An ode to trees in three parts, from their dark roots surrounded by damp earth and wilted flowers, to their leaves and inner essence, all the way up to their outer canopy and the sky around it — that’s the goal for a trio of new fragrances from Les Liquides Imaginaires. Saltus and Tellus represent the first two stages in this vertical progression, and will be the focus of today’s review.
Les Liquides Imaginaires is a French fragrance house co-founded in 2013 by Philippe Di Méo. According to his website, the goal was two-fold. The first was to return perfume to its essential origins, both as a ceremonial ritual where incense and resins were burnt as a sacred offering to the gods, and as something that triggered dreams, bewitching fantasies, and new worlds for the individual. The second goal was to create new, modern rituals centered on bewitching, new objects.
Les Liquides Imaginaires releases fragrances as a thematic collection of trios. The last one was called Eaux Sanguines, and was centered on alcoholic beverages such as port, red wine, and champagne. I always wanted to try them, not only because I love boozy fragrances of all kind, but also because the brilliant photographer (and now my friend), Roberto Greco, had such a gorgeous rendition of Bloody Wood, the cherry-port one (which you can see in my post about his work). At the time, Les Liquides Imaginaires was not sold in America, and samples were difficult to come by, so I gave up. (The brand is now sold in America, though it is exclusive to Barney’s.) But when I heard about their latest collection and its new theme, I was determined to try it, so I ordered samples of two of them from Europe.
The Eau Arborante Collection was released in early 2015, and each fragrance in the set is an eau de parfum. At the time I ordered my samples, I knew the thematic link between the fragrances, but didn’t realise that they were meant to literally capture the scent of a tree from top to bottom. I was simply driven by the great set of earthy, woody, dark notes for Saltus and Tellus. (The third one, Succus, didn’t capture my attention with its fresher ingredients, and I turned away at the description of an “airy and solar” scent that was like a perfume “in flight.”) For whatever reason, First in Fragrance‘s passing reference in one summation about “a vertical journey from the earth to the sky […] that takes us from the roots to the crown” simply didn’t register. Now that it does, I have to say, I’m impressed on an intellectual level. Vertical progression seems like quite a novel, original approach. On a concrete olfactory level, however, I’m less enthused about the actual smell of the two fragrances, thanks to an accord that forms a unifying, thematic backbone linking them together.