Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche : Perfume Review

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What happens when a talented photographer and a perfumer cross paths? To figure this out, I take a close look at the striking sunshine filled image by the Italian master Massimo Vitali and apply a drop of Lumière Blanche to my wrist. The idea behind this perfume by the French niche house Olfactive Studio was to capture the intense white light saturating Vitali’s photograph of a Sicilian beach.

It’s easy enough to fall under the spell of suggestion with something as intangible as a scent and as vivid as this image, and I could tell you that I smell “white” and “radiance.” What I feel above all is just pleasure. As I press my nose into my wrist, I notice a comforting warmth from the perfume’s blend of spices, almonds and sandalwood. There is a beautiful synergy between picture and a scent, but even on their own, they are striking.

Olfactive Studio is one of the recent newcomers, but it’s quickly starting to get noticed by the beauty press and niche perfume lovers. Céline Verleure, the artistic director behind Olfactive Studio, first launched a fragrance line through Facebook. Via this social media platform, fans could pick the names and identify their preference for the bottle designs (full disclosure: early in the process I also added my vote on a couple of designs). The Paris-based Facebook friends could even attend meetings between Verleure and the perfumers. A lover of photography, Verleure encouraged a collaboration between perfume creators and photographers, and that’s how the concept behind the fragrance house was born.

Smelling the first three fragrances, Chambre Noire, Autoportrait and Still Life, it’s easy to see why Olfactive Studio may be an exciting new entrant into the crowded market. These woody-spicy compositions are different from the fruity-floral themes explored in mainstream fragrances, but they also have unusual twists that make them standout among other niche offerings. Many niche brands  mistake character for a strong smell, and it’s refreshing to see a coherent collection of harmonious and elegant perfumes.

Take Lumière Blanche, my current favorite, as an example.  The fragrance was developed by perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur, and it smells of warm cardamom scented milk. The main core of the fragrance is sandalwood, a note that smells milky and creamy in its natural state. Playing upon the various milky themes, Lumière Blanche oscillates between smelling like a handful of wood shavings and a bowl of Indian milk custard, but it never stays in the same place long enough for you to make up your mind. Contrary to expectations, the perfume is not obviously edible, but rather teasing and abstract.

Lovers of cardamom will enjoy the vivid intro. The lemony cardamom amplified with subtle citrus notes sparkles on skin. The opaque haze of iris and toasted almond fills in the heart of Lumière Blanche soon thereafter, with the licorice  like  sweetness of anise adding a playful accent. The musky drydown is plush and warm, and I love how the creamy sandalwood feels as it’s wrapped into musks, as if into a thick blanket. At the same time, it’s radiant, not at all heavy or dense. If you enjoy milky-woody perfumes like Paul & Joe Blanc and Frédéric Malle L’Eau d’Hiver, but crave a more exotic twist, Lumière Blanche will be a great discovery.

The rich musky base of Lumière Blanche lasts on my skin for hours, but I know that some of you complained that once the perfume hits the musky layer, you can’t smell it. For my part, I wish that the sparkling cardamom didn’t vanish so quickly. Nevertheless, I enjoy Lumière Blanche for its comforting feel and for its sophisticated aura. It’s a fragrance that is very easy to wear– it’s perfect as an every day perfume, but it’s also nuanced enough to be special.

 

Olfactive Studio Lumière Blanche includes notes of cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, iris, almond milk, cashmere woods, cedarwood, sandalwood, tonka bean, and white musks. Available in 50ml/80€, 100 ml/120€ Eau de Parfum, and  in a discovery kit of 4 samples for 6 €. Olfactive Studio is not yet distributed in the US, but olfactivestudio website ships to the States with no extra charge.

Sample: Olfactive Studio

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64 Comments

  • Lucas: I’ve been having Lumiere Blanche on my to-test list for a while and I’ll definitely give it a try as it sounds really good and worth smelling. September 18, 2012 at 7:23am Reply

    • Victoria: The whole collection is worth testing. I like that each fragrance has a strong character and is full of nuances as well. September 18, 2012 at 10:17am Reply

      • Lucas: I once had a sample of Still Life but wasn’t impressed by that one. September 18, 2012 at 12:35pm Reply

        • Victoria: Well, I’m sure that you have many other perfume loves, Lucas. Can’t win them all, right? :) September 18, 2012 at 1:49pm Reply

          • Lucas: Sure I have many other perfume loves. In fact I’m glad there are some perfume that don’t match with me. If they did I would have even bigger problem chosing which one should I really buy and on which scent should I pass. September 19, 2012 at 4:28am Reply

