Andree Putman and Olivia Giacobetti – When Less Can Be More

A friend gifted me some Andree Putman Preparation Parfumee recently, remarking that it “seems like you.”  I hadn’t smelled it in eons, an occupational hazard of having a million other things to sniff.  The description says simply gray pepper, driftwood and water lily.

The first thought I had was, hmmmm, I’ve definitely smelled this before.  The second was, lordy, why don’t I own this?   I find it deceiving.  Its feather-lightness on impact is easy to dismiss – just another sorta-woody, sorta-peppery unisexy thing.  It’s the way the scent unfurls and hangs around me that I love. Putman, who died in 2013, was an interior designer known for her attention to detail, layered neutral tones and modern aesthetic; you could easily imagine Preparation Parfumee used as a parfum d’ambience in one of her lovely, airy rooms that look like marvelous set pieces.

Still, I felt like I was missing something obvious in my scent memories, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what it was.

Then I looked it up.  Preparation Parfumee was created in 2001 by (drumroll!) none other than Olivia Giacobetti, patron saint of a particular type of ethereally lovely “personal aura” fragrances, including many of my absolute favorites (the IUNXEN!  Costes!  En Passant!). I have enough Giacobetti-crafted bottles in my collection to assemble a shrine.  No wonder the scent – or, rather, the effect—seemed so familiar.

After about twenty minutes Preparation Parfumee settles into a faintly floral-woodsy note overlayed with a very soft, meditative incense.  And that was my other aha! moment – this is the quieter sibling of L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer, one of the fragrances that absolutely blew me away when I first got into perfumes, and still a favorite.  Lo and behold, PdE is also a Giacobetti, done two years prior (1999), with a very similar list of notes: lily, incense, woods and musk.  If I had to choose, I’d go with Passage d’Enfer.  But fortunately, I don’t have to choose.


  • Ann says:

    Hi, dear! Love this! I, too, am an Olivia fan girl (Her Costes 2 is a fave of mine, among others). 

  • Musette says:

    Andree Putman is one of my design heroes, though she gave little thought to safety(which terrifies my OSHA mind) – but who needs safety when you have the etheral beauty of razor-sharp floating glass shelves at head height…..
    Olivia Giacobetti, on the other hand, is not one of my peeps – not because her works are bad (they are FAB!) but they fall outside my preference range (which you prolly already know 😉  

  • Portia says:

    SO MUCH to love about Olivia Giacobetti. Her fig, incense and ethereal earth smells are so good. That IUNX range is 2DIE4, Splash Forte is my fave from the line. 

    YUM stuff.
    Portia xx

  • Dina C. says:

    I think I may also be an Olivia Giacobetti fan. I love the scents of hers that I have sniffed — need to sniff more! Love Premier Figuier Extreme, Hiris and The Pour Un Ete. 

  • rosarita says:

    That sounds lovely, now I want to look at pictures of Andree Putnam rooms. I recently bought a bottle of Passage d’Enfer after being without it for a couple years and it smells so good; I remember on the old Posse, March, that you called it “an all purpose fragrance booster” and it really is. One of my favorite combinations is Un Jardin Sur le Nil with PdE.