Givenchy : Les Mythiques Givenchy III (2007)

Created by : Jean-François Latty with Raymond Chaillan and Y. Gerrold (1970 version)

Date : 1970/2007

Genre : Green chypre

Concentration : eau de toilette

I brought my bottle of Les Mythiques Givenchy III (2007) out of retirement twice this week to counterbalance a dark Dzongkha which I wore last week for my review. This week I wanted something with more light and I wanted something green to remind me of spring. And because I considered Givenchy III to be my reset button perfume AND my BFF (Best Fragrance Forever), I figured I couldn’t lose. Well… I didn’t lose but I didn’t win either.  For some reason, Givenchy III smells thin to my nose now and maybe even a little more synthetic than I remembered.  I loved the freshly-cut green grass scent over a chypre base and I was still attracted to the big, white soapy note but somehow, it didn’t deliver. On the second day, I layered it with Chanel’s Pour Monsieur and it worked much better… but suddenly Givenchy III was not my BFF anymore. Something was broken.

I’m glad I never wrote about Givenchy III in the past because I probably would have run out of superlatives to describe my love affair with it.  For me, it was the ultimate perfume.  Nothing else came close to it.  But today, it reminds me of this dialogue between Frasier and Niles in the Dinner at Eight episode of Frasier (1993).

Niles: Dad’s so set in his ways.
Frasier: Well, we all are, at some point in our lives. Remember when you used to think the 1812 Overture was a great piece of classical music?
Niles: Was I ever that young?

There is an innocence about treating Givenchy III with such reverence.  Maybe I’ve “grown up”.  To be frank, I now own a bottle of Chanel’s Cuir de Russie and Serge Lutens’ Muscs Koublaï Khän doesn’t smell so dirty afterall… definitely a shift going on in my perfume tastes.

So… I guess I’ll retire Givenchy III and maybe come back to it at some later date.  I’ve read on other blogs that the pre-formulation Givenchy III is far superior to the reformulated one so I guess I’ll have to find a bottle.

In the meantime, my heart is broken… a little.

Image : L’Absinthe (1878) by Edgar Degas

Clinique : Aromatics Elixir

Created by : Bernard Chant

Date : 1971

Genre : Green floral chypre

Concentration : Perfume spray

Very little information is available on the web regarding the great Bernard Chant but we know that he created some incredible perfumes… Cabochard, Azurée, Aramis and the subject of today’s marvel, Aromatics Elixir.

Michael Edwards places Aromatics Elixir in his Dry Woods family (Chypre Cuir in French) and he gives it a green facet which sounds right. The Société Française des Parfumeurs calls it a floral chypre and I think that could be correct as well. And Luca Turin calls it a woody floral! The problem with classifying Aromatics Elixir is that it’s complex and layered and because of the layers, one can read almost anything into Aromatics Elixir… it just depends on which layer you want to focus on. It reminds me of my first use of a microscope and why the image kept changing as I focused on different layers of the object.

Listed notes are a beautiful rose/patchouli accord along with neroli, jasmine, ylang-ylang, oakmoss, musk, amber, sandalwood and more. The overall effect is a strong, wartime chypre… tailored and woolly… no frou-frou, no chiffon. And not surprisingly, a hint of leather lurks among the green and floral notes. It’s all there. I’m even getting a soapy note which might be from the musk. Describing Aromatics Elixir is almost impossible because it has no clear direction. It really is a symphony of accords which is extremely chic and dated but a hell of a lot of fun to wear! It might feel a little “dress-up” but if you’re looking for effect, Aromatics Elixir might be for you.

My only wish is that Clinique would take a page from Thierry Mugler’s songbook and create a lighter, pared-down version of AE, as Mr. Mugler did with his new Angel eau de toilette. Done correctly, an Aromatics Elixir eau de toilette for daytime (or for men) would be a winner.

On a woman, Aromatics Elixir is all business… no fooling around. On a man, it’s the opposite. He smells clean and dirty all at the same time. I think more than a few women could be seduced. So let’s end with THE photo of 1972… the year that Burt Reynolds decided not to show it.

Have a nice week everyone.

Top image : Jacques Fath suit photographed by Henry Clarke (1955)

Bottom image : Burt Reynolds centrefold for Cosmopolitan (1972)

Yardley : Lily of the Valley

Created by : François Coty (?)

Date : 1936 or 1942

Genre : Green floral (lily of the valley)

Concentration : cologne spray

When I asked my mother what she wanted for Mother’s Day awhile back, she surprised me when she asked for Coty’s Muguet des Bois because  I thought that she still wore Guy Laroche’s Fidji and Muguet des Bois was unknown to me.  It took me awhile to find it.  Luckily a department store SA suggested I try a drugstore and there it was… at an unbelievable price.  I bought it for her for several years until I was told that Yardley had licensed the fragrance and the name had changed to Lily of the Valley.  One particular year I simply couldn’t find it and when I called the head office in Ontario to locate their products, they offered to send my mother free-of-charge the cologne spray, the scented soaps and the talc powder.  It was such a wonderful, generous act.  I’ll never forget it.

The original Muguet des Bois was launched by François Coty in 1936 or 1942 depending on your source.  It’s a very green, somewhat jarring lily of the valley but it impressed the great Edmond Roudnitska enough to comment on it…

“I remembered that Coty had a lily that was called Muguet des Bois. No better lily note was ever made.  It pushed the green note of the flower.  As a lily note, it was magnificent.  It was much better than the one I had made myself.  I wondered how they had managed to create such a masterpiece in the Thirties, with so little means.  But it never became very successful, because it wasn’t a perfume one could wear.  So when I made my lily, I told myself that I should not fall into the same trap.  I had to make it into a perfume.”

The current fragrance isn’t round like Roudnitska’s take on lily of the valley, Diorissimo, nor as beautiful.  LotV is more angular and a little difficult to wear.  Dosage is a factor and where you spray it might also be a dealbreaker for you.  I would avoid spraying it too close to the face.  I think it’s fun to wear but it isn’t a shrinking violet and it’s a little loud.  Whether the original Muguet des Bois was wearable or not.. I don’t know… but the current Lily of the Valley by Yardley IS wearable and quite good considering its price.  A librarian friend of mine, Mariouche, wears it and when we kiss hello it smells wonderful on her.  It wakes up your senses… it simply smells like spring.  Just go easy on the atomizer.

Top image : L’ange et la mère by Louis Janmot (1814-1892)

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