jeudi 28 février 2013

The Story of Eau in 50 Shades of Pink




Has the same brief been circulating in all the perfume houses? This spring, the industry seems to have given in to a severe H2O fetish. Not aquatic, mind you: there is nary a drop of calone to be sniffed. No: what’s put forward here is freshness, conjured both by the word "eau" (or "acqua") and by citruses or light spring flowers."Fresh" being the average consumers' tag for just about any fragrance they feel comfortable with, even the heaviest hitters, while "strong" is a polite way of saying "yuck".

In niche, two major houses presented their new cologne collections in Paris this week.  Annick Goutal, under the ownership of the Korean group Amore Pacific (which also owns Lolita Lempicka) but still under the creative direction of Isabelle Doyen and Camille Goutal, is ushering in new packaging along with a trio of cologne versions of Néroli, Vétiver and L’Eau d’Hadrien (the current Néroli and Vétiver will no longer be produced).  
The LVMH-owned Acqua di Parma is also putting out a new cologne collection, Acque Nobile, composed by François Demachy, Aqua Nobile Iris, Magnolia and Gelsomino (jasmine). Not to be confused with the just-plain-Nobile line, which also features iris, magnolia and jasmine (one befuddled beauty editor muttered you’d soon be needing a PhD to keep it all straight).

Of course, both brands have a well-established legitimacy in colognes, with cult products like Eau d’Hadrien and Colonia.  Still, cologne seems to be trending in niche, something Atelier Cologne, one of the most successful new brands, has cleverly caught on by turning every note in the perfumer’s palette into a refreshing splash:  even the dusky grand dame of powerhouse scents is worked into a nautical theme in their latest, Mistral Patchouli. 

As for the mainstream, it’s unleashing a veritable tsunami of fresh floral flankers, all dubbed after some variation on H2O, and almost all of them in various shades of pink. Might be the swing of the pendulum after last year’s slew of “intense” versions of best-sellers (off the top of my head: Gucci Guilty, Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue, Paco Rabanne One Million and Lady Million Absolute Gold, Valentina Assoluto). While the industry’s craving for berries and caramel-coated wood is not quite abating (yes, Lanvin Me!, I’m looking at you), all these Eaux seem like a bid to capture the aquatics-loving market.

Narciso Rodriguez L’Eau for Her by Aurélien Guichard takes the original to the edge of the aquatic, with a “water flowers” accord of peony, muguet, cyclamen and mock orange. 
Bottega Veneta Eau Légère adds gardenia to the lovely apricot and leather chypre blend of the original. But oddly, on my skin the faint iodic, almost algae note that lent it saltiness is somehow amped up in this new version, also authored by Michel Almairac.
Prada Infusion d’Iris L’Eau d’Iris crowns its top notes with deftly-handled mint: the effect is crisp, fresh and green rather than mouthwash, and steers clear of the sinus-clearing intensity of many mint-themed scents. L’Eau d’Iris also features an oleander note, defined by Daniela Andrier as “powdery” and “almondy”.  This limited edition is still very recognizably the huge, white, powdery puff of iris and musk of the original.  


Even the sticky delights of the gourmands are being splashed with spring-like floral notes.  Prada Candy L’Eau has gone lighter on the caramel with an added freesia accord.  Lolita Lempicka is reincarnating into L’Eau Jolie, whose notes list (blackcurrant, pear, neroli, peach blossom) sounds nothing like the original, to say the least. Its distant offspring, La Petite Robe Noire, is coming out in an eau de toilette version with added jasmine and more citrus in the top notes.

Still going with the flow,  Balenciaga L’Eau Rose tugs Olivier Polge’s original violet towards the lipstick accord by adding the eponymous rose, also featured in Eau de Cartier Goutte de Rose. Not afraid of jumping in the pool:  Valentina Acqua Floreale  (Valentino) and Nina L’Eau (Nina Ricci), both signed by Olivier Cresp – who also authored the new Cerrutti 1881 Acqua Forte – and you’ve got more than a trend.  Oops! As I type this, the press release for Love Chloé Eau Florale is dropping into my inbox… And whoops!  A courier has just rung with a bottle of Roberto Cavalli Acqua…which breaks with the dress code by flaunting an aqua box.

