A beautiful green chypre-floral quite delightful in spring and early summer, Yves Saint Laurent’s Y was released in 1964 and immediately declared a classic.






And with good reason. 









On beds of light, green mosses layered with a fresh, prominent patchouli, sparkling floral essences dance above like fireflies over wet green fields: rose, and jasmine, as you might expect, but, then, also, mirabelle, hyacinth, tuberose and the most delicate, piquant honeysuckle: an exquisite profusion of light, moistured flowers that steers Y on a different, more demure course than the other, more tempestuous chypres in the family such as Scherrer, Givenchy III, and the original Miss Dior. 


The initial impression of the vintage eau de toilette I have in my collection is a dazzling display of perfume technique, achieving a lightness and vivacity that is rare with such sweet floral notes, while never straying into the fluttering grasslands of come-thither coy; the gentle, ambery moss base being perhaps the key, tempering this joyful floral ballet with a perfect, anchoring touch of elegant, French sobriety.













Crucial note: the current, reformulated, version of ‘Y’, available anywhere, is the olfactive equivalent of the actress Frances Farmer after she emerged, victimized – lobotomized (and upon the urging of her own mother, because of her communist tendencies), from her brutal electro convulsion shock therapy: remade, remodelled for an evil, callous world – her juice, verve and vigour squeezed out of her in a cruel, metallic carapace; plastic surgery that gutted her from within.


Don’t even think about it. A pristine, or near pristine, vintage edt is what you must have if you want to experience the poetry of the original composition; to feel what the perfumer intended;  to bring those delightful, flower-brushing dragonflies to your lilypad.














Filed under Flowers


  1. brie

    “Immediately declared a classic”…why am I not surprised? I prefer the “more demure course” and having once sampled the re-formulation would wholeheartedly agree that vintage is the only way to go.

  2. emmawoolf

    hurrah – you’ve featured one of my all-time favourites! – at the moment it’s my regular daytime scent, now that my current bottle of Jardins de Bagatelle has just finished – and before the warmth of summer (dream on!) makes me reach for Cristalle edp instead. I love its green freshness, and also slight flinty/steely qualities – I managed to score a giant vintage spray on eBay a few years ago (120ml I think) and it is still going strong. I also remember wearing it one night in Japan with you during my visit, and for my 22nd birthday party in my college room – so I associate it with that final year, and you! Thanks for the warning about the reformulation, but how disappointed I am to hear it. It know that it disappeared off the shelves for a while, and I was delighted to see it reemerge, however the heading of “heritage” is always a worry, and a mere excuse to bump the price up. Now I won’t be bothering. Lots of love x

  3. emmawoolf

    ps love the electrotherapy/lobotomy refs. Keep ’em coming x

    • It is indeed a quintessential Emmonian scent, even if I associate you more, ultimately, with the divine Jardins De Bagatelle.

      Such balance, dignity, elegance. The parfum is also lovely thing with extra, deeper more carnal depth, but ultimately for the exquisiteness of the green florals, I prefer the classic edt.

      On the subject of Cristalle, though, I beg to differ. edt please….

      • brie

        N- you forgot to add edt VINTAGE (was in the dept store several years ago and took a gander at Cristalle and was shocked that it smelled not at all as I remembered…then…had me a vial of vintage which I gifted away….that was one of my all time favorites as a preteen in the late 70s).

      • emmawoolf

        sorry N, no, to digress yet again, it’s cristalle edp all the way and has been since 1993. The edt just disappears on me – I really can’t smell it. The newer eau vertes etc I agree are dreadful, but I am going to stick my neck out and say I like the edp, although I know it is a completely different scent. But yes back to Y, I am glad you concur with the elegance of its green flowers (no shop assistants understand what is meant by e-grec, ho hum.., I cannot bring myself to pronounce it why!)

      • It is beautiful all round. I always called it ‘ee’, as I imagined that is how the French would say it.

