Wednesday, March 3, 2021

A Walk In Giverny by La Fleur by Livvy

 It was about a year ago that airlines started canceling flights and travel came to a stand still. I for one am having a hard time restraining my travel bug as we march toward summer holidays. But when I recently tried A Walk In Giverny by La Fleur by Livvy I was mentally transported to a vacation from three years ago when I went to France with my husband to celebrate a wedding anniversary. 

This is the enchantment of perfume; that scent can magically send us back to another place and time. Olivia Larson founded La Fleur by Livvy in 2013, and since then the self trained artisan perfumer has released fragrances that are all about journeys and travels. This can mean both journeys in living life as well as travel to specific locales. Her mission is to create 100% botanical fragrances, but with A Walk In Giverny she introduced a multi-media perfume to her collection, although still keeping a high percentage of natural botanicals. This was done in recognition that some customers desired perfumes with more sillage and longevity.

Olivia for the first time has partnered with Andrej Babicky, a natural perfumer, to create A Walk In Giverny.  Together they will be producing more perfumes for the newly launched Impressions Collection. Olivia created this collection as a homage to the French impressionist painters. She says, "I admire their passion, their zest to continue to paint despite not making a living, but their art would soon become an inspiration to all."

A Walk In Giverny opens with notes of bergamot and rhododendron. It is sparkling and radiant, much like a chypre-type fragrance but in a softer form. It imparts warm fuzziness, sort of like the feeling you get when you step into the afternoon sunlight for a stroll through the garden.

On a side note, I can't remember ever seeing rhododendron listed as a perfume note. It sent me scurrying to my friend Google. Evidently the plant has suffered the same fate as many varieties of roses. As it was bred for hardiness, the magic that produces a fragrant plant was lost. But there are still old varieties that have the scent, as evidenced by this New York times article here. The rhododendron's scent, depending on plant variety, is described as anything from "a heady floral" to "a spicy clove-like fragrance". I am guessing that this may be what gives A Walk In Giverny that initial lift and fragrant frisson. 

This chypre-esque mood lasts for some time but other notes begin to float into my space. Again, this is reminiscent of a stroll through a garden, where the breeze brings various aromas but they form into a muddled bouquet. When I first applied A Walk In Giverny I messaged Olivia, "Is there lavender here? I don't see it listed?" Heart notes are listed as jasmine, tuberose, geranium, carnation, black currant bud, and hay. Not lavender.

Olivia replied, "No lavender. It could be the jasmine and geranium. Both have a floral yet herbaceous green note."

When I looked at these notes before trying the perfume I expected a lot of loud florals. What Olivia has done is capture the spirit of the garden. The beauty of nature vs perfume is that nature teases us. It gives us whispers of scent. It will send something so beautiful our way that it can stop us in our tracks to determine where is that scent coming from. Then poof, it's gone, an ephemeral fairy scent. When wearing A Walk In Giverny you truly get that experience of many scents being blended into a fragrant whole. It is as if Olivia and Andrej have harnessed the more herbaceous and green elements of all these florals to make this perfume, and the hay note certainly contributes to that effect. When I thought I sensed lavender it wasn't the floral note I imagined, but the more herbaceous aspects that lavender perfumes often portray.

Base notes are patchouli, labdanum, fir balsam, styrax, violet, orris, opopanox, benzoin, and synthetic musks. Olivia also blends a vanilla in house from Madagascar vanilla beans. These resinous notes lend structure to the soft chypre feeling, and give the feel of the encroaching forest surrounding the floral gardens. 

I look forward to seeing what other Impressionists Olivia and Andrej will memorialize with scent, but for now excuse me. I need to return to my olfactory walk through Monet's garden in France!

Top photo a Monet painting from Giverny era. Thank you to La Fleur by Livvy for providing me with this perfume sample. All opinions are my own.