I’m not passing olfactory judgment here, since I haven’t smelled the half of these more than once. Lots smelled lovely, and I’ve zeroed in on a couple of wows. But just to give them skin real estate, I’ll need to break out my swimsuit ahead of summer.If you hear a gurgling sound, please be so kind as to send a lifeguard.
 

28 commentaires:

  1. So many Eaux! Do not forget this year editions of Mugler's Angel and Alien Aqua Chic, together with the brand new Womanity Aqua Chic.
    But personally, I prefer to wear my orientals whole summer along!

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  2. Ela, thanks for adding to the list,which demonstrates my point even further.

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  3. Hi Denyse, I recently read somewhere that according to a salesperson in AG boutique there's a new fragrance coming up this year to the men's side of the collection. Do you know if this is separate or could the salesperson have just meant the cologne version of Vétiver?

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  4. Mikael, no such fragrance was presented this week, which of course doesn't mean there won't be a later launch. She could have been talking about Vétiver though the new collection is totally unisex.

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  5. Curious - which scents were your "wows"? :-)

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  6. Karin, I haven't really given any a full wear (just the one, several hours) except the Goutal Vétiver, so that's the one I'd put in the wow category for now.

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  7. Thank you so much for this illuminating overview - I have to say I'd noticed this major shift to the cologne myself and welcome it.
    Apart from anything else, it feels like a more democratic approach allowing both men and women to partake of the same scents - to which I say hurrah.
    My personal favourites remain Bensimon in both editions.

    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy
    theperfumeddandy.com

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  8. The Perfume Dandy, I don't know if the cologne approach is democratic, but it's certainly in some way a throwback to pre-modern, and often non-gendered perfumery. A couple of years ago I made an informal survey of my readers as to what they considered too butch or too femme to wear, regardless of their own gender, and the answer was basically 80s juices -- the big fougères and the frantic florals. Other than that, connoisseurs are always pretty much willing to cross the aisle.

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  9. So many Eaux, so little Temps, as Kevin on NST (and no doubt others) once said.

    AG's Neroli is not exactly a heavy hitter in its current formulation. I am disappointed to hear it may be even lighter.

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  10. Annemarie, Kevin does have a way with words! I am totally stealing that. I've yet to do the skin test on the neroli, I agree it's a pity both versions aren't maintained but this one bloomed quite nicely on the blotter.

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  11. Not expecting an instant full review, but I have to ask as I'm highly curious: what was the cologne Vétiver like, in general terms? Did it have the salty aspect of the original or is it an altogether different riff around vetiver?

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  12. Mikael, I've never worn the original so would have to dig up a sample to do a side by side. It's not an entirely different version, according to Isabelle Doyen, but it's less stern.

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  13. So-no more Eau de Hadrien Eau de Parfum? I don't want to hoard but I would like a bottle or two of this before it disappears forever. And I wonder if they have to change the body creams, too, to comply with new regulations.

    Thank you, as always, for the information!

    Sincerely,

    Carole

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  14. I too, am having a little trouble parsing that v. important sentence about the Goutal D/C's--Neroli and Vetiver are going in EDT?

    I wish the industry would give customers a wider vocabulary rather than bowing to tastes they can't articulate. But then I've been wishing that for a long while, regardless.

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  15. Sorry, meant EDP. But thought what I had in Neroli was EDT anyway and am now thoroughly confused.

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  16. Carole, from what I've understood, only the Néroli and Vétiver are straight-out replaced by cologne versions. Eau d'Hadrien is such a best-seller they're not going to pull anything, they're actually adding a product.

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  17. Alyssa, I've amended, hopefully things will be clearer. It was Isabelle Doyen herself who said "no more eau de parfum", but she may have just meant the Vétiver... Both that and the Néroli are colognes though, not eaux de toilette, and the formulas are a bit different. So: hoarding time for fans of the current versions, I guess.
    As for vocabulary... I guess as long as most SAs make the sales, they're not out to educate. You want "fresh"? I'll sell you fresh, no matter that it's actually a heavy hitter...

