Dominique Ropion: 18 posts

Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey : Fragrance Review

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Many like to knock contemporary masculine perfumery. It’s boring. It’s bland. It’s all fake citrus and sharp lavender, fly the accusations. I have often been the accuser, but today I’m going to defend the valiant attempts to make a sensible masculine fragrance. Folks, making a good masculine is just so darn hard. As far as the audience goes, many men, especially in North America and Germany, are a conservative bunch. The consumer data tell the story: they are more hesitant to try something different. They prefer to wear fragrances similar to what their fathers wore. Many don’t want to admit they even wear scent. “I don’t wear perfume,” says my cousin as he walks around in a huge cloud of Axe body spray.

nuitissey

If perfume companies assume that men will wear anything under a familiar label, they make a mistake. Even if your average guy doesn’t want to push his boundaries with new scents, he still wants quality and classical good taste. When my cousin’s beloved Axe Apollo got reformulated and lost in diffusion and finesse, he instantly noticed it. What resulted was a soliloquy worthy of a Greek tragic hero.

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Ralph Lauren Safari : Fragrance Review

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Elisa on Safari, a ’90s classic with an ’80s spirit.

The ‘80s were a time that fetishized “adventure” – I grew up watching movies that took a page from Heart of Darkness, portraying Americans or Brits confronting the terrifying Other-ness of primitive African, Asian, and aboriginal cultures. Today’s audiences would find most of these films (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Crocodile Dundee, etc.) unwatchably offensive, and rightly so; their cultural moment has passed.

ralph-lauren-safari

Ralph Lauren Safari, composed by Dominique Ropion, was released in 1990, but feels to me like an ‘80s scent (cusp years cling more tightly to the previous decade than the following, I’ve found). As a concept perfume, it perfectly fits the adventurist trend, and I associate those striking Bridget Hall ads that I saw in every magazine as a kid with the old Banana Republic stores. (If you’re younger than me, you might not remember that their stock in trade at the time was khaki shorts and branded t-shirts, not pinstriped office-wear.)

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Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady : Perfume Review

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The news of Frédéric Malle selling his Editions de Parfums house to Estée Lauder reminded me that I haven’t gotten around to writing about one of the most intriguing fragrances from his collection, Portrait of a Lady. Why intriguing? Well, consider the name. If it brings to your mind the cool elegance of Henry James’s heroines, then you’re not alone. I also expected something along these lines–ultra refined, sophisticated and feminine. Except that it is all wrong. Portrait of a Lady is interesting precisely because the scent is not at all what you expect. It’s a twist on a Middle Eastern theme, and it’s not all that lady-like.

Picasso-Boy-with-Pipe

If you’ve already smelled traditional Middle Eastern perfumes or western blends inspired by them (Amouage, Kilian’s oudsArmani Privé Rose d’Arabie), then you might recognize similar elements in Portrait of a Lady. It has a generous dose of classical “oriental” notes–sandalwood, amber, patchouli, dark woods smoked over incense, and of course, rose. It has a similar dramatic and mysterious character that makes this perfume genre so distinctive.

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Givenchy Ysatis : Fragrance Review

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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.

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.

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Cacharel Amor Amor : Perfume Review

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If I were to select the best fruity floral perfume, it would be Cacharel Amor Amor. Of course, the best may be debatable, as is the true fruity-floral character–Amor Amor veers into the oriental family with its notes of vanilla, sandalwood and amber, but it’s such a good example of fun and bubbly that I find it hard to avoid overstatement. Amor Amor is both lighthearted and sophisticated, a simple shift dress made out of shocking pink fabric.

amor-amor

As a fashion brand, Cacharel is often described as French Girl chic–quirky prints and designs, minus the studied elegance of the more venerable couture houses. The perfume collection was designed to match the same spirit, but Amor Amor released in 2003 is its most successful embodiment.

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