Fragrance Review: Hermès – 24 Faubourg

I’m always happy to find fragrances that reinforce my love for certain notes – rose and peony, for example, were probably the first ones I identified as favourites. New peony or rose scent? I’ll probably try it! New peony and rose scent? I’ll surely check it out!

Yet, I think it’s even more exciting to find scents that make me start to enjoy a note I was actually not keen on. Kenzo Flower ended my feud with violets¹; Valentino Donna made me see vanilla as not always reminicent of baking extracts; Dior Addict made me go “Oh! This is nice!” with – until then – mildly disliked jasmine².

And Hermès 24 Faubourg? Well…

Review

Named in reference to 24 Rue Faubourg, the address of Hermès’ flagship store in Paris, this classic Eau de Parfum was created by perfumer Maurice Roucel in 1995. The style of the 90’s shows – this is a warm, rich floral with a looong list of notes and, I’ll admit, an overall heavy presence. It fits the best side of this type of composition, though: it is complex and smooth, and feels tastefully classic (it also comes off as very mature to me, which is, of course, not a bad thing, just something to keep in mind).

24 Faubourg opens in a somewhat dry, spicy woody accord that feels elegant, but stern. Don’t let this guide your impression, though – as, in a few minutes, the scent mellows into a thick, velvety floral symphony. And this is where it surprised and enchanted me:

The star note of 24 Faubourg is a beautiful, beautiful orange blossom. I stress the word because I had never been a fan of this note, which is well regarded in perfume world, but, more often than not, just stroke me as way too sweet. Here, however, its honeyed sweetness feels perfectly balanced with softly green, silky gardenia; natural and deep, almost earthy jasmine; warm ylang ylang, and a touch of dewyness from hyacynth. I don’t actually get the iris (shame, I love iris!), but it’s there somewhere, and must add to the smooth heart and powdery drydown.

The base notes follow the same sense of warmth of the heart. Amber and vanilla soften the natural spicyness of sandalwood and the rougher tones of patchouli, and create another cozy layer to this already plush-as-velvet scent. Soft, here, means gentle, let me point out, not weak; as this is a polished, non-intrusive, yet intense fragrance.


Fragrance Impressions

Notes: (Top) Orange, bergamot, peach, hyacynth, ylang ylang; (Heart) Orange blossom, gardenia, jasmine, iris, black elder; (Base) Sandalwood, amber, vanilla, patchouli.

Colour Impression: A warm yellow.

Evokes: An elegant lady having tea at a traditional Parisian hotel; a vintage style, well-cut & warm-toned coat.

Similar to: Chanel Allure, Lancôme Poême; Chanel Nº5 Eau de Parfum (all very different scents, but with a similar “vibe”).

Season & Occasion: Perfect for Autumn & Winter. Classy, but not as dramatic as to feel “gala exclusive”.


Conclusion

24 Faubourg has an orange blossom I can definitely appreciate, and also adds points to my growing love of gardenia. And ylang ylang. And jasmine. And sandalwood!

This fragrance smells classic and put-together, while keeping a sense of tenderness. It’s perhaps a bit “dated” in the way it features a denser, less transparent and more “serious” style than most of contemporary compositions; however, it’s absolutely beautiful in its mellow, graceful aura. Personally, I think it’s a tad too mature for myself… but I definitely appreciate it as a work of scent art!


¹ Started by Guerlain Insolence and reinforced by Dolce & Gabbana The Only One… which, after discovering Kenzo Flower, I’ve actually come to appreciate a lot more!

² This was probably Mugler Alien’s fault.

Fragrance Review: Lancôme – Idôle

Is it ironic that the marketing for Lancôme Idôle reads “stand strong” across a flimsy bottle that doesn’t stand up?

Review

I have mixed feelings towards Lancôme perfumes. I tend to find their compositions really likable: pretty, bright, a bit sugar-heavy, but with character, and beautiful note combos. At the same time, these great blends strike me as being made with… so-so ingredients. This often leads to sharp, flat drydowns that fall behind their charming openings. It’s a bit frustrating.¹

So for Idôle… From the bottle-centered marketing and the thin list of notes, I had low expectations. I wished my skepticism was unfunded, as I do love rose. Alas, as I had the chance to test this scent… as expected, I was not impressed.

