YSL Tuxedo (Le Vestiaire des Parfums)

Yves St. Laurent. Photo via Pinterest.

Yves St. Laurent. Photo via Pinterest.

A tribute to Yves Saint Laurent‘s most iconic fashion creations and his legendary tuxedo, Le Smoking, should automatically be an exciting thing, but L’Oreal (which now owns YSL Beauté) hasn’t done anything to merit or live up to the great Saint Laurent name in my eyes. It would be quite accurate to say I despise L’Oreal and the way they’ve gutted my favorite house created by a flawed genius whom I admired and loved like no other in the fashion world, and whose creations were a big part of my childhood via my mother. Now, when I try one of their new releases, I have the lowest expectations and tend to brace myself for disaster.

So you can imagine my surprise when I tried the new Tuxedo and found parts of it were mildly decent, comparatively speaking. No, it’s not a truly good fragrance, and I think it’s over-priced for what it is, but at least it’s not a toxic waste dump or a gooey, painfully commercial, unbalanced and hideous travesty — two things which basically encapsulate my recent experiences with the brand. Compared to those fragrances, this is… not revolting? Well, adequate, at least. And the drydown was moderately nice.

Source: modernists.fr

Source: modernists.fr

YSL's Tuxedo and the new "Le Vestiaire" Collection. Photo via NST.

YSL’s Tuxedo and the new “Le Vestiaire” Collection. Photo via NST.

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YSL Black Opium

Source: lookbooks.com

Source: lookbooks.com

This is nothing like Opium. Let’s get that point out of the way right from the start. Black Opium isn’t even in the same galaxy as the original, let alone a related flanker with strong olfactory kinship. Regardless of whether you loved the original Opium or hated it, the objective reality is that the fragrance was a masterpiece that changed the perfume landscape, ushering in the oriental genre like nothing else before it, and becoming the benchmark by which all subsequent orientals were measured. Black Opium is not a masterpiece. In my opinion, it doesn’t deserve to bear the “Opium” name even in a small way.

"Tattooed Salome," c.1876 by Gustave Moreau.

“Tattooed Salome,” c.1876 by Gustave Moreau.

This is an extremely difficult review for me to write. As I’ve said many times in the past, original vintage Opium is my Holy Grail, one of two fragrances that changed everything for me and made me the perfume lover that I am today. Luca Turin called it “The Spice King” in his Five Star Review, but I prefer a friend’s loving, adoring term, “The Bitch Goddess.” In my wholly biased, subjective view, there is nothing like 1970s or 1980s Opium. It is bottled magic that transcends a mere set of notes to become something else entirely. It is a roaring, spectacular, bold masterpiece that is the Sistine Chapel of Orientals, a warrior’s olfactory shield worthy of Joan of Arc and all of the Seven Veils for Salomé. Men should wear it, women should seduce with it. There is simply nothing like vintage Opium, in my opinion. Period. (Note: versions post-1992 or 1995 are not so special, while absolutely none of this applies to anything put out during L’Oreal’s reign of horrors at YSL from the late-2000s onwards.)

Source: feminorama.com

Source: feminorama.com

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YSL Vintage Champagne/Yvresse: Sparkling Elegance

Source: evollt.com

Source: evollt.com

Bubbling joy, effervescent gold, the emerald of a mossy forest floor, glowing orange and pink jewels cocooned in French elegance, and a warm smile on the sunniest of days: Champagne. It is liquid gold, but so much more than that in the case of the extremely well-named, vintage fragrance from Yves Saint Laurent. Some things simply make you happy, and Champagne (or Yvresse, as it was quickly re-named) is one of those things for me. I always stand a little straighter when I wear it, feel brighter, with more of a kick in my step. It makes me feel elegant and sophisticated, even when I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I feel smoothed out, covered in gold, and dripping glowing jewels of orange and pink.

Photo: Jimpix.co.uk

Photo: Jimpix.co.uk

It doesn’t make a lot of sense on the face of it because Champagne or Yvresse is very far from my usual style. At first glance, it appears like a simple, extremely sweet, very feminine fruity-floral. Look closer and take a deeper sniff, however, and you will see a dark, lush forest of green carpeting those fruits and flowers, a base of oakmoss of such high quality that I’ve only smelled its like recently in $400 and $900 fragrances from Roja Dove.

Source: parentium.com

Source: parentium.com

There is green aplenty in Yvresse, but perhaps the real joy stems from the effervescent, incandescent bubbles of gold that hit your nose from the very start. Clever uses of menthol create a chilled sensation that very much evokes the subtle, sparkling tingle of really good, expensive champagne. Yet, the bubbles are only half the story.

