Jaded

The flawless green perfume is something that I keep looking for year after year.  In a perfect world, there would be one fabulous, gem like scent a year to ooh and ahh over, but in this cold world of hot button politics, that’s not the case.

Green perfumes are not in right now.  The closest thing to a green hit that I can think of is Patricia de Nicolai’s Le Temps d’une Fête.  Everything else is just not a hit, or is not green. There are plenty of people out there who love green perfumes, but not enough it seems to spawn a genuine blockbuster.  Chanel No 19, which is sort of a paradigmatic green fragrance, remains a rarified taste, and both Private Collection and Alliage, are not the same formulas they were when introduced.

Two famous old green perfumes were recently reformulated, and I got to smell both of them.

The first is Ivoire.  If you remember Ivoire, then you remember the early eighties.  I associate it with my sister, who wore it in rotation in her late teens with Anais Anais.  Her whole room smelled of the combination, and it was, like her, terminally pretty.  All she wanted to do was dance, and the perfumes seemed to underscore that simple ambition, and moonwalk with her.

Ivoire was elegant, and fairly uncomplicated though the notes claimed the customarily crowded eighties line-up: galbanum lemon, aldehydes, roses, lily of the valley, hyacinths, jasmine, geranium, iris, carnation, orchid over cedarwood, musk sandalwood, oakmoss and rather improbably raspberry all smushed together in one bottle like a bunch of co eds in a VW. This flash mob did not translate to the perfume, which thinned them out to a decorous pale jade. As a fragrance, I preferred it myself to the faux Madonna lily scent of Anais Anais.

The new Ivoire does smell very roughly like the original to me. It is pleasant enough, with most of the greenery in the front of the bouquet, and a synthetic rose that reminds me faintly of the current Chloe, with maybe some muguet thrown in there.  I’m not a fan in particular, but new Ivoire should function well enough for those who are not demanding about verdancy. On a color scale from Forest to Celadon this one is closer to Celadon than Kelly.  In a pinch, I’d still take the older Ivoire.

The other reformulation is Silences.  Now this one is a cult favorite, and even more remarkably, it is an international cult favorite.  I’ve smelled the original, but no longer remember all that much about it.  The notes from my old H&R Guide suggest that Silences is actually fairly close to Ivoire, but the scent contains orange blossom in the head, and a simpler heart, mostly orris root, rose and jasmine, over an oakmoss dominated base.

Silences is of its time, which means that when I smell it, the early seventies come back to me rather vividly.  If you were born after that time, it will smell dated to you at first, but because it is such a popular scent, and indeed such a classic among green perfumes, I’d give it a little time.  Silences is a preferred Mals selection (see her post about the reformulation), and is neither hard to find nor very expensive in the old formulation yet.

The new one surprised me by how respectful it was.  Generally now when something is re-done, it’s a do over that brings the perfume up to present standards and  sometimes up to present clichés as well.  This one is really very like the seventies original in its tone, and I wore it all day without feeling that I was wearing a reformulation.  Go figure.

On the green scale, it is closer to Spring Green than Fir, that is quite green, but not as strident as many green scents. I’ll admit to not being able to wear it myself because it makes me feel like I am caught in a time warp, but it is lovely.

Of the two I choose neither.  If I had to go with a recent green, I think I’d choose Caron’s L’Accord 119, because of its spectacular originality and its sophistication.  But that’s my oddball taste, and not to be imposed on anyone else.  These greens are green enough for an era that associates Green with Politics and pool tables and not with the open meadows.

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16 thoughts on “Jaded

  1. Aliage is an old favorite, it was my signature scent for a time when I was in college.

    I would love to love green scents, but have a problem with galbanum – it turns into insect repellent on my skin, and becomes more obnoxious than Off! I had to toss my Ivoire for that reason. Since galbanum is an important part of green fragrances, many, if not most, are off limits for me. I have the reformulated Vent Vert, which I find pleasant (although I know it’s anathema to those who loved the original). When I wear it, I dab on some of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ Vent Vert Type in oil, which jazzes it up.

    Interesting that you found L’Accord 119 to be green; when I smelled it, I got a lot of spice and berries!

    • Ah Aliage or Alliage depending on where you were! My sister and Mother in Law both wore that. My Mom in Law would call it “Clean Socks” as in, “What are you wearing?” ” Clean Socks!”
      Vent Vert I only ever knew in the 90′s, and it was changed by then, I’ll bet the DSH is closer to the original. As for L’Accord 119, that has cassis in it and blackberries, which always smell green to me, never mind the fact that as you say, galbanum is the gold standard in green head notes. Cassis and blackberries say Mid-summer to me, nice warm Mid-summer and not November!

  2. I went looking for a green fragrance last summer at the request of The Engineer, who wanted me to find something that “smelled like grass.” I eventually ended up with a trio of greens that hit the spot for me; Silences, Heure Exquise, and Bel Respiro. There were some semi-finalists that won respect as well, AG’s Eau de Camille is lovely, and Robert Piguet’s is the bitterest, driest green I’ve ever smelled. Strangely enough, PdN’s Le Temps d’une Fete simply doesn’t seem green to me, I got beautiful spring flowers instead (and bought a bottle).

    Just yesterday I was trying Fleur No. 1 by 1000 Flowers, and was struck with its beauty. It’s got an initial galbanum blast similar to Silences, but that fades quite quickly into a stunning hyacinth/narcissus heart that reminds me a lot of Le Temps d’une Fete. I am seriously considering buying the 15ml size today.

