Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Saffron, black pepper and chili pepper are the spices that inspired three fragrances by L’Artisan Parfumeur for its Les Epices de la Passion set, which debuted in 2002. Created by Olivia Giacobetti and Bertrand Duchaufour, the fragrances posses a subtle touch, playing up the facets of spices against creamy notes. The compositions are not what I would call passionate and voluptuous, as they are rendered rather sheer and charming. The spices whisper and shimmer, rather than bite. Their rough edges are smoothed by the sweet and floral notes, with the peppery burn of Poivre Piquant loosing itself in creamy sandalwood, and a medicinal element of saffron in Safran Troublant in rose.
Safran Troublant created by Olivia Giacobetti has an abstract edible quality of a vivid saffron note folded into a rose soufflé. …
Sweetness of vanilla emphasizes creamy aspects of the composition, allowing a rose and sandalwood pairing to unfold against its warm backdrop. It is a scent vacillating between warm skin and sweet spice mix. Like Marc Chagall’s embracing figures, saffron and rose blur distinct delineations, extending each other’s qualities instead. The medicinal sharpness of saffron grounds the heady opulence of rose, while the floral richness brings out the honeyed elements of spice. Like most of Giacobetti’s creations, Safran Troublant possesses a luminous quality that is both alluring and elegant.
While Safran Troublant is marked by a comforting gourmand element, Poivre Piquant created by Bertrand Duchaufour is a composition of translucent smokiness. It layers crushed peppercorns with creamy notes, creating an interplay of smooth and dry qualities. The warmth of pepper saturates the accords slowly, until an arrangement attains a sweet, incense redolent character. A coriander dusted rose underscored by a honeyed undercurrent becomes a beautiful ornamentation that persists into the drydown, until one can almost imagine the composition as Passage d’Enfer, with rose instead of lily. The creamy, sweet softness does not allow Poivre Piquant to become neither particularly daring, nor especially piquant. Yet, brilliant honeyed notes render the composition interesting, especially given its sheer smoky foil.
While Bertrand Duchaufour’s other creation, Piment Brûlant, does not burn, it conjures red chili peppers drying in the sun. Floral quality of peppers is rendered as fruity and warm, touched by the woody sweetness of clove. Yet, like a flash burn from a chili pepper, the fragrance unfolds quickly, only to begin fading, all the while sustaining a vision of shiny red peppers. Before one realizes, there is only a whisper of a sweet, vaguely chocolatey note remaining on the skin, a bare shadow of hot chili peppers one noticed earlier.
These three fragrances are currently available as part of the trio, however I hear that the fragrances will soon be available as part of the regular line. L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrances are available at Aedes, Barneys New York, Beautycafe, Bergdorf Goodman, Bluemercury, Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue, and Theperfumeshoppe. European shoppers can find the line at First-in-Fragrance.
Painting: Marc Chagall, The Lovers (Vision). 1911-1914. Oil on canvas, 109×134.5 cm. Private collection, Lucerne, Switzerland.