        ‘e-grec’ sounds like a mutated swan.

      • emmawoolf

        N – thank you. The vintage parfum is adorable. Warm and tender, verdant and sparkling. I wore it all day today and absolutely love it xxx merci

      • I am really delighted. I do think it is a total classic, this scent. Next time you are in Norwich, try the new version and laugh in contempt and scorn at the difference.

  4. Lilybelle

    Y has been a part of my life since I was a child. My mother wore it (beautifully), and I eventually did, too, next generation. I don’t wear Y often, but I must have it in my collection – as a set of memories to revisit, or just to enjoy its beauty when I feel the urge. I have some vintage parfum, but I’d love to acquire a vintage edt as well. The parfum is fruity-floral-civetty-naughty/sexy. I haven’t tried the current, gutted version of Y edt. I enjoyed your review! Y really is a firefly.

    • Isn’t it?

      I have enjoyed that velvety, carnal parfum, and also the beautifully persistent bath oil, but the eau de toilette does, I have to say, offer something extra and magical.

      • Lilybelle

        Speaking of films and Y, I watched part of an old b&w 60s movie recently. I dont know the title, it was British. Cute young English boy meets lovely French girl, and they take off in his (borrowed? stolen?) convertible sports car and wind up in Paris where they check into a modest hotel – separate rooms but adjoining bath. She unpacks her toiletries and places them in the bathroom…and she takes out all these Y de YSL bottles! A huge edt and assorted bath products, a box of dusting powder. I nearly swooned I wanted all of those Y things so desperately in that moment. 🙂

      • I adore perfume in film: trapped in celluloid, torturing us…

  5. Dearest Ginza
    Belle de Jour in a bottle?
    How simply spectacular!
    And with honeysuckle to boot.
    Now I must, I must, I must try it…. a searching I a go!
    Beautiful words, beautiful pictures.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • No, Belle de Jour (not that I have seen it, mind you) is directly what springs to me. It IS Deneuve, and very unique among the chypres for its lightness and not too much of that brow-knitted mossiness, if you know what I mean. VERY elegant if you can find the right bottle.

  6. Pingback: Word-image/poem-picture: A White Blossom | china Avant-garde

  7. Lilybelle

    I’m wearing it today, the parfum. It’s late spring heading into summer, and Y is perfect. I still haven’t acquired the vintage edt, but I need to. Off to search. Warmest regards, Mr. Ginza. xo

    • Parfum is parfum, and you know how I love parfum.

      but you don’t get the top flowers, lilybelle….

      • Lilybelle

        It’s true, it’s denser…but I do get a vivid gardenia in the beginning. It would be more springlike in edt.

    • ps. your joy isn’t going to anyone else. i seem to have severe mental blockages at present, but it is categorically thine!

      • Lilybelle

        Lol! It’s fine. One day you’ll get some wild compulsion to send things out and do everything at once and exhaust yourself (are you an Aries?). We might be moving soon, though. So let me know if you do send it because I may have to give you a new address. I’d hate for it to get lost. 😦 I hope you and D. are well and that your knee is a little better.

  8. emmawoolf

    xxx still an all-time favourite. Perfect choice for nearly-spring. (A pristine yet bargainous edt is sadly harder to come by nowadays. Those ebayers have been reading your blog!)

    • I have an edt that I thought was pristine and I sprayed it on the other night. Alas, there was no mirabelle, nor honeysuckle……

      I think that parfum I gave you was a pretty good rendition. Hardly ever come across it though to be honest.

  9. The extrait of this is a truly unique creature. Very rich and full of depth, yet light enough in overall character so as not to feel oppressive.
    You wrote a beautiful piece, that really captures its spirit.

    • I love Y, though not I00%: something remains aloof from me in it, and although I know what you mean about the extrait, somehow in this case I prefer the edt as I just LOVE those sparkling flower notes that are less apparent in the stronger and deeper version.

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