It happens sometimes. You smell a perfume and for one reason or another can't connect with it. You don't particularly like it, but won't say that you dislike it, either. It just doesn't do anything, good or bad, and you quickly move on and forget all about it. But then you go back to it after a while, be it days, months, or years later, and something happens. You can almost hear a click or a thud as the shift happens, and there it is: a wonderful perfume and you're so very in love with it you can barely stand yourself.
I dug out the samples of the first three fragrances from Papillon Perfumes after I had smelled the more recent Salome and promptly added it to the top of my "Must Have" list. It'll get its own post, because wow. Obviously, I'm still trying to find the words for that review. Salome is so stunning and fantastic that I had to go back and reevaluate my approach to the other creations of English perfumer Liz Moores, owner of Papillon. I had a feeling I was missing something.
I don't have a good explanation for what happened next. It may be me (nose, brain, skin chemistry. Who knows?) and it may be the perfumes themselves that had to macerate longer. All I know is that when I started retesting Anubis, Angelique, and Tobacco Rose I finally got it. Big time.
Anubis is sweet, dark, and animalic. The leather note is buttery soft and drapes itself around like silk. It's dirty (though Salome makes Anubis seems almost like a choir boy), but also inviting and warm. The sweetness and immortelle notes are perfectly balanced by the incense and resins that send tentacle-like tendrils in all directions. The perfume is mysterious and fascinating. I still haven't discovered all that there is to it, but I'm going to. I have to. It's whispering my name. in the night (perhaps because I can smell it on my pillow for days).
Tobacco Rose was the one that back when I first tested it I considered as the more classic and meticulously composed, yet I didn't enjoy it very much on my skin because all I could get was a well-developed rose perfume. I got the structure, the idea, the quality materials used, but rose soliflores tend to bore me. Now, though, the full chypre effect comes alive before my eyes (nose). While I still don't consider it a tobacco fragrance, I applaud Liz Moores for creating the thick velvet folds of Tobacco Rose, that go from an almost sunny rose-geranium to the darkness of the forest floor: mossy, earthy, damp, and primal. It's still not exactly my thing, but even as a non-rose person I can tell you that this is some really good stuff.
Angelique is a bit chaotic at first. Like an English cottage garden when compared to a manicured formal garden. Yellow, white, and blue colors burst among the leaves and stalks at different heights and shapes. Bees and hummingbirds circling the flowers, and the sun is never more than a passing white fluffy cloud away. Angelique evolves on my skin from a green tinged mimosa to a full on honeyed wood, with a hint of peach tea somewhere in the middle. This is a gorgeous, spirited perfume that uplifts and soothes the mind. Excepts when it's occupied with lust after more of this elixir.
Maybe one should get these bottles and lock them up for six months or so before even trying. I don't really know why I've gone from "whatever" to "YES!". Perhaps Salome was the key to the magic. All I can say is that I'm now in deep trouble.
Papillon Artsian Perfumes ($160, 50 ml EDP each) are available from IndigoPerfumery.com, and Luckyscent. The samples for this review were sent by Indigo Perfumery.
Image: Butterfly Leaving Cocoon, Kunzli Freres, circa 1900