Travel posters, mood-boards, advertisement, and fantasies about the south of France tends to focus on sunshine, beaches and the promise of an eternal summer (I'll take one of each, thank you very much). Most of the perfumes by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger follow this pattern, as the family that founded the brand has roots in Grasse, Vance, and Cote d’Azur (I'll take that as well). But Lavande Ombree is different, and not just because it has a black cap and a more masculine leanings, but because the mood and atmosphere take a turn away from that bikini in Saint Tropez. Winter in Grasse?
Lavande Ombree is a leather and lavender perfume that moves between the crisp and clean to the warm and spicy aroma of warm skin under a leather jacket. The leather is well-worn but buttery soft and of a high quality. It was probably bought at an exclusive boutique on Via Veneto or Rue Faubourg a couple of decades ago, and has seen a few adventures and love affairs. The freshness suggests that is now ready for more. So why not in the lavender fields of Grasse, where the wind carries the scent of herbs and flowers, and every rock and grain of soil retain the memory of blossoms and summers past.
|Lavande Ombree is in the middle, sporting a black cap|
I've sniffed most of the perfumes by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger, and Lavande Ombree is the standout (I'm also partial to Figue Fruitee, which should not come as a surprise). It's very obviously animalic, earthy (there's a good dose of patchouli somewhere in its folds), and quite musky. But the greatness of this fragrance is that it never crosses the line. This mystery man is never anything other than a perfect gentleman, well-groomed and dressed to the nines, even if you suspect that he has quite a past. Worn by a man, Lavande Ombree speaks of travel, creases in the corners of the eyes, and an effortless worldliness. On a woman, I think, this effect is increased tenfold, but again: it's never vulgar. It's a sexy scent, for sure, but it wears close to the skin and doesn't project much more than lavender and spice until you get very very close and the fun really begins.
I bought Lavande Ombree for the husband a few months ago (it was love at first sniff, and he asked me to quote him that it smells like "sex on just-laundered sheets"). I've since borrowed it shamelessly many times. It's one of those perfumes that feel right for every occasion, so despite the Blond's description I think of this Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger gem as kind of like my favorite pair of black boots. Whatever works, I say.
Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger- Lavande Ombree ($125, 100ml EDP) is available from Twisted Lily, Indigo Perfumery, and BeautyHabit.