Fragrance Throwdown: Ines de la Fressange I versus Ines de la Fressange II

THROWDOWN!
THROWDOWN!

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a throwdown, but thanks to Portia’s comment the other day, I finally got down to business to set the two Ines de la Fressange fragrances head-to-head.

Okay, first off, let’s clarify things: the first Ines fragrance was discontinued before the second came into being, so apparently nobody thought it would be confusing to give them the same name. (Wrong.) Luckily, the packaging is different enough that there should be no question which version you’ve got – unless you are looking at a sample vial labeled simply “Ines de la Fressange.” Because then, you’re going to have to smell it to find out. 🙂

Inès Marie Lætitia Églantine Isabelle de Seignard de La Fressange, daughter of a French marquis and banker and an Argentinian model, is a model and couturier who worked exclusively for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel in the 1980s.  She is a designer in her own right, and has owned a chain of boutiques; she recently wrote a style guide called Parisian Chic. On top of her own career, she’s a mother as well: that’s her lovely daughter Nine d’Urso featured in the ad campaign for Bottega Veneta’s first fragrance.

Photo stolen Fragrantica.
Photo stolen Fragrantica.

And in 1999, she released the first perfume under her name. It was created by Calice Becker.  This one was packaged in the octagonal column bottle with simple silver top, and the juice inside it is a soft peachy-yellow color. That’s appropriate, because this scent is one of the best representations of fresh peaches out there (according to me), at least in the topnotes.  If you’re already shuddering, please give me a moment. It’s not about the peach. In fact, it’s a multilayered Proper Lady’s Fragrance, and if I had to classify it, I’d have to resort to a description that goes like this: Aldehydic Fruity Floral Woody.  It’s not exactly everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, but it’s complex.

The notes for Ines I include peach, aldehydes, bergamot, Brazilian rosewood, rose, jasmine, ylang, carnation, iris, lily of the valley, sandalwood, tonka bean, benzoin.  I warn aldephobes that the aldehydes are noticeable here. They are less soapy than they can sometimes appear, and add a great deal of sparkle in a fizzy Champagne-like way. The peach is not sweetened, candied, or even creamy; it’s very tart and refreshing. From that sparkling Bellini top the florals come up, and they are beautiful. The rose and ylang are prominent to my nose, but this is definitely a big bouquet of flowers, symphonically floral in the way that, for example, Estee Lauder’s Beautiful and the old Karl Lagerfeld Chloe are floral. Both of those fragrances are considerably bigger than Ines’ first – if they’re big hotel-lobby arrangements, this one is a far simpler mixed arrangement on your best girlfriend’s dinner table, not formally arranged but simply flowers heaped into a bowl in a simple profusion. The base, which blends benzoin and sandalwood undergirds all those flowers with a warmth and friendliness. I do not know whether the sandalwood is real Mysore, though given the release date, it is just possible that there is at least some in there. The general effect of the fragrance is summery, graceful, and effortless, maybe even a bit nostalgic.

I reviewed the first Ines (Garden Party in a Bottle) in August of 2012, and I still love it every bit as much as I always did – maybe more, because supplies are truly drying up. (It’s extremely hard to find now. I paid under $15 for a 1-oz bottle from Beauty Encounter – not affiliated – in 2009, and under $20 for a 1.7-oz, once I realized how lovely it was. Those days are gone.  I can’t find any reasonable supplies of this one at all, save for ONE 100ml bottle, currently listed at $150, on eBay. It seemed to have been available at the discounters when I wrote that review two years ago, but time unfortunately goes in one direction…) I wear this fragrance only in the summer, when its quiet, effortless elegance seems just right. It’s perfect for tea parties and afternoon weddings, or any occasion where peach silk and cream lace wouldn’t be out of place.  (For other reviews, click the “Garden Party” link above.)

Photo stolen Fragrantica. See, isn't this bottle pretty?
Photo stolen Fragrantica. See, isn’t this bottle pretty?

