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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Adventures in Le Labo

Review by Tom

I thought I'd take a break from some of the Lutens reviews (but I am more than willing to do more of them), since I received a sampler pack from Le Labo in New York

Thursday: Labdanum 18

I thought that Colombina had not reviewed this one, but I realized that they had changed the name: it was previously Ciste 18. When I first got my three sample box from Le Labo I was impressed. These are samples that are worth the price, large enough for someone like me to use as main bottles for a decent amount of time. I can always re-order the one that I like, and one or two others I want to try. A brilliant idea from Le Labo! Upon first spraying of Labdanum 18 (I ripped the package open in my office and sprit zed a tiny bit on my wrist) I was a bit dismayed. I had gotten used to the SL idea that even his scents with the most classically "feminine" ingredients can be worn by men (well, I haven't tried this with Tubereuse Criminelle, soooo). The opening is very nice, but I thought, sweet. I got the labdanum, and the angelica that Colombina mentioned, and I got powder. It was, dare I say... dainty? It was definitely not me. I went to the bathroom and washed it off. As I was wandering around the corridors doing my various tasks, I kept smelling something- a lovely soft patchouli backed by the faintest, most buttery chocolate. What was it? Did one of my coworkers discover Angel, and was, like an old co-worker, one of the three people that could make it smell good? I didn't want to barge into a random office and ask, so... Then hours later, I got whiffs of musk. I had been wearing MKK the night before, but I do shower daily, and this wasn't MKK. It was very much like Musc Ravageur. I sniffed my wrist- it was me!

Later I tried it again. The dainty portion of our program was over. It was now a rich and full-bodied Oriental, musky, heady and luscious. And then.. dainty. Hours later: still dainty. I don't like dainty. Okay, I guess I am willing to put time and energy to find out if this will end up with something that I like, and perhaps I am not getting some avant-garde lesson on the fleetingness of scent here, but really: we are talking about 12 hours. How much more is this scent going to change? Will I pick it up tomorrow only to find that it's now honey? Next week new car? Peat moss in a month? When can I have the great Oriental opening and the Musc Ravageur drydown, and how do I lock that version down? Grrr.


I wake up, still dainty. I shower vigorously, but I am going to go back and try this scent again before I give up completely- I want that fabulous Oriental and the musky drydown, dammit!

Freshly showered, I am onto the second in the pack:

Patchouli 24

As Le Labo states “patchouli is not easy to detect in this formula". That's an understatement. Patchouli is almost nowhere to be detected in this one. I'd be seriously upset by this, but what is there is so wonderful, I don't much care. The patchouli is in fact there, but it's very dry and somewhat dusty, like ancient leaves of the plant combined with sweet smoky birch and bone-dry leather. I only get the merest hint of the vanilla that Colombina gets, which is fine with me. Patchouli 24 for me is wonderful, especially after the rather vexing Labdanum 18. But we'll see what happens this evening when I try it again. I hope it doesn't suddenly smell like sausage links and vinyl.... Friday evening I respritz. I am hooked. More smokey birch and dry leather. Now I get the vanilla, slight but creamy and although it's not listed, I get musk. This is a must-have full bottle, in the large size, please.

Saturday morning. In the interest of science. I should be trying my third try-out, Vetiver 46. Well, screw science, I am going to meet friends for lunch and I am wearing Patchouli 24. Science can wait until Sunday.

Sunday. Science can still wait. I am discovering new and interesting things to do with Patchouli 24. You can layer it with Yatagan. 24 kills off some of the in-your-face ashtray accord of Yatagan, while the Caron plays up the leather and amps up the musk. Yummmm!

Monday. Vetiver 46

This one starts off as perhaps the best of the bunch- a bone dry vetiver with hints of incense, pepper and woods. Sadly on me, I never get to the second stage that Colombina describes since it just disappears. I cannot smell a thing. I wonder if it's olfactory overload, although I am not one to get that usually (I never need the coffee beans at the perfume counter). I ask a coworker if she can smell it. She says no, even after getting close enough that a passing HR exec would send us both back to the sexual harassment seminar. Hours later, I get faint whiffs of it, bits of vanilla and wood, vaguely ambered. It's nice, but it's not going to knock Guerlain off my list.

