Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Passage d'Enfer by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Total Reviews: 85
It's a bit odd - sometimes it seems like a floral with some incense , others it's all incense and woods, and others it's like a little sister to Dzongkha - with that incense/wood mixed with a creamy almost meaty smell.

I never particularly like the opening notes, but when it settles I get wafts during the day of something intriguing and complex, which makes me pause.
19th July, 2017
Passage D'enfer is a private, indwelling drama. It feels like being borne underwater by the sheer weight of lilies heaped upon your body by a mass of unfeeling mourners on the riverbank. From despair, hope: amidst the morbid holy white flowers, the motionless incense, the reservoir of salt that gathers on the verge of crying, and a thick veil of musk. From all of these comes, at last, a sense of strength and solace. It feels like looking your demons in the face and yawning. It feels like moving through the grime invisibly, bearing your sorrows with a light step.
18th March, 2017
There's nothing I dislike about this, just not in love with it. That being said, I find it to be refreshing and unique. I haven't smelled any other fragrances like this. It reminds me of the effervescence you smell after opening a can of lemon-lime soda. Very light, airy and bubbly like that, with some citrus. I also smell the incense and florals, but its not heavy. Projection is okay, won't fill a room, but should be detectable when walking past others. Drydown lasts into the 6-8 hour range and feels clean and woody, with just a little of the citrus still there.
24th February, 2017
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Chilly little incense number that I must admit I can’t warm to, much as I admire Olivia Giacobetti’s delicate palette. This is like the suggestion of the sun through a fog. The fog here being some very sweet musk.
Much of the excitement seems to be in the opening minutes where a limpid lily combines pepper and that cool incense and a suggestion of pine. But soon it narrows to that peppery incense caught in billows of musk. Incense, however faint, is a tenacious note on my skin, so I don’t have any projection or longevity issues, it’s just that Passage d’Enfer bores me – it seems to have very little to say and says it in a little voice. The later stages are more satisfying as the sweetness and pepper subsides and it morphs to mainly a conifers and light incense theme with a creamy, silky aura.
A more transporting and satisfying embodiment of some of the notes present here is to be found in Oriza’s Relique d’Amour where the lily is placed on the altar of a pine-ringed mountain chapel, with the frankincense wafting through the door that’s just been opened.

25th August, 2016
Dry, peppery, cold incense...

This fragrance is a typical <i>Olivia Giacobetti</i> composition. She has the ability to do an incense fragrance extremely well. This one is no exception.

The name alternatively means <i>Gateway to Hell</i> or <i>Rite of Passage</i>. I think the second name is more fitting as it also is the name of the street in which the original <i>L'Artisan Parfumeur</i> boutique was located.

What we get here is a very dry, cold incense that has musk, lilly, and dry frankincense. It is extremely wearable, but very light. I would recommend it for lovers of incense.
26th October, 2015
After working my way through a 1ml sample, I am neutral on this. It is fresh and very light, an aloe and floral scent, a little bit sweet, but as far as cool stone or incense or anything mystical - I'm not getting that at all. I wanted to love it and wanted to smell the things that are in the description and other people's reviews - but I smell something like a cleaning product. It's not terrible, and I could comfortably wear it to work knowing I wouldn't offend anyone.

Eau d'Italie by Eau d'Italie is a similar idea that is much more interesting, and more to my liking. From this line I will stick with Dzongkha, Timbuktu, and I also love Cote d'Amour.
19th June, 2015
This one is quite a surprise. Having expected something funereal, or, from the name alone, something like burning sulphur, l find it's a rather fresh & beautiful breath of spring. The incense has a shimmering quality, with a pronounced green floral note running through it, more like lily of the valley than lillies, to my nose. l get a strong impression of green shoots peeking through the cold, wet earth, & l even smell the stone slabs forming a path between the flower beds. lt's soft & quite linear, with just a hint of musk in the base, & lasts around nine hours before fading.
Delicate & quite lovely, for me this would make the perfect incense for the transition from winter to spring.
01st April, 2015
Genre: Woody Oriental

Passage d'Enfer wound up disappointing me. It goes on with some intriguing incense and dark floral notes and then...poof! It's gone. After fifteen minutes on my skin, it's undetectable - to me or anybody else. I've had the same problem with Dzing!. Both disappear before I can even decide whether I like them.

