Dead Letter Office: L’Artisan Parfumeur Verte Violette- Short-Term Goldilocks

L’Artisan Parfumeur was one of the earliest niche perfume lines. Started in 1978 by Jean-Francois Laporte it was meant to be a riposte to the larger brands’ offerings. For nearly forty years the brand has had its ups and downs but it has never stopped taking risks. If there in any legacy M. Laporte would be proud of I would imagine it is that.

Throughout the lifetime of the brand they have identified some of the best perfumers working and given them budget and freedom to realize a vision. The very best of the line are some of the masterpieces of niche perfumery. That doesn’t mean they are immune to sending some miscalculations to the Dead Letter Office. One of those miscalculations was the 2001 release Verte Violette.

Perfumer Anne Flipo had made her name with L’Artisan with her release Mimosa pour Moi. It was a greener version of mimosa tinted that color with violet leaf. If there was a consistent criticism of that perfume it was that the violet was too sharply green; closing in the mimosa. In 2001 when Mme Flipo was asked to create two more fresh florals I think she wanted to revisit a green violet. What results is a classic Goldilocks perfume where the perfumer takes the keynote and tries not to make it too green or too sweet. In the case of Verte Violette Mme Flipo would strike this balance near perfectly. While I think the Goldilocks approach was not the right tack to take with niche consumers who wanted something different it probably wasn’t the main reason for its discontinuation.

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Anne Flipo

That reason was probably due to its longevity. Mme Flipo designed Verte Violette as a fragile veil meant to be a close wearing skin scent. Particularly at this point in the expansion of niche a perceived lack of longevity was going to be seen as a significant drawback. Verte Violette has almost no sillage and while it does stay on my skin for a long time it requires me to bring my nose close to detect it. What I detect when I do this is a slightly sweet fresh green floral.

Verte Violette opens with a similar riff that Mme Flipo used on Mimosa pour Moi; violet leaves and raspberry. The green of the violet leaves is only slightly sweetened be the fruit. This is the typical sharp green quality of that note. A slew of ionones make up Mme Flipo’s violet accord in the heart. It is a densely layered construct meant to convey a weight between transparent and full-throated. As I mentioned Mme Flipo finds a really beautiful balance here. The violet accord grows deeper over time as rose and orris provide some strength but not too much. Cedar provides the woody frame for the florals to exist within.

Verte Violette has 8-10 hour longevity but almost zero sillage.

Verte Violette was discontinued after just ten years on the market in 2011.

I have always enjoyed Verte Violette for that Goldilocks quality Mme Flipo managed to create. I am not surprised that others did not share that feeling. The longevity and lack of sillage is something I have never cared about but I understand those who do. The combination of fleeting and just right makes Verte Violette a Short-Lived Goldilocks. At least in this case I am that Goldilocks.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Jo Malone Herb Garden Lavender & Coriander- Herbal Fougere

Every spring Jo Malone releases a limited edition collection. For 2016 the collection is called Herb Garden and it has five perfumes composed by Anne Flipo. As a collection this holds together in a very clear coherent thread of herbal notes threaded throughout each perfume. For purposes of a review I had to pick one to wear for a couple of days and that was Lavender & Coriander. I’m going to give some capsule impressions, from testing on a strip and a patch of skin, of the other four before diving into the full review.

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Anne Flipo

Carrot Blossom & Fennel has a fantastic fennel note on top that I wish stuck around until the carrot comes to the forefront within the heart. Instead a fruity floral heart of iris and apple dominate. The carrot is here. I would’ve like it to have more of a presence throughout.

Nasturtium & Clover is a weird mixture I’m not sure of. The top accord is composed of the slightly peppery green of arugula paired with lemon and the softness of clover. Nasturtium turns towards a greenish floral before vetiver completes the green effect.

Sorrel & Lemon Thyme is the most straightforward of the collection. Lemon and petitgrain on top combine with thyme in the heart to finish on geranium in the base.

Wild Strawberry & Parsley was the one I almost chose to review over Lavender & Coriander. The top accord of tomato leaf, blackcurrant bud, and parsley is snappy and soft at the same time. I was worried the strawberry would verge on too sweet but it never does. Mme Flipo pairs it with basil and violet leaves and the heart reminded me of a spring dessert. This rides on a lot of white musks in the base.

My affection for lavender has been evident throughout the ten years I’ve written about perfume. I was probably pre-disposed to liking Lavender & Coriander best. Mme Flipo uses the coriander combined with juniper berry to give the outline of a gin accord. There was a part of me that was expecting lime next to finish off the gin and tonic early vibe. Instead lavender takes over forming an exotic floral martini. The coriander and juniper bring out the herbal nature of the lavender. Sage shows up later on to really enhance that effect. The quality of the lavender used here is marvelous, coming from England and France. All together it makes Lavender & Coriander feel like an herbal riff on fougere.

Lavender & Coriander has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I really like the overall Herb Garden Collection. I think I will be re-visiting them, especially as spring shows up. If you like herbal notes in perfume this is a collection one should check out. If you’re a lavender lover Lavender & Coriander is a must try.

Disclosure: This review was based on press samples from Jo Malone.

Mark Behnke