40 years on from their launch, L’Artisan Parfumeur‘s been having a rather marvellous makeover lately. Redesigned stores (a trip to the Paris boutiques, with their indoor gardens, is on our agenda). A reworked bottle (sexy, chic black glass – though the same hexagonal shape for the original collection, of which around 38 remain). And now, a new collection of six beautiful fragrances, inspired by the natural world. Yes, with Latin names…
Perfumer Daphné Bugey was given free rein to create six fragrances within this Natural Fabularis . And the number prefix before each name is fascinating: it’s the number of modifications (try-outs, in non-perfume-speak) which were required before the fragrance was declared ‘perfect’ by L’Artisan Perfumeur. Astonishingly, 2 Violacea only took two attempts before being green-lighted, while swirl-of-incense 60 Mirabilis took 60 ‘mods’ before everyone was happy. (As they definitely should be.)
The whole collection is unveiled exclusively at Selfridges Oxford Street today in the Fragrance & Candle Space on the Ground Floor. What’s more, if you buy a fragrance from the Natura Fabularis collection in the next three days (from Thursday 6th October), they’ll offer you one of these gorgeous little posies (see below), created by Selfridges‘ in-house florists, as a gift with purchase.
And the fragrances themselves?
Here’s the run-down, in numerical order. With translations. (Our Latin teachers would be proud – albeit somewhat amazed.)
2 Violaceum (translation from Latin: referencing ‘violets’)
‘It takes all of a second for the beauty of a flower to topple over in the darkness. Violaceum pays tribute to the ephemeral character of nature.’ Here, Daphné Bugey was inspired by a carpet of violets, balancing its familiar sweetness with the naughtiness of leather and an accord of saffron and carrot, adding depth to the floralcy.
9 Arcana Rosa
One of those roses-for-people-that-don’t-think-they-like-roses. ‘Thorny, impertinent. This rose favours dark suits and masculine spicy notes… Its strength is drawn from the perfection of the Bulgarian rose which is provocatively burnt on a fire of vetiver roots and cade.’ Never smelled burnt vetiver? Nor had we – but we love the smoky dryness. Labdanum, cedar and sandalwood also feature: a woody rose that’ll blow away your rosy resistance.
18 Glacialis Terra
It always astonishes us how expertly perfumers can create a sense of heat – or in this case cold – in fragrant form. As L’Artisan Perfumeur put it: ‘Bare feet on icy ground, sends shivers through the body.
26 Tenebrae (‘darkness’)
As L’Artisan Perfumeur put it, ‘One needs to look through the leaves at the top, to catch a glimpse of the sun which tries hard to shine through this impenetrable forest. Here, we find ancient trees with roots that have gnarled sculptures. There, willowy trunks covered in resin grow towards the skies, in pursuit of light.’ Think: deep woodiness, soft incense; really quite mystical and other-worldly, this – and very compelling.
32 Venenum (‘poison’)
‘A new world is opened up. Would it be a forest of sandalwood where rice is steamed while drinking spicy chai or a wide golden field of grains?’ Here, Daphné Bugey fuses scents of hot, freshly-baked bread, spicy tea and smooth sandalwood, with a cloud-like softness. The result’s cocooning, soft, quietly sensual – yet very ‘shareable’, as with the whole collection.
60 Mirabilis (‘miraculous’)
‘Daphné Bugey reconciles the superficial world of intrigue with the profoundly sacred. Incense connects us to the early rituals of perfumed offerings to the skies and the gods.’ What makes this incense-rich masterpiece utterly contemporary, though, is the use of ambrox and ‘Volcanolide’ (an innovative synthetic which Bugey is among the first to use).
In addition to sniffing your way through the collection, do hold each of the bottles up to the light: each is a different deep, jewel-like tone – purple, blue, green etc.
One bit of Latin we think may come flooding back, after smelling the Natura Fabularis collection: ‘Amo, amas, amat…’
L’Artisan Parfumeur Natura Fabularis Collection £140 each for 75ml
Buy them at Selfridges