The first time I wrote about Ilang Ivohibé by Pierre Guillaume of Parfumerie Generale was just before I got my first bottle of this perfume, as I drained a sample or two during a massive Nor'Easter storm back in 2007. It has served as a spot of sunshine, a mood booster, and a source of true pleasure ever since. I also included Ilang Ivohibé in my most recent list of "best perfumes you're not wearing (spring edition)" because I've always felt that this fragrance tends to get lost among Guillaume's high-profile creations.
Ilang Ivohibe has been around for quite a while (since 2005, an eternity in today's market standards). It's considered "nice and pretty", or as in Luca Turin's one line review in the Guide: "Straightforward jasmine floral with a vanillic drydown". Well, yes. That's the whole point. The reason I enjoy this perfume so much is the way it takes the yellowest, most sunshiny aspects of jasmine and ylang-ylang and amplifies them to an extreme. The effect is of a happy cat lounging in the sunniest spot in the house, lazily stretching to expose a spotted belly*. You can't beat that kind of well-being.
But there's more to that. The floral bouquet of Ilang Ivohibé progresses all the way from brisk and soapy (I'm in full agreement with my 2007 self) to a slightly whimsical yet elegant white fabric, maybe something like Swiss dot. It's comfortable to wear and not formal in any way, but still feels "dressed" and very satisfying. Part of it is the soft creamy flow from ylang-ylang to a very soft wood, kind of a sandalwood note yet not quite that. Parfumerie Generale's website lists orris as a note, so maybe that's behind that tranquil dry-down with a pinch of earthiness.
Various sites have different and contradicting note lists for this perfume. Pierre Guillaume's own seems incomplete (Lavander, Vanilla, Ylang-ylang, Orris, Patchouli),and I'm with Luca Turin on the jasmine. If you're an Ilang Ivohibe fan I'd like to hear what you smell there. It's a fun game.
Parfumerie Generale- Ilang Ivohibé eau de toilette comes in three sizes but not all are available from every retailer. OsswaldNYC has the 100ml ($179), Luckyscent offers the 50ml ($125), and if you order directly from parfumerie-generale.com you can get the 30ml for 65 €. Osswald and Luckyscent also sell samples, of course.
*As you may remember, our house is blessed with an abundance of tabbies.
Art: An Oriental Beauty by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, c.1888