L’Artisan Safran Troublant, Piment Brulant, Poivre Piquant : Perfume Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Saffron, black pepper and chili pepper are the spices that inspired three fragrances by L’Artisan Parfumeur for its Les Epices de la Passion set, which debuted in 2002. Created by Olivia Giacobetti and Bertrand Duchaufour, the fragrances posses a subtle touch, playing up the facets of spices against creamy notes. The compositions are not what I would call passionate and voluptuous, as they are rendered rather sheer and charming. The spices whisper and shimmer, rather than bite. Their rough edges are smoothed by the sweet and floral notes, with the peppery burn of Poivre Piquant loosing itself in creamy sandalwood, and a medicinal element of saffron in Safran Troublant in rose.

Safran Troublant created by Olivia Giacobetti has an abstract edible quality of a vivid saffron note folded into a rose soufflé. …

Sweetness of vanilla emphasizes creamy aspects of the composition, allowing a rose and sandalwood pairing to unfold against its warm backdrop. It is a scent vacillating between warm skin and sweet spice mix. Like Marc Chagall’s embracing figures, saffron and rose blur distinct delineations, extending each other’s qualities instead. The medicinal sharpness of saffron grounds the heady opulence of rose, while the floral richness brings out the honeyed elements of spice. Like most of Giacobetti’s creations, Safran Troublant possesses a luminous quality that is both alluring and elegant.

While Safran Troublant is marked by a comforting gourmand element, Poivre Piquant created by Bertrand Duchaufour is a composition of translucent smokiness. It layers crushed peppercorns with creamy notes, creating an interplay of smooth and dry qualities. The warmth of pepper saturates the accords slowly, until an arrangement attains a sweet, incense redolent character. A coriander dusted rose underscored by a honeyed undercurrent becomes a beautiful ornamentation that persists into the drydown, until one can almost imagine the composition as Passage d’Enfer, with rose instead of lily. The creamy, sweet softness does not allow Poivre Piquant to become neither particularly daring, nor especially piquant. Yet, brilliant honeyed notes render the composition interesting, especially given its sheer smoky foil.

While Bertrand Duchaufour’s other creation, Piment Brûlant, does not burn, it conjures red chili peppers drying in the sun. Floral quality of peppers is rendered as fruity and warm, touched by the woody sweetness of clove. Yet, like a flash burn from a chili pepper, the fragrance unfolds quickly, only to begin fading, all the while sustaining a vision of shiny red peppers. Before one realizes, there is only a whisper of a sweet, vaguely chocolatey note remaining on the skin, a bare shadow of hot chili peppers one noticed earlier.

These three fragrances are currently available as part of the trio, however I hear that the fragrances will soon be available as part of the regular line. L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrances are available at Aedes, Barneys New York, Beautycafe, Bergdorf Goodman, Bluemercury, Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue, and Theperfumeshoppe. European shoppers can find the line at First-in-Fragrance.

Painting: Marc Chagall, The Lovers (Vision). 1911-1914. Oil on canvas, 109×134.5 cm. Private collection, Lucerne, Switzerland.



  • annieytown: “vivid saffron note folded into a rose soufflé”

    That is just perfect! This is my favorite artisan fragrance. I am one of many muaers who dream of the day when the company finally decides to release this fragrance in one of their larger bottles.

    I think I am going to make it a habit of getting up earlier to check my emails and favorite blogs. You are helping me chose my fragrance everyday!
    Have a great tuesday!
    Annie October 25, 2005 at 5:23am Reply

  • Sisonne: Dear V, oh, this review makes me very curious on the scents (which I think aren´t available over here)! Especially Safran Troublant sounds wodnerful, but also Poivre Piquant.
    To tell you the truth, I thought they were a limited edition.
    Do you think they could be layered as well? October 25, 2005 at 7:08am Reply

  • Judith (lilybp): Mmmmm. . . You make Safran Troublant sound absolutely delicious! The Poivre sounds a bit disappointing though. I do like Passage d’Enfer a lot–but I like Caron Poivre even better: from your description, though, it seems as if it’s not spicy like that. Still, the set sounds enticing. . . . Have a wonderful day! October 25, 2005 at 7:33am Reply

  • Lost: Lovely review as always. I find the rose in the Safran Troublant extremely light which is why I often layer this one with a bit of rose. It makes ST more wearable for me. It is my favorite of the three followed by Poivre Piquant which was incredibly warm on my skin and then the Piment Brulant. I find I am enchanted by the set – the packaging and the concept. Thank you for reminding me to wear Safran more often. xoxo October 25, 2005 at 9:19am Reply

  • Robin: Must echo Tania & Neela: liked Safran, but did not adore it. It needed a little more bite to it…as it is, I would wear it if I owned it, but probably wouldn’t buy. October 25, 2005 at 11:44am Reply

  • Laura: These are so interesting, these three scents. I’m glad I have the set although, frankly, I don’t wear them all that much. I love the concept behind them and I admire how well made they are. Safran Troublant is unusual for Olivia Giacobetti, I find, because it is more opaque than her usual work–as if she were working in gouache instead of watercolor. I’ll have to try again to detect the rose you mention. Piment Brulant is absolutely brilliant, but I find I do not often want to smell like red peppers and chocolate–maybe once the weather is cool, I’ll discover some hitherto unknown Latin facet of my psyche that Piment Brulant could help incarnate ;D. Poivre Piquant will always remind me of New York in October, because that is when I got my first little bottle of it. Thank you for an interesting review. October 25, 2005 at 8:17am Reply

