Blog post by Gwen

En Passant – fresh and green and the very definition of spring

Photo: perfumeniche

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 sparked my own childhood memories of lilac.

When I was a little girl, my friends and I used to take a shortcut to school through the back lanes that ran behind our houses, gardens and garages. It shaved a few minutes off the walk and added a feeling of adventure to the journey.

Springtime was the best time for our walks through the lanes. There was no school in summer; winter was too cold to dawdle, 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. There were interesting bugs to see, discarded household appliances waiting to be taken to the dump to be investigated and flowers that grew, neglected and unwanted beyond backyard fences to gather. The most prized of these were lilacs. Their pastel spring colours, their delicate scent, and their small, soft blooms define spring. The lanes were lined with lilac trees, 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 drop of sweet nectar out of the back of them and then eat them.

Malle’s book may have 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 note of lilac. It’s a delicate spring scent that’s powdery, fresh, green and floral, with facets of two other spring flowers: mimosa and lily of the valley. The powdery mimosa plays up that aspect of the lilac, orange leaf bolsters its verdancy while the jasmine-like nuances of lily of the valley adds a soft animalic tone. I catch a note of wheat here; it gives the flowers a gentle spring warmth that gets deeper at the drydown. A note of cucumber supports the aquatic note at the opening and adds another green dimension to En Passant while at the same time giving it lightness and radiance. And white musk conjures the soft scent of skin.

En Passant is a linear fragrance that doesn’t progress much on the skin, so you get the experience of lilacs in a moist spring garden all at once, rather than through the development of top, middle and base notes. 

En Passant means ‘passing through,’ and what Malle refers to as a ’floral wind,’ and Giacobetti has interpreted rather than replicated lilac’s fleeting essence in this ode to spring. It’s a stunning piece of perfumery from the mistress of ethereal fragrances.

Check out En Passant in our Shop.