Friday, June 13, 2008

YSL Tribute Coming to an End...and a Little Poll

These past two weeks, ever since Yves Saint Laurent left this vain world for hopefully a better one (or so we have been lulling ourselves to sleep?), it has been a great pleasure writing about the fragrances of the Yves Saint Laurent brand, many of which have been firm favourites, or indeed faithful allies in everyday battles.

Even the ones that have not produced quite the same frisson of excitement in me, such as the otherwise competent spicy fougère Jazz for men (1988) or the girly-sweet Baby Doll (1999) have been additions which have caught my eye at some point for different reasons: if only because they were parts of a line that I liked.

Same goes for some rare ones, such as the unisex Eau Libre with its suave black models, a practice for which Yves was famous; or Pour Homme, his first masculine for which he himself posed in the nude questioning our acceptance of female nudity over male; or even the discontinued fruity Vice Versa.

And of course there are some other fragrances, such as the fabulous incense and spice fireworks of Nu (2001), the controversial M7 (2002) -with its alleged inclusion of agarwood/oudh for the first time in a mainstream fragrance and its provocative ads echoing Yves's nude- or the pleasant almond flower caressed by vanilla of Cinéma (2004); I opted to leave those for another time. The reason? They were created when Yves himself had already retired from his house and so his vision was not the driving force behind them. But they will soon get their share of criticism or praise on these pages.

So for now, a little visual love expressed in the elegant advertising and fashions of Yves Saint Laurent from the 1970s.
And two clips from later on: Jazz from the late 80s and Cinema from a few years ago.

And on to you, dear readers:
1.Which is your most favourite fragrance in the Yves Saint Laurent line?
2.Which is your most despised? Why?
3.And if you could suggest something for the brand for the future, what would that be?

Looking forward to hearing your responses!

For a review of YSL L'homme click here and for a commentary on Elle, click here.

Clip of Jazz uploaded by Ilovelowe and of Cinema by LightBlv on Youtube. Ad pics from the 70s: of Rive Gauche parfum(top left), Y (top right), Eau Libre (mid right) and Pour homme (mid left) from parfumdepub.


  1. I love your blog but never get round to commenting.

    I've felt that in recent years the YSL fragrances haven't been quite as good as they should be for a house with such a design tradition.

    My favourites of theirs tend to be the older ones- particularly Paris and Rive Gauche. An exception to the recent rule are the special editions of Opium.

    I like Babydoll on other people but it's not my kind of fragrance.

    I also quite like Cinema but can never quite decide if the juice doesn't quite live up to the rest of it.

    My lest favourites are the Young Sexy Lovely and In Love again- I just don't think they really match the house and that they're very young.

    For the future I would love the house to take time and come up with a really strong grown up but not too heavy scent that could really live up to their heritage.

  2. I can't say I've really explored this line before... you know how it is when you get into perfume appreciation, there's an overwhelming preference for niche discussion. For that reason, I've thoroughly enjoyed your series on YSL, they've truly demonstrated how commercially successful perfumes can be so excellent. I got your package yesterday and dear god, Opium, it is one of those drop-your-pants-and-do-me kind of experiences. Thank you ever so much, not just for the samples but for the reviews as well!

  3. Abigail12:39

    Helg, thank you ever so much for brightening my days these past two weeks with your Yves Saint Laurent articles. Not only were they smashing, they were also providing me with information I hadn't read before. I feel like a new appreciation has been born!

    1.My most favorite is Paris, because it's so romantic.

    2.My least favorite is Young Sexy Lovely. It doesn't match the rest. Generic fruity floral soup.

    3.I'd like them to make another aldehydic, a modern one. Rive Gauche isn't for me, so I would appreciate that.

  4. Anonymous13:50

    Most favorite Baby Doll, most despised Kouros, because it smells like urine, lol! Wish they'd make something different than all the rest of the companies do, tho Elle was nice!

