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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Perfume Review: Le Labo Aldehyde 44 (Tom's Take)

Review by Tom

Le Labo started out over a year ago, and both Colombina and I quickly found at least one favorite. They have added new fragrances to their line, some of which are location specific. For instance if I wanted to huff Tuberose 40, I would apparently have to go to New York to do so. Well, I have friends in New York, and it's my default vacation destination so this does not get up my nose as far as if there was a new and delicious fragrance that was only available in say, Dallas, where I know absolutely nobody and am likely never to set foot in.

D'oh! Her comes Aldehyde 44.

The official notes are all about the white flowers: jasmine, narcissus, tuberose and of course aldehydes. The aldehyde-phobic needn't pull away in fear here. This juice doesn't have the usual powderiness that seems to be a staple of other aldehyde-heavy classics like Chanel No. 5, and the white flowers, rather than being heady and indolic are very light. So light for me that I don't make out the individual flowers at all, I just get a sense of white florals (I swear Mimosa is in there) and an opening sweetness that's quite heartbreaking. Patty at PerfumePosse had a great review of this where she wrote that it embodies happiness: a "..happiness that is complex and embraces all of life’s sorrow and joy. For me the opening smells of the perfect, most beautiful Spring, and the knowledge that there must inevitably be a Fall. Or an adult seeing a youngster in the full first flush of love and knowing that there might be heartbreak in the future. As the scent develops, so do the flowers, becoming more luscious with the addition musk and finally harder with the addition of woods. Oddly for a scent that reads like you should be able to smell it from space, it stays extremely close to the skin.

This one is working my very last nerve. Dallas?!? DALLAS? First of all, are they have to realise that this is going to be decanters early Christmas present, right? Second, with all due respect to any Texans out there, but does this sound like it has anything to do with Dallas? It's so obvious that it should be sold out of Los Angeles! I'm not (only) being selfish here. I've often thought that there should be a scent that encapsulates my adopted home, I've even made up notes for it. This one screams "Hollywood": the sparkling happy ingenue opening deepens over time into a lusher, more intense middle and a slightly brittle, blasted-bud finish. It reminds me of what F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of Joan Crawford (in her younger days, before she became the clench-jawed beetle-browed robot we all remember from the 60's):

"[She] is doubtless the best example of the flapper, the girl you see in smart night clubs, gowned to the apex of sophistication, toying iced glasses with a remote, faintly bitter expression, dancing deliciously, laughing a great deal, with wide, hurt eyes. Young things with a talent for living."

Le Labo, when you do finally do Los Angeles, you better be good. Really good.

Aldehyde 44 is (Clenching jaw more firmly than Joan in "Best of Everything") only available at Barneys in Dallas for $230 for 1.7 ounces or $360 for 3.4 ounces. I am trying my best to ameliorate my annoyance by the first part of that sentence by repeating to myself the second part with prices. So far, it's helping.


Blogger tmp00 said...

oh Patty, that is reeeeaaaaallllllly tempting! Twist my arm!

12:48 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe they've dedicated it to Dallas because you need oil millions to buy it? Feeling your pain, Tom.

I love fragrances that make one feel at once happy and adult. I'm getting that experience from the sample of DelRae Eau Illuminee I received today. I feel I should be giggling in an Audrey Hepburn suit.

2:02 AM EDT  
Blogger Gail S said...

As a Texan, I take no offense. A special fragrance for Dallas should be something that evokes....big hair, maybe? Oh, platinum blonde big hair, with LOTS of makeup. And leopard print skin tight leggings with spike heeled black boots. With a really deep tan. Hmmm...I can't even imagine that perfume, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't pay that much for it!

3:43 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, I'm all set with a decent decant (Ms. Style Spy is also my enabler) I'll probably never work through, but I do agree that the idea seems silly. OTOH there are a lot of very wealthy, stylish ladies in Dallas, maybe the exclusivity appeals to them? On the third hand -- gosh, this just doesn't seem like the right fragrance. It's hot there in the summer, and frankly I'd find this a bit much in August.

It is a beautiful thing, though. my favorite from the line.

8:01 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I can't believe how much you liked this one! I can't believe how different it seems on my skin from how it appears in the reviews I read. Y'all Aldehyde 44 lovers are going to hate me tomorrow. :-D

PS. I LOVED the quotation! I hope they do a perfume for LA, and I hope it's THAT good!

