Lalique Perles de Lalique : Perfume Review

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Lalique_perles

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Perles de Lalique is packaged in a stunning bottle. When François Coty made his famous statement, “Give a woman the best product you can make, present it in a perfect flacon with beautiful simplicity and impeccable taste, ask her to pay a reasonable price, and that will be the birth of a business such as the world has never seen,” Lalique flacon is what he meant. Although the fragrance division is not the main focus of the Lalique business, both beautiful bottles and interesting fragrances have appeared in the line, from Lalique pour Homme (Lion) by Maurice Roucel to Lalique Le Parfum by Dominique Ropion.

The newest release from Lalique’s fragrance division, Perles de Lalique, takes the path of the spicy chypre, much like Agent Provocateur Eau Emotionnelle and Sisley Soir de Lune have done earlier this year. The mere act of picking up the flacon which is adorned with a feathery necklace sets the stage for excitement. Inspired by the René Lalique “Cactus” powder bowl of 1928, the Perles de Lalique parfum bottle is particularly striking. The initial impression leads one to expect a dark rosy chypre; however, everything in the composition is rendered with a light touch. The sharp peppery warmth segues into the floral heart before taking a turn towards classical chypre duskiness.

Unfortunately, the story ends before one falls under its spell. Where the classical chypres have a combination of fleshy curves and angular lines given their tantalizing pairing of freshness, floralcy and mossy darkness, Perles de Lalique succumbs to consumptive pallor. It is pretty, but it does not have enough character to stand out as truly beautiful. The parfum fares better than the Eau de Parfum in this regard, but it also lacks richness and luxurious heft. Given the recent classification of oakmoss as an allergen, the chypre family which relies on this extraordinarily complex material cannot remain unaltered. In other words, the classical chypre without a pronounced dose of oakmoss absolute is akin to Sachertorte without chocolate.

Perles de Lalique includes notes of bergamot, Bulgarian rose, iris, Bourbon pepper, Indonesian patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, cashmeran. It is now available from Escentual. Although the Lalique counters at Saks does not seem to stock the newest Lalique fragrances, including Le Parfum, most Lalique boutiques carry the full range.

Edit (May 2011): I revisited Perles de Lalique recently, and I feel that I may have been too harsh in my criticism. What seemed pale 5 years ago comes across as lush and opulent today. Is it because most new launches have gotten so attenuated? Or is it because I grew to love the modern chypre style? Either way, worth revisiting.

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16 Comments

  • ambroxan: Perles is a really interesting fragrance. Compared to the violent and undelicate Soir de Lune, Perles is a nice and modern subtle chypre. Nathalie Lorson did something pretty nice,with peppery and musky accents and a nice vegetal note of rose. I find some masculine acccents to this scent and some reminiscences with Stella. It could have had more persistence but I would say it’s ‘un très joli chypre’… August 26, 2006 at 4:22am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Un très joli chypre is exactly right. I hoped for more than just pretty. Although I disagree with you in regards to Soir de Lune, even that fragrance suffers from much of the same affliction–too thin in places where it should have more curves. August 26, 2006 at 5:55am Reply

  • marchlion: Weeping on my keyboard at the thought of the fragrances I love, reformulated without oakmoss.

    I do think that bottle is absolutely stunning. August 26, 2006 at 7:21am Reply

  • Marina: Just got to try this yesterday. The beginning was wonderfully pretty. Unfortunately the drydown was all-patchouli on me, I mean, very, very strong on patchouli. I did not expect that. Not that I mind patchouli terribly, but I did want more cmoplexity there. Oh well. I do adore Lalique Le Parfum. August 26, 2006 at 8:21am Reply

  • Tania: I do want to try this. I mean, look at that crazy bottle. And I certainly could always use more pretty fragrances. August 27, 2006 at 6:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, the bottle is striking! I also regret that oakmoss has landed on the list of allergens. I love the entire chypre family. August 28, 2006 at 1:50am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marina, I also hoped that the base would exhibit more complexity; however, while overall Perles was nice, I wished for more depth. August 28, 2006 at 1:51am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tania, just keep in mind that the only striking bottle is the extrait (280 BP). The EDP bottle is rather plain. August 28, 2006 at 1:52am Reply

  • Judith: Oh, dear! I was very excited by the beginning of this review, and very disappointed by the end–not by your writing, of course, but by how the perfume turned out! It sounded like it had such promise; and the bottle is so interesting, too! Oh, well. I have spent (more than) enough money recently! August 28, 2006 at 7:44am Reply

  • Laura: I’m following the same hopeful-then-disappointed trajectory of the rest of your readers (and you!)after having read this. A good result is that I’ve followed the link to your review of Le Parfum (which I’d somehow missed earlier) and now am eager to try IT! I hope you are all settled in, happy and ready for the next wonderful thing in life, dear V. August 29, 2006 at 5:33am Reply

  • Nick: Speaking of mosses, as a lover of leather chypres, I’m bracing myself finally for Bandit parfum. It’s some time since I first smelled it, it was the EDP and wow!!! September 3, 2006 at 6:16am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, the bottle is very striking, especially the extrait de parfum one. I had such hopes for this fragrance, but in the end, it simply did not speak to me. Overall, it is a very lovely composition, and I am a big fan of Nathalie Lorson’s work in general. September 6, 2006 at 12:37pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Laura, I am slowly settling in. It will take some time before things are out of the current chaotic state. 🙂

    I am glad that you rediscovered Le Parfum. I have a feeling that you would enjoy it very much. September 6, 2006 at 12:38pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Nick, please share your impressions! Bandit, like other Piguet fragrances, is one of those compositions that cannot leave one indifferent. September 6, 2006 at 12:38pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: I commend this perfume for its strange, almost morbid beauty and for daring to be different and use quality ingredients at a time when almost every launch was a cheap, fruity floral! The dry down does indeed lack depth and, today, I revisited my own bottle which I greatly admired when it first launched and compared it with my current favourite, Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady. The two are both wonderful rose patchouli blends  but Perles is more like fresh spring rain on earthy rose beds (and the cold, damp earth and rain combo reminds me of churchyard!) rather than the scent of a beautiful, woman in the library of an old English house surrounded by a lush rose garden. The freshness of Perles’ spring rain works beautifully in the beginning but is somehow conflicting in the dry down (I don’t think you can force patchouli to be bright). However, the patchouli base is mellower and warmer in Portrait of a Lady and thus renders the latter a virtual masterpiece, in my opinion but I would love to read your review of this perfume.
    The scent is quite strong but works wonderfully sprayed in the inside of my Birkin bag.  April 3, 2013 at 5:51pm Reply

  • marios: Hi Victoria,
    in the forums, a lot are considering this too masculine for a woman and more or less, unisex. what you say about that? the rose does not keep it too feminine? May 16, 2013 at 8:54am Reply

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