The last week of August is the summer equivalent of February. Is there such a thing as summer ennui? If not, I'm declaring it now. I'm kind of done. Both back and front yards are looking tired and shriveled at the edges, tomato season is over, all the cute clothes have been worn to death, the golden goddess makeup is boring (not to mention that fall collections have been out for a month now), and I can't look at another beach novel. And perfume? I'm not big on traditional summer perfumes to begin with, so let me just say: meh.
It's either the ennui or the heat, but I couldn't even gather the energy to shrug at the launch of yet another "niche" perfume brand. And that was actually a good thing, because otherwise I would have missed a very good thing. Atelier des Ors is a French line that emerged this year with five perfumes (only five, imagine that!) that have a romanticized Orientalist vibe that fits nicely with the end of summer, even if it's only in my head. I've got a quick sniff of all five Atelier des Ors fragrances and was impressed with the rich tapestry they create. Even Rose Omeyyade, a rose soliflore, didn't bore me, and had I been big into roses I'd probably be all over this one (you can read March's impression on the Posse). There was also the spectacularly named Lune Feline (Mark of Colognoisseur reviewed it). But my heart was immediately captured by Aube Rubis and Larmes du Désert, so these are the ones I chose and spent a few days of quality time testing (there's also a leather one, Cuir Sacré, though I can't remember a thing about it).
Aube Rubis ("ruby dawn") is a warm iris-patchouli blend, grounded and fired up by vetiver. On my skin the vetiver is more pronounced, and even though the husband didn't seem excited, I think Aube Rubis smelled lovely on him. I'm a sucker for all things iris, and this one has a quality that reminds me that in ancient Greece Iris was the goddess of the rainbow, as well as the sea and sky. Patchouli can be very earthy and grounding, but this perfume actually soars and has an expansive outdoorsy feel (in the best possible way). It's just sweet enough, but don't fear the official notes that also include blackcurrant and praline. This is no Angel and Aube Rubis is not a real gourmand. The reddish notes are just one part of said rainbow and add warmth, not candy. In the makeup world it's become a boring cliche to describe a look or a product as "lit from within", but if I'm allowed to say so here just once, this is the perfume that achieves it.
Larmes du Désert ("tears of the desert") belongs to one of my favorite perfume categories, the sweet and dry balsamic incense carried on the wings of an imaginary eastern wind. I've been to a desert or two, and to be honest they're not my thing, and neither is the punishing dry sandy wind that comes from their direction. But for a fantasy perfume, just like Andy Tauer, Victoire Gaubin Daude, and Serge Lutens before her, perfumer Marie Salmagne, has found the sweet spot. It's mostly dry and almost harsh incense that dries down into a softer and more ambery texture, with the golden light of myrrh shining on it. Larmes du Désert expands on my skin like a n imaginary veil of sand. I know we're drowning in corny metaphors here, but I love this perfume and enjoy its magic.
Atelier des Ors perfumes ($295, 100ml eau de parfum each) are available at Osswald NYC, which also supplied the samples for review. Please note that the link above is here for your convenience because of an issue with the store's website. It's not affiliated or sponsored in any way. But you knew that already.
Art: a detail from The Procession of the Bull Apis by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, 1879