Idôle opens with an artificial, juicy-sweet blast of peach-apricot², which stays around for the rest of the scent’s duration. A few minutes later, comes the fragrance’s heart: a light, pleasant pink rose, paired with a fresh, green jasmine to give off the impression of dewy petals and a hint of leaves.

This floral accord is Idôle’s highlight for me. It’s pretty, airy, and smells… happy! That is another quality I do like a lot about Lancôme fragrances: they tend to exude a sense of positive energy; a lovely joie de vivre. Oh, Lancôme, you have spirit, if only you weren’t so cheap with your ingredients…

But, yes, the cheapness is there. Idôle‘s rosy heart would have made it a nice fragrance, if it weren’t overpowered by the plasticky fruits of the opening and by the base – a fluffy but too intense musk. This must be the advertised “new clean and glow” accord, which ultimately makes Idôle smell like it came from the supermarket shampoo isle.

As many contemporary fragrances, Idôle basically stays the same through its duration (the scent’s longevity seems good, by the way). Not that all perfumes need to change, and some great ones don’t³… but, like a richer note pyramid, some kind of development is another layer of complexity that wasn’t applied here, and could have helped Idôle to become more interesting.


Fragrance Impressions

Notes: (Top) Pear, bergamot; (Heart) Turkish rose, May rose, jasmine; (Base) musk, vanilla.

Colour Impression: A light, bright pink.

Evokes: A rose-scented, nice liquid hand soap; a pink chiffon blouse with fabric flowers on one shoulder.

Similar to: Chanel Chance Eau Tendre; Dior Joy.

Season & Occasion: Spring-Summer. A daytime, everyday-style fragrance.

Conclusion


Idôle is light but present, with a respectable sillage, and shows a pretty take on a fresh pink rose. Still, its composition feels uninspired, being basic in a way that’s more generic than streamlined. It also leans way too strongly into “fabric softener” territory, right next to the shampooey-est of designer fragrances, terrible Versace Pour Femme Dylan Blue. Only, Idôle is even more expensive – plastic case sold separately.

Sadly, to me, the bad side of Lancôme strikes again with this fragrance, which, although too simple, it’s almost lovely… If only, it didn’t feel so synthetic. Other perfumes fit the style of this one in more successful ways. For example:

Do you want a simple, light fragrance with almost the same notes as Idôle, but done right? Dior Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet has a much weaker sillage, that’s true; but its dewy pink rose feels like it came straight from a garden, not a hand soap dispenser.

Do you actually like the “shampooe-y”, super clean, fresh fruity-floral style of Idôle? You can still do better: try Chanel Chance Eau Tendre; Eau de Toilette for a more citrusy, transparent scent, or Eau de Parfum for a rosy, juicy-sweet fruity effect.


¹ I loved Trésor Midnight Rose‘s opening + heart notes so much I almost bought it on the spot. Fortunatelly, I waited for the drydown, when it turned into a loud, screechy mess. I still tried it many times before giving up, as I did love the initial accord… And the story is similar with La Nuit Trésor Musc Diamand. 😦

² It turns out the listed fruit is pear, which fits the overly sweet, vague and watery feel it gives off (in case you didn’t notice, I’m not a huge fan of pear). But I definitely also get something peachy in this accord.

³ Hello, Prada Infusion d’Iris, Gucci Bloom and Narciso Rodriguez Narciso!

Fragrance Review: Zadig & Voltaire – Girls Can Say Anything

Yeah, good to know. I do have something to say about this fragrance.

Before a proper review, I thought it would be fun to share a little “impression sketch”. So here’s my step-by-step reaction to this scent: *sprays*

  • Red Berries. Ok, not super excited about that, but it’s… ok…
  • Bubblegum.
  • Grape bubblegum. And musk. More musk… too much musk!
  • ...La Vie Est Belle iris… is that you?
  • What’s with this musk? Seriously! I’m choking in powder here!
  • Oh, it’s tonka. A dry, dry tonka.
  • It’s just… too much powder. It smells like chalk. Sweetened chalk and faint grape bubblegum.
  • Can I go smell something else, now?

