Roots under the town square (Racine Carrée by Anatole Lebreton)

Plant roots are fascinating in food and perfumery—they are dry and hard on the outside, a bit rough, but discreetly juicy on the inside and if you are patient, they surrender their sweetness.

Racine Carrée by perfumer Anatole Lebreton is one I have been wanting to try; translating to “square root,” it features several roots including carrot, orris, licorice, cypriol, and vetiver. I had procured a free sample with another purchase, and waited until a quieter day when I wasn’t running around for some reason or other to wear it with attention.

When I had first sniffed it, in warmer weather, it seemed cooler and vegetal. However, Racine Carrée is impossible to know in one sniff as it has many facets and each ingredient has a turn on the carousel. When I first put it on skin, warm orris root and a cloud of musk took center stage. The texture seemed like that of a plant ground into powder. An earthy vetiver soon appeared, followed by an overall impression of dusty cement, bringing to mind the well-worn expression “down to earth.”

This is a sinker, not a floater, and as each particle sinks to its bottom limit, Racine Carrée starts feeling palpably dense. At this point, I wish it weighed less in the chalky musk (presumably Ambrox), which smears the surface and reminds me of childhood art classes making papiermâché with a mixture of flour and water to glue newspaper strips to a mold. I get a sense of being buried in a basement with other artifacts…

On clothing, the perfume stays wet for a few seconds longer than on skin, and from this I can smell cypriol—a burned root, along with carrot and celery as well as licorice root (an uplifting ingredient I love in herbal teas). I don’t discern the listed chamomile, but guess that it contributes to the initial tea-like quality and the later chalkiness.

The combination of burnt and green notes invites me to indulge in a bit of philosophical interpretation: is Racine Carrée an olfactory picture of burial and rebirth, a resilient sprout rising from the cracks in concrete?

Have you tried Racine Carrée? If so, what does it bring to mind for you?

4 thoughts on “Roots under the town square (Racine Carrée by Anatole Lebreton)

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