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.