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Friday, June 01, 2007

Perfume Review: Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel

Fleurs de Sel, a new fragrance from Miller Harris, was inspired by the village of Batz sur Mer in Brittany and by the happy memories the perfumer Lyn Harries has of the place. The name of the perfume probably refers to

“… hand-harvested sea salt collected by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt before it sinks to the bottom of large salt pans. Traditional French fleur de sel is collected off the coast of Brittany, and is slightly grey due to the sandy minerals collected in the process of harvesting the salt from the pans.” (Wikipedia)

I find salty perfumers, the ones that are not aggressively aquatic, to be very appealing. The association between the sea and the salt brings a certain uplifting, dare I say, almost spiritual quality to the note. As Pablo Neruda noted, in salt “we taste infinitude”. And another quote by Neruda sums up the composition of Fleurs de Sel for me: “the savors of land and sea”…The scent is simultaneously evocative of the sea and very earthy and comfortingly “solid”.

The beginning is certainly salty, but also very herbal…evoking an image of thyme, sage and rosemary growing on a sand, among the salt crystals, somewhere by the wintry, grey sea. I also smell vetiver right from the start, and the note adds cool, green rootiness to the blend. The top notes strike me as cold and, in a way, transparent, but the next stage – floral and woody- warms up the perfume considerably and also brings a substantial, “feet firmly planted on the earth” quality to the composition. The heart of Fleurs de Sel has a very noticeable orris note, the powdery aspect of which is accentuated by the warm, balsamic woody accord and the rose. The scent has a slight muskiness and an even slighter almost-fruity undertone, which I associate with ambrette seed. The base is resinous, the tiniest bit leathery, with woods aplenty. I swear that at this point I smell cinnamon, and the combination of the spice and the dark, warm woods makes me think of Rousse. Salty Rousse. Fleurs de Sel is primal, wind-swept and at the same time very elegant. Lovers of woody and “savory” perfumes should be delighted with this new Miller Harris offering.

Fleurs de Sel is available at millerharris.com, £95.00.

Please visit Aromascope to read Ina’s take on Fleurs de Sel.

Image sources, tourismebretagne.com, millerharris.com.

32 Comments:

Anonymous Maria B. said...

I tried this on yesterday after Tom's review. I like salt in my fragrances and this one I like a lot. Some of yesterday's readers said they liked Sel de Vetiver better. I don't think I'd go for TDC over the Miller Harris. But I must test some more. Do have a wonderful weekend, Colombina.

2:26 AM EDT  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

I'm one who'd definitely go for Sel de Vet over this one - for me, the grapefruit and cardamom work SO much better with the salt. Fleurs de Sel makes me feel like I'm having a spa treatment (not that I ever have) and whilst that's lovely, it's not something I want to carry around with me.

3:24 AM EDT  
Anonymous newproducts said...

I love woodsy scents, but I am not a fan of salty scents. I am guessing I wouldn't love this one.

7:16 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

I love the orris and ambrette in this, but the herbs are the power house players on my skin and simply won't back down...at all. How I wish I got salty Rousse! I'd adore that.

7:21 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp (Judith) said...

Perfect timing! I received a package last night containing a Fleurs de Sel decant, and I sprayed it on before I looked at the blogs! And behold--it's FdS day! Well, I will have to report back later, because it's still in its first stage (no florals yet) but so far I can really see what Lee means about evoking a spa treatment (and I have)! I like it (better than the dabs I tried before), but I am in the Sel de Vet camp too. We shall see what develops. It would be great if there is cinnamon here, not because I particularly want it, but because DH has begun guessing "cinammon?" every time he smells one of my fumes--and he loves it when he's right!

7:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

I'm on the fence about this one.. Some parts of your description sound lovely, some parts not very appealing to me. I love woody and savory but I'm not normally a fan of salty or beachy and orris? Meh. Have to try it of course.

7:32 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Maria,
I actually don't get any likeness between Fleurs de Sel and Sel de Vetiver, so it is hard for me to say which one I like better. I'd say I like them equally, as two different fragrances :-)
Have a great weekend too!!

8:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Lee,
Would you say Fleurs de Sel is less "substantial" on you than Sel de Vetiver? I only ask, because you said, spa...and I always imagene these airy, transparent scent to go with spas. Fleurs de Sel is very much "solid" on me. In fact, truly very Rousse-like in that respect.

