Givenchy L’Interdit 2018 : Fragrance Review

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Givenchy the couturier was catapulted into stardom by his work with Audrey Hepburn. Their partnership resulted in one of the most distinctive wardrobes in fashion history, from the embroidered gown of Sabrina to the little black dress of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Equally important was Hepburn’s role in making Givenchy the perfumer. L’Interdit was the first Givenchy perfume, and whether Hepburn wore it or not, she claimed it as her signature fragrance. 

The original 1957  L’Interdit was a floral aldehydic with enough elegance to make one feel dressed up, even if you wore only pyjamas. Think Chanel No 5, but soft, warm and with a delicious strawberry note.

I say was, because in 2005 Givenchy reformulated it. The change was done by perfumer Aurelien Guichard, and it made the fragrance less aldehydic and starchy, but also simpler. Still, as far as updates go, it was decent in that it retained the character of the original. You can read my more detailed review, in which I compare the original and the 2005 version.

This year Givenchy once again tinkered with L’Interdit. I never figured out what frightened actress Rooney Mara who fronted the marketing campaign, but I had my own fears. I was worried that the new L’Interdit will have nothing of the original.

I wasn’t entirely wrong. The new formulation made L’Interdit into a fruity tuberose in the spirit of Juicy Couture. Mind you, it’s a very nicely done, cheery tuberose, but it smells nothing like the original perfume Audrey Hepburn might have worn. 

To be fair, Givenchy doesn’t promote it as such, and the whole idea behind the relaunch is to update the brand. I also realize how difficult of a task it is, because the original L’interdit, being powdery and aldehydic, is the most challenging type of fragrance for contemporary perfume wearers. And alas, it doesn’t have the cachet of No 5.

So, I decided to treat L’Interdit for my review as a completely new fragrance. Created by Dominique Ropion, Anne Flipo and Fanny Bal, it’s a nicely done tuberose, with a good balance of musky and woody notes. The white creaminess of tuberose is played up by jasmine and orange blossom, with patchouli lending the finish a pleasing depth. The woods and a touch of amber tone down the sweetness of white florals that make up the bouquet, while citrus makes it airy and bright. It would be a daytime perfume that doesn’t demand too much of its wearer and yet lasts well.

In a word, L’Interdit is charming. If you enjoy florals with a woody twist, it’s worth trying.

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41 Comments

  • Nora Szekely: Hi Victoria and perfume lovers,
    Is there any notable new fragrance release nowadays NOT involving Dominique Ropion? Especially if tuberose is included among the notes. “We need to add tuberose, call The Ropion! ” 🙂
    On a more serious note, I sampled this a few weeks ago and found it rather forgettable. I never tried the original, will have to seek it out especially as I grew up watching Audrey Hepburn’s movies.
    If they take the composition to another direction, I wish companies would use different names not recycling their old flagships’s names. It does not make sense to me: if the name rings a bell, you’ll be disappointed by the change, if not, what does it matter whether it’s a new or an old name? January 4, 2019 at 9:18am Reply

    • Silvermoon: Hello Nora, I get really frustrated with this naming issue too. Why not use a new name if one is completely changing the smell as well as the direction or spirit of a perfume? I agree with you that it either disappoints or makes no difference. Of course, it’s worse when one appropriates someone else’s name (I am thinking Dior Joy here).

      It is sort of the reverse of “a rose by any other name is still a rose”! January 4, 2019 at 10:04am Reply

      • Neva: Hi Silvermoon, I wholehartedly agree. If it’s a new fragrance, give it a new name. Otherwise the fans of the old variations hope for something similar. Remember all the Zen’s by Shiseido? It literally drove me crazy to find out the perfumes and the bottles were completely different, yet the name remained the same…
        I’m no tuberose fan so I’ll check the new L’interdit out only to be informed. January 4, 2019 at 1:07pm Reply

      • Victoria: At least make it distinctive enough to live up to the name. January 5, 2019 at 1:18am Reply

    • Victoria: The name is priceless, so they wouldn’t give it up. But I agree, it’s misleading, if you knew the original. And confusing. January 5, 2019 at 1:17am Reply

  • Filomena: L’Interdit was once my signature fragrance. It was elegant and beautiful and it saddens me that they completely changed it. They should have changed the name too. January 4, 2019 at 12:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: I liked the original too. January 5, 2019 at 1:18am Reply

  • Qwendy: I really loved the original L’Interdit, which I found very abstractly Vintage during the period when I only wore Vintage scents.

