Traversée du Bosphore is a clever perfume: a scent that's rather complex that smells deceptively simple. It begins with juicy fruit and warm suede, with a dash of iris and a delicate pale-greenish note that must be the promised tulip. Soon, however, it smells like candy. Sugary, syrupy, straightforward but not overwhelming...but still, candy. Those delicate, complex notes are still there if one holds one's wrist up and snuffles like a hound, but somehow the whole mix has become a bowlful of pomegranate-infused lokum. Not just something that evokes lokum, but something that smells virtually identical to the way a bite of lokum tastes, all fruit, flowers, jelly-gum texture, and powdered sugar. I'm particularly fond of lokum, and I've tried a number of scents that are meant to have a note or interpretation of Turkish Delight -- and they do, and they've all been lovely so far -- but this is the sole "Turkish Delight note" perfume I've tried that actually smells like lokum, not an interpretation of its elements. I find myself craving this scent when I'm not wearing it. It's undoubtedly not everyone's cup of tea, but it's quietly strange, pretty, and comforting to me, which are apt descriptors of every l'Artisan scent I've tried.
The first time I tried Traversee du Bosphore, I almost laughed out loud at how bad it was. There is a lurid, cherry-flavored Jolly Rancher note up top pitched halfway between children's cough syrup and the clear pink goo you find at the bottom of a supermarket pie. I felt cheated. I had been promised a mystical Duchaufour-ian trawl through the back streets of Istanbul and what I got was cheap sweeties that even sugar-crazed five year olds might reject if they came spewing out of a piñata.
The notes say apple and pomegranate, two ingredients heavily used in Turkish and Balkan cuisine. But I am used to my mother-in-law’s wild pomegranate syrup, which is tart and sweet and tannic all at once, and I couldn’t see the connection to the more single-cell syrup I was smelling.
The dry down, on the other hand, was more interesting to me – a fat, pink suede cushion thickly dusted with icing sugar and trembling under the weight of rose petals. But every time I tried it, I had to clench my teeth through the artificial syrup opening. The main problem was that the opening notes felt cheap to me, and jarred against the uber expensive pink suede cube waiting for me in the dry down.
Then it struck me – what am I talking about? Lokum is cheap. It’s cheap to make, cheap to consume, and it tastes a bit cheap too. That’s practically the whole point of lokum. I used to live in the Balkans, and at meetings in Bosnia, Serbia, or Montenegro, someone would invariably pull out a tin of hilariously cheap lokum and you’d find yourself mindlessly chomping through two or three cubes of vaguely rose-flavored gelatin with the coffee – always more of a texture than a taste – careless of the post-lokum sugar headache that loomed over your medulla lungata like a nuclear cloud. Good stuff! Good times.
Knowing that lokum costs pennies is part of its hokey charm, I guess. It’s like coffee, good bread, and chocolate - small things that cost very little and yet provide so much pleasure to our daily lives. And this (essential) cheapness is key to appreciating Traversee du Bosphore. Enough with the mythologizing of Eastern sweetmeats, this perfume seems to be saying – lokum is made from boiled up horses’ hooves, and let’s not all pretend that it’s something fancier than it is.
I no longer live in the Balkans, so when I feel a bit nostalgic for the cheap rosewater taste of the local lokum, Traversee du Bosphore will have to stand in. Now that I have this scent pegged – a cheap and cheerful lokum suede – I can enjoy it without worrying about the cheap notes, which are, after all, exactly as they should be.
A fruity / floral accord opens Traversée du Bosphore, with apple and pomegranate for fruit, and tulip, iris, and rose for florals… the tulip and pomegranate take prominence which makes for an interesting and inventive accord. The accord IS synthetic, but I rather enjoy its synthetic but untypical nature. The next accord moves in with a dominant leather / saffron – I agree that the leather is more suede than leather. Even with my dislike of leather and saffron notes, I don’t dislike this middle accord – but I’d guess that I am not capturing the complete drama of the accord. The base goes sweet primarily with vanilla and it still retains the “leather” aura in a very pleasant and long-lasting manner.
Some other reviewers experience Traversée du Bosphore as a gourmand – to me it usually comes across as a sweet fruity suede. In my first testing of it, the iris came across rather strongly but with further tests the iris strength diminished and the leather / fruit took precedence.
This is a well made fragrance that attempts some fairly complex and dramatic things while still retaining a L’Artisan identity - which is an almost self-contradictory goal. I think it does a good job of reaching that goal… It’s an interesting fragrance – more edgy than most L’Artisans. I like the direction this one takes.
Traversée du Bosphore opens with a pleasant, evocative and invigorating Middle-Eastern blend comprising warm notes of powder, amber, vanilla, spices (tonka above all to me), a sweet and earthy tobacco note providing a darker, yet always mellow “support” to the powdery-amber-spicy accord. It may sound simple, but actually it’s a rather pleasant and perhaps quite complex harmony of colours and shades, with a thin but totally solid texture, basically a sort of warm Oriental talc-amber-spicy scent with an ephemeral boozy heart. Now... the issue here, as with many scents by L’Artisan, is that of all this suddenly turns into a fairly light (and somehow generic) skin-scent, as much pleasant as “faded”. It’s like a time machine that in 30 minutes transports you directly 4 hours later, on the very drydown. Great until it lasts, then barely nice overall, but... meh, bit of a tune on the “volume/persistence” knob would be appreciated in my opinion.
I totally agree with Kain. This is a horrible perfume. In fact the whole line is terrible. Mr. Bertrand what where you thinking when creating that poorly made, synthetic and cloying line!!!