Thursday, May 28, 2009
Scent Notes : (Expensive) Morocco Inspired Perfume
Here is an article from the New York Times on a new perfume called L'eau de Tarocco that is supposed to be the scent version of a traditional Moroccan fruit dish known in Arabic as laymun bel qerfa.
Scent Notes | L’Eau de Tarocco by Diptyque
By Chandler Burr
l'Eau de Tarocco by Diptyque
Perhaps the most impoverished way of conceiving of a perfume (or of describing one) is listing its raw materials. It’s like experiencing Ravel’s “Pavane” by reading the sheet music, or smelling James Heeley’s Menthe Fraîche by looking at its lab formula.
There is one exception. When a perfumer creates a crystalline fragrance using a transparent technique to execute a simple concept, the raw materials illuminate the result. This is the case with the sublime l’Eau de Tarocco, which Diptyque launched this month, crafted by the Ravel of perfumers, Olivier Pescheux.
Pescheux, working with Diptyque’s creative director, Myriam Badault, began with the most elemental of concepts. In Morocco, Pescheux had eaten a simple traditional dish, carpaccio d’orange, a thinly sliced orange sprinkled with rose water, cinnamon and a touch of saffron. Pescheux and Badault decided he would build an olfactory carpaccio d’orange.
He began by choosing the Calabrian orange variety Tarocco. The expression of most oranges (citrus perfume raw materials are always oils expressed — pressed — from their peels) differs markedly from the taste of their flesh, which is generally fruitier and more floral. Tarocco’s particularity is that its expressed oil and its fruit match almost perfectly.
Pescheux works in Paris for the scent-maker Givaudan, which produces an extremely high quality of unadulterated raw materials that it designates Orpur. Pescheux selected Givaudan’s Orpur Tarocco first. To it, he added Orpur essences of Sri Lankan cinnamon bark and Laotian turmeric, and a distillation of ginger for bite. Orpur Bulgarian rose for the carpaccio’s rose water. Hedione high-cis (found in jasmine) for its airy floral quality. The molecule Magnolan, which gives both white flowers and a rose touch, and which Pescheux built in to form a bridge linking Hedione to the Bulgarian rose. To polish, he put in Texas cedar essence for the foundation, Somalian olibanum (the incense you smell in a Russian Orthodox church) for mystery, and two Givaudan captive molecules, Cosmone, for powder, richness and softness, and Serenolide, for a dry texture to “carry” the incense.
L’Eau de Tarocco’s is a short formula, only 23 raw materials.
What is interesting about the resulting perfume is that it is supposed to be the fourth in Pescheux’s new and increasingly extraordinary Diptyque eaux de colognes collection. (They are becoming as good as Jean-Claude Ellena’s new eaux de cologne collection for Hermès.) The cologne genre — pale, fleeting, one-dimensional, antiquated watercolors of lemon and grapefruit — is uninteresting. With Pescheux and Ellena, we are seeing a fundamental reworking of the category. Tarocco is an astonishingly perfect piece of scent work, an equilibrium of palely spiced fresh air moving through a dusky orange grove. It effortlessly transcends its genre. It is less watercolor, more oil painting, peaceful as a Buddha, elegant as linen, fresh as grass cooling in the evening.
l’Eau de Tarocco by Diptyque
(5 stars; transcendent) | $98 for 100 ml at firstname.lastname@example.org