Perfume Review: Memo Paris Lalibela (Aliénor Massenet) 2007) + Ethiopian Hymn Draw

Gebre Mesqel Lalibela Wikipedia

According to legend, Gebre Mesqel Lalibela (1162 – 1221 C.E.), medieval Ethiopian prince and saint, was born surrounded by the sweet fragrance of honey, wild flowers and frankincense.  The scent attracted a swarm of bees that did not harm the infant. The bees and the beautiful fragrances were believed to be omens foretelling the sovereignty of the child.  The prince grew in wisdom and sanctity, but his half sister and older half brother, King Harbay, fearing the prince’s popularity, poisoned their younger sibling.  Prince Lalibela lingered in a coma for three days.  Nearing death he dreamed of a New Jerusalem and was given directions by G-d to hew eleven churches from the solid, pink volcanic tuff that surrounded the city of Roha (the city known today as Lalibela), the capital of the Ethiopian Zagwe dynasty  (900 – 1270 C.E.). Eventually the prince recovered and the repentant king ceded the throne to his brother. 

Labila Church  shutterstock

King Lalibela was true to the command he received in his vision.  Some say that the eleven cave-like churches were carved from rock in a single night, with the help of angels.  Others contend that men worked during the day and angels took over after dark.  We know that the monolithic buildings, excavated from the mountainous terrain at approximately 2,800 meters above sea level, were dug out of solid rock, eventually rising from excavated pits and grottos to heights of approximately 40 feet. The roofs of many of the churches were designed to be even with the surface of the earth and the buildings were (and still are) connected to each other via underground passageways. In 1978, UNESCO designated Lalibela and its ancient monolithic churches a World Heritage Site.  Thousands of tourists visit the area every year and pilgrims flock to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Christian ceremonies. On feast days clouds of incense accompany the processions and swirl through the subterranean sanctuaries during the ancient nocturnal rites.  Despite the colonial and civil wars that have ravaged the country since at least the middle of the 19th century, Ethiopia has maintained a solid export business in beeswax, honey, coffee, coconut, palm and seed oils and petroleum. The country leads the world in production of frankincense and myrrh.  Over the past ten years Ethiopia has become the second largest African exporter of cut flowers, specializing in roses for the European market.

John and Clara Molloy Memo Paris (photo courtesy of Clara Molloy)

Clara and John Molloy of Memo Paris brought Lalibela to life as a fragrance.  In 2007 the Molloys launched their perfume house – Memo Paris – the name referencing memories of adventures, destinations and travel.

Aliénor Massenet

That same year, perfumer Aliénor Massenet created Lalibela as part of Memo’s Les Echappees series. 

Memo Paris Landscape Lalibela (photo Memo Paris)

The perfume recalls Ethiopia’s indigenous and agricultural flora, the ancient land itself and the mysteries and myths surrounding the churches of Lalibela.

 Painting: Afewerk Tekle

When I wear Lalibela I am immediately enveloped by an exotic floral incense, an olfactory hymn colored by the deep sonority of dark, velvety red-purple roses, sweetened with a breath of fragrant Maxillaria tenuifolia, the coconut orchid.  I experience a peculiar moist effect similar to that of moss on cool cavern walls or dew on the petals of a rose and am grounded by the scent of patchouli.   This opening prayer lasts an hour or so, evolving into a meditation on jasmine, vanilla and labdanum. 

 Painting: Afewerk Tekle

The warm heart of the fragrance continues for a full day, fading at last to a memory of frankincense, tobacco and vanilla.  Lalibela is a powerful, mystical and gently pervasive perfume recalling photos of pilgrims, chanting and praying in darkened, rock hewn grottos as patterns of sunlight stream through cross shaped openings in the walls, the light dancing with the smoky incense, moving with the prayers of the faithful. Notes: Coconut orchid, Rose, Jasmine absolute, Oil of Indonesian patchouli, Rockrose absolute, Vanilla, Tobacco absolute, Frankincense, Labdanum resin.

I received my sample of Memo Paris Lalibela as part of the January 2017 offering from Tara Swords at Olfactif.  Thank you!  My opinions are my own.

Gail Gross – Sr. Contributor

Art Direction: Afewerk Tekle was Ethiopa’s most celebrated artist and was known for his paintings of African and Christian themes.

We have a readers’ choice draw! Thanks to the generosity of Europerfumes we have one 75 ml bottle of Memo Lalibela. 

Also, thanks to we have the January 2017 selection that includes  the unisex samples of Memo Paris Lalibela, Amouage Lilac Love, The Sum The Mauve and Men’s  trio of memo Russian Leather, Etat Libre D’Orange Attaquer Le Soleil and  Memoires de Mustique from Eight and Bob.

