A perfume inspired by the meeting of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa, what could be more high culture than that? This fragrance, inspired by history, but seemingly suspended out of time itself will have you reaching for your crinoline and powdered wigs.
Neroli, galbanum, cypress, bergamot, orange blossom, jasmine absolute, clove buds, rose water, orris, vetiver, white cedar and Oiselet de Chypre accord (a 17th century resinous amber accord based on labdanum).
Arquiste are a brand synonymous with intelligently composed fragrances, highly engineered to produce an emotional response. This is very clever stuff. Their fragrances are conceived as time capsules, transporting us backwards, to a moment in time which we could never experience, connecting us with something long gone through the medium of smell.
To wear an Arquiste fragrance isn’t so much as to simply smell a perfume, it’s to receive an education in what history smelled like. It’s like a sort of cultural immersion from which you may never recover.
We’ve previously reviewed Sydney Rock Pool by Arquiste.
The first time we tested Fleur de Louis, hastily, sniffing the damp cap of a tester like an addict craving a fix, we were struck by how old fashioned it smelled, like something that would appeal to a grandma or indeed like something which was itself a fragment of a time long passed and no longer relevant. This hasty and half-formed impression doesn’t do justice to this classical, elegant and timeless fragrance though and we can’t urge you strongly enough to thoroughly test this one if it seems remotely like it could me in your oeuvre. You won’t be disappointed.
Fleur de Louis opens with a zesty, floral cloud. It has the high, fizzy energy of neroli about it, orangey, lively, exciting, but also coupled with a much more powdery undertone from the orris that comes through quite soon into the wear. The two nuances together produce this really interesting character that is half leaping forward and half holding back, half energetic and half restrained. As a result, it feels like an exciting scent, there’s a buzz of anticipation about it and you’re not entirely sure which way it will develop. There’s twinges of sour and bitter hiding in the floral fuzz from the bergamot and galbanum. These lovely touches stop the florals from being overly sweet and flighty and give the whole scent a serious, grown-up feel; cultured and elegant.
As the scent ages on skin it becomes softer and loses some of the hardness to its edge. A sniff of Fleur de Louis has a gorgeous, floral front end, with the cypress coming through at the end of an inhale. It’s beautifully put together.
The combination of soft and hard within the scent – the orange blossom with the harder neroli, the florals with the woods – give the whole perfume a very addictive vibe. It’ll have you sniffing your wrist again and again as you try and capture all the different facets.
A lush rose creeps into the heart of the scent giving it a lushness and opulence which really rounds out the white florals and gives the whole scent a sort of fleshy thickness. It’s not that the perfume becomes heavy but it does grow in substance and weight as it moves along through the wear.
The woody notes gather and collect in the base of the scent, the crisp sharpness of the cedar which is both slightly cleansing and invigorating. Of course, Arquiste handle this beautifully so the whole scent is perfectly balanced and never becomes overwhelmed by any one facet.
The whole composition of Fleur de Louis has a wonderfully timeless quality about it, it feels like something which is somehow old and new at the same time, something which is inspired by history but not touched by it itself. When an artefact is plucked out of the past, there’s a chance that with our modern sensibilities we won’t quite understand it, but this scent somehow bridges that gap in contextual understanding – or at least makes you feel like it does – and that is really quite some feat.
The other stuff
Although Fleur de Louis is most definitely a unisex scent, it leans slightly towards the more feminine end of the spectrum. It’s absolutely one that bold gentlemen will be able to totally rock too, very elegantly.
The longevity of this scent is very good. it lasts all day and well into the evening before fading. The sillage of the scent doesn’t seem to project very far from the body, probably to around handshake distance or less. It’s nice to keep something this refined to (mostly) yourself though.
In terms of when to wear this scent we felt that it would sit best in the spring and summer months, although in reality there is probably an occasion that it would suit year round.
The presentation of the Arquiste fragrances is lovely; the bottles have a gorgeous heft which sit roundly in the hand, the caps are lux and heavy and the cardboard boxes sport pretty graphics. An asset to any perfume shelf.
Fleur de Louis is available from Bloom Perfumery London, where it is priced at £145 for 100ml EdP. You can also buy the scent from the Arquiste web boutique where it is priced at $190 for the same size bottle.