I have longed to try this, and made no secret of it. Yesterday, whilst I was at the beach, a good fairy left a 5ml phial on my doorstep. She looked suspiciously like our friend Lisa Wordbird, so once again, dear Wordbird, I thank you.
In previous reviews I have unexpectedly found the scent of unwashed underwear in Feminite Du Bois, Worth Courtesan (filthy!) and Ivoire de Balmain (vintage not modern). I fully expected a similar grimace from L’Air de Rien. Even Luca Turin in Perfumes the Guide says it smells of soiled underwear. I couldn’t wait.
To my surprise, I loved L’Air de Rien. I’m not sure I want to smell like it, but I love it the way I love a masterpiece in a gallery that I wouldn’t hang at home.
It smells like the inside of a house or flat. You know how your friend’s homes have a particular smell that nobody else’s has? It’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s rather comforting. Well L’Air de Rien smells of the inside of a flat where the hostess hasn’t yet showered after last night’s party and has burnt lots of joss sticks to kill the worst of the spilled wine/crashed out guests smell. It doesn’t smell of a person, it smells of a scene.
It taps into the most basic of attractants: an unwashed body and a musty Musk.
L’Air de Rien was created for Jane Birkin (also the inspiration behind the Birkin bag), an Englishwoman abroad, who despite her life in Paris, has lost none of her coarse accent if Luca Turin is to be believed. Created in 2006, it could easily have passed muster decades earlier. It’s very Bohemian:, hedonism, a bath once a week (whether you need it or not), cheap red wine and no money for food.
I suppose I should give a cursory mention to the notes listed on Fragrantica, but to do so seems to over analyse what amounts to a vivid scenario of a scent, where analysis could prick the bubble and make it disappear.
Here we go: Neroli, Musk, Amber, Oakmoss, Vanilla, and Patchouli.
But ignore that and just go with what you feel.
I think L’Air de Rien is a work of genius and brings back memories of my London days in my mid twenties when parties were frequent and long term responsibility was far, far away. Miller Harris scents are so evocative: often conjuring entire random scenes and memories in my head, and L’Air de Rien is the Queen of them all.