-guest post by Catherine
As a perfume lover you’ve probably been there: the quest for the perfect (add note of your choice) fragrance. I’ve been on quite a few holy grail searches, some are completed, others are ongoing, not because I’m not satisfied but merely because they are fun to continue exploring.One of my more recent hunts was for ylang ylang. Late Spring last year when rummaging through my essential oils I found a bottle of ylang ylang EO that must be at least 10 years old, maybe closer to 15. Miraculously it hadn’t evaporated and the scent was (and still is) out of this world amazing. That’s how it began; I needed to find a perfume that smells like this EO, the same eyes rolling in the back of my head take me already aaaaarghhh! tropical fever mind blowing outer worldly I’ve died and gone to heaven scent.When I finally came back down to earth, I retested all perfumes featuring ylang ylang already in my collection (no small task). Metallica, Ylang & Vanille, New Look 1947, Casta Diva, Fleur des Comores, Songes, Kiss me tender, etc etc. None came even close to the marvellous aroma of that essential oil. I realised that while ylang is often used in fragrances, it is rarely showcased as the main player. I will try to write a few words about some of the perfumes I bought and enjoyed during this mission.
Carla Fracci Giselle (yellow box)
Giselle is often recommended on Fragrantica in the hidden gem threads and as usual, curiosity got the better of me. The initial spray smells a bit plasticky, and I wrote it off as a failed blind buy. But hold on, pas si vite! While wearing Giselle I kept getting wafts of the most delicious flower nectar on a creamy vanilla base, enveloping me in a cloud of softness. It is reminiscent of Ylang in Gold by M. Micallef but without that overly sweet fruity bubblegum note (sorry YiG, you are pretty but Giselle is beautiful).Tropical florals feel perfect in Summer, but I often reached for this bottle in winter too when in need of some warmth and sunny vibes. The scent lingering on my sweater the next days was fantastic. It is not THE ylang ylang scent I was looking for but it is a dream of a fragrance, so very cozy, soothing and back up bottle, or four, worthy.
Anatole Lebreton Cornaline
The fragrances that I tried from this house are, to put it mildly, weird. They are interesting, yes, but to me they are difficult to wear, definitely not no-brainer scents. When I bought Incarnata (waxy Estée Lauder lipstick from the 90’s anyone?) I added a few samples to my cart, Cornaline being one of them. I tried my sample a few times, unable to decide if I wanted it or not. It starts with a hint of candied peach, and then morphs into a composition that is rather disturbing. Still, it kept drawing me in, haunting me, and I ended up getting a bottle. It is only while wearing it now to write this attempt at a review that it finally hit me: it’s the “wet cardboard in the cellar” note. I had the same association when trying Ylang Ylang Nosy Be and also faintly with Compliment. This is a facet of ylang ylang that is bordering on unpleasant but at the same time is fascinating. Behind the damp, vegetal, and musty curtain is hiding a banana custard ylang, showing only glimpses of its true beauty. In all its oddity and incongruity, I find Cornaline quite addictive.
Lorenzo Villoresi Ylang Ylang
I’ll spare you the details of having to deal with this Italian retailer; I’m getting a headache just remembering the hassle. Ylang Ylang is part of LV’s vintage collection. In typical Villoresi style, this fragrance is refined, devoid of any rough edges, very well-behaved. It brings us a polished ylang ylang, creamy but not heady, a tad powdery and on the verge of soapy. If I were to compare, I’d say that the ylang here is as gentle as the one in Guerlain’s Ylang & Vanille. The fragrance is clean and classy, perhaps with an air of innocence, it never gets cloying nor naughty, and feels perfect for polite afternoon drinks at a shaded terrace as well as dinner in a chic, chilly to the bone air-conditioned restaurant. This one is a keeper, to spray abundantly on those days when you want to leave the steamy jungle behind and wear crisp cotton over slinky silk.
La Via del Profumo Tasneem/ Tasnim (Abdes Salaam Attars)
My search for the ultimate ylang ylang fragrance ended when I discovered Tasneem. THIS is what I was looking for, my EO in spray format. YESSSS! More please! I was seduced in a split second. Tasneem is sultry, sexy, lush, almost indecently dirty with its dripping over the edges indoles; pure bliss for ylang lovers. I want to inhale it, bathe and roll around in it, become one with it, that’s how amazingly gorgeous this stuff is. There is no wet cardboard, no soapiness, it feels like pure and raw ylang on the stem at its peak ready to be picked. After a while the indoles recede to the background pushing the creaminess more forward, and a subtle incense note lingers around, grounding the composition while giving it a faint air of mystery. Exquisite. Heavenly. The fragrance remains very close to the skin though, an unfortunately irremediable feature of all natural perfumes. Tasneem hits you full force like a huge yellow wave, then gently bobbing carries you to shore. It’s a short ride but an unforgettable one that I want to repeat over and over again.
Are you a fan of ylang ylang? I’d love to hear about your favourites. Catherine