Sunday, June 07, 2009

Honoré des Prés Perfumes- A Lesson In Skin Chemistry

100 % Organic perfumes created by my girl crush, Olivia Giacobetti (Hermes Iris, Diptyque Philosykos, Idole de Lubin and many L'Artisans, including my two favorites, Dzing! and Premier Figuier). Can anything be better?

Apparently so. Perfumes that actually stay on skin at least until one reaches the door, for example.

I might have blamed the (lack of) longevity issues on the all-natural ingredients, knowing how many of them are very volatile and not really supposed to last. But I've tested a few other natural perfumes and had no problem with their staying power, so I know it can be done. Just check Anya's Garden or Roxana Villa's work.

I got samples of all five scents and have tested them enough to know I won't be seeking out a full bottle, which is really sad, as the concept and most of the scents are very appealing. But I have a thing about actually being able to smell my perfume, and the Honore des Pres line just doesn't work for me as a personal scent.

Nu Green is probably the most baffling of the bunch. It should have been named "it looked like a good idea at the time". It's all about pure green. Herbal, grassy, cool. My nose was intrigued for five full second before it lost any trace of the scent. I could have been wearing water that had a tarragon sprig swimming in it and get the same effect.

Honoré’s Trip is the only perfume in the line not composed by Olivia Giacobetti. It's the sunniest, happiest thing one can imagine- almost like wearing pure orange and tangerine juice. I was told to imagine a walk through an Italian orange grove, and it kind of works before my mind starts seeing an orange juice commercial with smiling fruit. But, seriously, it's a very pleasant scent. For the first 10 minutes, that is. Afterwards I had to practically lick my arms to feel something and even that didn't last after 45 minutes or so.

Chaman’s Party was the one I liked best at first (further testing changed it, though) because it was the most intriguing with its smoky vetiver notes. It was interesting to compare my first reaction to my husband's. He absolutely hated it because he got nothing like burnt, smoldering wood and smoke. It was pretty disgusting on his skin before everything calmed down. On me, the smoke was gone in seconds, so I could enjoy the dry aspects of this odd vetiver. I just don't think I want to smell like that. My husband compared Chaman’s Party to the wonderful Lonestar Memories by Andy Tauer: Lonestar also has a campfire aspect and a bone-dry open space feeling, but it's deep, rich and beautiful, while Chaman’s Party falls flat.
Chaman’s Party has an acceptable longevity- 5 or six hours.

Bonté’s Bloom is another one with a normal staying power, which in my case was quite unfortunate. I know this warm floral scent has quite a few fans, so don't take it personally. No matter what Luca Turin says, skin chemistry is a bitch. All I got from Bonté’s Bloom is the smell of a compost pile after one throws the rotten content of a neglected vase on top of it. I'm not sure I want to know what exactly in my skin cells creates this effect.

Sexy Angelic ended up being my favorite of the Honore des Pres line. It took me a couple of tries and realizing I needed to drench myself in the juice to actually get the full depth and richness, but it worked. Except for the longevity issue, that is. Sexy Angelic is meant to evoke a special candy from Aix-en-Provence, called Calisson. It's a paste of sugar, candied melon and powdered almond laid between two wafers of unleavened bread and iced with an egg and sugar glaze. Reading this you either recoil with horror or started plotting ways to get your hands on the stuff. I belong to the second camp and I adore many almond-marzipan scents, so no wonder I fell for Sexy Angelic. It's really all that, but after the first ten minutes of bliss you can only smell it by planting your nose to the skin, and even that was fully gone after two hours. I looked utterly ridiculous trying to dive into my own cleavage, that's all I'm going to say about it.

Honore des Pres perfumes are available from Bergdorf Goodman in NYC and Luckyscent online (and in Los Angeles). The 100 ml (mistake no. 1) bottles of EDT (mistake no. 2) are priced at $145 (mistake no. 3). We would all have been much better off with tiny bottles of extrait or perfume oil.

The samples I received were a PR freebie.

Photo of Olivia Giacobetti from Honoré des Prés.


  1. Favorite Line #1: "I looked utterly ridiculous trying to dive into my own cleavage, that's all I'm going to say about it."

    Favorite Line #2: "The 100 ml (mistake no. 1) bottles of EDT (mistake no. 2) are priced at $145 (mistake no. 3)."

    Fantastic review. Thanks for that -- I giggled nearly the entire way through.

  2. Nu Green and Honore's Trip were super fleeting on me as well. And Bonte's Bloom....yikes!

    I loved Chaman's Party as well as Sexy Angelic. Really wish SA lasted more that 1-2 hours though. In my review I said I hoped they came out w/ a body butter...wouldn't that be lovely?

  3. Not feeling the need to even stop on the way home to try these, even though intellectually I'd like to know if my skin turns bonte's bloom into rotted flower water as well.

  4. Thanks, Nathan. It was kind of fun to write.

  5. Trish a body butter in Sexy Angelic is a brilliant idea. I'm buying.

  6. Tom, you can really do without that experience. You'd probably enjoy Chaman's Party, but there are so many better vetivers out there.

  7. I too was distincly underwhelmed by these scents. No longevity, little interest - although my favorite as well was the Sexy Angelic (Calisson d'Aix) scent. Such a pity.

  8. Tara, I think the disappointment is so big because the line had a potential to be wonderful- all raw natural materials in the hands of a super talented perfumer should mean the best fragrances ever.

  9. Well, I actually looking for a perfume who stay longer on my skin and I agree to the commenter that all raw natural materials in the hands of a super talented perfumer should mean the best fragrances ever,and I really wanted to have my own signature.



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