Friday, 1 March 2019

Persolaise Review: Mont De Narcisse (Anne Flipo; 2018) and Bana Banana (Celine Ellena; 2019) from L'Artisan Parfumeur

Since being taken over by Puig, L’Artisan Parfumeur have fared rather well, I’d say. Penhaligon’s - which joined the Puig stable at the same time - still seem uncertain of their identity (although I’m reliably informed their Portraits have been a hit at the tills) but the respectful revamp of L’Artisan’s packaging was generally met with approval. And more importantly, many of their new scents have been given the thumbs up by critics, not least because they respect the brand’s quirky heritage and its idiosyncratic personality. Mont De Narcisse is a case in point. For one thing, it makes a pointed reference to the company’s past: it’s composed by Anne Flipo, who turned her hand to narcissus in the much-missed, limited edition Fleur De Narcisse from 2006. For another, it’s precisely the sort of Gallic, scene-conjuring fragrance L’Artisan have long made their own, from the bittersweet fantasies of Traversée Du Bosphore to the magical, Narnia-like vistas of Bois Farine.

The official blurb for Mont De Narcisse asks us to accept that here the location is the Auvergne, and yes, there is certainly something of that area’s eye-widening openness in the combination of the cardamom and the pink pepper. But as the scent develops and the central narcissus note is coaxed into revealing its leathery, animalic facets, the outside world is abandoned for a much more intimate setting: a candle-lit room in which long-hidden confidences are revealed over coffee, and the wood in the fireplace crackles with an occasional hint of danger. It’s a gorgeous, slinky piece of work which frequently calls to mind the feline elegance of Habanita, with its not dissimilar marriage of smoke, leather and vanilla.

True to expectation-thwarting form, L’Artisan are about to play what would seem like a comedy card by releasing Bana Banana, a Celine Ellena composition inspired by brand founder Jean-Francois Laporte's decision to attend a fancy dress party dressed as a banana; an event which coincided with the formation of L’Artisan as a company. On the face of it, this is perfume as facetious joke, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The scent’s opening makes ample use of substances - such as amyl acetate - that evoke sickly childhood confections. But thankfully, this is a stand-up routine that displays real heart towards the end, because when the silliness fades away, what you’re left with is an amber-hued, powdery white floral (banana easily links with ylang ylang which is, of course, close to jasmine) with sufficient depth and gravitas to keep you watching its performance for hours. Clever stuff.

[Reviews based on samples of eau de parfum provided by L'Artisan Parfumeur in 2018 and 2019.]



  1. Very excited to try both of these, but especially Bana Banana. For some reason I guess I really want to smell like a banana!

    1. Fair enough, Eric. Let me know what you make of it.

      Thanks for writing.


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