Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Bal a Versailles

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Total Reviews: 128

Yvresse / Champagne by Yves Saint Laurent

Much admired by me when a friend wears the original Yvresse, not the La Collection, I can't bring myself to buy it. I won't, you know, the older I get, the less bombastic my fragrance loves are. Dear BAV was that femme fatale I fell in love with in the seventies and I don't wear it anymore. Sophia Grojsman, who authored Yvresse, made a very fine perfume, but the La Collection one is missing a link to the original, as I confirmed for myself today. It was unexpectedly at the YSL counter. I am lukewarm about Gabrielle, the new Chanel offering, but it's a fruity floral of today, so I'd put my money there.
22nd September, 2017

Prada La Femme by Prada

What's with the Shi effect in this? Ozonic tuberose? Not to my taste, I think it's a bit of a mish mash, a little bit Amarige, a little bit Cinema, and the Shi by Sung. It's not awful, the less Intense is, well, less intense.
22nd September, 2017

Gabrielle by Chanel

They mixed Eau Vive with No 5 L'Eau and called it Gabrielle. Finis.
12th September, 2017
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La Petite Robe Noire Couture by Guerlain

It sits on a knife edge of fruity diabetic coma and something masculine, as if L'Homme is lurking underneath. I stood in a queue where the woman in front tapped the 1st woman in line and asked "What is your perfume, may I ask".... It was La Vie est Belle, not Couture, but they are examples of what may be appealing from a queue can be quite hard to wear hour after hour. This is a fragrance that definitely quarrels with anything else, your soap, your deodorant, your hand cream, hair product. Don't blend them as I did before I understood my crime. Don't mess with Couture, keep it understated, wait for the dry down, this girl went Haute Couture, and won't brook competition.
09th September, 2017

Narciso Eau de Toilette by Narciso Rodriguez

Crazy for this blend of Narciso. For some reason I didn't buy the Cream Narciso EDP, something held me back. This EDT version has wonderful stickability on my skin, releasing little puffs of rosy goodness for many hours. It's in my top ten, on my dresser, now the 100 ml bottle after I went through the 30 and 50 ml bottles. I still have 50 ml bottles of 'For Her', 'Musc Intense' and 'In Colour' tucked away in the drawer, but it is this one that lit up some section of my brain.
19th August, 2017

No. 19 Poudré by Chanel

My problem is with the name. There isn't sufficient connection to No. 19 but Chanel must have decided that an austere bitch must have a softer side. In my horticulture training a group of us tackled a massive pile of Iris rhizomes, discarding the spent and trimming up the new offshoots for replanting. When Chris Sheldrake narrates the Iris Poudre you tube clip it's as if I'm there again; I can't deny the manual labour required to produce my favourite base, iris butter. I simply don't understand the austere, heartless bitch reputation of Chanel No 19, the embryo, in some influential minds, being Gabrielle herself. Instead, think Piaf and La Vie en Rose.

Actually I'm not objective enough to pull Iris Poudre to its marshmallow bits, so I just have to agree with the others, and put myself on a lover's cross, wear it most days, saving the original No.19 for higher heels and repartee with a male chauvinist.
16th July, 2017 (last edited: 30th August, 2017)

No. 19 by Chanel

I ordered a back up bottle today, the equivalent of building a bunker at the edge of the millennium, I fear world war and pestilence. I'm told there is a movie where Adolf HItler wakes up, bemused, and finds that the bullet that blitzed his brain simply sent him to sleep for 70 years.
He's back, and I imagine the fields of Iris pallida and Rose de Mai as scorched earth. Coco, no angel where the Nazi's were concerned, inspired the perfume that is No 19 and I adore it. As many others vocalise this is my one and only, if I wasn't totally unfaithful to any one perfume.

