The aliphatic aldehydes string of Chanel No.5 is what is termed "aldehydic" in perfumery parlance and characterises a whole sub-group within the floral fragrance family: C10, C11, C12 aldehydes to be exact, creating an accord so memorable it has pervaded fragrance mores for decades. [If you don't know what aldehydes are, refer to this article]. Le Labo's take in Aldehyde 44 is more inspired by the sweeter, soapier, more snowy-capped mountains seen flying above in lesser known (and more American-geared) Godzilla-aldehydic Chanel No.22 and equally American "sharp clean" White Linen by Estee Lauder than muskier-sexier-dirtier (aka Frenchier) No.5 however. Perhaps the fact that it's a Dallas,TX city-exclusive (only Dallas inhabitants and visitors of the city's Le Labo boutique at Barneys can partake of the sprakling waters!) is not totally random as imagined.This is a clean, rested, posh fragrance; depilated, smoothed and hosed and full of energy, not languor.
The progression is seamless and sustainaibly sour aldehydic into a somewhat metallic musky floralcy in the base, without either too much sweetness or woodiness (The idea of musk at Le Labo can be perversely illusionary anyway, as attested in Musc 25. Perfumer Yann Vasnier is using ambrettolide here in Aldehyde 44, which is a macrocyclic musk, very refined, soapy smelling-fruity in character).
What is characteristic is there is no powderiness in Aldehyde 44, as associated with other retro fragrances that utilize irones and ionones (iris and violets) to denote cosmetic products and old-school face powder. Instead it's citrusy waxy-soapy-fatty, it makes me think it's what an hypothetical child between Ivoire by Balmain and White Linen would be like: the green sudsy oiliness of the former meets the fatty sweetness of the latter, the rosy facets taking on a peppery bite with lots of buds' green, a hint of pear fruit in there too.
If you read that Aldehyde 44 contains woods and vanilla and imagine a comforting scent, you will are in for a nasty surprise: the woods only come from the C12 aldehyde (a pollen-rooty, lilac scent) and the silvery refracting amber synthetic; while the citrusy touches are reminiscent of bitterish, tangy orange rind (which has a resinous quality, not unlike some incense blends) and not marmelade. The floral notes cannot be taken apart, it's an abstract blend where no note rises above the rest. Aldehyde 44 possesses "sweetness" of another kind altogether and it can only be compared to that encountered in No.22 (especially in its less incense-y modern incarnation as part of Les Exclusifs in Eau de toilette) or the classic Lauder referenced above. The sillage is civilized, but definitely there, and the lasting power very good. Lovers of the elegant polished genre, rejoice, this is a well-crafted example; perhaps not totally necessitating the ouchy price-tag nevertheless.
Aldehyde 44 by Le Labo features fragrance notes of: aldehydes, tuberose absolute, jasmine sambac, narcissus absolute, woods, vanilla and musk.
Le Labo Aldehyde 44 is a Dallas, TX city-exclusive, retailing at $290 for 50ml, but only for the month of November it is globally available at Luckyscent and on the official Le Labo site.
photo of Cyd Charisse