La Fumée and La Pluie are the two new Miller Harris perfumes that were released earlier thus fall. I first smelled them in Paris and immediately zeroed in on La Fumée (La Pluie is a light and wet airy floral. Utterly not me). The wafts of smoke from the perfume and matching candle somehow seemed out of place in the shiny and glamorous perfume department of La Bon Marche, like a portal to another dimension. Of course, an enchanted transformation is not a new idea in Miller Harris perfumes. Both L'air de Rien and Fleurs de Sel possess a similar quality.
Miller Harris La Fumée is an elegant incense perfume. It hits me right from the start with lightly sweet cistus labdanum and grows smokier and just a bit darker, though La Fumee never goes all CdG on me, as it feels like there's always an open window in the room where the incense has been burning. I will guess that even those wary of smoky perfumes might enjoy La Fumée, because it doesn't have a fully burnt or bitter after-taste. It is meditative and calming without the distractions one might find in a strong statement perfumes such as CdG Zagorsk, Tauer Incense Extreme or L'artisan Passage d'Enfer. La Fumée remains sweet and smoky throughout its entire run and doesn't take the soapy detour I find in some incense fragrances (Passage d'Enfer being a prime example).
There's something incredibly relaxing and joyful in wearing La Fumée on a rainy afternoon while you're safely ensconced in a comfy chair, surrounded by kittens, good reading material and hot chocolate. The quiet beauty of the perfume enhances the feeling of well-being and makes me think good thoughts, just because. The one weakness of La Fumée is its longevity. I've tried everything but I'm lucky to get a three hour wear of it, so I re-spray with abandon, making any room smell delicious around me. It's the first Miller Harris perfume that behaves this way on my skin, forcing me to only wear it when staying home (or going on very brief outings). Not that it doesn't make sense to reserve this contemplative and introverted perfume for such occasions, but I doubt this concept would fly with most of us.
Notes: cistus absolute, cardamom, coriander seed, cumin, elemi, incense, cedar, sandalwood, cade, birch tar, smoke, wood and amber.
La Fumee by Miller Harris ($130, 50 ml EDP) is sold at Min NY, online and in store. At the moment they seem to be out of stock, but hopefully they'll be getting more soon. There's also a candle in this scent.
Art: Fumerie by George Barbier, from Fantasio magazine, 1915.