Annick Goutal Vent de Folie : Perfume Review

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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. goutal 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.

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60 Comments

  • Alex: I see that they’ve also increased the price…again. How sad really, if the ones you expect the extra mile start going all bland what’s next? Let’s just hope that this is a crowd pleaser created intentionally. September 2, 2014 at 7:42am Reply

    • Victoria: And I was so excited by their Mon Parfum Cherie, but it has been discontinued. September 2, 2014 at 11:00am Reply

      • Austenfan: I think they have reissued the EDP of MPCPC, at least it is back on their website. September 2, 2014 at 12:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: Oh good! I missed it returning. September 2, 2014 at 1:45pm Reply

      • Alex: It’s back Victoria! Only edp but it’s back and doesn’t seem reformulated 🙂 September 2, 2014 at 1:54pm Reply

        • Victoria: Wonderful news! Thank you and Austenfan for pointing it out. My mom really loved it, so I wanted to get a bottle for her. September 2, 2014 at 2:02pm Reply

  • Erin: They have the new owners, don’t they? September 2, 2014 at 8:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, they got a new owner last year, I believe. September 2, 2014 at 10:56am Reply

  • samantha: disappointing to hear this. i was hoping for something like quel amour, my favorite, but greener based on the descriptions i read. September 2, 2014 at 9:03am Reply

    • Victoria: You should still try it. It’s not much greener than Quel Amour, but it is also a sparkling rose-peony with a fruity twist. September 2, 2014 at 10:56am Reply

      • samantha: thank you! i’ll try it anyway. just hope that it will last. non-lasting perfumes are my petpeeve. September 2, 2014 at 11:50am Reply

        • Victoria: Hope that it will last better on you. On me, it was really fleeting. September 2, 2014 at 12:20pm Reply

  • Ola: Actually, first I smell it, I liked. I found it very green and metallic, I put it on my T-shirt, a few days later I resmelled it made me think about Hermes perfumes. I definitely agree with you that it is a “commercial” fragrance, anyway I like it. I rarely wear it alone, usually with The Different Company “After Midnight”, and twice people approched me outside asking what perfume I wear, that it smells very well. Agree with you, it has nothing to do with Rose Absolue ou Rose Splendide, I feel it really green, and according to my experience and conversations with AG customers, I think this perfume won’t make those who are keen on Hadrien or Rose change their perfume but will definitely recruit new clients, that do not wear AG perfumes till now. September 2, 2014 at 9:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I understand the reason why they launched something so commercial, and that’s their call. But as a consumer, I don’t want to spend so much money on a fragrance I can find elsewhere for less. And this is what bothers me about this launch more than the fact that it is simple and likable.

      But I can see how it can be very pretty layered with something else! September 2, 2014 at 10:55am Reply

  • jillie: Oh that’s so sad. I was hoping that it might be a replacement for my loved Eau de Camille, but it seems not. I guess that Ola is right – this might appeal to new customers, but I mourn the loss of old favourites (maybe they contained restricted ingredients?) and feel frustrated at the ever rising prices. Thank you for giving us your honest opinion. September 2, 2014 at 10:12am Reply

    • Victoria: I also regret that they discontinued Folavril, Eau du Ciel, Myrrhe Ardente, and Vetiver. Some of their best perfumes! And Eau de Camille is another little beauty I will miss.

      But at least, my beloved Sables and Quel Amour are still around. Which were your other Goutal favorites, Jillie? September 2, 2014 at 10:52am Reply

      • jillie: I too regret Eau de Ciel and Myrrh Ardente. Others that I like are still, thankfully, in production: Eau d’Hadrien (every summer), Ce Soir ou Jamais, Rose Absolue, Songes. Typing that list makes me realise how much I must like Annick Goutal as a range, and there are plenty of others that I have also worn in the past! September 2, 2014 at 11:07am Reply

        • Victoria: I have also worn many of their perfumes, including most of the one you mention. It was one of the first niche houses I’ve discovered, and it was love at first sniff. Their perfumes were so different from others I have worn until then, and even today, Eau d’Hadrien, Sables or Gardenia Passion stand out. They are niche classics, as it were. September 2, 2014 at 11:33am Reply

          • Ola: Victoria, you wear Sables? I like to play a game and caracterise people with perfumes they wear. It’s fun but I will never imagine you wear Sables. But propbably it depends on mood, it has a strong character. September 3, 2014 at 11:05am Reply

            • Victoria: I like to mix things up. 🙂 September 3, 2014 at 2:32pm Reply

    • Ola: I’ve heard that either Eau de Camille or Eau de Ciel will be back in 2015. Actually the strategy is to discontinue some fragrances for a moment in order to let the customers discover new creations. But they are trying to relaunch the perfumers that where discontinued for a period. It’s the case for Eau de Monsieur, Mon Parfums Chéri, candle Sac de Ma Mère. And usually the formula is untouched. September 3, 2014 at 11:02am Reply

