Roger et Gallet Lavande Royale (1899): Hidden Gem {Perfume Short (Review)}


The Eau Fraîche opens on top notes of lavender which quickly fade into a soft, woody impression bearing the seal of something sligtly askance and unusual. You can't quite put your finger on it and it feels intriguing. Lavande Royale created originally in 1899 by Roger et Gallet Est. 1862 is an unusual lavender perfume in today's olfactory landscape. This is due to the fact that it has retained much of its ancient charm. If you wish to travel through time, you can spray on some of this subtle and complex lavender fragrance. Leave it to dry down on a piece of paper and you will be surprised over and over by its delicate yet constant appeal. It smells wonderful in an understated manner...

Decoding the composition thanks to the pyramid of notes, it seems that the orange and mandarin instead of playing up their sparkling character, as we are used to smelling nowadays, have been added to soften and mute down the lavender. The geranium is probably the note contributing to the sensation of cultivated oddness, but it also adds some discrete rosiness to the scent. If you think that Geranium Bourbon is used to sweeten desserts, then you can see how this airy and sweet sensation is much more refined than white sugar. 

Used as we are today to much more "obvious" lavender creations, you can go back to this song from another time singing in hushed yet spicy tones. In the depth of the perfume and after a while, it becomes evident that a note of carnation explains in part the quaint feeling one gets today from Lavande Royale. But still, its charm is elusive and complex enough to go beyond a retro label. In fact, it has a real personality. 

You cannot expect to smell lavender in this composition as in Yardley Lavender, Pour un Homme by Caron, or Jicky by Guerlain created 10 years earlier than the formula for Lavande Royale. It is not a polite lavender but rather a delicate lavender perfume without being transparent or just fresh. Its gentle floral inflections, its precious benzoin used so much in tincture form in pre-modern perfumery, its dry, aromatic facet of lavender burning under the sun, its animalic musk, its spices, its handsome cedarwood, its powdery carnation, all contribute to it being one of the most charming fragrances you will have the opportunity to experience and enjoy today. The fact that it is about lavender is not central as such although lavender will have a calming influence on the psyche. The meaning of the perfume would be more about conveying a sense of innate, self-effacing elegance and aristocracy, as well as a sense of style from another era. As Roger et Gallet put it, it is a perfume "filled with memories".  The lavender spells a royal code of conduct and behavior. Could I imagine queen Elizabeth II having this whispery, enchanting perfume on her vanity? Absolutely, yes. 

Notes: Top notes are orange and mandarin orange; middle notes are spices, lavender and geranium; base notes are musk, benzoin, vanilla, oakmoss and cedar.

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