The second fragrance from the house of Ines de la Fressange came just five years later, so I might assume that the first one didn’t sell like hotcakes. (It might have been too ladylike.) This fragrance, packaged in a beautiful flask-shaped bottle with a gold overlay and gold oak leaves, was created by Alberto Morillas.

I recently snagged a manufacturer’s sample of the 2004 version and have been wearing it. It’s… nice. It’s perfectly okay.  It may be suffering from not being sprayed, because even dabbed generously it’s pretty quiet (and I’ve heard from two friends who own both versions that the Morillas one is louder and more fun).

Notes for this one include bergamot, mandarin, either blackcurrant or blackberry depending on the list, neroli, peony, iris, white rose, muguet, patchouli, benzoin, vetiver, white musk.  I’ve read reviews of this one that call it “blackberry musk,” but to be honest that’s not what I get out of it. It is, instead, something of a Coco Mademoiselle clone on me, dominated by patchouli until very late in the drydown.  I am sort of freakishly sensitive to patchouli, so of course your experience may vary, but there it is: patchy floral.

It opens up with a sharply acidic fruit note – I say it’s blackcurrant and mandarin – and, to be frank, the opening is my favorite part of this one.  “Froot” smells that approximate candy or Kool-Aid, those I don’t like, but I tend to appreciate a fruit note that smells realistic, as this does.  It’s nice. Blending with that tart fruit accord is some neroli, joined by rose and peony, and then very quickly I get a snootful of patchouli. It’s at this stage, and for the next four hours, that Ines II reminds me of Coco Mademoiselle. (It also reminds me of Patou Enjoy, for that matter, and it’s not all that surprising since all three are modern chypre florals, “modern” meaning no oakmoss, with a number of notes in common. Come to think of it, a three-way tussle between CM and Enjoy and Ines II would be a fun throwdown as well.)  There are clearly some natural florals involved here, as well as some that are clearly synthetic (the peony, obviously, and there’s a “clean rose”

Well into the drydown, Ines II becomes a real joy to wear. It’s in this late stage that I do begin to get the musk, which does have a berry tinge to it, and there’s a good deal of benzoin. I am a sucker for that, I admit. The soft plushy base lingers for a long time, as a quiet skin scent, and it’s lovely.  Whether you find Ines II pleasant may depend on whether you like this style; if the phrase “modern chypre” incenses you, you’ll curl your lip.

This one is still available (albeit in limited quantities) at discounters, and it’s reasonable, approximately $30-35 for a 50ml bottle.  Other reviews: The Non-Blonde, March at Perfume Posse, Musette at Perfume Posse (brief).

Neither one of these fragrances are groundbreaking or innovative or terribly distinctive; nor were they apparent commercial successes.  I enjoyed wearing both of them, however, and it’s highly unlikely you’d cause a fellow elevator-occupier to faint while wearing these.  Ines II seems very much “of its time,” the husky-voiced, floral-patchouli-musk “modern” chypres of the early 2000s, but for all that it’s quite pleasant.  Ines I is a Calice Becker through and through, with its soft-edged floral blend that seems shot through with light and grace.

It’s pretty clear which one I prefer, but then I love perfumes done in a soft mixed-floral bouquet style.  Feel free to disagree.

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Garden Party in a Bottle: Ines de la Fressange

This fragrance, purchased for a song at an online discounter three summers ago – not even a whole song, to tell the truth, more like twelve whistled bars of an sweet old folk tune, maybe “The Happy Wanderer” – has become a summer staple for me, and more valuable with every new release of a so-called-”sexy” fruitchouli.