  • Jaime: Thanks for such an honest review — this is why I appreciate your blog. :o) September 2, 2014 at 10:31am Reply

    • Victoria: I love the house very much, and there are several perfumes from it that are among my top favorites, but Vent de Folie won’t be one of them. Too bad. September 2, 2014 at 10:50am Reply

  • Adriana Galani: Vetiver is a beauty indeed. One of my top favorites as well. It is sad to notice more and more this wave of “likable” “easy going” fragrances and me for all, the one for heavy tones suffers deeply. So many houses I liked got into it that now I am actually fearing to even sniff into any new releases. And, still, my biggest disappointment has been “La Petite Robe Noire”, which I had already imagined before smelling and when I did it was a… “o no” – as unexciting as so many others, but the ache was, this has been a Guerlain right…. 🙁 September 2, 2014 at 11:26am Reply

    • Victoria: The more I smell it, I realize that La Petite Robe Noire was still interesting when it was first released, a gourmand with a twist. It was also very good quality and memorable. I can smell it on someone walking down the street and instantly recognize it as such. Some of their sequels like La Petite Robe Noire Couture were also good, while the EDT was less so.

      Vetiver, even in the lighter cologne form, is one of most distinctive vetivers on the market, so it is sad to see it go. September 2, 2014 at 11:35am Reply

  • Patricia: I haven’t tried many Goutal fragrances, but I own and love L’Eau d’Hadrien, Ninfeo Mio, and Heure Exquise. Sounds like I can skip this one, though, and move right to some of the roses you have recommended. September 2, 2014 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: I completely forgot Heure Exquise and Grand Amour when I was chatting with Jillie about some of my favorites. Heure Exquise is often compared to Chanel No 19, but it’s warmer, rounder and has a very different character.

      If you like roses or fresh florals, you can find much better ones, I think. September 2, 2014 at 12:20pm Reply

      • jillie: How could I forget Heure Exquise!!?? I will wear that tomorrow now that you have both reminded me about it! It’s just perfect when I want Chanel 19 but want to be cosy. September 2, 2014 at 12:56pm Reply

        • Victoria: You put it so well–a cozier, less formal version of No 19. September 2, 2014 at 1:47pm Reply

    • Austenfan: I’m guessing a lot of their fragrances might actually really suit you well. September 2, 2014 at 12:41pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Sad to read this, though in my cynical ways not really surprised. I hope the new owners will, if only on occasion, give Isabel Doyen more of a free rein and more of a budget. She is one of my favourite noses and Goutal is probably one of the best represented houses in my collection.
    Really great to hear that she knows her materials so well. She has created some really odd but still wearable scents. Eau du Fier anyone? September 2, 2014 at 12:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: Eau du Fier is an ingenious blend of smoke and fruit. Few perfumers managed to go there. It makes me want to blend osmanthus into lapsang souchong tea and see what it would taste like. September 2, 2014 at 1:45pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: I don’t think I’ll give it a try, it sounds so generic… But I absolutely love Heure Exquise, hopefully they won’t discontinue it! I also wanted to try Eau de Ciel but it disappeared before I even got a chance 🙁 September 2, 2014 at 12:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Generic and very expensive! I would rather put the money towards a replacement bottle of Songes or Heure Exquise. September 2, 2014 at 1:46pm Reply

  • Annikky: This sounds disappointing. And while it may be wishful thinking on my part, I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do commercially, either. The awareness of niche lines is constantly increasing – if I look at my relatively small home town Tallinn, three fragrance boutiques have opend this year and it’s some challenging (and expensive) stuff that they are selling. I read quite a variety of beauty blogs and they are much, much more perfume-literate these days than even two years ago. Going mainstream now, trading your hard-won niche credentials for the hope of quick success? Maybe they are right, but I’m not convinced.

    Also, there are so many alternative ways of doing marketing. One does not have to match the big guys, billboard for billboard. The consumer is out there: I introduced a coworker to GdC Black, got her a bottle and now she’s happily wearing it. I gave a gift to another colleague and there was a Mona di Orio Ambre sample in the bag, so now the entire floor smells of it. One of my friends had a birthday last week and I got her a bottle of Shalimar, that she has grown to love lately. I brought another a sample of L’Ombre dans L’Eau and she was instantly smitten. I was wearing copious amounts of Epic and everyone thought I smelled wonderful. Whatever one’s opinion of these perfumes, dainty fruity florals these are not. None of those people – except for me – had a thing for perfumes. They were not into challenging, different scents. But they could be, they only need to be approached as intelligent, sentient human beings. Generosity with free samples/selling sample sets, stopping the snobbery and arrogant sales practices, educating consumers about ingredients, understanding and using social media might be a few places where to start.

