I remember buying my first bottle of Yvresse on a sunny day in the early summer, not long after it was (re)launched under this name. I was vaguely aware of the issues surrounding the original name, Champagne, and the fact YSL was forced to make the change, but I didn't really care. My goal was to find a happy perfume and that was exactly what I got.
It was sometimes around 1994, I think, and fruity was not yet a dirty word. Perfumes from big fashion houses could still be exciting and really good. Yvresse seemed to be all that. A happy, sunshiny little thing that wasn't too silly and had a substantial base under an opening full of peach and nectarines and something that felt like a frothy Bellini. The thing is that Yvresse is sweet. Very sweet, actually, and on a wrong weather/skin chemistry day the peach-rose syrup takes over so completely I probably owe an apology to all the people who had the displeasure to share an elevator with me during the summer of 1994 or 1995.
The base is all oakmoss, wood and patchouli, and can smell like a very full-bodied chypre once you get there. But the sweetness and all that happy-sunshiny-bubbly character mask it quite well. There's nothing moody or broody in Yvresse, and it's so easy going it feels like the vacation I always wanted but never had the chance to take. The kind that is all beaches and cabana boys during the day and long steamy nights in slinky little dresses after dark. In essence, utterly not me.
I still liked it quite a bit and eventually finished the bottle after five years or so. I never repurchased until recently, when I started missing it. There's not enough oakmoss in our lives these days. I actually found a couple of bottles of the original Champagne, both in EDT and parfum. It was my first experience with the extrait (no longer in production, of course), and it's as lovely as you would expect. There's something dry and spicy in the opening, a little less Club Med, if you will. The development is pretty similar in both concentrations, but I think I'm getting to the drydown a bit quicker in the parfum. I doubt Yvresse (or Champagne) would satisfy a serious oakmoss craving, because for most of us it's a lot more about green or leather chypres and this Yves Saint Laurent perfume is closer to the house's Paris than it is Mitsouko or Femme de Rochas. On bad days the sweetness is more in the realms of Tresor and sends me scrubbing- not surprisingly, consider the perfumer of both (and also of Paris) is Sophia Grojsman and her signature is quite evident.
On good days it's a happy perfume that's easy to wear without feeling it's a dumbed down scent.
Yvress is available from most official YSL distributors, online and in stores as well as from the usual and unusual discounters, usually for under $50. The current bottles are the 2oz and 4.2oz EDT. Any other sizes are older stock, which might not be a bad idea, considering the oakmoss restrictions. I have no idea if, when or how much Yvress has changed over the years.
Original Champagne ads: couleurparfum.com