Lalique Le Parfum : Fragrance Review

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Laliqueleparfum

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.

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48 Comments

  • julien: I love this scent too.
    I reminds me of Cuir beluga by Guerlain in a less powdery way and spicier.
    It has something candy like but not in a poor way.
    It is really pleasant.
    Love it!
    And the bottle…Good!:)
    Kisses my dear,so happy you came back and what a pity you didn’t call me,i could have met you.
    Julien. December 19, 2005 at 7:53am Reply

  • Marina: Welcome back! 🙂 Lalique de Parfum sounds lovely if perhaps potentially too heavy and rich for me, but I love the idea of being caught in a fairy tale forest of Hänsel and Gretel! December 19, 2005 at 8:54am Reply

  • linda: Le Parfum sounds great. I have Tender Kiss, which is one of my husband’s favorites. Hansel and Gretel forest made me think of the illustrations for my Grimm’s fairytale book. My mom used to read it to us before bed, even though I was terrified of the wicked witch. 🙂

    V, it’s wonderful to have you back. I hope that you had a nice restful break. December 19, 2005 at 9:00am Reply

  • Tania: Hi, V! Sweet, powdery, and rich can go either way for me — gorgeous or repulsive. It’s a fine line. Thank you for the caution. It is cheering to hear that it’s not Angel Part 14. Because, boy, is that getting old.

    Happy to see you back. I am now going to ask a question I should have asked you a long time ago: what does ‘hesperidic’ mean? It’s not in any of my dictionaries, and I assume it’s a perfume-specific term. December 19, 2005 at 9:46am Reply

  • Tania: (blushing to have waited so long to ask that question) December 19, 2005 at 9:47am Reply

  • Robin: V, Welcome back!

    Lovely review, sounds like something I don’t even need to smell 🙂 December 19, 2005 at 11:11am Reply

  • Diane: I think Shalimar parfum (only!) is wonderful, thus this sounds interesting. Moreover, I love Cuir Beluga. Happy to have you back, dear V! December 19, 2005 at 11:47am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, I think that it is rather well-done and interesting, except that I would say a touch too sweet. Yet, the entire construction is interesting in being able to conjure a white opalescent form of Lalique glass.

    Sorry for not being able to get in touch. The trip turned out to be rather more tightly scheduled than I anticipated. Well, there will be many others, no doubt. December 19, 2005 at 12:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, thank you. I think that you might not find too heavy or too sweet, as you tend to like sweeter composition than I do. If Tocade does not strike you as too sweet, Le Parfum would not either. December 19, 2005 at 12:02pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I can relate. My mom used to read the tale about three little pigs, and to this day I shudder thinking of the drawings of big bad wolf that accompanies the stories in the book. What were they thinking???

    Thank you. It is nice to be back, although I already miss the routine over the past week. December 19, 2005 at 12:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, this morning I was putting my sweaters and gloves away and I caught a whiff of Le Parfum on them and thought that it was beautiful. The drydown does have that decadent feel that orientals are marked by, and it is a beautiful aspect of the composition.

    Yes, Angel Part 100 is getting old. Granted, I love patchouli and amber, plus various gourmand touches (as long as gourmand is kept in check), but when you get a sense of deja vu after smelling a new fragrance, it is hardly exciting. December 19, 2005 at 12:09pm Reply

  • helena: Your ability to paint these great images never fails to surprise and delight me. “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…” I have to look for Le Parfum because your review is wonderful and I love nearly all of the Lalique fragrances I’ve tried. December 19, 2005 at 12:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, no need to blush! Hesperidic means citrusy. “According to the Greek mythology, the garden of Hesperides was a garden belonging to Zeus’s consort, Hera, where immortality-giving apples grew, tended by the daughters of Hesperus or the God of Evening, the Hesperides. Alluding to the magical golden apples, the name Hesperide came to be applied first to oranges and then to the entire citrus family.” This is from http://boisdejasmin.com/2005/07/note_of_the_wee_1.html

    Remember, I originally wrote “immorality-giving” apples in that article on citrus until you corrected me and then proceeded to tease me? December 19, 2005 at 12:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, thank you. Oh, you should definitely seek it out, even if only to experience yet another well-made Ropion’s creation. December 19, 2005 at 12:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, I actually received a gift of Shalimar EDP and body Mist, and I must say that they are wonderful as well. The parfum is the most beautiful of the concentrations though. Cuir Beluga is the dark aspect of Shalimar made me tame by creamy vanilla. I like it too.