    Oops. Ranting. September 2, 2014 at 2:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: I completely agree with you. The perfume marketing companies keep underestimating their consumers, and frankly, if you reach via the traditional way, then you don’t have many chances with educating your audience. You really have to approach it all differently. Now, the advantage of niche brands is this flexibility and the ability to offer new ideas. When I see a house like Annick Goutal copying the “big boys”, I can only shake my head, because it is counterproductive in the long run. I only hope that they will alternate safe launches with something to attract its core clients.

      And then, you can do instantly likable and still be interesting. September 2, 2014 at 3:08pm Reply

  • George: http://nowfashion.com/vent-de-folie-by-annick-goutal-with-street-artist-nasty-9631

    Here’s a promotional video on VdF if anyone is interested. I can’t read French accents in order to be able to tell how posh these two are. But neither they, the brand, or the perfume as reviewed say street art to me. I do quite like the customised bottles though.

    On another note, do try Jack by Richard E Grant if you get the chance! Haven’t got much past the opening on my first trial, but that was great! I will trial for longer at some point. The opening is something I think you would love. September 2, 2014 at 2:27pm Reply

    • rainboweyes: I like the idea of customised bottles too; the video seems to be more innovative than the scent itself, though 😉 September 2, 2014 at 3:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: I will do!

      The customized bottles are great, and that’s the best part of this launch. Not sure what about this perfume can say “street art.” September 2, 2014 at 3:12pm Reply

  • Elena: Ah, disappointing! I will probably give this a spritz at the counter, but I can already tell I won’t be buying it. I just got a bottle of Un Matin d’Orage a couple of weeks ago, and to me that is something easy to wear and “safe”, in that I feel I can wear it anywhere without risk of offending anyone. I’m sorry that they feel that they have to go so far in the commercial direction that they have lost sight of what makes the line great. Of course this will probably end up being a big seller for them and we will be stuck with more of the same. September 2, 2014 at 3:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Un Matin d’Orage is a good example of simple, safe, but still interesting. I understand why they want to expand their audience, but really, for a niche brand spreading itself too thin simply dilutes its ethos and aesthetics, especially for a brand as romantic and personal as Annick Goutal. September 3, 2014 at 11:50am Reply

  • Nancy A.: With the purchase by Amore Pacific of Goutal I hope that the creation of fragrances will not be compromised.

    Also, while I missed the review and giveaway (August 28) I had just a very interesting book, The Hotel on Place Vendome (scandal, betrayal, love) a well-researched factual story of The Ritz Hotel in Paris. One chapter touches on Mlle. Coco Chanel. Her involvement with Hitler, her anti-Semitism, playing host to many paramours and her “perfume giveaways” of Chanel 5 for reasons of monetary gain and “favors”. September 2, 2014 at 3:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, you’re right, it was Amore Pacific that bought Goutal! September 3, 2014 at 11:50am Reply

  • Daisy: AG is one of my favorite perfume houses, but I found this one disappointing as well as confusing. Wasn’t its inspiration NYC? Surely we deserved something a little more interesting! September 2, 2014 at 3:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: I know! That was another thing. NYC as embodied by this wan floral? Come on! September 3, 2014 at 11:51am Reply

  • Cybele: Hi Victoria, interesting that Goutal is one of your favorite houses, I don’t get on with it at all. Exceptions are some of the more masculine/unisex scents such as Duel, Musc Nomade and Sables but I have not found anything else that captured me. I am also not a fan of the bottles and whole aesthetics…but I will need to do some more testing. September 2, 2014 at 3:46pm Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Same with me. September 2, 2014 at 5:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: Its old-fashioned romantic aesthetic makes sense for the line, which is so personal, a collection of Annick Goutal’s favorite scents. But I can see why it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Duel and Sables are terrific, and yes, I should have mentioned the excellent Musc Nomade too. September 3, 2014 at 11:52am Reply

  • Steven Verstraete: I was always a fan of Annick Goutal. Eventhough not all of their perfumes I would wear. But they seemed always to have this romantic flow.
    Nowadays I am disappointed. The existing scents smell diluted and are only a shadow of what they used to be. I wanted to buy the Rose Absolue in Paris. Until I smelled it. it was like they added rainwater to the formula. I asked the salesperson in the boutique Goutal if something was changed that it smelled different. And she told me that the only thing changed was the alcohol. That this could be why I think it was smelling different. for the rest the formula was unchanged… Such a pity that some moneymaker that bought this beautiful perfume house doesn’t understand the essence, heart and soul of this brand… September 2, 2014 at 3:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I feel the same way. I wouldn’t wear all of their perfumes, but I appreciate them for a very specific aesthetic and feel. I haven’t had a chance to try the newer formulations, so I’m sorry to hear that they are now different. I simply hope that Goutal won’t take the same confusing route as L’Artisan Parfumeur and lose its identity in the process. September 3, 2014 at 11:54am Reply