Tart, tangy juiciness drips from lush nectarines, lychee, and peaches with a joyful abandon that feels like the best of summer. Yvresse is most definitely a chypre first and foremost, but the fruited touch makes the scent as warm and as sweet as a big, infectious grin. All of the haughty, aloof, cool distance that the dark green oakmoss in a chypre can create has been replaced by bright, sunny plushness. Even when the fragrance turns drier and less sweet, the lingering touches of peach and vanilla create a softness that is approachable elegance at its best. It’s not the stark, perfect beauty of Grace Kelly (who is perhaps a perfect representation of a chypre’s aloof coolness), but the warm smile of Audrey Hepburn. Yvresse/Champagne is bright joy and sunniness mixed with elegant sophistication and sweet femininity — all in one very affordable bottle.

YSL Champagne ad showing the small, squat parfum bottle, not the EDT one. Source: ladies-with-bottle.blogspot.com

YSL Champagne ad showing the small, squat parfum bottle, not the EDT one. Source: ladies-with-bottle.blogspot.com

Yvresse was created by Sophia Grojsman, and was originally released as Champagne in 1993. The French champagne industry immediately had a snit-fit over the name, outraged that something could be called “Champagne” that wasn’t a French sparkling wine. (Technically, champagne is terroir-specific, as sparkling wines from other regions have a different appellation. To give you just one example, in Spain, they are called “Cava.”) The champagne industry sued for trademark violation, and if you’re rolling your eyes, you’d be right. Yves St. Laurent lost the lawsuit and was forced to change the fragrance’s name to Yvresse, which essentially means a state of intoxicated joy. All that changed was the label on the bottle and its look, not the ingredients themselves.

Yvresse in a 2 oz bottle to the left, Champagne in a 3.4 oz to the right. Photo: my own.

Yvresse in a 2 oz bottle to the left, Champagne in a 3.4 oz to the right. Photo: my own.

The fragrance is most commonly available as an eau de toilette, though a rare parfum version was also released. This review is just for the eau de toilette. I have bottles of both Yvresse and Champagne in that concentration, and find them to be virtually identical. The greatest difference between the two is sweetness and the price, as vintage Yvresse is extremely inexpensive and widely available on eBay. You can find a small bottle as low as $29 right now, but the same size for Champagne costs significantly more. (Almost a $100 more.) For that reason, in part, I used my bottle of Yvresse to test for this review, though the main reason is that my bottle of Champagne is running dangerously low and I want to keep it as long as possible. I’ll repeat that, in my eyes, the two fragrances are almost identical. The reason for the difference in pricing is that far fewer bottles of “Champagne” were released, so they are more of a collector’s item. The smell, however, is the same.

Otto Rose, named for Otto de Jager. Source: ludwigsroses.co.za

Otto Rose, named for Otto de Jager. Source: ludwigsroses.co.za

Fragrantica lists Yvresse’s main notes as:

nectarine, anise, menthol, Otto rose, blue rose, litchi, oak moss, patchouli, vetiver.

Ozmoz has a more complicated list, but, despite its entry date of 1993, shows a photo of the new, modern, very different Yvresse. So, taking things with a grain of salt and the possibility that Ozmoz is providing the reformulated fragrance’s new notes, the olfactory pyramid is supposedly:

Note of Top : Peach, Apricot, Star Anise / Chinese Anise, Cumin

Note of Heart : Jasmine, Carnation, Rose, Cinnamon

Note of Base : Castoreum, Vanilla, Cedar, Styrax

Source: hqdesktop.net

Source: hqdesktop.net

I’ve never seen any list for the original Champagne or Yvresse that includes carnation or jasmine, never mind cumin! I certainly don’t smell either of those three notes, and they’re not mentioned on the note list that came with my bottle of Champagne. Stranger still is Ozmoz’ omission of nectarine, which is commonly known to be a major part of the scent.

To my nose, the notes in vintage Yvresse include:

nectarine, peach, anise, menthol, Otto rose, blue rose, litchi, oak moss, patchouli, vetiver, castoreum, and vanilla. Possibly mandarin orange, cedar, and cinnamon as well.

Source: forwallpaper.com

Source: forwallpaper.com

Yvresse opens on my skin with intense fruited sweetness that dissolves instantly into tangy, tart nectarines, orange fruits, a pink rose, and oakmoss. There is a hit of bitter citric zestiness like when you peel a baby tangerine and the oils squirt on your skin. Soft ripe peaches join the parade, but there is as much tartness in the Yvresse’s opening as there is sweetness. There is also brightness, so much brightness that it positively glows. It infuses the deep, dark oakmoss with incredible vibrancy, transforming it from the typically drier aroma of real mousse de chene oakmoss absolute. There is still a massive amount of the dark note in Yvresse, but it’s fresher than the usual scent of dry tree bark with a touch of salt and slightly fusty, dusty, mineralized grey lichen. Instead, it feels like bright emerald green that carpets the forest floor with thick, bouncy plushness.

