Ylang 49, the new fragrance from Le Labo feels like stepping into a dream of a perfect balmy day wearing a flowing dress and having a spectacularly good hair and makeup day despite being outdoors. In this little fantasy you're also wearing gorgeous shoes that remain magically pristine and unmarred by the forest wood and whatever else is out there in nature.
Ylang 49 may be my favorite out of all the Le Labo flower perfumes. It has a lot of warmth and a substantial base that surround the tropical flowers and make them more abstract and mysterious. The yellow blossoms are rich and enticing, but they're also restrained and wonderfully elegant: this is what they mean by calling Ylang 49 a "modern chypre". I was ready to protest and request that the label "chypre" be retired as were the true perfumes in this category, but you won't find me kvetching this time. Ylang 49 is as chypery as it is modern. It moves from floral to a recognizable oakmoss-patchouli base; there's a hint of chypre soapiness, a touch of roasted tea, and instead of the animalic base of yore you get the familiar Le Labo sandalwood enriched with benzoin.
My skin loves Ylang 49 the way it loves most of Le Labo's other fragrances. Their perfumes, even when interpreting classic themes, have a certain modern airiness that makes them appealing to both sexes and defy what we think of as a "sandalwood", "vanilla" or or "iris" perfume. Thus, Le Labo's ylang offering (a Frank Voelkl creation) bears no resemblance to other ylang-ylang centered fragrances (from the semi-recent Micallef Ylang In Gold to Les Nez Manoumalia or the dearly departed Aqua Allegoria Ylang & Vanille). Ylang 49 is entirely in its own world, which is a place I'd love to visit often.
Notes: ylang ylang, pua noa noa, (gardenia from Tahiti), patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, sandalwood, benjoin
Ylang 49 is one of two new La Labo perfumes (the other one is Lys 41 which I'll review soon) that join the "Classic Collection" (i.e. available wherever Le Labo perfumes are regularly sold) in less than two weeks. It's an extrait de parfum concentration (a whopping 30% perfume oil) and will come in the usual sizes (from $58 for 15ml, to $700 for 500ml. Body products will join the range in the fall.
The press sample for this review was supplied by the company.
Photo: Guillermo de Zamacona, 2010