    I remember fondly visiting a Perfumery in Beverly Hills which had lots of original Vintage perfume (no doubt disappeared) with a
    Perfume Pal who sniffed it for the first time saying in amazement “ I had no idea she (Audrey H) smelled like THIS!” It is a very sexy perfume!

    I agree with Nora, why not call the follow ups to legendary scents (which I doubt anyone under 40 remembers) something else? L’Inderdit Revisited Squared? January 4, 2019 at 12:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Shuddering at the thought! But I wouldn’t be surprised if they start with the flankers. January 5, 2019 at 1:19am Reply

  • Anita T. Monroe: There was no need to change L’Interdit..It was not “old-fashioned” and many people love it as it still should be..I’ve worn it for years, tried the new one, not knowing that it had been changed, and was deeply disappointed…I have a good supply, thanks to e-Bay, but I’m hoping for it to return in its original form.. January 4, 2019 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: It was always a cult favorite at Givenchy, but they haven’t done enough to promote it. January 5, 2019 at 1:20am Reply

  • Lydia: Thank you for this review. I love Audrey Hepburn and have always wanted to smell the original L’interdit. I’ll give this one a pass and keep hoping I can find a true vintage.

    I never thought of myself as a perfume rebel before, but the popular perfumes these days are mostly so opposed to what I love and search for in a scent that I have developed a slight attitude about it. Basically, if someone says a perfume is “old ladyish” I immediately want to try it, but if it’s presented as fresh and modern (or, God forbid, “clean”) I lose interest.. I guess it’s good to know one’s own taste, anyway. January 4, 2019 at 12:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree! So many new launches seem devoid of personality. Yet, there are always surprises. Honestly, if Givenchy launched this perfume and didn’t reuse the name, it would be just fine. It’s nicely done. January 5, 2019 at 1:32am Reply

  • Karen Elizabeth Garthe: I do have a small bottle of the 2005 version and it does smell quite dated. I was curious about the new one ( and why Givenchy would reissue other than to literally capitalize on iconic celebrity) but was shocked both by the extent to which the new embodies NONE of the older version, but above all how terribly ordinary and boring it is. Anti-iconic. Somewhat vulgar. January 4, 2019 at 4:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Anti-iconic is a good way to describe it. January 5, 2019 at 1:32am Reply

  • aa: Thanks for the review, Victoria! I’d be glad to give it a sniff. I know people who have tried it and said it was really well-made for a mainstream release (unlike the generic Dior Joy).

    I’m just curious to know if you’ve smelled other mainstream white florals such as Prada La Femme and Ralph Lauren Woman. If you have, how would you compared the new L’Interdit to those two? Thanks and have a good day! January 4, 2019 at 11:17pm Reply

    • aa: *compare January 4, 2019 at 11:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Both Prada and RL are nicely done. Not groundbreaking, but if you like florals, they’re worth trying. Both are slightly less sweet than L’Interdit. January 5, 2019 at 1:34am Reply

      • aa: Thank you Victoria! January 5, 2019 at 3:46am Reply

  • Richard Goller: I always enjoy reading your reviews of big new releases, especially when so many other reviews are totally negative. January 4, 2019 at 11:43pm Reply

  • Tara C: All that perfumery firepower, Ropion, Flipo and Bal, wasted on another insipid juice. Such a shame. We all know they are capable of better, so the blame goes squarely on the shoulders of the bean-counters at Givenchy. January 5, 2019 at 12:29am Reply

    • Victoria: Exactly! Ropion alone could have created a true bombshell tuberose. January 5, 2019 at 1:34am Reply

  • Dušan: I think Rooney Mara should only be used to front sour-faced, lacklustre perfumes, and we’re really spoilt for choice these days as far as those are concerned. January 5, 2019 at 5:54am Reply

