Sunday, October 25, 2009

Le Cherche Midi: fragrance reviews & Gift Set giveaway

Le Cherche Midi, a niche brand that provides Eaux de Toilette alongside matching candles and fragrant "cubes" for home fragrancing, translates as "found moments" and its origins echo the welcome respite that the tucked-away Rue du Cherche Midi in the Left Bank of Paris offered to the wanderers of its cosmopolitan alleyways. The desire to capture that serene ambience and translate it into something tangible motivated Nathan Motylinski and Alex Mehfar, who bought the original Parisian brand and re-branded Le Cherche Midi in 2006 into what it is today. (an interesting video on Candles Off Main TV is here).
Le Cherche Midi candles box
I humbly admit that I was oblivious to their very existence till very recently. They were a finalist for the 2008 Fifi Awards for Interior Scent and won the 2008 Best Off Main Awards for Most Luxurious Candle Line and Best Gift over $50, so I should have known, shouldn't I? Therefore I got a real kick out of testing their entire portfolio and photographing their glorious candles set. (Depicted is the Les Voyages gift set which retails for $150 and includes six 25+ hour candles, one in each fragrance in the current collection, which I am giving away to one lucky reader, along with a full set of samples for another reader, so comment if you'd like to be included in the drawing!) It's needless to say how rustically and yet elegantly luxurious the reusable wooden box feels and how pleasing to the eye, you can feast yours on it: a picture speaks a thousand words! The Eaux de Toilette are austere, spartan glass bottles similarly encased in wooden packaging, very vintage-wine-style. Personally I'm a sucker for such presentations (and an oenophiliac), so half the game is won simply because of the lovely visuals. But the great thing is the fragrances ~with their numerical "names" and colour coding~ are very nice too! Complex, deep, evocative and multi-dimensional, they can be used as the beautiful soundtrack of your home existence or can be portable forms of intelligence for when you want to take them on a journey on your skin.

From the selection I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected beauty of No.9, a rich and addictive floriental with a noticeable (and delectable) soft note of lavender on top and a vanillic base, which manages to smell both soothing like a baby cologne and enticing like something meant for adults. It makes for a sexy fragrance to scent your bedsheets before some romping à deux, which I guess is not really antithetical to the cocooning idea; on the contrary! Also wonderful is No.20, a peppery and mossy-leathery alloy which fits with my autumnal mood that yearns for decaying leaves fallen on muddy puddles and the pungent smell of the earth after a roaring thunderstorm. It would make both a supreme masculine/unisex scent (with just a touch of sweetness and lemon zest to balance things out) and a home surrounding aroma, woodies being the par excellence olfactory touch to make even then most mundane little appartment smell like a gentlemen's club study-and-cigars-room out of a James Ivory film. They both lasted exceptionally well too, whiffs caught on skin by morning after an evening application.
Other scents that caught my eye were No.21, a delicious tart, dark berry and evergreens scent underscored by rich spices which brings the atmosphere of a winter fête a little closer in season; and No.57, aimed at capturing "a New York state-of-mind" with its soft powdery aroma with limpid tonalities.
Le Cherche Midi candle No.20
No.1 is a pleasant driftwood and lavender scent that started it all (it was the first product of Le Cherche Midi), which will appeal to those who appreciate Preparation Parfumée by Andrée Putman (minus the peppery start of the latter), while No.14 is the only "fruity" in the line, evoking tangerines just out of the bowl and hologramming in front of you in their happy costumes. A little too simple for my taste, but not sugary which is a plus.
The only one I didn't like at all was No.5, its "clean" ambience said to mimic garden parties and fresh laundry relying heavily on the (personally) dreaded hydromyrcenol note and the hydroponic-freesia soapy accent of several detergent-like florals au courant. It has something of the tonality of Sécretions Magnifiques, ( a scent which reminds me of an operating theater), which unfortunately unfolds right after the interesting top redolent of bitter absinth. It was interesting ~and a little scary~ to note that it had tremendous tenacity too. Ah well, we can't like everything...
CT01 was a limited edition which I believe is out of stock now; its hazy, fluffy sage note is an intriguing touch amidst the vetiver-cool backdrop of an early spring morning.

