Perfume Reviews

Reviews by khanada

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Total Reviews: 2

Baiser Volé by Cartier

One quality that seems undervalued these days, in modern perfumery, is sheer prettiness. Even the most mainstream houses' pillar perfumes are (largely) selling depth, darkness, mystery, profundity, and, of course, sex, even when the perfume inside actually smells like a cupcake or vanilla ice cream. Who wants pretty when they can have sexy?

Well, I do. Sexiness--which is such an ineffable quality-- comes in all kinds of packages. I find individuality and confidence much sexier than copycat, smoky eye and lingerie, stereotypical male-gaze sanctioned "sexy," so sometimes tidy grooming and an aura of cleanliness has its own kind of sex appeal. That's what I find in Baiser Vole, which smells like an updated version of Anais Anais--a perfume that made virginal florals sexy.

Cartier's marketing materials tell you that Baiser Vole takes you on a journey through a lily flower, from the pistils through the greens the roots. I think they have the journey backwards, and they also don't mention of its most interesting qualities--its retro-cosmetic, dressing-table scents, of cold cream and powder, and their lovely alchemical marriage, with the sensual lily. It's like a modernesque update of Anais Anais, the , pervesely sexy virginal floral.

Baiser Vole opens green, green, green, and more green, with a verdant fresh-cut grass note, that is probably as much galbanum as IFRA will let mainstream perfumes contain. There's an icy-sharp, pointed edge to the green, that I think smells like muguet. Then comes a smooth, soft, but equally frosty musk that smells like old fashioned cosmetic creams, almost like Noxema, less its piercing aromatics. This opening settles in as your skin warms it, the greens and cold cream and muguet blending to a single chord unto itself. Then, something saline and nearly savory joins in, hinting at the next stage of the perfume, as the scent of warmer and spicier lilies makes its entrace.

The Big Lily note is loud and proud, composed of raucous stargazer, florid casablanca, and spicy tiger lilies. It starts off on the shy side, as an adjunct to the creamy cosmetic scent, and then the spicy edge of the lilies becomes stronger, until it finally seems to fully bloom. If this perfume is a journey, it takes you from the ground up, makes a detour stop at the dresser, and finally travels through stems to the sunny florals. Even at the heart stage, when the lilies are at their strongest, the creamy musk hangs on. I love every stage of this perfume, but I especially enjoy its peak, when the musk slips behind the lilies, leaving a trail of creamy lilies. It's a beautiful expression of spring green oerfumery, a joining together of warm and cold, artifice and nature, with no ambition to be anything other than absolutely charming. It's pretty without being in the least bit vapid.

There's a hint of something humid that eventually emerges, that feels right at home with the touch of exotic tiger lily spice. It's not edgy, nor is it challenging, and to some noses, it might be a bit girlish or juvenile, to some noses, but I like its youthful associations. Like Anais Anais, with its spicy carnation, Baiser Vole is deceptively warmhearted. It never crosses over into Ice Queen territory (I love the ice queens, but this isn't that).

The saline quality of the lilies, and the creaminess of the musk, come together to smell kind of like freshly showered skin. It helps the perfume feel like it belongs to the body, especially once the lilies begin to recede. The musk turns a little sharp at this phase, but I don't mind. This perfume isn't trying too hard to make you love it. It's a little like being sassed by a cute teenager, and this lady loves a witty retort.

The lilies eventually sink into the cold cream, and powdered notes begin to emerge, unveiling the final stage of the perfume. The drydown still has some fresh lily notes, but it's mostly back to the Noxemaesque musk, which turns more aggresively aromatic as the lilies fade. It reminds me very much of a musk that Keiko Mecheri likes to use in some of her less conventional florals, like Fleur d'Osmanthus, and I think she also uses it in her Patchoulissime. It has a little bitterness, which I find pleasing, like an off note in a melody that makes a final major chord sound like a resolution. That little bitter edge eventually loses its bite, but the perfume never has a even a hint of sweetness. However, powdery notes in the ending phase are comforting. They smell like luxury, and bedtime--a soft but emphatic ending, and pretty down to the last moments.

Baiser Vole remains crisp and fresh throughout its entire lifespan, which lasts for a solid eight hours and probably more (I usually layer on a second perfume sometime in the afternoon or early evening, so I rarely smell the tail end of anything I put on early in the day). It's a brisk daytime perfume, but I think lilies can be dressy enough for a warm evening. If you like green florals, it's a must-try. Even if you have some of the other great lily perfumes (Grand Amour, Donna Karan Gold, Un Lys, Lys Fume, and of course Anais Anais) in your collection, Baiser Vole stands out as a distinctive expression of the flower. Its modern profile, and its retro associations, have a cool glamour that stands out from the sweet, sticky, desperate offerings from most of the major perfume houses. Every aspect of it is pretty, but its construction and character are also intelligent, when most of the competition is vapid.

