August 5, 2012

Seville a l’Aube by L'Artisan

The Virgin of the Dawn, about to enter the streets of Seville
Opening with a golden sunrise of orange flower lifted by lemony citrus and lavender, softened in honeyed beeswax, Bertrand Duchaufour has created yet another perfume that transports me. 

There is a soft and distant background of strength holding this love song together.  Touches of incense cling to mysterious velvet folds of benzoin.

The notes in this perfume have symbolic significance, relating to the opulent Catholic public processions of Holy Week in Andalusia, at the cathedral in Seville, and in particular referencing an intense romantic encounter as related by Denyse Beaulieu in her book The Perfume Lover.

She is fortunate to have a great perfumer skillfully commemorate her personal experience of physical and emotional exaltation. This perfume is a celebration of physicality in refined form.

Two forms of lavender sharpen the nose and keep it from tiring of the waxy roundness of the citric-edged white flowers.  The orange flower and jasmine are transparently indolic, and come close to the point of giddiness. This combination on my skin evolves into something like an anise liqueur filtered through orange blossom of such subtlety it almost seems like a memory. There is a mouthwatering quality, yet the lavender refines the animal aspects of pure pleasure in orange blossom and keeps the senses on alert.

The mood is one of a controlled chaos of sensuality, ritualized and contained within a classical story, like a skillfully danced flamenco. I see this making a different impression on masculine and feminine wearers.

On both it makes a sophisticated reference to sensuality refined into self disciplined elegance.

The culture that created the enormous cathedral at Seville, built on the ruins of a mosque, retains hints of Middle Eastern sensibility towards spirituality and physicality. The thick walls surrounding the city were built by the Moors and are thronged with the public during Holy Week, who believe that to witness and participate in the processions is beneficial to the soul. Many believe that some of the fantastically adorned holy images being paraded through streets were created in part by supernatural inspirations that directly flowed into the artists.

A woman of Seville in traditional Mantilla
The swaying floats are thickly studded with myriad tall beeswax candles, wound around with orange flowers and sanctified by censers full of frankincense. The crowds dressed in traditional black, with the women in lace mantillas emanating the scent of their lavender storage, spontaneously burst out in songs and penitential prayers expressing their emotion at the sights.

It’s amazing that a perfume can contain references to all these elements, the orange flower fragrance warmed and dispersed by the burning pure beeswax tapers, the excitement of the lavender scented crowd, the ceremonial incense, and still be such an deep immersion into the pure sensuality of this olfactory atmosphere.

The final stages of the perfume settle into a soothing and softly rounded buttery white floral with a sharply pointed touch of  herbaceous and formal astringent green piercing through.

The perfume will be released in the U.S. on September 1, 2012, 100ML for $165.

A sample of this perfume was given to me by MiN, a niche perfumery on Crosby Street in Soho, New York.  I have described my personal experience of this perfume and I was not compensated in any way.

Images top, from Viator, The Macarena Virgin in Seville
middle: L'Artisan Seville al'Aube
Last: Mantilla by Lobillo.  If these images belong to you and you wish them to be removed, please contact me. Copyright 2012, Lucy Raubertas, all rights reserved.


lostpastremembered said...

I do love L'Artisan perfumes and this sounds like a keeper with all those elements. It does reflect the soul of that beautiful city as I remember it. Combining the ecclesiastic and deliciously sensual ... frankincense, beeswax and orange... oh my!!

Lucy Raubertas said...

I must get there myself! I am looking forward to reading the book too. Somehow perfume is getting to be a synthesis of places and times past and present that we can all use to time travel.

Angela said...

A fabulous review--thank you! I'm saving up for a bottle of this one. I love it.

Your site is gorgeous. I haven't been here in ages, and now all I want to do is surf between the images.

Lucy Raubertas said...

Thank you Angela. I am thinking of this one as my birthday treat to myself, too.

Natalie said...

Such a great review! I'm looking forward to trying this. Also looking forward to exploring your new (?) site design! I can't believe it has been this long since I visited, but everything looks shiny and new and pretty.

Lucy Raubertas said...

Natalie, this is a favorite of many this year, I can tell.
Thanks too on behalf of the site change; I love the ability of the layout to show more than a few posts at a time. The visuals leading to a flip over with the titles does seem to draw people in to read more of what I have written before, which I am very happy about.