dimanche 30 mai 2010

Olivia Giacobetti's I love les Carottes and Love Coco: Smelling Raw




In my review of Vamp à NY, I wrote that Olivia Giacobetti had found her bearings in the organics register, but actually I think it’s more than that: what she’s doing is extending the vocabulary of perfumery by staying within the range of familiar aromas, while displacing the locus of perception of these aromas. In other words, she’s managed to shift what is usually perceived in the mouth, through retro-olfaction, to a purely olfactory sensation. And what’s more, she’s doing it by exploring a palette very seldom used in perfumery (Bertrand Duchaufour is one of the few who regularly plays with it): the vegetable.

For her new Honoré des Prés collection, Giacobetti has hit on the idea of raw. Raw in the sense of raw materials: working within a more limited range, she’s had to keep things simple – conciseness is the essence of her style to begin with. So that Vamp à NY almost reads as just that, a barely enhanced tuberose absolute. But also raw in the sense of “not cooked”…

What’s so delightful about I love les Carottes is the sensation of having your nose stuck in a hyper-realistic CARROT with all its facets opened up and displayed: the sweet tenderness of its flesh bolstered with orange, its natural partner-in-juice, but also the woody core, the rootiness extended by iris, and the bits of earth clinging to it in the farmer’s market – patchouli, from which Giacobetti has lifted the moist earth notes without dragging in the camphoraceous ones. The choice of carrot is also interesting in that it neatly dovetails into the concept of Honoré des Prés -- someone who’s interested in organic perfumery is apt to drink freshly pressed carrot juice. Why not wear it? After all, carrot is really an extension of iris.

Love Coco is a little less unexpected. Coconut notes are not uncommon in perfumery: many flowers have coconut facets, and the note has been so extensively used in tanning lotions it is virtually the olfactory sign of the beach in North America. However, this isn’t quite beach coco butter. Giacobetti, who has stated in interviews her fondness for Tang Frères, the Parisian Asian food emporium, has pulled it towards South-East Asian cuisine, a register much less explored than Middle-Eastern and North-African spices (though the recent Oriental Lounge by Céline Ellena for The Different Company played on the curry leaf in a bid to renew the oriental family). The coriander leaf Giacobetti adds to the blend (coconut and coriander form a classic harmony in Thai cuisine) cuts the oily sweetness of the coconut with a lash of bitter green. Even the vanilla doesn’t translate as dessert: it is rather burnt, woody, almost licorice-like.

The construction reprises classic codes of perfumery – green, lactonic, balsamic – in a playful, off-hand style, but it skews them towards a novel set of references. Giacobetti has often worked with food aromaticians, and has never restricted herself in her exploration of smelly things – she was, after all, the one to introduce the fig note (in Premier Figuier) as well as incense (in Passage d’Enfer) a step before the Comme des Garçons trilogy. She’d actually already worked on a carrot theme for L’Artisan Parfumeur, the discontinued Fleur de Carotte. If someone is inventing an offshoot of the gourmand family, it might not be the team behind Mugler’s Womanity, but the maverick Olivia Giacobetti.

The Honoré des Prés trio will be launched in the US in September.




There are still a few people who haven’t sent me their addresses for the Vamp à NY giveaway. Please hurry, I’d like to ship this week, next week I’ll be in London.

CJBlue, CyndiN, Dissed, Isabelle Graber, JAntoinette, Nancy,

Stars au Naturel, Therese, Trhoades, Dingo, Robert...

either send your address or send it back, it may have got lost in the battle!



21 commentaires:

  1. love coco sounds truly wonderful (and edible)! definitely will try it when it comes out (do you know if it will be widely available?)
    your description of i love les carottes is almost exactly how her "hiris" for hermes is like on my skin, sans the "orangey" facet!
    giacobetti is such an original parfumeur...i will always look forward to her creations.

    RépondreSupprimer
  2. M, I'm not sure about the availability, I think talks are still going on for points of sale. Hiris was indeed very carroty but I think I love les Carottes is more joyful.

    RépondreSupprimer
  3. Denyse -- I checked out the Colette website and they ship internationally, so I ordered one of the Giacobetti frags to see how quickly and/or successfully the fragrance gets from Paris to the U.S.

    Shipping expensese are a bit high, but the VAT is subtracted when shipping to the U.S., so it kind of evens out.

    Which means that if any of your U.S. readers don't want to wait until the Fall release date, they don't necessarily have to . . .

    RépondreSupprimer
  4. Ms. Giacobetti's Dzing is a scent that I reach for often, and these, too, sound as wearable as they are original. I'm looking forward to trying these as soon as samples are available in the U.S.! ~~nozknoz

    RépondreSupprimer
  5. I really would love to try the carrot one. Carrots have a fascinating raw smell that I've always appreciated. I'm not a fan of it as an edible, but that's just a preference thing.

