I will start with another “I love my readers” interlude. In a comment on my Sidonie Lancesseur 201 column I was asked about my opinion of her perfumes for Gustave Eiffel perfumes. My answer was I don’t have one let me see if I can find samples. After putting some requests out I received a sample set and here we are.
Gustave Eiffel as a brand was established in 2016 which is when they released five perfumes. Four composed by Mme Lancesseur and the other by Dorothee Piot. I also received a sixth release from 2018 by perfumer Herve Bruno. You can tell by the name these are perfumes inspired by the French civil engineer known for his eponymous tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York. When you think back on that time period of building things the idea of this kind of big construction was the equivalent of trying to fly to the moon. These were grandiose imaginings of minds who couldn’t understand the concept of limits. Early perfumery was a lot like that too. The memorable perfumes all go for their own kind of big construction.
As I was going through my sample set it is that thought which shone through, these form a collection of large soaring fragrances. While there are Gustave Eiffel perfumes which celebrate his most famous engineering feats it was one which was his last which captured my attention the most; Bois de Panama.
At the end of the 19th century another of these grand projects was underway; The Panama Canal. After coming to the realization they weren’t going to be able to just dig a giant trench connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean they had to re-think things. Which is where Gustave Eiffel enters the picture. He would conceive of the giant locks which would become part of the eventual construction. This is what Mme Lancesseur captures in Bois de Panama.
Bois de Panama opens with a beautifully engineered top accord of violet, cardamom, and peach. You might look at that and think fruity floral but Mme Lancesseur has something else in mind. The violet is focused on its silvery sharp aspects while the cardamom is a green version with a sharp sticky character. The peach is there not to provide a fruity contrast but as a softener. To keep the sharper aspects from becoming rough edges. This is an accord that is more than the sum of its parts. Mme Lancesseur then increases the spiciness with nutmeg and cinnamon. It takes things in a more humid direction; fitting for perfume inspired by the tropics. The base comes together with sandalwood, amber, and some skin musks. This is where I catch a little bit of a clean sweat underneath it all. The labor of constructing big things. There is a tiny amount of vanilla to act as the peach did in the top accord to keep things in line.
Bois de Panama has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
As I mentioned above the intelligently engineered aspects of Bois de Panama are reflected throughout the Gustave Eiffel collection where big construction leads to impressive perfumes.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples supplied by Gustave Eiffel.