For a more detailed breakdown of what No 19 is driven by (no aldehydes, no labdanum, little oak moss) see Elena from Perfume Shrine's article. It's a perfume that is driven as much by what it doesn't contain as what it does contain, It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. It's beautiful, just beautiful, forever and a day, until the 12th of never.
07th July, 2017

Empreinte by Courrèges

The reformulated perfume is neither one thing or the other. The dustiness is similar to that of Calandre, but it isn't offset by the sharpness, so it falls flat. There is a sunflower/daisy/artemisia facet, but that is primitive, similar to what a perfume loving child would try to make by shaking up flowers in a jar (Guilty) I think there's a touch of Juicy Fruit ester in the reformulation that wasn't in the original. On the upside it isn't musky.
There's a 'Madam Secretary' episode where the youngest daughter dresses up in an Andre Courreges outfit. It looked very similar to Mary Quant, the gear and make-up that I loved in that era. I will leave Empreinte in the past with Zen, but Blanc from the same house is modern, unisex and durable.
20th June, 2017

Habit Rouge by Guerlain

My husband fits into the Basenotes mould, liking the top ten, and I say that with a note of apology as I fear being a little cliched, but we have both, over time, been captured by Guerlain. At one time I thought we would each find an obscure fragrance that would be our secrets. He came close with Azzaro Acteur, absolutely wonderful on him and complimented wherever he went but it was discontinued.

With Habit Rouge I bought the EDP for him some years ago assuming that the rounded out fragrance with Oud would be more to his taste, but I was wrong. He discovered the EDT at an airport counter and is converted. Habit Rouge has a little Nahema in it, is the male Shalimar and has the sparkle of Thierry Wasser's reinvented Mitsouko EDT. I find myself in Shalimar Cologne 2015 a good deal lately and we must make a Dynamic Duo in the Supermarket. Easily unisex.
10th May, 2017

Rose en Noir by Miller Harris

I had recently ordered a sample pack from Rosines de Paris so I feel that I was reasonably acquainted, trained to/with the rose concept when I ordered a Miller Harris trilogy that included Rose en Noir. Add these to a great many rose fragrances, all the tried and true, you know them. Summary:
I have to agree with Claire's review but this could have something to do with having an Irish Mother, pale skin and a travel tube of sunscreen in my purse at all times.
I bought the 14 ml Eau du Parfum set, a gorgeous trio that I can throw into my suitcase. Hopefully there will be holiday memories that I associate with Rose en Noir. My daughter loves Rossy de Palma aka Eau de Protection and when I struggle with rose as a perfume I tend to think of this one, even though I don't own it personally. I went through the gardening phase of David Austen and old fashioned roses, have grown a great many of them and there is nothing that compares to the rose dew of the real thing. You can't always get what you want.
28th April, 2017

Mon Guerlain by Guerlain

All work and no play? It makes Jack a dull boy. Give Thierry Wasser a holiday! Guerlain couldn't find the energy to make a new perfume. Do they need shots of B12 or something? I wanted Mon Guerlain to make pots of dosh to secure the future of Guerlain classics and it's insipid, not ghastly, just dull.
23rd April, 2017

Hiris by Hermès

As a small child our home was a poor one. My parents frequently fought about money, paying bills and the cost of shoes. I washed my hair with soap, bottled shampoo being a luxury. I love the smell of soap in the morning, which is where Hiris slots in. In my repressed, somewhat Victorian childhood it would have been lascivious for a woman to reek of perfume early in the day, but April Violets would have been okay, Hiris would have been okay too. The lovely honey drifts in later, still quite angelic and a little milk maid rosiness rounds it out. Sometimes I wonder if a little Hiris from the Hermes library made it into Apres La Mousson, they are both accused of being vegetal and I like both fragrances. Am I animal, vegetable or mineral? I guess I'm a vegetable, an Orris root I think.
18th April, 2017

Blanc de Courrèges by Courrèges

I was at the front door, I turned back to grab something and my own perfume wake caught me, with the warmth of my body still in it. I was quite impressed with this Houdini act. White patchouli, stripped of its moth repellent function, entwined with iris and something like Guerlain's Anis, but better, no leathery footballs here. There are two fragrances that ring bells with Blanc, one being Jesus Del Pozo's 'In Black' that is rich with cherry chocolate but carries some sort of DNA that I suspect originated with Christine Nagel, who authored it. Julie Masse, the creator of Blanc, worked alongside CN at Mane. The other, which does represents white to me is Habanita L'ESprit. We can have a little chuckle that I found Black to be Blanc, or vice versa.