Review

I always try to keep an open mind to different fragrance families and styles. I get that Mugler Angel is incredibly layered, and that Lancôme’s La Vie Est Belle is well-blended, and that Guerlain L’Heure Bleue is a work of art, as much as I say it’s improbable you’d find me wearing any of those scents. They are just not my style.

Still, regardless of style, to my nose there are not many redeeming points for Zadig & Voltaire’s 2018 launch, Girls Can Say Anything.

Ugly mini-PET bottle and cringy name aside¹, this scent has some serious issues for me. The combo of notes, although not groundbreaking², has a potential to be pleasing. Alas, their rendering here is heavy, with no finesse.

The sweetness is too intense; the iris, too metallic, in the same aggressive line of Lancôme La Vie Est Belle; and the worst part, the powderyness of the musk-tonka combo is off the charts. Now, this is coming from someone who loves powdery scents. This is too much. It creates a dry, dense, chemical vibe that’s almost chalky. And this “chalk” impression is only reinforced by a bitter afternote from the iris and the fern. Oh, the fern.

I think the fern is supposed to be the “fougère elements” mentioned on the marketing blurb. Take this with generous quotation marks, though, and please ignore the plural. This fern is alone, and waves shyly from the back of the chalky sweet-curtain of everything else. Nope, no fougère here.

Really, it annoys me to no end when companies attach a fragrance family name to something that doesn’t remotely fit in it… just because it sounds randomly très chic, I suppose? Anyway, I digress.

The drydown of Girls Can Say Anything is a little better (less bad?) than the opening. As the screechy iris eases and the “chalk dust” settles, the scent turns into a muted version of itself³. It’s still too sweet, too chemical and too heavy – but at least, at a lower volume.


Fragrance Impressions

Notes: (Top) Iris, peony; (Heart) tonka beans; (Base) musk, vanilla, fern, amber.

Colour Impression: Dusty Purple.

Evokes: Bubblegum wrap; you know how athletes chalk up their hands before a bar exercise, and this dense cloud of powder briefly rises? That.

Similar to: Lancôme La Vie Est Belle; Prada Candy Kiss; Kenzo Flower Eau de Vie.

Season & Occasion: It evokes Spring with its candied powder & faint florals. But it’s intense enough to be worn year-round (maybe too much for Summer, though).

Conclusion


Fragrance is an extremelly subjective topic, and of course, your experience may be 100% different from mine. Unfortunatelly, to my nose, Girls Can Say Anything is a forgetable, cloying, chemical mess. The advertised “fougère” accord is barely existant, as well as the supposedly central note of peony – I wonder if that is what I read as “red berries” in the opening?

Anyway, in my opinion, there are many better executed scents with a similar style out there. I would recomend, for example…

Do you want a truly unusual yet wearable scent? No need to go far; on Zadig & Voltaire’s own fragrance counter you’ll find the sweet, weirdly milky This is Her (not really a fan myself, but there you go).

Do you want a true modern feminine fougère? With rich but elegant vanilla and no false claims of edgyness attached? Try the romantic Mon Guerlain Eau de Parfum.

Or, if you just want to smell like sweet, musky-powdery candy… Even if “artificial” (as real life candy in general is) Prada Candy Kiss is a much smoother, more pleasant take on this genre!


¹ “Girls Can BE Anything” would still be a bit cheesy, but so much more positive-sounding…

² This scent is supposed to “Proclaim Freedom”, with… peony and vanilla. Wow. Almost as “revolutionary” as 4 O’clock tea in the garden.

³ This is a linear fragrance, what isn’t bad on itself, but in this boring scent, doesn’t help either.

Fragrance Review: Versace – Pour Femme Dylan Blue

I wouldn’t buy a perfume only for its bottle, pretty as it may be, but I admit I tend to hesitate toward scents I like if they come in bottles I dislike¹.

Conceptual harmony between the visual and the olfactive is not essential, but it’s very important. Not only it helps with sales, attracting customers who are more likely to “match” the scent’s style, it also adds to the fragrance’s experience. When I think of perfumes that smell just as they “look”, I think of Narciso Rodriguez Narciso, Dior Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet, Chanel Coco, D&G The One, Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey

I surely do not think of Versace Pour Femme Dylan Blue.

