Zadig et Voltaire Tome 1 La Purete (2009) - Part 2: Patchoulait {Perfume Review} {New Fragrance}

Angel with Lit Wing by Joyce Tenneson, 2000.

You can read part 1: Scent of a Fallen Angel

If you are interested in shades of olfactory whites, Tome 1 La Pureté is well worth considering

If you like the idea of applying milk onto your skin, and smelling like it, you won't be able to resist it.

If you are a Nostalgic of Le Feu d'Issey, please find here its heavenly white version.

Zadig et Voltaire have called their debut perfume a "patchoulait", milky patchouli, and reportedly borrowed the theme of the fallen angel from the world of rock' n roll rather than that of religious art. The whiteness of the composition is meant to illustrate a vision of heaven.

Thierry Gillier who calls himself a "Dadaïst entrepreneur" teamed up with Le Labo founders Fabrice Penot and Edouard Roshi to propose this first tome in a series of upcoming fragrances. The fragrance was composed by perfumer Nathalie Lorson.

Tome 1 La Pureté interprets the theme of purity lost with a composition opening on subtle milky and "white-ambery" (my characterization) notes and ending on a hyper-realistic sweaty accord. There is actually a tendency in the top notes for the smell of alcohol to linger on a bit more than is usual, as if it had not been inhabited by perfume notes from the start, but after this lapse, the perfume appears. 

One should not ascribe too much depth to this theme of the fallen angel but it can be detected as a figurative motif in the composition.

The perfume embeds a Nestlé-condensed-milk accord but weaved into a dream material rather than into a realistic and gourmand squirt of sugar-heavy milk syrup as in the comfort scent Matin Câlin by Comptoir Sud Pacifique. The copy uses the term "nurturing"; I am tempted to see milk here as a more literal and edgier replacement/complement for and of the nurturing and difficult-to-get-now Mysore sandalwood often noted for its maternal, lactic notes...
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Thanks to the soft luminosity of the composition, its hidden exotic touches, and spiritual bent, La Pureté conjures up for me a bowl of macerated jasmine petals floating in milk left by a devotee in a hurry as an offering on the bank of the river Ganges after her early morning ablutions. The sun is warming up the scent of this white floral infusion of jasmine which retains something of the freshness and coolness of dawn with its dewy nuance of freesia, orange blossom and an accentuated very subtle aqueous facet.

Although the fragrance does strike a similar lactic chord as the one found in Matin Câlin by Comptoir Sud Pacifique, it does it with much more finesse and indirectness. If Matin Câlin is for those who dream of recapturing the cuddliness of their childhood still obtainable and to be tasted from a metallic tube of sugary condensed milk, La Pureté uses a similar milky accord to a different effect and meaning, to disorient your senses a bit even if it still holds soothing properties. "To nurture" has a more spiritual connotation than "to cocoon".  

The main "blocks" in this very legible perfume initially are milk, jasmine, and what I would term an urban patchouli suggestive of the smell of a sidewalk or city dust on a hot day: it is dry, rubbery, a bit mineral and establishes a more angular contrast with the soft-focus notes of opalescent milk and fresh jasmine.

There is a soft white glow in La Pureté, a bit like the one reported about in near-death experiences but counterbalanced by a grittier, earthier, industrial note of patchouli as if a fallen angel had hit the hard curb in its high free fall from heaven and been interpreted from then on as "Macadam Angel". Angels are in principle asexual and the copy insists by extension on the unisex character of the scent, but as the perfume progresses it becomes obvious that the fallen angel here has found its human dimension.

The next, fourth "block" of olfactory meaning is the musky one. Zadig et Voltaire call it in French a musk "made to go hysterical" but before reading this description I would have just said that the musky facet gains in power and intensity and is like a photographic rendering of a sweaty body hitting all the high-pitched notes of sweat. It is so realistic it feels headspace-like and even more than that, cinematic, as if a camera were recording the evolution of sweat and its rate of evaporation on skin right in front of your eyes. The musky smell is subtly spicy and pungent, clean, yet undeniably trespasses the frontiers of civility but without ever smelling like the franker Eau d'Hermès.

Tome 1 La Pureté is preceded in the book which holds its flacon by a quote from Thomas A'Kempis: "Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man takes its flight above earth and all ephemeral nature." The perfume offers both a subtle and simple olfactory signature and manages to be spiritualy oriented and charming at the same time.

La pureté is probably the most sophisticated and grown up milk perfume to see the light of day since Le Feu d'Issey by Miyake. It offers a conceptual, spare personality that will appeal to perfume aficionados who enjoy modernist fragrances which smell like the olfactory equivalents of a walk in an art gallery or the Guggenheim.

Notes are: patchouli oil, milk, musk, amber, orange blossom, jasmine tea, tonka bean, almond, sandalwood, vanilla.

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. i love the scent of condensed milk:) and the description of this perfume is just gorgeous.

  2. The patchouli and orange blossom scares me a little, but otherwise I am VERY eager to try this. Musk, amber, tea, Tonka bean, sandalwood, AND vanilla?? So perfect for my preferences.


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