Annick Goutal Eau du Fier : Fragrance Review

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Bakhtiary_1

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Although Annick Goutal fragrances are sometimes considered either frilly and pretty like Petite Cherie or subtle and wispy like Duel, Sables and Eau du Fier present another side of the house—scorched earth and leather in the midst of chiffon and silk. Sables displays an orchestration of the bittersweet immortelle flowers, which smell of hot rocks, curry spices and salty ocean breeze—a note that does not often take a center stage, especially not in its full glory.

Eau du Fier (2000) is a story of tar and smoke, accented by the delicate fruity sweetness. The watercolor quality of Annick Goutal fragrances sometimes renders them almost ethereal, however Eau du Fier proves that the light hand of Isabelle Doyen, the Annick Goutal in-house perfumer, can work magic. What might have been a base heavy and opaque composition instead has the quality of Persian calligraphy—an exquisite pairing of precision and grace. …

The tarry accord forms the main pillar of the composition, with the smoked tea notes providing depth to the leathery facet. For anyone who has opened the tin of lapchang souchong tea and inhaled its smoky richness with pleasure, Eau du Fier will be a wonderful revelation. Its darkness is infused with a touch of translucence from the vivid citrus burst in the top notes. However, the best part of Eau de Fier is revealed after about half an hour, when the leathery apricot is married with the spices and tar, lending a beautiful and elegant twist to this memorable composition.

Although intended for men, Eau du Fier would work well for women, especially if they enjoy fragrances like Bulgari Black. Eau du Fier includes notes of bitter orange, osmanthus, salt flower, clove, tea, and birch. For reasons I cannot comprehend, Eau du Fier has been discontinued.

Image: Persian calligraphy by Javad Bakhtiary from persianpaintings.com.

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35 Comments

  • mc: Hello Victoria! I’m delighted you found the time to review this intriguing often overlooked scent. It’s one of my favourites from Annick Goutal, along with Vetiver, Duel and Sables. I’m a tea lover so it’s great to come across a scent that professes to smell of tea and doesn’t disappoint. And the other notes in the composition! I can discern smoke, tar, a cherry brandy – medicinal note that reminds me of cough syrup, mint… it’s complex and eye-wateringly strange at the outset, but you’re right, it’s composed so beautifully it works very well, especially if it is given an hour or so to settle.

    A sales assistant told me it was inspired by the river Fier on the Ile de Ré, where Annick Goutal used to spend her summers (she certainly got around, that lady: Various sales assistants have told me she spent her summers in Provence, Tuscany and the Greek islands depending on the scent they are trying to promote. Perhaps the life of a perfumer is one long summer holiday). I’m off to the Ile de Ré this summer, so I will report back to let you know if the Fier really does smell like the perfume that it inspired! April 17, 2006 at 4:10pm Reply

  • Laura: I love to read your reviews, even when I know I won’t agree with them ;D. I do wish I could wear the AG Chevrefeuille but it doesn’t do well on my skin, which ia really too bad. The others I just don’t get at all. April 17, 2006 at 6:59pm Reply

  • violetnoir: Woman, you make me want to run out and smell this, because I love rich, smoky tea scents. I am not sure I would like this on my skin (you know I am such a girly-girl when it comes to my fragrance choices! LOL!), but it sure sounds divine.

    Hugs! April 17, 2006 at 7:19pm Reply

  • paru: This one actually reminds me of dark, peaty scotch. Maybe Lagavulin? Not something I’d want everyday, but there are occasions when nothing else will do. April 17, 2006 at 7:24pm Reply

  • Robin: Off to dig up my sample, this sounds perfect! Thanks V. April 17, 2006 at 7:29pm Reply

  • Robin: And it is! Perfect, I mean. April 17, 2006 at 7:49pm Reply

  • Katie: Oh good lord, this just shot to the top of my lemming list. You say smokey tea, and paru mentions peaty scotch??? Must try. *drools* April 17, 2006 at 9:05pm Reply

  • mireille: I just need to laud you for the beautiful Persian calligraphy metaphor … beautiful writing again, V. (I’m afraid I’m not the type for whom this scent is designed … although I can appreciate this exotica from a distance!) xoxo April 17, 2006 at 6:08pm Reply

  • vero: hello

    it’s not “eau de fier” but “eau du fier” April 18, 2006 at 8:00am Reply

  • marchlion: I keep hoping to run across this and somehow never do… I think it sounds like heaven. The calligraphy comparison was wonderful. Thank you. April 18, 2006 at 8:43am Reply

  • helg: The name and its correctness put aside (which I am sure is just a momentary lapse, happens to all), I enjoyed your review a lot. Thanks!
    I have always been curious about this one but it proved almost impossible to sample it. Interesting that you liken it to Bulgari Black (which I like a lot).
    Is there any clue as to the actual reason of the limited distribution? I have the same problem with AG’s Eau de Monsieur which is a classic men’s scent in the elegant tradition. April 18, 2006 at 9:44am Reply

  • Marina: This sounds amazing! Tar and smoke and fruity sweetness…I must try! April 18, 2006 at 10:42am Reply

  • Tania: I’ve been wanting to smell this ever since you mentioned it, but I’ve never seen it anywhere. How frustrating! One of these days I will come across it and finally get to find out what you’re talking about, because it sure sounds worth smelling. Wonderful to see you posting again, V. April 18, 2006 at 11:18am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mike, it does seem as if Mme. Goutal were an inveterate traveler. Many of her fragrances are inspired by various locations, with Camille Goutal continuing this trend. Like you, I cannot believe that Eau du Fier is so overlooked. It is by far one of the most interesting and daring fragrances in the collection. April 18, 2006 at 11:26am Reply

  • Prince Barry: Phew! I tried this one many moons ago in Harvey Nicks in Leeds. They didn’t have any testers of it so the SA from Goutal actually opened a box of the scent and sprayed some on my hand. My immediate reaction was a screwed up face as I recoiled in horror at the smell that greeted my nose. The SA looked shocked at my reaction and immediately sniffed my hand. Her reaction was…….’That is awful!’. I have never ventured to sniff it again.

