Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gravity Cannot Be Blamed ~In Love Again by Saint Laurent: fragrance review

"Gravity cannot be blamed for people falling in love" is one of Albert Einstein's wittier quotes. Although falling in love never held any sinister accusations against forces of nature in my mind, in a way I find myself equally irrationaly questioning my own reasons for choosing certain smells sometimes; such as a fruity fragrance I reach for in the summer months. What possesed me into buying one and actually enjoying it in the heat, me a self professed fruit-shunner?

In Love Again launched in 1998 as a Limited Edition, composed by Jean Claude Ellena. Yves Saint Laurent intended it as his last fragrance before retiring to celebrate his 40 years in the fashion business and thus it was a limited edition, accompanied by a seasonal makeup range, which was planned to be sold only in 1998. The bottle seen from above, as in a floor plan, was shaped into an irregular heart. The fragrance indeed disappeared after that, despite a devoted following gravitating towards its fresh, yet mischievous scent. Perhaps in an attempt to follow this successful turn, parfums Yves Saint Laurent issued Baby Doll in 1999 composed by Cecile Matton, initially as a Paris fragrance flanker, yet bearing a passing resemblance to In Love Again scent-wise, with its grapefruit opening and sweetly fruity denouement.

Yet fans were not entirely satisfied: Baby Doll just wasn't the same, being much girlier, sweeter and lacking the quintessential sophistication of the Yves Saint Laurent brand. Of course in many ways In Love Again was arguably also a departure from the dry chypre Y, the hedonism of Opium or the metallic aldehydic frost of Rive Gauche and the corresponding image of Yves as the ne plus ultra of French chic. You could picture those latest scents on bazooka-gum-chewing youngsters, carrying Manga-embossed bags.
Bottles of In Love Again went for as high as $500 on online auctions, till the company decided to bring it back. And so they did: They re-launched in a bottle with a hammered gold cap, instead of the harlequin one, and another box in green and blue in 2004, but the fragrance remained the same.

The initial burst of grapefruit rind, like you have just squeezed some with your bare hands dribbling juice all over, is a shot of energy ~a welcome good-morning kiss to kick off the day! In a way I can see how Jean Claude Ellena performed an anadiplosis in his Rose Ikebana for the Hermèssences, the exclusive line for the Hermès boutique as in-house perfumer in 2004: it was too good to pass up. In Rose Ikebana the idea is further explored with a garland of delicate, pulsating rose and tannin tea notes which combine to give a more ethereal and less sweet version like a satin hair ribbon drenched in morning dew. He deducted even more of the sweet elements of this accord in Un jardin sur le Nil, again for Hermès, in which he worked on a green mango note that ends up smelling like a refreshingly bitter grapefruit fresh from the fridge rested atop a smoky wooden counter top.

Somehow the success of In Love Again is that it manages to bypass the Scylla of hyper sweet, with a tart, zesty grapefruit accord that coaxes the sulfurous nature of the fruit into submission, making it easier to wear than the more difficult Pamplelune by Guerlain which often produces a strong ammoniac, catty effect on certain skins. A touch of green leaves, organic and warmed in the sun also contributes to its modern character, as well as what I perceive as tart berries.
But it also has a soft ambiance about it, without resorting to the Charybdis of ease that is the powder smell of certain white musks, nor stooping to cheap air-freshener style. Although a modern fragrance wih hints of the fruit-bowl, In Love Again has something about it which makes me enjoy it in the warmer months.

The comparison to Baby Doll is understandable up to a degree, due to the homoioteleuton freshness and grapefruit tang present in both. There is an element of optimistic dynamism about both, as well as youthfulness, but Baby Doll lacks the musky-woody element that keeps In Love Again from becoming too juvenile and therefore soon tires me with its overladen message of overt sweetness.

Contrary to many people I find In Love Again has good staying power, especially for a fragrance centered on a citrus note: those being almost synonymous to fleeting. The hesperidic burst of course dissipates after a couple of hours (a feat, even so!), but the drydown is detectable after half the day has passed with an inviting human warmth about it. The downside is of course that due to musk anosmia, some people are bound not to be able to detect the remnants at all. But for that only a skin patch test would bear the deciding verdict.

Top: grapes, grapefruit, brimbelle/bilberry
Heart: tulip tree flower, grapefruit, water lily.
Base: blackberry, sandalwood, musk.

The collectible bottle is to be found on Ebay. The current version can be found easily online and in department stores. There are two limited editions, which came out in 2005 and 2006 respectively, with offbeat designs on the bottles and no serious pretensions: In Love Again Fleur de la Passion (with an addition of passion fruit, raspberry and peony; subtle and rather less musky) and In Love Again Jasmin Etoile (with a weak, pale jasmine, which doesn't make it very distinctive, plus tangerine and a touch of spicy star anise).

Pic of original ad (with collectible packaging from 1998) via parfumdepub. Pic of current bottle via MUA.


  1. Abigail13:20

    I have come to expect an YSL post, these days, it's become a daily pleasure you know!
    Thanks for the lovely review as usual, I have not really given attention to this one, should probably do so, in fact will do so and get back.

  2. I enjoyed this scent, in small doses, when it came out.
    On me, it was really rather Oriental.

    Poor Pampelune was terrifying on me- even animals didn't like it; I would have smelled better, had I rolled in dung.
    Grapefruit is sooo pretty.

  3. I'll have to go investigate this one, I rather like the scent of graperfruit, and this sounds quite interesting.

  4. Anonymous15:03

    I will have to try In Love Again-that series of ads made me want to buy the entire YSL cosmetic line. I still cherish some items from that line. YSL certainly knew how to make women look good-never ever ridiculous. This series of reviews is an exceptional treat!


    Carole MacLeod

  5. Thanks Abigail for your kind words.
    Hope you have enjoyed, looking forward to your impressions :-)

  6. Dear I,

    isn't grapefruit special? I really like it! It has a slightly bitter edge that makes for a very refreshing experience.
    Alas, Pamplelune is not that good on me either (not atrocious, but not that stabilised in its effect either), which is a total shame as it's fabulous on paper!

  7. Dear Jen,

    I have a feeling you'd like it! :-)

  8. Carole,

    thank you for your compliment!
    It has been a real pleasure writing about the YSL fragrances, honestly. They have something individual about them, most of them.

    Indeed Yves had a loving eye for women and I can never imagine his fashions bordering even on ridiculous, which is something that can't be said for so many designers...
    The makeup line must have been quite something to inspire such devotion in you! But then YSL makeup is very upscale quality, I agree :-)

  9. I had forgotten about how Ellena made In Love Again; I'll definitely have to see how he adapted it for Un Jardin Sur La Nil with In Love Again in mind!

  10. Please do, Dain! I think it's a good exercise to compare the evolution of his grapefruit/green fruit: from In Love Again to Rose Iekabana to Jardin sur le Nil.

  11. A friend od mine is totally crazy about In Love Again, it's her absolute HG and as many scents turn very sweet and musky on her, this one is perfect! Myself, i like it a lot but i prefer Pamplelune for a "real" grapefruit.

  12. I can understand who she can find it good on her :-)
    Pamplelune is great, indeed, and you're lucky if it agrees with you, N!

  13. Hi!
    From my point if view,In love again YSL is the best parfum that I have even smelt. I bought my first bottle during a summer holidays in Ibiza. I remember this memorie exactly!! Nowadays,It`s impossible to me to find this perfume in Spain.The mix of the essences about it`s based this fragance is absolutely perfect to me.


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