Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Even for someone like me who loves winter and snow, there comes a time when the oppressive, gray light of winter begins to feel draining. Therefore, L’Occitane Voyage en Méditerranée crossed my fragrance path at just the right moment, resonating with my desire for an escape and my yearning for the sun. It is a collection inspired by the olfactory landscape of the Mediterranean perfumed with the aromas of jasmine, iris, myrtle, and mimosa. While Voyage en Méditerranée focuses on the raw materials, by and large, the fragrances are not solinotes and have a nice complexity. L’Occitane has come a long way since 1976 when Olivier Baussan founded it with the distinct purpose of capturing the spirit of his native Provence. Now it is a large company, with a significant stake owned by Clarins. In fact, Voyage en Méditerranée fragrances were developed under the creative direction of Pierre Aulas, who was also responsible for Thierry Mugler Womanity.
Mimosa de L’Estérel, developed by perfumer Jean-Pierre Béthouart, caught my attention, because the scent of mimosa is one that I associate with spring. It is very bright, uplifting, with a delicious green cucumber freshness that is characteristic of mimosa fragrance. This note set against a warm almond-violet accord gives Mimosa de L’Estérel the same honeyed, powdery sweetness that one notices when smelling a blooming mimosa branch. While it is not as nuanced as L’Artisan Mimosa Pour Moi, L’Occitane’s mimosa rendition has superb lasting power and a bright, cheerful character.
Jasmine, created by perfumer Karine Dubreuil, is a classical jasmine interpretation which highlights the jasmine note with green citrus and orange blossom. While Jasmine is transparent and petally, it is not just a generic, luminous white floral. A subtle indolic facet is carefully woven into the composition lending it a seductive, animalic touch. The sheer woody drydown is not particularly exciting, but overall, Jasmine is a pretty, refined bouquet of white flowers.
I have a hard time detecting the zesty, green character of neroli in Néroli, which is essentially a warm, oriental composition. A rose-mimosa accord folded into a milky sandalwood and vanilla accord gives it a plush character reminiscent of Guerlain fragrances, particularly Insolence and Samsara. The orange blossom is a fruity, sweet note (rather than the promised green and sparkling neroli,) and it melds really well with the creamy balsamic undercurrent. Created by Fabrice Pellegrin, it is a very appealing fragrance, which has retro connotations of violet-scented lipstick.
Iris by perfumer Amandine Marie is not the rooty, earthy iris, but rather a soft floral bouquet of violet and jasmine. Hazy and green at first with a hint of pink pepper, it quickly takes on a warm, almond sweetness. Too indistinct to be memorable.
Inspired by the warm, ambery raw material, Labdanum de Séville starts with a very appealing citrusy-peppery accord, which lightens the warmth of labdanum. For those who love sweet, ambery notes, it might be something to consider. I find the overly camphorous and sharp drydown to be a turn-off.
Created by perfumer Alexis Dadier, Cèdre/Cedar opens up on a bright grapefruit note, and with its combination of sheer, blond wood and effervescent citrus recalls the brightness of Terre d’Hèrmes. The drydown of Cèdre/Cedar and Labdanum de Séville are actually quite similar in their sharp, woody-ambery notes, although Cedar is less sweet. I did not find it particularly interesting.
Myrtle, which inspired Myrte, another fragrance by Karine Dubreuil, is a flowering evergreen plant with a fresh, green camphorous aroma. Myrte emphasizes the fresh facet of myrtle, creating a modern chypre composition around it. The watery note woven through the ambery-patchouli heart makes for a pleasant touch, while the softness of moss and musk in the drydown gives Myrte an elegant finish. Myrte is reminiscent of Narciso Rodriguez for Her, especially once it dries down. While not a new idea, Myrte is an appealing scent.
I would not call it particularly original, and it is a nicely crafted and wearable collection. My favorite fragrances from Voyage en Méditerranée are the florals, both for the richness that comes from their warm oriental notes and the elegant drydowns. I particularly enjoyed the sunny brightness of Mimosa de L’Estérel and the classical richness of Jasmine. Even if they will not make the snow melt, at least, they help me to pretend that the spring is on the way.
L’Occitane Voyage en Méditerranée is available from L’Occitane boutiques as well as online. The cost is $66 for 2.5oz bottle of Eau de Parfum, slightly higher than the rest of the L’Occitane fragrance collection.
Samples: my own acquisition