I was absolutely sure that I could blame Abigail of I Smell Therefore I Am for this one – but I can no longer find the blog review that I could have sworn she wrote for it, and so I can’t prove anything. (It’s possible that when ISTIA switched blog hosts a few years ago, the post disappeared into the cloud, but who knows?) Continue reading Garden Party in a Bottle: Ines de la Fressange

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Perfume Review: Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipano, plus a giveaway

Tulips

This is from the TI AMO series, in which each scent is focused on a flower that begins with the letters in the phrase.  T is for Tulip, and Ms Soliani has commented that this fragrance reminds her of her father’s voice and his warmth. Tulips, of course, have very little smell, but this take on them does smell very vibrant and cheerful.  Il Tuo Tulipano was released in 2009.

My favorite part of this scent, which I’ll refer to as “Tulipano,” is the opening, because it’s one of the most delightful, cheery, sparkling fruity florals I’ve ever smelled.  I know these days “fruity floral” is a despised phrase among many perfume fans, and I’ve been known to wrinkle my own nose at much if not most of the ubiquitous genre, but there are a number of fruity florals I like.  The criteria? It has to smell like real fruit, not froot flavor, and the florals have to smell pretty close to real flowers.  Should be simple to do, right?  Fact is, due to their bare-bones budgets, most fruity florals are highly synthetic and do smell like functional products: soap, shampoo, “spring fresh” bleach, that sort of thing.

Tulipano starts out smelling something like rhubarb, which by the way I don’t like much and try to avoid eating. It’s got a weird sour whang that grates on my nerves (yeah, yeah, so sue me: I don’t like mango either).  And there’s no rhubarb in the notes.  I’m guessing that lime and blackcurrant are combining to say “rhubarb” to me.  But the tangy, fruity bit plays against the soft, powdery base of woods and musk, and the juxtaposition is very pretty.   Tulipano is quite fruity; the list of topnotes includes bergamot, blackcurrant, lime, peach, kiwi and passionfruit.  (If you just shuddered, you’re probably going to hate this, so do yourself a favor and don’t even try it.)  It stays fruity for quite a long time, but the fruit becomes tempered by other notes. Continue reading Perfume Review: Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipano, plus a giveaway

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Fragrance Throwdown: Ferre by Ferre versus Gianfranco Ferre (2005)

Photo of wrestlers via Wikimedia Commons

I went looking for these in the first place because of Iris Poudre. I had read in comments on a ‘fume blog that Ferre by Ferre was a close cousin of Iris Poudre, which I love. Then there’s a review of Gianfranco Ferre in Perfumes: The Guide stating that it is a more-polished, fully-developed version of Iris Poudre. However, I’m still not absolutely convinced that the confusingly similar names of the Ferre fragrances haven’t caused a mixup in at least one case. Here are my thoughts on the matter, developed through multiple wearings and side-by-side comparisons over several months, as well as some good old-fashioned internet research. I confess that I’m still puzzled by the P:TG review.

(In case you are wondering, “old-fashioned internet research” was a joke. A terrible joke, but nonetheless.)

Both fragrances tested are minis acquired on ebay, with Ferre by Ferre in the black hand-grenade bottle (also produced as a goldtone mesh hand-grenade) and Gianfranco Ferre in the rectangular Ferre bottle, the same shape as my golden Ferre 20 bottle except clear glass with gold top. (see pix) This was the other blog comment that kicked up my interest in these Ferre fragrances: Commenter Melissa on Perfume Posse: “I am also amassing bottles of a few of the entirely underrated discontinued Ferres. Specifically, the older Ferre by Ferre (“classic”) in the round grenade shaped bottle, a modern floral aldehyde. And Ferre 20, a floral with a rich, woody-vanillic base. The latter has become crazy expensive, if you can find it at all.” That was the reason I was so happy to snag that bottle of Ferre 20 in Rome – well, that recommendation, and the fact that I think it smells great.

I warn you now – if you hate aldehydes, these two are not going to change your mind. But if you like them, these are both enjoyable and attractive fragrances, and the 2005 version is still available at a reasonable price at discounters (currently selling at FragranceX at about $37 for a 50ml bottle).

