Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire – Part 2

I got my hands on another sampler pack of the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire perfumes, so we will have a draw today for two sets of samples of all six of the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinare scents. Just drop a comment in and you’ll be entered.

There have been some great reviews of Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Bois d’Iris from VCACE (just abbreviating this).  Robin covered it, as did Octavian.  Iris and I have been constant companions for years. It is one of two notes that surprised me when I first got serious about perfume. The other note is violet.  Who knew I would grow to love those two notes so much when I’d never really thought about either of them for decades.

Notes for Bois d’Iris are sweet notes, frankincense, iris, driftwood, vetiver, ambergris, labdanum, myrrh, vanilla.  After all the iris perfumes I have known and loved – Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, Dior Homme, TDC’s Bois d’Iris, Chanel Bois des Iles – it never occurred to me that I could find another that was unique enough to add to my all-star iris lineup.  VCA did just that.  Bois d’Iris floats, but constantly calls up earthy components, so it never feels disembodied or ghost-like.  There’s a saltiness from the ambergris, joined by the smoky incense and wood that is warm and just whispers around the nose.  Although it has vanilla in it, which is noticeable, this is a far cry from a gourmand.  If you’re an iris lover, just go buy it, you’ll thank me later.  Everyone says it doesn’t stick around, and I just didn’t find that to be true.  As with all the VCAs, they emote softly and for a nice length of time on me.  So while I don’t get the whole when pressing my nose up to my skin, this one also just wafts as I walk.  I do get the smell of woody incense on the skin all the way through.  It’s persisted on my skin or in wafting for 4+ hours, which is pretty good in perfume years.

Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Muguet Blanc

My father’s funeral was right before Christmas. Overnight it had misted and frozen all those droplets of water to the trees, the house, the grass.  I walked outside that morning, bundled up against that cold.  It was so cold, my tears would have frozen, if I’d had any left  The sun hit the blanket of tiny icicles covering the world, and the light exploded, shattering my pain in a blinding moment of beauty, leaving it forever etched in my head as the second in my life when sorrow and hope existed perfectly side by side without judgment or regret.

Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Muguet Blanc made me think of that second. It is breathtaking, its opening the perfect note soaring into the air on a cold winter day, something that feels like it shouldn’t exist, contrasts of cold and sweet and wood — conjuring up spring in your head where no spring exists.  As it dries down, it warms and softens into the skin and loses the chilliness. Notes of lily of the valley, peony, neroli and cedar are pretty simple, but rendered elegant.

It’s a stunnah.  And this last and lasts and emotes fairly loudly.  The first time I spritzed it on, the whole house knew in 3 minutes that a new perfume had arrived, they were all looking for it.  Several hours in, it’s still wafting and drifting and just being lovely.

A note on the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire perfumes that I got wrong before. It is $185 for 75 mls, which is 15 more mls than I thought was in the bottle.  That’s a better price point per ml, a little over $2 a ml.  You know.  I don’t have to say it anymore, do I?  If $200 is the new $100, then these are a bargain.

I’ve been thinking about this whole wafting thing.  Does anyone else notice that about a perfume?  There are some that it is hard to really get a nose-bead on if you snuffle where you sprayed it, but if you just walk through a room, you get the full effect. I often wonder if perfumers try perfumes that way to what kind of trail they have, or are some just a happy accident?  I adore the wafters, which I think of as different from sillage monsters. To me, sillage monsters are the ones that are overpowering and big. Wafters aren’t necessarily strong, but you don’t get how beautiful the perfume is until you smell it trailing off of someone.  I’d far rather a great wafter than about anything else.  I think it’s that effect of leaving ambience behind you that tickles a person’s sense, and they usually have no idea where it came from, they just know it is beautiful, and then it’s gone.

  • Woody3D says:

    The Muguet Blanc is like Tangible Mystical Candy. I am a Man who uses it as a sleeping potion / pillow spray. I jjdt bought the Gardenia Petal and it is even better. These are made of the ingredients Ancient WARS used to be fought over,… Kings and Queens, Cleopatra and now; —> Us Darling,.. (just kkdding i’m not a fem man..) but a funny one! No need to enter me – I have my 2 Favs 😉 I’m stopping there,.. I was also going to buy Champaca Absolute in the new 3.4OZ size today (for $260) but I found a 1.7oz on for $138.00,, Keeps your eyes out there, the guy had 4, I did something, came back and there was one left! I’ve never typed a credit card number so fast!

