Perfume Review: Elie Saab Le Parfum

I’ve been a pretty big fan of Francis Kurkdjian for awhile; his fragrance house’s Lumiere Noire pour femme is an absolute favorite of mine, and there are several other fragrances he’s authored that I really enjoy.  So when Vanessa at Bonkers about Perfume praised Elie Saab’s new, eponymous scent, I added it to the “To Investigate” list.  And then when Angela at Now Smell This enjoyed it and called it a “tornado of aldehydes and flowers,” I shifted it over to the “To Test” list, since I am a confirmed card-carrying AldeHo.  I was expectant of joy. And when Ann N, of Perfume Posse, sent me a sample, I was thrilled and put it on right away.

Also, I think that’s a pretty bottle.  People keep saying it looks like the bottle for Guerlain L’Instant, but you know me: I’m not terribly bothered by recycled design elements.  I like a nice heavy squarish thing that feels good in the hand, and this one certainly looks like it would do that.  I don’t know anything about Elie Saab other than that he’s a fashion designer, which of course means that I am completely oblivious to his typical artistic bent and whether or not his fragrance fits his oeuvre.  It’s a good fragrance, though.

Here’s my “short review” version: La Chasse aux Papillons and Coco Mademoiselle made a baby.  I don’t really care much for either of those fragrances – La Chasse veers too toilet-cleanery and Coco Mlle. is far, far too patchouli-heavy – but there are elements of each in Elie Saab, somehow pairing the two in a way such that the best features of each parent are present in the offspring.  Nice.

The thoughtful, serious(ish) version:  Elie Saab Le Parfum starts off with a tender, sweet orange blossom that I’m enjoying more than usual, since OB is almost guaranteed to go soapy on me.  I don’t smell a lot of fruit, just a fleeting sort of… succulence?  Like biting into a plum, with its terrific sweet-sour balance.  It passes quickly.  Elie Saab is only a little soapy at the top, with a youthful, shy quality that is extremely pretty.  Very quickly, the scent shifts into a thing of light and sparkles, with a hint of aldehydes and a lot of jasmine.  There is also a buncha hedione in there, methinks – it’s that aspect of jasmine that seems both green-dewy and light-clean, the farthest thing from indolic that you could imagine.  Angela writes (so charmingly!) that this phase makes her think of the instrumental ascending-pitch crescendo in the Beatles’ A Day in the Life.  I often experience certain scents as being auditory in some sense, but Elie Saab doesn’t sing to me.  Instead, it’s a dazzling white light, diffused gently over an array of blossoms.  I did dab it generously rather than spraying, and I might get more aldehydes if I had the opportunity to spray.  All the same, it was very pretty, with the effect of a sparkly white chiffon veil, just my girly-girl type of thing.

Notes (from Fragrantica): Orange blossom, jasmine grandiflora, jasmine sambac, rose-honey accord, cedar, patchouli.

I do find it a little heavy on the clean patchouli for my taste.  But then, I’m sensitive to patchouli.  It’s a nice base accord, very light and clean with that astringent and almost sour quality that clean patchouli, and sometimes cedar, can have.  I’ll make nice here and call it tangy rather than sour, because it’s not unpleasant at all.  I’d have liked a bit more of the so-called rose honey accord, because that really is up my alley.  However, over two wearings (using up my sample!  which I never do!), I did not detect anything I could have pinpointed as honey, while the rose is there but very much in the background to that scintillating jasmine.

It lasted for a fair amount of time on me, about five hours.  With the “spray until wet” technique, it might last even longer.  I don’t actually smell musk, but I’d bet there’s either some musk or other in there, because of the decent lasting power on my usually scent-eating skin.  With musks, of course, you always run into the possibility of specific anosmiae, and I’d bet I just can’t smell whatever this one is.

I like Elie Saab Le Parfum.  I’m not moved to want a bottle or even a decant, for reasons that longtime readers can probably predict: I wanted more aldehydes than I got, I’m not a big jasmine fan, and there is of course the Dreaded Patchouli, which is not offensive but still too much for my personal taste.  I did really like that cloud-of-light effect.  I’m sure this scent will sell very well, deservedly so.  And I think I might heart Francis Kurkdjian even more, for that glowy effect he’s so capable of producing, in Elie Saab and in Lumiere Noire pf – and probably in other things, as well.  Hmm… Oh, Francis, dahlink? Would you maybe consider making something just for meeeee?  How about you try that effect in a tuberose floral this time?

Image is from Fragrantica.  Also, here’s another review from a blogger I’m sure I’ll be adding to my blogroll, The Unseen Censer (cool name! Poe! Yay!).

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23 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Elie Saab Le Parfum”

  1. Thanks for the ping! And for the review – so interesting, I really didn’t notice clean patchouli in this at all (though I would agree with you about the hedione). Even the jasmine didn’t scream out “jasmine” to me – but I have super-dry skin and a lot of things that come out on dewier surfaces never happen for me. I totally agree with the description of a “sparkly chiffon veil” – and whatever the musk is, it completely is the one the nose used in Absolue pour le Matin, as far as I can tell.