  5. stella polaris15:27

    My favourite is Opium, without doubt! :) but with Paris in its many incarnations as a second. Opium in edt, since I agree with helg, the edp being (too) close to Coco. Haven´t tried all the other, and not Kouros (the description makes me eager to try!)
    ps: got the samples next week, thank you very much! look foreward to the occations fit for trying! that is: warmer weather.

  6. Anonymous15:43

    My most and least favorite are the same: Opium! Most, because it's so heavenly when properly applied. Wonderful. It smells like nothing else.

    When it first came out my uncle was working as a sailor, and he brought back two bottles from Spain, one for my grandmother (his mother) and one for his mother - in law. Astonishingly his mother in law emptied her entire bottle within two weeks-and the bottles were huge! It was imposssible to be around her. My mother hates Opium for this same reason.

    I liked Nu, but think it could have benfitted from slightly better ingredients-it always left me with a headache when I wore it, but I always went back to it.

  7. Rose,

    welcome to Perfume Shrine :-)
    Thank you for deciding to comment and hope you will do so from now on; I love to hear what readers have to say and your support means a lot to me!
    So thank you for your most kind words which give me great joy.

    I agree with your assesment on YSL fragrances and it seems we share much of the same tastes (I can't quite fathom why they launched the Young Sexy Lovely thing: well, I have read it's destined for the Asian market which is arguably a vast market, but still...not a great concept)
    I can only join you in your wishes for the future of YSL!

  8. Dain,

    I know!! It seems like at some point in time I mostly testing rather than wearing things, you know?
    But the mainstream market also has some interesting things (in many cases superior to some of the latest niche! ~which is a sad development in a way) and I have a fondness for resurrecting what has been forgotten, so...

    Thank you for your support which gives me encouragement to continue with my project and hopefully give pleasure to fellow perfumephiles as well.

    I'm deliriously happy you got the package (any time, honey!) and you liked the original Opium! Isn't it fabulous? LOL on the description ;-)

  9. Abigail,

    you're very welcome, I am thrilled that the series on Saint Laurent resonated with readers, because I had felt some pangs of guilt not having tackled the line in more detail in the past.
    I feel that now, although not completed yet, Perfume Shrine "covered" a bit of that great house.

    A modern aldehydic would be fantastic for YSL! If only they took example out of the great La Myrrhe for Lutens: that was a superb one and I'd love to see something along those lines in YSL myself.

  10. Aline,

    LOL, yes, we talked about Kouros, didn't we? I respect your feeling about it. As to Baby Doll on the correct person it might be very fetching.

    I do hope they do something truly different in the future, although what would that be???

  11. S,

    I see we share the same passion!
    Hopefully you will try Kouros (I bet testers will be available at any major store) and get back with your impressions. Looking forward to them!

    Very happy you got the samples and hope you enjoy! Mwah!

  12. Carole,

    what a funny and great story! Thanks for sharing it with us.
    I think I can totally relate: we have all known someone who has overdosed on a beautiful perfume leaving us apprehensive about it ever since.

    I very much enjoy Nu as well, although I can sympathise with the headaches (sorry about that!). My preference is for the spicier EDP over the more floral EDT: I think the quality is superior and the composition is somehow "better", more coherent I mean; in the EDT the floral doesn't exactly mesh with the spice and the woods. Or so I think at least...

  13. 1. My favorite: Paris, what can I say I admire this over the top romantic scent.

    2.Despised: I suppose the limited edition spring offers for teenagers, they are just so blah.

    3. I suppose I would really like to see YSL go back to its roots of really supporting a fragrance and spending time on them.

  14. Jen,

    good point all around!
    Although spending time on a fragrance would require that they don't issue so MANY!
    And that goes for all the major houses as well :-(

  15. I have never worn any Saint Laurent but I was in love with a guy who wore Paris. Yes, some men in France do wear it, a lady at Sephora confirmed this.

  16. My favorite was vintage Rive Gauche.
    Second favorite Opium, but I never wore it, and I don't know how the newer version(s) differ.

    Nu is good layered with Shalimar. When I heard it, I tried it and agree.

    My least favorite is Paris. I can't wear it. It is too rosy or too insipid on me. I try it every once in a while, though.

