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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Double Perfume Review: Frapin Caravelle Epicee, Esprit de Fleurs, Passion Boisee and Terre de Sarment

...or a Double Dose of Grumpiness

Esprit de Fleurs


Esprit de Fleurs is written of as "airy and crystalline". It is airy, a pleasant bergamotty thing, with a bit of grapefruit and a bare hint of pepper. That accord also has the lasting power of a fruit fly; the scent then morphs into a light woodiness that's very pleasant.


Dry, green floral with a bit of a citrusy sparkle, Esprit de Fleurs is a welcome break from sweet offerings of this and many other brands. Its fresh, elegant feel is being compared to the taste of brut champagne, and I find the comparison very apt. Having said that, I like Esprit de Fleurs "apophatically", so to say, for what it is not: not sweet, not fruity, not gourmand, not, heaven help me, endlessly woody-ambery-spicy like what seems every other scent on niche market (that's right, one gets tired not only of fruits and vanilla but of woods and spices too, when they are rendered in the same Wannabe Lutens style.). Taken on its own, however, Esprit de Fleurs is rather boring. A neutral, understated blend, appropriate in any season, for any occasion.

Passion Boisee


Passion Boisee starts with a candied citrus, reminding me a bit of one of the Christmas candies we used to get when we were kids. It then goes to a light cedar. I was promised leather and got none, I was promised oakmoss and got a bare whiff.


The beginning of Passion Boisee is very appealing, reminiscent of chocolate candies stuffed with cherries filled with cognac. The fruity booziness quickly becomes replaced by the dry, spicy woodiness (nutmeg + cedarwood) that reminds me a little of the piquant powderiness of Rousse. I don't find Passion Boisee particularly original, but it is easy to wear and easy to like if not love, and I imagine it would be very pleasant and very fitting during the cold days of Holiday season.

Caravelle Epicée


Caravelle Epicée is the boldest of the bunch, which is rather like writing that one Olsen twin is the fatter of the two. It starts with a father fatty nutmeggy amber, with discernible coriander. Vanilla pops forward before it settles to an unassuming sandalwood.


A potent brew of Ambre Narguile, Wild Woods and dill. Will probably be the most popular of the bunch, and probably deservedly so. More or less unwearble for me.

Terre de Sarment


Terre de Sarment starts with an accord that smells quite like the glue that I used to make models as a kid, that citrus-scented stuff that was introduced after they found out that kids were sniffing the older formulations to get high. It's immediately joined by the smell of fresh sheets, then gets a little dirty, with an edge of cumin, with that same nutmeggy vanilla. I think I like this one the best, but none of these are making me run out to buy.


Terre de Sarment suffers from too much of too many good ingredients syndrome so typical of many attempts at Lutenesque originality. Let's throw together every spice on the rack, not forgetting the most controversial of them all, cumin, let's add to that incense and tobacco, sweeten the blend with a generous helping of vanilla, and Chris Sheldrake has nothing on us...goes this thinking. The result is, in fact, not altogether unattractive. The spices create a strange iodine and therefore, in a way, aoud-like undertone, and tobacco-vanilla accord has, in contrast to that, a warm, over-ripe, again almost cherry-like sweetness. But I feel that this Terre is the one where I've been many times before, and I am ready to discover new and more original lands.


None of these are scrubbers, mind you. They are all well made, pleasant, and if you are looking for a nice scent that doesn't dance up to you and bop you on the nose with it's in-your-face oddness these may be your nonfat soy latte. Nice thought they are, I have to write that my $140 is still firmly in my bank account on these.

But I do have to ask, is scent the new .com? Remember in the late 90's when everyone was convinced that a buttload of cash and the idea that everything should be available on the internet would lead to instant income? The idea that led to,,, remember? Then it was found that most of these were basically stupid ideas? I mean, "I Hate Going To The Video Store" plus "You Never Have To Ask 'Does This DVD Make My Ass LookFat?'" equals Netflix equals profit. Most of the rest? Not so much. I sort of get the same feeling about the plethora of new lines that are popping up like dandelions these days. Many of them,like these are quite good, mind you. Some of them? Not so much. It seems that at this point that even the good ones are in danger of getting lost in the general cacophony of new releases being fed into the hungry maw that is New!

