New Perfume Review Anatole Lebreton Racine Carree- Square Roots

I was one class away from having a double major in mathematics. There has always been a part of me that enjoys a field of study which usually ends up in an answer. Chemistry has been less reliable in that regard. I don’t often get the opportunity to pull from what now seems like ancient knowledge. When I saw the label for Anatole Lebreton Racine Carree my atrophied math geek took notice. The label is the name of the brand under a square root symbol. It is an oddly fitting choice for this perfume.

This is a fascinating fragrance built around perfume ingredients which are roots. M. Lebreton was going to use vetiver as the focal point. His idea was to create something which reflects the earthiness of that undertaking. He uses carrot, celery, orris, cypriol, and licorice. The fragrance that results from this is not mathematical but something of Nature.

Anatole Lebreton

The vetiver used here is a deeper version. He eschews the fresher facets to highlight the earthy aspects. To keep it from becoming too intense he uses the vegetal freshness of celery. This is a fascinating surrogate for the grassiness of most vetivers. It adds some uplift while still staying attached to the soil.

Orris comes next. This is the classic rooty ingredient. Just as with the vetiver the choice it to tilt it towards the rhizomal over the powdery. To accomplish this carrot is used as a complement to drive the orris in that direction. It makes it sweeter in the way carrot is.

The final piece is the combination of licorice and cypriol. Licorice as used here is not the candy you eat at the theatre. It is the herbal version popular in Europe. Cypriol adds its own roughness to that. Clary sage acts as an enhancer of the herbalness.

The final piece of is chamomile. It is the linchpin to all three of the accords as it has a scent profile built to tie it all together. When that happens you are surrounded by the root of it all. Ambrox is used to add a dry woody finish to all of it.

Racine Carree has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is my favorite perfume M. Lebreton has made. He has always been an interesting creative perfumer. In this case he has found a mathematical balance to make a perfume as elegant as a square root.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: For those of you interested in the nuts and bolts of perfumery. M. Lebreton offers a Racine Box on his website. It contains 7.5mL of the perfume and 10 X 2.5mL vials of the ingredients used.

New Perfume Review Anatole Lebreton Fleur Cachee- The Space Between

There are a lot of ingredients which are tailor-made to dominate a fragrance. Any number of big florals or the synthetic woods. One thing those all have in common is once they reach high concentrations, they tend to wear out their welcome. The proverbial case of the perfume wearing you. One way to make it interesting is to take that power and look for the fissures within. If you make smart choices, you can create something memorable like Anatole Lebreton Fleur Cachee.

Vanilla is one of those notes which can become monolithic at high concentrations. It can cause an olfactory cavity because it is so sweet. What I have found in the past is if a perfumer chooses to, they can turn that flaw into an advantage. Most don’t make the effort because it isn’t easy. Independent perfumer Anatole Lebreton takes the time to provide something which benefits from the effort.

Anatole Lebreton

One of the interesting things that M. Lebreton has been doing is he has been asking for creative direction from his fans. He created Fleur Cachee as a crowdfunded project. He told his funders he wanted to make vanilla perfume featuring two different sources a CO2 extraction and the absolute. They suggested ingredients to play off the vanillas and they also came up with the name. I’m not usually a fan of focus groups but this one succeeds because of the shared passion.

The perfume opens with timut pepper as the first ingredient to interact with the vanilla. Timut pepper has a pronounced grapefruit scent profile with a spicy cinnamon-like undertone. In the early moments it starts to take the vanilla towards warm cinnamon custard. At this point I expected a typical gourmand progression. This is where the focus group creative directors and M. Lebreton came up with a smart thought. Go in a different direction. It is accomplished by using turmeric and fenugreek. The turmeric moves the hint of dessert back towards a different vibe. It picks up the citrusy part of the timut pepper and turns it towards a greener spice blend. As the fenugreek adds in its dried grass quality the gourmand is left behind. It then takes this vanilla with veins of ingredients shot throughout and places it on a rich sandalwood platform. Just as with the vanilla M. Lebreton finds the proper balance to keep everything in play.

Fleur Cachee has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

M. Lebreton turns Fleur Cachee into an example of how to find and fill the spaces in between of a seeming monolith. The resultant perfume is a glimmering gem of complexity.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Anatole Lebreton Perfumista- The Way a Focus Group Should Work


One of the worst things about mainstream perfumery is the use of focus groups. I think they produce the lowest common denominator fragrance. Often so bland it is difficult for me to think of them as perfume. I have wondered what a motivated, educated, perfume-loving focus group could produce.
Independent perfume Anatole Lebreton seems to have answered that with Anatole Lebreton Perfumista.

Anatole Lebreton

In the middle of last year he asked a group of perfume fans to buy into The Perfumista Project. For the price of the eventual final product they would be brought along on a two-month journey to create a new perfume. By the fall Perfumista was the result of this process. I was not a participant but according to the website M. Lebreton introduced the members to the raw materials and the gradual development of the final perfume. The result is the same genre as many a larger focus group spits out; a fruity floral. The difference here is this kind of fruity floral is not the typical miasmic mediocrity found at the mall. This is the kind of fragrance which could give the class a good name. It shows what intelligent feedback can produce.