Versace Pour Femme Dylan Blue

Review

Don’t be fooled by the (arguably tacky) deep blue, plastic-top bottle and the marketing blurb proclaiming adjectives such as “sensual” and “invincible”. Floriental? Incense? Spices? Nope. Versace’s 2017 fragrance, Versace Pour Femme Dylan Blue, smells distinctly like shampoo.

From the notes (peach, jasmine, vague fruity florals) to the blurry, creamy texture, down to the shy supporting notes (minty-fresh shiso and “fabric softener style” musk), everything in Dylan Blue converges to generate a very Garnier Fructis vibe. It’s plasticky. Bubbly. Cheap-smelling – and I don’t mean this in a snobbish way; this just does evoque the type of smell you’d get from daily supermarket products.

It’s not a bad scent, mind you. In its defense, Dylan Blue is fresh, bright, summery, light. I can’t really imagine anyone strongly disliking the passing whiff of it. But it’s surely not what one might expect from its opulent, almost pretentious packaging; from the notes list, promissing somewhat interesting notes²; or from a – not cheap – supposedly sophisticated designer fragrance.


Fragrance Impressions

Notes: (Top) Black currant sorbet, clover; Granny Smith apple, forget-me-not, shiso; (Heart) Rose, rose hip, jasmine, petalia, peach; (Base) Styrax, white woods, musk, patchouli.

Colour Impression: Apple Green.

Evokes: getting out of the shower and wondering, “did I rinse my hair enough?”

Similar to: apple/peach-scented shampoo; Lancôme Idôle; Dior Joy (in the blurry peach accord, but… Joy is much better!)

Season & Occasion: Spring and Summer, daytime. For its style, it feels super casual.


Conclusion

The cacophonic marketing doesn’t help, but even for a super casual fruity-floral, Dylan Blue is… mediocre. Marc Jacobs, Chloé, Escada, even Versace itself have much better options for similar (or lower) price ranges³. And, if you want to smell like blurry peach-jasmine in grander style, there are always the lovely Dior Joy, or classic Chanel Allure.

Light, casual, cheap and forgettable, Dylan Blue isn’t really umpleasant; but it clashes terribly with its marketing image, and – more importantly – suffers from a bad combination of underwelming + overpriced.


¹ I still sigh for Guerlain Shalimar (a perfume I love in a bottle I love, but don’t feel like it’s “me”) , Paco Rabane Olympéa (such a pretty bottle, but I dislike the scent) and Kenzo Flower (love the scent, not crazy about the bottle).

² “Forget-me-not + rose hip” sounds more interesting than this scent makes it smell.

³ I’d recommend the Marc Jacobs Daisy line, Chloé Love Story, the Bvlgari Omnia line, among many others… Including, from Versace, the pretty Bright Crystal.

Fragrance Review: Hermès – Hiris

Iris is a very particular note in perfumery, and not very often the star in contemporary fragrances. If you’re still a new explorer of the perfume world, and would like to know its unique scent, I’d recomend a handful of fragrances: Chanel N°19, Prada Infusion d’Iris, Van Cleef & Arpels Bois d’Iris… and, definitely, Hermès Hiris.

Hermés Hiris

Review

Composed by Olivia Giacobetti in 1999, Hiris has been recently relaunched in a clear bottle – the original was deep blue. It’s a feminine fragrance, although (as typical of Hermès) it feels more “neutral” than most of modern women’s perfumes. Not that it smells masculine, either; it’s just definitely not an usual sweet fruity floral.

Hiris opens with a full iris note, in its very particular coolness – its delicate green side, here, is reinforced by coriander. During the first minutes, it strongly reminds me of Prada Infusion d’Iris, perhaps thanks to their shared iris+neroli accord. They don’t smell completely alike, however; Hiris lacks the softly sweet “makeup” nuance from Prada’s composition, and goes to an even more rooty path¹. The result is a more unissex, neutral impression than the one we get from Infusion d’Iris.

