Friday, February 27, 2009

Un Matin d'Orage by Annick Goutal: fragrance review

In Giambattista Basile's charming tale The Murtle from Il Cunto de li Cunti (The Tale of Tales, 1694), a sprig of myrtle is transformed through the liberating love of a prince into a beautiful woman who regenerates even after evil forces tear her to pieces. Almost tasting the thick retro-baroque prose of the author I am contemplating how the essence of the tale is caught in a fragrance which defies the stylistic approach, choosing to place magic and beauty into a zen setting. Un Matin d'Orage, the latest fragrance by Annick Goutal, means "Stormy Morning" and was inspired by a Japanese garden after the rain, evoking the idea of delicate white petals in dew, with discernible notes of gardenia, jasmine sambac and Indonesian champaca.

Isabelle Doyen, resident perfumer for parfums Annick Goutal, is ingeniously re-interpreting both gardenias and ozonic floral fragrances through an approach akin to painting a watercolour in vivid hues which make you momentarily doubt the duo-dimensional reality of thick drawing paper; an oxymoron that is breaking somewhat with both the well-worn-slipper feel we have come to expect of prettified, neoclasical scents of the Goutal portfolio (for the flowing haired Ophelias and the accompanying Mr.Darcys with bohemian fashion sense) and the en masse manner in which white florals are treated from the perfume industry as creamy textured pattiserie notes folded into huge tropical leis. Like I had said when first reporting the news of the upcoming Goutal fragrance: "This conceptually reminds me of both Après l'Ondée by Guerlain (the after-the-shower garden part) and Un Jardin Après la Mousson by Hermès, (the Monsoon storm evocation ) although from the listed notes one would deduce that the limpid bog water and transparent gloom might not be there. Although Annick Goutal already has a fragrance tagged Gardenia Passion in their line, the scent actually emits the ruberry feel of a proper tuberose rather than gardenia, so it's not like they're re-hashing ideas." Indeed the watery aspect is here but with a softer, less stagnant fruity or spicy nuance than the Hermès offering. Nevertheless if Fleur de Liane for L'Artisan Parfumeur, Vanille Galante and Un Jardin Après la Mousson for Hermès and now Un Matin d'Orage are any indication, the Lazarus-resurgence of the aquatic floral is looking like a strong contestant for your attention in the following couple of years at least.

Gardenia is a fascinating blossom, no less so because of its extensive scope of transformative stages: from the slightly bitter budding greeness, the mushroom-like overtones of musty wetness (which nota bene it was Colette who first described as such), into the lush, still fresh flower that has just opened; and from then inevitably seguing into creamy, narcotically sweet and velvety ripeness, into the dying stage of indolic decay when the petals brown and wither...Such a parallel with human growth and decline could not have escaped the attention of perfumers who have been trying to replicate the effects with styrallyl acetate (naturally found in gardenia buds), jasmolactones and at scarce cases with monumentaly expensive gardenia absolutes rendered through experimental enfleurage. Some gardenia perfumes try to be figurative, creating a very realistic olfactory image of gardenia bushes like the ones composed for Yves Rocher (Pur désir de Gardenia), the wondrous hologram of Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia by Lauder or cult-scent Kai. Some don't even try, despite the name, like the suavely musky Cruel Gardénia, traitors to holy causes with variable results. Others go for baroque exagerration which like an angled composition by Caravaggio creates tension through dramatic chiaroscuro and the accentuation of one facet over others, pushed to extremes; example: Tom Ford's Velvet Gardenia. And others still go for an impressionistic approach in which the gardenia becomes an accent piece in a moment suspended ad infinitum, when a coalescence of particular elements creates a dreamy memory ~like gardenias floating on a bowl of water in some postmodern urban appartment in Marc Jacobs eponymous Eau de Parfum, a willowy girl with lank, dark hair picking one up to put behind her ear.