  17. Anonymous00:21

    I have many faves in the YSL line... Yvresse is a real stunner, perfect for when you want perfume to talk to you; Opium is absolutely edible and manages to stand out with its many facets time after time... Rive Gauche is the best day & office wear perfueme I've ever been able to find (maybe next to Calandre and White Linen) and Paris always manages to cheer me up, even though it is the one I wear the least. I have also always been impressed by the quality of the flankers, specially for Opium and Paris. All in all, YSL fares excellent when compared to any other fashion-based line, Chanel and Dior aside. I think the only fragrance I just don't get is Babydoll...
    Cheers and thank you for the beautiful reviews Helg!

  18. Briconcella,

    welcome and thank you for your fascinating comment! What a gem of a tidbit that is! Men wearing Paris in France. Great, seriously!
    I have heard of two French men specifically who like Chanel No.5 as their personal fragrance of choice with good results.
    If only they were as open everywhere.

  19. Karin,

    yes, the vintage Rive Gauche was a wonderful creation, I agree whole-heartedly.
    Paris can be a little too romantic I guess. I went through a bottle, then try it every once in a while for its violet overlay.

    Nu layered with Shalimar: now, I should try that! ;-) (thanks)

  20. Olga,

    welcome, thanks for stopping by and also for your wonderful compliment: the support I get from readers means a lot to me.

    What an interesting commemnt! Indeed YSL out of the fashion houses has an impressive and lucrative fragrance line, highlighted especially via their "classics"
    (btw, Givenchy for example had cheapened their image sooooo much with all those mediocre scents, before re-launching the old classics again as Les Mythiques).

    I have to admit I have great respect for the seasonal limited editions of Opium and Paris as well: they're actually very good!

    Now Yvresse being "perfect for when you want perfume to talk to you": what a great phrase, why didn't I think of that?

    Thank you! :-)

  21. Oops, late to the party, as usual, but I'll still chime in:

    1. It's tough to pick one favorite YSL. I think Opium is very nearly perfect, it never fails to smell wonderful, but I am not really a spice girl, and I don't wear it much. The original Rive Gauche is much more "me" and I do wear it, though I'm hardly ever passionate about it. Yvresse probably thrills me the most when I am in the mood for it, but that doesn't happen often.

    2. I guess I'd have to say I despise the Young Sexy Lovely stuff, though it really doesn't merit such emotional energy. I wouldn't wear Baby Doll on a bet, but I'm sure it smells great on other people. Nu and Cinema are both frustrating near-misses, as far as I'm concerned. I do think I'm going to try Karin's trick of layering Nu with Shalimar.

    3. I am a pessimist by religion, so it's hard to imagine the house doing anything that would bring me joy, but a really modern leather/floral for women would intrigue me.

  22. Anonymous18:39

    Thank you for your posts about YSL.
    My favorite YSL fragrance is Y, it is fresh and sophisticated. I like others too, and my husband wears Kourus, it suits him well.

    My least favotire is Opium. It is a masterpiece and it smells great on other people, I just can't pull it off.

    I would like the house to stop doing fuity teenage perfumes and continue being a classic.

  23. Thank you for these posts, Helg, I've learned a lot! Other than Rive Gauche, worn in high school years ago, my experience of YSK fragrances is very limited. Nu is one of my favorite scents in general and would be my favorite YSL. Opium is a contender for least favorite (the notes say I should love it, but it smells awful on me.) Don't have suggestions for new, but I do want to try Paris asap. As a rose lover, how have I missed this all these years?

  24. Dear M,

    thanks for your wonderful answers: very detailed and very succinct!

    Young Sexy Lovely isn't getting a lot of love here I see: if only the YSL people knew how perfume lovers are secretly chastising the brand for it!

    I'd LOVE them to do a floral leather, yeah!!

  25. Arwen,

    thank you for stopping by and for your comment, I appreciate it.

    Y is a wonderful choice and I am sure your husband smells delicious. I hear many people having trouble pulling Opium off, so you're not alone in this.

