Monday, November 15, 2010

Le Labo AnOther 13 & Baie Rose 26: fragrance reviews & draw

Never were two fragrances by the same niche line been so contrarily contrasted: Where I expected the pedestrian I got a brilliant surprise and where all signs were siren-calling (the rare, the uber-exclusive!) I was crest-fallen. I'm referring of course to Baie Rose 26 and AnOther 13 by Le Labo, this autumn's newest releases by the hip niche line who provoke, as much as put things up for an interesting discussion on the boundaries of art and marketing.

Baie Rose 26 comes as a welcome surprise in a market inundated with the plethora of pink peppercorns (i.e.baies rose) peeking from ultra-fruity compositions with the requisite patchouli base that makes for modern "young" juice (what's accusingly called a "fruitchouli" ). The initially piquant top note of pink pepper sets the scene for a very diffusive fragrance, which radiates from both blotter and skin, slowly revealing a generous rose heart; like roses half-hidden in an aluminum chest under bullet-proof glass in an Ian Fleming novel.
Perfumer FrankVoelkl, who composed both Musc 25 and Iris 39 previously for Le Labo, tackled pink peppercorns (which naturally have rosy facets) and made them woody-musky with a prolonged drydown full of Ambrox reminiscent of the finish of Mille et Une Roses by Lancôme and Stella by Stella McCartney. There is even a deliciously weird, but oddly very becoming, "vomit note" that reminds me of Karo Karounde, an exotic essence which is used in Pleasures by Lauder. If that makes you queasy, fear not: it's only an impression and a little bit of jarrigness makes for an artistic outcome.
Although Rose 31 is already a best-selling fragrance in the Le Labo portfolio (a spicy cumin-rich rose note which makes for a rose "sweating" from the inside), the perfume enthusiast could find merit to include Baie Rose 26 in their collection all the same. I admit I'm sorely temped!

Baie Rose 26 notes:
Ambrox, Clove, Pepper, Rose, Baie Rose, Musk, Ambrette, Cedar, Aldehyde

Baie Rose 26 by Le Labo is available only in Chicago (it's a "city-exclusive", following Le Labo's annoying but business-savvy ~apparently~ technique of saving some frags for specific cities around the world).

AnOther 13 is the definition of a limited edition: only 500 units are produced globally, in partnership with so-hip-it-hurts AnOther mag in London. This project was born thanks to Sarah of Colette boutique in Paris who initiated the creative collaboration between the Le Labo founders and Jefferson Hack, editor in chief of AnOther Magazine. Jefferson Hack is a renowned British journalist and magazine editor who co-founded Dazed & Confused in the early 90’s and who launched AnOther Magazine in 2001. Perfumer Nathalie Lorson (praised on our pages for her Poivre 23) was called to blend a "dirty musk which your nose will want to go back to the skin that wears it more than you want to". Errr, no, actually; if you put this on skin, you run the risk of having your arm fall off!

Let me explain myself after this provocative statment: AnOther 13 is a monochromatic take on Ambrox and musks (three major musky aromachemicals, Muscenone delta, Ambrettolide and Helvetolide; more on different synthetic musks here) which murmurs disparaging bon mots with vicious intent and which unfortunately has the half-life of plutonium, i.e. you will be scrubbing and scrubbing if you happen not to appreciate that sort of thing.
Ambrox has certainly been toned & honed through several popular fragrances in the last decade (see our article on Ambrox here), but 2010 has seen it being writ large on the marquise, as the prominent star, which is a new twist. Contrary to Juliette has a Gun Not a Perfume, though, AnOther 13 is not solely based on Ambrox but is rather a composite of strong mostly woody notes which project with the force of steel. Helvetolide, a synthetic musk with fruity aspects (apple and pear-like) contributes a note which can be identified as "wet dog", Delta muscenone is reminiscent of real ambrette seed (and could stand for that) while Ambrettolide is strongly musky with a warmer feel. Yet the Le Labo fragrance isn't a "musk" in the traditional sense, nor is it nauseating in the aquatic and eerie mould of Sécretions Magnifiques: The piercing woody-ambery metallic note has something of the tormented Erica Kohut as she stabs herself aimlessly (and certainly non lethally) in lonely despair. A disturbing fragrance, to be sure!

Le Labo AnOther 13 notes:
Ambrox, Salycilate, Muscenone delta, Helvetolide, Ambretteolide, Cetalox

AnOther 13 is available in numbered bottles at Le Labo boutiques and at collaborating partners around the world: Liberty in London, Isetan in Tokyo, Barneys in the US, and Colette in Paris. It comes in one size (100 ml/3.4oz) and is sold at regular Le Labo 100 ml prices (i.e.200$) .

