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.