“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”
~Hans Christian Andersen
This classical French house, that names a range of its scents after butterflies, seems to have a little of all that, freedom, flowers, and the inspiration to bring us more than a little sunshine with their fragrances.
Honey, heliotrope, blonde tobacco, oud.
We smell a lot of perfumes here at The Sniff. Some are joyful, others masterful, many are middling, others forgettable. It isn’t often that a fragrance immediately pricks our senses awake with a note or construction that sings, and it is always a magical, special pleasure when it does. Reine de la Jungle (named after the Queen of the Jungle butterfly) by artisan French house Papillon Rouge did just that for us.
Reine de la Jungle opens with sweet, sweet honey and pollen laden florals. It starts off very dry and lifts from skin with a languorous plume that, like smoke rising from a campfire, only seems to spread and grow in volume the further it gets from the source.
Finely granular in texture, Reine de la Jungle is has an almost nutty tone at the start, sometimes it feels like finely ground peanuts, sometimes almonds with a mouth-watering spicy tone that is really hard to pin down. Together with the flavour of sticky honey it can feel like the most delicious baklava ever to grace the tables of Mount Olympus, ambrosial, sweet, and more than a little sensual in its decadence.
Reine de la Jungle gets off to an incredibly confident and sexy start. It feels hot and dusky and, although it might be coincidental, it does indeed have the unhurried sweep of a butterfly opening and closing her wings whilst she basks in a beam of hot sunshine.
Reine de la Jungle melts into a rich and decadent efflorescence as it ages, coating skin in a persistent and fine pollen dusting. Honey walks a fine line, it can come off as too animalic or even smelling vaguely of urine at times but here, although it flirts with becoming overdone, it manages to stay on the right side of that line and instead is just gloriously abundant.
Doubtless some will find Reine de la Jungle too sweet, it is a very rich scent, but for us it was just wonderfully sexy, warm, and intimate about it. It made us think of walking into one of those Victorian hothouses where exotic plants are grown under glass. It’s the height of summer, you’re already a little sweaty, but once inside you are assaulted by the dry warmth of the trapped sunlight. Cat-like, it will make you want to stretch out in a sunbeam and allow the sunshine to caress your tired muscles, whilst you watch butterflies lazily flit from flower to flower.
A caramel, or toffee, tone creeps into the base of the scent, and it continues to murmur sweet nothings throughout the length of the wear. The honey recedes a little and a dry, almost celery-seed-like nuance creeps in. It’s desiccated, slightly astringent, a little spicy, almost cumin-y. There’s a modicum of a powdery tone as if some iris lurks in the background, and a deep, warm woodiness that chimes with the other components beautifully. Reine de la Jungle is a perfume you have to feel rather than try and deconstruct though, the blending is beautiful and the notes seamless, so many of the impressions gained through a wear are just that: impressions, rather than absolutes. Fleeting glimpses of a fragrance which has a character not unlike the beautiful butterfly for which it is named.
The other stuff
Reine de la Jungle is the first perfume we have tried from Papillon Rouge and the quality and composition haven’t failed to impress. This is the sort of fragrance you wear when you aren’t afraid to stand out and be noticed. It’s bold, full of personality and utterly charming.
Powerful and long lasting, you get a lot of bang for your buck with Reine de la Jungle. It lasts the whole day – probably around the 16 hour mark – from very minimal sprays.
The sillage, or projection, of this fragrance is also very good. Without layering it on very thickly at all, it goes to handshake distance and beyond quite easily. Up the number of sprays and it is the sort of scent that could fill a room, bear that in mind when applying.
Reine de la Jungle is a wonderful scent to wear to a formal occasion or for a night out. Its confidence shines wonderfully in environments where you want to wear something bold to help you feel your best, and you want to do so with class and poise. It also does very well in environments where there are competing scents that you don’t want to be overpowered by.
We felt that this fragrance leans more towards the stereotypically feminine end of the spectrum, but that the spiciness wouldn’t preclude more masculine individuals from wearing it too. Wear it, if you love it, regardless though.
We felt that if you liked this one, then you may also enjoy Bee by Zoologist.
Papillon Rouge are a French brand, founded by the former fine fragrances director of Guerlain – so you can be assured that this is someone who knows what they are doing with scent. They’ve been around since 2007 and whilst they might not be a household name in the UK, the quality that they present really speaks volumes and they deserve wider recognition here.
Everything about Papillon Rouge is low-key classy. This isn’t blingy pretension hiding lack lustre scents, instead it’s fantastic quality materials and classical structures, all presented in a gloriously elegant, rounded bottle, with a metal cap. Beautifully elegant through and through.
Reine de la Jungle is available from Papillon Rouge’s online boutique, where it is priced at €88 for 30ml, €125 for 50ml, or €185 for 100ml of EdP.
We were provided with a no-strings-attached sample of Reine de la Jungle when we visited Papillon Rouge at Esxence in 2019. We thank the brand for their kindness in doing so.
Image shown here isn’t a Jungle Queen butterfly, instead it’s a marsh fritillary.