L’Interdit was originally a fragrance comissioned by legendary couturier Hubert de Givenchy for iconic Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn. Launched in the 1950s and created by perfume Francois Fabron, L’Interdit was an aldehydic floral bouquet of the kind that is seldom found in this day and age. Its name, ‘The Forbidden’, is a reference to its initial exclusivity – it was Audrey’s perfume and for anyone else to wear it was, well, just not allowed.
Of course, L’Interdit did not remain forbidden for very long and soon became one of Givenchy’s most famous fragrances. Over the years it has seen a number of incarnations, most notably last year when Givenchy worked with perfumers Dominique Ropion, Anne Flipo, and Fanny Bal to create an entirely new fragrance composition bearing the L’Interdit name.
The new L’Interdit is described by Givenchy as a “tribute to bold femininity” and an “invitation to defy convention and embrace your singularity” showcased by the collision of white florals and dark notes. This leads one to expect a brassy and excessive fragrance – a perfume that speaks with a confident tone and evokes a free spirited character. Let’s see whether it delivers…
Orange Blossom, Jasmine, Tuberose, Vetiver, and Patchouli
Dominique Ropion, Anne Flipo, and Fanny Bal (IFF)
How Does it Smell?
Bubblegum. Juicy fruit, or maybe strawberry Hubba Bubba. That’s where one starts with the 2018 rendition of L’Interdit. The opening perfectly captures that dewy-fresh, cool character, and intensely sweet fruitiness of bubble gum and it somehow does so in a manner that is not sickly or cheap. In fact, I’d say that this interpretation of the novel treat is somewhat luxurious, as if it was a special variation created by Ladurée. It’s transparent too, with a dewy, weightless character that feels lively and delicate.
L’Interdit is technically a white floral, with a vivacious cocktail of tuberose, jasmine, and orange blossom at its heart, but fear ye not, this is a contemporay take on the white floral bouquet that merely takes cues from the Godzilla blooms of the 1980s (specifally their syrupy sweetness) rather than replicating them in full force. What one gets is a buoyant bouquet of fresh flowers with a fleshy, opalescent sweetness. Lovely.
Now, when it comes to perfume, sweetness must have contrast, otherwise it descends into something hard to digest. L’Interdit strikes the perfect balance, using a sharp, but clean patchouli note, intertwined with the greenery of vetiver, to create a mossy chypre effect (albeit a subtle one) amplified by smooth musks. I wouldn’t say these are “dark notes” as Givenchy does (they are far too clean), but they do give L’Interdit a richness and crispness that is the perfect counterweight to those sugary bubblegum flowers up top.
Givenchy’s marketing campaign, which stars the often-sullen actress Rooney Mara cracking a rare smile, would have one believe that L’Interdit is a stern and empowering fragrance, but it’s actually much more colourful than that. It’s empowering in a vibrant and carefree manner, modernising tuberose in such a way that it shakes of its narcotic habits in favour for bubblegum facets popped cheekily from the smirk of a fragrance that feels too cheerful to ever be forbidden. With a disposition as bubbly as this, people will never ban L’Interdit from anywhere!
So, in summary, this new version of L’Interdit is a thoroughly modern floral – a tuberose with a perky attitude and a fruity sensibility. It is very nicely put together and I for one, am totally here for it.
L’Interdit is available in 35ml (£51), 50ml (£69), and 80ml (£83.50)
Sample, notes, and quotes via Givenchy. Images are my own.