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Angélique – Delicate and tender and an ethereal green beauty – February 14, 2018

Iris pallida flower - Wikimedia Commons - Pamwik, April 20, 2015

Where I live, it has been a long, harsh winter as it happens. I don’t usually mind winter. In fact, I’m one of the few people who likes it. I like the serenity of it, the coziness of being indoors and the way snow softens the hard concrete and brick edges of the cityscape. But, as the days lengthen by seconds and the temperature inches up each day, I begin to feel spring just at the far edge of winter. I like the slow- waning part of winter too, especially when I wear Angélique from London-based Papillon Artisan Perfumes – the niche fragrance house founded by perfumer Liz Moores.

Ms. Moores was a massage therapist who began mixing essential oils for her clients before turning her hand to creating fragrances. A few successes, a few failures, a lot of hard work, study and courses at the Fragrance Foundation in London, is the short story behind the founding of Papillon Artisan Perfumes in 2011.

The house launched three inaugural fragrances in 2014: Anubis, Tobacco Rose and Angélique. As people began to discover the line, chatter began to build, the line got more attention and praise and kudos for Ms. Moores creations followed. Kay and I are huge fans of her work, but Angélique might just be my favourite (well, until I wear one of the others and switch camps AGAIN).

Of the creation of Angélique, Ms. Moores says, "Inspiration for my perfumes comes to me in many ways, but none more so than from the nature in my own garden. Angelique began as an olfactory portrait of the Iris Pallida; days spent breathing in the delicate scent of the flowers and the honeyed aroma of pollen emerged as nature's own sketch of what Angelique would become. Angelique became a perfume based on my personal impression of the beautiful Iris Pallida, a flower that is as captivating and angelic as nature herself."

It has one of the most gorgeous floral openings of any fragrance I have ever smelled: iris is in the centre of a swirl of delicate osmanthus, warm white champaca and tender mimosa. The osmanthus, with it apricot/leather aspects, the white champaca, with its tea-like nuances, and the gentle green, honey and almond overtones of the mimosa, combine with the woody, earthy iris to make a heady floral spring bouquet that has a gentle sweetness and a little nip of green. Orris, thick and creamy, keep the iris front and centre with its powdery, violet aspects. Virginian cedarwood and a note of frankincense (quite restrained and light) give it a woody texture and a lovely depth that never overwhelms the iris, and seems to prevent it from dissolving into a powdery scent.

The drydown is tender and gentle and really clings to skin but that Eau de Parfum concentration keeps it around a long while. For me, balancing the ethereal nature of the fragrance with depth is a real coup and makes Angélique one of the best iris fragrances on the market.

Angélique is one of those fragrances that is so much more than the notes it has and in many ways breaking it down does it a disservice. And, anyway, I find it morphs on my skin in different ways, in different temperatures. Sometimes it's a little spicy or boozy or vanilla-like and sometimes not – just like the smells that come from a garden - so that the note-for-note description doesn’t really work. But, each time I wear it and experience something new in it, I fall in love with it even more.

Which, on this Valentine’s Day, brings to mind this quote from Albert Einstein: “You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.”

No, sir, Mr. Einstein, you can't blame gravity for falling in love. Here at the niche, we blame perfume for that.

Angélique is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.