Other notes soon appear. There is a watery, sweet lychee lurking around the edges, along with a deep, pink, Damascena rose and whiffs of a velvety castoreum. Deep in the base, there are flickers of cinnamon, alongside a bright, fresh, green, almost minty vetiver. The whole bouquet sparkles as effervescently as champagne. There is a fizzy quality as the notes dance around, buoyant, fresh and happy like young girls on a red carpet, only this one is dark green, emphasizing their golden and orange glow even more.

Source: Miriadna.com desktop wallpapers.

Source: Miriadna.com desktop wallpapers.

For all the sweetness in the opening minutes, Yvresse is always much less syrupy on my skin than others have reported and a definite chypre from the very start. The dark, emerald moss is really the key to the fragrance; it’s a solid, dominant note which gives Yvresse a firm, sometimes dry, green spine from head to toe, and from start to finish.

Interestingly, I tried Champagne in a side-by-side test, and the fragrance was both significantly sweeter on my skin, and less mossy. I think the intense syrup stems from the fact that my bottle of Champagne is exactly 20 years old. The inevitable evaporation that occurs over time thereby concentrates some of the fragrance, and that amount of sweetness ends up overwhelming the dryness of the oakmoss in Champagne. In contrast, my much newer bottle of Yvresse (that may be about 10 years old, or a little bit younger) is drier, greener, less sweet, more chypre-like, and with significantly greater brightness. It also fizzles and sparkles from the start. Nonetheless, all of this is a question of degree, mere fractional differences that don’t change the primary essence of the fragrance.

In all cases, both Champagne and Yvresse open with enormous potency and sillage for a fragrance that is a mere eau de toilette. The strong sillage wafts about you like a cloud, projecting a good 4-5 inches of a cloud that is tart nectarines, zesty tangerines, sweet peaches, delicate lychee, a dash of rose, and endless vistas of dark oakmoss. The potent cloud softens a tiny bit after 20 minutes, and hints of other notes appear. There are spices, noticeably dry cinnamon, but there is also something fiery that feels like star anise with almost a chili-pepper, pimento bite. They’re subtle and very muted, however, and you have to really sniff to detect them. 

Source: mport.bigmir.net

Source: mport.bigmir.net

One of the things I love the most about Yvresse is the fizzy sparkle. Originally, I thought it may be the result of the contrast between the deep velvet of the foresty base and the tangy, tart, top notes. Later, I thought that it may be merely the power of suggestion. If so, then everyone who tries Yvresse is equally suggestible because they’ve all noticed the same thing. Something in Yvresse really and truly replicates the nose-tingling bubbles of champagne, subtle though it may be amidst all the powerful accords. However, having stared at the notes for this review, I’ve finally figured out the cause. The “menthol.” It’s a note that initially left me scratching my head, because nothing in Yvresse reads as anything medicinal, camphorated, or even very minty. It translates instead as a cool, almost icy, frosted chill. Yet, menthol makes sense. It serves to amplify the more mossy, green elements in the base, while also diffusing the sweetness at the top. It transforms those fruity accords into something more chilled, while also giving a little fizzy tingle in your nose the way really expensive champagne can do.

Source: Forwallpaper.com

Source: Forwallpaper.com

Thirty minutes in, Yvresse is a sweet, fizzy rose scent infused by tart, sweet fruit, a whisper of dry cinnamon and anise, and endless amounts of dark, dry oakmoss. The oakmoss feels as though it dominates the top, middle, and bottom layers, taking over every part of the fruit and rose accord, balancing it all out in the most elegant, sophisticated mix of green. Deep down in the base, the first touches of vanilla become noticeable, but it will take a while for it to rise up to the top.

"Pink & Green Tree Painting by Artist Louise Mead." Source: ebsqart.com. (Website link embedded within photo.)

“Pink & Green Tree Painting by Artist Louise Mead.” Source: ebsqart.com. (Website link embedded within photo.)

At the 90-minute mark, the fragrance starts to shift. Yvresse loses a lot of its fizzy, champagne quality, along with its sweetness. As they recede to the periphery, the cool, crisp greenness takes their place, imbued with some sharpness and with the faintest hint of spiciness from the star anise. Equally subtle is the whiff of castoreum in the foundation with its quietly animalic, brown velvetiness. All the base notes are muted, and detectable only if you really sniff hard; the general impression from afar is of a deep, multi-faceted, seamless blend of emerald green, foresty moss infused with roses and fruited sweetness.

Both the fragrance and the individual elements have softened, with projection now limited to only 2-3 inches above the skin. It’s still fantastic for a mere eau de toilette, though. In fact, in every way, from richness, depth, body and projection, Yvresse is really more like an eau de parfum than anything else. It’s certainly ten times stronger and more full-bodied than any current Hèrmes parfum from the ultra-minimalist Jean-Claude Ellena.

