New Perfume Review L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage D’Enfer Extreme- Exposing New Beauty

There are moments through my early perfume exploration when I smelled something, and it connected intensely. I was excited as I entered the L’Artisan Parfumeur boutique within Henri Bendel in NYC. In those early days L’Artisan was one of the brands which had drawn my attention. I was looking forward to trying what I had not previously been able to. One reason that I had become so attracted to the brand was perfumer Olivia Giacobetti was doing a lot of work for them. She remains one of my favorite perfumers.

On that day at Henri Bendel I was looking to fill in some blanks. Top of my list was one named Passage D’Enfer. In those early days I was very into incense scents. I had been told this was Mme Giacobetti’s take on incense. When I tried it on the strip I was taken aback because what I smelled first was the coolness of lily. But as if there were incense sticks burning below skirls of smoke began to impose their presence. Passage D’Enfer remains one of those outliers of an incense perfume in that it has a delicacy to it. Which was why a perfume called L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage D’Enfer Extreme had me concerned that would be lost.

Olivia Giacobetti

That Mme Gicobetti was behind the wheel allayed much of that concern. In a weird way it made me more interested. I wondered what she would choose to emphasize. When I received my sample it turns out that it is a more layered incense effect where the lily appears from through the smoke. It also provides a sturdier base which is where the “extreme” really appears.

In this new version the incense comes first. This is that slivery metallic version which seems austere. To roughen it she adds just a pinch of black pepper. This picks up that undertone in incense and brings it forward. It is done so she can then create a second slightly smoky incense layer. Embedded within is the lily for this version. The pepper makes an ideal contrast to the freshness of the lily as the incense flows around it. At this point I would have said “extreme” is not the adjective running through my head. The original base was an unobtrusive cedar. For this Extreme she chooses a much deeper base accord of sandalwood and vanilla. It causes this to take on a sacred shrine vibe as it all comes together over sweet woods.

Passage D’Enfer Extreme has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

The original Passage D’Enfer is one of my favorite summer incense choices. Passage D”Enfer Extreme is going to be what I reach for in the other months. Mme Giacobetti is the daughter of photographer Francis Giacobetti. He achieved much of his fame through his use of lighting. I’ve always thought she has the same ability to use ingredients in the same way to expose new facets of ingredients. As I enjoyed Passage D’Enfer Extreme I thought this was her taking the original and changing the lighting and shading. It also exposes a new beauty.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Mark Behnke

My Perfume of Spring: Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle En Passant

As we approach May 1 it is one of those days where perfume has a moment. It is centered around the perfumes which focus on muguet or lily-of-the-valley. On May Day it is tradition to wear a sprig, or two, in celebration of spring. From Dior Diorissimo to Annick Goutal Le Muguet or Guerlain’s yearly release of Muguet on May 1 the perfume version is an option. I think all those perfumes are fantastic, but I never equated lily-of-the-valley with spring. My spring flower is bit different as is the perfume which represents it.

For most of my life I have had lilac bushes growing near the places I have lived. As the winter has receded enough for me to open my windows. It was the scent of lilacs which let me know the season had profoundly changed. I look forward to this every year. One thing which also seems to happen annually is one of those proverbial April showers comes through. After the rain has passed there is one of my favorite natural mixtures of scent; green leaves, wet soil and lilac. Perfumer Olivia Giacobetti has bottled this in one of the greatest perfumes of the last twenty years; Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle En Passant.

Olivia Giacobetti

En Passant was part of Frederic Malle’s groundbreaking inaugural collection in 2000. For the first time the heretofore anonymous perfumer’s names were right there on the label. All the perfumes would make their perfumers something to be celebrated.

In the years before the release of En Passant Mme Giacobetti had been refining a transparent aesthetic. En Passant was where it reached perfection. She became expert in forming opaque accords without sacrificing impact. In En Passant she had to walk the fractious line lilac presents a perfumer. If you construct your accord with too much you run the risk of reminding the wearer of aerosol air freshener. Too musky and it loses any hint of spring freshness. The accord she constructs finds the perfect balance through translucent lilac. It is then given the wet soil accord through the ingenious combination of cucumber and wheat. The green comes though the acerbic quality of orange leaves.

