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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Of Light and Shadow: En Voyage Perfumes L’ Hombre & Lorelei (And a Prize Draw)

By Donna

The naming of fragrances is very important, but not an easy task, as any perfumer knows; first, you have to rule out anything that’s already taken, and then come up with something that fits your own vision and also gives the customer a clue as to what lies within the bottle. Perfumer Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes decided to spread out the risk and invited fragrance enthusiasts from all over the globe to submit names for her two new perfumes for spring 2012, and those who asked to be involved in the selection process received a sample of each one for testing. The masculine scent is now called L’Hombre, which is a contraction of L’homme (man) and ombre, which is French for “shadow.” The smooth, elegant and deep-voiced fragrance begins with tantalizing citrus and aged malt scotch before delving into the delicious heart of black coffee and incense. The mossy-ambery base mellowed with musk and sandalwood contains a touch of oud, the “material of the moment” in perfumery but which is not dominant in L’Hombre; rather it simply contributes to the complexity of the experience and it is definitely not an oud scent per se. It would be an ideal fragrance for someone who likes oud but does not want anything too strong, or who has never worn it before and wants to see if it works for them.

I especially enjoyed the effect of the alliance between the scotch, amber and coffee, which was done with a light hand so it is not overpowering or clichéd as in some mainstream masculines that use big synthetic woody-amber notes as a bludgeon instead of a paintbrush. There is patchouli in here too, but it’s aged, rounded and rich, and even with the addition of oud, L’Hombre is civilized enough for any occasion while still being sensual enough to draw attention to its wearer; it will be the right kind of attention, to be sure, and its tenacity ensures that it will last all day and well into the evening. And don’t worry that it’s too “manly” for a woman to wear, because it is polished enough for anyone to enjoy, without a “shadow” of doubt.

The air is cool and the twilight is falling
and the Rhine is flowing quietly by;
the top of the mountain is glittering
in the evening sun.

The loveliest maiden is sitting
up there, wondrous to tell.
Her golden jewelry sparkles
as she combs her golden hair.

-Excerpt from an English translation of “Die Lorelei” by the German poet Heinrich Heine

 I have to confess my personal bias toward Shelley’s new feminine scent, which is a lovely and transparent spring floral, for two reasons. The first is that I adored it at first sniff; my immediate thought was that someone had finally done a wisteria accord right – it’s one of my favorite floral notes, yet so elusive in perfumery that it’s virtually impossible to find. The other reason is that I have been honored to have my own submission chosen as its name, which is Lorelei. (In fact, it was the only name I submitted for this one, while I had several ideas for what became L’Hombre, none of which made the cut.) A vision of crystalline purity filled my mind as I smelled it for the first time, of delicate petals floating on a rushing stream so clear that every rock on the bottom stands out in high relief. Lorelei is the name of an actual place, an imposing cliff overlooking the Rhine River whose name means “murmuring rock” in old German, so named because of a unique sound made by the water swirling about its base, but it’s also the name given to a mythical water-sprite maiden who lures sailors to their doom on the rocks below as she sits high above the river, singing a siren song and combing her long tresses. It is this second meaning that is perhaps most familiar to most of us, and it resonated with me as an avid and lifelong lover of fairy tales and mythology. This perfume is so tenderly evocative as to seem almost otherworldly, so it just seemed like a natural choice.

Lorelei’s listed notes are deceptively simple: wisteria, violet, lilac, daffodil, jonquil and lily, all of which just happen to be things I love. The unique sweet pea and grape skin aroma of the wisteria was my first strong impression, followed by very natural-smelling violet and lilac notes and expanding into the richness of daffodils and lilies as it developed. I don’t know how this was accomplished, but it is a watery floral with no aquatic notes and none of the usual stand-ins such as lotus that perfumers use to create this effect. This is a fresh, luminous fragrance, with a feeling of light reflecting off the ripples in a babbling brook, not an ozonic nose-tickler or boneless wallpaper scent, so don’t let the “watery” tag deter you from trying it. Lorelei also has much better longevity than I expected, which was a pleasant surprise. Projection is good but it does not have the man-eating sillage or synthetic rasp of far too many conventional floral fragrances. Lorelei would be a perfect alternative to those scents for fans of fresh white florals, thanks to the high quality natural perfume essences in the formula. As an admirer of this genre, I am grateful for the talents of the independent perfumers who give us such wonderful choices beyond the mainstream offerings.