Yvresse remains largely unchanged for the next few hours. There are subtle differences in the order or prominence of the notes, but the most noticeable thing about the scent is that it gets drier and darker. Around the start of the third hour, there is a subtle smoked woodiness that appears, leading me to think that the fragrance may indeed have cedar in it as Ozmoz states. The nectarine fades to the sidelines, letting the peach take over, while the vanilla slowly rises to the top. Yvresse becomes a beautifully balanced mathematical equation of fruits and florals; sweetness and dryness; joyful, bright warmth and dry, restrained darkness in a blend that feels like a very grown-up, elegant take on a fruity-floral.

Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

For me, modern interpretations of the fruity-floral genre always feel very young, very girly in a teenage-like way with its abundance of syrup and purple, fruited patchouli. (Exhibit A would be the terrible, banal, and simpering Chypre Fatal from Guerlain.) Originally, however, the fruited chypre genre was for sophisticated women, with scents like the legendary Mitsouko which is also based on peach and oakmoss. Yvresse is different, because it lacks the powerful bit of “skank” that makes Mitsouko so sensuous (or sexual, in some people’s eyes). It is a much sweeter, sunnier, happier scent without that overly sensuous underpinning. It’s not sexy like Sophia Loren, or a grand dame like Catherine Deneuve (who would perfectly embody Mitsouko). But it’s also not girlish and youthful like a Gigi.

Source: npr.org

Source: npr.org

For all the happy bubbliness of Yvresse’s start, there is too much underlying elegance and sophistication. It is Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with her charm, genuine warmth, and her open smile, all in a very classique, elegant body. In short, Yvresse is approachable chic and sophistication that never loses sight of its playful side. In modern parlance, Yvresse might perhaps be a very grown-up Reese Witherspoon going to the Oscars.

"Shades of Leaves," abstract photography by Bruno Paolo Benedetti. (Website link embedded withinphoto.)

“Shades of Leaves,” abstract photography by Bruno Paolo Benedetti. (Website link embedded within photo.)

In its final phase, Yvresse is a soft blur of oakmoss infused with abstract floral and fruited elements. For a while around the end of the 6th hour, you can still vaguely distinguish the peach, rose and cedar notes, but they are increasingly folded into that plush, soft, smooth greenness. The nectarine has vanished, as did the lychee and spices hours earlier. There is a subtle vanilla element in the base that feels as airy as mousse, but it’s blended in as well, and feels quite muted. In its final moments, Yvresse is merely a delicate haze of cool, somewhat dry, faintly sweet mossiness.

All in all, Yvresse consistently lasts between 9 and 9.75 hours on my perfume-eating skin, depending on the quantity I apply. With a larger dose, the fragrance takes 5.5 hours to become a skin scent, while a smaller amount yields about 4/25 hours. These are exceptional numbers for a mere eau de toilette, but as noted earlier, Yvresse feels very much like an eau de parfum in strength. 

I absolutely adore Yvresse/Champagne, and it is one of my “happy scents” that I turn to when I need a little energizing boost, or Prozac in a bottle. It always makes me feel more elegant and put-together, even though blazing femininity is not my style of perfumery. I would not recommend Yvresse for most men, as I think the bouquet would be viewed as too feminine by those with more conventional tastes.

However, I know a few confident men who love the fragrance, perhaps because of its mossy chypre character. Men who wear fruity-chypres like Mitsouko and who enjoy sweet scents may like Yvresse. On the other hand, Mitsouko is much drier and with significantly more pungent oakmoss, so don’t expect a very close kinship in that regard. Yvresse may actually be closer in feel to Andy Tauer‘s Une Rose Chyprée, taking a lot of its rich moss with a sunny, happy rose facade, and then tossing in a dab of the tart fruit in his stunning PHI Une Rose de Kandahar. Again, though, Yvresse starts at a much sweeter level.

YSL vintage golden couture, 1967. Photo by David Bailey for Vogue. Source: Styliista.com

YSL vintage golden couture, 1967. Photo by David Bailey for Vogue. Source: Styliista.com

Another fragrance that comes to mind is Viktoria Minya‘s exquisite Hedonist. Yvresse is a very different scent and lacks the boozy, oriental qualities of the niche scent, but the two share that same fizzy feel at the start, a fact I remarked upon even in my review of Hedonist. They also have the same very sunny, opulent, golden sophistication and joyousness. That said, Yvresse very much demonstrates the signature of its maker, Sophia Grojsman, who is responsible for such intensely feminine, sweet fragrances as YSL‘s classic Paris and Lancome‘s Trésor. In short, it definitely skews very feminine in nature.

Champagne.

Champagne.

