Perfume Review: Hanae Mori Haute Couture

Composed by Bernard Ellena and released in 1998, Haute Couture is a follow-up to the eponymous Hanae Mori fragrance – the one that smells like berries and marshmallowy vanilla. I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again: I like Hanae Mori, the “Butterfly” scent that smells like every modern perfume cliché – berry-fruity, sweet, vanilla-y, gourmand. I don’t care that it’s cliché, I think it’s genius. (Although I admit that I don’t wear it often, and certainly not out of the house, as it’s really meant for people a lot younger than I am.  Wearing it is just a little like carrying a paper cone’s worth of cotton candy around the fair all afternoon.)

Haute Couture, however, isn’t vanilla at all. Fragrantica.com classifies it as a green floral. Brian’s review at I Smell Therefore I Am calls it a “fizzy green jasmine,” and the P:TG review likens it to a terrific, sparkly white wine.  All of these descriptions made me want to test it, even though I can hardly find another blog review of it anywhere and samples are practically nonexistent. In fact, I think at this point it may even be discontinued, because it is going begging at the online discounters. I can’t get on to the Hanae Mori website to confirm that. I bought a 50ml bottle of edt, unsniffed, for something like $13. Whatta bargain, whatta bargain for me. (Dang, another one of those Discontinued Saints! I have to quit doing that.)

My bottle arrived very quickly, and I wrested it out of the box and sprayed it on immediately, without checking the official notes. What I said to myself was this: Are there aldehydes in this? Light, fizzy ones? I’d swear there are. And that’s definitely bergamot. Something fruity… orange? Peach?  And maybe… is that green apple?  Definitely some jasmine, but something else floral too. Freesia?  Hmm. And down in the bottom there, it reminds me of the base of No. 5 Eau Premiere, that citrusy musk that smells clean and cheerful without making you think of laundry, and that lasts a long time. Maybe some woods, definitely a small amount of amber.  Okay, I say: aldehydes, bergamot, peach, orange, maybe apple, green jasmine, maybe freesia, possibly some light woodsy notes, amber, and musk.”

I checked the notes at Fragrantica, and I didn’t do too badly, guessing. They say: bergamot, coriander, jasmine, floral notes, and fruity notes. That’s it. Those are all of the official notes.  I am fairly certain that there are indeed some light aldehydes in the mix, since it’s so sparkly.  When I went back to check Perfumes: The Guide, I found Tania Sanchez’ take on it to be, “A bright, citrusy, aldehydic, sweet jasmine floral.”  (Fear not, aldehydophobics – these are not the soap and candle wax aldehydes of No. 5, they’re nice little Don Ho Tiny Bubbles aldehydes that fizz up and evanesce.)

What Haute Couture reminds me most of is the first Ines de la Fressange, the Calice Becker-composed fruity floral that is exactly the way fruity florals should be done — light-hearted, insouciant, a jolly good time. Neither the fruit nor the florals smack you upside the head, they just float around, sprinkling you with happy sparkles.  Haute Couture is a fruity floral too, not the green floral that Fragrantica calls it. It’s surprisingly nice for such an inexpensive choice, and seems to call for warm weather and sundresses. It would be perfect for a picnic, a baseball game, or a garden party. Sunshine and blooms and lemonade go wonderfully with fruity florals, especially when they don’t come garnished with sugary syrup.

I know, I know, perfumistas are all sick of modern fruity florals, with their vague artificially-sweetened fruit-flavors and their vague nondescript floral mishmashes. The genre is much maligned, and I don’t disagree: there’s a vast sea of Cheap and Ditzy fruity florals available, and most of them are just plain awful. But Haute Couture is natural-smelling, tangy, and cheerful, which is just what a fruity floral ought to be. I recommend it.

Other reviews: Brian at I Smell Therefore I Am.  P:TG says, in part: “… reminds me in feeling of those terrific, fun, fruity, un-oaked New World sauvignon blancs – clear, acid, vivacious, good company.”

Top image is Haute Couture edt by Hanae Mori, from parfum1.  Middle image is Centerpiece from ex.libris at flickr.  Lower image is Fruit Cocktail from fensterbme at flickr.

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11 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Hanae Mori Haute Couture”

  1. Funny set of coincidences: I too just ordered a bottle of this for cheap and it should arrive today. I had dog-eared the review in P:TG because a perfume that evokes fizzy white wine sounds right up my alley. And I, too, like Hanae Mori — but maybe, since I don’t have kids, I’m still young enough to get away with it. 🙂

    I’m starting a perfume review column of sorts and have been planning to write next about fruity perfumes — how maligned they are by perfume snobs (sorry, I mean perfumistas!) and how they’re not all bad, then go over some good ones and bad ones. Seems like we’re on the same page!

    1. Elisa, I think you’re right – fruity florals are not all bad. I think there’s just so *many* of them that are overly sweet, or overly synthetic/cheap, or completely redundant, that I approach anything labeled as such with the greatest of wariness. But there are several I really enjoy – this one, the first Ines de la Fressange, AG Petite Cherie, and Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete. What they all have in common is that the ingredients are relatively natural-smelling, and they’re not particularly sweet-fruity. Lessee, those are citrus/tangy peach, citrus/tangy peach, pear, and apple, respectively, and nothing referred to as “red berries!”

      Citrus florals (e.g. Pamplemousse Rose, Yuzu Rouge, Zeste de Rose, Par Amour Toujours… wait, those are all citrus+ROSE, where are the citrusy jasmines?…) don’t seem to get the disdain, and I think that’s because citrus isn’t sweet.

