On Bibi’s recommendation, I decided to stop off briefly at Nose Shop, Yokohama on my way to work yesterday to have a quick sniff of some of the perfumes by Perris Monte Carlo, a well regarded perfume house whose wares I had somehow deliberately neglected – probably because of the overly patterned gold flacons that don’t really appeal to me aesthetically. I had imagined they would be too loud; thick; synthetic.

In fact, this high quality line of scents may be bold and unhesitant, but most of the perfumes I smelled yesterday were also quite rich, well-crafted and impressive. Tubereuse Absolue is fantastic – a proper, full on, head-turning trumpeting tuberose that combines all the Greatest Hits of the flower in one bottle; you get the green biological aspect of Carnal Flower in part of the opening act but also the buttery nightgown fabulousness of every other niche or classical tuberose you can think of in the mix. This is a DECLARATION ( I was certainly not going to be spraying this on to go to a windowless classroom yesterday afternoon (it’s still such a horror!), but the sheer exotic splendour of this number will certainly have me going back to try it again on skin. Rose De Taif, a dark, concentrated rose, is also very full-bodied: a crimson affair, dense and inchoate, impressive, but something about it didn’t quite grab me (is there some shrill citronella in the mix with all the roses that was bringing me down?) Likewise, the ylang ylang perfume in the lineup piqued my interest initially in some ways but proved ultimately indigestible. Meaning ‘big island’ in Malagasy, seeing this name on the bottles of both Patchouli Nosy Be and Ylang Ylang Nosy Be gave me a slight pang – as I wrote in a post long ago, we were once on the verge of going to Madagascar, D about to hand over money for our extremely expensive air tickets from Japan, when we decided to cancel at the last minute because of a giant swarm of locusts that was blighting almost the entire nation and could have turned the journey into a nightmare. We were going for the vanilla – but ending up going to an organic plantation in Indonesia instead. Still, although – I was quite shocked to read this – the island off the north coast is now off limits due to violent attacks on tourists – it is not possible to go to the famed ylang ylang distillery in the now aptly named town of Hellville as you might get killed, something I would be passionate for as I do love this note – we can but dream.This perfume though – odd, ambery, spiced and offputtingly aquatic in places – doesn’t work for me. Too complicated. Too many elements. And I don’t need the cardamom. I still believe that there has never been a perfect ylang ylang perfume (discuss) : for me, the best use of this creamy yellow floral probably remains as the chief player in Nº5, but I have never encountered an ideal, fully realized solo performer. No one ever quite fully captures it. The patchouli was quite good, as was the Vanille Tahiti – solid, monothemed elixirs – but not exciting.

More impressive for me was Jasmin De Pays. It is interesting to see how artists, perfumers, can evolve and be unleashed when released from the restricting commercial pressures of giant behemoths. And yesterday I could immediately sense, internally, a feeling of unshackled liberation in the new work of Jean Claude Ellena in this recent joyful and unbridled floral. Yes, the Hermessences were very exciting for perfume freaks when they first came out – before we were drowned in so much niche in the intervening years we could no longer see the wood for the trees. At the time, all these exclusifs from the major French houses were watched closely by every overexcited fumehead such as myself because they represented a potentially exhilarating luxury alternative to the mainstream, some polished unconventionality, something soaringly unique, but in eventually always hewing to the pallid transparency that seemed to be required by the French leather giant in all the uninspiring perfumes that came out one after the other such as Le Jour D’Hermès. Kelly Caleche, Voyage etc etc etc, for me at least there was always an unpleasant, metallic wanness; something sharp and glassy that got on my nerves.

Previously, in his earlier, more full and orchestral phase, the perfumer had been freer, less constricted, making such gorgeous perfumes as Van Cleef & Arpels First, Sisley Eau De Campagne – so original, so green and perfect in summer – as was his Eau Parfumée au The Vert for Bulgari which I still wear on lazy Sundays, and the incredibly beautiful Eau Du Navigateur for L’Artisan Parfumeur, one of my personal holy grails. In La Haie Fleurie – a honeysuckle jasmine that was so bounteously romantic it made your eyes water, Mr Ellena, as with First, painted with much thicker brushstrokes, yet still always preserved a certain elegant mystery, delving into his great love of jasmine (as a boy, he would actually gather and distil lroses and jasmine in the fields of Grasse – the man couldn’t possibly have better credentials in this regard), so I was delighted to smell his jasmine for Perris, which is FULL ON. A Total Flora. Jasmine, with jasmine, jasmine, and then more jasmine. Indolic, sunny, full, with just hints of clove and marigold/tagetes, Jasmin De Pays is a somewhat straight and linear soliflore (possibly too simple), that nevertheless has an air of summery triumphance. Similar in impression to Serge Lutens A La Nuit, that perfume feels slightly flat in comparison with Jasmin De Pays, which is more rounded : robust: and full of light. Like his other recent creation for Perris, Mimosa Triannon, which is a brisk and ethereal French country side road take on mimosa wedded gently with rose and hawthorn (with some nods to the strange coolness of Mimosa Pour Moi), but fluffier; less melancholy, quite poetic, I need to go back and give some of these a proper blast.