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  18. Hi,
    Speaking of AG, I read somewhere that Mon Parfum Chéri is being discontinued. Any news about that?

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  19. ack... wake me up when this trend has passed. you'll find me playing with perfumes that aren't afraid to smell like - you know - perfume.

    water is a lovely thing to drink, to bathe in, to swim in, to boat on, and i couldn't live without it, but that doesn't mean i need to have my perfumes watered down. i mean, what is the point? when they're watered down, they are diluted, and when they're diluted, they become too dull for my tastes.

    thankfully there are many full-bodied perfumes for me to enjoy!

    cheers,
    minette

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  20. Minette, from what I've sniffed, it isn't so much that they're diluted, as that these variations are freshened up with flowers. What's crazy is how EVERYONE is using "eau" this season!

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  21. denyse, you're no doubt right... i was just being thoroughly hyperbolic. although the eaux i have smelled really do leave me cold (sorry, but as example, the ateliers do nothing for me, and i've tried more than once to see their appeal, as they get so many positive reviews). but you know, i've never cared for eaux de cologne (okay, i like guerlain), so maybe it's just that.

    i love flowers though, so if someone's doing something good with flowers, i'll probably enjoy it. i'll certainly give everything a whirl, even if my luck with loving eaux has been nonexistent. because you just gotta smell it for yourself!

    it does seem that everyone is doing a scent, then doing an eau of it. as if the original weren't just fine. instead of flanking the heck out of something, why not just concentrate on making the original totally kick-ass?

    was it you who did the article that talked about it being cheaper to launch a flanker scent than to support the original? maybe that's what we're seeing.

    that or the continuing milquetoastifying of everything... heaven forbid you actually have a personality and stand out!

    be well. i enjoy your writing and points of view as ever.

    cheers,
    minette

    and say it isn't so - i love mon parfum cheri!

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  22. Minette, love "the continuing milquetoasting of everything" (I mean your phrase, not the fact). And, yes, it makes more sense for companies to do flankers -- you may have read something here, but it's something that's come up in a lot of places. Quite a few flankers get their own ad campaign, which isn't cheap, but still less of a risk than building up a whole new product.

    I don't think they'll be going away any time soon since it's easier to keep the customer coming back to your counter when a) the SA can show something new, b) it's a variation on what you already like, so that's easier for you as a consumer than to sort through hundreds of offerings. So that even if your original *is* kick-ass (thinking of contemporary classics like Infusion d'Iris or the Narciso), you'd pretty much have to go that route.

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  23. you're right i'm sure about the business-side of it. and it does make sense. i think i'm just always hoping to be wowed by something new, and flankers, though they might appeal (i do have three narcisos, so i'm clearly not immune to their appeal!), don't hold the promise and potential of something NEW. i realize that some flankers are totally unrelated to the originals construction-wise, and are linked in name only, so one sorta has to sniff them to see if there's something THERE. i guess i prefer an approach like les heures de cartier. i doubt we will see freshened versions of these. or at least i hope not. i love the boldness with which those are being done. i think mme. laurent has done an excellent job.

    and yes, i am sorely tired of the milquetoastifying of everything. it seems everyone's afraid of being bold, of having a personality, of standing for something. it's as if average has become the new ideal to which we should aspire. ah, well.

    ciao,
    minette


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  24. Minette, I remember reading in, I think, New Scientist, something about humans being hard-wired to feel a rush of pleasure from novelty. I guess some people get it from a newly tweaked Narciso, while others need a stronger dose. Considering how the average person sees fragrances -- as part of one's identity -- it does make sense not to stray too far from one's olfactory imprint. And how many times have I heard someone say "I went to Sephora to find something new but there was so much stuff I just went back to the same"...
    And glad you share my admiration for Les Heures!

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  25. And little off-topic: Denyse, are you goint to continue your IFF’s Speed-Smelling lunch post? I am so curious to read part II and details on the coffret.
    Ela

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  26. Ela, definitely, it's on my to-do list! It's just crazy right now trying to move forward with professional projects while preparing my trip to New York, Toronto and Montreal for my book launch... But I need to get cracking on it!

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