New Perfume Review Fragonard Pivoine- The Non-Rose

As the calendar flips to February my mailbox fills up with the current year’s spring releases. Way too many of them are sweet debutante-fresh rose perfumes. I like rose but there are other spring flowers which could be used in their place. Every year I hope for a ripple of rose resistance to show up. So far, every year I am still sniffing one rose after another. When I complain about this within earshot of a person instead of my computer screen I am often asked, “What other choices are there?” One of my stock responses is peony. It has the same dewy freshness of rose with a discernably different scent profile. Seems like the team at Fragonard might also feel the same way as their spring release for 2017 is called Pivoine; which is French for peony.

Peony is often mistaken for rose by many. One reason is peony in fragrance is an accord, as extraction of the petals does not result in an essential oil which can be isolated in quantity. Like the process which brings lilac into perfumes it is up to the creativity of the perfumer to furnish an accord which smells like the real thing. Even more important when your perfume is named after the flower. For Pivoine Fragonard invited perfumer Celine Ellena to take on the job. Mme Ellena has been one of my favorite perfumers who I wish worked a little more often. I was excited to see how she would take on the task of making a peony perfume.

Celine Ellena

Pivoine opens with a currant and rhubarb accord. Mme Ellena uses that tart nature of the rhubarb to keep the berries from being too saccharine. Right from the beginning these are spring milieu scents but not the typical ones. In the heart comes Mme Ellena’s peony accord. One thing which has kept people away from peony in fragrance is these accords can often be easily detected as the stitched together accumulation of aromachemicals that they usually are. Mme Ellena is also relying on the same suite of ingredients but she is also using a bit of olfactory plastic surgery in the use of mimosa and jasmine. What this forms is a spring fresh floral accord with a watery floralcy that is pleasing. The base is formed around iris, amber, and musk to warm up the sunny peony in the final stages.

Pivoine has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

When I am looking for an alternative to spring themed rose perfumes Pivoine is a good example of what I am talking about. It acts as the ideal spring non-rose which is one reason I enjoyed it so much. The other is Mme Ellena’s fine working of a peony accord which is as good as these kinds of effects get. All together if you want something that is not rose this spring give Pivoine a try.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Fragonard.

Mark Behnke