L’Artisan Parfumeur – Caligna

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

5 thoughts on “L’Artisan Parfumeur – Caligna

  1. This one isn’t here in Dubai yet so, I can’t comment on the fragrance but, you are so right about the advertising. The similarities to Miss Dior Cherie are striking and not in a good way. I wish they hadn’t caved in and gone the “mainstream” route with their news ads. And I really hope they don’t continue in the same way with the scents. Great review!

    • Hi Dubaiscents,

      Indeed, that seems to be the main gripe of most people. Opinions are more divided with regard to the fragrance itself. I hope it works better on you than for me. Let me know what you think when you do get to try it!

  2. Well, what to expect from a brand that is sold at Sephora? 😉

    I’m just partially joking. But I’m really annoyed by that direction: it’s not classy but rather crassy. And the amount of bare skin that corresponds to the size of the bottle (which is much taller than the one for Miss Dior Cherie) makes me wonder how far it can go if Kenzo Flower or Issey Miyake L’eau d’Issey decides to use that approach.

    • Hi Undina,

      I’m not too sure how I feel about L’Artisan Parfumeur’s distribution strategy, and whether this means that it can still be considered as ‘niche’. I guess I wouldn’t mind them becoming ‘mainstream’ in the sense that more people come to know some of their wonderful fragrances, but only if L’Artisan Parfumeur doesn’t cheapen their fragrances in the process. As it is, it already feels as though they’ve started to cheapen themselves on the advertising. Crassy’s certainly the word, although I’m sure they must have been aiming for ‘sensual nude lady’ instead. And yes, if there were a correlation between the size of the bottle and the amount of skin shown… good heavens! I hope that will never happen with a tall bottle (I’m sure the censors will do something about it!)

  3. Reblogged this on The Smelly Vagabond and commented:

    I daresay L’Artisan Parfumeur have been giving me heartaches with their recent releases beginning with Caligna. The first three fragrance in the Explosions d’Emotions line were an exercise in futility (did anyone find Skin on Skin to be an iris-y copy of Traversée du Bosphore? And Déliria was just vile.), and I have yet to properly try the next three ones yet, them being available only at Harrods for now. Shame on you, Penhaligon’s for closing down the L’Artisan Parfumeur at Covent Garden, that was one of my favourite haunts, honest.

    And guess what, I was talking to the folk over at Liberty London who have stopped stocking L’Artisan Parfumeur because, well, they’ve decided to go on AMAZON, of all places, and the prices on Amazon were undercutting the department stores. I’m not sure what to make of this sales strategy – first Sephora, now Amazon? I’m not a niche snob, and I’m happy if their fragrances (the good ones anyway) were distributed more widely since it would mean that more people would enjoy them, but I just can’t see them going full-scale mainstream. Please please please please please do not spam the releases, but rather take the time to craft something that will move the hearts of your fans, just as you moved mine with Séville à l’Aube, Timbuktu, Drôle de Rose, Dzongkha, L’Eau du Navigateur, Traversée du Bosphore and so many of your older beauties.

    Yours sincerely,
    The Smelly Vagabond

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