Saturday, November 12th, 2011

By Chelsea Nusbaum, Fragrance Contributor

Chelsea grew up in Los Osos, California, which is a small coastal town. She completed her undergraduate degree in Literature/Writing at University of California, San Diego. She recently completed her master’s degree in Rhetoric and Professional and Technical Writing. Chelsea currently works as a proposal editor for a local defense company. She loves to freelance and edit, but between her full-time job and awesome pets, what little time she has left she devotes to fragrance!


An Introduction to L’Artisan Parfumeur

French perfume house L’Artisan has turned out everything from cult classics like Dzing! to critical darling Timbuktu. I’ve sampled most of their fragrances, I own two bottles, and my to-buy list contains another three. Bertrand Duchaufour is the current nose. Two members of his travel-inspired series: Dzongkha and Traversee du Bosphore, wowed me. A turkish delight note is Traversée du Bosphore’s big selling point, but it’s the curious tulip note that piqued my interest and sent me down the rabbit hole of perfumes interpreting what is essentially an odorless flower. Dzongkha marries two of my favorite notes, leather and iris. It is a contemplative fragrance that smells like nothing else. And I’ve never loved an opening the way I love Dzing!’s burst of vanilla and cardboard. And when the horse barn smells of hay, leather, and sawdust chime in, I love it even more. Like Traversee de Bosphore and Dzongkha. All three are on my to-buy list.

L’Artisan has something for everyone (or, if you’re a perfumista, everything for someone). There’s the conventionally pretty candied violets of Verte Violette and the flamboyantly pretty Drôle de Rose. Drôle de Rose was my first L’Artisan purchase and my second niche fragrance acquisition, marking the time I became seriously interested in perfume. I love this pink juice with its giddy burst of violets, roses, and powder, but it can get tedious as the day wears on. What was a fun choice in the bright hustle of the morning can set my teeth on edge by 3:00.

I get the most mileage out of The pour un Été, a fragrance I didn’t have much patience for the first time I sniffed it. It was too sheer–I felt I couldn’t get a proper whiff and that it was too literally tea, anyway. I’m glad I revisited it; it’s as close as I’ll ever get to a signature scent. The pour un Été is a soft, sweet dream of summer with bitter green tea dregs to keep it interesting. The jasmine is soft and round, without the indolic, smothering sweetness that usually puts me off of jasmine fragrances. The pour un Été lifts my spirits at the office and carries me through the weekend. It is it comforting in the winter and refreshing in the summer.

My only quarrel is with Havana Vanille. With its smooth duet of vanilla and tobacco, Havana Vanille would full-bottle-worthy if it didn’t turn to banana and root beer on me. Also a member of Duchaufour’s travel series, he composed this fragrance in 2009 as an homage to Cuba. Timbuktu I can appreciate but wouldn’t wear. Smokey isn’t my thing, even when it’s as well-executed as it is in Timbuktu.

L’Artisan values creativity. They can release something as niche as Poivre Piquant, a wan floral that overdosed on pepper, or as amiable as La Chasse aux Papillons, a creamy white floral with droves of fans. Fragrances like Mûre et Musc (an unlikely partnership of berries and musk) set trends, and fragrances like Premier Figuier (a tree branch laden with ripe figs) perfected them. Because most of the line’s fragrances are offered only as eau de toilettes, there’s a transparency that pervades even the cream-drenched spices of Safran Troublant and the huge, earthy patchouli note that opens Patchouli Patch. It’s a signature that, to my mind, marks a perfume as a L’Artisan.

L’Artisan enjoys wide distribution for a niche brand, probably due to its mainstream tendencies. Its price point is higher than what you can expect from any given fragrance Sephora offers, but not unreasonably so. A 50 ml bottle typically retails for $95, a 100 ml for $145. Decants are of course available at The Perfumed Court and The Posh Peasant. I have personally purchased from Beautyhabit and Luckyscent and can recommend them highly. Aedes, Beautycafe, Blue Mercury, and Four Seasons are other reputable carriers of the L’Artisan line. Barney’s and Neiman Marcus are two department stores that carry the line, and some Nordstrom stores do, too.

