Petite Histoire Perfume

Petite Histoire is a breath of fresh air in an industry more focused on aesthetics than actual scent. If you’ve ever visited a Nordstrom’s perfume counter before, you’ll know that commercial scents tend to look beautiful but smell awful. Whether you leave with a headache or not depends on your personal tolerance, but most people agree that they’re selling a fantasy more than they’re selling actual perfume.

Petite Histoire has created a line of fragrances with actual substance. I first stumbled across their work through instagram but was immediately captivated by the photography, writing, and perfume descriptions. However, unlike many perfume lines, they didn’t just stop with beautiful imagery. The scents themselves are as captivating as I imagined them to be. A true love poem to nature.

First up, the packaging is amazing. From the gold lettering on the boxes and bottles to the personalized satin ribbon they use to tie everything up. This whole un-boxing experience is like handling a piece of art, one you’ll want to decorate your vanity with. But when it comes to actual scents, Petite Histoire will enchant even the most cynical of perfume aficionados.

This is a brand that celebrates materials as much as it celebrates poetry. The very concept of each fragrance comes with a tantalizing story on their website. I’ve poured over their blog on many a late night when I’m craving some inspiration and atmosphere.

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Taken from their website “Petite Histoire is a French phrase meaning ‘the backstory between lovers’ — it’s that bit of electricity between two people, the gravity that keeps them orbiting each other.” That is the inspiration Jeff used to create his brand. Each scent in the line feels like a love potion, they smell elegant, luxurious, rich, and extremely sensual pieces of a much larger tapestry. I truly believe there is a romantic in most of us, waiting to come out. Petite Histoire stirs that romantic – beckoning us to our imaginations. Each scent will bring out a different emotion, and I love being able to choose one based on my mood that day.

Botanical perfumery is one of the most expensive niches I’ve ever found. Not only are the materials worth their weight in gold, but they are difficult to formulate with. Every essential oil, absolute, resin, etc contains hundreds, if not thousands, of natural chemicals. Each one contributes to its unique scent, and each one is invaluable. Depending on the plant harvest each year, these natural chemicals can vary, which means the raw material will fluctuate in its scent and chemical makeup.

In traditional perfumery, it’s all about keeping things uniform and sanitary, even stale at times. Botanical perfumers, on the other hand, must be artists AND chemists. They are continually working to capture scent consistently while the materials they work with fluctuate from year to year. I could not be more impressed with Petite Histoire’s ability to bridge the gap between art and science. The gap between old worlds and new ones. The gap between nights spent in the arms of lovers and days spent in loneliness. This brand brings out a longing in me, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

 

FIELDS OF NEW AMSTERDAM

 

Fields of New Amsterdam is a base-note-heavy scent featuring sizzling black pepper, luscious rose, deep dark patchouli, honeyed tuberose, silky vetiver, sweet labdanum, and soft whispers of sandalwood. It dances on the skin like jazz – sensual, inviting, complex, smoky, sweet and spicy.

This full bodied perfume is probably my favorite of the entire line. Fields of New Amsterdam starts off with the deepest of patchouli notes and scorched black pepper. In the bottle it’s extremely dark and spicy but once it hits the skin it really blooms. If you’ve ever smelled turkish rose absolute, you will recognize some similarities here. There’s a silky, velvety floral note with a beautiful honeyed tone. Labdanum joins the party after a few minutes and its sweet, sticky resin scent moves Fields of New Amsterdam in an amber direction. The balance between the two is impeccable – rose lifting the perfume from its murky depths and labdanum bringing the honey amber sweetness.

This is NOT a geranium-type rose nor is it a cheap phenyl ethyl alcohol replacer. This is a true rose, in every sense of the word. A tantalizing midnight smell that dances upon the skin. If I’m making this perfume sound like a deep dark floral, I’m not doing it justice. Yes, the floral facets are prominent but they are joined by labdanum, cedarwood, patchouli, and vetiver. Earthy, musky, resinous notes – some of the finest fixatives in all of perfumery.

There’s a dash of tuberose in this fragrance that makes quite an impact, especially in the drydown. The trace of indole found in tuberose is known to be a narcotic and aphrodisiac. There could not be a better description of Fields of New Amsterdam than that. At its core, this fragrance is a spicy woody amber with a hint of honeyed rose. A suave blend of elements without one particular note taking center stage. But if I had to choose one dominant tone, it would be the incredible black pepper note that reminds me of smoky nights and leather boots.

