Arquiste L’Or de Louis tableau courtesy of the brand
April 1687: The Orangery, Versailles: In his workshop in the rue des Gravilliers in the Quartier de Temple, the age’s great royal perfumer, Simon Barbe, inscribes instructions. Enfleurage techniques for jasmin, muscade, and roses are recorded in careful detail. As he dips his quill in its inkwell again, Barbe considers the best techniques for the scent he will create for His Majesty. It will, of course, be an extraction of fleurs d’oranger, the king’s favourite, perhaps his obsession. Across the Seine and through the forests, at the Palace of Versailles is the Orangerie, built some twenty years ago to house the delicate bitter orange trees, transported once upon a time from Italy, through the dark French winters. Under the “Sun King,” the structure has recently been widened and lengthened so that it is now a veritable cathedral. Here, thousands of orange trees luxuriate during the cold months, heated by special cedar bonfires.
Image of Palais de Versailles by Carlos Huber, November 2021
It is April now, and they wait. Soon, thousands of small orange globes will hang from the boughs like a thousand miniature balls of fire, living emblems of the Sun King himself. The branches are pregnant with fluffy blossoms, their promised scent creamy and golden, as bitter and sweet as a love poem. Over the centuries to come, fleurs d’oranger will walk brides down church aisles, cling to the wrists of the soignee, and waft across crowded rooms like secret messages. Barbes cannot know that now, and toils on his formula, hoping to create a perfume for the ages. Hoping, perhaps, to imagine something that smells very much like Arquiste L’Or de Louis, a golden, honeyed, time travelling orange blossom fragrance that is so sumptuously beautiful Louis XIV would have granted it a royal commission.
Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Carlos Huber, courtesy of the brand
Created by Givaudan master perfumer and Vice President of Perfumery, Roderigo Flores-Roux working once again in tandem with Arquiste founder Carlos Huber, Arquiste L’Or de Louis is “a vintage-style orange blossom with a warm, woody background, including notes of orange blossom absolute, pomegranate and honey.” In a nod to Versailles opulence, the bottles contain flecks of 24 karat gold that make them seem like glittery kaleidoscopes when held to light. I have written this before, but no one does vintage-tinged perfumes like Flores-Roux. His compositions reference older compositions through elegant use of high-quality raw materials and a deep understanding of what makes those older perfumes tick. Here, mossy-citric notes recall old school chypres while a quiet, musky animalism runs through the perfume, keeping the creamy orange blossom and jasmine well from girlishness in the way of old Guerlains like Jasmiralda. But L’Or de Louis is not simply an homage to older styles. Flores-Roux poises its retro quality against a brightness that spirals through the perfume like a spinning top from start to finish and genderless wood notes.
Image inside the Orangerie de Versailles by Carlos Huber, November 2021
Arquiste L’Or de Louis’ opening is breathtaking: a glittering arpeggio of aldehydes, which, though not listed, must be here in the top notes, alongside the bitter brightness of bergamot and fresh, silky jasmine. In a moment, though, this ebullient tempo slows to an adagio as the the slow, sensuous drip of honey seeps across creamy orange blossoms. The tree flowers smell like they are opening in slow motion before me. I get every aspect of the blossom: its lactonic sweetness, acidulous green stem, and then the smooth young wood of the trunk. Pomegranate, with its musty juiciness, adds a darker shading that adds balance to all that gorgeous, ripe floralcy.
Arquiste L’Or de Louis flacon courtesy of the brand
Two hours later, L’Or de Louis has kept its shimmer. The orange blossom remains at the center, flanked by jasmine and now orris, still buoyant thanks to the bergamot that circles back and around. Coming back to the fragrance on my wrist again, just seconds later, I smell warm skin, spilled honey, and that poignant, soprano drift of mock orange when the air is sun-warm, and the breeze is just right.
In the dry-down, there is a slim tendril of smoke. Four hundred years ago, at Versailles, the bonfires to heat the trees are dying down. Simon Barbe tilts his head in acknowledgement and smiles.
Notes: Orange blossom absolute, pomegranate, bergamot, jasmine absolute, honey, Florentine orris, musk, cedar wood, firewood smoke, cade wood, oislet de chypre (a resinous accord dating from the 17th century).
Disclaimer: Bottle of L’Or de Louis generously given to me by Arquiste. My opinions, as always, are my own.
Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor
All images courtesy of the brand unless otherwise noted.
Thanks to Arquiste, we have a travel spray of L’Or de Louis for one registered ÇaFleureBon reader in the U.S. only. Please leave a comment with what you enjoyed about Lauryn’s review of Arquiste L’Or de Louis. Do you have a favourite Arquiste fragrance? Draw closes 10/19/2023.
Rodrigo Flores-Roux was Michelyn’s Best Perfumer of 2018
Arquiste Misfit received a Fragrance Foundation award U.S.A 2021
Arquiste Anima Dulcis is a ÇaFleureBon Modern Masterpiece. Read Ermano’s article
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