In continuing my exploration of florals for this spring and summer, I had a hunch that En Passant would be a perfect kind of gentle (but still interesting) floral for me to try. I was a little bit surprised when I first sampled En Passant because the opening is gorgeous, but not exactly gentle. Rather, it is a headlong plunge into a garden right in the midst of blooming lilac bushes. Olivia Giacobetti’s creation for Frederic Malle’s curated line is the most startlingly realistic floral that I’ve come across.
En Passant could work beautifully as just a linear soliflore, but Ms. Giacobetti has added in a few other notes to spark some interest. I was a little wary of possible weird ozonic notes from the watery accord, but fortunately that isn’t the case. The cucumber helps to keep the composition cool and lush, so that the watery notes here give off a herbaceous feel, conjuring up the image of fresh rain drops sitting on green leaves.
A piercing hint of mint also develops on my skin even though I don’t see it listed in the notes. It could just be my skin chemistry, perhaps the cucumber playing tricks on me. Whatever it is, it’s entirely welcome, as it keeps the composition fresh and makes En Passant excellent to wear during hot and humid summer days.
Despite the watery influence, I don’t think of En Passant as a sheer fragrance. The realism of the lilac note lends a tangibility to the composition. There is also the wheat note, which becomes apparent a couple of hours into wear time, and is the reason why I wouldn’t say this is a completely linear affair. The wheat gives off a sort of doughy, baking bread effect.
The dry down here with the fading floral and herbaceous notes, plus the light baking bread influence, reminds me of a boulangerie/patisserie in Paris that I used to pass by (and often stopped in!) on my way to the Luxembourg gardens. I suppose that’s the whole point of this fragrance and its title, it is truly en passant.
image and info about fragrance notes are from fragrantica.