            • Victoria: That is almost a nightmare scenario to me–liking it all! :) Yes, how do you choose then! September 19, 2012 at 7:25am Reply

  • Marie: Very happy to see your review of this perfume. Lumière Blanche is smelling so soft and tender to me, and you described it perfectly. I didn’t know that sandalwood could be so creamy. September 18, 2012 at 7:24am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Marie. Glad to hear that you are a fan of Lumiere Blanche as well. It was a love at first sniff for me exactly for that reason–the creamy, languid sandalwood drydown. September 18, 2012 at 10:18am Reply

  • Jack Sullivan: That’s it, after your review and Denyse’s I am decided to get my hands on the sample set. For starters. September 18, 2012 at 7:29am Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that you will enjoy them! Would love to hear your thoughts. September 18, 2012 at 10:18am Reply

  • jillie: This sounds really yummy, and so comforting. Somehow perfect to combat the autumn melancholy wafting in the air. I am ashamed that I haven’t heard of this brand before, but will now seek it out. And I miss really good sandalwood! September 18, 2012 at 7:51am Reply

    • Barbara: I haven’t heard of Olfactive Studio either but like you I was thinking that it might be a good fall perfume. I too miss really good sandalwood. Even my beloved Samsara smells like a hamster cage these days. What happened to its sandalwood? September 18, 2012 at 9:19am Reply

      • Jason: Overharvesting! Indian sandalwood plantations have been destroyed. The best sandalwood I have is Diptyque Tam Dao, but it also has been reformulated. September 18, 2012 at 9:47am Reply

        • Victoria: There are some new measures to revive the plantations, but you’re right, it’s sad to see what has happened to the famed Mysore groves. September 18, 2012 at 10:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, it’s very new, Jillie, so I’m not surprised that you didn’t hear of it. So far, I saw it sold at Jovoy in Paris and online. And yes, Lumiere Blanche is perfect as a potion against the cool, dreary autumnal days ahead. For now, the weather in Brussels is sunny, but I know that the rains are coming. :) September 18, 2012 at 10:19am Reply

  • Masha: I love this one, too, until it hits the drydown. Sadly, on my skin, it turns into a very sweet coconut custard with a dash of Mai Tai! Oh well, the beginning is just gorgeous. September 18, 2012 at 8:16am Reply

    • Victoria: That doesn’t sound promising, Masha! What do you think of others from the collection? September 18, 2012 at 10:20am Reply

      • Masha: I love Autoportrait, it’s like a subtle version of the original Gucci Pour Homme, just scrumptious for fall. Still Life is a lovely citrus. Chambre Noire is beautiful, but not my style, too rich/fruity/leathery for my tastes. But it’s really well done. I’m curious to know if anyone else gets the coconut pudding note from Lumiere Blanche, or if it’s just a quirk of my skin. I don’t wear tonka well! The sample pack is a great value and I’ve had a lot of fun wearing all of them. September 18, 2012 at 11:02am Reply

        • Victoria: Still Life is the one I haven’t worn as much, so I still have to wear it more.
          I definitely get a coconut-almond note out of Lumiere Blanche, but it doesn’t smell too edible on me. Like you, I’ve enjoyed the sample pack, which is such a great value. September 18, 2012 at 1:33pm Reply

  • Barbara: V, this is the kind of review I love to reread. You paint such beautiful images with your words. And you had me at cardamom. I’m wearing Apres la Mousson today and enjoying its cardamom top notes.

    So is Chambre Noire really noir? September 18, 2012 at 9:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words, Barbara! If you’re a cardamom lover, this is a must try then.

      Chambre Noire is definitely noir, but it’s not thick and dense. An elegant, polished etude of spice and woods. September 18, 2012 at 10:21am Reply

  • Kathryn: My samples of the four Olfactive Studios scents came in the mail a week ago. I like them all so much that I‘d be hard put to pick a favorite, though perhaps I am coming to prefer the two darker perfumes, Chambre Noire and Auto Portrait. Despite very different notes and feelings, all four perfumes share a quality of luminosity, as if made of exquisitely fragranced light and air. None of them feel heavy. Two other things I like: First, I don’t seem to get nose fatigue with any of them, so I can smell them all day. Second, they’re quite reasonably priced. How nice to fall in love with perfumes I can actually afford! September 18, 2012 at 10:04am Reply

    • Victoria: I have a difficulty picking a favorite, but Lumiere Blanche somehow fits my current mood. I see myself wearing Chambre Noire this fall, since it is a “black cashmere” perfume for me–warm, enveloping and yet delicate, an intriguing combination. Your comment about luminosity is spot on. September 18, 2012 at 10:26am Reply

  • Daisy: This sounds fantastic! Great review — as always :-) I have been loving cardamom lately and have been tossing a couple of pods into my cafetière with my ground coffee in the morning. Yum. I bet this will be perfect for fall.

