Perfume Directory

Quelques Fleurs l'Original (1912)
by Houbigant

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Quelques Fleurs l'Original information

Year of Launch1912
GenderFeminine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 112 votes)

People and companies

HouseHoubigant
PerfumerRobert Bienaimé
Parent CompanyLoft Fashion and Beauty Diffusion

About Quelques Fleurs l'Original

Discontinued in the fifties, but relaunched in 1988.

Reviews of Quelques Fleurs l'Original

Houbigant Quelques Fleurs (1912) is described as a landmark in perfumery, the first aldehydic multifloral perfume that created a category within the nascent chypre genre followed by other icons like Chanel No. 5 (1921), Lanvin Arpège (1927), Joy Jean Patou (1930) and many more. Quelques Fleurs, now called "L'Original" to separate it from its modern flankers, is still quite a timeless perfume as well, although I admit it does not have the same universal appeal as the pillars of the category it inspired. The main reason for this is perfumer Robert Bienaimé, who had taken over for Paul Parquet at the time, was intent to focus the scent more on the blending of flowers themselves rather than the whole of the composition like the later perfumes it inspired, meaning the aldehydes are purely a means to convey, and the base merely a method of establishing permanence on skin. Quelques Fleurs is about the flowers, and only about the flowers. In fact, Houbigant claims 15,000 different flower essences and 25 different other materials create the accord, which is an absurd set of flowers if actually true (probably not), so they want you to know before even smelling that this meant to be floral ambrosia for the nose. Considering how Houbigant was still very much a luxury/prestige house like Guerlain in the early 20th century, Quelques Fleurs didn't see the widespread use that the debut Chanel perfume had, so part of the enjoyment of wearing it in modern times will likely be the "missing link" experience of smelling what came after simple colognes, lavenders, rose waters, or heliotrope-centic early perfumes like Guerlain Après L'Ondée (1906) and what we now understand to be aldehydic floral chypres.

The opening of Quelques Fleurs is sure enough comprised of aldehydes, which still have the potential to take the breath away like in a classic Chanel perfume, but fade into the background as the bergamot, lemon, galbanum, and tarragon take over. These notes are also but a subtle layer that peels back, letting the gorgeous floral heart emerge full of sweet mellifluous complexity. There are indeed too many floral notes to really separate during most of the wear, but tuberose, lily of the valley, jasmine, orange blossom, violet, and carnation make themselves most known until a slightly soapy but also indolic beeswax orris facet emerges, balancing sultry and clean. By the time the blended chypre base warms up, a prominent jammy rose note shows head and shoulders above the floral din, transforming Quelques Fleurs in the latest stages into a complex sweet rose chypre with sandalwood, oakmoss, nitromusks, and a smidge of honeyed civet growl. Ever so slightly powdery in the final moments on skin, Quelques Fleurs fades to black with the smooth honeyed animalic, orange blossom soap, sweet rose jam, and oakmoss chypre bite. Wear time is all day and sillage is considerable, so like many of the other old "great dames", you might want to be careful with application. Quelques Fleurs is also a perfume out of time, so my recommendation is to wear it whenever, wherever, since it will stand out regardless. This is quite a grand perfume so I'd say suits best for a grand occasion, and while most of these older chypres end up unisex to modern niche perfume noses, this one is "girly" enough with the sweetness and airy texture that it would likely only appeal to men of the most dandy of natures.

Houbigant has revived Quelques Fleurs along with Fougère Royale (1882) since the house's relaunch into the world of luxury niche perfume as part of its marquee male/female duo, with a cadre of modern compositions to surround them both. There is a lot of contention among male fragrance connoisseurs about the authenticity of the relaunched Fougère Royale because Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Roja Dove were both assigned to rework the composition as accurately as possible with available materials, but no such proclamation was made about Quelques Fleurs upon its reintroduction. This means there's a lot less talk in general about whether the new one is comparable to vintage, and I can say outside some tweaks in the musk profile (no more nitromusks and civetone replacing civet), low-atranol "oakmoss absolute" being smoother, and a flatter polysantal replacing real sandalwood oil, there is little else to worry about. Compared to vintage, the modern formula does come across a bit soapier since the orris and orange blossom are not as well balanced against synthetic civet and a loss of sharpness in the base thanks to some IFRA strangulation, but it survives about as well as any vintage Guerlain. In short, modern Quelques Fleurs still more than gets "the point across", and still smells like the grandmother of aldehyde florals that it is, but just finishes a little neater, tidier, and brighter. Regardless of which iteration you get to try, this is still a resplendent experience worth having for fans of traditional perfumery, if not owning. Thumbs up.
06th September, 2019
From a current EDP sample: Starts off with a shot of hairspray aldehydes and indistinct fruit over white florals and a ton of powdery soap. Given a few minutes, a complicated mix of soapy musks take over and the whole thing smells like laundry detergent, specifically Tide powdered soap, the original scent in the orange box. It's very clever - somehow it clearly smells dry and powdered, but simultaneously warm and moist like a laundry room.

