Roger & Gallet Ylang (2017) {Perfume Review & Musings}

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Perfumer Dorothée Piot of Robertet signs the latest perfume composition for Roget & Gallet, Ylang, a fresh, nuanced, natural-feeling tropical and summery scent, which seems to be inspired both by her previous work on Angel Eau Sucrée and by the more general trend of next-generation tropical fragrances. What you can smell in new and upcoming solar compositions hinging on an exotic motif is a much dewier effect than usual, pronounced enough to go in the direction of a rain-forest sensation. Next-generation tropicals manage to smell incredibly natural, literally teleporting you to a different place...

The composition is said to be partly inspired by the life of Joséphine de Beauharnais, who was brought up in Martinica surrounded by smells deemed to be exotic in France but which to her are what her native sensory world consisted of. For Roger et Gallet, this allows them to think about a form of exoticism which is unmediated by fantasy, and spontaneous.

Ylang is not an obvious soliflore but a fresh, somewhat futuristic take on the flower as well as the tropical genre. We'll talk more about it with Nateeva too. It is like smelling a 21st century botanical print in 3D trembling in space, whose living flowers are being constantly misted. Importantly too, you do not travel with these scents in imagination anymore in a Baudelairian sense, but feel literally "teleported" there with the instantaneity of a photograph.

Piot comes with her experience of having not solely lightened the modern oriental Angel by Mugler, which would be Mugler Angel Innocent done by Laurent Bruyère but turned it into a glass of sugary water. This is to say that she has experimented with watery textures brought to an oppositional rich, gourmand context.

The flavor Zeitgeist influences this composition, it seems. With the popularity of coconut water proposed as an ideal thirst-quencher in this day and age, its liquid texture seems to have influenced that of Ylang, including a subtle mineral nuance.

What you smell in the perfume is also a departure from the classic ylang-vanilla-accord-with-heft, à la Guerlain. Furthermore, sensing that it would be too clichéd to interpret Ylang as a Monoï, the perfumer carefully avoids that option as the market is currently awash in them; it's a choice you can make of either going with the trend thinking you will be able to please Roger et Gallet customers with their own special version of a wellness Monoï, or proposing a different approach, that of bucking that trend but going then in a direction which is more cutting-edge and being explored as we speak, of ideal florals of the future. Such scents are based on flowers growing in a world where temperatures are optimally controlled and there is no shortage of water nor technology to, wisely, fine-tune the precious resource.

On this blog, we have seen perfumes, like Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Bleu, which attempt to replicate a steam effect, but this is not it. It's different. Ylang is also not a tea fragrance, another path which is well-trodden; it does not mean that a creator cannot come up with new ideas by following that path. But in truth, a tea scent can also be just a safe option these days.

The ylang note is treated in a pleasantly surprising manner, and in secondary colors rather than in primary ones. It is gently diffusive and light with a museum or greenhouse-like quality. The brand explains that the ylang-ylang has been paired with "flowers of Moorea" or Opuhis. There is a nuance of white, bitter almond, which adds a touch of quirkiness. It smells close to Moringa flower. This floral muslin or chiffon settles with transparent cedarwood, which turns out to be an inspired pairing. Traditionally rich floral tones of the tropics are made weightless - even the buttery sensation feels more like butter-flavored Evian than cream.

While this is a limited-edition for summer 2017, there are ideas and textures in the composition which will no doubt continue to scent the next years. In a real world in so many ways dystopian, perfume shows once more its capacity at carrying and communicating the ideal values of an utopian world, as a reminder that there is out there a better world, which is man-made, in collaboration with nature - and possible.

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