In 1660, long before he became the Sun King, twenty one year old Louis XIV of France was eager to meet his new bride, Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain. Young Louis still sported his own hair (the famous wigs only appeared when he started going bald in middle age) and spent a lot of his free time practicing and performing ballet. At the time of Louis's marriage he was still not the one at the helm; King since he was five year old, but his real reign didn't start until 1661 with the death of Cardinal Mazarin who held the real power throughout Louis XIV's minority years.
I tend to be leery of perfumes that claim to be based or inspired by historic figures and events, but one cannot deny that Fleur de Louis by Arquiste smells both very French and very innocent. It's the accompanying perfume to Arquiste's Infanta en Flor, the scented tribute to the shy Spanish princess and is supposed to represent the groom. Back in Louis's time men did wear natural floral scents. Today, though, from the very first sniff Fleur de Louis appears as a delicate feminine fragrance.
There's no hyacinth or linden listed in the official notes, but I swear that's the first thing I smell every time I apply Fleur de Louis. It's a sweet and charming flowery sensation that smells like a bright summer day. Then come that traditional French orris-rose-jasmine composition, but again, it doesn't feel overworked or over-perfumed because there are no aldehydes and the powderiness is more natural than an actual dressing-room powder. Maybe that's the element that connects this Arquiste perfume to the 17th century: the delicate floral waters that were used as perfume.
Fleur de Louis is a real perfume, though, and while not particularly complex beyond the beautiful facets of orris, it has depth, sillage and longevity (six hours even with moderate application). Its charm will appeal to those who enjoy floral-iris compositions (more Bas de Soie than Chanel No. 19), as long as they're happy with young Louis and don't expect to smell the Sun King at the height of his glory.
Notes: orange blossom, rose, Florentine orris, jasmine, cedarwood.
Arquiste- Fleur de Louis ($175, 55ml EDP) is available from Aedes and Barneys. Some of the samples I had were supplied by PR.
Art: Young Louis XIV in the main role of Apollo in the Ballet royal de la nuit, 1653.