Ferre by Ferre from Fragrantica

Notes for Ferre by Ferre: Top Aldehydes, orange, green notes, peach, neroli, bergamot, lemon. Heart Mimosa, passionfruit, carnation, violet, orange blossom, ivy, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, rose, oakmoss. Base Spices, orris root, sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, musk, benzoin, vanilla, vetiver, styrax.

It reminds me more of Le Labo Aldehydes 44 than of Iris Poudre, but I can see the IP reference. It never develops IP’s delicious, angora-fluff benzoin drydown, though.

In fact, nothing does, so far as I have been able to find out. My opinion is that Iris Poudre got robbed in Luca Turin’s three-star P:TG review, which states, in part, “Simply stated, the problem with iris-root smell is this: everyone loves its gray, nostalgic, romantic powderiness, but the stuff is, truth be told, as funereal as it gets… [Pierre Bourdon’s] expertise in making resolutely sunny, fruity compositions very quickly dries iris’ tears. After a restrained initial gravitas appropriate to the occasion, Iris Poudre veers toward a happier disposition reminiscent of Bourdon’s Dolce Vita… A good fragrance, but not true to its name or material.

I’ll concur, Iris Poudre isn’t all that iris-y. Which is fine with me, for to be honest I am not the World’s Biggest Iris Fan. And true, it’s sunny and fruity; this is also fine with me because I like Dolce Vita very much. I would, however, quibble with the assertion that IP is “powdery.” It isn’t all that powdery; rather, it is as fluffy as a marabou stole.

Okay, true: I admit that I got pretty snarky about Elizabeth Taylor’s Violet Eyes having violet in the packaging, violet in the name, but no violet in the fragrance – but it is after all a very attractive floral that I might have bought if it had been just a little more distinctive. Dr. Turin gets similarly snarky when a fragrance name references either gardenia or iris, and turns out to not have much of whatever’s advertised, so I can’t blame him all that much. All the same, here I am looking for an Iris Poudre clone because I love it so much and it’s so expensive, and I still haven’t found one. Various fragrances replicate pieces of it – Ferre by Ferre and Ulric de Varens pour Elle mimic the sweet aldehydic top, Dolce Vita and Ferre 20 do the fruity bit, and Mariella Burani does something close to IP’s wonderful drydown. An all-of-a-piece replica? Doesn’t exist.

As a matter of fact, Ferre by Ferre happens to be discontinued and very difficult to find. Minis still float around on ebay, and I know of at least one fragrance seller on ebay that has a bottle or two of it, at approximately $100 for a 100ml bottle.   However, it’s still not all that much less expensive than a bottle of IP, so I’m still totally stuck on that “find a replacement for Iris Poudre” quest.

Ferre by Gianfranco Ferre (edp) from Fragrantica

After the fun start, GF turns into floral soap for some time, prim and opaque, flat as a piece of Sheetrock. The contrast with the sparkly topnotes is drastic. I don’t get a lot of iris in it, nor much rose. What does pop out, to my nose, is the lemony-creamy note of magnolia, and a sullen pouty jasmine, with just a hint of sugared violets. The drydown – primarily woody-musky-vanilla – is very comfortable, and easy to wear, though sweetened with amber.  It lasts well, about four hours on me (dabbed).  In my opinion, GF seems very little like Iris Poudre, despite the same perfumer and what is claimed to be a similar structure.

Notes for Gianfranco Ferre: Top Pineapple, melon, iris leaf, bergamot, [aldehydes]. Heart Magnolia, iris, freesia, jasmine, ylang-ylang, violet, rose. Base sandalwood, amber, basmati rice, musk, vanilla, orris root.

Now here’s Tania Sanchez, reviewing this fragrance (referred to as Ferre from the house of Gianfranco Ferre) and giving it four stars where Iris Poudre received three: “Five years after doing Iris Poudre… Bourdon polished the idea for Ferre. Slightly more vegetal than the Malle fragrance, Ferre is nevertheless a close match: powdery, woody-sweet in a violet way, and slightly too bright, like overexposed flash photographs.”

