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Marlou’s fourth perfume, Corpalium, received an Honourable Mention at this year’s Art & Olfaction Awards. It was the brand’s first release since 2019 and felt like a departure from the pelt-laden aromas of the previous three perfumes.

Corpalium is more abstract. It has a feeling of well-worn leather saddles on equine hides as hooves thunder on parched earth under endless sun. It brings to mind the landscape Tauer constructed in Lonestar Memories, but Corpalium has a far more spacious feeling and more room to breathe. There’s a wonderful smoked orris at the centre, sandwiched between cedar and guaiac woods with a smudge of ambrette to soften all the edges.

The work perfumer Briac Frocrain is doing at Marlou has a similar intention to what Lee McQueen did at Alexander McQueen. There’s a boldness found in both brands that’s confrontational, disturbing in places, yet pushes the boundaries of what’s considered acceptable in their respective fields.

While the visual nature of McQueen’s work has a stronger impact, Frocrain’s Marlou fragrances are gently disarming. The ideas they interrogate creep up on you. But once you glimpse the theorem informing the collection, when considered within the realm of perfumery, with all of its intentional beauty and artifice, the perfumes become so much more fascinating.