This style of laundry/fabric softener perfume smells very modern - it's really only the onslaught of powder that keeps this from smelling like a current release. As such, I'm conflicted. Is this a thumbs up for being a classic masterpiece, or a thumbs down for smelling like a Febreeze candle?

The answer may lie in the vintage version. Thanks to a generous BNer, I've also tried the vintage parfum, which is still extremely soapy powder, but without the laundry association (it's probably nitro musks - ouch! My liver!) and with more of a spotlight on the retro aldehydic fruits at the top.

So I guess that's it. I'd recommend the current EDP if you just want to smell extremely clean in a vaguely classy sort of way, but not if you're looking for a timeless contemporary of masterpieces of Joy or Chanel No 5. Meanwhile, the vintage parfum is an improvement if you're an eBay expert.
20th March, 2019
Today I am wearing Quelques Fleurs (pure perfume), after (for some reason) having waited over 30 years to try it. Long before I was born, this was my Mum's favourite perfume, along with Caron's Fleurs de Rocaille (which she has always maintained are very similar; though now I've tried both, I really can't agree); she now wears heavy florals like Joy, 1000, Chanel No22 and Muguet du Bonheur.

Quelques Fleurs reminds me very much of Max Factor's Le Jardin and Un Amour De Patou, though it is richer and powdery (which the other two aren't). If I smelled all three perfumes at the same time, I'm sure Queleques Fleurs would be a far more distinguished fragrance altogether, but on my skin they are very much along the same lines.

A very beautiful perfume, Quelques Fleurs is perfect for warm weather - I could it imagine it being a little bleak in winter.
29th May, 2016 (last edited: 11th June, 2016)
Neroli, Bergamot, Rose, Jasmine, Muguet, Ylang Ylang, Canation, Violet, Orris, Sandalwood, Musk, Civet, Honey, Heliotrope, Vanilla

The result is a very green scent, a combination of so many notes that none really stand out.

I find it is closest to Lelong's Indiscret, but seems rather coarse compared to that mellifluous blend.

Quelques Fleurs does nothing for me, unfortunately.
26th February, 2014
Quelques Fleurs l`Original by Houbigant is a gilded time machine. With a single spray, one is transported to a Victorian flower garden (or at least what I think is a Victorian flower garden). Here is my impression: flowers punch you in the face and then continue to do so for a few hours. The enormous bouquet is green with a soapy aspect; I’m mostly picking up lily of the valley, rose, and lilac. The citrus adds a touch of bright fruit at first, but quickly gives way to expose a clean musk, and of course, flowers dominate throughout. Also, there is a touch of warm honey tying the whole thing together and every now and then a little civet surfaces to remind us that furry creatures live in the garden.

Even though QFO can be a Victorian time machine, it has a timeless aspect that makes it a beautiful addition to any floral lover’s perfume collection. Also, if you are interested in vintage fragrances, but can’t stand aldehydes, QFO might be your cup of, um, fairies and elves.

Rating: 5/5 timeless classic
26th December, 2012
I found two excellent minis of Chantilly & Quelques Fleurs.

The Chantilly mini was a far cry from the large bottles marketed these days..but that's another story.

The Quelques Fleurs rang my chimes, particularly the slight zing of herbs & citrus in the top notes, the delicacy of the floral notes & absence of cloying sweetness in undertones. This was one that worked well with my own body chemistry..& applied discreetly, was a subtle whisper..This is very pleasant to experience in an old fashioned full range perfume.
05th July, 2012

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