    Now that you likened it to Bvlgari Black, I am not surprised at my initial reaction to it. I hate BB with a vengeance. I know it works for some people but the thought of walking round smelling like a burnt condom just doesn’t appeal to my Princely tastes. Sorry! April 18, 2006 at 4:15pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, I love Persian art, and it was very enjoyable to browse through some of my favourite websites to find just the right piece! April 18, 2006 at 7:09pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, it is only recently that I have started enjoying Annick Goutal fragrances. So far, my favourites are Eau du Fier, Duel, Sables and Songes. I also love Heure Exquise. Have you tried Duel? I think that you might really like it. April 18, 2006 at 7:11pm Reply

  • moon_fish: Yes, it is overlooked and seems to me it does not make any profit for AG.
    Eau du Fier smells very hot, sweet, dry and smoky from the beginning that only Lagavulin-drinkers which happens to be sweet-tooth and like lapsang-souchong tea would appreciate this thick and smoky-sweet rarity.
    It could be signature scent easily as almost noone wears it (I have never met anyone weared EdF!)
    it`s like a rare stone-blood called `mumie` that sometimes founded in mountain caves. Well, good measure of apricot jam added! 🙂
    Or maybe someone add some birchtar into apricot-peach jam? 😉

    I like it very much but the first hour is not so easy to wear it. Maybe I should sniff my wrist not too often? Maybe it is just too sweet for my palates (castoreum layering?)?

    Anyway, I`ll try my sample again – just a little. It`s so easy to break the threshold with EdF… April 19, 2006 at 4:56am Reply

  • Laura: No, I haven’t tried Duel, but on your suggestion, I have no choice but to do it, ASAP ;D. April 19, 2006 at 10:30am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R (violetnoir), if you like dark, smoky tea, you will love Eau du Fier. It starts out slighly rubbery-smoky, but then it becomes very complex and comforting. April 20, 2006 at 12:46pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Paru, yes, there is something dark and peaty about it. Something about that effect is very appealing. April 20, 2006 at 1:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Robin, I am glad to inspire you trying it! 🙂 April 20, 2006 at 1:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, if you like fragrances like Cummings, then you will definitely find Eau du Fier fascinating. The apricot aspect is simply excellent. April 20, 2006 at 1:12pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Vero, thanks very much for the correction! April 20, 2006 at 1:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: E, I also love Eau de Monsieur, which is another completely overlooked Annick Goutal fragrance. Simply does not make sense why the company does not promote it more. It all depends on whether individual stores want to stock that particular fragrance, and I once heard from a lovely AG SA that both Eau de Monsieur and Eau du Fier are too edgy for the typical Annick Goutal consumer. April 20, 2006 at 1:15pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, I would be very curious to hear your thoughts on it. Who would have thought that smoke, leather and apricot jam would make for such a terrific combination! April 20, 2006 at 1:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marina, I second my comment to March. You definitely must! April 20, 2006 at 1:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tania, if you see it, do not let it pass by! I have only come across it in Paris and I bought a bottle on the spot. I have a feeling that you might really enjoy it. April 20, 2006 at 1:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Barry, yes, I can see how it may not be to everyone’s tastes. It is certainly very strong at first, but it mellows considerably in the drydown. I like the smoky and slight rubbery aspect of both Black and Eau du Fier, but I prefer to remain agnostic on the point about burnt condoms. That is not the smell I have ever encountered. April 20, 2006 at 1:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Moon_fish, your comment about mumie is spot on, although without the balsamic aspect. Mumie and apricot jam–sounds like a strange combination, but there is something about it that is quite appealing. April 20, 2006 at 1:30pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I think that it would be the right thing to do. 🙂 April 20, 2006 at 1:30pm Reply

  • KS: Victoria: sad to report but I was told at the AG boutique that Eau du Fier is DISCONTINUED! There are only five bottles (and no samples) available at the Netherlands shop. SAD…I never had a chance to try it and am too afraid to just buy a bottle unsniffed! Especially with the shipping cost at $30!!!!!!! Kevin April 21, 2006 at 3:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kevin, how typical! The most interesting and unusual fragrance in the line is discontinued. I recommend ordering while it is still available, however this holds only if you like dark, leather-wood fragrances like Black. April 22, 2006 at 1:16am Reply

  • AnneCatt: You can still get Eau du Fier – I’ve just bought a bottle today. Eric Uzunic at the London Annick Goutal store in Motcomb Street sells it. It smells extraordinary at first but soon settles into a wonderful, subtle tar and apricot. Smells good layered with other scents too. April 21, 2011 at 10:11am Reply

  • Victoria: Anne, thank you very much! It is good to know that it is not gone. I love this fragrance. April 21, 2011 at 10:35am Reply

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