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Miller Harris L'Air de Rien
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A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Christos: Greek Sandals & Oud Cuir d'Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

Amouage Dia (pour homme)

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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Amouage Opus VI

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Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise

Annick Goutal Petite Cherie

Annick Goutal Sables

April Aromatics Calling All Angels

April Aromatics Bohemian Spice

April Aromatics Jasmina 

April Aromatics Nectar of Love

April Aromatics Rose L'Orange

Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

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)

At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante)

At the Moment (Spring Pretties/Un Air de Samsara)

At the Moment (Summery Things...Love Coconut)

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

Caron Aimez-Moi

Caron French Cancan

Caron Parfum Sacre

Caron Tabac Blond

Caron Tubereuse

Caron Yatagan

Cartier II L'Heure Convoitee

Cartier IV L'Heure Fougueuse

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

Chanel Bel Respiro

Chanel Chance

Chanel Coco

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

Costes by Costes

Coty Ambre Antique

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

Little Lists

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

Miscellany

Missoni (original) by Missoni

Molinard Habanita

Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire

Mona Di Orio Oud

Mona Di Orio Vanille

Montale Black Aoud

Montale Boise Vanille

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

Oscar de la Renta Oscar for Men

O Tannenbaum Joint Blog Project

Parfum d'Empire Azemour

Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman

Parfum d'Empire Equistrius

Parfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs

Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba

Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique

Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu

Parfums DelRae Amoureuse

Parfums Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir

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

Profumum Roma D'Ambrosia

Puredistance I

Puredistance Antonia

Puredistance BLACK

Puredistance M

Puredistance Opardu

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

Rochas Mystere 

Rome Vacation Photos

San Francisco Holiday

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

Scented Reading

Scents of the Mediterranean

Scentuous Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Serge Lutens Arabie

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834

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Serge Lutens Un Lys

Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental

Slumberhouse Rume

Snow Days

Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure

Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)

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

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

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

Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj

Vero Profumo Mito

Viktoria Minya Hedonist

Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb

What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

Miller Harris L’Air de Rien: The Air of Nothing and Everything that’s Real

Not long ago, I was reading about men’s fragrances at another blog and was struck by the insightful remarks made in the comments section by a certain fellow. Actually, I’d been bumping into his comments at varous blogs I visit—always impressed by his soft-spoken intelligence—but had never taken the time to click on his gravatar and check him out. I will admit I don’t always seek out every new voice I come across in my wanderings, not because I’m not interested in new voices, but simply because the size of my current reading list would suggest I ought to trim rather than add to it. But this particular voice exerted a pull on me, so follow it I finally did, to its owner, Christos—a gentleman from Athens, Greece—and his perfume blog, Memory of Scent, where I have since become a permanent tourist. Christos not only writes in a quietly articulate manner I adore, but a recent perfume package swap with him confirms that we share a similar aesthetic when it comes to Orientals. He sent me decants of some real beauties—Equistrius and Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d’Empire, vintage Jardin du Nil and the newer formulation of Route du Vetiver from the house of Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, to name a few—but the one I’ve been wearing pretty much non-stop lately is L’Air de Rien by Miller Harris.

To those in the perfume-lovin’ community, L’Air de Rien is as fabled a scent as the woman it was created for: Jane Birkin, the British-born singer and actress who became one of France’s greatest imports when, in the late sixties, she teamed up with French singer-actor-director Serge Gainsbourg. The two very quickly became the sexiest couple on the planet when they recorded “Je t’aime… moi non plus,” a song written as a smoldering dialogue between two lovers as they’re gettin’ it on, and delivered convincingly too, thanks to the breathy, moaning style in which Birkin held up her half of the duet. A thirteen-year collaboration between the couple produced songs, films, a famous and talented daughter (Charlotte Gainsbourg), and a collection of photographs that I imagine must have provided a constant source of fuel for Serge Gainsbourg’s ego, because surely no other man has ever been captured in so many sexy poses with one of the world’s most beautiful and lusted-after of women.

Birkin’s gift for imparting a sense of singularity and sex appeal to anything she embraces is apparent in the fragrance created for her in 2006 by British perfumer Lyn Harrison. L’Air de Rien—“the air of nothing”—is said to have been inspired by Birkin’s favorite smells: dusty libraries, old books, her father’s pipe, floor polish, an empty chest of drawers, and old forgotten houses. And indeed, L’Air de Rien does succeed in referencing a good many of these things, but in an abstract way that makes one realize that the air of nothing, in this case, is actually the air of something you can’t quite put your finger on—except to say that this something-you-can’t-put-your-finger-on smells like something that has been touched by human hands. With notes of French oak moss, Tunisian neroli, sweet musk, amber and vanilla, L’Air de Rien is a filmy fragrance that is vaguely sweet and mentholated (reminding me of tobacco), a bit paper-y and musty (like an old library), a trifle powdery and woody (like a sachet left behind in a drawer), and musky in a way that smells to me like skin that is neither clean nor dirty, but somewhere in that in-between stage I can only describe as lived-in. While perfume reviewers on the various blogs and online forums often describe L’Air de Rien as having a whiff of the erotic about it, I can’t say that it is overly so to my nose. (As an aside, I should note that when indolic notes are featured in musk-heavy scents, I become somewhat anosmic to them, whereas when they are achieved with white flowers like jasmine and orange blossom, such as in Mona di Orio Nuit Noire, or featured as a facet in sharper compositions like Guerlain Jicky, I’m much more aware of them.)

While L’Air de Rien doesn’t smell overtly dirty to me, it does smell sensual in a dreamy kind of way. I’ve been listening to a lot of old Dire Straits songs recently, and when I smell L’Air de Rien I think of “Wild West End,” of that languid beauty, recalled in both Mark Knopfler’s guitar strokes and lyrics, of how it feels to stroll through a place that’s real and alive and gritty and surreal and full of all kinds of entertainments for every kind of appetite: The part of the city where you can pick up your coffee beans and later wander across the street in the direction of the go-go dancers and, in between, rub up against all of the other seemly and unseemly beauties of the world. That’s the attraction L’Air de Rien holds for me: it presents a mix of smells that encompass both the sweet and the stale—smells that are small and quiet and not exotic enough to command attention on their own—and then marries them to a gently animalic, skin-like musk that puts a human stain on them. It’s this element of human stain (for lack of a better description on my part) that makes L’Air de Rien smell intimate and, therefore, compelling. That it’s achieved through the gauziness of oak moss and musk is what ensures that there is also this sense of nothingness, of remove. L’Air de Rien makes me feel as if I’m surrounded by something I should be able to reach out and touch, yet with all of the hard-edges of that something erased, I feel distanced by the attempt, too.

Making me think that L’Air de Rien might very well be the scent of longing and nostalgia for the kinds of things that we say, with feigned indifference, are nothing when in truth they are the very things that hold us here.
 


Miller Harris L'Air de Rien can be purchased from LuckyScent.com; 100 ml for $160


Photo (top of page) of Jane Birkin, circa 1970, is from soundunwound.com; photo of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin is from lastfm.com; bottle image is from luckyscent.com.


Posted by Suzanne
Keller, 12/13/2011.


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