It’s a bit surprising to find out that L’Artisan is a 40 year old “niche perfume” company and have published nearly 80 perfumes, and I am glad that they are still here.
Although I really like the new 2016 packaging design of L’Artisan, I see it as a signal for me to bite the bullet and buy some of the bottles with the old design that I’ve always wanted – my collection will look better, also right now the prices are really good on eBay.
L’Artisan Parfumeur’s L’eau du Caporal (1985)
L’eau du Caporal, one of the earliest releases, is a scent that’s supposed to make you smell like a handsome corporal with perfect pearly teeth on the cover a paperback romance novel. To me, it’s a combo scent of fresh breath after a vigorous gargling of spearmint mouthwash (that lasts and lasts), and a light fougere with hints of lavender and patchouli that fights your perspiration under that blue stiff jacket. The combined effect is actually quite unusual (light manly minty cologne), I have never smelled anything like it, and it doesn’t smell dated at all.
L’artisan Parfumeur’s Seville a L’aube (2012)
I’ve heard many good things about Seville a L’aube and some people call it the reference orange blossom perfume. I can see why, but somehow any perfumes with an orange blossom theme tend to smell similar, like any vanilla themed dessert when you start putting strawberries or chocolate on top it’s no longer a vanilla themed dessert.
I over-applied this perfume once by reflex action because it’s a L’Artisan perfume – they rarely last more than three hours on me, but this time I was wrong. It stays with me like a bucket of orange blossom concentrate that has rained on me in the movie Carrie. Luckily, the scent has a soapy vibe; I smell like I have taken a really good shower.
L’artisan Parfumeur’s Mimosa Pour Moi (1992)
Before smelling Mimosa Pour Moi and Diptyque’s Mimosa candles, I only had a vague understanding of what mimosa really smelled like because they are often blended in perfumes to give some olfactive effect. (Kind of like flour mixed into oil to make gravy; it thickens a perfume to make it smells gelatinous. I sound like a lunatic, don’t I?)
I can’t say I am crazy about the scent of mimosa, and it has a smell that I can’t describe perfectly – it smells resinous and a bit raw and vegetal but not completely; and I can’t even say it smells floral to me. It’s just strange.
Mimosa Pour Moi to me is a perfume for reference. It’s not complicated at all, it’s just… mimosa and something light. It doesn’t bring me much joy but more like an enlightenment.
L’Artisan Parfume’s Passage d’Enfer (1999)
The translated French title is “Passage to Hell”. With a name like this, how come no one talks about it? If it really were a passage to hell, you are going to be greeted by a silly golden retriever licking your face and a welcome basket of kittens.
This is a 17 year old incense themed perfume and it still smells modern and “niche” by today’s standard, but it doesn’t have a distinct, opulent or bad boy character of today’s incense perfumes. It is light, airy, mildly sweet, woody scent infused with a little bit of lily. If you like Le Labo’s prohibitively expensive Gaiac 10 perfume, this is the incense version of it.
L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Mandarine (2006)
I got this when L’Artisan put everything on sale to get rid of the old packaging, and possibly this one for good. This scent reminds me of two things – hotel lobby and Tang artificial orange powder drink.
The opening is a refreshing, friendly, mildly sweet citrus scent with ginger to make it slightly exotic, but this blend smells like the lobby of a few hotels that I have stayed in Hong Kong, which runs powerful aroma diffusers 24/7. The scent is nice and inoffensive, and even my friend has been looking for this scent for his home ever since he returned. Now if I wear Mandarine next to him, he might ask if I have just visited Hong Kong.
The mid phase of this scent is Tang orange powder that has made millions of kids fat, unfortunately I am one of the victims, and the needle is hovering between “you ruined me” and “why does it smell powdery” and wouldn’t stop like a sine curve for an hour or so.
Eventually it settles into a sweet, mild ambery orangey skin scent that would smell nice on anybody on a summer day.
L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Fou d’Absinthe (2006)
From zero interest to full-blown love. It wasn’t the most interesting scent from L’artisan when I started exploring the line and the 1ml sample didn’t help. Now I find absinthe smell more interesting than vetiver and this scent is elegant like Chanel’s Sycomore, “barbershop-style humble”, manly, but staying 10 yards away from the gang who wears Drakkar Noir. An elegant classic.