Ingredients: hemp, narcissus, cocoa

My admiration for the exceptional talent of self-taught artisan perfumer Dominique Dubrana is no secret. We have never met, but have corresponded occasionally over the years, and I have reviewed several of his creations. A few days ago, he emailed me to tell me he had composed an “interesting” perfume he wanted me to smell. Coming from him, who is always at pains to explain how easy perfumery is and how everyone could do it, this got my attention.

The sample arrived and I sprayed it on skin. It was a complete surprise: an intense green-peppery top note half way between geranium leaf and galbanum which morphed seamlessly and aerobatically into a beautiful, clean, smooth lavender without any of the caramel off-notes that usually spoil the fun.

This came at the perfect time, because Caldey Island Lavender, my long time favorite, has been reformulated and is a shadow of its former self. I emailed Dubrana to congratulate him on having composed such an unusual green lavender.

This is where the story gets weird. First, he let me know the perfume contains no lavender at all, and is composed from hemp absolute, cocoa, neroli, tuberose, narcissus, and cedar. When I next congratulated him on having done for lavender what Guerlain supposedly did for Nahema, the “rose without rose,” Dubrana explained to me that he had not smelled the perfume, because due to some nasal congestion he has been anosmic for weeks.

For the record, the last time someone did this was 1946 when Jean Carles lost his sense of smell and composed Ma Griffe.

Dubrana said the formula just came to him and he wrote it down quickly. “But everyone seems to like it,” he added.

As indeed they should: it is now my new “lavender” of reference, and in all respects as close to a miracle as perfumery gets.

Luca Turin / Beauty Guide

Originally posted at but not anymore available

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