When an iconic designer attempts the jump to fragrance I think it looks easier than it is. When you see the name of a designer you admire on a bottle of perfume you should expect some of the creativity of that designer to find its way into the bottle. What becomes consistently frustrating is even when these designers work with some of the best perfumers they end up playing it safe. This year has seen several these projects come to fruition only to leave me wondering where the creativity went. The latest come from Christian Louboutin.
M. Louboutin is one of the premiere shoe designers in the world. He is one of a few who transformed the women’s shoe industry into an ultra-luxury enterprise. The brilliant piece of branding he achieved was all of his shoes have a signature red lacquered sole. When you see that you know she’s wearing a “Loubie”. The shoes are exquisite objects of beautiful design.
Now 25-years after opening his store in Paris he is expanding into fragrance. He employed two excellent perfumers to compose his debut collection of three perfumes. Olivier Cresp did one, Tornade Blonde. Pierre Negrin was responsible for the remaining two; Bikini Questa Sera and Trouble in Heaven. Two of the three play it extremely safe. Bikini Questa Sera is a big jasmine and tuberose over sandalwood and vetiver. Tornade Blonde is a slightly different floral riff as a bit of fruit leads in to gardenia, rose, and jasmine before going to a typical cedar and patchouli base. These are nice scents but they lack any flair or innovation. I have to admit as I tried the last one I was expecting more of the same utilitarian perfumery. Thankfully M. Negrin and M. Louboutin were willing to go for something different in Trouble in Heaven.
If there is an overriding design aesthetic to M. Louboutin it is his delight in taking the stiletto and embellishing it with unusual things. Trouble in Heaven takes a floriental construct and pierces it with an ozonic aquatic synthetic as embellishment.
That ozonic note, Cascalone is where Trouble in Heaven begins. Cascalone is a relative to Calone; very close in chemical structure. The difference is Cascalone removes the slightly low tide character of Calone. What remains is a chilly mist of sea spray expansive and briny. When I smelled the opening I expected the typical aquatic progression. Instead an earthy orris replaces the sea shore with the dual nature of powdery and rhizome. This orris is quite powdery and it flows nicely out of the Cascalone. Rose comes along to transform the heart into a fully floral accord. The base is a typical amber, patchouli, and tonka Oriental accord.
Trouble in Heaven has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This was a collection I was hoping would fire on all creative cylinders. At least in the case of Trouble in Heaven M. Louboutin and M. Negrin found the beginning of a spark which I am hopeful will translate to even better future releases.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Christian Louboutin Beaute.