I am offering a sample of Lorelei to one lucky reader – U.S. mailing addresses only, please. If you would like to participate, please leave a comment, and if you like, please tell us which perfume you would choose to scent your own favorite myth or fairy tale!

 Image credit: Vintage “Lorelei” postcard circa 1907 via
Excerpt from the song/poem “Die Lorelei” via the Pentimento blog,
Disclosure: My samples of L’Hombre and Lorelei were given to me by Shelley Waddington for testing.


Blogger Tama said...

I don't need a sample, because I have a bottle, but wanted to thank you for the great reviews. Lorelei is really lovely.

2:39 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would so love to try Lorelei, but can't 'cos I'm in the UK! But your description is beautiful.

I am afraid I laughed at the name l'Hombre, as there is an episode of Friends in which Joey takes a job spraying a new man's aftershave on customers in a department store, and he is wearing a cowboy outfit, conplete with hat and boots. And the name of this is ....... Hombre! This name has brought back memories of the "gun" fight between him and a rival perfume salesman; I'm still giggling.


5:34 AM EDT  
Anonymous cheesegan said...

I live in the US. What perfume to scent my own fairy tale. I like my fairy tales dark and morally ambiguous, so maybe Black Afgano.
Thanks for the draw and for the great blog.

6:52 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dream of samples - to send to my friend of 50 years who is suffering right now. I don't know if it brightens her day but it does mine. I am really interested in your blog; I have to hold back in buying too many frangrances.

8:59 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely review.....I am intrigued by the idea of a wistaria scent!

I'm in the US and prefer my fairy tales with happy endings...and most of my day dreams are rose scented, so I'm going with Goutal's Rose Absolu.

Thanks for the chance to win!

(I am having trouble with the Captcha thing, so I am going to try the Anon option, but my name is Tammy)

9:03 AM EDT  
Blogger Tamahawk said...

Lovely review! I think my fairy tail/ myth would be a dangerous and intriguing so I would scent it with L'Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse or JHAG Lady Vengeance... Thanks!

9:09 AM EDT  
Blogger arlene20 said...

Great review! Now you've got me thinking about a scent I've only caught a whiff of over the years byut have never identified by name --it's crisp, clear, white floral. Maybe Lorelei will fill the bill. My favorite fairy tale, if you'd even call it that, is the legend of King Arthur. I think of the deep woods, the sounds of horses' hooves and knights' armour, and the scent is woody, earthy, a bit on the masculine side, and captivating -- L'Artisan's Timbuktu.

11:13 AM EDT  
Blogger monster said...

I'm in the US, and I would flavor my fantasy with Philosykos, the smell of of a mysterious fig forest glade.

12:24 PM EDT  
Anonymous Marcella said...

Wow! I really want to smell Lorelei, it sounds wonderful! Right now I would say my fairy tale scent is Silver Mountain Water by Creed.

2:02 PM EDT  
Anonymous Gwenyth said...

Thanks for offering the sample for a lucky winner! Good luck to each of us.
With you mentioning the Lorelei of the Rhine, I immediately think of the river, the rocks, the castles precariously perched high above the water and the romance of the area. Love it! I've visited Germany twice and have been utterly captivated by the beauty of the charming countryside and the friendliness of the folks.
When I think of Fairytales I also tend to think of Germany. The dense forests there make me think of Fairies and Elves...
"Lord of the Rings" Elves to be precise --- and when I think of Elves I think of magical perfumes like Ormonde Jayne by Ormonde Jayne, Feminite du Bois by Serge Lutens, and Dark Season by Neil Morris.

3:20 PM EDT  
Blogger Anat13 said...

Lorelei sounds wonderful! Ormonde Jayne Woman would be perfect for a fairytale in a magical woods. I live in the US. Thank you for the draw!
-Christy C

5:57 PM EDT  
Blogger karen! said...

Lorelei sounds lovely. I'd love to try it (and I'm in the US).

8:03 PM EDT  
Blogger Nancy said...

I love a feminine scent and Lorelei sounds scrumptious. Please enter me in this delightful draw. Thank you.

8:50 PM EDT  
Anonymous Hermoine11 said...

I won't be original in my fairy tale choice since a lot of us already mentioned dark woods. My forest is mossy, thick and almost impenetrable except for an occasional ray of sunshine. The perfume I associate with it is Ballets Rouges that Marla reviewed here on PST last month. I slowly fell in love with this dark unusual chypre. This being said, Lorelei is a perfume I'd be fascinated to try and looking forward to the draw!