So Passage d'Enfer = Passage d'Nowhere on me. I'm giving it a neutral because it smells good while it lasts.
23rd June, 2014
A silvery, shimmery, evanescent thing that features crisp lilies and incense. The incense is crystalline, and the general composition is gaunt, primarily emphasizing the higher-register notes. It’s as if somebody EQ’d out the bass and the mids, but cranked the treble way up; it's light, but luminous at the same time.

Yet, unavoidable for me is a soapy note that overshadows the incense. This seems to come, in part, from the slightly medicinal facets of the lily, but the main source is a crappy dry white musk that really lets the composition down. While white musk bases are essential for such fragile and transparent scents to stay afloat, they do tend to raise questions as to how the composition accommodates them, or how the perfumer solved the problem by building the scent up in other ways. The musk here is simply too pronounced and cheap-smelling when a more indolic or even slightly waxy method would have proved more appropriate.

Although Passage d’Enfer held up much better than I’d expected it to (I was thinking two hours, tops), after the first hour or so, it really did become a borderline industrial scent over the lousy musk. With that said, I’m particularly sensitive to soapy notes in perfume (I loathe them), so my “overly soapy” might be someone else’s “not soapy at all," but in such a narrow, skinny, but otherwise tasteful scent, these problems are both amplified and unavoidable.
11th April, 2014
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
From the beginning I get a light incense, with some aloe, a white flowery notes and in the drydown some white musk. Minimal sweetness on my skin, balanced, light and pleasant. Not extraordinary but well made. Limited silage and projection, with just over two hours of longevity. For the lover of light and bright incense scents for warmer days.
11th January, 2014
I've recently found my way to Giacobetti’s work, and I am fascinated. I still want to investigate her fig and flower perfumes, but having experienced Dzing! Passage d’Enfer, Safran Troublant and Fou d’Absinthe, I'm sold.

I love the scents of the perfumes that I've tried, but I am drawn to her for her artistic approach. Dzing! captures my desire for a considered use of abstraction toward specific ends. Abstraction isn’t throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks. It is a specific and complex means of revealing attributes of an idea or thing, and has only as much randomness to it as any other means of composing work does. Passage d’Enfer shows that thoughtful juxtaposition highlights the frame of reference, and bends contexts to create new and unimagined possibilities. Juxtaposition is never simply about the two ideas placed next to each other. It’s about the space between them, the artist and the audience and what they together make of it all. (Please see above photo.)

While there certainly is more to the composition, Passage d’Enfer combines incense and lily and comes up with something both interesting and unexpected. While I can still make out the two components, my attention is mostly drawn to a third, new quality. It is creamy, soapy, spectral. It suggests an atmosphere like fog, which can't be experienced in inches but must be taken in in yards, over terrain. It has a comfortable density to the touch that feels like it would absorb sound. It has a giving property and maybe even a forgiving nature.

I know I'm reading a lot into this perfume. But that's what I want to do with perfume. And in order to do so I choose well-considered perfumes, ones rich with ideas. I've always loved the T.S. Eliot expression, “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” It tells me about subject, object, the things between them, and intent. By the same token a smart, qualified perfumer can show a willing and informed perfume wearer the world in a bottle.

from scenthurdle.com
24th September, 2013 (last edited: 18th May, 2015)
Light Sour Incense

Passage d'Enfer does not hit my incense spot . I expected something really great after reading about this scent for so many years now. All I get is light sour incense and musk which I guess would translate into lilies, incense and musk . Lilies and incense = catholic funeral . Thanks.... I'll wait for that when I am actually dead.

Pros: Meditative
Cons: Rather funereal"

18th September, 2013
gimpy Show all reviews
United States
The most versatile incense scent

Scent: I do not get many notes in this. I can detect the lillies, a light white incense, white musk in the basenotes, and sometime that smells of stone. However, the effect that these notes have are divine. PdE is a cool, calm, mediative scent. I definitely get the image of stone churches.

Often incense scents can be very abrasive and hard to wear. However, PdE is not only of the most versatile incense scents around, it is one of the most versatile scents, period. I wear this to work, and it's calming effect is fabulous. In fact admirer's of Bulgari PH may enjoy this, as I find the white musk base similar. I will probably never be without a bottle of this. Only caveat is that it can seem a tad synthetic compared to something like the primordial L'Eau Trois.

Longevity: This is one of those scents that doesn't project much, but it certainly has lasting power. Three sprays lasts all day, and I can still smell it on me after work. Outstanding balance.

Pros: Longevity; calming, cool.
Cons: Can be a bit synthetic."

