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.