    Glad to be back! December 19, 2005 at 12:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Helena, thank you for your nice compliment. I also find the Lalique line to be very interesting and beautifully made. December 19, 2005 at 12:23pm Reply

  • monique: Thank you for reviewing my latest favorite fragrance. I smelled it at the store and bought it the next day. I didn’t even know that it had patchouli until I read the notes. Usually I don;t like it but here it isn’t too strong. December 19, 2005 at 12:29pm Reply

  • mreenymo: V, you are back! I missed you, but am so glad that you had a fun and successful trip to Paris.

    This perfume sounds stunning! Too bad we can’t test it now. Sometimes I think our quest for the perfect perfume is just another form of delayed gratification. All of us perfumeistas are masochists to some extent, don’t you think?

    In the meantime, I will snuff my desire to find a way to test the new Lalique and tell you that I discovered another “HG” fragrance over the weekend, courtesy of Diane and Tearose.
    Ready?

    It’s Guet-Apens (now called Attrape Coeur). V, it is gorgeous! I must secure a bottle of it…NOW! :):)

    Hugs! December 19, 2005 at 1:02pm Reply

  • linda: I was also scared of the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. Ha ha!
    I see you mentioning that someone who likes Tocade might like Le Parfum as well. Are they similar? I ask because I know Tocade well. December 19, 2005 at 1:05pm Reply

  • Viktor Nilsson: …And the name of the Hesperides also gave their name to the Hesperidae, the family of butterflies also known as Skippers. The swedish name is not as flattering, it directly translates into “fat head butterflies”. Now that’s that about that. Back to perfume! December 19, 2005 at 1:17pm Reply

  • Tania: Ah, yes, the immorality-giving apples! That’s how I got confused — I kept thinking of apples, when you mean oranges. 🙂 December 19, 2005 at 1:31pm Reply

  • linda: V, another question for you. Do you know if Safrant Troublant will be available in a larger size? I found it to be the best of the set. December 19, 2005 at 2:41pm Reply

  • Tania: BTW, I think the most interesting idea in this review was your mention of the shift from the dirty/sexy/animalic vanilla orientals like Shalimar and the ‘clean’ musky, sugary vanilla orientals we have today. It may be true that Lalique Le Parfum is a vanilla oriental in the tradition of Shalimar, but how interesting to think of the difference! Shalimar Light/Eau Legère probably pointed the way, with its creamy, powdery lightheartedness. And now we have perky, innocent orientals, birthday cakes instead of odalisques. I’m thinking of Britney Spears Fantasy, Aquolina Pink Sugar, but also indie fave Lea St. Barth, the whole Jessica Simpson line, etc. And then there was Sicily, that unsettling combination of cupcakes and shampoo.

    Then again, maybe I’m wrong to read innocence into dessert. Maybe we’re at the point at which smelling like food is the same thing as smelling like sex. And maybe smelling like sex these days is just rude. Maybe we’re in the age of olfactory euphemism. 😉 Anyway, I’m intrigued by the idea. December 19, 2005 at 2:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Monique, it is rather soft in this composition, merely adding an effervescent touch to the accord around which the composition is built. I am glad that you liked it. December 19, 2005 at 2:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I missed you too and I was wondering what you are up to these days. The trip was wonderful, especially given the fact that I was able to get some rest from work.

    Lalique Le Parfum will be here soon, and it is something to consider for you. I think that you might like it.

    Attrape Coeurs is a great fragrance, and I am so glad to hear that you like it. Sounds like a great discovery. December 19, 2005 at 2:59pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, in the book I had, Little Red Riding Hood looked like a Soviet pioneer, while the wolf had capitalist tendencies. Hence, his demise! 🙂

    Tocade and Le Parfum are rather different, however their level of sweetness is similar. If you like one, it does not guarantee that you would like another, but if the opulent sweetness does not bother you in Tocade, it certainly would not bother you in Le Parfum. December 19, 2005 at 3:02pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Viktor, that is interesting, I had no idea. However, I am sure if I ask my brother about it, he might know everything that concerns these butterflies. He seemed to be into this subjectmatter for a while (as a welcome change from his interest in other less pleasant creatures, the care of which was ultimately my poor mother’s responsibility). December 19, 2005 at 3:07pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, the immorality-giving apples sound much more enticing anyway. 🙂 December 19, 2005 at 3:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I am not positive on when it is going to be available. I am keeping my fingers crossed, because it was also my favourite. December 19, 2005 at 3:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, that is exactly what I was wondering when just to observe differences I had several strips in front of me–Shalimar (1925), Must de Cartier (1981), Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille (2003), and Lalique Le Parfum (2005) + some gourmand new releases for the next year. The first two are all about animalic civet, especially Must de Cartier (superb construction in the parfum) and other animalic notes. Lutens and Lalique are all about sweet sensuality. Their effect is first through the associations with sweetness of desserts. They relax, rather than keep one in intense suspense like Shalimar.

