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Peau d'Ailleurs – delicate and persistent and evocative – March 1, 2016


The day in Paris when I walked into L'Eclaireur Sévigné and found Black Heart v. 2, it was Peau d’Ailleurs by Starck Paris that I was looking for. Scoring such two fabulous fragrances in one day still makes me hear the sounds of corks popping in my head every time I think of it. Ah. There they go again.

Peau d'Ailleurs was created by nose Annick Ménardo for the new niche line founded by iconic French designer Philippe Starck.

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 always has something Starck on it. In Paris alone, I can recall visits to Café Costes, Mama Shelter, Kong and Sunday lunch at Ma Cocotte inside the Paris Flea Market, over the years we have sought out Starck’s work whenever we can.

And, while he designed restaurant/bar/hotel interiors, Starck also developed the concept of democratic design – designing everyday affordable objects with a view allowing everyone to have beauty and function in their lives. I’ll wager you have owned or used some of the tables, luggage, chairs, watches, books, armchairs, stationery, tableware, glassware, lamps, radios, televisions, stools, bath accessories, toothbrushes, citrus juicers, cooking tools Starck has designed.  Maybe you’ve eaten his food from his organic food line. And now comes his fragrance line.

Born in Paris in 1949. Starck’s father to an airplane designer, whose job it was to create new uses for old designs. His mother owned a perfume shop. I imagine young Philippe hanging out with his dad in his workshop taking apart machinery and putting it back together in a new way and spending time in his mothers’ shop, smelling the perfumed air. Romantic notions of Starck’S childhood aside, he knows his fragrances – that’s why when he launched Starck Paris in 2016 he collaborated with perfumers Daphne Bugey, Dominique Ropion and Annick Ménardo for his first three fragrances. All three are top-notch fragrances, but Peau d'Ailleurs is my favourite. I mean, Annick Ménardo - Bulgari Black, Jil Sander Man, Hypnotic Poison for Dior, Miss Me for Stella Cadente, Lolita Lempicka Au Masculin, Morn to Dusk for Eau d’Italie, Pur Désir de Fleur d’ Oranger  - c’mon on!

Starck doesn’t believe in giving out the notes in his fragrances, so here’s what the 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.

Ooo, boy. Good thing I smelled it before I read about it. On me, it opens with a nose-tingling of citrus followwed 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 smell and a 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.

But I know this for sure. Peau d’Ailleurs is more than a skin scent – it’s art. Beautiful, evocative olfactory art.

Peau d’Ailleurs is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.