I purchased Blanc because somebody else smelled wonderful in it, because it was completely affordable and I have been on an Iris kick. If you like the thought of a ramped up Apres L'Ondee or a less violet Insolence then this is for you.
18th April, 2017
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Shalimar Cologne by Guerlain

If I was Thierry Wasser and people kept banging on about Mathilde Laurent's Eau Legere, Jean Paul Guerlain's assault on it, unfortunate names that suggested a diet Shalimar and now a discontinued Eau de Shalimar I would also restore the fragrance. He has been the 'Great Improver' and those of us who have benefited from his tweaks of MItsouko bow to his artistry. There are great specifics there from Mr Bon Vivant's review; cool iris and thyme made me my knees tremble. And I am indeed kicking myself for missing Eau Legere because I came late to Guerlain; the Dowagers in my family wore Caron, Chanel and very 'Green' fragrances that were the rage. Having tried Cologne today I knew I was undone.
20th February, 2017

Elle L'Aime by Lolita Lempicka

Nothing new to add, as already covered this is a sunscreen perfume for the garden bars of Waikiki and Maui. Underneath, lurking beneath the sunscreen is a girly 'True Love' type scent but it's generic, so call it Charlie purse spray. It has its place in our perfumed world, why would you waste your luxury fume when sunscreen and beads of perspiration dilute and transform your fragrance; this is one that will blend in anyway as it's a bit of a mongrel in the nicest possible way. I've discovered that lavish use of the perfume obtains the best results. If you use lightly the white floral dominates but a heavy hand brings out the lime/coconut. I love the LL bottle and this is one that I will throw in with my batik/voluminous beachwear. Nice, for what it is, but not at full price, look for a bargain
07th February, 2017

L'Air de Nina Ricci by Nina Ricci

Something of a cross between Jeux de Peau (Serge Lutens) and Un Matin D'Orage, it's a white milky floral that is stronger than the name would suggest. I thought it would be connected to L Air du Temps, a perfume my Mother in Law wore from the time I met her, but I don't find any resemblance. Magnolia, for sure and I get the Jasmin Sambac. Yes, this could have been an Annick Goutal fragrance. It's another Southern Belle fragrance and I'm reminded of Steel Magnolias, an ensemble cast where each play their role. You will have to like the Southern Belle Champaca fragrances; I'm more of a Neroli girl.
03rd February, 2017

L'Eau Ambrée by Prada

I was given the body lotion first then I purchased a sample of the fragrance in order to wear them layered. I was quite taken by the body lotion and hoped to intensify the overall projection. The fragrance is hopeless with almost no longevity and I didn't buy a FB. I am using the body lotion layered with the Infusion d'Iris Absolue fragrance and it's a lovely combo, although I would have preferred to be a purist.
The fleeting nature of the perfume, lovely as it is, is not for my dry, pale Irish skin.
23rd January, 2017

Chance Eau Vive by Chanel

It's a melange of citrus at the beginning, those who enjoyed the limited edition of Prada's D'Oranger from the Infusion line will like this. Hanae Mori's No 3 is in the same category. I find the opening a bit screechy but the dry down is elegant enough, although it doesn't sing 'Chanel' to me and this marks it as the departure from Polge senior to his son as perfumer. It's tenacious, so full marks for longevity when I have been alerted by poor performance in other Chanels being attenuated, so that's a plus for many.
The master of the grapefruit opening is Jean Claude Elena, with all 'Eau' Citrus tending to lose their power within an hour, so it is interesting to see Olivier Polge create a perfume that still leaves the impression of a full citrus, even if it's not quite there at the dry down. I can't say I would buy it again, it gets on my nerves a bit in the same way that No 19 Poudre does. I suspect I will update this perfume review as my experience of this fragrance wears in. For now I strongly recommend 'try before you buy' as this perfume doesn't relate well to the perfume that is 'Chance'
P.S. It is better in summer weather and has grown on me a bit.
21st January, 2017

