Annick Goutal Les Orientalistes

French house Annick Goutal makes charming scents in charming bottles, the sorts of bottles you want to wrap up and give as gifts.Among the hardcore perfume fans, Hadrian, Duel and Sables are among the most popular, and even the hardest of hearts might be melted by a spray of Gardenia Passion or Petite Cherie.

So when it was announced that the house had released Les Orientalistes –and they were developed by Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen – we were pretty darn excited.Here´s Patty and March´s take on this new line from the boutique in Paris.

When testing Ambre Fetiche, Myrrhe Ardente, and Encens Flamboyant we did some reading and saw comparisons of an incense or amber or myrrh to something similar in another line, but we’re both fangirls of Annick Goutal, so we also looked at these in terms of how they fit in with the other AG scents. You will find other myrrh, incense and amber scents better in some cases, or less, or just different, but you will be hard pressed to find three scents perfectly matched to fit like a tailored Hermes glove into the Goutal line.

Ambre Fetiche has notes of amber, frankincense, labdanum, styrax, benzoin, iris.

Patty: It’s fairly fierce on going on, not a subtle amber in the least, but not beastly (looking at Ambre Russe). Not being an amber groupie, this is a wearable amber on me, tempered by the incense in its base and feeling just a little on the sweetish side of amber, but not so much that it teeters off the sugar cliffs. Want to have some real fun with it? Spray it on over Sables. The dance between pancake syrup and incense has had my nose twitching in glee for hours this morning. Eau de Fier with this one or any of the incensi (?) is pure bliss.

March: Lord, what is it with me and amber? I’m sorry, but amber is one of those solo notes I’m completely unable to assess fairly. Smelling a dominant amber is like drinking a bottle of cough syrup — my stomach starts doing flip flops. The only ambers I really like are dirty things like Ambre Russe. Having said that, this isn’t as cloying as the Hermessence Nazgul. The frankincense and labdanum give a nice sharp edge to the otherwise too-sweet amber-benzoin combination; the “iris” registers more as a spicy adjunct to the frankincense than its own rooty-orris note (which on this occasion is too bad.) Would I wear this on its own? No, but amber lovers would, and it layers beautifully with the other two.

Myrrhe Ardente has notes of myrrh, benzoin, vanilla, tonka, gaiac wood, and honeyed beeswax.

Patty: Alone, this is probably not as easy/fun to wear — or at least not for me. I just don’t get a love or hate on it, it’s just, well, myrrh but combined with either the Amber or Encens makes this one come alive on my skin, takes some of the vanilla and sweet out of it. I can think of a ton of combinations I’d love to try it with.

March: This is my second favorite of the Orientalistes. There´s the medicinal note of myrrh in the opening, but it´s not overwhelming, much warmer and easier to wear than, say, Lutens´ La Myrhhe. If you like vanilla and benzoin – you´ll love this. If you don´t: look out. Between those notes, the tonka and the honey, this thing is sweet. Layered with the Encens, though, it´s nicely balanced.

Encens Flamboyant has notes of frankincense, black pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, fir and “pure extract of lentisque. Drawn from arid vegetation, it is also used in Kiphi, the prized Pharaonic perfume.”

Patty: Encens Flamboyant isn’t really flamboyant. That name makes me think of incense trussed up in a coochie girl outfit and pink hair. It’s pretty much a straight-up frankincense scent, along the lines of Avignon, with the warm Goutal’ish feel to it, but definitely my favorite of the three. Would happily wear this 8 days of the week, it goes with everything. So if you put on Sables one morning and go… huh… too much syrup, not enough pancake, throw some Encens over the top of it and have your breakfast in a monastery courtyard.

March: Having failed to be entranced by Jubilation XXV (what are you people smelling?), I was worried about whether I´d lost my lust for incense.Hah.I have no doubt that any number of you could provide me with explanations of why Amouage is a superior scent, but the Annick is my sort of incense.Incense scents are like black sweaters: I can´t have too many, and they´re all slightly different in their details.Flamboyant distinguishes itself by being neither churchy nor ethnic.It´s not cold and aloof.It´s … well, it´s very Annick.Peppery and spicy, with that fir note, I think it´s incense as a walk in the cold, clean outdoor air.It´s got excellent sillage – strong but transparent.

An aside: I don´t know whether the company ever said expressly that they were meant to be layered, but they seem designed that way.The Encens isn´t even a bit sweet, making it the perfect layering companion with the other two.The smell of the samples together when I ripped my package open was wonderful.

