Yves Saint Laurent's Rive Gauche - Life on the Left Bank
Yves Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche – Life on the Left Bank

Consider me behind the times, but I’ve very recently fallen head-over-heels in love with Yves Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche. Yes, I know it was launched way back in 1971, long before I was in short trousers, and yes, I’m well aware that its current formulation is a pale shadow of its former self, but I love it and I make no apologies. To me, Rive Gauche does the whole aldehydic floral thing in a way that is not over the top, nor is it viciously boardroom bitch-esque – its simply high fashion floralcy in a bottle.

Seeing as I’ve got a bit excited over my new found love, and I’ve also been taking an informal look at some of the classics over on Escentual recently (see Opium & Arpège), I took the time to dedicate my column this week to the glory of Rive Gauche. So, if you’re a fan of the scent, or if you just want to hear what all of the fuss is about (I do like a bit of hyperbole, it must be said), then simply click here to take a stroll down Paris’ wonderful left bank.

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The Spirit of Chanel
The Spirit of Chanel

Never underestimate the power of Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels. Having tried Chanel’ N°22 many times along my perfumista escapades I had never really found the love for it that I, and others thought I would. I mean it is a big aldehydic floral, and I’m sort-of into that kind of thing (OK, I love that kind of thing), but no N°22 never seemed to grab me, that was until an ever-persevering Birgit slipped a sample (and a number of hints, in an entirely non-pushy way I should add*) my way.

Now I will just put it out there that I have learned to love N°22, to me it epitomises the spirit of Chanel. It’s classy and elegant, but just that little bit rebellious. But whilst I enjoy it, I’m just not sure I’ll ever be running out to buy a bottle, my feelings very much lay in the ‘oh wow this is great but I don’t think I need it’ camp. That said, I am still definitely making my mind up about it and if there is one thing I have learned being a fumeophile it is that one should ‘never say never’!

N°22 was originally released in 1922, created by Chanel in-house perfumer Ernest Beaux (he of N°5 fame) it was intended as a lighter version of N°5. Chanel describes N°22 as “a skin scent […] full of grace […] (that) also bears the imprint of their (Chanel & Beaux’s) audacity.” N°22 now sits within the Les Exclusifs de Chanel line and I would probably rate it as my favourite Les Exclusif offering so far.

Gold

“Two of the most rich and lavish perfumes of all time.”

Gold Woman and Gold Man were the first fragrances to be released by Omani fragrance house Amouage. The house was founded by His Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said and in 1983 Amouage hired famous french perfumer Guy Robert to create two of the most rich and lavish perfumes of all time. His brief? “Put whatever you like in it, no matter how much it costs.” [1]

Both fragrances showcase silver frankincense, an ingredient the country is famed for, and whilst they have a distinct middle eastern feel they are also undeniably french in their style. Unlike almost everything from the 1980’s, Gold Woman and Gold Man do not feel dated in the slightest, they are both timeless classics that mark an important beginning from a venerable house. They have stood the test of time.