Reviews En Bref – Boucheron, Montale, Caron, & Annick Goutal: From Average to Terrible

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m verbose. 😉 I can’t seem to help it and, frankly, it often exhausts me as much as it probably overwhelms (terrifies?) you. So, from time to time, I thought I would offer brief thoughts and conclusions on a wide range of colognes or perfumes. Sometimes, they will include fragrances that I plan full reviews for down the line. Other times, like now, it’s for perfumes that I don’t like and find it difficult to sum up the enthusiasm to write a full review.

BOUCHERON:
Boucheron For Men Eau de Parfum is a scent I should like, in theory. It’s a powerhouse citrus aromatic that is most definitely unisex, regardless of what’s written on the bottle. I didn’t like it. It opened with too much soapy citrus and was utterly overwhelming. I’m not easily overwhelmed and usually like powerhouse perfumes. This one is justifiably considered by some to be utterly unbearable. (For the sake of balance, others adore it. It’s definitely a very split opinion.) Boucheron became much better as it developed but not enough for me to like it. Bottom line: nothing special and somewhat nondescript in the end.

 

MONTALE:

I’m glad I tried Montale’s Oriental Flowers if only to prove to myself that my intense dislike for Montale scents thus far has nothing to do with oud. The two Montale oud fragrances that I’ve tried (and reviewed here) were nothing short of Chernobyl on my arm and made me desperate for a Silkwood shower. A close friend recently tried Montale’s Amber Aoud and commented: “Montale clobbers you over the head and drags you back to a cave to roast you on a rack.” So, clearly, it’s not just me. Oriental Flowers is better — but that’s not saying much. It’s sharp, screechy, and very synthetic (to me, at least). For a floriental, there is a note that suspiciously calls to mind the oud in Montale’s other fragrances.

Perhaps it’s the very synthetic lime note that keeps appearing in the Montale perfumes, even though there shouldn’t be lime in any of those that I’ve tried thus far. I think “sharp, hostile lime” is how my nose processes the extremely synthetic florals and ouds in the Montales. Regardless, I find the rose scent in Oriental Flowers to be synthetic and screechy too. Over all, the perfume gave me a headache and I wanted it off me. It wasn’t the unrelenting horror and nuclear explosion of the Montale ouds, but it was damn unpleasant. And, even worse, it simply won’t go away. There is just no escape from Montale scents, no matter how microscopic the amount.

CARON:

Perfumistas and bloggers rave about Nuit de Noel, a favorite particularly around Christmas time and a fragrance that Karl Lagerfeld allegedly sprays around his house to get him in the holiday mood. Huh. Maybe I need to try the vintage version, because I’m in the clear (and tiny) minority on this one. Consider me utterly unimpressed, though so, so desperately eager to like this one. Dammit, why don’t I?! It’s a floriental whose spice is supposed to evoke marron glacés, old-fashioned Christmases with gingerbread men, sugar and spice, baking cookies, and cozy fireplaces. Even Goth Christmases and the 1920s. The superb blog, Perfume Shrine, had an absolutely delicious review (which convinced me to buy it)  and which reads, in part, as follows:

Caron’s Nuit de Noël (1922) is a soft oriental built on an accord of rose absolu and Mousse de Saxe perfumer’s base (i.e. a ready-made accordof ingredients producing a specific effect), with the addition of 25% sandalwood, jasmine, ylang ylang, lily of the valley, vetiver, amber and iris. It’s prismatically constructed around 6-isobutylquinoline, a leathery molecule.

The fragrance emits a cozy, inviting scent poised between the starch of marrons and the bitterness of the iodine/leathery note(hence my Fernet Branca evocation) fading into musky woods. Indeed the famous “Mousse de Saxe accord” is comprised of geranium, licorice (created with anise), isobutyl quinoline (leather notes), iodine and vanillin (synthesized vanilla). If older Carons, especially in their superior vintage form, are characterised by a signature “Caronade”, a common thread that runs through them, Nuit de Noël is a good place to start this escapade into one of the most chic and historical French perfume houses.

Less incensey than similarly oriental Parfum Sacré, less abrasive or bold than straightforward leathery En Avion or Tabac BlondNuit de Noël has a sheen that starts and ends on an unwavering tawny pitch. The spiced rum-licorice notes aplified by musk (a musk comparable to that in Chanel’sNo.5 and Bois des Iles) take on a rich saturation; the fragrance dries down to a powdery warmth redolent of the bourgeois scents of a festive evening spent outdoors.

