Second Sunday Samples: YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums

I cannot believe it’s the second Sunday of December: where did the year go?! I was so busy recently that I skipped a couple of Sundays moving posts originally planned for this series to be just posts. Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) and Old Herbaceous (Serenity Now) were smarter about their Monday Quick Sniffs and Scent Sample Sunday correspondingly: they get 4 or sometimes even 5 days per month to choose from when it comes to running the next episode of their series. But since the second Sunday comes just once a month, all I can do is to either make it or wait for the next one. I decided to do the last episode this year, especially since perfumes about which I’m writing fit perfectly to this season – even though by the not observing the back to the Standard Time shift WP’s clock it’s technically Monday already.

When it comes to perfumes and perfumistas, there are luxury perfume brands existence of which we acknowledge and either splurge on from time to time (Tom Ford or By Kilian) or mostly ignore (Creed or Clive Christian). Then there are brands’ luxury divisions which, although added later in the brand’s life, were rather welcomed and appreciated: L’Art et La Matiere from Guerlain, Les Exclusifs de Chanel, Hermessence or Dior’s La Collection Privee (though, it seems that the most recent revamp/rename to the “Maison” collection didn’t get any enthusiasm from the part of Perfumeland that I know). Of course, most of the brands that released their “top shelf” collections were in perfume business probably from the time when their “regular” lines were luxury not easily affordable for most buyers, so with everything being “dumbed down” as well as priced down to fit mass market, it felt somewhat justified that high quality and creativity was elevated into a separate collection and price category.

But that was 2004 – 2007. And then the levees broke: not talking about an avalanche of new super-niche super-expensive brands with real, bought or invented history, but all luxury brands, with or without the regular perfume portfolio, forayed into the luxury perfume space. And most of them are being ignored by the “old guard” perfumistas. Have you tried any of Louis Vuitton or Bottega Veneta’s Parco Palladiano Collection?

Yves Saint Laurent, a brand that had all the reasons and pedigree to be among the first creators of a luxury perfume branch, came to the party really late: they released their first five perfumes in the Le Vestiaire des Parfums (the Perfume Wardrobe) Collection in 2015. The collection name explains individual perfume names: they represent pieces of clothes designed by the brand or, later, once they ran out of significant attire articles, fabric used for those creations.

YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums

I can’t tell you how many times I went by this stand at my local Neiman Marcus without even pausing. The reason was that on those rare occasions when I get to the NM’s perfume area, I usually have something else I want to try, and since I usually do not buy perfumes there, I try to minimize time I do the browsing since there’s only that many samples you can score from the same SAs without making a purchase. I mean, I can sniff my head out at any random place where I do not plan to come again but in the not that crowded local perfume “watering holes,” to which I keep coming back, I try to maintain some reasonable balance.

But recently when I finally decided to make a purchase (for the first time on my memory NM had 20% off, Beauty & Fragrances included, and there was something that I couldn’t buy elsewhere anyway). Can you imagine having all the possible good will from the SA and … absolutely nothing that I’d really want to try? (Our local store isn’t the most impressive in the perfume department.) I desperately looked around… and realized that I had never tried any perfumes in that 2015 YSL’s collection. So I asked and got generous 3.5 ml official samples for 3 perfumes from the original collection as well as small hand-made samples for two later additions.


Three and Half Sea Stars

Tuxedo (2015, perfumer Juliette Karagueuzoglou – the name didn’t sound familiar to me so I checked: among mostly unfamiliar to me mass-market perfumes, last year she created Un Air de Bretagne for L’Artisan and Savoy Steam for Penhaligon’s) is described by the brand as “smoked patchouli blended with ambergris accord.” To my nose, it’s a warm amber-y perfume on a drier side with a dab of spices added. Based on the history of this garment, I’d expect some tobacco note but it’s not there – either listed or perceived.