Yvresse is extremely affordable for such an elegant, vintage scent, though the same fragrance under the Champagne name costs significantly more. On eBay, you can find Yvresse for as low as $29 in the smallest 50 ml/1.7 oz size. It’s an absolutely fantastic price for a scent that shows the same complexity, elegance, richness, and nuance as a $200 niche fragrance. Actually, I’ve tested a number of $275 to $425 florals that don’t have one tenth of Yvresse’s sophistication or complexity. I don’t think the $29 figure is the norm, but Yvresse is still a bargain even at its more typical, slightly higher price.

As shown in the Details section below, you can generally find Yvresse on any number of discount or outlet fragrance sites for somewhere in the $42-$65 range for a 60 ml/2 oz size. In the UK, I’ve seen Yvresse sold cheaply for £33.31 in that same size, and for £50.05 for a huge 125 ml/4.25 oz bottle. Online retailers are a more steady, permanent option than relying on the vagaries of what may be offered on eBay, but you’ll sometimes get much better deals on the auction site, so you should check both. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen Champagne offered on any site other than eBay.

Vintage Yvresse but slightly newer and without the wide gold band around the top, and with much paler font in the writing. This version is still vintage Yvresse though.

Vintage Yvresse but slightly newer, without the wide gold band around the top, and with much paler font in the writing. This version is still vintage Yvresse though.

In all cases, it’s cheaper to buy Yvresse than Champagne. To give you an idea of the comparative range of prices for Yvresse versus Champagne on eBay, here are some links which, it goes without saying, will soon become obsolete once the auctions end in a few days: an unopened, boxed Yvresse EDT in a small 1.7 oz/50 ml size is going for $29.99; a 2 oz/60ml boxed Yvresse for $57.19 from FragranceNet; five bottles of boxed Yvresse in a 3.3 oz/100 ml bottle, each for $70.25; or a huge 125 ml/ 4.25 oz boxed Yvresse for $89.99. In contrast, the cheapest starting price for a boxed bottle of Champagne in the small 1.7 oz size is $125, with larger sizes averaging about $195-$200 before a single bid has been placed. For those who are reading this review months down the road, you can use the following search which should work regardless of time and which should not become obsolete: Yvresse and Champagne options on eBay, including the rarer parfum version.

Older vintage Yvresse with the gold band and much deeper, darker font in the writing.

Older vintage Yvresse with the gold band and much deeper, darker font in the writing.

One word of caution regarding names and boxes. No matter which name it is sold under, the eau de toilette always comes with a gold box and the bottle is oval-shaped, like a football. Slightly newer bottles of Yvresse don’t have the wide, dimpled, gold band going around the top of the bottle or dark font for the writing, but they are still vintage Yvresse. In fact, that is the version I own and used for this test. You can compare the bottle shown to the left with the one posted immediately above. They are both vintage. However, any fragrance with a red box is Yvresse Legere, which is a different perfume that was released in 1997 and which has a very different aroma profile. (It’s centered around mimosa, for one thing.)

New, modern, "La Collection Yvresse" from 2011. Source: Fragrantica.

New, modern, “La Collection Yvresse” from 2011. Source: Fragrantica.

Also, you will want to stay far away from anything in an opaque, cream-coloured bottle as shown in the photo to the right. In 2011, under L’Oreal’s ownership, YSL released a new Yvresse in 2011 called La Collection Yvresse. This is a totally different fragrance, no matter what its name purports to be. As that Fragrantica link will show you, the notes are substantially different and limited to 5 things: litchi, nectarine, rose, violet, and patchouli. In short, it is missing half the notes of the original Yvresse, most particularly the essential oakmoss base. I haven’t tried it out of protest, and I never will given my loathing of every single thing put out thus far by L’Oreal under the modern YSL name. They’re all terrible. (You don’t want to get me started on the revolting, emasculated eunuch that is the modern, current “Opium.” It is an utter travesty.)

