Sonia Rykiel Belle En Rykiel {Perfume Review & Musings} {New Perfume}


Photo of the Café de Flore in Saint-Germain-Des-Prés by Alex Segre

Belle en Rykiel by Sonia Rykiel

Belle en Rykiel (Beautiful In Rykiel) by fashion brand Sonia Rykiel was introduced in 2006, becoming more widely distributed now in the spring of 2007.

The perfume was created by nose Jean-Pierre Béthouart of Firmenich (Givenchy Ange ou Démon, with Olivier Cresp, Smiley, Caron Parfum Sacré, Boucheron...). The flacon was designed by Thierry de Baschmakoff.

The original idea for the fragrance was reportedly proposed by Nathalie Rykiel, the daughter of fashion brand founder and designer Sonia Rykiel, who wanted to create a scent inspired by the well-known archetypal passage from the fairy tale Snow White, the one in which the queen asks her magical mirror: who is the fairest of them all?

Every little girl's dream is to be that crowning beauty was the assumption for the fragrance idea. The polished reflecting surfaces of the flacon in this manner are designed after the idea of a mirror while suggesting with its lines the signature, soft pillowy textures of the Sonia Rykiel fashion collections. Nathalie Rykiel also added that the new perfume is "very Saint-Germain-Des-Prés."......


Belle En Rykiel is described as an aromatic oriental and constructed around a central accord of lavender and frankincense. These two main notes were seen to impart a touch of masculinity to the feminine fragrance and also to help re-awaken the senses of jaded consumers who are always in search of novel perfume accords and sensations. As it turns out, Jean-Pierre Béthouart, who reportedly said that it was a first, presumed a bit too much regarding the radical originality of this accord, as it has been done previously (and not too long ago) in the niche perfume market with Encens et Lavande by Serge Lutens, in 1996.

If Encens et Lavande plays more unequivocally with the more traditional mystical, contemplative and pristine facets of these two main notes, Belle En Rykiel seems to use them to bring a touch of aloofness, cerebrality, but also a less mainstream feel (together with the coffee blossom) to the scent. By contrast to the Lutens fragrance, they bring a more gregarious sense of contemplation to an otherwise easy-going sensual scent that seems to be full of joie de vivre and appetite for life. Perhaps, it captures those moments when a Parisian seating at a café terrace with friends - say, Les Deux Magots or Le Bonaparte - nonchalantly gazes over at the church of Saint-Germain-Des-Prés across the street and suddenly thinks less frivolous thoughts for a furtive moment in the day before planting her or his fork with renewed gusto into an éclair, maybe - if we are to be literal - even a lavender éclair or a lavender macaroon from some good neighborhood addresses like Ladurée or Pierre Hermé.

If at first blush, Belle En Rykiel thus appears as a significantly more commercial and candied mainstream version of the more religious interpretation of the incense and lavender seen in the Serge Lutens scent, with time, the pleasurable qualities of the Rykiel scent become more apparent and respectable in their own right. Once one gets past the less elitist feel of Belle En Rykiel as compared to Encens et Lavande, one is able to enjoy a distinctive oriental woody aromatic perfume with sweet resinous gourmand facets that dry down to a sensual and comforting sillage and which aims at nothing more than to be an intimate enhancing accessory for the skin of a woman.

Other Rykiel scents, like Le Parfum and Sonia Rykiel, have accustomed us to a knack for rich oriental textures. Belle En Rykiel is slightly less full-bodied by the house's standards, lighter thanks to the mandarin and lavender, but still opulent. The gourmand facet of the scent is very well-done, on the addictive side, making one feel hungry actually. The child-like innocent sweet gourmand notes are conterbalanced by deeper woody and balsamic notes.

When one thought Belle En Rykiel would unabashedly celebrate the joys of eating fruit tarts and vanilla cream puffs in the pâtisseries of Saint-Germain-Des-Prés, the colder, more restrained notes of lavender and frankincense cut across the fragrance bringing a hint of aloofness and reserve to the scent, and perhaps alluding to the social distance implied by the self-conscious image of a posh neighborhood. As the perfume develops, the resinous sweetness becomes more abstract and the piquant spiciness of the patchouli together with the quite carnal nuances of amber gris come through. The sickly-sweet quality of the scent accentuates as a voluntary effect, without feeling excessive, but on the contrary well-controlled. The dark brown tones of Mahogany wood further deepens the perfume.

The final stages of the perfume are fruity and woody, then ambery and balsamic and the gourmand notes seem to have now been brushed with the salt from the ambergris, making them feel more savory with light hints of what smells like a vapor of white rice. The perfume remains rather close to the body warming the skin with its sweet resinous accents amongst which clean lavender flowers peak through like cool freshly-washed purple pebbles on warm sand.

The fragrance has top notes of mandarin, red currant, and lavender flowers. The heart notes include heliotrope, coffee blossom, and frankincese. The base has notes of patchouli, amber, vanilla, and Mahogany wood.

Th eau de parfum is available in three sizes: 40 ml for 39. 90 Euros, 75 ml for 59.90 Euros, and 100 ml for 74.90 Euros.

The perfume is available at The Perfume Connection.

Photo is from Ile de Beauté

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6 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Are we talking about the same scent? On me, Belle en Rykiel, which I'm wearing today, is perfectly pleasant but extremely light and fleeting - like and elegant and charming (if not necessarily striking) woman whom you barely notice out of the corner of your eye as she passes you by in some distance. I almost find it hard to believe so many pronounced notes are contained in such an ephemeral perfume. Ye wonders of skin chemistry!

  2. Well, I do think it is lighter than some of the other Rykiel perfumes, but fleeting is not what I get from it. Maybe try to use a mist of water before applying on the skin or apply on your clothes and see if it makes it last better?

  3. You were kinder to it than I had been a while ago in my review... While pleasant and different than the rest of the department store frags en masse, it left something lacking in the individuality department.

    Still I can never be thankful enough to Sonia for her Woman-not for men in EDP which is a great modern fragrance. (have you tried it?)

  4. No, I haven't tried it, but now, after reading your comments about it, I want to.

    As I said, I don't think that all perfumes are meant to be original, but the good ones - in this case, as in a good quality wool jumper - know how to play with pleasurable nuances. And there are original perfumes that I don't care to wear. The drydown on me is both resinous and dusty thanks to the incense, in the vein of Lutens Ambre Sultan, Ford Amber Absolute, Annayake Miyako.

    I did not think that your review of it was that negative by the way.

  5. Belle en Rykiel is deliciously warm and peppery. It reminds me a lot of Chanel's Egoiste for men, the original one in the black packaging. It also has a bit of the dirtiness of Angel, but comes together very pleasantly with a softer drydown.

    Jennifer B
  6. I am glad it works for you!


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