Crazy Libellule and the Poppies are the purveyors of cute solid sticks playfully nicknamed crazy stick and le parfum caresse, because they're meant to touch your skin. Their newest offering is an homage to fabulous ladies of the Roaring 20s, a line of solids called Les Garçonnes (after the novel La Garçonne which ignited the "flapper" vogue).
Although I would not venture to call them "proper perfume", they do present a fun and cute way of carrying around a scented little something in your handbag without the risk of spilling or staining and are airplane-friendly, making them perfect for holidays. In fact I have the sneaking suspicion that that last bit was the genius idea Isabelle Masson-Mandonnaud, co-founder of Sephora along with Dominique Mandonnaud, came up with when restrictions of liquids on board became effective! She cites her inspiration as a day of sadness from which she wanted to escape, recover "a grain of innocence and a few grams of craziness" . Hence the crazy flying lepidopter which sneaked its way into the brand name. Whatever the thought-process behind the line was, the truth is it's whimsical and super affordable, two traits that are always fun to come across.
Composed by perfumer Olivia Jan, the new line is comprised of compositions with distant and not-so-distant allusions to 20s personalities and heroines from Gabrielle Chanel and Josephine Baker to Louise Brooks and Tamara Lempicka through imaginary, unknown women.
It wouldn't be inaccurate to claim that Hommage à Gabrielle, dedicated to Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, stands as the modern culmination of an idea which the Mademoiselle herself introduced: When asked by a young woman where to put on fragrance, she had responded wherever she wanted to be kissed. Crazylibellule has this as an idée fixe contained in their slogan "My caress-like perfume, everywhere I want to be kissed". If there wasn't a Chanel alluding composition so far it was a grave omission, now remedied in the tomboyish concept commemorating the androgynous fashions of Coco herself. Naturally an homage does not mean you're face to face with a Chanel-like creation, yet I can't but marvel at the ingenuity of the concept: There is the delicate white floral element of many of Mademoiselle's fragrances, a subtly bituminous note (Russian leather) to allude to Cuir de Russie, and a pleasing peppery incense backdrop which is a wink to the base of No.22. Someone was jotting down references very attentively! The whole is a warm floral which dries down like a woody.
Tamara Charleston is an interesting mix, inspired by the cubist-like treatment of several of Tamara de Lempicka's paintings. The juxtaposition of sweet (peach, jasmine, cut hay) and bitter notes (absinthe) grabbed me and it proved my favourite of those I tested. The peach is vibrant but well tempered through the other notes. The lisylang ingredient is Robertet firm's speciality which seems to bring a clean, airy nuance to the rest of the exotic blossoms, while imparting what I perceive as a lactonic tonality blending seamlessly with the milky peach and the soupçon of violet. The whole evokes the hedonic scent of cut grass in its wondrously both sweet and snapped-leaves green aroma.
Rose à Saïgon has a charming fiction behind it: "Her name was Rose and she dreamed of other worlds, of the effervescence of the roaring 20s. The moist air of Indochine, a crackly melody on the gramophone, and the spellbinding odor of dreams on her skin. The composition is an innocent fruity rose, more Jane March in L'Amant than Catherine Deneuve in Indochine, garlanded with classical Far Eastern leaves and grasses (patchouli, vetiver) and was the best lasting of the lot on me.
Notes for Hommage à Gabrielle: jasmine, peony, ozonic flower, cedar, incense, leather, vanilla and elemi.
Notes for Rose à Saïgon: mango, rose, jasmine, gaiac wood, ylang ylang, passion fruit, vetiver and patchouli.
Notes for Tamara Charleston: with peach, mandarin, fresh cut hay, absinthe, jasmine, lisylang (a Robertet molecule), gardenia and amber.
You can read a full report on the notes of the rest (Chère Louise, Pompon Gardenia, Jeanne Voyage, Joséphine Jonquille) on this article.
The new Crazy Libellule and the Poppies Les Garçonnes line of fragrances are available in 5 gr perfume solids based on petrolatum and paraffin in "lipstick" carbon tubes for $18 each. They are all alcohol-& parabens-free and they do not contain any colouring agents. They're not oily at all, but they stay very close to the skin, not projecting. Check out the brand on the official Crazy Libelllule and the Poppies site .Available at Beautyhabit and B-glowing in the US.
I have three "crazy sticks" to give away to our readers: Tells us which 20s heroine you would love to see inspiring a fragrance and why in the comments and I will choose three winners!
In the interests of full disclosure, I got the sticks as part of a promotion.
Painting "Where there's smoke there's fire" by Russell Patterson via Wikimedia commons. Painting by Tamara Lempicka via Femmefemme femme