FLIRTING WITH SPRING ~ CALIGNA by L’Artisan Parfumeur Launch Barney’s San Francisco

lartisan parfumeur logo

Pink winked at me this morning. In the east the sky was that very flirty shade you get on a clear spring morning. At least that’s how it looked to me when I peeked from under my duvet ready for my perfumed Saturday adventure to begin.

Spring has landed in Hayes Valley with the trees along Octavia Boulevard busting out with over-sized soft pink pompoms blooms so heavy they pull the branches downward. Warm at 6:30 in the morning is a rarity here.  At 65 degrees and climbing what passes for “summer” in foggy San Francisco comes twice a year, at spring and again in the early fall. When summer bakes the rest of California we are usually socked in with icy fog, our second winter.  So, early this unusually warm morning as I readied myself attend the launch of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s newest spring perfume, Caligna I felt the spirit of Maggie Prescott move me to “Think Pink”!


   Dressed for this spectacular spring morning I ascended from the Muni subway onto Market and Stockton decked out in beige slacks, canvas Converse sneakers and a think pink shirt. It was a glorious morning on Market just before 10 a.m. and still relatively quite for downtown. Market is magical in the morning, with the Ferry Building standing at attention at the Eastern foot of the street and Twin Peaks watching over the city from the west, the last great hills before the Pacific. With its newly leafed Kelly green Sycamore trees marching up one side and down the other the main artery to the heart of San Francisco was breathtakingly gorgeous. The beauty of it always knocks me out each time I come up out of the subway.

    No time to dally on the sidewalk this morning, on I forged to Barney’s just a short block up Stockton. I arrived at 10 just as the doors were opening. This launch of Caligna was to consist of a personal one on one presentation of the perfume by the Sales and Marketing Director, North America of L’Artisan Parfumeur, Brian Kurtz to a select group of Barney’s clients. I owe my spot to my perfume pal Mary Eddington who couldn’t be there and offered me her 10:30 spot. She is off in Paris and most likely at this very moment is in the flagship store of L’Artisan Parfumeur having a ball. Thanks to Mary I was about to have a ball myself.  Having arrived a tad bit early and not sure of just what was going to happen I went into Barney’s fragrance salon to wander around until my appointed time arrived.

I saw Hilary across the gleaming perfume counters talking to a tall handsome young man. I popped over to say hello and let them know that I would be back at 10:30. I apologized for being early but that was not a problem it turned out. Hilary introduced me to Brian and he kindly began my introduction to Caligna.

 Hilary and Brian Kurtz

Brian Kurtz and Hilary Rayvis Randal

   Brian was completely charming and warm as he told me the story of Caligna. This new perfume for spring 2013 is a part of the new Grasse Collection along with two equally new scented candles, Le Printemps and L’Eté. (L’Eté, “summer”, was my favorite!) The inspiration for Caligna was to capture the essence, indeed the feelings and smells of the beautiful countryside around the village of Grasse, the very birthplace of French perfume. The name comes from the provincial dialect of the area and means to “court” or “flirt”.

As Brian told me about the perfumer behind the fragrance, Dora Baghriche-Arnaud he opened small vials of essential oils and let me sample the individual notes that go into the fragrance. Dora Baghriche-Arnaud who grew up in the south of France over the course of a year meticulously selected scents that evoke the feeling of a warms spring morning in the Mediterranean climate of Grasse.


