Jean Laporte: the Master Perfumer is no longer with us.

Jean Laporte passed away earlier this month. He founded Sisley, L’ Artisan Parfumeur and later Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier. L’ Artisan Parfumeur was the company that introduced the term “niche perfumery” to the world. Laporte left this company to create Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier in 1988. The theme of his creations for this house was a retreat to the original values and aesthetics of perfumery’s early days. All his creations had a strong creative mark, completely detached from the dictations of what was fashionable  at the time. His compositions not only relied on top quality materials but also used them in unconventional ways. Most of his creations have an old world vibe. An intrinsic part of their charm is their strange, almost off-putting opening notes. Jean Laporte eventually left Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier to the hands of Jean-Paul Millet Lage. He continued releasing interesting perfumes but at the end of the 00’s a massive reformulation of Jean Laporte’s compositions damaged the reputation of the house. Recently there was a brief discontinuation in supply of representatives all over the world and closing down of one of the shops in Paris which made the future of the house look very uncertain. Gladly representatives stocked again and some new releases followed. The Extravagante versions of Fraicheur Muskissime, Vocalise and Jeune Homme and the all new Cuir Fetiche.

Laporte’s masterpiece, Route du Vetiver was the perfume that got me hooked on niche perfumery and vetiver. The term “dirty” vetiver usually refers to a smoky quality in vetiver as displayed by Vetiver Extraordinaire and Lorenzo Villoresi Vetiver. Route du Vetiver goes dirty all the way, amplifying the smell of earth and vetiver roots coupled with a mildew note, which of course is a reference to the smell of fields after the rain, a smell that comes from Schizomycetes, a class of bacteria that live in soil and are responsible the way we associate the small of Fall with rain. Laporte was not a coward when it came to composing a fragrance and those who have tried the vintage composition know exactly what I mean. The modern version is a tamer beast, a jasmine-vetiver composition, which is still polarizing.

Jardin du Nile is a beautiful geranium masculine composition with a disturbing parmigiano opening note. Still the most exquisite geranium pour messieurs in the market.

Santal Noble is a bitter, astringent sandalwood, the polar opposite of Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore in the sandalwood spectrum. The opening feels like a chunk of sandalwood rubbing against the skin. Abrasive as it may seem, it dries down into a most masucline sandalwood scent, pale and imposing.

Ambre Precieux is to me the definitive amber. A mixture of deep balsams and vanilla sweetness wraps the melancholic bitterness of amber and envelops the wearer into the most exquisite, velvet amber in the world.

Iris Bleu Gris is a unique iris composition. Green, happy, bold and alive.

Parfum d’ Habit is a perfume composed in the tradition of the 18th century, when common belief was that perfume would kill you if it came to contact with your skin. Perfume was worn on clothes. Parfum d’Habit is a thick iris/leather scent that can be worn equally gracefully by men or women.

Female compositions are equally beautiful. The Muskissime series, Sanguine, Fraicheur and Rose, are effervescent musk compositions, uplifting and joyful.

Laporte retired creating Le Jardin du Parfumeur,  a tribute to nature in perfumery. His creativity will be missed. His creations are still with us, a reminder of the roots of perfumery and the values of quality and originality

RIP Jean Laporte.

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About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas http://pantelismakkas.blogspot.com/. You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.

21 comments

  1. Thank you for a touching tribute to a truly creative man. x

  2. Very lovingly written. I’ve only ever tried one Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier fragrance, but it was quite good (Eau des Iles).

  3. NikosP

    I read that he has retired long ago, receiving only visitors and this maybe explains his early loss… I LOVE Parfum d habit and Jardin du Nile. Both are Sooooo different as most of his great work is! And thats what, this man has to be remembered for : innovation and diversity.

    • I am also a big fan of Parfum d’Habit. Removed are all the hippy notions of patchouli. For me, this patchouli scent smells of a waiting room in Versailles. You wait, eagerly to be accepted by French nobility, anxious to know if your presence will be received with gratitude or if your aristocratic host will turn their nose up at you. A kind of 18th century French episode of Gossip Girl. It’s a very clever and original pairing of patchouli with fresh almost marine notes. Love, love, love : )

  4. Thank you all for commenting on this post. Clayton this is really amazing how Parfum d’Habit has so many different “reading” levels. I do not get what you call “almost marine” but I take your word for it! I can get the patchouli but to me it is mostly orris. Thick and bitter. Maybe because I see the similarities with Iris Bleu Gris.

    Jean Laporte’s approach to creating fragrances has been missing for many years. MPG is still a great house but the spark of innovation is not shining so bright. I am really looking forward to trying Cuir Fetiche. I have high hopes on this one.