En Passant has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I consider En Passant to be the best perfume of this century. It is a fragrance which manages to succeed at being photorealistic and impressionistic simultaneously. Mme Giacobetti was years ahead of her time when it came to this style of perfumery. There are many who think a perfume needs to shout to be great. En Passant asks whether it can whisper of spring showers in a garden of lilacs instead. Give me the quiet beauty of it all.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review NARS Audacious- Stand Apart

It is always interesting when the famously creative cosmetic brands decide to branch out into fragrance. Francois Nars has waited 25 years to add a perfume to the NARS beauty collection. I was interested from the moment I heard this was happening early this year. What really sharpened my anticipation was the announcement that M. Nars would be working with perfumer Olivia Giacobetti. They have produced a provocative perfume which lives up to its NARS pedigree; NARS Audacious.

Francois Nars

They say if you keep doing something long enough the trends come around to where you are. This could easily be true for Mme Giacobetti. Back in the mind 1990’s when M. Nars was revolutionizing the lipstick palette; Mme Giacobetti was composing transparent perfumes. Both met initial resistance from their respective worlds only to succeed despite that. The NARS success story is on display at any luxury department store you visit. Mme Giacobetti’s is less apparent as she has mostly made perfume for her single Paris storefront, IUNX. Audacious is the first perfume she has made outside of that in five years. It seems like the right time for the way Mme Giacobetti makes fragrance because transparency is one of the predominant trends.

Olivia Giacobetti

M. Nars and Mme Giacobetti wanted to use contrasting notes of light and dark throughout Audacious. That the theme is coherently expressed while working in an opaque style is testament to the skill of Mme Giacobetti.

That skill shows up right away as the tropical floral frangipani and incense are combined. This is an exuberantly sweet floral shaded by smoky incense swirling among the petals. I can see a single flower of frangipani against a black background as an incense stick sends swirls of smoke to surround the bloom. This is all as if it was etched on a fine silk veil as you lean into it expecting it to get louder and it enchants with a whisper instead. In the heart the sparkle of tiare is fortified with a touch of ylang-ylang. While an austere sandalwood provides the shading. This is a more traditional light-dark dichotomy. It gives way to a brilliant base accord. Mme Giacobetti returns to the smoke as she uses cedar smoke. Through that she expands the lightness with a set of white musks that form a pillow soft musky pillow for that smoke. So often smoke is used to blunt effect. The base of Audacious uses it as a foil to the lightness of the white musks.

Audacious has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Audacious is setting NARS on another challenge to the current fragrance common wisdom. M. Nars believes that a consumer who goes to NARS for cosmetics to stand apart will also want a fragrance which provides the same. Audacious is that perfume.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by NARS.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Talc de IUNX- The Giacobetti Continuum

The best perfumers use their past to define the present. No one has been more adept at this than perfumer Olivia Giacobetti. Throughout her career you can draw lines from previous perfumes straight through to the newest release. There is a name for this. When objects are placed side-by-side and there are small differences to each subsequent item yet when you reach the terminus it is quite distinctly different than the beginning. This is called a continuum. Mme Giacobetti has seemingly designed her perfumes to be the next data point on her personal version of this. Talc de IUNX extends it.

Mme Giacobetti is one of the most important perfumers of the last fifty years. Unlike her contemporaries she has delighted in doing things her own way. Currently that means the only place she makes perfume is for her own brand, IUNX. Which is sold in only one place; the IUNX boutique in Paris. This is typical of Mme Giacobetti who would rather blaze the trail than tread after others. Her body of work speaks for itself as her signature transparent style has now become commonplace. She has been around long enough to see what was once perceived as a flaw become the trend.

Olivia Giacobetti

When I say Talc de IUNX is part of an evolution in Mme Giacobetti’s perfumes in this case I am referring to the iris-centric perfumes. I would say this line begins with 1996’s L’Artisan Parfumeur Drole de Rose to 1999’s Hermes Hiris to three of the perfumes she did for the all-natural brand Honore des Pres; Bonte’s Bloom, Sexy Angelic, and We Love NY: I Love Les Carottes in 2010.

Iris is an ingredient of duality as it embodies powder and root. The latter, which is the source of the perfume material, can be used to provide a shimmering effect which the powdery nature dusts. In Talc de IUNX the name should give you a hint which part of the duality Mme Giacobetti is most interested in.

Mme Giacobetti begins with the iris out front. It is listed as “white orris powder” on the website. What I perceive is an iris which is slightly powderier while still retaining that silvery effect of the root. To ensure that the powder remains ascendant over the root Mme Giacobetti uses rice absolute. This warms the overall iris effect while also enhancing the powderiness. Rice powder and iris powder are kissing cousins on the cosmetic table; in Talc de IUNX they mesh in a more intimate union. Layered underneath this is white cedarwood essential oil. This does not ground the perfume but adds a gentle lift to the iris. What does tenuously ground things is ambrette seeds. Ambrette seeds are a source of natural musk. They provide a gentle scent of skin. With all the powder, along with the name, it is difficult not to think “infant’s skin”. That is not entirely off-base but the ambrette is more like a gentle caress of human touch. It makes Talc de IUNX feel like a kiss of benediction.