For the next minutes, the title note in Hiris blooms, supported by softly peppery carnation and reinforced by neroli. This is my favourite phase of this fragrance, where the iris shines in its full contrasts – it’s dry and fresh, green and powdery, earthy and clean. The accord is not as pretty as Prada’s, but fascinating in its nuances.

Unfortunatelly, as Hiris progresses, I like it a bit less. The base notes turn slightly waxy, which I really dislike. I also get a touch of sharp, bitter smokyness from the cedar². It does show a very soft sweetness from honey, if you look for it… but the drydown, as a whole, feels less natural and heavier than the beginning of the composition.


Fragrance Impressions

iris flowers

Notes: (Top) Coriander, carnation, iris, amber; (Heart) iris, neroli, rose; (Base) honey, cedar, vanilla, almond tree.

Colour Impression: Ivory and misty green.

Evokes: A crisp linen shirt; botanical paintings in pastel tones; a misty field of irises.

Similar to: Prada Infusion d’Iris; Chanel N°19 Poudré.

Season & Occasion: Ideal for Spring, daytime. But versatile, fit for a signature scent.


Conclusion

Hiris is a beautiful study in its star note, and a fragrance that’s both complex and soft-spoken – a mix I personally love. It’s neutral, serene and elegant, in a very Hermès style. It’s a shame that it doesn’t evolve quite as beautifuly as it opens, and the waxy, soapy, slightly bitter drydow makes me, in comparision, prefer Prada Infusion d’Iris.

Still, it is a quality, refined composition, full of subtlety and personality. It’s a must-try if you’re a fan of iris, if you love clean and powdery scents, or even if you’re just tired of more common florals, and would like to try something sophisticated and classic, yet with a more unique flair.


¹ Not as rooty as Chanel N°19, however. It does also remind its flanker, N°19 Poudré, although being a tad less green and more spicy than the Chanels.

² Cedar and I don’t often get along. It ruined both Narciso Rodrigues Narciso and Lancôme Trésor Midnight Rose for me, which I otherwise really like. Rude.

Fragrance Review: Chloé – Chloé L’Eau (and a brief overview of the current Chloé line)

I really like Chloé (Eau de Parfum), Chloé brand’s pillar fragrance launched in 2008. It’s delicate with presence, and although its take on ambery rose-peony isn’t exactly natural, it’s fresh, pleasant, and unique. So, I keep checking Chloé’s line in search for more great fragrances… and I’m often disapointed.

Chloé’s flankers are fine scents, yet a bit lacking when compared to the original. Chloé Eau de Toilette (2015) is a lighter, citrusy-fresh take on the EdP. It’s very nice, but too similar to justify owning both versions. The same happens with 2017’s Chloé Absolu – basically Chloé EdP with a slightly denser, earthier patchouli base. Roses de Chloé (2013) is not that similar to the pillar, but its take on rose is a bit soapy. It’s pretty, but I still prefer the EdP. Then there’s Chloé Fleur de Parfum (2016), my least favourite from the bunch, which is different from the rest in the wrong way. It’s too sharp, too sweet, too blurry… And, once more, I’d rather stick with Chloé EdP.

Then, this year, came Chloé L’Eau*. I saw the notes list, the pretty subtle twist on the bottle design, and felt optimistic. “This is it!”, I thought. “This seems different enough and nice enough! Finally, another Chloé to be excited about!”

Spoiler alert: I was wrong.

Review

Of the entire line, Chloé L’Eau most reminds me of Chloé Fleur de Parfum. I think this already sums up what’s wrong with it, but I’ll rant elaborate further.

Both Fleur de Parfum and L’Eau share grapefruit as a top note, which is not in Chloé EdP. Now, I have no problem with grapefruit. It smells gorgeous done right, bringing a clear, bright flair to Chanel Gabrielle and Jour d’Hermes. Alas, in Fleur de Parfum and L’Eau this note is a sharp, bitter citrus that shrieks over the opening. The heart of both fragrances don’t share many notes, but also feel similar. They’re thin, muddy takes on “pink florals”. Fleur’s cherry blossoms make it too sweet, and L’Eau’s magnolia make it overly lemony, almost sour.

