Blocki Esprit D’Amour collage courtesy of Blocki Perfumes
Circa 1927. The speakeasys are full and the jazz is fizzing; flappers cut a rug, risqué in their beaded short skirts and Marcel wave bobs. And, as the Charleston picks up steam and trombones blare, the air fogs with cigarette smoke and perfume. World War I is a tragic memory, Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp and “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford are on everyone’s lips along with Max Factor lipstick. The Great Depression is still two years away, so, for now, life is the bee’s knees. And more than a few of the fashionable women sipping gin rickeys are sporting Blocki Esprit D’Amour.
Vintage apothecary and Blocki Esprit D’Amour photo courtesy of Blocki Perfumes
Esprit D’Amour is part of the Blocki Perfume Heritage collection based on the original line of fragrances from the early 1900s. The original Esprit D’Amour, first launched in 1916, became the crown jewel in the original Blocki line by the 1920s, giving way to an entire range of beauty products that touted the “Esprit D’Amour Way.” Esprit D’Amour’s popularity was due largely to its advertising and sale by women entrepreneurs. Today’s version, created by Berje perfumer Lionel Nesbitt, pays homage to the enterprising women who made the brand a roaring 20s success.
Tyler and Tammy Kraemer photo courtesy of Blocki Perfumes
In the recent Perfumers Workshop featuring neo-vintage perfumes from Legacy Brands with CaFleureBon Editor-in-Chief Michelyn Camen, Blocki founders and creative directors Tyler and Tammy Kraemer explained that rather than resurrect old perfume recipes, they use the original formulations as inspirations and points of reference: “So far, we haven’t been inclined to directly copy old formulas. We think John Blocki would want us to be inspired by them and then move forward. He was an innovator, so he would prefer that we modernize and add to what he had done … We pay homage to the past through specific ingredients or fragrance styles.”
Lionel Nesbit reinvents Blocki Esprit D’Amour as an airy, modern floral while keeping its emphasis on romanticism but keeps it fresh and vibrant so that it never feels like vintage throwback. The result is absolutely delightful: clovery, flowery, and as cosseting as a longed-for embrace.
Flower Bottle Ad, 1948 photo courtesy of Blocki Perfumes
Blocki Esprit D’Amour starts off not with the big citric splash you might expect from the notes, but with a scent of fresh-cut clover and a scattering of dried lavender buds. The tonka bean makes its presence known straight away – coumarin adds a grassy, fresh hay quality that summons spring meadows and gentle light. Savory herbal lavandin emerges quickly, tempering the nutty sweetness of the tonka, but then sits back for a while. Lemon and bergamot arrive together, fashionably late, just dotting the perfume with a bit of acidic zest to keep things buoyant. But the biggest surprise is the spritely muguet. This woodland white flower has a trilling sweetness that can dip quickly into soapiness. But here, lily-of-the-valley is tinged with green stem, and it lifts the fragrance with a light floralcy that puts the “esprit” in the fragrance. It soon begins to sidle alongside the tonka bean like a bright shadow, giving the heart of Esprit D’Amour its romantic, carefree feel.
Flower in the Bottle Abel ad, 1930 photo courtesy of Blocki Perfumes
Blocki sprit D’Amour’s later stages do give a clear nod to vintage. As the dry-down approaches, muguet and tonka are dusted with a thin veneer of face powder that makes me think of enameled compacts with velvet puffs. Sandalwood adds its customary polish and smoothness, and there’s just a touch of soapiness from some light musk. Lavandin returns, quietly herbaceous, and I pick up a dab of lemon again.
There is a lovely coherency to the Blocki line. Certain notes, such as lavender, sandalwood, and tonka, are shared by two fragrances at a time and all three are tied together loosely with a satiny citrus ribbon that gives the trio a common signature. Blocki Esprit D’Amour’s meadowy loveliness sits perfectly between dreamy, sophisticated This Grand Affair and gorgeous woody-floral chypre, Sanrovia, like the third Grace. For those drawn to fragrances with vintage DNA but modern style, or that are just flat-out lovely, Blocki Esprit D’Amour is your girl.
Notes: Amalfi lemon, Calabrian bergamot, orange peel, vibrant muguet, lavandin grosso, tonka, sandalwood, ethereal musk.
Disclaimer: Bottle of Blocki Perfumes L’Esprit D’Amour generously provided by Blocki Perfumes. My opinions, as always, are my own.
Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor
Bottle of Esprit D’Amour, photo courtesy of Blocki Perfumes
Blocki L’Esprit D’Amour launches on September 27, 2021, but thanks to the generosity of Blocki, registered readers in the U.S. can be amongst the first to try it. We have an avant premiere bottle of L’Esprit D’Amour for one registered reader in the U.S. To be eligible, please comment on what strikes you about Blocki L’Esprit D’Amour based on Lauryn’s review. Draw closes 9/24/21
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