Thursday, March 12, 2009

In Which I Smell Annick Goutal Un Matin d'Orage

...and have a little déjà vu.

According to the flowery blurb on the Annick Goutal site, the inspiration for their newest fragrance, Un Matin d'Orage, was Camille Goutal's trips in Japan where she experienced storm drenched Japanese gardens. I've never been to Japan, so I cannot comment on how evocative the scent is in this regard, but shortly after spraying it on my arm I felt it was somewhat familiar. It took me several hours of obsessively sniffing my arm to realize where I've smelled this before.

But let's go back to the beginning. Un Matin d'Orage is currently only available at Saks (it looks sold out online, but if your local store is as much of a ghost town as mine, it's probably in stock), which meant braving the normally sour-faced SA at the counter. There's a significant improvement of the attitude in the store, probably related to the fact Saks is in dire straits these days. The SA apologized profusely because she had no samples of the perfume, but was eager for me to spray "the new orange perfume" (seriously!). Which I did.

Unlike the SA, I knew there wasn't any orange there (my French may be limited to a terrible pronunciation of "Serge Lutens" and "Pâte à Choux", but this is not the first Orage I come across, and it translates to "a stormy morning"). What I got was a hit of charged, ozonic air which led the way to wetness: wet greenery, wet florals, wet earth. My skin is an infamous flower slayer, so I can't say much about the promised champaca, jasmine or magnolia. The one flower that stood out and stayed put was gardenia. A surprisingly green gardenia, bare of any sweetness or gilding that you often find in gardenia-based scents.

Because of all the air and water that stand between my nose and the gardenia, my main impression was of a flower seen through a window while rain is pouring. That image has stayed with me for several hours until I remembered the last interesting gardenia I've smelled:

JAR Bolt Of Lightning


I don't know about Japan, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Isabelle Doyen, the nose behind Un Matin d'Orage, got some of her influence at the JAR boutique in Paris. Think of it: a stormy, ozonic opening, wet earth and tons of gardenia. It's not that UMdO smells like Bolt Of Lightning, but there are some striking similarities here and there as the scent develops. Bolt of Lightning has a much more dramatic and dangerous opening. It hits you forcefully before the gardenia arrives. Un Matin D'Orage isn't shocking. It draws you in and is decidedly prettier. But it's not a typical Goutal scent and has a lot more edge than one would expect.

Is it the poor man's Bolt Of Lightning? At $80 for 1.7 oz, It's less than 10% of the JAR price, so one could even spring for the special butterfly bottle ($220 for 3.4 oz) and still feel sort of thrifty. Is it an adequate substitution? Probably not. Un Matin d'Orage is thinner, lighter, airier. It belongs in the same group as other new tropical greens like L'Artisan Fleur de Liane and that aquatic disaster from Hermes, Un Jardin Apres La Mousson. It's also infinitely better than both.

I can see UMdO being a perfect summer scent if you're looking for something green with a touch of florals that will not turn on you. It's different than the calonic-melonic fragrances which can be stomach-turning if you're sensitive to their aromachemicals. And it's definitely pleasant to wear, unless you were hoping for something like Grand Amour or Quel Amour!. I don't agree with the ultra-feminine label they're trying to stick on Un Matin. I'm pretty sure many men can pull it off easily, as long as they don't have the skin chemistry that amplify white flowers and broadcast them to the stratosphere.

Do I need a bottle? I'm not sure. I'm not in the market for air and water. But talk to me in late July and I might change my tune.

Image of wet gardenia by Susan Boden Dillon


  1. Interesting connection you draw between UMdO and BoL. I personally don't see it, as they are nothing alike to me. BoL is like tuberose+metallic truffle+dirt to my nose. If it were a color it'd be shadowy purple-pinkish-grey. I don't really get much gardenia in Un Matin d'Orage, instead more like indistinct florals+dewiness+cut green stems. There's a sweetness that's like how melon is sweet, but I don't smell actual melon. If it were a color, it'd be spring green. Enjoyed your post!

  2. "and that aquatic disaster from Hermes, Un Jardin Apres La Mousson . . . "

    *shivers as knife slides into heart*

  3. Your connection confused me, though I can't explain why. I sampled BoL, and got kind of a berry, dirt, plastic(?) sense from it, though the electricity was definitely there. I'll have to try this one, though, because I'm always after a scent that's both pretty and stormy.

  4. Ashu, thanks for commenting. I don't find the scents very similar, except in feel and a general idea. And the gardenia. That's really the weirdest thing, but BoL became a true gardenia on my skin, which I would never have expected.

  5. Nathan, I'm actually jealous of anyone who can wear it. I'm very curious to smell the Mousson on someone who doesn't make it vile. It's a criminal thing on my skin, and neither my husband nor my scent twin can tolerate being around it.

  6. Lucy, I have a feeling that BoL changes extremely from person to person. When Tom and I went sniffing, we both were shocked when BoL turned into a gardenia. I'm pretty sure it was not supposed to do it, but if you look at the comments on my original post you'll see we were not the only ones to smell that.
    The Goutal is worth trying no matter what. It is very well made.


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