Greatest Hits: Antoine Lie

11th January, 2013

In this new series of articles for Basenotes, I'll be taking a look at what I think are some of the best creations from various commercial perfumers.

Antoine Lie is a perfumer of great skill and inspiration. He has created scents that are incredibly commercial, so much so that they spawn a legion of clones that are desperate to smell 'as good', and is responsible for what is possibly the single most feared fragrance on the market. He now works at Takasago, having worked for Givaudan since training with them.


Lie's aquatic or ozonic creations of note contain two very unlikely contenders: Quiksilver for Men (created in conjunction with Antoine Maisondieu – who has collaborated several times with Lie), a scent of grapefruit, sea breeze, and driftwood. And Roxy Love, which smells very much like Light Blue, but with more life in: an increased fizzy top note, airy florals and a feeling of translucent and spacious woods.

Giving a citrus sparkle to a formula is also a strength of his: in Comme des Garcons Energy Series: Grapefruit (right) is one of the fizziest and most effervescent fragrances on the market.

Expanding on the sparkling water and air theme is possibly his most outright photo-realistic creation to date, in Nu_Be Perfume's Hydrogen. An incredibly open, bright tonic water fragrance: Hydrogen takes sunny radiance to a limit, with hints of green and a mineral, vegetal coolness.


“Man Smells”

Whilst Lie has a proven talent for innovative and challenging fragrances, he has also created one of the biggest blockbuster scents of recent years for Armani: Code (created with Antoine Maisondieu) is a “fougeriental” with incredible diffusion – the citrus opening is shortlived, and the focus is on the creamy and ambery leather note of the base, with slight herbal accents giving it some brightness.

Je Suis un Homme is probably his most “typical” masculine, a modernised Eau de Cologne, with spicy, woody and animalic accents, essentially smelling like a leather jacket infused with Cologne, which somehow lends it a unisex quality.

Other scents by Lie with a masculine appeal include Paul Smith London (right), which plays on the herbal aspects of Code – mint and violet leaf, with a fruity, creamy sandalwood note underneath, and Davidoff Adventure, a scent that is somehow fresh without being particularly citrus or ozonic, and showcases Lie's dexterity in employing synthetic sandalwood notes.


Milky Woods & Creamy Florals

Wonderwood (Comme des Garçons) is probably the greatest example of how gorgeous synthetic sandalwood smells – javanol (which smells like creamy coconut and hot wood) mixed with a number of other wood and incense notes, as well as black pepper. In Wonderwood, Lie has created probably the best “wood” fragrance in recent years. Nu_Be Oxygen (right) is a sheerer take on Wonderwood, where the denseness is replaced with air and space, giving the components breathing room but maintaining incredible longevity and diffusion.

Kenzo Parfum d'Ete/Summer is one of Lie's takes on milky florals – having not smelled this in years I deferred to longtime lover of this fragrance and fellow Basenotes contributor, Pia Long, for a description: “almond and mimosa, sun tan lotion and pollen-like powder”. Versace's Crystal Noir (left) focuses on gardenia, again blending with the floral note a sun tan lotion like coconut and adding a hint of sweatiness. Daphne (Daphne Guinness), which is a truly divisive fragrance, is built around a tuberose-jasmine accord, a camphorous, creamy, woodsy-amber, with hints of saffron.



Another of Lie's skills appears to be working with Safraleine – described by Givaudan as “warm, powerful, leathery and tobacco facets but its complexity also reveals characteristics of spices reminiscent of natural saffron, enriched by rose ketone-like floral aspects.”

Tom of Finland is where Lie has used safraleine to it's full potential – blending it with suede-like leather notes, a vanillic, spicy and resinous fragrance, where tobacco is suggested through the interplay of safraleine with coumarin. A favourite amongst perfumistas.

8 88, another creation by Lie for Comme des Garcons, takes the metallic vibe from saffron and plays it up in an intentionally metallic scent – against further spices, and a surprising geranium note. Most surprisingly, perhaps, is the acknowledged presence of safraleine in Givenchy's Pi Neo – a clear, radiant woody-musk scent, with touches of anise and saffron that now seems to be difficult to find in stores.



For Etat Libre d'Orange, Lie was partnered again with long time collaborator Antoine Maisondieu to create both Eau de Protection for Rossy de Palma, a blood drenched rose-patchouli scent, and Vierges and Toreros, a slightly metallic leather and tuberose. Blood Concept, with all of their scents being inspired by the blood groups, finally utilisted Lie's talents in RED +MA. RED +MA expands on the gourmand, lactonic notes and clean starkness from the original +MA, amps up the milky aspect, and marries it with a faintly metallic and unmistakably bloody note. It's surpisingly wearable. The concept of milk and blood together has also been explored in Secretions Magnifiques - which is undoubtedly the most disturbing fragrance most people will ever smell: lauded by scent critic Luca Turin, Secretions Magnifiques is so arresting the first time most people smell it that it causes them to wretch, and at the very least, wrinkle their nose in disgust. In that sense, it's clearly a masterpiece. Smelling of a crime scene on most people, and like milky and metallic florals on a lucky few.

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About the author: Nick Gilbert

Nick has been working in the world of fragrance for over 15 years. He is co-founder of Olfiction, a creative scent agency offering fragrance development, training, copy and content production. He is frequently quoted in the press and has provided perfumery training globally, from London to Seoul.


Advertisement — comments are below


    • MonkeyBars | 12th January 2013 07:01

      Very cool analysis Nick. I look forward to the next articles in this promising series.

    • PureBoy | 15th January 2013 16:21

      Very cool!!!

      Liked very much...

      Who could be the next?!? :thumbsup:

    • Ralph | 8th February 2013 23:41

      Mate! What about Rien? No 'Lie's greatest hits' can miss that out, surely!?

    • alexwagner | 10th February 2013 10:56

      Fantastic idea! I've always searched for frags by nose/perfumer mostly ignoring the house. Alberto Morillas would be a good choice for this feature.

    • Blu Skinscent | 19th February 2013 12:53

      Wonderful reviews! I remember walking into Raidd Bar in Paris a couple of years ago, and remembering the whole place smelling like Secretions Magnifique; I got the milk and coconut accords, not the metallic blood essence. It was awesome. I also want to know who drew that cute little scruffy man up above?

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