    • Well, I certainly understand why you went with all of those, Heure Exquise is a lovely thing, and so is Bel Respiro, so is Silences,come to that, but it does smell of its era. Le Temps is a closed book to me-how odd-everyone else loves it. Perhaps it’s the price I pay for smelling green in L’Accord 119 instead of fruitiness.
      Not seen 1000 flowers around here, but do remember Christopher Brosius’ Cradle of Light, a narcissus floral that wowed me. Unfortunately so did the price, so I don’t own a bottle. Drat!

  3. “Terminally pretty,” and “all she want[ed] to do [was] dance,”… SOMEbody remembers their Eagles/Glenn Frey…

    I have yet to smell that Silences refo, but I’m pondering buying a bottle unsniffed anyway. Greenies generally do me good. Though I admit to being baffled by Vent Vert (the 90s refo parfum, judging by the packaging) – it was SO muguet-rose-jasmine, and I found it rather dull. I don’t know if I’d still perceive it that way or not; I passed on my ebay score to a friend, and he’s used it all up. I was an elementary school student in the early 70s, and my mother was into aldehydic florals or floral musks, not green scents, so perhaps they seem less dated to me than they would to many people.

    I did not do well with Ivoire, which seems far more orange-blossomy to me than Silences; Ivoire might as well have been Ivory soap + moss, IMO. The drydown was really lovely, but I didn’t enjoy suffering through that soap+moss stage to get to it.

    As far as shades of green go, I am very fond of the lighter, yellower ones like spring green and apple green; I like olive if I don’t have to wear it. Kelly green fills me with a kind of horror-of-preppies, and dark forest green depresses me. Chamade and Le Temps d’une Fete are very much dappled yellow-green in my mind, and I love them awf’lly. No. 19 is more of a silvery eau de nil color, probably because of all that iris.

    • Love Eau de Nil, that was my Mother’s term for pale green with gray and silver in it. And yes, I do remember the Eagles and Glenn Fry! Having poached my older brother’s cassettes ( we had those back then) often enough.
      Well, anyway as to greens in scents- you know, I’ve been wanting to ask you about Crown Bouquet. You see, I have Patou’s Vacances which is from the same year, 1936? 1937? One of those years, and I wonder if they are similar or not? The Vacances has mimosa and lilac underneath a lot of galbanum and over a musky drydown. Now does that sound like the CB to you? Am I way off base here?
      The Silences re-fo, well, thought it was pretty respectful, but then don’t know that perfume the way that you do, so you may smell alterations that I wouldn’t catch.
      Nothing is ever 100% in reformulations, and don’t we know it?

      • Ohhh, Crown Bouquet… love. It’s funny you should mention it in connection with Vacances, because although they don’t have much in common in terms of notes, they share a delicacy of feeling. CB is very much white flowers under the galbanum slap, where the Vacances is actually more “gardeny” to me, more a mix of greenery and clean florals. I only have a sample of Vacances, and I’ve been hoarding it. It’s just sooooo beautiful.

  4. I have not explored many greens but your wonderful post has put a little green bug in my pocket. I am sure he will peek out when I get to the perfume counter and say, “Hey don’t forget it isn’t easy finding green. But try it anyway.”
    I must say you painted a really lovely portrait of your sister and resonated so beautifully.

    • Why thank you, and I hope the little green bug does put in a satisfactory appearance some time at a perfume counter, since nothing else is quite so pleasing, in an odd way, as a green perfume. Possibly they will have their day again, but maybe only when some marvelous new material becomes available. Then maybe we’ll have a whole new generation of green scents!

  5. I love (and frequently wear) both the original Silences edt and what I think is an edp reformulation (but not the most recent one, which I haven’t yet tried). I also quite like Annick Goutal’s Ninfeo Mio (which reads as green to me) and Green, green, green, and green by Miller and Bertaux. My favorite green is probably Seve Exquise from the sadly long-vanished Gobin Daudes. I like Caron’s L’Accord 119 and find Le Temps d’une Fête uninteresting, although for some reason neither register as “green perfumes” to me.

    • You are lucky to have come across Seve Exquise!I’ve only smelt Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s probable tribute: Celadon, which is velvety and pale green, and very interesting. The Miller and Bertaux, I have never tried, but always am interested in, because of the lime note people mention in it (I keep hoping for a lime green scent). And you are one more person who does not get Le Temps, which is a little company for me, but only a little, since we are in the minority there.
      L’Accord 119 is pushing the envelope as a green smell, but the cassis note I think, takes it into the fruity green realm.

    • I am superstitious about Chamade. Now that’s the silliest thing you ever heard, right? Yeah, I know, but I am. Somehow, beautiful as it is (and Chamade is beautiful), it is something I shouldn’t wear or my nose will fall off. Having gotten my personal glitch out of the way, I did contemplate Romea d’Ameor’s Mistresses of Louis the whatever as a substitute, but The Hub really didn’t like it, and so here I am, bereft of Spring Bouquets with daffodils in them. Shame, really.
      Very interesting what you have to say about Crown Bouquet because I generally like white florals, but haven’t gone for the usual green floral suspects. Should I try Crown Bouquet, I wonder?

  6. Help! I have loved and worn Chanel 19 pure perfume (not eau de parfum) for many years. It’s such a pity Chanel discontinued the pure perfume spray and refills. Is there any scent very similar to Chanel 19? Alternatively, how do you put a bottle of expensive perfume into a spray? I bought the only remaining perfume they do now – in a bottle – but apart from being less convenient it doesn’t seem to give the same effect as the wonderful handbag perfume spray.

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