Jeff intended this perfume to be a tribute to the Art Deco and Jazz Age of New York, an echo of nights spent dancing and meeting lovers after midnight. I was expecting a discordant scent, perhaps one filled with harsh contrasts. But Fields of New Amsterdam is so incredibly smooth, it takes my breath away. The opening is a spicy floral, the heart is amber sweetness, and the drydown is smoky and woody.

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I have tried this scent on several different people and swooned at the different tones that their individual skin chemistry brings out. On some people this scent is extra spicy, others bring out more sweetness and honey. All variations are so sensual, and I feel confidant that Fields of New Amsterdam would work for any skin type or gender.

This lasts for 2 days on my test strip. On the skin, its lifespan is much briefer due to the fact that it’s in an oil base (which our skin absorbs). I love the ritual of reapplication, and these sleek roller bottles make it easy to carry around your perfume discreetly. Depending on the day (and the weather), I get at least 4 hours of wear time. The sillage is excellent for an all natural perfume, it certainly packs a punch. If you’re looking for a perfume to seduce your lover (or yourself), you’ll find it in the Fields of New Amsterdam. 

 

ENVIE DESOIR

 

Envie Desoir features florentine orris, whispers of white musk, violet flowers, turkish rose, creamy sandalwood, and luscious ylang ylang. In a nutshell, Envie Desoir is everything that I wanted Commodity’s Orris perfume to be (but wasn’t). Crisp cool violets and powdery orris. There is a tangy-ness to this scent that reminds me of the revered rose otto – an almost lemony sort of brightness.

Angelica and ambrette astound me in the way they are able to completely transform a fragrance. In that sense, the marriage between these two notes is perfect. Angelica’s beautiful peppery musk is light and clean and blends well with ambrette’s powdery nutty notes. Together these two white musks amplify the orris note with it’s sweet violet scent and waxy undertones.

Envie Desoir may start off tangy, even a little fruity at times (we’re talking subtle, elegant citrus candy – not watermelon jolly ranches here) but its heart is all crystalline sweetness. Ylang ylang is an intensely bright, unusual floral filled with sesquiterpenes. It also has spicy, even woody facets to it which show up in the top notes of Envie Desoir.

Taken from Petite Histoire’s website, Envie Desoir was inspired by the blue hour in Paris – the “time of day when the light is starting to fade, but still reflects off of golden stone, and the Seine seems to twinkle from within.”

Fading light twinkling off of golden stone is a perfect description of how this scent develops on the skin. The tangy opening sparkles with crystal brightness but fades to a cool blue powdery violet orris. As much as I enjoy the opening, I am so in love with the dry down of this fragrance. The irones from the orris note dance on the skin for hours. This is sheer waxy elegance at its finest. It makes me think of strings of pearls, vintage gloves, and soft ruby lipstick.

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For a top note heavy scent, this perfume has EXCELLENT tenacity. It lasts about 12 hours on my test strip and 4 hours on my skin, but the sillage is even better. People from across the room compliment me on this one, so it certainly leaves a trail. Most perfume brands cannot create a “light smelling” perfume that actually lasts (it’s almost an oxymoron, no?) But Petite Histoire has done just that. For those craving a bit of brightness in their lives, this cool powdery fragrance will steal your heart.

It’s extremely hard to classify Envie Desoir because it’s truly unlike anything else on the market right now. The best description I can come up with is a sweet, delicate, creamy, blue-green floral with a powdery elegance and citrus opening. If you like fresh scents, this is as good as it gets. It beckons us to a different age, one where we can live in the blue hour of the day.

 

COUP DE COURAGE

 

Coup de Courage features elemi, cedarwood, labdanum, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla, and ylang ylang. Taken from Petite Histoire’s website, “Whenever I'm in Paris I begin my days in the bakeries -- the fresh pastries cooling behind glass windows, the warmth of the oven a welcome respite from chilly mornings. I was inspired at first by this warmth, this sense of familiarity and comfort.”

Coup de Courage certainly reminds me of warm pastries on a chilly morning, not necessarily because it’s a gourmand (though it has facets of that) but because it’s such an incredibly WARM, inviting perfume. It wraps you up like a good sweater and holds you close.

Chewy, honeyed, inky labdanum starts the scent off in an amber direction. It is perfectly balanced by a suave leather note similar to that of cypriol. It’s a peppery, smoky leather, one that’s tenacious and realistic. But this is not a “dark” scent by any means. If Fields of New Amsterdam is dark and sizzling, then Coup de Courage is warm and deep.