Talc de IUNX has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

I haven’t gone more than a few hours since I received my sample without thinking about Talc de IUNX. When I add this to The Giacobetti Continnuum of iris perfumes it feels like a culmination of all she has done in the past.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Dead Letter Office: Penhaligon’s Elixir- Casualty of the Reset Button

The longer a brand is around the usual trajectory is a solidifying of a brand aesthetic. If there are some swings, they usually come early in their existence. In the case of perfume brand Penhaligon’s I could make the case they have never been able to figure out what they’re all about. For a brand over a hundred years old you might think they’ve figured it out. You would be wrong. Penhaligon’s has gone through so many distinctly different eras and styles it is hard to keep track. One benefit of all that uncertainty is there was bound to be a time of creative apotheosis. That happened in the years between 2006-2013. Perfumers like Mathilde Bijaoui, Bertrand Duchaufour, Olivier Cresp and Alberto Morillas had a freer hand under creative director Nathalie Vinciguerra. Too many of these have found their way to the Dead Letter Office including the one I think is the best of them all; Penhaligon’s Elixir.

Nathalie Vinciguerra

Mme Vinciguerra kept up her trend of working with the best perfumers as she asked Olivia Giacobetti to compose Elixir. She would come forward with one of her trademark transparent structures which has become one of my Holiday Season staples.

Olivia Giacobetti

By 2008 when Elixir was released the trend towards more transparent constructs was only being practiced by a few perfumers. Mme Giacobetti was one of the earliest and most creative working on these kinds of fragrances. She is one of the reasons I have some issues with many of the modern transparent creations now that the pendulum has swung so firmly in this direction. She showed me that transparency can have tremendous beauty in fragility. Elixir is a good example of how spices, florals, and woods can form an opaque Oriental.

Elixir opens with an accord of three spices; cinnamon, cardamom, and clove. I jokingly think of them as the “3C’s”. Mme Gicaobetti finds an ideal balance of all three so that they form this shimmering spicy accord. In an ingenious flourish she takes eucalyptus to provide mentholated lift to those spices. This is one of my favorite top accords by Mme Gicaobetti, ever. When I wear Elixir, I sometimes refresh it a few hours after the first sprays because I like it so much. What comes after is also quite good, but the beginning is brilliant. It moves through a floral phase led by a lightly indolic orange blossom paired with a subtle incense. This is another diaphanous accord which doesn’t sacrifice the soul of its ingredients. It finishes on a fabulous guaiac wood and sandalwood clean woody foundation.

Elixir has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Elixir has made it to the Dead Letter Office because of the schizophrenic nature of the Penhaligon’s brand. They hit the reset button early and often sending too many good perfumes off to oblivion. The nice thing is bottles of Elixir can still be found reasonably at many of the fragrance resellers.

Elixir has been one of my favorite perfumes by Mme Giacobetti I marvel at how well it stands up to cold weather as I wear it during the Holidays. It shows a sturdiness belied by its presence. The only thing which it couldn’t survive was the reset button.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Olfactory Chemistry: Stemone- Find Your Fig Leaf

When I began really expanding my perfumed horizons one of my earliest discoveries were the fig-based fragrances done by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti.  Over the course of three fragrances: L’Artisan Premier Figuier, Diptyque Philosykos, and L’Artisan Premier Figuier Extreme. Though all three of these fragrances there was one aromachemical at the center of Mme Giacobetti’s compositions, Stemone.


Stemone is an interesting class of chemical called an oxime. Oximes are defined by a double bonded nitrogen(N) which is also bonded to an alcohol(OH), highlighted in red. It is a derivative of the more common fragrance ingredients known as ketones. In the figure above you see Stemone next to the ketone from which it is synthesized, 5-methyl-3-heptanone. As I like to demonstrate in this series even a simple change like you see above has a dramatic effect on the scent profile. 5-methyl-3-heptanone has a sweet herbal scent at a concentration of 10%; at 100% it becomes citrusier. It is not a common fragrance ingredient and it found its uses more as a flavoring to bring that citrus aspect to food products.

