One thing I want to accomplish with this series is to remind perfume lovers of brands they may have forgotten about or never even heard of. A prime example of this is Parfums DelRae. Overseen by DelRae Roth there are only nine perfumes in the entire line. The first five: Amoreuse, Bois de Paradis, Eau Illuminee, Debut, and Emotionelle were released between 2002 and 2008. All five were composed by Michel Roudnitska. I had entered my phase of discovery which included devouring all things Roudnitska when I found the brand. M. Roudnitska is a perfumer with presence. He translates his belief in the way perfume should be made into his creations. In Ms. Roth he found a kindred spirit equally devoted to doing things correctly. You need no other indicator that while niche was exploding they only released five perfumes.
M. Roudnitska was going to take a break from perfumery in 2009 and so Ms. Roth was forced to look for a new perfumer. To her great credit she found one who had an entirely different style in Yann Vasnier. From 2009-2014 they have released four perfumes: Mythique, Coup de Foudre, Panache, and Wit. Taken as a sub collection these are some of the best perfumes ever created by M. Vasnier. I would again point to the uncompromising creative direction of Ms. Roth as a critical component in the quality. Again this was a slow and steady process while those around them were rushing to market with multiple releases per year.
My favorite perfume in a line which has nine very good to outstanding fragrances in it; is the first one M. Vasnier did, Mythique.
Ms. Roth was inspired by the story of Diane de Poitiers who was the mistress to French King Henri II. Diane de Poitiers was known as an equestrienne, a great beauty and demanding intellect. She was famous for regularly dressing in only white and black. Ms. Roth took all of that and asked M. Vasnier to design an orris and leather centered fragrance which would encompass her inspiration. What M. Vasnier delivered in the end is what comes off as a veil of orris scented leather that is breathtaking in its seemingly fragile beauty.
Mythique opens upon a flare of mandarin tinted green with a light application of vegetal ivy. This leads to a leather accord of ambrette and patchouli matched to a rich orris butter which has no powdery character. This orris butter is the rootiness of the rhizome on display. It pairs exquisitely with the leather accord to create that transparent effect that captures me every time I wear this. Sandalwood is the final ingredient in the base.
Mythique has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage. This is one of those deceptive perfumes where you might stop noticing it but others can still smell it on you.
With Mythique Ms. Roth and M. Vasnier were defining the second act of Parfums DelRae as M. Roudnitska exited stage left. Mythique is one of the first perfumes which drew me into how beautiful fragility could be.
If Parfums DelRae have flown Under the Radar for you that should be remedied by sampling all nine. It is one of the true great collection top to bottom in independent perfumery. Mythique is a great place to begin that exploration.
Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle I purchased.
I admire a Creative Director who takes their time and won’t release a new fragrance until they consider it done. Since 2010 I would infrequently inquire of DelRae Roth of Parfums DelRae if there was something new coming soon. The answer I received was that she and perfumer Yann Vasnier were working very hard to make this next fragrance perfect. When I would press a little further she would let me know it was based around a flower which is a harbinger of spring and that’s it. It was with a lot of joy I received my sample of the new release, Wit, because this winter has left me wanting something to get me through these last few days of cold. Wit absolutely fits the bill as Ms. Roth and M. Vanier’s labor has paid off in an extraordinary green floral based on the flower Daphne.
Ms. Roth tells how she came to want to use Daphne as the core note of Wit in the press materials, “I have always loved to walk. Regardless of where I am, I love to be able to walk from place to place. I discovered the gorgeous, beguilingly fresh Daphne on one such stroll many years ago. It was late February and I was stunned and captivated by the small, intensely fragrant flowers. Daphne is one of the first flowers to bloom in early spring. Its delicious lemony, neroli scent is such a surprise and delight in the chill and gray of winter.”
I had never encountered Daphne before but I was able to get a sniff of it after trying Wit for the first time and Ms. Roth accurately describes it as a hybrid of neroli and lemon. There are some indoles around and there is a tingly tartness to the bloom. M. Vasnier turned to the Givaudan proprietary ScentTrek technology to acquire an extract of Daphne Cneorum and he also employed a ScentTrek Meyer Lemon note on top. What is special about these raw materials is they are extracted in the wild and when they are used properly they are the familiar rendered as something more vital.
The beginning of Wit is that ScentTrek Meyer Lemon acting as a ray of sunshine banishing the early morning chill. M. Vasnier allows the lemon to own the early going and supports it with mandarin and angelica. The lemon remains as the flowers start to respond to the light as a bit of laurel begins the floral ascendency. The Daphne arrives next and because it is a ScentTrek version it feels very much like a simulacrum of the real bloom. There is the bit of waxy lemony quality which is complemented by the remains of the Meyer Lemon. The indolic nature is slightly amplified by using narcissus and jasmine. Mimosa and ylang ylang accentuate the neroli quality. All of these notes serve as the figurative black velvet for the ScentTrek Daphne jewel to shimmer and sparkle against. What I like about Wit, as a spring floral, is this almost photorealistic heart as it never gets too flowery or fresh as the lemon and the indoles keep this from being that common over the top floral perfume. The base notes add a bit of midday warmth with amber, vanilla, and musk providing the glow at the end.
Wit has all day longevity and average sillage.
If you need an example of what uncompromising principles and hard work can produce Wit is a fine Exhibit A. I can definitely tell there were a lot of mods that were close but just missing something. I am very thankful that Ms. Roth and M. Vasnier stuck to their guns and after four years produced a beautiful new floral fragrance which will easily take its place among the best of Parfums DelRae’s collection.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Parfums DelRae.