I can’t quite pick out the lemony elemi in Coup de Courage, to me it smells much more like honeyed amber. But the addition of elemi keeps the entire fragrance from becoming too linear, the resinous notes are perfectly offset by its brightness. Elemi has often been compared to frankincense due to its peppery-incense, precious-woods scent. But although Coup De Courage has many resinous qualities, it is so much more than your average incense perfume.

In a similar fashion to Fields of New Amsterdam, I have trouble picking out individual notes here. I must tip my hat off to Petite Histoire, it takes an expert perfumer to blend notes like these in such perfect harmony. Not a single one is out of balance – it shows the interplay between dry and wet, warm and cool, savory and sweet, woody and spicy.

The opening is dominated by leather but quickly turns to the golden heart of labdanum. I detect a generous amount of sandalwood which is amplified by the vanilla note. This is a soft, unisex fragrance that is described on Petite Histoire’s blog as being their “jeans and t-shirt” scent aka a timeless uniform that is simple and yet sophisticated.

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Coup de Courage is warm, sweet, and leathery... an elegant skin scent that changes with each person but always stay relevant and inviting. In typical Petite Histoire fashion, this is a completely seductive fragrance.

Longevity is about 8 hours on my test strip and 3 hours on my skin. Trust me when I say that this is worth reapplying.

 

HOLLYWOODLAND

 

Hollywoodland features notes of elemi, patchouli, ylang ylang, lavender, rose de mai, and vanilla bourbon. In the bottle Hollywoodland is tart green fragrance. Its brightness reminds me quite a bit of a steam distilled itialian petitgrain I once picked up. There is a bittersweet quality to this fragrance at first - it’s a woody floral scent with an incredible leafyness. The opening feels like a luscious garden in full bloom inviting you stay a while.

Neroli definitely dominates the opening of this scent in its typical lemony, white floral fashion. The presence of elemi is a genius addition, it amps up the citrus, orange blossom notes considerably. This is a powerhouse duo and they bring a delicate woody green florality to the fragrance. But once they start to fade we really get to the heart of Hollywoodland – lush roses, lavender bouquets, and the smoothest of patchoulis.

Rose de mai is an extract and absolute that I recommend people smell at least once in their life. It has a unique greenness to it with a honeyed edge. The scent reminds me of fresh grass growing in a garden in the summertime, filled with cabbage roses and speckled with sunshine. It is joined by lavender absolute - the sweetest, greenest, and creamiest of all the lavenders.

Lavender absolute is nothing at all like what most people associate with lavender. The “old grandma smell” is actually lavandin or spike lavender, neither are actually “true” lavender. True french lavender is sweet and herbaceous, and the absolute extraction process creates a beautiful coumarin drydown. If you’ve ever smelled fresh lavender bouquets and fallen in love, that is the note I’m talking about. Petite Histoire has used an incredible lavender material here.

Hollywoodland is an exuberant, green woody floral, perfect for spring and summer (or days when you’re longing for spring and summer). The aged patchouli note in the drydown adds a smoothness to an otherwise quite bright blend. It’s grassy, green, lush, floral and extremely fresh. Imagine slicing open some garden vegetables and fruits, this is the feeling that Hollywoodland conjures up. But this blend isn’t “raw” by any means. It’s beautifully sophisticated.

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Taken from Petite Histoire’s website “This patchouli is aged, so its notes are richer and more evolved. It made a perfect counterpart to the sweet, resiny nature of elemi. The effect is very textural, with a rough-yet-smooth quality that reminded me of the visual texture of classic Hollywood movies made on actual film -- there's an incandescence to these works that is reflected in the base of this perfume.”

This indeed is a textural dream. It’s bold, glamorous, and natural all at once. It’s not at all a sweet blend, unlike Envie Desoir and Coup De Courage. Indeed, Hollywoodland is green, fresh, sparkling, and very much alive. If you’re looking for the scent of running barefoot in meadows, driving through the Hollywood Hills with your windows open, or sticking your nose into garden full of orange blossoms and cabbage roses, this is the fragrance for you. I could not possibly love it more!

Longevity is fantastic and the sillage is even better. It lasts an astounding 16 hours on my test strips and 4 hours on my skin.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

I am truly impressed with everything I’ve tried from Petite Histoire, quite frankly it’s been difficult to wear my other perfumes! These scents are just so much more soulful, complex, and personal than traditional fragrances. If you're interested in seeing what real orris, rose, or vetiver smells like, give them a try! Their sampler set is only $24 (which is incredible value for botanical perfume!) ❤ This is a company that really celebrates the materials, it is the perfect balance between complexity and sheer elegance.