When it is converted to Stemone it stops being herbal and goes very green. It is a lighter stand-in for galbanum. It can also be used at higher concentrations to form a fresh-cut grass presence. Its most common usage is as a leafy component so much so that it is called “leafy oxime” by many perfumers.

When it comes to making a fig accord Stemone stands front and center usually representing the fig leaves. It is then left to the perfumer to form the fruit part of the accord from a selection of different lactones depending on the ripeness level of the fig the perfumer is attempting to achieve.


Olivia Giacobetti

The three perfumes by Mme Giacobetti are fabulous examples of how to tune this accord in different ways. In Premier Figuier the Stemone level is much higher and the lactone Mme Giacobetti employs is also creamier representing a ripe fig still on the tree. When she would move forward to Premier Figuier Extreme she adds to the lactones while pulling back on the Stemone; ripening her fig. For Philosykos she takes the Stemone down to a much more transparent level. This is the beginning of what will become Mme Giacobetti’s evolution to her signature style. It still smells like the fig leaf but an abstracted version. She again changes the lactones to less creamy versions elucidating a greener fig accord while keeping the volume at the same level as the Stemone.

Stemone has continued to be a key building block when a perfumer wants a green effect especially when looking for alternatives to the stronger green ingredients like galbanum. Fig leaves might have been the first clothing for Adam and Eve but in perfumery Stemone makes sure fig leaves have much more of a presence.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Preparation Parfumee Andree Putman L’Original- The Forgotten Giacobetti

When I look back over a perfumer’s career I look for those years when their creativity comes into full bloom. If pressed to pick the time period where perfumer Olivia Giacobetti reached that level, I would say that 1999-2001 was the moment when she was finding her first peak as a perfumer. Over ten fragrances in that time period she made some of her most memorable perfumes including Editions de Parums Frederic Malle En Passant, L’Artisan Passage D’Enfer, and Hermes Hiris. The one which got lost in this period of creativity was a collaboration with famed French interior designer Andree Putman.


Andree Putman (Photo: Nour El Gammal)

Mme Putman came to her vocation at the age of 46 when she founded Createurs & Industriels where she was free to indulge her desire to “design beautiful things”. She also provided an incubator space for designers among whom were Issey Miyake, Claude Montana, and Thierry Mugler. The idealism of Createurs &  Industriels would go bankrupt and she would turn to the world of interior design. When she was commissioned to do the interior of the Morgans Hotel in New York City it would spark a career which would see her design museums, boutiques, government office buildings, and other hotels. One of her last commissions was to revamp the interior of the Guerlain flagship store on the Champs-Elysees in 2005. In 1997 she opened the Andree Putman Studio and branched out into all areas of design including fragrance in 2001.


Olivia Giacobetti

During this time period Mme Putman was doing a lot of one-of-a-kind design like asymmetric flatware for Christofle or a champagne bucket for Veuve Clicquot. When it came to fragrance she turned to Frederic Malle to help advise her on the creative direction and employed Mme Giacobetti to bring their vision to life. What they came up with was an asymmetrical response to the aquatic wave cresting in fragrance at that time. Mme Giacobetti composes one of her most ethereal perfumes which carries a fragile beauty. The perfume was called Preparation Parfumee Andree Putman when it was released. It was gone from shelves in 2013 and I thought it was going to be an entry in the Dead Letter Office. Last March I discovered it was returning, renamed as Preparation Parfumee Andree Putman L’Original, as part of a collection which included six other new releases.

L’Original opens on a fascinating duet of pepper and damp wood. Most often pepper has a nose-tickling presence. Mme Giacobetti uses it to breathe life into her damp wood accord. If you spend any time in a rainforest you know that Nature adds its own form of spiciness to the trees in the wild. The pepper is used to make the top accord feel as if it is photorealistically accurate. The heart is a transition note of waterlily where the green qualities of the floral float through a mist of water. This is the riposte to the Calone-heavy aquatics as Mme Gicobetti makes an aquatic that is meditative instead of disruptive. The base is the opposite of the top as a bleached out driftwood accord is displayed paired with cilantro for a unique green contrast. The driftwood accord is a triumph of delicacy as again something which can be so strident is instead turned into something which requires you to lean in to get the full impression. The cilantro is such an outre green note yet it conjures up the grass growing in the dunes as the sea breeze blows through it.

L’Original has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

L’Original is a masterpiece of construction by a perfumer in her prime. Every note has a function and a place in creating a fabulous perfume. I had thought this lost but now it has been found again. If you love the architecture of perfume do not allow L’Original to not be on your radar screen.

