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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Perfume Review: L'Artisan L'Eau du Navigateur

To all the glamorous pirates out there.
They know who they are

L’Eau du Navigateur, created in 1979, is said to have been inspired by “the spices discovered by the courageous navigators in the wedge of caravels” as well as by “exotic wood and strong coffee resins”. A wonderful fellow perfumista who introduced me to this amazing scent, calls L’Eau du Navigateur a Pirate’s perfume. It is a scent of an adventurer, of someone who is forever dreaming of far away lands, who suffers from that unbearable and wonderful affliction, wanderlust. This is an urban and urbane pirate, the kind that wears impeccable clothes to his or her mellow city job, and hardly ever lets anyone get a glimpse of the wild side and the longing that is hiding underneath the elegant façade.

And to prevent any more waxing poetic, let me focus on the scent itself. L’Eau du Navigateur starts with an extremely attractive coffee note, which is smoky, sweet and has an unexpectedly, green, subtly fresh undertone. The coffee note is not so forceful as to completely dominate the scent, but it stays present throughout the fragrance’s development. The mix of coffee, woods, myrrh and (very faint) leather is quite frankly one of the most attractive blends I have ever encountered. What I like about it the most is its soft smokiness. It isn’t the aggressive smokiness of Eau des Iles, nor the meaty smokiness of Kolnisch Juchten; it is more pronounced than that in Bois d’Armenie. For me, L’Eau du Navigateur has the perfect “amount” of smokiness, just enough to give the scent the most appealing husky feel and yet not too much to overwhelm. At the danger of offending this sexy Pirate of a perfume, I am tempted to call it a comfort scent. Its smokiness is like a warm, downy blanket, it envelopes, it cuddles, it soothes…it quietly tells stories of adventures in the far seas, of ships full of precious cargo; it gently hums in one’s ear its lullaby, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum...and, comforted and inspired, one falls asleep to see the colorful dreams about the life one would never lead.

As far as I am concerned, the decision to discontinue L’Eau du Navigateur has been one of L’Artisan’s most mind-boggling and unfortunate. (They should meet the rope's end for that, me hearties!) If you click on another country, for example United Kingdom, L’Eau du Navigateur still seems to be available to buy at L’Artisan’s online boutique. Just not to the US-based buyers. Oh, the unfairness! It can also be purchased at The Perfume Shoppe in Canada, CAN 120 for 100ml.

(My apologies to the people of Le Gallion for using their ad for Eau de Vetyver de Le Gallion here, but it seemed very fitting.)


Blogger katiedid said...

Hey! The pirate theme is so timely! Talk Like a Pirate Day is just around the bend, you know ;D Hopefully I will be able to make the Portland Pirate Festival this year, hehe. Portland is so weird. Thank god.

11:02 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to see this review, I *love* this one - bought it from Nazrin at the Perfume Shoppe earlier in the summer. It is, as you say, very comforting. My husband calls the drydown "clean". I think what he means is that it has a warm skin quality that is cozy - like having a warm bath and then cuddling into your duvet.

11:50 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

The unfairness indeed- Perfume Circe draws one in and then there's the rocks. Give me a l'Artisan that I want to buy and tell me that it's discontinued.

Shame on you l'Artisan!

12:36 AM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

It sounds absolutely wonderful, right up my alley! And the pirate associations are not making things worse... I must try it asap, before it vanishes. I just wish I could ever afford a bottle, I bet I'll get my hands on a sample and love it dearly only to watch it disappear...

6:32 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

OOh Arrgh, OOh arrgh ! Avast, me hearties !!!

I love this as well, and I can never decide whether I'm a pirate, a Lorelei-type siren, or a gypsy... but they've all been in my blood since I could walk...

Being 1/2 Eastern European, I know some of it's in there- we definitely had horsethieves and a few murderers in there...

I'll check for you, but I think Barney's, or CO Bigelow's might carry it...

Lovely post, Marinochka !

6:39 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Fantastic review! I really do see this as a comfort scent too - and my ideal choice for someone to read me bedtime stories would indeed be a pirate. This used to be a HG of mine and I was distraught when they d/ced it. I was even more outraged when they then introduced Navegar as a replacement. Hmph! I've never been able to give Navegar a fair chance, because I can't help but see it as incredibly insipid in comparison to Navigateur, which has true guts and character. Grumble, grumble, grumble...reaches for sword, gives Navegar a menacing look...

7:32 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I love this, too (naturally:) And I believe it is still available at the NY L'Artisan boutique. At least, it was the last time I asked. . . And, like Chaya, I am pretty sure I have seen it recently SOMEWHERE else (but I'm not sure where).

7:35 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

PS Love the ad. . .makes me want to try their perfume. Have you sniffed it?

7:37 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Killin' me. You are KILLING me. I didn't even know this existed. Didn't I already give you my "no more reviews of discontinued frags" lecture, or was that Ina? Only stuff I can find at Macy's.

EVERYONE -- Can you post back if you see it somewhere? With maybe a phone #? (whimpers)

7:55 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

March, It is definitely at the Perfume shoppe in Canada, which has a website and sells samples:
You might also try calling L'Artisan in NY; I know they had it fairly recently. This is one of their numbers: (212) 334-1500.

8:25 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, you make this sound so good! You had me at myrrh. Do you smell that note in this? The two places you mention--the one in UK and the other in Canada--can we order samples from there (and hopefully FBs)? What was L'Artisan's reason for discontinuing this scent? Argggh! [/pirate impression]

8:59 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, lilyofbp already answered the sample buying question. Sorry about that. Too eager to post. But my other questions (the myrrh note & why was it discontinued) still stand.

