Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
There are some fragrances which I cannot approach as an impartial observer. They are either associated with someone I know or else are indelibly linked to some period of my life, and as a result, the moment I smell them, I cannot think objectively of things like top notes and tenacity. I feel inundated by memories and cannot even concentrate on the progression of THE perfume itself. These are the best fragrances for me, and even if they are not masterpieces, they are the scents that invariably make me happy. One such perfume is Annick Goutal Folavril, which smells like a cross between face cream and green tomatoes. If that sounds odd, you are right–Folavril is a strange creature!
According to a story I heard, Folavril was the name of the antique store where Annick Goutal worked as a young girl. It also means “April Fool” in French, which is an appropriate moniker for this whimsical perfume. Like many early Goutal fragranceS, it does not follow any clear progression—inhaling it is like seeing a string of pearls break. The notes scatter in an unpredictable manner, resulting in a somewhat incoherent, but nevertheless dazzling effect. First, the piney brightness of mango and citrus sets the high pitched note, before the buzz of the savory caramel and green tomato takes it down a few notches. The softness of jasmine and musk wraps the entire composition in a creamy, velvety layer.
Originally, the formula for Folavril was used to scent face lotions and creams, and the link to its cosmetic beginnings are clear. It is a sharp, one-dimensional fragrance, despite the initial unpredictable start. At times, it reminds me of laundry softener sheets, at others, of old-fashioned face cream. Yet, despite all of this, I have a strong affection for it. The moment I smell Folavril, I am 17 again, in my first year of college, exploring the Annick Goutal counter at the local department store…
Annick Goutal Folavril includes notes of mango, jasmine, boronia flower (a flower native to Australia that smells like caramel and raspberries) and tomato leaf. Available from Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, Aedes and other retailers. $115, 100ml
Sample: my own acquisition
Photography by DavidInc via flickr, some rights reserved.