Shiseido Inoui

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On MakeupAlley someone was complaining about how the fragrance bloggers were always raving about something and making it sound to-die-for, and next thing you know your MasterCard is levitating itself out of your wallet for an unsniffed buy.

She has a point. I can´t speak for the other bloggers, but as I said recently, I sniff a lot of stuff that I don´t blog on. If I don´t get some sort of reaction (positive or negative) I generally don´t blog on it, because I figure that if I´m bored writing about something, you´re probably going to be bored reading about it.

In spite of every meh vial, or the lemming that disappoints, there is occasionally the fragrance nut´s favorite scenario – you pop open a gift vial, something unexpected, something you´ve never even heard of, maybe. You have zero expectations. And you take a sniff and … the entire world recedes into the background while you stand there Having A Moment. This happened to me recently, and the culprit was Shiseido Inoui EDP.  Notes: Galbanum, Green Note, Juniper berry, Lemon, Peach, Freesia, Jasmin, Pine Needle, Thyme, Cedarwood oil, Civet, Musk, Myrrh, Oakmoss. (I am pretty sure this has been discontinued.) Anyway, Patty sent me a sample. (Which I wouldn´t be surprised to see on her Fripperies decant site. Yeah, that´s me, whoring for the Frip.)

Inoui is yet another galbanum-heavy green scent that does not horrify me, so maybe I´m coming around to that note. (Another theory is that maybe what I really hate is galbanum and LOTV together.) Inoui, once I got my mind functioning again, opens on that strong, sap-green galbanum note, followed by freesia, broadcasting “chilly” in a showy, big-sillage way. And I had just settled into that when the strong banana-jam of jasmine showed up, and boom – “warm!” While I was pondering that back-and-forth, falling deeper and deeper in love, along came that edge-of-the-forest green-herby notes (pine and thyme) and then whammo! – that killer base (oakmoss, civet, musk.) I would classify this as a floral chypre, with all the full-blown elegance that implies.

I had on 9 drops of this, and the smell of it rising up from my right wrist mesmerized me – no kidding – for an entire day. What a gift! A day to think about that kind of beauty, because Inoui manages to be that rare bird for me – a fully “adult” perfume, a drop-dead-gorgeous “perfume-y” perfume — not weird, not niche — unfurling its full glory (I´m picturing 20 yards of citron-colored silk) while at the same time not feeling ridiculously wrong on me, like I woke up in somebody else’s body. It´s a haze of lemon-green with a dark, swirling center, like one of those vaguely sexual O´Keeffe flower paintings.

The second day out I (coincidentally) took Inoui for a ride again on my right arm, and CB Cradle of Light on my left arm. Being able to alternate between the crushed-stem glory of Inoui and the musky, sexy base of Cradle was almost – but not quite – more beauty than any one person should be able to bear, and perfect for this changeable, not-quite-spring weather.

Georgia O’Keeffe, An Orchid, 1941,

  • linda ross says:

    Hey ladies. You have landed on my favourite topic; my new love Inoui. ahhh smitten. A fellow ebay seller introduced me to another seller that had a stash of it and I bought 2 96ml edp’s and talked her into lol lol a 15ml bottle of the pure perfume. I actually prefer this to Nombre Noir; the other beyond elusive shiseido scent. sooo glad you love it as much as me. Linda

  • Lou says:

    O, boohoo – I just can’t understand why, W.H.Y., Whyay they discontinued this Wondrous Original. I feel personally wronged! Wore this one in the late eighties, and still have a miniature. To me this is a powdery, minty (probably the pine needle and the thyme, done to perfection) floral chypre, that is just too refined to originate from say Lutens, yet is indeed much of a ‘rare bird’. Stanks, for the memory, for the astute review and for breaking another piece of my heart.=((

    This is the Inoui experience, time and again:
    “The entire world recedes into the background while you stand there Having A Moment.”

    • March says:

      Oh, I’m so glad you loved it! I missed it the first time around … probably wearing something wretched like Poison.:”>

  • c says:

    :)) Rubber feet dipped in amber!!


    But, it does sound better than rotten tuna on burnt toast . . .

    • March says:

      I have no doubt that someday I’ll run across a fragrance that fits your description.;)

  • Maria B. says:

    I’ve recently had life-changing experiences in the realm of green. First there was the sample of Parfums DelRae Eau Illuminee I received unasked for. Wow! I felt excited about a green fragrance.