    • Hi Christos, I say ‘almost marine’ because I am not even convinced myself that is what it is. For me, the combination of the fresh fruity (what they call) blackcurrant note and the earthy patchouli, vetiver gives me a marine impression (illusion) as usually, marine fragrances give a sense of fresh ocean spray with a hint of mossy sea weed. Purely my impression as this I am sure is not the intended theme of Parfum d’Habit.

      • Laporte has used a lot this “blackcurrant” note. I think what this note does is give a sort of metallic vibe at some point of the development. I believe this is what you pick up as fresh ocean spray. Interesting observation.

  5. True, it does pop up in a lot of their fragrances doesn’t it? Something else I find interesting is how their website has subscribed to this growing trend of no longer listing the notes as top, heart and base. Guerlain no longer do this, nor does Serge Lutens. I know it is not popular, but in some ways I find it easier to digest as a list of singular notes instead of these flowery words that could mean anything. For example the current description of Parfum d’habit on the MPG website.

    “With Parfum d’Habit, Maître Parfumeur et Gantier plays on a patchouli and vetiver heart, softened with sandalwood. A modest and refined leathery note is revealed on skin, which gives Parfum d’Habit its special character.”

    And then in their press book I received in 2004 the description of Parfum d’Habit is simply:

    Top notes: blackcurrent buds, bergamot, petitgrain
    Heart notes: leather, geranium, patchouli, incense
    Back notes: sandalwood, ambergris, vanilla

    For me, some very subtle differences….and no mention of orris, which you picked up in your comments and I agree, seems like a key part of the composition.

  6. I think the classic idea of pyramid is changing with the use of aromachemicals which add more dimensions to the development of a fragrance. The classic pyramid shows a temporal progression. IsoE Super on the other hand seems to stay constant for a long time while it adds an element of texture.

    Alec Lawless of Essentially Me (an all natural perfume line) suggests a different type of note classification, heart, nuance and intrigue, which does not examine the temporal development of notes but rather the way these notes interact with each other. I find this attempt very interesting.

  7. Millet Lage

    Thank you all of you for your warm comments.

    I wish to tell you one remark about what it has been writen in the article published.
    I never thought ou tried to change any formula created by JF Laporte or to work with new suppliers to decrease our costs.
    Here too, we can play on words : we follow original formula but raw materials are cheaper; so what about quality?
    This golden rule is the warranty that our customers, most loyal to our brand or becoming, will be continuing to find with Maître Parfumeur et Gantier the original création they do love.
    And for my new creation, I work always with same requirements.
    Jean Paul Millet Lage

    • Dear Mr Millet Lage

      I never wanted to imply that there was an attempt to temper with formulas or quality. Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier is still one of the most prestigious houses, at least in my mind, with a unique approach to perfume. Reformulation is an issue with many companies and I am sure decreasing the cost is not the issue here, I have never implied that. Some raw materials become no longer available so they have to be changed. If a company has to reformulate this may only mean one thing: that they are using natural ingredients. On my post on Route du Vetiver I make exactly this point. The version now available is a unique floral vetiver and the drydown of two versions is very similar. For reasons that are probably very subjective I was particularly moved by the older version but I own and wear both.

      As far as the MP&G releases that were created by you, they are exquisite and memorable. I enjoy particularly Bois de Turquie and Bahiana just to name a few. This post was just meant as a tribute to Jean Laporte and I never meant to imply anything negative about the present and future of the house. Nothing would sadden me more than to know that someone reading this post understands differently. If you believe that something that I have written insults the company in any way I would be happy to rephrase.

      My impressions on Parfum d’Habit, Ambre Precieux, Santa Noble and the Muskissime series are based on the current formulas and in my Iris Bleu Gris post I comment that the new formulation is more interesting to me than the vintage one.

  8. Thank you for the tribute to Jean Laporte Memory of Scent! I love Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, all Laporte’s and Jean Paul Millet Lage’s creations. I am dying for this ”old world vibe”…Reformulations are often inevitable as you say, it’ s hard to accept them anyway! I feel so disappointed when I have to deal with the reformulation of a perfume that I love, even if it ‘s better than the one I love!
    You lucky angels!!!

    • I am sure the “old world vibe” will stay strong with MPG new releases. I will report on Cuir Fetiche as soon as I can get a sample or as soon as the local stockist makes this available. It seems that there is a trend for this style of perfume even in mass market releases these days, which is hopeful.

      Your blog is a refreshing oasis in the Greek perfume desert.

      • Regarding MPG new releases, I hope so! I ‘m looking forward for your review, I like a lot the way you think and write. Usually, mass market releases make me angry, anyway I always hope that things will change, even when facts prove my hopes wrong. Regarding the ”oasis” -you made me blush -, I’ m trying to do my best under the circumstances. Thank you for your support Memory of Scent!

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  13. diane brant

    fabulous line. coveted by my customers. can not find a US distributor any more

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