Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Papillon Artisan Perfumery- Salome

Salome doesn't waste any time before letting you know why she's here. She's also not shy about her origins, where she comes from. She's here from the past, bringing with her a suitcase of memories.  She's a woman who gets dressed up for dinner, owns hats, gloves, and silk stockings, and knows how to use all of them to her advantage. Yet she will not remain fully clothed for too long. I told you, she's pretty clear about what she wants.

Salome, the fourth perfume by Liz Moores of Papillon Artisan Perfumery, is the lovechild of Femme de Rochas and Bal a Versailles. The Femme connection is rather interesting: Salome has elements from various incarnation of the Rochas classic, including the more pronounced raw cumin of latter years, together with the unmistakable animalic skank. Ms. Moore's treatment of cumin in this perfume is actually one of the most elegant I've smelled and can help make the connection for those new to the genre between the spice and the raunchy side without actually going all the way to BO. It's a similar idea to the dirty charm of two other incredible perfumes from the recent years, Montecristo by Masque Milano and Maai from Bogue (why haven't I written about that one yet?).

The problem with truly vintage perfumes is that by the time they reach our trembling hands and obsessed nose they've often lost some of their sparkle. The top notes fade and sometimes spoil, the floral notes gain a general "vintage perfume" aura into which you stick your nose with a Joey Tribbiani expression asking yourself and your partners-in-crime "carnation? jonquil? muguet?"  trying to find the rosy cheeks of what used to be a cheerful daytime perfume and now is mostly civet (not that there's anything wrong with it...). In Salome you get to see smell the entire package, like those antique photographs that have been recently colored to show the reality of life back in the day. This reality that takes shape at our noses is vivid and bright, slightly bitter and fills your mouth with anticipation.

Once upon a time that's what perfume smelled like. Can you imagine?

Salome was created in the image of the great chypres of yore. From the bite of the bergamot in its opening that leads to a nicely messy indolic floral heart. I particularly love the combination of jasmine and carnation that makes me think of vintage Caron during their golden age. The dry-down is all the oakmoss, castoreum, and civet one could ever hope for, lined with plush leather and infused with smoke and hay. It's spectacular in the same way a handcrafted Art Nouveau artifact that was used and loved can be when it stands on your dresser now in 2015, appreciated and used again. Salome needs to be sprayed and worn, enjoyed to the max for all that it gives us, all the emotions it stirs. This is a Perfume with a P, the kind that is remembered and longed for after many years. I couldn't have asked for anything more*.

Art: Aubrey Beardsley- The Toilet of Salome, 1894

*Insert a severed head joke.

Salome by Papillon Artisan Perfumery ($160, 50 ml EDP) are available from IndigoPerfumery.com, and Luckyscent.


  1. Salome intrigued me ever since I first heard about it. The thing is that the previous 3 were rather shy on my skin, never really blooming the way I expected they would, but after all the reviews I've read, I'm just anxious and nervous to get my bottle now. A blind buy that I hope will be true to what most are getting. The postman can't come any faster!

  2. Great review! I so adore this scent. I feel like some sort of holiday magic has happened here and Liz Moores got my wish list for elements I would most love in a bespoke perfume and created Salome. I literally laughed out loud from pure delight when I first sniffed its gorgeous skankiness (much to the puzzlement of DH and the fur baby in my lap at the time). You are absolutely right in saying it is in the same vein as Femme and BaV , but the first perfumer I thought of when I sniffed it was Germaine Cellier. Liz Moore seems to share that incredibly gutsy "take no prisoners" attitude with creating a perfume that is unapologetically dense with character and attitude. A stunningly beautiful scent that I don't need to compete with people (most of who have deeper pockets than I do) on ebay for.

  3. When I hear the words "vintage perfume" I immediately look up and start listening. What you said of Salome is too beautiful to be true. I could write a book about disappointment with some of my vintage love that I found anew in the later days (not all of course). So this one could possibly send me back in time when I used to be really delighted and excited about a single perfume? I think I'll do everything possible to give it a try! Thanks for the review.

  4. I may have to try this even when I'm known to turn some "skank" (not all, fortunately) into human poo. Your image selection as always is incredible!


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