The Nose, Dora Baghriche-Arnaud

The fist ingredient he presented was Fig. The rich lush and flesh sensuous note was earthy and so delicious in its fruity fullness. Thus the stage was set by this quintessential Mediterranean fruit for the next notes that Mademoiselle Baghriche-Arnaud added into the elixir. The signature fragrance of the south of France and Italy was presented to my nose by Brian with an expectant smile, Clary Sage. This bright warm aromatic fragrance was somewhat familiar to me having grown up in Southern California where sage is everywhere. Not the elegant bright Clary Sage which is new to me but a sage none the less.  This note was sunny and wonderful. I didn’t want to go on to the next note but rather just stand there engrossed in the lovely pictures of southern France the Clary Sage brought to mind. Brian presented the next note on a blotter and explained that this was Jasmine, not your ordinary Jasmine but Jasmine Marmalade. It was brilliant and just the right note to add to the Clary sage and Fig. It smelled like the most amazing jam made of pure sweet luscious Jasmine flowers. I asked him how Dora had made it, what was in it to make it so magnificent. “Every Perfumer has his or her secrets that we will never know.” He said. I laughed “But of course.” I told Brian if they could only make a real marmalade of this I would eat it every morning on hot buttered French bread with a steaming bowl of coffee. Then the resin olibanum like Lentisk was presented bringing with it the olfactory equivalent of cool morning earth heated by a rising sun. This was enhanced by a lush full honey like Oak that rounded it out nicely.  Pine needles are part of the perfume as well but we had to skip that blotter since Brian forgot to bring along the vile. It was no effort for me to bring up my own scents memory of pine needles.


The Elegant Presentation of Caligna

At this point I would wait no longer and asked if I could test the perfume. Caligna to my nose is light and soft on my skin and the notes blended into a pure tingling effervescent pop of spring. Lovely and bright, luminous in fact, Caligna is really the perfect uni-sex perfume for springtime or even in the cold months to recall the joys of May in bloom in the south of France. Breakfast in early spring on a terrace in Provence sprang to mind and we all agreed that airline tickets to Grasse were in order.


L’Artisan Parfumeur Perfumes, Candles, Amber Ball and much more!

Brian, Hilary and I talked about the beauty of the perfume and the history of the entire line. So many wonderful perfumes are in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s line-up. If you haven’t tired their perfumes do yourself a favor, get thee to Barney’s pronto or the nearest store in your area that carries the line and try a bit of French magic.  Brian and Hilary share a great passion for perfume and it was a joy to visit with them and share my passion for perfume with them as well. When fume heads get together it is always a party! My half hour visit with the brilliant and fun Brian and the ever lovely Hilary stretched into a full hour, how lucky was I? There were more guest due at eleven so with many thanks and a little sadness that my magic time was over, I bid my hosts goodbye.  I was so honored and lucky to have had this opportunity to discover in a very special way this new and exciting perfume Caligna. I hope you get a chance to try it and all of the other incredible fragrances from L’Artisan Parfumeur.

As I headed off down Stockton Street I was whistling and feeling quite in the pink!



  1. I have a $50 Barneys Purple Card and now I know what to buy with it! How lucky were you to get the olfactory tour!

    I had not been to SF in many years…my brother used to live in the Sunset district and I visited in the summer (and brrrr it was COLD). I used to take the N Judah to go to the Market Street area. Your post brought back good memories.

    • I hope you like Caligna. So happy I could bring back good memories of San Francisco… Yes the ironically named Sunset district is very cold in the summer!

  2. I’ve read some reviews on this one and thought that I would pass on it. Then I’ve read other reviews and it sounds like something I want to try. Now I want to try it. I have a love/ hate relationship with L’Artisan. Some are wonderful on me, others are dreadful or have no lasting power.
    It’s cold here tonight so I’m not feeling like spring. The cool nights are great for sleeping so I won’t complain.

    • I have to say that Caligna is getting mixed reviews and that is par for the course for any perfume. My advise is to sample it first and see how you like it. Live with it and then make your decision.

  3. Lanier,
    I want to spend a day (no make that a week!) perfume sniffing with you! I love how you have captured this glorious morning you spent with Brian and Dora so beautifully in words! And like Poodle I was on the fence about trying this one…but your review has changed my mind! I have very limited experience with L’Artisan – La Chasse (which I like but lasts two minutes on my dry perfume eating skin) and Saffron (which makes me want to eat my arm as it smells like my favorite Indian food with my skin chemistry). I will definitely seek out other offerings (including this one) when I visit the Big Apple…you have convinced me!

    • oops! Meant to say Brian and Hilary! Once again another faux pas…that is becoming my MO!!

      • No problem Brie! I am the boo boo king! As I told Brie test it first. Caligna is not a big guns kind of perfume but one of the more delicate and subtle perfumes in the line. Have you tried the Ambre Extreme? One of my favorites along with Al Oud and Fou d’Absenthe. I also tested yesterday the Voleur de Roses. Holy cow what a beautiful scent.

