Creating a best-selling perfume today is as hard as making a profitable one. The increasing costs of distribution and advertising cut so much into the margins that everything else becomes secondary. Which is why you see time and again big brands launching safe, bland perfumes. And not only big brands. As you can see from Vent de Folie, the newest release from Annick Goutal, the aim is to be likable, rather than interesting or memorable. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with likable or simple or easy. I simply don’t want to overpay niche prices when I can find comparable simple, easy perfumes elsewhere. Vent de Folie is disappointing not because it is simple, but because it neither captures the eccentric, charming spirit of the Goutal perfume house nor does it offer a good deal for its price. If you want a little transparent floral, you need not spend niche prices; L’Occitane, Crabtree & Evelyn, Bath & Body Works and scores of other reasonably priced brands are just as good, if not better.
Vent de Folie is a rose diluted with enough sheer green notes that it smells abstract. The press release promises sweet peas; I smell peonies, but frankly, it’s just a wallflower. At first, Vent de Folie smells of crushed green leaves, but then you get a transparent blossom jazzed up with metallic geranium and berries. Wait a little bit longer and the berry laced peonies become wrapped in enough white musk to tone down the flowers further.
One thing that is going for Vent de Folie is the smoothness of its composition. Isabelle Doyen, the Goutal in-house perfumer, is not only a creative genius; she has an incredible knowledge of raw materials. It is clear that whatever rigid constraints were set for her, she did her utmost to give us a pretty floral with plenty of sparkle.
But for a house that has a collection of excellent roses, from the shimmering Rose Splendide to the lush Ce Soir ou Jamais, Vent de Folie seems like a sell-out. A safe, commercial perfume that doesn’t even have the eccentric Goutal fingerprint.
Since Goutal is one of my favorite perfume houses, I can easily recommend much better options within its collection if a simple but interesting fresh floral is what you want. Un Matin d’Orage is a blend of gardenia and tiare petals floating in water. Le Muguet is a sheer lily of the valley with plenty of green leaves and a hint of vanilla. Last but not least, you have Quel Amour!, a fresh rose soaked in pomegranate juice and tossed with geranium leaves. It’s easy to wear, it is exquisitely balanced, and for all of its delicate charm, it makes a statement.
Annick Goutal Vent de Folie Eau de Toilette includes notes of sweet pea, blood orange, geranium, black currant, raspberry, white musk and cedarwood. 50 and 100 ml bottles are available. 50ml/€79, 100ml/€105.