Swirls of dark orange from the most expensive spice in the world combine with the rich red of candied roses, the canary-yellow of creamy, custardy vanilla, and the sweet browns of cardamom to result in an instant reaction: “Heaven!”
Actually, at first, I just gave a faint moan upon smelling Safran Troublant from the French niche house of L’Artisan Parfumeur. That doesn’t happen often. Incoherent babblings of joy, and mutterings of “Heaven,” followed soon thereafter. The name may translate to “troubling” or “disturbing” saffron, but this is one completely comforting, absolutely delicious fragrance that is perfect for those of you who prefer your perfume to be discreet and unobtrusive. Those of you who prefer more sillage will be disappointed, however. And, all of you should take serious note of its fleeting nature.
Safran Troublant is a unisex, spicy oriental eau de toilette that was created by the famous nose, Olivia Giacobetti, and released in 2002. L’Artisan Parfumeur‘s website describes it as follows:
A potent portrayal of candied roses; alluring and just a little dangerous
Safran Troublant is an unsettling and potent portrait of a candied rose. The sensuality is heightened with the addition of sandalwood and spicy ginger notes. This makes for a seductive and unexpected fragrance, where the saffron serves to highlight the sheer opulence of the rose. Beautiful and a little dangerous to wear.
The notes are:
saffron, red rose, vanilla, ginger and sandalwood.
As a side observation, Fragrantica is flat-out incorrect in its summation of the perfume. First, they have continuously listed Bertrand Duchaufour as the nose behind its creation, despite numerous comments correcting them. They also seem off on the notes, since they insist on listing “passion fruit flower” when no-one — least of all the company itself — has given any such indication or has smelled any passion fruit.
The opening of Safran Troublant will be familiar to any of you who have had Indian or Persian saffron-rice desserts. “Sholeh Zard” is a Persian rice pudding with saffron, rose, cardamom and nuts. Its Indian counterpart is “Kheer” or “Payasam.” They’re both utterly addictive, though I personally think the Persian one is significantly heavier on the saffron which is probably why its colour is bright canary-yellow, whereas the Indian version is not. For a wonderful discussion of both saffron and Sholeh Zard, as well as recipe for how to make it, check out Food & Farsi, The Spice Spoon, or the other sites linked in the photos. (But don’t do it if you’re hungry. Really, I warn you. I learnt the hard way, and now I’m famished…)
Safran Troublant’s first minutes are a swirling delight of sugared rose: deep, dark and candied, but richer than anything in mere rose water. This is no cloying, saccharine-sweet tea-rose but a darker, heavier floral. It’s sugared and spiced, making this a great perfume for those who have problems with more traditional or girly rose perfumes. The sweet, almost nutty warmth of the cardamom combines with the almost peppered, earthy sweetness of the saffron to provide a richness to the perfume’s foundation.
The vanilla here is incredibly lush. This is no cupcake vanilla or, even, the vanilla of bottled extract. It evokes tapioca pudding: creamy, heavy, and utterly unctuous. And it’s thick like the brightest, yellow egg custard!
About five minutes in, there is a strong hint of cumin. However, unlike many of my other experiences with the note, it’s not really earthy and never “skanky.” It just adds another layer of earthiness and spice to counter the sweetness of the scent. The ginger starts to make a greater appearance at this time, too. It’s not sharp or bitter but, rather, almost candied.
Neither note, however, is the true star of the perfume. That role is taken almost entirely by the glorious saffron which remains throughout the duration of the scent. It’s heady, rich, compulsively sniffable, and makes Safran Troublant far more than a simple vanilla or gourmand scent. It is absolutely the best parts of this lovely perfume.
Unfortunately, one of the worst parts is Safran Troublant’s fleeting nature. On one arm, where I put on my usual number of dabs, the perfume vanished entirely within ten minutes. Yes, TEN minutes! I’d read one commentator say that the perfume disappeared on her within minutes of application, but I thought that had to be an exaggeration — even for the typically light, ephemeral L’Artisan line. Apparently, not. On my other arm, however, where I had trebled the dosage due to my utter love for the fragrance, it was a different story. The perfume’s sillage dropped by about 85% within ten minutes but, to my surprise, the perfume itself remained. I can’t quite account for the differences but, clearly, one needs a lot of the perfume for it to stay even as a discreet skin scent.
And it is most definitely discreet! Far, far too discreet for my personal preferences but, for those of you who don’t like intrusive scents or who can’t always find perfumes appropriate for a strict work-environment, it should be utterly perfect. Well, assuming it lasts on you…..
The main criticism of this much-loved scent is its fleeting nature. You all know that I have skin that is incredibly voracious when it comes to perfume, but we’re talking about normal people here! From Fragrantica to Makeupalley, there are endless comments about how Safran Troublant barely lasts. Many give four hours as the maximum, while others give significantly less. The one review I mentioned above about how it lasted mere minutes came from “Goddess Dreams” on Makeupalley who wrote:
Well, well, well, now I too know what it’s like to have a scent that now you smell and then two seconds later “poof” and it is completely GONE! Where did it go? I’d love to know! But my, I love it so much, why did it have to leave so soon? This is ridicilous, I mean I sprayed it on, no joke a good spray I gave it too, but I’m talking within minutes (I was still at the L’Artisan counter and it was GONE – not slowly withered away – GONE ALL AT ONCE WITHOUT A TRACE). But, oh while it was there, for that charming special moment that it lingered on my skin – that was wonderful. I would have paid any money had it lasted only a touch, but my chemistry made NOTHING out of this. While it was there however, magical it was!
Again, on me, the scent remained on the one arm where I splashed it on heavily but, even there, it lasted a mere four hours. And I could smell it only if I brought my nose right up to arm. Still, what a glorious few hours it was. The notes didn’t alter in any way from what they were at the start — this is hardly a complex perfume that morphs and shifts with every hour — and I’m uncertain as to whether there is sandalwood in any significant amount, but the scent was hauntingly beautiful. It’s well-blended, too, and definitely unisex — though it think it may lean a wee more towards the feminine side for men who aren’t enormous fans of rose fragrances.
If I thought Safran Troublant would last in any way on me without constant re-spritzing, I would put aside my usual issues regarding discreet perfumes that are mere skin scents, and buy it immediately. However, at $145 a bottle, it’s a little too expensive for me to be re-applying it every few hours in gallopingly great, hefty doses. Still, I urge you to try it if you can. This is a scent that should appeal to everyone from those who like spiced florals or gourmand fragrances, to those who need low sillage perfumes for the workplace. And, with Valentine’s Day on the horizon, it is a particularly good choice for those who love rose fragrances. Frankly, it may be true love for many — regardless of the date in question.