A Pays de La Fleur d’Oranger Eau de Madeleinestands alone, although if I had to compare it to anything, which is something I love to do with perfumes, it would be Balmain Ambre Gris. It’s not the same, and not really even similar, but it does have that magical non sweet yet still a gourmand vibe. It smells like smoke from a woodfire, sandalwood incense, with a warm base of vanilla and suede. Eau de Madeleine triggers a scent memory for me, I’m sitting in my childhood living room, my dad is reading, my mother is embroidering, and my brother and I are sipping huge mugs of Ovaltine in warm milk in front of a roaring fire. Beautiful, with a touch of melancholy and a lot of saudade for my childhood.
The name of this perfume, Eau de Madeleine, is an homage to Proustian Memory. Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger Eau de Madeleine is based on that. Virginie Roux, who is the creator of this beautiful perfume line, was inspired by Proust and memories of her grandmother and a larger search for meaning and our childhood memories. From their website:
We are all in search of our roots. We all have memories of childhood. A “Madeleine” that is ours (An involuntary trigger to memories past). A search for meaning at a certain time of one’s life. L’Eau de Madeleine is a woman’s perfume for a free woman. Dedicated to Virginie’s grandmother. Woman of post-war emancipation. This perfume survives her. L’Eau de Madeleine warms the heart. It is enveloping, reassuring. Everyone can recognise themselves in Virginie’s journey. This fragrance is both melancholic and infinitely subtle. It also carries a strong message about women with powerful personalities. It is saturated with incense. This raw material, widely used for religious ceremonies, is prized in perfumery. Its high concentration gives the fragrance a unique flavor. It is as sacred as the woman who wears it.
There is a scene in the first volume of Marcel Proust’s masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, he tastes a piece of a ‘petite madeleine’ cake steeped in tea. He experiences an involuntary memory, triggered by the taste and smell of the madeleine dipped in tea. Scent, and I imagine taste as well, are powerful senses that can take us back in time to a time and place we may have forgotten.
But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more immaterial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.
(Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time, vol. 1)