Patricia tries on Givenchy’s Ysatis, once one of her signature perfumes, to see if it still fits.
The 1980s were a big decade. Big shoulders, big hair, a boom economy, and over-the-top perfumes. Givenchy Ysatis, a mossy floral created in 1984 by Dominique Ropion, was one of these, and I wore it happily for several years. At the time I was a serial monogomist where perfume was concerned, and Ysatis fit neatly between K de Krizia and Jean Louis Scherrer, Scherrer 2 in my rotation. As a mother of very young children, I enjoyed an occasional evening out, dressed to the nines and enveloped in a cloud of Ysatis.
The perfume starts out with a blast–woody, floral, sweet, and powdery, accompanied with refreshing citrus notes and creamy coconut. Lush white floral notes, mostly fruity jasmine and ylang-ylang, dominate for the next few hours, before mellowing into a sweet and creamy dry down. It’s a high-calorie feast of musk, amber, vanilla, and sandalwood that reminds us that Ysatis was born in the “more is more” fashion era. The dry down reminds me of the baby powder I once used on my children. While I liked this at the time, it now strikes me as cloying.
Ysatis comes in a lovely Art Deco bottle reminiscent of the lines of the Chrysler Building, a skyscraper built in New York City in 1930. The vintage version of the perfume (which is what I tested) comes with a gold cap, which is a good way to identify it from the reformulated version if making an online or auction purchase. Vintage samples and minis are readily available for very little money on eBay.*
I have several lovely coats from the eighties that I no longer wear. With their huge shoulder pads and extreme lines, I admire their workmanship, the excellent quality of the fabrics, but they are hopelessly out of style. Similarly, there is nothing modern about Ysatis: no transparency, a potpourri of too many different notes, and no real development in its progression. It is a period piece that I keep in my collection but seldom wear. It is part of my history and as such brings with it happy memories of an earlier time.
Givenchy Ysatis includes notes of citrus, ylang-ylang, galbanum, coconut, rosewood, aldehydes, jasmine, rose, iris, tuberose, narcissus, musk, amber, vanilla, vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood, and civet.
*Victoria’s Note on reformulation: Of course, like nearly all perfumes that have been around for a while, Ysatis has been tweaked to make it compliant with new ingredient regulations. It’s fresher and brighter in the top notes. The drydown has slimmed down and is dominated by polite musk and sweet amber. The mossy nuances are much softer, and the animalic breath is less raunchy. But the outlines of the original are there, and it might be easier to wear for those who are not used to the smothering 80s perfumes.
Do you have any “scrapbook” fragrances that are kept merely for their historical importance?