Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sonia Rykiel - Le Parfum



One day in the winter of 1993/94 I bought the much anticipated new fragrance by French designer Sonia Rykiel, Le Parfum. I didn't know all that much about perfume as it was the early days of my fragrance wardrobe. I wasn't able yet to define what exactly was it that I loved about certain scents. I only started collecting in the previous couple of years (prior to that I was still doing the signature scent thing, changing them about once a year). But I was already aware that, when possible, I should go for the EdP, that staying power was important to me and that I didn't want to smell like a fruit cup.

I remember Le Parfum as quite different than anything else I owned and used back then (Paloma Picasso, Safari, Lauren, White Linen, Red Door, Valentino, Eternity and Tiffany). It was bolder, it made a statement and felt way too elegant for my daily college life. I loved it and was entranced by the scent, but it wasn't easy to wear for my 23 year old self (Not sure why. After all, I was 19 when I started wearing Paloma Picasso).

I don't know what happened to my original bottle. Can't remember if I finished it and never repurchased or maybe it was lost and forgotten, possibly while moving. It's the only fragrance in my above list that I wasn't able to recall anything about the way it smelled, except for its perceived elegance. I couldn't remember anything else about it. Therefore, it was time to find it again.

First step was going to the official Sonia Rykiel website. The site is quite horrible in its inefficiency and lack of information, but I was happy to discover that the fragrance is still available and to find the notes:
Top notes: Hinoki wood, mimosa, passion fruit
Heart Notes: Osmanthus, rose, iris
Base notes: Tonka beans, ambered precious woods (what exactly is that?), vanilla

Then it was time to hunt a sample, to see if I still like it. That was quite easy and I purchased a mini EdP on eBay. But while searching for a reliable source to purchase it I discovered that out of Rykiel's fragrances (that I find to be on the boring, Stella-y side), this one isn't sold in any brick and mortar store that I could find (Sephora and all the department stores under the sun). Most of the online discounters only sell the EdT, and some of them seem to be quite disturbing: having a very different list of notes than the official site (strawberry???) or offering a bottle of 3.4 oz EdP, something that isn't supposed to exist, again, according to the SR website. Eventually I managed to find a retailer or two and to also locate it in a couple of eBay stores. But, what's the big mystery? This fragrance is obviously still in production. Other products from the same house are widely available. Why is this one so hard to find?

The answer might be in the scent. I received my little bottle and applied happily. It has the cheekbones of a  chypre though not an oakmoss/patchouli scent. Something about the kick you get from the structure, I guess. It's lovely and very feminine, elaborate and rich. Everywhere you go, you'll hear how big scents have fallen out of grace, that the only way to sell well is to go fruity-floral (and with a scantily clad bleached blonde celeb, if possible). Apparently, it's a matter of demand, and elegant woody, cashmere like scents are not where big money is.

I like it. I really, really like it. I'm amused by how wearable I find it now. It's so pretty, cozy and has a natural elegance. I guess that one needs to grow up a little to truly appreciate this scent. I no longer find it so incredibly unique, though. I already own several more interesting/difficult/complex fragrances. Still, it's full bottle worthy and can easily enter my winter daytime rotation.When I find a full bottle, that is.

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