    Then I got my sample of Andy Tauer’s brand new Reverie au Jardin. That first jolt of galbanum with lavender and fir cured me of green-shyness forever.

    Last night I tried on Chanel No. 19. Now until recently I simply couldn’t appreciate Chanel, but lately I’ve found myself craving Cuir de Russie when I’m not wearing it. My instant rapture for No. 19 bowled me over. I’m changing in unexpected ways. (Note to Louise: The staying power wasn’t great. I must try putting more on.)

    I have a question: What makes a fragrance a chypre instead of a green floral? The Book of Perfume classifies No. 19 as a green floral, but to my nose, it has the character of a chypre. And, yes, it does contain oakmoss. The line seems awfully murky.

    • March says:

      I have definitely followed you in the green direction. (What did Patty call herself? A green note ho?) Maybe some day I’ll come around to LOTV. But I doubt it./:)

      Chypre. Look in 10 different places and find 10 different definitions. I think the most traditional definition would include citrus (or bergamot) in the top, and oakmoss in the base, in combo with musk, labdanum, and/or civet. I also see patchouli referenced frequently. But these days, when Miss Dior Cherie is classified as “chypre,” who knows? I say: vote with your nose. The March Definition: bergamot/citrus, oakmoss (absolute requirement) and something stanky.

      • Gina says:

        Ok, this may seem like a stupid question, but here goes…what exactly does oakmoss smell like? Here’s what I think might be oakmoss, and tell me if I’m way off: a sort of mossy, earthy, dry scent that I smell in the base notes of Mitsouko, mostly in the perfume version. Is that the oakmoss, or am I scent-retarded?

        • March says:

          That is an excellent question! And the answer is: I don’t know. Seriously, I’m not a trained perfumer and have never had access to the raw materials. I associate it with that know-it-when-you-smell-it chypre smell, but how much of that aroma is the musk/civet/patch/vetiver, I dunno.

          Patty has that Le Labo Olfactionary or whatever it’s called. Let’s ask her.

  • tmp00 says:

    well, of course most bloggers rave about what they’ve reviewed. It’s far more interesting and fun to write about something that’s nice. If you get a sample of something that’s not so good in a way it’s like telling a new mother her precious darling baby looks like Broderick Crawford and smells wierd. Just seems kind of cruel.

    Of course, the Blue Sugars of the world deserve everything they get….

    must try cradle of light…

    • March says:

      Tom, you would totally love Cradle of Light, it’s got that CBMusk base you and I lurve.

      What puts one off is the $50 price for a 2ml sample…:-“

    • pitbull friend says:

      Tom, generally I think you’re right. But if y’all never reviewed anything you hated, we’d never have that amazing phrase from one of the mystery swaps a few months back: “rubber feet dipped in amber.” (Was that you, Patty? Or March?) One of my fave phrases ever! — Ellen

      • March says:

        Yup. That was me. I’m pretty sure I was talking about Marina’s great love of her life, Marina de Bourbon, which I seriously need to get ahold of and resniff. What if I like it? Because that IS what happened with Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe, which I described on my first attempt as “Rasputin’s armpit” and now enjoy.8-x

  • Robin says:

    So in answer to the MUA complaint, you rave about something DISCONTINUED? That is evil, LOL…

    • March says:

      I know, I know, the irony was not lost on me, either. But I never win one of those bottles on eBay anyway[-( so I just pretend it’s totally unavailable. In which case this post goes in the neener-neener-neener subcategory.

  • violetnoir says:

    Yes, it is quite pretty, March, but sadly discontinued. 🙁

    I love the O’Keefe!


    • March says:

      R — I actually had a different painting vaguely in mind… but when I went googling, that one popped up and I said, that is IT!

  • Teri says:

    I wore Inoui a lot when it was still available in department stores and it’s a gorgeous scent. I hadn’t thought about it in a while so was thrilled to see your post and take a lil walk down memory lane.

    As to it’s similarity to Aliage….I’d say 2nd cousins, twice removed. You can sense that they are in the same family group, but no strong physical resemblance. Hope that helps.

