L’Artisan Parfumeur

As if it was yesterday, we can still remember walking into London’s very first L’Artisan Parfumeur shop, in Chelsea Green, and having our eyes (and our noses) opened to a whole new world of fragrant possibilities.

When perfume historians look back, they’ll almost certain pinpoint the founding of L’Artisan Parfumeur in 1976 – by a Frenchman, Jean-François Laporte – as the birth of ‘niche’, or ‘connoisseur’, perfumery, which is such a strong trend today.

If anything, L’Artisan Parfumeur today is fizzing with more excitement than ever – as you’re about to find out. But first, let’s step back in time a moment, to trace its roots. Monsieur Laporte’s capsule collection of fragrances – including the epoch-making, blackberry-inspired Mûre et Musc – born out of the French tradition of the art of fragrance, seeking to bring French savoir-faire, craftsmanship and authenticity. Mûre et Musc (below) became ‘THE fragrance of the Parisian woman’, explains influential fashion and beauty blogger Garance Duré. L’Eau d’Ambre, which also remains in the collection today, was another trailblazer.

In 1976, fragrance was playing an ever-bigger part in our lives – with blockbuster launches and designer names crowding the dressing tables of women just waking up (excitedly) to the idea of a ‘wardrobe’ of fragrances. But Jean-François Laporte‘s idea was to offer scents created in a more artisan style, often expressed through the use of the highest-quality naturals.

His first store opened – and word soon spread across the world, not just to London but Milan, Tokyo, New York. As Elle put it, L’Artisan Parfumeur‘s fragrances were ‘exclusive, chic and elegant’.  Not only was there a hand-crafted approach to perfumery – and that focus on naturals – but poetry and imagination are a factor, to create fragrances ‘which can both delight and shock’. L’Artisan Parfumeur themselves liken smelling one of their creations as akin ‘to standing before a piece of contemporary sculpture, whose form and colour can be both disconcerting and amazing at the same time.’

Over the years, L’Artisan has collaborated with recognised masters in their olfactory field: names like Jean-Claude Ellena, Michel Almairac, Anne Flipo, Olivia Giacobetti – and new talents such as Karine Vinchon and Dora Baghriche Arnaud. Those ‘noses’ are renowned among serious perfumistas -but for anyone who’s not so familiar with their work, some time spent spritzing and dabbing your way through L’Artisan Parfumeur’s perfumed portfolio is a good way to say ‘hello’. Their creations have often proved ground-breaking, too: Olivia Giacobetti’s Premier Figuier, for instance, was the first-ever fragrance composed around a fig theme – setting a benchmark for countless others which followed in its wake.

In recent years, L’Artisan Parfumeur has collaborated in particular with renowned (and often rule-breaking) perfumer Bertrand DuchaufourTimbuktu, for instance, was inspired by his visit to Mali:  wild, sophisticated, a study in contrast between its exotic African roots, and that enviable French sophistication. Most recently, Bertrand created the thought-provoking Explosions d’Emotions collection, exploring new ideas and new accords through ‘new concepts of emotion’.

There are six, so far. You can explore them in more depth, below – and see the charismatic Bertrand revealing the first trio on video here: ‘Very daring, very innovative, unprecedented smells, using very special chemicals and beautiful natural raw materials,’ he explains. Déliria, as Bertrand elaborates,’is the expression of the vertigo we can feel at the top of a rollercoaster;  the smell is a contrast between metallic effects, between a note of rhum and gourmand effect of a toffee apple and candyfloss.’ Skin on Skin, meanwhile, is an expression of the iris accord reinforced by wonderful sensual musky notes in the back, everything enveloped by leather notes – beautiful and very attractive.’

And Amour Nocture is ‘the night… very serene, very calm, deep and blue;  I tried to express this serenity through a huge accord of cedarwood, surrounded by a beautiful hot milk and caramel effect, with a petal sensual note…’ Now, new emotions are being explored in the latest trio: Onde Sensuelle, Haute Voltige and Rappelle-Toi

Even today, everything is crafted in France – not just perfumes for the skin (always packaged in seven-sided bottles, the distinctive signature of L’Artisan Parfumeur), but divine scented candles and home products. The hand-crafted Amber Balls’, crafted in the North of France by a mother and daughter, are one of the nicest ways we know to scent a lingerie or knitwear drawer, with a solid version of L’Artisan Parfumeur‘s golden amber scent hidden in the heart of each…

Stand-alone stores were a key part of the L’Artisan Parfumeur experience (though of course, the collection is available more widely in fine perfumeries and department stores, spanning the globe). If you’ve never stepped inside one of the boutiques, they’re a treat for the senses – always with the most informed staff, ready to help you hand-pick ‘your’ scent. When next in Paris, do your senses a favour and strike out  for Rue Vignon, or Boulevard Raspail, or the stunning La Grande Boutique, which you can see left – just click here for their Store Finder page. And we defy you not to get as excited as we did, when we first walked into that boutique, all those years ago…


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