Annick Goutal Heure Exquise is one of the perfumes that induced complete perfume mania in me, after years of dabbling. I’d read ecstatic comments about it on various blogs and forums, so I bought samples of both the EDT and EDP, and knew instantly that this was one of the most beautiful fragrances I had smelled and possibly ever would smell.
But somehow, as the samples ran down, I never got around replacing them or buying a full bottle. Other things caught my eye (you know how it is) and Goutal is one of the many brands which is a financial stretch for me. Annick Goutal Heure Exquise is not one of the more popular Goutals, so the discounters don’t always carry it.
Finally I noticed that Goutal has been phasing out the 50 ml bottles in many of its fragrances and realised I had to act. One hundred mls of Heure Exquise EDP – the concentration I prefer – is climbing up towards $150 with shipping, or much more if I buy it over the counter in Australia.
So after lurking and hunting for some time I learned to recognise a bargain, and last week I snapped up a half-used 100 ml bottle of the Annick Goutal Heure Exquise EDP on eBay. The cost, with shipping, was just under fifty bucks. Yay me!
It arrived today and happily, while the top notes may have turned a teeny bit, the perfume is in great condition. Because: even at that low price, the purchase had been a risk. A large, well-used bottle with no box may have sat one someone’s dressing table for a long time. In this case, the signs of wear on the labels around neck and on the bottom of the bottle suggest that this could be quite an old bottle. I’m lucky that it has survived so well but I shall have to keep it in the dark for the rest of its life.
I’m lucky in another way. If my bottle is, say, a decade or more older (the perfume was released in 1984), it may pre-dates any recent tweaks to the formula. It really could contain Mysore sandalwood, said to be the best in the world but now very scarce and expensive due to over-harvesting.
So what does it smell like? It smells exquisitely simple. According to Fragrantica there are only a few notes: orris, hyacinth, rose, galbanum, vanilla, and sandalwood. Some people add musk and vetiver. I find the EDP smoother and more long-lasting than the EDT, although the EDT perhaps has the bigger sillage initially. Both versions are very dry (I think), but I don’t think of powder so much as ‘sweet dust’ when I smell Heure Exquise.
There are many wonderful reviews of Annick Goutal Heure Exquise: start with Bois de Jasmin, The Non-Blonde and EauMG. Many reviewers, especially Perfumeshrine and The Muse in Wooden Shoes note the resemblance to Chanel No 19. The similarities are probably obvious to anyone who has a nose, Gaia remarks. A few people liken Heure Exquise to Guerlain’s Chamade, and Abigail of I Smell Therefore I Am mentions Caron’s Parfum Sacre as a perfume similar in style, if not notes. Suzanne delights in the leathery aspect she finds in HE’s orris.
Tania Sanchez in Perfumes: the Guide is among several reviewers who note the animalic facets of Heure Exquise. She prefers it to all other Goutals, and to the ‘neurotic’ Chanel No 19. She likens HE to falling into a featherbed. I agree, but galbanum provides structure to that softness. Gentleness wrapped around strength is powerful and ultimately (I think) sexy combination.
Everyone notes the perfume’s romantic and nostalgic evocation of times past. While Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue conjures the fleeting beauty of twilight, as day deepens into night, I’d put Heure Exquise slightly earlier, at a moment when the sun’s rays still caresses the sky.
So: you’ve read all those reviews and you are STILL wondering what Heure Exquise smells like. No problem. It smells like this:
The poem is ‘La Lune Blanche’ (also known as ‘L’Heure Exquise’) by Paul Verlaine. The music by Reynaldo Hahn and the singer is Philippe Jaroussky. Click on Elena’s review on Perfumeshrine, above, for a translation of the verse.