Annick Goutal Heure Exquise : Perfume Review

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Heure exquise

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 CherieHeure 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.

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28 Comments

  • Linda: Dear Victoria,
    I absolutely love this fragrance – it was the first Annick Goutal I bought, and your wonderful review does it justice. I totally agree with you that it does have some of the qualities of No.19, but is more comforting to wear! Thank you. October 1, 2010 at 5:00am Reply

  • Zazie: So, there it goes: on my to try list!

    I have not found many loves in the Goutal line: my only full bottle is Ninfeo Mio, though I strongly appreciate Songes and the impeccable Eau d’Hadrien – I think these two triggered my interest in “niche” fragrances, some years ago.
    Few others however have been so unpleasant for me, that I rarely go merrily testing the line.

    But your description is so wonderful: it sounds like a light-hearted Chamade. Is that so? A green top over a gorgeous heart? I adore Chamade. It is so special, for me: layered and rich. Heure Exquise could be a (very welcome) more affordable option?
    Will test on skin ASAP! October 1, 2010 at 11:43am Reply

  • Carla: Thank you for this. Going on memory, I agree with your comparison to No 19. Also, Zazie, insofar as both Chamade and Heure Exquise are classical fragrances with good staying power and wonderful transitions from top to bottom – layered and rich, as you say – they are similar. I think Chamade is certainly greener. I cannot expound more on the differences, for lack of time, effort and expertise! October 2, 2010 at 12:29pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Linda, I am glad to see another Heure Exquise fan. It is one of the most special fragrances from the line for me. October 3, 2010 at 8:24pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Zazie, if you like No 19 and this type of green floral, then definitely try Heure Exquise. It is not really in the same category as Chamade. Chamade is more warmer, softer, yet with a brighter, more verdant heart. Heure Exquise is heavier on iris and powdery notes, so overall, it is creamier, earthier. October 3, 2010 at 8:27pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Carla, I saw your other comment about dance. I have danced professionally till I was about 20 and now I am still taking classes and doing occasional performances, but it is for myself, rather than for any dance career ambitions. I prefer it this way! Thankfully, NY offers lots of opportunities to dance on any level.
    I agree with you that Chamade is greener. Another gorgeous fragrance! October 3, 2010 at 8:31pm Reply

  • Zazie: Ok, my encounter with l’heure exquise was a bit of a disaster – I had a fleeting impression of Chamade follwed by l’Heure Bleue (I do not know n°19 enough for reference), but the Guerlinade was missing, which made a HUGE difference. I also made the mistake to test it with grand amour, which made me totally sick.

    However, I found an old miniature of Chanel Egoiste, and it was instant love. Lutensian effects coupled with Chanel’s bright luminosity. I don’t think I would have tried it, if it wasn’t for your review.
    Thank you! I even like it more than the current bois des iles edt…
    I also tried layering the two (I never layer!) – I think I reached woody-fragrance heaven. October 5, 2010 at 9:53am Reply

  • Carla: It is wonderful you still take dance class and perform, Victoria! October 5, 2010 at 3:39pm Reply

  • chayaruchama: Heure Exquise is a great love of mine !

    I find it warm and dignified, but not old-fashioned.
    The edp really sings in comparison to the edt;-) October 6, 2010 at 6:24pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Zazie, what a great idea to layer Bois des Iles and Egoiste! I have never done it, but I can see how it would work well. They would reinforce each other’s woody facets in a very beautiful manner. October 9, 2010 at 9:07am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Carla, I actually have some friends in Germany, who dance there. It is a very different scene from what they were used to in the US, but they are enjoying the opportunity. October 9, 2010 at 9:10am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Chaya, you are right about the edp. It is so full and rich, whereas the EDT seems to be a bit too thin. October 9, 2010 at 9:11am Reply

  • ChickenFreak: This is one of those fragrances that I have to wear _just_ right. If I wear it on my wrist or anywhere within sniffing range, it’s too bitter and challenging on my skin. I have to wear it well away from my nose (the back of my neck, generally), wear a little extra, and wait an hour or so for it to start developing. The wafts, then, are glorious. October 9, 2010 at 11:59pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: I agree, its sillage is great! October 11, 2010 at 8:47pm Reply