18th August, 2013
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This is a quiet, close-wearing fragrance. I felt it absolutely smelled of white lilies and incense, with occasional turns to a dry, dusky corner. The overall impression is of a Roman Catholic funeral mass...which is a bit unsettling if you have that kind of emotional baggage. I see others have less gothic impressions, and I think it's certainly a fine office scent, or anywhere else you'd need an inoffensive fragrance.
11th May, 2013
While it does produce a very cold scent, something haunting, it isn't strong enough to make it worthwhile.
13th April, 2013
Interesting, intriguing concept (incencse with lily), but sugar overkill with white musk instead is all I get. What a sweet mess! If the sugary sweetness was to represent hell here...
12th February, 2013
really, really bad. A combination of fusty old lady wardrobe and urine. Not sure if that is the fragrance alone, or my chemistry with this fragrance.
Aloe, White Lily, Myrrh, Frankincense, White Musk? wow, how did those wonderful scents birth this monstrosity?
21st January, 2012
I was initially  expecting some shadowy, almost dark and surly kind of juice but despite the appalling name i found out a sort of smoother, silkier, less spicy and less aromatic e/o irony or pungent sort of 7 de Loewe and Cacharel Pour Homme. Refined, delicate, melancholic and a bit cold (but not metallic).  I detect a touch of chamomille, a whiff of bergamot, a starring cedar,  obviously the airy and meditative olibanum and the notable floral note of lily, few other elements (may be musk) and nothing else. I appreciate the loneliness, the delicacy, the cleanliness of this pleasant meditative fragrance. It has distinction, evocative power but if you are looking for bold, screaming, erotic or loud scents you must make a u turn. It smells to me as a clean and introspective office scent and i don't smell any liturgical or spiritual trait. Faint longevity for this close to the skin concoction.
14th November, 2011
Starts off very nice and refreshing.. quickly becomes spicy, sour, floral, musky, not for me.

I gave it the benefit of the doubt, and glad that I did. The dry down is a creamy white musk with some incense. Sounds weird, right? It is fantastic! Lasts a good 16 hours too.

Probably my favorite L'Artisan dry down thus far, out of the 20-30 L'Artisan's that I have tried.
04th November, 2011
Passage d'Enfer is the most spiritual fragrance that I've had the opportunity to meet. We don't have here the pure abstraction of the environment inside a church, as in Avignon, but instead, a full transposition to a rite of passage.

L'artisan was able to capture with this scent, the end point of every life, death, especially it's religious aspects.

This scent opens with a cadaverous smell, similar to the smell of bodies as being veiled. That distinctive smell of flowers combined with incense, a mysterious opening where Lily is fully present along with a very characteristic aroma of myrrh.

Named gates of hell, I was expecting the same as knightz expected. A pungent scent, extremely strong, invasive, and even repulsive, representing to me within it's evolution, the nine circles of hell as described by Dante Alighieri in hi's most famous work The Divine Comedy, instead we have in this smooth scent(and no less remarkable), the final part of Purgatory, with the removal of sins committed by Dante in life and thus the subsequent ascension into heaven.

Passage d'Enfer is the embodiment of the liturgical chant Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy on us). A spiritual masterpiece. Definitely a scent that is not for everyone. When you have the opportunity to smell this fragrance, track it's progress by watching this video on youtube (watch?v=L1lz7JAXe54&feature) and so you will understand the perfect image that Giacobetti Olivia was able to capture with her creation.
10th September, 2011
First when I spray this I got NOTHING, then after 20min or so I got incensy citrus notes. Pretty inoffensive and fresh, but it only lasts about 2 hours. If it lasts longer and has more projection its definitely a buy for me.
27th April, 2011
white lily, frankincense, aloe, white musk


With such notes it was hard not to sample. One if the few of its kind without rose and woodiness and I love that. It actually makes for a more unique scent than it would otherwise be if any of the two had been added. The beautiful aloe colours this composition. Less is more as Passage d'Enfer proves. It has a delicate smokiness from the lovely frankincense. The notes stick around to the end with each one taking turns for centre stage while not overshadowing the others. The scent is soft, neither harsh nor abrasive yet it is deep, cold and dark. Its effect is one of inviting coldness. Paradoxical but true :)! It is too dense for me unfortunately. If it was a bit airier, I would be in love with it.


