The thin snowflakes came down the skies unexpectedly early yesterday morning, silk confetti melting softly on the wet streets as a pale sun was shining beneath the fluffy clouds. Maurizio Pollini was touching the clavier on the background in a beloved Polish composer's Nocturnes. The silence was deafening, perfect in its standstill position. It felt like one of those moments when long-eared, soft furred dogs gather their paws, bow down their head and sigh with a mix of contemplative happiness and resignation to the mysteries of the world around them. I was reminded of the tender, contemplative emotions sweeping over me upon discovering Angéliques Sous La Pluie (2000, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle) for the first time.
This bitterish and cool fantasy of gin & tonic was pure like a snowflake, tingling at the back of the throat like the cold air of the tundra. Juxtaposed next to the warm spiciness of the carnal Musc Ravageur, the soie sauvage Hitchcockian elegance of Iris Poudre or the camphorous floral lushness of Carnal Flower it seems a breed apart. It's the sort of thing to foreshadow an atmosphere or reflect a mood, rather than a pronouncement on the wearer, never crying for attention.
Angelica is a plant with a nose-tingling essence, peppery in a way like peppercorns are, bracing but less pungent and greener. Perfumer Jean Claude Ellena picked a small bunch of angelica and put it in his pocket after a visit to the garden of fellow perfumer Jean Laporte after the rain. Inspired by this fleeting whiff of the still dewy angelica bouquet, Jean-Claude Ellena's fragrance plays out like a chamber music arrangement. There is the petrichor scent of rain falling on dry earth, a green herbal tonality without moss or grass. One detects the spicy, tonic notes of angelica leaves mixed with some bergamot freshness, juniper berries and citrusy coriander, softened by a hint of musk, soft non sweetened amber and cedar wood. Its deceptive softness is non vanillic. Its prettiness devoid of flowers. There is a hint of violet like in Soivohle's Violets and Rainwater but that's it.
As Malle himself puts it: "Angéliques sous la Pluie is a perfume whose charm stems from the originality of its mix and from the free hand of its author. The perfect balance and fragility of Angéliques sous la Pluie, like the drawing of a great artist, is what makes it so beautiful.
As proof of his great wisdom, the artist knew when to stop before destroying its charm. This first collaboration with Jean-Claude Ellena was thus a lesson in humility".
Angéliques Sous La Pluie is perfectly fit for men or women, lasts on a sostenuto sotto voce, wears as fine in wintertime as it does in the dead of summer and is typical Ellena in style; refined, dry, personal, non condescending, never obvious, worth revisiting to catch new glimpses each time, requiring a mind that is attuned to silence and simplicity of line rather than opulence and clatter. And all the better for it.
Angéliques Sous La Pluie –– "a splash of emotion".
Available as 50ml spray for 140$, 3x10ml travel sprays for 95$, 100ml spray for 195$ on the official Malle site.