    *sigh* If only they stopped the inspid stuff *sigh*

  26. Anita,

    you're very welcome and thanks for your most kind compliment: to provide new info is certainly hard on older fragrances, so I feel validated in pursuing this course and I appreciate you saying so.

    Nu is certainly the best thing that Tom Ford did while at YSL, so it will get its own seperate treatment on these pages soon enough ;-)

    I think you should definitely try Paris! It's very much on a rose lover's must-try list.

  27. Anonymous08:52

    A) Opium
    B) elle (the new one)
    C) another real chypre would be NICE! (although i don't think they'll launch one ans elle is already a dreaded "new chypre".


  28. Thanks N!

    I agree a new real chypre would be fab. But doubtful :-(

  29. Tariq09:40

    a) all of them , no excpeption..in my dearest memories & i miss JAZZ PRESTIGE.
    b) whatever have been launched after TOM FORD. I learned that Stefano Pilati has no direction on the Beaute sector, I wish if he has more control on it, even the packaging for the other cosmetics & ad. campaigns went totaly crazy.
    if Pilati was there at the Beaute sector he would have produced more classy & refined product with a vintage touch that is true to brand DNA just like his clothes & accseories.
    I wonder what will happen after LOREAL has bought YSL Beaute.

    3) I would suggest an exclusive/private line to be sold only in YSL boutiques.. & to call them the 'Rive Gauche - Edition'.
    & they would be originated from Mr. Yves Saint Laurent original creations only " Y,RIVE GAUCHE, OPIUM , EAU LIBRE. PARIS ,CHAMPAGNE,BABY DOLL , PH , KOUROS, JAZZ ,OPIUM PH, BODY "
    but this time with a niche luxorious intense edge , to add a rare , mystrious & new precious secret ingirdient, like FOR EXAMPLE:
    "OPIUM-Rive Gauche Edition" would be more tangy & fruity in the opening & the base goes more smokier & mystrious with oud maybe or any other rare & precious ingirdent .. just a thought?
    & the backaging would be a YSL classic : the famous striped cylinder of rive gauche bottle abstracted the colors from the original packaging of each frangrance with a more luxiroios coating.

    another suggestion:
    is to bring life to the other hidden gems such as Y, RIVE GAUCHE, CHAMPAGNE, PH & JAZZ"
    with new ad. campaigns & SUMMER EDITIONS, i am really fed up from seeing the blue kouros bottle every summer.. spot the lights on the other master pieces.
    I just wish YSL won't lost its DNA in the current commercial jungle.

  30. Thank Tariq for stopping by and commenting in such length.

    I think almost everyone is doing a "private line" now (Chanel, Dior, Hermes, Lancome etc.) so it's a matter of time before YSL do that too.
    I do think that Pilati brought good fashions to the house again, although it's sad if he is not attuned to the beauty sector. Let's hope the L'oreal acquisition doesn't betray the DNA as you say of the brand. On the other hand L'oreal was responsible for the revamped Lancome La Collection (reissued classics of the brand), so let's hope fot the best.
    Maybe they're reading your great ideas as we speak! ;-)

    I don't recall Jazz Prestige: must have been good to make such an impression. :-)

  31. Tariq10:10

    thank you for your reply, ...
    well Jazz Prestige was a mix between a smooth sandal wood & harsh lavender with geranium & pepper which could be classified today as niche....
    there is another discontinued beauty which was 'OPIUM Secret de Parfum' it was launced in the 90's as the 1st EDP for OPIUM, it was the most mytrious OPIUM I've ever experinced opening is so fruity & tangy ..turning into glowing ambery notes in a delicious way ..
    can't forgive Tom Ford for discontionuing these two beauties & reformulating Rive Gauche..
    & thank you for this amazing blog & your great posts .. keep the spirit..

  32. I don't know. I have several fragrances but none of them would be my total favourite. They are classic, go with every occasion, I'd say and... none of them is of the type I call I would bathe in it, I would eat it. I love Opium, Rive Gauche and Cinema but not the top three of mine.


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