Blog post by Gwen

L'Original – woody and aquatic and serenely beautiful

Photo: perfumeniche

I’m married to an architect who appreciates good design. Over our years together, I’ve come to learn a thing or two about good design from him. One of the designers he favours is French interior designer Andrée Putman.

Born into a wealthy banking family in Lyons in 1925, Ms. Putman charted her own path to become the doyenne of modern design. She has designed knives for Laguiole, jewelry for Christofle (I am partial to her Collection 925), and a champagne bucket for Veuve Clicquot. She reinterpreted the classic Louis Vuitton Steamer Bag. She designed the interior of the Concorde, the Morgans Hotel in NYC, and the Balenciaga and Guerlain boutiques on the Champs Elysees (remember the stunning Ruban d'Or at the Guerlain flagship store? I do).

So in 2001, when my husband read that French interior designer Andrée Putman was launching her first fragrance in collaboration with the inimitable Olivia Giacobetti, guess what I got for my birthday? Go on, have a guess. Yep, a big bottle of Préparation Parfumée and I couldn’t have been happier.  

Then, in 2013, the year of Putman’s death, Préparation Parfumée quietly disappeared from shelves, and my perfume world got a little smaller. But a new chapter to the story opened in 2015 when Andrée's daughter Olivia Putman, a designer as well, relaunched Préparation Parfumée as L‘Original, along with five other fragrances under the Andrée Putman brand, all of them signed by Olivia Giacobetti. Spoiler alert: L‘Original is fabulous!

L‘Original was inspired by the vertical garden of the Pershing Hall Hotel in Paris. Andrée Putman designed the interiors, while French-born botanist Patrick Blanc created a living textured tapestry of lush, green plants and small trees. There is no soil, so plants are nourished by water that drips from the top of the wall, through the plants, down to a trough below. Not surprisingly, L‘Original is a woody aquatic.

A warm, spicy note of pepper opens L‘Original. The pepper isn’t sharp or bracing but has been manipulated in such a way that it smells green and herbal to me. It’s combined with a note of damp wood, like the smell of water flowing over tree branches that evoke the scent of the rainforest. Waterlilies at the heart, subtly sweet and floral, amplify the aqueous quality of the scent. The damp wood accord lasts to the base, where cilantro counterbalances it with a gentle, herbal greenness.

L‘Original dries down to a skin scent with a serene, transparent beauty that manages to be powerfully evocative with only four notes, proving that minimalism in good design - of an object, a room, or a fragrance - isn’t about fewer things but a few of the right things. This is Olivia Giacobetti at her best.

I’m glad to have one of my favourite perfumes back on the shelf. I read a comment somewhere that L‘Original is the perfect summer scent, and I scoffed. Since when is beauty seasonal, I wonder.

Check out L’Original in our Shop.