In Un Matin d'Orage that flowing gardenia on the water is prickling and alive, discernible as such, and coming out of the bowl, breathing deeply the steely blue air, under a drizzling mist that showers it with flinty sparks of an impending electrical storm. The tension is provided by a jolting effect of dew-drenched leafy accents reminiscent of green tea and still whitish peach-skin with a slight smokiness and lemony-anisic accents (magnolia, ginger, shiso*) that provide an intriguing contrapunto to the floral smoothness of gardenia, green jasmine vines and champaca. The ozonic cool part feels like a new technique has been short-cirquited into creating what was 15 years ago created through Calone but without Calone*. The flowers are separating into soft billowing layers that overlap, creating a smooth impression of dewy beauty. The jasmine is green and cool between hedione and orange blossom, like the one rendered in Pure Poison. There is no meekness in the gentility, no paleness in the ether of Un Matin d'Orage and the impression subsists for a long time, as if we're left to see a zen garden tingling after the storm. Not for tropical gardenia lovers, but to be explored by modern anchorites.

Notes of Un Matin d'Orage by Annick Goutal:
Sicilian lemon, perilla leaves**, ginger, gardenia, magnolia, jasmine sambac, Indonesian champaca, sandalwood.

The characteristic feminine bottle of the Goutal perfumes gets a pearly white opalesence for Un Matin d'Orage and is issued in both 50ml/1.7oz and 100ml/3.4oz sizes of Eau de Toilette. More widely available in the coming months.

Related reading on Perfumeshrine: Gardenia scents, Jasmine Series, Champaca scents.

*Calone is an aromachemical used in the 1990s to render an ozonic marine note, smelling halfway between a watermelon and a cantaloupe.
**The Perilla note (often referred to as shiso in Japanese cuisine) is interesting in that perilla seeds form an essential part of the seven spices of Japan (originating more than 300 years ago in Kyoto)while green perilla leaves are used for sushi or sashimi. The essential oil steam distilled from the leaves of the perilla plant, consists of a variety of chemical compounds, varying depending on species. The most abundant however (comprising about 50–60% of the oil) is perillaldehyde ~most responsible for the aroma and taste of perilla. (please
read about aldehydes here). For reference a fragrance focusing on perilla/shiso is Shiso by Comme des Garcons.

Pic of Un Matin d'Orage bottle copyright ⓒ by Helg/Perfumeshrine
Pic of Japanese Garden by J.Jennings via


  1. well you have made that sound quite lovely. Normally I have to admit *whispers* I'm not a big Goutal fan.

    I like Songes very much, liked the violet and admire Eau De Hadrien and think vanilla exquise is a good true vanilla but none of them bar Songes really get me going.

    This however sounds exquisite. Perhaps I will get one of the those lovely bottles for my collection after all eh?! I will have to seek it out.

  2. Beautiful, E!

    I am expecting my bottles any day now, and I can't wait!


  3. I am really excited about this and I am not even a Gardenia or ozone lover, but the the combination sounds utterly unique and intriguing.

  4. Anonymous17:31

    I really must find out if my Saks has this yet. So, so curious about this and now that I have read your review I am even more so.

    Sounds like an intriguing blend. I'm a little thrown by the tea aspect. Not typically a fan of that note, but want to give it a try nevertheless!

  5. Anonymous18:03

    It sounds intriguing, and the photo gives me a sense of the character. Nicely done...

  6. Hello, E. Lovely review, and I agree wholeheartedly with your description. I feel like Un Matin D'Orage is an important contribution to this nouvelle aquatic floral aesthetic. If Fleur de Liane was watery-floral-green, Vanille Galante was watery-floral-spicy, and UJALM was watery-fruity-spicy, UMdO is a lovely watery-floral-fruity, and I must say that I find the green nectarine skin (or white peach skin, as you called it) particularly ravishing. And I love the jasmine-y dewiness of it all.

  7. *sigh* So many new releases, so behind on updating my nose. This one sounds lovely, though I must agree, strange how aquatics are the big thing right now.

  8. K,

    I liked Songes and La Violette as well, although the two are nothing alike. (just shows you how much of a schizophrenic aficionado I am, if nothing else). This one is more in the direction of LV in style than in Songes, however, so be warned it's not a lush, overblown floral. It's more ethereal; test it when it comes your way.
    Why haven't you got a Songes bottle however? Sounds like you love it! (and it's indeed beautiful) :-)

  9. Thanks R, it seems like you will be having fun with the scent! Hope you get to enjoy it!

  10. Jena,

    it is indeed quite unique! I don't think there is an ozonic gardenia apart from this one, so far. The Rocher is sharp and green as well, the Marc Jacobs is very watery and modern, this one is an amalgamation of both and with a passing whiff of En Passant in there as well. It's something I will be re-discovering each time in different settings and weather conditions I feel.

