I try not to use sport metaphors in perfume reviews but every once in a while, it fits what I am thinking. In the sport of basketball as you are on offense and looking for a path to the basket the player with the ball is expected to use their skills to “create space”. What that means is you use footspeed, ball handling skills, or some assistance from a teammate to get free and drive towards the basket for an open shot. When it comes to perfume I think when a brand enters a crowded genre they also must look to create space from their competitors. One of the most crowded spaces for new perfumes is the cozy vanilla. Annick Goutal Nuit et Confidences looks to see if it has the skills to create some space in that sector.
A year ago, with the release of Tenue de Soiree creative director Camille Goutal began the Oiseaux de Nuit collection. In my review of that first release I mentioned that this seemed like a pivot point for Annick Goutal to try to attract a younger consumer to the brand. Working with perfumer Mathieu Nardin they managed to keep the Annick Goutal aesthetic within a more transparent style of perfume. Seeing that M. Nardin was once again the perfumer for Nuit et Confidences I presumed this would be the blueprint to be followed again. It is, sort of, but there is a clever twist to add something just a tiny bit more which is where I think they were trying to create some differences.
The early going is likened to “champagne bubbles and sequin dresses” which I guess I can somewhat see. It is a lively mixture of bergamot, incense, black pepper, and florals. It doesn’t fizz and sparkle so much as smolder on my skin, but this may be semantics. This is a very transparent accord which sets the stage for the vanilla to arrive. The vanilla early on sets up shop in the middle of the spectrum between airy and heavy. Then M. Nardin uses a set of white musks to stealthily push it towards the airy end of the scale. It is a nice effect where it allows the vanilla to move from heavy to light rather than the opposite which is what is most often encountered. This is where Nuit et Confidences makes its move towards the basket.
Nuit et Confidences has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I am liking the direction Annick Goutal is moving in which preserves what made the brand one of the original niche brands while carving out a new space to remain relevant. Mme Goutal and M. Nardin seemingly share a vision of what this looks like as Nuit et Confidences shows that shared confidence.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Annick Goutal.
I’ve probably watched too much election coverage lately. There is a word which is used often in describing the issues a candidate talks about, “pivot”. It means the candidate will move to a different perspective depending on the dynamics of the race. Particularly over the past year it seems like the dynamics of the typical perfume customer is also in flux causing brands to decide if they want to “pivot” towards existing trends. The group of consumers up for grabs is the Millennials. It has been one of the grand influences of 2016 and looks likely to continue into the next few years until there is some consensus on what this demographic wants. Which means the brand which can identify it earliest can perhaps gain some brand loyalty. Many of the niche brands seem to be watching and mostly waiting; Annick Goutal is jumping into the fray.
At the beginning of the year, with the release of Rose Pompon, creative director Camille Goutal said she was reaching out to twentysomething Parisiennes. Working with a different perfumer than Isabel Doyen she collaborated with Philippine Courtiere. That alteration already signaled a pivoting to a new demographic. Now at we get to the fall Mme Goutal completes that transition as she works with a different perfumer on a fragrance that is also very different from the rest of the line with the release of Tenue de Soiree.
The brief behind Tenue de Soiree is to capture that anticipation as a young woman is preparing to get dressed before an evening out. Mme Goutal chose to work with perfumer Mathieu Nardin to form a gourmand chypre. Tenue de Soiree succeeds at that better than I expected.
The perfume does not begin promisingly as there is a very typical fruity opening of berries and pear. The best part of it is M. Nardin makes it hazy instead of intrusive. He has better things to get to which is to use a vibrant orris which he supports with violet and freesia. The orris is as close as I get to finding the “getting ready to go out” vibe as I can imagine an iris-scented powder or lipstick being used although this orris is not that powdery. It has a richness to it which sets itself up to be part of the gourmand chypre base M. Nardin assembles. The chypre parts are courtesy of patchouli and low-atranol oakmoss. This is the chypre-ish nature without the heavy bite as M. Nardin also keeps it lighter. The finishing touch is a sweet praline accord; sugary, nutty, and bready. It adds a unique vector to a chypre focused base. It isn’t something I would have expected to like as much as I do. The praline fits with the patchouli and oakmoss in a sweet earthy way.
Tenue de Soiree has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
In conjunction with Rose Pompon it seems like Mme Goutal is thinking the new generation of fragrance customers will want a lighter floral in the spring and a similarly weighted gourmand in the fall. Her instincts are shared by many of the other bigger brands also working to bring this audience to their product. Tenue de Soiree is an excellent example of how to display your brand to that group without dumbing it down. Tenue de Soiree completes the “pivot” begun earlier. I am hopeful that Mme Goutal will find her audience because I would like to see more of the same next year from Annick Goutal.
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Annick Goutal.