There’s new perfume house in town: Pont des Arts. Some of you might be groaning, and I don’t blame you. It’s hard enough to keep up with promising releases from houses we already know and love. Stop it with the new brands already!
That said, Pont des Arts bears watching. Its first offering is a manageable three fragrances including an oriental, a floral chypre and a fresh woody citrus. Even more intriguing, perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour developed the oriental, À Ce Soir, and the floral chypre, À Chaque Instant.
À Ce Soir’s notes include pink pepper, leather, cinnamon, bamboo, cedar, cassis, green mandarin, rum, pollen, ylang ylang, orchid, narcissus absolute, mastic absolute, vanilla absolute, vetiver, benzoin and amber. The result is a dense fragrance that sparkles at its edges. Imagine a topaz — solid, faceted, and a light sop. If you hold it up to the window, you see gold at its edges, deepening where the stone thickens in the middle.
And what does this gem stone smell like? Vanilla, golden rum, narcissus, saffron and truffles. It smells like L’Artisan Parfumeur Vanille Absolument and Cartier Baiser Volé Extrait had a baby, and Amouage Myths Woman sent an engraved sterling rattle. I’m making À Ce Soir sound like a mess. It’s not. It holds together beautifully and is just offbeat enough from a typical oriental to keep me lifting my arm to my nose to smell it some more.
À Ce Soir wears like a garment — say, an amber velvet cloak. It’s not a stealth perfume or a skin scent. It is proud to be admired, and all day long, at that. Wear a short spritz of À Ce Soir when you crave comfort on a rainy night, and a full spritz on each arm, plus one down your cleavage, when you plan to turn heads until dawn.
À Chaque Instant’s notes include clementine, pink pepper, angelica root, galbanum, saffron, beeswax, tuberose absolute, jasmine absolute, patchouli, myrrh, oakmoss, musk, benzoin, vanilla. This one, the floral chypre, was the fragrance I was supposed to fall in love with. Don’t the notes sound terrific and unexpected? I couldn’t wait to tear open the sample vial. I adored another of Duchaufour’s chypres, Ann Gérard Perles de Mousse, and sorely regret not buying a bottle before it was discontinued.
Unfortunately, À Chaque Instant fell flat on me. Despite slicking my arms on three occasions, all I smelled was a lot of citrusy pink pepper before the fragrance shrank to a bare wisp of beautiful but barely legible warm floral notes with a burn of myrrh. I had to press my nose to skin to make it out. Then — poof! À Chaque Instant vanished. Is it my skin? Or am I anosmic to a chunk of it? Please comment if you’ve had a different experience.
Pont des Arts’ fragrances are available in the United States so far only at Indigo Perfumery, and they don’t come cheaply. The good news is that they sell a 30 ml size, and the Pont des Arts website offers a free sample program. À Ce Soir Eau de Parfum and À Chaque Instant Eau de Parfum are $285 for 100 ml; $170 for 50 ml; and $120 for 30 ml.