  11. Trish,

    I believe it will hit stores in US in late March or early April if I am not too mistaken.
    Do take note the green tea aspect is just my own impression, it's not a listed note, it's not what another might perceive, it just gave me this passing feel.
    Hope you enjoy it, it's quite well-made and very sample-worthy!

  12. Thank you, and glad you got a sense of it from the photo! Finding/shooting the proper photo to illustrate what I feel is often a large part of the enjoyment of maintaining this site :-)

  13. J,

    thank you honey for your nice compliment, I appreciate your feedback. Your breakdown of the descriptives for each of those is right on the money!!
    In UMDO the fuzzy-unripe-lactonic aspect is indeed a very charming addition (who would expect it?) and there's lots of hedione and leafiness which brings a wonderful vibrancy and clarity. It's tingling!

  14. Dain,

    it is strange, ironic and no doubt a laugh behind our backs how the niche sector is ressurecting the aquatics now! But all the fragrances I have smelled in this new "trend" are masterfully made and not like dryer sheets fresh off the package. They have vibrancy and a delicate beauty, they don't act as needles up the nose (luckily for us!)

    I am noting this down for things you're interested in.

  15. I wonder if all your readers fully appreciate the quality of your reviews -- depth, breadth, science, history, and an actual description of the fragrance and its evolution on the skin. I have read recent reviews of a frangrance(by a noteworthy critic) where I was hard pressed to find out what the damn thing smells like, what with all the self-aggrandizing, look-how-much-I-know fluff. You, however, are consistently informative and a pleasure to read. I have to admit, I am not one of the girls who will say "Oooh darling fabulous review I must run off to Bloomies to try it". I'm one of the geeky scientist types who is enthralled by the science AND the art while I contemplate the merits of the vibrational theory and tinker with my Bunsen burner:) You must be doing something right if you can keep both types happy.

  16. Anonymous22:24

    I hear you on the tea "feeling", will try not to get that imprinted in my brain, LOL.

    I'll look forward to it arriving in the US. I'm so interested to see how the champaca plays in this one.


  17. It is just in time to anticipate the warmer months, I suppose. It's interesting because so many perfumers presumably hate using it; they're sick of it. And now all the innovators, Durchafour (I did not enjoy his Fleur de Liane, however, I find Un Jardin Après La Mousson much more wearable) and Ellena and now this one, are embracing the ozonic aesthetic. I wonder how the new Mitsouko flanker fares in that regard?

    I am really going to try exploring lighter-weight fragrances. I really like your idea of finding an elegant eau fraïche as a default in the enervating heat.

  18. Scott,

    you just made my day, you know? :-)I think you just paid me the loveliest compliment I could ever wish for; thank you so much for your generosity of spirit!

    Well, as a fellow academic geeky type I like to dwelve into the intricasies of things; however I realize that the reader needs to be able to grasp something in terms that would actually help them into choosing something or at least giving a general sense of what they would expect when testing (with so many releases even testing is reduced to as many fragrances, so some "steering" is needed in even that practice, I guess).
    If I can marry my own passion with pleasing both the naturally inquisitive types (such as yourself!) and the more romanticizing personalities, I consider my time and effort hasn't been totally wasted.

  19. Trish,

    good thing, you do that! I wouldn't want to deter you from testing for yourself. :-)
    I think the jasmine and gardenia are the dominant notes, wrapped in green dewy leaves. Less champaca to me.

  20. Dain,

    in my opinion this came about exactly because perfumers were sick and tired of the overuse of Calone: they just found ways to produce an effect without the trite means to achieve it.
    Count me in to those who prefer UJALM to FdL (although still, I am more moved by Sur le Nil in those Jardin series) and further on, I'm more moved by Vanille Galante and Un Matin d'Orage above those former two (>which I appreciated intellectually, but not as much sensually)
    Reportage on the new Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus suggests that it is a thinned Mitsouko with a very discernible aqueous note that is rather unexpected in there, something reminiscent of the fragrance (at least in its latest stripped down version, alas) but different. I can't wrap my head on how this is even potentially possible, but anyway.