Have you seen pictures of women in tuxedos? Even though they might look beautiful and sexy, looking at those pictures you still know that traditionally it’s a part of men’s wardrobe. Tuxedo perfume, in my opinion, is precisely like that: I can imagine a woman (maybe even myself) wearing this perfume but I think it leans masculine. Because of that I gave it just 3.5 sea stars but I plan to try it on my vSO to see if I 4-star-like-it on him.


Three Sea Stars

Trench (2015, perfumer Amandine Clerc-MarieMDCI’s Peche Cardinal, Mugler Angel EdT and Aura), “a citrus scent featuring dry cedarwood and white musk,” does start with a beautiful citrus that I’d love to keep smelling. Unfortunately, it subsides quickly into a more soap-y scent – still pleasant but not spectacular. Trench is supposed to feature fig and iris but my nose doesn’t catch either – even though these are some of a few notes that I usually easily recognize. Despite that as I said Trench is nice. Not its price-nice but good enough to try if you come across it without paying for it.


Three and Half Sea Stars

Caftan (2015, perfumer Calice Baker) is a straight-forward amber perfume. It’s not Ambre Russe or Mitzah-type amber with resins punching you in the nose without warning, and it’s less sweet than, for example, Floris Honey Oud or EnVoyage Perfumes Captured in Amber, which makes it more unisex and easier to wear by a man. I wouldn’t refuse a travel spray of Caftan (it doesn’t come in one, I’m speaking theoretically) but I probably do not need this amber in addition to all the great ambers that I already have in my collection. But do try Caftan if you see it: it might work better for you, especially if you’re not a hardcore amber lover.


Four Sea Stars

Velours (2016, perfumer Carlos Benaim), yet another amber in this collection (can you even have too many ambers?) proved to be my favorite. I often get black tea note mistaken in perfumes for very supple leather, which happened here. Until I read notes, I was sure that this perfume, despite of the name, contains leather or at least suede note. But tea makes more sense. Velours is not a perfume to win any creativity or originality awards (well, the bottle is very nice – so, maybe for the packaging) but it’s easy to wear, smooth and refined. I saw several people comparing it to Dior Homme Parfum, which is supposed to be a good thing, I think, but since I’m not familiar with that Dior’s perfume, I don’t have that reference point to offer you. Too bad, unlike the original collection, the “de Nuit” addition to it (Velours being one of the three perfumes in it) comes only in 125 ml bottles, with is a lot even if not to consider the price.


Four Sea Stars

The latest addition to the original collection – Blouse (2018, perfumer Quentin BischMandarin Corsica for L’Artisan, Mugler Angel Muse and Ambre Imperial for Van Cleef & Arpels) has won me by surprise. Being a floral perfume lover, I probably appreciated finally prominent floral notes in a slew of wood, amber and vanilla ingredients of perfumes I wore for the last month for my NovAmber project and tested from this collection. Despite the name that I find stupid (“Blouse” is such a non-descriptive name, and it’s completely out of sync with the rest of the collection.) and, again, stupid ad copy for the perfume on the brand’s site (they use words “sensual” and “sensuality” six times in a 7-sentences’ description), I like Blouse because it smells of a very natural and delicate (not sensual!) pink rose, and it lasts for a very long time for a light perfume. But I’m not buying 125 ml (again, the only size available now) of a pink (!) rose musk niceness.

– You smell nice. What are you wearing?
– YSL Blouse
– Duh!..

 Rusty and YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums  

Images: my own


25 thoughts on “Second Sunday Samples: YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums

  1. My local department stores don’t have such luxuries so unless I take a trip into the city I rarely get to try anything niche or luxury in a browsing sort of way :) . You were very lucky in that the SA was so generous with the samples!


    • My local-local stores are also not much fun any longer (though I can try Jo Malone, Diptyque and even some Tom Ford there) but luckily there’s another shopping center relatively close (and, what important, with free parking!) with NM and Bloomingdales that carry some of the higher range brands – otherwise it would have been just SF trips once or twice a year.


