Der Duft In Flagranti

Der Duft In Flagranti Axel Zolich, Heathen Perfumes

It’s not what you’re thinking.

While the phrase in flagranti may suggest images of tousled bed sheets, startled faces, and mussed hair, it simply means being caught in the commission of a visible crime – adulterous or otherwise. For perfumer Antonio Alessandria, artisan perfume’s storyteller par excellence, the offence described in perfume became not a sexual imbroglio but the theft of a rare flower. The resulting perfume is not the scent of illicit union but of a fantastical tulip – represented by fleshy white florals – mixed with rich gourmand elements.

Anselm Skogstad of Der Duft

Anselm Skogstad courtesy of the brand

Let’s backtrack a bit. Der Duft, a brand founded by Anselm Skogstad,(a German-American artist, photojournalist and perfumer) which has since its launch in 2020, become one of artisan perfumery’s coolest lines. Der Duft showcases the talents of its perfumers and Anselm allows them – including Nathalie Feisthauer, Miguel Matos, Prin Lomros and Anne-Sophie Behaghel – a wide berth. Each fragrance is constructed around an abstract concept, such as “pride” or “match,” and each perfumer takes it and runs with it, defining in scent what that means to them. Alessandria is one of perfumery’s premiere storytellers, building his creations around specific narratives. So he may not have been an obvious choice for a conceptual scent.

perfumer Antonio Alessandria

Antonio Alessandria courtesy of Antonio Alessandria

But he rose to the challenge: “Anselm fell in love with my compositions and contacted me to start a collaboration for a new fragrance in his brand. I told him the way I am used to working, but he insisted on not giving me a theme or a story. He told me only to start with a floral fragrance or with a gourmand fragrance or with a combination of the two. I was lost, because you know that for me, storytelling is very, very important. So I started thinking about the “essence,” the archetype, of a gourmand or a floral or a combination of the two. I tried to find something in my mind, an image of a flower that could seem appealing for its “taste.” My imagination went back to some old Flemish still-life paintings and above all to a special kind of tulip.


Michiel Jansz Van Mierevelt, Double Portrait with Tulip, 1609, via Wikimedia Commons

Der Duft In Flagranti is a rich, gourmand floral with sharp, fruity and herbal-green twangs. It recalls eccentric stunners like Schiaparelli Shocking and Le Parfum de Therese, with their unusual fruit and herbal notes, but has its own distinctive personality, which comes out most strongly in the perfume’s mid-section. The echo of Shocking is particularly noticeable at the outset of In Flagranti, when a bold basil note – which has some of the same anisic profile as Shocking’s tarragon – bumps up against bright, sharp berry notes. But those comparisons fade quickly away, as Alessandria’s singular stamp becomes apparent in the way the fragrance unfolds. He explains,

Doing some research I read about the Semper Augustus, a variegated tulip that bewitched the Dutch and was famous for being the most expensive tulip in the Netherlands during the tulip mania” (of the mid 1600s). “Red crimson stripes on a milky white petal,” says Alessandria. “I worked on the flower part and then I started adding some gourmand facets in different directions, but without talking with Anselm. One day, out of the blue, Anselm told me about his intention to call the new fragrance “In Flagranti” … I imagined a man who was stealing a bulb of the Semper Augustus during the tulip mania. Bewitched by the beauty of the flower and by its smell (even if we know that it doesn’t smell), in a sort of trance, he wanted to taste the flower. But the owner of the bulb came because he heard a commotion and found the thief with some petals in his mouth. So he was captured “In Flagranti”!

Best Tulip Perfumes

Jan-Davidsz de Heem Festoon with Flowers and Fruits, 1670

 First up are the acidulous green notes, which provide a radiant quality to the fragrance, and I can almost see the creamy, stripy gleam of the tulip as it appears in 17th-century Dutch paintings. Indeed, spritely green touches persist throughout In Flagranti, keeping a composition with rather a lot of heavy ingredients bright and animated. Soon, the composition sways between sharp and green and sweet and full-bodied. An example of this is the way butterscotch-caramel drizzles over some underripe peach in the middle, the sweet, silky quality of the syrup contrasting with the off-sweet quality of the fruit. Apricot adds its tart-sweetness as tuberose comes out to vamp, and basil, which is savoury and vivid at the beginning, becomes more peppery and darker over time as our tulip thief is nabbed.

Der Duft In Flagranti by Antonio Alessandria

Photo of Der Duft In Flagranti by Indigo Perfumery

In Flagranti’s heart is a white blossom extravaganza where tuberose, orange blossom and lilies vamp on each other with full-bodied aplomb, each noticeable as itself but soon cohering into a lush bouquet where no single flower stands apart from its sisters. In the base, vanilla and some chewy amber whip the flowers into a creamy floral confection, while sandalwood burnishes the composition and adds a sturdy refinement. Revisiting the scent after about an hour, I am struck by how sophisticated and complex it is, its balance remarkable. I detect echoes of Alessandria’s Dies Aurorae, which also treads a gourmand route and retains a similar interplay of toothsome and piquant. As it dries down, In Flagranti smells like one of those sophisticated, eccentric floral desserts you find only in star chef restaurants. And, after wearing it a while, you may find yourself craving it at odd times.

Just please don’t eat the tulips.

Notes: Basil, galbanum, strawberry, raspberry, apricot, peach, lily of the valley, white lily, orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, vanilla, caramel, sandalwood, musk, amber.

Disclaimer: Sample on Der Duft In Flagranti kindly provided by Indigo Perfumery. My opinions, as always, are my own.

Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor

In Flagranti by Der Duft

Thanks to the generosity of the wonderful Indigo Perfumery, whose 10-year anniversary was celebrated October 28th, we have a 50 ml bottle of In Flagranti for one registered reader in the U.S. only. You must register or your comment will not count. To be eligible, please leave a comment saying what intrigues you about Der Duft In Flagranti based on Lauryn’s review and where you live. Draw closes 11/8/2023.

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