    Indeed, it is an interesting thought on ponder on how perceptions of sensuality change. However, gourmand notes in fragrances are not a new thing. In the 50s Edmond Roudnitska complained that there are too many food related notes in perfumes and he began composing fragrances like Diorissimo (1956), Eau Fraiche (1953), Diorella (1971), Eau Sauvage (1966) that avoided these notes and abstracted from the overtly sensual associations that food notes bring. For this reason (and technical brilliance), his fragrances have an appeal that transcends merely “this smells good.” They do not smell of things, they are like beautiful dreams captured in liquid. December 19, 2005 at 3:22pm Reply

  • Tania: Interesting! Do you think, then, that perfumers make fragrances that smell like birthday cakes when they run out of ideas? In other words, if you’re at a loss, just add vanillin? 😉 December 19, 2005 at 3:32pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I think that it just depends on what is considered to be commercial. Now, the commercial fragrances (based on market research) are either light, transparent fruity-florals or decadent gourmand compositions. The number of these releases is contigent upon what the clients demand. Everyone asks for the same thing.

    However, in regards to vanilla, a touch of it can do wonders for the compositions, smoothing, softening, polishing. Too much and you have a birthday cake. December 19, 2005 at 3:58pm Reply

  • Paru: I don’t know why but your description reminded me very much of an Irish whiskey I had many years ago. It possessed a certain cloying sweetness that was frustrating but well orchestrated at the same time. I have never revisited that particular whiskey but its signature is imprinted in my mind.

    By the way, the Lalique bottle looks magnificent. I guess I’m in a phase where simple geometric forms really stand out for me. December 19, 2005 at 6:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P, this is sort how I feel about most cognac types, as they are too sweet for my taste, even though the overall effect might be great.

    I also like the elegant minimalism of the lines, which is made more ornate by the tassle and the small cameo embedded in the lid (probably does not show up that well in the photo). I like the heft of the bottle as well, because it feels great as I pick it up. December 19, 2005 at 6:11pm Reply

  • Paru: Yes, I can imagine the heft adds a certain amount of gravitas. I give them credit for the design because it certainly caught my eye. December 19, 2005 at 7:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: It caught mine too. The light reflects quite beautifully from the cube, and I really found it interesting. December 20, 2005 at 11:13am Reply

  • julien: A friend of mine told me it was a mix in between Angel and Cinema by YSL.
    Do you agree?
    I do not personnally. December 21, 2005 at 9:39am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, I do not really find similarities to those two either. Le Parfum is rounder, sweeter and less assertive than either one of the fragrances mentioned. December 21, 2005 at 10:13am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, I do not really find similarities to those two either. Le Parfum is rounder, sweeter and less assertive than either one of the fragrances mentioned. December 21, 2005 at 10:14am Reply

  • julien: That’s exactly what i think about it. December 22, 2005 at 11:30am Reply

  • zari: Just got this perfume over the weekend, and boy is it luscious. I love the warmth, controlled sweetness, peppery-ness..yum. It does echo Shalimar without the slight latex scent which I tend to smell with Shalimar (though I love that perfume still). Perfect for this dreary weather. October 7, 2013 at 10:30am Reply

  • Katy McReynolds: Wore this today and was struck by how just like the real vanilla that we add to cookies and comes out of a bottle this smells like, a subtle lurking boozy note in the dry down. February 3, 2014 at 9:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re right! It’s like vanilla beans steeped in fine rum, with a dash of star anise. 🙂 February 9, 2014 at 11:42am Reply

  • Julie: Hello Victoria,
    I love orientals, tried Kenzo L’ Elephant just before Christmas…I fell head over heals in love with it! As always, I enjoyed reading this lovely review of yours and I’m really tempted to try this one. 😉 My birthday is coming up on Friday. I also read a review about a new fragrance released last year, Living by Lalique. I have never tried anything from this fragrance line. It sounds very pretty. 4160 Tuesdays has an oriental named, Shazam! The name alone sounds inviting. Hope you are happy, healthy and enjoying the new year! February 10, 2016 at 4:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried it yet myself, but in general, I enjoy Lalique fragrances. February 11, 2016 at 4:00am Reply

      • Julie: Hi Victoria,
        I recently purchased this fragrance…It is a VERY
        pretty bottle! I agree with your review & thank you. I really like this (a modern oriental) and it will become a favorite for me. 🙂 March 2, 2016 at 11:26am Reply

        • Victoria: Beautiful, isn’t it? March 2, 2016 at 2:37pm Reply

          • Julie: Yes, luxurious too, without the price tag! 🙂 March 3, 2016 at 12:22am Reply

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