If you like very very dense scents, or "dark" scents as most have come to know them, you just might fall in love with this one. Don't try it if you are not ready for a love affair. You have been warned lol!
01st April, 2011
First it's a beautiful white floral affair with a small spooky gargoyle in the corner to spice things up a little.
Then it's a luxury frankincense soap and you wonder how the guys from the Prada Infusion Division still didn't figure it out: Infusion d'Encens.
03rd January, 2011
I have recently been wanting to expand my fragrance repertoire and along with my love for animalic-musk-resinous-spicy-"dirty" fragrances, I have realized that I like incense fragrances a lot, too. Having tried Etro Messe de Minuit, CDG Avignon, Heeley Cardinal, Biehl MB03 and Profumum Olibanum among others, I think L'Artisan Passage d'Enfer may just be the ticket for me!

As other reviewers have stated, due to it's mixture of white musk, chamomile and florals (lily), Passage d'Enfer does lose some of its true incense punch because as others have mentioned, the additional components and notes make this scent "much more feminine and subtle" (a direct BN quote) than all the other incense fragrances I have tried...and that is precisely what I like about it! Yes, I imagine if you are a true "incense junkie," Passage d'Enfer will smell way watered down and too floral for you...those are the additions that make this fragrance stand apart from the others, I think!

And that is what I love about this fragrance. Having tried Passage d'Enfer recently after experimenting with the above named fragrances, Passage d'Enfer seems to suit me very well. Yes, I like the other incense fragrances a lot, too but for one reason or another, they just didn't feel quite right on me...I thought the other fragrances smelled too "masculine" on me and definitely a bit too church-y. With CDC Avignon, my husband said, "...the scent is okay...but do you really want to walk around all day smelling like a church?" I DID feel a bit odd wearing the other incense fragrances...something just didn't feel right.

I think Passage d'Enfer dries down nicely, I did not think it lost its "gothic" effect. I sprayed some on after showering about 7 hours ago and I can STILL smell it as I am typing this...I like the balance of silage and longevity...perfect for me!

Unlike some of the other fragrances, Passage is available and affordable! Yes, I like this fragrance a lot and as soon as I can afford to do so, I think it will be an addition to my small fragrance wardrobe!
01st May, 2010 (last edited: 09th March, 2015)
I love this! Cool flowery incense, but not like Easter mass, more like... burning a single stick/cone of incense burning in a large clean light room with a small perfect flower arrangement in the corner.

I had expected much more hellish, i.e. smoky I suppose from the name but apparently it's just the name of the street the company is based on. Gorgeous! If I had the money to throw around I would buy a big bottle of it, and layer it with things, and spray it on my clean laundry.
26th June, 2009
Oh dear. I hate this. The reviews sounded so intriguing, and I was excited about my sample. But I don't seem to get any incense here, light or otherwise, and barely anything that smells like musk. Maybe this is a tribute to the blending? All I smell is a screeching "white flowers" note -- this is the lily, I guess. No heart, no base, just this lily note all the way into the drydown. Scrubber.
23rd June, 2009
A superfluous, uninspired fragrance that cannot hold an incense stick to masterpieces such as Villoresi's Incensi, the quirky Messe de Minuit or even the the better ones of the CdG incense series. The name certainly raises false expectations, as this is a light, floral, white musky and heavily synthetic-smelling incense obviously worn exclusively by the pink-robed Holy Order of the Fluffymonks and Giddynuns.
17th June, 2009
What an odd name for this sort of scent. “Gates of Hell” sounds like a ferocious brew, and yet this is a lovely delicate floral. Think of white flowers, with a hint of green and a soft musk drydown. An aura of springtime is here. Not dry, not sweet, situated mid-point in every way. Incense notes are very light. This is a bit like Mugler Cologne, though not as green and more subtle. Not especially distinctive, and I certainly don't get any pine here.
09th June, 2009
Initially, I loved this fragrance. The simple structure (lily, aloe, musk, incense) was very appealing. Having learned my lesson (I hope) concerning impulse buys, I applied all the rest of my sample before I went to the L'Artisan website to buy. Wow! Today I smell pine and only pine. Little dabs of this juice smell heavenly; spritzes of this smell like pine air fresheners. I guess I need to rethink my rating and my purchase and my way of applying perfume. PS In spite of this review, I kept remembering the day I experienced the most beautiful white lily, so I purchased a bottle. I'm still waiting for Miss Lily to show up!
31st May, 2009 (last edited: 10th October, 2009)
The only things worse about this fragrance than its name are its sillage and longevity. Too bad, because it really is quite pretty.
I get a little mustiness at the very beginning, then it's very faint frankincence and myrrh which I have to strain to smell into its second hour.
25th March, 2009