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Parfum de l'Odyssée

In French, personne has two meanings: someone, person or people and the opposite, nobody. It is always the context that determines the translation. In Homer’s text, Odysseus and his men are imprisoned by Polyphemus the Cyclops, eventually after the giant falls boozily asleep, Odysseus blinds him and the men escape clinging to the underside of sheep. He tells Polyphemus that his name is No-one and when questioned about what happened, the Cyclops confuses everyone with the insistence it was no-one.

Personne smells like a labour of love for perfumer Alexandre Helwani acting as the cartographer nose of Laurent Derobert’s research for the unwinding perfumery of The Odyssey. Odysseus encounters giants, storms, savage whirlpools, enchantresses galore, spellcraft, sirens and homesickness on his ten-year journey home to Ithaca. Alexandre has interpreted wild woody, agrarian and herbaceous aromas with subtle verve and married this to materials combined to represent the characters along the way.

For example, the deadly singing Sirens are suggested by kelp and beeswax, which Odysseus’ men plugged their ears with to block out the alluring come-hither songs of the beautiful Sirens. Ithaca is a mix of dry lentisk, oily pungent rosemary and rose. The terrifying Cyclops Polyphemus is an Italian wine accord and green, stemmy purple laurel.

There is an odour of shrubs warmed by a Mediterranean sun, dry earth, ships’ wood, rope, wine, salted oceans, crops, seeds and fruits. As with any sunny climes, the warmth builds to fill the day with radiance and that feeling of comforting freedom.

An opening rush of gamy juniper berries, ripe pear and glossy laurel, all tied up with terpenic hemp. Light touches of citrus peel and rosemary are tucked into spaces in the bolder notes.

The classic pyramidal structure of Personne is subtitled La Ruse for the top, La Tendresse for the heart notes and the base, L’Esperance. So, Deception, Tenderness and Hope.

La Tendresse is a rising mix of fig and bitter cocoa, sticky poplar buds with their subtle fruity undertones of stone fruit and echoes of osmanthus. Mulchy hyacinth suggests the pungent, clovey appearance of spring, allied to the contrasting aridity of liquorice scented immortelle and anisic chewiness of fenugreek.

L'Esperance is a smooth ending , with careful handling of barley and wheat providing a hazy swaying malted warmth. Combined with the pencil shaving whiff of cedar, green violet leaf, oakmoss and kelp that used with subtlety, lends a distinctive dose of iodine which brings a wash of ocean to the full composition.

Alexandre’s expert control on a wide, complex palette of natural materials is perfect. Olfactive storytelling can so often fall apart or seem forced, but Personne provides a beautiful bitter-green document of Odysseus’ fraught decade of sensory wayfaring.

Personne is strong, it lingers and develops on skin with a moving sense of time passing. Unique and atmospheric, Iconofly editor Olivia Bransbourg, artist Laurent Derobert and the gifted perfumer Alexandre Helwani have given us something thought-provoking and beautiful that smells like nothing else and wears like sacred text.


  • Myrtle Essential Oil, Juniper Berries, Cypress Essential Oil, Bay Leaf, Cannabis, Laurel Essential Oil, Pear, Rosemary Essential Oil
  • Carob Resinoid, Hyacinth Absolute, Fig Leaf, Immortelle Absolute, Poplar Buds, Fenugreek Absolute, Davana Essential Oil
  • Barley Resinoid, CedarWood, Violet Leaf Absolute, Oarweed Resinoid, Bran Absolute, Liatrix Absolute

Perfumer: Alexandre Helwani, 2023

inci list: alcohol denat., parfum (fragrance), aqua (water), limonene, linalool, benzyl salicylate, geraniol, coumarin, citronellol, evernia prunastri extract, citral, farnesol, benzyl benzoate, cinnamyl alcohol, eugenol, benzyl alcohol, benzyl cinnamate

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