Annick Goutal Mandragore : Perfume Review

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Levitan_overgrown_pond

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

My initial reaction to Annick Goutal Mandragore was puzzlement over a strange disconnect between the name evoking dark, twisted roots and love potions and the ethereal fragrance more appropriate for elves than witches. Created by Isabelle Doyen in 2005, this composition is beautiful vignette of lightness, showcasing the ability of spices to be woven into a sheer and weightless composition. Mandragore has the same luminous, slightly nostalgic quality that pervades the paintings by Isaac Levitan, a Russian 19th century impressionist. If I close my eyes, I imagine walking through the lush forest groves he portrayed in his tender, wistful manner. …

If the dominant spice notes are often liable to create the same effect as an excess of gold jewelry, in case of Mandragore, they display a more interesting side. The balsamic bite of pepper, the herbaceous chill of mint and the warmth of ginger conjure an assortment perfect for a tossed Asian-style seafood salad, and yet the combination works remarkably well in a shimmering summer composition.

Mandragore breaks into the peppery effervescence before taking turn for a creamy violet embedded into the woody musk. And then the delicate melody vanishes, like fragments of a song escaping from the open window. Until I discovered the Eau de Parfum version, I kept reapplying only to experience the familiar transition from the tart bergamot and warm pepper into the herbaceous floral heart. However, the Eau de Parfum slows down the development and allows for the melody to remain stronger, more vibrant and more substantial. Those familiar with the tart tea perfection of Duel would find Mandragore EDP similarly enchanting, and while it is far too gentle of a potion to live up to its dark and mysterious name, it has its own irresistible appeal.

Mandragore features notes of black pepper, spearmint, star anise, and sage leaf. Annick Goutal fragrances are sold at Saks5thAvenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman (usually carries the EDP versions of nearly everything in the line) as well as a number of other retailers, the list of which is available from Annick Goutal website. Online, the entire line can be found at Escentual.

Painting (click to enlarge): Isaac Levitan. Overgrown Pond. 1887. Oil on paper mounted on canvas. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. From abcgallery.

For other Annick Goutal reviews, please see:
Eau d’Hadrien
Eau du Fier
Songes
Vétiver

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23 Comments

  • Madelyn Etkind: Dear Vic,
    still love the l’original Passion EDP- gorgeous burst of tubrerose, jasmin et vanille. and Grand Amour – elegant and tastefully sexy ! Also, dear Vic, what do you think of this ;: when i asked for a sample of Fm Musc Ravageeur–the salesman said he wd have to xharge me for a small can you b believe it was $105. I repeat $1o5. So I hummed amnd jhaws and decided to go abd get it. Alot of money for a sample /. Love Mad May 31, 2006 at 3:23am Reply

  • Nick: Hi!

    Mandragore EDT is one of the Goutal’s that is suited to a very “Eau” application: a mist over bare arms and neck, in the same manner as Eau d’Hadrien. The result is very gentle and chic with a scent with notes which, as you say Victoria, would normally be “hotted up” much more in another perfumer’s hands. May 31, 2006 at 3:40am Reply

  • helg: It’s a pity that I got disillusioned too. I expected an earthy chyprish delight and all I got was lots of vanishing bergamot on top of a faint pepper…

    This seems like an exercise in restriction : not too much of this, not too much of that, we don’t want to make an excess of anything.
    However the end result is simply a refreshing eau de cologne for summer heatwaves and no more. In antithesis to Eau d’Hadrien that uses cypress as a counterpoint to lemon and injects the whole with smokiness, the restrained use of pepper here doesn’t serve in enforcing the frag in my memory, contrary to -say- POivre Samarkande ( and its brilliant use of pepper).

    The bottle was gorgeous, though!

    But no matter, the Goutal line has some wonderful gems and I do hope they go on producing wonderful frags like Sables, Grand Amour and Eau d’Hadrien. May 31, 2006 at 4:24am Reply

  • Marina: The name really doesn’t fit the juice, but I love this scent anyway. And now that it is *hot* outside, it is just wonderful. May 31, 2006 at 9:40am Reply

  • Ina: You inspired me to try this on our sniffing expedition. 🙂 I did get “the herbaceous chill of mint” that smelled so appealing in that hot weather. However, the drydown on my skin is very sour, sadly. But I’m yet to try the EDP version. May 31, 2006 at 9:43am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Madelyn, I think that you misunderstood. $105 seems like the price of a 50ml bottle. You can fill out the questionnaire on Frederic Malle website, and if one of the fragrances turns out to be Musc Ravageur, they might send you a sample. I thought that Barneys carries the entire FM line, including Musc Ravageur. May 31, 2006 at 11:33am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Nick, yes, it is a light summer cologne, but it is such a pleasant departure from the typical citrus. I cannot wear Eau d’Hadrien anymore, because now I am beginning to find it slightly sharp. Mandragore, on the other hand, works perfectly. May 31, 2006 at 11:35am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Helg, I found the EDP much more interesting, as tends to be the case with most Annick Goutal fragrances for me. But yes, if you are expecting earthy and dark, this will definitely be a disillusioning fragrance. Still, for what it is, I love it. May 31, 2006 at 11:37am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, it is perfect for hot days–sheer, sparkling and unexpectedly savory. I am not a big fan of summer fragrances per se, but this I could wear all year round. May 31, 2006 at 11:39am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ina, you should definitely try the EDP. I find it much deeper. The EDT does not turn sour on me, but it simply vanishes after 15 minutes. The EDP lasts much longer. May 31, 2006 at 11:41am Reply

