Good creative directors are rare. Great creative directors are even more precious. I think they are a critical piece of perfume making. Which is why I tend to get excited when I see a new great one emerging. Thibaud Crivelli is one I am beginning to believe in. His latest, Maison Crivelli Lys Solaberg brings things full circle for me.
I tried the brand for the first time in 2019 but it had been around for a year before it got to me. When I was waiting for the sample set to arrive, I read about M. Crivelli’s desire to create texture and keynote. Almost every time this is a lot of PR double speak. Doesn’t mean the perfume will not be good but textural aesthetics are not easy. Coming from someone who was a neophyte at this I was not ready for what I would experience. The first five perfumes I received were exactly what he claimed them to be. My favorite was Absinthe Boreale for its absinthe on crystalline snow under the Aurora Borealis. The perfumer on that was Nathalie Feisthauer. Lys Solaberg takes the brand, and Mme Feisthauer back to the Arctic but this time in the summer. In the days of 20-hour sunlight nature runs riot over this time. For this perfume, a lily grows in the Arctic.
It begins with the crisp fruitiness of quince. This is a multi-faceted note which seemingly transforms minute-to-minute. From citrusy, to like a pear, to a crisp apple; back and forth. To try and fix it in place Mme Feisthauer drops it in a cognac accord. As the sharp boozy quality interacts it kind of holds the quince in place somewhere between apple and pear. It is as if the minute hand is held in place while the hour hand continues to move.
The lily appears next. It arrives as a flower found in a wetland. Calamus provides that sense of wet earth underneath the freshness of the lily. This is like squelching through the damp ground in a field of them. To continue the theme a carroty orris adds a bit of vegetal sweetness while the rhizome adds even more earth to it.
The smell of woodsmoke on the air swirls across the flower. The smoke comes from charred oak shaving absolute, mate, and tobacco. This is that textural piece M. Crivelli has become so adept at realizing. This acts as tendrils of smoke swirling in and around the lily. It adds a Great White North ruggedness to the usually polite floral. A bit of velvety oakmoss softens it just a bit. This all ends on an Ambroxan base accord. Mme Feisthauer keeps it from going monolithic while allowing the dry woodiness a place in the composition.
Lys Solaberg has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
My first experience with M. Crivelli’s vision was an Arctic nighttime. Lys Solaberg flips that. It is no less compelling to be spending summer among the lilies in the Arctic.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.