  2. Ha! Loved your review of *cringes* “Blouse”. I had no idea about this collection so it was fun to read about. Sadly however, I definitely can have too many ambers :)


    • Thank you, Tara.
      About ambers I actually meant not a personal collection but rather a brand’s line-up: mild ambers are easy to love, so with just slight variations a brand can easily carry 4-5 amber(-y/-ish) scents and successfully sell them.


  3. I like your forays into writing mini reviews in this series!
    As I mentioned probably a thousand times by now, in Poland it’s basically impossible to come across any of those high-end, luxurious lines from various perfume brands. This is slowly changing – Dior and Chanel opened boutiques in Poland but it’s just 1 place in Warsaw for the entire country & I don’t see myself travelling +300 kms one way to smell a perfume or even buy it.

    My favorite boutique collection is Prada Olfactories which I smelled in Milan. During same trip to Italy I also smelled a couple of Bvlgari Le Gemme perfume and Bottega Veneta ones but none of them justified the price.


    • Ha! I didn’t even know Bvlgari had a luxury line! :) Prada doesn’t seem to be present around here as well: as I mentioned before, I’d seen it only once – many years ago in Las Vegas. I wonder if it’s still there.

      I still don’t feel like trying to describe any perfume in a more lengthy manner but a 2-3 sentences impressions are fun to do.


  4. I’ve smelled all the Louis Vuitton, BV Parco Palladiano and YSL scents you mention. Of those, I bought two LV and one Parco Palladiano. I did go through a 2ml sample of the YSL Encens but after wearing it a few times it started to grate on me. I still prefer the earlier luxe collections from Guerlain and Dior.


    • You’re such a well-versed perfumista! I’m curious as to which one of BVs you’ve got.
      Are you sure the perfume you were referring to was YSL? The name sounds suspiciously like Armani Privee ;)


      • I’m guessing it was Caftan – if you look at the bottle, it says Encens – Benjoin underneath, I think the SA wrote that on the sample by mistake.


      • Oh, and the BV PP I bought was IX, the violet/wood/musk one, although I also smell a lot of leather, which is not listed. Must be an effect of the other ingredients combined.


  5. The last YSL I wore was Rive Gauche, probably in the 80’s. I have top-notch sniffing a quick 30 minute trip from me. But frankly, I loathe public transportation and there is simply no parking downtown. So I’ve become anti-social and order samples on-line. Which is incredibly stupid because I can sniff them for free if I wasn’t such a lazy lay-about. Ah well! There’s naught to be done about it. And may I say, Rusty is looking particularly photogenic in the photo. Ophelia, who is currently supervising my texting is quite interested. Ask Rusty if he fancies a charming black and white kitty as a girlfriend. She’s highly social, built for comfort, not speed and loves dining out or in. No head games. Will watch sports, if her favorite movies are not on.


    • I’m in an exactly same situation: I don’t use public transportation to get to SF (and there are great shops with many interesting lines there!), and parking is just a nightmare there (and it makes those the sniffing tours I make there once or twice a year not really free).
      I see that our cats have a lot in common (I’m not sure though Rusty would watch sports: nobody in our household does so we haven’t checked ;) ).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the diplomacy and care with which you navigate repeat visits to your favourite perfume ‘watering holes’. ;) You did very well on the samples, and we benefit from your detailed and amusing reviews. On a side note I heard of a cat called Tuxedo with appropriate b/w markings – but whose was it…? A cat – or a perfume! – called ‘Blouse’ not so much. I always thought Chanel ‘Beige’ a bit tricky in similar vein.


    • It’s an art on its own: as we learned many years ago in school, continued overexploitation can lead to the destruction of the resource ;)
      As to the names (for perfumes, not cats), you can’t even imagine how topical you are! If my work permits, I hope you’ll see soon what I mean.


