Friday, August 09, 2013

YSL- Rive Gauche (Vintage Perfume)

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.


  1. The memory flood gates just burst open. I used to sneak into my grandmother's bathroom to use it secretly. I wasn't allowed because I was a kid and this was a grown-ups perfume. Love the ads!

  2. YES - I love this era and Rive Gauche, and you've really done them justice, Gaia! I always wanted to love Ma Griffe for the name, but there's a note in it that I don't like. Also love older Calandre parfum. Thanks! ~~nozknoz

  3. Oh I had completely forgotten about this one. I do believe I still have a bottle of it. I remember Calandre but not Ma Griffe. I used to wear Rive Gauche here and there especially when wearing black. :)

  4. Calandre was my favorite perfume of that era, although I liked Rive Gauche. I still miss Calandre in the eau de parfum concentration, I don't believe that's available any more. -- Annunziata

  5. This was one of my signature scents in the 80s, I got so many compliments when I wore it! It was a sparkling soapy green mossy on me. I remember the last bottle I bought -well before 2003 - and it was unrecognizable and I nearly cried when my friend who owns a perfume shop told me it was changed for good. Too much rose, and completely different from the original. Not sure why BN says 2003 for the reform, as I'm pretty sure the reform bottle I got was in the 90s.

  6. My mother always vore this perfume in the 80's so I'm very nostalgic re: this one! I do remember it being quite a noseful so to speak; very head-on in the opening stages but rather compeling in the drydown. Also the bottle is perfection! So chic!


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