That shows in the fruity top accord. Raspberry is the keynote, but it is a juicy pear along with a plush plum that make this less irrelevant than the typical berry top accord. The shading the plum gives to the pear and raspberry is particularly appealing. The floral part is a magnificent nod to vintage perfume florals. An indolic jasmine meets a spicy Bulgarian rose. Whenever I encounter this it always seems like the two bad girl florals out for a good time. As the plum shadowed fruit inserts itself into the festivities this is where Perfumista shows off the potential of a fruity floral with intent. Fruity florals are my least favorite perfume genre. I could luxuriate in this fruity floral for days. The base accord provides a woody foundation for the fruity floral to rest upon. It is the least interesting part of Perfumista while still being quite good. Patchouli gives a dark earthiness for cedar and peru balsam to finish the construction.

Perfumista has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

Perfumista is a fragrance developed by people passionate about perfume. The simple act of participation exemplifies that. The perfume that came out of this focus group is the way it should always happen.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Anatole Lebreton Cornaline- Sins of the Flesh

It was last year during Esxence 2017 that independent perfumer Anatole Lebreton landed on my radar. I was getting reports that the debut at that exposition, Grimoire, was among my correspondent’s favorites. It would take a few months for me to try that one to confirm that M. Lebreton was making interesting perfume.

The same thing happened a couple months ago during the 2018 version of Esxence. This time M. Lebreton debuted Cornaline. When I asked them to compare it to Grimoire I got a near-unanimous response of “very different”. I was excited to see for myself. I received my sample a few weeks ago and “very different” was an excellent description although imprecise. Let me see if I can add to that.  

Anatole Lebreton

In the description on the website M. Lebreton describes “a barefoot Empress in an exotic garden caressing the blooming ylang-ylang”. Cornaline is a floral perfume centered around the fleshy carnality of ylang-ylang. Many perfumers labor to keep that thick quality tamped down. M. Lebreton allows it to have some room to caress the rest of the construction. It forms a hedonistic style of perfume that I enjoyed.

Before we get to the ylang-ylang M. Lebreton forms a delightful top accord around carrot. By itself carrot can sometimes smell like plastic. To keep that from happening a hint of berries and bergamot provide guardrails for the carrot to remain sweeter than it would by itself. The ylang-ylang begins to ooze into the top accord. When ylang-ylang has this unctuous quality, I like it, but it can be a bit much for some. Which is why in the early moments a bit of spicy geranium and hyacinth pump the brakes a bit. Not for long though because M. Lebreton ignites the ylang-ylang with peach. It explodes with intensity. It is a clever bit of olfactory pyrotechnics. After it calms down some orris provides a calming effect before benzoin takes over. The benzoin is the comforting note you need after the heart. Some vanilla sweetens it but it is mostly a warm comforting finish.

Cornaline has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Cornaline is very different than Grimoire mostly in its extroverted style. It also really embraces its keynote finding ways to go beyond mere amplification to shouting from rooftops. Which means if you are not a fan of ylang-ylang and peach Cornaline will unlikely appeal to you. For someone who wants to throw myself into the sins of the flesh ylang-ylang brings to perfume; Cornaline is just what I desire.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Anatole Lebreton Grimoire- Epic Fantasy

From the moment I read JRR Tolkein’s The Hobbit the written version of epic fantasy is probably my favorite style of literature. The mixture of magic, monsters, heroes, and quests for the magic muffin of power have captivated me for as long as I could read. In the early days it was the covers of the books which would give away what was inside. After Middle-Earth it was Shannara and Earthsea which beckoned me to get lost in their pages. The way I knew they were my kind of books were the covers; all had a similar grandiosity about them with a strategically placed dragon or elf somewhere. I knew what I was getting when I saw that. Perfume names can also have that ability too which is why I was very interested to try Anatole Lebreton Grimoire.

I first became aware of Grimoire as Esxence 2017 was taking place and I was texting those there asking what was good. Grimoire was one of the more frequent answers I received. I spent time waiting for it to become available here. During that time, I acquainted myself with M. Lebreton via his website. There was sentence about his style of perfume-making which particularly caught my attention, “I like it when you feel a heart beating, when it is moving and thrilling, when there’s fantasy and mystery.” This could easily just be the description of Grimoire.

Anatole Lebreton

In many of my epic fantasy books there is a grimoire in use by the wizard who can be either hero or villain. A grimoire is a book of spells either to be destroyed or deployed. Grimoire evokes the place where that book might be found. I found myself entering the magician’s study at the top of a spiral staircase every time I wore Grimoire.

As I enter the study I smell the sweaty robes of the sorcerer as cumin billows from his sleeves. I look down on the table in front of him as resins smoke over the spell; olibanum primarily along with elemi providing a contrasting resin beneath the more traditional incense. Green leaves of basil, purple sprigs of lavender, are contained in a box of cedar. This lies atop a mound of earth represented by patchouli. The excitement of the wizard is communicated in waves of musk as the incantation is complete.

Grimoire has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

M. Lebreton had already fired my imagination, like those earlier book covers. It would have been so easy to be disappointed. Instead I was elated at how much this captured my anticipation. Grimoire is a verdant resinous animalic perfume. It is also Epic Fantasy in a bottle.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke