Monday, November 01, 2010

SAHLiNi - La Femme

SAHLiNi perfumes have two problems (other than the annoying way the name is randomly capitalized): First is the limited distribution and the second is the name. It's too similar to Shalini- the notoriously expensive Maurice Roucel  white floral creation in a gorgeous Lalique bottle ($990, 2.2oz, available at Aedes). Maybe that's the reason for the capital letters in SAHLiNi's name.

The brand SAHLiNi Parfums is owned by French designer Celine Sahlini Martin and inspired by her Indian heritage. Her goal was to incorporate the warmth of India with  classic French perfumery. A nice idea, really. Original? Not so much, considering oriental perfumes were born around the turn of the 20th century, not the 21st. Still, a creamy vanilla-sandalwood-patchouli base under a heady and intricate floral heart are a welcome thing in my world.

La Femme is a big (BIG!) floriental- the kind of perfume that would have felt right at home in the 80s. It's one of those that even I, lover of statement-making scents, would urge you to be careful when spraying. Seriously. One spritz is more than enough and would still get you noticed. It's so pretty, though, that as long as your skin chemistry cooperates, compliments are almost guaranteed.

La Femme is a very apt name. While I'm the last person to care about gender in perfume, I doubt many men would find it wearable. It's something about the trio of orange blossom (it smells like the absolute, not the steam distilled neroli), jasmine and tuberose. Something about the way they were blended here is almost overwhelming but in a good way: it's toe-curling. The base is sweet and rich. There's no rice note there but it reminds me of an orange-blossom scented Indian dessert.

Is it wrong to wish there was something a little more edgy to come between the silk sheet beauty of the floral heart and that creamy sandalwood pudding of the dry-down? A little incense, maybe, or just that they would have made the patchouli earthier and dirty? I enjoy wearing SAHLiNi La Femme, but there's something in there that feels like a guilty pleasure, though it's hard to put my finger on the exact reason- there's nothing wrong in wearing a feather boa, right?

La  Femme ($95, 50ml) and the other SAHLiNi perfumes can be purchased at select locations (mostly in Europe) and worldwide from Mini roll-ons and sample sets are also available directly from the website.

Photo of model Barbara Mullen for British Vogue by Norman Parkinson, Kashmir, India, 1956


  1. You made me curious. I will have to immediately search and sniff...
    Thanks for lighting a grey day,
    kind regards, Martina

  2. When I first saw the name of this perfume in the title of your post, I thought this was going to be a review of my all-time favorite perfume, Femme by Rochas (pre-reformulation, of course). I notice though, after reading your post that not only is it a totally different perfume, but you've already reviewed Femme. Can you recommend places on the web or in NYC that sell vintage Femme perfume? I don't even want to smell its current reincarnation-I'll only get upset over how they ruined my beloved perfume. Thanks in advance!

  3. I urge you to try Sahlini's Femininde -- it's more everything than La Femme: Woodier, spicier, hotter, more resinous. I thought La Femme was pretty and well-made, but Femininde was GORGEOUS.

    I agree that the house name is awful! It makes them almost unsearchable on Google, too -- the engine is so SURE you must mean Shalini ...

  4. Thanks, Martina :)

    Thalia, I definitely intend to try Femininde and will probably also get samples of the masculine. We'll see how it works for the husband.

    Simone, vintage Femme is becoming almost impossible to find and the prices are getting beyond obscene as a result. My best advice would be to search antique stores, yard sales and flea markets. Not exactly promising, I know, but that's how I acquired a couple of good bottles.


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