Welcome to August? It’s grey and cool here. The cherries have shown up and my sweet peas have gone mad. And on Sunday afternoon, I’m feeling twitchy and like what I really should have written about is the late summer twitchies. But, I wrote about Papillon perfumes, so that’s where we are.
Anyway, Papillon. A couple of these have been reviewed on Posse in the past, but after I did the most recent release, Spell 125, I thought I’d look at the line as a whole – as long as I could find a concept that tied them together in my mind. Which I decided I had … probably because I wanted to find one.
As far as I can see, Papillon’s perfumes are like a book series where cumin is the uniting thread between books (like a key character that runs through a series, who isn’t always front and centre but always shows up at some point – see Charlie Parker in the most recent John Connolly book). On me, cumin has a sour aspect which is generally supportive of a fragrance – ie, it gives heft and handled well adds a whiff of spicy pong. That’s mostly the case for the Papillons – not so much though for the lighter fragrances. In any case, cumin doesn’t show up in any of the notes lists and I can’t find a review that mentions it so this is probably all in my head. Still, it makes sense to me so I’m running with it.
I’ve left out Spell 125 (see my earlier post) and I’ve included the relevant links at the end.
Alpha order for no good reason.
Angelique (2014; £126). Notes of osmanthus, white champac, orris, mimosa, frankincense, cedarwood. This starts weird sweet on me — powder and something odd I can’t put my finger on … carrots! But that recedes quickly. It opens up into a less carroty orris with some wood. It dries down to cedar supported by orris. This is one where the cumin doesn’t present well. Pleasant – not my thing.
Anubis (2014; £145). Notes of Egyptian jasmine, pink lotus, suede, immortelle, frankincense, saffron. Now, seriously, this is gorgeous. It’s difficult to parse things but the opening is a suede-like jasmine – not too pongy but enough of an undercurrent to make things interesting. And I do get saffron which actually maybe adds to the suede-like effect. Plus, the immortelle makes an appearance, but not in a syrupy way (have I ever said I love immortelle?). The middle is immortelle-saffron as far as I can tell and very wonderful. Maybe frankincense too, but the immortelle really stands out. The drydown on me is a delicious combo of incense/saffron/immortelle – a sort of ancient, louche, almost sour (the cumin sticking its finger in?) smell without any sweetness at all. The drydown reminds me of something but I can’t put my finger on what. Am thinking I might need a bottle of this for cooler weather.
Bengale Rouge (2019; £149). Notes of tonka, sweet myrrh, rose, sandalwood, orris. The top of this made me twitchy with its cardboard/powder aspect (myrrh and tonka? – maybe cumin not behaving). This moves on to be soft and sweet – myrrh and sandalwood? maybe a chocolate aspect? – and drydown continues this sweet thing. Overall, it’s very nice, but it’s too sweet for me in something that isn’t a gourmand. And yet again that slightly sharp, sour undercurrent which works very well in some Papillon stuff and less well in others, like this. And maybe the sandalwood yet again went unpleasant on me.
Dryad (2017; £142). Notes of narcissus, oakmoss, galbanum, costus, jonquil and cedrat (ie, citron). Very green and powdery. Contains that sour note. For this, I did find a fuller notes list which did not include cumin. Anyway, this was better second time round than first (when it was a scrubber). But it is still too green/powdery/citrus on me to be comfortable. As the fragrance opens up the sour really shows up. And there’s also a weird, sweet, lemon drop aspect which I find unpleasant. The scent dries down to a gentle slightly sour green, as in mown grass that’s been sitting in a mound too long.
Salome (2015; £145). Notes of jasmine, Turkish rose, Africa stone, carnation, musk. I wonder if this is the best known of the Papillon fragrances. In any case, I had tried this a number of years ago and dismissed it: very nicely done but not hugely exciting. What a difference a few years makes. Now, it works beautifully on my chemistry, starting with a jasmine/carnation thing that has a peppery undercurrent — and the maybe cumin sings here. It is interesting to get more carnation than jasmine. As it opens up, I get warm and musky – less jasmine, more rose, but the carnation is still strong. In the drydown the good sour aspect comes to the fore, coupled with the persistent carnation. Beautifully done. I prefer Anubis.
Tobacco Rose (2014; £138). Notes are Bulgarian rose, Rose de Mai, oakmoss, Beeswax, hay, ambergris. This is jammy (ie, strawberry) rose on me. Meaning fruity, but also slightly animalic. Surprisingly, this is the only Papillon that doesn’t develop much on my skin. And while the supposed cumin thread is there, it’s very quiet vs how it behaves in the house’s other fragrances. This is a nice rose perfume. Ticks all the boxes but doesn’t do any cartwheels etc. And after a bit I started to feel a bit uncomfortable with it but that may have been my fault for eating a scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam really quickly and then having a bowl of cherries before I sprayed it on.
(my [good] neighbours’ sunflowers which
were meant to be small but turned out huge]
Care has obviously been taken with these fragrances and it was actually a lot of fun sampling them all at one go. Here are the links to Patty’s posts on Dryad and Salome from 2017 (http://perfumeposse.com/2017/07/19/papillon-dryad-areej-le-dore-oud-zen/ — http://perfumeposse.com/2015/10/12/papillon-salome-and-maison-francis-kurkdjian-ciel-de-gum/). There is also a post on Anubis by Meredith (http://perfumeposse.com/2013/03/19/papillon-perfumery-tobacco-rose/ — strangely posted in 2013 though Fragrantica says this was released in 2014 – Twilight Zone music – and notice the link shows Tobacco Rose – more Twilight Zone)
Any of these float your boat and thoughts on them if they do?