All Black Narcissus readers know that I have a deep love for the floral aldehydics of the 1970’s. With the mossed introversion of musks and woods born in silver; flowers, citruses and green notes eternalized through aldehydes; preserved, for me these perfumes – Calandre, Rive Gauche, First, Bleu De France, Tamango and many others, have a beautifully yin inscrutability; an  ‘underplayed’ energy to them that is cryptic: cool, emotionally.  Urbane and distant, with a clear discernment – such perfumes need impeccable clothing and presentation; troubling, they plant seeds of sexual enigma in the mind of the person who follows in their trail. The warmth will come later.



Shiseido’s ‘Rivage’ – lake shore, or river bank in French – is a long discontinued perfume,  still available for extortionate prices at rare vintage websites by the millimetre –  close to Calandre, as well as Rive Gauche (even in name, this is obviously a Japanese homage – Shiseido has often taken on popular French classics and created domestic equivalents – Concerto = Jean Patou 1000, Murasaki an outtake of No 19), sometimes softening them for local tastes – but not with Rivage. If anything, this is sharper, more potent (in the edp that I am wearing today); the rose oxides, the hyacinth, galbanum and jasmine cassis; the iris, the ambergris and sandalwood a protectant, self-insulating hideaway; a house from another time. The silence of a white bedroom. The pure solitude of material being.









Filed under Flowers

22 responses to “RIVAGE by SHISEIDO (1974)

  1. Robin

    This genre is close to my heart and Rivage sounds most enticing. I’ve had a strange urge for Metal lately, speaking of. This time of year, the blue hyacinths out, the days sometimes warm, sometimes icy, the sun higher in the sky: it must be connected.

    One you mentioned, to me, is not like the others. I believe it is/was a favourite your mother’s, if memory serves. First. I’m intrigued. You know it far better. I’d love to hear how it fits in, because I’m sure it’s my ignorance that has me confused. I always have thought it warm and golden rather than cool and silvery, sensual and forward rather than urbane and distant.

    • You are of course totally right. It doesn’t actually entirely fit in this line up as it is much more joyous and jasmined – I just put it in as it was part of the era. First is much more composed and verging on yang I would say – there isn’t that ‘other side of the moon ‘aspect for sure.

      And Metal – Oh god I love it, as you know.

    • If you ever get a chance to get a reasonably Rivage, I would definitely get it. Very nice. Though Calandre is more dreamy, somehow.

    • But sitting here with First in front of me right now, I feel as though rather than being a totally different genre, it is more as if the template exists underneath but has been enlarged upon, embellished with all the flowers. The overall impression retains the dignity and restraint of the type DESPITE the extroversion at the outset, and I think that is why First is so interesting in a way; psychologically quite immense. It’s very ‘pretty’. I would smell ludicrous in it. My mother smells spectacular. I think I smell better in Calandre than my mother would though – as I think the cold aldehydes are almost androgynous, which is why they smell so interesting on women: less obviously ‘yielding’ and what-not than other florals (the Riccis are almost pathetically romantic and pliant in a way, don’t you think?)

      • Robin

        I think I’ve always connected First with Jean-Claude Ellena, and it’s always stood alone as a baroque kind of rich, epic, bells-and-whistles all-but-the-cook creation relative to his later, leaner haiku-like compositions. And the woman I knew whose signature it is is a really gorgeous Swedish former stewardess now in her late seventies who has an abiding fondness for animal print caftans and French cigarettes, so I’m sure that’s had some influence. On her — likely fuelled by the visual influences — the civet note is unfortunately emphasized. I love civet in the right context, but with all those flowers it is a bit much. Another fragrance like that is Paloma Picasso, to my nose. On some, it’s really beautiful. But not everyone. I’m sure your mom’s Englishness makes First smell perfect: stylish, distinctive, feminine but not over the top.

        I can imagine you wearing Calandre very successfully. Less so First, as you say. I once had a bottle of First Premier Bouquet which really nailed the elusive sweet pea note, only matched by the one in Annick Goutal Vent de Folie, which is such a good early summer scent when the sweet peas are blooming. It’s got a good bit of green to keep it well away from being too innocent.

