Annick Goutal Eau de Charlotte : Fragrance Review

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by Suzanna

In the early 1980s, the late Annick Goutal created two fragrances for her young daughters, Camille and Charlotte.  Ivy and honeysuckle inspired Camille’s scent (Eau de Camille, 1983) while Charlotte’s scent (Eau de Charlotte, 1982) described a young girl smitten by blackcurrant jam and cocoa. Despite the foodie nomenclature of the notes, Eau de Charlotte is not a gourmand scent. The blackcurrant and cocoa notes belie Charlotte’s true nature as a lily of the valley scent.

I discovered Charlotte, or she me, on a scent strip in a magazine. It smelled so different—this was the mid-nineties—to anything else I’d smelled until that time.  I was a Jean Patou Joy wearer, and Eau de Charlotte seemed less mainstream and more creative. I wore it through a couple of bottles before finding Gardenia Passion from the same Goutal line (by way of the incredible soap, but that’s another story!)

In Eau de Charlotte, the lily of the valley is given a complex application.  Rather than being a study of a child’s gustatory pleasures, it’s an impish scent that hides its floral heart beneath its opening notes and which does not display those famous nursery notes as gourmand.  It opens green and sharp with blackcurrant bud.  Blackcurrant jam is not present and the bud is, unripe and a bit sappy.  It lends fruitiness but not an overt sweetness. The sweetness that emerges under the blackcurrant is a vanilla of the type used in a baby product, meaning that the vanilla is not gourmand but is functional—it is the vanilla of a lotion and not that of a cookie.

At first, so remote is the lily of the valley in Eau de Charlotte that one must look for it as if hunting through winter for that first sign of spring. Once it settles in, however, it has a lovely feminine quality, backed by a supple white musk. Wait an hour and the idea that Eau de Charlotte has gourmand notes will disappear. Drydown is a soft white vanilla musk and traces of the mimosa bud. The floral treatment is subtle and engaging, perhaps too subtle given the character of the opening.  Still, though, the floral hints at an emergent womanliness, a reminder of that fleeting age where womanhood is on the cusp and childhood is left behind.

Annick Goutal Eau de Charlotte includes notes of blackcurrant buds, mimosa, lily of the valley, cocoa, and vanilla. Eau de Charlotte is sold at Neiman Marcus, Saks5thAvenue, Luckyscent and directly from Annick Goutal website.

 

 

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18 Comments

  • eminere: Wow the perfume sounds delicious! May 15, 2012 at 9:04am Reply

    • Suzanna: Eminere, samples are easily available! Charlotte is a must-try for any perfumista. May 15, 2012 at 10:26am Reply

  • yomi: Love the picture – does it sum up the scent? May 15, 2012 at 9:24am Reply

    • Suzanna: Yomi, my interpretation of Charlotte is as a light floral, not a gourmand, so yes, this image relates to that! May 15, 2012 at 10:27am Reply

  • Therese19: I have terrific memories of AG’s perfumes. I first discovered Gardenia Passion at Bergdorf’s in the early 1990′s. It was my signature for several years. The body lotion and soap were like nothing I’d ever experienced before .

    The entire line was so new. Charlotte and Camille, although never a purchase, were so intriguing that I never failed to sniff them at the
    AG counter.

    Thanks for conjuring up my good memories of Goutal discoveries. I was smitten with this line for years. May 15, 2012 at 9:56am Reply

    • Suzanna: Therese, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Seems we have a few Gardenia Passion fans here. That soap was the most incredibly scented thing and nearly impossible to find now. The lotion you mention I think is discontinued and is now a tube of body cream. May 15, 2012 at 10:28am Reply

      • OperaFan: I remember that lotion – this “pearly” goop! I remember buying a bottle at one point, and I believe it was the Gardenia.
        a:) May 15, 2012 at 11:59am Reply

        • Victoria: Gardenia Passion lotion was so good! I went through 2 tubes of it at one point, and I even liked it better than the perfume, which was a bit too heady for me back then. May 17, 2012 at 12:16pm Reply

  • OperaFan: When I first encountered AG fragrances, also in the early ’90s, I thought Gardenia Passion was rather strange (knowing nothing about tuberoses at the time), but Charlotte took the cake as the strangest fragrance I ever encountered. Although I haven’t smelled it in years, the memory of it is still difficult to comprehend. Maybe I should give it another try – after all, Gardenia Passion did become a holy grail for me. May 15, 2012 at 10:14am Reply

    • Suzanna: OperaFan, “strangest fragrance I ever encountered” is probably about how I felt about Charlotte when I first smelled it, but that was a positive for me, so I rushed out to buy it! Today, I don’t suppose it would seem that unusual, given what some niche lines create, but at the time, it was really very different. May 15, 2012 at 10:30am Reply

  • Elizabeth: I knew it! Eau de Charlotte is a vanilla-mimosa-muguet perfume! It’s a litte too sweet for me – I am highly sensitive to sweet. But my boyfriend and I want to name our eventual first daughter Sophie Charlotte, so I’m keeping my bottle. ;) May 15, 2012 at 1:48pm Reply

    • Suzanna: How sweet, Elizabeth! Thanks for sharing the name of your eventual first daughter–I love this! May 15, 2012 at 5:55pm Reply

  • Austenfan: You have reminded me of the fact that I haven’t worn this in a while. It’s one of my comfort scents. I would never have guessed about the muguet, but next time I wear it, I will pay extra attention.
    Goutal is still one of my favourite lines. My SOTD is Mon parfum chéri par Camille. Wonderful, esp. with the cold and rainy we had today. May 15, 2012 at 3:46pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Austenfan, my Charlotte gets lost in the shuffle also, and there are days when it is too powdery and then days when it is wonderfully green and tart.

      I keep a small bottle on hand and agree that it is a nice comfort scent.. May 16, 2012 at 10:12pm Reply

  • Amer: I haven’t discussed this with others and I don’t know if it is a matter of skin chemistry but all of the wonderful and naturalistic AGs I have tried on, all too quickly fall flat on my skin. After the initial blast of lushness I am always surprised to find a very simple, one-dimensional base with minimum projection and the tenacity isn’t too good either. I especially remember this about Mandragore, Sables, Duel as these were the ones i had great hopes for as I am a sucker for woody-rooty-leafy scents. Is this typical for the brand? May 16, 2012 at 3:33am Reply

    • Suzanna: Amer, that hasn’t been my experience, but I am wearing the “feminine” scents like Charlotte, Gardenia Passion, and Heure Exquise. They seem to develop well on me and last for hours! May 16, 2012 at 10:13pm Reply

  • Undina: Even though I consider myself an AG’s fan (I went through several bottles of Petite Cherie and now in addition to it own and use Heure Exquise, Ambre Fetiche and decants of several more scents) I keep finding pefumes from this line that I’ve never tried before. So now I have two to add to my “to try” list – Eau de Charlotte and Eau de Camille. Though I should mention that I haven’t seen any of them in my local Neiman Marcus. I should check it again the next time I’m there. Or at Saks (I wasn’t looking there, so I do not know if they have it).
    Thank you or the inspiring review! May 16, 2012 at 3:43pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Undina, Saks has the line here in Florida, so perhaps they do elsewhere as well.

      I’m with you on not knowing the whole line. Although I have been a big wearer of Gardenia Passion, I never knew the other big white florals until fairly recently.

      Eau de Camille is a lovely “outdoor” scent, whereas Charlotte is an indoor fragrance.

      Glad you enjoyed the post! May 16, 2012 at 10:13pm Reply

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