Yves Saint Laurent in the 1970s. Few things are up to that level of elegance. Rive Gauche is the Left Bank, the area of Paris that represents an era, a bohemian lifestyle and creativity. It's also the location of Yves Saint Laurent's fashion studio and original store. And it's this semi-classic 1971 YSL perfume.
Rive Gauche is an aldehydic floral perfume with a chypre structure. It might not be all that original, but it's one of the most impeccably made ones, or at least it used to be. Basenotes lists 2003 as the year Rive Gauche was reformulated, and I suspect that things have been changed further sometimes after 2010. The small bottle I have is from the late 1990s, which shouldn't be called "vintage", but we all know that vintage is not what it used to be.
YSL Rive Gauche is often compared to Calandre (Paco Rabanne) and Ma Griffe (Carven). They're definitely closely related to each other, but I'd say that Ma Griffe is greener and more mossy, Calandre is colder, while Rive Gauche after the first burst of all that's green and airy becomes mostly about rose. For someone who has a clear preference for big ambers, animalic musks and leathers, and larger than life tuberose perfumes, my fascination with these very French crisp florals might be a bit odd. It's the oakmoss more than the aldehydes, I assure you; and Rive Gauche has a healthy dose of that.
The green-citrus-aldehydes opening of the juice in my bottle is probably not as fresh as it used to be. It smells like a bunch of dried flowers and leaves placed between layers of silk. When I think of it, actually, Rive Gauche has a feel of taffeta. Like the clothes Iman is wearing in the YSL fashion ads above. Then there's a rose, dipped in dark green and surrounded by leaves and oakmoss. Loads of oakmoss. They don't make them like that these days.
Are you a fan of these Chic Parisienne fragrances? If you are, Rive Gauche is worth your time. It's one of those well-dressed, well-coiffed always appropriate perfumes that still has an edge. Maybe it's the YSL legend, but I think it's the actual perfume.