For Lubin’s Talismania Collection the house took leave from Paris and set off on three intrepid journeys, which resulted in new Lubin perfumes for 2012, Korrigan, Akkad and Galaad. The binding thread that weaved these different experiences together was not one of geography, nor were these perfumes linked by the use of a common perfume ingredient or note. Instead, each perfume had its own distinctive signature, built around the stories of ancient mystics. Korrigan was the most playful of the three. The name was borrowed from the mischievous elf-like creature passed down as ancient Celtic legend. Korrigans were mythical fairies, said to have inhabited moors and wooded areas of Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They could shape-shift and used magic to bring men under their spell. It was supposed that a Korrigan was originally a pagan druidess. Men, if you have read this far, I should reassure you that this is not a perfume designed to make you smell like a fairy! The inspiration behind the perfume came from the magical beverages Korrigans were said to have made. Their pagan festivities required many scented potions distilled from harvested spices, flowers and seeds. These potions became offerings during the Gaelic festivals of Beltane and Samhain, which celebrated the midway point between the calendar’s equinox and solstice. Lubin’s owner Gilles Thevenin and perfumer Thomas Fontaine imagined the intoxicating elixirs these mystical creatures would brew and the leather pouches from which they drank. The result was a highly original composition of “caramel wood” presented in one of my favourite perfume bottles of the past 12 months. Oozing Art Deco charm, Korrigan’s milk-white bottle with tortoise-shell inspired cap is as interesting to look at, as it is to smell.
Milky wood is a theme not often explored by perfumers and the brands that commission their work. For Korrigan, perfumer Thomas Fontaine conjured a trunk of caramel heartwood yielding tears of toffee resin. The initial lactonic notes are light and steamy with a slightly burnt undertone. It is the smell of milk cooking over an open fire. As the perfume ages on skin, the fragrant milk reduces to a thick paste of buttery caramel. Notes of cognac and whiskey bring a boozy quality to the perfume’s unusual gourmand theme. Saffron is a shape-shifter in Korrigan, lending its unique spicy note to the milk accord as well as playing a supporting role to in the perfume’s leather accord. Cedar, vetiver and a touch of oudh give the impression of wood, which is warmed with notes of musk and ambrette seed.
Milk notes are often compared with the scent of human skin and in this way Korrigan provides a sensuality that many people will find attractive on male and female skin. Korrigan has some olfactory landmarks like caramel and leather but no overtly recognisable symbols the general public would be used to smelling in their perfumes if their experience did not reach further than the big international designer brands. I always enjoy a perfume that challenges me and Lubin’s Korrigan is one I recommend, even if it is simply to test and smell the next time you visit a perfumery that carries the Lubin range. With a fragrance like this there are no rules but my preference for wearing my bottle of Korrigan has been to wear it on warm evenings when I am out socialising with friends. No doubt each owner of Korrigan has their own preference. With the first day of Spring only days away, I feel like I should be planning my own pagan ritual to welcome the coming season of flowers!
Perfumer: Thomas Fontaine
Bottle Designer: Gilles Thevenin, Serge Mansau
Release Date: 2012
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woody oriental