Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Vital signs, and diving for Perles (de Lalique)

Ludlow, optimally fluffy and characterful
Contrary to all reasonable inferences from my latest (lengthy!) blogging hiatus, I am not dead. It would only be partially true to say that I sleepeth instead, though over the Easter weekend I did in fact spend 32 consecutive hours in bed: 14 of them awake and in the vice-like grip of a migraine, and the rest genuinely out for the count. But that is barely two days of my long absence. No, since I posted Part One of my US tour report - the rest of it will appear presently! - I have been unexpectedly working again in a three week stint of white heat activity that segued into a trip to France to sort out the house some more. A blog post may also be forthcoming about that eventful (and mercifully warmer ;) ) week.

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).

Source: eBay

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...!


Tara said...

I can totally see people changing their mind on this one, V. It's just the kind of understated fragrance I appreciate these days. Funny how that works.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Interesting that you have come round to this style of perfume too. Though I do agree with Victoria that it is (relatively speaking) rather lush and opulent - in an understated way, as you say!

Anonymous said...

You poor thing - nobody can appreciate how awful a migraine is unless they have experienced one!

I want to smell PdL again as I only have a vague memory of it and whilst it didn't appeal all those years ago, I think it might now.

We have a giant white tiger whom we call Winchester as that is where we bought him (from a market stall). Is Ludlow named after the place where he was "born"?


Anonymous said...

Your posts are always such a treat! I was in the same vice-like grip over Easter, still recovering (I didn't know you were a migraineur, the subspecies that shows an increased frequency of olfactory dreams!). In my early days of perfumistahood I complimented a good friend on her scent, and she said it was Perles de Lac. It took a while before it became clear to me it wasn't a lake, but of Lalique. I gave her the shower and bodycream as a birthday gift, and she reported back her whole house smelled of the Perles. It is a bit too heavy on the iso-e-super for me, but smelled on others it is lovely! Looking forward to read about your French endeavour, and ofcourse a little bit about Truffle...

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

I mostly get tension / dehydration headaches (quite often in fact), but just occasionally a real humdinger of a migraine strikes.

Aha, perhaps you might become another 'PdL returner'...;)

Winchester is stuffed, I am very much hoping? Ludlow is not named after the place where he was 'born', indeed I am not at all sure where he *was* born, as I got him on eBay. I thought the name had a certain gravitas though. And Ludlow is a lovely town, the highlight of which for me is a shop selling high end lighting and bathroom fixtures - strictly for ogling, not buying, I might add.


Vanessa said...

Hi Hamamelis,

Oh dear, I am sorry you had something similar over Easter - what bad luck. We had glorious weather too, and I imagine you probably did too where you are, so it was a double shame to be indoors laid up.

LOL at Perles de Lac. Now you mention it I can recognise the Iso-e-Super in it, but not at troubling levels, as it can be in some scents. I can confirm that it smells fine on me, as I don't care for that note to be too prominent.

Truffle has been sunning herself in the garden over Easter, and I put a picture of her lounging in the bird bath on Facebook, with a caption remarking on the strange absence of birds...

Anonymous said...

Holloways looks lovely - we were in Ludlow only a few weeks ago and could have done with a visit there as a diversion to fill in time while we waited for our smallest cat to come round from emergency eye surgery at a special hospital in Leominster. We can only afford B&Q, sadly, especially now after said cat's op.

Winchester is stuffed - with polyester (in case anyone thinks he is a product of taxidermy!).


Vanessa said...

Wow, I know Leominster...sorry you had such a sad reason for visiting though. Your poor cat. That is a long way to go, but sounds like it was the care you needed. I hope he/she is on the mend now. And yes, vet bills are eye watering, no pun intended.

Holloways definitely best left as a shop to 'lick the windows of', as the French say. And thanks for clarifying the status of Winchester's innards.