8:16 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Minsun,
Then you probably really won't like it, it is quite saltty.

8:18 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

L,
I'd say of all notes, the woods are the strongets on me and whatever spices (not herbs) there are. And that is why I get Rousse, I guess.

8:19 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Judith,
Aw, so sweet. :-)

You know, a "spa" reference is a death of a scent for me. The fragrances I associate with spas are usually not the ones I like. So I am glad I am not getting any spa from FdeS :-)

8:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

S,
It's nto really beachy...well, not in a typical way to which the existing perfuems made us accustomed. It doesn't really smell aquatic or, god forbid, sun-lotion-like, etc. It's just something...I don't know...something sea-like about it :-)

8:22 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp (Judith) said...

Well, I'm not sure what L. meant by "spa," but what I mean is salty wood with some herbs (sauna feel without the heat), not something transparent. And that's still mostly what I'm getting. Sel de Vetiver is actually lighter, but also much more interesting on me. I agree that they are not that similar, apart from the salt. Still no cinammon.

8:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

J,
Ah! Sauna. THAT I like :-) And yes, I definitely get the assocation with a sauna, especially in the beginning.

8:54 AM EDT  
Blogger Ina said...

I really don't get the salt. Where is the salt? On my skin there's no salt. I also get no other flowers but iris. The sage really takes over in this one.

9:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Ina,
What about ambrette seed, do you get that?

9:53 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Well, I'm glad that you like it as well. Do you think it's FB worthy? I'm not sure yet. I like it, but am still on the fence about $180.

Strangely, Bigelow chemists in NYC carries some Miller Harris in 1.7 oz bottles. If I could get one in that size I'd go for it.

I think I am getting over the idea that everything must be purchased in the lifetime-commitment size.

(I'm a 'fume whore, I know)

11:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tom,
I don't think it is FBW for me. But L'air de Rien and Noix de Tubereuse are. :-)

11:47 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Well, Noix de Tuberose is one that Bigelows has in the 50ml bottle!

http://www.bigelowchemists.com/product_info.php/products_id/3665

11:51 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Thank you, Tom!

12:27 PM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp (Judith) said...

No salt, Ina? Your skin is weird. Sorry, but it's so salty on me that I can TASTE it! I agree that the orris is beaten down with a clary sage leaf (and/or whatever those things they beat people with in steam baths are; I've never done this, so it's more the idea:)

12:31 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

I'll hate it, right?

12:48 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

J,
I haven't done THAT in a while, so I might be very wrong here, but I *think* they use branches (with leaves on them) of birch trees in Russian steam baths/saunas.

12:59 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

R,
Maybe not hate. But you probably won't like it all that much. I think. :-)

12:59 PM EDT  
Anonymous Ina said...

No ambrette either. It's the Clary Sage Rule.

1:36 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Ina,
I wouldn't have been thrilled with that either :-(

1:59 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

That's what I thought, thanks :-)

9:59 PM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

Sauna? Now we're talking! I have wrote favorable reviews of several scents compairing them to the hot, dry wood scent in a sauna.
Birch branches it is, in Scandinavia too. Not that I've ever actually beaten myself with birch branches in a sauna... But my part-Finnish girlfriend (they're very big on saunas over there, saunas, vodka and fighting with knives, so does the legend go) thought Paul Smith Story smelled like those birch branches with tiny new leaves on them...

7:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

S,
Saunas, vodka and fighting. Ah. Sounds familiar. *sheds a tear* :-)

9:31 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the herbal part of the Miller-Harris scent. It is not too strong and blends well with the other notes. I also detect a slightly spicy scent after a few minutes but it goes away. The vetiver remains after a few hours, but it stays light on me. The orris is extremely light, too. This scent does not strike me as very "beachy" as in crowded, polluted beaches. It is fresh, like a day spent in Carmel or Monterey, California. I have large decant and I want the full bottle NOW! :)
-CH

3:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

CH,
I agree. This is a deserted, "wild" beach, not a touristy one.

3:49 PM EDT  
Blogger BestWicklessCandles said...

What a wonderful review. I have to try this now. I like the fragrance that make me feel like I am having a spa treatment.

2:25 PM EDT  

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