Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Once upon a time, the woods were for men and the flowers were for women. Coco Chanel and her perfumer Ernest Beaux rebelled against these stereotypes by creating Bois des Iles, a dark woody composition that was as elegant as it was shocking. The new generation of feminine woody fragrances, from Estee Lauder Sensuous to Bulgari Jasmin Noir, layers the woods so heavily with the floral notes that the character becomes blurred. Unfortunately, most fragrances in that family are what I label as “acrylic florals”—possessing in equal measure the strident sharpness of woods and the neon brightness of modern floral notes. Elie Saab Le Parfum is the latest example of this genre, a cross between Sensuous and Narciso Rodriguez for Her.
Elie Saab Le Parfum is a debut from the Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab, who became famous for his elegant designs. The fragrance was created by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, whose trademark musky floral accord forms the core of the composition. The moment it begins to unfold on the skin, the bright orange blossom and gardenia notes set its tone. The rose tinged patchouli reminiscent of Narciso Rodriguez underpins the white floral notes, while the layers of musks give Elie Saab the smooth feel of lacquered wood.
While I do not find Elie Saab Le Parfum appealing, on a technical level, it is a well-crafted fragrance—it lasts well, has great diffusion and a coherent character. Of course, this is not enough to make a great, or even a merely good, perfume. Elie Saab is loud and relentless, with a persistence of sharp woody notes that borders on irritating. The press release describes it as “an ode to light.” If so, it is like being blinded by a projector, an almost painful experience.
Elie Saab Le Parfum includes notes of orange blossom, jasmine, patchouli, rose, cedarwood. It is available in 30, 50 and 90 ml Eau de Parfum. It is currently available at Harrod’s.
Sample source: PR