"Scents of dusty trails, of lightly sweetened ochre, of sun-weathered wood. Of silence swept by mild breezes, of skies open like an endless azure cut oozing signs of the coming storm". Thus is how Isabelle Doyen, perfumer for Les Nez (parfums d'auteurs), a niche brand from Klingnau, Switzerland founded by perfume lover René Schifferle, presents Let me Play the Lion (introduced in 2006).
The playful name is inspired by a phrase appearing in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream: "Let me play the lion too: I will roar, that I will do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar, that I will make the duke say 'Let him roar again, let him roar again" (Act I, Scene 2). And playful indeed is the treatment that Isabelle Doyen, famous for her delicate, graceful watercolours for Annick Goutal, is saving for the composition in question.
Let me play the Lion starts on a spicy, peppery orange warmth, a subdued pomander note pettering out to scents of pure frankincense smoke curling lazily upwards towards a serene sky and of seared woods. If you are familiar with Poivre Piquant or Poivre Samarkande, the spiciness is on the same wavelength. Cedar is prominent among the woods, a touch which should appeal to lovers of Gucci Pour Homme, while the incense is its own recommendation for those belonging to the incense-loving sect. However by no means is this a gothic, dark incense; the note reminds me more of the French curiosity Papier d'Armenie ~little aroma-infused booklets redolent of benzoin which are burnt to make their scent waft~ than the mould-infested crypt. It's sunny and fuzzy. There is also a mossy, dry, almost dusty feeling upon finish, while the overall tone is warm and with an ever so delicate touch of sweetness that makes the composition fit for both sexes. Let me Play the Lion lasted exceedingly well on both my skin and on the blotter with the volume turned down: this lion's roar is vibrating on the lower frequencies!
Let me Play the Lion is available as a 50ml/1.7oz Eau de Toilette, directly from the Les Nez website, through Aus Liebe zum Duft or Luckyscent.
Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Les Nez fragrances, Incense series.
Art photography Nick Brandt Lion before Storm, via young gallery photo.
Cat photograph © by Helg