Yvresse isn’t for everyone, but its cheerfulness makes it a favorite of mine, even if I don’t turn to it as much as I once did. In a few weeks, it will be New Year’s Eve, a time when champagne abounds. This year, I think I shall take my fizziness in a perfume bottle, with vintage golden bubbles from Yves Saint Laurent. It’s the perfect way to ring in 2014:  a note of boundless joy and bright optimism, all wrapped up in sparkling elegance. 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Yvresse/Champagne is available in a variety of different sizes and concentrations. This review is only for the vintage eau de toilette version. I’ve seen bottles of the fragrance in a 1.7 oz/50 ml size, a 2 oz/60 ml size, a 3.3 oz/100 ml size, and a very large 4.25 oz/125 ml size. Prices range from $29 to $95 for Yvresse, but bottles with the Champagne name are consistently higher by a significant amount. The larger sizes of Champagne can even go up to $200. As noted in the review, I don’t think there is any significant, substantial difference between the two. The name change was done for litigation reasons, not reformulation ones. Outside of eBay: Yvresse is sold at a number of different outlet or discount fragrance sites. I found one in Czechoslovakia, others in Russia. In the U.S., Overstock.com sells Yvresse for $43.29 for a 2 oz/60 ml bottle, and they ship internationally to over 100 countries. Yvresse is sold in the same size for $42 from Sophia’s Beauty, and around $47 from Fragrance Original. Another world-wide site selling a lot of Yvresse at a good price is FragranceX which has 2 oz/60 ml bottles priced at $56.62. The PerfumeLoft sells it for a bit higher. Outside the U.S.: A number of the discount sites listed above ship worldwide. However, in the UK, I found Yvresse sold in two sizes at London Perfume Shop for £33.31 for a 60 ml/2 oz size, and for £50.05 for a large 125 ml/4.25 oz size. In Australia, I found Yvresse at ShopandSave for $64.95 (AUD?) for a 2 oz/60 ml bottle. In the Middle East, Yvresse is sold at Bustan PerfumesSamples: if you want to test the fragrance, you can order Yvresse from Surrender to Chance where prices start at $3 for a 1 ml vial. The site also offers Champagne (which it lists with the exact same notes) for the same $3 starting price.

YSL Majestic Rose & Supreme Bouquet (Oriental Collection)

YSL’s new Oriental Collection is a trio of fragrances that are meant to be “an invitation to travel” to the Orient. Each one is an eau de parfum housed in a gold-covered bottle, and offered in limited distribution at a very high price. The other day, I covered the toxic abomination that is Noble Leather. Today is the turn of the remaining fragrances in the line: Majestic Rose from the great Alberto Morillas; and Supreme Bouquet, created by perhaps the even greater Dominique Ropion

MAJESTIC ROSE:

The most complete and detailed information I found for Majestic Rose comes from Osmoz which states, in part, that:

Source: Osmoz

Source: Osmoz

Majestic Rose pays tribute to the queen of flowers. Rose goes animalic here, becoming one with the oud wood in the trail. […] Composed around rose, the fragrance starts by unveiling notes of bergamot, raspberry and papyrus. The rose heart is sweetened with honey and spiced with saffron and maté. The woodsier trail is composed of oud, guaiac and vanilla. Perfumer: Alberto Morillas, Firmenich.

Note of Top : Raspberry, Bergamot, Papyrus

Note of Heart : Rose, Mate, Saffron, Honeyed Notes

Note of Base : Vanilla, Oud, Gaiac Wood

Maté is not a common note in perfumery, and it plays a part in Majestic Rose’s opening, so I thought this description of it from Osmoz might be useful:

Tobacco, Herbaceous, Hay, Tea. […] Maté is a variety of holly that grows in South America. […] Used primarily in men’s perfumery to create fougere and chypre tonalities[.]

Source: apartmenttherapy.com

Source: apartmenttherapy.com

Majestic Rose opens on my skin with: indistinct, anonymous “fruit;” something very much like ISO E Super; stale, dusty, dry tobacco; fruited rose; dusty, dry parchment paper; cheap synthetic “oud;” dry, leathery, spicy saffron; and a hint of vanilla. Oh, did I happen to mention dust? The fragrance is the oddest mix of sweet syrup and dust notes. All I can think about when wearing it is actual dust in an old library that has been drenched in a thin layer of fruit syrup, saffron, and jammy roses, all sprinkled with astringent, peppered ISO E Super, synthetic tea, and a drop of honeyed tea. It’s an airy mix with moderate sillage, but the prickly, peppered, spiky, synthetic elements all give it a certain roughness and sharpness.

Majestic Rose may not be the toxic dust cloud of its brother, the vile Noble Leather, but it has its own share of chemicals. I would bet anything that the perfume contains Kephalis. It is a synthetic which smells a lot like ISO E Super, is extremely dry, and which Givaudan describes as a long-lasting note with an amber-woody-tobacco profile. As for all that dust in Majestic Rose, it may stems from the papyrus, but the sheer degree of aridness underlying the scent seems much more consistent with the super synthetic, Norlimbanol. It is produced by Alberto Morillas’ own firm, Firmenich, and has been described by Chandler Burr as “quite simply, the smell of extreme dryness, absolute desiccation.”

Source: The Guardian.

Source: The Guardian.

At its core, Majestic Rose is a dust, rose, and “oud” fragrance. Certain notes act as supporting players, waxing and waning in prominence, but the perfume’s essential profile doesn’t really change. Five minutes into its development, the vanilla in the base starts to stir, while the papyrus becomes stronger and more significant. Majestic Rose just gets drier, and drier. And drier. 15 minutes in, Majestic Rose loses much of its syrup, and the fragrance starts to feel like a dust bowl with synthetic peppered ISO E Super, bone-dry woodiness, and, in a wholly discordant mix, sweet pink roses. It’s almost disconcerting to smell the flowers given the other notes. It’s as though a single, fresh, pink rose were pressed in parchment paper scrolls, then stuck in a monastery’s library which hadn’t been dusted since the late 11th Century. 

