Cali-Floral Dreamin’ – Van Cleef & Arpels California Rêverie

Paysage d'Opale - A Shining Piece from the Van Cleef & Arpels California Rêverie Collection

Paysage d’Opale – A Shining Piece from the Van Cleef & Arpels California Rêverie Collection

If I was forced to pick my favourite fragrance genre, I would be able to answer with “floral” without a moment’s hesitation. My love for all things fragrant and flowery knows no end and I find myself drawn to a wide range of flower based fancies, ranging from supreme aldehydic floral bouquets to soliflores, and all that is in between. So yes, I love it when flowers and perfume come together, but I especially adore the heady tones of white floral perfumes based on the notes of; jasmine, tuberose or orange blossom.

Not all florals are symphonic beauties however, and it is often tricky to strike the right balance between something that is evocative of nature and something that is more abstract. Many attempts at capturing the hypnotic melody of flowers end up being too thin, due in part to the perfumers not being given enough money to work with, or in many cases they can fall into the trap of simply being ‘too much’ – one wants to revel in these flowers, not be devoured by them. Some however, get this balance absolutely right and this leads me quite nicely on to today’s subject: California Rêverie by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Created by perfumer Antoine Maisondieu (the man responsible for Etat Libre d’Orange’s Jasmin et Cigarette and Comme des Garçons Stephen Jones etc.), California Rêverie is the latest addition to Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection Extraordinaire – a collection that follows one rule, and one rule only – the rule of “excellence”. Taking inspiration from the brand’s jewellery collection of the same name (a sample of which can be seen above), this fragrance picks the note of jasmine to evoke Californian landscapes. California Rêverie is described by Van Cleef & Arpels as a “dizzying state of sensuality” that allows one to “drift off on a dreamlike voyage to the heart of Californian nature”. That all sounds rather good, doesn’t it?

California Rêverie

…California Rêverie

California Rêverie

Van Cleef & Arpels…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Notes

Top: Mandarin and Neroli
Heart: Indian Sambac Jasmine and Frangipani
Base: Vanilla and Beeswax

How Does it Smell?

It’s a relief to realise that, right from the outset, California Rêverie is a real jasmine and whilst it deliberately presents a lighter and more airy version of the flower it is not the watery, thin and ‘generically floral’ type-of-jasmine one finds in many modern designer fragrances. As the name suggests, it’s a dreamy floral, where the narcotic tones of jasmine do not emanate thickly from the flower itself, instead they are air born. In short: this is an aerial jasmine.

California Rêverie opens with a haze of sharp and bitter jasmine, accented by sprinkles of neroli glitter. At first, the whole thing feels very ‘alive’, evocative of a soft breeze filled with the heady smell of white flowers and the sound of the bees that are so helplessly attracted to them. Despite this sense of activity, the fragrance really is incredibly light and gives the impression of a delicate, yet ashy jasmine mist rather than the thick and heavy pungency of the flower on the bush.

Things remain relatively linear for the majority of the fragrance’s development. After a few hours however, the fragrance gets ever-so-slightly richer and takes on a decidedly warmer character, predominately comprising of cedarwood, honey, and a touch of vanilla. Rather than opting for the easy way out by ‘ending’ on an aria of floaty musks, California Rêverie simply fades out with dying wisps of wood and jasmine. There’s no rabble-rousing encore here, just a quiet exit via stage left.

California Rêverie isn’t a jasmine that packs a punch. It’s not heavily indolic and waxy in the way that other famous jasmines are, say like Serge Lutens’ Sarrasins for example, nor is it intensely green and sweet in the way that A La Nuit (also by Lutens) is. It is a light and wistful jasmine, and if I’m being entirely honest, I think that this delicate approach works in its favour. I’m going to file California Rêverie under the heading of ‘no great shakes’ as a realistic-smelling jasmine that won’t frighten the horses. Yeah, that sounds about right!

If my review of California Rêverie certainly has you interest piqued, then stay tuned for an interview with its creator, perfumer Antoine Maisondieu, over the coming weeks, in a new feature that I’m calling ‘Rubbing Noses’. Keep your eyes peeled, folks!

Availability

As part of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection Extraodinaire, California Rêverie is available in 75ml (£126) and 45ml (£69) Eau de Parfum.


Disclaimer
Samples, notes and quotes via Van Cleef & Arpels. Image 1 via vancleefarpels.com. Imag 2 & 3via fragrantica.com.

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21 thoughts on “Cali-Floral Dreamin’ – Van Cleef & Arpels California Rêverie

  1. Sounds like my kind of jasmine! I’m still looking for the one for me. I cannot bear Jasmin et Cigarettes but this sounds a long way from it.

    I didn’t know this line did 45ml bottles That is good news.

  2. I must sample it. No, I must buy it! An aerial jasmine sounds right up my alley, and I love Van Cleef & Arpels exclusive line!
    Thomas, did you see that smaller size with your eyes? It’s the first time this house launched a smaller bottle and I’m curious how it looks. I bet it’s super cute piece of glass 🙂

      • Oh thank you!
        So it’s just a little bit shorter and that’s it (or is it more narrow at the base too?)
        I didn’t know that other Collection Extraordinaire were also available in 45ml (like Gardenia Petale on your pic) – where can you get them? All the shops that already have California reverie only have the 75ml bottles online

      • It’s shorter and a tad thinner at the base, but still in proportion.

        I believe that the entire collection is now available in 45ml. I haven’t seen them in store yet.

      • Thanks for all the info! I found a shop in Germany that has them all in 45ml. Will just wait until they get California Reverie and place an order then

  3. This sounds very nice, I greatly enjoy VCA Orchidee Vanille. I’ve spent the weekend in Amouage Library Collection VIII (gorgeous!), how do you think this would compare?

    • I like Orchidee Vanille too. It’s like a more digestable Spiriteuse Double Vanille!

      California Rêverie is a floaty, airy jasmine, whereas the Amouage is a heavy and opulent, icy floral. Both are lovely but Opus VIII certainly has a bit more character.

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