Mandragore Pourpre

Mandragore PourpreAs many of you already know, I am a shameless Annick Goutal Mandragore fangirl (actually, I’m pretty much an Annick Goutal fangirl).  Mandragore is one of the few fragrances I wear often enough that I have had to replace the bottle.  So news of the overseas release of Mandragore Pourpre, a flanker, had me all atwitter.  Having gotten my hands on a few precious ml, I’m reviewing it today.

Some people are meh on original Mandragore EDT – the most common complaint I think is its lack of tenacity.  Other people find it a bit urine-y, which I’m assuming is an unhappy result of the boxwood.  I bought my first bottle in Paris, having fallen deeply and totally in love with it, and thus have no complaints about the original whatsoever.  I believe at some point they released an EdP, which would in theory have lasted longer, that was reputed to smell pretty much like the EdT (they don’t always).  If anyone tried the EdP, please chime in.

Mandragore Pourpre’s notes are bergamot, mint, star anise, amber, rosemary, geranium, black pepper, patchouli leaf, myrtle, incense and heliotrope.   (For comparison purposes: the original EDT’s notes are bergamot, black pepper, ginger, spearmint, star anise, boxwood, and sage.)

The fragrances smell enough alike that my mind said Mandragore before I popped the cap off the sample vial.  If you loathed the original, I’m not sure you’re going to like this one.  The first significant difference is that Pourpre starts off richer and sweeter on me, although it’s still very much unisex.*  Gone is much of whatever it is at the top of the EDT that is screechy – quite pleasantly screechy to my nose, unpleasantly so to others.  I’m going to hazard a guess that if you think you might like Mandragore without that urine-y note, you might want to try this one.

Then we go through fifteen or twenty minutes where the anise is much more pronounced on my skin, and this phase I am less delighted with.  It’s not that I’m against anise; but anise is one of those notes that, on me, tends to take over a fragrance, to the detriment of almost anything else interesting that might be going on.  I have a couple of anise frags, thanks very much, and am not looking for more.

Then that goes away, leaving a base that is somewhat richer, rounder and deeper than the original, although rich and deep are pretty relative here – we’re not talking Serge Lutens.  I would describe it as a warmer fragrance than the original, more ambery incense.  It certainly smells less like the freshly-squeezed grapefruit that Mandragore has always made me think of, even though it’s not part of the notes.

How do I like it?  Well… I am not sure.  I tried very hard to think of it as its own separate fragrance, since I’m so fond of the original it seems likely that any flanker will come up wanting in my mind.  And I’ve failed on my original mission.  If the pissy-grapefruit part of the original were unpleasant to me, or if I wanted something less astringent, I think I’d like this very much.  As it is, I found myself longing for the sharp edges of the EDT.

When I first smelled Mandragore, it was on one of those bone-chilling February days in Paris when we kept ducking into shops just to thaw our faces on the way back to our hotel, which is how we’d wound up in the Goutal boutique on Place St Sulpice.  I was only trying things to be polite to the very nice sales associate.  Mandragore was one of the strangest things I’d ever smelled.  I thought it was a little ugly and utterly compelling.  I still go through odd little Mandragore attacks where I’ll be doing something and realize I need to drop everything, run upstairs and put some on.  It would be nice if everyone had a fragrance they felt that way about.

So I’ll stick with the original for now.  For those of you for whom the original was close, no cigar, maybe you’d like this one better?  I assume it’ll show up stateside eventually.  I believe you can get it, like the original, either in the femme round bottle or the big square bottle as shown.

*Unisex.  Clarifying: I am a huge supporter of the idea that everyone can wear any style of scent they like.  Regular readers know I am particularly fond of men wearing very “feminine” things like rose and tuberose scents, which I find wildly sexy.  Fragrance knows no gender boundaries as far as I’m concerned.  So when I use terms like masculine, feminine or unisex when talking about fragrance, I am in no way suggesting that those scents should be bought and applied based on stereotype.  I’m simply trying to convey in our imperfect scent-language how the fragrance feels to me in terms of traditional styles of perfumery.

  • Joe says:

    Sounds like I can stop dying to try this (I already almost forgot about it). Like you, I LURVE the original and just wish it lasted a tad longer. It really was something I needed to have as soon as I smelled the sample I got in a swap. So if this shows up at my local Nordies I may do a ten-spritz job right there at the counter just to get the full effect. I also wouldn’t mind tracking down a little of the EdP to try also.

