Review: Annick Goutal La Violette — 4.0 points

Nothing spells quaint like a good old violet scent. It was a defining note of perfumery during the early twentieth century when most, if not all, down puffs, toiletries, and fragrances were perfumed with violet notes. Therefore, anything that boasts violets certainly has a vintage vibe.

But for La Violette (Annick Goutal, 2001), it is not just about reminiscing that vintage powder puffs, violet corsages, and candies of era past. There is also a natural quality and an interesting accent to it that make La Violette a special soliflore.

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Perfumer Isabelle Doyen must have revisited this seemingly old-fashioned and outworn note with such a focus. One is greeted with the veiled sweetness of rose and fruity raspberry. These come on strongly at first and settle into a palpable element throughout. Along with these is the characteristic powdery note of violets. Here, La Violette contains as much as 48% of isomethyl-α-ionone and 19% β-ionone, mirroring nature’s very own proportion of 35.7% α-ionone and 21.1% β-ionone. And, with a green violet leaf touch, the composition is convincingly photorealistic.

But these overdosed ionones are just part of the violet story, for there is a special peppery, woody touch to La Violette. It becomes more prominent as time passes and lasts until the musky dry down. I find that this adds an interesting dusky contrast to the sweetness of the ionones.

It is by no means a complex or ornate composition, but the simplicity is key. The nuances that make violets charming are captured here along with the subtle but assertive peppery, woody contrast. Simply put, La Violette keeps it short and sweet, which is why it is a memorable delight.

Sources: annickgoutal.com; M Cautschi, JA Bajgrowicz, P Kraft, Chimia 2001, 55, 379; Scent and Chemistry The Molecular World of Odors

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Review: Bleu de Chanel (EdT) — 3.0 points

A sniff and one can tell that Bleu de Chanel is not so concerned about originality and memorable character. What matters is that it simply needs to sell and the fragrance division ought to play safe with the demographic to which it is marketed. The result is thus something well-liked by the mass, and such a creation tends to get lost in the crowded shelf. It is difficult to recall its scent amidst the sea of other similar beings.

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But, once you have picked out the full-bodied citrus and the transparent ambery-woody warmth in Bleu de Chanel, it is not entirely impossible. The composition may not stand out at all, but the promise of quality makes it decent. Its balanced composition and quality materials might even rank it above many of its brethren.

The framework of Bleu de Chanel is a contrast between citrusy freshness and ambery-woody warmth. A juicy citrus with hints of fresh lavender-recalling dihydromyrcenol creates the freshness. The woody centre takes to nutmeg, dry woods, and warm ambery notes. The contrast is there, but it does not create much of an impact because such a theme has been done countless of times. Nor can the fresh marine accents and fine musky quality towards the end impart any signature.

Yes, it is unoriginal, and I find it hard to be impressed. But it is not a ‘bad’ composition. After all, it strikes a balance between bright freshness and warm sensuality. And, its ingredients smell plenty of quality: round and clear citrus, spicy nutmeg, warm crisp ambery note, and subtle musks. Hence, even if Bleu de Chanel does not break new grounds, its balance and quality result in a nice smell, decent sillage, and longevity.

A side note on the name: The current Bleu de Chanel (2010) bears no relation to the vintage perfumes from the Le 1940 de Chanel collection that includes Bleu de Chanel, Beige de Chanel, and Rouge de Chanel.

Sources: chanelperfumebottles.blospot.com, Scent and Chemistry The Molecular World of Odors, odlewkiperfum.pl