The opening note of Lumiere is listed as “Phenyl ethyl acetate”. I always though that was an aroma chemical not derived from natural plant extracts, but there we go I learnt something new – it is in fact a natural isolate. Now, when I first saw this note listed I thought – “What the hell does that smell like” – but rummaging around in my perfumery draws full of samples and other random bits, I find a big bag of aroma chemical samples I have diluted in perfumer’s alcohol. Thankfully, I found it! So I thought I’d include my individual thoughts on this aroma chemical firstly, so I don’t have to explain it in-depth and clog up the review:
Phenyl Ethyl Acetate smells initially of honeyed pears. It has a perfect pear note that so few fragrances that actually attempt it, succeed at. The honeyed notes are floral, clear and clean – with a cool aroma that makes the fruit almost smell glaced. The floral notes are heavily pollinated (I say heavily although the aroma is light and ethereal), and dominated by rose. There is a slightly creamy, white floral aroma too that reminds me of magnolia – with that slight citric edge. The most simplistic way to describe it would be “pear drops”, but simplified and more pure smelling – it’s lovely.
Lumiere opens exquisitely rich – with the phenyl ethyl acetate aroma amped up to become denser and more exotic. The honeyed notes remind me a little of linden blossom, spiked with a dash of pepper. The honeyed floral notes begin to settle quickly, as Lumiere becomes clearer and lighter on the skin. All of a sudden a completely smooth, floral canvas lies underneath the evaporating remains of the opening – the texture is like that of clear water – but not at all thin or overly transparent.
The honeyed pears of the opening are a mere memory after ten minutes or so, but the sweet residue is carried to the heart by a tiny smidge of honeysuckle which in honesty I’d struggle to notice if it weren’t for the nudge by the notes. Lumiere’s heart is almost impossible to describe, it is a clear, translucent, semi-sweet aroma, whose base isn’t oriental, floral, vegetal or woody – it’s presence is almost a sensation rather than a scent – which leads me to believe the ambergris is at play a little bit here!
The listed blue lotus makes sense when I think about Secret Garden (my Aftelier true love!), Lumiere is like the scent of the pond in the secret garden – ever so slightly floral, aquatic without being chemical, salty or ozonic. The scent of green tea is also calmed to a point where it merely adds a colour, and I feel like I smell I little osmanthus in here, maybe even a tiny hint of jasmine grandiflorum, but I may be wrong. A slight, citrus floral keeps the fragrance light with a little texture – and I find myself typing this slowly as though any abrupt movement will shatter the development of Lumiere on my hand! It’s extremely delicate and refined, to a point where it’s making me nervous writing about it - that shouldn’t be perceived as a negative by the way. This fragrance is unlike anything else in the Aftelier line and it’s amazing how much light the perfumer has managed to give these often overwhelming natural essences.
Lumiere reminds me of the sort of perfume By Kilian were trying to achieve with their Asian Tales series (which was a massive flop in my opinion); where those fragrances were overlaid with hideous attempts at bamboo, tea and imaginary flowers but ended up as aquatic colognes, Lumiere manages to hold on to it’s clarity and remain captivating throughout.
A subtle smoke finishes Lumiere - a trail of incense to signal it’s disappearance, but it will slip underneath your nose over the next couple of hours when you least expect it. I’m not sure how comfortable I am wearing Lumiere, it’s light and translucency is something I’m not normally attracted to, but I can’t help but say this is one of the most impressive examples I’ve seen of this style of perfumery – and I know it was a huge change for the perfumer having sniffed so much of her other work. It’s exquisitely composed with such an understanding of the materials that I find it a little too delicate for someone like myself to pull off, but how beautiful it could smell on someone elses skin!! – it’s a haunting perfume that has an almost invisible presence but an exquisite aroma – one that has even left me stumped for words on how to describe it. One of a kind.
Lumiere 30ml Aftelier – $210 www.aftelier.com