  • Christine says:

    On me the Mandragore Pourpre was completely herby with the gorgeous geranium note being most dominant. I’ve been waiting and waiting for it to become available somewhere in the US. Now that I’ve waited this long I think it’s going to sit at the tippy top of my Christmas List.

    • March says:

      I assume it will show up here eventually, and I’ll retry it then, when I have more juice to play with. Maybe it will be loooove.

  • Robin says:

    Oops, wrong gravatar. Will have to watch my email address.

    • March says:

      I had the wrong email address (with NO gravatar), you should have seen me trying to figure out how to add it. I almost emailed you. :d

      • Robin says:

        So many of us have multiple email addresses…that makes the gravatar system confusing! Love the nifty “notify me of follow-up comments” system.

        • March says:

          I think what happened to me was it takes a bit of time (?) for the gravatar system to add the new email. so I kept thinking I’d done it wrong but there it was. The comments notify I assume is an add-on, but since I didn’t do the changes… well, you know. :”>

  • Robin says:

    Isn’t it a relief not to love something you’ve been dying to smell? Like crossing another thing off a very long list.

    • March says:

      Well, that’s one way of looking at it! I suppose … I love the original SO MUCH, and I wish this were a hair less anisic on me. But if/when it shows up locally, I’ll try drenching myself and see how I feel about it. Who knows, maybe it’ll be love.

  • sweetlife says:

    OK, first, I have to say I’m finding it really disorienting to hear/see these witty, calm, gentle comments coming out of the mouths of angry stars and bitter squares and so on. If anyone wants a gravatar you can go here:

    It’s fun! It’s easy! (No, really, it’s not that hard.) You can have more than one! I’m not sure why it’s easier to see a comment from a bunny or a flower or a famous painting, but…

    As for Mandragore–I love your description of it March. I fell for it this summer and my DH and I kept a mini out on the dresser to share all through our two months of triple-digit temps. We used it almost medicinally. Sometimes I sprayed the sheets with it, and that was nice (if extravagant) too. The Poupre sounds great though–I think we might need both! (Love cream of tomato soup…)

  • violetnoir says:

    I’m ready for this one, baby! I adore the original, and the body cream is divine, with excellent lasting power.

    And…I love the purple bottle!

    Hugs and love!

    • March says:

      I know!!! And we are having a big purple moment this fall. It’s nice to be on trend for once, ya know?!? I really want a purple handbag.

  • Francesca says:

    I always thought the original Mandragore was kind of boring. Not what I expected from the name. But I gave it another shot on a recent quite cold day and liked it a lot more than I ever have.

    • March says:

      I always liked the name but felt that it did a disservice to the fragrance, because many people would expect something more interesting with that fabulous name. They should have called it Pamplemousse or whatever. But for what it is, it is perfect. 😡

      • Shelley says:

        I think they should call it “Eau, You Probably Won’t Like It,” which would cause all the contrarians to spritz out of spite. And then feel like they are in a secret society of knowing noses.

        Not that I’d enjoy being that kind of contrarian. ;))

  • Abyss says:

    I’m not a fan of AG in general and, judging by the notes, I assumed that this one wouldn’t be for me but a SA gave me a sample so I wore it recently.

    I never tried the original Mandragore so I can only judge this one on its own merits but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It opened with green citrus (bergamot?) and geranium with a touch of pepper and then mint and anise took the centre stage. The drydown was a dull-ish woody citrus but it took several hours to get there.

    I agree that it’s very much unisex, I think it would be great on a guy. It comes as surprise to me (not in the least because I normally dislike anise) but I’m contemplating buying a bottle come summer. It lasted really well considering how light it is and I think that it would make a great discreet daytime scent for warmer months.

    • March says:

      It seems to me that some people get a lot more anise on their skin than others (or can smell it more.) I do agree that it lasts really well considering the weight, which I’d say about the original on me, anyway. And to me Mandragore sits with the stranger AG fragrances, not with the girlier ones that most people probably think of initially (like Passion).

  • veuve amiot says:

    Going by notes alone, that one has my name all over it! (Minus the patch. Is the patch very prominent at all?) Of course, that bottle WOULD have my name all over it if I weren’t too poor to care what’s inside.