  7. I loved your intro, it fits well with my own thoughts about when the changes in luxury lines started to happen, and how I feel about it.
    So funny that when you wrote about Caftan, I thought to myself, well you can really only have so many ambers before they start being same-same but different. Then for Velours, you say ‘ can you have too many ambers’? I had to giggle at that. For the record, I started out loving ambers, and now only have a select few, because in effect I don’t wear them often.
    To get back to the theme at hand: YSL vestaires. I know them quite well, and find that overall they are quite good, but I feel like they couldn’t decide whether to be edgy or easy. To be really interesting most of them lack a final je ne sais quoi, and for them to talk more to the mainstream clientele it seems to me they are too obscure visually, and perhaps too many oriental leaning perfumes? Were they copying Armani privé? It the same house L’Oréal luxe…


    • I’m glad that we coincide in our thoughts on the state of luxury lines: to tell you the truth (now when nobody’s reading comments any longer ;) ), I was a little bit bummed that nobody wanted to discuss with me that part of the post, which, at least in my mind, was much more interesting than my feeble attempts at reviews.

      As to ambers, I didn’t convey the thought correctly: of course, in a personal collection one can have only that many ambers (or, in reality, perfumes in any genre or specific-note-centric), but what I meant was that from the brand’s standpoint ambers, especially “safe” ambers, are kind of a “sure thing” when it comes to sales: going through the line, sooner or later you’ll give up an decide that you like this particular amber.

      BTW, I also thought that there were a lot in common between this YSL collection and Armani Prive, for which I have a soft spot even though I’m not of the highest opinion about it.


  8. Blouse (blerg, *hate* the name) sounds appealing to me scentwise. I have lately been asking myself if it’s possible to have too many rose perfumes, and the answer is apparently no.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As long as you realize that you, probably, will be the only one who’ll recognize that LBD from this one, you’re completely right! Blouse perfume is worth sniffing: it is different from many other roses in my collection, so if it weren’t for the bottle size, I could see myself having that one more rose in my collection.


  9. Okay, I wanted to come back and comment when I had more time!

    You’re so right about all the luxury brands and the sudden explosion of all of the exclusive fragrance lines! I have sampled the Louis Vuitton line and, while there are a couple I like, most of them are a complete miss for me. They all have a similar undercurrent that I don’t know how to describe. It’s kind of an airy chemical (but not aldehydes). It makes the compositions feel like EDTs when I know they are listed as EDPs. So odd!

    I really like the Bottega Veneta Parco Palladio II: Cipresso. It’s an extremely refined woody fragrance and just really pleasant to wear. But there are so many other perfumes on my wants list and I can’t realistically justify purchasing a bottle.

    I have not tried any of the YSL exclusives, but your write-up makes me want to try Caftan and Velours! Blouse is too funny. I’m sure they intended the name to come across as very chic, but it only served to make me laugh!


    • Hi Caitlin! I meant to tell you on your blog how much I love your new avatar, but then I got distracted, so I decided to use this opportunity to tell you that.

      Being a perfume addict who lives in a relatively well-populated perfume-wise area, I did try both Louis Vuitton and BV collections. But SAs that showed me that collection (in both places) were so full of themselves that after the initial sniff I haven’t been back to continue. Though I might do that in future – when there’s nothing new to test on my trips to those places.

      I feel bad for YSL because I used to like and wore at least a couple of their perfumes in my pre-perfumista years. So I wish they would have come up with their “special” line earlier – before my collection exploded with everything else. Or they should work on releasing a much smaller bottles!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! The old photo didn’t reflect how I currently style my hair and my new glasses. It just didn’t look like me anymore!

        I spend a lot of time thinking about how getting the right SA can affect how you perceive fragrances. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth if you have a negative interaction with someone. I was friendly with the LV SAs near me because they would often stop in Sephora on their breaks. But now it looks like a lot of them have moved on and it’s a completely different crew, so I don’t go in the LV store much these days.

        I agree, YSL was awfully late to the party with their exclusive line!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve tried some of the fragrances in the collection. My favourite so far is Trench. Keen to try Blouse, for the funny name alone, although I think it sounds more chic and elegant if pronounced with a French accent.


    • Everything sounds more chic and elegant when pronounced with a French accent! :)
      I will keep investigating this collection now when I learned about its existence hoping for a smaller bottles release.


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