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L’Air de Rien – Enduring love - August 26, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Once, when I was in Paris, I wandered into a funky little shop in some passage in the 2nd arrondissement that was full of all kinds of neat music memorabilia. There was lots of interesting stuff to browse through, but what caught my eye was a charm bracelet that had six photo charms depicting the faces of three pairs of famous lovers/musicians parted by death: John and Yoko, Sid and Nancy and Jane and Serge – that would be Jane Birkin, English model, singer and actress who was part of London’s swinging 60’s scene and Serge Gainsbourg - French singer, composer and actor.

A 22 year-old Birkin went to France in 1968 to audition for a role in a film called ‘Slogan’. She won the part and the heart of co-star Gainsbourg, who was 18 years her senior.  

They fell in love, had a child, actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, but never married. After 12 tumultuous years together, they parted in 1980. Gainsbourg died in 1991 and even though Birkin had other relationships – she later had another daughter with director Jacques Doillon – she never really got over Serge.

Birkin was a free-spirit whose easy-going sense of style made her a fashion icon. She was rarely seen without the French market basket she used as a purse, claming she could never find a purse or bag that really suited her needs, She wore it with everything from jeans and gowns.

In fact, it was while on a flight from Paris to London in 1981, when she was seated beside Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas, that her straw bag over turned and everything fell out of it, making her scramble to gather her things together to put back into the basket that inspired Dumas to create a bag for her: the Birkin bag. Yes, the Birkin bag by Hermès – the one Samantha wants to buy in Sex and the City that costs thousands of dollars and has a waiting list for.

Years later, perfumer Lyn Harris, of Miller Harris, met Birkin, who lamented that she never found a fragrance that really suited her, so Harris created L’Air de Rien for Birkin in 2006. Side note: am I the only one who sees a pattern here? Just saying’.

L’Air de Rien opens with oakmoss, a favourite note of Birkin’s, and it’s woven throughout the fragrance. There is an absence of any real top or middle notes which means it progresses quickly to the base, with amber adding a rich sweetness to the oakmoss and orange blossom adding just a little floral lightness. L’Air de Rien was made to thrive on warm skin where a muskiness, perfectly tempered by neroli, blossoms giving L’Air de Rien a dirty, animalic sexiness that vanilla makes cozy and comforting.

Luca Turin nailed it when he wrote about L’Air de Rien in Perfumes the A-Z Guide: It smells of boozy kisses, stale joss slicks, rising damp and soiled underwear. I love it.” I think it smells like an elegant expression of all those things and I love it too!

L’Air de Rien translates as ‘nonchalantly’ and what Harris has achieved with L’Air de Rien is a perfume that is rich and deep from just a few ingredients: neroli, orange blossom, oakmoss, amber, musk, and vanilla that perfectly captures the casual, insouciant style of the 60’s icon. L’Air de Rien is a true original just like the woman who inspired it.  

As for the charm bracelet at the shop in Paris – I didn’t buy it. I decided I could live without it and I bought a bottle of L’Air de Rien instead because I realized after smelling it that I couldn’t live without it.
 
L’Air de Rien is isted in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.