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    Somerville Metro Man's avatar

    United States United States

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    En Passant by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    Frederic Malle En Passant

    One of my favorite scent associations is the smell of lilacs and the assurance that that smell lets me know winter is over for another year. Lilac is one of those notes that is notoriously hard to execute well. Most times it is used with a heavy hand and it comes off smelling like a heavy-duty air freshener. Then you have someone like Frederic Malle give Olivia Giacobetti, in 2000, the opportunity to create a scent around lilac and you get En Passant. Ms. Giacobetti has had transparency used to describe many of her scents and in En Passant that quality reaches its apex. From the top the lilac comes across boldly and for a moment I worry that the air-freshener quality is about to take hold. I needn't have worried because the heart is where Giacobetti's trademark transparency takes hold. She tones down the lilac and pairs it with a watery accord. This is how lilac smells to me after a spring rain as the breeze wafts the scent through my window. It is at once heady and close but yet subtle and far away. The brilliance of this scent is that this level of delicacy is maintained for hours on my skin. In other perfumes these kinds of delights are fleeting, in En Passant it is not. As this develops I finally begin to get hints of the wet earth the lilacs are planted in as there is a noticeable greenness that appears. The note list would seem to make cucumber the note responsible for this but it has much more of a wet soil quality to my nose. The one funny note that peeks in and around this scent as it develops is the wheat note which smells like freshly-baked bread, it never lingers for long but it plays peek-a-boo with my nose throughout the heart and base of En Passant. Once again the freedom Frederic Malle has given a perfumer has resulted in one of their best pieces of fragrant work. En Passant translates to "in passing" but it also refers to a chess move which, is not often seen and, is the only occasion in chess where the capturing piece does not move to the square of the captured piece. Olivia Giacobetti has also created a transparent lilac masterpiece that is also a rare piece of artistry.

    04 April, 2009