One of the pleasures of living in an agricultural preserve is coming in just a couple of weeks; berry picking season. I’ll be spending a few mornings over the next couple of months picking fresh berries right off the vine, bush, or tree. The smell of the fresh fruit mixed with the smell of equally fresh sweat is not easily replicated in perfume. Although one of the great early niche releases is known for just this.
L’Artisan Parfumeur was created forty years ago by Jean-Francois Laporte. One of the perfumes which displayed what niche perfume could be about was a fabulous combination of blackberries and musk named appropriately Mure et Musc. Whenever I need a reminder that fruity fragrances don’t need to be insipid I can reach for my bottle. This perfume is probably one of the main reasons I hold fruity florals to a high standard, I know what it can be. It also is why I hold the subsequent L’Artisan releases to an even higher standard. Champ de Baies meets those standards by finding a contemporary interpretation of berries and musk. It is one of two simultaneously released colognes interpreting sunrise in a garden (Champ de Fleurs) or berry field (Champ de Baies). Perfumer Evelyne Boulanger is responsible for bringing the berries at dawn to life.
Mme Boulanger makes this contemporary by making a lighter version of a berries and musk adhering to the current popular aesthetic. When I read that I was worried this could become too transparent. Mme Boulanger finds a nice balance because when you are in a field at dawn the scent of the natural scene is a bit stronger because the cooling of the night hasn’t fully let go. Which makes Champ de Baies pitched at just the right volume.
It opens with a compelling rhubarb and pear top accord. Mme Boulanger allows some of the sulfurous aspects of rhubarb to contrast with the crisp pear. This flows into a duet of blackberries and raspberries. The latter have been one of my least favorite berry notes in perfume. One of the reasons is the raspberry usually runs riot within compositions. Here it is excellently balanced with the blackberry in an odd way freshening it up. Then Mme Boulanger provides a cool morning breeze of white musks carrying along some patchouli to represent the earth the berries are growing in.
Champ de Baies has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
L’Artisan has been one of the standard bearers for niche perfumery. Champ de Baies shows it can still be found in the vanguard; perhaps berry picking at dawn.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from L’Artisan Parfumeur.