For our readers, a draw!Draw is now closed, thanks for the participation! Create the next frag concept for Le Labo in the comments & enter to win a sample of both exclusive fragrances!

Disclosure: For these reviews, I both paid out of my own pocket for decants for reviewing purposes through splits and was sent (a little later) samples in the mail by the company itself. Funny timing, but a great opportunity to be generous with our readers.
Asia Argento in a provocative photo shoot uploaded by girlsgirlsgirls on Photobucket. Another 13 photo found on Basenotes.


  1. Since I have not seen a mimose based perfume in the line, I would like something floral and powdery which contained mimose and linden blossom (very difficult note, I know). I would love a green nuance too.

    I'm not sure if I would love Baie Rose 26, but AnOther 13 seems my cup of tea.

    I would love to be entered in the drawing. Thank you!

  2. Malena18:19

    Dear E. :-)

    Baie Rose 26 sounds interesting (I adore & already own their Rose 31 already), but I'm not sure about AnOther 13 as I'm no fan of ambrox. But since you wrote that it's not solely based on that note, it might be better than I assume it to be ;-)

    Now on to today's assignment:
    I've been thinking back & forth & came up with the following concept:
    They should make a chypre - with a healthy dose of oakmoss, please! Preferably a leather-y chypre :-)
    A chypre is missing in their fragrance range, so I think the time has come to finally make one.
    Oh, one last wish: They shouldn't make it a city-exclusive!

    Please enter me in the draw, thank you very much :-)

    Have a lovely week,


  3. Anonymous20:55

    LL should start creating things with proper names instead of those misleading "ingredients & numbers" labels: That's my proposed concept for their next venture, right there.

    Having said that, great review, as usual, and please enter me in the draw.


  4. I'd like to propose the next scent concept to be nicotiana sylvestris, with perhaps some juice from unripe coriander seeds.

  5. sharilstuff22:38

    I think Le Labo should do the unthinkable and make a quirky, unisex and somehow likable marine fragrance.

    Please enter me in the drawing for the Baie Rose sample. Sooo excited to try that one and TPC doesn't even have it yet!

  6. Isa,

    sounds like a plan to me: mimosa and linden sounds like an innocent dream of a child. Or at least that would be MY brief. ;-)
    You might be very surprised by Another13 and I'm saying this as a lover of musks!
    You're in!

  7. malena, hello darling! So nice to see you!

    Yup, not only "fed" on Ambrox, but still not a full on composition, it's a bit farcical as it srt of breaks down on the blotter into "pieces" as time passes.
    The Baie is more traditionally a spiced up rose with modern woody base. Still more likeable than many out there.

    I'll vouch for a leathery chypre by a brand as out there in concept as Le Labo: I would be curious how they would market it and how they would name it. After all, leather frags are returning with a vengeance.

    Good luck!

  8. gregory,

    ha! Wait till they catch you saying so! LOL

    Thanks and best of luck!

  9. QC,

    ohh, that sounds pretty!! Me want!
    (excellent suggestion)

  10. Sharil,

    hi there, how are you? Thanks for stopping by!

    Yeah, talk about an elusive Holy Grail for many. Why is it so hard to do a good "marine"? It's quite a feat to do an at least close enough approximation to the ambience, let alone a genuinely artful, original composition on that theme.

    You're on! Lucky to have our trusty sources catering for the good of the community. :-)

  11. I'm with Gregory! Though I do love Iris 39. But their marketing silliness irritates me no end.

    No need to enter me in the draw - I have tried Baie Rose 26 - it's nice but not NICE, alas.

    Gah, this sounds like such a whiiiiine and I certainly don't mean to rain on your lovely post and generous draw. Sorry. But they really are tiresome with the exclusive nonsense. I had to jump through hoops for Ald44 and then, after all that, my bottle is slightly 'off'. grrr..


  12. I would love to see Le Labo create a fragrance based on frankincense, playing up both the floral and cola-like aspects of it.

    Baie Rose sounds lovely, and I'd like to try AnOther just for the experience....


  13. I agree with Isa, although more linden than mimosa =P or perhaps a twist on osmanthus that's a city exclusive in Taipei, Taiwan~ ha one can dream right?