  • Figuier: So disappointing! I’ve been a fan of Goutal ever since I first encountered niche perfumes, and in addition to the bottles I own there are so many great perfumes in the line-up that I’ve been keen to purchase in due course: Mandragore, Neroli, Rose Splendide, Ninfeo Mio…

    But then they switched in eau de colognes for several of the brighter edts, including Eau du Sude & Eau D’Hadrien, both of which I’d been hoping to buy in their earlier formulations; and then the font was changed to dreadful, cheap-looking caps, making decants look a lot more attractive. Now it seems they’re morphing still further, aping mainstream “shampoo fragrance” brands without the budget or the kudos…

    It’s excessive I know to break into a lament over what may after all turn out to be minor adjustments. But my attachment to the brand makes it hard to be unmoved in the face of changes for the worse, however minor 🙁 September 3, 2014 at 7:21am Reply

    • Victoria: I completely understand, and it doesn’t seem excessive, especially when it comes to fragrances we wear loyally. After all, a perfume is one of the most personal, intimate adornments, and our associations with favorite scents are so special and strong. September 3, 2014 at 11:57am Reply

  • Carolyn Middleton: Am so disappointed with the review as I was hoping this might be a possibility for me, despite being aimed at a much younger market. AG was, for me like for so many who have commented, one of the first ‘niche’ lines I discovered – & as I have mentioned on this site before, Eau de Camille was my signature, closely followed by Eau de Ciel, though I think I may have given up the latter as I got older – but I would NEVER have stopped wearing Camille. AG fragrances just don’t seem to be that special any more, & I agree with those who said that the value for money doesn’t seem to be there either. I may swing by the Motcomb Street store when I’m in London in December but a visit is no longer on my ‘must do’ list, which is a shame, as for so many years it was a highlight – though I preferred the Mount Street store, which didn’t seem to last very long. September 3, 2014 at 10:10am Reply

    • Victoria: I was very much anticipating it, so it was a letdown to try it in the end. But as Ola says, it looks like they might relaunch your favorites soon. So, that’s very good. September 3, 2014 at 11:45am Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: It’s so disappointing when a niche company with a distinctive point of view sells out and goes bland and mainstream! I was introduced to the Goutal scents in college by an older friend- a sophisticated grad student!- and I didn’t like them at first because they smelled “weird” and unlike any normal perfumes I was familiar with, but as I got older, I cam to appreciate the lovely, bottle nostalgia of “Heure Exquise” and the full-grown sultriness of “Quel Amour” and her unique intrepretations of single flowers like honeysuckle and rose. I also liked that they were comparatively hard to find- not in Macy’s or every other boring department store! It saddens me to know that the late Mme. Goutal’s legacy is now no more special than JLo Glow. September 3, 2014 at 6:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: There are still wonderful perfumes in the collection, and I hope that they will launch distinctive scents too in the future. After all, they have such a terrific creative team at the helm as Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen. September 4, 2014 at 12:59pm Reply

  • Soraya: The AG House was also love at 1st sniff for me. And to have sniffed Vent de Folie recently, made me feel so….betrayed?!! Haha, yes melodramatic much! But i honestly think i’ve sniffed better more complex scents at LUSH.

    I didn’t know they’ve discontinued Myrrhe Ardante :'( it was one of my favorites along with Ambre Fetiche, Duel, Eu du Soud and Mandragore. September 17, 2014 at 1:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t mind simple, but this perfume just lacks character completely. And yes, I expect so much more from Goutal. September 18, 2014 at 4:54am Reply

  • Kate Daniels: Just got news Annick Goutal shops will be having a service for ordering some of their discontinued fragrances. From what I gathered, it would only be available in the shops and the scents available would be from the fairly recent losses such as Myrrhe Ardente, Folavril, le Jasmin, Eau de Camille and the beautiful original Vetiver in the edt concentration. Not sure about Eau du Fier though, which is a shame, and it’s unlikely the really old discontinued scents like Eau de Lavande will come back but still, overall I’m happy. September 30, 2014 at 11:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for the update! These are great news. I’d love for them to reissue Eau du Fier, but I will be happy enough with Myrrhe Ardente and Eau de Camille. September 30, 2014 at 1:56pm Reply

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