Perfume names can be tricky. Noir leads you to imagine something glamorous and wickedly mysterious. You read Sport on the perfume bottle and before you even smell the top notes, you anticipate sharp citrus and lavender. Based on the name Etat Libre d’Orange Bijou Romantique, which in French means “a romantic jewel,” you’d expect something suitable for women who love kittens and wear far too much pink. I can almost hear Emily Howard from Little Britain saying, “It’s a lady’s perfume, and I’m a lady, you see.”
Now, as a woman who loves kittens—and really, who doesn’t!—and has enough pink accessories to dress up the whole city of Brussels, I don’t mind frilly and girly perfumes. But it’s not fair to call Bijou Romantique a frou-frou fragrance. It has a dose of retro charm thanks to its delicately powdered iris and jasmine, but the earthy vetiver and peppery bergamot give it an elegant austerity. Take a deeper inhale, and you suddenly realize that it’s a sibling of Shalimar, one of Guerlain’s crown jewels and the grandest of grand parfums.