Patty: While none of these three will win prizes for breakthrough perfuming or some bold new take on incense, Goutal did what all perfume lines should do when they can’t make The Next Big Thing – tailor scents to fit their image, with their unique base, and that will complement many of the other perfumes in their line. So for me, this is the perfect addition to this line, and very well done.

Would that they would bring out a less expensive coffret of all three of these scents (we couldn’t find a great photo, but the existing coffret, a LE of the trio in 50 ml parfum strength in a white leather coffret) is 500 euros. Individual square 100ml EdP bottles are also available for 120 euros. Available only in Europe for right now, their availability in the United States has been pegged so far for mid to late 2008.

We’ll be taking tomorrow off, so we want to wish each of you the very best in the New year!!!

image: Edwin Long, Love’s Labor Lost, 1885, Dahesh Museum of Art, New York

  • Judith says:

    Back from NY and chiming in a day late–my impressions are similar to Marina’s: I don’t like the myrrhe, but that is my taste not their fault (never thought of layering–should try), amber is fine amber, liked the incense best–really liked it, in fact–but thought it was too much like many others I have smelled and own.

    On another front–March, I finally got enough Silver Factory to spray, and I do believe you are right that this makes the difference. I sprayed enough to get sillage (important to me) and I am enjoying it very much–MAY more over to more than that. I received a compliment at a New Year’s party on it (although when the complimenter asked what it was and I replied “Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory,” she looked really perplexed, and then brightened and said, “Oh, Andy WARHOL!”. Ok. Sometimes I wonder if I should make up names):)

    Happy New Year to you!!!!

  • Masha says:

    I found the Encens a bit mushroomy/fishy also, and the MA was very nice in the drydown, a very good quality myrrh or several myrrhs were used. The Amber I liked best (it’s a labdanum-based scent) but I couldn’t believe the price! So I went home, mixed some good quality labdanum resin with real vanilla, neroli, and carnation in perfumer’s alcohol, mixed it up, let it sit a bit, and got almost an identical scent for $10 instead! But full disclosure, AG’s just don’t work on me, the sharp thing happens. The 3 incenses are definitely worth a try, though, I just balk at the price.

  • violetnoir says:

    Happy New Year! Y’all simply rock! <:-p Hugs and love today and throughout the coming year.

  • Catherine says:

    These sound like fragrances I hope to love, yet AG perfumes never settle well on my skin. My mother and sisters love the AG samples I give them, however. So if I get around to ordering samples–probably when Aedes carries them (no more Europe-exclusive lemmings for me *hides phone*)–they will probably be the beneficiaries.

    Happy New Year, everyone! It has been fabulous finding you!


    • Patty says:

      I think that’s an outstanding plan. If I didn’t have a lot of friends that sent me things from everywhere, I think I’d steer clear of a lot of things until they showed up or I got closer to them, 🙂

      Happy New Year to you, too, we’re glad you found us too.

  • Robin says:

    Well, these sound nice but somehow was expecting more of a wow factor. March, you still haven’t come around on Amouage Jubilation??

    Best of everything in 2008 to you all!

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, no wow, pow, sock’em, but just well done Goutal scents, which are pretty much the way all of the AGs are for me anyway, and that’s really a pretty great thing.

      Happy to you too, my friend! Xox

    • March says:

      Robin, I’ve tried extra lotion, no lotion, morning, afternoon, fingers crossed, etc. It smells really nice. The earth, though — she does not move.

  • Divalano says:

    I have a serious case of the Wants for these but since I’m officially out of money for the time being I’m just going to have to sit with it & wait. Can’t think long enough to post anything clever or insightful about amber since I have to be running off & shouldn’t even be skulking about on the Internet but I adore amber, am always curious about incense (love/hate for most incense). Happy healthy joyous new year to you all!

    • Patty says:

      Well, given that it will be a while before they show up here, I think you can wait and then dash down to Aedes when they get there!

      Happy New year to you, too!!!

  • Marina says:

    For me myrrh is one of those notes that I’m completely unable to assess fairly, so I won’t even say anything about Myrrhe Ardente. I thought Amber was just, well, amber. I liked Incense the most, in fact, I liked it a lot, but it is very much along the lines of other incensey-woody things like Black Tourmaline or Bois d’Encens. Also, none of them strike me as very “Goutal” :d Still, a nice, quality line…albeit wildly overpriced.
    On a different note, Happy New Year to Perfume Posse!

    • Patty says:

      I think Myrrh can just be a tough note. It is for me as well.

      Ditto on the wildly overpriced, but at least it’s not as wildly overpriced as most things.