    Woody (yes with that name I LOVED GUCCI Homme I) LOL

    I spray La Prarie Midnight Rain into lightbulbs in my house.. I probably spend more on fragrance than any straight man alive! Artists’s need, Ambience,… ;~)

  • Acaislim says:

    They sound really intriguing and beautiful, and honestly I´eve never tried anything from Van Clef & Carpel before. So I would love to be entered in the draw. Thank you.

  • ula says:

    I remember Kenzo – Jungle Elephant as being a really diligent wafter. One of my friends wears it frequently and every time we would meet in a bar, the scent would be two steps ahead of her and after she’d leave, you could still smell that she was there 10 minutes after she left. magic!

  • Wendi says:

    I trekked over to Neimans this weekend to smell this and you are so right about Muguet Blanc! I loved it and my husband did too on first sniff which is unusual. It might be my favorite in the line, but the Bois d’Iris and the Orchid Vanille are very very close seconds.
    I’m soooo with you on the Iris and Violet; those were the first two I feel in love with in the beginning too. In fact, this reminds me that I’m out of La Violette…. 😉

  • dremybluz says:

    such a lovely review. thanks. add me to the draw

  • Ssy says:

    The Muguet Blanc sounds incredible, I’ve been looking for a new lily of the valley scent and this might be it. You wouldn’t happen to know if and where these might be found in Toronto?

  • Dana says:

    These sound lovely and I would appreciate being entered in the draw.

  • Mikael says:

    These sound like must-sniffs, please do enter me in the draw, thanks!

  • pyramus says:

    Yeah, what’s the deal with the comments? Technology is supposed to make our lives easier!

    Anyway. I keep trying iris scents and they keep telling me “OH HELL NO”, and I don’t know why. (Iris and old-school patchouli are the two things I have never been able to wear.) They always inspire a feeling that ranges from revulsion to disinterest (although I have some that have an iris component which, as long as it isn’t the centrepiece, doesn’t bother me).

    Oh, well. There are thousands of other scents that will deign to let me wear them.

  • sunnlitt says:

    Your description of Muguet Blanc just sounds lovely.
    Please enter me in the draw.

  • CynthiaW says:

    Ooh… I hope that I’m not too late to enter – this is the first time I’ve been able to get to the comments in two days! I’m sure that it’s driving you guys nuts having the blog go up and down.

  • Karen G says:

    My comment from yesterday seems to have vanished, but I’d love to be entered in the draw, as all these VCAs sound great.(Bois d’Iris has my name all over it) Thank you!

  • ggs says:

    I’ve never tried this line. Loved the photos you chose for the review too. Very evocative 😉

  • KathyT says:

    I am cautiously optimistic about these fragrances, so please enter me into the drawing.


  • mals86 says:

    (Tried to post three separate times yesterday, but was having difficulty… hope things are up and running smoothly now, 🙂 )

    I had decided not to test these (budget, budget), but you make them sound so tempting, Patty, that I’m beginning to think that I must. Please add me to the draw. And thanks very, very much for the heartfelt reviews. It is pure magic when a scent can touch your emotions so strongly, and you express it so beautifully.

  • london says:

    I’d love to be in the draw. Thank you. You are making these sound so much better than I ever dared to hope.

  • Lee says:

    Love to you, P. Been so busy that this is my first visit here this week to read. I’ve missed out on a LOT of interesting stuff…


  • Sunnyfunny says:

    …k, I was playing around with symbols and didn’t mean to come up with the devil face…. 😮

  • Sunnyfunny says:

    I’ve tried three iris ‘fumes, Hiris, Iris Taizo, and TDC’s Bois d’Iris. I seem to have a real problem holding on to certain florals and these are no exception– they’re gone by four hours. I think they’re all pretty, somewhat intriguing. There’s a carroty, rooty thing at the very beginning of each that trips me out a bit, makes me go hmmm….>:) I’m not sure they’re my thing, but I couldn’t begin to tell you why!

    Your description of Muguet Blanc is beautiful. It reminds me a little of my initial experience with Joy, bitterness being overtaken by beauty. You never lose the bitter, but it makes the beauty all the more outstanding.

