L’Humaniste by Frapin

frapin l'humanisteNotes: citrus, bergamot, cardamom, bay berry, black pepper, juniper, nutmeg, thyme, peony, gin, oakmoss, and tonka bean.

Frapin is a family-owned house that makes both perfume and cognac. These two products influence each other, and Frapin’s perfumes often take inspiration from the family’s land in the Cognac region and from the drink itself. L’Humaniste is a lighter offering, as the beverage inspiration in this case is gin. Think of a refreshing gin & tonic because this composition has a touch of effervescence while still maintaining a smooth feeling throughout wear time.

L’Humaniste opens with a zesty dose of citrus. I get a cool lime vibe, but I’ve read other reviews saying that the citrus here leans more toward lemon. I definitely get a green vibe though, and I’m sure it comes from the blend of bergamot and cardamom, which gives off a crackling green sensation, like lime-flavored sparkling water. This all blends extremely well with the juniper berry note. Juniper is used to flavor gin, although the essential oil from the berry is what’s used in perfumery, and it’s what adds the gin effect to this fragrance.

After the initial opening, L’Humaniste settles into a cool, aromatic, and slightly herbaceous scent, with undercurrents of spicy black pepper. This stage lasts for about an hour on my skin. The sillage at this stage is moderate, enough to project a light refreshing vibe, not enough to put anyone off. I will say right now that, as L’Humaniste develops, the sillage quiets down considerably (and remember, we’re only starting at moderate sillage levels). I know that’s a problem with this perfume for some people.

Sillage issue aside, L’Humaniste’s development is interesting to track. The aromatic, herbaceous elements of bergamot and thyme settle down, while a soft, creamy texture develops and comes to the forefront. This is from the peony note and the tonka base note starting to become more apparent. When I say this scent takes on a creamy texture, it’s not a heavy vanilla/gourmand type of texture. It’s more subtle, rather like soft suede. Indeed, the peony note here reminds me of Jo Malone’s Peony and Blush Suede.

Even with this change in texture, L’Humaniste maintains its refreshing feel throughout wear time. It never becomes a truly heavy fragrance, not even with the tonka and oakmoss dry down. This is probably due in part to the fact that the dry down here is skin scent territory, and overall wear time is short. By hour three, it’s a skin scent and by hour four, it’s completely gone on my skin. I have no problem with subtle skin scents, but the short-lived wear time is a disappointment for me.

Is there a time and a place for a fragrance that you know is only going to last a few hours on the skin? Absolutely, and eau de colognes are formulated to give off a refreshing scent for a few hours before fading. L’Humaniste isn’t a cologne concentration though. It’s an EdP, and I wish I could get more strength and longevity out of this one without having to reapply.

Still, L’Humaniste is definitely worth trying. It’s a gem of a summer scent. The opening gives an instant cooling effect, which I’ve really appreciated during some of the recent hot weather here. The development of the composition is interesting and pleasant. I enjoy the balance and contrast of the aromatic, refreshing feel with the slightly richer textures that come through during the later stages of wear time. And, you never know, you might be lucky enough to have the right skin chemistry to make this one last.

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In the US, Frapin fragrances are available from Barney’s New York and from Luckyscent, which is where I got my sample.

The image and info on notes are both from Luckyscent.

(After being away on vacation and dealing with allergies that made it impossible to smell or wear perfume for a little while, I’m back! And I should be back on a more consistent basis through the rest of the summer.)

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