Y by Yves Saint Laurent 1964

Y by Yves Saint Laurent 1964

Hi there Crew, Yves Saint Laurent is one of the big names in fashion that I’ve followed since childhood. When they took his first name from the brand it changed the way the houses name felt in my mouth. Suddenly one of the most forward, modern, beautiful fashion houses of the world sounded like a budget brand trying to be sophisticated. Saint Laurent sounds cheap and desperate to me, Yves Saint Laurent sounds like a couture house. Yes, you can disagree, we will still be friends. No, I will never buy anything with the label Saint Laurent.

Fortunately the beauty side of the business remains YSL and, of course, so do its vintage perfumes. Y has long been a favourite and a few years ago I stockpiled quite a bit of it. More than enough for two lifetimes even if it was the only perfume I wore. Since then I have sold or given as gifts over a litre of the EdT and still have enough to wear without being parsimonious; basically forever.

Y by Yves Saint Laurent 1964

Y by Yves Saint Laurent 1964

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Aldehydes Green Notes Galbanum Honeysuckle Gardenia Peach Mirabelle Plum Heart: Hiacynth Orris Root Ylang-Ylang Jasmine Tuberose Bulgarian Rose
Base: Oakmoss Civet Vetiver Patchouli Sandalwood Benzoin Styrax

The reason I’m writing about Y? Well, on Saturday night I hosted a Studio 54 Hen’s Party. What else do you wear to a Studio 54 party than an aldehydic galbanum bomb floral chypre? So Y got the wear.

It was perfect. It helped me maintain my composure in the face of 50 screaming hens with no microphone. You have NO IDEA how much noise they made, it was bedlam. We all had a ball and my voice next morning was a croak.

Do you remember Y? Maybe you wear or wore it, or someone you know?
Let me know in the comments. I love to read your thoughts.
Portia xx

Portia Loves: Opium by YSL

Hi there crew!

Opium by YSL! It was a game changer. This was way back in 1977, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t hit Oz stores till later. It was only the lucky few international travellers or women whose husbands travelled for business that got their mits on a bottle. It caused a sensation. The name alone was scandalous and the strength! It could dry clean your curtains if you wore a couple of spritzes too much. I remember my Mum thinking it was a ridiculous concept, and she didn’t like the smell at all. Yes, I come from a long line of snarky, judgemental bitches. It’s hereditary, and we are kinda proud of it.

I, on the other hand, thought Opium perfectly marvellous. I’m about 10 years old by now and had very definite opinions of my own about everything. Already the world was seen through the black and white lenses of divine and vile, there was no meh. Even then I would make pronouncements instead of having a conversation, and once my mind was made up, it took a truckload of evidence to the contrary for me to even think about changing it. These were trying times for all around me, and me. My poor born and raised in God-fearing country-Australia parents were manifestly unprepared for such a child. It was like two sheaves of wheat had found themselves parents to a very camp, ridiculously beautiful, passionfruit vine. Let’s not get started on the wilfulness either shall we.

Anyway, Opium. So, fast forward a few years, and it’s the late 1990s. I’m finally introduced to my BFF Kath’s Mum. She ONLY wears Opium by YSL. We are not talking a shrinking violet in its usage either. This is an above 100ml per year wearer of Opium. At that stage, it was still in the pared down variation of the original spray bottle and smelled like a hairspray version of itself. Still recognisable after a while but cheaper smelling and shorter lasting. Then it all changed – the bottle, the scent, everything. Dad bought Mum a couple of bottles that she wore but didn’t really love.

Not sure exactly what year I decided to keep her in the original, but it was 10 or more years. Every time I’d see a vintage bottle at a fairly reasonable price (and that really ain’t cheap anymore), I’d grab it. I also grabbed all the summer flankers, extraits, men’s etc. I’m nothing if not dogged and obsessive.

Meanwhile Mum’s health started to deteriorate, and she slowly went from being all gussied up and out and about every day to an invalid. Still, she would spritz herself wet with Opium each and every day. The whole house smelled of it as you walked through the front door. Wonderful.

Anyway, two years ago Mum went on to the next grand adventure. We sprayed the chapel, her casket, the flowers and the house with so much Opium it was like a fog. It was a seriously wonderful service, and I was asked to do the eulogy.

Kath took what Mum had on her bureau to wear as memory scent.

I have had the same couple of bottles out on display for wear for ages (Opium Posie de Chine and Opium Secret de Parfum). Due to the C19 Lockdown though I’ve been going through my perfumes and assessing their merits. Especially my multiples. The vintage YSL box got a going over a couple of weeks ago. I was more than slightly surprised at how much Opium has been amassed. So, I decided to sell some off. Four bottles have gone on to fresher pastures, gave one bottle to Kath as an extra backup and a pair still in the sale list. I took 20% off what I paid for them, and they’d only been spritzed to authenticate, but they were still no bargain. Quite a few bottles got binned through the purchasing process because there is a lot of fake shit floating around.

So here is my pared down collection at this moment. Yes, I know it’s still a shitload of vintage Opium. Yes, I know I’ll never use it all up. Yes, I know hoarding is an illness. No, I’m not bothered by your judgement, actually I’m so used to being judged, it feels normal and right.

Ta Daaaaaa! Here lies my shame for all to see. Isn’t it marvellous? I will also admit to doubles of Opium Secret de Parfum, Opium Posie de Chine and an extra EdT that was a chemist tester that had lost its spritzer and cap.

 

Back: all BNIC: Opium Eau d’Ete, Opium Pour Homme Eau d’Orient, Opium Orchidee de Chine
Middle: Opium EdT, Opium Secret de Parfum, Opium Posie de Chine, Opium EdT, Opium Fleur de Shanghai
Front: Opium Sparkling EdT, Opium parfum, Opium EdT

I am wearing Opium Fleur de Shanghai at the time of writing. All the glamour of Opium in a summer weight and very slightly sweeter.

 

OK, so now it’s your turn to share a vintage story or a memory in the comments please.
Portia xx

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.

Tuxedo

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.

Trench

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.

Caftan

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.

Velours

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.

Blouse

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