l’Occitane have launched their winter fragrance, Arlésienne, and I have to tell you that I know more backstory on this fragrance than on pretty much any other beauty product I’ve ever tried. (Apart from CoLab, of course.) Earlier in the year I visited Arles in the South of France to learn about the mysterious Woman of Arles, or Arlésienne, the inspiration behind the new perfume and body range, and it was a real eye-opener to discover just how much of an important figure she was – and still is – in the region. The Arlésienne has inspired artists (Picasso, Van Gough, Bizet) and is held as a kind of mythical feminine ideal – mysterious, beautiful, strong, fiery, independent and graceful all at the same time.
The Arlésienne fragrance was inspired by the many facets of this mysterious woman and, as a result, it’s actually quite a surprising and unusual scent. It’s certainly not what you’d expect from a winter perfume release – there’s no heaviness or spicy, woody undertone, it’s all quite light and floral. There’s a bit of an edge with the addition of saffron into the mix, but otherwise it’s a feminine blend of rose and violet. There’s a little warmth from the sandalwood and tonka bean, but mostly I get floral, with perhaps something a bit peachy to start with – maybe that’s the mandarin?
I do very much like the story behind this range – everything from the colourful prints on the box (swirling printed skirts of the Arles women) to the scent itself has been inspired by Arles and its myths and traditions. I’m not sure how much of this backstory the typical harassed Christmas shopper will pick up on, but if you’re looking for some relief from the usual spiced-cloves-and-cinnamon “festive” fragrances, stop by and give Arlésienne a sniff. I’m wearing it now and feeling very uplifted! My pick from the range would actually be the candle – the scent works very well diffused gently throughout a room and – again – something a little lighter and fresher than the traditional Christmas scents.
You can find the whole range online here – prices start at £4.50 for the little hand soap, the candle is £24.