Hi Posse! En Passant turns 21 this year, so it can finally have a drink in the USA! With the Northern Hemisphere heading to spring I thought we might like to have a look at one of the most beautiful spring fragrances ever released (in my book anyway). Early on in my perfumista-hood it was so revered. There were long, overblown blog posts extolling its virtues. I would read them all with great relish and dream of trying this masterpiece.
Discovering The Posh Peasant (sadly closed now) changed my life. Suddenly I could order a bunch of decants of the things I was reading about, Could spend time testing and living the fragrances without the heavy fragrant melange of department stores air. It was very liberating BUT what ended up happening was I’d spritz three or four fragrances up each arm and end up with exactly the same dilemma. Bigger, richer perfumes would take my breath away. Consequently though, the softer, less insistent gems would go unnoticed or be deemed too boring. GAH! How much I missed.
Fortunately you can still get amazing decants from Surrender To Chance. Yes, they’re my friends, still the best decant crew I know of.
For clarity, my travel is a few years old. I bought it on holiday in Vienna while hanging out with Birgit & Sandra from Olfactoria’s Travels (also sadly ended) at the end of a snow piled winter. I was directed to smell it first thing that day, so my nose was clear. REVELATION!
Here’s Patty’s 2006 En Passant take too.
En Passant by Frederic Malle 2000
Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Lilac, Cucumber, Orange leaf, Rice, Wheat
How does En Passant smell? Inky darkness opens then suddenly it’s ALL about lilacs. You’ve put your head right into a dew speckled lilac inflorescence as the morning begins. You are enveloped in a pure, calm, floral wonderland that makes everything in your life fade to insignificance. This utter perfection lasts only a couple of minutes but it is a gloriously peaceful experience.
The heart becomes a little more grassy/leafy and behind it is the smell of cooking rice steam. It’s as if you are in the kitchen garden and can smell both.
As we move towards dry down the rice has become more bread-y. Like a doughy iris yet i9nfinitely more lovely because the dewy melon and remembered hints of iris give it breadth.
Not a showstopper. En Passant is a quiet beauty. I have to lift my arm to my nose to get these nuances. As a perfume in village it is much less pronounced. A beautiful soft wash. So elegant and low key.
Will you be wearing En Passant this spring?
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yep. I have a brand new travel bottle waiting for me and the travel case too!
For a couple of my relatives, they either have a lilac hedge in their yard now, or lilacs are a real touchstone of their growing up years, so I have good associations with that scent. I’ve sniffed this one, and loved it, but I need to spend more time (and $$) getting my nose acquainted with this beauty.
Love that your early memories are speckled with lilac. En Passant will definitely take you back to those days.
in the USA Midwest lilacs grow like weeds – and they last forever (a little pruning doesn’t hurt but a lot of abandoned farmhouses and old cemeteries have lilacs that haven’t been touched in decades – if ever- and they still bloom like nobody’s business.
Such a gorgeous, ephemeral scent.
I was never able to bond with En Passant. I can understand its beauty but it didn’t resonate with me, probably because that yeasty, bread note dominated. But even with that, it’s a lovely scent.
That mention of you and Jin, at the lilacs …. that was just lovely.
New England is the same way. Isn’t it wonderful. I love lilacs! I have the same problem with En Passant, plus it gives me a mild headache. The opening however is really lovely.
Why are the farmhouses abandoned? Is it like France where the families have had to leave to work in cities and the oldies die and no one wants them?
I can’t even imagine how beautiful and sad that must be in lilac time.
Jin is so open to things. How lucky are we to have him?
A lot of it is farm families dying off (or succeeding generations not wanting to farm) and Big Ag (or bigger local farms) having bought up farmland a century ago but never taking down the actual building. The land surrounding the building is in good heart. The practice is often to just let the building disintegrate (costs money to tear down and no particular reason to do so). The foundation plantings continue – and those are often lilacs. xoxoxo
and yes, Jin is amazing. As are you. I’m so happy you have each other! xoxoxo
Right, yes, that all makes lots of sense.
Lilacs grew in my backyard when I was a child in Illinois, north of Chicago. I love the sight and scent of them. I’m going to have to revisit En Passant. I’ve tried other lilac scents but they’re just too much, too strong.
Then you have the fragrance embedded in your psyche. En Passant is not a dramatic heavy hitter, but it’s also not just a lilac. I think that early lilac burst might fulfil your needs though.
I absolutely adore lilacs, but have never found a perfume that accurately captures the scent. En Passant might have worked except for the cucumber and the doughy notes, which spoil the effect for me. The search continues.
Ahhh, yeah TaraC. Although it opens with that photo realistic waft the fragrance journeys around and away from lilac. A shame if you want a linear lilac soliflor.
I’ve really enjoyed the Malle perfumes having recently sampled many, loving Portrait of a Lady, Une Rose, and Lipstick Rose. Now I really need to sample En Passant, loving the scent of lilacs for a lifetime. I look forward to putting my nose in lilac bushes each spring.
I love Lipstick Rose especially. what a wonderful fragrance.
Live lilacs! Yummy!
They’d don’t grow here in Chile but theres some lovely other fragrant stuff and in spring I’ll often stop on my jogging route to stick my nose in something ?. Perhaps next year Ill get a chance to smell lilacs again.
Fingers crossed for travel in 2022 Mariann. I think we are all starting to feel a bit of cabin fever.
We’ve got gale force winds and rain today. En Passant … always loved the idea of this (love lilacs, my mother’s fave flower — she used to steal from all over town) but cucumber is not a note that ever works on me, in anything. Thus, this was wan and watery (sorry to be the naysayer). I had friends at uni, a couple, and they both wore (very well) a cucumber cologne (might have been Casswell Massey). When I tried it, yuck. Watery, too sweet mess. But lilacs. They’ll be out here soon, and truly mark the beginning of spring.
One of my favourite memories of Paris is wandering with my girlfriend Francesca in the cool of a spring morning. We came across an unruly hedge of lilacs in bloom. You should have seen us sticking our heads into the inflorescences. The smell was sublime.
Another time in Korea near one of the huge art galleries there is an avenue of lilacs. As Jin and I walked up the hill towards the entrance we were overcome by the scent and had to sit for a little while and just drink it in.
They aren’t so popular here in Sydney. Maybe we are too warm?
Ah, Paris …
The best lilacs I’ve ever seen were in southern New Hampshire, where my parents lived for a bit. 30 miles of Atlantic Coast in a state which is otherwise landlocked. Lots of lilac hedges. I guess the freezing cold winters and really hot summers left a small weather space for them — about a month of perfection.
WOW! Sounds so heavenly Cinnamon.
I love that you two just sat and enjoyed the fragrance. Thanks for reminding me how lovely people can be. : )
What AnnJune said. xoxox
I’m so lucky that Jin is the kind of guy who will take a moment to really live the moment. It’s a conscious choice he has to make because most of the time he is so focussed on doing the next thing.
Yes, that’s probably it — too warm. My aunt lives in Massachusetts, and has a lilac hedge that runs the whole depth of her property, and probably ten feet high — it’s enormous. They have to stand on a ladder to prune it. I love the image of your trip with Jin to Korea and the lilacs there. Sublime.
WOW! That hedge sounds amazing DinaC, I can just imagine sitting under it in the shade while it’s in full flower and getting drunk on the fumes.