Le Cherche Midi offers each scent in various forms for the home and the skin: same scent, different technology. They explain:

"Application of fragrance plays a vital role in formulating and
fine-tuning the technical aspects of a fragrance formula. Every product requires
a unique fragrance oil formulation, depending on what the fragrance oil will be
mixed with. For example, we have three different formulas and oils for Le
Cherche Midi No 09 - one for each of our products: eau de toilette,
candle and Fragrance Cube. Even though all the oils smell the same, they are
constructed with different materials and solvents to be able to mix and perform
with other chemicals and compounds. Here, the perfumer’s knowledge of chemistry
helps take the creative concept and make practical solutions".
The fragrant cube, for instance, is a new product in which the wooden top soaks up the fragrance to diffuse the scent without spilling or the need for reeds.
The bulk of the fragrances by Le Cherche Midi are created by Cécile Hua, a Marseille-born French perfumer and chemist living in New York, who dreamed of her career in perfumery since she was a child. The first recipient of the Fashion Group International ‘Rising Star Award’ for the Fragrance Design category in 2003, she went on to create several fine fragrances for big houses. The exceptions in the line are 20, composed by Bertrand Dor, and CT01 by Octavia Jordan.
Le Cherche Midi candles and samples
Notes for Le Cherche Midi 01: Sicilian Bergamot, Sage, Lavender, Freesia, Mint, Oakmoss, Driftwood, White Amber, Sand Musk
Notes for Le Cherche Midi 05: Absinthe Flower, Cyclamen, Hyacinth, Fresh Cut Grass, Clean Laundry, White Lilac, Pine, Galbanum, Tonka Beans, White Musk
Notes for Le Cherche Midi 09: Lemon Meringue, Lily of the Valley, Night Blooming Jasmine, Whipped Lavender Crème, Patchouli, Soft Amber, Sandalwood, Vanilla Absolute
Notes for Le Cherche Midi 14: Mandarin Leaves, Blackcurrant, Water Lilies, Rhubarb, Peonies, Rose Buds, Orange Absolute, White Cedar, Musk
Notes for Le Cherche Midi 20: Armoise, Bergamot, Lemon Zest, Black Pepper, Rose Water, Soft Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Dark Amber
Notes for Le Cherche Midi 21: Grapefruit, Blackberry, Golden Saffron, Cardamom, Cinnamon FLower, Carnation, Sandalwood, Leather, Skin Musk
Notes for Le Cherche Midi 57 (a Bergdorf Goodman exclusive): White Tea, Rhubarb Leaves, Pink Laurel, Cherry Blossom, Casablanca Lily, Cyclamen, Vetíver, Amber Crème, White Moss Vanilla.
Notes for Le Cherche Midi CT01 (a collaboration with designer Costello Tagliapietra): Sicilian Bergamot, Sage, Lavender, Freesia, Mint, Oakmoss, Driftwood, White Amber, Sand Musk.

Prices range from 39$ to 50$. You can watch videos with Cécile Hua on the inspiration for the scents on the very well-designed site of Le Cherche Midi where there is also an online boutique and the offer of free swatches.

Enter code SHRINE30 when checking out to gain a 30% discount!!! (non affiliated)

Please enter a comment if you want to be in the drawing for:
1)The luxurious set of candles in its wooden crate pictured (this is heavy stuff, so I'm spoiling you rotten on shipping costs!)
2)A complete set of samples by Le Cherche Midi
Submissions valid till Sunday 1st November midnight and I will draw two random winners shortly thereafter.

All photographs by Elena Vosnaki.
In the interest of disclosure, I was sent the samples as well as the candles for the giveaway directly from the manufacturer.


  1. These sound wonderful! And perfect for fall. I would love to be in the drawing.

  2. Amy K00:14

    I love to try anything new, and these all sound interesting! Please enter me in the drawing.

  3. MaureenC00:37

    I have to admit I haven't heard of them either. I would love to give them a try

  4. Just from reading the notes, I think I would like 9, 14 and 21. Though I hope the patchouli in 9 isn't overpowering!

    Can I be included in the draw? I realise Australia would result in exorbitant shipping costs!

