Saturday, February 5, 2011

Petite Mort: Parfum d'une Femme by Bertrand Duchaufour for Marc Atlan

Sly advertising that cleverly crosses the lines without vulgar displays is the image that accompanies one of the most provocative concepts in perfumery nowadays: La Petite Mort is of course codename for orgasm...
"Inspired directly by the only bodily fluid secreted solely through desire and brain chemistry, Petite Mort™ (Parfum d'une Femme) embodies the elusive substance that is created by a woman when she is about to climax. Petite mort, little death, total release; beyond a scent, more like a convulsion of the senses, like a hot, gasping breath that penetrates your memories and alters your subconscious".

I can tell that it will create endless discussion on the boundaries (and artfulness) of advertising, just like some of the best examples have in the past.

Bertrand Duchaufour, star perfumer of niche perfumery, collaborated here with Art et Parfum and Kilian Hennesy (of By Kilian fame) for Marc Atlan, creative director & designer issuing this new fragrance under his own name. Duchaufour worked in this no doubt provocative concept like a challenge. Petite Mort’s fragrance exudes an animal carnality with salty notes of sweat and urea. But warm milk, which is supposed to be the scent that the human brain most closely associates with human skin is also featured in the form of Sulfurol. According to the perfumer, certain subtle ingredients in the perfume are discriminatory, and these notes will not be perceived by everyone. He also describes Petite Mort as “aphrodisiacally compelling”.

Only 100 bottles by renowned verreries Pochet (purveyors to Empress Eugénie of France since 1858) will circulate as well as 15 artistic mods for exhibitions. The price of 1000$ for 10ml reflects the exclusive side of the project and allegedly the intensity of concentration (supposedly 100% compound). The scent was introduced at the Elements Showcase in New York on January 30, 2011. (more on that one on these pages shortly!)

More info and availability for purchase (from this coming April onwards) on the official site.

pic via punmiris


  1. I REALLY hate it when they do this. I was so intrigued by what it was going to smell like, only to now realize the chances of me actually smelling some are pretty much non-existant.
    Oh well, that's life (and how I wish this was the biggest problem I faced). ;)

    1. I have a bottle that I'm selling g

  2. Ok. Well, I can't decide if I want to try this or run from it! Of course, with that price I'm unlikely to be forced to decide.

    The urea note scares me, but anything that says only some people may perceive some parts...well, that calls out a challenge! Will I be one of the few? (Surely that wasn't a PR move, right?)

    I will say the imagery is pure genius! I love that the oh-so suggestive picture is simply a close-up of shoes. And what else inspires le petit mort in women more than shoes? Oh, all right, it's stereotypical and condescending, but still a great image. :)


  3. Ines,

    those super limited editions sound like vanity projects, but I can forgive them the frustration of having to do endless inane briefs of "uplisting fruity florals that would appeal to the average 20-35 year old modern woman". Then again Bertrand doesn't really have to do that, he's "smaller" than that in scope and thus free-er...

    Oh well, I'm irked by the exclusivity too. But then again I wonder: why would I want to smell another woman's orgasm? :-) Now, if I had some XY gonads...

  4. Jen,

    I think many will be scared, but even more will be intrigued!

    Usually I don't find "dirty" notes challenging myself (intensely medicinal is something that might give me pause and would need further testing), but as you succinctly note they're trying to pose this as a challenge, ensuring people will try to test it (and repeatedly) to see if they can "catch" the nuances. PR move? nooooooo..... :P

    Can't say I interpreted the image as implying women get their fix from shoes, myself (you could be right and I could be wrong though!!). I thought it was a purposely suggestive shot which was arrived at after some thought, of course, which implied a certain foot fetish, the arch of the foot flexing while orgasming or something along those lines...They look like flats anyway.

  5. Hmmm; and Britain having just banned the Opium ad with the suggestion of a needle into the arm...

    ...perhaps sex will pass?

    I would love to hear somebody's impression of the fragrance itself.

  6. Haha! I didn't even see the shoes for the obvious labia in my face!

    "they look like flats anyway..." that is too funny!

    Wow, not only a discussion inspiring fragrance but even the photo will have us pontificating on the significance. Just like real art I would say and judging by the price, it may just be.

  7. This stuff makes me appreciate even more the conceptual genius of Secretions Magnifiques. The next time in NYC, I need to buy a full bottle at the ELdO counter.


  8. S,

    I think this is a project too obscure for any furore re: images to ensue. At least beyond our perfume boards and blogs, that is.

    It will be interesting to see how the scent matches or not the rather outre concept! Although at those prices... (even with splitting it's 100$ per ml!!)

  9. S,

    I think this is a project too obscure for any furore re: images to ensue. At least beyond our perfume boards and blogs, that is.