So I beg of you, prospective parfumeur, the next time you think that what the world needs now is not love, sweet love, but your take on what a fruity-floral can be when those frozen blackberries and clean sheet notes really roll up their sleeves and go to work, I urge you to seek the nearest dark bar and indulge in your favorite alcoholic beverage until said urge passes. Because I will be waiting. It won't be pretty.


...and when you, prospective parfumeur, think that what the world needs now is yet another Fumerie Turque, Chergui, Ambre Narguile or Luctor et Emergo, I urge you to think outside of this admittedly very small and very exclusive and very attractive box.

The Grumpy Two have spoken.

Image source, Luckyscent. The scents are available there, $140.00 for 100ml.


Blogger elle said...

I had such low expectations for these that I actually was pleasantly surprised w/ the dry down of Passion Boisee and thought the earth one was quite decent as well. However, do I need even decants? No.
And I am sincerely hoping those parfumeurs read this post. I'd also like to ask the money behind the parfumeurs to just suck it up and chill for three or four years and give the parfumeur of your choice sufficient time to create a masterpiece. Just one. Not three, not ten. One. Nice number. Please, just think about this and the adoration and praise you'd receive from perfume fans for all eternity and then some.

10:17 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I echo the call with everyone else (for surely here, nearly all will agree): give the perfumeur time.

I'm rarely interested in smelling new things these days--I'm far more interesting in reading what all of you write about them! That said, I've been falling hard for the new Roja Dove perfumes. "Unspoken" more than the others, but I want ALL of them. They move me. They are gorgeous. I hate tuberose, and I just keep putting on the tuberose-scent despite myself. (Bends into elbow to sniff.) I'll leave the other new things to someone else. (LOL, A silent plea for something new from Ormonde Jayne!)

10:34 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

One great scent a year per perfume line. OK, two. And no more than three. And not at the same time :-)

10:38 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I think Ormonde Jayne is overdue for a new scent. And I like that they are taking their time. Good for them. Of course, the longer they wait, the higher our expectations, so...

10:39 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All hail the Duo of Grumpiness!!

Last wk my dearest S went to Aedes, begged samps of all 4 of these & ran straightaway to my apt so we could sniff. We were ... unimpressed. We agreed that the Not Leather one was nice, very nice, wouldn't scrub it off, wouldn't kick it out of bed. But pay for it? Take it on a $140 date? No, not really.

This evening we were at the ATM while she deposited a check. The check smelled good. It had lived near all 4 samps. We agreed it smelled very nice for a check but really, $140 x 4 is way too much to spend for perfumed checks.

There you have it - S & I are on board with the Grumpy Two.

2:03 AM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hail the grumpy,

I think boring is the most appropriate word for this range. If you think also of the number of liquor brand making their own fragrance (Courvoisier&co) now you have to prove a little bit more originality than just a cognac note + spice, oak, tobacco...
In addition of creating Lutenesque fragrance as Marina said you mange to bring no depth in the blends. I still am amazed by how flat they smell.
Good idea, good brand, I happen to love cognacs and Frapin is perhaps one of the few traditional brands.

Big dissapointment

2:22 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

"it smelled very nice for a check" LOL

Glad to have you and S on board :-)

6:41 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Rather flat, yes. The original Frapin was nice though. Not something I can wear, but very nice nevertheless.

6:42 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

"A potent brew of Ambre Narguile, Wild Woods and dill..." heheheh there's a combo that has me sprinting in the other direction.

Gah. Maybe we're just getting jaded? Well, I'm less interested in ever now. Totally agree with your comments regarding thinking outside the box.

7:18 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

There is no maybe about it. We are jaded. The funny thing is, so many of us became jaded roughly at the same time, you know?

7:29 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hee, hee!


One has to wonder about the profit margins on scent, when so many are jumping into the game. Also: you know a trend has really hit the market when my red-blooded capitalist father is sending me clippings from the Wall Street Journal on perfume with a little post-it note that says, "I think you're on to something, here!" (True story!)

