L’Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l’Aube : Perfume Review

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by Suzanna

Some of the most intriguing fragrances are meant to evoke environment and emotion, time and place. This is why the newest L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrance, Séville à l’aube, caught my attention. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour created Séville à l’aube as a celebration of journalist and perfume blogger Denyse Beaulieu’s remembrance of romance and seduction past. The idea stemmed from a story Beaulieu told the perfumer about an erotic event that transpired during a long-ago Holy Week (this turns up in the scent as an abstraction) and about the smells and associations of that time and place (more literal). Beaulieu describes her experience in the creation of this fragrance in her book The Perfume Lover. Duchaufour documents Beaulieu’s story as an “orange blossom Oriental” in which the sweet and honeyed white flower appears meaty and succulent and the dry resins of the base curl upwards in the manner of incense.

According to Duchaufour’s interpretation of Beaulieu’s recollections, Seville during Holy Week smells of this orange blossom plus petitgrain (crushed twigs and leaves that add greenness and woodiness), lavender ash and incense, benzoin, and beeswax.  These represent smoke from the incense censers, candles, flowering trees, and blond tobacco. They are emotionally potent enough that one is almost able to vicariously wander through Beaulieu’s memory, minus the “black-clad Spanish boy” tangling with garters.  On second thought, however, the vapor of lavender ash that floats like a lover over the body of orange blossom is pretty sensuous stuff.

Séville à l’aube appears as two fragrances, depending on some mysterious unknown force that renders it in one wearing as a nectar-filled orange blossom, unctuously sweet and then bitter with its tang of green.  The second fragrance is all incense and smoke where the lavender flatters the orange blossom into releasing an iridescence that shatters into tiny shards across the cinders and Siam benzoin of the base.  There is also a meeting of notes when everything comes together, from the toothsome sweetness of the orange flower to the dusky embers in the base, cut through by aromatic lavender that smells like a distant slow herbal burn.

From the inclusion of Eros in this “perfume story” I expected something along the lines of Caron’s orange-blossom vamp Narcisse Noir.  But the smolder of the Caron is darker, dangerous.  Séville à l’aube is surprisingly airy and full of light; this is an outdoor scent befitting the watching of processions that is at the heart of the book and the perfume’s narrative. Still, by its shadowy base the red-blooded and lusty ambience cannot be mistaken.

Seville is a casual scent, although with nothing offhand about it.  It’s equally suited for special occasions. Alive in the same way Beaulieu’s writing is, you want to grab and savor each note and word.  My nose, numb from the ordinary, the clean, and the fruity, was immediately seduced into wishing they’d push the July release date up:  I want the full bottle now.

 L’Artisan Parfumeur Séville à l’aube is already available for sampling at L’Artisan boutiques. The Perfume Lover is available on Amazon.co.uk, and the excerpts can be found at Denyse’s blog Grain de Musc.

Image: Girl with a basket of oranges, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, c.1889, National Gallery of Art Washington.

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28 Comments

  • Ines: I find it both strange and compelling and completely bottle worthy. 🙂
    I do feel lucky to have already sampled it. June 12, 2012 at 7:29am Reply

    • Suzanna: Ines, I smell a lot of fragrance and very little of it captures my attention, or if it captures my attention the interest wanes half an hour later. Not so with Seville-it’s a major new orange blossom fragrance and for lovers of that note a must-try.

      Glad you found it FBW! June 12, 2012 at 8:57am Reply

  • Cristina: “I want the full bottle now.”Such a precise summary and concordant with our feelings too 🙂 June 12, 2012 at 8:18am Reply

    • Suzanna: Cristina, I was sorry when my sample ran out and I have been sniffing at the empty vial hoping it will suffice for the next month or so before Seville debuts. It went immediately to the top of my wishlist.

      Glad you feel the same way! June 12, 2012 at 8:58am Reply

  • Blacknall Allen: This sounds as though it could be close to Fendi Theorema. Do you think so? June 12, 2012 at 9:25am Reply

    • Suzanna: Blacknall Alien, it’s not really like Theorema. To me, the Fendi is marked by a very creamy texture that Seville has none of. It’s also far spicier (Seville isn’t spicy; it’s more aromatic/resin). Some say it’s most similar to By Kilian Sweet Redemption, but I’ve not tried that one.

      Worth getting a sample! June 12, 2012 at 9:42am Reply

      • marsi: Ah more reasons to try Seville! I finally got a sample of Sweet Redemption because Victoria raved so much about it. It was love at first sniff for me! June 12, 2012 at 9:51am Reply

        • Suzanna: Obviously I need to find a sample of Sweet Redemption soon! June 12, 2012 at 11:08am Reply

      • bluegardenia: Seville a l’Aube sounds gorgeous. I love orange blossoms so much, in life and in perfume (perfumery versions of orange blossom is often extremely true to life I’ve found, which is of course not the case with so many florals). I also love benzoin, beeswax, and lavender. What a beautiful sounding combination. Kilian Sweet Redemption is all vanilla on me, with a hint of orange blossom, and ends up smelling like sherbet a creamsicle on a stick. Seville does not have this sweet vanilla thing going on, does it? Hope not! June 15, 2012 at 1:22am Reply

        • Suzanna: bluegardenia, I agree that orange blossom is very true to life, perhaps the most realistic of all.

