An exhibition consecrated to French writer Pierre Loti (1850-1923) at Quai Branly entitled "J'Arrive, J'Aime, Je M'en Vais"* is the opportunity for the recreation of a long lost fragrance called Loti Rose d'Amour, 1913** - the name of a sample - a custom blend created at the beginning of the 20th century by a Parisian perfumer for the author of Pêcheur d'Islande, Aziyadé and The Last Days of Peking...
Pierre Loti is well-known for his writing but also for his eccentric streak, in particular his love of exoticism, developed during his career as a navy officer, which made him decorate each room in his Rochefort home in a different "world" style as one might put it today, and likewise wear costumes hailing from varied cultures. His nom de plume "Loti" is a nickname bestowed upon him in Polynesia, meaning "red flower".
Artist and nose Laurent-David Garnier happened on a perfume jewel containing the tenuous resinous remnants of a perfume concreta and decided to recreate it by analyzing it but also studying the environment of Loti. One of the writer's habits was to collect botanicals and mummify things like birds with arsenic salts and aromatic herbs, as he was obsessed with the idea of death.
The result, which is partly interpretative and partly based on the materials present in the tiny flacon of origin, is a perfume wafting of Damascean rose, lilac, mint and violet, which one can smell when paying a visit to the exhibition in the darkness of an alcova protected by black velvet curtains.
This will not be the first time that the memory and the universe of the author are honored by perfumers as both Parfum d'Empire and Lubin have each proposed a composition inspired by Aziyadé, the novel by Loti set in Ottoman Turkey.
*"Here I Am, I'm in Love, I'm Leaving"
** "Loti Rose of Love, 1913"