A choice of bottle or coffret is available to one registered reader who is a resident of the US (be sure to register or your comment will not count). To be eligible for the draw please let us know what appeals to you about Memo Paris Lalibela, if you have a favorite Memo Paris Perfume and what you learned from Gail’s review.  The draw for the two winners will be random unless there is a reader that opts for the two Olfactif sets 6 x 2.5ml Sprayers. Draw closes 1/23/2016

We announce the winners only on site and on our Facebook page, so Like Cafleurebon and use our RSS feed…or your dream prize will be just spilled perfume


Perfume Review: Élisire Jasmin Paradis (Franck Salzwedel/ Alberto Morillas) 2015+ One Ticket to Paradise Draw

Photo © Parker Fitzgerald Overgrowth

My love of rich, opulent fragrances factors mightily in to my love of Winter, and I seldom miss an opportunity to swaddle myself in ambers, incenses, and attars once the temperatures start dropping. But I also find myself reaching for florals; it could be that I miss the flowers in my gardens, or maybe it’s an antidote to the heavier fragrances I douse myself in, and this winter, the floral perfume I’m craving most is Jasmin Paradis, by Elisire.

Elisire Elixirs of Desire at Bergdorf Goodman Photo: Franck Salzwedl

Jasmin Paradis was released along with four  other  fragrances (our reviews of  Ambre Nomade, Eau Papaguena and my reviews of Elixir Absolu and Poudre Desir; I just love this line).

Mood Board images for Jasmin Paradis from Franck Salzwedl (Top)

Creative Director Franck Salzwedel  launched his own perfume house, Elisire in 2015. Mr. Salzwedel is no stranger to perfumery (the French painter is based in New York is the former creative director for Acqua di Gio and Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb). He developed Jasmin Paradis with Master Perfumer Alberto Morillas of Firmenich, who is  one of  my favorite perfumers. Jasmine is one of my favorite notes; my Fate was sealed. It was love at first jasmine-laden waft.

Overgrowth outtake. Photography by Parker Fitzgerald. Floral styling by Riley Messina.

The description of Jasmin Paradis on the Élisire website references a Mediterranean garden under a clear blue sky; I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting any part of the Mediterranean, but the first spray transported me instantly to Southern California, where I lived most of my adult life. 

OVERGROWTH by photographer Parker Fitzgerald and floral designer Riley Messina

Jasmin Paradis opens with a burst of orange blossom and bergamot, as playful and exuberant as sunshine sparkling on the ocean. It’s very easy to imagine yourself in paradise, surrounded by such heady and intoxicating scents. Grapefruit and petigrain act as a scented anchor of sorts, enhancing the exuberance while keeping it from becoming overpowering.

Photo © Parker Fitzgerald Overgrowth

But of course this is a paradise built around jasmine, and our leading lady is not about to let anyone else steal her glory. I thought perhaps the unabashedly bright citrus opening might be hard for the jasmine to live up to, but I should have known better. The creators of Jasmin Paradis didn’t reach the top of their field by chance. The heart of this fragrance is jasmine set like a flawless diamond, with nothing but her myriad facets to dazzle with.

Photo © Parker Fitzgerald Overgrowth

You get the first hint of jasmine as a shimmer in the air around you. It smells like jasmine dancing in the wind, as though you were passing by a vine in full bloom. A richer jasmine note blooms further on in the development of Jasmine Paradis, deepening the fragrance and rounding it out, stopping just short of becoming indolic. I caught a hint of astringency at this stage, which adds elegance and has a grounding effect. As the jasmine deepens, the incense base of Jasmin Paradis warms up to greet it.

Having shined so beautifully in her solo, the jasmine is now content to share the stage. What was once bright and shining slowly begins to glow and smolder, a little more mysterious as she melds in to frankincense, but no less beautiful.

OVERGROWTH by photographer Parker Fitzgerald and floral designer Riley Messina

I have dozens of jasmine-centric perfumes; jasmine is the note most likely to lead me into temptation. I thought I’d finally reached saturation point, but it looks like I’ll have to find a way make a little more room on the shelves.

NOTES:  Neroli Bigarade, Sicilian Bergamot, Orange Blossom and Pink Grapefruit, developing into a radiant bouquet of Jasmin Sambac, Jasmin Petals, Paradisone and Mate Absolute, Incense, Ambrox, Olibanum and Musks

DISCLOSURE:  My review is based on a sample gratefully received from Mr. Franck Salzwedel, of Élisire. Sillage is discreet as befits an extrait and longevity is overnight.

