Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Aldehydes (particularly the aliphatic aldehydes that captivated Chanel’s perfumer Ernest Beaux) are among the most fascinating perfume ingredients. While being harsh and sharp on their own, the effect they can create is quite extraordinary. The crispness of starched linen, the fizz of champagne, the soft glow of morning light… Likewise, the newest fragrance from Le Labo, Aldehyde 44 relies on the sleight of hand magic of aldehydes. Although initially it showers one with snowflakes of metallic powder, the composition warms up and melts like golden honey on the skin. …
Created by perfumer Yann Vasnier, Le Labo Aldehyde 44 is without doubt one of the most complex and interesting compositions from the line. Given my affection for aldehyde embellished forals, it was love at first inhale. It opens up on the fizz of aldehydes, which just like the top notes of another wonderful floral aldehydic, Robert Piguet Baghari, offer a sweet and radiant prelude for the intoxicating white floral heart. The indolic* twist of jasmine lends a seductive counterpoint, creating a leitmotif that develops further as the composition dries down. After the pristine whiteness of aldehydes, the incensy woods of the base offer a dose of intrigue.
Aldehyde 44 is interesting in that it manages to escape the predictable retro flashbacks often associated with aldehydic fragrances. It offers a nod to the classical tradition with its soft glow and refined structure—one might note Vasnier’s infatuation with Chanel No 22, yet the powder of traditional aldehydic blends is absent. The perfume possesses a startling elegance, which contrasts with the warm and smoldering embrace of its heart. As the composition develops, the soft form of Aldehyde 44 gains a richer, darker hue, hinting at its femme fatale heart.
Aldehyde 44 includes notes of aldehydes, tuberose absolute, narcissus absolute, jasmin sambac, musks and woods. The most unfortunate aspect of Aldehyde 44 is that it is exclusive to the Le Labo boutique in Barneys Dallas (much like Tubereuse 40 was exclusive to Barneys NYC.) Le Labo is all about revolutionizing fragrance, so would it be out of place to call for a rebellion against this city specific concept? Beautiful perfumes are difficult to find as it is.
Photo of Catherine Deneuve from Tout Sur Deneuve.