I bemoan L’Artisan Parfumeur‘s decision to move away from the beautiful, hand-drawn, travel-inspired sketches they’ve been using in the advertising for their previous scents. I get that they want to ‘move in a different direction’. There were so many excellent directions they could have moved in. For example, advertising that’s inspired by photography (well, Olfactive Studio‘s done that already), or apocalyptic art, or comic books, or history, or fruit loops… or well, anything. Anything but what they’ve done with the advertising they used for Caligna. Evidently, the marketing team at L’Artisan Parfumeur caved in to the ‘tried-and-tested’ recipe for advertising that would translate to sales:
1. Take a pretty (according to narrow, conventional, standards) woman.
2. Divest her of her clothes.
3. Make her pose in a come-hither manner that suggests innocence with a tinge of sensuality, i.e. get her to do a sideward twist with arms strategically wrapped around offending bits.
4. Photoshop the picture to make it look ‘light’ and ‘airy’.
Let me say this. The advertising for Caligna is tacky. Beyond the obvious lack of originality (they took Miss Dior Cherie, replaced Natalie Portman with another model and got her to face left instead of right), the need to resort to nudity suggests that L’Artisan Parfumeur‘s ‘new direction’ involves heading out of the niche market and straight into the mainstream, where the advertising is dominated by models in varying states of undress who are too beautiful to be true.
And that’s precisely how I’d describe Caligna. It’s a light, slightly green (but not sharp or spicy, probably the sage) floral that’s made for spring (which is about when they released it). Caligna‘s heart is a fruity jasmine that’s neither overbearing nor cloying. It’s pleasant but not entirely original. Unfortunately, it dries down into a generic musk that’s devoid of any warmth. It’s as though the management at L’Artisan Parfumeur got together and decided to release something that would entrench them as a contender in the mainstream market for women, which is dominated by fruity florals. Now, Caligna is still much, much better than most fruity florals that can be found in your department store because it is neither overbearingly sweet nor nauseatingly loud. In fact, I wouldn’t mind having a room diffuser that smelt of Caligna. But for the price one would have to pay for it, there are far better and more original fragrances out there in the market.
Hopefully, L’Artisan Parfumeur changes tack after Caligna and reverts back to producing quirky, original and yet wearable fragrances. It’s one of my favourite houses, especially if you judge by the number of full bottles I own that belong to the brand (I daren’t reveal it here!), so Caligna came across as a disappointment to me.
Caligna is available at L’Artisan Parfumeur boutiques, Liberty and Selfridges where it retails for £95 for 100ml, which is more pricey than the other Eau de Parfums in the range.
[Review based on a sample I obtained from the L’Artisan Parfumeur boutique in Covent Garden]
~ The Smelly Vagabond