        By the way, Neil, I find the current formulation of Calandre really good, in case you’re running low.

      • Really? That is great to hear. I saw a bottle in Tokyo and fancied the top notes again; the vintage parfum I have is all about the soft base. I haven’t smelled those sharp green top notes for year – now I need to get it!

      • Robin

        The structure in the classic old Nina Ricci florals keep them from being pathetically romantic, but that just my nose talking. I actually find them quite formidable, in their way!

      • They are exquisite – perfectly balanced: as you know I adore them. But they are definitely hyper feminine to my nose, whereas this genre is much more self-contained or at least pretending to be.

    • Suzy Q

      You had me at “Calandre”. I would love to smell Rivage but I suspect it’s not going to happen. I’ve owned many bottles of Calandre over the decades. It’s surprising how some perfumes continue delight. By now Calandre feels like it’s part of my personality.

      • I am surprised that Calandre still seems to have such a hold on people. It makes my very happy to read. Somehow Rive Gauche just doesn’t quite cut the mustard in comparison.

        I don’t feel I have been able to nail the scent of Rivage perfectly in this review, though. Usually I can find the words….for some reason here I can’t. If you like this genre and ever come across a bottle though, get it.

  2. Tora

    I love Calandre and Eau de Calandre. Your words tempt me, as with Or Noir, I might need to try this. I love the parfum version of Or Noir and wear it often. Calandre requires a tougher, braver, mood. Calandre is more armor-like, steely and seductive. I looked up Rivage on eBay and right now the bottles are all too big and expensive. I will save the search, and a mini might pop up. Thank you for introducing me to another interesting perfume.
    I realize my comments are all over the place, forgive me, I am still in early sips of coffee mode. Anyway, my mom wore First, too! I just remembered that.

    • This reads perfectly to me. I do actually rather like this, and would love to try the extrait. I am not sure it is distinctive enough to warrant splashing out a lot of money on though: Calandre is enough for me.

      And yet. They are not the same, and this IS very nice…

  3. Ann

    “a really gorgeous Swedish former stewardess now in her late seventies who has an abiding fondness for animal print caftans and French cigarettes..” she sounds fabulous Robin.

    • Robin

      She is a force of nature! Glad I was able to convey her fabulousness. She used to own a waterfront bed and breakfast here on the coast with one of the most staggeringly good-looking views in these parts. What a hostess.

    • She certainly does. I need to meet her (although I feel like I already have). I do know what you mean about the sweet civet note though in First. The vintage parfum on my mum can sometimes go awry.
      I prefer the edt as it is lighter and greener on her.

      • Robin

        That’s it! That’s the crucial difference. I think — I’m sure — our Swedish stewardess of the seventies wore the parfum, and copiously. Lighter and greener would be AMAZING. The perfect Mrs. Chapman scent. Now I understand what you’re talking about and why you included First on the list. I wonder if I need a bottle now??!!! How does it compare with something like vintage Infini, one of my holy grails of the species.

        P.S. Admission: I prefer Rive Gauche over Calandre, comparing vintage formulations ( but vice-versa with the modern versions).

      • Interesting. I definitely need modern Calandre now! Infini is Infini – to me it isn’t green enough to include here. First edt is SPARKLING. The blackcurrant bud works so beautifully. Yes – the parfum is much more erotic; I like the balance tipped towards the fresher top notes when the light-hearted exuberance comes more to the fore than the indolic drag-you-to-the-bed business.

      • Robin

        Neil, do you know if the current First edt is any good, by the way?

      • My dad still buys it for my mum when he goes on aircraft trips, along with No 5 and No 19, alternating between them, and to me it still smells very nice.

      • Robin

        Ha! I never really think of the others as particularly green, so there you go. Basic message is that I need to get my paws on some First edt. Cheap as borscht online I see. Bonus! Thanks for steering me to something I think I can’t help but love, N.

      • One thing: I usually say the opposite but the edt definitely needs to be a spray, not a dab on, to get the full orchestra

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