Sometimes when I receive a new perfume it illuminates something about the current trends in perfumery. I have been noticing a simplification in form. This has become particularly noticeable with floral perfumes. Many of the new releases for the last year have had a primary floral focal point. It isn’t good or bad because there have been plenty of perfumes like that I have enjoyed. It takes something which goes a different way to remind me of an alternative. Houbigant La Belle Saison does that.
The big powerful florals of the first half of the 20th century wasn’t one flower they were lots of flowers. The original 1925 version of La Belle Saison was one of those. Under the creative direction of Gian-Luca Perris, Houbigant has been using its past as inspiration. He asked perfumer Celine Ellena to make a 21st century version of La Belle Saison.
The name translates to “summertime”. Most perfume wearers shy away from floral perfumes in the heat because they believe it will be too much. As mentioned in the press materials it is an odd way of thinking because it is during the height of summer that flower gardens are bursting with color and scent. It is one of the indelible smells of this time of year. Mme Ellena seemingly imagines this kind of milieu as she creates a bouquet of three complementary florals in her perfumed garden.
It opens with a softly diffuse apricot and baie rose. In the one family I knew which had an extensive flower garden there was a scent of the green foliage and dirt. This has a little bit of the same effect. It leads into this garden where muguet, mimosa, and orange blossom are in bloom. This is a smart choice of florals. The green veined chill of the muguet is warmed up by the powdery puffballs of mimosa all while given sparkle through orange blossom. They are precisely balanced with each having space to be noticed. This is a glorious realization of summer among the flowers. The base accord is sandalwood providing a sturdy foundation.
La Belle Saison has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I’ve never smelled the 1925 version, but I suspect I would like the 2020 one better. The interaction of the flowers at the heart of this is compelling. It also wasn’t too heavy for me to wear it on two days with temps over 90 degrees. La Belle Saison took me back to a summertime garden.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.