Seventeen years after its release and a couple of alleged reformulations later, La Chasse aux Papillons from L'Artisan is well-established as a modern classic. It's often recommended as a starter white floral or an introductory niche perfume (like many of L'Artisan's offering). I think I've always appreciated its beauty, but as a "more is more" person it didn't quite hit the spot for me, and I tended to prefer the La Chasse Extreme version with its peppery hammer and somewhat better longevity. I've kept samples of both the original La Chasse and the Extreme throughout the years for reference and the occasional early morning treat. I've also purchased a bottle as a gift once or twice, because it's such a pretty thing. How could anyone resist a frothy sunny white floral little thing?
La Chasse aux Papillons was composed for L'Artisan by perfumer Ann Flipo, whose other L'Artisan perfume was Ananas Fizz. She's an extremely successful artist who has under her belt quite a few mega hits for the ultra-mainstream market: Lancome La Vie Est Belle and its many flankers, the abominable Lady Million, as well as Acqua di Gioia. But Ms. Flipo is also responsible for some true treasures such as Barbara Bui, Sonia Rykiel Woman, and the adorable My Queen for Alexander McQueen. Most recently she created the most unique series to come from Jo Malone in a long time, the herbal colognes in the green bottles. That's quite a range.
La Chasse today is even paler and lighter than I remember. Out of the various sunny white flowers that make the composition (linden blossom, lemon tree blossom, orange blossom, jasmine, and tuberose) the ones that stand out on my skin are a sheer tuberose and a slightly musky lemon blossom (lime blossom according to Fragrantica). The jasmine is more of a jasmine tea and not a dangerous indolic thing that howl at night. As a matter of fact, to me, La Chasse is decidedly a morning perfume, something to wear before the day fully begins and I switch to something denser that actually lasts.
Back in the previous decade La Chasse was a very light and airy take on a floral with a less than average staying power. But there was a mimosa-like note touched by honey that anchored the floating white butterflies to one's skin for a bit longer. My new rollerball bottle of La Chasse aux Papillons is missing that part as well as anything resembling a base or a dry-down. The petals swirl in the air for a short tuberosy dream before dwindling into a low-foaming luxury soap. And then it's gone. Completely and totally. I enjoy La Chasse too much, especially in the summer, to give up so easily. I've recently bought the shower gel and body lotion in an attempt to pile on the layers and give the scent more depth and longevity. My success was only partial. The body products do add a luxurious aspect to wearing the scent and wrap you up in more tuberose chiffon. But they're among the least tenacious I know (an older L'artisan shower gel of Premier Figuier had more heft). The lotion is lovely and is reasonably moisturizing (I have extremely dry limbs, so it's not a good option for winter). Adding the perfume on top is nice, but still not enough, considering La Chasse aux Papillons is an incredibly pretty scent. I simply want more of it.
L'Artisan Parfumeur- La Chasse aux Papillons (eau de toilette, starting at $25 for the 1/4 oz rollerball) is widely available: Sephora, Luckyscent, Twisted Lily, Birchbox, Barneys, and many online retailers where you can find larger size bottles for well below retail price.
Photograph by Tim Walker for W Magazine, October 2010 (model: Karlie Kloss)