Will you try this line? Have you tried it? Share your experiences in the comments!

Check out more photos! 




Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

Comments that include advertisements, self-promotion, insults, etc. may be in violation of our comment policy and subject to deletion. Please see our comment policy for more information.

11 thoughts on “An Introduction to L’Artisan Parfumeur

  1. Avatar of donna Donna Cooper

    Jean Laporte who created the brand sadly died this week.

    I own a number of L’Artisan fragrances, Drole de Rose, Passage d’Enfer,the original Patchouli(discontinued in the early 00s), Poivre Piquant(I get all pepper and no floral or the milk note from it),Tea For Two, Nuit de Tuberose and Iris Pallida the most beautiful iris. They also do lovely candles as well.

  2. Bethany

    Hi,
    Thank you for your energetic and informative style of writing. I felt as if I could actually smell each fragrance.
    You and I have much in common! Not only do I love perfume, (I mix my own scents with oils) but I am also a writer currently embarking on the journey of finding an agent. And I live in Los Osos! I saw that and knew I had to comment.

  3. Kelly C.

    I have sampled only a couple fragrances from this line, but I’m quite eager for more. A FB of Tea for Two is going to be a graduation gift to myself (love the spicy, smoky tea smell!) and I’m very eager to sample their newest fragrance Batucada. I also wasn’t blown away from Havana Vanille. Not that it turned into anything like banana on me, it was just so BORING. A faint whiff of tobacco and vanilla that lasted all of 15 minutes on me.

  4. Jenny

    One of my wishlist items Premier Figuier Extreme. I adore it too much not to own a bottle of it one day. Sadly right now it’s out of my price range, so I settle for Perfumed Court decants when I can get them. I love Dzongha too but it’s not something I will wear all day. L’Artisan used to sell samples, but I think they stopped doing that a while back. It’s a shame because it was clear they were packaged with care and love and it made you feel special just ordering samples. :-(

    • Chelsea

      Have you tried Beauty Encounter? They sell the official L’Artisan carded samples in glass vials with gold script. Go to beautyencounter.com and search by the specific perfume you want; searching by “L’Artisan” doesn’t bring much up.

      Beauty Habit sells Premier Figuier Extreme and they have an annual friends and family event with 20% off site-wide. You missed the discount this year, but if PFE is still on your wish list next year, you can pick it up at a discount.

  5. Caitlin

    Gorgeous photos!

    How funny, I’ve been on a L’Artisan kick lately. I love Poivre Piquant, but I’m big on pepper so it’s not surprising that it works for me. Still I think my first full bottle L’Artisan will be Tea for Two. It’s hard to resist such a classic.

  6. Hannah

    I don’t have a full bottle of any L’Artisan perfume myself, but I just wanted to say that I really appreciate this sort of post! I would love to see “an introduction” to other niche perfume houses. Sometimes it can be overwhelming looking for things to get samples of and a guide like this could be quite useful!

  7. EAS

    The pour un Ete and Dzing! are two of my favorites too. However, if you’re looking for something a little less youthfully avant-garde, more Parisian Perfume with double-capital P (more heavily layered flowers and incense, less cardboard and soured milk) don’t forget Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, which was Jean LaPorte’s earlier line. Includes my #1 favorite scent ever: Eau des Iles. Tobacco, bus exhaust, mulch, smoke, anise… it’s SE Asia in a bottle.

    In fact, I’d love to see some posts on Maitre in the future, since it’s quite hard to find here in the US.

    And don’t ever be afraid to venture outside the scents assigned to your gender. I’m a woman, but most of my collection consists of “men’s” fragrances, and I’d be over the moon if I ever met a man who could pull off Bandit.

    Back on the subject of L’Artisan: if you’re ever in Paris, you can visit their Parfumerie and blend your own custom scent for a quite reasonable (by Paris standards) fee, less than the price of many off-the-shelf boutique bottles. My mother took her sister this past spring and they both tremendously enjoyed the experience.

  8. sakura

    I love L’artisan, most of their fragrances tend to be light and airy on me, even the heavier formulas..my favorite would have to be Nuit de Tubereuse!