Elle by Yves Saint Laurent {Perfume Review & Musings} {New Fragrance}

Elle Coco Rocha Ad2.jpg

Elle is the new women’s perfume creation by Yves Saint Laurent and is being billed as a major fragrance launch for the brand, which reportedly has made the choice to issue fewer fragrances over the years but to support them with prestige advertising campaigns. An international website in five languages was made accessible earlier on to learn more about the story around the fragrance. In the US, the perfume will be distributed through an e-commerce website from November 2007.

It is described by their creators as a woody floral and by the press release as being "the embodiment of an incomparable style, contemporary chic with a touch of the bohemian."

Elle by Yves Saint Laurent offers a subtle brand of exoticism and reveals an originality that might well have been left unnoticed if tried on too distractedly or succeeding too close in time to other fragrances.

The fragrance appears deceptively familiar at first, seemingly wanting to decline its identity as yet another trendy smoky rose composition, of the rose-patchouli obedience, but one’s mind is little by little gently pulled by the nose to realize that there is in fact an authentic displacement of that idea..........

Elle Bottle YSL2.jpg

Unlike the classic and wonderful Gucci by Gucci this season, which offers a particularly subtle and extremely polished idea of the rose-patchouli accord, yet remains in essence classic and romantic in orientation, Elle readily plays on some tam-tams and offers the beat of a different rhythm. The pulse that runs through it is a little feverish as it takes one to different locales around the world, or the city, according to the press release, and as it seems to embody the ideal of the Melting Pot in its very composition. The urban metropolis in which Elle evolves is multi-cultural, supple, integrative of the dynamic pathways opened by fusion or hybrid interactions.

Coco Rocha is perfect to be the embodiment of the Elle woman with her indefinable cultivated exotic look, half Geisha, half Arabic and the crossroads of influences she personally represents in her itinerary from Canadian Irish tap dancer to international super model. In the TV ad where she is seen walking in front of the Institut Arabe in Paris, she further helps capture the olfactory hints contained in the scent.

The personality of the fragrance is also very Yves- Saint-Laurent suggestive of the couturier’s love for the Orient and Morocco in particular where he has taken up residence. The flacon of course is structured like a YSL smoking, sharp and precise, with its masculine angular lines and feminine slenderness. It is actually meant to replicate the lines of a modern building and makes one think also of a giant YSL lipstick tube. The fuschia is a signature color of the fashion brand that was very influential in the 1980s together with purple.

Elle was composed by Olivier Cresp and Jacques Cavallier, who are a renowned tandem of  perfumers that have already worked on several fragrances together. Olivier Cresp is well known for his predilection, since his creation of  the mega-hit Thierry Mugler Angel, for gourmand accords, and in Elle this signature nuance surfaces once more, but in a very interesting and subtle fashion. If one ever thought that the gourmand facet was a bit too obvious in Light Blue or was too simplistically comforting in Nina (2006), in Elle it weaves itself in and throughout the fragrance in a very seductive and convincing manner gaining in abstraction and in spirituality and becoming more womanly. The fact that this time it is a reference to jasmine-scented rice tea, it seems, helps also make the connotations more refined in tone. It is closer in spirit to the delicate white rice accord in Love in White by Creed or also in Amour by Kenzo.

The scent opens on an assertive even slightly abrasive and stylistically big-shouldered floral woody and spicy accord due to the woods that are the dominant notes at first. It is however contrasted with softer floral and subtly savory and gourmand notes underneath. In our first take of Elle, we tended to identify the dominant accord as a rose-patchouli one and apparently this is not false, but in fact as we learn from an interview with the perfumers (see video in separate post) patchouli from Indonesia was combined with Haitian vetiver, the result of which, to our nose, is that it smells like the sweet fragrant kind of cedar wood one finds in Cashmere. It is a wonderful combination that offers nuances of candied, almost sticky dark fruits and resinous pine but in light touches. The subtly aqueous tones of peony and lychee further reinforce this impression reminiscent of floating cedar boat houses.

If you know Gourmandises by Keiko Mercheri, it is somewhat reminiscent of its pine-y and dark fruity overtones. The rose impression rests upon peony and lychee developing their rose-y facets while being rounded out and warmed up by jasmine (Grandiflorum) and freesia.

After the initial accord, the perfume quickly segues into a rounder mellower accord infused with jasmine with a delicate impression of steamed rice and wisps of what smells like Asian black dried seaweeds. The faint memory of a typical scent found in a tea room becomes clearer as one can now identify Japanese Gen Mai Cha with its ingredients of rice, roasted grains and dried algae. This impression is further enriched by the addition of jasmine, which suggests another atmosphere, Chinese jasmine tea, perhaps superimposing itself on the jasmine blooming in a garden in Marrakech.

Elle deepens and warms up with time letting its beautiful amber-y body uncoil its subdued flames. An ancient Chinese dragon is licking its scintillating skin by the fireplace and the room is filled with the steam of petal-like soft rice and fragrant jasmine tea. Peony flowers fill a vase on a wooden table and lychee fruits are made redder and more interesting-looking by the play of lights from the fireplace projecting on the walls. The long tail of the animal was captured in the beautiful sillage of Elle. The next day, different scents appear, in particular, an oud-like nuance it seems, brushed by raspberries, which brings up an Arabian thought-association and which might be a feminized quote taken from the masculine YSL M7.

Elle is a rigorously calibrated and constructed perfume but this sense of discipline is softened by the inspired rich sensual motifs of the scent. It does what a so-called designer’s perfume does best, combine high technicality, sense of control, and tradition with originality, one that is understated but undeniably present.

Top notes are cedrat, peony, lychee; heart notes are pink berries, freesia, and jasmine; base notes are patchouli, vetiver, and ambrette seed.

Eau de Parfum Natural Spray 1.6 fl. oz.        $ 78.00
Eau de Parfum Natural Spray 3 fl. oz.        $109.00
Energising Body Lotion 6.6 fl. oz.            $ 45.00
Energising Shower Gel 6.6 fl. oz.            $ 40.00

It's available on the new YSL USA website

(Source: Yves Saint Laurent communication)

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6 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Hi,
    I received a sample of Elle from a Parisien friend Maryline. It is to my nose a warm amber fruity floral. I would buy it. -Altough Elle is remisiscent of Gucci 3, it has its own unique composition. A modern scent - feminine , sexy, refreshing . Bravo to YSL !
    An Opium lover-
    Madelyn E

    Madelyn E
  2. when I've sniffed ELLE for the 1st time i thought it was 'Stella + Patcholli.
    but when
    I bought a bottle for my wife & she start using it, my impression was totaly changed .. it ha s a great strong presense & identity without being aggresive.
    it is great for going out, sseing people & show off due to its strong presense .. & she got alot of compilnment from her friends.

  3. Hello Madelyn and Taz,

    I am glad you were able to enjoy Elle. I think that it is a great fragrance and as both of you pointed out, it has a strong presence that is different but on a par with Opium.

  4. How can I ever find a replacement for the original formulation of Rive Gauche? Everyone I mention it to is longing for the same thing. The new formularion has ruined it. Please advise. Will certainly test Elle but will anything ever replace Rive Gauche. Where can we find original formulation?

    Jean Shepard
  5. Does anyone have a replacement (if thats what u can call it) for Tova signature perfume? The scent is not the same.

  6. I recently bought Elle after a very long time of longing for it. I love the first impression of a woody and floral tone but love the after smell and i adore that every hour it changes a different scent. I LOVE ELLE!


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