J'Adore by Christian Dior

This review is for J'Adore Touche, given to me as a 1 ml sample. It's a muskier version of Jardins de Bagatelle, tuberose rich and the rest all thrown in. Nothing new here but very nice.
29th November, 2016

No. 5 L'Eau by Chanel

The watermark of No 5 is evident through the fragrance but not compelling enough to purchase it. From an Elle magazine recommendation featuring prominent perfumers a suggestion was made to layer Chanel No 5 and Apres L'Ondee. I've been following that advice and enjoying the result. This new fragrance, to my mind, is not as good as Chance Eau Vive 2015 and I bought a duty free bottle of that, expecting to part with the dollars for L'Eau.
01st November, 2016

Madame Grès by Grès

I have a back up bottle of Cabaret and Lumiere Noire is in regular rotation on my dresser, it was time I ventured to connect with 'Madame Gres'
My pineapple references are 'Courtesan' (Worth) and Amor Amor (Cacharel) and Madame Gres is superior to both, for the pineapple is controlled by a clean magnolia and wasn't as sweet as I was led to believe. In my quest for great cheap and cheery perfumes Maurice Roucel's 'Tocade' is points leader but all of the perfumes mentioned here exhibit classy elements whilst being inexpensive.
The dry down is quite sudden and the perfume lacks duration but the base, slight as it is, is well behaved and doesn't leave a nasty musk. I like that in a perfume.
Madame Gres is probably best suited to women over twenty five but qualifies as a good day time perfume. Others have commented on a resemblance to Miss Dior, but if I had to compare it to that of a well known house I'd veer towards Chanel's 'Allure'.
04th October, 2016

L'Eau d'Issey Or Absolu /Gold Absolute by Issey Miyake

I swayed over repurchasing the original and in the end took the way less travelled and bought the Absolue version.
It's very like Champs Elysees, lo and behold, the same perfumer. There was a beautiful rose in the original L'Eau D'Issey that was plundered by IRFA or cost cutting, not sure which. It isn't in the Absolue at all. Really, this is the ozonic floral of the original with an overlay of Champs Elysees. It's just blatantly obvious and an example of greedy commercialism over perfumery. Down, thumbs down
17th September, 2016

M Génération by Mauboussin

My husband has repeat purchased this golden gun of a fragrance. The top notes and pepper remind me very much of the original Tabac from my Dad's days. It's so affordable and likeable. Can't go wrong with this one.
14th September, 2016

L'Ambre des Merveilles by Hermès

I replaced my Claire des Merveilles with this one. Silly me, this has a masculine feel to it and my husband commandeered it when I offered it to him. I think the original and Eau Claire suit me better. Many will be howling at the moon as I say this, what a fool, they cry.
30th August, 2016

Vol de Nuit by Guerlain

Vol de Nuit is an anachronism, albeit a beautiful one. All the critique is somewhat true. Yes, there is a mousse de saxe to it, similar to Caron's Nuit de Noel; less flattering is the likeness to Avon's Timeless, and sitting in the middle of the road is a certain likeness to MPG's Or des Indes in EDP form. Is it like Mitsy or L'Heure Bleu. Is it like Comme des Garcon 2 for women? A bit inky?
I'm not sure and this is where Luca Turin's comments are so relevant. Is it, indeed, a bit shapeless...Voldemort rather than Vol de Nuit?

Do you wear it well? A little old fashioned but that's all right. Rod Stewart's song jollies the old girl along.
Kate Winslet wears VdN, stray thought and not to suggest she's old fashioned, but I bet she wears it well...and her husband's name is Ned Rock n'Roll, so it fits the theme.

