With a name like What We Do In Paris Is Secret by A Lab On Fire,1 you might expect some esoteric little niche scent that will horrify your co-workers and create havoc and dismay in the line at the grocery store, but nothing could be farther from the truth. What we've got here, at the most basic level, is an easy to wear and easy to love sweet gourmand.
A Lab on Fire is a sub- or sister-brand of S-Perfume, and their mission appears unchanged: collaborate with famous perfumers (in this case, Dominique Ropion), work on a small scale, and emphasize the juice over the packaging (What We Do is housed in a plain lab bottle with a smear of black paint and a label, and there's a ziploc bag instead of a box; see image below).2
What We Do In Paris opens on honeyed citrus, bright, sharp and sweet. It takes on a dessert vibe almost immediately, with first sheer rose — it is almost like loukoum for a few moments — then almond, then vanilla, all wrapped in an airy heliotrope marshmallow cream and finished with a dusting of powder. There's a woody amber-y base with a bit of spice, and the dry down, while still sweet, isn't quite as sweet as the opening. It's creamy and delicious, but not too heavy — it has just enough transparency and light to keep it from being overwhelming.
When I announced What We Do back in January, reader Karin commented that it reminded her of Parfums de Nicolaï Kiss Me Tender, and more vaguely of Bvlgari Blv Notte and Kenzo Amour. I will vouch for the Kiss Me Tender and the Amour (I don't think I've ever smelled Blv Notte), and will add another Dominique Ropion fragrance, Ego Facto Poopoo Pidoo, as a distant relative. But What We Do, while not a dark fragrance by any means, has just enough of a dark woody edge lingering underneath the all the sugar to move it out of straight-up comfort scent status and into something a bit more grown-up and sexy.
Verdict: I am sure some people will find What We Do In Paris too sweet, but gourmand-lovers will want to give it a shot, as will those (like me) who like a bit of dessert for a change every so often. I find it immensely appealing — it's cheerful, fun, sexy and comforting all at once, which is no mean feat — and would not at all mind having a bottle, although I do not think it I would reach for it in any but cold weather.
A Lab on Fire What We Do In Paris Is Secret is available in 60 ml Eau de Parfum, $110. The notes include bergamot, honey, lychee, Turkish rose essence, vanilla, heliotrope, tonka bean, tolu, sandalwood and ambergris. For buying information, see the listing for S-Perfume under Perfume Houses.
Note: top image is macarons by Julien Haler at flickr; some rights reserved.
1. What We Do In Paris Is Secret is apparently unrelated to an earlier fragrance from A Lab On Fire called What We Do Is Secret. Got that?
2. Oops. The bottle I have (it was sent by the brand, and I will give it away next week) looks like the one in the picture, but now I see that the bottle on Luckyscent looks different. So never mind, I don't know what it looks like.
ALoF (a.k.a. S-Perfumes) was, for a while, offering their entire lineup in 15ml bottles. This was A Good Thing; I bought several about a year ago. But the 15ml size seems to have disappeared off their site entirely. I wonder if they might realize people have been busy splitting WWDiPiS themselves and might figure they’d make more revenue by bringing those 15ml sizes back?
The bottle I have is 15 ml — I don’t know if they ran out, or created these just to send to bloggers, or …? But agree smaller is a good thing, for consumers at least. Clearly, many brands do not agree. I miss the L’Artisan 15 ml terribly.
Hey, I’m mentioned in your review! I purchased a bottle of this unsniffed, and am not disappointed. It’s a great comfort scent!
I’m looking forward to trying their next one by Thierry Wasser – Sweet Dreams 2003 – said to launch this spring.
Thanks — had not heard about that!
I agree with everything you said—this is very appealing and probably just a little too sweet for me to want to wear. It also reminded me of Carner Barcelona’s Tardes—I don’t know if it’s available in the U.S., but I ordered some samples from First in Fragrance a while back and added this one in just to get to their minimum sample purchase. Its notes are geranium, Bulgarian rose, rosewood, almond, cedar, celery, plum, tonka, musk, and heliotrope, and it’s also a light, pretty, citrusy/almond sort of fragrance but perhaps a little less sweet and a tad more grown-up feeling than this.
I definitely have to be in the mood for something this sweet, and I’m not always, which is why I don’t think I’d pay that much for it. To repeat Brianplace (see comment above) it’s too bad it’s not sold in 15 ml, that would be just the right amount for me.
I got my sample from Luckyscent yesterday, and my first thought was–a French-Middle Eastern inspiration! The initial accords remind me of an Omani incense, and when the rose kicks in, the impression is even stronger. But then it takes a turn for a sweet musk, which is unexpected. All in all, so far I am enjoying it very much. Good to read your thoughts on it as well.
V, hope you’ll review it!
V – I was with you all the way (you know I love Omani incense and the French/MiddleEast accords)…but then you got to ….sweet musk? Sweet Baby Jesus. Sweet Musk?
Are you sure? ??
Sounds intriguing as a gourmand fan but the almond/heliotrope gives me pause, as does the “only cold weather” part. Living in San Diego, we do get some chilly weather, but I have more than enough cold weather scents for the amount we get!
True, but when it’s warm there, it’s not so humid as it is here…not arguing with you because you know what you’ll wear and I don’t, LOL…but I think I’d find something like this less overwhelming on a night in July there than here, if you know what I mean. Actually, what I mean is that I miss living there!
