Perfume Reviews

Positive Reviews of Passage d'Enfer by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Total Reviews: 47
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
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
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
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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.

24th September, 2013 (last edited: 18th May, 2015)
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
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 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
On the dry down I could not distinguish from CdG's Kyoto. Which doesn't make it bad, just non-unique although I note that Kyoto did come out in 2002 while this came out in 1999. So perhaps CdG is doing the imitating here.

Here in Singapore incense is everywhere so people don't get bowled over by incense scents but Passage d'Enfer is quite nice
11th February, 2009
Reminds me of the scent in Notre Dame; which I will say is truly intoxicating.
22nd January, 2009
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jrd4t Show all reviews
United States
Crisp white incense with just the right amount of warmth. One of my favorites from the house.
05th January, 2009
I'm bad at guessing perfume notes so it took me a while to figure that the weird smell I was getting was a very smoky incense. I thought the name was appropriate. It is very weird and oddly, it makes me think of what a level-boss would wear in the videogame Diablo 2. Say Mephisto or Baal. Demonic.
08th December, 2008
Kaern Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Best incense based fragrance out there no question -- the combination with the white lily is the masterstroke. Open the gates and let me in.
12th September, 2008
This is fabulous! I absolutely love it everything about it. Hypnotic is a very good way to describe this! Everytime I wear it I am enthralled with it's characteristics and awed by the simple reverence and the overall beauty of it. Splendid.

Without a doubt, my favourite use of frankincense and myrrh yet. Well done!
19th July, 2008
what a delight
although i'm kinna new to the world of fragrance, I must admit that Olivia Giacobetti is a master at what she does from what I have experienced so far (dzing, thé pour un été, l'été en douce!!!!, premier figuier, etc.)
This is what a preist's clothes must smell like when they get out of the dryer still impregnated with incense and good quality fabric softner.
I just had to get myself a big bottle even if the juice itself is disapointingly weak!
I'll just have to use some extra sprays...
the first time I tried Pd'E i was feeling like the scent was terifyingly beautifuly soft, clean (could have beed dirty, would have loved it any way), delicat, super dry, ENVELOPING, defenitly unisex, so damn simple and easy to wear
but every time i waer it I discover new facets
like these delicate rose petals that sort of complete this white lily note
and this dry muted cedar-santal that just blends so well with the soft incence-amber-musk thing going on
also you have this obvious and pleasent (in my opinion) fabric softner note... white lilly? that may feel a little synthetic but that gives the wearer this soft-clean-enveloping aura
make the fragrance wear well on clothes too
well well... I wish I could put more than only one thub up for this religeous/laundry spring sunday in a bottle!
19th May, 2008
According to a very popular person, this smells like sex on me... 6 bottles later I had to move on... countless compliments, Thank you Aedes Des Venustas...

I feel you might have to have a more oriental body chemistry for this to work on...since its spicy... I layer it with a bit of Bois Iris... thank to Aedes again.
24th April, 2008
JDBIII Show all reviews
United States
Passage D'Enfer or Messe de Minuit? Both are excellent but so different. I would wear Passage with a crisp suit to a business meeting. After the meeting, I would join a few friends and sip noilly prat. The scent is clean and light, despite the name. Sillage is minimal but staying power is good. MdM, on the other hand, is darker, much darker. I find great comfort in it. It has better sillage than Passage, and I prefer it with red wine and roasted meat. Each holds an honored place in my wardrobe.
24th June, 2007
Tremendous!!! This is just what I have been looking for in a night scent! I have searched high and low, and finally I have found it. This is just what I have been looking for. It’s dark and mysterious with an evil grin. Perfect with a dark suit.

I get a lot of incense in this, though it is well balanced out by the lily, which adds a bit of sweetness to balance it out o me. Definitely not too sweet on my skin (I am not a big fan of sweet feminine fragrances), and it lasts for about five hours. It dries to a very dry incense that wears close to the skin.

21st June, 2007
I love this incense fragrance, but when you compare it to the CDG incense series, it simply doesn't quite hack it. It is much more subtle and feminine than other incense frags, but longevity is a problem. It dries out to lose a lot of the gothic effect and develop a more floral aroma, but for the incense junkies amongst us, and yes, you know who you are; I feel this is may not be bold enough?
18th May, 2007
Match the hatch.... Last night's Easter Vigil ceremony filled me with darkness and light, lilies, and incense - and the external scents were exactly the same as those I was wearing.

Next time (when I won't have to worry about distracting myself from liturgy), I shall use a bit more, as the two-hour duration was not sufficient for my preference, although the lily scent was still well-balanced with the bright incense accord (who would think it's dark, compared to Avignon?) until the fadeaway.
08th April, 2007
Growing up Catholic, the smell of frankincense & myyrh always struck me as 'stinky'. It still does. Yet, this Passage d'Enfer - stinky notes and all - amazes my senses! Rach2jlc mentions spicy sausage which I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH! Panfried Italian sweet sausage bursting with fennel seeds! And get this - beneath those heavily incensed notes there is a light sweetness - like grandmother's prayers floating directly up to heaven on angels wings. How ironic, considering the name. Remarkable, this scent. For creating such vivid imagery I must give Pd'E thumbs up. How few fragrances have this ability.
01st April, 2007 (last edited: 17th April, 2008)
If you love gothic experiences, you will also like "Avignon" by Comme des Garcons !!
15th March, 2007
Never been into incense smells but this one:
lovely mixed of refreshing zesty lilies and light incenseeee...
i just cannot smell it on my skin.
Thank you very mucg Gerard for that sample!!!
14th March, 2007
It took three wearings before I found love with PdE. At first, I didn't smell a drop of incense, it was all lily to me. On that magical third wearing, I applied lavishly, and that is the secret to me anyway.

Oh, the lily is still there all right, it adds a touch of innocence to the sexiness of the incense. It's sexy, but not in-your-face-sexy. It keeps the incense cool, just below a simmer. To me, it is like being in the back of the Church - making out with an altar boy!

07th September, 2006
Confession. I was an altar boy when I was younger (no priest kept his hands to himself!). Passage d'Enfer takes me back to church (though that is about as close as I want to get). The frankincense is most prominent to my nose, but to be honest, I would have a tough time discerning the frankincense from the myrrh, and this is supposed to have both. The florals just add a light and naturally sweet touch that makes this more palatable than something like Amouage Silver, which I find lacking in any sweetness or roundness. This would be a good summer incense scent, along with Amouage's Dia or Cirrus. Not as complex as Costes or Black Cashmere, not soapy either. And not woodsy like other incense scents.

As for longevity, this is one of those scents that needs to be worn under the clothes - allow the scent to permeate the fabric, where it will last longer than on bare skin alone. Very much a churchy scent, reminiscent of the crypt in the Basilica. Spiritual and thought-provoking. Somehow psychologically heavy yet uplifting.
26th August, 2006
lilybp Show all reviews
United States
This is my favorite summer incense! I am with those who find it "cool"--dark, damp, church cellars, indeed--or catacombs! And simultaneously sexy, to boot! Love those lilies!
30th July, 2006
Passage d'Enfer by L'Artisan Parfumeur is a great warm and gothy scent. It calms you and makes you feel warm all over. It lasts throughout the day and sometimes into the night. I think I will always have this one in my collection.
24th July, 2006