  • Annelie says:

    They sound really intriguing and beuatiful, and honestly I´ve never tried anything from Van Cleef & Arpels before. So I would love to be entered in the draw. Thank you. 🙂

  • Kim says:

    definitely interested in the draw
    and I completely agree with you about the wafting – that is part of what I love about Chanel No 19 – it wafts off me and I catch a sniff as I move through a room and think “Yum, what is that great iris” and it’s the No 19!

  • Flora says:

    No need to enter me, I just got the samples, and I totally agree about the Muguet Blanc, it’s a real stunner, just perfectly executed. I wore the Bois d’Iris today, thought it would get too sweet at first but it held the line and turned into a lovely mossy and woody violet that lasted all day, I am sold on it, and all of them so far! 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    Please enter me in the draw – I love Iris scents…

  • Janet in CA says:

    Muguet Blanc sounds perfect. Please enter me.

  • Joe says:

    “Just buy it, you’ll thank me later.”

    Oh yeah. Right. Bwahaha. Unfortunately $185/75ml is *not* my new free. 😉 But I looooovvvve me some iris. After Robin’s review of this yesterday, I wore DS&Durga Orris Root today and I am definitely in lust with that thing; so glad I bought a bottle. It’s edible! I’m also a huge fan of the Different Company Bois and am lemming a big decant of the DelRae Mythique.

    But of course I want to try this VC&A, so yes I’d love to be in the draw. The other one I’m curious about in the set is the Lys because I’ve been on a big lily kick for the last couple months.

    Beautiful bit of writing about your father’s funeral, btw. Thanks.

  • Sharon says:

    I once saw someone wearing a t-shirt saying, “Protect me from what I want.” I should find that shirt and wear it while I’m thinking of these because I want, I want, I want!! I would love to be entered into the draw.

    • Sharon2 says:

      PS I’m a different Sharon from the one three spots above. Sorry Sharon the First, I did not see your post before I posted mine. From now on I will sign as Sharon2.

  • chasa says:

    I’m drooling over these after reading both your and Robin’s reviews! Gah, I wish I had more discretionary income — I know where it would be going. Please do enter me in the sample draw…possibly unwise because I’m sure if I had samples, I’d only want them more 🙂

  • Neens says:

    Gosh, I’m probably too late, but I would love to be entered in the drawing. I’ve got to stop reading about this collection or i’m a goner and so is my money.

  • Sharon says:

    I love the description of the iris perfume and would love to be entered in the drawing.

  • Eric says:

    Wow,the news just keeps getting better and better! Being the iris hound I am, I simply cannot wait to try my luck with the VCACE (I’m with you on the abbreviating all the way. ;3). I was in range today but I had things to do. Maybe Friday I’ll go scentless and home in on them.

    I would love to be entered in the draw but, since I live so close to an NM I might be able to score on my own. Are they giving them away like candy? What’s the policy?

    Also, I had the strangest notion that these were 50ml as well, which was over my budget. But these are cheaper per ml than SL’s export line by a little more than three cents (totally typed up “scents.” It’s really getting into my brain!) per ml. And if I’d pay for SL, I don’t see what makes these any different. Though I’d definitely refrain from a full bottle. Splitting might be in my future if I fall in love.

    Ramble over. xP

    • Eric says:

      First off: These are $190 at my Neimans. I wonder what that’s about. And no samples were to be had, so I got blotters. I can’t wait to try some of these on my skin.

      I threw the blotter for VO away. It was nice but it was very vanillic-candy; nothing I need.

      Muguet Blanc is just gorgeous, like soft, cold down pillows woven with flowers. I really need to try this on my skin.

      The blotter is kind of disappointing for Bois d’Iris. It’s quite nice, an icy iris atop dark wood and just a hint of vanilla. Actually, as I type this, I become more enamored.

      Gardenia Petale is wonderful too! They should definitely come up with some sort of travel set.