10:07 PM EDT  
Blogger Phoenix said...

I live in the US and Lorelei sounds enchanting. I like my fairy tales to smell like transformation, but sometimes that can be harsh. I like to feel that, after the tale, something has happened but everything's going to be alright. Un Matin d'Orage

11:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Moonstone said...

Lorelei sounds enchanting! Would love an
Opportunity to try it. I live in the U.S.

I've always enjoyed Shakespeare and the theme and characters in "A midsummer night's Dream". I think something enthralling like Vev Profumo Rubjy would do the trick. Seductive, beguiling and mysterious and a little dangerous.

11:36 PM EDT  
Anonymous Cynthia said...

I have a blooming wisteria vine that makes me so happy, and I would love to see if
Lorelei can evoke the same response. I am in the US.

2:53 AM EDT  
Blogger Balutakat said...

My favorite fairy tales involve a journey, so I think the Voyage en Méditerranée collection (cedar? labdanum?) would do it for me. Thank you for the sample draw! What a lovely description of Lorelei, congratulations. - Katherine

4:28 AM EDT  
Anonymous CM said...

I live in the US and like the old fashioned original tale like HCA The little mermaid. The scent would be something beautiful and heartbreaking ... Like Après l'Ondee. Thanks for the draw!

8:14 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that postcard! I painted a few Lorelei over the years in Germany, such evocative imagery.
Now I'm in the US, I'd love to try a perfume inspired by the Lorelei!

12:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Stacey said...

I'd love to sample this and live in the US. I always want to try well-reviewed florals. And I'm sure I could come up with quite a few fairy tale scents, but the first that comes to mind is Strange Invisible Perfumes L'Invisible. But probably most from the SIP line would also work.

1:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous MAureen said...

Hi I'm in the USA and I would love to try this scent. I would like my fairy tale to be mysterious and intriguing, but definately with a happily ever after.

4:49 PM EDT  
Anonymous maggiecat said...

I'd love to try this scent - it sounds like the perfect ame for it too. I've always been fascinated by the study of irish mythology (which infuses much of Irish literature) and often thought that the perfect scent for the feminine aspect of many of those myths would be Ormonde Jayne Woman. Beautiful, strong, unforgettable, unique. It's being an English scent would be the definition of irony, however....

6:09 PM EDT  
Blogger Susan said...

Oh gosh - I live in the US and I would love to try Lorelei. I'm stumped about the scent-a-myth perfume... I think I think of dirty, musky florals as kind of nymph-ish, though.

10:13 PM EDT  
Blogger woodgirl said...

I would love to try Lorelei. My favorite fairy tales are from the Brothers Grimm, primarily "The Shoemaker and the Elves". I think I would scent that one with Cuir de Lancome. Thanks for the draw.

8:58 AM EDT  
Blogger Liz said...

Ooh, I'd love a chance to win. Great name!

6:06 PM EDT  
Blogger sunnlitt said...

That is lovely name!

And, congratulations on winning the naming of a scent that you so enjoyed.

I would love to have a sample--any scent described with the words 'fresh' and 'luminous' is something that I want to know better.

I'm drawing a blank on a scent for a fairy tale. But, you definitely got me thinking about it!
Thanks for the drawing.

8:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Mimi said...

Perfume is new for me, so maybe my entry is not on the mark. But the telling of the chiaroscuro fairy tale "Snow White & Rose Red" would have extra charming contrast with a bottle of Jo Malone "Red Roses" in one hand and "Honeysuckle & Jasmine" in the other. I would love to try Lorelei.

8:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Thanks for your interest, everyone! I love all your scented fairytale suggestions. There is still time to enter the draw, good luck to all!

9:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Mimi said...

Should I add that I live in the US? Thanks for getting me thinking on this subject...

12:01 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Put me in the draw.

8:26 PM EDT  
Anonymous Missyl said...

I live in the US, I would pick Orange Blossom by Jo Malone for Rapunzel and I love wisteria! Thank you for the opportunity and the review!

1:55 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

THE LORELEI DRAW IS NOW CLOSED and the winner will be announced soon. Thanks everyone, and good luck! I really enjoyed readng your ideas for scenting your favorite stories! :-)

(P.S.- Mimi,that is one of my own favorites, and your idea is perfect!)

1:53 AM EDT  

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