I admit here that I am not at all sure that I’m smelling the same fragrance that TS was reviewing. The notes list for this scent seems congruent with what I’m smelling – the fruit in particular, which TS doesn’t even mention, is prominent. “Powdery” is not at all a phrase I’d use to describe what I’m smelling here. Neither does “too bright.” This thing seems sort of dense to me, and, yes, sweet. It’s a fruity sweetness, but it’s true that sometimes violets (ionones) can seem fruity and sweet.  I am totally Not Getting the Iris Poudre reference, not in the least bit.  I noticed, too late, that my miniature bottle is Eau de Toilette, while the larger bottles are Eau de Parfum, and that may be the  issue.  Please weigh in if you’ve tried both the EdT and the EdP – and if you think I have the wrong one!

Over on Fragrantica, I notice that people keep putting reviews on the wrong Ferre fragrances. Someone has done a long, thoughtful review of the original 1984 Ferre fragrance, a rich floral oriental, on the 2005 Gianfranco Ferre scent. (FAIL!) Someone else has posted a lovely review of GF on Ferre by Ferre; I know it’s GF because it mentions a strong presence of fruit. Aargh. I think we have to blame Gianfranco Ferre himself for that. Was there ever another designer so enamored of his own name?! (Well, maybe. But nobody else has committed the marketing mistake of confusing potential customers with similar-sounding fragrances.)

A few other blog reviews of the Gianfranco Ferre fragrance: Bois de Jasmin and Legerdenez.  Enjoy.

Once again, we have a Throwdown where the winner is decided on points: While I think the 2005 Bourdon fragrance is a good one, a lighthearted sweet fruity floral with aldehydes and vanilla, I prefer the older fragrance, the hand-grenade bottle one, much more. It’s much softer, a pleasant powdery veil.  I might actually prefer Ferre 20 to either one of these, but they’re both lovely.

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Perfume Review: Moschino Funny!

I have had bad luck with citrusy-rose fragrances, notably with Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose (yes, I know that’s really “Pink Grapefruit,” but there’s rose in there all the same), Cerruti 1881, Yuzu Rouge, Parfums de Rosine Zeste de Rose, and Clarins Par Amour Toujours. So I was hesitant to try Funny!, which Tania Sanchez Luca Turin (why do I keep ascribing these quotes incorrectly?  do I have a mental block or something?  also, the book is right there, easily consulted.  Thanks, Elisa)  describes in P:TG as being mostly tea, rose, and grapefruit.

Frequently a citrus floral can wind up in classic-cologne territory, which is great if you like that sort of thing. I don’t; it bores me silly. (Goodbye, Pamplemousse Rose! See ya, Cerruti 1881!) And sometimes it goes in the ditzy, frooty-rooty, ultra-pink direction. (Wave bye-bye, Baby Doll!) Sometimes it’s just pale pink lemonade, which I might want to drink on a hot day but not to wear. (Sayonara, Par Amour Toujours, Zeste de Rose, and Yuzu Rouge!)

But a couple of manufacturer’s samples of Funny! came my way in a sample swap, and I figured what the heck, I might as well watch this one crash and burn along with the other citrus-rose scents. I tried Funny! one steamy summer morning when we were driving home from a visit to my sister-in-law in Northern Virginia (which is the Unintentional Outdoor Sauna Capital of the US, in my opinion, beating out even the extra-humid summer air of Florida). Much to my surprise, it was nice. And it stayed nice for hours.

I shrugged and put the sample vial in the Limbo pile when I got home, still of the opinion that I did not need a citrusy floral. A few weeks later I found myself thinking about it, so I got it out again and used it up. It continued playing nice in muggy weather. I got out the other swap sample and took it with me on vacation last July to South Carolina, another state famous for its heat and humidity, and Funny not only lasted but kept me cool and relatively cheerful during the week long trip.