It's a shapeshifter, opening with the familiarity of a childhood friend, gentle enough to wear at all times of the day, but a little bit like Muzak in the lift, a background presence, a watcher on the wall of your dreams.

"The wild grass will whisper,
Lights of passing cars
Will streak across your dreams
And fumble at the stars;
Life will tap the window
Only too soon again,
Life will have her answer –
Do not ask her when."
Louis McNeice

21st July, 2016

Mauboussin Rose Pour Elle by Mauboussin

Very little to redeem it. My bottle purchased from Strawberrynet had a faulty sprayer and the fragrance was awful. I like the original Mauboussin very much and the recent 'Promise Me' is quite nice, but this one, a flanker of Pour Elle, just doesn't work.
20th July, 2016

Samsara by Guerlain

Heresy, I know, but the current offering is very, very nice. I think I prefer it. My last bottle of Samsara was purchased about twenty years ago and when I finished it I said I wouldn't buy another (too much Sandalwood, too cloying)
Now there's a re-think, Samsara goes on the wish list.
At a time when my beloved Chanels are attenuated and largely ornamental the House of Guerlain is looking good.
18th July, 2016

Y by Yves Saint Laurent

I forget how many zillion perfume releases there are in this decade, they seem inconsequential to someone of my age. Growing up we had benevolent dictators in our egalitarian society, they decided just how many perfumes, lipsticks and fine fabrics came into the country. It was all to do with having 'overseas funds' and our trading relationship was with Britain, good old blighty, the place where nearly all our Grandparents lived. There was a large degree of socialist sameness and women wore Tweed, Chanel No 5, and Y.
The only Guerlain I knew was Shalimar but back then I had no idea that Guerlain was a tapestry of living history; I knew who Yves St Laurent was and I think I've had a bottle of Y kicking around in some form since the late sixties. It smells familiar to me, I almost expect to see the smoke swirling around in a cinema. Is that what Cinema was supposed to represent? Scenting my person with Y makes me want to lay a length of fabric out, pin the pattern on the cross, (remembering to match any pattern) french the seams, iron it up, put it together, sew a waistband on the skirt, put the zip in, hem and go out to a dance. Like YSL, those days are gone. Makes you think though, about politics and tariffs and free trade...and perfume
17th July, 2016

Sables by Annick Goutal

I bought it for my husband having never sniffed it on the basis of it being the fragrance that Annick Goutal created for her husband. Grand Amour is the other side of the coin, her response to the bouquets of flowers that said husband bought for her each week of their married life. Back to Sables; I was intrigued by Victoria Frolova's love of AG masculines and indeed I have worn the unisex Eau du Sud, Nuit Etoilee and Myrrhe Ardente for years. Sables has no doubt been reformulated and I don't know if it was more pungent back in the day, have to assume so, as there are many references to it's strength and longevity, but the dry down of Sables is really very femme and I have stolen Sables back to my side of the dresser. As far as I know Annick Goutal is still operated by Camille Goutal with Isobel Doyen as perfumer, under the ownership of Amore Pacific. Annick's story is bittersweet, rather like Sables itself, a heart wrenching tale for any perfumista and of course I fell under its spell. Join me.
09th July, 2016

Insolence Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

I layer Insolence EDP (1 spray in cleavage) with Apres L'Ondee EDT. It's my peculiar little fantasy, that this is the closest I will ever get to Apres L'Ondee in extrait, which is a nonsense given that berries abound in Insolence, but it's that strange hawthorn note that I detect in both that my mindset proclaims to be worthy of Apres L'Ondee. Romantic fiddlesticks.

It's usually enough to wear it for a day as I would for the other purple bomb, Cuir Amethyste. Insolence is the only rebuff to the miasma that is Alien. I wear Insolence, purple and proud, with insolence in my soul. Someone send a bottle to Jeff Goldblum, quick.
07th July, 2016