    • March says:

      I don’t find the patch prominent, but then patch doesn’t bother me … it definitely doesn’t have that headshop patch vibe. I’d say more amber-incense.

  • Shelley says:

    Indeed, a holiday has our house all sleepy and cozy, and given the winter-ish chill we’ve been having around here the past few days, methinks it will be difficult to roust the not-so-wee bairn. (Lest you think I am cruel, we are scheduled to go someplace cool…)

    So, Poupre is … different, yes … anistically challenging … more, and yet less, than Mandragore. Hmm. I also very much like the original; I love how it’s more complex than a cologne, it goes someplace, and yet is not something that requires me to stop before applying and review: “Now, am I *really* going to be able to handle this today?” Because whether I want to smell good, have an interesting something to snurfle, feel refreshed, or feel finished, Mandragore does it for me.

    I like the idea of having a “Mandragore reduction” (a la cooking), but it would be tricky to make it work right. Sounds like it didn’t quite succeed for you.

    Random poetry was *awesome.* Loved popping in and finding that. 😡

    • March says:

      Winter chill here today as well! 😡 Well, fall-ish. Of course winter drops on y’all like a ton of bricks (or snow), here not so much. I do need to get the twins’ winter clothing out though, they are not appropriately attired. :”>

      The Mandragore reduction… that’s a great expression. I think you feel about it the same way I do…. so using another food analogy, yes, in theory this is a more condensed, seamless presentation, and yet I think I prefer the raw original. If Mandragore is gazpacho, Pourpre is cream of tomato soup, and much as I like tomato soup, my heart belongs to gazpacho. Is that silly? :*

      • Shelley says:

        Not silly at all! When it’s right, it’s right. I like me a good creamy potato broccoli soup (with cheese, even!), but sometimes the minestrone is what is right.

        Have I beaten this up yet? 😕


    • March says:

      And yes PS that is another thing I love about Mandragore — I *never* have to stop and think, will I regret this?

  • Fiordiligi says:

    Oh! Good morning. Looks like I’m the first to comment. I tried the Mandragore Pourpre in Liberty’s a while back when it was an exclusive to them; I wanted to love it – certainly the bottle is the most glorious colour (ahem – shallow) – but found it horribly rooty and oddly spicy and not at all to my taste. Maybe fans of the original (of which I’m not one) will have more to say about the new one, but it isn’t ever going to make a convert of me I’m afraid.

    Reminds me of my school Shakespeare “and get with child a mandrake root.”

    • hongkongmom says:

      mmm…i was going to be first, but then decided not to, cause all i could think of was the “lottery thingy” and if it is legit?8-|8-|mmmm….a couple of extra bucks…mmm
      Mandragore Pourpre..i really enjoy/appreciate it but only to smell…not to wear. I haven’t smelled the original and therfore didn’t find it at all sweet…for me it felt cool, earthy…and may work better for me in summer.

      • March says:

        We’re legit, I think everyone’s sleeping in, resting up for the sales, it’s a holiday today. I think in general people would find Mandragore (the original) more appealing in summer, although for me obviously it wound up being seasonless. It’s a strange thing. I’m not surprised how many people dislike it.

    • March says:

      Yes, my review today must be crap… 😉 no seriously, it’s a holiday here today (although not for me.) My guess is that people are sleeping in and will be by later, or not. Maybe they’ll all be going to the sales. :d

      Nothing wrong with shallow! There are things i want just for the bottle… I love that poem. I should have posted it on yesterday’s poetry post.

      • Musette says:

        WHAT HOLIDAY? We don’t have no steenkin’ holiday!:((

        Gotta rush through a reply here – I like Mandragore, at least I recall liking it when I first tried it – will go back (I’m perfumenude right now, perfect opportunity!)

        Will get back to you!

        xoxo >-)

        • March says:

          Yes, no rest for the wicked. /:) None over here either. Didja try it? Perfume nekkidity?!? I am 😮

          • Musette says:


            can you believe I was nekkid all day? so weird. but with one thing and another….it was just a wack day. Off to Chicago tomorrow to deal with family stuff – I think I’m going to wear Emeraude. Comfy.

            xo >-)

          • March says:

            Emeraude is the perfect choice. I will be thinking of you. Have a good trip. @};-