Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Come rain, shine, or anything in between: Miller Harris La Pluie review

I am afraid it has been another funny week or two: I am still beset with delays and problems on my renovations, due mainly to an unhappy mixture of incommunicado and astronomically priced tradesmen. On top of that I had a ten day-long cold with a side of exhaustion and headaches, topped off with an odd house guest and a doomed insurance claim, the very thought of which makes my blood run - not cold exactly, as it is unseasonably warm outside - but cooler than whatever temperature blood tends to be as a rule.

Perfume-wise it has been a strange old time as well. Initially I was so distracted that I forgot to put any on, but then something happened: I unthinkingly sprayed on Miller Harris La Pluie one morning, as a sample vial just came to hand in a sponge bag, and found myself reaching for it day after day, as though on autopilot. I don't believe I have ever worn a single perfume on so many consecutive occasions - it is most unlike what my conscious self would do, or even approve of. But La Pluie has been hitting the spot, so I have stuck with it.

Ironically, though I have had this sample for ages, I have consistently passed over it up till now. La Pluie hadn't really registered or imposed itself on my nostrils or memory. I remember it as inoffensive and nondescript, and it certainly is the former, however I now think that it does have quite a bit going on in a quiet, companionable way. And that is just the kind of perfume I am drawn to at the moment, something gentle, soothing and supportive, like the way Truffle was during the worst of my cold, snuggled under the covers with her head lying facing me on my outstretched arm, and her paws resting empathetically on my neck. Truly a laying on of paws, if such a thing exists, and most therapeutic at the time. It was only when I started to get up and display signs of normal behaviour that Truffle decided she could dispense with her 'under covers' vigil and go outside. So La Pluie is, if you will, the scented equivalent of a consoling cat. In short it is ideal for when it rains, when it pours(!), when it drizzles, and for bizarre episodes of Indian summer weather as we have today.

Notes: tangerine, lavender, 'wet' white flowers, ylang-ylang, vetiver, bourbon vanilla

So how does La Pluie smell? Well, in the opening I do just about get a fresh and dewy bouquet of those white flowers (don't ask me what, obviously). I am a little reminded of Annick Goutal's Un Matin d'Orage, which has a similar damp floral effect. But there is a weightiness to the composition of La Pluie even at this early stage, and a powdery note almost immediately creeps in, never to leave. As the scent develops, the powder at times seems 'granular', and I don't think I am hallucinating (thought given my recent illness, the possibility cannot be excluded) and the scent takes on a wet pavement kind of facet.

Also, the lavender is always in the background, but not in an overt, identifiable way so much as a kind of herbal counterpoint to the floral / orangey aspects. I don't generally like lavender as a note in perfume, which is testament to how subtle and well blended it is here. There's a soupcon of spice too, rather like Tom Ford Private Blend Shanghai Lily, but a million times more muted (and I love Shanghai Lily). Pepper? Clove? Carnation? No idea. And then over time La Pluie gradually fades away to an almost indescribable powdery, yet faintly tangy murmur. (That'll doubtless be some combo of the tangerine and ylang-ylang, a note of which I am inordinately fond.) There isn't any dankness to this rain-themed scent - and over its whole trajectory there is far more powder than moisture to be fair - and no hint of earthiness or petrichor. The powderiness could perhaps be likened to the faintest of light drizzles falling tinglingly on your skin, and there is that brief and possibly chimerical pavement interlude, as I say.

But rain is really not what I would have thought of on my repeated wearings of La Pluie, had it not been suggested by the perfume's name. Hence why my chosen photos show La Pluie in various sunlit spots round the house. ;) I am not sure I even agree with the description of the perfume on the sample box as: "A story of tropical showers and the balmy climate of a faraway island". Except perhaps by way of fleeting glimpses, but these are always wreathed in powder. Un Matin d'Orage comes much closer to that 'unalloyed damp flowers' visualisation.

So there you have no means a showstopper, and not necessarily even that memorable, though after my marathon wearing of La Pluie I for one will definitely remember it. But exactly the undemanding, comforting hum that you look for from a scent when it seems that all around you are losing their heads, and you reckon yours can't be far behind.

Now onto a regime of 'on the bed' care


Tatiana said...

I love how comforting cats can be when you're ill. I didn't even know that Miller Harris still exists. All their scents are impossible to find in the US market. I had a friend with quite a few bottles of Miller Harris scents and was lucky that she shared a few with me. Not sure I've ever smelled La Pluie though. Hope you are feeling better.

Undina said...

I'm so sorry that you've got that bundle of issues: dealing with any one of these wouldn't be a picnic but all together... Glad though that Truffle is such a good caregiver: I bet she would have made you tea if he could.

Miller Harris is an extremely under-represented brand where I live, so I tried just several perfumes from the brand. I haven't come across La Pluie. Lavender from your description speaks in its favor, comparison to Un Matin d'Orage - against. But we'll see.

I hope you're getting better and getting rain mostly from your perfume.

Anonymous said...

Hope you will soon feel heaps better - Nurse Truffle obviously did a good job.

I adored MH's Jasmin Vert and my husband Geranium Bourbon. However, I often felt that a lot of the scents were a little too linear and/or astringent for me. I don't know how the range is these days - Lyn Harris left the company three years ago and it now seems to be a different beast. They discontinued the tea range which is sad as the geranium was really tasty.

