Perfume Directory

Replica Whispers in the Library (2019)
by Martin Margiela


Replica Whispers in the Library information

Year of Launch2019
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 17 votes)

People and companies

HouseMartin Margiela
Parent CompanyL'Oréal Group > Prestige & Collections

About Replica Whispers in the Library

The company says:

Whispers in the library evokes the memory of a mysterious library made of antique woodwork perfectly waxed. The slowing down of time between books and the whispers of turning pages. Inspired by the scent of wax wood and paper, the combination of pepper notes with woody and warm notes of cedar and vanilla recreates the atmosphere of an ancestral library.

Replica Whispers in the Library fragrance notes

Reviews of Replica Whispers in the Library

It's not a bad scent, but it's underwhelming compared to some of Maison Margiela's others, specifically Jazz Club and By the Fireplace. It's much fainter than both of those.
17th December, 2019
Whispers in the Library is dry, dusty, woody and mysterious, which I'd say is a pretty good thematic representation. The vanilla doesn't really fit the bill as well as the rest of the notes imo, but I think the sweetness that it adds was much needed. I also almost get a hint of varnish or lacquer, which isn't too harsh and gives it some character. It's a decent offering from the line and gets points for being unique, but I'm not really sold on it either.
07th November, 2019
I absolutely love this! I bought the 10ml samples of this and Coffee Break so that I could give them both a good try before I decided to buy a full bottle; which I have just done.

Although at first I was a bit underwhelmed, this really is a true representation of the Maison Margiela brand ethic of 'reproductions of familiar scents and moments of varying locations and periods'.

I do get a strong (but not sweet) vanilla but this is quickly pushed to the background by a very true representation of a polished wooden banister; and one that has had many hands pass over it over many years. This is such a comfort to me and reminds me of the building in my high school where the library was located! It's astounding how my mind is immediately transported back to those days in library staircase and hall in the mid 1980's!

The overall feeling is peppery, waxy & wooden and most of all comforting. Although not listed as a note, I think the base has some sandalwood too.

This fragrance puts a huge smile on my face and is worth every cent.
04th September, 2019
Unexpectedly, my first-ever review for Basenotes will be for Replica Whispers in the Library (2019) by Martin Margiela. I say “unexpectedly” as vanilla fragrances are often off my radar, or they are at most allowed to occupy a satellite relation found somewhere in the dry down of my preferred scents. At the same time, however, this is also interesting because as a teenager who once wished to find a desirable vanilla fragrance to somehow find a casual place alongside my testosterone-driven collection of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mashups of the 1990s and early 2000s, in addition to my post-gym dialups of sporty hesperidiums, I was both overwhelmed and underwhelmed by the selections. Those selections were limited to my budget, so the then bridling take-off of niche houses didn’t
fit the bill. Eventually university found me in an environment (and a time) when fragrances were viewed with suspicion due to milquetoast social conventions, and quite honestly the cost of academia precluded me from new acquisitions amongst my newfound priorities. Funnily enough, despite limited resources I would experiment with a certain cheap and rather unremarkable vanilla oil from The Body Shop . . . thick, sweet, rich, unnuanced and somewhat directionless, not unlike my life’s plan in those days.

Upon examining the Maison Margiela collection at a local department store devoted to the house’s complete set of Replica fragrances I was greeted by an excellent mediator. I arrived, prepared and generally well-read - as Jane Austen would describe, “a man of information” - and was delightfully surprised by the knowledgeable reception. Truth be known, this level of commitment feels rare to me and is something seriously lacking in the retail side of fragrance (lest you visit a somewhat a boutique as opposed to those teeming with a bazaar-esque slew of choices). Otherwise, those fragrance lovers on a more discerning journey normally take refuge in the quality found in the contributions at Basenotes and other online destinations that enhance the hobby. I must confess that I did not arrive bent on trying the subject of this review; rather I arrived with a predilection towards sampling By the Fireplace (2015), Jazz Club (2013), and At the Barber’s (2014) due to the online buzz. Each of these are intriguing concoctions with a time and purpose, and I hope to sometime divulge more about them. I had initially zeroed in on At the Barber’s as I am eternally striving to find that clean feel, whether it be a lavender-laden fougère or a white laundry musk. Perhaps something even akin to one of my all-time favourites, Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne (2000 and 2014 reissue).

But what surprisingly captured me on that warm and sunny early Summer afternoon was Whispers in the Library (2019). Amongst the handwash-shaped capsules this one both surprised me and won me over as a sample to explore further.

Listen, I know there already exists an encyclopaedic stack of time-honoured and contemporary hip(ster)-to-the-moment vanilla fragrances found in both market squares and in quiet niche houses. Tobacco and/or amber and/or woody notes are readily laced through a plethora of vanilla inspirations that are already so encompassing that it can be intimidating to find your juice. I get that. But not unlike the old adage that searching for love often results in not finding it, so too is it true that being unmindful of love is often the condition wherein it finds you. This was certainly the case with my long-forgotten cause to have a suitable vanilla fragrance in my collection.

So how does Whispers in the Library make its case?

