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