    Thanks as well for the info about ordering a discovery set from them directly! Isn’t it great that more and more perfumers are doing that? September 18, 2012 at 11:49am Reply

    • Victoria: I love that too. It’s a great way to discover fragrances and to live with them longer. L’Artisan used to be coffrets of small bottles of their best-sellers, which is something I loved. Wish they would do it again.

      I’ve been on a cardamom kick myself lately–cardamom in my tea, in my biscotti, rubbed onto chicken about to be grilled… So delicious! September 18, 2012 at 1:35pm Reply

      • Daisy: Those all sounds super yummy! I love the idea of cardamom in biscotti. Mmmmm. Something to make this fall! September 18, 2012 at 1:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: Especially with some almonds or hazelnuts! I love biscotti more than any other cookie, save for the chocolate chip variety.

          P.S. give me a moment and I will change my mind about my favorite cookie. A big sweet tooth owner here! September 18, 2012 at 1:51pm Reply

          • Andrea: Ohhh, now I’m craving chocolate chip cookies! Definitely cheaper than perfume, at any rate… September 18, 2012 at 3:09pm Reply

          • Daisy: Hazelnuts are my favorite! And salty almonds. A salty almond chocolate chip cookie sounds really good right now :-) September 18, 2012 at 3:14pm Reply

            • Victoria: That really does sound wonderful! I don’t know if I have any cookies on hand, but I might just have to nibble on some almonds and chocolate. September 18, 2012 at 3:23pm Reply

              • Andrea: Thanks for the recipe! I will make it this weekend. Sometimes I also eat choc chips with almonds, too. I hide the chips or my kids will sneak them! Another good snack is a Graham cracker (I use gluten-free) with Nutella smeared all over and a marshmallow on top. Instant S’More! I typically heat it in the microwave to melt the ‘mallow, but a broiler would be better. September 18, 2012 at 3:41pm Reply

                • Victoria: That sounds wonderful! Another great snack is bread covered with chocolate and run under the broiler. Once the chocolate melts and the bread gets toasted, sprinkle it with salt and olive oil. Heavenly! September 18, 2012 at 5:38pm Reply

                  • Daisy: Oh, I love that too! I learned that from Ferran Adrìa’s Family Meals book! Soooo yummy :-)

                    I am also a big fan of that French chestnut cream. The stuff that comes in what looks like a toothpaste tube. I like to squeeze it directly into my mouth because I’m classy like that :-) September 18, 2012 at 10:17pm Reply

                    • Victoria: You’re a hedonist, what can I say! :)

                      I haven’t seen that cookbook, but I’ve heard good things about it. Is it worth checking out? September 19, 2012 at 6:18am

                • Elena: Not much to add to the discussion of the perfume, but dipping very lightly salted almonds directly in Nutella is pretty darn good. We often have Nutella and almonds on hand, and it satisfies my sweet tooth every time. September 18, 2012 at 6:06pm Reply

                  • Victoria: Sounds mouthwatering! I have discovered the Belgian take on Nutella–a gingerbread cookie paste, and it’s so addictive. September 18, 2012 at 6:44pm Reply

  • maggiecat: I love sandalwood and also enjoy scents that make thoughtful, complex statements without simply being loud. I’m going to have to see about this discovery set… September 18, 2012 at 12:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: I enjoy some loud and thick perfumes too, but it seems that most new niche fragrance these days aim so much for the Middle East that all they offer are the thick, heavy, opaque blends of incense, amber and something that passes for oud. And then they charge an arm and a leg for them. It’s enough to make me really grumpy! :) September 18, 2012 at 1:36pm Reply

  • iodine: I’m wearing Chambre Noire, today, whata coincidence! You’re right, it’s perfect for autumn or winter, it’s very intimate and softly sexy.
    I find the Olfactive Studio fragrances quite beautiful, even if all of them- except CN- have something a bit jarring for me in the drydown. Lumiere Blanche reminds me of the gorgeous Malle candle Santal Cardamome, which I own and adore, but I’m not particularly fond of the rich (too rich, for me) musks in the basenotes. Nevertheless, I’ll try to get a sample! September 18, 2012 at 12:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve been wanting Santal Cardamome in a perfume form for a long time, but I completely forgot about it until you mentioned it. Yes, I can definitely see the similarity! September 18, 2012 at 1:49pm Reply