Disclosure: This review based on a bottle of the 2001 release I purchased and a sample of the 2015 re-issue I received from Andree Putman.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Costes- Giacobetti’s Hotel

As I’ve mentioned in the past I have never been to Paris. In my imagination I have been to Paris many times. For the last ten years it is a perfume which has been the inspiration for where I would want to stay on my mind trips. The perfume is 2003’s Costes by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti.

costes perfume

After an incredible eight year span where Mme Giacobetti created some of the best perfumes of that time she had decided to strike out on her own. In 2003 there was news she was working on her own line of perfumes. By 2005 that would become reality as the IUNX boutique would open in Paris. During this time the owner of the Hotel Costes in Paris, Jean-Louis Costes, convinced Mme Giacobetti to make a perfume to be used as the trademark scent for the Hotel Costes. For many years the only place to buy it was at the Hotel Costes. It is only fairly recently that it has been sold elsewhere. Because of that unavailability I think this is one of Mme Giacobetti’s least known perfumes from a time when she was producing one memorable perfume after another.

Costes is Mme Giacobetti’s take on a classic wood-laden Oriental. It has an exotic feel as she weaves in spicy and floral facets early on before a mix of woods and incense finish it all. It is the scent which represents where I want to begin and end my days when I eventually do get to Paris.


Olivia Giacobetti

Mme Giacobetti takes lavender as her opening and then sheathes it with spices. Coriander, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, and pepper. The last two notes are the most prominent as the cinnamon is that of red hots candy and the pepper is a little more biting than in most other perfumes. It is a mixture of spicy heat around the cool lavender. Rose and laurel comprise the heart and they form the bridge to the woods and incense in the base. The swirling spiral of incense winding its way through the latter stages of Costes is almost a trademark of Mme Giacobetti’s use of this note during this time period. It always feel like a tight spiral of resinous smoke rising off the tip of a lit stick of incense. It isn’t transparent but neither is it as strong as it can be. Mme Giacobetti knows how to find just the right volume for her incense. The woods are made much more interesting because of this level of incense.

Costes has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I suspect many are familiar with the highlights of Mme Giacobetti’s career from 1983-2001. Costs belongs with that time and phase of her creativity. Costes is like a found manuscript by a favorite author which reminds you how much you like the artist all over again.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

L’Artisan Parfumeur 101- Five to Get You Started


At this point niche perfume has become a fact of life. The discussion has even moved along to whether niche has any meaning anymore. In 1978 the phrase niche perfume didn’t exist. It took the creation of the brand called L’Artisan Parfumeur by perfumer and creative director Jean Laporte to require a way to describe this collection of perfumes that were different. On that day in 1978 when M. Laporte released the initial seven perfumes, perfumery changed. L’Artisan Parfumeur has continued to thrive for the last 37 years. One of the reasons is two of our greatest perfumers, Olivia Giacobetti and Bertrand Duchaufour, produced some of their earliest and best work for the brand. One thing to admire about the brand is it covers the entire spectrum of the fragrance spectrum. There are over 50 fragrances to choose from. To help you here are the five I would start with.

Only three of the original seven releases are still available. Mure et Musc co-signed by Henri Sorsana and Jean Laporte feels as contemporary as it did back in 1978. The herbal citrus open which moves into one of the best fruity floral accords I’ve ever smelled as the perfumers combine jasmine and blackberry. This all rests on a bed of white musk supported by patchouli. Every time I wear this I think to myself this is where niche began.

Olivia Giacobetti would be the perfumer behind most of the releases between1994-2000. Her first release Premier Figuier is what most cite. I actually think her most accessible work for the brand came as she returned in 2001 with Tea for Two. It has Mme Giacobetti’s trademark transparency but the wonderful smoked tea heart makes this a classic. It opens almost boringly with neroli but it quickly heads to the tea room. In the heart smoky tea leaves are crushed with cinnamon, anise, and ginger. This is my favorite tea accord I wear. A honey and vanilla base finishes this version of olfactory tea service. Tea for Two was discontinued for a time but it was brought back in 2014.


The other perfume by Mme Giacobetti is 2006’s Fou D’Absinthe. In this perfume she works with a little less opacity. Fou D’Absinthe might be one of her more strongly constructed fragrances. She chooses to take redolent wormwood and make it even greener with blackcurrant buds. The heart is a swirl of spices on top of the absinthe accord. It finishes with a resinous pine accord. When people tell me Mme Giacobetti makes her perfumes too light this is where I send them.