Makes sense to me because I’ve lived in both and settled in So Cal
This sounds wonderful. I’m a total almond/heliotrope whore and love a good gourmand as well. My first ALOF experience was Rose Rebelle and let’s just say if What We Do In Paris is Secret is even remotely as dreamy as it sounds, it will completely redeem my opinion on my first try with this company. RR was really not working at all for me and now I’m not as confident about trying 100% Love, either.
But I love Amour, Kiss Me Tender has been on my sample list since it launched and all these notes sound really good. Very much looking forward to trying this hopefully during our still rather chilly Michigan spring.
Kiss Me Tender was perfectly named…it is truly an adorable fragrance, very plush. This is a bit less girly, I think, although arguably still quite feminine.
If it’s anything like BLV Notte it’s amazing… that is probably my fave from the whole Bulgari line… I think it’s sadly underappreciated.
Either that or I’m not paying attention — seriously can’t think of ever reading anything about it.
maybe I should review it myself then.. hmmm…
Yes, loukoum, almond, vanilla, marshmallow, heliotrope and powder. That about says it. It is waaaaayyyy too sweet for me. I can barely stand it. I will have to try to wear it long enough to smell the wood edge you mentioned.
My tolerance for sweet is much higher than it used to be, but I can completely see how someone might find it too much…and this was one case where I did not like smelling it on my scarf the next day.
So I guess that What They Do in Paris in Secret is binge snacking.
Lol. If the snacks are as lovely as the perfumes, I really must visit Paris.
That’s what I would do…I’m a big macaron fan! Wish they’d replace the cupcake fad here (I think in the big cities they’re working on it, but here, we still got mostly cupcakes)
Can’t stand cupcakes. They’re everywhere here too.
A must try for me! Thank you for reviewing. I haven’t been excited about a new perfume in a while. I really am impressed with s-perfumes. And Ropion…
Hope you will like it
I almost ordered a sample of this but now I will definitely get one. If its sweet but with a dark edge that sounds fabulous to me. I wanted to try Poopoo Pidoo but thought it may be too much like Pink Sugar. I like sweet but not little girl cupcake sweet if that makes any sense.
This one definitely rivals Pink Sugar in terms of sweetness…it’s more sophisticated, but it’s darned sweet.
As I tend to make everything sweeter, I will skip this. However, the gorgeous photo makes me want to jump on the Eurostar to Paris! Ah , the macarons in Paris…and the perfume …swoon
I hear there are good macarons in New York again now!
Forget about perfume. Give me those macarons! Scrumptious.
They are lovely
Must try for me! Lovely review, Robin, thanks!
Let me know what you think…
This is a scrubber for me – it’s the dusty-woody-amber part I just can’t bear – perhaps I’m just hyperosmic to some ingredient. I DO love S-Perfume S-ex, though. That chocolate rose is pretty perfect.
Is S-ex chocolate rose too? I know 100% Love is chocolate rose. (not doubting you, just don’t remember)
Robin, you are right: 100% Love is the chocolate rose. S-ex is a weird light leather. I’m just mixing them up.
Thank you! I have such a bad memory, but should have checked myself
I think this one will not be for me, sadly. I love heliotrope–well, I love L’eau d’Hiver, anyway–but sugary scents don’t appeal to me.
And I’m gonna put my vote in for a cupcake over macaroons. Sunday, I baked cupcakes for “classified employees week” at our school (you know–secretaries week, before that became a bad word!). They are chocolate with a touch of coffee in the batter (and in the frosting) with cream filling. Dang tasty, if I do say so, myself!
LOL — I am not anti-cupcake, mind you — just wish macarons were the fad! But I’m sure your cupcakes were delicious.
Wholeheartedly agree. And the penchant to not let a cupcake just be a cupcake bugs the hell out of me. It’s already cake, why does it need to be filled with over-sweetened fruit compote, dipped in caramel, frosted and then topped with candy?
That said, if Mother’s Day happens this year, I am making miniature layer cakes, one per guest, using repurposed tuna cans. I’m fat enough, I don’t need to bring home half a cake after a richer than is good for me brunch!
And why exactly this didn’t show up under Bela’s cupcake hate comment, we shall probably never know. Maybe the cellphone gremlins secretly love overwrought cupcakes…
Mother’s Day might not happen??
My sister and her husband have been/are having some problems. To the point where she packed up her three boys (ranging from “teenaged” to “I thought he was older than that?”) and drove back down here from Detroit. Not having a job or anything, they’re staying with our mother. So yeah, brunch might not happen this year.
Gotcha. Hope it all works out.
Strange, I was wearing this perfume today and came here to see what others say about it and saw this article…
I usually don’t like sweet scents and I bought a decant only because I liked the name and I was very surprised when I actually loved it. At first it’s very strong a little synthetic smelling, but then it settles and becomes just…. so cozy and cheerful.
My co-workers said that I smelled “good” and “clean”. And I wore it in 70 degrees weather
Good to know it works in a little heat, thanks!
Sounds like something I would enjoy. Thanks for the review… I think.
Will be curious to hear if you like it…
Got a small decant and it reminds me a lot of Joop Le Bain which I wore a long time ago. I am also smelling similarities to Ambre Russe but it is proably less complex. Definitely a comfort scent and more of a colder weather pick for me.
Interesting — I don’t know Joop Le Bain.