Blog post by Gwen

Peau d'Ailleurs – delicate and haunting and evocative

I live with an architect, and design is important to him and interesting to me. No matter where we travel, there will be some special building, interior or objects that are on the ‘must-see’ list. And the list often has something by iconic French designer Philippe Starck on it.

Starck has designed restaurant/bar/hotel interiors (Café Costes, Mama Shelter and Kong, to name a few), but he is best known for developing the concept of democratic design – designing everyday affordable objects like luggage, chairs, watches, books, stationery, tableware, glassware, lamps, radios, televisions, toothbrushes, citrus juicers and cooking tools, with a view to allowing everyone to have beauty and function in their lives. And now comes his fragrance line: Starck Paris. Launched in 2016, with three fragrances, Peau d'Ailleurs, signed by the inimitable Annick Ménardo, is my favourite.

Starck doesn’t believe in giving out the notes in his fragrances, so here’s what Starck Paris website says about Peau d'Ailleurs:

"Peau d’Ailleurs is strange, undefinable and elusive. An exploration into ourselves, through the elsewhere and the unconscious, its perfume is also an escape into the infinite territory of dematerialization, where the scent of the cosmic void comes into contact with that of a Terra Incognita. Ingredients, a few clues: meteorite; a circular mandala of light and dark; the heart of an earthly material, mineral, amber, musky and woody, whose notes are only revealed at the end of a long voyage.”

Good thing I smelled it before I read about it. On me, it opens with a nose-tingling of citrus followed by a note of dirt – the earthy, but not dirty-smelling, dirt I played in as a child. It’s floral and smells of beautiful white flowers. I smell something powdery and soft. Then comes a stony/mineral note. Then, something sweet – amber. After a while, it smells like rain on wet dirt – there’s a word for it: petrichor. This keeps going and going, getting woody and musky with the citrus and floral notes running through it.

The drydown is delicate yet persistent and achingly beautiful.

It has been a very long time since I’ve smelled something as evocative as Peau d’Ailleurs. It has ejected me back in time to a happy, innocent place – the backyard garden I used to play in at the house we lived in before my sister was born. I must have been three-years old. Warm late spring days, tilting towards summer ones, planting ‘flowers’ (stones and twigs really) with an old kitchen fork my mother let me use, the smell of the earth, the mock-orange blooms, the stones, the earth after a spring shower. It’s a haunting fragrance linked and a sweet memory I want to experience again and again.

The truth is, I can’t really tell if I am smelling the actual fragrance notes or imagining them from the scent memory Peau d’Ailleurs evokes, so it may smell totally different on you.

Peau d’Ailleurs is more than a fragrance – it’s art. Beautiful, evocative olfactory art.

Check out Peau d’Ailleurs in our Shop.