Séville à l’Aube is the latest from French niche line L’Artisan Parfumeur. Over the years, I've reviewed a fair number of their fragrances — yes, I'm a fan. This, however, is not a proper review. I've never met blogger Denyse Beaulieu of Grain de Musc, who worked with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour to develop Séville à l’Aube (and who wrote a book about the process: The Perfume Lover). But I've corresponded with her, and I utterly fail the test for any sort of objective review: would I be completely honest if I thought it was dreck? No, I really wouldn't. I'm quite sure I would just keep my mouth shut and review something else. As it happens, I love Séville à l’Aube, enough so that I want to say something about it. So, consider this a review with a major disclaimer.
The scent’s inspiration and development was detailed in Denyse’s book, and has been repeated elsewhere, so I'll just quote her own quick summary from Grain de Musc:
[Séville à l’aube] was inspired by one of the most beautiful nights in my life, in Seville during the Holy Week under an orange tree in full blossom, wrapped in incense smoke and the arms of a Spanish boy…
Oh là là, right? Translated into fragrance, many years later, what we have is an oriental fragrance focused on orange blossom (other notes: lavender, pink pepper, petitgrain, jasmine, magnolia, beeswax, benzoin and incense). Given the sexy backstory, I didn't expect a breezy summer sort of orange blossom, but I was only partly right, and Séville à l’aube does start off with a clear and bright orange blossom, as fresh and summery as can be, and partly tinged with green.1 It turns spicier and richer in short order, but it's no more than slightly indolic, and while you will notice the other floral notes, the orange blossom stays front and center straight through to the end. In the dry down the orange blossom turns honeyed and lightly vanillic, and mingles with pale wisps of incense. I do not smell the lavender unless I go looking for it, but it's there, and it keeps Séville from tipping too far into sweet territory.
If you've read the book (or even followed the story online), you might be expecting a sex-bomb sort of fragrance, but that's not at all what Séville à l’Aube is. It never gets deep or dark or heavy, and it isn't at all skanky or animalic. Despite the name, I think of it as a twilight fragrance, not sexy, exactly, but a bit mysterious, and maybe a bit nostalgic, although that's probably just my own projection.
Séville à l’Aube strikes me as somewhere between unisex and feminine. The lasting power is very good. It's gorgeous, and it's on my buy list.
The quick poll: name a favorite orange blossom fragrance.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Séville à l’Aube is a limited edition, and is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum. It is already on counter overseas, but is not expected to reach the US until September. For buying information, see the listing for L’Artisan Parfumeur under Perfume Houses.
1. One of the best breezy summer orange blossoms ever, in my humble opinion, was L'Artisan's original 2005 harvest scent, Fleur d'Oranger, now sadly gone. I never could bring myself to pay the steep price for it, but I'm jealous of everyone who has a bottle.