Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
The initial crisp clarity of Fou d’Absinthe gives only a slight hint to its beguiling character. Although the newest release created by Olivia Giacobetti for L’Artisan Parfumeur retains the luminous quality present in her other work, it is a substantial composition, especially for the perfumer known to create fragrances that are better understood as olfactory dreams rather than cold realities. Yet, considering the mysterious and controversial drink serving as an inspiration for the perfume, Giacobetti’s latest creation weaves a fantasy of its own, and I cannot resist partaking in it. …
Fou d’Absinthe is constructed as a fougère, a genre of perfume compositions that rely on the interplay of lavender, coumarin and oakmoss in order to produce its intriguing juxtaposition of freshness and dryness, sweetness and woodiness. The crisp spicy and herbal opening of Fou d’Absinthe hits like a sharp sting of liquor against the palate, offering a prelude for the intoxicating resinous sweetness.
The chilly bite of anise replaces the traditional citrus and lavender top notes, thus refashioning the traditional fougère. While retaining the intriguing contrast and reminding me of other crisp fougères in spirit, such as Yves Saint Laurent Jazz, Fou d’Absinthe maintains its absinthe theme with Giacobetti’s characteristic precision. The spicy verdancy scatters across the polished pine base cradled in vetiver. Where the initial accords are vivid and exhilarating, the drydown possesses a languid and yet assertive character.
The distinctive elegance of this composition is undoubtedly masculine, which is not surprising given that fougères rarely make it into the feminine domain, with few exceptions such as Jean Patou Ma Liberte and Parfums DelRae Eau Illuminée. At first encounter, I did not find Fou d’Absinthe easy to wear, as it would not soften its resinous brightness with either vanilla or incense a la L’Artisan Timbuktu. And yet, the kaleidoscopic change of nuances characteristic of fougère intrigues me. Preparing for a work related meeting, I don an ensemble of wraparound white shirt and slim black skirt. As I look in the mirror, I reach for Fou d’Absinthe as a finishing touch. It feels so effortlessly elegant that my preconception about fougère as a quintessentially masculine genre simply needs to be reconsidered.
Fou d’Absinthe features notes of absinthe, angelica flower, blackcurrant buds, clove, ginger, nutmeg, star anise, patchouli, pepper, pine needles, cistus labdanum, fir balsam. It is available from L’Artisan boutiques and Barneys.