  14. I'd love to be entered in the draw! I have lots of curiosity, especially about Baie Rose 26.
    I love womo531's osmanthus idea :)

    Anyhow, my fragrance concept for Le Labo is Saffron! As far as I can think of, the only spice-themed fragrance they've launched was Poivre 23 for London, so it's hardly something they've done before. I would love to witness a new take on saffron, something we haven't smelled before. Though I adore the saffron rose combo that has featured (often to great success) in a number of lines, a new take on my favorite spice would really be something to get excited about.
    As I am *not* a perfumer, I think it's hard for me to know what sorts of fragrance combinations might actually smell good ... but to me saffron has several aspects - creamy, savory, spicy herbal, and spicy floral. Within my (of course quite limited) experience, spicy floral is the one that's been done ... oh, and the creamy side, sometimes combined with spicy-floral. So I'd love to smell a really savory herbal/green mineral unisex sort of take on this precious ingredient. I'm tempted to suggest the inclusion of vetiver, and maybe of hay notes as well ...

  15. I would like to sniff their take on frankincense, too. Meanwhile, I'd like to check these out. Please enter me in the drawing.

  16. I would love to have Le Labo create a fragrance based around an Eucaplyptus note: it could have a camphoreous blast to start it off, and then move on into more aromatic notes, finishing in warm woods, sweltering under the Australian sun.

  17. I'm with Marlena, I want a chypre, a brilliant green chypre with leather and tobacco - something that screams early 20th century daring and chic. I'm tired of looking for vintage.

  18. Great idea :)
    I am curious about basil. Whenver I make something, it is always too strong and weird:) I think some artist could incorporate it pretty good :)

  19. Musette,

    no need to feel bad, I know and I am as annoyed as you are (in fact the Le Labo people were on a roll on this as they sent the info on the newest ones, knowing how irked I am by the "unattainability of it all"; which is cool of them, I guess)

    Sorry about the bottle being off...is there any credence I wonder into what is being advertised as "expiring by XX/XX/YY"?? ;-)

  20. Matt,

    from your lips to their ear! I love frankincense myself, so I would be interested in that. The ecclesiastical connotations that exist are also kinda interesting, because I doubt they'd go for the known effect we are familiar with in niche perfumery (it's been done already; it's not urban-hip but retro-intello), so they just might come with something rather new and interesting, eh?

    You're in!

  21. Monica,

    great idea actually! It's something that could well stand on its own feet as an ethereal take on a market that appreciates the ethereal scents. I do hope they get close by to you at any rate!!

  22. Proximity,

    thanks for the interesting take and by all means, good luck!

    You make a salient point in that saffron almost always is combined with rose in niche perfumery, for some reason. I haven't determined if this is only due to the traditional Middle-Eastern influence (because is naturally harvested and prized in places where the cult of rose is also high!) or because the aroma-synthesis is so very befitting (which it is). Spicy-creamy is the other take that has been done a bit, as you point out so intelligently (I'm thinking of Saffran Troublant)

    The fact is that saffron provides leathery facets by itself (it's one end of its spectrum, the slightly bitter-ink-like note) so the hay notes and possibly the harsher green ones (which go so well with quinolines) might produce a stunning saffron scent! Let's see if Eddie and Fabrice et al get any ideas here from the people who are actually buying their products. :-)

  23. Julie,

    yeah, one more to the club and I do stand behind you all the way. Best of luck!

  24. Laurinha,

    interesting and challenging as it's such an overpowering note, eucalyptus is. But one has to try their hand in difficult concepts, eh?

    It could certainly be the next Sydney exclusive, no???
    *sarcastic smile*

  25. K,

    brilliant green chypre....ah...I do hope we're given that in a modern fragrance that won't need to be butchered up later on!
    It's such a sad thought to wipe off from the collective memory a whole category of scents. Do you have a favourite from that genre, perhaps?

  26. Bellatrix,

    basil is a piquant note. I like it very much and it's purely represented in perfumery I find (I like Manifesto's top).

    The rather disheartening thing however is that basil's scent is built on eugenols and those are being restricted heavily by the IFRA (you can read more on the articles with that label) which makes it hard for all spicy stuff, really....

  27. Valentine02:20

    Oooh, fun challenge. I think I would most like to see a lily fragrance, although other wishes are buzzing and humming in my head even as I'm typing. I'm really wondering what the creative team could create around a cinnamon, coffee, tonka bean, or perhaps a tea concept.

  28. I´d love it if they made a perfume that really smelled of oranges, maybe with hints of other citrus fruits and some tart berries, grounded in vetiver and soft woody notes (not like L`Occitane´s Ruban D´ Orange though, that one turns into a straight vetiver in 10 min).

  29. Since lilac is my favorite flower, I propose an interesting twist on the lilac. Perhaps a spice-laden lilac? or could there be a lilac chypre?
    Thanks for your great reviews! and please do enter me in the draw.


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