If you’ve been watching the recent TV series, Ragnarok, which reimagines Norse myth in contemporary times, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s the epic Norwegian landscape more than hammer-wielding actors that evokes those times of myth and legend.
I’m reminded of that elemental, mythical landscape when reading Thibaud Crivelli’s description of his walk through Norwegian fjords that inspired his new perfume, Lys Sølaberg: ‘That day, as usual in the region, the weather was highly unpredictable. Gusts of wind carried back and forth the rain-charged clouds covering the valleys we were walking through. Then the sun appeared again as if by magic.
‘Along the way, we caught sight of numerous waterfalls flowing down dark granite walls. Our final destination was a village on the cliff edge, facing the sea. We reached it around midnight. And yet, the sun still hadn’t set. In the distance, we could see rays of sun illuminating the waves, creating an iridescent shimmer. I remember taking shelter for a moment between two wooden houses with thatched roofs. And right there, at that very spot, I was surprised to see some lilies.”
Thibaud gave master perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer the creative freedom to interpret his experience. As she explained: “I wanted to transcribe the remarkable beauty of the fjords, with the sun shimmering on the sea, the sweet smoky aspect of the lilies, the power of the wind, the mineral stone, and the darker, more humid aspect of the peat. I wanted to convey the idea of mankind faced with rugged nature.”
What magical images these descriptions evoke – suggesting a true romanticist’s perfume suited to our times which honours nature in concept and mood. Thibaud’s description is so complex though, it’s difficult to imagine what the perfume inspired by such an experience might smell like. Clearly, it’s a mood or atmosphere more than each of these things in themselves; waterfalls, stormy weather, granite rocks, and lilies.
The lily I detect in Lys Sølaberg most resembles the pink-hued stargazer lily to my nose; that sweet, salty scent almost reminiscent of over-ripe fruit. It’s accompanied by surprising, contrasting notes of earthy patchouli, smoky oak, bitter quince fruit and tobacco.
The opening is bitter-sweet and woody/fruity to my nose, then Lys Sølaberg develops and resolves to a sophisticated presence and style I’d describe as dark, yet light. I’m reminded just a little of Penhaligon’s Opus – a scent which shares this fruity, bittersweet darkness and light, though Lys Sølaberg leans more feminine. I’m also reminded somewhat of Natura Fabularis 2 Violaceum by L’Artisan Parfumeur. It’s the dark/light aspect and subtly musky dry-down that echoes those perfumes though, not the scent itself, which is quite unique.
Having lived in mountainous Scotland most of my life, I’m familiar with the late-night sunsets of the northern hemisphere in summer; it’s a beautiful, poetic time of year and I absolutely empathise with the desire to capture that mood in scent. I think Lys Sølaberg succeeds in this. It suggests summer evenings in the north to me – a rich, enigmatic scent that would drift beautifully across a twilit garden, capturing the imagination.
If it were worn on a person, I’d imagine Kristen Scott Thomas perhaps, in an indigo silk kaftan. A beautiful, classy perfume then, with real personality and charisma. Lys Sølaberg is what happens when you combine a visionary creative director with the talent, sensitivity and experience of a master perfumer to bring that dream to life. As a gift it’s ideal, inlaid in a white box with embossed designs echoing Norwegian landscape, the perfume itself in a thick-bottomed glass bottle with metal magnetised cap – satisfyingly solid as a proper whisky glass. It’s good to know that perfumes of this calibre are still being created.
Maison Crivelli perfumes and discovery sets can be ordered on their website: maisoncrivelli.com and on Les Senteurs: lessenteurs.com. Also Harvey Nichols – Maison Crivelli have launched there recently so you can visit their perfume department to enjoy testing the perfumes in person.