Isabelle Larignon was born and raised in La Rochelle on the west coast of France. If you have ever visited this atmospheric harbour, it’s a beautiful old maritime city, oozing history and a mix of rugged mediaeval tinged ambience, exemplified by the three remaining towers of the harbour fortifications. La Rochelle has connections dating back to an original Gallo-Roman port and links with the indomitable Eleanor of Aquitaine and The Knights Templars.
Isabelle is a talented copywriter, working in a multitude of fields including gastronomy, luxury goods, wine, lifestyle, hotels and perfumery. The more cogent connections are with Le Nez Editions, a cultural scent-orientated brand including magazines, literature, perfume books, and concise guides to olfactive materials such as jasmine, rose, orris and patchouli. She also worked with the Osmothèque in Paris, where souls of classic rare perfumes slumber in protective storage.
In 2018 she decided the time was right to follow a perfumed dream. The first step was Cinquième Sens in Paris and Grasse, a renowned repository of skills and material. Part of her studies was creating a perfume with a light constraint. Her perfume hero is Bertrand Duchaufour and she decided to say hello and updated him on her new project.
If you have ever had the opportunity to meet Bertrand, he is a fascinating bundle of fizzing molecular ideas melded with a beautiful sense of place and emotions. He does not suffer fools easily, but is kind and supportive. He talks about scent with zero snobbery, for him it is a vocation.
L’Artisan Parfumeur allowed him to let loose his imagination and wanderlust. Perfumes like Dzongkha, Méchant Loup, Al Oudh, Vanille Absolument, Nuit de Tubereuse, Séville à L'Aube, Timbuktu and Traversée du Bosphore. An astonishing array of themes, fictions and masterly use of materials can be explored through his work. The incense series for Comme de Garçons was a ground-breaking treatment of the faith and religious milieu.
So, it makes beautiful sense that Bertrand sampled Isabelle’s work and found something that resonated. There are soft similarities in style, the intense studying of materials, giving us the soul of something just out of reach. There should be a certain sense of mystery with compositions, and as a mentor Bertrand is impeccable. He is a candle in a shadowed room, providing just enough sensual light to work and enough shadow to create a sense of mystery.
There is a deceptive fragility within the work. Blues, greys and a hidden palette of rising, swelling mood. Both Milky Dragon and Le Flocon de Johann K begin as quiet perfumes that allow the openings to explore a muted rhythm settling on skin. Then they begin to foment, carefully revealing character and story.
Materials and accords rise to our senses in imaginative and unexpected vapours. The butter accord blended with cardamom and bucchu in Milky Dragon is sublimely satisfying. The pale-yellow tenderness of mimosa absolute in Le Flocon de Johann K floats on a snowy ozonic bed of mentholated narcissus, any sweetness tempered by cut lemon and a chilled plume of incense, so soft as to be almost invisible.
It is rare to discover such unique and beautiful perfumes as Isabelle's, but these are exceptional works by a woman who has an instinct for composition and effect.
Alex Musgrave, October 2022