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November 25, 2005

Perfume Review: Idole de Lubin (Olivia Giacobetti)


Idole de Lubin... “He embraced her nervously, not daring to ask the question that hovered upon his lips. She had placed a large package on the stand in the center of the room. Opening it she took out a tablet of soap, a bottle of Lubin’s extract, a sponge, a box of hairpins, a button- hook, and curling-tongs…” Guy de Maupassant, Bel Ami (1885).

The names like Lubin, L.T. Piver, Sauzé, Gelle Frères, Millot, Rigaud, Houbigant, and Roger & Gallet may not readily evoke the images of the grand perfume houses, yet until the 20th century, these firms were on par with houses like Guerlain and Coty in contributing to the “Golden Age of Perfumery.” Pierre-François Lubin established his firm under Napoleon in 1798 and eventually became Pauline Bonaparte Princess Borghèse’s appointed perfumer. Over the course of its history, the house created about 466 fragrances. However, its glory seemed to have vanished with the hats and gloves. In this light, it is fascinating to experience Idole de Lubin, created by Olivia Giacobetti. Inspired by the maritime spice routes and voyages to the far away lands, Idole takes the name of Lubin’s fragrance from the early 1960s. However, I should clarify that it is a completely different fragrance, rather than a remake of the vintage one. Could it be the sign of Lubin's revival? ...

The warmth of spices is layered over the vibrant richness of woods, making Idole de Lubin one of the most voluptuous and darkest fragrances composed by Olivia Giacobetti. It does not evoke the images of transparency and hazy glow. Instead, the fragrance burns with the passionate intensity of sweet spices. A hot flame of clove accented by pepper slowly spills into the heart of the composition where it dies down in the smooth folds of orange sweetened leather. The base is filled with the caramel redolent vapours of rum, their warmth imbuing the darkness of woods with appealing sweetness. Against the backdrop of dark rosy sandalwood, a whisper of incense smoke lends an ethereal touch.

While the composition does not have a soft translucence characteristic of Olivia Giacobetti’s creations, her take on an oriental theme is interesting in terms of its ability to give airiness to the dark and heavy wood notes and to maintain outstanding tenacity. Like gold embroidery on silk, Idole de Lubin is a beautiful compromise between opulent richness and refined softness.

While the fragrance possesses a degree of sweetness that marks most classically feminine orientals, it would suit men quite well as it lacks a heavy floral component. In terms of sweetness, I would compare Idole to L’Artisan Tea for Two, while its smoky element is not unlike the incense and sandalwood accord of Costes. Yet, even if some facets recall other Giacobetti creations, the character and the final result diverge, being both richer and darker.

The notes include rum, saffron, bitter orange, black cumin, doum palm, smoked ebony, sugar cane, leather and red sandalwood. Currently, the fragrance is available in France, Romania and Switzerland. In Paris, it can be found at Parfumerie Burdin and L éclaireur. In Genève--from Parfumerie Solidarité, and from Parfumerie Osswald in Zürich. Please check Parfum Lubin for any additional information.

Idole de Lubin advertisement from 1967,



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