      Happy New Year to you too!!

  • Malena says:

    i was more than curious about these & fortunately i wasn´t disappointed!
    i like the amber best, it gets a bit sweet on me, i only smell the incense note in the beginning. i like most amber scents, but they are always kind of strong, so i rarely wear them. this one´s lovely, though & i can see myself wearing it quite often. it´s my fist AG purchase in a pretty long time.
    the myrrhe is nicely done as well, but i get some weird note – like german herbal candy or something like that. it doesn´t put me off, but it definitely needs more sampling.
    i´m surprised by the incense: it´s smooth *wow* :”> like a more incensy version of SL chêne. it´s wonderful, though i´m rarely into incense scents: this is great 🙂
    i´m wishing you all a happy new year!

    • Patty says:

      i’m so happy to hear they worked for you. So are they available in Germany? I think Europe has access to them. Just can’t figure out why they are dallying about bringing them here. Yeah, I detected that Myrrh weirdness, it always smells like alcohol to me. 🙂

      all our best for a Happy new year to you too!

      • Malena says:

        yes, they are already available here! i wanted to order samples from TPC (you know how eager i was to test them) but then i heard that the perfumery i usually visit already stocks them <:-p smelling them from the paper strips, i wasn´t impressed at all - they have to be tested on skin, i think.

  • Anne says:

    One of my always resolutions is when I think something good about someone I don’t just keep it to myself. I seek that person/persons out and tell them. So to the Posse… thank you. What goes on here has added so much joy to my life. You all are truly beautiful people.

    Re: the AG’s that I’ve tried, appreciate Hadrien and thought I’d found a fav with Mandragore but it was gone in an hour. Several have mentioned this sharp note thang. I get that too with the AG’s and it sorta keeps the juice out there for me, doesn’t allow the scent to settle, blend with me/my skin. Weird. Waiting for my samples of this new trio to arrive. I have high hopes.

    Oh, Lee if you’re there. What is Nazgul? :)>-

    • March says:

      Sorry, inside joke — Hermessence Ambre Narguile. One of those love-it-or-loathe-it scents.

      I think Patty started calling it the Nazgul, if we looked up the History.

      You’re welcome for the Posse! And regarding the AGs — they clearly just don’t last on some people. As I am not one of those people, I love most of the line. But there are few things more annoying.

    • Patty says:

      Thank you for including us in your life this last year. I always think of everyone as our little Posse family, with plenty of room for more.

      I’ll be interested to see what you think of these. So far, with people not loving the Goutal, they aren’t making a big impression. I think Goutal is a line that’s very dependent on skin chemistry and personal taste, and nothing will fix that if they just don’t work.

      Yes, Nazgul was my creation. I really do respect it as a scent, and love smelling it int he bottle, but on my skin, it’s just unbelievably strong and bad. How JDE could do that to me is a mystery, but he sure did.

  • chayaruchama says:


    I’m thanking you all for such a memorable year…
    Wonderful folk, you are.
    Agile minds, loving spirits.

    Be blessed in the New Year !


    I’m with CC and helg- I think that there is a touch of ?Australian sandalwood lending its spiky resinous self to this mix… maybe even a little Ambroxan.

    I like the first two, and am OK with the Encens- but it seems like a sheerer veil of other scents I’ve smelled.
    The MA really breathes life if you pair it with a soliflore carnation note- like Prada Oeillet.
    AF feels much less about amber than it does about incense…
    But PART of the fun is how varied our responses are- and what our noses pick up !

    Love to you all…

    • Patty says:

      And none of this last year would have been the same without YOU!

      Hmm, must try that with a soliflore. I wonder if the Caron Poivre would be too much competing base? Well, I’ll do it before my shower. 🙂

      • DeniseL says:

        Have you ever tried a risky layering combo like that before your shower, only to find yourself too enraptured to shower? :d

  • Louise says:

    I was very eager to try the trio, full well knowing that AG and I don’t have a solid relationship. Most of the line runs away with Maria’s AGs. For the few that hang around, I just wonder why they just don’t really like me? They’re so lovely on others.

    On me the Flamboyant is all March fortunately doesn’t get-very cold and sharp. I love me some incense, but this simply doesn’t work on me. The Myrrhe is so very quiet on me, I pretty much note only a smidge of beeswax. The Amber is the best of the crowd, I think, and as a full-on amber freak, I appreciate its quiet, dry charm (sorta like one of you bloggers;) ). But I still prefer my fuller ambers-Russe, Blue, and lately, Aurea. Ah, money saved.

