Monday, December 08, 2008

Memo Paris- Lalibela And Other Treats

Five months after returning from Paris, there's still one more story left to be told and perfume boutique to talk about.

Unlike my other scent destinations I had on the trip, the visit to Memo boutique was not planned. The Blond and I stumbled upon the store while walking around. I don't remember for sure, but I think we were heading to the nearest Metro station when we spotted the place, and since it looked pretty, trendy and obviously smelled good, there was no other choice but to enter and check what it was all about.

While you won't learn much from the company's website, Memo is a home and fragrance collection created by Clara Molloy, a book publisher who travelled extensively and was inspired by (more or less) exotic places. About half the beautiful store is dedicated to candles and room sprays, which all seemed quite nice even if none has actually captured me. I preferred to concentrate on the perfumes, which back then there were four of them ( a fifth one was launched last month), and on the very handsome sales assistant.

The perfumes, a range called 'Les Echappees', just like the other products are supposedly evocative of faraway places, from Sundance, Utah (hence my raised eyebrow at the exotic claim) to Ethiopia. I tried three on my skin, and sniffed the bottle of the fourth, Inlé, which is osmanthus, jasmine and tea, named after a lake in Burma. It felt too watery from the bottle, but I'm not big on osmanthus to begin with and never gave it a fair chance.

Siwa, a floral vanilla, didn't convince me it evoked the Egyptian desert. The notes: cinnamon, aldehydes, narcissus, whiskey, popcorn, musk and vanilla sound more interesting than the result on my skin. It was too pale for my taste. I like my vanilla opaque and thick, but can't deny Siwa is probably easier to wear for most than my beloved Un Bois Vanille or even Shalimar. The lasting power was the least impressive in the group.

Sundance is inspired by Sundance, Utah, and is all about a softened tuberose. The notes sound a bit scary: bergamot, pear, lemon, tuberose, pimento, tiare, iris, sandalwood, musk and tonka bean. However, everything here was so smooth and toned down I can't even complain about the pear. Unlike my taste in vanilla, when it comes to tuberose I usually prefer mine to be housebroken. I really liked Sundance and was close to buying a bottle (I almost regret my decision to pass). It would make a cute, friendly warm weather fragrance and shouldn't scared even those who have emotional scars from Fracas.

The last one I tested was Lalibela, named after an Ethiopian holy city which is a pilgrimage destination and has several ancient churches. Out of the note list (coconut, orchid, rose, peony, jasmine, patchouli, cistus, vanilla, tobacco leaf, incense and woods), what I'm getting in huge amounts are a dark and dirty rose and thick, heavy incense. This is a seriously gothic rose which makes the original Regina Harris oils seem like Little Miss Sunshine. The sales assistant called it "a sad rose" and I could tell he was not a fan, but I was captivated by this scent. It felt... purple, I guess. Deep, dark purple. It lasted on my skin for the rest of the day, into the night and until my shower the following morning, when I returned to the store and bought the bottle.

Lalibela is really that strong and should come with a warning label. You can do some serious damage to your nearest and dearest if you don't spray with utmost caution (said she who can wear two spritzes of Miel de Bois). But the right amount is gorgeous and provocative. It works beautifully on a cold night (we've been having plenty of those recently) and stays on my scarves until I haul them to the cleaners.

As I said, I didn't get to smell the most recent addition to the line, Jannat, which is described as
'The wild flowers of paradise'. It's centered around frangipani, which tends to scare me, but I'm very curious if anyone has tried it. Please tell me in your comment.

Oddly enough, the bath and body products are related to the home fragrance and range and not to the perfumes. I'm not sure what's the logic here. In any case, Memo products are only available in the Paris boutique (60, rue des Saints-Pères), Bon Marché department store or in the UK from Harvey Nichols (London and their other locations). The company's website tells you they do not ship to the US, so I'm assuming shipping to anywhere in Europe is ok. No one carries it here in America, but The Perfumed Court offers samples and decants of the first four scents, including a sample pack.

The bottle I bought, 1.69 oz, was 80€ . The now have both bigger and smaller sizes, priced accordingly. The newer bottles also look a lot better (at least online) than the original one. I'm a bit annoyed with the cheap looking white plastic cap that evokes a drugstore product more than luxurious exotica.


  1. lalibela sounds lovely! i'm surprised that coconut is the first note - is it very noticeable?

    this on the other hand.. "aldehydes, narcissus, whiskey, popcorn".. oh. my. whiskey *and* popcorn? *runs away screaming* :p

  2. Lalibela sounds SO me! I adore what coconut can do for a scent (Datura Noir, anyone?) and I like my rose scents pretty heavy most of the time. Delicious! (and I love Miel de Bois too, what's not to like?)

  3. lalibela is an absolutely gorgeous perfume with everything which gaia summed up and...more. i also detect hints of chocolat,the same way as it is used in the first,1984 rendition of "coco" de chanel. it has very long lasting power and an as overpowering as comforting omnipresence when used,either diminutive or outrageously.
    madonnatella or aad de gids,the perfumed dutchman


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