Thankfully, that phase is short-lived and only lasted about 40-minutes, but at least it was somewhat interesting and different. It’s a lot more than I can say for the rest of Majestic Rose’s development. As the dust recedes, the fragrance turns into a generic bouquet of syrupy rose, synthetic oud, and ISO E-ish chemicals in a cocoon of indistinct, abstract dryness. Hints of other things come and go, like vanilla and tobacco, or the merest drop of something that occasionally feels tea-like, but Majestic Rose’s main thrust is rose-oud (with synthetics). Needless to say, it’s not a particularly distinctive combination these days. In fact, something about Majestic Rose feels awfully familiar, but it’s hard to know which rose-oud fragrance it might be — there are literally hundreds of them.

Source: Ashes of Roses Designs, Facebook page.

Source: Ashes of Roses Designs, Facebook page.

I’ll be honest, I scrubbed off Majestic Rose after three hours. Normally, I would put up with an unpleasant fragrance, partially to see what happens but, primarily, for the sake of thoroughness. However, after the indescribable horror of YSL’s Noble Leather, my tolerance levels are wholly depleted. Moreover, I saw zero chance of Majestic Rose suddenly morphing into something different, it was giving me a mild headache, and I’m pretty much fed up with bad perfumes from YSL. So I had a Thanksgiving Day indulgence, even if that consisted of soap and aggressiveness with a loofah. You probably won’t be shocked to hear that Majestic Rose — like most very synthetic, chemical fragrances — was not easy to remove….

As with all the fragrances in the Oriental Collection, Majestic Rose costs £185 or €177 for an 80 ml bottle. At the current rate of conversion, £185 is $301. I’ll spare you a repetition of how inexpensive it is for individuals like you or I to buy a bottle of each of those synthetics cost in concentrated, undiluted form, or how little L’Oreal/YSL probably spent to make this fragrance. Suffice it to say that the cost of this fragrance is utterly ridiculous, given the ingredients and banality of the scent.

SUPREME BOUQUET:

Source: dubaidutyfree.com

Source: dubaidutyfree.com

According to Osmoz, Supreme Bouquet was created by the legendary Dominique Ropion of IFF, and it provides the following description of the scent:

Sweet and creamy, Supreme Bouquet is a perfume in Yves Saint Laurent’s Oriental Collection. Inspired by the mysteries of the Orient, the line is an invitation to travel. The house describes Supreme Bouquet as an escapade in an oriental garden. The fragrance is composed around white flowers.

Supreme Bouquet opens with notes of bergamot, pink pepper and pear. The heart pairs tuberose with jasmine and ylang-ylang. The slightly ambry trail is composed of white musk and patchouli.

Note of Top : Pear, Bergamot

Note of Heart : Jasmine, Tuberose, Ylang Ylang

Note of Base : Patchouli, White Musks, Ambry Notes

I’m a sucker for tuberose, so I perked up a little when I sniffed Supreme Bouquet back in Paris. It was still a very tempered response, however, and one that was wholly relative to my utter disdain for the other two fragrances in the Oriental Collection. On paper, it seemed moderately pleasant and pretty, but nondescript and lacking much originality.

The sad thing is that it’s actually much better on paper! On the skin, it’s merely yet another synthetic trip to disappointment. In a nutshell, Supreme Bouquet is like any fruity-white fragrance available at Sephora or at a middle-level department store. Actually, I’m pretty sure some celebrity fragrances are like Supreme Bouquet — right down to their chemical base.

Source: ilikewallpaper.net -

Source: ilikewallpaper.net –

In the vial, Supreme Bouquet smells like a dewy, watery, sweet, white floral scent dominated by tuberose, and lightly infused with pear and white musk. On the skin, it opens with pink peppercorns, white musk, sweet greenish pears, and tuberose. The notes sit atop a base of synthetic, clean, white musk, a synthetic like ISO E Super, and fake “ambry” notes. The synthetics soon become as dominant as the supposedly natural notes, turning Supreme Bouquet into a very sharp, almost laundryesque white floral bomb with pear, pink pepper, and prickly, peppered, sharp ISO E Super. The perfume is a lot of things: it’s very sweet, very fresh, very clean, very white, and very synthetic — but not, alas, very interesting.

