Friday 12 March 2010

Nez à Nez: Atelier d'Artiste

At the age of nine my mother offered to send me to private Art classes, held by a local artist whose name I have since forgotten, but whose smiling eyes I will never forget. My recollection of the days spent in his atelier with 3 or 4 other students are blurry at best, but one thing I do recall, was the smell of his studio. Every time I stepped through the door (twice a week for 6 months) I would savour the sweet scent of the coloured gouaches set out for us on pristine white painting palettes; the chalky aroma of conté sticks; the woodyness of freshly sharpened graphite pencils, and bittersweet aroma of gesso and turpentine. The atelier was an environment I loved to be a part of as we spent a wet New Zealand winter staining large sheets of watercolour paper with vivid, lively hues.

As a company whose perfumes are said to be imagined pictorially before construction begins, and later evaluated according to the visuals they inspire; Parisian perfumers Nez à Nez clearly demonstrate a consciousness of the avant garde.
In this - one of my preferred scents from their range - they have paid hommage to the artist's creative space with their eau de parfum aptly named Atelier d'Artiste.
Rather than representing a literal interpretation of an artist's workspace in which one might expect to detect the odour of paint and plaster, this perfume blossoms with overlapping pockets of colour and tone: much like swollen drops of indian ink released onto dampened watercolour paper with an eyedropper.
Florets of rich grape, ambery cognac and dark rum fan out in the opening spritz, and is over-painted with a crimson ripple of raspberry. There is a hint of dusty juniper blue and pockets of dark patchouli brown. (The complex aroma is like that of dried fruits marinading in an alcoholic bath before being baked into a spicy christmas pudding). These components slowly spread to the edges of this olfactory canvas; one which was first primed with shades of tobacco, coffee and vanilla. If Atelier d'Artiste were to be viewed as art, it would be an abstract still life... a depiction of fruit and wine spread across a wooden table, but one whose colours and contours have shifted.

As with many works of art, they are often appreciated long after their creator has gone. I can easily imagine our children's children coming across a dusty box of this perfume 50 years from now, and discovering it is an accurate depiction of this very moment in time.
Much like the canvas of an artist.

Nez à Nez Atelier d'Artiste is available in 100ml size from for €98.

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