Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Frederic Malle Angeliques sous la Pluie: fragrance review

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.


  1. I like Angeliques Sous La Pluie. It has a woody, somewhat spicy and musky smell that feels like it almost instantly transports me to the forest. Plus the notes of Angelica, pepper and amber remind me of Penhaligon's Juniper Sling which I am a big fan of.

  2. Good point on the Juniper Sling! ;-)

    I would prefer if there were no link to commercial business, though. If it was your personal blog, then fine.

  3. I had Angeliques sous la pluie a time ago. It was a present and I really enjoyed it but I didn't repeated. With your review, you remembered me how much I love it.

    Fos me, Angeliques is Ellena himself, like a sensitive sister of Cartier's Declaration and Hermes's Voyage. I say sister, but for me also is totally unisex fragrance.

    I also had Juniper Sling, but I gave to my father because it wasn't for me. They are look a like, but Juniper Sling has something else, something with more body and less woody.

    Your atmosphere to describe the perfume is perfect. This fragrance is delicate, fragile and a little bit nostalgic.


  4. Anonymous20:33

    That's such a lovely review, it kind of expresses why I get obsessed with perfume - it's like chasing a rainbow a lot of the time, then you find a perfume that's so evocative and it just blows you away that someone can create such experiences.

    This almost makes me wish we were heading into winter rather than looking towards Spring! But I'm already thinking of a perfume for a holiday in France in May, on the Normandy coast, with a friend who might be more than a friend! He's a real aesthete and complimented me on Prada's Infusion d'Iris last time I was there.

    Any perfume suggestions?!

  5. annemariec20:49

    Lovely reviews like that are enough to tempt the unwary into an unsniffed purchase! But I will resist. Actually, I have sniffed Angeliques, in a visit to another city, but it was in a department store and I could hardly perceive the perfume amidst the heat and noise, and the fug of a thousand other perfumes. Angeliques is never going to weave its magic in that kind of atmosphere. I'll have to try and get hold of a sample to try in peace at home.

  6. Miss Heliotrope23:55

    Adds to list - they should give you a cut of sales for some of these reviews...

  7. Exquisite review, Helg. You captured the contemplative air of this fragrance splendidly, and I really love the line you wrote about long-eared, soft-furred dogs bowing down. That made me smile ... it's such a beautiful description and so true. Dogs are great lovers of snow.

  8. Maia,

    how nice to say all those things. I especially enjoyed your "little sister" reference, I can see that! And there IS a sense of quiet nostalgia about it too.
    Why not revisit it? :-)

  9. Rosestrang,

    thank you :-) Yes, this is exactly the deep satisfaction of good perfumes/interesting smells in general, they make a connection.

    Your holiday sounds delightful, hope you enjoy it when you get there. Normandy reminds me of cool sand, grassy dunes, 20s styling and ....clams.
    I would therefore suggest Sel de Vetiver, Prada Eau Ambree, Eau de Merveilles. They're all subtle, skin-like, creating an intimacy that I think you are looking for... ;-)
    You might find lots of other suggestions on my Beach Scents article as well and see where they get you.

  10. Annemariec,

    that's a lovely compliment thank you!
    I would definitely agree this is a fragrance for quiet and solitude, not the bustle of a busy perfume shop. It would get drowned out completely! I do hope you get a sample to try at home at some point, it's really a very nice work. (I also highly recommend Eau de Gentiane Blanche by Ellena, another very dry, very unique fragrance; that one is perfect in heatwaves!)

  11. C,

    aaaaah, if only! :-D

    Thanks for saying so! Hope things are well and not too hot down under.

  12. Suzanne,

    thank you very much for your kind words. You're very sweet.
    Dogs have sometimes an expression like they're sages, know what I mean? They can project so many things through those particular little gazes and little sighs.

    Happy New Year!

  13. Anonymous00:13

    i love Angeliques Sous La Pluie. It seems like a whisper of a scent. the first time i wore it I went to a yoga class. I had applied it to my ankles and every time I moved poses and got close to the mat I could almost smell it-just a whisper. It made me feel so calm and so good-like i was in the presence of something healing and wonderful. It has a special place in my life. thank you for the beautiful review-the image was a spectacular choice to accompany your writing.

  14. Carole,

    thanks, images do play a role in enjoying the posts I suppose.

    That's a beautiful experience you relayed there. Thanks for sharing! I espeicially like the "whisper of a scent" phrase. so true!

  15. The typos I make are especially funny! :-D

  16. brie11:10

    Gorgeously written and I love the picture! This sounds like the perfect scent to wear on Winter solstice (for me in the Northeast of US usually a very bitter and cold day) for which I have always reserved Avalon Juniper (grapefruit/juniper berries/heliotrope).

  17. Anonymous21:58

    Thanks for tips(above)! Sel de Vetiver sounds lovely – I really like saltiness and iris too, it sounds subtle, not ‘in your face’ which is right for my possibly romantic encounter! Even if it's not romantic, I love being with a guy who appreciates the subtleties of perfume. Eau de Merveilles also sounds interesting – I found Elixir de Merveilles too dry and I’m not big on big flower notes, so I’ll give this a try :)

  18. Brie,

    you're very kind, thanks for the compliment. It's appreciated. I do believe in the power of a visual accompaniment and try to find things out of the trodden path, as much as possible.

    A lovely thought about the solstice, hadn't thought about it, but yes, (btw, your scent choice sounds like a fascinating mix of cold and warm! )

  19. Rosestrang,

    subtle, not in you face is our bread and butter! ;-)
    There is a knowing intimacy created by the use of a subtle perfume (or subtle use of perfume in general); it prompts people to lean in closer, like when talking sotto voce, which in itself is an invitation to creating a bond.

    Good luck and keep me posted! :-)

  20. What a wonderful review! Makes me want to go out and sample/ spritz to myself into perfume heaven. LOL

  21. Kingpharroh,

    you're so kind to say so, thank you.
    It is something that one could liberally spritz themselves with and feel elated and serene and it wouldn't bother those around as it's so well behaved.


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