      Oh, and I hope you enjoy writing your ‘fume reviews, too. I’ll pop over & check out your page.

      1. Yes, we’re definitely stuck in a boring trend where every other perfume (if not every) that’s released is fruity and of no consequence. But I just judge them by the same standards as any other perfume — if it’s original/distinctive, high-quality, has some evolution, is long-lasting, and above all smells good then it’s OK by me, even if it’s fruity.

        I’ve often wondered why citrus is treated as a separate category, when lemons and oranges are, after all, fruit. I think other fruits can have that same crisp effect (apple, peach, fig) if the perfumer doesn’t pour on tons of burnt sugar to make it syrupy. (Even citrus can be made really sweet if you force it.)

        I’m looking forward to trying the Haute Couture tonight! Some other fruity perfumes I like are Carolina Herrera (peachy tuberose, but not sugary-sweet; I find it less candy-like than Fracas actually), Badgley Mischka, Moschino Funny (which is mostly citrusy to me) … and as established previously I even like Angel. 🙂 I also like L’Ombre Dans L’Eau though I don’t own it and have only smelled it on paper. To me it doesn’t read as sweet so much as *tangy*

      2. Fruity-ditzy should be well on its way OUT, I say. So should cheap crappy synthetic messes (not that I’m going to get my wish). I wonder if fruity florals get dismissed so easily because they all seem to smell alike, or because there are so many of them? Distinctive FFs are hard to come by, I think.

        I seem to only enjoy fruity florals in the summer, or in warm weather. But my entire wardrobe is seasonal, I notice.

        And we all have our preferences: I am a total sucker for a good leafy green floral, as well as a rose-incense, or a greenish tuberose. And it’s funny – there are certain sweet scents that I like, despite the fact that they’re sweet. I think I tolerate “sweet woody” or “sweet spicy” better than I do “sweet fruity,” but then, as a mom, I would be very happy to never see another packet of Kool-Aid, or even fruit juice. Mulled cider? Why, yes, thank you, I will… Tang? Uhhhh, no thanks.

        Hope you like the Haute Couture as well. It’s very friendly.

  2. Sounds very interesting! I don’t recall ever seeing this before, but it sure is cheap and may pick up this and yesterday’s review, Jolie Madame for $30. While i know i shouldn’t buy unsniffed, it’s almost too cheap to pass up!

    1. O, parfum1 has a sale… (not affiliated, of course – but they do have some good stuff, and 20% off? yay!) They have a 100ml bottle of Gres Cabaret for, get this, $18.50. Before the coupon, even. 😮 Or 75ml Cuir de Lancome for $30.75, before coupon!

      I have heard mixed reviews on the current version of Jolie Madame, so you might want to see if you can cadge a sample of it somewhere first. (parfum1 has a 50ml for $17.50…)

      Well, this turned into a commercial. Sorry about that. I do think most people – or most women, anyway – could find a use for a fun summer scent like Haute Couture. I have a feeling my teenager might wind up swiping mine!

      1. Parfum1 is where I was looking – I meant $30 combined! I’ve been trolling through the site trying to find something else to make the shipping worthwhile, even though with that coupon, it is so cheap! Never tried Cabaret or Cuir de Lancome – some other ones to think about! They have a very interesting selection – lower end stuff but also Serge Lutens.

        1. Oh, good for you. Cuir is really gorgeous, I think – it smells like my mother’s good leather purse, with her cosmetics and a hint of Proper Lady Perfume inside. I’ve heard Cabaret described as “a poor man’s Amouage Lyric Woman,” but really it’s more like “a poor man’s Shaal Nur,” IMO. (They’re all attractive, I think, but some people say that Cabaret lasted about three seconds on them. I suspect that they’re anosmic to the musk, because there is a lot of musk in there. Nice billowy puffy musk, too, not too laundry-ish – but maybe you should sample first since it’s an iffy one. I had forgotten.)

  3. I don’t know the Hanae Mori line at all, though I thought I should try Butterfly at least one day as my offline name is a genus of butterflies in Latin. : – )

    Haute Couture sounds very pleasant, though I guess I am unlikely to run into it. I too have an open mind about fruity florals – hey, Osmanthe Yunnan is even classified as this on Osmoz, also Coeur d’Ete by Miller Harris.

    I also like Caroline Herrera 212, Burberry Women, Hugo Boss Deep Red and even Britney Spears Believe(!) – all examples of FFs…

    1. Hi, FS – The original Hanae Mori is distinctive. (It’s not officially named Butterfly, there’s just one on the packaging.) It’s all cotton-candy vanilla and berries, which sounds disgusting, but somehow manages to smell extremely pleasant, if a bit Peter Pan-ish. Recapturing one’s childhood, that sort of thing… exactly the reason I disliked Luctor et Emergo so much. I don’t know why I like HM. Sample sprays are easily come by on ebay, I notice.

      You probably wouldn’t run into Haute Couture unless you prowl the discounters the way I do. I don’t have much access to department store stuff, or at least, that’s my excuse! The only ones you mention that I’ve smelled are Osmanthe Yunnan (lovely and fleeting and $$$$) and Believe (um, I’m following the Thumper Rule on that one). I do really like that Ines de la Fressange, though.

  4. I recently purchased Haute Couture, and love it for it’s effervescence and it’s happy quality. I imagine I will wear it often in Spring & Summer. Who doesn’t love a bargain?

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