  • Awfulknitter: Stop making me want to buy perfume! I’m supposed to be saving my money! Not that I want you to be trying and wearing bad scents, but…

    I was reading your review with detached interest until you mentioned L’Eau d’Hiver, which I adore. And then there’s the cardamon and sandalwood – I’m tempted to just order a bottle straight away (and a large one too!). But then Chambre Noir sounds interesting too. I’ve been pondering getting another autumn/winter fragrance to go alongside L’Eau d’Hiver, Black Cashmere, and Jeux de Peau.

    At least the sample pack is excellent value – I’ve just ordered it. I hate not being able to try a perfume a few times! I try to buy from Les Senteurs (in London) whenever I can, because they have such a gracious and sensible samples policy. September 18, 2012 at 4:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that the samples won’t disappoint. Black Cashmere and Jeux de Peau are among my favorites for fall, and Chambre Noire is in the same ballpark (although it doesn’t smell identical to those two). Lumiere Blanche has the softness that I find very appealing in a daytime perfume that can easily move from morning to evening. Feels very comforting.

      And you know, I’ve recently smelled through so many dull perfumes that I find even more solace in scents that touch me. Writing about fragrances that have no character or memory is worse than writing about perfumes I detest. September 18, 2012 at 5:47pm Reply

      • Jack Sullivan: This last sentence I could have written… about movies. I have a blog about cinema and, well, to me movies are what perfumes are to you Victoria, I suppose.
        If given the choice, I’d much rather go and see a a movie that I truly, deeply dislike for any reason (directing, storyline, acting…) and I’d be happy to explain why I disliked it. At least it makes a statement and I can choose which side I’m on. With a dull or simply mediocre movie, what can you say for or against it? It’s not even interesting or well-crafted enough to make you react, it is forgotten the minute the end credits hit the screen.
        Life is short, I feel there is not much time to be wasted on “forgettable”. September 19, 2012 at 3:09am Reply

        • Victoria: Exactly how I think about it, not just about perfume either. I have to evaluate all sorts of perfumes in the course of my work, but Bois de Jasmin is something I do mostly for pleasure. So, it is less satisfting to write about boring things, when I have only a limited amount of time to devote to it. September 19, 2012 at 7:23am Reply

      • Awfulknitter: I must confess that sometimes a bad review can be really entertaining. (Luca Turin’s are particularly good!) But when something is alright, a bit bland, smells like X, Y and Z, what is there to say? At least when something provokes a strong reaction, it’s stimulating. I tried Cafe Rosé (one of the new Tom Ford’s) a couple of weeks back, and it was so boring it just made me cross! I should have learned by now that you just can’t trust an interesting name, a nice bottle, or a list of notes that contain things you like.

        The nicest scent that I’ve ‘discovered’ recently is fresh sage – no problems with false advertising! I have a few really bushy plants, and when gently patted, the leaves have the expected herbal smell, but also a surprising gentle touch of pineapple. And it helps that the leaves have beautiful suede-like feel – I find it had to walk past without touching! September 19, 2012 at 7:27am Reply

        • Victoria: You’re right, a well-written, critical review can be entertaining. So many people loved Suzanna’s review of Lady Gaga, and she didn’t care for it at all. I generally try to review a spectrum of fragrances, but my favorite perfumes to talk about are the ones I really feel strongly about.

          Sage and other aromatic herbs are the best perfumes! I used to have a pot of thyme on my patio, and I loved simply rubbing branches between my fingers. The perfume would linger and linger… September 19, 2012 at 10:42am Reply

  • Jessica: I’m so glad you’ve reviewed this! I’ve been enjoying my sample very much. I agree with your recommendation to people who love L’Eau d’Hiver or Paul & Joe Blanc. I might also add L’Artisan Parfumeur Poivre Piquant to that list.

    It’s quite a promising line! September 18, 2012 at 9:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, Poivre Piquant is a great recommendation too. It shares that addictive milky- spicy finish. September 19, 2012 at 6:16am Reply

  • Lauren B: What a great review– you’ve influenced my just-purchased set of samples! September 19, 2012 at 12:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Please let me know what you think, Lauren! I’m wearing Chambre Noire today and enjoying its warmth. September 19, 2012 at 7:18am Reply

      • Lauren B: Will do! September 19, 2012 at 12:24pm Reply

  • Daisy: Adrià’s book is good. A lot of recipes from it have been floating around for a while now. I think that my only criticisms would be that the proportions offered in the book are sometimes bizarre (recipes can be doubled, quadrupled, or made for 60 people), but given that they are based on the family meals that used to be served to the staff at El Bulli, that is not too surprising.