TuberoseIt takes less than five minutes for my skin to be radiating sharp, synthetic white musk and spiky ISO E Super infused with tuberose, pink peppercorns and pear. It gave me an instant headache. Only after an hour do the synthetics finally start to soften, retreating to the edges of the fragrance. The purple patchouli surges to take their place, turning the tuberose even sweeter and adding a much heavier, deeper, fruited touch. By the end of the second hour, Supreme Bouquet is fruity-floral with gooey, purple patchouli and still sharp musk over a sheer, generic, abstract “amber” base with ISO E Super. The jasmine is as prominent as the tuberose now, but the patchouli threatens to dominate them both.

Supreme Bouquet is a largely linear, simple fragrance. Only at the start of the 7th hour does it change, but it’s one of degree. The fruited patchouli is now equal to the tuberose, if not sometimes a bit more dominant, and both notes are trailed by lingering traces of peppered synthetic. Honestly, I see no amber whatsoever in the base. In its very final moments, Supreme Bouquet is merely an abstract blur of a fruited white floral. It lasted 10.75 hours on my skin, with sillage that was moderate only for the first hour but which quickly turned soft. The potency of the synthetic notes, however, meant that Supreme Bouquet was still quite sharp and easily detectable if sniffed up close. The perfume only became a skin scent after about six hours.

If you’re looking for a tuberose with fruity patchouli and synthetics, you should spare yourself Supreme Bouquet’s ridiculous price, and just take yourself off to Sephora, or a bargain basement to look for a celebrity fragrance. There are any number of places where you won’t be charged £185 or €177 for an utterly generic fruity-floral fragrance reeking of ISO E and white musk. Let’s not forget those pink peppercorns, either, something which is wholly passé as a perfume trend now but which was such a mainstay of commercial perfumery to go with the fruited patchouli and the white florals.

Dominique Ropion via fotomag.com.ua

Dominique Ropion via fotomag.com.ua

It’s sad to see the great Dominique Ropion‘s name attached to something that, quite frankly, makes some of the Tocca line of perfumes look like high-quality masterpieces. He really is a superb perfumer; from Ysatis to half of the most famous Frederic Malle fragrances and many other celebrated gems, he is enormously talented. He’s also seems to be a wiz with florals, and tuberose in particular. For example, the famous Carnal Flower, Dior‘s white Pure Poison, and the sadly maligned Amarige. To go from Carnal Flower to this?! In fact, if you’re looking for a simple fruity-floral, you may want to go with the Tocca brand than YSL. Tocca’s Florence is a much better fragrance which also has pear, tuberose, jasmine, bergamot, and musk. In addition, it also has more nuance, thanks to gardenia, violet, iris, and apple; it lacks patchouli; and it is a much fresher, greener, less sickly sweet perfume. Plus, it costs $68, not $300.

I don’t blame Dominique Ropion, however, for the utterly generic, Britney Spears-like fragrance that he’s created. (Britney Spear‘s best-selling Curious has a similar tuberose, pear and musk profile, but also many more notes and no fruited patchouli.) No, in this case, I blame Ropion’s masters at L’Oreal, since the simple fact is that all perfumers must abide by the agenda, briefs, and price point set by the client. Still, there is no getting around it: Supreme Bouquet is not Mr. Ropion’s finest hour. I wonder if he was bored out of his mind making it? I certainly was while wearing it.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Each fragrance in YSL’s Oriental Collection is an eau de parfum that comes in a 2.7 oz/ 80 ml bottle, and is subject to very limited distribution. The price is £185 or €177. The French YSL website and the UK YSL site both carry the Oriental Collection, but not the US one. In the U.S.: I haven’t found any American retailers thus far that carry the line. Outside the U.S.: In Europe, from what I’ve seen thus far, the Oriental Collection is most widely found in the UK and France. In the UK, and for Supreme Bouquet, the London links are: House of Fraser (which is discounting the scent at £148), Harvey Nichols, and HarrodsJohn Lewis is offering Majestic Rose and Supreme Bouquet at a slight discount with a price of £166 instead of £185. There are only 3 bottles left of each at the time of this post. John Lewis ships internationally to over 33 countries, and has free UK delivery. For Majestic Rose, the perfume is currently sold out at London’s House of Fraser, but it is available at Harvey Nichols. I couldn’t find it on the Harrod’s site, but I know they sell it. In Paris, I’ve read that the full line is available at the main Sephora on the Champs Elysees. In Ireland, Brown Thomas sells Majestic Rose and Supreme Bouquet for €205. In Russia, Orental has Majestic Rose and Supreme Bouquet. Airports: Finally, you can find YSL’s Oriental Collection at a number of airports. I myself tested it at Paris’ CDG International Departures, and I know it is also available at London’s Heathrow. I suspect the same applies at all other large airports. Samples: I obtained my samples from Surrender to Chance which sells the complete trio in a set starting at $13.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. Majestic Rose and Supreme Bouquet are also available individually starting at $4.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. Obviously, the complete set is a bit of a better deal.