    I am so happy to look forward to all the gifts of chuckles and wisdom the Posse will share with us this upcoming year.

    Happy, safe New Year to all. :d/

    • Patty says:

      I’m not surprised they didn’t work for you at all. It would have shocked me if they had! But, hey, that’s lots of money saved. I do agree with you on that PRofumum Amber, it’s really just the gnat’s peejays, one of the less than 5-6 ambers that I happily wear.

      And we have loved having your wit, wisdom and commentary with us this year. I think anyone who reads our posts and does not read through the comments is missing a huge amount of knowledge, perfumista love and just flat-out fun.

    • Maria says:

      I thought so.

      Hey, Louise, are you the “Louise, a teacher from DC” who wrote a customer review of Ambre Russe for Luckyscent? I thought so too. 🙂 That Russe is yummy.

  • MattS says:

    Damn. No more incense reviews! Talk about something I don’t like. Devote a week to sweet, girly florals. Awww, heck you guys could probably sway me on that as well. I’ve yet to explore the AG line at all and have kind of been on the fence about it but this bunch could lure me in. There’s no such thing as debtor’s prison any more, right?

    Speaking of florals, not necessarily girly or sweet, I did get a whiff of Fracas this holiday and that is some heady, lovely stuff. My mom received a sample of it in with a Christmas gift and I was tempted to swipe it when she wasn’t looking. I would love to smell it on a woman with a gun in her hand.

    That would be an elegantly dressed woman with a revolver not Ma Kettle with a shotgun. Just for clarification.

    Happy New Years to all! Champagne toasts all around!

    • Patty says:

      Happy New Year to you, Matt!!

      Haven’t tried Goutal yet? If you like them strong and smoky, there’s a whole set of them that I think are just far superior to the florals that Usually people think of when you say Goutal. Eau de Fier, Duel, Sables, Mandragore. Just love those to pieces, and every single last one of them works perfectly in combination with the incense set.

      There, my work is done here, I’m making sure you all join mne3 in debtor’s prison.

  • Nina says:

    Being an amber/incense junkie, I’ve been panting for a review of these, so megathanks. I’m detecting contained approval, rather than stampede-for-a-bottle? There’s not a single Goutal that has leapt out at me screaming ‘I’m yours!’ so far, so I have my doubts. But still…damn, will that browser EVER open on TPC?…these are must-tries. Happy New Year, Posse, and thanks for the brill blog!

    • Patty says:

      I don’t know that it’s contained approval. I’m not sure if I like them more than March or no? I didn’t ask!

      for me, as an addition to the AG line, I wholeheartedly approve of them and think they fit in perfectly and are well worth sniffing, and I don’t think they made a misstep at all.

      In comparison to ther myrrhs and incense and ambers, there will likely be lots of others that some people will like more or less. So my opinion of them taken in isolation varies on how great I think they are. Love Encense, find the Amber much better than I normally find ambers. The Myrrh is okay, but great layered.

      Not sure that helps? If AGs generally don’t work well for you, I don’t know that I’d be hurrying to find them, no.

    • March says:

      Contained approval … that’s an interesting point. I’d put it this way: I think what you’re sensing is our admiration for the restraint of the brand, and the way these fit into the existing line. If you like AG, you probably would like these. If you don’t — probably not, as Patty said. I admire the line’s consistency. While I don’t find AGs among my “blockbuster” scents (with maybe the exception of Mandragore) they are among my most regularly worn scents. So: they’re not my green satin ballgown? But they’re some of my best-cut, most flattering skirts in my wardrobe, if that makes sense. The ones I find myself wearing more often than not, because they fit so well. Okay, I’ll stop blathering now!

  • I have heard good things about those three, so you only confirm my suspicions that I must sniff those.

    Encens sounds more my thing (love incenses and a dry one sounds exquisite) but maybe the rest could also see good use. The leather case with the three Orientalistes is delectable, isn’t it?

    The sharp note that Denyse mentions though has me in a little doubt: benzoin, it can’t be (it has a hazy caramel tone to it from the batches I have smelled). I suspect some synthesized odour? In any case…

    Have a great new year ahead!:x

    • Patty says:

      I didn’t get the sharpness, Helg, so I think it may just happen for some noses or maybe a reaction on some skins. YMMV. 🙂

      Those that don’t like AG to begin with, or it doesn’t work on them will likely not find anything here to change their mind, except maybe the amber, if they are an amber fan. But I do think most AG fans should be pleased. It’s a good addition to their entire line.

