Murmure by Van Cleef & Arpels (2002) {Perfume Short (Review)}

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Murmure (Murmur) by Van Cleef & Arpels was launched in the fall of 2002, which is slightly surprising given its suggestive summery and sunny overtones of dewy, juicy Jasmine Sambac, the best recreation of it that I have smelled so far with A La Nuit by Serge Lutens. It immediately transports me to the middle of a noisy Bangkok street on a hot asphalt-y day where sellers of tightly woven fragrant jasmine garlands shout their wares to car drivers shut up in air-conditioned cars. They will maybe roll down their windows to buy and place the exquisitely scented little buds punctuated with red or yellow flowers on their rear-view mirror......

The perfume was created by Alberto Morillas and Jacques Cavallier of Firmenich. It is classified as a woody floral. Despite the soft-sounding evocative name, the scent starts with an impression that is like the crack of a scented whip seemingly made of a dry medicinal herb with camphorous nuances while the fresh lush jasmine appears in a supporting role awaiting its turn to say its line in the background.

It is an interesting uncompromising beginning, full of sharp lines, in the line of some vintage women's classics that conveyed an extra measure of confidence and assertiveness shunning any idea of prettiness and drawing a sharp dividing line between them and the girly camp which at the time surely did not exceed the 12 year old mark in their minds. Nowadays you can be girly at any age.

This dry character makes it a suitable scent for men as well in my opinion.

The heart of the fragrance is then all dedicated to jasmine. It is much softer a stage and unfolds around an enthralling realistic jasmine bouquet that is juicy rather than transparen and is accented by orange blossom, a nuance naturally belonging to Jasmine Sambac. Cassie flower is supposed to have a scent like that of mimosa with nuances of violets, honey and herbs. The vanilla comes more and more to the fore, transforming the scent from a watery and tea-like texture to a creamy one although discreet aldehydes continue to lift the perfume and infuse it with light and transparency creating an exotic gourmand quality which lovers of dewy jasmine-scented sweet moist Cambodian rice cakes usually wrapped in fresh green banana leaves will appreciate.

The dry-down is the least dramatic, most conservative part of the perfume, being much more predictable, less rich. It smells of vanilla, Tonka, violet-like Cassie more distinctively and very understated woods, namely Brazilian rosewood and cedar. An ozone note peaks through further in the dry-down creating a clean, beach-y effect in the longer run. But to spray the scent again to smell that lovely jasmine note is worth it.

The flacon was designed by Gwenael Nicolas to imitate the shape of an open lily while offering the aesthetics of a contemporary sculpture.

"Top notes include freesia and white rose with essence of mandarin orange; heart notes are made up of jasmine sambac absolute, orange blossom and cassie flower, and the base notes are comprised of Brazilian rosewood, cedar and vanilla infusion.

Murmure is still in production but can also be purchased at discounters. 

(Sources: Van Cleef & Arpels, Women's Wear Daily)

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