Not a sludge vanilla confection. Not a glazed gourmand. Not a saccharine delight. Not an overt sexual impulse. Not a steamy moment where your inamorata’s lips press to your neck at the discotheque. This one seems indifferent to those realms. On the olfactory side you won’t find your Montale Vanilla Cake (2018) and eat it too. It exists indifferent to the cloying found in similar Thierry Mugler campaigns seemingly given to regal patisserie settings of Versailles sweets, their exteriors a glazed talisman forged by Bourban vanilla simmering with butter and sugar in the saucier . . . and, of course, the cigar that chases dessert. And on the experiential trajectory nor have you a JPG Le Male (1995) beasting for evening affection and traces of vanilla found on the post-coital bedsheets.

It goes on without a boozy opening customary to its kin. Or at least comparatively not so boozy. This is a clean, somewhat unsweetened vanilla suspended and kept aloft by a black pepper accord. From the inoffensive opening the pepper holds it in sway and seems to open the vanilla up to a drier, less malty residue form of itself. Indeed, the pepper lifts it and the cedarwood holds it in place. About 1-2 hours in there is something else I detect: Is there something almost floral far in the background? Or is this just one of the chemical properties of the cedar at this stage?

Throughout the journey one is reminded that there is a coolness to this vanilla, or at least something surprisingly on the cool side of warm. In the middle stages the cedarwood enters stage right and begins its supporting role. The lead settles down into something quiet and dusty, with just a little vigour too. A powder softens from somewhere behind the curtain. This is where Whispers in the Library averts your attention to the proclaimed imagery. Vanilla, paper and waxed wood . . . there it is! Either I consciously fell for the “time and place” aspect of the Replica line or there is an artistic accuracy at play.

Despite its decidedly short list of ingredients this is not an entirely linear journey, for there is a soft transformation somewhere in this episode. And this is where there is a gentle complexity where one looks for it in this library. Where once this professorial, soft tweed jacket and v-neck sweater-bedecked gentleman was muted by his time-honoured laser focus on the livre at hand, now he appears like a young savant with a crisp white t-shirt and a fitted, soft, unstructured merino cardigan-style jacket, and a pair of dark rinse jeans and Jack Purcell’s crossed over his knee. He continuously looks up and out the window, his eagerness, curiosity and ambition not quite yet conditioned. He casually yet elegantly exists between two worlds. The tone of this attraction is something sapiosexual.

I cannot place a finger on it but the vanilla itself is of a premium quality. A different type of vanilla. One would assume this was the first ingredient selected in this minimalist recipe, the pepper tailored it and the woods supported the tasteful image of the bibliophile in the library. There is a notable discretion about this one, something modern yet conservative in a manner not often applied to vanilla fragrances. There’s nothing beasting here. One is held in a dry repose which deems its raison d’etre an elevation of a meditative awareness. Although Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille (2003) shares some similar perceptive characteristics (waxed, woody paper) I find this one to be more interesting. On a personal note if the Serge Lutens offering possessed a smoky note then it would have more of what I was looking for, I suppose(?) . . . but then it would shift away from its feminine side. And, in fairness, any smoke in Margiela’s mélange would strut in a different direction altogether.

The full experience came on a Sunday morning. My plan was to begin the day (how convenient!) by reading deeper and further into my Marcus Aurelius. Yet, with the inspiration behind Whispers in the Library in my mind, I allowed myself to feel carried away to the leather-encased stacks found in my favourite library/study pod at my old alma mater. I suppose this is as close as I would get to my “ancestral library,” to take from the marketing spiel. I allowed the designer’s aims for this fragrance to make me imagine the scenario further: Walking beneath the Tudor Revival tower above the entrance way, along the hall and down the steps into the nearly hidden library. There, with my cahier and books spread across a desk shared by generations before me, I succumb to the the quietude found in that boutique library. I pause and look up from my reading to gaze through the Jacobethan stone window onto the courtyard outside with covered perimeter walkways upheld by tiny columns, and the organ music wafting from the upstairs college chapel where talented students from the nearby conservatory would - albeit tastefully - play to their heart’s delight so long as the old vestiges were not unsettled. I cherish the fact that my mind found this sacred memory, so I mentioned it here.

My day continued with a long walk along the bay with a steady wind coming onto the pathway across the water. Nothing was whisked away. I kept smelling Whispers on the Library wafting in and out throughout the day. I was surprised and delighted at its staying power, though the vanilla accord had sweetened somewhat without its players whose roles had rescinded during the latter dry down. The vanilla, like this point in my day, was less quiet about its starring role on this stage. Acquaintances who I met for coffee commented on it, one even politely requested to lean in closer to glean a more comprehensive experience. This one is appreciated.

A tasteful, elegant little evocative experience. Easy to wear and none so brash. Sure, a wee bit sapiosexual . . . why not?

After repeated events with it I can say that longevity is decent at 7-9 hours. Sillage is moderate and restrained, much like the bibliophile in your life, keeping to himself but quietly exuberant as he turns the pages.

25th June, 2019 (last edited: 18th October, 2019)

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