Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
The fragrance industry is in dire straits these days, a fact that is exacerbated by the economic crisis. Each new launch for a brand is becoming more of a gamble, more of a risk. For one of my projects, I spent last week smelling over 100 recent launches and at the end, I was shocked at how few I could remember at all. At times like this, a surprising and memorable fragrance is a wonderful discovery. Such was L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Traversée du Bosphore (and to a lesser extent, Coeur de Vétiver Sacré, which I shall discuss separately.)
Created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, Traversée du Bosphore is a take on violet-orris, interpreted in a gourmand oriental manner. As the name would suggest, one can expect a purely Western fantasy on an oriental theme of the same ilk that inspired Guerlain and Serge Lutens, Igres and Delacroix. The cliché of hukkah smoke and apple tea aside, Traversée du Bosphore is delightful. It is opulent and voluptuous, and yet the signature dry amber touch of Duchaufour lends it a surprisingly diaphanous effect. This luminous quality is what makes me prefer Traversée du Bosphore to a gourmand iris theme like Guerlain Iris Ganache.
The initial impression is of a violet-rose bonbon, sweet and creamy. The citrus notes cut down the richness, but given that the composition is supported by a modern crisp woody accord, the powdery sweetness of the top note is pleasant. Yet, the overall result is more than just pleasant. As the fragrance develops, it darkens quite suddenly, with the balsamic notes and leather setting the mood. What started out as a pastel toned etude takes on the sensual, mysterious quality of a Baroque painting, and there is nothing cliché about it.
Traversée du Bosphore includes notes of apple, pomegranate, tulip, iris, leather, saffron, Turkish delight accord (rose, lemon, pistachio), vanilla, musks. L’Artisan line is available from Aedes, Beautycafe, Beautyhabit, and Luckyscent, as well as Henri Bendel, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, and Neiman Marcus.
Image: Inside Topkapi Palace, from Travel in Turkey website.