    Thanks for a wonderful review E! :)

  5. I'd love to be included in the drawing. I've never heard of this brand and it sounds so fascinating.

    Thank you for sharing it with us!

  6. I'm definitely a scented-candle novice, but I just smelled some Cire Trudons today and was wowed by how complex they can be (one that's meant to evoke polished wooden floors at Versailles was particularly amazing). I would love to be included in the draw -- thank you!

  7. Please include me in the drawing. Thank you!

  8. what beautiful presentation! i would love to be included in the drawing. thanks.

  9. Chris G03:16

    How cool! Please enter me in the draw. Thanks!
    Chris G

  10. These sound amazing. Please enter me in the drawing.

  11. Anonymous08:09

    nice! please enter me in drawing. thx. -hvs

  12. I´m a sucker for scented candles this time of year. This candles sound really great. As for perfumes, I love them all year round of course...

    Pretty please, enter me in the draw. Thank you.

  13. Oh, they look so beautiful! Please enter me in the drwa! Thank you, Klara

  14. Zazie09:10

    Oh, I'm in for both the candle and the perfume draw!! But if I have to choose, I prefer the candles: the packaging is stunning!!

  15. I've never heard of them before - I'm really happy you brought them to our attention.
    And please, I'd like to be entered for the candles. :)

  16. Anonymous10:41

    Dear E,

    Oh yes, pretty please. These both sound divine and the candles are perfect for the cocooning mood I am in at this time of year.


  17. I want, I greedy!
    I wanted to spoil myself (and you, too, admittedly) rotten by the Byredo candles but they don't have a shop and I'm not ordering it by mail because I'm leaving Sweden in a while and I'm not spoiling anyone that rotten with international shipping. So some nice candles would be nice, tee hee. If not, I'll get those for two euros in Sephora:D

  18. Fiordiligi11:28

    Well, dearest E, many's the time I've wandered down Rue du Cherche-Midi, but I've never heard of this line either!

    Apart from the dreaded "clean laundry" (and what is this "lemon meringue" note? Eeek) they sound rather lovely, so given my expenditure on scented candles at this time of year I'd love to be included in the draw, please.

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Ok, I'm entering but let's hope for your sake that I don't win, I'd hate to think of the postage cost to Australia!
    It all sounds so wonderful.


  21. Bradamante12:41

    This is a me-too mail! Please enter me in the drawing. And what a lovely site you make btw - but you knew that, didn't you?

  22. This is something I would love to have. I've never smelled any of their fragrances.

  23. What a timely post! Our weather is turning cold now, and with that the dreaded "can't open the windows for fresh air" period begins. Nothing smells bad, just .. I dunno.. stale. I've been thinking about being more systematic this winter and using some kind of interior scent but haven't done the required sniffing to find something both in my price range and tolerable for extended periods. You've given me some inspiration!~

    Please enter me in the draw -- either my home or my body could use something new!

  24. Roberto C13:57

    I'd love to be entered for the set of candles please, the package looks amazing, thanks.

  25. london14:18

    I would love to be entered for both draws. I love candles and perfumes and if you can get this range in England, I don't know where as I have never seen it. Many thanks.

  26. PhinClio15:00

    Those look and sound wonderful. Please enter me in the draws!

  27. Number 1 sounds like a perfect Xmas scent. I am just beginning to enjoy complex candles- trying out Ormonde Jayne set and Orris Noir is fantastic. I would love to be entered, since I always have a candle burning in my house and I tend to go through them fast!
    Thanks :)

  28. Anonymous16:03

    Hi, I would be very happy to be entered in the drawing for one of the prizes. Thanks - Alica - alica@cleis.net

  29. Hey Helg! Rue du Cherche Midi, as serene as it is, will always generate a sense of horror after my recent trip to Paris! You are right about the alleyways--it winds and unwinds lackadaisically--but I was looking for Poilâne (yes, the artisan bakery) and the Google direction was just plain w-r-o-n-g. As a result I was stuck here for a long while, wondering here on earth is the bakery!


