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.