As Mme Giacobetti left Bertrand Duchaufour would take up the reins and be primarily responsible for the next ten years 2000-2010. M. Duchaufour’s collection within L’Artisan is impressive and at the time of this writing my favorite, Vanille Absolument, is discontinued. What is left to bring you into the L’Artisan fold is what might be perhaps M. Duchaufour’s greatest perfume, Timbuktu. M. Duchaufour wanted to capture the smells of the African bazaars. During 2004 he had become a master at working with incense. For Timbuktu he used a smoky incense as his nucleus to build the bazaar milieu around. He would add cardamom and mango to represent the spices and fruit for sale. Patchouli, vetiver, and benzoin provide the sultry warmth of the desert.

My final choice, Caligna signed by Dora Arnaud, shows M. Laporte’s vision is still as vital today as it was in the beginning. Caligna is a completely unique mix of fig, jasmine, and olive wood. Mme Arnaud turns her fig herbal by matching it with sage. This makes the fig greener and less ripe. The heart is dominated by a “jasmine marmalade” accord. This takes jasmine and suffuses it with more sweetness without sacrificing the indolic core. In the base she uses a uniquely sourced olive wood to provide an unusual woody finish.

If you love perfume and particularly the current crop of independent niche perfume brands you owe it to yourself to become familiar with L’Artisan Parfumeur. So much of what I think are the core principles of what niche perfume means to me came from this brand. Try the five suggestions above and find out why I believe this.

Disclosure: this review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Perfumer Rewind: Olivia Giacobetti’s 1996- L’Artisan Parfumeure Drole de Rose & The Pour un Ete + Diptyque Philosykos

Olivia Giacobetti is one of my very favorite perfumers because of that transparent style she imparts to things that shouldn’t have that lightness of being. Many of the most striking fragrances I own, for that sheer fragility, are signed by Mme Giacobetti. Her style has now been refined that it almost deserves its own adjective, Giacobettiesque. There have been other perfumers who are able to make perfume that is Giacobettiesque but it is her creations which stand the test of time.



Olivia Giacobetti

When I looked back for the year where this style began to coalesce I found 1996 to be a good year to observe this. In that year Mme Giacobetti would release two fragrances for L’Artisan Parfumeur, Drole de Rose & The Pour un Ete. Both of those were perfumes where the style was still a work in progress. The third release in 1996 is one of Mme Giacobetti’s enduring masterpieces Diptyque Philosykos as all the elements that make her a great perfumer come together for the first time.

drole de rose

The two fragrances for L’Artisan were her third and fourth for the line. Drole de Rose is a much lighter rose but here Mme Giacobetti lays down a layer of powdery notes as the heart note of orris turns this closer in style to iris-scented lipstick. The skeletal concepts of Mme Giacobetti’s style come with the honeyed leather in the base. It is the base which I think is the best part of Drole de Rose as once the powder is figuratively blown away what is left is this opaque sweet leather. Mme Giacobetti would find a rose scent which did fit her style with the discontinued Opone for Diptyque in 2001.


The Pour un Ete was meant to be a jasmine green tea fragrance as if it was being served in a chilled glass dripping with condensation on a summer day. The Pour un Ete is perhaps too simple for its own good. It starts with a sprig of mint and lemon floating on top of the jasmine tea accord all of it resting on a cedar and sandalwood coaster. The Pour un Ete feels like the axis of a great fragrance was here but by not adding in contrapuntal notes it just sits there like that proverbial glass of tea watching the beads of water slide down the glass monotonously. Tea would become the focus of another of Mme Giacobetti’s best compositions L’Artisan Tea for Two, which is one of my all-time favorite tea perfumes.


As I mentioned above it seems at this point in her career it took two tries for Mme Giacobetti to really find her voice on a particular note. In 1994 she had done Premier Figuier for L’Artisan and it was a fig fragrance centered on the creamy ripe qualities as she used almond and coconut milk to enhance that aspect. It is beautiful but it wears sort of heavily. By the time she took a second stab at fig in Philosykos she wanted to go greener as this time not only the fruit but also the leaves and the tree itself were meant to be represented. She tilts the fig greener with galbanum early on. Then the leaves pick up the green and this time she uses only coconut milk as a complementary source of the ripening pulpy inside of the fig. She finishes off Philosykos with a breeze of benzoin and cedar.

Mme Giacobetti is now one of the most reliable perfumers functioning and both for her Paris exclusive line IUNX and the rare commissions she takes her style is unmistakable, Back in 1996 it was just coming together,

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles of all of the fragrances I purchased.

Mark Behnke