Wearing L’Essence provided a number of surprises and, fortunately, most of them were of the pleasant variety. The first surprise was the delicacy of this perfume. For some reason I had it in my head I was in for a big, purple, floral cloud. Instead, L’Essence opens with a very simple and beautifully executed blend of sweet violet flowers and fresh, airy green foliage. There are few things I enjoy more in a scent than a fresh, natural, leafy green accord. After that there is an incredibly long transition time from the opening florals and greens to the blossoming of dry woods, vetiver and mossy notes, to the final landing on a soft leather accord. Seriously, it’s a long development. But it is a beautiful journey slowly gilding down to a leather accord that is about as soft and restrained as you’ll ever find without calling it suede.
With everything going so well the next surprise turned out to be, unfortunately, a hiccup in the construction of the fragrance. Overall, L’Essence is such a beautiful scent that bringing up this point may seem like quibbling. But, to me, the issue sticks out precisely because L’Essence has so many wonderful qualities.
The problem is, that when L’Essence reaches it’s final leathery phase the violet lacks any deep, dark notes to reach down and blend with the leather. Nor is there an intermediary note or accord to link the violet to the leather. The woody/mossy notes are still present but somehow they don’t help join the two. Without any link, I smell the sweet, upper register violet notes and the leather as two distinct scents rather than a continuous whole. Certainly a fragrance can be constructed in that way but here it seems a little clunky given the continuity and beauty of the development. Even as the last of the violet dies away and all that’s left are the woods, moss and leather, my nose remembers the violet like the repetitious snippet of a song and my brain insists on smelling it in relation to the leather.
Forgive me if that complaint seems picayune. L’Essence is a beautiful perfume. In a sense it reminds me of Olivia Giacobetti’s En Passant. Just as I would have found En Passant satisfying had the bread accord been left out and the fragrance was nothing more than watery lilacs and dewy greens, I would enjoy L’Essence just as much if it were nothing more than violets and greenery planted in woods and moss.