9:02 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

The L'Artisan boutique still has some bottles, but the SA said they only had a few left and then that would be it.

9:04 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, are we sure this is being discontinued and not just relaunched for men in the new bottle, like Fou and Dzongwotsit (I still have yet to smell this - l'Artisan have ignored three emails - in French I might add!)? I don't know anything for certain, but I'm just wondering.

I love this scent in the bottle, but coffee and me, we don't get along. So I'd love to tarry a wee while wi' the rest of yous, mi hearties, but I'm a-walking the plank...

9:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Arrr! (I wonder if I could possibly pull off starting every commment with Arrr today.) I'd like to live in a weird area (safe weird, mind you). Ours is so normal it's...almost weird! :-)

9:49 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Perfect description - "warm skin quality that is cozy"!

9:49 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You can still buy it. It is sold at Perfume Shoppe, and, as per comments below even NYC L'Artisan boutique still has "some bottles" left.

9:51 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I wish they sold it in 50ml bottles. The 100ml ones are a) big and b) expensive!

9:57 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Arrgh, arrgh! :-) I doubt Barneys still carries it but you never know, they might. Horsethieves and murderers...ah, so romantic! :-)

9:58 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I haven't tried Navegar. Don't want to give my time to this impostor, this wannabe! Ugh!

10:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

That's what they told Ina, when she called, that there are just a few bottles left. The funny thing is, the told the same about Orchidee Blanche, which is still pretty much available. Though, to be fair, Navigateur *was* discontinued long before.

10:01 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I haven't tried Le Gallion's Eau de Vetyver, but I really want to. Love the ad.

10:02 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I believe the lovely J and L answered your question. I promise I'll review what Macy's sells...whent they something worth reviewing, heh! :-D

10:03 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I do get myrrh. But it's not a dominant note by far. Still, it's there and it's wonderful, soft and slightly sweet.

10:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I may be mistaken (I probably am), but I think Navegar was supposed to be a replacement. Only, as Elle points out in her comment, it is a very poor replacement. :-(

10:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

This is one of my all time favorites from the line. It was my signature scent when I was younger (it makes me think about dressing up and going dancing until all hours!). I remember the story about Jean Laporte selling the company in a bitter dispute and then starting up a new one, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier. He then recreated his favorites...almost note for note. The replica of Navigateur is Eau de Iles and is described as "Spicy , deep blend of coffee, tobacco, galbanum and ylang ylang. Top Note: Myrtle, taragon; Middle Note: Coffee beans, incense, ylang, labdanum; Base Note: Patchouli, vetiver, galbanum." That was swiped from Aedes. It is pretty darn close and still in production.


10:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I definitely see the resemblance and I like Eau des Iles too, but it is actually a little too smoky for me. They oomphed up the smokiness of Navigateur quite a bit when they created Eau des Iles. Navigateur has just the right enough amount of smoke for me. Eau des Iles has just a little too much. I must say, however, that on a man's skin Eau des Iles is strikingly attractive!

10:27 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome review! I love Navigateur oh, so much! The L'Artisan shop in NYC has a few bottles left, 100 ml sizes. They ship for $11. Ask me how I know this.

11:05 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and to think I was merely 3, singing Lenin songs in the kindergarten, when it came out just boggles my mind - having lived most of my life without it!?! How did I survive..

11:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You bought it, didn't you? Thre piratey cheers to you!
Yes, I too didn't expect it to be, well, young :-)

12:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Arr! :-)It is thanks to you that I got to try this wonderful scent!! Thank you so much. As Ina said, I don't know how I lived all my life without it.

12:45 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Speaking of discontinued L'Artisans, does anyone remember one called Incroyable with notes of plum and blonde tobacco? It was pure heaven and when I bring it up, people look at me like I was crazy. Am I that old?

6:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I don't know it but I'd have given anything to try it. Plum and blond tobacco! *faints*

6:32 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Navagateur was discontinued because some or other of the ingredients fell foul of some or other health / allergy / something regulation.

I also don't think (or at least cannot believe) that Navegar was meant as a replacement! Navegar is nice enough, in its own incredibly quiet way, but that is all to do with a splash of pepper and open blue ocean skies - whereas Navagateur and Eau des Iles are all ports and taverns and early evenings with the sun sinking low behind the crates of spices stacked on deck.

I prefer Eau des Iles - they are very similar. My skin always sweetens things tremendously and so while Navagateur was lovely for about an hour, beyond that the drydown became too cloying for me. Iles is is a little darker, a little harsher, better balanced on my skin, and one of my stellar all-time faves. They're both first-rate and completely distinctive, though.

7:20 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

"...ports and taverns and early evenings with the sun sinking low behind the crates of spices stacked on deck"...please keep talking! :-)

7:21 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

If you happen to read this, I responded to your message and PM-ed a duplicate at basenotes as well, just in case.

7:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

WHAT? Nooo. Is that true? Oh woe is me. Hex on l'Artisan!

8:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Scott said...

Nothing like responding to an ancient post....finally got my sample today and totally agree with your review. It is a truly unique fragrance, and has (on my skin at least) the strange quality of smelling clean from a distance, but if you put your nose right up to it, there is some skank there, mateys! Which is befitting a pirate's scent, no? Loving this one...5 ml sample may not be enough...

8:43 PM EDT  

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