Finally, there’s L’Eau’s base – which is actually unique among Chloé scents. It features oakmoss, which could have added to it a lovely vintage flair. But it isn’t enough to balance the screechy heart and top notes, and just ends the composition with a bitter touch of green.


Fragrance Impressions

roses lemonade

Notes: (Top) Rose, grapefruit, litchi; (Heart) Damask rose, magnolia; (Base) Cedar, amber, musk, oakmoss.

Colour Impression: Light pink.

Evokes: a watery, slightly sour lemonade dusted with pink flower petals.

Similar to: Versace Bright Crystal; Chloé Chloé Fleur de Parfum.

Season & Occasion: Spring and Summer, daytime.


Conclusion

I had high hopes for Chloé L’Eau, and maybe this is why it felt so disapointing to me. The scent doesn’t feel like yet another “clone” of its pillar, but this isn’t enough to make it interesting. Its citrus are too sour, the florals vague and sharp, the okmoss base just… kind of there.

Personally, I found this fragrance generic, boring, and, especially, of poor quality. It’s miles behind when compared to the original Chloé EdP, and may even have taken Fleur de Parfum’s place as my least favourite iteration in this line. I’m a scent optimist, though, and will keep waiting for this brand to bring us another of its rare, but precious, fragrance gems. Meanwhile, at least I still have Chloé EdP and Nomade


¹ Not to be confused with discontinued L’Eau de Chloé, from 2012. It was a greener, chypre-style take on the original, with an elongated bottle and green juice. I didn’t care much for it either.

Fragrance Review: Jo Malone – Red Roses

Just what it says on the bottle!

Review

As typical of Jo Malone, this fragrance is simple and straightforward, and curiously smells both amazingly realistic and quite artificial.

First, don’t be misled by the term “cologne”. Jo Malone does have some soft, barely-there scents¹, but this one in particular is intense. That isn’t in itself a bad thing, but it can be a surprise. Red Roses has a very present sillage, and unless you’re a subtle sprayer, it will make a statement – as well as stay on a sample card for impressive 3 weeks.

Beside the title flower, Red Roses has few other notes: lemon, mint, violet leaf and honeycomb. None of them really stands out very much, as they simply add more nuance to the main rose accord: a sweet undertone for the petals, highlighting their deep scent; and a touch of green freshness for the leaves, buds and stems.

The result is just what it says on the bottle. Red Roses. It doesn’t even smell like a red roses perfume, it smells like an actual, huge bouquet of long-stemmed, intensely fragrant red roses. Being shoved right on your nose. I’m not sure if I find this scent interesting or overwhelming… It’s probably both.


Fragrance Impressions

Notes: (Top) Mint, lemon; (Heart) Rose, violet leaf; (Base) honeycomb.

Colour Impression: Rose Red.

Evokes: A big, freshly-cut bouquet of long stemmed, fully bloomed red roses, with leaves and a few rose buds.

Similar to: Stella McCartney Stella; Chloé Roses de Chloé; Sisley Izia.

Season & Occasion: It naturally evokes Spring and Summer, but it’s intense enough to be worn year-round.


Conclusion

I’m not sure if I’d choose to wear Red Roses. It is so literal people may think you’re not wearing fragrance, just hiding a giant bunch of flowers behind your back! (lol) Now, this does have its fun side, and I did enjoy testing it (feeling amused about how crazy realistic this is). On the other hand, it is also strong. Too strong. After a few hours, it starts to feel like you’re being hit in the head with a bouquet. Repeatedly. It gets tiresome. This intensity also colaborates to the somewhat synthetic aura that this scent ends up having, in spite of its realistic approach.

Still, Red Roses is really interesting in the way it treats its title flowers in such a photo-like manner. With Jo Malone’s prices and my inclination towards more complex, smoother scents, I don’t think it’s getting near my (too long) wishlist, but if gifted a bottle, I could see myself wearing this on occasion, in extra-rose mood days.

And if, yes, you do love the idea of smelling just like a big bouquet of red roses… this fragrance may be the perfect choice!


¹ I did like Blackberry & Bay for the brief minutes it stayed on my test card, before poofing out of existence.