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Le Labo Poivre 23
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal
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A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

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Amouage Epic Woman

Amouage Gold

Amouage Interlude Man

Amouage Jubilation 25 

Amouage Lyric Woman

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Amouage Opus I

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Annick Goutal Petite Cherie

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April Aromatics Calling All Angels

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April Aromatics Jasmina 

April Aromatics Nectar of Love

April Aromatics Rose L'Orange

Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)

At the Moment (Contemplating Change & Habit Rouge)

At the Moment (Marron Chic & Paris)

At the Moment (More Midsummer Delights/Epic/Geisha Noire)

At the Moment (Saki & Lubin Idole edt)

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At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)

Ava Luxe Café Noir

Beatnik Emptiness Incense

Best of 2009

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

Bond No. 9 Brooklyn

Bond No. 9 Little Italy

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum

Breath of God

Byredo Green

By Kilian Amber Oud

Calyx by Prescriptives

Canturi by Stefano Canturi

Capote, Truman & Evening in Paris

Carner Barcelona D600

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Cartier II L'Heure Convoitee

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Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

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Chanel Coromandel

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Egoiste

Chanel No. 5 (vintage)

Chanel No. 22

Chantecaille Petales

Chantilly Dusting Powder

Clive Christian C for Women

Comme des Garcons Daphne

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca

Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet Nomad Tea

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Coty Chypre

Coty Paris

Creature by Kerosene

Creed Acqua Fiorentina

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Creed Virgin Island Water

DSH Perfumes Bancha Extreme

DSH Perfumes Quinacridone Violet 

DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame

Deneuve

Devilscent Project

Dior Diorissimo (vintage)

Donna Karan Black Cashmere

EnVoyage Vents Ardents

EnVoyage Zelda

Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

Etat Libre d'Orange Rien, Rossy de Palma & Noel au Balcon

Faberge Woodhue Cologne

Favorite Fall Fragrances

Fendi Uomo

Fragrances for Sweden

Frapin 1697 Absolu Parfum

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentrée

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Frederic Malle Noir Epices

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Ghosts of Perfumes Past, Present & Future

Gone Fishin'

Gucci Eau de Parfum

Gucci L'Arte di Gucci

Gucci Pour Homme

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Exaltant

Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Jicky

Guerlain Mayotte

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain Samsara Parfum

Guerlain Un Air de Samsara

Guerlain Vega

Guerlain Vetiver (vintage)

Guy Laroche J'ai Ose (vintage)

Happy Solstice

Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermes Caleche (vintage)

Hermes Eau des Merveilles

Hermes Hiris

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

Histoires de Parfums 1740

Histoires de Parfums 1828

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

Hometown Portrait, State College, PA

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

House of Matriarch Carmine

How I Store Decants

Il Profumo Cannabis

In Memory (w/mention of Lanvin Arpege)

Jacomo #02

Jacomo #09 (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou Joy

Jean Patou 1000

Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne 

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

Kai Eau de Parfum

Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant

Kenzo Summer

Lancome Magie Noire (vintage) 

Lanvin Via Lanvin (vintage) 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l'Aube

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

La Via del Profumo Balsamo Della Mecca

La Via del Profumo Hindu Kush

La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe

La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project

La Via del Profumo Sharif

La Via del Profumo Tawaf

Le Labo Gaiac 10

Le Labo Iris 39

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Le Labo Poivre 23

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Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate

M. Micallef Vanille Orient

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) eau de parfum

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

Message In A Bottle 

Michael Storer Winter Star

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien

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Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire

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Montale Black Aoud

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Montale Intense Tiare

Montale Patchouli Leaves

Montale Red Aoud

More Roses (rose cookie recipe)

My Heart Has Skipped a Beat (summer smells)

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs

Nasomatto China White

Neila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Nez a Nez Ambre a Sade

Northern Exposure "A Dash of Chanel No. 5"

Odin 04 Petrana (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

Omar Sharif Pour Femme

Oriscent Pure Oud Oils

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

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O Tannenbaum Joint Blog Project

Parfum d'Empire Azemour

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Paris, je t'aime

Pascal Morabito Or Black 

Perfume Quotes - The English Patient

Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue

Pretty Perfume Bottles 

Prince Matchabelli Aviance Cologne (vintage) 

Profumum Roma Acqua Viva

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Puredistance I

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Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

Recipe for Socca

Regina Harris Amber Vanilla Perfume Oil

Regina Harris Frankincense-Myrrh-Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

Robert Piguet Fracas

Robert Piguet Visa

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Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Joy Comes From Within & Beauty Comes From Within

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SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar

S-Perfume 100% Love {More}

Stone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain

Sweden Is For Lovers

T is for Taxes

Tauer Perfumes: Incense Extrême, Incense Rosé, Lonestar Memories, & Reverie au Jardin

Tauer Perfumes Vetiver Dance

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The Diary of a Nose, Book Review

The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

The Intimacy of Scent

Thoughts of a Perfume Collector

Tightly

Tokyo Milk Ex Libris

Unlocking an Unknown: Webber Parfum 6T

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Bed of Roses

Venimus Vidimus Vicimus, or How 3 Perfume Bloggers and a Husband Took Rome

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What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

Le Labo Poivre 23: Dessert, Anyone?

