Maison Violet Cycle 00 x Bleg, image courtesy of the brand
“In a place once resonant with the echoes of footsteps and voices, only the soft murmur of the wind will remain. The dunes will supplant the skyscrapers, concealing within their depths the remnants of an entire civilization.” (from Maison Violet)
Detail of a Desert edited by Michelyn via the brand
French brand Maison Violet makes fragrances that are as intricately delicate and lovely as filigree. Until now, I’ve thought of them as a purveyor of elegant Rococo florals, but with the new Maison Violet Cycle 002 x Bleg a peppery, resinous “scent from the future,” that has changed. No shimmering flowers bloom in Cycle 002’s arid landscape. According to the brand, Cycle 002 “depicts, this time, the incandescence of nature. From the simmering resinous woods to scorching sands and fiery spices … an “emissary of a distant and unknown world … its message is strikingly simple: let us do everything in our power to ensure that the perfume from this haunting desert remains forever an ethereal dream.” This is fragrance as a cautionary tale, the perfume of our planet devoid of us. Resinous and resonant, a comfort scent edged with an angry melancholy, Maison Violet Cycle 002 is a deeply lovely contradiction and one of my favourite releases this year.
Master Perfumer Nathalie Lorson, photo Firmenich©
Produced as a limited-edition of 2000 bottles and composed by Firmenich master perfumer Nathalie Lorson, Cycle 002 is a gentle genii who emerges from his bottle in a sandstorm of arid, peppery aromas, whirling with mystical notes. Lorson, who created another peppery fragrance for Maison Violet, Abime, is also the nose behind one of my very favourite perfumes, Poivre 23 for Le Labo. An incomparable master of spice, she was the perfect choice for this scent. It’s peppery, all right, and full of normally dense woods and resins. But somehow Lorson floats these dense ingredients like magician, so that the overall effect of Maison Violet Cycle 002 is one of lightness. Initially Cycle 002 struck me as a pared-down version of Poivre 23, stripped of its heaviest elements and aerated with bitter citrus. As in Poivre 23, there’s a boatload of black pepper, crackly and smoky, and a deliciously warm labdanum-incense base. But the weightier elements of Poivre 23, particularly its full-bodied amber-vanilla syrup, have been replaced here by a silky combination of guaiac wood, peru balsam, and incense. The peru balsam was a deft choice; its coniferous bitterness amps up the same qualities in the orange and bergamot and helps give Cycle 002 its hoist.
French Artist Bleg courtesy of the brand
I love it when a fragrance can convey temperature – I never fail to marvel at such compositional sleights of hand. Masion Violet Cycle 002 does not disappoint in this regard. When it first opens, Cycle 002 smells chiefly of the two citruses, but heated, as if someone left a bottle of bigarade in a bain marie. The sense of warmth that pervades the fragrance comes initially from the black pepper, which is hiding just behind the fruit, and is amplified a little later by the sweat of cumin. Keep going and the heat turns up: chili pepper and the prickly side of clove cha cha right on in, and it’s a scorcher in here. But just as the perfume begins to bubble like a sensual witches’ brew, it begins to recede into something gentler. And this is where Cycle 002’s heart truly lies.
Maison Violet X Bleg Cycle 002, image courtesy of the brand
Half an hour later. The heated notes now simmer very quietly in the background. On my wrist is a comforting, hugging combination of elemi wood and guaiac – two notes I always love; elemi for its inherent balsamic-sharp contrast and guaiac for its soothing, nutty elegance. They meld beautifully here, and the combined aroma is tranquil but alive. Over time, Cycle 002 becomes richer, smoother, opaquer, but somehow never loses either its heat or the weightless quality that makes me imagine floating in space. With its suggestion of fire and earth, certainly this could be a fragrance for the eternal. I begin to think of Maison Violet Cycle 002 not so much as a prognostication but a talisman, worn to ward off our worst selves. I will wear it often.
Notes: Bergamot, mandarin, lemon, bitter orange, black pepper, elemi, chili, cloves, cumin, cedar, guaiac wood, labdanum, peru balm, incense.
Disclaimer: Sample of Cycle 002 very kindly sent to me by Maison Violet. My opinions, as always, are my own.
Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor
Art Direction: Michelyn
art by Bleg for Cycle 002 courtesy of the brand
Note from the brand: This is a collaboration with French artist Bleg, “To illustrate Maison Violet Cycle 002, we called on Bleg from Lyon who gives life to pure Posca lines. His style both abstract and minimalist, transports and lets the imagination run wild.”
Thanks to the generosity of a team member, we have a carded 2 ml sample of this limited edition for one registered reader in EU or USA. To be eligible, please leave a comment saying what stirs your interest in Maison Violet Cycle 002 based on Lauryn’s review. Draw closes 11/22/2023.
Enjoy Sr. Editor Lauryn Beer’s review of Tanagra here and Sketch here
Read former Sr Editor Despina Veneti’s introduction to Maison Violet, the founders and creative directors as well as her review of Pourpre d’Automne here
Cycle 002 is now available in the USA at Indigo Perfumery here to buy or sample.
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