    I must admit, with my limited resources, I've not yet smelled anything by Giacobetti (Vamp will be my first). I'm eager to be impressed by a natural composition.

    And since I couldn't really comment on the giveaway post, may I just say I'm excited. Hopefully this will be the tuberose for me.

    And I love Karen Elson. Wish us Yanks got the other picture of her for our article, though. ;3

    RépondreSupprimer
  6. Nathan, thanks for the info and the daring experiment! With the current rate of the euro it should be even cheaper. Please report back when you get it!

    RépondreSupprimer
  7. Nozknoz, they are pretty wearable, actually though of course mine has to be the tubey...

    RépondreSupprimer
  8. Eric, her scents for L'Artisan are admittedly easier to access than the HdP and the IUNX. She seems to be able to develop different languages within her own style: what she does for each of those brands is consistent with her approach and yet specific to the brand.
    Elson's great, isn't she?

    RépondreSupprimer
  9. Thanks for featuring us redheads, GdM! And I love fresh carrot juice, so I must try this one as well. Not to mention, every summer in Florida we have quite a lot of coconuts to harvest, and the neighborhood kids all pitch in to husk, drain, and crack them. Then the cooking and eating begins...hooray to OG for celebrating our culinary traditions in such a lovely manner; I hope this series does really well.
    -Marla

    RépondreSupprimer
  10. marla, love the redheads! After that it's a matter of deciding whether you'll love to smell of what you love to eat!

    RépondreSupprimer
  11. Oh, I want to smell the carrots now. Of course, I want to smell everything you right about, D.

    I read this yesterday and it inspired me to give myself a good dousing of Harissa, which is the most vegetal fragrance I own, I think. And it made me happy. I love that stuff. It was perfect for yesterday's muggy heat.

    Karen Elson is Da Bomb. And for those of you who might be wondering: yes, being a redhead does indeed rock. ;)

    RépondreSupprimer
  12. Yes, GdM, I know what you mean, without Cholula Sauce I would die a swift and painful death, but do I want to smell like I just spilled the bottle on myself? Somehow, I think OG probably avoided that issue....
    -Marla

    RépondreSupprimer
  13. Amy, I really have to try Harissa again, I had the candle at some point but never did the skin thing...

    RépondreSupprimer
  14. Marla, I'm sure Olivia knows how to pick her battles... But there's a whole world of accords to explore out there.

    RépondreSupprimer
  15. Yum...to Olivia, I say, "Go for it!"
    -Marla

    RépondreSupprimer
  16. Marla! A fellow Cholula-lover! Have you had the Chipotle Cholula sauce? Even better than the original! I have been putting it on ev.ry.thing.

    RépondreSupprimer
  17. Ok, I'll be leaving you girls to it then...

    RépondreSupprimer
  18. Denyse -- Got my VampNY package lickety-split and in great shape. It arrived at my mailbox only three days after it was shipped out from Colette, and the Colette people took only two days to pack the order and send it out.

    So, success! And a way for your U.S. readers to get their hands on a VampNY before it's made available to U.S. distributors.

    RépondreSupprimer
  19. Nathan, thanks, that's good to know. I'll be looking forward to your impressions.

    RépondreSupprimer
  20. I ADORE les carrottes !!! Not the orange root itself, which is the only vegetable that I eat without much enthusiasm (along with turnips, at least until Madame OG decides to use them in a new perfume!), but this unusual and stunning fragrance! I asked for a sample while planning to buy Vamp à NY, with a lot of curiosity and expecting something quite odd and unwearable…. What a surprise, what a delight! To tell the entire truth, I’m not sure I do perceive real carrots- while my girlfriend keeps turning her nose away, muttering “grated raw carrots…”or, later, “carrots stewed in oil”... She’s such a smart and refined woman, but I guess sometimes she’d need to be pushed a bit further and beyond, in fragrance appreciation… Anyway, all the other notes I smell are just perfect on my skin: from the zesty and energizing orange in the start, the smooth and velvety iris, to the moist, earthy, rich patchouli. It doesn’t last much, that’s its only flaw. I’d buy it right now, if it weren’t for the small problem above mentioned… (My sincere compliments for your beautiful blog, I would love to attend one of your courses- isn’t there a chance that you’ll do something in Milan?!)

    RépondreSupprimer
  21. Iodine, thank you for your kind words about the blog, and of course all the notes you read are spot-on! It's true it's not the most tenacious of fragrances but of course that's the case when you don't add a bunch of synthetic musks or ambers and haven't used too many balsamic or woody natural materials...
    No plans for Milan yet, I'm afraid, though.

    RépondreSupprimer