Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
The allure of the Annick Goutal house lies in the sheer diversity of genres within its portfolio, from bold Sables to delicate Duel, from vivacious Grand Amour to demure Le Chèvrefeuille, from femme fatale Passion to puerile Petite Cherie… Heure Exquise is one of the most classical compositions from the house, a soft floral orchestration dominated by iris.
Created by perfumer Henri Sorsana in 1984, with whom Annick Goutal studied perfumery since 1977, Heure Exquise possesses a certain retro glamour. Its name refers to the beautiful and serene moment of twilight, the same moment that inspired Guerlain to name its fragrance L’Heure Bleue. Whether the inspiration had a strong bearing on the final outcome, or whether it is my own projection, but I find that Heure Exquise conveys a quiet, nostalgic beauty.
The fragrance structure is similar to Chanel No 19—a floral core, made verdant and sharp with galbanum and rounded out by dark roses. Yet, while No 19 segues into the grapefruit bitterness of vetiver and the dryness of leather—its emphasis is on the leather chypre accord, Heure Exquise’s drydown is deliciously soft. Milky sandalwood, creamy coumarin, and powdery almond notes produce a gentle foil for the cool beauty of the green iris dominated heart. This tender, voluptuous finish endows Heure Exquise with a gilded, Belle Epoque character, whereas No 19 is angular and cool from the first accord to last. I love them both, and I find it difficult to choose a favorite, but without doubt, Heure Exquise is easier to wear and somehow more comforting. I love the way the fragrance envelops me in a cashmere-soft veil, producing a stunning sillage.
Heure Exquise includes notes of Turkish rose, galbanum, iris, sandalwood. Available as both EDP and EDT, it can be purchased from retail stores like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman as well as directly from the Annick Goutal online shop.