  • Mimi Walker: I love Heure Exquise so much. It’s elegance reminds me of Parfum d’Hermes, another of my very favorites. It also reminds me of Chanel 19, but the Chanel 19 I remember from years ago. I’ve wondered if 19 has had some reformulation or if my chemistry changed. I still wear it though not as passionately as I once did.
    mwalker October 20, 2010 at 11:30am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mimi, I notice the same thing about No 19. The EDT is especially disappointing. October 21, 2010 at 3:23pm Reply

  • Mimi Walker: Chanel 19 was my first experience with a reformulated fragrance (although isn’t as bad as others) and I was just heartbroken. As I said, I thought at first it was my chemistry until I began to read about terrible reformulation of so many fragrances. I now collect fragrances I love, as well as makeup items, to protect against changes in formula or an item being discontinued. Heure Exquise is one such fragrance. October 21, 2010 at 3:38pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Thank you so much for this review. I have been reading your blog for 2 years, and it has often swayed me into buying unsniffed.
    Heure Exquise is probably my favourite ” female” Goutal ( Songes being a close second), although it is melancholy I find it very comforting and easy to wear.
    The Chanel is another great favourite, but to me has a totally different vibe. It seems much more formal than the Goutal.
    I didn’t know that Annick Goutal had worked with another nose than Isabelle Doyen. Did M. Sorsana work on any other Goutals? October 21, 2010 at 4:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mimi, I had a similar experience with Diorissimo. I was just heartbroken when I smelled it after a long hiatus. It was just not same! October 21, 2010 at 5:41pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Austenfan, thank you for your comment. You’ve outlined so well the difference between Heure Exquise and No 19. The latter is definitely very formal and cold in comparison to Goutal.
    Henri Sorsana has worked on all of the early Goutals such as Passion, Eau de Camille, Eau de Charlotte, etc. He even worked on L’Artisan Mure et Musc with Jean-Francois Laporte. October 21, 2010 at 5:47pm Reply

  • wallpaper: Thank you for the post. October 26, 2010 at 2:06am Reply

  • Amelia: I am smelling this for the first time today off a sample vial. I wasn’t sure I would like it but it is so fantastic! I especially love the combination of powder/almond/milk with the greenness of it. Unlike some other greeny fragrances which smell too sharp for me, this one has an organic, human, skin smelling base which makes me love it. January 15, 2013 at 6:13pm Reply

  • Daniel: I love your reviews, they’re enlightening but not baffling for the uninitiated!
    This is one of my favorites. I love the pretty, unadorned florals blossoming in this garden. It’s not as demanding as N.19(she can be a bit of bristle-y babe) Have you noticed that the similarity to Vol De Nuit’s pillowy drydown?
    Dan x March 26, 2013 at 5:33pm Reply

  • Luna: Exquise is an enchanting perfume – it can be a bit overpowering, but if you know how to apply it, it turns into a transparent aura of grace and fragility.

    I’m always impressed by perfumes which capture the ideal sort of femininity to me – that sort of mysterious, divine feminine spirit that has a quiet, sort of introverted strength underlying it. Heure Exquise reminds me of this. I know Annick Goutal imagined a woman with “les yeux clair” wearing this, but I see more of a woman who is clear of mind and spirit, the sort of woman with deep eyes that speak of a deep, inner wisdom and wells of knowledge. She’s beautiful, but not in a brash, sassy sort of way, like what people in America consider “beautiful” or “lovely”. She’s the sort of woman who dresses in smoky, subdued hues, loves the early morning and the night, has a thing for birds and butterflies and enjoys contemplating the mystery of life and death. I imagine wearing this perfume while walking along a riverbank, with the sunset being reflected in the still water, and a light breeze delicately moving in the trees. It has the softness of a bird’s wings, and somehow in the subtle gray poudre of Heure Exquise I can see a big white dove flying through the twilit sky. Have you ever sat beneath a flock of big wood pigeons or doves, the ones with the wide wings and long shadows? I’ve always loved the raspy, dry sound of their feathers as they fly, and I think Heure Exquise captures that sensation accurately – the rustling of wings, and the pale light of a creamy ivory crescent moon, setting in the Western sky…. January 22, 2016 at 4:13pm Reply

    • Notturno7: Luna, you write with the sensibility of a real poet! July 23, 2016 at 11:22pm Reply

  • Notturno7: Dear Victoria, I’m addicted to reading these old threads and beautiful reviews you’ve written 😍 July 22, 2016 at 10:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: This made me very happy. 🙂 Thank you for reading and for commenting. July 23, 2016 at 6:46am Reply

      • Notturno7: 📝💜😊 July 23, 2016 at 11:20pm Reply

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