It seems to me that the best things in life are sweet and creamy, with the emphasis on the latter. I’m the kind of person who can easily resist a piece of chocolate cake, turn up my nose at fudge, and ignore much of what passes for candy at the grocery store. But say the words bread pudding, rice pudding, egg custard and ice cream (from plain vanilla bean to Japanese red bean), and I’m a goner. Now let’s add to this category of “Sweet & Creamy” these things too: Conversation so thick with flirtation you just want to spend the day pushing it around with a spoon, back and forth between the two of you; the fleshy inner part of your thighs that happily persists, no matter how much running you do; breasts that defy gravity without the aid of silicone; cashmere socks, before, after (heck, even during) anything that might take place in a drafty bedroom; and a good sandalwood perfume to scent pretty much everything I mentioned previously in this sentence.

My favorite sandalwood perfume of late goes by the unlikely name of Le Labo Poivre 23—poivre means pepper in French—but while there’s a brisk peppery start to this fragrance, its dominant flavor is that of sweet and creamy Australian sandalwood. (I should quickly note: Le Labo also has a fragrance called Santal 33 that I’ve not tried, but which, from what I’ve read, smells a lot less like sandalwood than Poivre 23 does). Most perfumistas will tell you that Australian sandalwood is inferior to Mysore sandalwood, an aroma-material so over-harvested, it’s rare to the point of being practically extinct in the formulations of modern-day perfumes, even the very expensive ones. This viewpoint places me in the minority, as I’ll plainly admit that I have had so little acquaintance with the Mysore variety that I can’t judge Poivre 23 on that basis. From my point of view (and I know I’m not alone here), Poivre 23’s Australian sandalwood is gorgeous, vanillic and dreamy. It has a gourmand edge to it, yet also enough resins and gentle incense in its mix to keep it grounded in the realm of the sensual rather than the fluffy and overly sweet. It’s a fragrance I would readily identify as unisex, if asked who might wear it better, a man or a woman (and though that question is wearisome to seasoned perfumistas, I mention it because it still gets asked).

At first spritz, Poivre 23 delivers a bold hit of pepper—it smells of both black and green peppercorns—as if the perfumer, Nathalie Lorson, wanted to establish right away that this is a sandalwood fragrance to be taken seriously, or if not seriously, then playfully in that very deliberate way that makes you realize these concepts are not necessarily exclusive of one another. “Crack that whip!”, the opening line to an old Devo song some of you might remember, is the first thing I think of when the fragrance hits my skin, and it’s invigorating if not downright sexy: wherever you are in your day (or evening) when you apply Poivre 23—even if you’re standing in your kitchen contemplating what you’re going to have for supper—this rousing, peppery opening will give you a little pick-me-up, if not make you want to flat out whip it (“whip it good!”).

Before the pepper fades, the sandalwood, vanilla, incense and resinous notes are already swirling into their amber-crème formation. Depending on what kind of bend your mind takes, this formation might recall the sophisticated, flambéed custard you ate at a four-star restaurant in St. Kitts, or it might make you think of the perfect proportions of another favorite adult dessert, but in either case it delivers the kind of deliciousness that won’t make you feel like you’ve got to check your hips (unless you or someone else wants to check them, that is). Poivre’s sandalwood, vanilla and styrax combo smells luscious, curvy and spoonworthy, but what draws the nose in and makes this round base accord so appealing is the fact that it’s kept in check, or contained, by the sharper, leaner facets of the fragrance: cistus labdanum with its herbal leatheriness; incense with its touch of arid smokiness; and patchouli with its earthy gravity. Great perfume has a way of reminding me, time and time again, of the importance of opposites in any great design, as well as the role of proportion—since the ratio in which these opposites are applied is what dictates the form.

And Poivre 23 assumes what for me is the perfect form of a sandalwood perfume: a heavenly body that’s sweet and creamy in all the right places, with its only excess being its seriously playful spirit.

Le Labo Poivre 23 eau de parfum has notes of cistus labdanum, incense, patchouli, gaiac wood, pepper, Australian sandalwood, vanilla absolute and styrax resin. It is one of Le Labo’s city-exclusive fragrances—in this case, exclusive to the city of London—but for the month of November, Le Labo is making all of its city-exclusive fragrances available for purchase at LuckyScent.com, where a 50-ml bottle is $290 and a 100-ml bottle is $440. My review is based on a spray sample I purchased from LuckyScent as part of the November promotion.

Image: a 1991 photo of model Linda Evangelista taken by fashion photographer Steven Meisel.

Posted by Suzanne
Keller, 11/18/2011.


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