“A fragrance created today is the one that’s going to disappear tomorrow,” says the director of the Osmothèque perfume conservatory Patricia de Nicolaï. Perfumes disappear for many reasons—reformulations, bad marketing strategies, poor timing. I’m not sure why Yohji Yamamoto was discontinued, but when Debbie emailed me to add Yohji Yamamoto to the long lost favorite perfume discussions, I was glad to talk about it. Debbie mentioned that she wasn’t sure if she really liked Yohji at the time, but as she noted, “when I go back and re-smell (I have about a quarter of a bottle left) I am struck by how interesting it is, especially at the time it was launched.”
When I first tried Yohji Yamamoto for Her, I also wasn’t sure if I liked it either. It was created in 1996 by the esteemed Jean Kerléo. Kerléo was an in-house Jean Patou perfumer, and he’s responsible for the gilded Jean Patou Sublime and the glamorous 1000. Yohji Yamamoto is a departure from the gold and silk elegance of Patou; it’s a gourmand composition that is unexpectedly crisp and bright.
Yohji Yamamoto includes notes of bergamot, galbanum, green notes, praline, raspberry, sandalwood, musk, and vanilla, with the first impression being green and radiant. The vivid leafy notes run like a crisp leitmotif through the body of the fragrance, taming the plush richness of its roasted hazelnut and vanilla drydown. It’s warm and sweet but never cloying, and the delicious, edible accord still feels sophisticated. For better or worse, Yohji Yamamoto won’t make you smell like a candy factory.
The closest fragrance to Yohji Yamamoto in spirit is L’Artisan Parfumeur Piment Brûlant. Like Debbie’s long lost favorite, it has a beautiful contrast between the green, crunchy notes and the warm, edible drydown. Piment Brûlant is green and sheer next to Yohji Yamamoto, but in terms of the play of contrasts, it’s comparable.
For those who enjoy the roasted and caramelized notes of Yohji Yamamoto, Les Parfums de Rosine Rose Praline would be a good choice as well as Comptoir Sud Pacifique Amour de Cacao. The chocolate and pralines in Yohji Yamamoto are well-blended into its sandalwood and musk base, whereas Rose Praline and Amour de Cacao are more of a sweet treat. In Amour de Cacao, the zesty orange notes provide a relief from too much sugar, while in Rose Praline the Earl Grey accord of tea and bergamot is a refreshing accent. Both perfumes have a lighthearted character, but just like Yohji Yamamoto they feel seductive.