    1. You’re welcome!

      I tend to notice patchouli at levels that other people don’t notice. (Shaal Nur? to me, really nice rose-incense-wood under that huuuge suffocating patchouli blanket. Which *nobody* else ever mentions.) So yeah, it stood out to me, even though I’d still say it’s well-blended with the woody notes.

      I still haven’t tried either of the Absolues, so I wouldn’t be able to correlate the musks. You could be right about that. But this is such a sheer veil of prettiness and light, isn’t it?

  2. Hi Mals, glad you liked the Elie Saab. When I get a sample spray, I’ll send it your way so you can wear it a bit more. I was a little worried the OB would do you in; glad to hear it didn’t.
    Would love to hear your thoughts on the Cartier Baiser Vole, the Bond 9 with its leather and tuberose or the Mona tuberose. Take care …

    1. Hey there Ann! Thanks so much for the sample – and yes, I’ll probably be posting some impressions on those others this week.

      I have yet to make it to the post office with your package… if it’s any consolation, I have yet to mail my sister’s birthday present, too… School starts on Thursday, hallelujah!

      1. Hi, Mals, that’s fine. Hooray for school! Also wanted to tell you that I tried the Elie Saab body lotion on the other day and it’s nice as well. I have a little sample jar that I can send your way, if you’d like.
        I do like the Saab overall, but it’s not a keeper for me because A) it reminds me somewhat of Narciso R. for Her on my skin (nice but don’t need it), and B), maybe it’s the honeyed rose in it, but something gives it a kind of silvery, almost metallic note that, if I stop and think too much about it, reminds me of my first and only scrubber, Byredo’s M/Mink.

  3. Thank you for the review: I learned something new. For whatever reason I thought the designer was a woman.
    I’ll try it when I see it in a store but I’m not too excited.

  4. I think this one smells exactly like a cross between Alien and Narciso Rodriguez for Her. But without Alien’s grape soda note.

    Did your Daisy mini ever arrive?

    1. Hm. Alien – grape + NR musk = ES? Could be. I seem to remember being whomped over the head with a big ol’ patchy hammer with the NR, so I forgot about it as soon as possible.

      And yes, the Daisy arrived… thanks… I keep missing my chance to get to the PO with your package. It goes to Denver now, right? ARe you settled in, or still living out of suitcases?

  5. I’m in Denver! We’re getting settled, finally (it’s been like four days, but I can’t tolerate living in a sea of boxes). I just unpacked my perfumes last night and now it is starting to feel like home. 😉

  6. I need to test this more before I make any pronouncements – but it is a very pretty scent that didn’t really move me..(unlike Lumiere which I wanted the minute I smelled it..:)). Ann is right- I get some cool metallic smell similar to Narcisco..not bad. need to test further. I might have undersprayed but i didn’t get the light effect (it didn’t help that I had Shamilar extrait further up on my arm that was eating up everything in the vicinity). The SA made me a sample so I will test it again.

    1. That’s exactly how I felt about it – a very pretty scent, but I didn’t feel an emotional connection. (Which Lumiere are you talking about? The Aftelier? or the Rochas?)

      Shalimar extrait could probably eat up everything in the vicinity without batting one of her extremely long dark eyelashes.

  7. Thanks for the mention! I am glad you are broadly in favour of Elie Saab, though I quite understand your issues with patchouli. There is a tenderness as you say – and a brightness at the same time. I love your use of “succulence” – that is spot on. “Tangy” is how the orange blossom note struck me. I do understand why some people aren’t drawn to Elie Saab, but I find it feminine and uplifting – I think the orange blossom makes it, frankly.

  8. i was wondering if you ahve smelt ‘love’ by chloe? does this compare to that? i read somewhere that it does and given the steep price of this, i’m tempted to find something similar that is cheaper..

    and just wondering – what is your “spray until wet” technique? i find that this perfume only lasts a couple of hours in my hot and humid country.. (i’m from singapore)

    1. Welcome, Liz! I have tried Love, Chloe and intend to review it soon, but the short answer is that they’re not very much alike in my opinion. I liked Elie Saab, and I did not like Love, Chloe.

      “Spray until wet” is a technique I use for lighter-weight fragrances, which is particularly effective with light florals if you have the kind of skin (as I do) that “eats” scent. You just spray your wrists (or wherever you put fragrance) until the skin is wet, then let dry. Some things are only meant to last a few hours, anyway, and I don’t mind a three-hour fragrance if it’s not too expensive. Less than three hours, though, and I get cranky.

      1. thanks for the quick reply! I’ve been reading your blog and love your opinions on the perfumes so far! I’ve not smelt Love but i like your nose palette and i think i’m less inclined to go hunting for that now..

        p.s i’m going to try your technique with my jo malone’s english pear and freesia and nectarine as i find those very very light.. have you smelt that by the way?

        1. Jo Malones are perfect for that spray-until-wet technique as they tend to be so light! Most of the lighter Annick Goutals, too. I have not tried all the JMs, but I did enjoy Nectarine Blossom & Honey.

  9. I’m tempted to buy myself a bottle of the Elie Saab if only because of the incense-y whiff that I get from this early on and that continues to float through it like a lovely hippie-ghost.

    1. Oh, you know – I didn’t notice incense in it! I do get distracted by aldehydes, though.

      I love the image of a ghost hippie… trailing scarves and love beads and a waft of incense…

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