As for Ormonde Jayne -- I'd settle for the long-delayed opening of the U.S.-based website. I was supposed to be able to order my sample set locally in NOVEMBER, people!

Well, Ok. I guess a month just *feels* long...

10:25 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Oh, sigh. Well, I never even heard of these, so I had no expectations. But I do hope that the new AGs are great (although my CC has other opinions). And I am curious about the Bond Warhol (are you going to review it soon)?

10:59 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I had rather higher expectations for these- I admit I was seduced by the packaging (the bottles are lucious) and since $250 is the new $100, $140 is the new $50, right (well, not in my budget, but...)?

These were nice but didn't grab me.

11:46 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Sadly the way the market is now perfumers don't have time. You have to some in big or go home. So many of them come in big by having sky-high prices, "manifesto"s and silly, provocative names. I wish more of them came in big with the actual juice.

11:48 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


perfumed checks! I love it!

12:02 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


flat is the best way to put it.

12:03 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I don't think we're getting jaded, really. We're just getting finely honed..

12:04 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think the profit margin is high- if you have a hit. If not....

and unlike the movies, there's no DVD release to make up for disappointing box office.

12:06 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I am looking forward to the new AG's. That house has quietly and consistently over the years produced winners.

12:07 PM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Agree w/ everyone on OJ, but adding Delrae -- we need a new one there too! And just one, from each -- no "collections" or "themed sets".

12:12 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, yes on OJ needing a new scent, but I'm glad they take their time. Less new, more great should be our battle cry

12:53 PM EST  
Blogger Erin said...

The only really interesting thing about these to me was that, instead of liking the woods and spices two as expected, I actually preferred the Terre and the Fleurs. But "preferred" is a strong word, here. The very poor lasting power was a bit of a surprise as the original Frapin lasts for some time on me. OJ (LP) we need you!

1:25 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I'd love a new OJ as well, but I am glad to wait for something really good.

1:25 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

November has been a long, long month...I am scared even to think of December :-)

9:13 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

If you want me to, I will :-)

9:13 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I agree! Delrae us overdue for 1 (one) scent :-0

9:14 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

"Less new, more great!" Yeah!

9:15 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

We need OJ, we also, I just realised, need Villoresi, no?

9:15 PM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

I'm not surprised by your feelings here-
I sampled these , too,and didn't feel that I needed any.
Not bad-
But not amazing.

6:57 AM EST  
Blogger Ducks said...

Mee-yow! This was such fun to read -- we don't indulge our inner grinches enough. :)

I blame two forces:

1) Pokemon. That "gotta catch 'em all" philosophy makes it so easy to buy samps (or bottles) of things that have the notes we have learned that we like from...

2) the Internet. The most of us who don't have any formal education in perfumery are borrowing from our amateur chef palettes or our ability to read lists of scent notes at sites like luckyscent or Sephora. I know this has been MY route to perdition! And now look at me -- I know what notes excite me, and just enough to be dangerous. And I am considering dabbling with perfumery -- although only FOR ME, and only because I have a fragrance in mind that does not bear resemblance to the millions out there, at least not so that I can tell.

What exhausts me are the parfumeurs who release 1,000,000 fragrances at a time on their websites (coughBFALcough). No matter how excellent individual scents may be, such sites almost certainly exist to prey on the impulse shopper who wants to try this one -- oh, and better try THIS one and THIS one for comparison, since they all have similar notes and are so intriguing... even more so when they are tied to other engaging tastes such as a certain type of literature or worldview or whatever.

That was such fun. Do it again, again!

9:54 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Exactly! And I would love tp know what fragrance you have in mind for yourself! Write about it!

9:58 AM EST  
Blogger Ducks said...

I will... maybe post after next. This next one Has A Plan. :)

8:37 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Ooooh! :-)

8:46 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is quite possibly one of the funniest reviews I have read! I especially enjoyed the comments, "Chris Sheldrake has nothing on us" and "when those frozen blackberries and clean sheet notes really roll up their sleeves and go to work." Sadly true for many new releases this past year!

Classic! Nicely done!

1:59 PM EST  

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