“There she goes, the independent woman. The girl who’s so contemporary –  she’s having too much fun to marry”



………..”Nothing like the past



proclaims a soap opera husk, concluding this clunky and hilariously gauche  late 70’s TV ad for this perfume, as a blowsy discolette sprays her legs up and down with Yves Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche:




“…the right perfume from the left bank of Paris…..”






Which is funny, because I always in fact associated this legendary smell, this legendary perfume, with tights – that musky smell of stockings coming off at the end of the working day; the holy grail, perhaps, of a (not so) secret foot fetishist like Quentin Tarantino.




Not that there’s anything remotely unsavoury about Rive Gauche: quite the opposite – it is beautiful and delectably charismatic. But its flirtatious, polished exterior conceals a very animal sexuality deep down in the mix; a mossy, ambery musk that proclaims – unambiguously – real, flesh and blood woman.




Often compared to the strikingly similar Calandre – which preceded it by two years – and sometimes described as ‘a sculptured perfume’ – aluminium-cool; white contoured – the silvery finesse of Rive Gauche comes from a metallic, green/floral aldehyde opening, iris/jasmine; bergamot, peach, and a rosy, sandalwood, musked human heart.



Though I possibly prefer Calandre myself, with its melancholic, arched gaze, it can sometimes seem as if its tender green heart has gone cold. Rive Gauche is alive, knowing, and devastatingly attractive. The current version, as you will expect, has been tampered with (‘reorchestrated’), has less of the frank animal sexuality of the original, but is still a monument.



























Filed under Fetish, Floral Aldehydes, Perfume Reviews

26 responses to “RIVE GAUCHE by YVES SAINT LAURENT (1970)

  1. brie

    Have you tried the original? I wore Rive Gauche in the late 70s and a good friend gave me a sample of the original a year ago. There is definitely a difference between the original and the re-formulation. I also like Calandre but if I had to choose it would be Rive Gauche. Nice review!

    • ginzaintherain

      I have a small amount of the vintage parfum and it is great. I had friends who wore it back in the day and my mum was the one with the sweaty stockings after a day working at a shoe shop. She wore Rive Gauche for a while, as everyone did I suppose…

  2. I’ve always loved the canister-like bottle! It’s been so long since I’ve actually smelled the fragrance that I can’t remember what it was like. Thank goodness for you review! Time to seek out that reformulation and see how it compares to my dusty memory.

  3. I love Rive Gauche and entirely understand the tights link (although my mum worked in a bank, so no idea why), it has defied all sorts of negative associations for me, including being consistently worn by a woman who was the very antithesis of what it aims to capture.

    • ginzaintherain

      That’s interesting: who is/was she?
      You yourself wore this very beautifully back in the day I remember it very clearly

  4. emmawoolf

    favourite sixth form perfume, and my very first “own” scent – Mum’s Chanel no 5 was half-inched for school discos and those all-important 18th birthday parties. It reminds me deeply therefore of English A-Level lessons, daydreaming, M&S mens’ jumpers and red lipstick! And looking up “femme imprevisible” in the dictionary in the desperate hope of becoming one

    • ginzaintherain

      I know it must have smelled divine on you – I can just imagine it. Would you ever go back to Rive Gauche now or is it emphatically just the past now? And do you see what I mean about the foot fetish thing or is it just my perverted imagination?

  5. emmawoolf

    I would definitely go back to it, just can’t justify any more perfume purchases just now, I have eight for daytime wear, which is enough, as I don’t consider myself particularly extravagant where perfume purchases are concerned (make up is another matter entirely). But I often have a quick spritz in Boots where it is often, inexplicably, on special offer. And, now I think of it, all my favourite scents (Y, Cristalle, Jardins de B, even Jill Sander Woman 3) are those from my teens and 20s – I try others, but always return to those loved from the past – it’s a nostalgia thing, I can’t help it. One day I’ll start living in the present again, just not yet.

    • ginzaintherain

      I don’t think it IS just a nostalgia thing at all. They just smell perfect on you. Why would you change? When you find something that really grabs you, then it might become a new staple, but until then keep on with the Cristalle and Jardins de Bagatelle. I adore the smell of both of those on you (you DO need to score a bottle of vintage Guerlain Vetiver on line though)

  6. emmawoolf

    vintage Guerlain Vetiver? Don’t go there. I’ve just got a bottle of the new formulation for Christmas – I don’t mind it, but the tobacco notes (I’m actually smelling woodburner instead) are actually too much on this one. It’s not as memory serves, is it?

  7. elfedelaforet

    Wow, Rive Gauche was one of the first perfumes I convinced my mom to buy for me(gosh, I was about 10 years old then?) I tried to revisit RG about 7 years ago and it turned into a full-on battle between it & Calandre…for some weird reason, Calandre won. I agree about the coolness of C..I’d been swimming in Chanel no. 19 so Calandre(more angular, brighter) felt more comfortable than RG(more round, warm, dusky in comparison to C, if this makes any sense, lol).

    I need to find another vintage bottle of RG for reference & to remember what started my perfume insanity!

    • ginzaintherain

      I love all three: No 19 is one of my holy grails: a man can carry off the parfum magnificently. I have the other two for reference, though I have been known to wear Calandre to the beach…for some reason it works really well in the Japanese summer; soft and suncreamy and yet aloof. I lie there watching the waves lap, detached….

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  9. Rafael

    Thinking of you Neil, I wore Rive Gauche today. It was a quiet amusement as the guys in my office were all sunshine and smiles today after coming into my office and only I knew why…

  10. Rafael

    oh, the vintage parfum btw.

  11. Delicious scent, simply delicious. This always brings to mind the summer of 1987 for me. It was one of my first sophisticated scents, or at least I felt that way at the time; so young, yet wanting to be so mature. It always felt, polished, green, powdery and soapy with a dirty underbelly side, on me and still does.
    A glorious scent, one which has been tampered with a bit too much over the decades for my liking.

  12. I can’t tell you how much I love Rive Gauche. Weirdly, I can’t disassociate it from YSL’s fashion in the ’80s. They feel like perfect representations of each other.

  13. Marina

    Your review is spot on. I have the reformulation and it is very similar to the original. I get compliments when I wear it. Would love to find a vintage bottle and get lost in reconnaissance.

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