It is quite obvious that the perfume bottle for Un Air de Bretagne will yield the scent of the sea. It is already escaping from the confines of its walled house. How to, generally speaking, approach a marine opus?
Should you hope to be brought back to a place and time, in spite of yourself, thanks to memory pathways opened up by olfactive time-travel? Should you wish for the perfume to mingle exceptionnally well with the air in which you live, the air of Paris, or Jakarta, or wherever you might be? On second thought, this is impossible and restrictive mentally. Should you think of it as sea spa in a bottle and expect to feel invigorated by it? Should you anticipate a work of art which manages to paint the sea in perfumery form and touch you with it? The answer is to be found in the fragrance flacon - and it is the fourth option in this short-list, which seems to make most sense in this case, as we delineated just now...
Past a few initial moments marked by citruses, which seem to add a squeeze of lemon to your idea of a sea scape - with a touch of the functional, i.e., smelling fresh, Un Air de Bretagne softens down, evolving into an ethereal form of itself. The impression is delicate and zephyr-like. You are invited to feel as authentically like an old salt as you wish to imagine while living far away from the coast of Brittany; my best seaside-air memory from the region is that of experiencing la Pointe du Raz, a wild spot at the edge of the land, with forceful gales and a breathtaking panorama, so this is much gentler and quieter.
The distinctive feature of this scent of the sea composed by perfumer Juliette Karagueuzoglou of IFF is that it is, true to its name, more of an airy marine perfume than a watery oceanic one. It's about air currents rather than sea currents.
"An Air of Brittany" evokes the smell of wind-swept, dampened clothes, after you've taken a walk on the edge of a cliff, or by a road in a sea village, rather than watery sensations of splash and brine at a beach. There is a subtle sense of earthiness linked to the use of an absolute of algae, cypress and cedar leaves, which guides your mind to feel ashore and grounded.
The author explained that she wanted to recreate the sensations of "a breath of air on skin," as well as that of "the taste of salt on lips," after a tempest. The perfume does feel like the trace of a previous experience. There is something evanescent about it, still alive yet on the point of vanishing, while calling to mind the hushed-down, for now, intensity of nature. It is how a memory feels like, both present, vivid - and faded. It feels like a glass photograph of a landscape.
We insist that this the smell of seaside elements on clothes rather than on skin as the perfume is on the cool side. To feel like you're smelling skin, it would have to feel warmer. Even the ambergris feels more "gris" or gray, than gorged on sun.
The palette of notes is subtle, delicate, restrained, finely tuned. It is not a surprising palette, but rather a realistic and evocative one. Aside from the salt, iodine, ether, you will also discover a mineral facet to the perfume.There are lovely, faint nuances of sun-warmed pebbles. Everything is as it should be, only particularly subtle.
Un Air de Bretagne is an elegant, subdued marine perfume, on the minimalist side. It's practical to wear for this reserved quality - but also poetical for it.
It will please people who like to wear perfumes that are more like traces of experiences, half-faded photographs for the skin, humming ditties for the mind.