  • Ina says:

    Inoui has the most mesmerizing drydown! I should dig out my sample.
    Completely second your sentiments on blogging about scents that produce a reaction. I can so relate! :d

    • March says:

      Ina, it’s so hard sometimes, when NOTHING gets a reaction. Then what the heck do you do?!?! Oh, well, back to the sample drawer.

      PS That local sniffa coming up in Chicago sounds like fun!

  • donanicola says:

    I have noticed recently that I am beginning to grow into some of the scents I have loved but felt were too old for me. This sounds like it would be right up my alley now. Oh well, scurries off to FF (joy) and ebay (humph). Thanks for a beautiful review March.

    • March says:

      That’s an excellent point. This is definitely a fragrance I wouldn’t have felt I could carry off a few years ago. There’s nothing particularly hifalutin’ about it — but it’s grownup and womanly, and I … wasn’t./:)

  • pitbull friend says:

    March, again with the wondrously vivid descriptions! Although this sounds good, I probably won’t proceed further because I suspect the civet & musk may be animal-derived. So, tell me. Does it have anything in common with Lauder Aliage? There are some notes in common (Aliage = jasmine, citrus, nutmeg, rose, armoise, pine, thyme, oakmoss, vetiver, cedar).

    BTW, I don’t want to get involved in the complexity of swaps, etc. But any possibility we could do some listing on here some time of stuff we’d like to move along? I have some things that I know someone out there loves, but that someone isn’t me. Relax March, no Aquolina! Would prefer to give first dibs to fellow perfumistas before forcing it upon normal folks. –Ellen

    • March says:

      Er… I haven’t smelled Aliage!:”> So I can’t say. Ah, the old “awash in samples” thing! I tend to toss them like candy into whatever I’m mailing out to people. I think Patty leaves them in a bowl at her office, and mails them out as well. I’m too lazy to swap. I don’t know how we’d list stuff on here; maybe we could do a weird post where everyone chimed in? Like a big fat mystery swap? Like those weird gift exchanges when you don’t know what’s in the box, you know?

      • pitbull friend says:

        Oh, March, that would be so funny! I would totally go for that. The rule would be something like — not more than one “dessert-scented” item per package? A friend just made me aware of a site I’m going to make use of. It’s called bookmooch and there is a dot com after that word. You can list books you’re willing to send to anyone interested & you get points when you send them (extra points if international) & you can use the points to mooch books off others OR you can donate them to organizations that provide people with books in prisons, etc. I’m just wondering whether there is a way to adopt that paradigm without getting complicated… Hey, I’d send stuff randomly to y’all if I had your postal addresses… –Ellen

      • Cheri says:

        🙂 OOoooOOO that sounds fun. The only rules would is NO Aqualina, no knock-offs, and no Paris Hilton/Brittany Spears stuff.\:d/

  • Marina says:

    Stop. Stop, stop, stop, stop. I just made myself forget about Inoui, and there you go, breaking my heart again. Don’t go breaking my heart, March.

    • March says:

      Don’t go breakin’ my heart
      I couldn’t if I tried
      Honey if I get restless…
      poke a stick in my eye?

      Is that how that goes? Who IS that, anyway? Olivia Newton John and Elton John? My god. Say it isn’t.

  • Judith says:

    Yeah, this is amazing. Like Elle, I got a small bottle a little while ago on Ebay. I must try it with CoL on my other arm; sounds amazing!

    • Judith says:

      Obviously in my pre-coffee state, hung up on the word “amazing.” Oh , well, it’s deserved here.:)

      • March says:

        J — well, I’m the gal who used the word “thing” three times in a comment up there. Clearly another word I need to extinguish from my vocab, along with “just” and “actually.”:”>

  • Elle says:

    That O’Keeffe is the perfect painting for Inoui! But, like Patty, I can’t understand *why* they would discontinue it. I managed to get a small bottle on ebay not long ago (and not cheaply)after many other unsuccessful attempts since this is *not* one that people ignore on the bay. Hello, Shiseido! There’s still a substantial fanbase out here. PLEASE rerelease this (but do not ref*rm***te).

    • March says:

      Elle — I gave up on bidding. My bids don’t even register. Yeah, definitely it has a hardcore following.

  • chayaruchama says:

    I remember, and loved this one.
    A classic.
    All I know is, if I love it, they discontinue it…
    Story of my life.