Ugh. Insurance companies. Need not say any more.

Carry on getting better, and good luck with the builders.

PS Regarding your toothsome post - have your ever tried Glide floss? It's the only one I can use - it really does glide, doesn't shred and does its job, at least on my teeth.


Tara Smith said...

How fortuitous that you came across the perfect scent to soothe you through illness and when dealing with unhelpful tradespeople, not to mention your bothersome guest.

There is a lot to be said for having an unobtrusive but calming scent in your collection.

What a star Truffle was. I had no idea cats could behave like that!

Old Herbaceous said...

So glad you're enjoying La Pluie! I was able to get it in a travel set two years ago, and I like it very much: Like you, I am selective in how much lavender I can take in a fragrance, but I enjoyed its handling in La Pluie. I should wear it today, as we've gotten downpours from the edge of Hurricane Michael passing by! Though I may go with Un Jardin Apres La Mousson ... Best of luck with colds, renovations, and contractors!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tatiana,

I had heard that Miller Harris is quite patchy across the pond - or 'spotty' as you may say? They were a gateway brand to niche for me ten years ago, like Jo Malone, though the line doesn't really excite me nowadays - it got too big and hard to follow, a bit like Jo Malone - and for that matter Ormonde Jayne, another brand I fell for in my early years down the rabbit hole.

Cats are so comforting, aren't they? - they really do sense when you are not feeling yourself. And I am a lot better, thank you.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Thanks for your sympathy. LOL at the idea of Truffle making tea. I am worried she might put cream in it though, like the Germans. ;)

Don't be deterred by the comparison with Un Matin d'Orage - La Pluie probably shares more of its DNA with a perfume like Aroma M Geisha Vanilla Hinoki - the powderiness sees to that. And the lavender is very discreet, creating more of a calming atmosphere than an actual scent if that were possible.

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

Nurse Truffle rose to the occasion splendidly, and I can't even be too cross about her appearing at the back door last night with a dead mouse in her mouth. She dropped it when I called her 'a bad cat', and I left it on the patio under a flower pot saucer (a sort of improvised cloche) to stop her bringing it in in the morning and leaving it on the carpet, as is her wont. Would you believe that this morning the saucer was in exactly the same spot, but the mouse was gone! I am astonished at her prising dexterity, unless another cat was involved. ;)

Jasmin Vert - I have not smelt that in years, though I do remember liking it, ditto Geranium Bourbon. Not Fleur Oriental though, as it was a little too heavy on the old heliotrope and used to give me a headache.

I can't quite put my finger on the ways in which MH has changed, apart from LH having left, as you say, and the range getting bigger. Maybe there were fewer niche brands altogether when I first got into perfume and so they seemed like more of a behemoth back then.

Re Glide floss, someone else has highly recommended it so I should really get myself a roll, thanks!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Yes, that is the nub of it - there is a place for such a scent in anyone's collection - and 'unobtrusive' is a good word for it.

Oh yes, cats are very attuned to their owner's mood - and Truffle more than most, I would say!

Vanessa said...

Hi Old Herbaceous,

Good luck 'weathering' Hurricane Michael! I am sure even his coat tails are pretty fierce. And Un Jardin Apres La Mousson sounds like a particularly apt choice for a SOTD. ;)

Very interested to read your take on La Pluie and how interesting about the wheat note (I had not tumbled to that, but LH herself confirms it in that quote) and the Scent Mosaic, to which I also couldn't really relate.

I do adore ylang ylang, and though I couldn't make it out - or any notes really! - with any clarity, I feel sure it was a main architect of the pleasing juiciness behind the veil of powder. I sense LH meant La Pluie to be more wet than not, but it really is more powdery to my nose.

Odiferess said...

Hi Vanessa, the laying on of paws sounds lovely, almost worth enduring a cold.
It's a long time since I've smelt La Pluie but I remember thinking it was rather gorgeous. This may be a false memory but I think there was a hint of Shalimar to it, maybe in the powdery edge? I must have another sniff. It's one of those that just might pop up in the clearance shelf of TK Maxx for £20. I shall keep an eye out. x

Vanessa said...

Hi Odiferess,

Miller Harris has been known to pop up in my local T K Maxx, though not lately, sadly, or only in shower gel and candle form. Do keep your eyes peeled though. I will bear the Shalimar comparison in mind the next time I try it, as surely I will!

crikey said...

I'm sorry that you were feeling so rotten--dealing with both illness and awkward tradespeople is a double blow. But I'm awfully glad that Nurse Truffle was on duty, and that you are feeling better.

Fleurs de Sel is my MH favourite. I've never succumbed to a bottle of any of the others, but this one has a back up. (thank you TKMaxx.)

Vanessa said...

Hi crikey,

Thanks for your good wishes, and for reminding me of the wonderful Fleurs de Sel. There is nothing quite like it and it is a really blast from the past hearing about it again.

MarieinDK said...

I love your review and I find myself drawn to such a scent on occassion myself - more often as I get older

Vanessa said...

Thanks, Marie, and I agree with you on the age thing, absolutely.