  • Maria: I really like the original L’Interdit and now I’m wondering if they are going to do the same with Givenchy III, a green perfume I really used to love (sigh) January 5, 2019 at 9:08am Reply

  • Melissa: I do wish the name had been changed. There was also a 2007 version under Givenchy Les Parfums Mythique. It was lovely and bore some similarity to the original in that it was an elegant floral aldehydic. I remember preferring it to the ’05 version. But just like the original, the ’05 and the ’18 versions, they all say L’Interdit on the bottle. I find it tiresome trying to remember the differences between all of the vintages. January 5, 2019 at 1:22pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: I really had to laugh when reading your “I never figured out what frightened actress Rooney Mara who fronted the marketing campaign”. Honestly, what a photo?!
    I’ll be a bit naughty and hopefully not too crass: I think she skipped the long queue at the Ladies’ and went to the Gents’ (white bathroom tiles) instead. Thought to herself what a clever idea, but then the door opens suddenly, she swings around: click, the photo’s in the box… January 6, 2019 at 3:08am Reply

    • Aurora: 🙂 January 6, 2019 at 5:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Ha ha! That sounds like a good theory. I don’t get this ad at all. January 6, 2019 at 10:28am Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: I guess she’s supposed to do something or be somewhere very “interdit”? There is this genre of ads trying very hard to display a hyper-urban, care-free, and very individualistic vibe by selling an emotionless, blasé, WTF, I-couldn’t-care-less statement. Just a guess—very boring. January 6, 2019 at 11:19am Reply

    • Silvermoon: Great imagination! Hilarious! And somehow spot on. 😂 January 6, 2019 at 11:26am Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you for your review, Victoria, did they really need to change it again? I have some left of the original and also the 2005 version, will try this new one when I can, tuberose seems to be in many fragrances these days, I didn’t know it was favored by Dominique Ropion. I find tuberose difficult if too prominent, but like it when mixed with other floral notes or with plum. January 6, 2019 at 5:43am Reply

    • Victoria: He’s known for his white floral accords, but to me, this is too diluted by the marketing/sales/client teams. January 6, 2019 at 10:30am Reply

  • Adina: I have never smelled the original Interdit, but as far as the total image and aesthetic is concerned, I do not really like this new concept, I mean the advertisement and even the bottle. Rooney Mara in this ad doesn’t invite me to want to try the fragrance and I think the bottle is not very representative for the brand that Givenchy is. January 9, 2019 at 1:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: The bottle is based on the original Givenchy design, but the campaign is just weird. It doesn’t make sense to me. January 10, 2019 at 4:17am Reply

  • Vika: Many lovers of vintages sigh about rework of the perfumes. But still Many people like the composition. Thank you for your interesting blog. ))) January 9, 2019 at 11:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a well-made fragrance, and if one wants a bright, sweet floral, it’s a good option. January 10, 2019 at 4:18am Reply

  • Catherine: I feel very fortunate to have discovered, while packing to move, 5 bottles of L’Interdit bath oil. All purchased from a small store in St. Bart’s many years ago the store was closing. They were all still unopened and, on opening one to see if it was still unspoiled, the scent remained stable and still womderful.

    I wad told, years earlier by the owner of a small perfume shop in Paris, to buy bath oil in my favorite scent because it remains true longer than in other formulations with more alcohol. My knowledge of chemistry is scant so i dont know if that is true but the L’Interdit bath oil was unopened for over 20 years and is again my favorite scent, albeit used gingerly because it is so concentrated. January 11, 2019 at 11:25pm Reply

  • yomi: there was another version introducd in 1994, fleur d’interdit with a spicy opening…clove and pepper …. anything that? January 26, 2019 at 8:30am Reply

  • Alana: Just used a bit of the original l’interdit, purchased in 1967. It took over my entire bedroom and bath, will linger for some time. A little spritz is packed with memories. One remembrance is how many, many fewer cars were on the roads, parking places galore! (Then there was also Holly Galore….) March 5, 2019 at 3:46am Reply

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