Filed under Flowers


  1. Robin

    A wonderful read, Neil. Everything, as ever, vividly described. I was enjoying all the descriptions, nodding my head mentally, enthused about this label, and then, that line: ” . . . a brisk and ethereal French country side road take on mimosa wedded gently with rose and hawthorn (with some nods to the strange coolness of Mimosa Pour Moi), but fluffier; less melancholy, quite poetic. . . ” Egads. I want this one. For some reason, hawthorn drives me crazy in the same way — not in the same way: to the same degree, I mean — as oakmoss. It adds backbone to everything. Mystery. Something melancholic. Some elegance. I must get my hands on this Mimosa Tanneron you speak of.

    • I liked it : I really love mimosa, and the one definitely has credibility, but I need to smell it again. There was something – a lack of sweetness? that perturbed me.

  2. Robin

    Oh, and I was reading up on Nosy Be and Madagascar in general. Good Lord. Why does the whole world feel unsafe to me these days?!

  3. Cath

    I went on an Ylang Ylang quest last year and found a few good ones: Giselle by Carla Fracci, Ylang In gold by M. Micallef (on the sweet side though), Cornaline by Anatole Lebreton, Ylang by Lorenzo Villoresi (powdery) but the one that ended my endless blind buying was Tasneem by La Via del Profumo. The longevity is poor but THAT is the Ylang note I was looking for, the one closest to the smell of my old bottle of EO.
    I agree on the PMC Ylang Nosy Be: too green and aquatic, something like wet cardboard at some point even. The drydown is great but the road to get there is too hard for me.

    • Yes: I know you are Ylang Ylang Queen so presumed you knew and didn’t much care for this one. The Micaleff is too….’much’ for me and Anatole is always odd somehow. Agree about the drydown of Nosy Be but there is a salted quality I am not happy with.
      I am curious about the Villoresi – he does powdery very well. What is the Giselle like ?

      Loving the sound of the Tasneem.

    • JulienFromDijon

      It’s hard to find a real ylang-ylang solinote, or a dominant ylang-ylang perfume.

      Most often it serves a huge support role for the other floral notes. (Let say, the beginning of the extrait of Samsara and Chamade by Guerlain, among a thousand others).

      There were alleged shortage of good ylang-ylang around 2000. Even the big brand thought that they could get away with synthetic replacement. They caught a bad habit, and forgot to restore their classic to their previous glory. (I’m aiming at you, Dior)

      The real stuff can’t be replacement, because the first grade thing is shaped like the Z of Zorro in the evolution : rainbow-like flower start, subliminal sensual floral in the heart, then an amber facet in the basenotes. (And overall the real thing is detected by its smell of flesh banana peel in the composition). And, least but not last, real Ylang-ylang seems to help mimic vanilla. That spares you the overdose of vanilla, done everywhere. (And, I come to think of it, good sourced ylang-ylang might be the reason why all vanillic Goutal behave so well at their late stage. With vanilla, you’re always in the fear, on the edge, of falling in vulgar custard territory.)

      Since somewhat 8 years, there must be also a new synthetic replacement. It’s a tiresome one. Because perfumes that I used to like, now bug me in the new bottle in store : no22 from Chanel, Lyric from Amouage. It’s the one in Vanille galante from Hermès too. It’s hard to describe, it smell more of flower -ground wheat-, but with a sickening effect, to my mind.

      My favorite ylang-ylang are :
      – old diorissimo, even edt (or Pleasure intense from Lauder after 15mn on fabric). It gives nothing at first, like snow on a black cathodic screen, then the blur is lifted and then it’s a snowy rose, veiled in white by the ylang-ylang and aldehyde.
      – old no22, past the agressive start
      – Eau mohéli from Diptyque. It’s paired with ginger. The same for L’occitane’s 5 oils repairing SHAMPOO (the one with the pink label) : spicy true ylang-ylang. It’s my cheap thrill.