I also want to point out that the packaging is marvelous. It looks like an antique oval cigarette lighter, with a chrome Art Deco top, and hefty glass, like the lighters that vintage movie actresses--Jean Harlow, Barbara Stanwick, or Lauren Bacall--use both hands to pick up and strike. the perfume itself is tinted a pale but warm-hued pink that matches the perfume's springtime palette. I appreciate this degree of detail, because these days, it seems like all the great perfume houses are changing their presentation to boring uniform shapes. Presentation doesn't affect the character of the perfume inside, but it does enhance the experience of wearing it, and I love sculptural bottles. I'll keep this one long after the perfume is gone--if I ever actually finish it. Cartier offers an usually wide range of sizes for a modern perfume house, and I appreciate their not forcing me to buy 200 mls, or more, of perfume that I can't possibly finish, given the size of my collection, unless I live for at least another century, and stop buying perfume--and the chances of either happening are slim to none.
10th July, 2020

Rose Splendide by Annick Goutal

Annick Goutal Rose Splendide has a name that suggests a thing of grandeur, as most of Goutal’s perfumes are. Tuberose, Ylang, Jasmine, Gardenia (apparently a stealth tuberose, marketed as a gardenia, to satisfy American customers’ demands for gardenias), and of course, Rose, all with capital letters. They are diva florals, basically single-note, relatively linear, meticulous in detail, made of impeccable materials. Each perfume seems like the definitive interpretation of the flower it represents. They’re not photorealistic. They are hyperrealistic.

Grand florals have always been part of perfumery, but Goutal’s florals, are unlike others. They first appeared the early 1990s, a time when Floral perfumes were usually elaborate bouquets, with aldehydic openings, and rich, complicated, Oriental bases. Compared with these, Annick Goutal’s perfumes had an attractive simplicity, from their straightforward composition, to their packaging, with their almost homemade-looking labels tied with a little gold cord to their identical fluted bottles. They were niche perfumes, before we had niche perfumes. I thought of them as, "Boutique," a word I used, for many years, for small perfumery, until Niche, became a thing. They were, seemingly, almost artisanal, relatively unpretentious, comparatively youthful, and somehow, authentically, French. They were like a perfectly cut cotton T shirt and ballet slippers, or a simple but elegant bias-cut gown, with the other perfumes of the era, being like a rack of embellished power suits, and bejeweled stilettos. But, they were not shy. Goutal’s early classic florals could roar with the best of them.

Rose Splendide is different. I expected it to be a classic Goutal, and in some ways it is. It is, still singule-note soliflore, and straightforward in its composition, and it is a beautiful. and hyperreal Rose. But, compared with everything I’ve known from Goutal. the faders have been lowered, significantly. It is drawn in pencil., and painted in watercolor, rather than drawn in ink and painted in oil. It is like a sundress, rather than a bias-cut gown.

The rose itself, if it had a color, would be pale, but emphatic, pink. It is neither thin nor watery, but it is delicate. It is not dense, velvety, or particularly plush, but rather fresh, comfortable, and pillowy soft. It is luxurious in the way that Egyptian cotton sheets and Hanro cotton lingerie are luxurious.

The way Rose Splendide develops seems to tell a story. It’s like picking a rose, bringing it to your nose, allowing its aroma to consume your senses, and then coming back to the world, the rose still with you. It opens with a vegetal musk that resembles the sharp, peppered scent of a stem, green and pungent, almost like a bell pepper, and I can almost see and feel the rose stems, with their sharp thorns—a witty connection of sharp scent and imagery of sharp stems, if that was the intent. It lasts longer than opening notes typically do, and the first few times I wore Rose Splendide, I was not sure how I felt about it, because this musk often occurs in anemic, pale, and usually aquatic florals, that I don’t like.

But then, the faint scent of a rose emerges. For a while, it parallels the musk, with the pepper gradually losing steam. As the rose blooms, on skin, it becomes an airy, almost billowy, rose, soft around the edges, almost but not quite powdery. Watercolor.

As the rose opens up, it picks up a just a little touch of fruit. Most rose perfumes, including Goutal’s, include some fruity qualities—peach, like in Nahema, or plum, like Voleur de Roses. Rose Splendide has touch of pear, a note that is found in other Annick Goutal perfumes like Ninfeo Mio. For this perfume, pear is an inspired choice, because it is very Goutal, and also because it is an elegant scent, less exuberant, more tender and delicate, than the pitted/stone fruits. The pear is a little tart, but not sour or thin, and it has a hint of juiciness, that is probably the secret to one of Rose Splendide’s most attractive qualities, a very striking freshness, that lasts throughout the life of the perfume. (This freshness can become almost overwhelming when oversprayed, so do not be fooled by the perfume’s soft textures and slow opening).

Further along, the rose becomes creamy, with a whiff of something lemon, probably the magnolia promised in the perfume’s notes. Like the pear, magnolia fits the perfume’s personality, another delicate, elegant floral note, its subtlety, and its imagery, pink and white, fits the pastel shade of this very particular rose.

A few hours in, the vegetal musk makes a second entrance, and marries, with the rose, pear, and magnolia, in a final stage that sustains the notes, together, like a small chamber chorus, of soprano female voice. Despite Rose Splendide's tender, near understated, personality, it lasts for at least twelve hours, perhaps longer on fabric. I wore it yesterday evening, and at ten o’clock this morning, I can still smell it at an inch or two from my arm, and it is firmly embedded, in the t shirt that I slept in.

Rose Splendide is different enough from Goutal’s other roses to deserve its place in the house’ impressive floral collection. It feels especially appropriate in warm weather, with a soft enough personality that suggests daytime wear. I frequently wear it to the office, where it regularly earns compliments from our real estate clients and staff. Yet, it is a rose, so it also has enough romance for evening wear, in warm weather, and to places like restaurants, where a subtle perfumes are most suitable. This versatile beauty deserves a place in any rose lover’s collection. It won’t throw you down and ravish you, but it is quietly seductive nevertheless. Highly recommended.
07th July, 2020 (last edited: 20th July, 2020)