Every single one of the reviews mentions things that are right up my alley, and make me wonder about my own judgment. (Did I mention that I’m desperate to like Nuit de Noel?) Unfortunately, as I wrote to an inquiring friend yesterday, I actually regret having bought a full bottle. A small sample would have sufficed. I only get fleeting notes of a few of the things mentioned by others, if at all. Plus, there is a very surprising bit of an underlying coldness and dryness to it. Someone called it “melancholy” but in a good way; I’m not sure I would go that far. Now, again, the vintage may be very different, but the bottom line is that my version is nothing particularly special. It’s perfectly nice, nondescript and pleasant, but I don’t want “pleasant.” There are too many perfumes in the world for unenthused “pleasant.”

Montaigne by Caron is one I’m on the fence about. It’s not a perfume I reach for often and, when I do, I think to myself, “I should wear this more.” It makes me think of Cannes, mimosa flowers under a brilliant blue sky, and Van Gogh paintings. It’s a floriental and the notes are described as follows: Top notes are jasmine, coriander, bitter orange, mimose and tangerine; middle notes are narcissus and black currant; base notes are sandalwood, amber and vanille. It’s sunny, elegant, and incredibly powerful both in terms of sillage and longevity. I have no clue why I don’t like this more. Perhaps it’s going to take a lot more tries, though that didn’t work for Nuit de Noel.

ANNICK GOUTAL:

Grand Amour is a perfume I should adore, and not solely because of the incredibly romantic story behind it. It’s a perfume that Annick Goutal created in 1996 for herself as an ode to love and her husband. Lucky Scent says: “Grand Amour is the perfume that encapsulates the serene passion Annick experienced with her husband, the cellist Alain Meunier, who would bring her a bouquet of white flowers every week. A dense perfume with flowery chords, amber, and musk that speaks of love, because “love is everything.” It’s another floriental (can you see a theme in my tastes?), and according to Fragrantica: “[t]he composition is based on three accords: floral, amber, and musk. In the floral bouquet, lily, honeysuckle, and hyacinth lead the way to Turkish rose, French jasmine, and Indian mimosa, with a touch of fruity notes. Oriental accord (amber) is represented by the notes of amber, vanilla and myrrh. In the base the sensual musk united with precious rare balsams create a very long trace.”

Hmmph. If they say so. To me, Grand Amour has a painfully green opening. It is the filthy, fetid, murky green remnants of a week-old vase of flowers whose water has not been changed and started to stink. At the same time, it’s a bit powdery and soapy. After a queasy hour or two, it turns softer. But now it’s musky soap and powder, but with leather and balsam. There’s something about it that I find unpleasant. I bought it because I love hyacinth, amber and myrrh; because the rest of the notes sounded completely up my alley; and because it was reported to be one of the rare Goutals that has good longevity. Well, the longevity isn’t bad, but it’s an utter ordeal and chore to wear it. It’s hardly akin to the sheer horror that is Montale (nothing is), but it’s one of the few perfumes I own that I want to sell. Not only do I not want to have anything to do with it, but I need to have that full bottle stop staring at me so hauntingly and reproachfully.

19 thoughts on “Reviews En Bref – Boucheron, Montale, Caron, & Annick Goutal: From Average to Terrible

  1. These perfumes have never come across my radar, which is a good thing. I would probably be repulsed by them as well. You were pretty brave to buy a full bottle of those “stinkers”. Just in time for Xmas, I think a “regiftting” is in order here. LOL

    • LOL! I’m not sure I would want to burden loved ones with some of those. The Montale is not a full bottle, thank God! (The very thought of it makes me shudder.) And some of the others are merely average — as opposed to being flat out terrible. My problem is that I’m naturally curious and like to explore new things. I don’t limit myself to just women’s perfumes, niche scents, classique fragrances or vintage ones. I like to have a range, which is why my next review will probably be for Serge Lutens’ somewhat notorious Serge Noir. I hope to cover lots of different things– though almost never things that I think fall in the “Clean” or “Laundry Detergent” category. A girl has to draw the line somewhere!! 😉

  2. Two perfumes I hate are Le Mâle Terriblè and Kokorico, both by JPG. As the name of one of them implies, they are both terrible. The first one is a very striped down version of Le Male with grapefruit on top. All I can say is awful. How can you ruin a classic? The second one is a bitter chocolate concotion of nastiness that doesn’t deserve to be on the shelf. I usually like chocolate/ patchouli or anything that smells like it, but this doesn’t do it for me. All I smell is bitter unsweetened chocolate with strong chemicals. I got a burning sensation in my nose when I sniffed it. I even sprayed some on my arm trying to give it a chance! Hours later, no change in my opinion. Definitely stay away from these “stinkers” as well.LOL