      As a side note, Loulou from Cacharel is quite well-preserved, for a wide-distributed classic.
      And I never smelled Amaranthine -discontinued- by Penhaligon by Bertrand Duchaufour.

  4. Robin

    Closest thing to ylang ylang perfection, imo, is Acqua di Parma Profumo, because of its pure beauty more than its dutiful mimicry of the note. It’s one of my favourite fragrances. As you say, as a solo performer, it hasn’t been given its due. Estee Lauder PC Amber Ylang Ylang is simple, rich, ylang-forward and good. I do love PG Ilang Ivohibe and now that I think of it, it’s a beautiful sketch of the note. Chanel’s ylang ylang notes are very good, of course, and I like your reference to No 5. I confess to not having really gone out of my way to explore ylang ylang in perfume as I have with things like rose and narcissus.

    • It’s partly for me also because the essential oil is so cheap, comparatively, that I might unconsciously think of it as a ‘lesser’ flower.

      I never had much luck with Parfumerie Generale.

    • JulienFromDijon

      I got my hand on an old “Profumo” from Acqua di parma. I did not think of ylang-ylang, but of yellow plum. It’s actually credited to Françoise Caron on basenotes (and Francis Kurkdjian). I was surprised : this perfume holds its promises. It’s a different sort of plum chypre.

      (Profumo means perfume in Italian. So I checked if there were an “Ylang-ylang” one in their range. Their discontinued cologna assoluta is said to be sorely missed too, and to be containing ylang-ylang too. I never tried it.).

      (The “mirabelle” are a french obsession in the north-east. Mostly because you can make tarts and booze with these yellow plums. Because it grows in garden. And because one year out of five the harvest is sublime and sort of a miracle. The other four years it’s shitty : worms because of the rain, or not made tanned and ripe enough by the sun, or 80% eaten by birds).

      Francis Kurkdjian pulled a similar trick with ylang-ylang in “Enlèvement au sérail” at MDCI -now discontinued-. That is, a twist around Femme de Rochas. I hope they will reissue it. Their bottle are expensive, but their trial offer gives very generous sample vials.

  5. Hilly

    I haven’t been able to sample Tuberose Absolue but your review has just persuaded me to spring for a (heavily discounted) 100ml bottle in my search for a not too-tropical tuberose scent that I can wear in public without frightening the horses!

  6. So glad you liked my beloved Perris Tubereuse Absolue!
    Perris’ high quality is what draws me to the house. Despite hailing from Monte Carlo they are Italian, so I expect a bit of bling and bombast.
    My bottle of Ylang Ylang Nosy Be doesn’t smell green or aquatic? Ylang ylang in general can be quite the chameleon, being fruity & banana-like to one nose whilst seeming sour and dirty to the next. I get more of the fruit aspect tinged with vanilla and cardamom, I bought my Perris scents in 2017, when Tubereuse Absolue first came out, I wonder if my Ylang Ylang Nosy Be is a different batch?
    I have not tried Mr Ellena’s creations yet, I shall definitely be trying Jasmin De Pays.

  7. A glorious read, as always.
    I remember trying Perris Monte Carlo fragrances back in 2016 in Las Vegas at Neiman Marcus. I don’t remember them that well, but I do remember thinking, that they really smelt like something that would work really well being super dressed up seeing the shows in Vegas. They were just very showy and noticeable, which I like, but I did not find one that I really loved, so did not purchase. I’ll have to revisit the line once I go into Boston and visit Neiman Marcus.

  8. Tara C

    I tried several of the Perris Monte Carlo scents but none of them made me feel compelled to buy. I can appreciate their quality, but I have so many bottles that I think my enthusiasm has waned. Overdose I guess. Plus the stress of the last 16 months. Can’t wait for this all to be over… maybe my perfume mojo will come back when I feel more settled.

    • A good way of putting it. I am not feeling like splashing out at present, to be honest, though it is still nice once in a while to just try new things. My daily fragrance wear is pretty muted. But then I suddenly have a hankering for full on stench, proper fumes at the weekends all of a sudden.

      • Robin

        Time, maybe, to haul out the Illuminum Black Rose. Which I just got in the mail. Which is full-on hippy dip, a proper fume if there was one, and makes me happy.

      • Robin

        P.S. As someone mentioned, Black Rose smells deliciously a little like Rooh Afza, which I’m crazy about.

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