March 07 2011
Lucia van der Post
Le Labo is one of those little cult perfumers that scent snobs (of which I freely confess I am one) love to sniff around. Le Labo was started by Fabrice Penot and Eddie Roschi, who had worked on some of Armani’s fragrances but wanted to do their own fragrant thing.
Using only the finest of the fine ingredients, they asked the best perfumers to come up with 12 fragrances, each built around a primary natural essence from Grasse as well as six exclusive city ones (Poivre, for instance, is available only in London). The names alone – Bergamote, Rose, Neroli, Fleur d’Oranger – tell the story.
But the point of writing about them now is that Anthropologie, the cult store that arrived a year or so ago in the UK from the US, has teamed up with Le Labo to produce a range of five new fragrances. They come in relatively simple bottles with charming, slightly faded-looking labels, and so all the creative effort has gone into the essential eaux.
So now we have Chant de Bois (first picture; top notes of bergamot, grapefruit and a hint of aldehyde with middle notes of hedione and pink pepper and base notes of patchouli, cedarwood and ambrox). Then there’s Belle du Soir (top notes of neroli, galbanum and water lily), Orange Discrète (top notes of galbanum, petigrain, bergamot and mandarin zest), Poudre d’Orient (second picture; top notes of violet leaves) and Bouquet Blanc (top notes of cassis buds and bergamot).
My favourites – my prejudices running in favour of chypres and orientals – are Chant de Bois and Poudre d’Orient. All sell at £44 for 50ml of eau de parfum, but check the little round boxes of Concrete Parfum (third picture), otherwise known as solid perfume, which sell at £20 for 4.5g.
These perfumes do not, in my view, rival the great classic complex creations, the Shalimars and Mitsoukos of this world, but they are delicious and relatively inexpensive travelling companions made by perfumers who care about their craft.