Blog post by Gwen

Passage d'Enfer Extrême – smoky and floral and woody

The first fragrance I wrote about when this blog was launched in 2010 was Passage d'Enfer, EDT. It grabbed my heart the first time I tried it and has never lost its hold on me.

Since that first whiff, Passage d'Enfer has been on my desert island list. But there's another reason it's on the list: Olivia Giacoabetti, the perfumer behind Passage d'Enfer.

I may own many fragrances from different brands, but there is no perfumer whose works I own more of than Olivia Giacbetti. Here’s my short list: Dzing!,eJour de Fête, Tea for Two, Fou d’Absinthe for L’Artisan, En Passant for for Editions de Parfums de Frédéric Malle, Vamp à NY for Honoré des Prés,L’Orignal for Andrée Putman Preparation Parfumée, L’Ether de IUNX and L'Arbre de IUNX from her own line, INUX, and I can’t leave out L b.  for Agnes B.!

Daughter of famed French photographer and filmmaker Francis Giacobetti, Ms. Giacobetti knew she wanted to be a perfumer at nine. By age seventeen, she was working for Robertet; by age twenty-one, she had signed l'Artisan Parfumeur's Premier Figuier, where she pioneered using the fig note in perfumery.

What I like most about Giacobetti is how she zeros in on notes in a minimalist style, then wraps them in unexpected and hauntingly beautiful nuances. For me, her fragrances are ethereal veils of scent shadows. It's no surprise that Giacoabetti's new version of Passage d'Enfer, Passage d'Enfer Extrême has also found a place in my flacon-shaped heart.

Passage d'Enfer Extrême opens with a sombre note of smoky incense that's cool more than it is resinous.  The strong, sweet smell of white lilies bolstered by sweet, luxurious jasmine comes through the smoke. The heady, aromatic flowers smell fresh and add sensuality to the fragrance. The lilies have spicy nuances that bloom on my skin, giving the incense a second act.  Creamy sandalwood stars at the base and joins the incense to boost the woodiness of Passage d'Enfer Extrême. Vanilla adds a coziness to the base; its sweetness is tamped just enough by the smoky incense.

Passage d'Enfer Extrême is one of Ms. Giacobetti's finest works. She brings the nuances out of each note at just the right time in the progression of the fragrance. The interplay among the notes, as when the lilies appear through the smoky incense and then recede, only to reappear later wrapped in sandalwood, creates those ethereal veils of scent shadows mentioned earlier.

Passage d'Enfer translates into 'passage to hell,' leading one to think that the fragrance is dangerous or edgy and suggesting that the Extrême version is even more daring. In fact, Passage d'Enfer refers to the address of L'Artisan's head offices in Paris in the '70s. There is nothing edgy or hellish about either of these fragrances. Instead, they are deftly designed skin scents, each with its own unique ethereal beauty and personality.

I've added Passage d'Enfer Extrême to my desert island list where it stands right beside Passage d'Enfer, like the two scent sisters they are.

Check out Passage d'Enfer Extrême in our Shop.