    In the sweltering heat we're having at least three months of a year (and I mean the temps never drop below 32-33 degrees Celsius and often soar to above 38C) an elegant eau fraïche/eau de Cologne type of fragrance is a God-send and very, very important to properly pin down. Stinking up the place with "heavy" juices and armpit-sweat (even clean, which is the kind I go for, LOL) is not exactly conductive to good manners...Thigs that have consistently worked? Eau de Guerlain, Cologne Sologne, Un Jardin sur le Nil, Extra Vielle, Cristalle, Eau Sauvage, Cologne Bigarade, Declaration...(to keep it within this specific genre)

  21. [scribbles everything down] Thank you, dearest Elena. You are amazing resource (and I do enjoy, *ahem* pinning things down properly, as you say). And it is such a charming idea.

  22. Anonymous16:08

    Another thorough, informative and literate analysis of a lovely fragrance from one of my favorite perfumeries Annick Goutal and one of my favorite writers, the incomparable Elena. As some (writers) know I 'don't do molecules', I leave that to the very competent and brilliant words of my friends in fragrance such as Elena, Andy Tauer and other notable students of the science of Fragrance. I do study fragrance in the context of culture and emotion and attempt the story , using the lingua franca of the fifth sense. I am rambling....Perhaps, the neo-renaissance of many newly released aquatic florals may be linked to: our troubling global economy and the idea of floating off somewhere subconsciously is very appealing, to the overabundance of AOUD and heavy incense scents en niche, the plethora of saccharine sweet celebrity scents and their flankers. 'Fashion' in fragrance is cyclical, just like hemlines, heel heights, economics, mores,etc... and this recent 'reaction' is not disimilar to the onslought of minimalist fragrances that appeared after the loud blaring NOTICE ME< >ME< >ME fragrances of the 1980s. Some rare gems have stood the test of time - good times, bad times and the latest olfactive fashion. Will Matin d'orage? - Michelyn

  23. E, I'm not sure why I don't have a bottle of Songes, especially as it's her best bottle... it's on the list of needs!! I have a decant but that's not always the same

  24. I'm sorry to say that I have found the Anick Goutal range disappointing thus far. I don't like any of the fragrances! I am ever optimistic though and will keep an eye out for this one.

  25. D,

    you flatter me...Knowing how diligent you are, I am sure you will come up with your own short list. Do try them! :-)

  26. Michelyn,

    many thanks my dear for your profuse compliments, which I am not sure I deserve in full. Your theory holds some water as indeed fashion is cyclical and things we abandonded do return. There is a chasm between this genre and the sacharine fruities and celebritoid scents ~very true!~ but also with the heavy serious oud/incense/amber scents of several niche brands, so there's definitely another reason and the recession doldrums might be one of them, as these are so dreamy...

    As to what will become a classic and what not, it remains to be seen. This is fun for the perfume historian. Isabelle Doyen has created a certain style with the Goutal line which I find is remarkable.

  27. K,

    you mean the limited edition Baccarat one with the moon on top? Yes, that one is rather lovely. Funny though that they picked a moon pattern, as songe should mean reverie ie.daydreaming. (which is even nicer!)

  28. Audit,

    it all depends on your tastes and what you have tried so far. (let me know and I can give some suggestions, perhaps)
    Have you sampled her Les Orientalistes (Ambre Fetiche, Murrhe Ardente, Encens Flamboyant, Musc Nomade)? They're quite good, I think!

  29. Aine,

    thank you so much for your comment and hope you enjoy it here on the Perfume Shrine! You're welcome to ask questions, share stories or disagree all you like. There are no stupid/inexperienced comments. :-)

    Re: Apres L;ondee. I have a fabulous suggestion to you but it's even more expensive: L'Eau d'Hiver. I don't think the edt of ALO is that expensive, though. The extrait de parfum which is now discontinued, that one yes, it's very costly if you find it.
    But let's see what I can come up with to match a tighter budget: there's Kiss me Tender by Patricia de Nicolai (reviewed here, do a Search), Violets & Rainwater by Soivohle (artisan brand), Tom Ford Violet Blonde, and do try a vintage eau de cologne concentration of L'heure Bleue (which should be light enough not to overwhelm since ALO is light as opposed to regular LHB)

    Good luck!!

  30. I'm looking forward to having you around then Aine, thank you for your complimentary words. I'm honored. :-)

    Good luck with researching the suggestions and anything you need, I'm here. :-)


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