  • Madelyn Etkind: Dear Victoria, you are such a sweetheart 1 Thank you for responding to my situation. NY Barney’s does not carry the entire Frederic Malle line. So I called LA Barney’s. The Rep. for the FM .line ( a nice gut from Brazil,sexy accent,..) said he has to Fedex samples – so it wooukd be hard to do that w/o a purchase. He said he would fedex me a small Musc Ravageur ($105) -I would have to pay – If, I didn’t like it – I could ship it back — no chargw. So Vic, guess what I did ..? I”m not ashamed to admit . i did just that. ( Maybe I would not be sofast to admit that to a non perfume lover ). I pray I will like it. I wanted a Sexy scent. As far as Annick Goutal – I mentioned that I loved Passion , Grand Amour – that’s it. I also loved the body cream .Love to you from NY. when are you coming to visit ?
    Madelyn E May 31, 2006 at 12:30pm Reply

  • Robin: V, the EdP sounds so much better, so you would think AG would do a better job of distributing testers, no? If they would sell the EdP in the men’s bottle, I would buy it unsniffed without hesitation, LOL… May 31, 2006 at 12:43pm Reply

  • Tania: I really do need to try the EDP. The EDT was too fleeting to get any sense of it. May 31, 2006 at 3:35pm Reply

  • marchlion: Oh, I just love my Mandragore. One of the few bottles I bought on a whim, having just tried it. I am lucky (or unlucky, depending on the fragrance!) that it is quite persistent on me, even in the EDT. I love it in our sticky summers, but there’s also something perfect about it on a rainy November day. I suppose what pleases me the most is that it is a herbaceous, green scent focused on bergamot rather than vetiver, which frequently smells, um, not so good on my skin. I do agree that the name is absurd for such an effervescent fragrance. Thanks for your beautiful review of one of my favorites! May 31, 2006 at 4:18pm Reply

  • biagio: when i first tried the mandragore edt version it didnt impress me so much and the stayng power was very fleeting ,then i ve bought the edp version and it is far better than the previous definitely a must have in my collection May 31, 2006 at 4:50pm Reply

  • Cait: I like Mandragore and its name, but my favorite AG with ginger is Jasmin. I think it was March who found, too, that AG Nuits d’Hadrien develops into ginger on the skin. Once she commented on that I had to agree. Mandragore is the least satisfying of AG gingery juices. May 31, 2006 at 8:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Madelyn, I hope that it will work for you. If you like fragrances like Shalimar and Obsession, you will enjoy Musc Ravageur.

    I recently revisited Passion and fell in love with it–such a sultry jasmine composition. May 31, 2006 at 9:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I think that the distribution depends on the buyers, rather than the company. Bergdorf usually has the entire line in the EDP, while others carry the less expensive EDTs and the fancy butterfly EDP bottles. I have seen Mandragore EDP there as well as Saks. May 31, 2006 at 9:02pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tania, I cannot agree more. The EDT fades far too quickly. The EDP made me realize how lovely the composition is. May 31, 2006 at 9:03pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, I wore Mandragore all through this spring, and I am enjoying it more and more. It is perfect for days when I do not know what I feel like wearing. May 31, 2006 at 9:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Biagio, I loved the top notes and the glimpse of the creamy violet in the EDT, but it faded too quickly. The EDP allows me to enjoy my favourite aspects of Mandragore longer. A must have for me as well. May 31, 2006 at 9:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cait, I agree about Le Jasmin. It is a very pretty jasmine. I did not remember much ginger in it until I had a chance to revisit it recently, and yes, it has the same sparkling and spicy quality as this versatile root. May 31, 2006 at 9:14pm Reply

  • jb: it is a late comment but I prefer mandragore pourpre; the quality of anise-citrus-incense works on my skin wonderfully

    It smells so light, ethereal and sensual all at the same time; Annick goutal fragrances usually last about 4 hours on my skin so I need to reapply but that is the case of many annick goutal fragrances

    I think AG does not use fixatives in their fragrances that is why it does not last as long like boss/dkny/armani fragrances February 2, 2014 at 6:35am Reply

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