Increasingly assuming a technical perspective towards fragrant criticism, Giacobetti’s Safran Troublant for L’Artisan Parfumeur ticks all of the boxes I look for in a technically good and sound perfume.
The name a perfume contains gives wearers a theme and trajectory to following from the first spray. In my mind, naming a perfume “Troubling Saffron” carries two implications which need to be satisfied, and are: that saffron is indeed present and detectable in Safran Troublant, and the saffron itself is moved along a troubling path.
Safran Troublant falls in the style of perfume that places a singular note in absolute centre, forcing each other addition to work in tandem with saffron. Typically this is the case with perfumes that have the note in the name, disregarding Le Labo fragrances of course. Vetiver Extraordinaire is a marvelous example of this labeling paradigm, in that it places vetiver in the centre with a sort of architectural precision, then adding notes that stress that the vetiver note is indeed the focal point. Here, saffron reads from the very heart of the entire composition, where everything else looks at it directly. Spices manage to lift this feature of saffron, and rose competes for attention in the work. Able to intersect cleanly with saffron, this creates an overlaid feature developing an enjoyable sense of push and pull, without losing sight of the saffron.
Perhaps more contentiously is the usage of troublant. Saffran Troublant is a comforting fragrance that manages to remain taut albeit effortless. To me, it is the note of saffron that is troubling in itself, and the perfumer attempts to soothe the bittersweet spikes of the note by employing a combination of calming, not-so-troubling notes without losing the primary focus of the note. This is done by extending the gourmand feature of saffron, in doing so marking the style of the house.
Photo by L’Artisan Parfumeur
Overall, the human and bodily combination of spices (ginger, pepper, perhaps a touch of cumin, and the saffron itself) is washed and thickly painted over by a translucent creaminess. This combination is tied together with saffron, which has an olfactory continuum of metallic iodine and hospital ward to a warm and vibrant spice that hums at a comfortable body temperature. Despite being delicate, saffron manages to stretch out and occupy a large proportion of space imbuing a far-reaching warm glow.
Rose takes on seemingly infinite metamorphoses, and its application in this fragrance is no different, managing to work closely with the spices also offering a crispness only possible through floralcy. In this way, it reminds me of Chanel’s No. 18. Perhaps only somewhat similar, Safran Troublant offers less politeness and a certain rawness never seen in Chanel works (anything that even approaches bestial, i.e. Antaeus and the raw facet of patchouli in Coromandel, are clad in fine tailoring). Yet, both capture an effect of hidden space that becomes strikingly obvious when given consideration. The rose here is candied and lush, yet this flourish is hidden underneath a torrent of smooth spices, folded together to form a rippled effect. Clever because it’s intriguing, and memorable because it’s powerful yet discreet.
An addition of sandalwood would seem like overkill, but it manages to fit perfectly into the weave without overcrowding the composition. Sandalwood gives an excellent background to the roses and spices, giving excellent luminosity. In short, Safran Troublant is a fragrance of excellently maintained, quiet intensity that wears as a fleeting skin scent, successfully taking saffron into submission.
Subjective rating: 4/5
Objective rating: 4/5