I go home in the evening and respritz. I really love the opening, but it fades too fast and too far. I try layering it with Guerlain Vetiver. Not great- the two seem strangely at odd with one another.

Tuesday: Patchouli 24 again. God I love this one. In the evening I try layering it with the Labdanum. It almost kills the dainty. I really wanted the Labdanum to work on me but it just wont settle down to one fragrance. Oh well, one out of three is a knock-it-out-of-the-park for me. I think that Patchouli 24 will be my Christmas present to myself. Christmas may just have to happen a little early this year.....

*The image is from


Blogger elle said...

I adore the Labdanum, but it definitely does have a multiple personality thing going on. The Patchouli is my favorite of the line. Absolutely swoon worthy. But...Christmas? Please! August 7th is a Civic Holiday in Canada (close enough to the US that I think their holidays should be honored out of neighborly respect), August 9th is International Youth Day and Aug. 21st the wildly festive Yukon Discovery Day. SO many holidays that we should honor w/ an exchange of presents w/ our perfume loving selves. Christmas is for other people - Civic and Bank holidays are for ourselves.

7:11 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

Great reviews, Tom! I really love this line: they all seem to work on me! Patchouli is my favorite too (and it's becoming one of my all-time faves). The guys in the store told me that it has "big shoulders" and that I must have "character" to wear it; I guess it does and I do, but frankly, I find it infinitely comforting, like a scent remembered from long ago. I must have been rocked in a birchtar cradle. I must try this with Yatagan--very soon!

I like Labdanum too; it smells like a softer Musc Ravageur on me. I can see how it might seem dainty, though. And Vetiver is great, but it smells strangely like my father to me (I usually don't get as many memories as I do with this line:); anyway, my husband promply stole it from me and put it with his stuff. This is quite an endorsement from him, because, although I spray him with stuff all the time, he rarely reacts one way or another. The only other scent he was moved to steal was Montale Cuir d'Arabie (I finally had to buy US a bottle:). The Vetiver does stick around on both of us. Chemistry.

You should try the rose, too; it's theoretically for men, but I really like it (though it's somewhere behind the above three for me).

7:54 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

These 3 are my very favorites from Le Labo and of them Patchouli is the most favorite. The rest of the line was nice but not as interesting as this three, although, as Judith said, Rose might be worth a try.
Thank you for the great reviews!

10:03 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


If there isn't a holiday that I can make present-worthy, I am perfectly able to amke one up. I hereby name the month of August National Sofa-Care Month. One should celebrate by buying the perfume of one's choice.

11:30 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I do have "big shoulders" (literally). As for the character, well.... I find it comforting as well. Maybe our parents ahopped for cradles at the same store!

11:33 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I will definately try the rose. But what else? Ambrette? Neroli? Hmmmmm.

Thanks for the words of encouragement, and for posting my reveiws. I'm enjoying writing them!

11:38 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Slaps head - National Sofa-Care Month! Of course! Just wanted to say that I have now layered the LL Patch w/ Yatagan....whoa! Am loving this combo! Am now wondering if the Labdanum 18 could be "oomphed" up a bit w/ a *tiny* drop of Borneo 1834...or would the Borneo just strangle all life out of it? Must try that tonight on a free ankle. Look forward to reading more great scent reviews from you here.

1:02 PM EDT  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

Lovely reviews. Patchouli and Labdanum do layer really well.

1:52 PM EDT  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Lovely reviews, Tom!

Makes me want to sample all three[just in the interests of science-ahem!]...

Big shoulders, and you smell good, too...mmmm...

4:07 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Labdanum & Borneo? Hmmmmmmm

7:37 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I consider all of my various sniffings to be in the interest of science. It's my own version of "not tested on animals"

7:39 PM EDT  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Back at ya !

Have to love your humor...

7:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

You say the samples are worth the price, but what is the price really? It seems to be a well-kept secret on their homepage so I'd be grateful for an answer... I'm interested in trying just those three scents.

1:07 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

The price is $45 for three 5ml samples. I am not sure if that includes shipping or not. I believe you have to send Le Labo an email to order. Complicated, I know!

10:23 PM EDT  

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