      I hope you get to the other two before my blotters fade! ;D

  • Lynne1962 says:

    What a beautiful expression of feelings and perfume. Brought tears to my eyes! My Dad’s almost 90,,WW2 vet,,and every time I look at him I try to embed that picture in my mind,,for it be the last! I caught a whiff of Cinnabar (esp. the clove) the other day,,,and it brought my Mom back to mind as it was her signature scent.
    Anyway,,,I’d love to be in the drawing,,,if it’s not too late 🙂

  • maitreyi1978 says:

    I love the way you describe the muguet one! Please enter me in the draw.

  • HollyGolightly says:

    Heartbreakingly lovely juxtaposition of sorrow and hope… and how otherworldly Muguet Blanc must be, to strike such a chord for you. That’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?

    • Patty says:

      yeah, I think it is. Sometimes things are just beautiful or evocative, but when they can make you flash back to a strong emotion/time/place, that’s when it really pulls everything there is. And it did that for me, but I wouldn’t expect anyone else to feel that way about it, except it’s really gorgeous. 🙂

  • mharvey816 says:

    Me, me, me! Please put me in the draw! I sniffed most of these at NM a few weeks back when they sent me a $50 gift card and I stupidly thought it would be good for beauty products (it wasn’t, damn them) because that’s the only way I could buy even one of these at $185 a pop. But I would lurve to have samples of all of them just to inhale and dream about for the future.

    • Patty says:

      Oh, no!!! Did you get the little sample set from them? When I ordered something a couple of days ago, the set didn’t come up as a choice, so maybe it depended on how much you spent, or maybe it was just a promotion that ran out. It was a GREAT little free sample set, even though I wound up dumping the first set it sprayers for testing. They’re MUCH better sprayed.

  • Natalie says:

    Gosh, what a beautiful description of that icy morning… Do you wonder if you would have been so blown away were it not for the backdrop of pain and sadness — i.e. the shadows helping you see the light?

    These VC&As are sounding better and better, and I would love to be entered in the drawing for them — thank you!

    • Patty says:

      yeah, I think it’s when two extremes hit you and manage to not collide and knock you off your feet that impacts you the most. I’ve seen icy mornings like that lots of times before, and just thought it was beautiful, but it wasn’t profound. Since then, though, every time we get one of those crystalline landscapes, my heart soars. I always thought it was a message from my dad, something beautiful and fairly uncomfortable (freezing cold!), that was just his nature.

  • tmp00 says:

    I love that description “Wafters”. I had that happen at Barneys with an SA was walking away from me. She gave a little puff of deliciousness: Clair de Musc

    • Patty says:

      Clair de Musc deserves much more love, it is a glorious wafter, so subtle and unassuming, but just a delight to smell as it goes by.

  • Margot says:


    An exquisite memory, so very beautifully described.
    Muguet Blanc must be wonderful, to evoke those feelings.
    Thank you for your words.

    • Patty says:

      I really do love it, probably more so in the first 15 minutes than any other part, though it’s pretty charming all the way through.

  • Datura5750 says:

    Oh Lordy, this set is going to cost me….

    • Patty says:

      Maybe not!!! You may just find them beautiful, but not be compelled to buy. That has happened for lots of people. Depends on how your like your florals and if you like them with that elegant Van Cleef patina on them. I mean, I do, but I couldn’t imagine that they would be charge-worthy for lots of people.

      So hold out hope! And Robin mentioned they may have coffrets at the Van Cleef stores. I’m not exactly sure where a Van Cleef store is, but I think I need to find out!

  • tammy says:

    The juice review was wonderful, but you got my heart with your description of the morning of your father’s funeral….thank you.

    • Patty says:

      Oh, thanks. There are so few of those moments in life that you can recall so clearly, and almost all of them are associated with intense emotion of all sorts.

      I think I’ve run through them all on this blog! 🙂

  • hongkongmom says:

    ok stop now..pleeese on each arm is a swirling around…i am walking away from my computer right now

  • hongkongmom says:

    oh no…just finished reading the muguet..i am dooooomed
    i think you are so lucky to have a achieved such an intensly deep moment of ur life in a perfume….although i am not a big muguet fan…i need desperately to smell this…

  • hongkongmom says:

    btw the sky photo is increadible…i might need to use it as reference for a new painting…

