If damning with faint praise is the modus operandi of the considerate critic, then I could say that the feminine fragrance Saharienne by Yves Saint Laurent is an inoffensive summer scent for days when you're bored to think of perfuming yourself. That wouldn't be right, though. Saharienne evokes so much fashion mythology with its name that expectations would naturally soar. Unfortunately, for a house with such clout in its history and at least two controversial scents in its archives (Opium and M7), plus many beautiful ones (YSL Paris, In Love Again, Rive Gauche, Y), Saharienne underwhelms.
When Saint Yves, fashion's true saint, introduced the saharienne "safari jacket" in the 1968, he envisioned a garment that would recall the best of colonial imperialism, in terms of stylishness that is, without succumbing to the demeaning elements herein.
The beloved garment of the white colonialist (Yves was of Algerian descent after all) looked ever so sexy on the leggy Veruschka (the aristocrat model Veruschka von Lehndorff, pictured here); cinched waist and tight laces over bronzed breasts that were unencumbered by bridling bras. Saint Laurent's fashions made women look powerful, yet feminine! The Saharienne jacket (or the safari jacket) was no exception to that rule. Apart from a fashion milestone (no designer has been immune to its charms in the following 40 years), it also signaled a feminist one:
"By 1970, with the acceptance of trouser suits, the Western woman's silhouette accommodated bifurcation for the first time. Yves Saint Laurent, a designer extremely sensitive to social trends, responded to the May student uprisings in 1968 by creating a line of women's tailored trouser suits. Based on the "African" theme, he created a "Safari" suit for his spring/summer 1968 collection, transforming the functional hunting outfit into townwear for women". [source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art ]
Iso-E Super in modern perfumery speak) is not remarkably original; not does it serve any purpose as a stand-alone-trick beyond the blah. It's shampoo writ large. Nothing wrong with this, coming from a brand like Clean or Bath & Body Works, but there is some disappointment in the notion pervading Yves Saint Laurent. I detect no significant spice, just a flou idea of woodiness and "clean" musky backdrop.
If you're looking for a sparkling woody-faceted bergamot with great lasting power for that refreshing, insouciant grace of summer wear, when you don't want to look like you're trying too hard, grab Terre d'Hermes instead.
Notes for Saharienne by Yves Saint Laurent:
Top: lemon, Italian bergamot and mandarin
Heart: white flower petals, orange leaf, galbanum, black currant bud.
Base: pink pepper, ginger.