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· Perfume Notes: Yves Rocher

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Perfume Notes: Yves Rocher
by Dorothy

I've often walked by Yves Rocher in the mall (there are actual stores in Canada; I gather this is not the case in the States), but never had any interest in going in; I'm not sure why. I think I figured it for some kind of vaguely snooty spa right up until the day I started figuring it for a French Fruits & Passion. In fact it's rather like a French cross between The Body Shop, Avon, and Bonne Bell, with constant sales and a moderately priced salon in the back.


This amuses me: was there ever a makeup item more clearly intended for twelve-year-olds? LipSmackers, I suppose. This confirms for me that the innate good taste of the French is a half-truth. French good taste is fantastic, French bad taste is just...bad. (Nobody who has walked past the Moulin Rouge can be surprised by this. Yikes.)

Anyway, despite what Luca Turin calls its "resolutely downmarket" image, Yves Rocher actually has a decent reputation in fine fragrance; they often use famous noses (Annick Ménardo, Sofia Grojsman), and they're said to use better ingredients than you might expect from a cheap line. I tried a few of their offerings the other week, before I ran out of arm space; I have samples of a few more, although not much to say about all of them.

I'm not sure why I don't like patchouli; I should like the rich, spicy, vaguely dirty quality of it, but to me it has too many hippie associations, and my skin tends to amplify it unpleasantly. Cocoon has a patchouli drydown for patchouli-haters, very comforting and soft. Unfortunately, before I got to the drydown, I had to smell like a stale Dairy Milk bar for a couple of hours. Perhaps this is just me. A mini of this stuff sells for $4 CAD ($3 USD), and there are frequent sales, so trying it might be worthwhile if you like patchouli or gourmands.

Rose Absolue (Rose Absolute over here) was composed by Christine Nagel, who also composed Lancôme's lovely but stupidly overpriced Mille et Une Roses. Rose Absolue is not quite as soft as Mille et Une Roses; it's fruity, as most rose soliflores are, and the fruitiness of the rose is amplified by an apple note that I rather like. Smelling this on my skin, I was overcome by a wave of nostalgia; the first perfume I ever owned was The Body Shop's Tea Rose, and this put me in mind of that, but also of the rose garden my father doted on when I was a child. In October, around the time the Ontario apple harvest started to come in, the last flowers would be blooming, and he would pile straw around the rosebushes to protect them from the frost. I suppose for me this is an autumn fragrance.

Un Jour Se Lève (sold in North America as "A New Day Dawns" -- is the French name also a cliché?) is the EDT version of YR's Comme Une Evidence. I read on The Scented Salamander that this is one of the best-selling fragrances in France, up there with Chanel No. 5 and Angel, so I ordered some when it went on sale. It's billed as a chypre, but it doesn't smell like a chypre to me (at least not the chypres I know); it smells to me like a contemporary fresh/fruity floral, dominated by lily of the valley and an interesting rhubarb note. (If my nose is failing me and this really is a chypre, it is the chypre equivalent of a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc: smoother, sweeter, less weird.) It's incredibly nice, though, neither cloying nor screechy, very long-lasting for an EDT, and pretty great for the price. It makes me think of a group of young mothers I saw in Paris, pushing tastefully sized strollers, dressed simply in well-fitted sweaters and neutral slacks, hair tidily pulled back: wholesomeness well done.

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9/19/2008 [3]

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