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My review for Rive Gauche Pour Homme (Original formulation - from the 4.2oz/125ml 'shaving foam can' flacon):
A step back to the time of classic, old-school barbershops but with a great twist of modernity. Yves Saint Laurent did something special here in the realm of the traditional Aromatic Fougere. It is not a scent that will blow your mind, but instead, put it at ease. Sometimes, as in this case, less is more.
The quality ingredients with the fresh rosemary, splash of bergamot and the brilliant star anise gently come over you, followed by (as another so eloquently put it) - "lavender in a great mood", a nice earthy geranium note that blends wonderfully with a key note in this brilliant can, cloves. It is what ties the star anise to the heart and carries the composition to a wonderfully warm and slightly 'dirty/earthiness' in the late heart as it blends with the coumarin into the base. I adore this nice contradiction - it demonstrates itself very articulately. It is actually why Rive Gauche works for me. If this stayed fully clean, it would not impress me.
It does articulate well and carries an aire of both class and sophistication, but yet it works perfect after a clean shave with a pair of jeans and casual top (t-shirt in summer, long-sleeve thermal in winter). Why? Because Jacques Cavallier's intelligence told him that us, as men, would prefer to have a modern fougere that allows us to display our masculinity first and then choose how we want to present ourselves - not let the scent dictate our attire (which is often the case). This is why Aromatic Fougeres work so well - and the good ones are timeless classics...including Paco Rabanne Pour Homme, Azzaro Pour Homme, Houbigant Fougere Royale, Worth Pour Homme and more. I recognize that Rive Gauche is classified as an "Aromatic Green" and not a true "Fougere" or 'fern scent' - but, to me...it is moot point. The classicism that exists here impresses the point to me that it is a modern interpretation of the brilliant Aromatic Fougeres of yesteryear with some added subtleties and nuances with a deft touch be Jacques Cavallier (under direction by Yves Saint Laurent in 2003).
It never gets heavy and stays "fresh" throughout - a key to its charm, yet it warms and reveals very good depth and shows the raw, slightly dirty edge right under the 'surface' of cleanliness. The base of rich, herbaceous green patchouli is impressive and balances wonderfully with the sharp, woody vetiver. The light touch of Oakmoss (.1% allowable by IFRA in the can) is held up with Tree Moss. However, a key note here that transcends the star anise/clove segue into the heart is the use of guaiac wood. It is an exotic wood note that has tar-like quality, imparting smoky notes in fragrance. It works perfect here and underpins the nice warm slightly earthy, dirty masculinity that makes Rive Gauche a man's man in either a fresh, pressed dress shirt with a tie or a fitted T-shirt/Polo, relaxing on the weekend.
I like what a lot of reviews here state - it recreates a sense of nostalgia while staying a step ahead. Although respected, it is understated as a composition...which, personally adds to the allure for me.
Highly recommended. Cheers.
23rd January, 2013