|Marianne Nort- Ciane River, 1870|
Nineteenth century English artist Marianne North wanted to paint the flowers and landscapes of foreign lands. One of her first solo journeys was to Sicily, where she sat by the Ciane river and painted the Egyptian papyrus that grows wild on its banks. The painting, above, has a dreamy quality. It engulfs you so much you can almost hear the rustle of the wind in the papyrus, the birds flying above and splashing in the the water. Papyrus de Ciane, the 2010 Parfumerie Generale fragrance, takes you to that spectacular place where everything is green, the sun is reflected in the river, and a light breeze caresses your skin. Perfumer Pierre Guillaume did all that with the grace of chypres past, a rare achievement these days.
The fragrance opens soapy, green, and rather French. Those of us who grew up with the sharp and bright chypres of the 1970s will recognize certain facets and feel almost at home. Papyrus de Ciane also offers a certain dry bitterness of galbanum (not as much as I would have liked, but that's what vintage bottles of No.19 and Miss Dior are for) that touches on the leathery. There's a crunchy grass touch that hints towards vetiver, and a herbal astringent cleanliness that once again takes me to almost forgotten old rooms with tall windows open towards water and blue skies, a playful wind blowing in their sheer white curtains.
This Parfumerie Generale creation seems to advance with the day and the position of the sun in the sky. There's a stage where Papyrus de Ciane goes from the brightness of midday by the river to the darker and richer vegetation just steps away from it, away from the safe path. All the smells and emotions are intensified by the dusky skies, then slowly relax onto the skin, where the fragrance turns into a skin scent of clean slightly floral musk. While there's little projection and no sillage after the first couple of hours, the soapily perfumes skin retains its smell for over twelve hours. I love it all year round, but find it comforting this time of the year (it snowed this afternoon) and wonderfully effective and bracing in the summer heat.
Notes: Bergamot, galbanum, neroli, broom, solar notes, lavender, mugwort, clove, incense, cistus labadanum, hedione, vetiver, Mousse de Saxe, Silvanone, white musk.
Parfumerie Generale- Papyrus De Ciane ($125, 50ml) is available from OsswaldNYC and Luckyscent.