    • Oh dear. They both sound very dodgy, though the Kokorico most of all. My problem is that I’m damn curious. If I were a cat, I’d probably be dead by now. LOL. So, I have to confess, a small part of me is intrigued by the Kokorico. Thankfully, there are enough other perfumes I want to sample and the costs of samples can definitely add up, so I think there is no likelihood of me ordering even a tiny vial of it. But if I ever see either one, I’m definitely going to give them a whiff! Thank you for sharing some of your “stinkers,” Ferris! 😀

  3. I really like the sound of Nuit de Noël. Montagne is actually one of my mum’s favourites. 🙂 I like Montagne, but it reminds me too much of being an older woman, somehow. Perhaps it’s because I associate it with my mum, or perhaps the scent reminds me of my grandmother in some fashion, but – yeah. *laugh* But it’s nice enough; I’ll grant you that. 🙂

    • I liked the sound of Nuit de Noel, too. A lot. You should READ the descriptions of it from site to site. Each one is better than the last. But… *sigh* Maybe the vintage would be a whole other story, but you’d have to pay a painfully high price for a bottle — assuming you could even find it. I always opt for vintage when I can; you know my issues regarding the reformulation of scents. But I don’t even want to think about the cost of a bottle of Nuit de Noel vintage. For the version I have now, it was a painful disappointment.

      As for Montaigne, believe me, I understand all about olfactory associations. Unfortunately, that’s not my reason for not being passionate about it. I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly lovely smell.

  4. I’m with you on Boucheron…I do love Jaipur though. Although it’s one of those fragrances that I seem to love on others rather than myself. As for the Montales, I still have yet to find one that I love. I love reading your opinions and there is nothing wrong with being verbose…especially when you’re fun to read 🙂

    • Oh, Mr. Hound, we may be a weeeeeeee, weeeeeee bit of perfume twins. Your sentence — “I’m with you on Boucheron…I do love Jaipur though. Although it’s one of those fragrances that I seem to love on others rather than myself.” — is word for word how I feel about both fragrances. And thank you for the sweetness regarding my verboseness. It’s the plague of my existence sometimes (even apart from the fact that I’m endlessly teased for it). Do you know, I contemplated calling my blog Ode to Verboseness? I’m quite serious. It passed through my mind for longer than I care to admit to. LOL.

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  6. Hi there. Have you tried Nuit Etoilee??? Let me tell you. My wife and I were in Paris last year in October. Those days were cold and I was coming out of a heart problem. So, my recovery gave me the chance to walk and to do it as if it were the last time I was gonna do it. Anyway, one day we were walking and that day was very lovely and peaceful for both of us. That day we stumbled with an Annick Goutal boutique in Champs Elysses. We entered and tried her fragrances. The moment we smelled Nuit Etoilee we felt in love with. I would like to have your way of writing but I will describe Nuit Etoilee as a peacefull cold walking afternoon with the woman I love and to whom I’ve been married for 24 happy years.

    • How utterly beautiful, Ivan! Congratulations first on your marriage and lovely wife, and then on finding a scent that brings memories with her to life in perfume form. 🙂 Bravo on your description, too! I haven’t tried Nuit Etoilée, but I will certainly keep an eye out for it now!

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  11. I have recently come to know your blog . Very interesting and helpful, in particular for such novice perfume enthusiast that doubtlessly I am ! I have tried so many montlales most of them beyond my tolerance. They are so oriental and sometimes harsh and synthetic . Sometimes I wondered about my judgment . Your review was helpful in getting back my confidence . But there is one exception. I do like the oud ( or as the bottle says aoud ) leather montale. I have read reviews in favor and also against this perfume, some say the leather note is embarrasingly synthetic and unreal, but I can’t get the point. As a leather fan who have tested other leather perfumes, I find nothing wrong with it . Of course more elegant leather products are available but this one is not so bad. I can rate it at least 3/5. May be my uncultivated sense of smell renders this misjudgment.

    • First, welcome to the blog, Farzin. Second, I think people should always go with whatever fragrance gives them joy, no matter what anyone else says, including critics or bloggers. You and only you matter when it comes to your own choice of scent. 🙂 And every brand will have some duds, just as every brand will have a gem or two. You found one that you love with Montale’s Aoud Leather, and I think that’s great! I mean it. I’m very pleased for you. 🙂 Their Aoud Cuir d’Arabie has some nice bits, too.

      • Yes indeed, it is your own taste and judgment that can lead you to a correct decision. I ‘ve lost much money by blind buying perfumes just because of reading positve reviews.

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