Miller Harris L’Air de Rien: Dirty and Wonderful

lair de rien modern

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 Balmain 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.

jane birkin 1

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.

wiki commons

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.

jane birkin

Here we go: Neroli, Musk, Amber, Oakmoss, Vanilla,  and Patchouli.

But ignore that and just go with what you feel.

I think Miller Harris  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.

9 thoughts on “Miller Harris L’Air de Rien: Dirty and Wonderful”

  1. Dearest Iscent
    I do love a stage set scent… vintage Tabu, Cabochard and even Nuit de Noel al have that sensation for me.
    And the room after a Jane Birkin-hosted party… well Bingo!
    Speaking of Birkin… I’m not sure what ‘coarse accent’ I sense one neither in English nor French… judge for yourself…
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    1. Dear Mr Dandy,

      Thank you for posting those links and for going to the trouble of tracking them down. Interestingly, I once visited Paris with a Canadian friend who made me try and fail to speak English with a Canadian accent. However, when speaking French to the chap at the kiosk at Pere Lachaise and asking if he sold maps and which entrance to use, he said “Ah, vous etes Canadienne!” It was my Jane Birkin moment. Without the pouting.

      Your friend

  2. Ah, I’m SO glad you liked it! As you have probably guessed by now, it’s as close to a signature scent as I have these days. Well, this and L’Air du Desert Marocain. Probably a couple of other things too, but not so many – you’d be surprised.

    It makes me feel incredibly cozy and warm and cocooned, like flannellette sheets. It smells like the rich fug that develops under the bedclothes when you’ve spent a day in bed with your beloved. So of course I wear it when I go out!

    1. Yes, it’s a little marvel in that it makes you smell dirtier rather than cleaner. I love that rebelliousness about it. On the Miller Harris site it says that it smells of old books, but we know they meant to say old bedclothes , right?

  3. I don’t know. The idea of wearing a scent that means the air of nothing, or, the air of indifference. I like a scent that promotes a direct meaning or feeling, not one that is meant to invoke nothing or indifference; that is just trying too hard to be coy and cool!

    1. Dear Kyle,

      I often find with Miller Harris that their franglais perfume names would give any Frenchman a headache. In this case, L’Air de Rien was made for Jane Birkin who could find “Nothing” she wanted to wear. Maybe this is why the name is tongue in cheek. The actual smell is far from nothing. It smells very human, and intimate. My friend loves it above all others. I can confidently say it does not smell of “Nothing”! If you get a chance to smell it, do try. It’s the antithesis of scent that makes you smell nicer. This makes you smell like you’ve been partying all night and only the trace of yesterday’s shower remains.

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