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