It has been almost two years since Pierre Guillaume has released anything new for his Parfumerie Generale line. The early part of 2014 has seen four new releases. The three new reimaginings of his early fragrances PG 02 Coze, PG 03 Cuir Venenum, and PG 06 L’Eau Rare Matale which have turned into PG 2.1 Coze Verde, PG 3.1 Arabian Horse, and PG 6.1 Vetiver Matale. These three fragrances are interesting exercises in variation but I found I preferred the original over the newer versions. They have enough of the structure of the earlier with minor variations that expose interesting aspects of the perfumes but nothing truly exciting sprung out and so I was left hoping for something more stirring from his new release PG 26 Isparta.
Rose Harvesting in Isparta
Isparta is the name of the province in Turkey where the rose oil from “Isparta Summer Roses” is produced. The rose oil produced is said to be “intense, rich, slightly spicy” due to harvesting in the morning before they have reached full bloom. Personally I prefer the Turkish or Moroccan rose because of that slightly spicy quality it brings to a fragrance along with the more familiar rose floralcy. M. Guillaume also likes contrasting what has come previously within the Parfumerie Generale collection. The other previous rose-centric fragrance PG 13 Brulure de Rose was the more refined rose one finds more prominently in perfumery. Brulure de Rose was a sunnier rose allowed to blossom in the midday sun accompanied by raspberry and M. Guillaume’s signature gourmand notes of cocoa and vanilla. Isparta is the rose cut off in its prime with its potential needing a bit of energy to release it. In Isparta that energy comes, again, from raspberry. It seems a number of perfumers have discovered this combination of raspberry and Turkish rose, Frederic Malle’s Portrait of a Lady by Dominique Ropion being the best example. Isparta shares some of the same early beats of that as the rose and berry combination is ascendant but Isparta goes for a more sheer effect over the rest of its development as the resinous suite of notes paired with oud and patchouli are precisely applied to keep Isparta sotto voce all the way.
Isparta opens with that raspberry and rose duet; the juiciness of the berries along with the spicier quality of the rose seem like perfect complements. The piquancy is blunted by the sweet and the sweet is reined in by the spiciness allowing for the floral component to have a little more prominence. A bit of calamus adds a tiny bit of green to the early moments but it is more of a grace note than a note. The heart is a resinous coffee klatch of peru balsam, benzoin, and incense. They serve to add a dryness to the opening accord and they also seem to serve as restraint from keeping that roseberry accord from becoming too overwhelming. The resins hold their own until the base notes of oud and patchouli take their place and usher the rose into its final phase. As I keep saying it feels like this should be overwhelming and intense with these kind of raw materials but M. Guillaume has found a way to keep it much much sprightlier than this note list should have produced.
Isparta has all-day longevity and average sillage.
Some are going to call Isparta “Portrait of a Lady 0.1” and that would be the easy interpretation especially based on the top notes. It is the rest of the journey in Isparta which truly shows how different it is. This also feels like a natural aesthetic progression for M. Guillaume which I think began with PG 24 Papyrus de Ciane and has continued in PG 25 Indochine and PG 22 Djhenne. That perhaps makes PG 26 Isparta the complete portrait of Pierre Guillaume.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample purchased from Surrender to Chance.