Friday, April 23, 2021

Christèle Jacquemin: Memory Lane

Late last year I wrote about a new perfumer, Christèle Jacquemin, who was using her career as a photographer as inspiration for creating perfumes. She started with three scents: Meandering Soul, Impermanence, and Underworld, which I wrote about here. She translated photos from her travels into fragrance, and just as her photos are modern and interpretive, so are the perfumes, in which I found uncommon notes and unexpected scents. Originality and creativity, both traits found in an artist's skill set, are evident in the perfumes.

Ms.  Jacquemin has now added a fourth perfume to her collection called Memory Lane. Unlike the other perfumes, which represent her travels, Ms. Jacquemin returns home with Memory Lane. She originates from a small town in France called Valliguières, but she left at sixteen to explore the world.  Her interpretive photos were not of the town itself, but a series of cloud photographs.

When I saw the series of cloud photos on her website the word that came to my mind was "escape". But I wanted to be sure that my interpretation was correct, so I asked Ms. Jacquemin. "As a child and a teenager, I mastered escaping from this place that was too small for me, " she answered. "I first escaped through literature, then I studied foreign languages hoping to discover the world. The sky in these photos is like a metaphor of the will to escape, to go and explore the world."

After thirty years of avoiding her home, Ms. Jacquemin felt the need to, in her own words, return home and reconcile the ghosts of her past. "I flew at a very young age," she stated, "and as an adult I needed to look back and see if there was any way to cure that wound, and bring peace on this part of my life."

The opening notes of Memory Lane are meringue, myrrh, and magnolia. Heart notes are cypriol, clove, and parsley. Base notes are green vanilla and oud blanc. I asked Ms. Jacquemin if Memory Lane was based on scents of the place, or did inspiration come from the photographs she took of the clouds and sky?

"Actually it is both, like all my scents," she answered. "It is part reality and part fantasy. My ambivalence to the place is in the scent: the ingenuity of the meringue and vanilla, and the animality of cypriol and white oud. This duality to me was important, to reflect the ups and the downs." 

The opening notes of meringue, magnolia, and myrrh are an unusual combinaition, but that is not surprising to me, having experienced the other scents in the collection. The meringue may sound sweet but it is tempered by the myrrh and my mind flitted to an image of creamy burnished wood. There is a caramel feel, but it is not overly sweet. The magnolia is quite gentle to my nose. The cypriol, clove, and parsley give an earthy, slightly herbal feel to the scent. Cypriol is a weed growing in riverbeds and its oil has a woody, earthy smell. I don't smell the clove note specifically, but get more the herbal notes as the perfume begins to calm down and soften. The green vanilla and white oud enhance what I smelled in the opening, that slightly sweet, slightly woody sense. I will admit I find these scent challenging to describe. On my skin they appear as very blended, and as there are some unusual notes, they are not easy to describe, but I do my best! My overall sense of this perfume was that it had a comforting air, but not in a traditional way.

I will let Ms. Jacquemin have the closing words. "Magnolia flower as well as parsley essential oils transport me to walks in the countryside, and to gardening with my grandmother. When I smell Memory Lane I feel like my grandmother is holding me in her arms. I feel peace and balance. I feel safe and with energy to carry on ... my journey lightheartedly."

You can order sample sets at Christèle Jacquemin's website and she also offers her perfumes in a variety of sizes.

Thank you to Cristele Jacquemin for the perfume sample. My opinions are my own. Photos are from the perfumer's website.

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