghriche-Arnaud from a dessert she had in the south of France. A touch of violet adds an earthy, powdery dimension. I love the way the rose, jasmine and violet are in perfect harmony, brightened by the citrus in the marmalade. The base is warm and musky from ambrox; woody and piney from lentisk – a native plant of the maquis - smoked pine needles and oak chips from wine casks, which give it a balminess. The drydown is green, fresh and luminous and perfect for warm weather and gorgeous in cooler weather.
Baghriche-Arnaud drew on childhood olfactory memories to create an enticing skin scent that draws people to it, then courts, woos, and conquers them. It smells like no other French perfume I know.
Oh, Caligna, you have won this lady's heart.