      Now, I think I read somewhere that the trio in the white leather box are parfums? I’m running that down. If they did these in parfum, I think my little perfumed soul will not rest until I’ve sniffed them in that strength. 8-|

      • March says:

        Hon, you read it in our post. Google the coffret… maybe I misread it, but I thought the 50mls in the coffret were parfum strength. At freaking 500 euros they *should* be, I don’t care how nice that leather case is!;)

        I bet they’re amazing, though, you’re right.

  • Lee says:

    I’m not an amber fan really (and though I love the Nazgul, that isn’t so much about amber to me) but I thought this amber was exceptional. The myrrhe is mushroomy to me more than sweet, and the Encens has some strong similarities to Chene (thanks Lou for suggesting that – you’re dead right). They’re a great trio of scents.

    Unlike you two, I’m not a AG fanboy. They just don’t mesh with me. I admire Hadrien, Sud, Sables, Duel, but they just sit there pouting on my skin. Mandragore is gorgeous but never lasts. Eau de Fier – must sniff some time…

    • Maria says:

      A strong similarity to Chene? Oh my. But does it last on Louise? So many scents–just one skin. (I know I’ve said that before, but it bears repeating.)

      Be good on New Year’s Eve. 😉

    • Patty says:

      Not an AG fanboy! I’m really not that big a fan of all the AG scents. The florals tend to be tooooo much, though I love pretty much everything that shows up in the square bottles.

    • March says:

      Mushroomy! Actually, that sounds kind of great. I’d have liked a little less sweetness. But I love the AG line. I dunno. I find them very romantic, and most of them are nice on my skin. For awhile you could get those teeny round bottles, smaller than the regular ones. I loved those.:x But the line is distinctive enough that I concede they probably mostly work, or mostly don’t!

  • carmencanada says:

    Like you, March, I’m really not too keen on amber: any time it dominates, it just eats up every other smell and makes me queasy. But the new Goutal is just about at the level I can tolerate, and the incense note cools it down a bit. Once more with the Goutals, though, I get this sharp, spiky note I also perceive in Vanille Exquise and the Jasmin. I thought it was benzoin, but I smelled benzoin on its own (with Patty at Patou) and it’s not sharp at all, so I’m at a loss to pinpoint its origin. Do you get it too, and if so, any idea what it is?

    • Patty says:

      I’m sure March will be along to answer, but that sharp note is weird. Do you think it’s a perception thing? LIke sometimes some incense notes smell just like alcohol to me. I’ve never been able to pinpoint it. Myrrhe in this series starts out that way, but whatever it is blows off pretty quickly. And to make it worse, I think it’s just some versions of those notes by some manufacturer’s.

    • March says:

      I think it’s an Annick thing, maybe? Part of her special sauce? I find several of her scents sharpish. Mostly it doesn’t bother me, the only one I really can’t cope with is Songes…

      Helg down there is doubting benzoin, and I agree. Chaya is guessing maybe some kind of sandalwood, which I actually find plausible, it can have that sharp edge on me too. I don’t believe AG necessarily lists *all* the notes in their fragrances any more than anyone else does.

  • Gaia says:

    *happily trotting after Tom to the TPC*

    • Patty says:

      You goofs. I’m still trying to figure out why the long delay between their European appearance and coming to the States. I just didn’t think AG normally did that.

  • Maria says:

    I love incense of course. I admire several Annick Goutal fragrances–for the five minutes or so they stay on my skin. Okay, with Eau de Fier it’s more like ten minutes. I’m not getting excited about these; they’ll just dump me and go on to someone new after they’ve gotten me all interested and hopeful. :((

    • Maria says:

      How rude of me. I meant to wish everyone a happy, fragrant New Year!!!!! <:-p I know the Posse is one of the things I'm grateful for having had in my life this past year. BTW, I'm wearing Ambre Russe and thoroughly enjoying the experience. There's nothing nasty about it on me. It even has a passing resemblance to Arabie. :d

    • Patty says:

      Skin chemistry is so weird, I wish I understood it. These lasted on me a good many hours, and the next day I could still get some whiffs, though much fainter.

  • Joan says:

    HAPPY NEW YEAR! You all smell soooo goooood…

  • tmp00 says:

    These read so yummy- off to TPC I go…

    • Patty says:

      I really do like them a lot. They aren’t big “WOW” scents, just well done, fits with the line perfectly, and I’m glad they did them.

    • March says:

      I hope they last on you! They’re very pretty, but at the same time not particularly feminine. I think the Myrrhe might be particularly interesting on you.