          I don’t notice too much “sweet” (in the By Kilian sense) in Seville. Orange blossom is sweet enough on its own for my taste and in Seville it is tempered by the aromatics and the woods. Still, one must like the honeyed aspect of orange blossom.

          No creamsicles here! June 15, 2012 at 10:07am Reply

          • bluegardenia: Oh great – no creamsicle! And yes I love the honeyed aspect of orange blossom for sure. Looks like I’ll be trying this…and from the sound of it, buying it! July 7, 2012 at 2:24am Reply

  • Queen Cupcake: This is a beautifully written review, Suzanna. It has been a little while since I have wanted to buy a full bottle of anything, but Seville a l’aube is one I will want for sure! June 12, 2012 at 9:37am Reply

    • Suzanna: Thank you, Queen Cupcake, for your kind words. I hope you will find the same pleasure from Seville that I have. It’s stood out for me as unusually special. I enjoyed how it seemed different on subsequent wearings, and how the tonal qualities varied from sunny and honeyed to woody and resinous and then aromatic. June 12, 2012 at 9:44am Reply

  • marsi: Sounds very tempting Suzanna! I was born in Spain so the mention of Seville and orange blossom is all I need to hear. 😀 Can’t wait to smell it. June 12, 2012 at 9:47am Reply

    • Suzanna: Since we are all anticipating it, I wonder if we can find out just when in July it will be released!

      Marsi, I’d love to hear your “take” on the scents of Seville! June 12, 2012 at 11:05am Reply

  • Nancy: Dear Victoria,

    “I want the full bottle now” certainly has grabbed my attention. Looking forward to the launch and testing it out. June 12, 2012 at 11:14am Reply

    • Suzanna: Nancy, I hope you enjoy Seville as much as I have! June 12, 2012 at 5:20pm Reply

  • Civava: Finally you managed to describe this scent. I had a sample for quite some tim and couldn’t find words to describe it. Ok it is orange blossom and green, but far more than that. Very nice review. Thank you. June 12, 2012 at 1:39pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Civava, glad that you liked my review. It is orange blossom and green and that’s a great place to start. There’s a lot going on in there that can be ephemeral and hard to pin down until you get your nose around this scent on multiple wearings. As I said, the second time I wore it, it was mostly lavender and resin! June 12, 2012 at 5:22pm Reply

  • Kaori: Suzanna,
    Your review and description are very tempting. This is a must try! I will order the book as well!

    Kaori June 12, 2012 at 9:40pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Kaori, do let me know what you think! This is such an exciting and groundbreaking collaboration. I’m a fan of L’Artisan’s frags and have been for years, and yet Seville stepped it up to another level. It’s a wow. June 12, 2012 at 10:00pm Reply

  • Michael: Indeed, “I want the full bottle” caught my attention also. I look forward to getting this for my girlfriend, I love surprising her with new perfumes! Well written review. June 13, 2012 at 1:09am Reply

    • Suzanna: Seville a l’Aube will make a wonderful gift for your girlfriend, Michael, and one that I hope she will enjoy! What a lucky girl! June 13, 2012 at 9:20am Reply

  • HB: This and Sweet Redemption just went on my to-try list. I think orange blossom scents are so compelling, but for me the rendering has to include an environmental bent, like the cindery/herbal accord you describe. Thank you for a lovely and evocative review! June 14, 2012 at 2:33am Reply

    • Suzanna: HB, I am almost afraid to try Sweet Redemption. If it is anything like Seville, I will want it, too.

      Seville is multi-dimensional and this becomes apparent the second the lavender appears. June 15, 2012 at 9:07am Reply

  • Andrea: After an extended search, I decided on Seville as my winter fragrance. When I went to The Perfume House here in Portland I was told it was no longer available and that they were very disappointed because it sold very well and are hoping customer demand will bring it back. I know that Seville is available at Barney’s but I do want to support my local store where they have been so helpful and will now start the hunt again. December 6, 2012 at 9:25am Reply

    • Suzanna: I’m sorry you couldn’t find it, but Barney’s should have it and I love their customer service. December 6, 2012 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Julia: I absolutely adore this perfume. Normally I prefer to wear Guerlain but in this case, I did try Seville a l’Aube, after reading your review, and bought myself a big bottle.
    I have had numerous compliments about it, so it definitely suits me.
    I am only sorry that L’Artisan shut down their Covent Garden shop. I was there the other day, to buy Traversee du Bosphore, only to find the shop has transmogrified into a Penhaligon’s, and I had no time to go elsewhere that day to find what I wanted.
    Many thanks for your beautiful, evocative reviews October 18, 2013 at 2:40pm Reply

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