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Sex, magic and white flowers

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Blogger, lecturer, prize giving judge; when Denyse Beaulieu had a perfume made for her by Bertrand Duchaufour, her involvement in the world of perfumery took on a new role, that of art director. Duchaufour was the composer of Séville à l’aube, but this was a collaborative affair between him and Beaulieu - whose vision was the driving force behind the scent.

In her book The Perfume Lover, she relates how she told the composer about a drunken night in Seville with a Spanish guy named Român. It was the climax of Holy Week and there was a midnight procession to the cathedral where she found a myriad of smells: eau de Cologne wafting from the crowd, the blossom of orange trees above their heads, the beeswax of penitent’s candles, incense leaking from its open doors as the float of the wooden Madonna eased in-and-out of the holy orifice...
Leading Duchaufour by the nose she calls it.

From her story, he conjured up an orange flower bouquet. Never too strong on the indole, which can often spoil it, the profile is deeply set in beeswax, giving it a smooth and dense richness that never gets cloying. It’s a little sweet, but not too much, and he sneaked in a slight but persistent lavender note - which is remarkable because Beaulieu says she hates the stuff. In the context though, it’s perfect and Séville à l’aube wouldn’t be right without it. Incense is there of course, but it’s in the distance, like the pagan roots of the fertility ritual this perfume bears witness to; and there’s more than a whiff of sex, which Denyse credits to the ‘tiny skirts’ of the white flowers at the heart of her perfume.

“Dawn in Seville” is erotically charged (the book is clear about that.) It’s passionate, aroused, and linear. Duende - its working title (which means something like “magic” in Spanish) could have remained just another vanity project, on the same level as any other parfum sur mesure - but gratis. In that case it would have been a mere adjunct to another white floral composed by Duchaufour, the largely unknown Bouquet du Trianon (also 2012). But l’Artisan chose to release Séville à l’aube, and that’s a testament to its quality.

After listening to Denyse’s ‘fairy tale’, Bertrand took off his glasses and - wiping them, exclaimed - that would make a very good perfume. He was right of course.


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Updated 25th January 2021 at 10:34 PM by Wild Gardener

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