Friday, 12 April 2013

Persolaise Review: Caligna from L'Artisan Parfumeur (Dora Arnaud; 2013)

When Firmenich's Dora Arnaud told me that she'd put together a 'jasmine marmalade' accord for her first L'Artisan Parfumeur creation, I was determined to track down a real life example of this odd-sounding gastronomic invention. I didn't have to hunt for long. There's an excellent one made by Hediard, and sure enough, eating it really does combine the sensation of sinking your teeth into a traditional, sweet jam (an experience which is as much about texture as it is about taste) with the feeling of licking fecund, richly perfumed, white petals. It's strange, but it's enjoyable.

This sugary weirdness plays an important role in Caligna. Although the perfume was inspired by the smells of Provençe - a region that has long prompted the creative juices of scent-makers to start flowing - Arnaud and the directors at L'Artisan clearly wanted to veer away from baskets of lavender and mimosa. This is a piece of work which makes a virtue of oddness. At its heart is a sage accord: almost shockingly smoky, aromatic and earthy. Used by itself, it would have plunged the scent straight into 'herbal masculine' territory. But when placed next to the jasmine marmalade, it comes across as surprising and indecipherable.

Combined with fig at the top (a conscious nod to Premier Figuier, which Arnaud admires), as well as honey and a helping of scorched woods, the sage and jasmine achieve the feat of staying true to their homeland whilst presenting it in a new light. It may not be as flirtatious as the brand would have us believe, and it's a shame that towards its shrill, musky end, it becomes less engrossing, but by and large, Caligna is a commendable release which proves that L'Artisan Parfumeur remain unafraid to seek uncharted territory. Now they just need to pull their new marketing strategy out of the realms of the dull and generic.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by L'Artisan Parfumeur in 2013.]



  1. Hmmm I'd written this off as not bad, albeit "not me". But your review makes me want to dig up my sample and have another go at it :)

    Oh, and I much prefer the image you used here (with the leaf) to their current advertising haha.

    1. Joshuaang, I do think there's more to it than meets the initial sniff. It doesn't really smell like anything else I've tried for a while.

      Should I send the image of the leaf to L'Artisan for their consideration? ;-)

  2. Replies
    1. Black Narcissus, if I've made it sound *extremely* odd, then my review is at fault. It's not *extremely* odd: it's odd enough to not be completely generic and predictable. But it's certainly not too odd to be worn. Like many of L'Artisan's scents, it's accessible without being brainless.

    2. No, I imagine that when I smell it, this perfume will correspond perfectly with what you have written here. I just can't picture clary sage as a main note in a perfume, especially if it is done quite pungently and with a jasmine jam accord. I actually can't wait to smell it!

    3. Well, when you do get your hands on a sample, please come back and let me know :-)

  3. I adore this perfume and have purchased a second back up bottle. Clary sage is a wonderful essential oil and Caligna is the very best perfume that I have thus far encountered with clary sage as a main note. I think it is closer in sentiment to the Hermes Jardin series than the other Artisans (especially the most recent Un Jardin de Monsieur Li). Utterly gorgeous

    1. Cain, thanks for your comment. The comparison with the Jardins is interesting. The thought never occurred to me, but yes, the jammy jasmine is similar to an aspect of Monsieur Li.


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