When it comes to the creation of the niche sector of perfume there are no greater innovators than Jean Laporte. In 1976 he created L’Artisan Parfumeur and beginning with the debut releases M. Laporte would be one of the catalysts that has led to the current state of the sector. If there has been one thing which has worried me was I felt the brand was losing that sense of innovation M. Laporte brought to the enterprise. It had been since 2013’s Caligna where I really felt like there was some of that old magic in a L’Artisan bottle. When I received the press release for the new sub-collection Natura Fabularis there was some of the same sentiment I expressed as the brand also wanted to capture the sense of exploration so integral to L’Artisan.
To do this they asked perfumer Daphne Bugey to come up with “whimsical” fantasies. To also free Mme Bugey even further there was no creative director overseeing the process. She was free to follow her muse. What this has resulted in is a collection of six perfumes which for the most part takes unusual paths with traditional ingredients. Each perfume has a number associated with the name which I am told is the number of mods Mme Bugey made before settling on the final formula. I can understand why 60 Mirabilis was the most labor intensive as Mme Bugey matches an austere incense with two powerhouse synthetics, Ambrox and Vulcanolide. I had a hard time with it because the Ambtox has such an overbearing presence. I think if you like ambrox this might be something you will fall for. 9 Arcana Rosa is the safest of these six; spicy rose cocooned with oud and cade to make it all smoky. 32 Venenum is a faithfully realized take on chai tea, bread, and sandalwood to form an Indian milieu I enjoyed. 26 Tenebrae mixes a pine sap accord with incense as the two resins intertwine with each other to form a greater whole. One for resin lovers to be sure. The two I am going to cover were the two which felt the most like they could have come from M. Laporte; as if Mme Bugey was channeling him while composing them.
2 Violaceum is hard to believe it only took two tries to get this balance so right. Mme Bugey uses an earthy violet which I believe uses a bit of orris to enhance the rooty quality while also powdering it slightly. To that violet accord Mme Bugey uses the sweet warmth of carrot and the exoticness of saffron to transform the violet into something a little more vital. To finish the effect a leather accord wraps all of this up together. I am always going to like a violet and leather perfume but it is those additions of carrot and saffron which are the truly inspired choices to elevate this to new heights.
18 Glacialis Terra is I believe going to be the most polarizing fragrance in this collection as Mme Bugey makes a perfume so chilly it will give your nose frostbite. There is that moment where you breathe in on a snowy subzero day. Your lungs fill with a tingling breath of air which causes some pins and needles in your lungs. The first few minutes of Glacialis Terra is like this. Mme Bugey uses what she calls an “iced accord”. What I detect are some of the high octave aldehydes matched with a suite of ozonic notes finished off with a pinch of eucalyptus. It took my breath away when I tested it on a strip and it was even more distinct on the days I wore it. From here Mme Bugey could have just looked to warm things up but instead she wanted to keep this on the sharper side embracing the cold. Towards that she uses absinthe and vetiver to provide that continued frosty nature throughout the development of Glacialis Terra.
All the six perfumes in the Natura Fabularis collection have 10 hours-plus longevity and moderate sillage.
I must applaud whoever gave Mme Bugey the greenlight to indulge her creativity. As a collection this is better than most all of the ones I tried this year. In the case of 2 Violaceum and 18 Glacialis Terra they show the spirit of M. Laporte is still alive and well at L’Artisan.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples I received from L’Artisan.