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May 27, 2007

Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel : Perfume Review

Fleur_de_sel

The love affair with chypre fragrances—those complex and intense harmonies of citrus, floral, woody, mossy and animalic notes—has always been tumultuous. If some families such as florals have an immediate and familiar appeal, abstract chypres require more patience in order to appreciate them. Yet, witnessing the revival of the family over the past few years leads me to conclude that we are once again in a chypre-infatuated decade. …

Of course, the chypres of the 2000s are not the classical chypres of the past due to restrictions on the usage of oakmoss given its allergenic properties. Modern chypres rely on sheer and austere oakmoss synthetics, which give a cool and mineral quality in contrast to the smoky, leathery and woody darkness of natural oakmoss absolutes. Therefore, while the newest Miller Harris fragrance, Fleurs de Sel is inspired by the woody mossy character of chypre, it is a modern composition with a nod to the classical past. At the same time, given its vetiver theme, Fleurs de Sel follows the footsteps of the remarkably successful Terre d’Hermès (a recent launch most industry experts would name as one bound to attain classical status). Salty, mineral and earthy, Fleurs de Sel is at once rustic and graceful.

Fleurs de Sel was inspired by the childhood home of its creator Lyn Harris in Batz sur Mer, a small village in Brittany ensconced between beaches and salt marshes. The composition explores the aromatic, salty facet of vetiver, framing it in the mossy and leathery chypre accord. If after the initial burst of herbal brightness, Fleurs de Sel resembles the sheer and refined The Different Company Sel de Vétiver, it soon establishes its own character—warm, spicy, delicately smoky and pleasantly earthy. Although I have been critical of the Miller Harris line in the past, I have to note that Fleurs de Sel is one of the best examples of Lyn Harris’s ability to marry a lush, nature-inspired quality with modern minimalism. The result is nuanced and elegant, with an interesting twist on the classical theme.

Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel includes notes of red thyme oil, rosemary, clary sage, iris nobilis, narcissus, rose, ambrette seed, woods, vetiver, moss, leather. Fleurs de Sel is available in Eau de Parfum and Parfum (pictured above; limited edition) concentrations. It can be purchased directly from the Miller Harris website or Saks 5th Avenue.

Photo of fleur de sel, the precious salt that dries naturally in the salt marshes, from aftouch-cuisine.com.

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