    Of the recipes that I have tried, I have doctored them up a bit. Family or staff meals are, by definition, very frugal affairs and I think the goal is to feed everyone for less than a 1-3 euros/person a day. I’m not necessarily watching out for the bottom line like that (and I’m also not cooking for 60), so I allow myself little luxuries like avocado or more butter!

    Bittman did an article when the book just came out if you’re interested in reading more:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/03/magazine/bittman-home-cooking-with-ferran-adria.html?pagewanted=all September 19, 2012 at 11:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, I remember reading that article! Thank you, Daisy. I might have to check out the book after all.

      I haven’t purchased any new cookbooks lately (except for borrowing Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem from a friend), but I found a fantastic Russian cookbook at the used book store. It was printed at the turn of the 20th century, and it contains recipes as well as someone’s handwritten notes! And it was about 20 euros. :) September 19, 2012 at 5:10pm Reply

      • Daisy: Ooooh! I have been curious about the Ottolenghi book ever since I saw the feature on it in the Guardian. Is it worth it? Should I check it out?

        That Russian cookbook sounds like an amazing score! I have a used copy of Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking with someone’s amazing scribbles in it. I love finding things like that! September 20, 2012 at 11:34am Reply

  • Austenfan: As I mentioned before when GraindeMusc reviewed this, the image to me is strongly linked to the last part of Kaos- one of the Taviani films. It is a film of different tales and the last one is called “Colloquio con la Madre”. In it they visit a pumice island, as white as the image on this photo.
    I have to order their sample set as the fragrances seem really interesting. September 30, 2012 at 8:11am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t seen the movie, but I find a short clip online of the scene you mentioned. Now, this is a movie I would like very much. October 1, 2012 at 5:23am Reply

  • solmarea: Tonka & almond milk, so luscious. December 13, 2012 at 11:25am Reply

  • JCParodi: I was on my way to Le Labo to refill my gaiac10 bottle, no, I don’t live in Tokyo, refills are avail at any Le Labo once you have the original bottle, and decided to stop in at Aedes to smell this line, I have to say, the similarity between Autoportrait and Vetiver 46 is stunning, how could this be legal? they ripped off Le Labo!!!!! the only difference is 3 hours into the the scent, Auotoportrait has a better final dry down, it softer, more harmonious. I hate Vetiver 46 BTW, but my best friend got my almost full bottle, and wears it all the time. I put on Luminiere Blanche on, it had a nice woody, musky, clean and radiant feel, like oh, oh, Gaiac 10, the similarity is pretty amazing, but , this scent has and added accord, the creamy custard note, sandalwood?, I never made it to LL to plunk down 400 on a refill, I got this for half the price, I’ll wear it to work with a suit tomorrow, see then how it really compares to Gaiac 10. I have a feeling this might become my new work staple. April 29, 2013 at 4:37pm Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: I ADORE this perfume! Words can’t fully describe how I feel when I wear it. After wearing the discovery sample on and off for a few weeks, I finally got a full bottle. The spicy beginning never fails to exhilarate me and the drydown is so comforting. The sillage is just right and the perfume lasts almost all day on me. Unlike other perfumes which make me feel ‘dressed up,’ this perfume makes me feel more ‘me’. This will keep me warm and cheerful during this winter. Thank you so much for the recommendation, Victora. :-) If you didn’t mention it, I would have discovered this gem much later. November 18, 2013 at 5:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Yay! You’ve described the exact reason why I love it so much. It feels cozy and comforting. Such a beautiful perfume, and after sharing decants with friends and family, I might have to buy a new bottle for myself. I like the whole Olfactive Studio collection, but Lumiere Blanche stands out. November 18, 2013 at 7:53am Reply

  • MontrealGirl: Of the collection I liked Lumiere Blanche and Chambre Noire the most. With respect to Lumiere Blanche I found the sandalwood a bit too strong in the beginning but loved the dry down. As for Chambre Noire, the notes I smell the most is myrrh and frankincense, exactly like in a Catholic Church. Is it just me? I haven’t seen any other reviews so far mentioning it. January 17, 2014 at 6:58pm Reply

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