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When photographer Sonia Sieff was developing the concept for the fragrance that would accompany her latest book, she envisioned "a great feminine fragrance that men would want to wear." For someone as into perfume history as I am, I could not imagine a more delicious brief in 2024.

Most fragrance fans feel comfortable enough with the perfumes they like to wear to set aside the concept of gendered perfume; however, I feel that to setting aside the gendered history of perfume does a disservice to decades of cultural aesthetics and also diminishes the personal experience everyone has a right to with their choice of perfumes. If a man finds rose fragrances masculine, and a woman finds them feminine, that’s their prerogative and both are perfectly valid.

There is an interrogation of gender dynamics in both Sieff’s book, with its centering of rigid male forms within the female gaze, and the fragrance’s invitation to men to embrace what might traditionally be read as feminine. This is a tension we know Lie is very adept at navigating from his 2017 work for ERIS, Mx. However, where Mx. creates an assemblage of historically coded masculine and feminine notes to combine them into one fluid statement, Rendez-vous focuses more on the frisson between the two.

As Loveisascent on Instagram mentioned in a post earlier this week, “Antoine Lie is a master of suspense. He puts huge notes right on the cliff and makes them balance on their tiptoes indefinitely.” We experience this building of tension in many of his recent works like Des Cendres for Les Abstraits and ERIS’s Scorpio Rising, but in Rendez-vous, it’s front and center in the top notes’ subtle mix of rhubarb and a gunpowder accord Lie developed for Rendez-vous. It smells cool, silvery with a texture that sparkles like a match being dragged along a stone cathedral wall.

At its heart, Rendez-vous is an orris fragrance, which leans more into orris’s rich woody, earthy qualities than the powdery violet. As exciting as the top notes are, I really love the drydown, which sees orris merged with a delicious glow of benzoin, warm and classical in all the best ways. And here we see Lie’s commendable dedication to ultra satisfying late stage perfume composition that you just want to smell over and over again.