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April 27, 2006

Fragrance Review: Orchidee Blanche by L'Artisan

Whiteorchid

L’Artisan Parfumeur is a quintessential niche line, with the fragrances possessing quirky compositions, whimsical names and a flair for elegant simplicity. Under the direction of Jean-François Laporte, it has produced the classic like Mûre et Musc (1978) and the maltol overdosed Vanilia (1978). It was the first to introduce a fig accord in Premier Figuier (1994), to use coffee notes in L’Eau du Navigateur (1978), to make an animalic composition like Dzing! (1999) appear ethereal. That being said, a number of perfumes in the line are disappointingly thin, especially the florals, some of which strike me as so dainty that I feel like walking on tip toes when wearing them.

Orchidée Blanche is one of the few exceptions that make a bold floral statement. Created under the direction of Laporte in 1985, it presents a stunning white flower wrapped in a delicious layer of sweet iris and a subtle accent of spice. Its voluptuous arrangement shares more lineages with the soft floral-aldehydic fragrances of 1970s than with the rest of the L’Artisan florals. Perhaps, the now unpopular powderiness is one of the reasons for Orchidée Blanche being a relatively obscure L’Artisan perfume. Yet, the glamorous character and vintage elegance make it worth exploring, especially for those with the penchant for classics. ...

If flowers were made of cashmere, Orchidée Blanche would be their fragrance, with its sensual softness being simultaneously soothing and alluring. The composition presents an intriguing contrast between the starched aldehydic top notes and the gourmand base of vanilla and honey. Harmonizing the two olfactory extremes is the iris, a frosty whisper of which tempers the meltingly sweet indulgence of ylang ylang and jasmine. The classical interplay of floral notes modulated by the coumarin sweetness is the loveliest aspect, however despite its retro allusions, the compositions retains a modern panoramic quality. Wearing Orchidée Blanche is like being embraced gently, and the pleasure of losing oneself in that feeling is what lends magic to this exotic floral bouquet.

Two other L’Artisan florals deserve more attention. One is the hyacinth and oakmoss ensemble of La Haie Fleurie de Hameau and another is the sinfully creamy Tubéreuse. Orchidée Blanche contains notes of bergamot, magnolia, nectarine, iris, honey, vanilla.  

Photo of white orchids is from a fascinating website Photographicdreams.com.

Update: this fragrance has  been discontinued.

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