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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Perfume Review: L'Artisan Voleur de Rose

I attest to the sincerity of this review, however, in the interests of absolute transparency, please do read this disclaimer first.


There are scents that one admires as a concept, the kind that is wonderful in principle, like excluding carbs and sugar form one's diet or being politically conscious, but somehow isn't suited for one's real and imperfect life. Voleur de Roses, the blend of roses (I don't really do roses) and patchouli (I really don't do patchouli), which I have always - and too banally - perceived as "goth" (and what am I like, fifteen?) or "bohemian" borderline "hippie-ish" (which is so not my style), has always been one of those scents for me.

Until I met a colleague of mine for whom Voleur has been a signature fragrance since the day of its release back in 1993. The colleague's style was as far removed from "goth" or "boho-chic" as it can possibly be. She was the very epitome of a classical sort of elegance, impeccably yet nonchalantly put together (Hermes scarf carelessly but perfectly draped over the shoulders, Chanel spectator flats...) and what I can only describe as "very European". I would have expected her to wear something canonically chic, an old Guerlain, Caron or Chanel or perhaps La Haie Fleurie... but she wore Voleur and it did smell canonically chic one her.

And although I can only aspire to that degree of insouciant refinement, ever since Voleur de Roses smelled nothing but chic on me too. Gone were the headshoppy and sinister associations...and where could they have come from? this well-mannered patchouli note? Even the roses do not smell as "dark" as before, they are now deep pink rather than carmine red, with the plum note in the beginning adding a wonderfully succulent, almost edible undertone to the composition. The warm, smooth blend of patchouli, sandalwood and amber is so charming and distingue it might as well come with a title and an apartment in sixième arrondissement. I don't want, however, to completely rob Voleur de Roses of its "darkness", there is something in its velvety depth, something like a hint of Belle du Jour in the perfectly polished femininity of Séverine... something you'd never expect from this exquisitely, maybe even a touch conservatively, attired creation. Recherché and subtly subversive, Voleur, is, to me, one of Michel Almairac's masterpieces and one of the brightest gems in L'Artisan's collection.

Image source, catherine.deneuve.free.fr.

41 Comments:

Blogger elle said...

On my list of things to do before I shuffle off this mortal coil is to have VdR work on my skin. If I need skin chemistry surgery (or would it be injections? pills?) for this to happen, well so be it. This is the most gloriously beautiful scent on a number of other people I know who wear it. On me? Suffice it to say, it's not. Sob!!
Love that picture of Deneuve! Perfect for VdR.

10:15 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

I find this scent very "artsy" and strange. I remember reading a review that said this smelled like walking through a rose garden in the rain with mud squishing between your toes. I vacillate between wanting a bottle and not because I am not sure I could pull this off. Who am I kidding? Of course I could pull this off. But, am I grown up enough?

10:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Beth Gehring said...

What a provacative review! Isn't it amazing how the "wrong" scent on the right person can alter our experience forever? I haven't figured out this little bit of magic yet, but me thinks that it's totally alchemical. I have had this experience myself with Ciara, that old Revson (I think) perfume that I endlessly made fun of. All of a sudden a woman that I adore walked into my business wearing it, and it smelled warm and very chic on her, not at all cheap. I was smitten and not unapologetic to the perfume dieties. Same goes for Opium which I swore that I would never wear again and then my sister walked in wearing it and I was completely caught off guard. Voleur de Rose is one that I can't wait to try on my NYC sniffing trip in December, the 14th ,15th and 16th to be exact!!!!!!

10:38 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

L,
If it could happen to me, without having to reincarnate or to change skin chemistry, then it can happen to you :-)

10:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Kelley,
Of course you can pull it off! If anyone can, it's you!

10:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Beth,
I come you come a-sniffing you know where, OK?!

10:48 PM EDT  
Blogger Faizan said...

A bit of rose for a few minutes, and then a total plummy patchouli bomb. After experiencing fragrances like Czech & Speake no. 88, Domenico Carceni EDT, Rose 31, Rose Poivree, Montale Black Aoud and a few other superlative rose fragrances, VdR smells totally irrelevant and unnecessary...that is unless you like a bit of rose mixed in with your patchouli (I don't).

10:56 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Faizan,
Is Black Aoud our favorite Montale scent / rose-aoud blend of theirs? I think Aoud Roses Petals holds that place in my heart.

10:58 PM EDT  
Anonymous Lavanya said...

Voleur de Roses- and one of the few rose perfumes I like and wear (though I must say nowadays, quite contrarily, I am craving pretty 'rosey' fragrances- any suggestions?I have tried a few of the rosines but found them too sweet!)..on days when this doesn't quite work on my skin- I layer it with mure et musc and it works very well!!

1:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

This is one of those times when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts - which is of course the hallmark of a great fragrance! I have tried this and I like it very much, though it's not "me." However, your review is so delicious it makes wish it was!

2:26 AM EDT  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

It's a scent I own but rarely where - it's a little too chic for me in the way French patchouli can be...

4:39 AM EDT  
Anonymous violadiparma said...

One illusion less. Hoped VdR is the rose fragrance I miss last months. Miss finding something so rose, so rose garden morning dew, so chic,so....

5:05 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I have always liked this fragrance, but it's never really moved me. I have some, though, and I will try it after having read your wonderful piece, to see if my perception changes.

6:24 AM EDT  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

Ouch - smarting from my spelling atrocity! That's what you get when a man multitasks...

6:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Lavanya,
With MetM? What an interesting combination! It probably accentuates the plum note, doesn't it?

Rosey perfumes...Juliette Has a Gun Miss Charmin and Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgarie perhaps?

7:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Donna,
It might yet become "you", you never know :-) The things that has become "me" in the past year...I would have never believed if someone told me before :-)

7:45 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Lee,
Chic French patchouli, LOL. Chic patchouli seems like an oxymoron, but it actually isn't, as it turns out :-)
I think VdeR would go ever so well with a Dior suit. Just sayin'.

7:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

E,
I recommend you try Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgarie for that dewy rose feeling!

7:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

J,
I "see" you in it, totally!

7:47 AM EDT  
Anonymous Divalano said...

I keep wanting to be ok with rose, so now & then I try one. Usually, I sneeze. The nice SAs at L'A on Thompson gave my friend a samp of this & she passed it to me. To me the notes sounded velvety dark & mysterious so I tried. Nope, sneeze. Drat, foiled again.

8:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Divalano,
I am sorry roses make you sneeze! Most of roses just annoy me, that's all. The pink and juicy and soliflore-y ones, that is.

8:14 AM EDT  
Blogger Dust Glitter and Vapor said...

Patchouli and I don't get along so well, so I've avoided VdR, but I'll give it a try now. Chic, Deneuve, how could I resist?

9:09 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Roses are not normally my BFF, but I will have to try this one...

9:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Ducks said...

I adore this fragrance on my husband... on me it is treacly and bizarre, with a hefty slap of sour that comes and goes. On him, it's subtle, elegant, and intriguing. He loathes all things head shop, so I was equally surprised to find that we both liked it; you're right, all the boho/goth associations express themselves only graciously if at all.

11:13 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

EFT, keeping mouth zipped shut ;-)

1:28 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to be a perfect fragrance to wear on cold fall evenings, walking around the Medieval art galleries of the Met. This might just be the perfume for this Friday's museum outing for me. :)

Vika

4:36 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Dust Glitter and Vapor,
Resistance is futile :-)

4:38 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

R,
LOL, of course, I should have guessed :-)

4:38 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tom,
Nor are they mine, but what can you do, sometimes magic happens :-)

4:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Linda,
subtle, elegant, and intriguing - exactly!

4:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Vika,
You make me long for an evening like that!..

4:40 PM EDT  
Anonymous Pantera Lilly said...

When I first smelled Voleur de Rose I was totally smitten. I loved the joining of the patch and rose and thought it was one of the loveliest scents I had ever worn. Now, you must understand, this was at the beginning of my perfume madness!! I wore this scent everyday until a good friend of mine said the following: "it smells like bug spray" or something to that effect, and I knew it was my perfume, and I stopped wearing it. I don't know why because she wore Paris and I didn't like that scent either but I would not have said anything to her about it. But she made that remark and I never wore it again. So now, that I'm a little more grown up I think I will take it out again and give it another go. I am not so easily swayed anymore and will hold my ground, I loved that scent so much!!!

4:58 PM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

I just smelled this recently at Liberty in London, not on my skin, just on a test strip. It did smell like a rose scent I could like - because it was goth and hippie-ish. No, "goth chic" and "hippie chic", but still. Can't imagine it as refined-refined, only as a refined version of BPAL's "Zombie" - dried rose petals and dirt. I thought the patchouli note was very dark and earthy. Must try it on my skin though... I don't normally do roses (like you - pink, annoying...) but I do the kind with a dark base, like Black Aoud and Noir de Noir and Paestum Rose.

5:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Pantera Lilly,
Oh, I am so sorry that comment spoiled it for you. Do try it again, perhaps the curse is now broken, so to say.

5:32 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

T,
No-no, not goth-chic or hippie-chic, but chic-chi :-) On me , that is (thank goodness). However, the dark base is definitely very much there.

5:32 PM EDT  
Blogger Faizan said...

Marina, yes, I think Black Aoud is the most complex Montale and its one of my faves...although the oud overpowers the rose and leather if sprayed on too heavy.

What do you think of Floris no. 89?

1:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Faizan,
I know that I tried it a long, long time ago, but, unfortunately, don't remember it. Does it have a rose note?

9:42 AM EDT  
Anonymous charles said...

The thief/robber of rose?
Yes a very nice fragrance and all that you and everyone else that like it have said,
I agree. There just one little tiny thing – It last on me about 30-45 minutes.
So I just sit back now and smell the cap.
Wonderful fragrance and of course, your writing and style is always top notch.

9:57 AM EDT  
Anonymous joe805 said...

Though I read your blog frequently, I found this review through a Google search for something else and started reading it assuming it must have been written years ago. I was surprised to discover it was written in October just around the time my partial-bottle find of VdR arrived! Wonderful review.

I love this scent, especially with the fall weather, and on me I get only the slightest, muted rose note coming through the dignified patch (which I must say, scares me sometimes -- I fully expect someone to say, "What the heck are you wearing? Patchouli?!", though a coworker complimented me on it in the office, so I guess it's fine.)

Next on my list to try is Montale Aoud Rose Petals, and from what I've heard, if C&S still made Dark Rose, I'd be in heaven. As a man, I'm enjoying exploring these darker, woodier rose scents. Fell in love with a sample of Ava Luxe Incense Rose, but sadly, she's now on indefinite hiatus.

11:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Joe,
I am so glad you are exploring roses. Dark rose scents smell amazing on men's skin. I would also highly recommend other Montale rose aouds, like Aoud Damascus.

12:21 PM EDT  
Blogger Kingpharroh said...

I'm very intrigued by this one. I have a sample of this scent and its growing on me. On my skin I get a crushed green stem accord at the top followed by a somewhat candied plum accord in the middle. The dirty patchouli is prevalent throughout the composition which smells like freshly tilled dirt. Very masculine in my eyes. Don't know if I would grab a full bottle just yet.

12:45 PM EDT  

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