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    First Fragrance Notes

    First information

    First is a women's fragrance by Van Cleef & Arpels. The scent was launched in 1976 and the bottle was designed by Jacques Llorente

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    Showing 1 to 6 of 39 reviews.

    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Kabloom! First launches right in to a huge aldehydic white flower accord the second you spray it on, then proceeds to fill the room with an unseen cloud of jasmine, green muguet, hyacinth, and rose. It’s the same kind of gargantuan bouquet you get with Joy or even Amouage Gold, though it is crisper in texture and greener in hue than either. That this grand, old-fashioned, and unapologetically “perfumey” scent was composed by Jean-Claude Elléna confirms that he’s composing all those bony, gutless scents for Hermès not because he can’t do otherwise, but rather because he wants to, or because the Hermès art directors demand it of him. At any rate, First makes it clear that Elléna is no less capable of building bold, lush, and substantial accords than is Bertrand Duchaufour (who does so more often) or even Dominique Ropion, whose style First closely approaches. First could easily have been part of the Estée Lauder line, right next to Beautiful, Pleasures, and Private Collection.

    First grows subtly sweeter as it develops, with soft vanilla and a generous sweet amber accord deep in its foundation. Potency and sillage remain impressive for hours before First drifts off into its warm ambery drydown. A grand scent if you like this sort of thing.

    14 June, 2014

    iivanita's avatar

    Croatia Croatia

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    it opens up with that characteristic aldehydic hair-spray kind of smell, it ruins it completely for me :) smells terribly synthetic...BUT....

    in the drydwon it turns into lovely honeyed fruity floral bouquet, where i do recognize the seeds for Dia , Amouage.

    Still i somehow like this one better, becasue it doesnt smell so clean, so fresh, jasmine is warming it up!...its very gentle, longlasting, and feminine scent!

    Its very old school type of scent by complexity (reminds me a bit of Chamade too), suitable for the theater.

    01st April, 2013

    anomie et ivoire's avatar



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    Like No. 5, Arpege, and Miss Dior, this is a perfume that one might show to an alien creature who wanted to know what an unspecified "perfume" in a novel or song might be referring to; First is an archetype of itself, a Platonic ideal of perfumeness and so aptly named.

    First has serious presence but isn't quite loud. High volume beauties like Poison are hair metal frontwomen with deep but resonant alto voices while First is more of a mezzo-soprano torch singer with some darker honeyed notes--still very audible but with range, color, and (First's most interesting feature) separation to the notes while still forming a very solid wall-of-noise. Usually scents go for one or the other: well-blended or given to stages of development, but First has it both ways unto perfection. I am well-aware that I'm in the presence of an unpretentious masterpiece when wearing vintage First edp. The more recent edt is more chypre than floral and much less complex and interesting.

    The aldehydes here are less soapy than those in Ivoire, Arpege, or No. 5 but still unremitting--a constant buzz buzz of an airy bee wavering over that raw honey base that bleeds through from the start. Some peach and other rich, ripe, but sugarless fruit bobs around the top and middle but fades fast. A heart of compellingly oldschool bright bouquets, powdery orris, then a stunning white floral melange is rich, earthy: a little waxy. The jasmine is pleasantly evil and taunting. Ylang-ylang and narcissus (daffodil) dominate overall (to my nose) and are almost softly cakey and vaguely gourmand when vanilla and tonka arrive, then the flower cake is buoyed and joined in a twinned-dominance by warm but not cuddly animalics.

    I see many are surprised that perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena of super-understated Hermes fame composed this scent. Yet I can read his signature hyper-naturalness and quiet gloom here that suggests nature's indifference to human concerns. I get hints of Ellena's Angéliques Sous La Pluie even though it and First share no notes; their blending and development are similarly panoramic; olfactory landscape photography. It seems as if all of Ellena's later works are separations and distillations compared to First, which has enough to go around for three or four later Ellena-style perfumes.

    In the drydown, a woodsy musk murkiness prompts visions of tree nymphs but without the mysticism or crunchiness usually associated with that term. These are the slightly deco Sleeping Beauty Briar Roses of artist Eyvind Earle (he did the backdrop and scenery paintings for the painstakingly-animated classic Disney movie).

    Even in 1976, First must have been a conscious throwback to grand perfumes of old. The end of the 1970s was one of the first major retro-nostalgia mad post-modern times that was to precede the constant mania for vintage since, and First is almost a first of its kind in that way--a classic perfume that references all classic perfume before it (and maybe even since...).

    15 September, 2012

    Cricketkitty's avatar



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    This is a very classy fragrance. The first few seconds of this is not really that impressive, but the drydown is nice. Its just not very memorable in my book. It to me smells like a 1950s fragrance. This is not girl potion, this one is for women. Nice, but it just didn't work for me.

    09 September, 2012

    Bal a Versailles's avatar



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    I saw the bottle and subscribed to a memory of owning it when first released.
    Obviously my chemistry has changed or reformulation is not for me. So, what to do with it? I took it to my Mother's. I noticed she powered through it, to the exclusion of my other cast offs. Happy.

    15 May, 2012

    hollyc's avatar

    Canada Canada

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    This has been around for a long time and now I know why. This is a full bodied, glamorous fragrance for the big girls. I don't usually ascribe to scents for day or night, but this makes me think of a big night out. Opens with orange to my nose then moves on to a HUGE floral bouquet of jasmine, rose, iris?. Lots of civet. Animalic drydown that never loses the floral bouquet. Is it just me or is this almost identical to Amouage Dia woman, another JCE creation. This is just unbelievably good, but you have to enjoy this type of full blown, aldehyde laden, technicolor beauty. I do and am thankful I've tried it. If it's been reformulated, it doesn't smell like anything that's been stripped down and modernized. Just beautiful. I also don't usually worry about application and suggest people who don't like it get out of my way, but this one is old school. One spritz is all it takes, it radiates for miles and hours. Think I have to get another bottle to hoard. This is of the EdP.

    20th January, 2012

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