Tammy Schuster, Sr. Contributor

Art Direction: Michelyn Camen~ In addition to photos from Franck, I used images from OVERGROWTH A photographic collaboration between Riley Messina and Parker Fitzgerald exploring humanity, beauty and nature. The white flowers are  not all jasmine but I believe the aesthetic captures the beauty of Jasmin Paradis and Tammy’s review. You can buy the book here

 Thanks to the generosity of Franck Salzwedel and Élisire  2 registered readers as follows:

USA Residents: 50 ml bottle of Jasmin Paradis for one registered reader  (be sure to register or your comment will not count). Please be specific if you reside in the USA and want to win Jasmin Paradis and put that in your comment.

USA and Worldwide: Sampler Set of all five Élisire fragrances Eau PapaguenaPoudre DesirJasmin ParadisElixir Absolu and Ambre Nomade. To be eligible please leave a comment with what appeals to you about Jasmin Paradis based on Tammy’s review, where you live and what exotic paradise you would like to visit RIGHT NOW.

If you would like your comment to count twice please LIKE ELISIRE on Facebook. Please put that  you did so in your comment as well.  Draw closes 1/19/2017

We announce the winners only on site and on our Facebook page, so Like Cafleurebon and use our RSS feed…or your dream prize will be just spilled perfume.



Perfume Review: meo fusciuni Notturno (Giuseppe Imprezzabile) 2012 + The Color Black Fragrance Draw

Perfumer Giuseppe Imprezzabile of Meo Fusciuni (photo: Meo Fusciuni)

"I waited for everything to pass,

that the multitude became uniqueness.

Olfactory architecture of the heart"-Guiseppe Imprezzabile

Cycle of Poetry Image (photo Meo Fusciuni)

After my visit to Florence for Pitti Fragranze , I had to return to Meo Fusciuni Notturno from 2012, composed by the skilled nose, Giuseppe Imprezzabile.  “Notturno is the first fragrance of the Cycle of Poetry. Inspired by Rilke, Holderlin, Celan, Neruda and De la Cruz, five Poets, five olfactory and visual steps, five signs, five moments of the night. Just one colour, black”

A Woman of a Singular Charm” Freja Beha Erichsen by Paolo Roversi for Vogue Italia, November 2007

Guiseppe is a poet, a creator of fragrances that are catalysed from his travels, his musings, his clear and profound aesthetic.   Notturno, wraps its self effortlessly around me and I am instantly comforted like the sitting by an open fire, pen in hand, with the raging of a storm outside. This ability of Giuseppe to create a paradox is an aspect I am drawn to, the warm enveloping comfort juxtaposed with this edgy, lurking of something unseen and unknown.

Renaissance, by Paolo Roversi for Vogue Italia

Signore Imprezzabile is a master of intention, composing his creations with a clear palette that contains elements of the unexpected. Notturno draws you close with Rum, Leather and Ink, a nightime sojourn of flooded memories, damp and vulnerable. It whispers in a warm hypnotic voice, that I should explore further, go deeper, probe my own darker yearning; unfolding in poetic scribblings and ink soaked parchment.  It speaks of Night, closeted, silent and revealing where the Muse walks in unannounced and takes your heart for a spin. Words effortlessly falling to land, to mark the page and immortalise the ethereal.  A silken edge of revelation, encouraging me to explore new nuances of my self as it develops on my skin.

Paolo Roversi for Vogue Italia

Amber, soft and sensual lulls you into contentment yet the wildness of the forest under storms whim, Cedar and Birch ravaged by rain, dark damp Earth with a resinous Incense for companionship all challenge my senses and preconceptions.  I am taken on a journey at once familiar and completely uncharted, but the lure to adventure is pendulous on my wrist.

Danu Seith-Fyr, Contributor (with contributions from Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief)

Disclosure: I received my sample of Notturno from Meo Fusciuni, opinions my own

Art Direction:  Michelyn Camen, Editor in Chief (all photos by Italian born photographer Paolo Roversi

meo fusciuni Notturno (photo Meo Fusciuni)

Thanks to the generosity of Guiseppe Imprezzabile we have a draw for a registered reader in the US, EU and Canada for a 100ml of Notturno. To be eligible please leave a comment with what you enjoyed about Danu’s review, where you live and what the color black smells like to you. Draw closes 1/17/2017

We announce the winners on our site and on our Facebook page, so Like Cafleurebon and use our RSS FEED…or your dream prize will be just spilled perfume