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Flash Back – Mettre quelqu'un au parfum – March 25, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Olfactive Studio Visuals, olfactivestudio.com media room - Flash Back by Laurent Segretier

When I was in Paris a few weeks ago, the one fragrance launch that everybody was talking about was Flash Back by Olfactive Studio, the French niche line that uses photographs as inspiration for fragrances.  

Still Life and Lumiere Blanche were hits here at the niche, and we love Chambre Noir and Autuoportrait too – we’ll be writing about those later – so I couldn’t wait to try Flash Back. And when I did, it was love at first sniff.

The fragrance was inspired by a photograph titled ‘Flash Back’ by Laurent Segretier. Segretier is known for taking found images from online sources, like websites and blogs, and digitally distorting them and in effect opening them up to interpretation while still keeping them recognizable. The idea is to make you question what you are really seeing. The images look familiar, but are different somehow.

‘Flash Back’ shows a woman’s face, the lower half wiped away, the rest of her image swiped and smeared. Of the photo, the Oflactive Studio website says: “A flash back is a highly expressive and desirable material. We would like that face unaltered by digital smoothing to be ours; that face inhabited by serene thoughts, free of the stigma of digital cosmetics, enlivened by the joy of the pixels chosen by the artist. It freezes a suspended moment, a memory zone that profoundly imprints itself on the retina and brings back a distant memory, perhaps a déjà vu of a face, a body, or a feeling that becomes a presence.”

The fragrance, also called ‘Flash Back’ is an olfactory interpretation of this concept.

It opens fresh and citrusy with orange and bitter grapefruit. Lovely, but familiar, until a note of, rhubarb appears and blends with the orange and grapefruit creating an unexpected tangy fruitiness that deepens as it blooms. Green apple at the heart bolsters the green of the opening and perfectly complementing the rhubarb while pink pepper gives it a fruity heat. At the base, verdant vetiver and camphourous cedar give it a cool woodiness while amber warms it up and musk dirties it up just enough.

At the drydown, the tart fruitiness of the rhubarb plays off the woody vetiver so it never gets heavy or dark. This interpretation of vetiver takes it from familiar to intriguing and exciting.

Olivier Cresp, Flash Back’s perfumer has created a fragrance you think you’ll know, but really don’t – just like the image of the woman in Segretier’s photo.

When I look at the photo I see a woman, her eyes lowered, her head tilted slightly – her mind casting about to find the familiar reference - just before that moment of recognition when the unknown becomes known.

I don’t know what happens next to the chick in that photo but Flash Back makes me smile out loud when I wear it.

Flash Back is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.