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L'Original – Woody and aquatic and serenely beautiful - January 11, 2016

Vertical Garden at Pershing Hall photo courtesy of Paris 75007

In 2001 French interior designer Andrée Putman introduced her first fragrance, Préparation Parfumée and my world shifted a little. I have been an admirer of her design work for years.

Born into a wealthy banking family in Lyons in 1925, she charted her own path to become the doyenne of modern design. She has designed knives for Laguiole, jewelry for Christofle (I am partial to her Collection 925) and a champagne bucket for Veuve Clicquot. She reinterpreted the classic Louis Vuitton Steamer Bag. She designed the interior of the Concorde, the Morgans hotel in NYC and the Balenciaga and Guerlain boutiques on the Champs Elysees (remember the stunning Ruban d'Or at the Guerlain flagship store? I do).

And do you know what made Préparation Parfumée even better? The nose was Olivia Giacobetti – one of my favourite perfumers ever. I wore it so much, Préparation Parfumée was as close as I ever came to having a signature scent. Then, in 2013, the year of Putman’s death, Préparation Parfumée quietly disappeared from shelves and my perfume world got a little sadder. And then, it got better when in 2015, Andrée's daughter Olivia Putman, a designer as well, relaunched Préparation Parfumée as L‘Original, along with five other fragrances under the Andrée Putman brand, all of them signed by Olivia Giacobetti.

The launch of the collection was timed to celebrate the anniversary of the creation of Préparation Parfumée by creating the five new fragrances.

For Olivia Putman there is a real relationship between perfume and design.

In an interview, she says “For me perfume is an invisible design. It is very concrete nevertheless invisible but it is also incredibly abstract. The way a fragrance brings you back to some memories fascinates me.”

Which brings me to the inspiration for L‘Original: the vertical garden of the Pershing Hall Hotel in Paris. Andrée Putman designed the interiors, while French-born botanist Patrick Blanc created a living textured tapestry of lush, green plants and small trees. There is no soil, so plants are nourished from water that drips from the top of the wall, through the plants, down to a trough below. Not surprisingly, L‘Original is a woody aquatic.

A warm, spicy note of pepper opens L‘Original. The pepper isn’t sharp or bracing, but has been manipulated in such a way that it smells green and herbal to me. It’s combined with a note of damp wood, like the smell of water flowing over tree branches that evokes smell of the rainforest. Waterlilies at the heart, subtly sweet and floral, amplify the aqueous quality of the scent. The damp wood accord lasts to the base where a note of cilantro counterbalances it with a gentle, herbal greenness.

The drydown is a skin scent with a quiet, serene beauty that manages to be powerfully evocative with only four notes, proving that minimalism in good design of an object, a room, or a fragrance isn’t about fewer things, but a few of the right things. This is Olivia Giacobetti at her best.

I’m glad to have one of my favourite perfumes back on the shelf. I read a comment somewhere that L‘Original is the perfect summer scent and I scoffed. Since when is beauty seasonal?

L‘Original is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1ml.