Headspace Parfums Sauge Review (Caroline Dumur) 2022 + A Wild and Urban Fougère Giveaway

Headspace Parfums Sauge courtesy of the brand

Along the sea-wall, a steady sloshing of the swell,

The waves not yet high, but even,

Coming closer and closer upon each other;

A fine fume of rain driving in from the sea,

Riddling the sand, like a wide spray of buckshot,

The wind from the sea and the wind from the mountain contending,

Flicking the foam from the whitecaps straight upward into the darkness.

From “The Storm” by Theodore Roethke

Sage perfumes

Sage, image via the brand

 One of the most intriguing lines exhibiting at Pitti Fragranze this year was Headspace, a French brand from fragrance maestro Nicolas Chabot, who is also the creative force behind Aether and the relaunch of elegant vintage house, Le Galion. Titled after the extraction technology of the same name, Headspace Parfums offers seven perfumes in lab bottles designed by Pierre Dinand, each based around an ingredient that the perfumer uses to convey a particular experience in nature. Sauge in particular was a restorative after a long hallway full of ouds and gourmands and just what my tired palate needed.

Sauge conveys the headspace of the smell of vegetation disturbed by the violent movement of water; the smell of plants after a heavy rain or beneath a waterfall cataract. Perfumer Caroline Dumur of IFF interprets this as a melange of vivid plantlike notes, chiefly sage, angelica and geranium, twanged by black pepper. The result is bracingly fresh and herbal, deepened with dry incense and sandalwood. As a name for this perfume, “Sauge” invokes not just its namesake herb and its soft, woodsy pigment, but the adjectives “suave” and “sauvage.” And that is the perfect description of this scent: urbanity tinged with wildness. Sauge is restless and urbane, a blend of vintage barbershop cologne and modish herbal elixir that seems perpetually astir.

Nicolas Chabot and Caroline Dumur

Nicolas Chabot, image via the brand and Caroline Demur, image via IFF

This, like the other Headspace fragrances, needs to be sprayed rather than dabbed to get its full effect. As the perfume misted onto my skin, its bitter top notes rushed out in a tumble of citric, piercing greenness alongside a slender mineral smell suggestive of wet stone. The sensory effect is plantlike but vegetal rather than acidulous due to the absence of galbanum in favour of sage and angelica flanked by turpenic notes and dry, sharp spice. The effect of these herbal-woody notes combined with black pepper in the opening is bold and outdoorsy but, as the fragrance settles, also elegant and classic. After that first spray settles, Headspace Parfums Sauge conveys a classic barbershop Fougère. The bracing urbanity of, say, Geo F. Trumper’s Wild Fern, is there, but tweaked to come across as decidedly modern. Dumur replaces lavender with other turpenic notes  – here cypriol and cypress – and deploys an “aromatic fern accord” in place of oakmoss. Cumin, rather than patchouli, gives the fragrance its necessary dose of earthiness. But Dumur retains a distinctive Fougère reference point by keeping coumarin in the base with tonka bean.

Sauge by Headspace Parfums

Headspace Parfums Sauge courtesy of the brand

As it settles, Sauge becomes less fougere-ish and more of its own beast. In the heart, incense, arid and slightly smoky, and with sandalwood begin to smooth out the fragrance and give it some heft. A chewy off-sweetness comes through in the base courtesy of tonka bean, and I pick up angelica here again in the citrusy-crunchy quality that persists under the drydown. Half an hour later, Sauge is delightful: herbaceous, fernlike, and dry as a well-made martini. If you are looking for something coolly modern with old-world class, Sauge could be your tonic.

Notes: Madagascar black pepper, cumin, angelica root, clary sage, geranium, cypress, cypriol, santal, olibanum, tonka bean, aromatic floral fern.

Bottle of Sauge very generously provided by Headspace. My opinions, as always, are my own.

Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor

Headspace Parfums Sauge

Thanks to the generosity of Headspace Parfums, we have a 30 ml bottle of Sauge for one registered reader in the EU, UK or U.S. To be eligible, please leave a comment describing what strikes you about Sauge based on Lauryn’s review and where you live. Draw closes 11/2/2023.

Headspace Parfums Sauge is available on the brand’s website, in the USA at Luckyscent and Jovoy Paris.

Please read more about Creative Director Nicholas Chabot who was Michelyn’s best creative director of 2016

Headspace Tubéreuse was a Finalist for the 2023 Fragrance Foundation France Awards: Best Perfume from an Independent Brand.

See Senior Contributor Rachel Ng’s review of Myrrhe  and Emmanuelle’s review of Headspace Parfums Tubéreuse.

Editor’s Note: Please join us in wishing Lauryn a wonderful and scentful birthday, October 30th.

Follow us on Instagram: @cafleurebonofficial @elledebee @headspaceparfums @carolinedumurparfumeur

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