Perfume Review: L’Air de Rien by Miller Harris

September 20th, 2006

L'Air de Rien L’Air de Rien is the newest addition to the British perfume line Miller Harris, created uniquely for Jane Birkin, a famous French singer and actress. It’s supposed to sum her up in a fragrance. Apparently, she never wore perfume other than occasional potpourri in her pockets but got inspired to create one after playing in her brother’s perfume lab. “I wanted a little of my brother’s hair, my father’s pipe, floor polish, empty chest of drawers, old forgotten houses.” (from the Vogue article). A peculiar olfactory desire, in a way, but strangely appealing as it’s not uncommon to have personal favorite smells that are not necessarily universally loved. It’s another story altogether to try to bottle it up to be worn as your signature perfume – that’s when things can get tricky as only the chosen few will truly appreciate it, and at this point I’m in the process of finding out if I’m one of them.

L’Air de Rien (which basically means “nothing” in French, from what I know) is said to be “an exquisite oriental with rich notes of French oakmoss, Tunisian neroli, sweet musk, amber, and vanilla”. All types of words go through my head as I smell it but “nothing” is definitely not one of them. It opens up all pretty with sweet musk, just a hint of oakmoss, and a sparkle of neroli. Quite lovable at this point until, out of the blue, the musk exposes itself in utter animalic indecency that makes you want to cover your eyes nose. It also declares it’s actually related to the notorious Muscs Koublai Khan by Serge Lutens – take it or leave it, people. Don’t like animalic, stinky feet musk? Then you’re outta here. Fine. I’m still here. Go on! Then I’m slowly transported into the said antique chest of drawers in a huge abandoned English mansion where I find a pipe that still gets occasionally used by the ghosts (the smoke is the evidence). The musk is with me, following me everywhere until eventually it dissolves into a bitter oakmoss drink that’s given to me by the ghosts as a welcome. Part of me wants to stay, and part of me wants to leave for fear of becoming one of them and having to live in that haunted house. Which side wins? That I’m yet to find out.

L’Air de Rien is available at the Miller Harris online shop. I believe it’ll appear in stores soon.

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  • 1. dinazad  |  September 21st, 2006 at 2:47 am

    Sold! I HAVE to try that now!

  • 2. Solander  |  September 21st, 2006 at 5:10 am

    oh, it sounds lovelier and lovelier. Skanky musk eh? And old houses with lingering pipesmoke…. Yum.

  • 3. Elle  |  September 21st, 2006 at 6:12 am

    What a fantastic review! I think I want to move into that house. This sounds irresistible…well, except for the “sparkle of neroli”…am not wildly fond of neroli except on a few rare occasions. Floor polish – she should have let the floors remain pleasantly dirty and dusty. More character that way.

  • 4. March  |  September 21st, 2006 at 6:17 am

    I want to roll in it! Yeah, baby!

  • 5. Judith  |  September 21st, 2006 at 6:27 am

    I tried it once and liked it quite well, but I don’t think it was as anamalic on me as you decscribe. Still, I filed it in my head under “possible purchase” and will try it again (and see if more animals come out of hiding). Definitely did NOT smell like “nothing,” in any case. Wonderful, evocative review!

  • 6. Judith  |  September 21st, 2006 at 6:27 am

    grrrr. “animalic” More coffee. Less typing.

  • 7. Malena  |  September 21st, 2006 at 6:48 am

    I don´t get anything dirty from this scent – it´s veeery sweet, orange blossoms & musk. I find it almost a bit too sweet, but very lovely, though.
    Stayinggpower on me is unbelievable great. This maybe a purchase for autumn/winter.

  • 8. Marina  |  September 21st, 2006 at 7:38 am

    What a review!

    But what’s that about potpourri in her pockets? How strange. I wonder if that’s where Lusciouscargo got their idea of sticking the crumbly, smelly stuff in their packages :-D

  • 9. Jenn  |  September 21st, 2006 at 9:02 am

    Sounds like quite the trip maker of a fragrance; although it doesn’t sound like it is for me.

  • 10. annE  |  September 21st, 2006 at 9:25 am

    Ina, what a lovely review! Earlthly musk and ghostly pipe tobacco, well, you’ve got me on board!

  • 11. Tom Pease  |  September 21st, 2006 at 9:53 am

    sounds like a must-try to me!

  • 12. chayaruchama  |  September 21st, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    It sounds enchanting, Ina-lou.

    I love Ms.quirky, kooky Sagittarian Jane, so I must sniff out of loyalty to her, and you…

  • 13. Ina  |  September 21st, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    Thank you, all, for your comments! This one is definitely a must try.

  • 14. Aromascope » Best o&hellip  |  December 29th, 2006 at 2:02 am

    [...] L’Air de Rien by Miller Harris – a peculiar olfactory experience. Not for the faint of heart. [...]

  • 15. Aromascope » Fleurs&hellip  |  May 31st, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    [...] fragrances that perhaps can be best understood by actually being in the place they represent. L’Air de Rien, the previous Miller Harris creation, was done in a similar, although somewhat abstract way. Even [...]

  • 16. Binnebrook  |  September 17th, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Hi, just got a sample of L’air de Rien from The Perfumed Court, and I really like it. It doesn’t go all pear-shaped and skanky on me, but it’s a low-volume floral of which I’m becoming very fond.I was looking for some reviews and found your blog. L’air de rien is an untranslatable French idiom that describes someone whose manner is so calm and assured that it’s as if she’s not there — except that the calmness is contagious, and everyone in her presence calms down, perks up a little, tries a little harder, straightens their shoulders and settles in for a nice afternoon of whatever’s going on. She takes over, not by force of personality, but modesty, innate sweetness, and wise reticence.




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