It’s funny (no, really) that I kept trying it, and saying “nice, but I don’t need any,” and “nice, but I don’t get the four-star review,” and “nice, but not exceptional,” and kept thinking about it until it won me over.  At that point I finally decided that I did indeed want a bottle, so I watched eBay and checked the online discounters, and finally, last fall, found a 50ml bottle for about $19. Whatta bargain, whatta bargain for me!! I have been using it to good effect already this summer.

Here’s the review in P:TG that prompted me to try Funny!:

What’s funny here is how talent can infuse even the trite with surreptitious joy: in structure, this could have been yet another squeaky-clean fruity floral. But one of the delightful properties of intelligence is its ability to counter dumb questions with smart answers. In response to what was no doubt a witless brief, Antoine Maisondieu has produced a small gem of humor, freshness, and transparency. The core accord is tea with rose, overlaid with grapefruit and blackcurrant. The woody notes of the former balance the sulfuraceous bloom of the latter, and the thing sings like a happy barbershop quartet.”

The notes for Funny!, according to Fragrantica, are redcurrant, pink pepper, orange, peony, jasmine, violet, green tea, cedar, amber, musk. I notice that rose and grapefruit are not on the official list, but I’ll tell you I’m fairly certain that rose is present. I suppose the orange note with the tang of currant and pink pepper could impersonate grapefruit, though I really don’t care what exactly causes the effect because it just smells good – fresh and bright and happy, in a way unlike the usual clenched-teeth grin effect I get out of the usual citrus notes.

Funny! does open up with that tangy-bitter citrus I just mentioned, and although it doesn’t have the holographic immediacy of the grapefruit in Guerlain’s (wonderful) grapefruit-bomb Pamplelune, it is very pleasant. Also, this bitter citrus note lasts about twenty minutes on me, which is a pretty good long run for a citrus note on my skin, before the florals come up underneath it. I can’t pick out the violet, but the typically-neon peony note is soft here and combines with the rose and jasmine to create a transparent glow. The effect is like sunshine glowing through pink gauze curtains over beach cottage windows open to the breeze. The green tea note (familiar from the ubiquitous Bvlgari Au Te Verte, which fell very flat and heavy on my skin) is discernible too. There is an airy spaciousness to Funny!, and I especially love wearing it in muggy weather, when it seems to clear the air for a little bubble of freshness around me. The basenotes are muted, but the cedar is almost astringent in its dryness, and if you are very sensitive to the “hamster cage” cedar effect you might have trouble with this scent. I like it.

Sillage is mild unless I employ the Spray-until-wet technique, in which case it’s moderate. Like most eaux des toilettes and other light scents, it doesn’t last all that long, but it does stick around for about three hours with a normal quick spritz, and for nearly five hours with the Spray-until-wet, which is stunning longevity for me personally.

Funny!, which was released in 2007, is available, as I mentioned above, at online discounters at a very good price, with various bath and body products (bath gel, lotion) available as well. The bottle, by the way, is on the plain side, a pale turquoise blue glass rectangle with a raised frame on the front and a silver puffed-heart cap, but I think it’s nicer than Moschino’s plastic Olive Oyl bottles. I ditched the pink ribbon collar right away because it kept coming off when I took off the cap, so now the bottle is less interesting to look at but easier to use. “Ease of Use” and “Feels Nice in the Hand” being my top bottle preferences, I’m satisfied. I like a pretty bottle, but it’s not necessary to my overall enjoyment of fragrance.

Only one other blog review that I could find: Brian at ISTIA.  Reviews at the fragrance forums tend to say things like, “Smells like Light Blue, but nicer,” and “Young, cheerful, flirty.” I don’t know about Funny!’s flirtation factor, but I will admit that it is somewhat in the Light Blue vein, but more natural-smelling, far less alien-metallic baby-wipe citrus, and also that it is definitely one of the most cheerful and airy scents I’ve ever smelled.

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