    It will be interesting to see how the scent matches or not the rather outre concept! Although at those prices... (even with splitting it's 100$ per ml!!)

  10. Stelma,

    glad you enjoyed the humour! :D

    Yeah, when you read the name and see the pic you can't shake the suggested association out of your mind, can you?

    Usually I find such projects a bit too snobbish for their own good (see Another mag's project for LL), but somehow the contributors are all worthy of note which creates its own interest of course. Then again, they're pretty "safe" in that people won't be able to "trash" the scent so easily (if that was warranted) just because it's so elusive! Don't you agree?

    The presentation and ad copy does leave a bit of the taste of hyperbole in the mouth in my opinion, nevertheless. But art sometimes resorts to extremes to provoke thought.

  11. Cacio,

    Secretions Magnifiques will go down in history as a truly controversial fragrance and surely a conceptual triumph: I can't wear it myself (too sterile, too hospital-creepy to me) but I realise that several people do love it and wear it, which makes it an object of art that actually delivers. Can't knock that.
    I doubt this one will be that animalic anyway! (how much animalic can you go in the age of IFRA?)

  12. I agree with you and by the way, did you notice the little sentence up at the top right, where the, uh....well, button of delight would be? "coming soon..." Bwahahaha!

    I don't know, it sort of reminds me of all the vagina love and vulva art being sold on etsy right now. I personally don't have that fixation. Granted, I am quite secure in my womanhood so don't quite need a vagina key chain or ovary pillow. It's getting more and more clinical every day, lol. Now a perfume?

  13. Rose10:56

    Dare I say it? Yawn...
    I don't like any of this project: the over-the-top sexuality, the image, clever but ugly, the exclusivity, the price - and does anyone else think that BD is doing a lot (too much?) these days?

  14. S,

    indeed, it's placed most suggestively!! LOL!

    When vajayjay love is pronounced on Oprah (and given a cutesy name on top of that!), you know there's the mystique gone. Somehow the whole project sounds like it was infused with hard marketing sense, possibly even US-derived? (since it's so thoroughly thought out?)

  15. K,

    I agree that it sounds wilder than it might be and playing up the "forbidden" is surefire way of getting attention (therefore yawn).
    BUT this one is very clever in its imagery I thought! Not so usual (see Tom Ford and his much more explicit voyerism)

    As to BD: assuredly!! He does many things at the same time in the past 1-2 years andit starts feeling like he's the latest "cow" for milking, such an unappealing idea, don't you find?

  16. Anonymous13:46


    I just thought I'd let you take part in the "conversation" I had with Mr Atlan:

    Dear Petra,
    Thank you very much for your kind email.
    Next time I am in Germany and my bladder is full, I'll give you a call.
    Best regards,

    Sent from my iPad

    On Sep 21, 2011, at 1:27 PM, "Petra Becker" wrote:

    Dear Marc,

    Thank you very much for your e-mail as well as the
    hint about luckyscents.

    My sample arrived here yesterday and to my great
    misfortune the component representing the urea
    scent works extremely well on my skin. To put
    it nicely: I smell like a public convenience for

    Maybe there'll be another perfume smelling not so
    harsh on me in the future.

    Best regards


    "Marc Atlan Design, Inc." schrieb:
    Dear Petra,

    Thanks for your email.

    The scent ships from the USA.
    Since there is absolutely no alcohol inside the fragrance, European customs are generally not an issue. I have successfully shipped to France, Belgium, Germany and Sweden, and never had a problem.

    Regarding testing the fragrance, the high price of the fragarnce and the very limited edition made it impossible to produce samples. However, I have a US based retailer that is selling sample for only $15.00.

    Here is the link to buy the sample:’une_Femme).html

    If you decide to buy the edition, please get back to me. I should be able to reserve you a lower (smaller) number in the edition of 100. Lucky Scent has the numbers 20 through 31, but I kept lower numbers for collectors.

    Please let me know if you need anything else.

    Kind regards,


    TEL +1.310.306.8148 | FAX +1.310.306.8348
    CELL +1.310.908.4701


    On Sep 6, 2011, at 8:40 PM, Petra Becker wrote:

    Petra Becker

    Dear Ladies, dear Sirs!

    As I have been reading so much about your
    perfume "La Petite Mort" and as I am a
    big fan of Mr. Duchaufour, I would like
    to ask you the following questions before
    deciding on buying:

    1. Where does the scent ship from?
    I live in Germany and German customs
    become quite a problem when it comes to
    high priced shipments from non-EU

    2. Where could I possibly take a sniff of
    this scent, if that's at all possible?

    I am looking forward to hearing from you
    and thank you very much in advance for
    your endeavours.

    Kind regards

    Petra Becker


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