By Stephan Matthews, Monday, 12 August 2019
See article on http://www.stephanmatthews.com
When it comes to matters of the heart it is very unusual if you don’t end up asking for some measure of advice from friends. The blindness of love can often mean that we make questionable choices that seem absurd in the cold light of day. In the past you could have consulted a pharmacist to make a love potion to either attract or ensnare but in modern times it’s a little trickier. However, that is until you discover Olivia Bransbourg and Nathalie Feisthauer’s stunning new range, Sous le Manteau. Inspired by real nineteenth century love potions, it makes you question “would you rather seduce, or be seduced?”
Olivia Bransbourg started her career as the headwriter for ICONOfly and it was here that she first dabbled with fragrance. She asked Christine Nagel and Benoist Lapouza to create, what would become, Attache-Moi. Originally a limited edition, it quickly blossomed into an international bestseller and, subsequently, spawned a further four fragrances under the Attache-Moi name. Olivia then spent three years as creative director for Takasago before feeling that the time was right to once again fly solo. This is always a brave decision in the world of perfumery but Olivia Bransbourg is a firm believer in fate.
Sous le Manteau came about when Olivia stumbled upon a pharmacist’s book that contained, amongst other things, forgotten recipes for love potions. She told me, “I was talking about my interest for love potions with my business partner, the idea of something being inherited from centuries past, and so perhaps I opened the pages with more interest than if I hadn’t had it in mind. I don’t know whether it’s destiny or fate?” Five of the recipes from the book were passed to the perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer and, with a generous sprinkling of her own scented magic, were translated into modern-day remedies for those looking for love.
As part of the Sous le Manteau experience you are advised to take the “lover’s test” on their website. Now, we’ve all done these “online perfume finders” many times but the difference here is that the questions are very direct. It makes you think about whether you are dominant or submissive, patient or impatient, and even active or impulsive. This is the first time that I have ever really questioned in detail how my choice of perfume could be perceived because, after all, fragrance does give off a sexual magnetism. So, it’s time to discover my potions in the form of Vapeurs Diablotines and Fontaine Royale, definitely two sides of the same coin.
Fontaine Royale comes with the warning that “the vaporous mist of the moment breaks into lascivious pulses of pleasure.” This scent definitely falls into the “seduced” category and conjures up exciting thoughts of secret liaisons. It opens with a rush of velvet-like iris, that carries along with it a cinnamon touched violet, before revealing a floral blend of geranium, jasmine and rose. It remains androgynous throughout thanks to an elegant cedarwood and musk combination but, with a sensual blend of labdanum and vanilla hiding under the surface, there is a definite feeling of skin-contact submission going on here.
I have to confess to doing the test twice, once as “seduced” and then as “seducer.” The latter, more active choice, gave me Vapeurs Diablotines and this time warned “our untamed cavalcade will unleash indescribable pleasure.” You are met with an explosion of aromatic oils thanks to clove, bay, and coriander which sets up this more powerful premise of love. The strength is accentuated by a wonderfully earthy blend of vetiver and patchouli but the power really comes from a sexual combination of labdanum, styrax, and castoreum. With a sweetened incense lurking in the heart, this perfume really is a prophesy of passion.
Fontaine Royale and Vapeurs Diablotines are available from Sous le Manteau at souslemanteauparis.com and also from Harvey Nichols at harveynichols.com priced at £110 for 50ml or £150 for 100ml. [Samples provided by Aspects Beauty]
[Image of Olivia Bransbourg © Kanak Guo]