    Know what you mean, Marchster, about this and Cradle.
    Glorious, really.
    Sounds like an olfactorily satisfying day- DON’T YOU LOVE THOSE DAYS ?
    Mwah !

    • March says:

      Those are my favorite days! When I can swoon over something and savor it like a new toy. Hey, how did you run across Inoui? Did they carry it at the makeup counters?

  • Patty says:

    The biggest puzzlement to me is… why discontinue this one? It is such a beautiful, classic, deep scent, it should have had a long career. Do people just not appreciate green scents as much? I wonder why?

    Lovely review

    • March says:

      I know, I know! I’d have never tried it if you didn’t send it to me. I am eternally grateful.:x Cannot IMAGINE why they d/cd this, although where could you buy it when it was in production? I never even heard of it before.

  • Louise says:

    How…unprecendented, unheard of; extraordinary, incredible!-yeah, I had to check my translation of Inoui (sans umlaut) before the true francophones got ahold of it. Carmencanada, other ladies and gents-is that close?

    Google also tells me that this d/c fragrance was a joint venture with western European parfumeurs, and was intended as a departure from Shiseido’s usual “oriental” aesthetic-do you agree? Nothing oriental ’bout it?

    March, what a lovely description. I am sorely tempted to try this, though at first glance this is the sort of fragrance that usually scares me. So grown-up. But I know for a fact that I out-age you, so maybe I need to mature? And wasn’t you that first seduced me into a Chanel (BdI)? Devilish, you are.

    The longevity and sillage part really pull me in…I come to beleive that I will love almost anything that I can smell after 20 seconds on me. How crude, sad for me. But this sounds stunning.

    • March says:

      Well …. I’ve read that “departing from Shiseido style” thing before. I’m not convinced. Sure, it’s radically different from the Energizing or Zen things at the makeup counter. (One big difference would be the knock-you-on-your-ass sillage.) But Shiseido’s done some really strong, weird things. Saso and Myth of Saso (P might still have them in the frip) were quite strong, and smelled wonderfully of olive flower, and I know there are others.

      I can’t make any promises about lasting power on you, though!:d Maybe my 9 hours is your 9 seconds…. wah!

    • carmencanada says:

      Louise, I confirm your translation… Wow, that Inoui does sound tempting, doesn’t it? Green… I’m craving green right now. But I’m not letting myself be seduced by a discontinued fragrance, I’m not, I’m not, I’m not!:-“

    • Maria B. says:

      Louise, I want to thank you for the heads-up about PG L’Ombre Fauve. I should have tried that one first of the limited trio. It’s the one I prefer. It’s as wild-animal gorgeous as the name implies. Know that your responses have an avid reader. 😡

  • Lee says:

    I skiped this when my samples came from P: what a fool! I’m off to dig in my sample lake.

    • March says:

      The sample lake!;) I need to reorganize my to-be-sniffed stuff into smaller groups. It’s getting harder to find things.

  • Gina says:

    Lovely post…and I’m jonesing, will definitely order a sample. On the issue that other people are complaining about on MakeupAlley. I often buy unsniffed based on recommendations from you guys and from the lovely people over at Now Smell This, and have never been disappointed. If I ever were, well, I’m sure I could find someone who wanted to swap or I could sell it on Ebay, so I’m not worried.

    Now on to getting myself some Inoui. Sounds like heaven. Cradle of Light sounds amazing, too…

    • March says:

      Gina — it’s available occasionally on eBay, but the bottles usually go for serious $, although there are minis available for less — not cheap, though.

      Yeah, when I have samples I’m not wild for, I just give/swap them away. There’s someone to love each fragrance — except maybe Aquolina Blue Sugar.

      Please consider giving CoL a ride too. Amazing scent.

      • Gina says:

        Ewwww, Aquolina Blue Sugar…very bad.

        March, where have you seen Inoui minis? I’m looking all over the place…I did find a bottle of it on Ebay for about 80. I don’t think it’s the right one, though. It says “This does not smell anything like the 70’s version on Inoui”…what? I’m confused…I think I’ll get a sample from Patty. She’s my enabler.

        Thanks for the CofL suggestion…I do love CB.

      • Gina says:

        It’s ok, March, I did find some minis on ebay, unless you know of a secret stash!:)

        • March says:

          Yep, those EDP minis — frequently on there, 8ml for, oh, $50 or so! (Sometimes less.)