  • hongkongmom says:

    oh yes..i’de far prefer a great wafter, than anything else..when you turn your head around and there it is.. a moment of increadible beauty that gives a single taste of utter peace…

    iris is a great love that somehow i don’t wear that much, but adore smelling…i have the prada no 1, infusion d’iris, h’iris’ dior h’omme…i imagine it is because it is such an ephemeral smell for me that it keeps my already dreamy head in the clouds…i need a more grounding/down to earth, edgy/comforting smells to keep me navigating through our G-d given awesome world with all it’s challanges!!! I guess I could spray them on unassuming guests and get to smell them on others…

    So here’s a question..if u were to choose between this (ihave to smell and have this, after reading your awesome review)VCAA Bois de Iris, or finally, the DH will be in France and maybe….he will lovinginly get me ISM (never smelled or sampled…but there is no Iris I don’t like and I love Lutens!!!) Oh Yes.. the question. WHat would u choose? Bois de Iris or Iris Silver Mist?

    • Patty says:

      Oh, dear, that’s really tough. ISM is a huge fave of mine, but it is rooty and earthy and very different on the open. But! It does have this delicate spicy drydown that just enchanted me.

      Have you smelled ISM? I’d really recommend sniffing it first before buying it. It’s gorgeous, but may be an acquired taste. The VCA Bois d’Iris is gorgeous as well, but more refined, I guess. ISM is jam to the top with Iris. VCA has a lot of other things rolling around.

      So it really depends on your taste. if you’re near a Neiman marcus, dash out and check out the VCA. If you find it too floral and civilized for an iris, then ISM is more likely what you would prefer.

      I love them both for different reason. It’s like pork chops, you can serve them lots of ways, but there’s not a bad pork chop. 🙂

      • carter says:

        Seconding Patty on her recommendation to sample ISM first. It is one of my favorite fumes, but it can be very challenging and can be quite hard to love.

      • carter says:

        Seconding Patty on her recommendation to sample ISM first. It is one of my favorite fumes, but it can be very challenging and can be quite difficult to love.

      • carter says:

        Seconding Patty on her recommendation to sample ISM first. It is one of my favorite fumes, but it can be very challenging and quite difficult to love.

  • Musette says:

    What a lovely post! Just lovely, that description of Muguet Blanc. I’m still largely anosmic to iris but can smell muguet on Pluto! Gotta try this! Pick me! Pick meeee!

    or not… only Fickle Fate can tell

    xoxo >-)

    • Patty says:

      I think this is just a great muguet scent. I still remember a time early on that I called Lotv Satan’s flower. Just hated it, not sure why, but I hated the classic Diors too. No accounting for taste. 🙂

  • Erin T says:

    Please enter me in the draw – I’m intrigued by ALL of these, a rare thing. They’re getting such applause from a variety of bloggers. So, a hard question – which is your fave, P?

    • Patty says:

      Erin, I’m not sure!! I like most of them for completely different reasons, and I’d happily wear any of the four I’ve spent time with so far. I think it depends on the season, mood, time of day. And I have to tell you, having one on one arm and another on another is really a slice. Two floral olfactory concoctions in stereo swirling around is pretty damn great.

  • carter says:

    Uh-oh. Between these and Lumiere Noir Pour Femme (and probably the Pour Homme, too. Sigh.) I all aquiver. I just hope it isn’t too obvious ;). Hat me, please!

    • Patty says:

      I know, I am dying to get my mitts on those FKs. I’ll be interested to see what you think of these. I saw Louise comment elsewhere that she admired them, but they aren’t for her, which sounds about right to me.

  • Denise S. says:

    I have to try these, I’ll hunt them down at Neimans and Saks this weekend.The olny iris perfume I own and love is L’Artisan’s Iris Pallida which is slightly woody to me. Is Bois d’Iris similar to Iris Pallida at all?Lily of the valley isn’t usually my thing but after your description I will give Muguet Blanc a try!

    • Patty says:

      I wouldn’t put Iris Pallida as the closest thing to VCA Bois d’Iris. The vanilla starts to move it more to Guerlain’s Iris Ganache’s direciton, but not a gourmand at all. IP is in the other room, but isn’t it much more rooty? This definitely is not a rooty Iris, though it has some of those qualities. if your iris love is definitely in the rooty iris camp, I’m not sure this one would work for you, but they should be at at least NM if not Saks and are worth a sniff.

      They’re unabashedly florals, and I can’t imagine they’ll work for everyone, but the construction is really lovely.