8:09 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

You are so right - if I were a decanter I'd be writing gushing thank you notes on my best paper to Le Labo right now. However, although I recognize Aldehyde 44 as a beautiful scent, it's not me. It's like a gorgeous painting in a gallery that I enjoy seeing, but have no need to wipe out my bank account to take home. I'm not sure, but I think I wanted something more in the base. The musk and woods you mention obstinately refused to show up on my skin. Anyway, given the price and the location, I'm relieved. Very.

8:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This one is calling my name. Alas, I have no friends in Dallas, first of all, and second of all, the price is just too much for me. Le sigh.

8:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great review! On me, it's sparkling white flowers. What a shame the only Le Labo I truly love has to be unattainable... but I've stockpiled decants.

10:31 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


That may be part of it. Or Dallas is a far more interesting place than I was led to believe by the TV show (like that's fair: I wouldn't want my neighborhood judged by 90210)

11:40 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I thought something along those lines. In essence, I guess this could be a Texas kind of scent, in an Edna Ferber way: champagne flowing, but remembering the hard work before the oil was found in the back forty, but that would have been a generation ago.

Actually, this may be more "Written on the Wind": slightly crazy Dorothy Malone madly mamboing and picking up boys to hide the pain of not being able to have Rock Hudson...

11:45 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


In no way am I saying I'd need a full bottle of this. A decent decant would be fine. I know there are ladies in Dallas who will certainly be able to afford this. Whether or not they would buy it however..

I really think that the appeal of this is limited (to wierdos like you and Patty and I) and limiting it further geographically is a silly choice.

I mean, I don't think the ingredients are farmed in Texas, are they>

11:48 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


You know in three months you'll change your mind! :-)~

I can't wait to read your reaction! To steal from another quote about the redoubtable Miss Crawford "She's so excitingly good . . . when she's so wonderfully bad!"

11:52 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


If the musk and the woods aren't showing up then it's just another bit of fizz.

I won't get a whole bottle, but I will get a decant.

11:54 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


That's what ladies like Patty are for!

To be honest, even if presented with the prospect, I wouldn't break the bank to get a full bottle. I'm just super-pi$$y that I don't have the opportunity.

11:56 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Consider yourself let known.

11:57 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Isn't it obnoxious of them?

11:58 AM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada said...

Tom, that what a beautiful review and that Fitzgerald quote is so, wistfully gorgeous... And the Dorothy Malone reference is perfect, though I'd see her more in Lipstick Rose, a Douglas Sirk Technicolor scent if there ever was one!
I am aching to try this as I love Yann Vasnier's L'Ame Soeur, but the price/unavailability issue is critical... And yup, why Dallas? It's not as though they had aldehyde wells gushing out the stuff.

3:30 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...



*YES*! Lipstick Rose! Perfection!

If they had aldehyde wells, I might go there. ;-)

3:49 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait ... Beverly Hills isn't *exactly* like 90210?

What are you saying, exactly?

-- Your D.C. Fan (where things are *exactly* like The West Wing)

4:07 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It is exactly like "90210". All of us look like Tori Spelling


5:23 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No offense taken. But having lived in Dallas for 16 years (currently in Houston), I can tell you, in the social circles (the stuff of those Paper City wastes of trees), it's still very much about looks and plastic surgery, and yes, a bit of big hair. Though that image is a little worn out. So if this scent comes off as a bit glam, Dallas isn't such a stretch.

This scent sounds like something I would definitely like. May have to plan a trip to the big D. -minette

10:44 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It's not the glam part that makes it not Dallas (that makes it totally Dallas, actually). There's something about it that's a bit "Day of the Locusts" around the edges. Those wide, hurt eyes. It's laughter heard at a swank party that has an edge of hysteria to it. A star on her way down slightly desperate for a comeback. Cher doing infomercials. Faye Dunaway in a sitcom. A slight edge of fated heartsickness..

That's why I thought Hollywood, and that's what I liked about it.

11:10 PM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

So, Tomski, you and 44 are in love, or at least, in lust.

I am curious to smell this- but I'm happy enough, knowing that my fellow nutters are enjoying it for me...

7:07 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tom, you've convinced me - i need to make a trip to dallas very soon! love your impressions of this scent. - minette

11:42 AM EDT  

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