      • Ok so now I need to try Ambre Extreme as well…
        Actually Lanier sometimes subtle is good especially around perfume adverse individuals (who are quite prevalent in my life!)

      • Brie, you do need to test Ambre Extreme. I think it’s beautiful and you’ll like it.

      • ha!ha! Undina…my list of what I must try when I head to NYC keeps getting longer and longer !!

  4. Happy to hear you like Caligna. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me, as most of L’Artisans don’t work for me but to be honest I’m not sad about it because I know that the brand has their lovers and that Caligna will find its loving audience.

    • Lucas I certainly understand. I have the same experience with Creed. Dead on the skin. But in this wonderful world of fragrance there is something for everyone to love.

  5. Grasse beckons in the imaginations of fragrance lovers like Utopia. Mr. Lanier, you always make San Francisco seem so lovely. I hope I get to see it one day. 🙂

    • I hope you get to see it too! But remember if you come to see us in Baghdad By The Bay between June and August bring a coat or jacket. You will need it!

  6. What a fun and fabulous way to start your day! I like the “think pink” philosophy which is needed this morning as it’s a bit cloudy and dull outside!

    • You know I just popped into that Pink shirt and it all came together! I hope the dull day turns dazzling for you and it is doesn’t put on a pink shirt!

  7. WOW! Nice to know of another fragrance fan like me in existence here in San Francisco!!! Thanks for commenting on my video on YouTube and referring me to your blog! I appreciate it! I’m enjoying your blog!

    • Man Loves Cologne is it a real treat to have you stop by. Yes it is great to have a fellow San Franciscan who love smelling good in the neighborhood. If you are on Facebook check out SF Sniff, a whole group of Bay Area Fume Heads. They do lots of field trips and are a great bunch of folks.
      And my fragrant friends check out ManLovesCologne on YouTube. He is Great!

  8. Good morning, Lanier, what a delightful tribute to Caligna!!!

    It is always a pleasure to share new scents with you and look forward with agonizing patience to reading your thoughts presented in the most romantic manner!

    xo, Hilary


  9. Gorgeous! And, good morning 😉 Is it wrong for me to say this adventure in SF, especially the Jasmine Marmalade, has sent my senses buzzing and I have to have breakfast right this minute ?!?

  10. I rarely read reviews for perfumes I haven’t tried yet but plan to. Your story involving one of my favorite cities just pulled me in. Thank you for sharing with us your time spot 🙂 Now I need to try the perfume.

  11. I can no longer wait to try Caligna! I just wonder if it will appear here at any time…

  12. Dearest L
    What a wonderful way to be introduced to a perfume!
    Caligna is as complex and multi-layered as you explained… I enjoyed… though I couldn’t where it might fit into my wardrobe, so it stayed on the shelf and didn’t make it to The Dandy’s dressing room.
    Your splendid description has most certainly tempted my back to try again.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  13. I’d read several reviews lately of Caligna (OK, I’ll admit I must have skimmed them) but somehow the fig and sage combo didn’t ping on my consciousness. I’ve got several figs I love and thought I knew the note until I tried Kiehl’s new Fig Leaf and Sage last fall in the States and thought, “Ooooh, I like this combo!” Good job, Lanier, Caligna has just moved to the top of my sampling list.

    • I am so glad I could be of help to you on Caligna! It always brightens my day when Dionne pops in to say hello.

  14. […] I didn’t think of testing this new L’Artisan‘s perfume because I disapprove mass marketization trend of their advertising (a naked model for the Caligna ad) but Lanier (scents memory) told the story in such a way that it made me want to try the perfume: Caligna to my nose is light and soft on my skin and the notes blended into a pure tingling efferves… […]

  15. I know you had a grand time testing Caligna at Barney’s. I did get to spray it on visiting one of their lovely boutiques at 24 Boulevard Raspail.

    • I did Mary I really really did have a grand time! Thank you for the opportunity to go in your place. Now I must hear all about 24 Boulevard Raspail!

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Blog Stats

    • 284,534 hits