With over 70 fragrances since the company’s inception in 1976, L’Artisan Parfumeur is a truly prolific niche perfume house. Their fragrances always contain a high amount of quality natural ingredients. L’Eau de Jatamansi is constructed entirely of certified organic oils and in 2005 they launched a limited ‘grand cru’ edition. In the same way vintage champagne is produced each edition is dedicated to one flower whose annual harvest has been deemed a vintage year. Each bottle is numbered and limited to a few thousand units. Travel is often an inspiration behind L’Artisan creations. Timbuktu is the second perfume from their travel series and was launched in 2004. Perfumer Betrand Duchaufour was inspired by the use of fragrance in African cultures. Duchaufour traveled the continent in search of perfume stories. It was the traditional art of wulusan, a ritual performed by the women of Mali that captured the perfumer’s imagination. Handed down from one generation to the next the Malian women arrange floral preparations that are heated with macerated woods and resins. The resulting smoke is used to seduce or secure the heart of their beloved. Duchaufour’s creation is named after the Malian city, Timbuktu.
Timbuktu is a unisex scent. It is so foreign to most western palettes I don’t think neither man nor woman would have a context within which to place this unusual smell. In the mid 90s when I began studying at an art college in New Zealand I used to enjoy visiting a small store after class. The owners were African and imported all sorts of African crafts. Timbuktu reminds me of their store. Woven grass mats, spices, amber crystals, clay pottery and scented oil the female owner wore in her braided hair. The official Timbuktu blurb says the fragrance opens with fruity green mango, pink pepper, cardamom and karo karounde flower. Notes of patchouli, incense, myrrh, benzoin, vetiver and papyrus wood fill the base. It is a complex scent and has a wonderful green floral heart not dissimilar to Ellena’s Terre d’Hermes however this is can be hard to perceive over the prominent patchouli, myrrh and incense notes which create a scent that is earthy and colourful.
French bohemian, Timbuktu appeals to your inner hippy. It connects you with the earth and makes you feel grounded. It is a scent I sometimes use as a room fragrance. I use it sparingly on leather furniture and pillows. It is a perfect partner to my L’Artisan terracotta amber ball. On people I imagine it accompanying journalists, traveling the world to far and exotic places in search of news. Backpack, laptop and camera their only possessions, L’Artisan’s Timbuktu is the only luxury they have afforded themselves to travel with.
L’Artisan Patchouli Patch, Maitre Parfumeur Et Gantier Ambre Precieux, L’Artisan Ambre Extreme, Etro Shaal Nur, Hermes Terre D’Hermes
Perfumer: Bertrand Duchaufour (Symrise)
Bottle designer: Frederico Restrepo
Release date: 2004
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Dry Woods