Andy takes Ylang 49 from Le Labo to task.
I sprayed on Le Labo’s new Ylang 49 with many expectations. As my first introduction to the Le Labo line, I wasn’t sure what to anticipate. But surely, with a brand name that evokes scientific paraphernalia and sterile-looking packaging to match, I reasoned, this “floral chypre” had to be some kind of cleaned-up, angularly modern twist on the classic genre. As it would turn out, I was pleasantly surprised—instead of whisking me through a laboratory, Ylang 49 took me on a nostalgic walk through a shady, rain-drenched garden on a spring morning.
True to its name, Ylang 49 opens with a glimpse of its namesake note, pairing the spicy floral with a touch of rose and some cool earthiness. I am reminded of the damp scent of a garden after a rainstorm, but as the fragrance warms up on skin, the rose takes center stage, and the damp earth transforms into a hint of warm, slightly mossy patchouli.
The rose garden eventually segues into an alcove of gardenias. Some gardenia notes can seem overwhelming; this one, though rich, is gentle, and drifts into the sweet, woodsy base of benzoin, sandalwood and vetiver. Benzoin adds a touch of vanillic sweetness to the sandalwood and vetiver, creating an appealing, smooth finish.
To me, Ylang 49 smells like a perfume from a bygone era. There is nothing that smells particularly modern about it, and I mean that in the very best of ways. As a floral chypre, it succeeds, though I find that the classic mossy notes smell more like a soft mirage created by patchouli. It evolves slowly on skin for hours, and while the sillage is gentle, Ylang 49 still feels sensual and enveloping.
Ultimately, if you are a fan of rich, complex floral chypres like vintage Balmain Ivoire, Ylang 49 might disappoint. However, in spite of its relative straightforwardness, Ylang 49 has a retro feel that might appeal to those who long for a fragrance evoking the past. Still, the appeal of Ylang 49 is more universal than that. Anyone in search of a new fragrance that doesn’t fit the descriptors of “clean” or “fresh” is likely to enjoy or at least appreciate Ylang 49.
Le Labo Ylang 49 lists notes of ylang-ylang, gardenia, patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, benzoin, and sandalwood.
Sample: Le Labo