l’Artisan Parfumeurs Fou d’Absinthe, 2006

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(image source CNET)

Perfumer Olivia Giacobetti.

With Fou d’Absinthe Giacobetti takes a form, in this case the whopping fougère genre, tries it on for a bit and then moves on. The first sniffs of the perfume paint the picture of the fougère in full. Soapy, herbal, expansive. It has the broad strokes, large gestures and great strides of the classic aromatic fougères. It sits comfortably with Azzaro pour Homme, YSL Rive Gauche pour Homme and especially Paco Rabanne pour Homme.

Into the heart notes, though, the form dissolves, though the perfume remains perfectly coherent. It seems appropriate that the genre that set the course for abstraction in perfumery gets taken apart. The ur-Fougère, Houbigant Fougère Royale, was a result of the thinking employed in other abstract arts: reduction of ideas to definitive characteristics, representation without depiction or narrative. Fou d’Absinthe take you a certain distance into the recognizable, spin you around and then leave you to your own devices. I don’t get a sense of irony in Giacobetti’s method. It’s more the joy of finding new beauty in well-worn form.

Fou d’Absinthe also happens to smell spectacular. You don’t need to scrutinize it. Like wearing an exceptional piece of jewelry, you can contemplate it or you can simply take pleasure in wearing it. The combination of simple beauty and depth of idea is characteristic of Giacobetti’s work and is the outcome of her use of form as a means of inspiration and not an end goal.

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