Like watching the prima ballerina dancing the night away en pointe during La Sylphide there often comes the realisation that behind such delicate artistry and graceful elegance there must be an insurmountable amount of toil and wistful spending of self. Noticing the details of the Marius Petipa choreography I never cease to wonder how the strength of those calves supporting the dancer's weight is so effortlessly flowing into an optical legato of sorts that defies the laws of gravity and strain to give the sense of fluidity, like that of a forest spirit.
Just like a forest sprite, a lily-of-the-valley-centered fragrance is tied to the deceptivy intense work behind nature's spring rites, to reverie and daydreaming among the green foliage, shaded by a passing cloud that tentatively sprinkles the countryside with dew. Début by San Fransico-based niche line Parfums DelRae is one such fragrance: ethereal, sylph-like, effortlessly impressive and with the dewiness of a fine spring morning veering into summer.
Created in 2004, Début is characterised by DelRae as "Youthful yet sophisticated. Charming and utterly beguiling".
Nose Michel Roudnitska had hard work ahead, much like the ballerina aforementioned, if only because his formidable father, the great Edmond Roudnitska, has composed what is assuredly the archetype lily of the valley fragrance, Diorissimo, among his other magnificent Dior creations. He had cultivated lily of the valley attentively and tenderly in his own garden to study the elusive aroma so as to replicate it as closely as possible through synthesis and he managed to infuse it with the merest hint of civet that gives an delicious surprise in the drydown phase of the extrait de parfum.
Michel however avoided the trap of imitating and thus trying to "gild refined gold, to paint the lily". Instead as if seen through the lens of a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, lily of the valley takes on a modern sensibility in Début that allows it to be wearable even if one is not wearing a sylph-like gown of white.
Alternating between a soapy element, the cooling greeness, the innocence of linden blossoms and the radiance of white flowers (without the headiness usually associated with them), Début feels as if a scintillating scotoma has been lifted and you can see clearly for the first time. Sweet warmth of what smells like beeswax absolute to me, intermingled with the suaveness of sandalwood, lingers seductively to lull me into a daydream of lying in the fields before donning the urban attire again for a round in the busy metropolis.
Notes: bergamot, lime, green leaves, lily of the valley, ylang ylang, vetiver, sandalwood and musk.
Début used to come in Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum concentration. Eau de Toilette was abandoned for Eau de Parfum in 2006, but sometimes bottles of the former can still be found. They're both excellent and equally tenacious.
Parfums DelRae are available at Aedes, Barneys and First in Fragrance. You can also call: Tel 415 441 1627 • 866 906 9901. Or Fax 415-673-9828. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Painting The Black Shash by Giovanni Boldini courtesy of art.com. Pic of bottle from parfumsdelrae.
Clip La fille aux cheveux de lin (=the girl with flaxen hair) by Claude Debussy performed by Joshua Bell, originally uploaded by airplanelova 93 on Youtube