yves saint laurent: 16 posts

Yves Saint Laurent Oriental Collection Majestic Rose : Perfume Review

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It’s easy to dismiss the Oriental Collection from Yves Saint Laurent as yet another banal attempt to capture the attention of the Gulf markets. Hence, we have the luxury packaging, high prices and a trite press release. Noble Leather, Majestic Rose, Supreme Bouquet and Splendid Wood are said to be inspired by “the splendor of the East.” But overload of orientalism aside, the collection judged only on its olfactory merits is very good. The ideas are clever, interesting and well-executed. And, as I discovered when traveling in Oman, traditional Gulf perfumery is spectacular enough to emulate.

rose-india

In traditional Middle Eastern and Persian Gulf perfumery, rose and oud are important players. With the discovery of oud by European and American perfumes, dark roses have become common enough, and every line worth its prestige brand name has attempted them with varying levels of success. Blend rose with enough dark woods, and even a novice can approximate something vaguely “eastern”, but what makes traditional perfumery and fragrances like Majestic Rose interesting is their use of bright accents. Harmony, especially if we’re talking about dark, rich notes, is hard to achieve.

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Lips Like Rose Petals

I blame my current infatuation with color on taking up embroidery after a long hiatus. As I play with fabric and thread and search for the right kind of ivory to sparkle against white linen, I give more thought to the colors around me, sometimes even too much. “Wouldn’t that be a great pairing!” I think as I walk over a chocolate brown grate that my Brussels commune stamps with its lemon yellow seal. When I’m not admiring the exquisite detail of local plumbing, I indulge my color obsession via my makeup kit.

rose-lipstick

Makeup is a natural way to explore color, because face products–lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, powders–allow for an infinite variation of shades and gradations of tones. Depending on the texture and transparency, the same hue can take a different cast, not to mention the effect provided by your own skin. Of course, it’s also an excuse for adding to my makeup wardrobe, because as I delve further into my embroidery and as the summer roses bloom with more abandon, my collection grows steadily. One pink is suddenly not enough. I want all of the roses on my lips.

But alas, roses proved to be a difficult case. While reds and berries suit my pale complexion well, roses and pinks can emphasize the yellowish cast of my skin and make me look as if I haven’t slept for days. The swatching exercise below was done chiefly to organize my stash. The result is a selection of mini-reviews. I prefer my cosmetics unscented, but some of my favorite formulas have a strong scent. I added short fragrance notes, in case you’re picky about this aspect of your lipstick.

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Yves Saint Laurent Y : Perfume Review

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Elisa on a timeless, elegant and somewhat underrated chypre.

A green chypre can feel golden and warm, like the opulent Safari by Dominique Ropion, or chilly and aloof with iris, such as the archetypal Chanel No. 19 and Paco Rabanne Metal. I associate the warm, galbanum-dense chypres with autumn, while I always seem to reach for cool chypres like Metal in spring.

ysl y

YSL’s Y, released in 1964, is immediately recognizable as a green chypre, but has a different feel from others in this family. To me, it’s a summer chypre, with the same aspirational mansion-in-the-Hamptons air as Estee Lauder White Linen. When I play tennis, I do it on free courts, not in backyards, but either way, this seems like the perfect perfume for a doubles match, especially if you’re wearing a skirt. If you prefer to watch from the lawn with a glass of white wine, it would be lovely for that too.

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Yves Saint Laurent Opium (New) : Perfume Review

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Opium. Even if you haven’t worn Opium yourself, just the name of this perfume by Yves Saint Laurent is enough to conjure its controversial and dramatic personality. Opium came out in 1977 and it marked a whole era with its spicy, fiery carnation scent. In the 1980s, when neither perfume nor hair could be too big, it held its own alongside Christian Dior Poison, Giorgio Beverly Hills and other heavy hitters.

opium

My relationship with Opium and other big 1980s perfumes is ambivalent. I recognize their genius; I admire their boldness and verve. But whenever I wear Opium in all of its “pre-reformulation” spicy glory, it feels like I’m playing dress up. I can’t make it my own. But Yves Saint Laurent left us with no choice. In 2009, the house discontinued Opium and reintroduced a new version. The original formula of Opium contained so many ingredients considered allergenic that trying to save it was a losing battle.

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Past Perfect : Return to Retro Glamour

In the July column of the Financial Times Magazine, I talk about the reissued perfume classics we’ve been seeing lately–Balmain Ivoire, Molinard Habanita, and Jacomo Silences, among others.  Titled Past Perfect, the article is my recap of the latest “retro glamour” trend. There are many unromantic reasons why it’s tempting for perfume companies to reintroduce classics (for instance, having the rights to an existing brand), but perhaps we’re really craving more glamour. I certainly do!

CornellCapaTheBolshoiBallet

“There is a distinctive retro vibe in the air these days. Strolling through the aisles of a local perfume boutique, I suddenly noticed something that I hadn’t seen for years — Ivoire de Balmain. The bottle, a heavy glass square filled with peach-tinted liquid, was different from the original all-white flacon of this 1979 classic, but the perfume itself was recognisably Ivoire. It smelled of clean skin scrubbed with jasmine soap, crushed green buds and a whisper of earthy patchouli. It was softer and sweeter than I remembered it, but I liked its glamorous aura. To read the rest, please click here.”

If I had one perfume wish, it would be for Jean Patou to reissue Vacances as close to the original as possible. It was an exquisite blend of lilac, rose and green sap. I also would have liked for Guerlain Après l’Ondée, my favorite classic, to become available in the parfum form, but that’s already crossing into the realm of fantasy.

What is your favorite classical perfume? What perfume wishes do you have? 

Bolshoi Ballet School, Moscow, 1958, photography by Cornell Capa via 0rchid-thief.livejournal.com.

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