Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Between Guerlain Shalimar (1925) and Lalique Le Parfum (2005) there lies a period of eight decades, yet their oriental roots link the two fragrances. Indeed, it is fascinating to ponder how certain accords manage to endow the composition with a unique feel and an aura that is difficult to forget. Vanillin, coumarin and patchouli comprise the core of Shalimar, which spills into a cascade of warm and animalic notes after the initial diamond-like sparkle of hesperidic notes. The magnificent tour de force of the composition inspired its own family, including oriental fragrances as diverse as L’Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant (as well as Piment Brûlant and Poivre Piquant), Guerlain Habit Rouge, Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille, Cartier Must de Cartier and Christian Dior Addict, among innumerable others.
Lalique Le Parfum is the first oriental fragrance in the Lalique range, and while it relies on the classical vanilla, patchouli and coumarin accord, it is unmistakably a modern oriental fragrance….
It lacks the dark animalic richness of classical orientals, replacing the dirty, heavy civet and winey ambergris with the smooth “warm skin” effect of modern musks. Created by Dominique Ropion in 2005, Le Parfum in some aspects is an appropriate embodiment of Lalique with its smooth form made opaque by the powdery musky notes. Yet, even the spicy translucence of the top notes cannot dispel the sweet richness that engulfs the arrangement, soaking through its layers like condensed milk through thin water wafers.
Buttery vanilla powderiness of heliotropin filling the heart segues into the warm musky base softening any of the sharp elements of the composition and further accenting the powdery qualities of the drydown. Le Parfum has a heady sweetness that makes me think of being caught in a fairy tale forest of Hänsel and Gretel, where not only the houses are made of gingerbread but also the snow is fashioned out of powdered sugar. The characteristic effervescent touch of patchouli adds a pleasant counterpoint, however without other dark notes balancing out the white expanse of sweetness, the composition continues to unfold in a panoramic manner, sweet, powdery and rich. Le Parfum is certainly luxurious, which I suppose is the whole point, underscored by the heavy expensive packaging. However, unless one has more tolerance for warm, powdery sweetness than I do, the result might beg a sip of water, or rather a more transparent floral heart to balance out the base. Nevertheless, among the uninspiring new releases encountered this winter, Le Parfum stood out with its boldness and unwillingness to be yet another Hedione accented fruity-floral or just an Angel clone. Another wonderful creation by Dominique Ropion.
Notes include bay leaf, pink pepper, bergamot, jasmine, heliotrope, vanilla, tonka bean, patchouli and sandalwood. The line is comprised Parfum and Eau de Parfum, which are currently available at the Lalique boutiques and Escentual. The wide release in the States is scheduled for early next year.