  • Laura: Oh, forgot to add, that I hope you do a review of the set of five moody l’Artisan scents that we smelled together! I adore the murderous one and the dreamy one, too, because it is l’Extrait de Songe under a different name. Do you have access to all of these, V, so you could write about them? October 25, 2005 at 8:19am Reply

  • Sisonne: V, well, I think, they are available in the boutiques, but we don´t have a single one here in Germany 🙁 I´ve seen them on the L´Artisan homepage & always wodnered what they smell like – now I can imagine it at least a bit. October 25, 2005 at 1:27pm Reply

  • Tania: I loved the idea for this set, but none of the three grabbed me. The one that appealed to me most was Safran Troublant, but it was too mild and milky for my taste. I enjoyed the composition, though, found it calming, and wish it came in a room spray. I didn’t really give the other two a chance, I think because with names like Piment Brûlant and Poivre Piquant, I was expecting big drama, and instead, as you say, they whispered. You’re right about their not being passionate—they’re too well behaved to be passionate. I sound as if I don’t like them, but I think they’re quite nice. Just not what they could or should have been.

    I agree with Laura—we need a review of the Humeurs. (Phlegm, bile, blood…no, no, no, the other humors…) October 25, 2005 at 10:09am Reply

  • mreenymo: Cristaline wore Safran Troublant the other day. It smelled really good on her, but to be honest, it smelled like pears.

    I love pears!

    I will have to test these at the L’Artisan event at Barneys on the 4th.

    Hugs! October 25, 2005 at 2:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Annie, I am glad to be of help! 🙂

    I think that the fragrances will join the regular line very soon, which is something I am anticipating. Safran Troublant is my favourite of the set as well. October 25, 2005 at 10:30am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, are they not available even at the boutiques? The set was originally a limited edition, but it is staying around. The fragrances are quite popular, and I think that they are quite in the L’Artisan style. I definitely think that they can be layered. Poivre Piquant and Piment Brulant are quite nice together. As Lost suggests below, anything rose based is lovely with Safran. October 25, 2005 at 10:35am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, Poivre is not spicy. It is a nice fragrance, but a bit too sheer and creamy to be called Piquant. Safran is my favourite, and it treats a note I love quite nicely. My qualm is that they are just not assertive enough. October 25, 2005 at 10:37am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Laura, I think that you pointed out the main reason Safran was interesting to me. It is its opaque, creamy quality that is not very Giacobetti-esque for the most part. It lends it an interesting facet, and I suppose that for the medicinal element of saffron to work, it needs a creamy touch to soften it.

    Piment Brulant is very nice, in reproducing a sensation and a visual of red peppers. However, it vanishes too quickly to make a long-lasting impression. October 25, 2005 at 10:42am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I will have to review the set, although I do not have samples of all of them. There are some fragrances in the set that are particularly nice, therefore they deserve more mention. Thank you for reminding me. October 25, 2005 at 10:45am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: F, thank you! That is my order of preference as well. I also think that layering Safran with rose makes it very interesting, and I tried several combinations. All in all, the set is definitely nice, but I wish to have Safran in a larger bottle. October 25, 2005 at 10:47am Reply

  • Marina: What a lovely review V! I’ve only tried Safran Troublant and, as you say, it is sheer and charming. After reading your post I am definitely going to try the other two… October 25, 2005 at 10:48am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tania, I understand what you mean quite well. The fragrances are too delicate to be passionate, in a sense. I knew that they were not going to be burning and spicy, but something about them nevertheless appealed to me. I think that it is the comforting, calming quality you mention.

    Murderous mood… I recall you and Laura going crazy over that one. I should be more careful in my choice of friends. 🙂 October 25, 2005 at 10:51am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, thank you! This is a fragrance that needs to come in a large spray bottle. I already managed to finish a good portion of my 15ml bottle by hardly ever reaching for it. I hope that L’Artisan will reissue it as part of the regular line, as it has been promising. October 25, 2005 at 10:52am Reply

  • parislondres: I like Safran Troublant the best of the lot but not enough to buy any.
    Lovely review V! October 25, 2005 at 11:40am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Thank you, N! I wonder if L’Artisan comes up with more sets in the future. October 25, 2005 at 11:49am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, ah, I know that type of fragrance really well. 🙂 Ultimately, it may not even be something one would reach for that often. October 25, 2005 at 11:53am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, oh, that is too bad. I hope that you will get a chance to try them though. Perhaps, on the next trip to Paris? 🙂 October 25, 2005 at 2:46pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, that is interesting! I would be curious if it ends up like pears on you as well. Please let me know what you think. The event sounds like fun! October 25, 2005 at 2:49pm Reply

  • Laura: I think the passion hers is ‘passion recollected in tranquility,’ so the effect of these scents is dreamier than you’d expect. Hmm, Wordsworth as an influence on l’Artisan. Makes sense ;D. October 26, 2005 at 5:32am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, that is such a wonderful observation! I cannot agree more. The effect is certainly dream-like. October 26, 2005 at 11:54am Reply

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