This perfume causes a lot of hype and consequently people either seem to completely love it or are left wanting. A bit like the Hobbit films. We’ve tried to come to this review without any preconceptions in an effort to let the scent speak for itself. And we really think it does. It’s a bold, unisex fragrance loaded with citrus and full of life. Whilst it might not be the most complex, or the most balanced we’ve tried, it’s so full of energy and zing that it is really hard not to be completely charmed by it.
The house of Frapin have been producing cognac in France since 1270 (impressively). This longevity has allowed them to refine their methods and they control each step of the process. This meticulous attention to detail has been transferred to their fragrance line, and they offer scents inspired by their cognacs, history and land.
Frapin’s scents are produced on a small scale to preserve their quality and unsurprisingly, given their traditions, their lines often have a boozy, alcoholic note. This is opulent, rich, French cognac territory though, not a turbo-shandy down your local boozer on a Friday night. Don’t be put off by the blend of alcohol production traditions with perfume, we promise you won’t smell like an old pub carpet if you wear any of their fragrances.
L’Humaniste opens with a bold swipe of citrus. And it really is delightfully bold. It’s sherbet lemons and then some. But here’s the clever thing, you can really tell that this is lemon oil that’s been used rather than just a lemon extract. The lemon has a really waxy, thick smell to it that beefs it up and makes it more substantial so much so that it’s almost a taste as well as a smell. When you breathe it in you can feel it zapping around your sinuses like a ball bearing tearing around a pinball machine.
Our testers all really liked the opening to this scent, it beguiles you into thinking it’s simple citrus, but in fact it’s a citrus with scaffolding; citrus on steroids. And it’s really lively and full of energy. A great one for those gloomy late-Winter months when you need a hit of get-up-and-go.
Like all things of beauty, there is a flaw and in this case it’s the heart of the perfume. It just can’t match the strength of the opening, either in terms of excitement or punch. This leads to the scent feeling rather like it is split into a start and a finish with something totally different in between. That’s not to say that the middle isn’t pleasant – it really is – but it feels strangely disconnected from the top and base notes.
Once the perfume has warmed up, the spicy notes come through. I get bright pink pepper, the roughness of a hint of capsicum and touches of leather, polished or waxed. The lemon warms until it has a more transparent feel, like lime or yuzu. Still very definitely citrus but not so sharp on the nose.
The finale to L’Humaniste refers back to the start. A strong gin acidity sits alongside green wood, a continuing hint of leather and lemon furniture polish. Underneath it all there is something ever so slightly sweet, an almost raisin note. This could very well be the tonka bean coming through, and which is listed on the scent notes for the fragrance, but it’s not really identifiable as tonka, it’s more of a chewy stickiness, right on the cusp of not being sweet at all. It’s also not easy to catch a scent of, sometimes it’s there, sometimes not.
The other stuff
In researching for this post we found loads of people complaining that the longevity (how long the scent lasts on your skin) of this scent wasn’t very good. We’ve found totally the opposite – it’s excellent! It’s still very noticeable at lunch and detectable by the end of the day. You definitely need to try this on your own skin to see how it fares if longevity is an issue that bothers you (and it certainly does us).
The sillage (the scent that projects from you) from this fragrance is also excellent, very citrusy and energetic, even when those notes have died down in the fragrance. It also lasts all day.
This is a great unisex scent as well, one that is very wearable for people of all genders. Several websites list it as a masculine scent, but we found it to be lovely on both male and female skin.
The packaging is beautiful. An attractively shaped bottle is capped with beech wood in reference to the casks used in Frapin cognac production. One of our favourite bottles that we’ve seen, it oozes style.
All in all this is a divisive fragrance and in a way it feels like an incomplete story. It doesn’t have the beautiful balance that some perfumes do and for some people it will be just too citrusy, there’s no getting away from that. Despite that, we have been utterly charmed by it, it’s exuberant, bold and energetic. The citrus is punchy, but if you love citrus then that’s not a bad thing. If this fragrance were a person it would be the charismatic friend that always gets the party started. Maybe you aren’t going to trust them with your innermost secrets, but you know that when your spirits need lifting they will do that for you, and you can’t help but love them for that!