    Turns out that Poilâne is about several blocks away (No. 8 if I recall correctly?)--typically tiny as an authentic bakery but fantastic pastries (the "punition" shortbread cookies are to die for) and bread. Even the cushions sold there look like bread loaves given the trompe l'oeil treatment. But man, the street plan at the left bank can get pretty confusing at times with streets merging and ungathering several blocks at a time...

    Oh yeah, enter me for the draw, please :-)

  30. PS. I don't know how but the Google Street View doesn't work after the copy & paste link commend. So lesson learned: it works well as a casual intrusion of privacy but don't expect it to provide accurate travel tips! ;-p It can be pretty useless sometimes (like right now).

  31. please enter me I would be interested in trying these out!

  32. Dear helg, thank you for offering us the opportunity to try something different, obscure and exciting. Please enter me in the draw for both candles and samples....I'm hoping I'll be lucky enough for one!


  33. I would like to enter the drawing, thanks

  34. this sounds awesome! I would love to be entered into the drawing. I'm curious to see if they will make this into a perfume fragrances.

  35. I have tried these and I liked both No 9 and 20. In fact, I just finished spraying a sample of No 9 on my cloth shower curtain last night before I went to bed. Lovely soft enveloping scent. No need to enter me in the draw.

  36. Anonymous21:16

    Sounds lovely.

    Please enter me in the draw.


  37. smartylicious22:45

    Hi, E ! I'd love to be entered in the drawing for these, they sound great, thank you ! :)

  38. Some of these sound genuinely bizarre: lemon meringue and "whipped lavender creme" in the same scent? But #20 sounds sublime (amber!). I wonder how it is that I've never even heard of these before....

  39. maitreyi197803:00

    I've been needing some scented candles. Please enter me in the draw. Thanks.

  40. Sounds really good. Please enter me in the draw. thanks.

    And Im a new follower and love your blog.


  41. Anonymous06:14

    Please enter me as well. That candle box looks amazing: what a beautiful design! And we always fall for such niceties! I love those colored tops.

    I think I may pass on the bootichouli scents though!
    Laura M

  42. Very interesting read, thanks for the review! From the notes, I think I may like 14 and 21. Please enter me in the draw.

  43. After avoiding candles for many years, I have recently become a (rather particular) user. Would welcome an opportunity to win--and perhaps share--these. :)

  44. Please include me in the drawing. I am a perfume fanatic but for years have avoided fragrant candles, preferring to think of candles as lighting. :-D Now I believe I am ready to try...and these products seem so very well thought out. Oh please pick me?

  45. That sounds great, I'm always on the lookout for good home fragrance options :)
    Please add me to the draw.

  46. I'm always looking for new scents! Please include me in the drawing, thanks!

  47. Oh, I'd love to be entered into the drawing for the sample set. Sadly, my husband's allergies won't abide by scented candles. Number 20 sounds amazing.

  48. Elizabeth04:28

    I've never heard of this line, I'm ashamed to say. I would love to try something, so please enter me in the drawing. Ευχαριστώ πολύ κούκλα.

  49. Please enter me in the drawing :)

    I really like how they have home scents along with EdT's. If it's good enough to wear on your person, then shouldn't it be good enough for your home? :D

  50. Kami08:48

    Oh, I would love to be enetered in the draw, for both the samples and candles....
    thank you for sharing!

  51. GalileosDaughter12:15

    I believe I've smelled the green one before and it is absolutely lovely! The line seems very well done.

    Include me in the drawing, please!

  52. Lauren18:19

    Le Cherche Midi is new to me - thank you for the coupon code.

    I would love to be in the drawing.

  53. Samantha D.21:36

    Thanks for the lovely reviews; I am among those who didn't know the line, so double thanks are in order. I love the quality of the blog and have been lurking for a long time, it was about time I delurked.
    Please include me in your drawing!

  54. Anonymous23:21

    Smashing!! Please allow me to partake of your generous offer and be included in both draws.

  55. If you're willing to ship to Singapore, I'd love to be included in the drawing. Thank you.

  56. Margot22:01

    I would love to try these - I am on a candle kick now that cool weather is here, and the scents sound intriguing.


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