|Ludlow, optimally fluffy and characterful|
Then on my return from France I hit the ground running in Airbnb mode, simultaneously hosting an acute medicine doctor providing cover at the hospital, and a scientific director at a well known pharmaceutical company. It occurred to me that had I been ill that night - rather than a little while after they had gone - one of them could have diagnosed my problem, while the other might have had just the pill for it! And then there was the 'ill'-timed migraine, from which I am slowly coming round, so I thought I would write a short post while the going was good.
And somewhere in all this blur of busyness, I rummaged in a perfume sample and decant drawer, and from its furthest recesses happened to pull out a small decant of Perles de Lalique, which I happily wore for five days' straight until it ran out. That degree of serial scent wearing is in itself noteworthy, and most untypical of me, but I think it has something to do with nostalgia for the early days of my perfume hobby, which it instantly conjured up. I have had that sample for eight or nine years at a guess, as part of a swap haul on MUA, judging from the handwriting - though whose handwriting in particular it might be is forever lost in the mists of time and gauzy musk.
Notes: bergamot, Bulgarian rose, iris, Bourbon pepper, Indonesian patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, cashmeran
Now I associate Perles de Lalique with Roja Dove, way back when I looked up to the man as the David Attenborough of fragrance, the go-to guru of our time, his ubiquitous authority marred only by the odd typo. I may even have thought he was a perfumer. You can tell this was a long time ago because the prices will have gone up hugely since, but I think you used to be able to have some kind of fragrance consultancy with him up in the sumptuous surroundings of the Haute Parfumerie in Harrods for a mere £50. Or maybe it was with one of his sidekicks? I simply can't recall, but it was certainly a lot cheaper back then, whoever it was with. I have just checked Tinternet and the price today for one hour with Benjamin, Roja Dove's 'Maitre de Consultation', is £150, redeemable against purchase. Quite possibly a bargain indeed.
So anyway, I clearly remember reading interviews with several people who had had this profiling experience, all of whom had been 'prescribed' Perles de Lalique on the basis of their stated tastes and preferences. Which at the time I thought was a tad lazy, but arguably it is more a tribute to the crowd pleasing nature of the perfume than any lack of analysis on the M de C's part. I might well have come out of the process with the same result.
Perles de Lalique, for anyone whom it has managed to pass by, is a modern twist on a chypre, which I for one am glad about, as I tend to shy away from those retro, green, sappy, stabby numbers. Perles is very much a 'fluffy' rather than a 'spiky' scent (see my blog post on the distinction here), despite its chypre label. It isn't that I don't like a number of chypres on a case-by-case basis, much as I do dogs, but I also half expect them to take my eye out (as with the larger and more sabre-toothed end of the canine spectrum).
Perles is soft and pillowy, with just an outline of a rose's vegetal and earth-stained stem in there somewhere, and in the far drydown I also detect shafts of something juicy that I am quite at a loss to pinpoint further. Now I have never claimed to be much of a perfume reviewer, but Ludlow the bear does a pretty good job of evoking the 'atmosphere' of Perles de Lalique simply by sitting there with the empty vial perched on his leg. He manages to exude the requisite character and approachability, teamed with optimal amounts of fluffiness.
Amusingly, in her original review of Perles de Lalique, Bois de Jasmin spoke of its 'consumptive pallor' - that's my kind of chypre, hehe - but revised her view more recently.
"Edit (May 2011): I revisited Perles de Lalique recently, and I feel that I may have been too harsh in my criticism. What seemed pale 5 years ago comes across as lush and opulent today. Is it because most new launches have gotten so attenuated? Or is it because I grew to love the modern chypre style? Either way, worth revisiting."
Similarly, in her review of the fragrance in 2016, Jessica of NST describes her rediscovery of this old love after a long interval as a 'productive mid-winter reunion'.
Which is all to say that Perles de Lalique is the sort of scent you might at first judge to be underwhelming, or merely forget about while it languishes at the back of a drawer, only to find much later that it absolutely hits the spot. For as well as catapulting me back to my early state of unalloyed wonder and excitement about perfume and its associated 'scene', it served as a comforting counterpoint during the hyperactive time I have had lately.
Though I still wouldn't drop $645 on the exquisite 'cactus' bottle of the extrait, which is now relegated to the status of a very scarce find on eBay.
As for what I intend to do with the empty vial of Perles de Lalique, that is a topic for another day, hopefully not too far away...!