Fleur de Louis is an olfactory tale of the French Court in the days of King Louis XIV, two generations before the French Revolution and the demise of the monarchy. The year is 1660 and the location is Pheasant Island, a small isle in the Bidasoa River bordering France and Spain. What would the King of France be doing there, so far from the palatial grounds of the Tulleries or Versailles? This was the location arranged for the young King to meet his bride, the Infanta Maria Teresa. This was a political move, a symbol of a new peace between Spain and France. As the King matured, Louis XIV, or Le Roi Soleil (Sun King) as he was known, was a grand patron of the arts. His eye for beauty was one of the driving forces behind the expansion of the Chateau de Versailles, a palace that demonstrated the power of France to all of Europe. Within the Chateau grounds, the King’s orangerie, a 17th century glasshouse, inspired by the Renaissance gardens of Italy, was the King’s pride and joy. At this time, orangeries were a symbol of wealth and King Louis’ garden, which boasted approximately 3000 orange trees, was opulence beyond compare. In perfumery, orange flower absolute (solvent extracted scent of the orange blossom) and neroli oil (the essential oil of the orange blossom) are two materials used to reference the French King.
In Fleur de Louis, Carlos Huber and perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux create the scene of King Louis XIV being introduced to his future wife. A base of orange blossom and bergamot is surrounded by decadent Florentine orris, rose and jasmine absolute adding to the grandeur of this festive royal occasion. Fleur de Louis has a remarkable freshness by way of galbanum and sappy French cypress, perhaps signifying the lush greenness that would have surrounded Pheasant Island at the time. This rich forest-like note extends to the perfume’s base with earthy tones of vetiver and an amber accord based on labdanum.
Once again Arquiste play with the paradox of modern and classic perfumery. Just for a moment, Fleur de Louis’s sparkling citrus opening and orange blossoms feel like a familiar eau de cologne but then it evolves into something that could only be 21st century. As I have been writing about my experience of the Arquiste collection, a number of people have asked me which one is my favourite. For me, it has to be Fleur de Louis. What man wouldn’t want to smell like a king?
Over 7 days I am writing about my exploration of each of the 7 fragrances that make up the Arquiste collection. Australian readers can enter a draw to win a set of Arquiste samples by clicking here. Tomorrow’s post reviews Infanta en Flor.